Thursday, September 30, 2010

Signs of ageing

When I am old and have nothing better to do, I think it's very likely that I'll be one of those people writing long disgruntled letters to the Editor and Government ministers. Repeatedly. I am already showing signs of slightly ridiculous persistence.

When I went to New Plymouth for the weekend in August I spent a day at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. While I was there I read a little sign on the wall that said that the gallery was founded out of a gift (and, later, a bequest) from Monica Brewster who envisaged "a contemporary art museum of international standing that would offer a window to the world in the small coastal community of New Plymouth." It explained that Govett was her maiden name and Brewster her married name, but it didn't really tell me anything else about her or her life so I wondered how she came to be in the position to give a substantial amount of money towards the founding of a contemporary art gallery in New Plymouth and why she would want to do so.

I tried to do some internet research but had no luck. So then I emailed the gallery and asked if there was anywhere they knew of that I could find more information on her and her life or whether they had any such material. A nice customer services person sent me a scanned copy of a brochure about Monica Brewster and said she could also send me a photocopy for a small charge if I wanted. I couldn't open the scanned file so I replied asking for a photocopy and said I was happy to pay for it. Another nice person replied and said because the scan hadn't worked they would send me a photocopy free of charge and, sure enough, a few days later it was in my mailbox and I was very happy.

Then I sat down to read it and noticed that the paragraphs sometimes ended quite abruptly and the brochure didn't seem to flow logically - on one page it talked about her early life and then suddenly she was happily married in her 30s, then there was a Letter to the Editor about pacifism. I quickly realised that the pages numbered 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 - I was missing every second page. At first I thought, okay, well, I've got the general idea that she came from a wealthy family and was liberal and had a wide range of interests. I'll just leave it. But then I thought, no. I actually want to read the whole booklet.

So I have sent it back with a nice note pointing out that unfortunately the copy is missing pages and asking if I could please have a copy of the whole booklet (I also enclosed $5 for the copying and postage). I feel like an utter dork but hopefully the customer services people will continue to be as nice as they have been so far and send me the full copy and not think I am too much of a weirdo. Hopefully.

Apparently Monica Brewster spent the last ten years of her life in bed and "it is not clear whether at first she was actually bedridden through illness or fragility of age, or whether she simply preferred to retire in privacy." I do like to read and write and generally hang out in my bed, but ten years does seem an awfully long time to do so. Especially if you don't need to. Having said that, each to their own. I'm persisting in getting a full copy of a short and very basic brochure on a woman who founded an art gallery in New Plymouth. So really, who am I to judge?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And I try to pretend this is a craft blog

Eeeeee! We (Alex, Ed, and I) got some exciting news today. We got the venue we wanted for taking Tea for Toot to the Auckland Fringe festival early next year, so it's full steam ahead. There is a slight hitch with the dates because someone is getting married (maybe she'll wear her armwarmers with her wedding dress, surely they'll be finished by then...), but I'm sure we'll be able to shift the season by one day. Typical though, of all the dates they could give us for the opening night, it had to clash with the one unmissable event we have next February!

On Sunday (for classic movie Sunday, of course) we finally watched what is apparently the greatest film of all time: Citizen Kane. I can understand that claim in terms of its innovations in filmmaking (I just checked that that really is one word and it is; it looks ridiculous) for the time, but I'm not sure I'd agree overall (although, really, what do I know? I'd never even heard of this supposed ultimate classic before we started our classic movie Sunday mission a few months ago). I did enjoy it though, it had a bit of mystery to it and Orson Welles is great as Charles Foster Kane. I like stories about people's lives, even fictional ones, so that was the main reason I enjoyed it. And it was black and white which always makes it feel like an authentic classic movie experience.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cake, babies, football, and the Welsh.

I have made two sultana cakes this week from a super simple recipe that was apparently a favourite of my great grandmother.

400g sultanas (approx)
250g butter
3 eggs
Dash of lemon essence
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour

Heat oven to 175 - 180 degrees celcius.

Put sultanas in a pot, cover with water. Bring water to boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain water and mix butter into hot sultanas (this is my favourite part, watching the butter melt into the sultanas just makes me really happy for some reason).

Beat eggs, sugar and essence until thick and creamy white. Add to fruit mixture. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients (I always sift my dry ingredients but I'm not sure if it makes any difference).

