Friday, November 21, 2014

Something I saw today

New cook book and a glass of rosé: how I roll on a Friday night. ����

Pickle Pants at the Kristmas Knack

On Saturday I made the first step towards my dream of becoming the mustardress I was born to be - my friend Mon and I sold our mustards and pickles at the fancily-named Berhampore School Fair, Kristmas Knack. It was fun and also like re-visiting my time in retail – i.e. much greeting people in a cheery manner and using the same patter repeatedly (“you have to like this one, it's my Nanny's recipe” - a line that is funny exactly 0.5 times. If that).

We made a few sales, but mostly we sat behind the stall, snacked on Mon's delicious home-made cream crackers, and gossiped about all the people we knew.

One of the best things was the woman selling crochet across from us – she had a fabulously and hilariously broad German accent, an infectious giggle, and a pretty great sense of humour. She asked if she could enhance her cheese roll with our bread and butter pickle taster, and who were we to say no in the face of such enthusiasm? She also bought some of our wares which infinitely increased her in my estimation. There was a lot of inter-stall trading going on over the course of the day, and I ended up spending more than I earned (but nobody said this was an exercise in money-making, alright? Evidently for me mostly an exercise in pottery and jewellery acquisition).

There are a couple of things I would change when we do it again - more game for our stall, layers and levels and more beautiful things to attract attention. I also wonder if it's a better idea to have lots of small amounts of different pickles and mustards rather than a lot of the same – so, variety over abundance. The main thing, and the thing that harks back again to my days in retail - is the need to talk talk talk and engage people and get them excited.

We have no immediate plans to be at another fair, but we do have some delicious goodies that we still need to move. I will make a note here next time we have plans to be somewhere, in case you are in Wellington/super keen. We're selling under the name Pickle Pants – a phrase I coined when I got a whiff of my jeans one Friday at work - they were the same jeans I'd worn when we made 43 jars of bread and butter pickle and they were very whiffy, like stale vinegar and cucumber.

Nothing sexier than pickle pants.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Something I saw today

Hey there beauties.

Wednesday List: Fabulous things from an amazing weekend

On Labour weekend Shannon and I ran away to Martinborough for a mini-break and it was quelle amaze. This blog post is late, but also the whole experience was so fabulous so I feel totally justified in bragging about it still.

Here are some of the best things. (Non-listed best thing: Shannon. Because that goes without saying ❤, vom).

Tandem bicycles and boozy vineyard tours

Have you ever ridden a tandem bicycle around a vineyard with your lover? If no, may I recommend it to you?

The bicycle situation was pretty great. While we biked with increasing danger from vineyard to vineyard, casually drinking and buying wine, the people we hired the bike from rode around after us and collect our wine purchases.  So.decadent.

Fascinatingly, I found that my tandem-riding abilities increased with the amount of wine we “tasted".

So much delicious food

Did we eat and eat and eat? Yes we did, and it was pretty great. Highlights include the scallops at Pinocchio, a delicious roast lamb platter at Cool Change, and the inevitable fish and chips at the Lake Ferry pub on the way home. I was very sad not to have a pie at the French bakery cafe in Greytown but I guess we can't eat all the things all the time, because time just doesn’t work like that.

Chinoiserie all up in my hotel room

Shannon was lucky enough to be given a voucher for one night of our stay at the rather swanky Martinborough Hotel - hence our decision to stay there (nay, take a mini-break).

The Martinborough Hotel is a big old pile that's been renovated in a terribly tasteful style and is smack bang in the middle of the town. We stayed in the Bidwill Room and it was decorated in tres pretty Chinoiserie. There was also a small table with a silver jug of white blossoms that were artfully losing their petals.

Stonehenge Aotearoa

Stonehenge Aotearoa is worth a visit for the novelty alone. DID YOU KNOW it is not a mere replica of Stonehenge in spray-on concrete and chicken wire, but rather a perfect astronomical clock, reversed for the Southern Hemisphere and incorporating elements of Māori astronomy? DID YOU KNOW it is run by a group of enthusiastic local astronomers who also run tours and have made a lovely video guide you can watch in their auditorium? DID YOU KNOW it is beloved as a venue by local Wiccans and Druids?

