Monday, 31 March 2008

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Easter in Nelson

We had a great Easter in Nelson. Wonderful weather, great scenery and inspiring craft-browsing. Plus lots of yummy food and local wine.

The main thing I was looking forward to was the Nelson Saturday market and it did not disappoint (lots of pictures at the end of this post). Melissa (who used to live in Nelson) recommended the food stall that sold stove-pot coffee and traditional Dutch apple donuts (OlieBol). Deeelicious. It was a great way to start the morning, squashed at picnic tables next to the locals enjoying their weekly donut fix.

Other stand-outs at the market included a stall called Vintage Heaven, selling great bags and clothing made from designer fabrics, and Atticus Finch (also recommended by Melissa), selling quirky softies and bags. As well as these stalls there were plenty of others selling original clothing, hand-knits, softies, local pottery and paintings, jewellery, hand-made soap, fresh flowers, plants, gourmet preserves, local sheep’s-milk cheese, organic vegetables…the list goes on. The market had a really nice feel to it, almost festival-like, and there seemed to be a lot of locals out doing their Saturday shopping and catching up with friends at the market. I could quite happily have spent several hours just people watching.

Aside from the market, I also made it to a few other galleries and shops in Nelson itself. If you are into beading, I highly recommend a visit to the Bead Gallery - they have more beads than I have seen in one place before, though it pays to go there with an idea of what you want to buy, otherwise it is easy to get overwhelmed. And the South St Gallery has a great collection of local pottery all in one place.

We had a rental car for the weekend so we managed to get out and explore the surrounding area including heading over to Farewell Spit one day and also to some Marlborough Vineyards another day.

We arrived back home yesterday afternoon refreshed after our few days away, though Air New Zealand put a bit of a damper on it by losing Alex’s bag. Fortunately it turned up late last night and a courier dropped it off to our place at 11pm, looking none the worse for wear after its extended journey.

Planning our weekend over coffee

Sunflowers at the market


Atticus Finch stall

View of Nelson from the Centre of New Zealand monument

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Winter Woollies

Last year I never got around to doing any winter knitting for me. I seemed to always be knitting things for other people. So this year I decided to get organised early...

Here's my new winter hat, knit from this pattern, using a nice thick felted merino. It's hard to get a good shot of me wearing it, but you get the idea.

I originally knit this wool up as another hat from a Yarn Girls book, but once it was finished I wasn't happy with the fit or the style so I completely ripped it out and started again on a different pattern. Luckily it knit up pretty quickly on 6mm circulars so I didn't feel like I'd wasted too much effort. And I much prefer this final product.

And here is the beginnings of a new scarf, from this pattern. Hopefully I will get some time to work on this while we are travelling around the Nelson region over Easter.

I'm really liking how this wool is knitting up. It is called Hummingbird Calliope, and is a discontinued line I picked up for $6 a ball. I think this scarf will provide a nice splash of colour next to my dark winter coat.

Thanks for your Nelson suggestions. I will try and take lots of photos of the crafty goodness to share with you next week.

Have a good Easter break!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Easter Plans

We are going away for Easter, so on Sunday I decided to make Hot Cross Buns a week early. I don't make much bread because of the time involved in kneading, rising the dough etc but making these reminded me how much I enjoy it. I think I will have to try Amanda's WHO bread next. I got a Kenwood mixer from Santa (Alex) at Christmas and it makes kneading the dough really easy, so I don't have an excuse for not making bread really.

I used a basic recipe that I got from Alex's Mum a few years ago, but it looks similar to the recipe in the Edmond's cookbook (I can't believe there is a Wikipedia entry for it!). I didn't bother piping crosses on, because I always make such a gluey mess when I do that, and the crosses are made from just flour and water so don't add to the yumminess. I did try to cut crosses into the dough before I proofed it the second time, but the cuts just disappeared as the buns grew. Oh well, they tasted good though.

Continuing on the Easter buns theme, have any of you kiwis tried the Schoc Easter chocolate? Oh. My. Goodness. It is divine. Dark chocolate that tastes just like Hot Cross Buns, complete with pieces of citrus peel and sultanas. Much better than any easter egg, I feel.

