Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Last Day of Autumn.

Suddenly it is not hard to believe today is the last day of Autumn. There is still a little bit of warmth in the air when the sun is out, but as soon as it sneaks away, the air becomes icy. Thank goodness I have finished knitting my new hot water bottle just in time for cold feet. Tomorrow I will include some knitting notes as I have to go back and find the pattern I used.
We have been lighting fires again. The boys decided to bring the big beanbag in for fireside snuggling. It is heaven to curl up on but I have tripped up on it a few times today... all worth it though to know I can sink into it at anytime with cushions and blankets waiting for me (if any newcomers are wondering, the crochet hexagon pattern comes from Lucy at Attic24 - she writes the best crochet recipes.
Stories by the fire. I am so happy to be a day away from winter.
Hugo just came up to me and told me he has the same name as Father Christmas. Apparently the great man himself visited Hugo and told him his true name. Who would have thunk it.
I'm a bit tired tonight, I went into school today and taught Archie's class to felt. I told them that to be good at felting, you must enjoy frightening the living daylights out of wool and also be very violent. It was hilarious watching them roar as they pounded on their wool. Let me tell you, a class of 7 and 8 year olds make wonderful little felt hammers. Hopefully I will get a good photo of their work in the next couple of days. As Jonno would say, toodleloo xxooxx.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


This is Hugo's craft project for the day - a serviette butterfly made all by himself AND figured out all on his own too.

My first pair of booties adapted from a pattern in Nicki Trench's new book 'Cute and Easy Crochet'.
I also made these little labels today - hopefully the person who receives these booties won't be confused as they are not to be worn on the head.
Almost ready to go. Apparently the next stage is actually going to the post office (which of course I will do tomorrow).
And now for some photos of the afternoon light.
Autumn gold - limes and some feijoa wine made by a friend from trees planted by the boys' great grandfather.
Have a lovely evening, I am going to make more booties in edible colours and then imagine being stuffed with little toes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Little Hats for Little Heads in Christchurch.

My mum has been extremely busy knitting these beautiful hats for all of the cold headed little babies who are being born in Christchurch at the moment. I've done a few, but Mum has been a trooper and has been churning them out nightly.
Wondering where to send them all, I decided to contact Plunket. In New Zealand, Plunket is the most wonderful organisation of nurses, looking after all of the mums and children of the country. They check up on you regularly (in the most caring and nurturing sort of way) and have all sorts of resources available to parents in need. My nurse was so spectacularly spectacular I still feel like crying with gratitude whenever I see her. I can remember calling her in a moment of pure desperation when I couldn't get one of my babies to sleep after 100 years of trying and having her talk me through it calmly, even though she was in the middle of a supermarket.
So, I rang Plunket head office and spoke to a lovely lady there about whether they were interested in distributing the hats to mums in need. She said a huge YES and also said they are crying out for woollen blankets, little jumpers and booties too.
Here is the address if anybody else is interested in contributing:
Plunket Area Office Canterbury
5 Twigger St.
New Zealand
I would emphasize however, the need for 100% wool to be used in the garments as it gets very cold in Christchurch and they need as much warming as possible.
It would take me a long time to knit a blanket so I whipped this up on the machine instead. Just in case you are wondering, it is a big swaddling cloth made with fine merino wool on the inside (the silky type they make clothes and thermal tops from) with an outside shell of cotton.
My babies were always so much calmer when they were swaddled and I wish that I had something cosy like this for them. It was made by sewing two big squares together (wrong sides facing) with a small gap left at the bottom. I then turned it inside out (so the right sides were outside) and top stitched all the way around. I then tied it together with little tight zig-zags in random intervals.

Over the next few days I will troll the internet for some great free patterns and post them for you. Thanks so much for listening and hopefully you might feel like getting your needles clicking or your hooks a'hooking.
Lots of love,
Kate xxooxx.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Donuts Anyone?

Oh my giddy aunt, I have just found the best free pattern for donuts ever! I couldn't get my head round the way they were made ('scuse the pun) and was overjoyed when I found a pattern that was simple and beautiful.
I can't stop making them which is just as well because I have a neice turning 1 soon and I thought I might make a picnic set that I can add to over the years. I was looking at a photo of her the other day and noticed how very sharp her new teeth are so I might suggest they live as decorations for a year or two on a shelf to prevent her nipping through the wool.
Hugo was awake from 4.15am feeling very cold and hungry this morning (time to put blankets back onto the bed) and was wrecked by the time breakfast came. So, I kept him at home for a snuggly day and he was so thrilled to have some one on one day that the inner clown came out.
He made me do this photo shoot with him!!! I didn't mind though....
Oh yes, since our Autumnal trip to Eastwoodhill Arboretum, I have been thinking a lot about fungi and their shapes and of course... what starts off as a thought at the moment often ends up on a hook.