Bake in 20cm x 20cm tin for 55 minutes.

Excellent with a cup of tea!

Today I took some to the cutest baby in Hataitai's 1st birthday party. A native tree was planted in a secluded spot looking out over Hataitai Beach (that may or may not be public land...) with his placenta (which I managed to avoid seeing, I'm sure it's just a squishy lump or something but I can wait thank you very much), and then it was a shared lunch party back at the house with lots of babies.

A woman was there with her twin boys and when we took all the babies to the park for a play after lunch, I got to help look after one of the twins. Walking back home we all took a baby on our shoulders which made for a very conspicuous group. I love babies but I'm glad to be able to give them back to their Mums and Dads at the moment.

Also the Phoenix on Friday night was very chilly but fun. We were in the Yellow Fever Zone (where all the Phoenix fans sit), I loved all the chants that seemed almost constant - I think really a lotof the guys there would secretly love to be in a rowdy choir. I could just imagine someone down in front of the stands conducting them - starting different rows off in rounds and creating harmonies. When it got to ten minutes left on the clock, everyone took their shirts off and waved them around despite the freezing cold wind. Ahh sporting rituals.

Last night I got a bit carried away and watched the entire first season of an amazing series called Gavin & Stacey about an English guy and a Welsh girl. It is so funny. Welsh accents are amazing. I think I'm going to have to go to Wales now. I love Gavin and Stacey's respective best friends and their families; all such well drawn hilarious characters. I can't even try to pick a favourite, they are all so realistic but so crazy. I'm excited for season 2, but I might need to pace myself a bit or I'll give myself a hernia from laughing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A little bit of everything, all rolled into one

Some cool tea cups I inherited when someone left the team at work. They are now sitting on my windowsill looking funky (funky is a great word, don't deny it).

So, not much progress has been made on either the sewing or knitting fronts. My first sock is going interminably slowly; I'm getting quite bored of it, it's taking much effort to do even a few rows. I want to knit a baby cap for some quick gratification but I'm worried I'll never return to the sock.

As for sewing, I practiced buttonholes on my sewing machine on the weekend and they were okay but not good enough that I want to attempt them on the baby pinnafore yet. This weekend I hope. I actually wasted a lot of time when I got my sewing machine out last Saturday fiddling around with all the dials because the straight stitches looked weird. It had been on zig zag and I followed the instructions for putting it back to straight except for one instruction I misread which lead me to mucking around with all the dials for ages and sewing 'test' lines all along a piece of scrap fabric until I realised what was wrong. Craft rage follows me wherever I go.

Seeing as my Tuesday night sewing clasess are now over, this week I was able to go to cheap movie night with my friend (and sewing guru) Janet to see Inception. Janet suggested it and I wasn't sure it would be my cup of tea because I don't normally like anything that could be potentially scary, has lots of violence/shooting, or is all action/blockbuster-y. Turns out Inception isn't really any of those things, but I hadn't taken enough notice of it to realise that. All I knew was that when it came out everyone seemed to be saying it was amazing and like The Matrix (which I haven't seen, someone tried to get me to a while ago but when we started watching it it seemed really out of date, the computers and cellphones looked old, and I just wasn't into it; granted I didn't really give it much of a chance).

, on the other hand, was amazing! I loved it! There was quite a bit of shooting but nothing was particularly gory and it didn't feel gratuitous or never ending. I loved the twisty twisty mind benderness of it and the suspense and I especially love that afterwards you can talk with people who've seen it about what they thought about the end and then read stuff on the internet that makes you go 'Ahhhh yes, I didn't think of/notice that'. I'm glad I went slightly out of my comfort zone and saw it. I didn't know until she appeared on screen that Ellen Page was in it which pleased me greatly because I really like her and Marion Cotillard is just the most beautiful person with an amazing voice. It makes me want to watch the movie in which she plays Edith Piaf.

Just in case you think I have abandoned theatre for movies, what with all my classic movie Sunday talk, the Banksy documentary, and now Inception, rest assured I really haven't. It's just that of the shows I've seen lately none have made me want to rave about them. The ones that I can remember are: Doors. Walls. And also silence. and Distraction Camp at BATS - one was a bit extreme but enjoyable; the other I did not enjoy.

