Saturday, 31 March 2007

Away again, did you miss me?

In an attempt to wring the last out of our southern summer we decided to get out of town and go camping (oh and because we can't sit still, we should be Gypsies). This time we headed down to Southland, as south as you can go in mainland New Zealand (about 3 hours drive from Dunedin). Now if you aren't familiar with New Zealand we are a lot farther south than what you would imagine we are, get out your map and have a look. We are on the same latitude as southern Chili and Argentina. Next stop is Antarctica.

Tomorrow we will get back on track with my knitting news because I have a lot of it; the good, the better and the ugly.

You know that place that you always heard about growing up, the one that would be the ultimate punishment to go and live in, the one that jokes are always made about, and yet the one that no one you had ever met had ever been there. For me that place is Invercargill. A town of some size, about 50,000 residents. A town that interested me greatly in seeing it up close and personal. There is an urban myth (it may be true, who really knows) that the mayor Tim Shadbolt moved there after declaring "I will move anywhere that will have me as their mayor and Invercargill said we will!". Tim was in politics in Auckland, he used to represent the area I lived in, and is a flamboyant, larger than life character, just what Invercargill needed. Then there is the Southern Sting. The hottest ticket in town. The craziest fans, people who will camp out all night to get their hands on a ticket. Their progress is talked about in the newspaper, cafes, pubs and on worksites, by young and old, men and women. The team members are treated like rock stars. So what? Well this is a women's netball team. Now tell me where else are female athletics given the same hero worship usually reserved for men and I tell you I want to visit there also.

So this trip we explored Invercargill and the surrounding beaches and countryside. It is different from the other parts I have shown you. First of all it is more of what you imagine New Zealand to be like. There are sheep, lots and lots of sheep.

Lots of dairy cows and cheese factories. And flat, really really flat. Flat confuses me. I always get lost in flat. And green open spaces. Unlike the Catlins the beaches here are quite protected by outlying islands and harbours and are quite peaceful. It is a beautiful, isolated and tranquil area, an area that is usually missed by tourists and locals outside of Southland alike and that is a shame. It is overshadowed by the fiords to the west and the mountains to the north.

A little freedom camping in the local town park. Yep as it sounds. The locals recommended we do it that way so who are we to argue. Besides it is Riverton, New Zealand, nothing is going to happen to us here!

Invercargill? I hear you ask. Well I am pleased I went. I now know that I could never live there. (This is my gold standard for towns, I usually go through the whole 9 yards; getting the local newspaper, checking out the local library and bookstores, having a good look at the housing market, shopping the local Asian market, eating at the alternative, nutty crunchy, vegan cafe.) Ummm, no vegan/vegetarian/organic options at any cafe, no Asian market, no good bookstore, no go. It is not a diverse town and that my friends is it's downfall. And I am afraid that the gene pool is a little shallow. But it is friendly and welcoming and we easily whiled away a couple of days exploring it before returning to the beaches, the real attraction in this area. It does not deserve it's reputation but I guess that is the thing about reputations, you often don't.

But the coolest thing about this trip. I got to stand on the end of New Zealand at Bluff and imagine if I could throw a stone hard enough and far enough and if I could just clear Stewart Island well I could hit Antarctica because there isn't much between me and it and that is cool.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Ta Daa!

Done! Love it!
It is warm and comfy and baby I am ready for winter!
(well not really but the jumper helps me to imagine I am)

After 4 years of Southern Californian "winters" I had forgotten how wonderful and warm a real wool jumper can be. I just love this yarn. It is Green Mountain Spinnery. I got it from Yarns in the Farms, the best little yarn store in the east (seriously!). They have a whole range of Green Mountain Yarns and they are all just as delicious.

This was knitting candy. It was all in knit stitches so I could just sit and knit and knit and knit, knit while I read, knit while I played games and read to my kids, knitting all the time. I could just shut down my mind and let my hands dance. There is something wonderful about just plain knitting. It is a lovely knitting vacation. And all in the round so once I cast off I was almost there, a few stitches to graft under the arms, two ends to weave in (all the rest were spit spliced as I went) and done, done, done. Thank you EZ.

For all those still in the midst of the northern winters here's a little down under sunshine.

