Gorgeous New Zealand Wool

I have enough stash to probably last me two lifetimes however you didn’t really expect me to visit New Zealand and not acquire a little bit of wool did you? If only I had more than two arms and could carry off lots of baggage…I surely would have purchased even more!!

While visiting The Agrodome in Rotorua, I came upon this gorgeous variegated Ashford Tekapo 8ply wool. You get a generous 200g per ball so I picked up five balls at $12.50 each. Not sure what I’m going to make but that’s beside the point. Ashford Tekapo Green Mix 02This is the scene that greeted me when I entered The Woollen Mill at The Agrodome. Gorgeous isn’t it? A knitter’s paradise I say. I really didn’t want to leave. In fact, I was the last person to board the bus.

Agrodome 30The Agrodome also sold lots and lots of knitted goodies which were very invitingly displayed. Agrodome 32Agrodome 33Agrodome 34When we arrived in Dunedin and were transported to The Octagon in the city centre it was still too early for the shops to open so I wandered around and found a couple of wool shops. I was on the doorstep of Knit World when it opened and picked up two balls of this Happy Feet sock yarn made in Auckland. I’ve already started a pair of socks in the orange mix and they’re coming along a treat.

Knit World

Happy Feet Sock Yarn GreenHappy Feet Sock Yarn OrangeAs I was savouring all the yarn in the shop, I came across this lone skein of gorgeous Touch Yarns 8ply Merino so I quickly snaffled it.

Touch Yarns 8plyAround the corner and into Seriously Twisted where they had a small selection of yarns and a larger selection of knitted goods. I bought six balls of Rare Earth alpaca yarn for $10 each.

Seriously Twisted 02Rare Earth Humus Alpaca 8ply 02And then my eyes were caught on a bundle of Touch Yarns possum/merino in the colours I just love!!! It was very expensive indeed but I figured it’s not every day I’m shopping in Dunedin so I talked myself into buying two skeins. I might add it didn’t take me long to convince myself that I really needed this yarn :-)

Touch Yarns Merino Possum 4ply 01While I was in Carterton with Mary who had picked me up from the ship in Wellington, we visited a little shop that was chock-a-block full of sewing needs and yarn. There was so much to pick from however I spotted this Opal sock yarn in colours that I was quite taken with. Opan Sock YarnAs well as yarn, I also acquired quite a few pairs of gloves, ponchos, a scarf and hat…all made from lovely New Zealand wool.

I love all these gloves made with a mixture of possum and merino wool. And yes I know you’re probably thinking ‘how many hands does this woman have?’ but seriously I couldn’t make up my mind which ones I liked best so I bought them all. You never know, it could one day snow in Brisbane. Wishful thinking I know.Gloves 01-tileAnd these two ponchos, also made with a possum/merino mixture. Ponchos are perfect as they keep your back, chest and shoulders warm and at the same time your arms are not restricted. Great for walking to work in the crisp mornings.

Poncho 01-tileI couldn’t resist this cute little hat. As I’d bought gloves and ponchos it seemed silly not to have a nice little hat! HatSomeone on Ravelry had directed me to this shop in Dunedin. It’s called the Stuart Street Potters Co-operative and although it sells mainly pottery, it also sells some handspun yarn and handmade woollen garments. I picked up this scarf in this lovely shade of lime green.

Lime Green Scarf 01Lime Green Scarf 05Lime Green Scarf 08-tile

(If you click on the above image you’ll be able to read the label wording)

Even though the weather is gradually cooling down in Brisbane, I am still hoping we have a few colder days in winter so I can wear all my lovely New Zealand woollies!!

That’s my news for the moment. I’ve been beavering away at two new scarves….both the same pattern….but I was so keen to see the look of each scarf with different yarn that I couldn’t wait to finish one. No wonder I have so many UFOs!!!

Until next time…

Melanie

A Day in the Wairarapa Region

One of the wonderful things about the internet for me is connecting with like-minded people. It’s opened up a whole new world when it comes to my yarn and fibre hobbies of knitting and spinning. I discovered Ravelry and then discovered so many knowledgeable people who know so much about spinning wheels. One in particular is Mary Knox who is the creator of the New Zealand spinning wheels website. I contacted Mary a couple of years ago when I bought my Little Peggy spinning wheel. Being a complete novice, I had no idea about it and whether it was complete. Mary gave me so much information and really helped me identify bits and pieces on my wheel. Since then I have kept in contact with Mary and she’s provided me with bits of paperwork that relate to other wheels I’ve acquired.

When Mary knew I was cruising around New Zealand and would be spending a day in Wellington we hatched a plan whereby we could meet up. As there was no suitable train available for me to travel to her hometown, Mary and and her husband Fred very kindly picked me up from Wellington where the ship docked. It was so exciting to finally meet Mary and her husband. Fred very kindly sat in the back of their car while Mary and I spent the next 1½ hours chatting on the drive to the beautiful Wairarapa region.

Welling-Sth-Wairarapa-mapWe arrived at The Wool Shed in Masterton where the Wairarapa Spinners & Weavers Guild were having their Wednesday meeting.

Wool Shed 18How opportune that I should be in the area on the same day! I loved being amongst all those lovely spinners and knitters.

Wool Shed 14Wool Shed 15The surrounds they meet in are just stunning. It really was like stepping back in time. The Wool Shed is two authentic wool sheds trucked in from real farms, full of new and historic shearing equipment and sheep farm gear. There are also displays describing the history of sheep farming and its importance to New Zealand, samples of wool types and wool end-products, spinning and weaving demonstrations, the story of shearing – its beginnings and how it became an international sport, shearing demonstrations in the historic wool shed and a shop with its wide range of wool garments and souvenirs.

Wool Shed 19Wool Shed 01Don’t these sheep look like the real deal?

Wool Shed 03Different types of wool.

Wool Shed 35It’s fantastic see the history of The Wool Shed retained and used by the community at the same time.

I loved looking at the spinning wheels on display and particularly the mystery wheel.

Wool Shed 09Wool Shed 07Wool Shed 06I even managed to snap a couple of photos of the Guild’s storage cupboard with all those lovely wheels :-)

Wool Shed 25And I couldn’t resist looking in the shop at the goods sold by the Wairarapa Spinners Guild. I bought this cute little crocheted wool sheep as a memento of my visit.

Crocheted Sheep 04Wool Shed 10Lunch was spent at a nearby cafe within walking distance and then it was back to The Wool Shed for a bit more knitting before we set off for Paua World near Mary’s home. I managed to buy some more souvenirs. I love the paua shell; no two pieces are the same and the colours are magnificent. We also dropped into a local yarn shop and I bought a ball of Opal sock yarn (couldn’t help myself!)

Opan Sock YarnAt Mary and Fred’s home we had a cuppa and muffins and Mary showed me her spinning wheels. I wanted to pack them in my suitcase and bring them home! Particularly the miniature Rappard Wee Peggy wheel. It is just so unique.

DSC07381DSC07383Wool Shed 27Wool Shed 28And then it was back in the car and the 1½ hours drive back to the docks to board my ship for its journey onto Akaroa and Christchurch.

What a simply magical day with such kind New Zealand hospitality. I love this country so much. It’s my second visit there in the last nine years and I’ve just re-booked myself on the same cruise departing Brisbane in October 2016; that’s how much I’m keen to get back plus I enjoy the cruising experience. It’s also good to have something to look forward to don’t you think?

NZ Cruise mapAnd I might add as I boarded the ship everyone was talking about how wet and windy it was in Wellington. Not in Masterton it wasn’t :-) The rain held off and it certainly wasn’t cold. I was truly blessed.

Thank you so much Mary and Fred. And thank you so much Mary for your CD book ‘New Zealand Spinning Wheels and their Makers’.

Here’s a photo of Mary (right) and me (left).

Melanie Mary 01This was a trip and a day I’ll treasure and remember forever.

Until next time…

Melanie

 

The Agrodome Rotorua

I can’t believe how the last two weeks have flown by. I am now back from my wonderful cruise around the beautiful New Zealand and am in the process of unpacking, washing, sorting out souvenir gifts and of course, catching up with my blog.

I met some wonderful people on the cruise and quite a few knitters too! It’s amazing how many people stopped to chat with me and to ask what I was knitting. I managed to finish one scarf, start another and complete a pair of socks. There’s lots of knitting time when you’re sailing for three and four days in a row!

