Thursday, 10 January 2019

Aussie Amazona meets Best Bloggy British Buddy

Just over 4 years ago, I started this blog thing up and have had the pleasure of meeting so many lovely people around the world.

One of the first people to actively reach out to me was a lady all the way up in Jolly Old England.

At first we worked together to translate a hat pattern.
Then we started helping each other with other projects. 

If you're a regular reader of my little bloggy, you would know I'm talking about this lovely lady.

Vicki from Off The Hook!

Since we met online 4 years ago, she now facilitates craft workshops via her business The Makers Cabin, AND most excitingly she has had her crochet patterns published in Simply Crochet and Inside Crochet magazines.

We chat almost daily via Facebook! Sometimes we chat about crochet stuff, test patterns for each other, help with pattern edits, offer advice and most often about the daily happenings in our lives. We became more than crochet penpals. We've become wonderfully close friends!
Just after Xmas 2017, Vicki showed me some pictures of the snow in her backyard and had been complaining of the cold. I boldly said:

We pondered the idea as her husband has a brother who lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

Then a few weeks later she said this:

How exciting! I would be able to meet the lady who had been my best bloggy buddy for the past 4 years in person!

I sent her a 2018 calendar of Melbourne where I dodgily handwrote in a countdown to their trip.
Then in the middle of December they flew all the way down to the bottom of the planet to Australia!
They had a few days with family in Adelaide which is about 8 hours drive west from Melbourne. Then flew over to spend a few days in Melbourne with ME!!!

We spent most of the 1st day at Melbourne Zoo.  Here we are together with a photobombing seal...
 I arranged for Vicki and her family along with Sonofagun No.2 to have an up close experience with some kangaroos.

 While I had a rather interesting conversation with an emu.
The weather was quite hot and humid. The poor UK natives got a bit sunburnt.

Sonofagun No.2 believes that penguins are his spirit animal. We often take him to visit the Australian Little Penguins (formerly known as 'Fairy Penguins') at either Phillip Island, the zoo or at a local colony who nest at St Kilda Pier close to the Melbourne CBD. 

Vicki said she really wanted to see the penguins. We did see some at the zoo, but I thought it would be much more special to see the St Kilda penguins. 

So later that evening we had a lovely dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant, then made our way to the pier.

 Water rat or penguin?
 It was a bit of a wait. They normally start to swim in from the bay just after sunset which was around 8.45pm.
 The local volunteers allow photography without the use of flash. They have red torches to light up as apparently the little creatures can't see red, so the torchlight doesn't bother them.
 Some penguins come right up onto the boardwalk to check out the weird large lumbering humans... 

Sonofagun No.2 (back to camera) sits and worships his spirit animal.
 I only had half a day the following day before Vicki and family flew back to Adelaide so we went for a walk through a very small part of the immense Melbourne Botanical Gardens.
 This cubby house is in the bamboo forest in the Childrens Garden.
 Vicki's two kids had so much fun exploring the Childrens Garden. Sonofagun wanted to go to school as it was the last school day for the year. But has since said he wants to go back for a visit.
 There are so many beautiful trees.
 It was so interesting to hear Tom and Vicki comparing the gardens to what they have back home in England. In Australia we have an abundance of European, African, Asian and US trees, shrubs and perennials which we plant mixed with native Australian trees and plants.

 They were surprised to see this perennial bed filled with calla lilies, dahlias, agapanthus and salvias. But then there are native eucalyptus in the background. And I have many of these in my own home garden too!
 We made our way back to the Childrens Garden and while the kids ran around, we took some time to do what we do best!

After chatting via Facebook messenger only for the past 4 years, we were so comfortable hanging out together that we remarked a couple of times that it didn't feel like we were meeting for the first time. It was like 'hanging out with Vicki again' even though we had never met in person.
Actually I was knitting much to Vickis horror. But I had to finish a pair of socks for my sisters Xmas present!!
 Poor Tom was very patient while we crocheted.
That afternoon Vicki and her family flew back to Adelaide for Christmas with family, and explore other parts of Australia. Go check out her blog post about their travels downunder here!

Red Haired Amazona

Sunday, 6 January 2019

I haven't been quiet, I've been crafting like crazy!

It's always tricky for me to blog around November/December about what I'm making as it's usually gifts for Christmas.

So firstly I don't want to show friends and family what they're getting for Christmas.

Secondly and mostly I travel through November and December in a a sort of dazed chaos. I am disorganised, befuddled and just trying to get through it ONE DAY AT A TIME.

This year was especially busy. At the beginning of December I jumped on a plane and flew 1100km up to northern NSW to the town of Tamworth.  An old and much loved friend of mine, Jaime is pregnant with her first baby and was having a baby shower. 

Tamworth is a small town and the country music capital of Australia and home of the Golden Guitar.

Guitars breathed & scribbled on by Dolly, Keith Urban, Kris Kristopherson & Paul Kelly
Dolly breathed on this thing. And scribbled on it. In person. There may still be Breath of Dolly in the hole of the guitar. And I was close to it. This is the closest I have ever been to a holy relic.
This weekend the temperatures were in the mid to high 30s. Really hot!

