Saturday, July 31, 2010


So I had a post all planned that involved green velvet curtains, a frosty sunrise, food, and a documentary about Joan Rivers; but then I saw this and everything I was going to write about seemed pretty ridiculous.

I first saw the picture on a blog I follow called 'art + craft = craftivism' and the post containing the picture has links to resources about Afghan women and their human rights if you'd like to read more.

I will post about the things I was planning to, probably tomorrow, because after my initial feelings of selfishness and kind of self-disgust (that I write about my knitting and watching theatre and movies and places I go and things I eat and whatever else I think is vaguely interesting for me to document for future reference and for anyone who might happen to read this), I decided that me not doing what I do is not going to change anything in terms of the injustices in the world. I started this blog for me and it's nice that some people read it and leave comments and it makes me appreciate some of the things I do and have more and it pushes me a bit in terms of making things so I can write about them; I didn't start this blog to change the world or fight for human rights. There are other ways I can try to help do that if I want to that are probably more effective.

But the image and the abrieviated article really upset me. It made me think about how fricken lucky I am to live where I live, how lucky I am to be able to write about such mundane things as knitting and classic movies as if they are of any significance. It made me think that any crappiness that I'm dealing with at the moment is actually so unimportant in the scheme of things and that I'm lucky that the worst thing to have happened to me lately is being broken up with. I mean, I'd thought that at various times before over the last 7 weeks, but this image really drove that message home.

So I didn't want to pretend I hadn't seen it, or not acknowledge it. And blogs like mine are ultimately selfish, I wouldn't ever try to deny it - I mean I've just turned that image and what it means into a diatribe about me...but I guess no one is forced to read it and I can still have a social conscience and have a blog about making stuff. Well, I hope so anyway.

I don't know much about the situation in Afghanistan but I do know that the 18 year old woman in that image, which is about to be on the cover of a magazine on newstands around the world, is pretty brave and amazing. And it's pretty sad that one human could do that to another and that there's a culture where it's okay for this type of thing to happen. And I hope that that image means more people like me who had no idea that this was happening, that it could happen, have their awareness raised, even a little bit. I mean I knew about various types of extreme violence towards women around the world, but to see an image of it like that is very confronting. And I don't really have any more to say, because really, what can be said?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

All sewn up

On Tuesday night I had my first dressmaking night class! Although we won't actually be making a dress, so I'm going to call it my sewing night class. The 8 week course is a birthday present from my Mum after I said I didn't really need anything for my birthday and she cleverly suggested she buy me something to do instead of something to have. I love my Mum.

My excitement about my first class was somewhat dampened by the fact that I, without exaggeration, had not slept at all the night before (thanks again to the break-up train deciding that when you think you're through the worst and you're actually doing okay, it's the perfect time to run you over again). I've never not slept at all before and it was a weird experience. After watching the hours change from 4am to 5am to 6am to 7am and seeing it get light outside, I got up and went to work and felt all fuzzy for the rest of the day. I was really worried I'd be a mess come 7.30pm and break the sewing machine or something but I was actually surprisingly okay thanks to a wee sleep in the afternoon. The human body is a strange and amazing thing.

Our class has a reliever teacher for the first few weeks and she is your classic high school sewing teacher. She said she's been teaching sewing for over 30 years and you can tell. She's a no nonsense, firm but fair woman with a sense of humour that shows itself every now and then and clearly a big heart deep down. Also, she doesn't like Spotlight.

The first class was very much back to basics as some of the women (and it's an all female class, probably because all the males out there already know how to do everything...) hadn't threaded a sewing machine in 20+ years. The machines in the class are battered Berninas used by countless students but they do the job. We had to practice sewing lines, zig-zags, curves and edges and she showed us an amazingly quick way to put a zip in without using pins that creates a little flap to hide the zip. It's like magic! She's going to help us do it ourselves next week in preparation for the zip we need to put into the bag we're going to make which has lining, a pocket with a zip, darts and those sort of things. I think the class is going to be really useful for learning how to do things the right/easiest way and also just for the sewing practice. I love the act of sewing but I don't feel confident enough to attempt much at home so I'm hoping taking these classes will help with that and I'll be churning out clothes in no time...

Yesterday while walking along Lambton Quay I came across these in the window of The Body Shop. Look at what they're wearing!

