Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Snapshots - May 2016

Hi again, here we are at the end of May to go through the month in snapshots. The weather this month was unusually mild and even summery, and it was lovely and often quite hot to be outside. We took plenty of strolls around the garden looking at things. I thought about the work ahead, to do when the weather is a bit cooler and the growing season has stopped, and the cats chased things and climbed trees.

It's really been a beautiful end to the season. There are autumn leaves and colour everywhere, and the last of the roses to be picked and admired.

There's also been plenty of crochet this month. I got some Circlepuff Squares completed! (Still plenty to go.)

Some more gorgeous autumn scenery... left, the fernery at the Timaru Botanic Gardens, right, Queen Elizabeth rose in my front garden.

Kitten pics! The boys continue to grow and be adorable.

It's time for bringing in leaves and seedheads and making autumn arrangements.

Some more of the month's crochet. I painted my blocking board and used it to block Circlepuff Squares. I also made and blocked more Jan Eaton squares.

I guess I didn't have enough projects on the go, so I started a new one. These squares are Jack and Lydia from the Sophie's Universe blanket pattern. I'm absolutely dying to make a Sophie one day, but in the meantime these squares were perfect for this project, which will be a project bag. A simple cube with a square for each side and some handles on top, and each square will be different aside from the central motifs. So they have been a lot of fun to work on, mixing and matching colours and stitches for each round.

Also in this collage is some autumn garden beauty - camellia Elfin Rose, and brilliant blue viburnum Davidii berries.

The cosmos has finished in the front garden, and its seed heads have been picked clean by finches. It's time to clear out this new bed in the front, so I can plant it up properly. I really did enjoy the sense of enclosure created by the bushy cosmos, so I'll definitely try to create a screen with shrubs, but I hope to keep it from getting too dense like it has along the fence line. We've just chopped out some shrubs and trees that were past their expiry date, so I have room for quite a bit of new planting and I'm excited! But more about that next month :)

For a few years now I've had it in the back of my mind that I would like to learn to knit socks. Hopefully, this will be the year that it happens! I've been following the YouTube podcast Crafternoon Treats, and the host Kathryn is in the similar position of being a crocheter wanting to learn to knit. She recommended the Linus shawl pattern as being a good one to start with. So I found the pattern and ordered some yarn and needles, and I've been knitting away, very clumsily at first! I'll go into my knitting more in another post. This yarn is from Wool Warehouse in the UK, and I really hope I like sock knitting as I have a good stash here! Even with postage and the exchange rate, it was cheaper and a much better selection than we can get here in NZ, so I'll be ordering from there again.

I had another piece of happy mail at the end of the month - a beautiful ATC from my talented friend Mayumi in Japan. It's been handpainted and stencilled with the lovely pansy design. I love the vintage style of it and had great fun laying out this wreath to photograph!

It's been a pretty good month really - good weather, plenty of craft and pretty things. Let's hope June is filled with more of the same.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Circlepuff Square Crochet Pattern

Circlepuff Square crochet pattern - US terms

Round 1: make 16 tr in magic ring.
Round 2: join next colour between 2 tr. Ch 2, make puff stitch in same sp (*yarn over, insert hook* 4 times - 5 loops on hook. Yarn over and pull yarn through all 5 loops - puff stitch made.) Ch 2, puff stitch between next 2 tr. Continue around - 16 puff stitches.
Round 3: join next colour in a ch 2 space. Ch 2 and make 16 puff stitches as in round 2 - but yarn over 5 times for each stitch, and ch 3 between puffs.
Round 4: join next colour in a ch 2 space. Ch 4, 2 tr in same sp. 3 dc in next sp. 3 hdc in next sp. 3 dc in next sp. 3 tr, ch  2, 3 tr n next sp (corner made). Continue around, finishing with 3 tr, ch 2 in same sp you started in.

Tips for puff stitch: pull your hook up a little each time you yarn over to keep the yarn fairly loose, so it is easier to pull through on the last yarn over. Try not to wiggle the hook too much as you pull through so it doesn't catch the loops.
When sewing in the ends, give a good tug on the end from the beginning of the round as this makes the ch2 at the start as small as possible.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Snapshots from April 2016

Hi all, here is the update from the month of April! Weather wise it was a perfect late summer month. If daylight savings didn't end right at the start of the month and the dark evenings start creeping in, you wouldn't realise it was autumn! Ok, well looking around the garden might give you a clue. All the late summer favourites are there... dahlias, cosmos, hollyhocks... but berries and seed heads are also starting to appear, marking the seasonal transition.

I bought three packs of tulips from The Warehouse - they had a great selection this year. I planted up a couple of pots to go outside the front door, and I'll put a few amongst my spring bulb selection lining the driveway.

The beautiful weather lent itself to sitting on the deck relaxing at wine o'clock. Even when it rained (which only happened a couple of times) it was beautiful. The downside of course is that everything is very dry, and I find it hard to keep the garden well watered when I don't have that extra time in the evening to do it.