I saw Marat/Sade at Toi Whakaari, during which I spent most of my time feeling like I was having major deja vu. The fact that it was in the basement, the way the seating was arranged, and that it was set in an asylum reminded me of a show I saw there last year called Bedlam and some of the costumes and the company-ness of it made me think of another show I saw at Toi last year called The Caucasian Chalk Circle. I know that some of this was unavoidable due to the choice of play - you can't just rewrite the script so it isn't being performed by a company of people in an asylum, but it made me question why the play was chosen in the first place. I also thought some more original design concepts could have saved if from the Bedlam deja vu. But this isn't a theatre review blog so I'll leave it there...(except to say there were some really strong performances).

I saw Shipwrecked! at Circa which has its last show tomorrow night. This was theatrical storytelling in a pretty pure form and very entertaining with lots of clever uses of props (a dead dog symbolised by books laid out a certain way was one of my favourite examples) and really engaging performances. It tells the story of Louis de Rougemont which is a really interesting case of storytelling in itself.

And now I am off to my first Phoenix game. With a black nostril. If you get a burst blood vessel in your nose cauterised with silver nitrate, make sure the person (well, doctor) doing it is careful not to get the silver nitrate anywhere visible because it is a burn. It will not just come off, you have to wait for it to fade and the skin to heal. I'm thinking of it as a social experiment - who will say something? Who will merely stare? Good times.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Sometimes, I am a very lucky girl.

This morning I was having a bit of a boring morning at work when I got an email from Ed saying 'How about you don't go to pilates tonight and come to the World of Wearable Arts dress rehearsal with me instead? I have two comps.'

As if I had to think about that for even a second! I really wanted to go to WOW this year because I have never been before and earlier in the year it seemed I was going to get to, a ticket had been purchased especially for me by someone's very nice mother. However, due to unforeseen circumstances (read: break-up), that was clearly out of the question come June. Awkward family time anyone? Although I did think today, how uncomfortable and awful (for them) would it be if I rang and said, 'So, where and when shall I meet you guys for WOW? I don't want to miss out!'

Anyway, having heard WOW tickets were very expensive and not knowing about the charity dress rehearsal (although I'm not sure how much cheaper the dress rehearsal tickets actually are), I thought I'd seen my WOW 2010 chances pass me by. Until today! And I didn't even have to pay a cent. Did I mention I was lucky?

It was AMAZING. It was exactly what I imagined and so much better! Such a spectacle of the best kind. It ended with giant inflatable fruit bouncing through the audience and being batted about like balloons. Frightening but hilarious - try having an unexpected banana bounce on your head and you'll see what I mean.

I loved everything - people are so clever and some of the works are so detailed, but I especially loved the Children's Section which was fairytale themed (such cute little kids strutting their stuff, one was a little dragon with a fat tummy, he was ADORABLE; another was a walking book that opened to reveal a Bad Jelly type witch) and the Illumination Illusion Section (works that use the 'illusion of UV light' - among my favourites were a beautiful kite flyer; a whirlpool of leaves; and a wintry frosty snow thing).

The Avant Garde Section was circus inspired and there were little dogs dressed in stylised but relatively realistic elephant costumes so that it looked like tiny elephants parading around the stage. The sets were so impressive and even the costumes of the performers not modelling the works were elaborate and impressive. The whole thing was just so so good.

Of course you can't take photos during the show so the ones I have are only from the foyer. If photos had been allowed we would have been in a perfect spot: our seats were five rows from the front. So close we could feel the breeze created by some of the performers' giant glowing white wings as they swooped and floated around the stage during one part of the Illumination Illusion Section.

The 2009 Supreme Award winner: 'Lady of the Wood', David Walker, United States

This has been such a good day. I can't wait to find out which works win their categories and which one wins the 2010 Supreme Award; this was the dress rehearsal so the show hasn't even opened yet. If I wasn't planning on being at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival when WOW is on next year, I would most definitely be booking a ticket for 2011 as soon as they go on sale!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oh yes, I'm the great weekender

Evans Bay

A birthday card

New addiction - if you know any single male English banjo players, send them my way...