Knitted puppy jumpers! Penny was really keen on making these at Monday night Knitting Circle a while ago but I couldn't bring myself to spend all that time and effort on something a puppy would inevitably rip or get really dirty. Apparently I'm a selfish knitter when it comes to animals. However, my selfishness aside, the pattern and the information about making the jumpers for the Wellington SPCA are here for those knitters out there who, unlike me, are not cold of heart.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gone with the Wind

On Sunday Ed, Alex, and I had a second classic movie afternoon. We arrived with varying degrees of lateness, bearing food, and all a bit hung over/hysterical. We settled in and at about 3pm began watching what is considered one of the greatest films ever made.

The first half was amazing and we were in the best frame of mind for it. We laughed at pretty much everything. Scarlett and her spoiled brat, man eating, 'fiddle dee dee' ways, her crazy Irish father, the whispered scandals, the fakeness of some of the sets and special effects. We generally had a great time - the war came and it got all intense and exciting and the young servant girl Prissy's voice was too amazing to be true, especially when screeching 'But I is scared of cows!'.

Come the interval, we were feeling pretty good about it - well I know I was. We made cups of tea, rotated snacks, and settled back in. FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES.

It felt like it anyway. That movie just goes on and on and on and on. We thought it was about to end so many times, but we knew we had to wait for the immortal, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn' line before it was truly about to be over. Just so much happens and keeps happening in that second half - stealing finacees, getting rich, super quick pregnancies, people dying, people hating each other then loving each other then hating each other again, questionable angry 'romantic' rape scenes, self-inflicted abortion, scandal, good will. Which is all gripping stuff, just quite tiring after 4 straight hours.

But of course it did end and we didn't really know what to do with ourselves. It was almost 7pm. It was dark. It felt like we'd spent a large part of our lives watching that movie. But I was glad we did. I won't be rushing to watch it again, although I really liked the first half and could imagine watching it as a stand alone movie again. I guess the second half just gets very domestic and narrowly focussed.

We couldn't work out whether Scarlett was meant to be liked in the end. Even though she is a spoiled brat who is immensely mercurial and selfish and generally a complaining, irritating, cold woman, she stuck it out and made something of herself (although she used many questionable methods to do so) and ultimately saved some people's lives. I won't be using her as role model any time soon though, although I did really like her 'I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow' philosophy. I think that could do some good for helping me get a bit of sleep at the moment.

Other favourite lines were 'No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how' (we decided we liked Rhett in the end); Prissy's whole ridiculous stereotyped character with her high pitched voice, maniacal singing, and 'Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies'; and:

Rhett: Did you ever think of marrying just for fun?
Scarlett: Marriage, fun? Fiddle-dee-dee. Fun for men you mean.

Two classics down, and now a dilemma about what to watch next. A comedy? A musical? A slightly more recent classic? So many to choose from. Luckily there are many more Sundays to come.

(Also, that movie poster - when does Scarlett ever bare that much flesh in the film?! And, the life of Margaret Mitchell who wrote the original Gone with the Wind novel is pretty interesting. Although, such a tragic death on such an idyllic street name...)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sock, drop and roll.

Okay so here is a gratuitous photo of the sock progress. I seem to have been out every night in one way or another for the past month or more, so apart from when I go to Monday night Knitting Circle, not a lot of knitting is getting done. Still, it's getting there. Tomorrow night I am babysitting the cutest baby in Hataitai instead of going to the Knitting Circle, but he goes to bed pretty early so I'll probably still be able to get some rows done.

Yesterday I went to two very different but great things. One was a show at Downstage Theatre called Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland which I won't go on about, but I'm so glad I went. It was clever, funny, moving, had beautiful imagery, strong performances, and raised some really important questions in terms of New Zealand's history and the relationship between Maori and Pakeha. I went to the late afternoon performance and I almost wanted to go again to the evening one. I don't think that's ever happened before; normally no matter how much I am enjoying a show I'll always end up checking my watch to see how long it has got to go, this time I would have been quite happy for them to start all over again!

However, if I'd gone again to the evening performance I would have missed out on this:

The Richter City Roller Derby's 'Stop Drop and Roll' bout. Heavily influenced by seeing the movie Whip It a while ago (I wrote about how much I loved that movie here), I made my step-sister and a couple of her flatmates come along to watch it with me. Obviously, it wasn't quite as intense as the movie makes it out to be - there is pushing and bumping and falls but the girls last night seemed to be as much about having a good time as they were about winning. It was a lot of fun and relatively easy to follow in terms of rules. I loved the costumes and the names of some of the players - here you can juuust see a sign for Braxton Kicks:

The TSB Arena was pretty much full which was amazing as it can seat 4000+. They ran out of beer at half time. There were a lot of people. Here are some action shots:

Both teams, Brutal Pageant and Smash Malice, are home teams but I have to say I liked Brutal Pageants' outfits best and they ended up winning so clearly my preference had an effect.