We are off to Nelson for Easter so if any of you have any suggestions for must-see crafty places or must-visit cafes in Nelson or the surrounding area, please let me know. Already on the list is the Saturday morning market and the Bead Shop.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Toasty ears and other things

Another baby knit for a friend. These went to baby Lily along with the Mary Jane booties I posted about a week or so ago. This hat was my backup gift in case Lily turned to be a boy and I couldn’t give her the booties. I thought the green and white was pretty gender neutral. Once it was finished, I decided to add the crochet flower to sort-of match the booties.

I used
this great pattern which I found via Ravelry. The designer of this hat also has free patterns for an adult-sized earflap hat which I think I need to add to my knitting to-do list. I used a soft merino-silk blend 8ply which knitted up pretty quickly on circular needles. The flower is based on one from the SNB Happy Hooker book.

When I was adding my pictures to Ravelry I noticed that my hat bears a very striking resemblance to
this one, which I had favourited in Ravelry some time ago, though I can’t remember doing so. Here I was thinking I was being all unique with the stripes and the flower, but obviously I was drawing on one I’d seen before…

Other things:

- I haven’t mentioned Ravelry much on this blog, but if you are into knitting or crochet, even in a small way, I recommend you sign up for an invite. It’s an online knit and crochet community where you can, among other things, post your projects, keep track of your stash and meet other crafty peeps. It’s still in testing, but I got an invite after only two weeks. I love the fact that you can search through hundreds of patterns, a lot of them free, and see all the different versions that other people have made. It’s also great for discovering new yarns.

- I’ve nearly finished knitting a winter hat for me. Photos next week. Next up is a scarf. I needed a change from all that baby knitting

- I got an email earlier in the week advising me that the Knit World Studio is now open – looks like a fancy yarn store with designer yarns and classes. Plus, it’s in my neighbourhood! My credit card is quivering with excitement already.

- Tomorrow I’m attending a pattern making course all day. I’m going to learn how to draft skirts and trousers that will actually fit! Looking forward to making some winter skirts.

- I discovered a new online bookstore a couple of weeks ago: The Book Depository. They have a wide range of craft books that are not readily available in NZ and free worldwide delivery. Their prices are also much cheaper than Amazon.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Marbled Brownie

Well, that was a bit of an unscheduled blogging break!

I was pretty busy at work last week and then had my cousin from England visiting at the weekend so didn't get much time to blog. I did get some baking and knitting done over the weekend though. I made the brownie mentioned in the title (see below) on Saturday when we had some friends over for dinner and spent a lot of the rest of the weekend gossiping with my cousin on the couch while we both knitted. She is a recent convert to knitting and I enjoying teaching her a few tricks and showing off some of my completed projects. She even managed to complete a project of her own (a mobile phone cosy) while she was here.

For dessert on Saturday I made marbled brownie. It doesn't look like much, but believe me, it was a deliciously dense chocolate and sugar overload.

The recipe is from here. You basically make a brownie mix and a cheesecake mix and then swirl them together. Divine. Luckily I had 6 people to feed so there aren't many leftovers hanging around to tempt me this week...

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Denim Lotus Bag

I've been working on this bag for a little while. It is my entry into the Craft Magazine "Sew Inspiring Amy Butler contest". Entries close later today NZ time.

The design borrows ideas from a few other bags I've made over the past couple of months plus I also included a few new ideas such as the single strap and the tab with a magnetic snap to close it. The rules for the contest were that you had to make a bag either incorporating Amy Butler fabric or using an Amy Butler pattern. The main body of this bag is denim; the lining is a neutral coloured cotton. The feature fabric is Sky Wallflower by Amy Butler. The internal pocket also uses the Wallflower fabric plus a small amount of Full Moon Polka Dots in Slate, also by Amy Butler. Both of these fabrics are from her Lotus collection.

I'm quite pleased with how this bag turned out in the end. It went through a couple of design changes mid-construction, so I was a bit worried about the end result, but it all came together well I think. I'd like to make a few more tweaks to this design, but I think I will make a few more bags similar to this to open my Etsy shop with.