Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

2012 has already dawned in the land of the long white cloud.

My grandma always told me to start the year as I meant to continue it.  So this year I spent the night at home, quietly with my little family.  At midnight, as my street erupted in cheering and fireworks, I popped a bottle of sparkling grape juice (non alcoholic) so we could toast the new beginning.

2011 was a year of disasters and triumphs in the most literal way.

In January there was extensive flooding in Queensland and Victoria.  My husband was put on standby to join in the rescue and recovery in the second deployment which thankfully did not take place.  My youngest brother and his family live in Brisbane near the Gold Coast and thankfully they were all safe.

February brought sunshine and the hottest month of summer.  In late February we were thrust into another example of mother nature's awesome power when an earthquake struck Christchurch around lunch time on a busy work day.  Lives were lost.  It was horrifying.  My husband was deployed the next day and in all did three trips to Christchurch to assist, all the while aftershocks were striking and I spend many nights worrying for him and my friends in the city as the rescue turned into recovery.

March bought a massive earthquake and tsunami to Japan.  Japanese rescue workers in New Zealand to assist with the recovery hurried home accompanied by an NZ USAR (urban search and rescue) team to assist in their own country as a nuclear power plant stood on the brink of meltdown as a result of the earthquake.  My friend Q, a former team mate at work who now lives outside Tokyo with his wife and children were safe.

April and May passed in a blur of activity related to the Christchurch earthquake mostly and news of the Japan quake.  Aftershocks, clean up, raising funds, stabilizing the reactor.  Stories of incredible survival against the odds, heartwarming tales of solidarity and stoic resolution emerged.

In June I suffered an illness that put me out of action for a month and is still not fully resolved.  Out of that, and at the risk of turning into Pollyanna, good things came.  I rediscovered the joy of crochet and I re wrote my centre's business continuity plan which earned me much kudos in the workplace.  As they say, there is always a silver lining.

After that it was all about the Rugby as we geared up as a nation to host the Rugby World Cup.  Visitors from overseas poured into the country for the matches throughout September and October.  Neighbourhoods organized to support different countries, flags of every nation appeared on houses, cars and people.  We had the amazing two month long party!  And then we won!

December brought more natural disasters with extensive and continuing flooding in the top of the South Island.  Once again our rescue teams deployed to assist and then...

Two days before Christmas and exactly a week after I visited.  Christchurch suffered another Earthquake and is still suffering aftershocks.  Thankfully nobody was killed this time.

2011 has been the year of triumph of the human spirit.  As a nation, a community and family we faced adversity on an unusually large scale and we triumphed.

I'm proud of my family, my colleagues and my country.  It was a challenge but we got through and with dignity.  2012 is going to be a better year for us all.  I know it!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

More flower scarf

All done!  I'm feeling proud!

My Wee Girl is going to love this and it's going to look just awesome with her denim jacket.

I crocheted the flowers together top and bottom using two petals for strength, then for added security, I used lime green cotton to edge the whole thing in single crochet.  I used a 1.75mm hook to do the edging and that raised the petals slightly .

I also added a decoration to each end, a flower bead and a circle made of the same cottons one end and a simple flower at the other.  Both hang off a chain.

It's not super long nor is it super thick or warm, this is purely decorative.

I so cannot wait to go pick her up from her friends this afternoon and give it to her.

Each flower measures 8cm across and there are 14 in all.  I'm so, so happy with the way it turned out!  I'm considering using left overs from her blanket to create a winter scarf for her with hearts and or stars.  It's the perfect time of year to make smaller projects.

This morning saw my husband wake up with the worst stiff neck in history.  He's had a stiff neck that has slowly got worse since Boxing day, he has no idea what he's done to it but the pain was so bad last night that he was up every other hour.  So this morning saw us off to A+E for some relief for him.  He has the added complication of being on duty for Fire calls so he can't take any really decent medication.  Hopefully the muscle relaxant and will help.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Between projects

Having finished the granny striped blanket and it being Christmas break, I find myself with time on my hands.  It's also a little hot and humid to be playing with wool quite frankly.

So I've been doing this...

With 2 ply crochet cotton and a 2.5mm hook.  I've decided to make a flower scarf.  I've seen a number of them on line including Lucy's at Attic24.  I found a flower tutorial here  at Revving it up,designed by Revlie Schutte and modified it slightly as follows.

