June Creations

While I think and muse and potter and walk and create and just be, time keeps on flowing by and my mind turns to the fact that soon – soon – we will be at the mid winter mark of the longest night and the light will begin to return my way.

I always miss the light the most when I am in winter.  I don’t mind the cold, the wet, the sleet even.  I mind the shortness of the days at both ends and I miss the feel of sunlight on my face.  I don’t miss the heat.  I quite like not having the energy sapping, robust glint of hot summer days.  But I miss the hours the sun stays in the sky.  Soon I tell myself, the season will peak, the world will turn and the sun will start to move back towards my hemisphere.   I walked in mist this morning thinking these thoughts of waiting.  And, as we exited the park and looked up to the hill ahead, the sun glinted off the windows of houses through the mist and made me a most delightful fairy tale castle of sparkling light to guide me on and make my waiting happy.  Later, at home, I realised that only in this season can such a wonderfully serendipitous meeting of mist and light occur at 9 am.  I appreciate the reminder to be okay with where I’m at!

But still I wait, and while I wait I hook.  My Persian Squares blanket is close to being finished.  Orlando has helped, oh such a lot!

davHe pretty much ensured every component of the blanket was pressed, whether I desired it to be or not.

 

As I write this one half of the blanket is draped over the back of a dining chair

btrIt ought to be finished but I got sidetracked.

I made this

dav

Now, here’s the story that goes with ‘this’.  Do you want to hear it?  (Err, come back – that was a rhetorical question folks!)

Back in the days when I was still intermittently going onto Facebook, I logged in and the first thing I saw was a picture of a crochet etui doll.  At the same moment that I was falling in love with it, facebook did that thing it does and updated my feed in a tumbling rush of alternate posts and I lost her.  I searched, wasted an hour of my life and didn’t ever see her again.  Maybe that was the moment when I decided to quit social media (except for blogging).  Any how, I searched around and had myriad conversations, but never found another etui doll.  Maybe they aren’t called that any way – but I don’t know what else to call them.  Then, one day, when searching through my stash of yarns for something else I found a bit of brown that said to me ‘I make doll!’  “Okay!” said I and gathered it up and off we went to Happy Hooking Land.

Now I have never made a crochet doll before, I have no clue how to make one.  But undaunted I set to with hook and yarn and made a head, the rest just followed along.  I also kept no notes of what I was doing, so now have no clue how I got from the first stitch to the last.  But I do know what I’d do differently.

I also took no photos until I got to the final stage of face features placement.  As you can see from that photo I used pearl headed pins to get an idea of placement and size – and grabbed the camera.  I had my reading glasses on and when looking for a place to put them down, realised she was, among her many other talents, the perfect specs holder!

dav

I’m just the teeniest bit in love with her

 

As you can see from the pockets close-ups she holds all things sewing and hooking related.  There is more to come and her face to be finished – and a name to be given of course – any ideas?  But this has to be the most fun thing I have made in forever!

So that is why the blanket hasn’t yet been finished.  Nor this – which insists on photographing brighter and lighter than reality, but gives you an idea that at least some progress has been made…….

davFinally, here’s Siddy in his posh winter gear to say “Hello!” or “Grrrrruff!” to you all, just in case you need that kind of puppy cheerfulness in your life…..

btr

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

It’s August – Really?

Well HELLLLOOOO!

It’s been quite a while since my last post – it’s not that I forgot about you or anything, it’s just that I got – well, side tracked really…..  Lots of inner rumination and pondering and thinking about the state of the world, not to mention my own role in it, led to a need to just be quiet and contemplative for a little bit.  I visited some of you, others I missed, but I’ve been picking up the slack for the last week or so and getting back into the swing.

I also made stuff, some successful, some not so much.  The really exciting thing for me was I picked up my paintbrushes for the first time in over 15 months.  I decided – wisely as it turns out – to work in a journal to begin with.  I’d lost all my skill, not to mention my stuff and the first weeks were a combination of starting to paint, searching, finding, organising, painting a bit more.  I use the term ‘painting’ loosely here – you’ll see why if you stick with me.  As usual my photos need work – but you’ll get the idea…….

