Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Big Wet

A storm has been travelling the length of New Zealand, creating havoc with high winds and heavy rain. Trees and power lines have come down, seaside homes have been encroached on by wild seas, and rivers have burst their banks all over the North Island, and upper South Island.

Last night, the storm reached Canterbury, and while we didn't get any of the gale force easterly winds (I live in an inland town), we certainly got the rain. North Canterbury doesn't get a lot of rain normally, so I wasn't expecting anything major. My side of town was apparently a swamp at one time but with moderate rainfall, this is not a problem. However, the clay pan underneath has not been able to handle the solid rain we've had over the past 30 hours.
This is the front lawn this morning. It's lower than the driveway so the water is deepest there. The back lawn is a bit higher in the middle, though the water is ankle deep on the paths. Getting firewood from the woodshed means wading through cold water, but at least I have dry firewood.

I'm working from home today but if the drains back up any more, I may have to go into work.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where I was

This is Banks Peninsula on the east side of the South Island of New Zealand, taken from space. Previously I lived at Lyttelton, the harbour (and port of Christchurch, the SI's main city)at the top left hand corner of the photo. Akaroa, where I spent the weekend, is on the big harbour on the lower part of the image. The 2 harbours are formed from the craters of ancient volcanoes. I love the landscape around here -you can see how mountainous the terrain is!
There was some snow around on the hills on the way to Akaroa. You wind up a very large hill, and then wind down the other side to where the harbour starts.
This little waterfall on the way down was going strong - there'd been a lot of rain over here.
We went looking around on Saturday morning in the township, as the weather was fairly fine. This is one of the lovely old cottages - taken on the wrong camera setting unfortunately.
And another - there are many cute buildings here.
Fire & Ice sells gemstones, crystals, pearls and essential oils.
Overnight, there had been more snow. This is across the harbour.
And this is the jetty where you can go out on trips to see (and swim with ) NZ's rare little Hector dolphins. There are also 2 types of penguins that live in the harbour, and breed on the farmland further around closer to the heads.

The weather deteriorated and it rained for most of the rest of the time were there. I read a bit and knitted quite a bit by the fire. I'll be ready to start sewing up the charcoal Classic Slant Cardigan soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Guide to Happiness

We could all use more happiness, no? Here are 15 ways to be happy:

1. Live in the present. Don't think about how great things will be in the future or dwell on what happened in the past.

2. Connect with others. Spend time with those you love rather than being alone or with people you don't much like.

3. Do the things you love. Figure out the four or five things you love doing most and make those the foundation of your day.

4. Focus on the positive. Whether you're happy or not depends largely on which aspects you focus on.

5. Do work you love. Make it a priority to try to find work you're passionate about.

6. Help others. Is there any better feeling than helping a fellow human being?

7. Find time for peace. With the hectic pace of life, it's important to make time for solitude and quiet.

8. Notice the small things, instead of waiting for the big things to happen - marriage, kids, house, car.

9. Develop compassion.

10. Be grateful. Learning to be grateful for what's in our lives goes a long way towards happiness.

11. Simplify your life. Create time for your happiness and thereby reduce stress.

12. Slow down. Learn to eat more slowly, drive more slowly, walk more slowly.

13. Learn to accept things as they are rather than try to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal.

14. Spend time in nature.

15. Exercise.

Have I mentioned that I was a Life Coach in a former life? We have a great deal of control over what happens in our lives, though we don't always realise it. I am not always happy, but I DO try.

That was Friday's Philosophy Lesson. Now I'm off to do 2, 3, 7, 12, 14 and possibly some more.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another weekend away

I am off tomorrow for a weekend away with my friend Bronwen. We are both under some stress in our jobs (she is in real estate) and feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. Time out helps boost our flagging spirits. This time, we're going to stay here :
This cottage is at Akaroa - see below. Akaroa is unique in New Zealand as it's the only place settled by the French. The streets are mainly "Rue something-or-other" and there are gorgeous little cottages. It's an arty-crafty place, way out on Banks Peninsula. You can see more of the lovely local dwellings here.
And today I had my hair done, which always makes me feel better.
Have a good weekend everyone, I'll see you next week. And hopefully a lot of knitting will get done, as the weather looks pretty awful.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

The world needs more people like you.

The other day, I was looking at Neki's blog A Moveable Feast, and I was entranced by her sand paintings. The website where she did these is currently unavailable, so I haven't put a link to it, but at the time, I went and played with the sand and it was great fun. I made a landscape with different coloured mountains but couldn't work out (I was supposed to be working at the time!) how to save it.

So, recognising yesterday that my blog has been a bit short on fibre and dye content lately, due to it being mid-winter and knitting being my main creative activity, I made this:

It's made from the small rectangles of monoprinted fabric that I made some months ago. I put Vliesofix on the back of them, then randomly cut them into wedges and fused them onto a background. I'm not really sure where I'm going next with this, but it needs more work yet.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

WIP - Sonnet

I decided that I would start my new project, although I still have 3 other sweaters/cardigans uncompleted. Actually there is at least one other somewhere as well. It's not quite what I was looking for but I settled on this Knitty design called Sonnet.

I've made this before for other people and enjoy knitting it, as the body is knitted sideways. In the photo, the lower edge is centre front, and I'm currently knitting the left front. The pattern is mainly garter stitch with box stitch panels.

It's a nice yarn to knit but I don't know that I'm thrilled with the way the colours are coming out. For some reason, the yarn was more appealing in the hank.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Playing possum

There has been quite a lot of interest in possums as a result of my last post, and some readers are unfamiliar with them. Above is the New Zealand version, which is less attractive than the North American variety. They are about the size of a cat.

Personally, I prefer them this way.....I have 2 dyed skins that I bought from a tannery. I use them as decoration in my bedroom on top of a wooden chest (photo shows them on my bed). The fur is lovely and soft. Don't ask me how they get it into yarn as I have no idea.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fondling the yarn

This yarn screams out "fondle me!". It's 40% possum fur and 60% wool. Yum!

Possums (or opossums as they're correctly called) are an introduced noxious pest in New Zealand, though I understand they're protected in their native Australia. Here they do huge amounts of damage to our native forests and bush, and ruin the habitat for native flora and fauna. They are not nice cuddly animals when alive - they have razor sharp claws and have been known to shred curtains and soft furnishings when accidentally baled up indoors.

Some clever person decided that their fur which, like any fur, is wonderfully soft and warm, would go well mixed with wool and used in clothing. Yes, it's disgustingly expensive compared to plain wool, but the yarn is wonderful to the touch and lovely to wear - I have a hat, gloves and socks in it. These were commercially made as the yarn has only recently become available to use.

These hanks are green, turquoise, blue and navy, and just gorgeous. Each hank is only 100 grams but 420 metres long, so 4 hanks will make a garment.

Now.....what to make????

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Refugee Quilt part 2

Yesterday I put this backing on the quilt. Amazingly, I had enough cotton batting to fit it. You can see the very minimalist quilting I've done - just diagonals one way, and with wavy lines down the borders. It's reminded me of how much I hate making big quilts like this, and all the problems that come with doing a quick job - seams not matching perfectly, slippage during quilting, fabric's pretty rough and ready, but it'll do the job.
Yesterday was like this - sleety showers. The dogs elected to stay beside the fire.
I've been sewing this quilt downstairs as it's more pleasant. the table I'm using is just to the left of this photo.

The binding is on, so now I have to hand sew the other side of it. Then I'll package it up along with an unneeded duvet and cover (the refugees are feeling the cold) and my old DVD player, and send it to my daughter for her to take to them.