Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trip to Melbourne

I'm off to Melbourne with some ex colleagues from the school I used to teach at. it will also be a chance to catch up with an old friend from the UK. I'll probably be too busy to Blog so I'll see you all when I get back. Hope everyone has a great weekend and a good week ahead.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dogs on Thursday Dress Up

Mouse has fully settled into our home. It's hard to believe we've only had her for a few weeks. It's like she's been here forever.
She is a real character, full of energy and yet not so bouncy she's out of control.

She likes toys with a squeak, such as her rubber chicken and a green crocodile we bought from the local charity shop for a dollar. It's the toy that goes in the car with us for her to play with while we travel or are at a cafe having a drink.

You can see how enthusiastically she 'loves' it.

Although we are moving into Spring here in NZ it can still be a little on the cool side, especially if you are a small dog. As a caring owner it was only right that I do all in my power to protect Mouse from the elements so I knitted her a very snazzy jumper. Despite the woe-be-gone expression she is very grateful for the warmth provided by the jumper. Honestly she is.

However she can't wear the jumper when it's raining, wet wool on wet dog is not a pleasant combination. PHeeww! Hold your noses everyone. So there was only one thing for it. Seeing as I can't knit her a raincoat, and my sewing skills although much improved are still a bit behind such complicated pattern following, I did the next best thing and took her shopping for one.

We tried on many stylish coats, but this was my favourite. I love the faux fur collar and the mesh pockets on wither side where she can carry treats or clean up bags. It's a girly pink so I no longer have to explain she's a girl and it keeps her dry and warm.

Perfect. Isn't she a darling?

Don't forget about my 100th post giveaway. There's still time to enter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A morning stroll

Take one Tonkinese cat,
one Shih Tzu and one Griffin pup.
Add a sunny spring morning, a beach destination and one walk.
Mix together.
What do you get? A potential recipe for disaster?
How so? Let me explain.

Mouse, my four month old Griffin does not like to sleep past 6 am. It’s just not her thing. Her yelps and squeaks wake me. Normally I would ignore such behaviour but I don’t want the whole house awake, and I usually get up early anyway so I’ve been grabbing the opportunity to head on down to the beach ad great the morn with a touch of sun, sea and sand. Just like a real kiwi.
Peri, my ten month old Tonkinese, is not very impressed by this new routine. He much prefers the old one where he lay snuggled into my shoulder until the alarm went off and then lay snuggled on my lap while I drank a cup of tea and read. The first morning we went to the beach he was so put out he went and woke everyone else up so he could complain to them how remiss I was being in attending to his needs. Part of me totally agrees. What was wrong with the previous arrangement? Nothing!
So Sunday morning, Peri had decided that enough was enough. If we weren’t going to be sensible and stay at home he was jolly well going to have to investigate exactly what was going on. He has already taken on the role of guardian of the home and carries out regular patrols only the perimeter of our garden to check for any possible dangers. If the dogs and I were going to disappear each morning then it was up to him to see if we were going to be safe.
I didn’t plan on letting him make such a journey being totally aware of the dangers for me and the dogs (nil). It was also meant to be a girl’s only event.
So we’re heading to the beach, the sun warm on our backs when I became aware of a tinkling sound. At first I thought it was the discs on the dog collars clanking against the lead. Naturally I carried on regardless. So did the tinkling sound. It was early and my brain had clearly not yet fully fired up. It usually takes a couple of ups of earl grey to do that. Perhaps that’s why it took so long to register that the noise was in fact Peri’s bell. I walked to the end of the first street, vaguely aware that I knew that sound, crossed the road, and turned a corner before coming to a grinding halt. Peri wasn’t supposed to be behind me. I turned around. Nothing. The street was empty. A sigh of relief. Just noises. Perhaps it had been the collars after all. The two dogs were looking at me with slightly bemused expressions but they are well used to my moments. I walked on across another road and then looked again. Still nothing. Ok, Must be another cat, after all we can’t be the only ones who put a bell on our cat. But by now my Peri radar was on full alert and sirens blaring. I called his name, and as if from nowhere out he sprang from a nearby hedge, looking very cool and pleased with himself. Champion Cat stalker extraordinaire. I swear he watches too many war movies. I was nowhere near as pleased. Dangers for cats (zillions).
I explained all these dangers patiently to Peri and tried patiently and not so patiently to persuade him of the merits of returning home. His opinion was if he’d come this far he might as well go the rest of the way. If you think I looked strange talking to a cat, with an audience of two dogs then imagine how much stranger I looked several minutes later walking with two dogs at heel and a cat three paces behind.
We made it to the beach and we made it back again. By some miracle we did not cause a traffic accident although one cyclist went round a corner very precariously and with more than a slight wobble to his wheels after catching sight of the entourage.
Next time I go to the beach I’m going to double check that Peri’s still sleeping before I head out the door.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