Kitten pics! Podrick often appears out of nowhere and flops himself down on me for a cuddle. In the above left picture, he is reclining on my left hand which was holding a book open. And in the above right pic, he flopped on top of my crochet. Luckily we all agree that kitten cuddles are much more important than anything else you could possibly be doing!

Inigo (left) and Podrick (right).

This month I crocheted a sock! I lost track of how many attempts it took... four? Five? But at last I made one that I could get on my foot. The really funny thing is, when I made Sock #2 to match I somehow miscounted the stitches even though I thought I had them right, and when I tried to put it on, it was significantly smaller than Sock #1. Hilarious! I may try again at some stage, as I really want to be able to make wearable socks. Apparently the type of yarn affects the stretch factor though... so practising with cheap acrylic may not have been the best idea.

In other crochet news, I worked on the last colourway for my Circlepuff Squares blanket. The next step is to add the grey to make them square.

Here is a square being formed! And a shot of a particularly pretty moonrise one evening.

Oh, I also made a new pair of fingerless gloves. But they are currently stalled because I'm trying to come up with some embroidery designs for them. And I made this little poppy for Anzac day.

At the end of the month, the garden is looking full and floriferous! The first camellias are blooming, accompanied by the last roses, and even a late flush of clematis. I need to soak it in because winter is coming... but surely it's still very far away?

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Snapshots from March 2016

 Hi friends, here is my little update from March in phone photos. These first photos were actually taken earlier in the year in January, when I had an ATC swap with a lovely lady in Japan who I met on Instagram. I hadn't made ATCs in a few years and it was fun to sit down and play a bit with papers and pencils. Styling them for photos was just as much fun. I didn't want to share them until she received them, and then of course I forgot about the photos for a while! So, here they are.

 We had beautiful warm weather throughout most of March. The garden thrived with the warmth and a few evening showers from the sprinkler. Cosmos, roses and dahlias are rampant.

 And of course, Podrick and Inigo arrived this month. They are settling in most beautifully and entertaining themselves and me with lots of things around the house. (They were very enthusiastic helpers when I had some beans to shell.)

 I made a few more Jan Eaton squares. The idea is that each square is different, so I feel free to play with different colours and patterns. It's fun and I'm enjoying working the colours together. The squares are really big too so it should have a nice patchwork feel.

 I've also done some more of the centres of my Circle Puff Squares. I'm really enjoying this project as something I can just pick up to work on any time without having to think too hard... I love the colours and the pattern so it's always enjoyable. I have one more colourway to do and then I'll add the last round in grey to turn the circles into squares.

 Easter fell at the end of the month. I got my Easter branch out and hung my decorated eggs. I then felt the need for more decorated eggs, so I got some more plastic eggs and applied some gold Peelcraft stickers. I coloured them in with Copic markers and finally varnished them with Glossy Accents, to give a faux enamel look. Seam binding ribbon gave the finishing touch.

I haven't spent a lot of time at my computer this month, hence the lack of posts. I've been busy with plenty of other things like reading, crochet, drinking coffee, gardening and playing with my kittens. It's been a great month though - hope yours was too.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016


 Hi friends... it's about time I introduced you to the 2 newest members of the family! Meet Inigo and Podrick, 14 week old identical twin brothers. They've been living here for about 2 1/2 weeks which is the main reason I haven't blogged in that time as they have been taking up all my attention.

 I got them from Cat Rescue Christchurch, a great organisation which neuters and releases stray cats, and rehomes abandoned cats and kittens. The mother of these kittens was a stray who was neutered and released, and the kittens were raised in a foster home until they were ready for adoption. When I emailed Cat Rescue to see if they had any kittens available I thought it would take weeks to arrange, especially since I'd heard there was a kitten shortage in Christchurch. However they replied straight away that these two had just been listed, and I adopted them the following weekend.

I always wanted two cats, and when the time came to get another cat, I decided it would be a good idea to get two kittens at the same time. I figured they are still young enough to adjust to living with another feline, and would be good company for each other. Even better, these two are brothers and they get along with each other as happily as I'd hoped! They play together all the time, sleep together, eat together and even use the litter box together! So yes, they are great company for each other and while they love playing with humans, they also run and chase and tumble together which is great for burning their enormous stores of energy!

We are using the lounge room as their base for eating and sleeping. Before they arrived I tidied everything up and put some things away in this cabinet. Naturally, one of the first things they did was to go behind the cabinet, find the small hole in the back for cords, and wiggle through it. Of course as soon as one kitten was through the other was hot on his heels and they were both into my basket of yarn! I fished them out and stuffed cushions behind the TV cabinet which luckily put an end to that.

 This is Inigo Montoya (named for a character in The Princess Bride) - Ini for short. He is a bit smaller than his brother and we originally thought he was timid. It's actually more that he thinks before he acts, so he hangs back and observes before charging in (unlike his brother). He wears a blue collar, and has a slightly wider nose and heavier brows. He loves to sit in the window and look out.

