Saturday, 18 October 2008

Lesson 101: How to be a dork

When I was younger and much less wise I knew 3 things to be true.

1. I would never marry again.
2. I would never, never live in the USA
3. I would never, never, never have children.

This was all said while living in Canada, happily getting liquored but sadly getting divorced. Of course as experience often teaches us I knew not. Less than 3 years after uttering those words I was on my way to live in the big old US of A, knocked up and about to be married to my gorgeous American and more happy than one has a right to be.

Now because on my way to wisdom sometimes I need to relearn old lessons (again and again it seems but that is for another post......). I may have been heard to say that I would never knit doll's clothes or god forbid fake food. I may have even openly mocked those who do. Maybe.

You know the biggest problem with kids? It is not the time or the expense or the mess or the smell. Honestly, you deal with that stuff. It is the inescapable fact you love these damn critters so much you find yourself doing the things you never thought you would. Not only do you find yourself singing out loud (badly) at the supermarket, you find yourself making fake food and doll clothes.

You find yourself sitting up at night crackling with delight of it all and working as late as you need so you can leave another piece for your kid to come racing out and find in the morning. (You find yourself agreeing to purple ribbon but again another post........)

You worry about providing a balanced fake food diet after noticing your tenacity runs to a fake junk food diet.

You worry what it says about you as a mother that your 5 year old is offering up cupcake sandwiches to your guests.

You get right on making sure she has a good selection of fruit and veggies so she can get her "5 a day".

You swell with pride when she asks for some fake tofu and sushi.

Damn kids, consider yourself warned.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Ahh the best of intentions......

Where did the time go one asks?

What happened to all those blog posts I promised the one or two readers I must have left?

I did start many posts in my mind. Honest. While out in the garden getting ready for my over achieving summer of veggies. While with my arms deep in bread or cracker dough. While crafting with my kids. While avoiding looking for my summer part-time job by cooking up another pot of dried beans and stretching that food budget a little more. While trying to find the missing bees. You see life kept getting in the way. It is spring here and spring is never better indoors in front of a computer.

But as promised those fabulous bloomers.

My daughter's favourite thing in the whole wide world. (And now, Mum, Mum listen, now I want a pair in every single colour but especially purple because purple is the best colour in the whole world. Cause Mum these are dancing pants, these pants make me dance and twirl and laugh and sing.)

They actually are that cool.

Oh yeah, I am back, home in Dunedin that is.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Snowbirds, bloomers and faux food...........

3 months without posting, what the bloody hell?

Well chickadee what if I told you I have become a snowbird would you forgive me? A snowbird squeezing into a library queue with all of the pimply faced teenagers waiting to get on to facebook. A snowbird finally with regular access to a computer, a computer that is about 15 years old with dial up access. Forgive me now?

So has it's place, it can be fun, you know like when you don't have to work and you can sit inside by a roaring fun, knitting and growing a big bum while drinking hot choccie and eating buttered raisin toast. Mmmmmm raisin toast..........

But after one winter in Dunedin I knew there had to be a better way (dark, damp and deary- sorry Dunedin readers - I still love it come the long days of summer). You see because I am a drop out bum now and I am married to a drop out bum there was no reason not to run away from winter and end up in say........... subtropical Australia. (First choice was the beaches of Thailand but since we couldn't trade painting for an airline ticket to that one well maybe next winter.........). So here we are in Brisbane, housesitting and doing odd jobs to keep food in the belly. Life is spent exploring all that is free and good in Brisbane; libraries, museums, beaches and parks. Life is 23 degrees Celsius, sunny and warm. Life is homeschooling and lots of family time on the road. Life is remembering why I choose not to live in the same city (hell same country) as my family (love them but....). Life is choosing how we are going to live and then living it. Life is good.

Next time is bloomers and faux food once I figure how I can get photos on this piece of ancient history. Wish me luck.

(BTW, it is great to be back)

Monday, 14 April 2008

Closing the circle.............

I have cast on for a pair of socks.

A pair of socks that mean a great deal to me.

My great grandmother was a knitter. She was a crafter. She was from a well-to-do family, with a well-to-do marriage. At least until disaster struck and she was left penniless with five kids. She took her crafting skills and made a living from her hands. She designed and hand knit baby items for an upmarket department store. But of all she did her hand knit socks were most legendary. My Grandpa, her son in law, spoke of them in reverent tones. My Grandpa is gone now but her daughter at 93 is still alive and well. And now her great-granddaughter is going to close the circle and put socks back onto the feet of the ones she loves.