This is what we are pulling from the garden this week:

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

FO Sighting........

.......beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.......

........News Flash.........

A Finished Object sighting has been reported around this resident's house. At the present the object is in it's extremely shy stage known as blocking and has proved elusive. Please stay posted as I believe I can confirm the sighting within the next day or so with photographic evidence. Thank you, back to you Trevor for what has been happening on NZX.

(Somehow it just doesn't sound as sexy as Wall Street does it?)

(Note I can capitalise Finished Object but not aussies, not sure what that says about me)

(No it is not the damn socks)

Friday, 16 March 2007

Tall Poppy

In New Zealand we are raised with something we call Tall Poppy Syndrome. For everyone else other than kiwis and aussies Tall Poppy Syndrome is our belief that you are no better nor no worse that your fellow citizen. It doesn't matter whether you hold a powerful position or are their cleaner your role is important and it would be crass to put on any airs. It means we take pride in "knocking people down a peg or 2 when needed". Of course this can have drawbacks as it can sometimes lead to under-achievement but that discussion can be for another day. (Example of "Tall Poppy" at work; while doing a spell check it was recommended that I capitalise aussies but I just couldn't bring myself to do it, it just made them seem too special, know what I mean, it would be wrong, very wrong.)

Moving to North America was a real test for me, I was constantly amazed at the utter fascination and awe held for famous people; even when they behaved badly, were public servants like the President, did not deserve to be famous or quite frankly looked like revolting people! Moving to Southern California was just plain shocking. Whole conversations would revolve around star sightings. Many times I was asked "who I had seen" and I couldn't think of a single incident. It was not until recently that I remembered I once served Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter in a clothing store while I lived in Auckland, New Zealand, a long, long time ago. I don't remember what they bought, or what we chatted about while Rachel tried on the clothes or anything else about the encounter other than I refused Rod's traveller check because he didn't have ID. I remember he got cranky and I felt incredulous that he would walk around without ID just because he thought he was a "superstar". Can't remember anything else about it, it was a non-event even then, and I certainly didn't rush home and spread the word. That would make me seem like a fool.

All of this was before I became a serious knitter. Now I am a groupie. Did you hear Eunny Jang just became the editor of Interweave Knits? Wow I'm knitting her socks don't ya know. To this day I tell the story of how I spoke (very, very briefly) with Nicky Epstein at Stitches, it was also where I had my Lily Chin sighting. I know someone who took a class off Meg Swanson (it's true!). I read my EZ books like novels and I know her to be worthy of devotion and hero worship. Conversations start in my house with " So Stephanie was saying the other day that...."

My family and I were having dinner at a knitting friend's house and her husband asked what I was knitting. I kinda dumbed it down and said a sweater like your wife often makes. "Oh an Elizabeth Zimmerman then?" he answered. Floored I answered "yes". He went on to sing the virtues of Knitting Without Tears, how it is a classic and how wonderful it was that her 2 daughters were carrying on her legacy. "Do you knit?" "No but I live with a knitter and even I can see these are influential women worthy of respect".

And maybe that is why I am okay about letting go of my need to strike down the tall poppy on this one. While I don't think these designers think better, love better or live better than I they do have something that I crave. They have that wonderful, original, creative streak that I am not sure I will ever have, not in those sorts of doses. (And Ted if you are reading this, this is my blog so if I say it is true, it is true, but thank you anyway sweetheart!). So you can keep Rachel Aniston's hair, Elle MacPherson's ass and Britney's problems I would take a little EZ's knitting ways any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Tall Poppy begone, lets save you for Hollywood (especially winners of reality TV shows), we don't need you in my knitting world.

Is there such a thing as a Stefanie Japel fan club, like with posters for my wall and autographs and........

Monday, 12 March 2007

Interweave has arrived!

I expected to hate the new IK. The new format that supposedly was so reminiscent of Vogue (because that format picks my ass) but I don't. I don't hate it at all. I don't particularly like it, I just don't mind it. Since there are a couple of photos by each pattern it feels kinda of the same as before.

First time through the magazine I was underwhelmed but then I realised it was because I only had eyes for Stefanie Japel's Cable Down Raglan.