Here is Hugo - or should I say Chinky the pixie from Enid Blyton's 'Wishing Chair' books. Jonno makes him put up his hood and pop out his ears. We did have fun with this little fellow today. (And he had an enormous rest so it wasn't all photo shoots and crocheted food).
Have a lovely weekend. We have Archie and Hugos' Poppa's birthday dinner on the weekend, a smattering of gardening, a bit of crochet and litres of tea drinking planned.
Lots of love,
Kate xxooxx.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birthday Parties and Things.

Well, another birthday party is down for the year. This year we kept it pretty low key for Archie, three friends, bowling, d.v.d.'s, endless bowls of chips and popcorn and lots of lollies. Oh yes, and for the first time, sleeping over. It all went well, eight year old boys are one of my very favourite kind of things - easy to keep happy as long as they are well fed. And the cake was a joy - Archie decided that he want a simple mud cake which he could then decorate with his Lego. After last year's castle, it was a dream.
I couldn't resist adding a couple of pretty photos too. The last few roses are quickly emerging before winter begins (11 days), they are so precious. The calendula was given to me by my mother-in-law. I love the pale creamy yellowness of it, it is such a warm colour.
Have a cosy night, I am going to catch up with the first episode of Grey's Anatomy for the season tonight. Jonno went off it during last year's season finale so I now watch it on Cub night. I do love a night to myself (but if you are reading this Jonno, nights when you are there are the best of all).
Lots of love,
Kate xxooxx.

Monday, May 16, 2011

At Home with Handmade Books - a Review.

Here is one of the real reasons I am happy for the boys to be back at school... actually, strike that, wildly ecstatic might be more the case. At the very beginning of the holidays, I received this book - 'At Home with Handmade Books' by Erin Zamrzla.
I have cupboards full of origami paper, tags and labels, cardboard, old cards, etc and it seems as though they have a very active social life, breeding furiously like rabbits. However, I am not a scrap-booker and no matter how hard I try, would probably never get to the bottom of my stash by making cards. So for me, this book is perfect because it not only gives me wonderful projects (all 28 of them) but also sets me in a whole different direction.
At this stage I need to state that although Trumpeter Books sent me this copy, I would not be endorsing it, let alone raving about it unless I thought it was fantastic. And it is. The photography is beautiful and the muted palette of colours that weave through the book is edible.
For me, a good craft book is not just about the projects. I have to be able to pick up the book and gaze mindlessly at the pictures in appreciation for days on end. For me it has to be a visual feast that brings inspiration to other areas of my creative life as well. For example, the orange flowers in the postcard journal have sparked a new crocheting idea and the selection of origami patterns make me want to pick up my watercolour paints again. Anyhoo... I must remember this post is about the book and not me. Remember the mantra Kate 'It is not all about me'.
The 'Cut, Keep, Collage Storage Book' is my favourite project and the one I am most itching to get into. I think it would make for a wonderful Christmas present. At first I was thinking for my nieces but I think anyone of any age (most likely females though - my Dad would like the effort but he probably wouldn't use the paper for much) would love being given a magical selection of papers and special things. You could even put ribbons, buttons and bits of lace. But now once again I am getting carried away.

I love this idea too, the 'Sewing Notions Pincushion Book'. I really am thinking Christmassy thoughts about this.
And best of all, the directions are clear, presented in both a written and visual format which I find extremely helpful. The diagrams are clear and the progressive steps through are straightforward and simple which is a relief to me as I don't have the head space for complicated and tricky projects at the moment... especially if I am thinking of doing a big Christmas run of presents. I know I keep talking about Christmas but you know how it is when you make them all, you have to start planning early. Well I do anyway because it takes months of thinking about before I start doing the doing.
Actually, if you are a family member and reading this, ummm, maybe just ignore this post.

As for tools and buying things to make the projects, it is all pretty uncomplicated. For me, it involves an undercover, top secret mission of sneaking into our shed and pilfering tools from Jonno. He has such good stuff.
As to the nitty-gritty of the book, all of the projects are grouped together at the front which makes for a pleasant visual stroll from one project to the next. The grouping of instructions at the back works well too as they build on techniques as the book progresses.
The ultimate rating comes down to a couple of questions. Would I buy it and would I continue to use it over an extended period of time (e.g. years). Yes and Yes. It's really, really, really, really good.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Bit of This...

