icelandic wool, peruvian alpaca and love











Sheesh, October came and went in a blaze of glory didn’t it? Lots of hazy days, stressy days, sick days, detailed days, planning days, crafty days, gardening days and emotional days all steamrolled me through to here, and today I can finally draw a breath and share some happenings and makings.

I finished my “Craft for the Soul” blankie. I kinda followed the pattern in the book (thanks Pip!) with a big stash of the soft baby alpaca yarn I brought back from Peru last year. It has the most delicious drape being all made with alpaca and is surprisingly light considering its decent size. One day I will actually get around to updating my shop with some new makes, its been terribly neglected for quite some time now, but hopefully you’ll see it in the shop before too long… unless I decide to keep it… I mean it is pink and aqua alpaca!

The wilds of spring brought with it fruit feasts and cakes and birthdays and parties and peonies too. I find those delicate petal pom poms are such a delightful greeting after a stressy day in the office and can be found burying my head in one upon arriving home from work. That and a little watering of the veggie patch is my detox from the computer screen filled days at work, it’s grounding and I feel like a new person when I walk back into the house.

The gorgeous textural grey wool came all the way from Iceland, my newlywed daughter and son-in-law brought it back for me during their elopement trip there in July. A bit like the Icelandic sheep, this is a rough and rugged wool and I thought a cushion would make the perfect gift for them, you know a little bit of their Icelandic trip on the couch with them every night. Last night they hosted a lovely party for friends and family to celebrate their marriage. I hope to share with you some of the gorgeous photos of their wedding ceremony soon, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a picture from last night. It’s almost a bit ridiculous how cute they are isn’t it? They are pretty darn perfect together, and it’s really nice to be able to just take a moment to exhale and think about how lucky I am. Ahhh life is sweet.

May you bury your face in a peony one day too x

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crafting blues and eating greens

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Hello, are you well? How’s 2015 panning out so far? I hope it’s been kind to you… it’s been rather blue for me… in a crafty way… I’m so boring consistent with my colours.

Woven Ocean Blankie
100% pure baby alpaca, crochet.

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This is the finished blankie that I started back here. It’s a big feathery pile of squishy soft blue, aqua, teal and mint. My favourite wedge of the colour wheel.

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And this stitch is absolutely my favourite crochet stitch at the moment. I’ve seen it referred to as moss stitch, seed stitch, woven stitch and others, but I call it woven stitch and used this fab little tutorial here to get me started. It’s such an easy stitch to remember and I love the way it produces a look somewhere between weaving and knitting.

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This is going to be a shawl… eventually… I hope… There’s some yarn chicken going on with this project so it could be a different colour by the time I finish it too. I found this easy free pattern here and I’ve had this gorgeous yarn for ages. The pattern is a simple 3 row repeat producing a lacey type look as it’s a big fat hook (4mm) with fingerling weight yarn.

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This yarn is 50% silk 50% wool, hand painted and the colourway is called ‘North Wind’… cute huh?! It’s beautifully luxurious, I especially adore the colour variation and the gentle sheen that the silk adds. Way back I made a scarf with this yarn which I’ve since sold in my Etsy Shop. I think I’ll be keeping this shawl though… says she who has never worn a shawl in her life and happens to have to another half finished shawl stashed away waiting to be finished!

I just loved this post from the lovely Kate at Foxs Lane about exactly that – half finished crafty projects. My ‘excuse’ for the other half finished one is this… Black Knight, the black alpaca, had to grow more of his luscious black fibre, this has to be then be spun before I can purchase it, and hopefully finish the unfinished shawl.

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If you follow me on instagram you’ll know how much I’ve been spamming my feed with our Dove Cottage Harvest. Our humble little veggie patch is going great guns and we’ve been enjoying so many healthy fresh organic greens like this silver beet. And if you just went eewwwww, then please hear me out. Purchased silver beet from the shops may as well be a different vegetable altogether. Fresh picked baby silver beet is sweet, not bitter, and almost dissolves in your mouth – so not chewy like the shop stuff can be. It’s truly delish! And of course one the easiest things to grow ever!

