October 31, 2010

Knitting forever, housework whenever!

This was the motto from my favourite West Vancouver knitting shop, Knit & Stitch.  I haven't been there since I moved to New Zealand 6 years ago. It was my most inspirational place to be. When my kids were little they used to help put away stray balls of yarn and organize the shelves while I sat on the couch with the other knitters and learned to knit. They catered to all skill levels and had plenty of wonderful projects on the walls. Best of all, I belonged and was welcome. I was always inspired, I learned and I grew.

A lovely baby set by Cathy B.
We all need a place like that. Today, I went to the Botanical Gardens to meet my knitting friends for our monthly coffee. It reminded me of Knit & Stitch. We laughed and talked all at once and, yes, we knitted. Passersby stop and ask us what we are about. We have coffee or smoothies and dream about winning the Lotto so we can buy a knitting shop or have a standing order with our favorite knitting store so we can knit forever. 
Hand dyed yarn by Nicky. Hand knitted hangers by Mandy.

I pulled out UFO #2 and obeyed my trusted friend, Nicky, who suggested I frog (that's "ribbit" or "rip") the front to just above the armhole to begin the v-neck. It's great having someone you can trust sitting beside you when you are frogging that beautiful cable sweater that's been hiding away in your knitting bag.  Since my confession of my UFO's to the world, I challenged my mother to reveal hers. You see, I come by it honestly.  I told her that I would post another 4 UFO's just as soon as she lists 4 of hers on Ravelry. If I want to reduce my UFO list, I just frog. It's simple and no one gets hurt.

October 29, 2010

Natural Dyeing

I've been intrigued by the recent dyeing posts on Struan Farm's blogspot which discussed the use of Kool Aid and Greigs Gelatin to dye wool. I'm dyeing to try it! My mother used to dye fabric for quilting and sewing.  She also had a small factory where she designed and manufactured intimate apparel.  I remember the dyes in our sink as she experimented with dyeing lace to match silks and cottons.  The laces were from Belgium and came white or cream.  So we often saw mom's hands bright blue or pink.  She always had an array of colours in a stainless steel milking bucket with fabric and lace on a timer.

I found a book on mom's shelf one day (which I borrowed for a very long time).  It's all about natural dyeing using fruit, roots, hulls, nuts, bark, flowers, leaves and stems.  In some cases, you can use the whole plant.  This book seems to be unique to North America and specifically dyeing wool.  It suggests fresh use of collected plants and instructions on when to collect for best colour.  For example, early Spring is the best time to collect and use bark when the trees are being pruned.

I stumbled on a blogging community of natural dyers.  Check out http://naturallydyeing.blogspot.com/.  Textiles take dyes in various degrees of intensity. I love how this blogger phtographs thread, lace, fabric, etc. to show the varying intensity of colour.  She gives the Greek and Latin names and a little history lesson on how they used the dye in the past.  Apparently, they used to dye hair blond using Xanthium Strumarium!

October 22, 2010

A Day Off

Oh, what a lovely term... A day off! I took a whole day off to get ready for my dad and his wife's arrival.  They have been on a ship for a month from Vancouver to Auckland, stopping in the South Pacific at ports like Vanuatu, New Caledonia, American Samoa, Hawaii, and Fiji.  I will hear all about it at dinner, I'm sure.

Today was pure bliss. I didn't spend it slaving over a hot stove. No, I through a roast in the oven with all the trimmings and then spent the afternoon in my lovely craft room!  What a wonderful afternoon it was. Here is what I have to show for it.

Pre-felting and stuffing
Felted with stuffing
I made two cards for a workshop on the weekend and I finished my felted Christmas ornament.  Here is a picture of it with the average size ornament next to it so you can see how enormous it is.  The little blue and white one in front is a needle felted ornament that I received as a gift from my friend in Port Alice, Leslie Blagdon. 
Eiffel Tour
Reindeer Card

October 20, 2010

Christmas Ornaments

I am really excited about Christmas.  I usually have one or two events to prepare for and this year Christmas starts November 13th at the Harvest Women's Night.  With the help of a group of women, we made these invitations (96 in all).

I started to knit an ornament from a free pattern on Lion which turned out larger than I anticipated due to this gorgeous Manos Wool Classica and size 6.5mm needles.  I will probably save it for my staff Christmas party at my home.  Here is the work in progress.  Thanks to Karen from Struan Farm, I have enough yarn to complete the enormous knitted ball.  To felt or not to felt?