These socks are for my grandma. A business woman who had no talent for the domestic arts but still honours their value. It pleases her no end to finally see one of her kin following in her beloved mother's footsteps, using my hands and heart to create.

I am knitting the wavy socks from the mighty The Knitters Book of Yarn. I needed a pattern with a little fun but no annoying holes to snag fingers on when your eyes are no longer so great. The yarn is lovely and squishy (and local). The colour - delightful.

Yep, I am liking them.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

The Gift.

My sister is pregnant with baby number one. This has been a hard won baby and although it shouldn't somehow that makes it all that more special.

Her whole house is white; all the walls, furniture, soft furnishings (I know just perfect for a kid, they will learn.....) and she is quite traditional in her tastes.

I have been thinking about this baby gift a lot.

I have been thinking about making a highly detailed lace circular shawl in an undyed merino silk. She lives in the tropics (in Australia, no tropics in NZ) so it wouldn't get much use but I figure it can be pulled out for the photos and live the rest of the time artistically draped across the back of the white rocking chair in the white nursery. I think it is important to welcome new people into this world with a bang.

We are also until recently a family of throw-it-away-ers and have missed the whole pass-down-a-heirloom thing. Maybe if it works out this could be a heirloom for little "Wally" or "Betty" (don't panic just trying it on for size, no?). Is it right to give a gift with that type of expectation? Could I ever forgive her if she gave this one away too? Should I include a return to sender in the parcel? Would a gift certificate be better?

Monday, 3 March 2008

Can you pick out the crafter's kid?

There is my kid in a sea of pink; being different, being comfortable, being a kid, being Taia.

Sometimes being a crafty mama has it's perks. It allows you to stand in the middle of a department store, surrounded all the barbie pink little princess dance costumes and say "not my kid, no way, no how". It allows me to laugh in the face of the ridiculous price tag made complete with a little slave labour and awful lot of advertising. It allows me to go home and pull an unworn t-shirt from my wardrobe and with some scissors, a little time, a sewing machine and a willing model sew some originality.

So I say "the bird" to you corporate world, start allowing my little girl some choice and originality in your stores, stop telling her what is feminine and attractive and I may return but until then we don't need you..........and can put your dance costumes where the sun doesn't shine.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

A belated valentine's.......

........if you celebrate such things, which we don't, except with heart shaped pikelets (little sweet pancakes) and homemade apricot and plum jam.

Making jam makes me feel clever and when I have all of the jars lined up filled with a year's worth of jam, well I just feel like inviting all I know so they can marvel at their jewel-like beauty and we can have a jam party. Try it, do it with a mate or friend, drink lots of wine and then I'll come for a jam party at your house, I will be suitably impressed, promise.
I'll make the pikelets because as my son says, "you make the best pikelets; it is so cool how you can get it all burnt and crispy on the outside and still gooey and uncooked in the middle, I love that". And no I'm not sharing, it is a family secret that recipe.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Over acheiver alert

It was all part of the master plan.

I wouldn't blog for an age and then wham, bam, pow would hit you with FO after FO and knock the socks off you all.

And you would say to yourself, damn, how the hell does she do all that and, you know, still bathe?

And then you would get off the computer and turn to your friends and family and say "I know a knitter that knits an item a day, .... do too.......too......too!" And all of your friends and family would so amazed that you have such talented friends and you would be so special for the whole day (you know not that you aren't special already, just more special.....).

See I was thinking of you.

But then I remembered Ravelry and how easy it is to see how bloody long these things have taken.

Ah well, the best laid plans................

So I give you:

A spare skein of Noro Kureyon + a need for a quick travelling project =

Mitts in the rhubard patch (for all of you still in the middle of winter)

And Doddy

Made from a few leftover skeins of Knitpicks Merino, add a few bells and you have a ball that is irresistible to all ages. Even I have spent the past few days pretending I was one of those famous basketball players that I can remember from all the ads but don't remember the name, you know the big bloke with the big hands. Yep that has been me. See I have knit me a basketball dream.....

Monday, 4 February 2008

Shake your bootie............

Finished the knitting and button sewing.

Yep that is pattern tissue you see.

Cause here is the thing; they practically give it away at the op shop, it's reusing, it's good tissue, I love the little giggle I get over all the headbands in these patterns and besides it looks a little different in a gift. Different is good.

And to now wrap them.

