Monday, December 31, 2012

What do you mean I'm not in NZ?

This year for our Christmas festivities Willie's immediate family and I stayed at Apollo Bay, a few hours drive down the coast from Melbourne. We all had a lovely time - it was most relaxing! And a little cooler, which I appreciated.

It was great to finally see a bit of the Australian countryside, and I spent rather a lot of time watching for interesting new birds and other wildlife. A highlight was seeing a flock of cockatoos gathered around a picnic table seagull-style, while a family ate fish and chips! We also spied some wild koalas when we stopped at a eucalyptus forest on the way back to Melbourne, and I saw an echidna moseying along the roadside at the beach.

But there were also some surprisingly New-Zealand-like moments! Apollo Bay had pohutukawa trees scattered about, like a typical beach town back home, and there were familiar birds around, like fantails and pukekos.

The biggest surprise was when we went on a bushwalk to Marriners Falls - the bush was just so ferny it felt like being on a bushwalk in New Zealand...

(click to enlarge pics)


Friday, December 21, 2012

New pattern: Starstuff hat

The Starstuff hat is a cosy beret-style hat with a starry brim. I designed it as a companion to my Starstuff mitts, which I recently revised and updated.

The striped ribbing and colourwork stars are borrowed from the mitts design, but here the stars appear only around the brim, rather than as an all-over pattern. The decreases at the crown form a larger star, gathered into an optional beret 'stem' at the top.

I used Zealana Kauri once again, a lovely fingering-weight possum-blend yarn. The purple colour is 'Tuhi' (I used just under one ball), and the green is 'Kea' (left over from my mitts). I like the matching-but-not-quite effect of using different background colours for the hat and mitts set.

A giant Christmas tree has appeared in our apartment building! It seemed the perfect backdrop for a photo or two...

I blend right in... kinda...

The fancy staircase is also fun for posing on. ;)

The Starstuff hat pattern is now available on Ravelry, either separately or together with Starstuff mitts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A night at the opera

Last night Willie and I, Matt, and Chloe went out to Madama Butterfly at the State Theatre! Puccini isn't my usual musical fare to say the least, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great spectacle, and the singing was fantastic, especially Hiromi Omura who played Butterfly. The set was simple, with some touches that made it magical: pools of water, glittering stars, and drifting cherry blossoms. I was grateful for the surtitles translating the Italian, as I wasn't familiar with the story beyond the basic naive-Japanese-heroine-meets-caddish-American-villain outline.

I've been to a couple of operas before: The Marriage of Figaro a year or two ago in Wellington, and L'Orfeo more recently. It's a great excuse to dress up and be fancy - a lovely escapist way to spend an evening. It was fun to introduce our newbie guests to the bizarre and sublime world of opera!

The teaser trailer:

Hiromi Omura in the same role, in a past production:

We had really good seats, thanks to a competition Opera Australia is running. The idea is to make an origami butterfly, and take a photo of it in a public place. I took my slightly dodgy butterfly along on one of my raiding-trips to the State Library music-scores room. ;)

A butterfly on a butterfly

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A tardy cardie

Knitting garments is time-consuming. I fall in love with cool new designs, and put them in my Ravelry queue, and ponder what yarn I might use and what colours would maximise the general awesomeness. But they take me so long to actually knit (in between working on smaller projects), I've made a total of two finished garments to date: a Beatnik jersey and my Chickadee cardie.

Therefore it's not really surprising that the Cria cardigan I started in September, in a big burst of knitting productivity at my parents' house, has gained only about a dozen rows since I've been in Australia. Luckily, I seem to have my garment-making gumption back, and I'm chipping away at my green Cria. On Sunday I brought it to Willie's sister's house, and knit a few rows while they played music in the next room. I couldn't resist trying it on the mannequin-on-stilts that looms in a corner of the lounge...


I still have the sleeves and most of the body to knit. I'm using 4ply pure wool yarn from Anna Gratton, which I bought at a Wellington market back in May - which illustrates just how long my 'garment cycle' is!

Naturally, I've been scheming about what cardie or jersey to make next, even though this one won't be finished for a while yet. I have two special batches of 4ply yarn in sufficient quantities, and a short-list of patterns for each. The first is Vintage Purls Sock in 'Hotel Magnifique', which is all crazy rainbows! It will need a relatively plain design - I'm considering Billowing, Barnsley, Deco, and Candelia. I'll have to work out which would suit me best, and what I'd most like to wear.

The second batch of hoarded garment-yarn is Skein Top Draw Sock in 'Golden', which looks like faded sunflowers. I think this yarn will be able to take a little more detail in the design. At the moment I'm torn between Praline, Conic, and the others I mentioned above. Because these skeins are underweight 'seconds', I'll need to calculate the necessary yardage carefully - the long-sleeved designs might be pushing it.

The plotting-and-scheming stage of a project is totally my favourite!