Eeeekkkk - I can't believe a whole week has almost passed without another post... this is shocking. In fact, I am still reeling from the fact that it is Saturday!!! How is it that three weeks of rainy holidays took two years and one week of children back at school and lots of sunshine went in the blink of an eye. Hmmm, very strange that is.
While this week has been a busy one, there has been a lot of tea drinking and the best thing is, I have made it through most cups without interruption. I always show all of the beautiful moments with my boys on the blog and I think it is okay to say there is that other side which all families have too. Don't get me wrong, my boys are insanely lovely, but also very, very, very human and it has all been a bit challenging lately. Both of them are shooting up like rockets which is very tiring physically and emotionally for them and their mother...
Right now I am sitting in bed typing this, sipping on tea and knowing I should get up. Archie is having three friends over for the night as part of his belated birthday party. There is going to be bowling, pizza, 'Back to the Future' 1 and 2, lollies and chips. Maybe even, if I can convince them, some rambling about on the farm. They are great little boys and all obsessed with Lego so I am sure they will keep themselves busy anyway.
So on that note, I had better start hauling myself out of bed to ice cakes and clear some of the grass from the floor (Hugo was making silage for the Slipper Sisters last night).
Have a lovely weekend,
Love Kate xxooxx.
p.s. On Monday I am going to be reviewing the most wonderful craft book!!! Come and check it out.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day.

This is me with my mum. From the looks of it, I have just woken up from a nap at the height of summer and had some much needed wake up cuddles... Hugo always needs a lot of cuddling to reenter the world after a good sleep so I guess it's easy enough to work out where that comes from.
Happy Mother's day Mum. I hope you know how much I love you and how I feel have won the lottery by having you as my mum. Thank you so much for sharing everything you love so much with me like books and painting and sewing and drinking tea and talking on the phone and enjoying a good mystery on t.v. and gardening and peace and knitting and exploring new things like crochet with me. I am very lucky to have you.
On other fronts it was Mother's day for me too. The boys (big and small) spoilt me thoroughly with beautiful cards, homemade presents (I will show you tomorrow), a wonderful new teapot and cups AND a waffle maker. I have been hankering for a waffle maker for years. My granny used to make them for me when I was little and it was always such a special thing. I can only ever remember sitting at the table on my own because I used to get up so early and feeling so excited that I was the only one at the table and the waffles were just for me. I am sure everyone else must have had them too as Mum and I were only just talking about them this morning and she thought they were delicious too (I just can't remember her being at the table with me). Funny, as I write this I can smell the spicy sweetness of my first 'Wintersweet' flower (otherwise known as 'Spice Bush' or Chimonanthus praecox - I did do horticulture at uni don't you know...) for the season and is Mum and Granny's favourite flower for this time of year.
It can just be seen peeking behind one of my last roses of the season.
I have had a lovely time today, lots of snoozing, reading and eating and even managed to think about paper cutting.
And I had some sewingy thoughts too. I have just bought Macbook (wahooooo) and thought I had better make a cover for it from this Cath Kidston oilcloth which has been in my cupboard for ages. And then for a bit of padding, I am thinking I really should crochet it an outer cover too.... to keep it warm for the winter.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What we have been making...

I finished my scarf yesterday while the rain pelted down and the children played play dough with their cousins for 2 hours (!!!!!).
They set up a shop where they sold the cupcakes (with warnings attached not to eat - v.v.v. salty) in exchange for the stalactites below. Apparently stalactites are the new currency... who would have thunk it as we say in New Zealand.
Very desirable those stalactites, five will buy you one cupcake.
This morning Jonno set busily to work making the dogs wool stuffed beds.
He had a very keen apprentice on hand to stop the mattress from slipping.
And Willow looks pretty comfortable on it. If you are wondering what kind of dog our big, beautiful girl is, she's a Labrador crossed with an Airedale - we call her a Lairedale which is a very grand title for a puppy that came from the S.P.C.A.
Hugo has been catching up on a bit of painting - the urge washed over him this morning and he just had to get going.
And I have been crocheting - Last night while watching the second season of 'Heroes' (I am so belatedly addicted) I made these little balls using 4 ply cottons. I know I've said it before but I love the colours of bulk 4ply cotton so much.

Last but not least, our mushroom bucket that we bought from the Hawkes Bay Farmers' Market. We have harvested our first crop and are now waiting for the next lot to sprout. I cannot emphasise how exciting it is to watch them grow... even I am not really convinced by that sentence but it is true. They seem to double in size every couple of hours.
It is so nice to be home and making things again. I began to lose a little bit of enthusiasm for everything towards the end of last month (that nasty virus really didn't help matters) so it is wonderful to feel inspiration in my fingertips again. And also wanting to do things again like cook, garden and fold washing, even to feel a slight pleasure as they are done. I forget that a large portion of my life is going to be taken up by folding clothes so I have to remind my self to enjoy the smell of clean washing and to find some sort of aesthetic appreciation from the leaning towers that result at the end. Little things add up to a lots by the end of the day.
Oooohhh yes, it's mother's day tomorrow so I had better do another post then.
Lots and lots of love,
Kate xxooxxooxx.


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