Do the first three rows as per the tutorial, 

chain 6, sl stitch into ring
Round 1: chain 4, dc1, ch1, dc1, ch1 around, slip stitch to join (12 dc)
Round 2: chain 5, dc1, ch2, dc1, ch2 around, slip stitch to join (12 dc)
Round 3: chan 3 + 3dc in 1st loop, 4 dc in each loop around, slip stitch to join

Then my modifications 

Round 4: *chain 4, skip 4, slip stitch to join, continue between * around, slip stitch to join
Round 5: *1 sc 8 dc 1sc in each loop, slip stitch to join* around finish with a slip stitch. 

Crochet together with a slip stitch by placing flowers with two petals matching and right sides together.   I've done a dozen flowers so far and this is how it looks.  This one is going to be a lightweight summer version single row, but I will make a woollen version with three rows or maybe four for winter.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The granny stripe reveal

So here it is, two months in the making.....

Personally I would have liked it a bit wider but the wee girl was sick of waiting.  For weeks she had been playing with it, fingering the soft wool and asking if it was finished yet, so I gave in and edged it.  To say that she is thrilled is an understatement.  It's big enough for her bed and big enough to snuggle with on the sofa.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Day

Welcome to Christmas dinner :)

This was my dining room at lunch time today.  Thank goodness for my grandmother gifting me the contents of her china cabinet when she moved into assisted living at age 99.  I used her silver cruet set, a couple of her crystal bowls and out of tradition, my late maternal grandmothers china gravy boat and matching bowl for the roast potatoes.

We were woken by the wee girl bearing coffee at 7am, she was awoken at 5am by her elder brother (15!) and together they spent a good two hours watching cartoons and inspecting their wrapped gifts, no doubt guessing what was enclosed within.

I started the turkey about 9:30, the ham was already glazed and ready.  The wee girl helped me by peeling potatoes for roasting and washing new potatoes for boiling.  We made egg salad out of the eggs she boiled, a green salad with fresh tomatoes, camembert cheese, celery and spring onion.  Then we made a trifle for dessert.

We all sat together at the table, with its crisp white cloth threaded with silver and toasted a Merry Christmas with sparkling grape juice.

A wonderful festive family meal was enjoyed and then we cleaned up and the dogs got the table scraps as a treat.  After clean up we all (dogs included) adjourned to various parts of the house to sleep off the heavy meal for an hour or two, then it was off down to the park on foot to play with the radio controlled helicopter I got my husband for Christmas.

Many crashes and much laughter followed.  It wasn't an expensive gift but my husband B just loves such intricate and clever things.

Our evening meal was leftovers, ham sandwiches and salad.

The kids tired out by their early rising were in bed early which left B and I out in the living room on our own with plenty of time to be together.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, or have one if you haven't had it yet.

Best wishes to all. xxx

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Decorating

I'm a little behind in my decorating this year.  Last week I flew to Christchurch for the weekend, Tuesday was the Love of My Life's 40th birthday so I've only been preparing since Wednesday.  I made the centre piece above yesterday.  The most expensive part was a the mini tree which cost a whopping $10.  Everything els was less than $5.  With my trusty glue gun I glued the ribbon onto the candles, I then glued the bead string to the glass tray and the ornament to the candle.  I spread some multicolored glass beads on the tray et voila, one centre piece ready to go.

Here is my dining room, ready for Christmas in a silver and white theme to match my dinner service which is white with a silver line around the rim.  Touches of blue match my existing decor.  I've given up trying to theme the tree, it's strictly the territory of the Wee Girl these days.

Mental note: I have to get some better lamps for that fitting!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Progress on the granny stripes

Well it's half as wide as my queen size bed and nearly as long now.

I'm using lots of random colors and widths to add interest.  Since that photo was taken I've added another 6 rows.

I'm off to Christchurch tomorrow for a party.  Exciting to catch at plane to attend a party!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Live Fire Exercise

Have I ever mentioned my husband is a rural fire officer? Monday night is training and tonight they had a live fire exercise, live in that there was a real fire to fight.  I was invited along to take pictures to be used in recruiting and informational pamphlets.

These two were taken as everyone was packing up, I think they look suitably heroic for pamphlets.  I also got a lot of hoses and dams and other rural fire fighters doing their jobs.

The fire was a bit of a fizzier, we've had some rain this week and the brush collection although suitably large and brushy, wasn't as dry as it could have been.  None the less I did my best ...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

1 December is the first day of summer here in New Zealand.  Not that it felt very Summery that particular day, or the next.

I've just had a text from the wee Girl who is currently out with her father.  She wants to know when we are putting up the tree.  The annual question that causes me no end of angst.

I have two dogs, two rather large dogs, two rather large dogs with big swishy tails in fact.  The large swishy tails have a habit of wagging against the tree causing branches to sway wildly and baubles to shoot off in all directions.  I also have a cat, an elderly but spritely cat who takes an almost kittenish joy in batting baubles from the tree to the floor then chasing them all over the house.