Cruising is very bad for your waistline I must say as you’re tempted with so much wonderful food. And every meal is three courses too. After a couple of days I cut out the large lunches as I couldn’t justify eating when I wasn’t actually hungry. One of the cafes had small rolls with salmon and salad and that sufficed until dinner time.

Here’s an example of an entree: Marinated Seafood Salad with Avocado… Entree And a main meal: Marinated Barramundi Fillet with Munthari Butter Sauce… Main Meal I forgot to photograph the dessert I had that night which was Baked Alaska ‘Grand Finale’.

Anyway I digress…..I am going to simply concentrate on one area for each post rather than trying to tell you everything in one story. And my stories won’t be in any particular order either.

One of the shore excursions offered by Princess Cruises on this cruise was a visit to The Agrodrome at Rotorua. It immediately piqued my interest as I am sure it would yours too!

I managed to snap this photo as the bus rounded the entrance. I’m quite pleased how it turned out as I was struggling to get my camera positioned for the photo. Agrodome 01 The Agrodome has won the coveted New Zealand Tourism Award for the New Zealand’s Best Visitor Attraction a number of times, and has been awarded more than once for their outstanding service and contribution to the New Zealand Tourism Industry. The Agrodome is not just a fun visitor attraction; it is also a real 350-acre (160-hectare) working sheep and cattle farm with 1200 sheep and 120 beef cattle.

The highlight of my visit was the 19 different sheep breeds that were featured and they were the real thing too! Agrodome 09Each sheep ran up the tiered structure and stood on their particular named tier. It was simply amazing to see so many different breeds of sheep in the same place. The # 1 sheep was the merino. Agrodome 07 Some of the sheep did little tricks like deliberately stopping on the wrong tier and only moving on when instructed to do so. The very last sheep ran onto his tier and very delicately head-butted the sheep beside him. I didn’t realise sheep could be trained like dogs. Agrodome 12After the show we were invited onto the stage to take photos and pat the sheep. I was one of the first onto the stage and managed to get some great photos. Agrodome 11 Agrodome 13 Agrodome 14 Agrodome 15 Agrodome 16 Agrodome 17 Agrodome 18 Agrodome 19 Agrodome 20 Agrodome 21 Agrodome 22 Agrodome 23 Agrodome 24 And after the show I had to visit the Woollen Mill to see what goodies I could buy. Agrodome 25 There were heaps of little sheep that tempted me but of course I had to think of what I could carry off the ship. I did end up buying about three little sheep (and one kiwi too) and I’ll feature them in another story. Agrodome 02 Agrodome 03 Agrodome 04 There was plenty of wool for sale too. And yes, I bought some wool and will feature it in another story. I mean, you don’t expect me to travel to New Zealand and not buy wool :-) Agrodome 26 There was also this massive old carding machine on display… Agrodome 28 Agrodome 29 All in all this was a very long day as we had visited the Rotorua Thermal Springs prior to The Agrodome. I would certainly recommend you visit The Agrodome if you’re ever in Rotorua; even if you’re not a fibre freak. The sheep show is really entertaining plus there’s also a display of two dogs rounding up some geese on the stage too. I forgot to mention that a sheep was sheared on the stage and then the shearer threw bits of the shorn fleece into the audience so we could all get to feel the greasy lanolin on the fleece. Agrodome 10 I hope you enjoyed this little taste of my New Zealand adventure.

Until next time…

Melanie

The Final Countdown!

Only a few more sleeps and I’m off on my cruising adventure around New Zealand :-) I have set aside today for the main packing effort along with taking photos of some finished projects, visiting my parents, expecting a visit from my son, tidying up my back courtyard and winding one final skein of yarn. It’s going to be a very busy day.

But first I want to show you another one of my One Row Handspun scarves made with my own handspun. It was spun quite a while ago and as you can see I was still getting the hang of spinning as it’s still a bit chunky looking or as I like to call it ‘rustic’.

Rainbow 2 Handspun Scarf 01I love the fact this scarf is reversible and is such an easy knit.

Rainbow 2 Handspun Scarf 04Yesterday at Knit and Knatter I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting one of my local readers. Thanks Denise for coming along and I’m so glad you found us through my blog. Denise was knitting a pair of socks on circular needles – toe up in this beautiful self striping yarn in the colourway Almalfi Coast. The yarn is made by Simply Socks Yarn Company.

