Thursday, April 26, 2018


The short sleeved baby cardigan - using this pattern - is finished. It's for a my second grandchild due in Spring. Very exciting.

And three new things being knitted all at once in the round and on double points. 

Cooler autumn weather is great for knitting.

Listening: Black sheep podcast. This is a Radio New Zealand podcast series about some of the more interesting characters (and some villains) from NZ's history. ****

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

cake and elephants

It's the middle of the feijoa season and we have an abundance. We've been giving them away to neighbours and workmates (isn't everybody at this time of year?) but still have too many. If you're in the same situation you might like to use some up by making this recipe for ginger and feijoa cake. It's delicious, moist, easy to make and uses up 500 grams of feijoa pulp. It's good with lemon icing and might be even better with the addition of walnuts.

I was hoping to have a small herd of elephants made but I'm afraid there's only two. I used this free pattern.

Reading: I've just started The last hours by Minette Walters. It's set in Dorset, England in 1348 and tells how the lady of the manor and her serfs survive the plague. Lady Anne is progressive in her ideas about equality, education, religion and healthcare possibly because Walters is writing from a modern perspective. The characters are (so far) predictable. The book is unbelievable but I don't want to stop reading it.

Watching: Wild, wild country on Netflix. This is a documentary series about guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and the commune he established near the tiny, isolated town of Antelope, Oregon in the 1980s.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

works in progress

It's wild and blustery day today. This is our first "significant winter storm" and the end of a lovely, long summer. Interestingly, today, as this storm blows in, New Zealand commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of its worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the inter-island ferry, the Wahine.

I have some things in progress to show you. I'm knitting another puerperium baby cardigan like these ones (here and here). But this time it's guilt-free knitting as I finally purchased the full pattern - Beyond puerperium - that goes from newborn size up to 2 year-old and includes 4-ply, 8-ply and 10-ply yarn options. The puerperium must be one of the most popular free patterns on Ravelry and I've wanted to acknowledge Kelly's generosity - by actually buying the pattern - for ages.

Plants are always works in progress, if you think about it, and I recently re-potted my ficus. This is my indoor plant success story; it's still alive - and flourishing - after being in my care for a whole year. I'm also very proud of the spider plant that I grew from a cutting. I love propagating plants - so easy really but so rewarding too. I have a few other cuttings ready to be potted up: another spider plant and some succulents and cacti.

The elephant is really just a spur of the moment try-out of a pattern I found. More on that next time.

Drinking: red bush (rooibos) tea

Listening: Border trilogy (podcast) on Radiolab - the background story to USA's protection of its southern border with Mexico

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

joy and comfort

New black and tan checked linen apron to replace this old work horse. I've added pockets this time.

And, with no particular baby in mind, a baby cardigan fresh off the needles - although a long time on the needles. I put off knitting those tiny sleeves for months and then had problems with the front button band that I did and undid four times and still didn't get the best finish. However this is a good free pattern that I'm likely to make again. Details here on Ravelry.

The gentle art of Swedish death cleaning : how to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter by Margareta Magnusson. The idea is that you ought to sort your stuff out before you move out of the large family home into a smaller apartment and, preferably, before you die so that other people (probably your grieving children) don't have to do it for you. Margareta doesn't give a lot of detailed advice but chats away in a lovely friendly way. I was very fond of her by the time I finished her book. She suggests you should start your decluttering early (at about 65 years of age), take your time and focus on one room at a time.***

Goodbye, things : the new Japanese minimalism by Fumio Sasaki who is a serious minimalist and lives in a tiny apartment in Tokyo with very few possessions. Even if you're not interested in living in such a seemingly extreme way this book is worthwhile to get us thinking about consumerism. In the 2013 documentary My stuff by Petri Luukkainen, Petri puts everything he owns into a storage unit. He can retrieve one thing a day for a year to discover just how much he really needs. It turns out he could get by with 100 things but needed 200 to live with some “joy and comfort".***

Monday, March 19, 2018

dressing the bear

Sewing for Woe Bear - a dress (made using this free pattern) and self-drafted matching bloomers. Gingham always reminds me - in a good way - of Sylvanian Families. These grey rabbits belonged to my children and are now cared for my granddaughter. I like that. I wonder if some of the toys that she has now might one day be enjoyed by her children.

