Monday, December 28, 2015

Post Christmas update

Christmas is an odd time, supposedly it is about catching up with loved ones and showing them you care, but if you pay any attention to advertising it is about spending money. As a family we have always kept it 'clean' and tried to make sure we show our family we love them and are Interested enough in them and what they do to know what they like. As our Cubs have grown the commercialization has crept in, it's hard not to buy your kids the keyboard of their dreams, or a leather hand bag so they don't have to carry a school back pack to town. and throughout all of the slight angst about 'have I got the right thing' there is knitting.

This year I jumped into the advent sock knit along. Starting on the 1st December the KAL has a clue per day in the lead up to Christmas, each clue instructs you to pick a colour and knit a pattern, the pattern for the day is over the number of rows that matches the days date. The blog with the the clues is here. The Ravelry group is here. My socks stalled on December 23rd, but I have intentions of finishing them soon, maybe even this year. And I set of without really thinking as I wanted a matched pair so initially knit both socks the same, but soon realized that would result in thigh high socks, so returned to knit alternatly on each sock. There is a cunning plan to the order of knitting so the socks end up the same length despite subsequent clues being a different and increasing number of rows.

This Christmas I managed to set a trend for myself. A few years ago Bear took up guitar. Since then he's has invested in a few high end guitars, a Strat, a luthier made acoustic, and a Gibson electric. At the beginning of his learning I spotted an acoustic guitar, a 60's or 70,s Aria, made in Japan in a general junk shop. At the time Bear had a thing for Japanese made guitars, and I bought the Aria for $50. The person selling the Aria handed it over for inspection with the comment that , it had a string missing'. Clearly they didn't know guitarists changed the strings regularly and a missing string wasn't a problem.

This year Bear spotted a vintage classical guitar in Port Chalmers, a 1960's or 1970's Schaller Scholar, made in Europe, he went home to research it, decided it was worth having, and before he got back to Port I nabbed it for $45. I may have set an impossible trend - to only buy guitars under $50. It makes a nice foil to guitars that are priced with four digits. In doing this sort of gifting we try and demonstrate to our Cubs that it isn't about a dollar value, but about working out what the person likes that you can afford.

It seems to be rubbing off, little cub went to high school this year, and chose to do Music (bass guitar - says she will not do music but will continue to learn bass next year), French (not as much fun as she thought it would be - the pancakes on open day were misleading ), Art, Fabric technology, and Wood technology. She finished the year with the the top prize in wood technology for her year. In one semester she designed and made a cam operated toy, a pencil holder, a set of coasters, some wooden pendants and a book binding cradle. That would be six books on top of my new book binding station waiting for 'cases' or what most of us would call covers. I need to visit the supply shop when it reopens after new year for grey board to finish these.

The design had to include a drawer, so she made sure it fitted my pin vise, square and bone folders, it is lovely and all finished inside with green flocking. The handle we picked out together as she told me she needed one for wood technology but not why.

Under the lid she constructed a book binding cradle, with sufficient gap at the bottom of the V to allow me to punch holes in the signatures. The most amazing thing to me is neither her or her teacher are into bookbinding but she worked with my little cardboard temporary one to determine what was required.

I am one proud mum.

I suspect this way of doing Christmas came from my own family. This year my dad found two old spinning wheels for me. The first is an update exciting ashford traditional circa 1970 or earlier, with one whorl and two bobbins (contact me if you want it - happy to gift to a local home). The second is much more exciting, a Jennings with a metal wheel. Complete with four bobbins, lazy Kate and ninny noddy.

The Jennings wheels were made after WW2, and used a metal wheel as found on treaddle sewing machines or such. More info here. There is something lovely and utilitarian about this wheel, it embodies ideas of making do with what is to hand.


Correction - the wheel is not a Jennings, but rather made by Harold Smithies, so is a Smithies. It is one of 90, made after 1976. I have one where the post height is not adjustable. Updated on 8th Jan 2016.




I know the kind of ideas behind restoration, and about keeping things original to maintain a connection to history. And most of me agrees. It for some reason I see this wheel cleaned up and without it's dull burning brown and black paint, painted a bright fun contemporary colour like orange, or pink or lime. The flyer hooks are welded into the flyer,and the hook has a lovely almost whiplash flick to it. I've no idea when the restoration might occur, and vie not even spun in the wheel yet, but knowing how Zoomers metal wheel spinning wheel works I'm positive without any evidence from actually spinning on this that this is a keeper.

So that was Christmas, or at least part of it.

Take care, Na Stella


Saturday, December 19, 2015

New kitty and books

So today our new kitty made his way outside, we adopted him two weeks ago and the deal was house arrest for two weeks so he would aclimatise. Today he went out, and in, and out and in, and out and in. He knows how to use a cat door and to come home. When we adopted him he came with the name Nova, from Casanova the suburb he was found in, but Bear didn't feel right having a Cat named Nova, so today asked that we call him Frank.

Frank is young, about five years old, and still likes to play, and climb into any possible cave like place. This is Frank exploring the market trolley.

And it's December, I've finished work, and have time for other things, like making books, and gardening.

Today I finished off three knit books (Star Wars, dot print, and nautical map), and three dot grid books (red with flowers, green marble). There are two more books in the press - and six more to make covers for.

There might even be Christmas knitting being done.

Na Stella



The pink cardigan is done, blocked and waiting for the right time to wear it.

Pre block

I based the hem in place before stitching it down. I could have pinned it but sometimes pins instroduce distoriation that affects how the layers sit.

Old fashioned basting, and slip stitching, in the past I would have grafted a hem like this in place, but I always ended up with a ridge on the right side no matter how loose I stitched.

So this time I loosely stitched one side of the cast on loop to one purl bump, it worked well,

Post blocking it looked smooth and much neat, And the reverse

No sign of a bump on the other side.

More soon,