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I just came inside from taking these two photos, and to my delight spotted the first of our butter beans. Crunchy juicy sweetness… I had to test one! We have been eating heaps of the regular green beans though, I’m thrilled with how much a couple of seeds have produced. As well as the beans and silver beet, lately we’ve been enjoying lettuce, zucchini, (monster) squash, and fresh new potatoes. Seriously my mouth is watering just typing that! I know it’s cliché and all that, but growing your own veg is so rewarding and delicious! If you’ve ever thought about doing so… but just not got there… find a teeny little corner in your garden, or get a big pot on the verandah, and plant something easy like silver beet, radish or lettuce. I swear you’ll be hooked in no time!

Wishing you blue skies and delicious greens to eat… see you soon for dear monday.

fibre to yarn… the andean way

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The altitude is 3,762m, the air is thin and oh so pure… it’s a place far from home where the mountain ranges seem to go on for ever… It’s Chinchero in Peru, and it’s home to a very old wonderful colourful market… fruit and vegetables are bought and sold there in the same way they have been for hundreds of years… the main difference now is the odd tourist and backpacker.

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You can purchase just about everything you’ll ever need and more … from alpaca jumpers to ancient hand made spoons … even fairy floss!

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It’s an historic market held on sacred grounds… and we were lucky to see them preparing for a festival on the day we visited.

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We ventured over the valley to the hill nearby… here the lovely Peruvian women showed us how fibre was turned into colourful yarn… with traditional methods that have been used for hundreds of years.

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The first step was obtaining the root of the soapwort (jabonera) plant… it was grated into warm water, then frothed up with hands ’till it become sudsy. It’s a natural shampoo…. and smiling a beautiful cheeky smile, she tells me it’s ‘good to stop the grey hairs’… ha, a few years too late for moi!

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The pure wool fibre was washed and became a beautiful clean white within minutes… then rinsed and strained using a woven basket a few times… it was soon looking pristine enough to start spinning.

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Watching the spinning was really beautiful… she made it look so easy and effortless… and I know it’s not! Despite this I’ve added learning how to do this to my crafty wish list… I’m not sure I’ll break into song though.

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There’s a little insect that lives on the cactus… the Cochineal bug leaves a powdery white trail on the cactus… ‘sacrifice’ she whispers as she crushes it in her hands… the vivid red liquid stains her palm.

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Then the magic starts… she squeezes some lime juice into one part of her palm and the colour softens and mellows… then a large piece of rock salt transforms the red into a new shade as she rubs it… a little powder from one of the dishes in front of us is mixed in and the colour changes before our eyes again… She rubs her palm with the skein of yarn to remove all the colours and dips it in the pot of water… a new colour is born… a teaspoon of salt is added and half the skein is dipped again to reveal a new shade. I am in awe by this stage!

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All the colours are made from items that are naturally available to them… purple corn, beans of some sort, plants, leaves, flowers, salt, limes… all imparting their signature colour on the yarn… so naturally… what a privilege it was to see… I just love that it’s the simple things that create the colours… the resourcefulness… the years of learning that go into creating specific colours… who thought to add lime juice to change the colour the very first time? So clever… so beautiful… so honoured… so inspired.

So, you guessed it, I’m also adding yarn dyeing to my crafty wish list! Have you ever dabbled in dyeing your own yarn? Or fabric? Do you have million things on your crafty wish list that you are busting to learn?

Wishing you magic moments and colourful inspiration this sunny Saturday…

foraging for mushrooms and yarn

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Yesterday I had a road trip of the best kind… with blue skies and rolling green hills dotted with sheep and cows and trees. My hubby Charlie went foraging for mushrooms… I went foraging for yarn.

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Charlie got to meet the very cool Ro Anderson from Whole Larder Love at his mushroom workshop… in a forest bursting with pretty light and mushrooms.

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A bunch of lovely folk went foraging in this beautiful forest, then Ro cooked them up an amazing feast on a campfire and a brilliant little bush kitchen set up in the back of his ute.

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Not only did they all learn heaps about what mushrooms to pick, where to look, and what not to pick, they got to eat the most amazing food at the end of it all.

You can read a bit more about the mushroom forage and see some more photos I took on hubby’s blog, Stockman Leathercraft if you like.

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Meanwhile as Charlie searched the forest floor for mushrooms, I road-tripped my way to Bendigo Woollen Mills and found myself some gorgeous new blues and greens in wool and alpaca… I’m so predictable aren’t I? I just can’t help but be drawn to these colours over and over… I find them a colourful and peaceful mix all rolled in together, and that’s a combo I can’t resist.

