Wednesday, April 28, 2010

wrapped up

I get so much pleasure from the process of gift wrapping. It's emotive and soothing.

It's not because I'm a stickler for folding exact sized corners down perfectly and placing perfect sized pieces of sellotape in all the right places (like they do when they gift wrap in department stores or at the mall leading up to Christmas).

Quite the opposite. I'm a rough hewn wrapper.

I like to use beautiful old wallpapers that hold their folds. Thick corners turned down and held together with embroidery thread.

It's this part of the giving that means the most.
Something handmade and sent on it's way. Delivered to its destiny. Departed. And gone with it the joy of how good it felt to give.

we see red

Some of the tomatoes we grew this year were seriously as sweet as strawberries, but we never have enough. So, every Autumn we go and pick ground tomatoes from 'Pataka' down Marshlands Rd.

The kids get very excited about who is first to fill their bucket and I have to keep a careful eye on what goes in so we don't come home with any that are bruised or unripe.

Then begins the mad tomato frenzy which temporarily takes over the kitchen, where by I have to chop, roast and simmer every last one of them. The stock pot, every other decent sized pot and all the roasting dishes I can find are filled fast.

This year I froze quite a few whole in bags to use in pies and the like.
The rest we roasted and made into a pasta sauce with garlic and fresh herbs. 
Heaps were eaten like this when they cooled down having just come out of the oven. Delish on pizzas or just straight on toast.
I also made a tomato sauce that I thought would be a classic for fish and chips etc but it ended up turning out quite relishy, so I am using it that way with cheese on crackers. I think it's the allspice and the cloves that lend it in this direction. Luckily for me the kids are not complaining about it being too spicy. I'd be loathed to buy it from the supermarket if they did!


I busted up another pair of gloves and made Rabbit as a temporary friend for Dog. 
Dog is leaving us once my brothers first child makes its debut. The kids and I were growing increasingly attached to Dog and needed a replacement in the wings to soften the blow of adopting him out.

My 1.8 year old wee girl who is earnestly trying out new consonants calls her "Wabby".
You can see more of these glove animals here. Both were made from this book.

Dog will be presented alongside this merino sleeping sack I made in a newborn size, which is in a beautiful apple/sage green.
My kids lived in these when they were freshly hatched and being a one piece with the draw string makes the frequent nappy changing of a newborn a breeze. Oh I am excited about a new baby, one that's not actually mine but the closest next best thing to it. Go gushy first time Auntie!

Wabby has red embroidery stitching on her ears and a cute as widdle bunny tail.  She does look a widdle wonesome tho... I think I may need to make her a new boyfriend. Mr Bear perhaps?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

hunting for cones

Spencerville is a great place to find pine cones at this time of the year.
We filled 6 empty coffee bean sacks.
They make starting the fire much quicker than having to chop kindling beforehand and they're free! It's a great way to spend the afternoon as a young  family and there are usually so many other beautiful things to see along the way.

running rapaki

Autumnal blur. The poplar leaves are falling bright yellow and temporarily taking over where the sun left off.
I love the wind. I love to rug up and venture outside and trot like a goat up small mountains. I have a knack for making the people that love me the most, concerned for my well being and worry that I will get blown off said small mountains. But nothing will stop me within reason. 
Heavily pregnant and dressed like the Michelin man, I would stomp these slopes sometimes almost at 45 degree angles in hail and thunderstorms. The more extreme the weather, the more enticing it is. It is exhilarating to run around these parts when its sleeting or covered in snow. 
My thoughts are different when I run up here. Less trivial. I feel closer to some aspect of god, and to my own sense of fragility. I iron out the big stuff, love and loss. It is as if I have a 'google earth' perspective and I can clearly see which life's path to take at a particular cross road to get me closer to where I need to be. I write mental letters to the people I love and talk to people that are no longer alive. I grapple, I struggle, I laugh and cry. 
I keep my momentum as I move through the thoughts in my head and the scenery that echos the words unspoken.
It's hard to know what to say when someone asks "how was your run?". I talk of the weather and how many other people I saw (if any) and what condition my body was in. But so much remains private and indescribable.
The boys sometimes look at me slightly puzzled (yes I am wet and bedraggled, probably stinky and thirsty too). At 5 and 3 years old they might not be sure of the purpose these runs serve, but at least they have some sense of the hours lapsed and the location. They have started asking me when they can come too. And my heart melts because I think they get it. They may be small boys now, but one day they will be testosterone filled teenagers and really fit and able. And they know this and already they want in on the physicality, the mystery, the satisfaction. 

