Friday, November 27, 2015

2015, not a bad year so far!

It has been a wee while since I last did a post (March - aargh!) so this is going to be a bit of long one - a lot has been happening. I'll start with the crafty stuff I think, then move on to things a bit more tropical. 

But first I just wanted to say a big thank you because I just spotted that there are a lot more followers since I last posted and that astounds me. I started this blog as a way of sharing pics with a dear friend who had moved to the other end of the island, not thinking anyone else would even stumble across it. So thank you to all you lovely folk who pop by to visit my blog, even now when my posts are few and far between. It is always so lovely to hear from you! 

After Miss 8's blanket in my last post, Mr 11 decided he needed one too. So we sorted through all the boyish colours and he came up with the combination that he was happy with. I decided on chunky stripes, nothing too delicate about this blanket. I really love ripple blankets, they work up so quickly once you get started. It's almost a guarantee I'll stuff up my initial chain count and realise this when I get to the end of the first row, but I get there in the end!

The winter was a fairly chilly one this year so an extra blanket on the bed was just perfect. Both the kids have enjoyed snuggling up under their respective blankets while having some lazy TV time on a chilly afternoon.

Sorry Mum, what's that you say...

... you're trying to take a photo of the blanket...

... okay, where do you want me? Just here, okay. It just wouldn't be a blanket photo session without Bella joining in! Maybe she's hinting that she needs her own blanket?

I've also been making a few smaller blankets which are just the right size for a new baby, perfect for in the capsule, pram or bassinet. I just wanted to show what a difference blocking a blanket can make. It went from this, all wiggly and weird...

... to all nice and square (well mostly square). I have blocked it a second time since this pic just to even up a few of those lines!

I really loved this colour combo.

And of course I couldn't stay away from my beloved ripples for too long. This time a pretty pink baby blanket.

During our very blah winter, we escaped for a family holiday to Fiji - my happy place. This time we decided to stay for a few nights on one of the smaller islands and it was bliss. Sandy paths, hammocks to laze in, amazing snorkelling, lots of kayaking, great food and beautiful Fijian folk who always have a smile on their face. This was Malolo Island and boy was it gorgeous.

The view from our bure. My small folk are relaxing in the hammocks.

This is the jetty where we arrived by ferry to the staff all singing for us.

I think this has to be my favourite photo. Palm tree, hammock and a beautiful sunset - it doesn't get much better than that.

By the pool...

In a hammock...

By the pool again. This time, back on Denarau. I'm already dreaming of the next time I can visit. Time to start saving hard again.

Just days after we returned from Fiji, my husband received news that he was invited on a work trip to Hanoi, Vietnam. And even better, I was invited too! It was an unbelievable opportunity and we were beyond grateful. Vietnam is somewhere that neither of us had visited before. We travelled with a fantastic group of people who are all in the same industry and we had an absolute blast.

It was a long journey, but well worth it to experience such a stunning place. It was the first time we'd travelled without our children too. We stayed in a beautiful hotel right on Hoan Kiem Lake, literally on the lake! Sitting at breakfast in the morning, you could look out the window and see fisherman in the water right beside you.

 The view across the lake to the city centre.

Our first day started with a rickshaw tour around the Old Quarter. There were certainly a few 'hold your breath and keep your fingers cross you'll survive' moments - the traffic was like nothing I'd ever experienced in all my travels. Mopeds, people, cars, rickshaws all seamlessly blending, horns tooting instead of indicators, dodging pedestrians, whole families on one moped including the newborn baby - it was amazing and a little hilarious at times too. I think I only covered my eyes once when I was sure I was about to be squashed by a passing bus! The best advice we were given when attempting to cross the street was to just keep going, don't stop. The mopeds are prepared to dodge you, but if you hesitate, they'll smack right into you. By the end of the trip I was an absolute pro at walking straight out into traffic. I found myself doing it when I returned home and got a heck of a fright!

As crazy as the roads were, we only saw one minor accident. There were traffic lights only at very big intersections, all other roads just had traffic literally ducking around each other, dodging other vehicles and pedestrians. They used their horns to let other vehicles know they were near or planning on entering an intersection. No-one got angry or aggressive, they just made it work. Quite something to sit and watch! My husband was fascinated as it was the absolute opposite to the way we live where every intersection is controlled by road rules and many drivers show aggression if someone dares to move into their space.

Mopeds on footpaths, people on roads, but somehow it all works.

The local wiring system was astonishing!

The Old Quarter is made up of a series of narrow streets and each one is themed. There is a shoe street (I spent quite some time there over 4 days), a silver street, a leather street - you get the idea.

This was the haberdashery street - I was in habby heaven.

Tiny stores/stalls selling millions of buttons or ribbon or beads or zips or thread, you name it ...

We had so much fun negotiating prices, it was a dramatic process with lots of facial expressions and head shaking to overcome the language barrier. And considering 100,000 Vietnamese Dong was equivalent to about New Zealand $7.00, we were millionaires for a few days.

How could I not buy buttons from this stall, with the smallest dog I'd ever seen. More beads - bags and bags and bags of them.

There was colour at every turn. I didn't buy any yarn as I had pretty much filled up every space in my suitcase with sneakers, scarves, bags and watches for family and friends by this stage. Just as well we packed a spare suitcase inside our suitcase!

Our gorgeous hand held fans were just the thing to cool us down - and a nice cold local beer.

This was the view from the rooftop restaurant we visited. It overlooked Hoan Kiem Lake with its evening light show. We had a fantastic meal with a table full of the most delicious food - lots of things I had never tried before.

