Wednesday, September 29, 2010

gourmet dishcloths

I've started knitting dishcloths! I don't have better things to do with my time!
But they are thick and thirsty, nice to touch and really quite pretty.
The 100% variegated cotton is from here and the pattern comes from my 85 your old friend Shirley (who knits them up for fundraising). I'm planing on giving a few for Xmas gifts to the women who will get the notion of a gourmet dish cloth.

Here's Shirley's Gourmet Dishcloth pattern...

Cast on 4 stitches

K2, YO (yarn over) Knit to the end of the row

Continue increasing like this on every row in garter stitch (knit every row) until your have 45 stitches (smaller cloth) or 50 stitches (slightly larger cloth)

Begin decreasing as follows:

K1, K2tog, YO (yarn over) K2tog, knit to end of the row

Continue decreasing like this on every row in garter stitch until you have 4 stitches remaining

Cast off

Nb) the YO makes the pretty decorative holes along the edges.

Friday, September 24, 2010

surprise treats

A surprise package turned up my mailbox the other day....for me!?!! from somebody I did not know!!!

With much enthusiasm I ripped into it and found inside...two skeins of beautiful Knitsch sock wool (that I had coincidentally been eyeing up in knit world the previous day!) a handy little measuring tape (great for traveling with) a selection of beautiful gift tags and a packet of Tim Tams that the kids and I went nuts over!

All of this was are care of the very kind hearted Tash -from Knitsch yarns, intended as a post quake cheer up and graciously received as such.

I had been wondering if the rest of the country was getting sick of hearing about post quake Christchurch but I have heard quite a few stories of out of towners sending relief packages like this to friends and family in the region.

While I feel very fortunate to still have a home to live in, all our basic amenities reconnected and just a whole lot of insurance palaver ahead of us, it's still touching to have a moment of indulgence bestowed upon you by a hitherto stranger, helping to reverse some of the the effects of the stress that we all experienced.

Big up's to Tash then... because of you, the kids and I had a very rare shared sugar rush and now I get to knit my very first pair of socks with some of your delicious wool!

Monday, September 20, 2010


getting there


coming home

A road trip, a change of scene, some heavy rain, bursts of sunshine and a batch swap with friends who have impeccable taste... all so good for the soul.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

onwards and upwards

It's been ten days post quake and finally the nervous system, blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels have subsided. There is still the odd aftershock felt, as other fault lines readjust to new pockets of pressure. Some are big enough to act as a cautious reminder, a fearsome phasing out, but many of them pass undetected, unless like some you are hooked up to GeoNet or hanging off some iphone quake app.

We have moved out of our marae style sleeping arrangement in the lounge room and are back in our bedrooms. The kids have 100 year old brick fire places in theirs which was cause of concern, but by and large life in our wee corner seems back on track. The safe area of our house has been decluttered, the car is at the panel beaters, the buckets of broken crockery await the inspection of the insurance man and nicknacks have been blue tacked back in place.

There is however, a lot of red tape around town and with it an airy feeling that things in the inner city won't be the same for quite some time. Many of the buildings destined for a date with the wrecking ball are still standing, and others are gone like gaps in a gaping mouth where teeth used to be.

Hopefully there will be sufficient debate and discussion to ensure Christchurch is rebuilt right, with thoughtful design that is pleasing to the people of the city. The last thing we need, is to live with quick fix plasticky knocks ups reminiscent of say... Blenheim ...sorry Blenheim!

Anyway, part of what aided and soothed my senses was the doll making classes I have been attending for the last few weeks.
Isn't she a welcomed distraction!
The dolls are in the tradition of the warldorf steiner dolls. Though I am told by our guru doll maker Mayjan, this tradition of hand made cloth dolls goes as far back as the ancient Egyptians.

Marjan (from Spindlewood...the coolest kids toy shop in town) has been making dolls like these for the last 20 years. She has a great eye for bringing out the character of each doll and magically deft hands.

The dolls are made entirely from natural materials: wool and cotton which stimulates the sensory motor skills and feels human and warm to the touch. I held a life sized new born doll Mayjan had been working on and I found myself trying to wind the baby over my shoulder and feeling rather clucky!

Mayjan is also responsible for rekindling my passion for hand stitching (specifically the almost invisible 'his and her' stitch) and for teaching us to forgo knots in favour of anchoring.

I was inspired, rather romantically to commit to hand sewing throughout (even when machine sewing was optional). I am also going to hand stitch her some clothes, just for the pleasure and satisfaction inherent with sitting quietly and stitching away (those machines really are noisy).

I recall Mayjan saying that "every stitch is a loving thought" and when you have the time, it really feels that way. Given that this doll is going to be gifted to my wee lady for her 2nd birthday, it felt right to be 'slow sewing' along the same principles as the 'slow food' movements etc. I could become Amish right now.