100th post

Well I've reached that milestone point of one hundred posts. That means a lot of internal ramblings have found their way onto this site and it has been read. It's been good for me to try out some rusty writing skills and to become more comfortable with the computer. I'm still learning!

There's lots to celebrate, meeting lots of new friends, getting a glimpse of how other women think and feel, becoming part of something more than just myself, and being able to let my thoughts escape with out fear of consequence or judgement. Not that I have rose tinted specs on or anything, but the majority of my online blogging experiences spositive.
So in honour of all that and much more I have a few bits and pieces to giveaway.
1) A blue or pink scarf knit with Merino Silk, to a Debbie Bliss Feather and Fan pattern.
2) 50gs (88m) of Patons Velveteen, 65% acrylic, 34%rayon 1% lycra. It's very soft and would be perfect for a toy bear, bunny, or something small.
3) a sweet cupcake candle.
If you would like these goodies to head your way then just leave a comment before Friday 26th September 2000 (8pm) NZ time. Then I can post it all off before I head to Melbourne next Sunday.

The winner of the Knitting Trivia question, "in the reign of which Monarch did knitting stockings become popular" was
The answer was Queen Elizabeth 1. Well done everyone who got it right and thank you everyone who left a comment. A cupcake goodie will be on it's way to Thimbleanna very soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My favourite yarns

Still on the list theme, just because it's so easy for me right now. I love to knit, I guess you might have picked that up by now. I'm not a fussy or particular knitter. I am happy with most yarns even acrylics which I know sends a shiver down the spine of some knitters. There are however a couple of factors by which yarn makes it's way into my stash. One is the feel. It must feel soft and luscious. It must not be itchy at all. If it's itchy then it does not get into my stash. The other factor is colour. Generally I am drawn the the colour first and then of course the feel is the clincher. I have, naturally those tried and tested yarns that have always been there for me, been forgiving of my mistakes and complimentary for my figure. They lend themselves to a variety of tasks.

1 Patons Zhivago. The first and second season of colours. I never really took to the variegated limes and oranges, but the teal and the mulberry I really loved. It's a beautiful soft acrylic that knits up well. It holds its shape and doesn't bobble. The patterns were fresh and vibrant and it was inexpensive. Just as well really as it doesn't have great meterage.

Next on my list of favourites is Sirdar's Snuggly. I love the range of colours in this, they are all such fabulous shades, especially for babies and small children. I like the choice and that there tend to be a few non traditional options. I especially love the fact that it goes on forever meaning less ends to sew in. That's always a plus in my book.

Third is Inca because it knits up so fast. It's really quick and unlike some other chunky wools it doesn't seem to add too much bulk.

Fourth is Another Patons yarn. It's about availability at the end of the day but this is a gorgeous yarn to work with. It has more drape than either bamboo or cotton on their own and isn't overly splitty. It goes a very long way, is reasonably priced but there are only a few colours to choose from. Hopefully that will be remedied soon.

So there we have just a few of my favourite yarns. What are your favourites, and why do you choose a particular yarn?
Next post will be my 100th. I will announce the winner of the surprise package for guessing that it was Queen Elizabeth's reign that saw knitting stockings become a popular pastime and there will be a giveaway celebrating my milestone.

Friday, September 12, 2008

List crazy

The answer to the knitting trivia question in the previous post is Queen Elizabeth the first. Well done to all of you who got it right. I will be putting the names into a technically superior device ( a hat) and using a tried and tested scientific method ( pulling out by hand) to select the recipient of the surprise.

I love making lists. I really get great satisfaction out of putting things down on paper. However I am very bad at following lists or making them work for me. I keep lists of total trivia. I have a list of all the books I've read, films I've seen, holidays I've had, chocolate bars, things I want to knit, things I don't want to knit, my wish list, things that make me sad, things that make me happy, as well as many many to do lists. The only list I never ever write is a shopping list. I don't go shopping.