So it was totally ironic that my present for Jaime's baby would be a crocheted blanket!!

Jaime and her lovely fella Casey don't know if they're having a boy or girl yet. And Jaime is like me. We both love bright bold, fun colours. 

Whilst thinking of what to make, I was inspired by a bright blanket I spied in a blog post by Pip from the blog Meet Me At Mikes.  Pop over and have a look at her blanket. It's just so fun and beautiful! I used many of the colours Pip used as I had them in my stash and many of her colour combos as they were so bright and joyful.
Here's my meager effort.

Chuck Norris approves.
As you know I was also working furiously to finish my Amazona Parrot pattern. I really wanted to finish it by the beginning of December. But LIFE keeps getting in the way.

LIFE= work, house work, kids, sleep.

The first one (work) is so ANNOYING! I know we have to pay bills, buy food and shit, but seriously! It totally interferes with the No.1 priority in my life. Crochet. And it is as annoying as anything.

OK, so mini rant alert.

I'm sure about 2 years ago I seemed to have WAY more time to create patterns for you guys. I was a creative FORCE OF NATURE! I had patterns oozing out all my orifices.The good ones. Not the yucky ones. I blogged. I wrote patterns. It was my thing.
Now it takes MONTHS for me to write up anything. It used to take just a few weeks.
A few months ago I was on an online job website looking for a job for Sonofagun No.1 when I randomly found a job for a major craft retailer in Australia.They wanted a knit & crochet designer who had experience writing patterns, providing pattern assistance, and testing new patterns for knit and crochet. 
It was TOTALLY my jam!

See? Even Chuck Norris thinks so!  I filled out the application. Wrote up a super groovy resume that was just informative enough, sounding like I was amazing with a touch of modesty. It had links to the blog and the patterns and ALL OF THE THINGS without being too overboard. Because you're supposed to condense your experience into less than 2 pages, yeah?
I did that thing you're not supposed to do. I told a few of my colleagues at work. They were totally like, "OMG THAT IS THE JOB FOR YOU! YOU WOULD BE AWESOME! THAT JOB IS MADE FOR YOU!!!"  Incredibly supportive and excited for me.

And to top it all off, there was the option of work from home. AND the office is literally 10 minutes from my house which is Melbourne is ridiculously rare.

But I didn't even hear back from them. Ah well. I'm sure they found someone who would be super amazing. They may have probably wanted someone with more knitting experience than me. I'm only good for knitting socks. And there is usually lots of swearing and frogging involved.

I don't believe in New Years Resolutions. They're kind of a load of crap actually. You promise to do something. Like lose weight or whatever. Then you try really hard for a week. Lose 300gms. Then kind of forget/ lose interest/ accidentally binge on a carton of Baileys Irish Cream flavoured ice cream then gain 3kgs and give up. 

But without making a New Years Resolution, I'm going to try really hard to make more time for crochet and designing again. And blogging about random stuff. 


Back to Craft-ember (craft + december)...

For Xmas this year we did a Kris Kringle type arrangement where we had to buy a present for 1 person (I got my sister) and gift them something that was handmade/ 2nd hand/ upcycled.

I knitted the Blonde Amazona a pair of socks.
I did make them a bit too long. But apparently that's ok as the Sister Amazona has a freakishly long big toe.
Once again I used the wonderful and easy to follow tutorial by Winwick Mum. Thanks again Christine! 
Sabrina the kitten rescued from the highway to hell (aka 45 mins out of Melbourne) approves.
I also made some polymer clay handles for crochet hooks. I gave 1 to the Sister Amazona, 1 for my Best Bloggy Buddy Vicki from Off The Hook, 1 for my friend Emma and 1 for me.

I have also finally started a project using a skein of Scheepjes Whirl in Blackberry Mint Chip which was gifted to me a while ago by Vicki. 
I came across a wrap pattern in a copy of Inside Crochet magazine (issue 104).

It's called the Ayumi Wrap by Annelies Baes.  The pattern is written for a different yarn and I have been following the pattern, but taking a few liberties. The pattern is written where you work off both sides of the base chain, 1 side in one colour, then the other side in a contrasting colour. I have just been working from the base chain in one direction. I hope Annelies doesn't mind!

It's lovely how the gradient colours start to emerge!

 And finally my holiday project.

When we went to the coast, I took lots of crochet cottons with the intention of making more Amazona Parrots. I also took the Inside Crochet mag mentioned above to keep working on the shawl. In that magazine there was a beautiful mandala pattern designed by Dedri Uys from Look At What I Made.
The journey home in the car was about 10 hours, so I whipped up this mandala! 
One of the rare times I block anything...

I did make a few mistakes as I was crocheting in the car. The highway stretches are fine, but there was also bumpy country roads, and windy mountain range roads involved.
The original pattern uses Scheepjes Calista which is an aran weight cotton. I only had a handful of 2 and 4 ply cottons with me. So it is a bit more 'doilyish' than Dedri's.  

I might make it again with some of the cottons from my new box of Scheepjes Catona... 

That's my project wrap up. What have you had on your hook lately?

Red Haired Amazona