A magnificent magnolia

Bit of henna from a lovely lady at Marrakech Cafe where I went for a friend's birthday lunch

Housewarming irises

This weekend Wellington managed to escape the storm of the century, except for some heavy rain on Friday and Saturday nights. I saw a movie I would definitely recommend, it's hard to explain/describe but it was interesting and funny and raised questions about art, audacity, and plain craziness. Exit Through the Gift Shop. I missed it in the NZ International Film Festival so I was really glad it came back. I looooove documentaries. In another life I would like to be a documentary film maker; maybe I will even get time to be one in this many things to do, so much time spent having to earn money to pay the rent.

We had classic movie Sunday yesterday (coupled with a Sunday roast, yum!) and Alex chose Bonnie and Clyde, a 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

It's not a film I would have ever thought to get, especially because I'm not one for lots of shooting and chase sequences, but I really enjoyed it. The film had a weird quality to it; I don't know anything about film, but it seemed like the quality of film bad 80s made-for-TV movies were shot on. I guess it was 1967. Faye Dunaway was a babe, I really loved her costumes. I have no idea why the woman who played Blanche won an Oscar though. Apparently if you scream a lot you are a good actor.

The editing was very choppy which we were kind of like 'Whaaat?' about when we were watching it, but it turns out it was heavily influenced by French New Wave directors...whatever that means! I didn't really know much about the real Bonnie and Clyde and of course the film used artistic license, but they were so young (early 2os) and they really didn't rob as many banks as the police made out, they robbed more small grocery stores if anything, and it was the Great Depression so everyone was having a pretty tough time.

Bonnie and Clyde = definitely an excellent addition to the classic movie Sunday roll of honour!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

'Looking Terrific: The Story of El Jay'

On Friday I went on a little lunchtime outing with some lovely ladies I used to work with. I like to call them the 'sew fashionable' ladies because they all sew, love Project Runway, and are generally stylish babes.

We went to the New Zealand Fashion Museum's first pop-up exhibition, 'Looking Terrific: The Story of El Jay' that's currently on at Kirkaldie and Stains. It was a small but perfectly formed (I love that description of things) exhibition of about 20 outfits from the 1940s to the 1980s designed under the New Zealand label 'El Jay'. Lead by Gus Fisher, El Jay held the exclusive New Zealand license to manufacture and sell Christian Dior originals and Christian Dior pret a porter to the New Zealand market for 34 years, so there were some very chic little numbers.

What I liked most about the exhibition was that the little cards beneath each item/ensemble described their history and often had little anecdotes from the owners. It was a great example of how clothing can be an access point into social history and how a certain dress or coat can hold such strong memories for people.

Some were a bit sad - the cerise coloured coat you can see to the left of the blue outfit above was acommpanied by a card that said it was bought as a 'going away' outfit for a woman for her honeymoon. The marriage was a 'particularly unhappy one' and she destroyed most of the photos from the time so she doesn't have any of her wearing the outfit, but she couldn't bring herself to get rid of the outfit itself.

The outfit on the left was described as a 'leisure suit' which was 'perfect for entertaining at home'. We decided that if any of us opened the door to someone in that they'd think we were wearing our pyjamas to dinner.

I loved this blue dress. The colour is great and it's simple but not at all plain. I want it!

The mannequins were perfect; some of them were the old fashioned ones with jaunty poses, haughty looks, and 'real' eyelashes. We also had the pleasure of the live Kirkaldies piano player tinkling away as we looked around.

This was my favourite little description though, it made me imagine a sturdy woman feeding pigs on a farm in Otago in the 1950s wearing gumboots and her rusty coloured woollen El Jay coat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sew nearly there

Trimming the seam allowance after sewing and cutting notches in the remaining seam allowance around the curves - which apparently helps the seams sit better.

Tuesday night was the last of my 8 week 'dressmaking' course. I had hoped I would completely finish the baby pinnafore I started making 3 weeks ago and I nearly got there, I just need to do the buttonholes and sew the buttons on. Considering I've never done a buttonhole before it's kind of a crucial element, but in the last 5 minutes of the class the teacher (Kim) quickly showed me how to do it on a scrap piece of fabric, and armed with my sewing machine's instruction booklet, I'll do some practice buttonhole runs and hopefully get the pinnafore fully finished this weekend. It was a magic revelation seeing the machine do the buttonhole, all you have to do is measure the button width and mark it on the fabric, turn the dial at the appropriate times, put your foot down, and the machine does the rest! I wonder how you do a hand sewn buttonhole? I bet it takes a million times longer.

