Sunday, June 26, 2011

And the winner is...

unlucky for some....#13.
The lovely Sharonnz!! Congratulations hun! Yarny goodness coming your way.

Thanks to everyone who entered and left me a link to your favourite blog. I've added lots of new blogs to my reader which is great. Blogcrastination here I come ;)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Being prepared

Deb posted the other day about prepardness in Christchurch. They have a series of TV ads here in NZ "Getting through" - how to get your family prepared for that 'it'll never happen to us' natural disaster event. It was always so academic, those things you will get around to organising "one day".

I doubt anyone in Christchurch doesn't have bottled water on hand now.

I sorted out our laundry today as a premove job to get off my list, and repacked our emergency supplies that were stored in there.

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Power cuts are a delightful side effect of a big shake. I never really thought about that before - or perhaps imagined a few hours without electricity at most. Ha.
Torches (dont forget the batteries) and candles if we get truly desperate (a candle falling over in an after shock isnt a great thought). I picked up 3 dynamo torches for the kids at Mitre 10 for about $4 each. EXCELLENT! They dont require batteries and "recharging" them keeps the kids entertained. A lantern is also a good idea so you can have your hands free. Actually we have more torches but they are stashed next to all our beds at the moment. Not pictured but I also have some of those flashing glow in the dark necklaces for ease of seeing where the kids are in the dark. One thing I have learnt for sure is that earthquakes dont stick to business hours and there is nothing scarier than having your house shaking in complete darkness.

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"Personal supplies" are important. When there is no water you want hand sanitizer for hands and wipes for sticky hands and wiping benches etc. When the water does come back on it might be contaminated with sewerage (ugh). Bleach can be used to treat tap water in lieu of boiling if you have to. Face masks for liquefaction turned to dust - something that would never ever have occured to me pre- February. There's also some soap and some "feminine supplies" just in case. Plus of course a first aid kit. Broken glass/crockery + night time = make sure you have band aids and bandages on hand.

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Keeping sane supplies are also a must. Some books for the kids, card games, some knitting for me of course (yarn, pattern + needles), some sugar (lollies and dried fruit), muesli bar snacks and some little coffee sachets. These actually belong in our "get out now" back pack if we had to relocate to a welfare/emergency accommodation shelter.

As well of course we have a couple of days supply of food including powdered milk and a can opener! Bottled water and means to cook (gas bottle - keep one full at all times - and a camping attachment that fits right on top of the bottle). Tarp plus bungee cords for emergency weather proofing. Spare batteries for the kids CD player that can get the radio - or use the car. If you have an electronic garage door like us make sure you know how to open it when the power is off.

Everything is all together in one place so there's no rushing around or trying to find a torch in the dark. It also means we have everything ready if its a day before grocery shop and the cupboards are bare.

One day (hopefully) I *will* stop posting about earthquakes. It is forefront in my mind today as the government announces which 5000 homes are to be declared "red zone" - aka the land is too unstable to be built on. There is a package of compensation for home owners and I hope that those affected will find some closure now that there is some certainty around the affected areas.

Deb also posted today these interesting stats - After shocks this year :
Haiti has had 42, Japan 726.......Christchurch 7000+


Edit. Actually its 7000 aftershocks/earthquakes since September 2010.


This week has been one I would like to forget - more big aftershocks, more sleepless nights, a seemingly endless stomach bug that just keeps going round and round, the heartbreaking news of Aria's passing.

So something nice is in order I think.

A GiveAway!!

How to enter - leave a comment on this post with the link to your favourite blog (or blogs). Can be crafty or not. Whatever you like to read and you think I might enjoy. Your comment must include some identifiable way to contact you should you be the winner. (Either from a linked google/other account which I can email back to or your blog address or email.) I'll use a random number generator. If you have commented on any previous blog post I'll put you in the draw twice.

The prize - a skein of Tri'Coterie self striping sock yarn (I will let the winner pick). Some chocolatey goodness. And probably some other bits and pieces. Vague? Yes I am considering this is a spur of the moment sort of a thing.

Comments must be in by end of the day Sunday 26 June. International entries welcome.

Go leave your comment :)

And then they were gone.

That is how it is now. There once was a building, it falls down, and then they take it away. It's very surreal to see bits of your neighbourhood disappear. At least safety is no longer an issue and hopefully we will get the footpath back soon.

opawa rd shops 22june

Before and after views of the other side

Feb 2011
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June 2011
opaward shops 22june

Monday, June 20, 2011

Angels Club Part 3

So June saw the third and final instalment of the Tri'Coterie Angels yarn club being sent out. The 3 months seem to have flown by and it's almost a little sad that is it all over. It was very exciting to be involved behind the scenes - a wonderful experience for both my knitting and my designing/tech editing and test knitting skills. It was awesome to "watch" all the parcels arrive at their destinations all over the world and see the WIPs begin to appear.

The third package was inspiried by Xi - a character in Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter novels. He first appears in book 2 of the series and the description of his dark grey wings with bright streaks of red lends itself well to a yarn colourway. Maylin dyed this on a base of merino/cashmere/nylon (fingering weight) which made a beautifully soft and squishy fabric.


The pattern "Wingspan" was designed by Maylin, inspired by wings and is an ingenious construction involving short rows. Loved knitting it - very quick and not at all complicated but a unique and interesting end result.


I wear mine wrapped like a scarf but it would also work well as a shawlette if you used a button to secure it. Its 25cm at the widest points so happily for me also counts as one of my 11shawls in 2011.


The pattern is a club exclusive until Jan 2012 but after that will be available for general release.

Next up for us is a Mortal Instruments yarn club based on characters from the books by Cassandra Clare. I'm in the final stages of pattern development for my contribution and looking forward to seeing it all come together!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


this block of shops?

I posted this photo 6 weeks after the February quake. They looked pretty much the same last week. Better fencing to keep people out but the footpath still had broken glass and shop fronts lying on it.

Now they look like this:

This isn't the CBD. It's our neighbourhood shops. Simply heart breaking.

We're home again now after a week staying with my Mum - despite the crappy circumstances it was lovely to have a whole week together and a chance for everyone to spend time together before we leave. Water is on at our house now (yay!) and power. We'll try and make the most of the next 3 weeks - catching up with friends, enjoying our last days in the garden city.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Christchurch hit again.

Another 6.3 quake hit Christchurch on Monday. It's a big blow for people's fragile nerves and a city struggling to get back on its feet.

This time we had something of a warning by way of a 5.5 quake about an hour earlier. M3 had just gone to kindy but my Mum (who had stayed the night with us), went back over to get her - she was in tears and wanted to come home. This is the second time for her that a big quake has happened at kindy - she may never want to go back! N5 was at home having had a vomiting bug the night before, and my friend had bought M9 home from school. We thought that was it for the day.

When the quake hit at 2.20pm we were all in the dining room. We all dove under the table to the sound of breaking glass in the kitchen and a violent sideways movement of our house. The kids were all in tears, and literally shaking with fear. It's an image that will stay with me forever.

This time the movement was quite different, and a couple of wine glasses is (hopefully) our only loss this time. Power went off but was restored later that night, water is back on for most of the city. Last time I had pictures off the walls and furniture overturned but this time only a few drawers opened. It was perhaps scarier though as I could tell it was at least as big as Feb and the knowledge it could have killed more people was forefront in my mind - DH was at school still.

The time immediately after was much like Feb - frantic text messages on overloaded networks, a series of awful and big aftershocks, broken glass on the floor, taps (and toilet) with no water in them, power cuts, trying to keep calm. When DH got home later we emerged from our dining room table hideout and packed the car and drove Mum home. We're 2.5hr away from CHCH now but still felt the big 5.0 shock they had this morning. We'll be here for a few days longer. School is open again today but DH (who went back last night) tells me there are 140 kids not there. Like us, I think many families are making the most of an opportunity to stay together.

I still feel quite numb. Emotionally exhausted, and after another night dealing with a sick child, physically done in too. All I can hope is that this nightmare will end soon.

Please keep Cantabrians in your thoughts and prayers, and if you are able, please consider donating to the Red Cross.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Knitting my fingers off.

There is ALOT of knitting going on at Sweetp's house. I am a master procrastinator and crammed my way to a first class honours degree. Nothing like an imminent house move (and a to do list a mile long) to get me knitting and knitting.

This month's stripes from Tri'Coterie are Hogwarts House Colours! With the last Harry Potter film being released next month you can get your yarn in time to be watching in suitable stripey attire. I knit some sock cuff samples to show people how the yarns stripe up...

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Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor (which is not as orange as it looks - scarlet and gold).

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Oh I love this one. I did 5 inches of knitting on this one to make them into Arch-shaped socks for me.

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This one is really clean and bright. Good one for any Hurricanes fans too!

and Gryffindor:
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It's really difficult trying to get this one to photograph properly, it really is a bright scarlet and gold and not orangey-red.

I think someone else is going to knit up Ravenclaw.
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I think they look great and the stripes are so fun to knit. If you want some, pop into the Tri'Coterie group. These are NOT a club, you can simply order what takes your fancy and there are a variety of bases to choose from.

As for Deathly Hollows Part II...I am so excited to see it, but also feeling quite sad the movie adaptations have come to an end. I'm looking forward to reading the books to my kids one day and have been grabbing 2nd hand copies of the books when I find them on my op shopping sprees. I hope they'll enjoy them as much as I did.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bargain Knitting.

My series of quick knits also includes one for me! A Star Crossed beret in Malabrigo Worsted - Velvet Grapes.