The doll should ideally resemble the child they are intended for, as to inspire imitation of the future parent and so each child can easily see within the doll, a reflection of themselves.
For this reason, I went with unruly hair, blue eyes and a big pumpkin shaped face. That's our Nina!
Making the head for our doll was a lengthy and challenging process. The contours of the head are surprisingly, skeletally accurate. Hanks of carded sheep's wool are tightly wound into a ball and wrapped in cheesecloth. That alone took a couple of hours and our hands were sore from squeezing and massaging the living begeevers out of our heads to firm them up. We used a heavy duty linen thread to create the eye line, the contour of the chin, and the back of the neck, anchoring the thread where the ears would be then sewing a cotton sleeve as a skin over the skull.
pinning the skin to the crown
back of the head
Triangular positioning of subtle eyes and mouth.
The faces are intentionally pared back so the child can impart onto the doll what it wishes. Less facial features leaves the child free to imagine a wider range of emotions.
loved those 4 inch needles!
a part Maori doll and a pale blondie
I feel very fortunate to have crafted alongside such an awesome and gorgeous bunch of like minded women. All of us are housewives and mothers so it was great to share quake stories and soothe our frazzled selves through the classes. There was much laughter, cups of tea, sweet treats and baking too. Thank you lovely ladies and much gratitude to the wonderful Mayjan.
If you are interested in attending Mayjans doll making classes you can contact her via Spindlewood.
I will leave you with one more shot of the dolly... who incidentally, in less than completed form (ie the body in two parts, limbs not fully stuffed but face finished) was scooped up and saved as if she was another one of my children, amidst the quake and the smashed array of preserves and soya sauce! Thankfully she too came out unscathed.... oh and see that belly button.... shucks!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


earth's belly was rumbling
he got angry and threw his plates
and children wondered in innocence how santa would get to them this year

men atop roofs everywhere,
quickly fixing
a power pole collapsed like a toothpick and
the grandmother who spent the last few months of widowhood redecorating her home in modest yet romantic tones, to frame a loving memory of her one and only, sees it sinks into swamp and become full of silt as she struggled to leave through reluctant doors with warped frames, with family jewels and a wedding photo in her arms

concrete has cracked like fissures in vagrants feet, deep and sore
and mounds of mud and sewage spew forth like vomit,
bodies still sway, all day,
spooked in every cell

families lay camped out in lounge rooms, pulling in, keeping low, warm but waiting
disc jockeys voices, coming from a huddled over wireless, are well rehearsed to calm and soothe and play mellow jazz and crooning country
but still the east and west are fighting and they won't let go

a mother lays in bed with one eye open, glad for snores abound but knows all is not over
old brick and mortar turns to dust and motes
historic frontages toppled like dominoes, too old to hold tight
fires when fuses frayed and spat when the power came back on

some of us were running with babies in our arms, carpet burns from when we fell and fought against the agitation in the walls, spinning us in all directions, shaking concrete, to a corner of a room, unable to move forward and desperately clawing with every step

buckets full of broken crockery and a car buried under brick
the house became a ship and we the fearful captains
the road was arching and sparking, it's metal rubbing raw

quick, think, heart racing, terror... do what you can...
still... wait... shake... down... hold... held... hide...
we're alive... keep going... another and another...

coming towards us like a train, when you are only inches from the tracks

the elderly, fragile and calling blindly out for help are thrown from their beds
almost crushed by furniture,
touching forehead, chest, left and right over heart

and afterwards and in between, anonymous neighbours chat for the first time tweaked by adrenalin that makes them cheerful and concerned

everyday a zigzag
we anticipate collapse,
craggy cliffs of volcanic rock snap and roll down the valley, scaring it for life
and we are wearing clothes to bed, again
afflicted by the imprint of fear, the cold and acidic kind

a lampshade was liberated, swaying side to side by metres
white noise deafens too quiet children sitting on pillows, a favourite toy in hand,
cannot-comprehending why parents can't make it stop

fire walls are falling, parapets toppling down, missing heads all the way
sirens constant calling, warning, helicopters searching
and Pakistan and Haiti a little closer to home

intestines in knots and hearts nearly beating right out of their chests,
frightened new born baby mice, sensitive and still,
another round of aftershocks coming... calling...
a gradual goodbye but not soon enough

a cinema seat sits lonely,
perched on the open edge of its former grandeur,
fallen and never replaced

the shaky isles are shaking
and we are looking the devil in between the eyes
half asleep children clinging luckily to life with a parent praying
bones shaking, nerves rattled, teeth gurn, stomachs churn
living with a tech tonic monster beast

the taste of worry is like blood and bone and bile
and when darkness surrounds, our babies are snoring and shaking without knowing it
and later still, when the fridge stops complaining, making noises of its own,
I can hear a magpie calling, laughing "fools, you have no feathers!"

lines and shapes are forced out everywhere like shattered walnut shell
and we are trying to find our breath again, a resting place for the mind,
hoping all that can be done, has been done.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

new knits

I have spent a great deal of time of late, sitting and knitting on this green chair
the thinking and worries too, are there...
but the view from there is quite nice and the sun within reach,
and the quiet voice within has something to teach...
...trackies and slippers are the new knitting uniform...

...a new cardi for moi, in a mousey possum merino blend from these guys.
free pattern found here. It's called the...