I like to use reusable wrapping from recycled fabric. I was all set to make a fabric bag from this old kids raincoat that was in the "harvest" pile when it hit me, they already made the bag for me - the pocket.

A little cutting........

A little sewing.......

And it is done.

A little handmade card welcoming the new babe to the neighbourhood.........

One gift. And now we are off to coo over a new baby.

Monday, 28 January 2008

There is something to be said for balloon animals.....

You know how when you go to a party and there is the quiet kinda nerdy dude in the corner (you know before nerdy was hot) and you pass right over him - boring - and then some music starts up and - boom the bloke starts swing dancing like no tomorrow ....... that my friends is a great party trick.

The time has come that I can no longer rely on my liquor induced obnoxiousness alone to save me at a party (funny as you grow older how weenie you become around liquor ".........and then, and then I drank the WHOLE beer by myself and well I was just away with the fairies............woo hoo"). I feel it is time for me to get a party trick.

I really considered swing dancing but was strangely more drawn to Appalachian clogging and somehow, maybe it is just me, but I don't think it will say cool to others. Balloon animals are out, I suck at that, don't ask me how I know.

And then it hit me - origami.

I have been spending a lot of time around some Japanese women lately and all of them can origami like you wouldn't believe. Apparently they learn it at school. Finally a school system that sets their pupils up for real life, although I guess if everyone can origami the whole party trick thing.......(and yes origami is a verb, well...... because I said so). So every time I come into work there would be another of the cutest little thing and then finally the coup d'etat, an origami cell phone. So let me just set the scene for you, as in welcome to my daydream, there I am sitting in the middle of a crowd of admirers and I say "oh poor you you have lost your cell phone, well here take this one" and toss them a paper cell phone and all clap and laugh at my wittiness and I fling my non-existent hair around "oh really it was nothing, anyone can do it".

My son got me one of those cool origami a day calendars. I am 3 weeks into the year and I have been practising my origami. For some strange reason I thought it would be fun to do it each day with him, forgetting that the boy has just come off a year of "a paper airplane a day". For the record telling your kid that doing a perfect outside fold is just dumb and no one thinks he is clever cause it is dumb and no I don't need to see how it is done perfectly because remember they are dumb and I am not going to do those dumb things.... yeah well I don't think they covered that in parenting 101.

My version of a penguin...... a penquin I the bird............oh be quiet.........

The peace dove who couldn't get her fat ass off the ground if peace depended on it..........

You know magic tricks always go over well don't they........

Maybe I didn't give balloon animals enough of a chance............

They say liquor is quicker.............

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A little sewing........

Remember these?

Yep, scrunchies.

Well my daughter didn't live through the 90's so she thinks they are awesome. She gets to pick out her favourite fabric from my stash and like magic in 15 minutes she has a scrunchie. She gets to iron them and sometimes sew the seams on the machine while on her mama's lap and life does not get better than this. And later if she is really lucky she will get to "help" make dinner. Because when you are 4 years old all you really need is attention, love and a favourite toy and all of the rest of that plastic crap just gets in the way because it gives your mum a reason and excuse to say"for goodness sake go and play with all the great things you got for Christmas and don't hang around my feet".

And her favourite toy, a wooden trolley we found at the dump that she got to decorate all by herself.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Simple - Yes, Easy - No

There was a baby born about these parts lately, #3 to some friends. Now at the risk of offending all is just me or do baby #3, #4, #5 in a family seem like less cause for celebration? Even with my second there was less who-ha, that's okay you get way too much crap with babies. I once met a couple so excited about their pregnancy I would have sworn it was #1 but it was #8, I was floored. #8 and they were still all about it, go figure, I don't get it. In fact even someone else having 8 kids makes me feel nervous. Imagine being the extended family, you would want to make double sure you kept both of those parents alive wouldn't you. We are official guardians to 4 different kids (2 different families) and it makes me nervous when I see the 4 parents say travelling in the same car together. I just don't think it is wise. I don't manage 2 most days, could you imagine 6! It didn't go over well when I expressed that one out loud, really I was just trying to be practical. Aaah but I digress. ........

I want to see baby #3 but what does it say about me that I am more excited about finally being able to make a pair of Saartje's bootees. Of course a new human being is more important than a (super duper cute) pattern. Of course it is but damn, it is a mighty fine little pattern isn't it. And he is not mine after all and he has lots of other people to be excited about him but being excited about his new bootees I think I will take care of that job.