Here are both teams posing for photos at the end:

While I enjoyed watching the roller derby and it wasn't quite as much of a contact sport as I thought it was going to be, I don't think I'd ever be brave enough to get on the track. For one thing, I'd have enough trouble staying up on roller skates without trying to race in them, let alone having people trying to block me and bump me over with well-timed hip swings! I'd definitely recommend going as a spectator though, if you ever get the chance.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


A couple of weeks ago I meant to link to this great little video of Scottish designer Ysolda. It tells about how she got into designing knitting patterns and how she came to make a living from it, as well as showing off some of her designs and her cute little space at some giant trade show in America. Her stuff is so pretty I want to knit it all. The funny thing with videos/recordings of bloggers is getting to actually see and hear someone you feel like you already know. And Ysolda is Scottish so I imagined her having a really strong awesome Scottish accent, when actually it's kind of a weird hybrid accent. I like the bit where the woman interviewing asks what Ysolda majored in while she was at university and Ysolda says 'English Literature' and the woman replies, 'Did you intend to do something with that?' and Ysolda says, 'Not really...'

Image source here

Anyway, I really liked the video. And in the video Ysolda is wearing this Red Riding Hood type cardigan thing which she describes as a more practical version of a fairy tale cape. Which I also really like.

Also, Ingrid from Knit On the Net recently featured Susan Crawford's Town and City Tufted Cape from Vintage Gifts to Knit and then when I was walking to work the other morning I saw a particularly hip theatre maker walking to Toi Whakaari wearing a kind of mid-lenth cape (not a knitted one though, it was made out of heavier woollen coat-like fabric) and I liked that too.

So the moral of the story is, I want a cape. I just think they are really cute and jaunty. This one (on Ravelry) is more cute than jaunty, but I like the pointed hood. Although it doesn't necessarily have to be a knitted cape. And really, at the rate my one sock is going, I'm never going to have time to knit half of the things I want to knit.

Soon I'm off to dinner at a friend's house and I'm taking some amazing cheesecake I discovered today, from Yummy Mummy's on Lambton Quay. I love cheesecake and from the sample I tried at the shop, this could be very dangerous...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gonna shout it from the mountain top, a star is born!

Unrelated title today. Because I can. And it's what popped into my head.

Last night's Monday night Knitting Circle was big! Again! The last two weeks have seen about 15 people in attendance and because Anita and I tend to run on the late side (usually my fault; okay, always my fault), we have had to sit apart from the group. That will teach us (well, me). Although it did mean we got to sit on a couch, so there are two sides to the coin.

I don't have a photo of my sock. Because really, it still looks the same. Just longer. And only slightly. I have to get it to 7 inches in length before I start the heel flap and honestly, I feel like I didn't make any progress last night. Even though I sat there and knitted many rows, when I got my tape measure out I was expecting to be almost there and still had nearly 2 inches to go. Sigh.

Anita is knitting a baby 'cap' for a baby that was born while she was in England. Not just any baby of course as I'm sure lots of babies were born while she was in England and she can't knit caps for them all; this is a baby whose parents she knows. She's using a pattern from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies, one of my birthday books. The baby is a boy so she's using yarn with pale blue, yellow, and green flecks. Apologies for the terrible photo, the lighting wasn't great and my camera isn't either. Christmas list here we come!

You can just see in the bottom right corner the finished product (which obviously isn't seamless but I guess it could be if you knit it on circulars). It's so cute with the little swirled effect and the moss stitch band. Apparently moss stitch is actually very easy which I am pleased to hear because it looks cool. I think the edging on the little shrug Nikki posted about today is in moss stitch - speaking of which, that little shrug is so cute! I love the colour.

Now Anita just has to knit the cap quickly because the baby is already a month old...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

80 years

As much as family gatherings remind me how...unique some of my family members are, they are also pretty nice. The final photo is of my great aunt Olga listening to people share memories of her from the last 80 years. I spoke about how much I admire her many skills and talents and how their house is full of things they've made themselves (woven curtains, rugs, embroidered cushions, clothes) and how so many of us have received handmade gifts over the years that have been made with lots of care and love (although I know some family members who would be pleased never to receive another woven table mat again...). And helpfully, to illustrate my point, over on the floor, amongst a pile of toys and books, was the rug Olga made her latest great niece, who is 8 months old and came over from Sydney with her Mum to celebrate the occasion.

I can only hope that if I reach 80 I am as sprightly as Olga who is still an avid gardener as well as a spinner and weaver. Maybe it's all the making she does that's kept her so well!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


On Sunday night my friend Ed and I had our inaugural classic movie night. A while ago a friend was talking about how she'd watched Funny Face a few nights earlier and Ed and I both said we'd never seen it and then realised we'd both never seen most of the old classics and some of the modern classics (Pulp Fiction). We decided a regular classic movie evening was in order and Casablanca and Gone with the Wind were the first two classics we identified that we'd both never seen. So for his birthday I got Ed Casablanca and Pulp Fiction to get the ball rolling (I was going to get Gone with the Wind but it only came in some 5 disc deluxe collector's edition set and I thought that was a bit unnecessary!).

As I said, I haven't watched many old movies and the types of ones I have seen (and watched a million times) were musicals like The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz. I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's in high school and remember wondering what all the fuss was about (it's on my list to re-watch as I feel I might appreciate it more now). So Casablanca was my first real black and white, classic old movie, and I really liked it! Sure they talk quite fast and it was hard to catch up with what was going on for the first while, all those 'letters of transit' changing hands and trying to figure out where the war would have been up to when it was set and who was invading who and why the Germans were there being all hostile but not actually doing anything even though they'd invaded France and Morocco was a French teritory (I think..I'm still a bit confused!). Anyway, all those details didn't really matter because when it came down to it it was a love story and right until the end I didn't know who was going to get the girl.

While the lead female character, Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman, was pretty two dimensional and actually said things to leading man Rick, Humphrey Bogart, like, 'Oh, I don't know what's right any longer. You have to think for both of us. For all of us.' She was generally not too irritating and the soft lighting on her in every scene was pretty amusing. She also had some pretty good outfits. Although now that I think about it she did let Rick decide her fate for her which is pretty annoying, but I think you just have to get past worrying about the lack of female self-determination when you watch films like this or you'll just spend the whole time being angry. And I guess she was portrayed as pretty brave and moral and loyal which are all good qualities. Can you tell one of my majors was Gender and Women's Studies?

Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa

The piano player in Rick's bar was great and generally I just enjoyed the whole thing. I was surprised Humphrey Bogart wasn't more of a looker but I guess he was the strong, stoic type and that was the attraction at the time. My favourite quote was 'If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.' I pretty much loved the whole ending from when they arrive at the airstrip (which was apparently filmed using 'midget extras and a proportionate cardboard plane'...). It was fun listening out for the classic lines, like, 'Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine' and 'Here's lookin' at you, kid.' Interestingly, we listened out for 'Play it again, Sam' but never heard it and my research tells me it is a much misquoted line. There are actually a number of times when Ilsa and Rick tell Sam to 'play it' (it being the song 'As Time Goes By') but not with those exact words.

Overall - first classic movie night and Casablanca: a success.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ups and downs

Well, I didn't achieve much at Monday night Knitting Circle last night. Two rows in fact. I really wasn't in the mood for knitting. I'm glad I went though; when you think you're doing okay and then you find something out that means everything becomes really hard again and you feel like you're back at square one, it's good to keep doing what you normally do. That's what I think anyway. Break-ups are not fun. And I shall leave it at that.

I'm really disappointed I can't go 'The Wonders of Wool' this weekend at the Frank Kitts Underground Market. One of my great aunts is having an 80th birthday lunch in the Wairarapa so I'll be over there that day. Here is some of her recent handy work:

I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know whether it's a wall hanging or a rug...and I felt bad asking. So it's something. And I don't know how she made it. Pretty helpful a? It's for her newest little great niece over in Australia.

Something nice HAS happened this week though, I have been invited on a knitting graffiti road trip to New Plymouth! Tash of Knitsch Yarns and Outdoor Knit has been invited to lead a guerrilla knitting workshop at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in August and she's asked if I'd like to come along. I've never been to New Plymouth before, the gallery looks great, and a knitting workshop is always welcome, so I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Presence = presents

Anita returned from England this week bearing gifts for my birthday. A very cool magnetic sheet of Shakespearean insults from Shakespeare's Globe, a beautiful card also from the Globe, and the cutest brooch ever! It's made by Max Alexander of Max's World - I haven't had time to investigate his website properly but it looks interesting...

Hunter and Ashmore are staying with me tonight. We went to Shrek Forever After in 3D, had giant New York style pizza at Wholly Pizza, and despite being 9 nearly 10 and wearing skinny jeans and being too cool to give me a hug, Hunter still HAD to play at the little park on the waterfront while Ashmore and I sat and freezed on a bench for half an hour.

Action shot - landing after jumping off the swing

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Drum roll please...