After I finished my run, I came across my old friend Dog.
Dog is partially blind and prone to being defensive.
He is often waiting like this, for the next thing to happen, whatever it may be.
He was lying out in the wind and rain when he could of taken shelter.
He was putting the world to right and ironing out a few things too, I think.

rainy days

The kids and I have been enjoying our rain walks of late. It doesn't matter if its bucketing down. My little ducklings and I will wander to see what can be found. 

I am trying to teach them to never begrudge the weather, no matter what its doing. Seldom is it the same for long enough that we get bored.

My Grandad Dave always said there was no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

He and Grandma (and my Great Granny Willis on several occasions) would take me tramping through the limestone clad bush of Charming Creek near Blackball, and thru Nelson Creek and the old Chinese gold mines near Westport on the West Coast. 

We walked on when it was "persisting down" and when it was as cold as a knife.

We would play a game of 'DONKEY' along the way, trying not to trip for the 6th time and reach the Y thus becoming the dreaded DONKEY. 

I remember the warmth of damp wool and the wet but always smiling faces, raindrops blowing in under the peaks of the hoods on our jackets. 

I still have my old wet weather gear. Until recently I could still smell my old dog on the sleeves of my raincoat. She died 20 years ago. That's what the senses do for the memories. And visa versa.
I recently bought new gumboots that come up high enough to almost meet the bottom of my raincoat, so I dont have to wear wet weather pants if its really hosing down. They are 'Hunters'. Scottish. Like my late Grandad. 

Friday, April 23, 2010


Isn't this guy adorable?!!! pretty good alternative to a real dog too.
I made him? for my brother's baby which is due to be born in a few weeks.
It took me all of about two hours following the clearly laid out instructions in this book..

He? hasn't got a name yet, if you can help me with any suggestions I would love to hear them.
Being made from a glove... perhaps Glovey?? we lovey you. 
My 3 year old thinks "Pickles" is the way to go which I rather respect as this child's animal naming choices are pure genius. There was the kunekune pig he aptly named "Very Nostrilly"
and the rabbit he christened "Humpy Bumpy".

Actually, it did occur to me that I have rather inappropriately sewn this soon to be born baby a PIT BULL and to a pit bull, a wee baby probably looks like a a warm buttery ball of fat ready for the munching. I think I will try to see him more like a Jack Russell... do they get their tails docked too? Oh dear, whatever this dog is, it has been inhumanely deformed as well. But still so cute! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

rehashing a new world

Things cant be too bad in this shaky little world of ours, when hundreds of fabric hungry, craft trippers of all ages and stages can joust about respectfully in an old Scottish society hall, intent on securing themselves some recently unearthed  and possibly never seen before textile treasures.


One has to wonder what this world is coming to when hundreds of (mostly) women turn up en masse under the proviso of topping up their sewing supplies and then lose all sense of grace and...