I know that writing lists is good for me

1. Lists help me focus on things so long as I stay focused on the topic to begin with.

2, Lists give me something to visualise, although I think it's more about the time I spend collect all my coloured pens and thinking of ways to decorate my lists that does this rather than the actual items on the list

3. Lists help me remember things, I think of it as a way of emptying my brain of all the clutter and then I don't have to struggle to recall it all. Of course if I lose my list then it can get ugly pretty quickly

4. Lists are easy to read and are supposedly quick to do. But not the way I do them

5. Lists can give a sense of accomplishment only if you actually bother doing the things on my list. What happens in my case is that number 3 occurs in that my brain promptly forgets the information, after all it's all very safely written down and I then merrily go about doing lots of things that were never on my list. Result. The list never gets any shorter.
Things I wouldn't want to be late for
1. A yarn sale
2. A book sale
3. Social knitting
4. My morning cup of tea
5. Collecting a lottery win
6. Receiving a prize or accolade
7. Seeing my kids smile.
What wouldn't you want to be late for?
So lists are good if you use them properly. What do you write lists about?
Knitting continues but nothing to show just yet. Am really really drawn towards doing a skirt after seeing Crimson Purl and Mr Puffy's wonderful efforts. I have seen the one I want to make, but am having a little trouble tracking down the yarn. Still I'm not one to give up easily and will keep looking. This is the one I really love.
Have a happy safe weekend everyone.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Reasons to knit and a little giveaway

Knitting is a great hobby. Honestly it is, and it’s not just me saying so. If you look carefully on the net there’s research that proves knitting is good for you!
Here are my top ten list of reasons to knit

1. It’s an art form.
You only have to glimpse the myriad designs to see how creative a process it is, lacy, frilly, cables, not to mention those who make cupcakes, bunnies, flowers, seaweed and other shapes. A completed piece of knitted has the right to be seen as a piece of art. There’s freedom of expression and a chance to let your creative juice go a little wild. Even if you stick to the pattern you’re still creating something that is unique to you. Even if you don't think of yourself as a "creative type," you can still express yourself by knitting. Design your own patterns. Choose your own colors. Make your own shapes. You're in control of your knitting.

2. It’s a stress reliever.
This one I think depends on the type of knitter you are. For me it forces me to sit in one place and that’s got to be good, for the rest of the household as well as me. I can allow my mind to wander and think about the situations I face and in that way it does help to de stress me. It also helps me to focus. I find it difficult to concentrate unless I have something to do with my hands. Once you figure out how to knit basic stitches and patterns, you can relax and really enjoy knitting. Many knitters use this craft to calm down and relax, which is great for your overall health.

3. It creates a sense of achievement
The knitter gets to feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment in completing an item. Learning a new skill or craft makes most people feel good about themselves. This is particularly true when your friends and family admire your knitting projects!

4. Knitting is portable
Unlike other hobbies like weaving or cooking, knitting can easily be thrown into a bag and pulled out anytime it is required. As such, the knitter can bring the craft along and do it during bus or train journeys, air flights or even in traffic jams. In this way, hours of waiting and travelling are not wasted away as they are used to accomplish something useful. I take my knitting to work and will often knit my way through meetings and presentations.

5. There’s lots of choice.
There are plenty of projects and designs to choose from to suit all levels of knitting expertise, time and budget. Besides, these pieces can be created to beautify homes or serve as special gifts for loved ones. Knitwear garments are beautiful and attractive, and many people like them. Presenting them as gifts is always well loved and appreciated. You can always find something just right for the mood your in.

6. It increases your intelligence.
Knitting develops fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, math skills, and what Multiple Intelligences educational researcher Dr. Howard Gardner calls “Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence.” Since both hands hold needles and each hand has its own job, both sides of the brain are engaged and performing an internal rhythmic patterning that underlies the development of language skills, particularly reading, and also math.
In addition, knitting develops key habits that lead to success in academics and in careers: persistence, concentration, and collaboration.