This is Podrick Payne (looking very surprised in this shot) - Pod for short, named for a character in Game of Thrones. He's rounder and heavier than his brother and very curious and confident. He doesn't think very hard before he rushes into a new situation, so hopefully Ini can teach him some restraint! He has slightly more delicate features and a cute walrus moustache with lighter cheeks, and he wears a black collar.

I can't believe how much these two have grown in the 2 1/2 weeks they've been here. They are settling in well and enjoying daily life. And it's so nice to have not just one, but two cats around the house again.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Snapshots from February 2016

Here we are looking back at the month of February. If January was rainy and unsettled, then February was the complete opposite with an incredibly regular schedule of warm summery days. It was pretty perfect actually, exactly what summer should be like! And after our cold start to spring (with some of the coldest November mornings on record) it turned out that February was the warmest on record. I guess that is climate change for you, and one day it won't even be unusual to have such extreme temperatures.

Dahlia season is in full swing. I like how dahlias can't help being bold, even when their colours are soft! I also love the faded petals on top of the lambs' ears leaves.

As usual I made time for reading and crochet.

I changed up the kitchen shelf display to some summery colours. The day after I put these teacups out, we had a 5.7 earthquake. Amazingly the teacup stack didn't topple, although everything on the shelf shuffled closer to the edge! It seems we'll never be free of these earthquakes, never quite be able to relax from the idea of having to always be prepared. So I stuck everything down again with Blutack. It's annoying when you want to get things down and use them, but at least it keeps the pretties safe!

These are a couple of projects from this month. I finished a cover for the kitchen stool, and continued with the centres of Circle Puff Squares.

My brother helped me put up some boards in the hallway, and then I mounted hooks on them. The boards line both sides of the hallway. They are great for hanging flowers and plants, and keys.

I also had an ATC swap with a lovely lady from Japan, who I met on Instagram. On the left is her beautiful ATC. 

More crochet! I want to finish the Circle Puff Blanket, and I enjoy working on the pretty pastel circles. But suddenly I needed to do something different, so I started making some random squares. They are from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Squares book. They will go together into a sort of patchwork blanket, eventually.

Some more dahlias, in remembrance of 22 Feb 2011. And another random square for the blanket.

Can't believe we're in March already! I'm having trouble finding time to blog lately, but I still have some garden updates to get out... hopefully I'll get to them soon! Have a great month everyone.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Potager, Summer 2016

Here are some photos from my summer potager. These photos were taken a good month ago but it's taken me a while to get them edited and uploaded! Still, the garden looks mostly the same (just fuller, bushier and more rampant) so let's have a stroll through the potager.

The lavender hedge attracts tons of bumblebees. They are such funny little garden companions, going about their harvesting business and not caring at all how close I get or whether I shove a camera in their face! They also love the bean and zucchini flowers.

I have Sunset runner beans planted on both arches. The pink flowers add the finishing touch, especially when they mingle nicely with the pansies.

In the First Quarter is a Kumato tomato plant - the only variety I bother growing outside the glasshouse now. Even with very little care besides staking (I haven't even remembered to trim laterals for a while) it's growing strongly and has plenty of fruit. Still, I better get in there and trim some branches so it can ripen! To the left is some broccoli and a cauliflower. To the right is a bare patch where I harvested the garlic - I've since planted bright lights silver beet and more broccoli in the space.

The Cheddar caulis that I sowed in spring did really well and I was able to harvest them at a good size, before there were any caterpillars around to do damage.

On the right in the Second Quarter is sweet corn. It grew strongly from seed but is a bit smaller than previous varieties I have grown, and each plant is only averaging one cob. They taste good but I'd prefer it if I was getting double the yield. I also planted heirloom beans between the corn plants, and there are self seeded pumpkins in there too, bursting out of the garden and hugging everything in their reach. The pumpkins are doing surprisingly well too, setting fruit and all. I've grown pumpkins before, both self seeded and purposely planted, and they never seem to manage to either set much fruit or get it very big. So I'll keep a cautious eye on these and hopefully they will continue to surprise.

Leeks are growing next to the corn. If they can continue to withstand the attack of the pumpkins, there will be a good stash here for winter!

Words to the wise.

Here in the Third Quarter are Borlotti beans. Since taking this photo, the leaves have started turning yellow meaning that it's nearly time to harvest. After that I'll put the bed to bed for winter.

Looking through the arches, past the beans and the pansies and the pumpkins and the rosemary. 

At the very back is my apple tree Monty's Surprise, which is so heavily laden that it's bent right over and I had to tie it to the cherry tree to try and hold it upright! I guess I will need to dig in some really good stakes over winter.

In the meantime there is plenty of harvesting to do - beans, tomatoes, zucchini, spring onions. Time to finish this up and get into the kitchen to deal with some of it!


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