Entry fee was $8, and I have no regrets.

Here is a photo of two different Stonehenges, can you tell the difference?
Compare contrast stonehenges

Friday, November 14, 2014

On my needles

All winter my craft obsession is knitting. When we hit October, I'm still in the habit of spending long nights on the couch, watching TV and trying to stay warm. Knitting is so meditative that it seems more suitable for my winter state of near-hibernation, while sewing (at least, in the slightly haphazard way I approach it) is much more active -  lots of leaping from my machine and running between tables and mirrors and the ironing board.

This year, I am proud to say, marked a change in my knitting practice - I started knitting adult-size garments in ernest. I’ve dabbled in the past, but it hasn’t been until this year that I’ve finally managed to make an item of clothing that I’m proud of and wear on a regular basis. I'm pretty stoked with this.*

As spring actually begins to get a toehold, this is what I currently have on my needles and what I’m planning vaguely for summer knitting. My knitting mojo has already lessened markedly so who knows if I'll make much progress before next June? I sure don't. It's a mystery.

Currently knitting

Still light tunic


I started knitting one of these tunic dresses with a hiss and a roar in August, but lost interest when I realised that I wouldn’t finish the tunic in time to wear it this winter - and that I'd have to frog the hem because I’d used single instead of double rib to finish. The only possible explanation for a fuck-up of this kind is that I was knitting drunk.

I’ve decided to finish the pockets and the other sleeve before I attempt to frog the hem, and I think I will make it longer and a bit more butt-covery.

As though knitting an adult-sized dress wasn’t enough, I’m using a very fine yarn. I ordered it from Anna Gratton yarns and didn’t realise that it was a very fine 4 ply (more a lace-weight than a sock yarn, I feel). It is pretty nice yarn though, lovely to knit with. Not super squishable on the cone but it has a nice drape in the garment.

Solis t-shirt

I picked up a bunch of purplish-silver-grey cotton from the op-shop, originally planning to knit one of the delicious Vasa tees. However it turned out that the cotton was the wrong weight for the pattern (8ply instead of 4ply). I threw the idea out completely instead of doing the maths to work out the new measurements - I still want to make a Vasa but I’ll do the thing properly with the right weight of yarn.

Instead, I’m knitting a Solis t-shirt with the op-shop cotton. The pattern has has a back panel of lace and tubular cast ons at the waist - two techniques that were new or a bit of a challenge for me. So far I’ve completed the back panel and am about halfway through the front. I must have knit that tubular cast on about twenty times altogether!!! (I wish this was hyperbole). The top though is only two pieces, so a pretty simple make, and I’m excited about the slightly tricky-looking neck band. My enthusiasm for difficult things leads me to conclude that I’m much more ready to try new and complicated knitting techniques if I’m executing them on something I really want to wear - rather than, say, a dishcloth.

Vague summer knitting plan

Featherweight cardigan mark II

I ordered a bunch of Madeline Tosh 2-ply yarn in Candlewick so I could make another of these very cute light weight cardigans. The last version I made was in a black 4-ply merino and I was pretty disappointed - I knitted the cardi too small, cast off my sleeves and waistband too tightly and the yarn pilled very quickly. I am still wearing it though, and every time I squeeze my forearms through the too-tight cuffs I curse myself for my haste in casting off.

Related adventure in yarn-winding: I tried to co-op Shannon into helping me wind FIVE SKEINS OF THIS EXPENSIVE YARN and it was a DISASTER. I spent almost as much time untangling as I did winding. Never again (he is very relieved).


Do you have something on your needles at the moment? Making anything funky? I am endeavouring to craft my stash for the rest of the year at least as I have a heap of fabric, yarn and vintage clothes, and am (still) trying to live within my means. I am also feeling the tug of the sewing machine, and I suspect my next project will involve the Scout T-shirt pattern and some apple-print fabric.

* A Trail Jacket, in case you’re wondering.

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