First up, I made myself a couple or three vests.  I tend to use patterns as a suggestion if I use them at all and therefore my results are often a surprise to everybody, even me. From this latest foray at plying the hooks,  two will be wearable when blocked and finished – the third is an ill-fitting nightmare and will be undone.

crochet vest Aug 16This is crocheted, adapted from an original pattern consisting of lots of little hexagons all stitched together in long panels.  Made from Lion Brand ‘Shawl in a Ball’ I used three different colour ways all featuring my favourite colour.  The back neck requires building up a bit – I might even do that this evening.

Next up here is a Tunisian Crochet attempt at a vest – otherwise known as ‘Railway Knitting’.  This is my first time making such a big item – but I love plying the huge crochet hook and I love the texture you get from the two step process.  This still requires blocking and a bit of finishing off with a fancy plait thing I’m stitching into the back:Tunisian vest 1 Aug16Here’s a closeup of the bottom edging:Tunisian vest 2 detail Aug16So, here’s some bits from the art journal – I’ve done something every day for a bout two weeks – some pages were complete in one sitting – others took days to come to anything.  It’s all practise and remembering while playing about with colour.

This was the first pageJournal1 bAfter that first attempt I resorted to something I knew well – I’d made quirky houses for years, long before they became a staple of art journalers and I was figuring I may as well give myself some therapy while I tried to remember how to apply colour and use paint to come to form…….

Journal2

Journal3

This next nightmare became more a paper piecing exercise followd by a splendiferously gleeful wallowing in glitter and sparkles, none of which you can really see.  It reminds me of paper dolls – do you remember paper dolls?  Journal5

It’s going to take a while before I’ll feel competent with a brush in my hands again – but just having it there has made me very happy!  Who cares if I can’t paint!!

It’s been a long hard winter down here in the Riviera of Antarctica.  This morning I woke to -6 C; a world whited-out in frost.  The upside is it will be a blue-sky day and walking with Siddy, despite the obvious risk of me ending upside down in a tangled mess on some unseen slippy-slidey icy bit, will be a pleasure*.

Here’s the boys all lined up for treat time for those of you who missed themTREAT TIME NOV 20 cropped

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

*I did and it was.

Michaelmas Thoughts

I quite like September 29th.  It is Michaelmas and comes hard on the heels of the equinox.  Here in the Southern Hemisphere it coincides with Spring and all the renewal that she brings to us.

It is my favourite time of the year.

Traditionally Michaelmas always arrives and I have a bright idea  – this year I thought it was letting me down – but then it arrived bang on time!

Previous to its arrival, I had said ‘I must write a blog post, but there seems to be nothing new to write about …..’  my ever helpful youngest daughter looked me squarely in the eye and said “You’ve already written a post about procrastination, maybe you could revisit that…….”

She’s right of course.

I have light catcher orders to fulfill.  But I’m waiting on ‘parts’ to arrive……….

I have knitting and crocheting projects to finish ……….. Oh-oh, no excuse there…..

But I am working away at this

bit by bit, row by row – it is crocheted all in one piece from the top down

which is a new experience for me.

D's crochet top

It’s actually a pretty pink, but I took this shot in the dim early morning light……

It should be finished by now!

 I am blaming my dear friend Alys, who sent me some fabulous Pitt Pens for my birthday – horribly expensive here, I  never had more than three or four and used them sparingly and with great afore-thought!

colouring in 1a

Do you notice the striking lid of the box?  Alys made that 🙂

And then my daughter who gave me one of those grown up colouring in books ……..

Which has led to hours of happy, meditative idleness……..

Colouring in pizap

But, it’s such fun!!

As an absolute aside, and apropos of absolutely nothing, I thought to share this bit of news – As I’ve been colouring, I’ve also been moisturising:

This long cold harsh winter has played havoc with my skin – I feel like I’ve added new layers of sag and wrinkles and dryness to my once elastic and pliable skin.  [No tittering in the back stalls please!]  Then I purchased some Rose and Almond Dry Skin Cream from Wendy at Tumble Downs.  Fantastic stuff!  I could write an advertisement for it, but I won’t.  I just thought I’d mention that I got it and love it and no, she isn’t paying, bribing or back-handing me in any way for this mention.

A mere glance at my moist and glowing skin would have you convinced – has anyone else tried it?Wendy's cream

An order for mittens from Lisa for her brother sent me scurrying back to my wool stash.

Mittens for a man.

Manly colours.

Manly style – no flowers or frills huh?

So I played around and came up with these –

[Staying with the La Boheme theme]

‘Rodolfo’s Hand Warmers’

Rodolfo Mittens pizap

One pair will make it into the shop, the other two have a home to go to.

I particularly like the optional button detail.

What do you think?

But back to the Michaelmas Inspiration!

Michael is the Archangel of ‘doing the good’ – good deeds in the community is the leitmotif for young children – right actions across all spheres of life is the challenge for adults.

I like that concept.

So as I gathered together the above rambling list of bits and pieces that I have actually been achieving, despite believing I was DOING NOTHING – the bane of any choleric’s life – and I realised it was Michaelmas Eve here and still I had not had my inspirational moment to lead me onwards and upwards!!

…. No sooner had I had that thought when…..

…some very good news arrived…..

My door was knocked upon by a real estate agent who had come to tell me my challengingly unsavoury, alcoholic neighbour was selling his flat and leaving the area.

Oh, halloo, hallay!!

And then, hard on the heels of that good news, in the middle of the night, I had a brainwave about my tiny courtyard garden.

pizap

I’ve decided to go minimal this year.

Buddha 3 cropped

I went maximal last year and the plant life was so prolific there was nowhere left for me to sit and soak up the rays.

23 12 14 4

The work will be hard, I have to remove three – four metres of built up soil [I use that word, soil, advisedly – despite my best efforts it remains mostly sour and solid dirt piled on top of concrete.]

I will replant the thriving plants into tubs, baskets and whatever else I can lay my hands on and scatter them artistically about the perimeter

after I have painted the fence a bright and cheerful colour.

I shall take before and after shots for your eddification and possible enjoyment.

Wish me luck.

I have some orders to make up before I get stuck into that project!

If you have any bright ideas to contribute – thoughts or experiences to share

Please do!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

………Two Months Later ……

………. and here I am again.  There are various reasons for the long break, not all of them completely acceptable to serious bloggers or even myself.  Let’s just say “Life got in the way of blogging!”

It’s been a hard winter here in the Riviera of Antarctica.  Part of my city is being claimed back by the wild southern Pacific Ocean or being flood damaged by this new set of climatic conditions.  My dream of a cottage by the sea is on hold as it may no longer be a sensible place to consider putting down roots.

My art room has been partially given over to another and my painting hours have temporarily ceased.  I have been knitting, crocheting and making light-catchers instead.

Crochet: One Bavarian Stitch Throw of the very giant variety, not finished at the time this was taken, but now complete and waiting for blocking to happen.  It is so big it took 300g [6 balls] of yarn to finish the last round.

Jo'sbavarian

Mittens:  A variety of Mimi’s and Bohemian Mittens are about to begin winging their various ways around the globe to those of you who are still waiting their winnings.

Pizap Mimi

Light-Catchers:  Here’s one photographed on a rare fine day in the garden before beginning it’s journey to someone special in the USA

purple2 purple3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have made my light-catchers for a few years now – rather sporadically, as I enjoy making them especially for someone.  They are my gift of good wishes, good fortune and a  little bit of magic woven into beads and charms and crystals for someone special.  I like to think of the person I am creating for, then I choose colours and shapes and crystals and charms especially for them.  Then it all just weaves itself together.

Light-catchers are extraordinarily difficult to photograph – here are two simpler versions that just happened to be lying around on the work bench, coming to completionpink2

blue1

They look nothing very exciting lying around thusly – but hang ’em up and watch the magic happen.  A tip for those of you who have a catcher is if you hang them away from the window, maybe further out into the room, somewhere the sun’s rays filter in, even more magic happens!

I can’t leave you without a quick peek at the snoozing buddies – I’m under there somewhere.  It took the better part of a year, but we are all together with harmony reigning at last.

sleeping duo June

Though there is so much more to tell you about, this is all the time we have for now – So, it’s ‘Good Night’ from Siddy

June 15

And ‘Good Night!’ from me.  Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did.

 

 

 

Mimi’s Mittens

I love opera!

Maybe I should qualify that – I love Italian opera…….

But please, don’t hold this against me – I just discovered at an impressionable age that opera has the ability to be ‘more than’.  Take any emotion you can think of: falling in love, falling out of love – pain, hurt, jealousy, broken heart, lost love, betrayal, death – and then multiply it by ten and you have the heights and depths of emotion the operatic aria can take you to.  It will wash you clean if you listen at just the right time in your life!

Of course you have to suspend any association with real life.  Very often when the voice is mature enough to sing the role, the singer is past the first flush of youth and most operatic leading characters are young and nubile …..  I remember seeing Pavarotti at his heaviest playing the the mighty Egyptian soldier Radames in Aida.  He stood stock still, centre stage, like a rotund statue while the entire cast moved about him.  But oh that voice!

In this day of filmed operatic singing it is hard to stay in the moment when chests are heaving and mouths are working overtime to get those notes out.  You have to so admire opera singers, they have to sing and emote at the same time.  It works much better when it is on the stage. The lighting, set and costumes – the vivid colour and acoustically perfect orchestra and soaring voices take over and the distance between you and the on-stage performance allows for the suspension of belief – one can be quite transported by the event.

Because of course the other thing about operas is the sets and costumes.  One should never simply listen to an opera – it is a feast for all the senses.  Rich in colour and grandeur and theatrical presence.  The orchestra and voices soar and mingle with the colour and movement – it is a sensory explosion.

Not everything about operas is good.  Many of the stories are just plain rubbish really. Sometimes the music misses the spot.  But, just like modern musicals, every opera has at least one ‘hit tune’.  And when aria and the emotion collide it is indeed a spectacular thing!

Even if you have never seen an opera and even if you have and say it’s not for you, I’m sure you will be familiar with these wonderful pieces.  Have a listen as you read on.

This is one of my favourites, a chorus from Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ – even if you know nothing about the story, you cannot help but be taken into the tragic denouement.

The Hebrew Slaves Chorus from Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’.  Can you hear the hopeless exhaustion throughout this hymn of loss for their beloved homeland?  From the opening ‘Va pensiero’ I am always caught, no matter who is singing.  I recommend biggifying this, and just enjoy –  it is great example of staging and emoting while singing……..

One of the most popular operas today is also, in many ways, [and purely in my opinion, you understand  – feel free to disagree] one of the worst operas of all time.  It’s another Puccini opera, ‘La Boheme’ and it is in part, truly terrible!  The plot is all over the place and some of the music is less than memorable.  But there is a lovely romantic story running through it and it has to be admitted, I love a good romantic tragedy!

The real story is about Rinaldo, the writer and Mimi, the delicate embroiderer who lives above him.  All the rest just tends to get in the way.  This is one of the versions I have on DVD……..

La Boheme 1

In much abbreviated form it is the story of some young students –  an artist a writer, a philosopher and a musician – all living in poverty in their garret quarters, hiding from the landlord because they can’t pay their rent.  It is Christmas Eve.  [Which reminds me, the modern musical ‘Rent’ is based on this opera.]

La Boheme 4

There is a knock on the door and Mimi enters.  Mimi is a neighbour living in the upstairs attic, a poor girl who embroiders flowers for a living.  Her candle has blown out and she has come seeking a light.  Subsequently she loses her key to her door. Rinaldo, the writer, goes with her to look for the lost key.  The sneaky beggars finds it and pockets it without Mimi seeing.  Moment later he is declaring his undying love.

La Boheme Villazon&Netrebko

They get together, then he ditches her claiming he can’t stand her cloying jealousy but confides in his friend he thinks their poor living conditions are making Mimi ill. [Why he thinks kicking her out will make her better is beyond me and just another hole in the story.]  Many scenes are out in the snow to ensure you get the ‘frozen’ message.  Mimi coughs dramatically whilst singing beautifully and with her last remaining strength comes to find her lover again.  She dies in his arms.  Despite all my cynicism I always shed a tear!

La Boheme 3

Now the upshot of all of this is that even though I dislike the story – just between you and me, I feel I could have written a much better version ……. when the music is good, it is very good – in fact touchingly beautiful.  This is why it is one of the most popular operas after all.   And I admit it is the romance, the bohemian lifestyle, the starving artist in a garret syndrome that has me in its thrall.  I am such a sucker for romance!  Did I say that already?  And bohemian artists in garrets …… sigh!

Here’s quite a good version of ‘La Boheme’ if you want to watch it

So when I had the opportunity to rescue some black fingerless gloves from the landfill because they were imperfectly finished or had minor faults and began to play around with them of course the very first thing that came to me was this aria from La Boheme ‘Che Gelida Manina’ loosely translated as ‘your tiny hand is frozen’ which Rinaldo sings to Mimi right off the bat!

I played around with colour and made Mimi many mittens so her hands would be forever warm.  To accompany the theme there are little darned patches in some of the gloves, whether the mitten needed it for real or not.  These are true bohemian mittens, colourful, different and ever so slightly well worn looking.

Pizap Mimi

pizap La Boheme

Mimi Handwarmers have flowers on the back.

La Boheme do not have flowers, they have a fancy ridge instead.

While the black gloves are made using acrylic yarn the additions are made with New Zealand wool or kid mohair.  Every pair is different because I make it up as I go along.

I am enjoying making them and enjoying knowing something has been saved from the landfill and given the chance of an appreciated and fun life on someones hand.  I am giving these mittens away.  There are six pairs of handwarmers.  However, I’m sorry to say, you do have to pay postage if you want to win a pair – my funds won’t run that far.

*New Zealand people postage is $NZ4.50

*The Rest of The World postage is $NZ10.00

*  If I find I can get it sent to you for less I shall reimburse the difference.

Here’s how it works:  If you wish to go in the draw you must be a follower of this blog and you must leave a comment.  And I would really like it if you would take the poll – please, take the poll….. [I’ve been blogging for two years, I just had my anniversary last week and this is my first poll and I would love your feedback!]

Also mention your first and second colour and style preferences in your comment.

Even if you don’t want a pair of fabulous Mimi Mittens you can still leave a comment – you know I love to hear from you –  I know bohemian isn’t everyone’s style!

At the end of the week I will draw names and publish the winners.  You will then have to contact me via the address on my ‘Contact Me’ page to make arrangements for the payment of your postage and to give me your address.

Here’s the poll:

I hope you enjoyed listening to some of the music on offer – Orlando is asking me to turn it off – he votes for Bruce Springsteen, he’s not a fan of opera and he loves the late, great Clarence’s sax – we usually have a bit of a dance ……

YGM6

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

It’s January & It’s Summer!

It’s January, it’s hot, it’s Summer!  We didn’t have one last year.  She must have unilaterally decided to give my part of the country a miss, I believe it wasn’t personal, she just had other places she would rather be.  So there has been unbounded joy in this little corner of the world – long hot days followed by long warm dusks.  It is just now getting dark about 9.30 pm, light by 5.30 am.  And my word, you should see my garden!  It’s a jungle out there folks, no room to sit and sizzle in the hot sun, it’s been taken over by tomatoes and salady stuff and petunias and lobelia and sweet-peas – let’s not forget the sweet-peas!

sweetpeas2

I was getting worried about the lack of fruit on the tomatoes when voila, up these popped overnight.  If you can’t see them, biggify the photo – they are there I promise.  So proud!  🙂

babytomatoes2

Siddy and I water every evening, well I water and Siddy bustles and bumbles about through the undergrowth, rather reminiscent of a rare black and white wombat –  eventually popping up all muddy and wet and happy and puppy-ish again.  [This one’s especially for Jill.]

Siddylaughs

 

This is his ‘Whaddya want mumma?’ face, because I whistled him and he stopped what he was busily bumbling about with and rushed up to me.

As a complete aside, a few days ago we celebrated Siddy’s ninth month birthday.  He has stopped visibly growing, thank heavens.  He is much calmer now, he loves his mumma very much, adores Orlando and his aunty YD is his most favourite person in the whole world – but should he meet you, you would immediately become his next favourite person in the whole world.  Siddy’s joy and enthusiasm for life and people remains unabated.  It is just tempered with slightly better manners these days.

Getting a scenic shot in my small garden is impossible – so here is a little montage

pizap

This tiny garden, organic and companion planted, growing mostly in buckets and tubs is in good looking condition – but something has been eating my peas!

whosbeeneatingmypeas

I’m picking them this evening, ready or not!

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My ‘rhythm of life’ – that thing some of you refer to as routine – has suddenly disengaged.  It erupted!  I knew it would.  I signed on for a year long art course last October.  I’d been waiting since mid-May for the signing date to arrive because I knew I needed and wanted to focus on developing myself as an artist.  I don’t usually refer to myself as ‘an artist’ – I say I ‘muck abart with mixed media’ or ‘I paint’.  Some folks have thought that means I’m a house painter – [which makes me smile because I spent years decorating my homes with paint, now I do it with mostly fabric] and start to ask me which paint is best for this or that problem – or even offer me a job!

Anyway – having taken that little meander off subject, let us return …… the art course has started.  It started for me on January 2nd, with a bang I might add.  Immediately I fell behind as I had, coincidentally, been asked to act as an honorary ‘colour advisory consultant person’  and I was a bit caught up in that process.

But I got my act together and set about creating this

Beacon of Light - Pauline King

Beacon of Light – Pauline King

If you follow my progress with mixed media you will see a huge improvement in the way the paint has been applied especially to the face – I learned so much in just the first lesson!

In case I have piqued your interest, the course is called Life Book 2015 and clicking on that will take you there.  You’re welcome!  🙂

I was so pleased with the result of this first exercise that I set myself the task of doing an older more Contented Crafter version – here she is underway, but with a LOT of work still to be done.  What do you think?

Lighthouse1

 and the eyes, with which I am particularly pleased

Lighthouse2

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If you have noticed me missing from your blog, or missing with my usual long and opinionated ramblings in your comment section all the above is the reason why. Suddenly there is not enough hours in the day.  I wasn’t so busy when I was still a working girl!  [Ooow, did that sound wrong?]  I’m still doing my best to read everyone’s posts – I always feel that if you took the time to write and proof-read and insert photos and anything else you do on each of your wonderful posts, the least I can do is participate fully!   I just can’t fit it all in at the moment –  But, like Arnie, I will be back!

And I nearly forgot – there’s also these, that sometime get a look in during the long warm evenings – but progress is slow

stevienicks1

stevienicks2

Jo'sbavarian

Life is warm, it is busy, it is very happy.  Life is good!  I hope you are enjoying all your busy moments too.

This is my 150th post and I just recently went past 350 followers.  Most don’t read, but to those who do, who come by regularly and leave your endearing messages of support and cheer, thank you, thank you, thank you.  You warm my heart, encourage me in all kinds of crazy directions and inspire me daily.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

 

 

Orlando Gets A Friend

We got Happy Mail today

AHM1

Oh! Big broad smile as we discovered a new ‘Mini Orlando’ a tiny crocheted kitty, especially made for us….

AHM2

Isn’t he gorgeous?

AHM3

Our friend gentlestitches and I did a swap – and we got the better deal 🙂

The detail is amazing – he even wears a collar and identity tag like the real Orlando used to until he lost it  couple of weeks ago….

AHM4

This is the most amazing little hand made animal I have ever seen!  Sharon’s pictures of her work are always quite mouth watering, but when you actually get to hold one in your hands – it is quite spectacular!  The colour, the detail, the character – it is quite wonderful and words are failing me!!

Orlando was also quite impressed, Mini Orlando was given the seal of approval, a gentle head bump – which is, I believe, the feline version of a high five!  I get one every morning at breakfast time 🙂

AHM7

The two friends then commenced to sit and stare out the window at the Saturday morning activity …..

AHM9

….while I wrote a blog post!

Thank you Sharon – if you haven’t gone by her blog yet, it really is worth a visit!

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did 🙂