Nigella in the garden. I planted it mainly because I love its common name - love-in-a-mist, devil-in-a-bush. I think the name came about because the flower sits in a 'mist' of delicate, dill-like foliage. The devil is the horned seed head, also surrounded by foliage. Not a grandiose statement plant. But quietly intriguing. And a good self-seeder.

Reading: Knots and crosses by Ian Rankin. This is the first book in the Inspector Rebus series - mindless page-turner crime. Great reading and plenty more where this came from. ****

Watching: Transparent - a comedy-drama web series created by Jill Soloway about a Los Angeles family and their lives following the discovery that the person they knew as their father is a transgender woman. *****

Eating: At last - feijoas. Although spoiled somewhat this year by the "alien invader" guava moth larvae (those little worms that get inside the fruit)

Friday, March 9, 2018


Autumn is coming. The weather is still mostly lovely but maybe ever so slightly cooler. I'm feeling less like rushing off to swim in the surf and more like doing inside things. So I've started off with some simple sewing - hemming linen to make tea towels. I love linen tea towels - extra absorbent and long lasting. I have a few 'vintage' ones found in op shops - but sometimes it's nice to make your own. (Any excuse to visit the fabric store). The hardest part is finding linen fabric at the right weight - not too fine (too absorbent) but, also, not too weighty.

And more hand hemmed hankies - cut from a graphic leafy floral found in a scrap bundle bought from Jet in Greytown on our recent holiday. One hankie finished and one in progress. One to keep and one to give.

Another year of Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark. Horray, more adventures of Plumdog! This is a delightful comic/graphic novel diary written from a dog's perspective. Compulsory reading for anyone who has enjoyed the company of a dog. *****

Remodelista : the organized home by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick. I cannot tell you how much I love this book. It is full of simple ideas - and beautiful ways - to tame the chaos in your home. I want to fill my pantry shelves with jars of chick peas and rice.*****

Friday, February 23, 2018

jam and other things

I started this post in the middle of January - a month ago - when I was going to tell you about jam making - fig and ginger - using figs from our tree. It's an old tree but it still produces plenty of fruit. We didn't throw a net over it this year - just left the birds (mainly sweet little Waxeyes) to enjoy the figs - but we still ended up with more fruit than we could manage. So a batch of jam seemed like a good idea. I used this recipe. It's very gingery so I'd only put in the two tablespoons of ginger if you're fond of it.

And then we were on holiday in the Wairarapa:

 The view from the lighthouse at Cape Palliser (the southernmost point of the North Island)

the fishing village of Ngawi where the fishermen launch their boats using graders (instead of tractors)

Castlepoint and lighthouse.

We finished our holiday with an overnight stay on Kapiti Island - a predator-free bird sanctuary. If you're at all interested in New Zealand birdlife I'd recommend the overnight visit. On our last day - the most wonderful and unexpected thing -  a sighting of a small pod of orcas moving through the Rauoterangi channel between Kapiti and the mainland.

Reading: My sister life : the story of my sister's disappearance (1997) by Maria Flook. A disturbing but true story of the author's younger sister who in 1964 at the age of 14 ran away from home in suburban Delaware and fell into a life of prostitution and substance abuse. ****

I am, I am, I am : seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O'Farrell. A collection of essays about the author's own near-miss experiences with death. Powerful, moving. Possibly my favourite book of 2017.*****

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre - winner of the Man Booker prize 2003. I'm re-reading this. Loved it the first time round - not so much this time as the element of surprise has gone - but still good. Texan teenager, Vernon Little, falsely accused of involvement in a school massacre, goes on the run. ****

Plant love : how to care for your houseplants by Alys Fowler. Comprehensive plant guide. *****

Watching: Breathe film based on true story of polio victim Robin Cavendish - and his feisty wife, Diana - and their efforts to help Robin live a good life ****

Ladybird - a coming-of-age comedy-drama written and directed by Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha, Mistress America, 20th Century Women) and starring Saoirse Ronan ****

Eating: Things from the garden - tomatoes, cucumbers, figs, passion fruit. It's been a bountiful summer. 😀