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The yarn was a gift and I have been "saving" it for something special. I thought I might not need a winter hat this year since the weather has been so mild and almost warm - apparently May was the warmest ever on record - and of course we are moving soon. But then the cold arrived! Brrrr.

M3's kindy was having a jumble sale a couple of weekends ago and I needed to help set up which meant standing outside in the cold at 8am. The night before I whipped up this hat so I had something to keep me toasty warm.

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Terrible picture! I really am quite thrilled with my new hat. Love love love how soft and squishy the Malabrigo is and the pattern was super easy and super quick. Definitely another satisfying instant gratification knit.

While at the jumble sale I managed to score:
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A looks-like-it-has-never-been-used skeiner still in its box with instruction booklet included. It works perfectly and definitely makes winding up yarn a breeze. And a bargain at $2!! There was also a knitting machine at the sale - unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) DH had arrived by that point and firmly put his foot down and said no. I might have pushed it if we weren't moving but we certainly dont need Linkmore stuff to pack and sort.

I have often admired my fellow blogger's ability to find the coolest things at op shops and jumble sales. I asked Deb what the secret was and she said to go often. Sounds simple really and I wondered if part of the reason I never found anything good while op shopping was simply because I didn't do it regularly! Ha. So M3 and I have been making op shopping one of our weekly outings.

At the moment we're in a puzzle phase so lots of our bargains have included cool puzzles -

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Mickey Mouse and friends

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We're in a dinosaur phase at the moment also so this was a great find for the costly sum of $3

and this one from last week's visit. Possibly the world's ugliest puzzle...
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Yes that is a chimp dressed in a kilt at a ski shop. Yep.

Another bargain included two balls of Jo Sharp DK for $2/ball. M3 informed me one morning when we were walking to school (in the cold) that "but I don't have a scarf!!!" Most distressed and almost accusingly I might add. I asked her what colour and she said blue, so I turned my newly aquired Jo Sharp wool into a baby hitchhiker for her:


I added one stitch to the bindoff (that makes the little points) so that it stayed reasonably long and narrow for her - more scarf than shawlette. DH thinks it looks like a dinosaur tail which fits our little dinosaur-enthusiast too.


She is very cute. Having watched me take multiple shawl photos - she told me I must take one of her and the scarf with "arms out" - they do learn fast don't they?

So bargains galore. Nothing better than finding a bargain and then putting it to good use. Hopefully we'll find some more good things this week!

Sometimes the knitting needs no explanation

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Friday, June 3, 2011

May Books

Not so many books read this month - I think a combination of reading a couple of doorstops, lots of knitting and a dollop of 'yep we're really going to move again' stress. Still 45/52 I am well on track to complete my 52 in 52 goal.

At the moment I am reading Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis. It's actually one looooooooong book but got so big they cut it into two (still long) books. Willis's name keeps coming up in lists and recommendations for sci-fi books and I have her Doomsday Book to read as well so I was interested to read these. She was also nominated for the Nebula Awards for these books. The premise is really interesting - Oxford has discovered how to time-travel and sends their historians back in time to observe historical events. In these books three historians travel to World War 2 London and observe the Blitz, Dunkirk and life in the countryside with evacuated children. This is where the books shine - I have learnt so much about the Blitz - how absolutely terrifying it must have been to have bombs dropping all over the city every night, how difficult the struggle must have been to carry on amidst the grief and hardships of war time rationing. As a "historical" book I am really enjoying it. As a "sci-fi" - not so much. On the back blurb for Black Out it basically implies that something goes wrong and the historians get stuck back in time. This doesnt happen until page about 3/4 of the way through the first book and was a bit anti-climatic when it did happen since it had already been foreshadowed on the back of the book. Then there is a lot of annoying dithering, an awful amount of "but this is time travel...even i" and pages of internal monologue where various characters "wonder" about everything under the sun. A really tight edit could have made these two massive slow paced volumes into one exciting good-sized read. I have about 200 pages to go on All Clear. Despite my grumbles I am going to read to the end. I do need to know if they get home! But yeah, not as amazing as I had hoped from a big name author and prize nominated books.

Another one I felt a bit under-awed about was Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry. I read this in April and only gave it 2/5 stars. The Time Traveller's Wife by the same author is one of my most favourite books ever so perhaps part of the issue is that instead of expecting something good, or readable, I was hoping this too would be amazing. It wasn't. I didn't connect with, or like, any of the characters and kept reading waiting for something to happen - but it didn't. The twin sisters who are the main protagonists could have been quirky and interesting with their strange appearance and eclectic tastes but they were a bit lifeless, and most of the plot points felt forced. If you don't mind a spoilery review I wrote a rather long one on goodreads which you can read here.

And one more where I can't really decide if I like or not is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. This was a Pulitizer winner that I heard about years ago. It was one of those books where you "remember" wrong. I somehow (don't even ask me how) had the idea this was a futuristic sci-fi where there is no longer male/female gender but a genderless "middlesex". It isn't anything like that. At all. The story begins with an incestuous relationship in Greece - Desdemona and Lefty escape war in their home country and make a new life for themselves in America. The history of the 1930's in Detroit was interesting and I found myself enjoying it and there were some moments of beautiful, award-worthy writing that I did get swept away on. However, the book is really about Cal, Lefty and Desdemona's grandchild who is raised as a girl but later discovers she is a hermaphradite and decides to live her life as a man. Gender issues have always interested me and I wish I had been able to do more gender studies papers at University , so I was alittle disappointed that most of the book centred on Desdemona's life and background (that inevitably lead to the unlocking of a recessive gene causing Cal's condition) rather than Cal's life learning how to "become a male". The exploration of Cal's teenage years were well done though and again, some moments of brilliant writing. This book is epic. It spans almost a whole century, from Greece to the US, through the depression, wars, the cultural and sexual revolutions of the 60s and 70s, it explores the idea of sexuality, the history of Detroit, the struggles of immigrant families and black activism. I also enjoyed the rather risky narrative - the book is told through Cal's eyes even though he is narrating events he wasn't alive to see. It's been a few weeks since I finished this and I stand by my thoughts (and longest review ever) over on goodreads. This is a book which will stay with me for a long time, but not neccessarily one I wish to own. Also if anyone does know of a book about a futuristic society where there is no longer male/female gender let me know!

And finishing on a good one since today's book post seems to be a whole bunch of grumbling - proof that not everything I read is stellar. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a gem. A very quick and captivating read told via a series of letters. The Guernsey islands are located off the coast of southern England and were the only British soil to be occupied by Germany during WW2. An author - Juliet - begins correspondence with island inhabitants and eventually goes to live there to research her new book. At times this book bought me to tears - there are some heartbreaking moments as people retell their war-time memories to Juliet and as she falls in love with the island and the interesting bunch of people who live there. Again, I enjoyed the historical aspects of the post-War setting (perhaps I should read more WW2 books ...know any good ones?) and the letter format wasn't as distracting as I thought it might be. All in all a 5 star read.

So that's it from me for May. If you've read any awesome books lately let me know, I'm always adding to my "to-read" list.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

There has to be a Part 3 of course

3 girls, 3 lots of small, quick knits.

This one I completed awhile back.

N5's favourite book is Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor.

"I love being fancy. My headband has a plume...that's a fancy word for feather."

Fancy Nancy is delightful. If you have a small girl (or boy) in your life and haven't read these books you are missing out. Full of fun and a great way to expand a child's vocabulary to include words like stupendous, oh-la-la, fuschia (that's a fancy word for purple) and, of course, full of tips on how to be more fancy!

This headband with it's crystal and plume are exactly the sort of thing Fancy Nancy would approve of. My pink loving girlie girl loves it. I bought a cheap plastic headband from the $2 shop (the type without teeth on the inside) and made a 4 stitch i-cord. As I knit the i-cord I wrapped it around the headband so it sits inside the i-cord. I read about this technique in a book where they had wrapped plastic tubing to use as a bag handle. Very easy and very effective, the inside lies completely flat which is perfect for headbands.

She also got a pink (of course) winter scarf as part of her Mum-knits but it's a test knit for a pattern we might use later for a yarn club so no spoilery pics for now. She may also get a vampiric panda from the knitwits book at some stage, but for now I am having a break from small fiddly toys.

Tomorrow, books I read in May!

Instant Gratification. Part 2

M3 picked the robot pattern "Ratchet" from the KnitWit book. I asked her what colour she wanted it and she said green (same as the picture in the book...), then she saw some red, so changed her mind. Then she spotted my Bob Marley yarn which has both red AND green and settled on that. This is another Tri'Coterie yarn and was featured in the May self-stripes batch which featured music inspirations. Maylin gave me this colourway on DK, so it was a perfect weight for robot knitting.

Meet "Bob" the rasta-bot:

The knitting parts of this were easier than the Owl I made M9, but again another day was spent doing all the fiddly bits and sewing on the face using some felt I had in my stash.

I love how the stripes turned out - the colours are so bright and clear. The DK yarn is gorgeously soft and squishy - a delight to knit and just perfect for cuddles. He is very much loved! And doesn't that make a knitter happy!

I had barely made a dent in the yarn cake so I offered to knit some matching socks...

This was a really basic pattern I found on Ravelry which wasn't particularly clear or well written but was fine for what I needed - which was basically just the numbers. They are a little on the small side around the heel but otherwise fit fine and are so soft and warm. Little feet and double knit yarn makes for super quick socks and I had these both finished in two nights - speed also helped my little girl asking me every few minutes if I was done yet ;)

Ahhh instant gratification you are the best!