K&K 28-3-15 02While we sat in air conditioned comfort a Suitcase Rummage was happening outside. A few of us bought one of these cute little sewing organisers for only $10 each. They’re handmade and embroidered and included the notions as well. Aren’t they simply gorgeous?

Sewing Notions 04Sewing Notions 02Sewing Notions 03I love these Knit and Knatter gatherings as it’s such a wonderful opportunity to unwind, catch up with like-minded friends and knit or spin to my heart’s content! Although we were small in number this week (seven) we still had a fabulous time.

K&K 28-3-15 01I must fly as I have heaps to do. You may not hear from me for about three weeks but hopefully I’ll have lots of news for you on my return.

Until then….stay safe and happy crafting :-)

Melanie

Where is Autumn?

autumn_evrgAutumn: a simple word but to me it heralds the end to a hot and humid Brisbane summer. It’s when I can think about gearing up for cooler weather and look forward to winter eventually arriving. Autumn means it’s more comfortable for knitting and spinning but having said that I try to knit 365 days a year and I spin throughout the year although I do more in winter.

It also means that it’s getting closer to when I can start wearing my knitted scarves and socks of which I have sooo many!!

But more importantly autumn means those gorgeous colours that I love so much…

Autumn image 1-tileThose explosions of stunningly beautiful golds, oranges, rusts, browns, reds and greens (and even pinks).

Autumn image 5-tileThey simply take my breath away…

Autumn image 10-tileNow you can see where some yarn dyers get their inspiration from…

Autumn image 14-tileAnd that’s why I tend to lean towards these autumn shades when I purchase my yarn…

Zen Yarn Garden Pumpkin Pie Spice 04Shorn Fibers Serengeti 07Shorn Fibres Autumn Leaves 3Autumn Cowl 01Autumn Citron 01Sunset Shawlette 01Moda Vera Harmony 02Moda Vera Hue 01Moda Vera Spinnler 02BWM Bloom Orange 03BWM Bloom Green 03I don’t think you can beat these colours when it comes to the range of different shades and their affinity to nature.

If you want to see a real display of autumn colour, you can’t really beat the autumns in Melbourne…

Melbourne autumn 1-tileSONY DSCWhat do you think? Doesn’t autumn offer such a wonderful palette of colours for yarn dyers?

So wonderful in fact, that Zen Yarn Garden created this gorgeous autumn inspired yarn combo of three skeins which I am going to use to make Melanie Berg’s Ashburn Shawl.

Zen Yarn Autumn Splendour 01Zen Inspiration Autumn 03And now back to the title of this post? Where is Autumn? We are now one third through Autumn in Brisbane and it is still summer!!! The last couple of days have been quite humid and yesterday we had a huge storm. I want it to start getting cooler!!! It certainly does not bode well for a cold winter does it?

If you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted any completed projects lately, it’s because I have a number of small ones on the go and one large project that I started in January that is taking quite a while to complete. But the good news is that I only have four more rows to go until it’s finished!

Only four rows you might say. But each row is taking me about an hour to do as I’m using beads and there’s more than 600 stitches in each row. Yes, it’s my first attempt at a real laceweight shawl. The pattern I’m knitting is Athanasia Andritsou’s Wavy Leaves and Butterflies Shawl. Once it’s finished I’m going to have to psych myself up to block it. I actually have two other projects that need blocking as well :-(

To me blocking is like ironing and emptying the dishwasher; I simply don’t enjoy it! In fact, I have to be in the mood to block a garment. I’m always so happy once the job is done as the garment looks wonderful after a good blocking but the process is too tedious for me.

What about you? Do you like blocking? I wish I could out-source it to someone who loves to block :-) Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Until next time…

Melanie

Pottery Yarn Bowls

Wellington is one of the cities that I’ll be spending a day in during my cruise around New Zealand in April. I am very fortunate as I’ll be met at the pier and taken to a local spinners guild to spend the day as well as some other sightseeing. One place that my hosts have mentioned is Pauaworld at Masterton. New Zealand has obviously replenished its supplies of paua sheel as I thought I’d bought it all in 2006 when I did a three week coach trip through both islands. :-) I absolutely adore the paua shell! How can you not love all those shades of blue and green.

