Saturday, January 23, 2016


So .. Bear and went 'out of town' two days in a row. Yesterday we headed down south, through Milton, and back through Etrick, and we stopped to peruse shops which sell old things, in Milton I picked up a vintage seam allowance marker, a lovely old one with a wood handle. There is a little bit of rust - but that will be easily cleaned off.

This is a tool used by those who make patterns for clothes, it had two parallel spikey wheels, which mark out 5/8 of an inch, the standard domestic seam allowance for woven clothes. This one has a lovely curve to the shaft - which just fits how a hand with finger extended pushes to ensure the spikes leave nice clear marks.

Underneath is a book I picked up today (and under that a related book I've owned for a while - The Arts & Crafts Movement in New Zealand 1870-1940 by Ann Calhoun). Today we headed North, to Waimate to pick up fruit from my dads garden. The book, 'Light: shade, and shadow' by John Skeaping is an old school drawing course. It contains a serries of progressive excercises designed to develop a style of drawing that would produce a useful artist. One who could go on to decorate ceramics, sign write, illustrat, or even - the what was considered at the time the pinochle of Art and Design - architecture.

On top is an example drawing from Light: shade, and shadow, underneath an example of an examination drawing by a New Zealand student in 1896 ( from Ann's Book). The student, identified in the book only as Pansy was working on a qualification to become an art teacher.

Globalization is nothing new, even in 1896 - the skills required of an art student on both side of the earth were pretty similar. From what I understand art schools would purchase plaster mounds of standard drawing shapes, the cone, the column, the cube, the vase, and use these to train art students in how to draw accurately.

The same vase appears on an earlier page of Light, shade and shadow.

Bear and I have spent quite a bit of time talking about how such a universal education in drawing, universal in the west anyway, resulted in a very shared language for those working in art and design at the time. In more formal architecture, and in some commercial design (ceramics and illustration/signage) it is quite easy to see the evidence of this kind of training. Part of me is a little sad at the lessening in appreciation for this kind of training and skill set, it became old fashioned shortly after 1900 and was replaced by more individual styles of drawing.

Na Stella


Sunday, January 17, 2016

That cardigan ..

May be too large. When I began to knit it I had to work out two things. First, I didn't get gauge with the yarn I was using - so I had to pick which size to knit to get the size I wanted. Second, I am eating less and moving more in an effort not to be overweight, I had one of those glimpses in a passing shop-window-mirror and realized I was pretty much in fat-heading-towards-fifty territory. I can't change the fifty years old - that is inevitable, but I decided I could change the fat. I bought a Fitbit One back in July and used it to determine my activity level and calculate how much I should eat if I wanted to be smaller. In September I upgraded to a Fitbit Charge HR, and between the two devices and being honest with logging what I eat I've lost 16+kg's. The side effect of the not-getting gauge together with not knowing what size I actually needed means that the Slanted Sleven cardigan I have been knitting and that I am 2/3 of the way through is looking like it I'll be too big.

So the cardigan languishes, I've put it on a lifeline to free it from distortion of being on a circular needle, and tried it on. It's slightly big - and I know the superwash yarn will only grow and relax when I wash-block the work. For now I am leaving the project be as I come to terms with frogging and beginning again.

To distract myself I have begun a new project. Last year I bought myself a pair of Doc Martin boots, nothing to extreme, just dark navy 1460, I had a similar pair in my 'yoof' but let them go at some point thinking the time for such things had passed.

Anyway - the Doc's are comfortable, light and pretty much all terrain shoes, in Dunedin, home of the gothic trend Doc's even belong in posh places. When I wear them to work, Gavin calls them my 'don't mess with Stella shoes'. And best of all Doc Martins are perfect partners for hand knit socks, well almost perfect. I'm still working on the perfect length, most of my existing hand knit socks are too long and need folding over. Becasue they were not designed to be folded the exact science of where to fold them for optimal wearing ease eludes me. Too long and too much sock protrudes, to short and they sneak into the boots as I walk. That isn't a problem except typically one sock sneaks and the other remains - and the irregular perfectionist in me dislikes the one sock up one sock gone look that results. My perfectionism is weird - it objects to some things and ignores others - like spelling.

