Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Eight Christmas Babies

Eating hard boiled egg.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Knitting with a Donkey

 Teddy the donkey approaches.

 Showing an intelligent interest.

Note dog and billy goat standing at a respectful distance. " Can you show me how to do that? "

Monday, December 10, 2012


About an hour and a half's drive from Christchurch at the end of Banks Peninsula is the little town of Akaroa. Uniquely, for New Zealand, it was originally settled by the French and so the main streets are called cheery names like the Rue Jolie.

 And they are pretty. The old cottages are covered in roses and their gardens are full of flowers. The harbour setting is lovely as well and is now visited regularly by cruise ships because they can no longer dock at the main Christchurch port of Lyttelton which was damaged in the earthquake. One cruise ship arrived while we were there and I was very disappointed when I saw the passengers coming ashore to look at the town. There it was all festooned with roses waiting to greet them and there they were, dressed in black and brown polyester stretch knits looking like a lot of flies. Where were the fluttering silks and picture hats one would expect of people on an expensive South Pacific cruise in the spring time?

The town of Akaroa is really just for tourists now. After dark the flower covered cottages show no sign of life. During the year the population is only about 800 people, most of whom seem to be involved in the tourist trade, but in summer 15,000 visitors fill the place up and put quite a strain on the water supply.
I thought it would be a nice spot to show off my new cardigan made from about ten different colours of the Renaissance Dyeing Poll Dorset. It's knitted in daisy stitch which skinned my fingers while I was making it.

This little jetty looked like something from Moominland.

There is a very pretty little lighthouse which was once on the point of Banks Peninsula but has been moved into the town. Because a cruise ship was visiting the lighthouse was open and we were able to look around it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Flamingo Park

When I first moved out of home at twenty I briefly shared a house with Richard Neville who in those days was still trailing shreds of notoriety behind him because of his involvement with the Oz obscenity trial in London. It was a lovely old house in Bondi Junction with a black and white marble hallway. Although it was the height of summer it was never too hot because in the afternoons a sea breeze blew through the upstairs windows and cooled everything down. On the stairs were stacked old copies of Oz magazine gathering dust.
Richard never seemed to be a disturbing or wicked character and I put that down to the cardigan he used to wear in the cool of the evening. It was hand-knitted in thick wool and had lots of cuddly looking koalas all over it. He had bought from from Flamingo Park which was a terrifically expensive shop in the Strand Arcade run by Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. I desperately wanted a cardigan like that for myself but because of a shortage of money I decided to make my own. The design I came up with was somewhat simplified but I was happy with it for a few years. It had wattle on the front and a cockatoo on the back. Here I am with my sister at Campden Park in Sydney:

She's trying to make the cocky say something.

Much, much later, not long before Flamingo Park closed, my friend Kate and I both bought jackets there. They weren't the top of the range like Richard's but they were very useful and comfortable garments to wear.
This is Kate's

And this is mine - the only picture I could find.
When I moved to the Blue Mountains, one damp and misty day I went to a garage sale at Jenny Kee's house and finally bought the highly decorated jumper I'd always wanted. It wasn't new and it still wasn't cheap but it was the real thing.
I haven't worn it very often because unfortunately the colours don't suit me. However, one day when I was wearing it I was walking through the carpark at Blackheath and Jenny Kee, who was perched halfway up a ladder nearby painting a mural of parrots and cockatoos and looking not unlike an exotic bird herself, screeched at me, "You're wearing my jumper!" It must have looked a lot better on her but nevertheless it's one of my most treasured possessions.
At the same garage sale I bought this which gave me some insight into her design process:
Here's the book

and here's what was inside it.

And in an op shop in Oamaru I found this - the book with the final version of my jumper design in it:


And many thanks to you, Jenny.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


While I was in Australia in July I was contacted by Michelle at Artwear Publications wanting me to create a design for Yarn magazine. The problem was I was in Australia with no knitting equipment and she needed the design by September 1st so it could be prepared for the December issue. On the plane home I came up with the idea for the Regard socks, so I plunged in as soon as I got home and knitted them and sent them off thinking I'd done pretty well. But I had misunderstood. Michelle was keen to have a Fair Isle design. Fortunately the weather turned really nasty and stayed that way for a week. I designed, watched George Eliot DVDs, knitted and came up with these socks. I had them done and sent away with about a week to spare. The George Eliot films gave me the idea for the name. The country dance or contredanse where one couple dances while the others stand and watch. This is what happens with Fair Isle knitting - one yarn does the work while the other waits. The vertical design is based on the Fair Isle knitting from Sand Lodge and I made all the motifs different so there would be no possibility of boredom setting in.
This is my first real official publication and it's very exciting and was lots of fun to do. Thanks to Michelle and the team for the editing and the great photos (as seen in the magazine, not here).
The yarn is, of course, Renaissance Dyeing Troubadour.