Here is a sneak peek at the almost finished product:

It needs to be washed and ironed. All in good time. I was too impatient to wait, I had to take photos asap. But of course there will be more photos once it's been washed and ironed and with the buttons on.

Look at that HEM - a significant improvement on last week's attempt. Also, I still love the two fabrics together, they please me greatly.

I am glad I did the dressmaking course, it wasn't quite what I thought it would be but it forced me to sew for two hours once a week which I'd love to try to keep up. I said in my feedback form that I thought it would be good if they spent the first 15 minutes of every class teaching a new technique - how to read a pattern one week, how to put in a zip the next, how to do darts, how to do button holes etc. It's those things that put me off most of the time and I still don't feel entirely confident in my zip abilities. But practice makes perfect so I'm going to try to keep hauling the sewing machine out as regularly as my busy schedule allows!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So many things

This morning I got a real punch in the feelings. That's the best way I can describe it and I quite like my little invented phrase so I am recording it here for posterity (I must have invented it, I searched it on Google and found nothing - which is the true measure of all originality).

Now, to matters more relevant. On Sunday I made Coconut Whispers for the second time and following my dissatisfaction with my last attempt, I put the oven on 'bake' not 'fan bake' and watched them like a hawk. I actually sat on a chair in front of the oven with a cup of tea and watched them; that's how dedicated I am to biscuits with an even all-over colour. And it was worth it:

So perfect! And very tasty. I took them to work for our daily 3pm ritual of collectively completing the Five Minute Quiz from The Dominion Post and won many fans. Although everyone kept saying, 'Ahhh are these macaroons?' To me they don't really look anything like what I think of as macaroons, but I have limited biscuit knowledge.

Sunday was also a classic movie Sunday. We watched A Streetcar Named Desire because Citizen Kane seems determined to thwart us. I went all the way to Aro Video (which really, isn't far) especially to get it and the man said, 'Oh sorry, that case shouldn't be on the shelf, the disc is out.' Luckily Ed had a back-up of Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh proportions. I had seen a production of the play a few years ago by Almost A Bird Theatre Collective (I just looked it up and I can't believe it's almost three years ago now, that is scary) which I really enjoyed (not least because I have a major crush on the guy who played Stanley) so it was interesting to see the film adapatation. I always like it when the original writer of a novel or play helps to write the screenplay for the movie version. It makes me feel like it's more authentic. And the guy who directed the movie was also the play's original director so that pleased me even more. Anyway, I really enjoyed it, even though the length of Stellar's fringe was so criminal as to be distracting. Why even bother to have a fringe that short? As either Ed or Alex said, they really dowded that actress up in comparison to Vivien Leigh.

Vivien Leigh was pretty amazing, she was just so extreme. She played Blanche DuBois in the original West End production for 326 performances so I guess she'd had a lot of practice. Apparently, she later said that playing Blanche 'tipped [her] over into madness' and she did actually suffer from mental illness herself so she probably had a lot of insight into the character. I didn't like her with blonde hair though. Marlon Brando was a babe with terrible diction. And that's all I have to say about that.

It's weird, I was thinking the other evening as I walked somewhere, I quite like watching things in black and white but I never try to imagine the colours and I wonder if some people do when they watch black and white movies? Apart from one point when Blanche asks for her yellow dress, I didn't try to imagine what colour her other dresses were or the paper latern she puts over the naked lightbulb, although now that I think about it I picture it being red. Weird.

Anyway, Monday night was Monday night Knitting Circle and I trudged on with my sock. I didn't get very far because I made a mistake on the first row and had to unknit it and then I helped teach Penny how to Inc1 (increase 1), and felt really proud that I could teach someone something about knitting, and then I had to console and offer moral support to Anita because she had to do something heartbreaking.

It's very hard to see (because the lighting in the Southern Cross is terrible for photos and actually not ideal for knitting either) but the cable on the in-progress arm warmer is much smaller and tighter than on the finished arm warmer.