Watch for the feather wreath coming soon...


As a creative person, I am easily distracted (inspired) by new crafts that I see in magazines, at markets, online, or from friends.  I have a common problem amongst crafty people; a lot of UFO's lurking in closets, baskets, drawers, and under beds!  A UFO is an "unfinished project or object."  I often knit the body and then put it down to start a new project.  With my new blog, I've been challenged to finish some of these UFO's because when finished, I can post a blog about my achievement!

1) Here is one sweater I am quite keen to finish...It was started at a workshop at South Seas Knitting.  I wanted to make lace sleeves because it's a light weight sweater made from a beautiful Koigu yarn that should not be wasted.  It would make great socks if I wanted to frog it but I have an awful lot of it.

2) Another sweater I started for my son a year ago was this Blue Sky Alpaca Suri Merino. It has a simple cable up the front and I plan to put a cable up the sleeves.  I just need to figure out how to finish the v-neck and then make the sleeves.  It might fit my nephew, Silas!  Too small for my kids now. 
3) Here's a small wall quilt that I started in Australia 6 years ago! Hmm.... It just needs some embroidery and the binding.  I really have no excuse for not finishing it.

I should count up all my UFO's and not start anything new until I finish two old projects.  That way the number should go down over time!  How many UFO's do you have?  What do you do to motivate yourself to finish something? 

October 17, 2010

Fountains of Chocolate!

It was a very busy day today.  First, I zipped out to the Clevedon Farmer's Market to meet my friend, Karen, for coffee and pick up a few croissants for breakfast.  Of course, I tested out my new market bag and was delighted to find that it grew to the required size, accomodating all my purchases.  I took my knitting with me, as well, but I'll have to show you that tomorrow...

I also nipped over to Briscoes and bought a Sunbeam chocolate fountain today for the Ladies' Dessert Night at Harvest.  I cut up some fruit and sponge cake because we had to test it out to see how it worked.  Tonight, I used Nestle melts.  We will have to test out another brand of chocolate next week.  Take a look at our miniature chocolate fountain spread.

My boys enjoy a good taste test!

October 14, 2010

The Market Bag

I started this gorgeous market bag, over the weekend, at a knitting retreat at Struan Farm.  Karen was our hostess and chief knitter.  The goody bag this year was a market bag from L'Atelier in L.A.  I knitted the body over the course of the weekend and brought it home to be lined and finished.  Amongst my stash of quilting fabrics, I found the perfect fabric for the inside top band.  Check out the purple suede handles!  Thank you, Karen, for an inspiring weekend.

October 12, 2010

A Jungle Treat

A couple of weeks ago, I organized a little workshop to learn how to decorate cupcakes.  I have wanted to do this for ages.  We needed lots of food for an afternoon tea for the Parent & Baby Expo held at Harvest Christian Church. So I set out to ask ladies to bring a dozen cupcakes as the course fee!

Our teacher was a young lady who does magical baking for high teas, or if you eat at Robert Harris in Papakura, she might be found there in the early hours of the morning preparing food for the day. Her name is Hannah and she is also talented with fondant!  Here are some of the cupcakes that we made on the night.  Check out Karen, who loved her little hippo!

October 11, 2010

A Knitters Weekend

I went away for a weekend with my knitting friends. We wait all year for this event and it is never disappointing.  The knitter's retreat starts with a tiki tour to Piopio where Struan Farm awaits the knitters! It's an inspiring time with friends who savour the time to talk knitting and crafts.  Nicky made little sheep for us all with knitting charms dangling around their necks.  Mandy made lace coat hangers. And Cathy made stitch markers out of row counters as well as a knitted angel for the Christmas tree.

Our project for the weekend was a market bag called "Sling-It" from L'Atelier, in L.A. These are the wips from the weekend. Thank you, Karen, for an inspiring weekend!

October 5, 2010

Greenhouse Gala

This past month has not been very crafty.  I finished knitting a sweater and when I find a suitable model, I will photograph it to show you.

I finally found some time today to make a card or two.  I got a small order of paper, a punch, and some stamps this morning. I had to wait all day to play with them and when I did, this is what I came up with. It's great to find time for a little creativity in your day.