Then there is the whole balance thing.  I like a well decorated tree as much as the next person.  I like a balance of color, bauble, tinsel and lights. My children like to decorate the tree, they lack the appreciation I have for balance.  By the time they sit back with big smiles of joy, the tree tends to look like a decoration factory threw up on it.  I smile and tell them what a wonderful job they've done.  When they go to bed, I rearrange the tree :( I can't help myself.  On the plus side, they never seem to notice and always take credit for the tree.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Granny Stripe Blankie

To the left there is a mauve, aubergine and white granny striped crib blanket I made for my great niece.

Granny stripes are fairly easy for a beginner and there is something comforting about crocheting a blanket in winter.  As the blanket grows you sit with it draped on your lap and hook, hook, hook.  It's rhythmic and soothing.

Granny stripes are clusters of 3 trebles (UK) or 3 double crochet stitches for our US friends.

You need to make your foundation chain in multiples of 3.  For the blanket I am currently working on, big enough for a single bed, my foundation row was 210 stitches.  That's 77 clusters with ends of two clusters so it stays nice and straight.

This one to the right is the one I am working on for the wee girls bed.  It's inspired by Lucy from Attic24's colorful granny stripes.  She has an awesome beginner tutorial.

The WG is very pleased with her blanket and constantly asks if I am done making it.  It's only about two feet long at the moment so there is a long way to go.

I am using pure wool, 8 ply and a brand called Shepherd Very Crafty which I have purchased from a local craft chain store called Spotlight.  It's machine washable on a gentle cycle.

I made a blanket for the Eldest son a couple of years ago in a basket weave pattern that is a little more complicated.  It's going strong and the WG had at the time a ripple blanket I'd made her.  Unfortunately her father threw it in the dryer and it turned into a felt dolly blanket.  So she's been longing for another blankie for a while.

Monday, 28 November 2011


This is the work the wee girl and I have made for her room.  Simple but she loves it.  Currently wrestling with placement before we unholster the hot glue gun.

The blue in the imagine is about the color of her room, the other colors are mirrored in her blanket.  It will soften her room up no end.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

An artwork for the wee girls room

About a year ago, the wee girl and her brother swapped rooms.  She has moved into a room with teal blue walls and it's just not very girl like, kind of stark and boy like.

Her old room was powder blue with white clouds on the walls (her teenaged brother has come to terms with the clouds) a net/tulle curtain made of a remnant I found with silver stars on it and deeper blue curtains.  I decorated it on a budget when she was still in utero.

She wants her stamp on her new room, she's older now and she wants feminine yet fun.  I'm currently making her a new blanket in colors she likes and she recently inherited my grandmothers dressing table and tall boy, with a small corner whatnot set of shelves.

To soften the stark blue of the walls, we are changing the curtains and bringing pinks and purples into the room.  Today we embarked on an artwork for her wall.  It consists of a massive canvas about 3ft by 2ft.  We purchased a wooden J (the wee girls initial) and 6 words from Spotlight.  We are going to paint the words and glue them to the canvas.

This evening the WG and I spent a pleasant hour or so, in the warm spring evening sun on the deck painting words with their first coat.

The words are currently drying on newspaper on a cloth on my dining room table.


Laugh and Hope are the final two.
I was sitting opposite the WG at the bbq table on the deck while we painted.

Once I got the project inside I immediately noticed that the WG had painted her J backwards.  No biggie it's imminently fixable by painting the other side, I really should have checked as she still has a propensity to reverse the odd letter.

She is very excited with the project.  I will finish painting the sides (fiddly for little fingers) while she is at school tomorrow and then after school we will put 2nd coats on the fronts of the words.

We finished Sunday with new season strawberries with French Vanilla ice cream.  It almost seemed like summer!

Elections and Ukeleles

It's election day in the land of the long white cloud.  One of the advantages to having older kids is that they don't get you out of bed at some unGodly hour at the weekend.  Love of my life woke me around 10am with a cuppa.  That's why he is the love of my life.

The wee girl brought home a notice last night about her Kiwilele festival.  A couple of weeks ago we had the APPA Choir Concert and now this.

First order of business though was coffee, then voting.  We made our way up the road to a nearby polling booth and cast our votes like good citizens.  The wee girl came too and was interested to know about the process, this time we are having a referendum on the voting system so walking home, I explained the whole thing to her in the simplest of terms.