I for one, grossly underestimated the popularity of the stash rehash event (not having attended the first) and altho I arrived half an hour early I quickly found myself exploiting my baby girl and her need for an impending nap as a means to advance in the queue (what crafty mother in her right mind wants a meltdown coming from the backpack at a pivotal point of spotting and seizing some must have haberdashery curio) 

Anyways I was in and out in half and hour and spent $25. Lots of denim, linen, seersucker (who's not a sucker for seersucker i ask you?!) and a really old supermarket bag (that took me down memory lane and down to the stall I had as a kid at the local supermarket selling coconut ice and hokey pokey to raise money for telethon). It was full of green cord half sewn into a pair of very rude pants (ermm, what was  thinking? But I guess given that it was a dollar and the place was writhing/teeming with women burying the heads into mounds of material with their bottoms poking high up into the air, I wasn't thinking clearly.  
I got the little lady home and down for her delicious nap while I got to examine the loot I amassed from the fast paced sporting event that was as frenzied as a mexican wave in a gladiatorial stadium. 

To conclude;
You have just read an unedited post that I am going to be so audacious and weird as to post because A) it quite accurately sums up both sides of the crazy/wonderful stash rehash experience for me and B) quite frankly I havent the energy or inclination tonight to edit this lengthy and bloviating slurry any further C) the lure of chocolate and a dvd in bed awaits me and D) I'm pretty sure no one is really reading these posts of mine anyway (except for you simone, you made me dinner at MY house when I was exhausted, I love you)

winter woolies

The autumn weather has been so wonderful lately that I'm slightly worried winter is going to sneak around the corner any minute now and bite us really hard on the bum. Just in case, I've been preparing the change over of all the kiddies wardrobes. Gloves, hats, scarves, check...
gummies, raincoats, wet weather pants... check. All in their various sizes and moving down the line to this years youngest with the oldest usually getting something new. In the meantime, while all this generous sunshine rolls on, I've had the chance to hand wash the knitted jerseys and have them completely dry at the end of the day. They get brought back inside smelling sun kissed, fresh and ready to go, for when winter finally does shock us into submission.

The wee girls smockie (free pattern here) was very easy to knit up (using wool left over from my grandma's stash). I started it when I was pregnant and altho I made it with this autumn in mind, It got shelved for sometime until I recently rediscovered it. The wee lass is growing like a flipping mushroom lately and also I have "subluxed" my flexor corpi ulnarus ligament on my left hand (but nothing will stop me I tell you, I am like a foot painter if need be). So I have been knitting it one handed style and thus it has been slow to complete. Consequently it's fitting slightly smaller than anticipated (not that I need any excuses to get cracking on whipping up another)... oh I do love to sit bone idle and knit an evening away.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

blue gold

I've been playing around lately with a vat of Indigo dye. 

Dipping in articles of previously drab clothing and drowning them until they emerge reborn in a deep royal blue, then rinsing them till all traces are gone from the water but not from the thread. 

One of my hands looks bruised or as if I may be turning into a smurf because there was a hole in one of my protective gloves.

I have always been drawn to the intensity of this colour more than any other. When I was a teenager my grandmother gave me an antique perfume bottle made from a highly collectible blue glass in exactly the same shade as Indigo. 

It speaks to me of Mediterranean skies and the allure of a blue lagoon. It reminds me of all the exotic textile traditions I have seen abroad and revered. It is escapist and lusty.

Added to that, is the fact that I'm a blue eyed jeans wearing girl (most good dark denims are indigo dyed) All of which means I go seriously woozy for Indigo.

I have read that Indigo is one of the more complex and difficult of all the dyes to master.
I still have some way to go to get the blacker navy versions I'm after and there seems to be lots of tricks one must employ to avoid oxygen getting into the vat. But the process of lifting a yellowy/limey coloured garment from out of the vat and watching it dramatically turn blue as it oxidises in the air is totally fascinating. 

Beware there are poisons involved (reducing agents etc so you wouldn't want to do this with the kids around) 

This author helped with a simple process to get me started. And this is beautiful. And this.

Actually, I tried to tie dye the silk scarf in the pic below, but it ended up looking quite tragic so I dyed over it. One day when I get a darker shade on the go, I hope to look like this. HA!