Paua shell 1-tileThe two people who are so kindly driving me around Wellington are Mary and Fred. I first spoke to Mary (via the internet) a couple of years ago when I bought a Little Peggy spinning wheel. I was very much a novice and had no idea of wheels at all. Mary kindly answered all my questions and sent me some information leaflets which I have since loaded onto my site for all to see.

Mary is also the administrator of the New Zealand spinning wheels website which is a detailed history of New Zealand wheels and their makers. Mary also looked after the Australian spinning wheels website but this has now been handed over to an Aussie to manage.

Now I’ve been trying to work out what to take as a token of my appreciation so I thought why not ask Mary if there’s anything she’d like me to bring from Brisbane. I’m so glad I did as she mentioned she’d love one of the pottery yarn bowls made by Kimberly from Earth & Stone Creations. I emailed Kimberly and discovered she didn’t live too far from my place. Kimberly has an Etsy shop too. So yesterday I drove to Kimberly’s home and picked up a yarn bowl for Mary and one for me too!

Yarn bowls 01Aren’t they so beautiful!! Mine is the green one.

Yarn bowls 04And I’ll give Mary the orange one. They sit on little padded feet so they won’t scratch your tiled floors.

Yarn bowls 02Another little gift I will give Mary is one of the Country Drawstring Bags that I’ve just made. I picked up this acrylic for only $2 a ball from Lincraft and it’s so perfect for this project. You don’t really want an expensive wool for a bag but rather an acrylic that can handle the rough wear and tear and washing.

Drawstring bag Autumn 01I love these little bags. In fact, I’m making another Autumn one for me too.

Drawstring bag Autumn 05I think this will be the perfect little holder for Mary’s yarn bowl don’t you?

Drawstring bag Autumn 03

Another bit of good news from this story is that while I was at Kimberly’s home I instantly thought how well her pottery and earrings would sell at our Open Day in June so I contacted our Convenor who has now contacted Kimberly. So it’s a win-win for everyone; Mary and I get our yarn bowls; Kimberly finds a new outlet to sell her wares; and the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day Convenor finds another wonderful quality trader!!

It’s time for me to now have a cuppa, read the paper and do some knitting. I’ve been up since 6am washing the car before the sun came out. As it’s a new car I want to try and wash it regularly. I wonder how long the early morning rises on a weekend will last!!

Until next time…

Melanie

A Nifty Little Drawstring Bag

Every Christmas I ask my son to buy me the same present year after year. I think he’s secretly pleased as I even tell him where it’s being sold so he doesn’t have to do much thinking. It’s the yearly knitting calendar which I absolutely adore.

2015 CalendarIt’s exciting (well for me anyway :-) ) to turn to a new pattern every couple of days to see what will take my fancy.

This is one pattern that appealed to me straight away. A very simple knit called the Country Drawstring Bag.

Drawstring Brownn 01The pattern calls for DK yarn using two strands and 3.75mm needles. I used this Moda Vera Instinctive yarn which is quite a thick DK 100% acrylic yarn. For a bag I’d rather use acrylic as it’s cheaper and will be able to stand up to all the wear and tear (and washing).

Moda Vera Instinctive 01I actually ran out of yarn when I was making the handles so I’ve used some black yarn instead.

Drawstring Brownn 03The perplexing thing is I’m 100% positive I have more of this yarn but do you think I could find it in my stash? No, I couldn’t!! So when I eventually come across it, I’ll just unpick that black part of the I-cord and redo it using the correct yarn. I don’t really think it detracts from the bag though.

My hands got quite achy while making this bag as I was using size 5mm needles and with the two strands of yarn it was a bit of a battle at times but I persevered and I now have quite a large drawstring project bag.

It has a nice sized base to sit on.

Drawstring Brownn 04Once there are too many stitches on the dpns you change to circular needles. There were a maximum of 128 sts on the needles.

It is really sturdy and I am very happy with the completed bag.

The pattern writer is AnnVG on Ravelry so if you really want the pattern you could contact her.

Drawstring Brownn 05I’ve already started on another bag which will be made from another 100% acrylic DK in a colourway called ‘Autumn’. I’m using size 4.5mm needles as the yarn is not as thick as the Instinctive yarn. I’ll show it to you as soon as it’s finished.

Drawstring Brownn 02Drawstring Brownn 06

The great thing about this bag pattern is that tension really doesn’t matter and you could use any size yarn and needles and the result will be a different sized bag.

Until next time…

Melanie