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Speaking of colourful… My Popping Candy Blanket is nearing the finishing line… except I’ve got about a billion ends to darn before I can crochet the edge. So I’ll try to resist the urge to start a new blue/green project… I’ll be busy darning ends for quite some time I think…

How about you… darning any ends? Busting to start a new project? Been to any beautiful forests lately?

Wishing you ripper days filled with good clean country air.

postcards from nz – wool

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Yarn yarn yarn! So very happy to have found what I think is the equivalent to Bendigo Woollen Mills back home, here in Napier. Skeinz is a mill producing luscious yarns from local fibres – mostly wool. I have searched long and hard to find a perfect turquoise yarn and what a thrill it was to stumble upon it here. My colours are totally inspired by the kiwi coast, the waters are so beautiful in their jade, turquoise, and greeny blue shades. I think this scrumptious bundle of pure New Zealand wool is destined to become a ‘kiwi coast blanket’. Now to stuff all this yarn into hubby’s luggage, he has way more room than me!

from crazy to slow and a link-a-long

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Comfort + Love Blankie.
Cream: Bamboo & Cotton. Grey: Wool.

This was my comfort crochet project. It’s finished and been given, with love, to somebody very special. There was much comfort taken in making this simple little granny square blanket. It’s the kind of crochet that needs no counting or concentrating, I could just drift into a gentle soft cloud of creating.

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And drifting into gentle clouds of creating is exactly what I needed to do lately…Is Summer crazy or is it me? I mean I do love the amazing fruits of summer…

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And I love to celebrate the birthdays of loved ones whose special days fall into the crazy that is Summer… Even if it is with a slightly failed ‘could be greater crater cake’ … (I say slightly because although it looked like the surface of the moon, it tasted delicious… surprisingly!)

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And I love the flowers of Summer… Despite the extreme heat we’ve experienced, and most of my garden looking like it survived heatwave after heatwave, with little to no watering (ahem cos that’s kinda what happened!), I still managed to find some vase worthy stems… I’m not fussy and I’ll use just about anything in a vase… This one includes olive tree branches, parsley seed heads (again), bougainvillea, plumbago and the odd tough old reliable rose.

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But Autumn, I’m so ready for you and your quieter days and slower pace… I’m ready for the chilly mornings and evenings, and the mild days in between. I’m ready for the beautiful misty mornings… I’m ready for the trees to lose their leaves and show me their strong pretty trunks… that bend and sway with whatever life throws at them… their strength in their flexibility… I’m craving that flexibility to help me move through life’s crazy and slow seasons… tho’ it’s the slow I embrace wholeheartedly with ease…

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I’m starting the slow already though. I’ve passed this old trestle bridge a few times now, but this time… we had time to stop… time to walk the trestle bridge… and time to take some pictures. It was so nice. I’m amazed how these old bridges were built without the modern-day help and technology. Such craftsmanship.

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Good craftsmanship is worth acknowledging… whether it be in building, creating, crafting, or writing. Sometimes it’s not a drive out to the country to walk on an old bridge… sometimes it’s just a click away! I love a little link love in blogs, and I enjoyed visiting some new places the other day after seeing Pip from Meet me at Mikes Link-a-Long post. I’m probably a little late to the Link-A-Long party, but if you’re looking for a dose of being real with a healthy serve of humour and wit on the side, then please do go visit Kate Forster’s blog What Party? … I had the pleasure of seeing Kate speak at a Voices of 2013 event last year. I was so impressed, when I got home I started following her blog… and I never fail to leave it without a little smile on my face.

And if you haven’t heard of Voices of 2013 then you really must visit here, where you’ll find all the winners who were voted then judged to have the best blogs in Australia. SO many great links here… And, you can vote for your favourite Aussie blog here if you want? I have… one of my votes went to Lamb loves Fox and it’s not just because I love the name! The photography here inspires me to want to understand what all those buttons on my camera do… it’s just beautiful!

I hope Summer (or Winter!) hasn’t been too crazy for you? Do you have any links you’d like to share in the spirit of a link-a-long?

May you stumble upon good craftsmanship often.