I'm in Whakatane right now, at the midpoint of my two-week break. I've been having a lovely relaxing time hanging out with Mum and Dad and Hazy-the-cat, finishing up knitting projects, and messing around on the piano.

HRH Hazel

I took advantage of the parental picture-framing skills and got a neat print framed - this is 'Space Cat' by the Wellington artist Pinky Fang, in a clean white frame with atmospheric fairy lights:

I love the cat's glowing yarn-ball! Hopefully I can get this back to Melbourne in one piece...

It's a lovely sunny day today, so this afternoon Dad and I are going to Ohope beach to try out the new boogie-boards, and maybe get some fish and chips. :)


I'm in the midst of a sock-knitting phase, brought on partly by the cold weather (we're getting frosts in the mornings!) and partly by the urge to knit up some of my sizeable stash of sock yarn.

I'm a relative beginner at knitting socks, so I've been reading up on how to get a good fit on blogs and the Ravelry forums. I found the Kiwiyarns Knits series of blog posts 'Secrets of the Socks' especially useful (and inspiring, with all the pretty yarn photos). Part 1 is about super-twist sock yarn, Part 2 is about sock structure and fit, and Part 3 is about different kinds of sock yarn, and how hard-wearing they are.

So far I've been using merino/nylon blend yarn from Vintage Purls, double-pointed needles, and simple patterns. The pair I'm currently working on is the most decorative - the stitch pattern isn't just simple stocking stitch - and I think it's a great pattern for variegated yarn: the toe-up version of Scott Base from Sezza Knits.

Today I'm wearing a pair of DK-weight socks, which are lovely and thick and warm. They're Basic Adult Toe-Up Socks, in Vintage Purls Max. The colour is called 'Mauveine', a bright glowing purple! This is my second pair using this pattern/yarn combo - I made my first pair last winter.

Yesterday Dad took some cute photos of me playing with Hazel and showing off my blue stripy socks. These are Super Simple Socks (a free top-down pattern by Tash of HRYC), again in Vintage Purls Sock. I want to make more in higher-contrast stripes - maybe black and yellow bee-stripes. :)

Birds, a blossom, and a beanie

Mum and Dad's house is excellent for incidental birdwatching. They have plenty of trees in the garden, including a big camellia which is always tui-infested! Here's my list of species I have seen today: sparrows, goldfinches, waxeyes, yellowhammers, fantails, tuis, and one great big kereru.

Dad let slip that there was a spare birdhouse in the garage, and we eventually found a good spot for it... right below the first birdhouse. Hopefully the sparrows who've been setting up their nest won't mind having neighbours. They're in a big prunus tree which we can see from the house (all the better to spy baby birds). The first few blossoms appeared today, like pink popcorn...

Sparrow apartments

The first blossom of spring! *pop*

I finished a hat I've been working on - a Lapwing, in Vintage Purls Sock. It's a lovely slouchy beanie, with the purl side outwards. The wide rainbow 'pooling' on the brim happened totally by accident! I wasn't sure about it at first, because I really liked the yarn as it looked in the ball (with the colours totally mixed up) - but I got that effect at the top of the hat anyway, once I started decreasing stitches. And happily, I have half the ball left over to make something else with. :)

My new Lapwing hat, with broccoli plants

I'm nearing the end of the 'body' of my honeycomb cardie - only a few rows of ribbing to go, and then on to the sleeves. Hazel has decreed it cosy enough to sleep on, which I suppose bodes well!

Bees and blossoms

This post is brought to you by the letter B!

Yesterday was a sunny Sunday, so I had fun experimenting with Dad's camera in the garden. We parked the tripod near the plum tree which is just starting to bloom, zoomed in and focused on a cluster of blossoms, and waited for bees to come and pose for their portrait...

(click to enlarge photos)

When I had plenty of bee photos, I abandoned the tripod and went on the hunt for other wildlife. I got lucky with a monarch butterfly, which was resting on the ivy, and a tui which obligingly presented its profile.

As usual, Hazel the cat had been accompanying me around the garden, so I got a few shots of Her Majesty in her domain. :)

The wonders of blocking

I finished a hat this weekend. It had been in 'time out' for a week or so, after I was forced to undo a few inches of knitting because it was painfully clear that I was going to run out of yarn. So instead of making the larger, floppier version, I backtracked and made the less-slouchy version. The pattern is Purl Beret from The Purl Bee - a great simple hat pattern for using up partial skeins of sock yarn. I used the leftover yarn from making my fingerless gloves.

I love blocking my finished projects! It tidies them up, and you can fine-tune the shape and size after trying the thing on. For this hat, I soaked it in a bowl of cool water for 20 minutes or so, carefully squeezed the water out, and got more water out by sandwiching it in a folded towel and treading on it. Then I slipped a dinner plate inside the hat, and sat the plate on top of a bowl in an out-of-the-way spot. 24 hours later, the hat was ready to wear!

Before blocking:

While blocking:

After blocking (with helpful feline):

Ta da!