Then it was off to the Kiwilele Ukelele festival!  The wee girl has been playing for a couple of years now, she has a lovely yellow Ukelele she borrowed from her cousin and although she doesn't know it yet, she's getting a purple one for Christmas.  It's got her name on it and the words "perfectly understandable" which is what her Dad always says when we tell him we love him.

It wasn't a wonderful day weather wise, the wind was blowing and the clouds kept passing through leaving us the odd patch of sun.

Plenty of people turned out and the music was awesome.  Mostly because my wee girl was playing it!

Meantime, I've started a new blanket for the wee girls room.  So I've been doing granny stripe blankets for a long time now, but I usually do them in blocks of color, like the purple and white one in my title picture.

This one is inspired by Lucy from Attic24, she does such wonderful colorful ripples and stripes.  I'm planning to take some pics when I get enough to take a picture of.  I'm thinking a block of stripes and then blocks of each color in the stripes.  We will see how it goes.

Friday, 18 November 2011

A little nautical flavor

My latest bag.  The pattern is based on Lucy's bag,  in that the base is trebles and circular using her increase by 1 between the two trebles into one stitch method.  Then I went and modified.

I wanted it slightly smaller than my yarn bag, so I can carry my diary etc around and a little sturdier.  So I single crocheted from the base upward.

Single crochet with 8 ply bamboo viscose makes for a pliable yet sturdy bag.

To make the woven decoration I did a single row of treble every second stitch.  I crocheted a ribbon of trebles in light blue and threaded it through and tied it off with a reef knot.

I decorated it with a silver starfish charm.  I think it looks rather pretty.  It easily fits my A5 notebook and diary, pens, the wallet I made.

The colors are navy blue, light blue and a light mint green.

Monday, 14 November 2011


My cute little cellphone/credit/cash card holder!

Usually when I go out to the mall, for personal security reasons I carry very little.  My keys, my cash card and my cellphone.  I even have a small bag in my purse/tote for this reason.  For years I have been looking for something small and simple for this purpose.

Today I made it myself:

Isn't it scrumptious? It was so simple to make and I didn't even use a full ball of the cotton I purchased to make it.  Now I will be able to grab my stuff and go, go, go!

For those on a creative bent, this was made with Moda Vera Sombre 100% organic cotton and a 3.5mm hook in sc (single crochet) or dc (double crochet) for americans.

A foundation chain of 29 stitches 
sc in the second chain from the hook for the first row
sc every row till you reach the desired length.

To make up:

I folded both ends into the middle, leaving a 1cm gap to allow for neat folding.  I used my iPhone and a credit card to get the right sizing for each pocket.  The credit card being not as wide meant that the top flap was smaller and it looks like a purse flap rather than a wallet but that is my personal choice.

I pinned it and then sc all around to join.  Weaved the ends in et voila.  A handy dandy purslet to grab out of my bag when I am running a quick errand that doesn't require the entire handbag.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

New bag all done

So, here it is.  A bag for my daughter.  It's made with the 4 ply bamboo cotton and a 3mm hook.  I finished it a couple of nights ago and then much excitement....

My husband purchased an iPhone 4s for me.  It's white and oh so pretty!  This necessitated a game of musical phones.  My iPhone 4 just over a year old went to the Husband.  His iPhone 3GS went to the son.  The sons 3G (my original iPhone which I gave him when I got my 4) went to the daughter.

Sim cards got swapped about, the 3G data got turned off on the daughters new/old phone (she's only 10 and has a prepay for emergencies) so she can't accidentally spend.  She's ultra thrilled, she can now play battleships with Dad via our wifi.  The 3G is now so old the operating system is no longer updated and the son was getting somewhat frustrated with it's slowness but the girly doesn't notice, she can listen to her music, play her games and feel oh so grown up.

We are quite the techno family.

I nearly forgot, the concert!  The girly had her big night at the town hall.  I had no idea this was such an occasion!  There was a bar, proper seating and a massed choir and orchestra.  The girl was part of the massed choir.  I got to hear my baby girl sing Vivaldi, in latin!  When the show opened with all 4 verses of God defend New Zealand, I confess, I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.  They sounded amazing.

I'm currently working on a cellphone wallet, eft pos card clutch.  More on that shortly.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Making bags

This is my third effort at the "bag" and although the first two passed muster, I think I have finally perfected working in the round.

The first two were made with stripes just like Lucy did at Attic24, one in wool and the other in 8 ply cotton.

This one is made with bamboo viscose/wool mix, a couple of balls of multi colored and a ball of baby pink.  It's lovely and soft.  I used a 3.5mm hook this time and it's made it feel thicker.

It's slightly smaller too.  17 rows without the shell edging seems to be the right proportional depth.  That is 3 rows less than the other two.