I just loved seeing all the bicycles laden with goods, anything from fresh flowers to food, to animals.

Another thing that we were really lucky with was the fact that it was harvest season in the rice paddies. We went on a bike tour through the countryside in about 40 degree Celsius heat. I thought I was going to pass out, it was that hot. I'd also never ridden a mountain bike and had no clue about changing gears so my little legs were peddling like a crazy person even though I wasn't going very fast. Thankfully someone showed me how to change gears so it got a bit easier. What a hoot. This lovely old lady saw us coming and met us with a supply of fans to sell. I've been told that the older folk with black teeth get this from chewing betel nut. I showed my kids this photo and told them that's what happens when you eat too many sweets. They freaked out.

Yep, that's me on my bike, looking less than glamorous in the heat. I look mildly like I know what I'm doing in this shot! Looking at these photos now, it seems completely surreal that only a few months ago I was on the other side of the world seeing and doing things I never thought I'd do. 

Cycling through the rice paddies, passing mopeds with all their wares.

Harvest time. I don't know how they manage it in that heat.

We had been told that some of the best food to be found is at the road side stalls which were more like tiny, tiny shops with a few tables out the front. We had no way of communicating what we wanted other than to point at someone else's food and hold up two fingers to say we wanted two meals. This amazing bowl of deliciousness was similar to fried rice smothered in veges with a broth on the side. It was utterly gorgeous and was only about NZ$2.50. Amazing.

The local dish, pho, which is a common breakfast dish (and is also eaten at other meals) was a must-try. On our last day I finally got to eat it, albeit at the hotel, but well worth it. It was gorgeous and not at all stodgy as it was mostly broth. I could really get used to eating like this. 

An amazing holiday I'll never, every forget. Leaving the heat was hard, we went from a temperature in the late 30's to arriving home to 8 degrees, brrr. That was a bit hard to get used to.

So now we're nearly at the end of the school year, only another few weeks to go before the children are on their summer holidays. It's the first day of summer next week (bring it on!) but for the meantime, it's pouring down today and crazy windy. My husband had a flight home this afternoon that landed on one wheel with a decent lean - eek. Welcome to Wellington on a windy day!

Have a fabulous week!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Miss 7's new blanket and a bunny egg cosy pattern

Miss 7 has been so very patient, waiting for me to finish her special blanket. She had chosen the colours, lined them up in the order she wanted them and then sat back and waited... and waited some more. I got distracted with other projects, then it was summer and it was just too hot to be working on the final bit of a big blanket.

But it is now officially finished. The edging was going to be wavy, but it just didn't look right. So I went with a crab stitch/reverse single crochet and I love the way it has given it a 'bound' look. It feels sturdy but soft at the same time. Miss 7 is currently snuggled up on the sofa watching a movie with her new blanket after taking part in a kids 'tryathlon' this morning. A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon after a very early start!

And of course, Bella has given the blanket her approval. No sooner had I put it on the floor to photograph, she appeared and wouldn't budge. So now my kids have said that I need to make a mini version for Bella. It seems a good suggestion considering she sleeps approximately 23.5 hours a day these days! She might as well do it on a gorgeous blanket.

One of the distractions during the blanket process was the arrival of this gorgeous book that I bought from the UK. I started making the pretty poncho in it with some fab green yarn I had.

I love this pattern, but for some reason I just can't keep the repeat in my head so I have to keep a track of which row I'm on. I also made a boo-boo and had to undo half of it, but I'm back on track now and loving it. The green is very bright so I'm thinking I'll have to make a nice sedate version in a cosy grey. I found some amazing painted wooden buttons that will be perfect for both the green and the grey versions.

Remember those wee bunny egg cosies I was working on in my last post? Well I made about 30 of them for our school fair a few weeks ago, and we sat them atop a marshmallow egg. They were really popular and I've had quite a few orders since. These are just a few more that I bagged up with a mini egg. How cute are they? I made this pattern up and because it turned out to be not too bad, I thought I'd share it here, so you can whip up a little egg cosy for Easter and beyond. Hopefully the instructions make sense. I have typed them up based on a scribbled, scrunched up piece of paper I've been working off!

Bunny Egg Cosy

I used a 3.5mm hook and DK yarn.

For the body:

Make a magic ring, secured by an SC. Then work 5 SC into the ring and pull tight, join with a slip stitch.

Ch1, SC in same stitch, then 2SC in each stitch around. Join with a sl st.

Ch2, HDC in same stitch, then 2HDC in each stitch around. Join with sl st.

For the next 3 rows, start with Ch2 then work an HDC in each stitch, joining with a sl st at the end of each row. (If you have large eggs in your neck of the woods, work an extra row of HDC).

For the ears:

Ch7, now working back down the chain, sl st in 2nd st from hook, then SC in next st, and HDC in next 4 sts. Work a SC in the last stitch. Now working back up the other side, HDC in next 4 sts, SC in next st, sl st in last stitch. I then pull the yarn through the very top stitch from front to back if that makes sense. It just finished it off with a nicer point. Leave a tail long enough to thread back through the top of the ear to the base and also enough to attach it to the top of the cosy.

Sew 2 ears on, placed wherever you fancy. And there you go, one cute little bunny egg cosy. Just in time for Easter!

Just a few more pics of my blanket. Boy, stripes are hard to photograph. Just when you think you have it nice and straight, you discover a wibbly wobbly bit and it throws the whole pic out.

Right, the final of the Cricket World Cup is just starting and I'm off to support New Zealand, with my crochet hook in hand. It's going to go until around midnight, so hopefully I'll get a lot of my poncho done in that time. Go the Blackcaps!!