Anita said she realised this earlier but was in denial and then when she finally acknowledged it she thought it might be because she was knitting tighter or something. But then she checked the pattern and realised she had been missing a knit row every time. And that the two arm warmers looked rather different. When she got to Monday night Knitting Circle, she agonised over whether to rip the second arm warmer back or whether she could live with them being different. I decided to help in the best way I could and buy her a ham and cheese toastie. I also said I would support her in whatever she decided to do (although secretly I wanted them to match). She decided she could live with them being different. Then a few rows later she dropped a stitch and couldn't get it back, which she declared to be a sign and ripped the whole thing back to nothing and cast on again. I bought her a ginger beer. She is a true knitting battler.

I salute her.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I got this Len Lye t-shirt at the Govett-Brewster the weekend I went to New Plymouth. To me, the fullstop makes it seem like a demand. I like that.

I'm feeling a bit self-concious about how this photo from my last post could make my bad hem appear much worse than it actually is. The hem is only uneven by a few point somethings of an inch. Not by a few inches as that photo could seem to indicate if, like me, you panic and think bodies are flat and why don't the edges meet up exactly at the bottom? I'm not that terrible at sewing or measuring distance. But you knew that, right? I unpicked the hem this morning and stabbed myself in the thumb. Those quick unpicks are vicious. It actually drew blood.

I am loving this blog by Sarah Laing at the moment. She is the current Buddle Findlay [Frank] Sargeson writer-in-residence and the blog is called 'Let me be Frank'. Which I think is very clever. It's so cool that her posts are written in comic form. It also makes me think, clever clever clever because they could quite easily be turned into a funky little book when her residency is up. I think such a book would appeal to lots of people because the little comics deal with family life and life in general as much as they deal with being a writer/writer-in-residence and it would be the type of thing people could dip into for some amusement when they felt like it or read the whole thing in one go, like a book of poetry but with pictures. Maybe she needs me as her agent because I am doing such a good job at selling the concept.

I did go to the Spring Knack Market yesterday but I didn't stay long at all. I was very hungover. I decided the walk to the market would do me good but halfway there I was seriously questioning my judgement. I got there and said hi to Aileen, who had sold some teddies, bunnies, and hats and was very pleased with the market, had a quick walk around the hall, and then crawled home.

Sigh. I might have looked a wreck but at least I smell nice at the moment. I recently ran out of my perfume I've been using for the last 5 years, Lancome 'Miracle So Magic!' (which I have just this minute found out has been discontinued! I am not ready to let go of it completely! Farmers still had some, I am buying it this week) and decided to go crazy and get a different perfume to replace it. It's so difficult to choose perfume, you smell a couple and then completely lose sense of what smells good or bad or like toilet freshener. After about a week of lunchtime visits to Farmers to try different ones on and asking opinions ('No, that smells like Glade' - thanks Ed and Adrianne) I settled on this:

I have no idea who Issey Miyake is but whoever they are I bet they smell nice too.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Best laid (optimistic) plans

I have been told (by someone in particular) that I am a 'negative' person. I disagree with this (I prefer the term ‘realistic’...) and it would seem that my attitude when it comes to sewing indicates that, actually, I may be overly optimistic. This is because I went to my sewing class on Tuesday night with visions of sewing up the baby pinnafore in a flash, getting the teacher to help me make the button holes, sewing on the little wooden buttons, and sailing off into the night with the finished product: the cutest baby pinnafore in the history of the world.

But of course, it wasn't that simple and I feel like I didn't really make that much progress except to sew the WORST HEM EVER.

It was all going well, I sewed the front bodice piece to the front skirt piece for both the outer and inner layers of the pinnafore.

Then I sewed along the edges on the outer layer (or the 'shell' as the pattern calls it) and came to the hem, for which the pattern says 'Turn the bottom edge under 1/2” and press. Then turn it under again and stitch.' So I marked 1/2" all along and ironed it up and then turned it up again, but I didn't mark where to turn it up to the second time, I just folded it at the point where the first turned up fabric stopped (this is a cryptic and pointless description of events I know, but I'm writing it anyway). I thought it looked okay so I sewed it. As I was sewing it I thought, 'Hmmm, maybe this isn't the most even of hems but oh well.' And then when I finished I thought, 'It's not great, but it's okay.' And then the teacher said, 'How did it go?' and I said, 'Not the best hem ever' and she looked at it and said, 'Well you could unpick just this bit and sew it again?' (which must be bad - I mean she doesn't seem like a perfectionist by any means) and (clearly in denial) I replied, 'Nah, it's fine, no one will notice when it's on.'