I think I will line this one, for use as a carry bag for my crochet.  That way the bag will feel a little stronger and the hooks won't poke though.  I've some spare off cut of calico somewhere around here that I was using for a photography cloth.  Having a lining will also give me something to attach the handles to.

The cotton will be a lot cooler to carry around in the summer .  I may make a larger one and line it with some sort of waterproof nylon for beach use.  I can imagine it decorated with shell buttons.

This is the yarn.  As you can see it's baby yarn.  It has a wonderful lustre and feels just beautiful as it slips through my fingers.  I will use the leftovers to make hats and booties for the new arrivals in my life.  3 of my friends from work recently had babies.

I spent most of today cleaning so tomorrow I shall only have to do a quick hour to spruce up and a load of washing.

My eldest has the day off school, so I intend to hold his xbox hostage until his room is tidy.  In the evening my youngest has a choir recital with 11 other schools so we have to be in the city by 7pm.  My darling is down in Wellington for the day and his return flight lands at 6pm so it's going to be something of a rush for him to get to the concert and meet up with us.  I also have to take one of dear daughters little friends with me.  This little girl is hyper, she doesn't have an off or mute button, so I find her company a little trying.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Remember Remember the 5th of November

Guy Fawkes, it's either loved or loathed.  Personally I love it.  It's not just about the bonfires and fireworks, it's about getting together with friends.

My childhood is full of memories of burnt sausages and chops (pre gas bbq) flavored with charcoal smoke and playing war with "double happy's" and "Tom Thumbs" until it got dark.  Double Happy's were also known as bangers.  They looked like little sticks of dynamite, they came in small red packets wrapped in shiny paper.  Tom Thumbs were smaller and no less fun, colored turquoise in turquoise packets.  Both were all strung together by their fuses.

After school, we'd rush home to received our share of bangers, we'd spend the early afternoon buttering bread for the bbq and unwinding the fuses of our fireworks, putting them in lidded containers and anticipating the fun to come.

After dark it was time for sparklers and then the adults took over with the pretties.  Sky Rockets stood in beer bottles, Catherine Wheels nailed to the fence and a plethora of sparkly pretty ground based fireworks were the home party favorites.

Sadly my children will never know the joy of bangers or rockets in bottles, both are banned from sale due to the inability of people to not do silly things with them.  Not for them the fun of war across the yard lobbing double happys into the centre of the lawn to act as grenades, or blowing up tins.

This is a photo I took of my son proving that sparklers are not too young for teenagers.  This year he was old enough to set off the pretties.

My daughter still enjoys sparklers but she loves ooh'ing and aaah'ing to the pretties as well.

Guy Fawkes night will never again be the much anticipated and fun filled night of my childhood.  Reality just cannot compete with rose colored memories and even if my favorite bangers and rockets hadn't been banned from sale, I'm far too old to run around hiding in bushes to throw bangers into the yard.

For my children Guy Fawkes is still great fun and so it should be.

I hope you all had a safe and fun Guy Fawkes, if you had one.  Here is the Guy Fawkes poem.  I learned it in school and although it's quoted in the movie V for Vendetta, Hollywood didn't write it :)

Remember, Remember
The 5th of November.
Gunpowder, Treason and plot.
I see no reason
for gunpowder treason
to ever be forgot.

Um Hello?

So I guess I should explain why I am here.  Back in the mists of time my grandma taught me to crochet granny squares.  Over the years I have made the odd blanket, expanding on the knowledge she gave me to make blankets that weren't comprised of granny squares.

In June this year I was hit with vestibular neuritis.  Basically prolonged vertigo resulting from a lesion on the vestibular nerve.  The nerve that feeds information to your brain about balance amongst other things.  So I took up the hook whilst I was confined to bed and armchair unable to do much at all.  The time I had at my disposal lead me to expanding further on my very limited knowledge of crochet and I learned how to read simple patterns.  I made hats and booties like the one below.  The hat looked a little plain
so I hit google and taught myself how to make flowers!

It was getting very exciting, I was able to knock out a beanie in a couple of hours.

I wanted to learn more.

I discovered there are a plethora of sites out on the www giving inspiration to anyone who wants to learn.

So I decided I wanted to make a site too, to share my hobbies, crochet and photography and whatever else I discover along the way.

I'm currently making bags!

I got this bag pattern from Attic24 it's so easy and so fun, it makes an awesome crochet bag and I've tried it in bamboo cotton as well.

I like making things that are easy to carry about and now drag my crochet with me everywhere so the bag was a necessity.

I'd like to move on into making clothing but I need to get better at both the crochet and the pattern reading.