Anyone still there…?

Not quite Mayday, Mayday as in the emergency call for help, but I have chosen to put fingers to the keyboard again and post this on May 1st as it is May Day in the northern hemisphere – despite being located in the southern hemisphere. I am clearly confused, or perhaps simply a tad bonkers (!), or I may simply have a childhood fondness for May Day – I did live in the UK as a child.

So is anyone still out there? A tremendous amount has transpired since my last post all the way back towards the end of 2017, and it feels somewhat peculiar to say Happy New Year in May even though this is the first post of 2018 for me.

So much has transpired that I am need of a new blog title. Why? I ask myself – in case no one is still there and it is only me reading this! North Melbourne is shortly to no longer be my primary home. Indeed I am already hopping between there and Queenstown in New Zealand. This was my view from the supermarket carpark yesterday morning!Queenstown Remarkables

Simultaneously to changing this blog title, I thought I would take the opportunity to use the same name across my Twitter, Etsy, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook accounts. Currently they are semi-aligned. Or perhaps having seven social media accounts is a signal of “a bit over the top” and it is time to rationalise the number. My blog and my Twitter account are aligned; my Twitter handle is @nthmelbournemum. My other social media accounts are all aligned to my Etsy shop; Made In North Melbourne. So as you can see there was intent to the groupings, a connection with both using North Melbourne, and at the same time a touch of separation as my blog and my Etsy store are different outputs for me. It writing that prior sentence it could be that even with a rename keeping them aligned but separate may still be the way to go, especially as I am in two minds about whether I retain my Etsy shop; it has been in holiday mode this year. I have reached the conclusion that I can remove my Facebook account; it has always been the one not used naturally. What do you all think? So perhaps there is touch of the Mayday Mayday call for help after all!

All idea, comments, and thoughts welcome…

pexels-photo-267350.jpeg

New from old blanket

In the kiwi vernacular I would say, “I suck the big kumara“, given the almighty gap between this post and my previous post. However I believe that for once the underlying cause is genuine. In about two months I will be relocating to Queenstown, New Zealand. (Do not get distracted, this is a post about about blankets, forget about Queenstown for now!)

Other than to be aware that at some point in the future we will have a large outdoor patio. To go with that patio I envisage we will need some hand knitted blankets for those days you want to be outside but there is a chill in the air. Given the speed of my knitting and that the number of blankets needed will be greater than one, I am starting the first blanket now; a Melbourne conception with what will ultimately be a NZ birth feels exactly right. For the first blanket I am copying inspired by one of The Twisted Yarn’s blog posts from 2014 (you can see why I am starting now!), an Arne and Carlos blanket. I love the idea of using up left over bits of wool. Way back when I used to sew I had the intention of making a quilt from everything I had sewn, a kind of memory of clothes and events. Great idea – never did it – though I did start. Quite fittingly I am starting this blanket with yarn I bought to knit a cardigan for my daughter. I went gang busters on the knitting doing a frill for the first time ever but never got around to finishing the cardigan (any bells ringing here?!). Of course I am hoping it is not an ill omen to use this wool to start the blanket. I am coupling it with the left over (yes you read that right!) gorgeous green yarn I bought in Hokitika last Christmas and my quickest ever completed project. I think that combo of never finished and finished the quickest balances out!

And for those of you still thinking about Queenstown, the photo at the end of this post is actually our land. There may be more written about this in the future!

arne carlos blanket

The first blanket is underway

Lemon honey in the city

Living in a big city naturally means you do not have an acre of land. We are lucky in that we have a courtyard, and it gets sun in the summer. You have heard me wax lyrical about basil pesto before. Well now it is the turn of some humble lemons. One of our first purchases was a lemon and lime tree – a graft obviously, though we only seem to get lemons. I had visions of limes for gin and tonic in the summer when we bought the tree! The last batch of lemons ended up as frozen lemon juice thanks to the mother-out-of-law. For some unknown reason I have always wanted to have a go at making Lemon Honey (which is known as lemon butter in the Australian vernacular as I found out) and for some random reason this late batch of lemons (code for I thought I had better take them off the tree as spring was here!) inspired me. While I was tempted to give them the same fate as their predecessors I went to every kiwi’s cooking bible (the Edmonds Cook Book) and the making of lemon honey appeared reasonably straightforward. What was quirky was a couple of day’s later I picked up the October Child magazine (a great freebie) and in there was an article on their tried and true cookbooks and there first was the good old Edmonds cook book. I could not have agreed more that day, fresh from my successful foray. And it made me smile, especially when we think of modern cook books full of fabulous colour photos – this cook book is the original real deal, the entire recipe for the the lemon honey stretches to about two centimetres, and there are four other recipes sharing the page. You know what though – the lemon honey turned out just so. I am even giving the small jar to a friend, not that she knows it yet, but she thought my first jam attempt was more than ok, so I am willing to risk her opinion again! If you have some lemons going spare, can I suggest a batch of lemon honey…

From hank to ball and a new stitch

Over Christmas I visited Hokitika for the first time – the joy of family who relocate enabling you to see new places. For some unknown reason I did a bit of advance preparation, as in I found out there was the world famous, or “perhaps world famous in NZ” Sock World Hokitika – here is their website and facebook page. Small town NZ is a large part of my childhood so I love to support local endeavours. And while I am absolutely not the world’s best sock knitter – I have yet to even try knitting a pair of socks – I am of course craft curious, and my before I went search had alerted me to the fact that they may have also sold yarn… And of course it was the yarn that I was after, I wanted to buy something that I would associate with the place.