Then, as per the pattern, I went about sewing up the sides of the lining part of the dress. When I came to the hem on that the teacher said, 'Marking where to fold it up to for the second fold might help' and as I followed her advice I thought, 'Why didn't I do the hem on the lining before the hem on the outer? Then I would have made this discovery before doing the hem you actually see'. Right at that moment the teacher walked past and said, 'Actually, it would have been a good idea to do the lining part of the pinnafore before the outer part because they're exactly the same and you could have practiced everything on the lining which no one will see.' I casually smiled and said, 'Yeah I just thought that, oh well!' all the while thinking, 'WHY DIDN'T YOU MENTION THIS BEFORE? NOW I HAVE A TERRIBLE OUTER HEM ALL BECAUSE I WAS RELIGIOUSLY FOLLOWING THE PATTERN. I DON'T HAVE YOUR WISDOM. THIS IS WHY I AM HERE.'

Craft rage. It's so common. And so often it's the patterns that cause it. Why DID the person who wrote that pattern say to make the outer 'shell' before the inner when they're exactly the same up until you attach the lining to the outer? It does make more sense to 'practice' on the lining because you're not going to see it. But then I guess people writing patterns aren't thinking about making it as easy as possible for beginners with no foresight.

Anyway, we had to pack up before I got to sewing the second hem and I have since decided that really, I need to unpick the whole first hem and do it again. Grrr. But I CAN finish this pinnafore before the end of my last sewing class next week. Surely that's realistic?

Project Runway started again tonight which was super exciting. I went to my friend's house for dinner and her Mum, Aileen, is a knitter who has been knitting up a storm for the Spring Knack Market on Saturday at the South Wellington Intermediate School hall (Rintoul Street, Newton, 9.30am - 1.30pm). Luckily Aileen is also a big Project Runway fan so we had a really good time knitting and drinking wine and having our own little Project Runway judging panel. I am probably extremely annoying to watch Project Runway with because I love to mimic Heidi - she says the same things every week so it's pretty easy: 'As you know in fashion, one day you're in, the next day, you're out.' I liked the dress made by the designer that got sent home, clearly Heidi and I don't share the same opinion when it comes to fashion. Then again, I guess we don't have much in common at all, so no wonder.

Because I hadn't planned to go round to Aileen's house for dinner, I went straight from work and didn't have my knitting with me, so I started knitting a little scarf in moss stitch for the teddy bear Aileen was knitting. Here are some of the creations she and her sister-in-law have been making, I love the little sleeping teddy in a pink bunny suit...

I may have to buy it. I'm definitely going to go along to the market anyway, as it's very close to my house.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life is a game, a video game

After venting my craft rage at my inability to comprehend the first line of the heel turn part of the pattern for my first sock in my last post, Tash commented explaining that I didn't need to worry that I wasn't knitting all the stitches on the needle, I would get back to them later. Revelation! Wrap and turn is for turning around during a row and knitting back the other way! Amazing!

So armed with Tash's advice, last night at Monday night Knitting Circle I owned that heel turn.

Okay so maybe I panicked at the end when I had too many stitches left on my needle and knit them together only to find I should have left them because I actually ended up having to pick up a couple of extra ones in the gusset (although the pattern said I should be left with 18 at the end of the heel turn and I had more than that, so who knows? Following a pattern is hard). And maybe somehow I forgot how to knit sometimes and started knitting through the back loop of stitches until I thought, 'Hold on, is this right?', got really confused, and started knitting through the front loop again. These things didn't actually matter, because in the end I got there! I was so proud! Also, turns out I was just preparing myself for when the pattern actually asked me to knit through the back loop during the gusset. I'm obviously ahead of my time.

So here it is, in all it's glory. My first heel turn:

Looks kind of boring and flat here (but exactly like the picture on page 2 of the pattern, hurrah!)...

Oh wait, it's not flat, it's AMAZING.

Just in case you need more illustration of the 3D-ness of it. The day this cradles my heel is going to be cause for celebration - I'm thinking street parade complete with brass band and ticker tape and me on a float shaped like a giant sock.