So the sock, well girly pink to go with the dark french navy blue Doc's. The yarn is Sock, Lady by Vintage Purls. The toe is a three point swirl, and I am working on a subtle eyelet pattern up each side of the instep. The eyelets are evoking the ones used for laces but there will be lots more than 8 of the boot. The custom knit to wear with a Doc feature I have planned for the leg is a two layer rib cuff, thick, cushy and just the right length to stay put when worn. I need to work out how to secure the layers at the right length, grafting, three needle bind off, transition from single to double and back to single layer and back again - so many possible options.

So far I've reworked the toe three times to get the numbers and transition to the foot sorted. I've worked the cable with two purl stitches either side and with one (shown) and I think I need to go back to two to set off the cable. The gusset and heel is next and won't be too showy but will be fitted. Then a band of ribbing before a transition to a double layer ribbed leg.

Honestly it is way more fun solving sock technical details than frogging, solving the gauge /size conundrum and reknitting a cardigan - especially as I might be smaller yet when it is done.

Na Stella




Sunday, January 10, 2016


I am still knitting the blue/green cardigan, and the advent socks are still not finished, so with the knitting not much has changed. Little cub (who is now 13 and not so little) had a sleepover a few days ago, and asked if she could use the family tent. Our house is small and that limits the invite list to one or two friends.

So we put up the tent in the back yard and she invited several friends to stay. It worked well. Really well, she set up the camp cupboard and dug out the camp cutlery and crockery. She even hug up fairy lights in the tent for a party feel. She had asked her friends to bring bedding, and snacks and we supplied savories, we bought frozen catering mini spring rolls, samosas, and pakora. Over a few hours we 'catered', delivering plates of mini-food hot from the oven. We heated enough for for us to snack as well. They talked and sang and did whatever new-teens do at tent party's, and in the morning little cub popped into the house for a jug of milk, and they all ate breakfast in the tent. We might even do it again next year.

I've been walking a lot more, really trying to fit more natural excercise into my day. I'm happy to head off for a swim, but I am not really a gym person, and when I pass people doing cross fit or something similar the people running carrying car tires or heavy weights don't look like they are having fun. This summer I have had nearly a month off work, so I decided to walk every day, and to walk where possible instead of using the car. Most days the walk is 5kms, some days I manage a 7km walk or longer. On Saturday I walked to town from home, and I went the long way rather than a straight path. I walked up the hill a little way, and then turned to town, to get to town I almost always walk through the town belt, a strip of green forest designed to divide the inner city from the outer suburbs, and each time I walk I try and take a different path through the green belt.

The other nice thing about walking to town is that it is pretty much all down hill, and the entire route lies to the sun. In most of the sections of the green belt there are recreational spaces, sports fields, playgrounds, walkways, and at one point the observatory. I love this view, over the top of the observatory (the small white building with the dome roof), there are views of the harbor, with the pensilula hills over on the other side.

Then after the open spaces, the walk gets a bit more forest, this is the section of that town belt is just above the pre-school and primary school my kids went to. When they were really little we used to drive this route most days and they claimed to see 'Bears', 'Lions' and other forest creatures as we passed large trees. I didn't see any as I walked, and New Zealand dosnt have any native land mamels like those. I do hear lots of native and non-native birds calling to each other when I walk.

Closer to the corner the city center is just visible, along with the blue water of the harbour, the beginning of the pensilula, and just a narrow band of sea the other side of the pensilula, and of course trees and sky. The day I walked and photographed my walk, the sky was blue, and there were fluffy white clouds. Most days it is like that, but often the days look warm but are cooler, we are south after all, not in the warm north.

Today I walked to town again, but used a different route. This one was also downhill, and had the same tree lined feeling, and slightly different views of the same harbour, the same pensilula, and the same slip of ocean beyond the pensilula, and even more white clouds in the blue sky. And as before, just before the harbour there is a glimpse of the city center.

Walking takes a little longer, walking to town from home, is 40 minutes for the short route, an hour for the long way, compared to 7.5 minutes by car. And I have to plan my way home, either bus or coordinate with someone coming to town for other things. Walking gives me a better understand of the weather, just it rains at times, but here it rains surprisingly in short bursts, pretty much if I wait for 30 minutes or so it clears enough to walk.

Normal knitting content will return next post.