Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New pattern: Ascent

I have a new hat pattern available on Ravelry - a unisex, textured beanie called Ascent. It looks great with stripes, gradients, or colourblocking, so it's a fun knit and a great project for using up leftover yarn.

  • a simple knit-and-purl texture 
  • ideal for random stripes and colourblocking
  • crown decreases add a gentle swirl to the texture
  • one size fits most adults, with simple instructions for re-sizing if desired
  • a one-skein project: you will need 160 yards of DK-weight yarn
  • full charted and written instructions, so you can follow your preferred type.

This design started with the yarn - a 'Tiny Twists Kit' from Madelinetosh, which I was enchanted with and wanted to make the most of.
The little 50-yard skeins are so cute!

After using the lightest 4 colours for Willie's hat, I had some scraps left over. I combined them with half a skein of blue-green Vintage Purls Max (also leftovers from another project), and knit a striped hat for myself. I knit the ribbing using the darkest Madelinetosh skein, and striped the rest of the hat randomly, using up every bit of the scraps.

The photos of Willie and I were taken partway up Mount Taranaki, one of the most beautiful places I've been in a long time. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

In the Goblin Forest

One of the best parts of our Taranaki trip was towards the end, when all of us 'kids' headed part of the way up Mt Taranaki to visit what Brian calls the 'Goblin Forest'. It's a very dense, damp area of bush with mosses and lichens covering absolutely everything, unlike anything I've seen before...

(click the photos to enlarge)

Lots of different species crowded together, beside the path

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Taranaki Trip

This post is a little belated (I've been back for a week!), but in my defense, I have been under the weather. I came down with a cold the day I left for NZ, and it's finally winding down now.

The trip was pretty eventful! The drive down from Auckland to Taranaki was very scenic - we passed through some amazing gorges covered in native bush (the combo of pongas with nikaus was unusual to my eyes), and through lots of pretty countryside.

Once we arrived, party preparation was all on with band rehearsals, errands to fetch food and people, and wrangling giant to-do lists. Just as well we had highly-organised people on board... especially as I was properly sick by then, and kept needing to disappear for naps. In the end, the party was a huge success, and I enjoyed hanging out with Rowan and playing a game of pool while the band played.

Willie, Julian, Chloe, and Julian playing at Sue's birthday

After that, the pace of our holiday became much more holiday-like!
We relaxed in the garden, wandered around the nursery, and even went on a short bushwalk up the mountain.

Knitting on the porch, enjoying the sunshine

A wonderful mass of cosmos flowers!

Bees doing their thing <3

The apple trees in the nursery were covered in apples, as they were on our last visit. I always eat masses of apples when I'm in New Zealand, as I find Australian ones just can't compare. We also gathered a big box of feijoas, my favourite fruit! If you haven't heard of them, they're very much a Kiwi thing, a seasonal fruit that lots of people grow in their gardens.

Brian and Willie strolling in the nursery


Under the trees

Feijoas on the bush...

...and feijoas in the hand

All too soon we were off to Auckland again, where Willie and I visited our old friend Karen, and then back to Melbourne.

I've been taking it easy this past week while I recover (from the trip and from my cold), and doing a lot of knitting, which means I'll have some new things to show you soon! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Today we're off to New Zealand for Willie's mum's 60th birthday celebrations - there's a big party planned, and 'The Sibling Band' will be providing some of the music. Hence we've been spending a fair percentage of our evenings at band practice recently...

I've been using the inevitable waiting-around time during practices to work on a couple of knitting projects: a simple shawl with mesh-lace sections, and a striped-and-textured hat.

Hat in progress, feat. Madelinetosh DK and Vintage Purls Max

The remainder of the shawl will be my travel knitting, as it's nice and mindless. But I managed to finish the hat at last night's practice! I even wove in all the ends, using a tiny cymbal as a pin-dish. ;)

I'm looking forward to seeing some NZ countryside again, especially as the route from Auckland down to Taranaki is going to be mostly new to me. Hopefully I'll get some good photos to share. I'm also excited about getting to see some old friends at the party and in Auckland. Yay!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A good Good Friday

Last night was my big Bach concert! My choir and a fantastic Baroque orchestra performed the St. John Passion. As a first-timer, I had to put in a lot of practice to make sure I had my head around all the rhythms and my tongue around all the rapid-fire German. And it really paid off - on the night I wasn't nervous, and I really enjoyed the whole experience.

Willie, Julian, Chloe, and Hamish came along to hear us,and Willie took a couple of photos:

The Scots' Church is really pretty.

A chorus in full flight! I'm near the middle. :)

At home afterwards, enjoying a well-earned hot cross bun.

Here are a couple of my favourite choruses, performed by The Monteverdi Choir. The first is one of the fast, tricky choruses, and the second is the final chorus (which I adore)...

If you're a Bach nerd like me, you might want to poke around the All of Bach site, which will eventually house free videos of all 1080 of Bach's surviving compositions, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society. Bach's other great Passion setting, the St. Matthew, is the newest addition.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

New pattern: Peacowl

Ta-da! Here is the second of my new DK-weight cowl designs, Peacowl. ;)

Once again, I used one 100g ball of Outlaw Yarn's Vanitas DK (90% alpaca and 10% organic merino). The colour is called 'Vanity', which is perfect for a silver peacock cowl! If you wish to substitute a different yarn, I recommend a DK-weight yarn with good drape and stitch definition (e.g. an alpaca or silk blend).

  • lace-and-texture motifs inspired by stylised peacock feathers
  • worked in the round, with clean garter-stitch edges
  • one size (short and drapey), with simple instructions for re-sizing both height and circumference if desired
  • a one-skein project: you will need 205 yards of DK-weight yarn
  • full charted and written instructions, so you can follow your preferred type.

When I first got the idea for this cowl, I researched stylised peacock-feather motifs and fell in love with the peacocks on 1890s book covers. My favourites are this Pride and Prejudice cover by Hugh Thomson (I managed to get hold of a modern paperback with this design)...

...And this Gryll Grange cover by A.A. Turbayne (the peacock is a reference to the author's name, Thomas Love Peacock). I used this peacock's tail as the basis of my lace design - the way the feathers are simplified and arranged in streams translates well to a repeating lace motif.

After much charting, swatching, and refining, I finally had my peacock lace. :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bucket-list Bach

Disclaimer: I don't actually have a bucket list. But if I did, performing Bach's large-scale choral works would definitely be on it.

In a few weeks the Scots' Choir will be singing Bach's St. John Passion, which is massively exciting for me, as well as scary! I have a lot of music to learn, and a lot of German pronunciation to perfect. As I did in the lead-up to Messiah last year, I'll be listening to lots of different recordings as well as practicing on my own with the piano. Wish me luck!

Here's the opening chorus, 'Herr, unser Herrscher', performed at a cracking pace by the Academy of Ancient Music: