Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

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.
AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!
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. 


RANT OVER

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?

Louise
Red Haired Amazona


Sunday, 14 October 2018

New Growth & Family Farewells

There's a perfectly good reason why there has been a lack of crochet related posts from me lately.


Spring.

That is the reason.

When Spring fully hits, I am out in the garden planting all of the things and smelling the glorious flowers.

This Spring has been particularly busy as I have finally been able to landscape the front garden which was an eyesore. Every time I stepped outside and looked at the red gravel and weeds, my soul wept.

Last blog post I showed you a pic of the plans I drew up for the front garden.
They have mostly been executed but with some changes.

We moved back the front line of sleepers by about 80cm. The garden was on a slope which was 50cm lower then the front porch. We moved the sleepers back from their planned edge, planted a row of hedging plants along the front of the sleeper edge, then used the sleepers as a retaining wall behind them. The idea is they will grow into a nice hedge that will hide the retaining wall and grow around the mailbox into a nice green wall. 3 cubic metres of premium topsoil, 1.5 cubic metres of mulch, and a few plants later....
The hedging plants are New Zealand Mini Xmas bush (Metrosideros excelsa Dwarf Mini Christmas)
The original size of the grass area which has yet to be planted is smaller than I intended but less grass means more garden!

Because the front garden bed on the house side of the retaining wall is now narrower, I decided not to plant the small trees along the front. As they grew, their roots would push out the wall. But I've left in the tree plantings on the left and right to try and cut out the wind that howls down the street.

It was also my birthday! Yes, I am an October baby. And I was spoilt by my lovely family. Amongst all the things, my Nana gave me a lovely card and some money so I raced down to the garden centre and bought this beautiful flowering crabapple tree for the front yard.

My gorgeous Bear found these rather unique garden statues for me!
"I find your lack of fertiliser disturbing..."
"These aren't the tomato plants we were looking for..."
"Patience you must have, my young foxgloves..."
"Beep bloop bop bleep boop weeeeee..."
"I am fluent in over 6 million forms of communication...including the secret language of flowers..."
My lovely Best Bloggy Buddy Vicki from Off The Hook For You sent me some amazing pressies in the post all the way from Jolly Old England! 
The big tea towel with all the UK waterways looks too special to dry pots and pans. So the Bear and I decided we would find a frame for it and hang it on the wall!


Did you see those beautiful skeins from West Yorkshire Spinners?  And lovely UK Sausage recipe book. We were drooling!

We've also had a couple of weeks of school holidays but instead of spending the time at home crocheting, I was busy landscaping and also spent some time at Wilsons Promontory.
We travelled to Waratah Bay at Wilsons Promontory for 4 days to meet up with family and spend time catching up, laughing, drinking and remembering.  
We met up with my parentals, my sister and her kids, my Uncle and Aunts and cousins from my dads side of the family.

Wilsons Promontory is in Victorias' Gippsland region, east of Melbourne. It is beautiful. Green fields, black and white cows, country lanes lined with flowers. We stayed in cabins at the Waratah Bay Caravan Park.




Lots of BBQs, catching up, drinking, laughing and hugs were happening. We have gathered there once before when I was pregnant with Sonofagun No.2 about 10 years ago.  

The story is that when my Fatherdom and his 4 brothers were kids growing up in Melbourne, they used to spends weeks over the summer holidays camping there with their parents and grandmother. They loved it and many of them would travel back often with their own families.

10 years ago when one of his brothers, my Uncle Peter passed away, we gathered there and scattered his ashes on the beach at Waratah Bay.

As you can see of this photo of me back then, very pregnant under a yellow plastic disposable raincoat, it can get kind of windy. 


So windy in fact that when Petes family walked all the way down to the oceans edge to do the scattering of the ashes, the wind blew them out to sea. Then decided to change direction and blew them all back in again. 

Into our faces.

So this time we gathered to scattered the ashes of my Uncle David who passed away very suddenly last year. My aunt Libby (whom I Wuthered with in July) thought it would be lovely to also scatter the ashes of my uncle Davo at Waratah Bay as well, but wisely decided that we didn't want Davo to potentially be blowing all over us, so had his ashes placed in a lovely biodegradable box. It is specially designed to be placed in water, then 'disperse' in a tasteful and organic way.

Ok. So on the occasion we decided to do this, it wasn't particularly windy. But the water was icy cold. 
Sonofagun No.2 thought it would be fun to go and wade in the water. Around where my Aunt and cousins were carrying the little blue box.  

Therefore I followed discreetly saying, "Sonofagun No.2! Come back here please."

Then I'd kind of grab his hand, mutter kind of sternly but in that voice parents use in public:

"DARLING (in a lovely but growling undertone). I told you we're here to scatter ashes. Please stop running around like a lunatic!"

"Yes Mum."  Then off he'd go again! Prancing and frolicking in the waves around everyone who were about to cast the box into the water. 
 
"Darling precious cherub! Please stop frolicking in water that's fresh from Antarctica whilst your 2nd cousin is trying to discourage Uncle Davo from surfing." (photo taken by Auntie Marg)

And because I had to follow, wearing normal clothes, I was now saturated up to my waist in the icy sea. 

My Aunt and cousins cast the box into the waves. It floated gently on the surface. We said our goodbyes to our much loved Uncle David. It was so special to be together as a family on this day. His beautiful wife Libby, his 3 sons, daughter in law and grandson, his brothers, sisters in law, nieces, great nieces and great nephews all together to say farewell.

I don't recall my Uncle Davo ever surfing. Or knowing how to surf. But surf he did. Back towards the shore.

Numerous efforts  were made to encourage Uncle Davo to surf out to sea. But the lightness of the box, and its' resistance to immediately dissolving and dissipating in the water meant he happily floated and bobbed back in.  

For about 10 minutes the blue box bobbed up and down on the surface, surfed the waves back into shore where it was 'encouraged' back out again by my aunt and cousins.

Finally his eldest son waded out, pushing the box in front of him, then after gingerly attempting to push it down did the only sensible thing.

He pushed it down and stepped on it.

It soaked up the water and stopped surfing.

We stood by the oceans' shore for a good 20-30 mins afterwards. Some passersby might have thought we were reflecting on the wonderous life of my Uncle David. 

And we were.

Vietnam Veteran of the 161 (Indep) Recce Flight in 1967 and in Malaya from 1969-71. 
Father to 3 beautiful sons. World traveller. Acquirer of classic vinyls. Volunteer guide at the Australian War Memorial.
A Legend of Eccentricity who was never afraid to wear a good Tintin t-shirt or rainbow helicopter hat, who took me to my first opera and always called me Fred.

But we were also watching to make sure that the two old ladies in bathers who had wandered up didn't decide to go swimming in that general area. 


xox
Louise
The Red Haired Amazona

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A Little Trip to The United States of OMG America Part 2: Washington D.C.

If you haven't read Part 1 yet, check it out here!

A few months ago the Bear and I discovered a wonderful little T.V. series on the Netflix called Designated Survivor.


Have you seen it? 

No spoilers but basically Keifer Sutherland accidentally becomes President of Squirrelland (AKA the United States of OMG America) and from that moment on, whatever happens in the show has probably happened in many other T.V. shows and movies before but it doesn't matter because Keifer Sutherland is the nicest, coolest President since King Barack.  

Actually the most reasonable, nicest, level headed, non- Twitter using President who doesn't piss off anyone from North Korea or any other countries with Nukes and we all love him and I totally want him to be my President foreverafter of the whole world.

Note the total lack of comb- over and I promise you that he doesn't even mention grabbing any ladies by the domestic felines or any other part of their anatomy.

And what any review will tell you which is also not a spoiler is that at the very beginning of episode 1, the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. is blown to smithereens. 

So it was totally refreshing to see that by the time I arrived in the capital city of Squirrelland, President Keifer Sutherland had rebuilt the Capitol Building.

Tah-dah!!


Look, I'm probably making a controversial statement here, but I loved D.C. way more than New York.

There, I said it.


And I'll tell you why. I was born and raised and lived in Australia's capital city Canberra for 38 years.

And Washington D.C. is like the big adult, grown up version of Canberra. If Canberra was a toddler and Washington D.C. was in its' late middle age and had paid off the mortgage on a large 6 bedroom house with a garden including tennis court, and a 4 car garage with a Bentley, Porsche and a BMW 4WD to run out to the supermarket in.

And had Country Club membership.

So as soon as I stepped out of Union Station I immediately felt comfortable. The city felt like Canberra (but more adulty), the weather felt like Canberra. For the end of Summer/ beginning of autumn the weather was fairly similar. Very warm and dry.

And many of the buildings resembled Canberra landmarks but much much bigger....

Such as the Prime Ministers residence in Canberra which is The Lodge...

Quite a nice big house!  Despite all the guards and Australian Federal Police and big wall around it, it still looks like you could walk up, ring the doorbell and ask Malcolm and Lucy over for a few proseccos on a Sunday afternoon...


Then there's the White House...


Whilst I'm sure the Worlds Nicest President Keifer Sutherland would probably enjoy popping over for a few glasses of prosecco, I'd feel less inclined to pop over and ring the doorbell...
Both cities love big avenues, and big national museums and galleries. But I'm sorry Canberra: Washington D.C. does it super sized!

photo courtesy of http://www.cdotech.com
photo courtesy of:https://www.colourfultrips.com


Alright so enough of comparisons. We had 2 full days to check out as much as we could.

There were quite a few fun options to help us see the city.
A bus which looked like a tram...


And a bus that looked like a boat!

Not only could you sit in them and do the usual tour around the city, but apparently they also took to the Potomac River for a river cruise tour!  I was all up for that but was outvoted by my much older and apparently seasick prone companion. Very sad face.



Despite all our amazing bus options, we hopped on a boring double decker bus, popped in our earphones and enjoyed a tour of the city...


It was a bit too hot to be on the top deck, so I plugged myself in at the back seat!
Our first stop was the Capitol Building.  



It was exciting to be greeted by this little guy...


A buddhist monk and his dog were taking some time to pray for the health and long reign of President Keifer Sutherland on the grounds outside the Capitol Building....


A beautiful water fountainy thing on the front perimeter. 


This handsome individual was very happy to have his photo taken.
We jumped back on the bus and headed down the National Mall passing so many impressive museums.
The Castle is the 1st of the Smithsonian Institutions and now the headquarters of the Institute.



The newest Smithsonian Museum is the National Museum of African American History & Culture.  The building was designed to resemble a crown of the Yoruba people.

I would have very much loved to see this museum, but we didn't realise that it is so popular since its opening that tickets are snapped up months in advance even though entry to all Smithsonian Museums are free.



The museum is right across the road from...

The Washington Monument!



Which is looking alot better since Spiderman was here. But the lifts still are under repair so nobody can go up to the top at the moment...



 We decided to stop by the White House to see if President Keifer Sutherland was up for prosecco and canapes.  I even brought along my little jar of vegemite in case he wanted to sample some essential Australian cuisine.

But the very very big security guards with very very big guns were somewhat of a deterent.
So we just looked at it...


President Keifer doesn't want to build any walls. Just a few fences.
To keep the rabbits out.
Have you ever been to D.C. and visited the White House Gift Shop?

I found the funnest stuff in there!





So they didn't appear to have stocked up on anything to celebrate President Keifer yet.

But I found it quite interesting that whilst there was plenty of souvenirs to celebrate King Obamas presidency, in the very shop which is the OFFICIAL visitors centre for the White House, there were things that made fun of the other guy...


If you say this with a New Zealand accent, it would be rude...

I didn't buy Donalds Deck. Photo courtesy of the White House Online Store. Yes. The official place to buy officially official president stuff right next to this guys house sells stuff that is named after his penis. Or it would if you say it with a New Zealand accent. But even if you say it with your own accent it still sounds like they're alluding to boy appendages so what's up with that America?
Look. It doesn't matter because I think it's freaking HILARIOUS! 
And it's such a small sized deck!
Highly appropriate for the king of the trolls.
Celebrate King Obamas life in a colouring book and dress him up on your fridge, make Michelle look pretty, make fun of Don's Deck and call him a troll.


We continued on our merry way as the bus took us through Dupont Circle and Georgetown.  If I was to visit the US again, I would have lingered long in these gorgeous areas...


They think of EVERYTHING! A book shop, cafe, bar and you can have dinner too!


Now this is cool. Big freaking spiders. But it's an Italian restaurant. I don't quite get the connection unless it's a restaurant where they serve cooked spiders with pasta and a nice Chianti.
My first unattractive squirrel. Somewhere in the vicinity of the Lincoln Memorial. She kept staring at me with crazy eyes, and a massive nut in her mouth. She freaked me out so much I forgot to take a photo of the Lincoln Memorial.
Our 2nd day was given over to the glorious Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.



So when in Washington, should you visit this museum?

Hella yeah! 

We were here for most of the day.  I followed the exhibition rooms around as they told the history of being not on the ground. 

From when early civilisations dreamed of flight with myths about Icarus soaring too close to the sun, Da Vincis early sketches of balloon prototypes and winged things, to the Wright Brothers.


I really enjoyed reading all the displays as they lead me through the history and development of flight.


And from the ceilings hung all of the planes...


This quote was one of my favourite displays.  One sentence revealed so much of early passenger air travel that I had never thought of before.
Especially after having flown 17,000kms in a comfortable Boeing 747 with blankets, pillows, in flight movies and minimal turbulence!






And then towards space and space travel...






So I did mention my bucket list consisted of only 2 things.
1. See a real live squirrel.
2. Find a copy of the U.S. release of Desolation Boulevard by 70s glam rock band The Sweet.



I was obviously successful at one, but sadly not the other.

In Washington I found three 2nd hand vinyl shops within a 3 block radius of each other.

The first shop was Som Records.  The guy was super friendly and immediately knew which album I was looking for. He had both the U.S. release & the U.K. release in his personal collection, but sadly none in store.
He did however play an album by classic Aussie band The Saints for me though and I found a copy of Alice's Restaurant for only $5!


The 2nd shop Joint Custody also didn't have what I was looking for, but I was happy to snap up a copy of Overnight Sensation by Frank Zappa & the Mothers.

And the 3rd shop Red Onion Records also let me down but they did have a copy of Weezers Blue album which I slapped down cash for in a heartbeat.  This was a super fun find because later that night I bought tickets to see Weezer & the Foo Fighters when they tour Australia together next year.  

But some of my favourite souvenirs apart from the albums and my totally rocking cowboy boots which I picked up at a little vintage clothing shop in Greenwich Village are a selection of cheap badges from a street stall.




So whilst I have bombarded you with a kazillion photos over these two posts, I obviously took a million more photos but they were of more mundane objects which I found fascinating because they are very USA specific things which other people around the world see on movies and TV shows everyday and are almost iconic.

Like red & white ambulances, yellow school buses and Goobers and milk duds.

Sonofagun No.2 wanted to send me straight back to buy more boxes of Mike & Ike's until I reminded him are really just like jelly beans.

I also took loads of photos of gardens and streets, because the one things I noticed in both cities was all the greenery, and the style of gardening.  People throw lots of plants into every available space. Particularly in New York. I found it very inspiring.



Sadly the only yarny fun I had was knitting on the plane and this sign in the tunnel before boarding the A380 airbus to come home...


Where is this place America? And how am I only hearing about as I leave the country???

On the final leg from Sydney to Melbourne, I had enough reward points to spoil myself with a seat flying business class.  I have never flown business class before because it costs squillions.
It was exquisite! I had a cup of real coffee, with a delicious quiche AND one of the inflight movies was a documentary about crochet artists called Yarn. How cool is that?!?!



So for a little while I am going to rest my still slightly jetlagged body (does anyone else take as long as I do to catch up?) and find my crochet brain again.  It's a little AWOL at the moment. 

However the enforced plane knitting means I have actually finished one whole sock!!




I've been giving my Sonofaguns lots of hugs because it was quite difficult for me to be so very far away from them and they've been moderately patient with me.  Fortunately my lovely Bear missed me as much as I missed him!

There are so many more amazing places in Squirrelland I would have loved to visit, but sadly was only there for a short visit to a wonderous country which needs months to cover! 

For me the most important part of travelling to the U.S. was to see my cousin Paul marry his husband James. They have been together for so long I think of them both as being my cousins!



They are both the most big-hearted and generous spirited gentlemen who deserve an eternity of love and happiness together and it was a huge honour to be invited to their special day. Thanks for inviting me guys!! Love to you both xox


xox
Louise

The Red Haired Amazona