For my little girl, with her input (have to have that these days unless you are keen to start WW3!) I have three hanks of beautiful 10 ply Waterspout Felted Yarn (75% superfine merino 25% possum). It is so light and soft. No idea what I will make for her yet, but that is part of the adventure. There is a beautiful hint of black in the yarn.

Anyway last night for the very first time I took a hank of yarn and created a ball of yarn. I am so proud of myself! It is a huge ball – I put the tape measure in the photo for a sense of scale, it is about 12 cm in diameter. I followed the sage advice from Craftsy here, and in reading the comments there was a great tip about continuing to wrap the yarn around your finger as you create the ball; it worked a treat.

Sock World HokitikaSo what am I going to make with the beautiful sea green teal that I bought for myself? What I initially wanted to make is the utterly gorgeous pleated scarf by Jen Geizen on the left below, but alas I do not have enough yarn. I suspect I may go out and buy enough of some other yarn to make that scarf – I love it! Instead I am going to try a new stitch – the garter drop stitch – the effect looks amazing, yet the technique appears rather easy; a combination I am fond of. There is a pattern for the scarf on the right below, but you almost do not need it. Hoping to finish the scarf for this winter. And here’s to the family staying put in Hokitika for a while, I want to go back to Sock World Hokitika and buy more!

Image on left courtesy of Craftsy.com and image on right courtesy of Redheart.com

Cafe Melbourne in Thames

I consider myself a small town girl in origin. Devonport was my first home, after the age of five I lived in a village in the UK, returning to NZ from the age of ten where Thames was home until I headed off to University.

I was recently back in my old home town of Thames, not having been there for three and a half years. In that time a new cafe has opened, Cafe Melbourne, supposedly bringing some Melbourne to Thames. Given I reside in Melbourne, and have done for 12 years, and have one of the best cafes in Melbourne on our proverbial doorstep (Auction Rooms), feel qualified to pass comment on whether Cafe Melbourne is bringing some Melbourne to Thames… And it does!

We were only in town for for 3 days, and went twice.  The coffee is GREAT, and the food DIVINE.  I laughingly joked (semi-seriously) this is good enough that can we come back on the weekend? (knowing we would be back in the real Melbourne). My other half said the food was of Auction Rooms quality – for those of you who have ever ventured to the Auction Rooms in North Melbourne, this is high praise indeed, even more so if you knew my other half!

And as an aside – the owner’s back story is on the back of the menu, worth the read so won’t spoil that surprise. And as it is with small towns, my Dad was a frequent purchaser from the owner’s father’s shop many years ago, so that random thread of connection.

Did not even think to take photos (or is that, was too lazy to take photos of my own…), here are some of theirs instead. If you ever pass through Thames visit – you will not be disappointed. Imagine any choice from the menu will delight, I highly recommend the chicken salad – it was to die for!

Cafe Melbourne Thames

Cafe Melbourne Thames

Photos courtesy of CafeMelbourne.co.nz

This is living…

Had the very recent joy of an overdue and not long enough holiday – aren’t they always! Visited Glenorchy for the first time in my life. For those of you unfamiliar, Glenorchy is a small town at the top of Lake Wakatipu. It was a sensational autumn day last Thursday, no wind, sun shining, a lake so still it was like a mirror. Look a little closer at the photo below, a perfect reflection of the floating platform – did not even realise until now. My response to standing on the jetty looking at this vista is that work is highly overrated! If you ever happen to visit I can recommend the Glenorchy Cafe & Bar.  We had a coffee and sat in the sunshine admiring some fantastic sculptures. The photo does not do the piece justice – the detail in the work is amazing, the work is exquisite. The sculptor’s name is Dan Kelly, and he has a site here.

Glenorchy Queenstown New Zealand

dan kelly sculpture

 

Yarn appetite sated for now

According to my Mum, my grandmother always used to say a little bit of what you fancy does you good.  I have always kind of liked that, in fact I kind of try to live by it.  And as part of ensuring at least a little bit of time to myself (a working mum’s rare treat!), about a month ago I went to the Yarn and Craft Market hosted by the Handknitters Guild.  So much beautiful yarn…I was very restrained and purchased with my new baby bootie range for my Made in North Melbourne Etsy store in mind – two merino in the traditional pink and blue and one utterly gorgeous yellow in merino/cashmere.  I was so taken by the name of the wool, how can you resist Mother’s Love for making baby booties?  This is a locally hand dyed yarn by the almost eponymous Dyed By Hand Yarns.  I have not started knitting with it yet, but will show you when I have.  I think sunshine yellow booties might appeal.

And very recently I purchased some wool just for me.  It is delectable.  I know – not a word you would normally associate with wool, but it is just so divine.  I had the good fortune recently to be in picturesque Arrowtown in New Zealand, and wandered into The Stitching Post (what a cool name for a store) and knew I could not leave without a purchase, it was just a matter of what.  There it was, hanging up, a big loose hank of incredible softness, lightness and colour, hence delectable.  The yarn is Alpine (though that might be the colour) from Touch Yarns, and is a super fine kid mohair, merino wool.  And for the far more seasoned knitters that I, this would come as no surprise – because even though to the eye the yarn is slender in appearance it knits as 12 ply.  The lovely man at the store wound it into a ball for me (read he took pity on me, may have been something to do with the fact that I had asked whether I could knit the wool directly before it was wound up in a ball…!).  They even gave me a free pattern.  I started knitting my delectable new scarf last night.