I wouldn't have made it through without the help of Ellen, who patiently explained how to pick up the 15 slipped stitches along the side of the heel flap (and even gave me a tip to make it easier) and helped me realise how it all worked in terms of joining it back up into a round again. She also gave me advice on how to pick up some extra stitches when I realised I didn't have enough - by the exact number I'd decreased in my earlier panic, as Anita helpfully pointed out.

I think Anita was just rebelling against the lack of attention I was giving her. She'd tried to tell me a story about how her faith in humanity and social networking (i.e. Facebook) was restored after she lost her wallet on the weekend and the guy who found it then looked her up on Facebook and arranged to give it back, but I was intensely concentrating on my heel turn at the time so I just tried to make noises of commiseration and enthusiasm at the appropriate times, although apparently it was clear my heart wasn't in it.

Later on her arm warmer called for similar intense concentration and she even began singing the pattern to herself...exactly like my character did at the start of Tea for Toot. Ironically, that is the part of the show I disliked most, yet it is the part of the show that people who saw it repeat back to me most often...knit two, purl two, knit two, purl two...

Anyway, I realise that I am not safe yet. There is still quite a bit of sock to go; part of which involves me measuring my foot to work out how long the foot part of the sock needs to be, minus 2 inches for the toe. But I am excited. All day at work I just wanted to come home and knit, which is annoying because sometimes you are at home and have time and you really don't feel like knitting. But, you know, clearly life isn't fair.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


After this on Friday evening (you can just see the hail on the ground):

I dragged myself out of bed (after a very late night) to catch the train for this:

I love the Wairarapa. I was glad to be with some of my family this weekend because even though my family in Christchurch are fine, it was a strange feeling knowing they'd been shaken awake by a very big earthquake and that my sister was in the central city with no power and regular aftershocks. Seeing the footage of the damage on the news and knowing that Christchurch airport was closed made them seem really far away.

I noticed many more signs of spring in my travels around Masterton and Gladstone this weekend than I get to on my walks to work and around the city during the week.

The magnolia trees all around town made me miss a street in Wellington I used to walk down very regularly that I'm pretty sure will be lined with beautiful blooming magnolias and have a carpet of their thick creamy petals on the pavement at the moment.

My aunty bought me this awesome cup, saucer, and little plate set at a garage sale yesterday, she said she saw it and couldn't not get it for me. I love the colours!

Today my aunty, my Nana, and I spent a nice wee while drinking tea, eating lemon loaf, looking at pictures of people's nice houses in magazines, and reading bits of the newspaper while my two little cousins drew me pictures.

In the meantime someone else was getting creative. My little brother found some corrugated iron sheets in Dad's workshop and set up a slide off one of his motorbike jumps (yes, that isn't just a random mound of dirt and stones, it has a much higher purpose). The buckets behind him are for filling with water and pouring onto the slide to make it 'go better'. He's sitting on a contraption he built for sliding purposes.

All around the garden and the surrounding paddocks signs of his 'making' can be found - planks of wood in trees (tree huts) with smaller bits of wood nailed to the tree trunks (stairs), blocks of wood arranged just so (skateboard jumps), and a 'pimped out' scooter that he's changed the wheels on are just a few examples. No wonder his hand is in a cast (he has a broken thumb).

There is now a whole paddock of alpacas just down the road from my Dad's house. At one point as I drove past they were all looking up at something in the same direction, it was very weird, they look like sheep with really long necks.

Alpacas, because they are yarn-bearing creatures (imagine if skeins of yarn just grew on them like fruit and you could pick a couple off and be on your merry way? That would actually be so cool), could be a nice transition into an update on the progress of my first sock. Except there hasn't been any. If someone can't help me figure out the first line of the heel turn at Monday night Knitting Circle tomorrow, then I am going to have a serious tantrum. WHY AREN'T PATTERNS CLEARER? I have 30 stitches on the needle I'm knitting on at the moment, and the first line for the heel turn says 'Sl1, K16, ssk, k1, W&T'. That does not add up to 30. So I thought, okay, I'll just ssk along until I get to the last two stitches, then I'll do the 'knit one' and then wrap and turn because the way the pattern explains wrapping and turning you need the last stitch to do it with. But no. I couldn't make it work so that there was a stitch left for the wrap and turn at the end. I was so ready to attack the heel turn but I just couldn't figure it out which was immensely frustrating. I really hope someone can help me tomorrow night, otherwise it is going to be craft rage central.