Now I thought I would be able to whip these out in an hour or two and that may be the case if I could just get past the constant frogging I have done. I am on yarn #3 (hey like the baby, maybe it is fate....spooky). It is many attempts later, because they are too small to swatch for in my mind. Since I have started these booties about 15 times trying to work them out the irony is not lost on me. But finally one is done. I have reworked the pattern to allow for the larger gauge. I am not thrilled about the colour or yarn but since this is a fairly traditional couple my yarn choices were extremely limited. Machine washable and no hint of any colour that would change the child's sexual orientation in later years (of course it has been scientifically proven, and anyway don't you know the old saying "pink for a baby boy and there will be no heterosexual joy". You don't? Odd. Guess you don't get out much. And anyway I don't need that hanging over my head). Ted tried to convince me to just go with what I wanted but what I wanted that these may be worn. My only nod to a little less conventionality will be to put 4 different buttons on them for a little fun (for me) (guess it is I who doesn't get out enough). It is a novelty yarn alas but I think it will go over well with the couple. I will save my organic Blue Sky undyed cotton for the next knitter's baby, it would not have been appreciated here and I may have made a bit of a fool of myself trying to get them to see the folly of their ways. People get a little funny once you try stuffing yarn down their shirt so they can truly see how soft it is.

So pattern verdict..........simple - yes, easy - no. Baby stuff is a political minefield.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Time to walk the talk.......

I have been thinking about over consumption a lot lately.

I have been thinking about how we are changing a whole generation by giving them everything they could ever want or need. I worry about this. I think it is going to bite us in the ass big time.

I lived in Southern California for about 5 years, a place where it was never too hot, never too cold, no bugs and life was pretty easy. And you know what I learned. I don't appreciate good weather unless I have had a winter to suffer through. It was weird lesson to learn. Here in Dunedin where the weather is often yucky when we have sun the whole neighbourhood comes alive as we all think the same thought, "I must go outside, I must enjoy and saver, I must garden, I must lie in the sun and read and I must try to get to the strawberries before the bloody birds get them". I swear this is a universal thought in my neighbourhood on a sunny day. You feel the joy a sunny, warm day brings.

I think about it when I craft and find myself more and more drawn to using recycled materials. Because I have made the commitment (due to budget and environmental reasons) that all the fabric in our curtains and upholstery will be from recycled materials I now get the joy of discovery at op shops and garage sales and I am ashamed to admit the depths of my stash. I know I value my handcrafted clothing more than store bought. I know my gift recipients agree. Is this why so many of us are crafting more and more? Is this why I am growing more of my food? Is this why I am drawn to making my own bread, jam, baked goods? Can I only appreciate what isn't easily gained? In our effort to make life easy for our kids what are we depriving them of?

( Calorimetry from Knitty, lovely little pattern it is!)

I met a knitter the other day who was down in Stewart Island for a week and it was cold. She didn't have a hat but she just couldn't bring herself to buy one because she is able to now make them. She is a brand new knitter who has only made scarfs but was confident in her ability to make a hat. So instead she froze. She laughed about it as she was making a hat in the warm sunny weather we were having in Dunedin. I completely agreed with her. I would have done the same thing. I have done the same thing.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Is anyone still out there........... very delinquent blogger is now back.

Now I thought about giving all sorts of lame excuses since the truth sounds even lamer but I figured honesty is the best policy in this case.

Truth #1: By nature I need lots of "alone" time and I haven't been getting so much of that lately. I now have a very social job that consumes 30 hours of my week and 2 busy children that insist on having many friends. New Zealanders are a friendly bunch and I find myself attending more dinners, parties, bbq's and "just drinks" that we have time for. So as a result I have severely neglected other parts of my life, just ask my knit night group - Tanya who? It is not just you; I haven't been reading blogs lately nor taking the time to comment, even Ravelry only gets a look in.

Truth #2: While I still love knitting, it doesn't consume me like it used to. I have been doing more and more other crafts and have had less and less knitting to discuss. Yes there is always something on the needles and yes I knit most every day but it doesn't fill my every waking thought like it used to. Now given I am the Kiwi Knitter would a blog that allows other crafts to make an appearance be okay?

See I miss blogging. I miss the connections that I made with so many of you. I love the feeling of the internet knitting village that blogging helps to create. I miss the chance to have my say, completely uninterrupted. I would still like to blog but it will always be on this erratic schedule I am afraid, it will always be feast or famine. Don't you hate it when you discover these truths about yourself?

Will you have me back?