7. It can increase your patience
Well I’m still waiting for that one to happen, but knitting does take time, it doesn’t like to be hurried too much. When you decide to knit something you are choosing to spend time doing something rather than simply buying it. About halfway through the project, or after one sock for me, it feels like the project is too big and you wonder why you bothered, but there’s the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from doing it yourself and so you carry on. You have to be patient, especially when frogging or the knots just get tighter. Thant’s when I give it to hubby, or it goes back in the bag.

8. It’s fun.

9. It’s practical. If you can knit a beanie, you don't have to pay ten or twenty bucks for one anymore. You don't have to spend lots of money to knit - but you can if you really want! Basic yarn, needles and other supplies are cheap: twenty dollars can get you started.

10. It’s social. I love the way you can knit and read, especially if reading a computer screen, knit and talk, knit and watch TV. Unlike other hobbies I don’t have to shut myself in a special place, although I really, really would like a rocking chair on a porch to sit and do my knitting on, I can stay with the family and be a part of whatever it is they’re doing, while still meeting my needs. It's also a way of being different in a cool way. Even though knitting is becoming more popular, especially among younger people, you'll still stand out a little because you knit. This is a lot better than being noticed for the wrong reasons. It makes people stop and talk to you for all the right reasons.

Knitting is not for just one or two types of people. Men and women of all ages and backgrounds can benefit.
The last reason to knit is

Giving back to society. Many charitable organizations want your knitting! Make caps for premature infants at your local hospital. Knit scarves for women's shelters and the homeless. Help make an afghan or blanket for AIDS patients. You won't have to look long or hard to find a charity that you can help

Now it's your turn. The knitting of stockings first became a major occupation of the poor in England during the reign of which monarch? Leave your answer in the comments. Those who guess correctly will go into the draw to win a little surprise.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The state of being busy

Warning attempt to be philosophical follows...
I read an article in Oprah the other day and it has struck a bit of a cord with me. It was about being busy and how it wasn't so much about what we do as how we do it. That being busy wasn't really about activity but more about a state of being. Or at least that's how I read the article. It made me think which in itself is not unusual. I have been known to think on a regular basis, just that very few people want to know my thoughts, and then I realised most of the time being busy is something I have imposed upon myself. I say I'm busy and that I have a lot to do and it sure feels that way. I place pressure on myself to get so many things done when perhaps there's no need. Of course there are deadlines to meet and appointments to keep but I can choose to accept those as just events that take place in the moments of my life. They will happen or not as the case maybe and the world will not halt in its tracks, nor will there be any great finger pointing. except from me. So I have decided to make sure that though I may be doing lots of things, to try and recognise that they are just me living my life, after all those moments are going to be filled with something whatever I do. Inside me and all of us is someone who is doing just that, enjoying every second, taking it all in their stride and they are never busy, they are just living.

Just for fun

Friday Fill ins
1. When I'm sick I'm _____terrible to be around_____.

2. When I take a walk, I think about _God _________.

3. Money can't buy happiness but it can _____sure make things easier_____.

4. Cotton makes me ___want to_sew_____ and leather makes me __feel dangerous________.

5. The strangest person/character I've had lewd thoughts about was ___ My old English teacher_____.

6. My favorite colour these days is _Purple because _____It's so extreme_____.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to __camp___, tomorrow my plans include ____being with lots of Brownies_ and Sunday, I want to _Sleep____!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Feathers and fur

Note to self. Never leave a bag of craft feathers within reach of an eight month old kitten. They cannot restrain themselves and the result can be seen above. The purple and blue blobs are not part of the duvet pattern. Not only that but they carry these feathers into every room so that they will be a reminder for several months. Peri clearly had a ball playing with these, most likely while he was trying to ignore our Mouse baby.

Sasha has volunteered as chief playmate and surrogate carer. It is wonderful to watch how gently she plays with Mouse although she wasn't very playful with her own pups. I guess she found it difficult to go near them with them demanding milk all the time which put pay to any games. Mouse is trying very hard to be the boss.

As you can see Sasha is content to let Mouse think she's winning

(click to make bigger and get a shot of her cute as face)

All that playing sure wears a pup out.

Mouse is just too darn cute for her own good. I am in serious danger of spoiling her rotten. I can't resist her eyes when she asks to go on my lap even though I know it's a bad habit to start. But she's a baby right and babies need their cuddles. Right now she's so good, she greets every other dog gently and quietly. She lets people pat her, doesn't jump at little children and wags her whole body when she sees me.

Could you resist her charms?