While I still feel like I could somehow jinx it (even though my contract is signed and I have resigned from my current job as of yesterday), I think I can finally share my exciting news alluded to last week. I am moving to the bright lights of policy!

I beat out 130 other applicants (I know, I'm boasting a little bit but I figure I'm allowed to just this once) for the role of 'Policy Advisor (Graduate)' at another Crown Entity which shall remain nameless. So after nearly four years at my current workplace (two years of which were part-time while I was studying), I am leaving all the lovely people who keep me amused five days a week to venture down the other end of town nearer to the Beehive. I am really excited as this move means I will be able to use my brain a bit more and do more of what I love which is researching and writing. Hopefully it will be a steep learning curve and a big challenge. Yay! The four week countdown is on!

And here is my sock progress. I still have a few more inches to go until I get to the heel turn (which sounds rather ominous) but I am plodding away at it.

I'm loving the way the striping is happening. I was saying to someone at Monday night Knitting Circle this week that I don't understand how Tash dyes it so that such tiny sections are different colours when you look along the piece of yarn (you can kind of see it in the working piece coming out the top of the sock). She is clearly magic!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Waiting for Godot

On Friday I spent five hours at a rest home as my contribution to our annual 'Community Day' at work. On Saturday night I went to Waiting for Godot. Afterwards I mused that if the rest home installed a beautiful set and charged $100 a visit, it would be much the the same experience.

Image sourced here

I had to laugh at half time though, clearly many people did not know what they'd gotten themselves into. The woman sitting next to me asked, 'Is it half time?' in a tone that implied she was hoping it was actually the end and there just hadn't been a curtain call. In the bathroom I heard comments such as, 'Well it would be better if I could understand what they were saying!' (and seeing as the actors didn't have particularly thick accents and were speaking clearly and quite audibly I can only imagine this person meant she couldn't follow the sense of what they were saying) and 'Do you think the second half will be quite as long?'. I think a lot of people must have heard that (Sir) Ian McKellen was in a play and decided they'd better go, not realising that Beckett plays can be pretty tough going.

I hadn't been going to go because of the price until the last minute when my friend Ed emailed me saying he'd been umming and aahing about it for ages because it was so expensive, but that overseas productions of plays don't come to Wellington very often outside of the New Zealand International Arts Festival so it would be good to take advantage of it and maybe he'd just go (I think Mr. McKellen was also a draw card) and I thought, well, maybe I will too. I'm glad I did, it met my expectations, the set was bleak and beautiful (I tried to find an image of it but didn't have much luck, official production photos which give some idea can be found here), the actors were great - I especially loved Matthew Kelly as Pozzo. Yup, Matthew Kelly as in 'Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be...Mama Cass!' from the British Stars in Your Eyes. The script is very very clever and funny and sad and awful as well as infuriating and repetitive and I have to admit I almost fell asleep in the second half (it was 2 and a half hours long including an interval). But it did inspire some discussion between Ed and I during drinks afterwards about the meaning of the play and life in general, so I'd say Beckett was a pretty intelligent playwright.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

All the Fun of the Fair

Anita returned from her visit to England yesterday, but she's staying in her hometown of Hamilton for a few days with her Mum before coming back to Wellington. While this means she'll miss another Monday night Knitting Circle this coming week, she has redeemed herself by sending these photos:

This is the second yarn shop she visited as part of the challenge I set her before she left. The first shop she visited was I Knit London which looked pretty awesome, but according to Anita, "This shop was by far the cuter of the two! If not the cutest knitting shop I've ever been to." I think the pictures are testament to the extreme cuteness. I want a tea cosy that says, 'More Tea Vicar' even though I've never had tea with a vicar in my life! Even the outside of the shop looks all quaint and ye olde England-y (and it has bunting in the window!). Anita said, "It was in this really nice shopping court hidden between two side streets in Soho called Kingly Court. There was a shop next to it with the cutest baby outfits also. Wish I had more time to explore." Well rest assured, when she moves back to England next year and I come to visit, we are definitely going to visit All the Fun of the Fair.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Outdoor sock

Today the sock got an outing. I decided to take my knitting to work and if it was sunny, sit in Civic Square and do a few rows at lunchtime. The sun moved pretty quickly though and there was a cold breeze so I was soon shivering in the shadows and it wasn't as idyllic as I'd hoped. I'm making progress on the sock though, and in the bright light you can really see the wide rib pattern which is exciting (I know I said I wasn't going to take photos of the sock every 5 minutes but clearly that idea didn't last very long).

Then after work I met Penny for a drink and it turns out we have matching bags! Her golden/mustard coloured one is newer and less stuffed full of crap than my blue one, but both are pretty cute.