We've been enjoying some beautifully warm weather here in Wellington (dare I say, unusually warm?) It seemed like a good time to get a few summery projects finished, the first being this top, which was made using Jenny Gordy's Wiksten Tank pattern (you can find it for sale here.)
I loved the watercolour-painted style of this cotton as soon as I saw it (in Global Fabrics, Ghuznee St, central Wellington and they just happen to be having a sale, if you're local...)
The Wiksten Tank is a nice pattern with a generous fit and French seam finishing, as well as bias edging around the neckline and armholes (I used a contrasting brown gingham fabric for this job.)
I plan on matching it with my favourite work pants and new Saltwater sandals on Monday. Fingers crossed this weather settles in for another week...
This is a handwoven lap blanket my Mum made and gave to me - isn't it beautiful?
The yarns used are silk - wool - merino - possum and the colours range from a mossy green to a dark purple/blue, with iridescent, butterfly-wing-blue shot through. She also crocheted a wide green border at each end.
My current plan is to sneak it into my office in the city - there is a distinct lack of handweaving in there.
During our holiday in the Nelson region, I fell in love (again) with weaving. My Mum is a weaver, so my siblings and I were surrounded by beautiful woven textiles growing up, but only lately have I been seriously thinking about getting a loom and learning to weave myself. (This suggestion, tentatively raised a few times, has not been embraced by my closer family- I have enough half-finished projects around the place as it is..)
My mother-in-law Clare introduced me to her friend Jane, who runs Jointworks Studio in Tasman with her husband Tony. Together, they make exquisite handwoven goods (scarves, wraps, blankets) and furniture (you can see more on their website here and etsy shop here.) Their work is very beautiful, and I'm looking forward to visiting in the winter to buy one of Jane's possum-merino scarves. Or two.
On this visit, I bought a handwoven cotton tea towel (shown in both photos above), which is pale green and cream with a square design. Of course, now I can't bear to see it being used in the kitchen, so I might make something from it.
A dear friend of mine, Karuna, has opened her own weaving studio: Twill Textiles. Occupying an historic railway cottage, the studio is sunny and welcoming to anyone interested in learning more about weaving, or checking out the works in progress. She has a selection of looms set up, including a simple one that I played on for a bit. She's running classes and workshops for children and grown-ups alike. For more details, have a look at the Twill FB page.
In the second photo above, you'll see one of Karuna's little circle weaving looms. She gave me one, and that evening Keira and I had a really nice time using it to make a sweet little woven piece. I have an idea to make woven poppy brooches using the circle loom. That's next on the list.
***updated to add*** Karuna has plenty of these little looms for sale- you can buy them from the windmill at Founders Park in Nelson, or visit the Twill Textiles etsy shop.
If you like hand-weaving and you happen to be visiting Nelson, you should go and see Jane and Karuna. You might also like:
Over the new year, we embarked on a three-day tramp in the mountains with friends. We had four adults and four children on the trip, which took us from near Takaka, Golden Bay up into the Cobb Valley, in Kahurangi National Park. The terrain we covered was diverse and absolutely beautiful, from lush mossy glades with dragonflies, to mountaintop lakes whipped by cold wind, to gnarled forests with lichen dripping from the trees. On the first night, we stayed in this hut and on the second, slept in rock shelters (the children are still talking about their night in a cave - very exciting!)
Because it was high summer, there were alpine flowers along the track, many of which I'd never seen, except in books. (Previous walks up there had been in snow.) So it was a thrill to be able to closely examine the alpine buttercups, Maori onion, gentians and native forget-me-nots. The children were getting into it, too- calling me over when they found a new and interesting plant.
When we got back to town, I bought this book: Mountain Flowers of New Zealand, by Nancy Adams (pub. 1965) though I hope to find a more compact version to fit into my pack on the next trip into the mountains. Aren't Nancy's illustrations beautiful? (click on the images below to make them larger). You can read more about her work here. She received a Queen's Medal in 1989, for her contribution to NZ science.
Here's a happy memory from our long, hot summer break away from the city. We packed quite a bit into a few weeks, including a big family Christmas with a lot of food, drinks, music, noise (young cousins running as a pack and endless discussions), a funeral, babies, birthday celebrations, a big party, a mountain tramp/hike, and many meals with friends and relations.
All pretty special stuff, stored up in our memories for slow release during the busy year.
I really love this time of year, bringing with it time to think about hopes and plans for the months ahead. It's like taking a deep breath between seasons.
This year, I hope to carve out more time for doing creative stuff. I have a new sketchbook, paints and pencils and really want to use them. Last year I found that my 'other work' (paid and unpaid) consumed me nearly completely, which was okay, but I'm going to try to find more balance in 2015.
I hope you've had a lovely holiday time, wherever in the world you may be.
On New Year's Eve last year, Tom's Mum made the kids makeshift beds on the beach by her house and we listened to the water lapping and bonfire crackling and guitars softly strummed by people along the beach. It was such a beautiful evening and the children still talk about that time they stayed up till midnight in their beach beds. (In truth I think they went to sleep for a little bit but they insist they didn't.)
We're travelling to the South Island to spend the holiday with family and friends so I'll be away from this space for 2 or 3 weeks. Thank you for visiting my blog in this year. I really love having this space.
I hope you have a very happy and relaxing Christmas and New Year time and see you in 2015.
I found a little time for some homely activities over the past few days, including making a few presents and baking. Inspired by our German teenager and her Dad who is visiting at the moment, I tried some Christmas biscuits from their part of the world, and luckily the finished product gained their seal of approval: chewy, almondy Zimtsterne. But as you can see they're not 'sterne' (stars) at all, but rather small circles (I couldn't find my set of cookie cutters, typical! Had to use the lid of a plastic container instead.)
To make them, I used this recipe (translated with their help - let me know if you want the English version) but found I had to cook them for longer and at a higher temperature than stated. I also halved the amount of sugar and used the contents of one vanilla pod for a nice strong flavour. They are my new favourite biscuit. Especially with strong black coffee.
Because we're going away for the holiday period and (I hope) it will be much sunnier than Wellington I made up a summery top to wear. It's the Scout Tee again, this time with the sleeve modification (you can read more about this here) and now the sleeves are about elbow-length. I used a fine cotton lawn: cream with mauve/gray circles. I really love this pattern and the way it fits. I'm always thinking of different versions I could make next.
It's always a fairly intense time of year, December, and this one has been no different, what with end of year parties, meetings, work and school events and more. I love it though -- the weather is gradually seeming warmer and lighter and everyone is happy about their upcoming holidays.
I haven't made much time for homemade Christmas presents, I'm afraid. The teachers were given bottles of wine this year! Though, I must admit that if i was a primary teacher, I would pour myself a large glass of red this evening.
I've made some things for my nieces and newphew (also, excitedly, there's a new one on the way) including clothes and the velveteen rabbits shown above. I made a couple extra for my etsy shop.
Over the course of the year, I've also been tucking away special secondhand items I think certain people would like, including this beautiful wool blanket, embroidered cloth and a set of white linen napkins.