Upon further reading I realised that I liked a few more of the patterns and overall I enjoyed this edition. The dollar and half cardy is quite lovely, I like it's slimness. More importantly it looks like a fun knit.

The ads were great in this edition. Check out the Blue Moon Fibre ad on page 71, so refined and lovely. And Dale of Norway Page 75 - who knew they did anything other than jumpers perfect for being part of the Olympic team?

Grumperina's Roza Socks are on the list, only because I have never done brioche stitch and I am a new technique whore.

And Interweave is getting more organised, I received this issue without any reminder on my behalf; fancy. On the hand I just got a last chance notice from Vogue that my subscription ends with my next issue, all well and fine except I have only received one issue from them and since they put out 4 per year , help me out am I missing out on the math here? Just checking..............

Friday, 9 March 2007

I am sure one day this will be a funny story but right at the moment........

This morning I was expelled from Playcentre. Playcentre is a government run, structured playgroup for under 5's. Kaitaia is 3 years old so we joined when we returned to New Zealand about 5 months ago. Given that we homeschool and have complete confidence in what we are doing it was probably never a good match. Well it turns out that while I get along well with the other kids it seems I have trouble following the (unnecessary) rules. It seems I have a problem with authority and may have a chip a on my shoulder. So it was suggested that "playcentre was not a good match for me". Yep expelled from preschool. Boy that is one to add to the resume for "mummy of the year" award. Given that I haven't been expelled from a preschool before am I still allowed to be friends with other parents or does Playcentre own them too? I forgot to check the rules before I was shown out.......

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Project Update

As promised my projects update..........

I decided it was time to cast on for a new project. I have many sweaters (and socks) promised before winter, not the least for my wardrobe so since it is now the end of summer I knew I should start. I have had my eye on a modified version of Banff that is on the Blue Blog. I need a good basic warm jumper and love raglans so it seems like a good match. Not even considering doing it in the flat when it is so obviously suited for in the round I pulled out my trusty EZ. I am knitting it as a bottom up raglan. It has been a delight to knit. I love this yarn. It is Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair. It wasn't to gauge but it was easy math to rework it. It is a mohair/wool blend and a favourite of mine. It is just the best yarn around for felting. Anyway I am loving the simplicity of the pattern and just doing some basic knitting. I took this away with me to Central and finished both sleeves. I am now working on the body. So fast. Sometimes I just love all knit.
I have also been spending a lot of time with my socks (notice the plural, I have cast on for #2) and we are getting there. Once I turn the heel it goes much, much faster as only the top of the foot is in pattern. It is now my travelling, sitting at libraries, fill in a odd moment out and about project.

Yesterday we dug up our potatoes for winter. We ended up with 2 large sackfuls and are now salivating over what they will become; potato salad, potato soup, steamed potatoes with olive oil and fresh herbs, potato gnocchi, mashed potatoes with lentil stew, oven fries, aloo gobi, potato pierogies, samosas.................

Lastly I have joined a KAL for the Stefanie Japel's Cable Down Raglan. I love the look of this sweater. I love this designer. One skein wonder is possibly my favourite pattern of all time, I have made it 4 times and could easily make it again. I love how quick it is, how easy it is to memorise, the rhythm of the increases, it feels like a song. Ahhh the choice of yarn... This sweater has to come from the stash but nothing seems quite right. I will have to sit myself down and give myself a good talking to. The stash is too big, the stash must become smaller, I am stronger than the stash, it is all good yarn, lovely stuff otherwise I wouldn't have bought it, it doesn't matter that I had other plans for it....................

Sunday, 4 March 2007

A little sun goes a long way........

Here is the cool thing about New Zealand while we are small-ish, we ain't boring. Where we live is cool, damp, lush and kinda tame (think England) and yet when we head inland a couple of hours we get this:

And it is hot and dry and best of all completely different from little old Dunedin.

Ted and I had our first night away from our kids courtesy of my Mum this past week (since birth so that is 8 1/2 years but who's counting....). We chose to seek out the sun and headed to Central Otago to camp for the night. And it was great. Really great.

Oh and I cast on for a new project but I will tell you all about that tomorrow. And a KAL I have joined. Lots of news, can't wait.