Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Topsy-Turvy winner

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Thank you all, for entering this competition. You appreciate Susan’s work, and for good reason. What an important member of the knitting community she is, so full of enthusiasm and ideas.

Congratulations to Patricia McAdams who is the winner of a copy of this wonderful book. Patrica is keen to make the topsy turvy doll which is the other project I also want to make but didn’t include in my blog post. You can see it in Susan’s Ravelry projects here.

I really recommend buying the book if you didn’t win it. The fun you’ll have making these charming toys, and the smiles you’ll see when you show them off, make the purchase worthwhile. There’s a Kindle version as well as hard cover: Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Knit Toys.

Happy toy knitting!

I am in New Zealand at the moment, for sad reasons, but I’m enjoying seeing my extended family and my wonderful friends who are letting me stay at their homes. At the weekend I took the train out west to see Ingrid and Graeme. They’re long time friends whom I’ve know since the early 80s when we all lived in London. They returned to Auckland and over the years, had a lovely daughter, Una, and built a house on the land where Ingrid grew up in a house her parents built in the 50s. It’s been a labor of love. Ingrid and Graeme are practitioners of the “do-it-yourself” kiwi philosophy. They were recycling furniture and making things by hand (a whole house!) long before it became popular to do so (note that I’m resisting using the word trendy because I think it’s over-used and also, dismissive of a very worthy way of life ). I love their house. Its many wood surfaces, hand printed textiles, paintings and furniture remind me of the famous Eames house in Los Angeles. It’s an inspiration.

Here’s a taste of my weekend:


Sunday afternoon we went for a hike along a spectacular section of the Ed Hillary trail between Muriwai and Te Henga, picnicking on the cliff top..

Next week I return to Santa Monica where I’m teaching a workshop at Wildfiber: the cover bonnet from Knitting Gifts For Baby, September 21 & 28, 2 to 5 pm.

Also on Saturday September 28 I’m going to be part of this fun event at the New Zealand Consulate. I’ll be selling and signing books, and displaying my work. If you’re in the Los Angeles area and you’re interested in attending, please email me at

xo Mel


Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Thank you thank you lovely readers for your words of encouragement! You’ve given me renewed enthusiasm!

Let me tell you about one of the best days of my life so far.

It was my birthday. And a big one. David asked me how I wanted to spend it,  and received the strictest instructions of the “don’t you dare” variety not to organize a surprise party. Eeew. I’m phobic about being the center of attention.

One doesn’t really want to think too much about such a birthday let alone come up with a way to celebrate it, so I was quite pleased with myself for remembering that ever since I’ve lived in LA I’ve wanted to visit Lotusland, the garden in Montecito.

Montecito is just south of Santa Barbara. If you’re visiting the LA area, and you like plants, it’s a must see. Due to parking restrictions, reservations are required. Information here. This is because the neighbors on the surrounding estates were not keen on it being open to the public, so they struck a compromise and restricted the number of cars that could be there at any one time. If you’ve ever driven around the meandering Montecito roads and wondered what’s behind the grandiose gates, this is your chance to look inside.

It was the most beautiful day in every imaginable way, not the least least of which was my family surprising me and showing up to accompany us.

lotus land
A place or state of languid contentment.
[After the Land of the Lotus-eaters in the Odyssey]

I love gardens, especially Southern California/Mediterranean gardens.

This one was established by an eccentric Polish woman and sometime opera singer, Madame Ganna Walska, who married a succession of rich men, hence accumulating wealth which she chose to spend on a 37-acre garden. I can’t think of a better way to spend a fortune. Her style is distinct and very beautiful, with large numbers of any particular plant and in some cases, like cycads, plants that no longer exist in the native habitat. She could never buy just one of anything, or even 10, she bought hundreds. This was her style. It gives a feeling of lushness and plenty and is visually stunning.

The climate in Montecito is my kind of perfect, not too hot, with ocean breezes that make a garden tour on a sunny day a very pleasant thing to do.

First sight on beginning our tour: a lemon-covered pergola. What a fantastic idea.

I won’t attempt to name all the plants since I didn’t have the good sense to write them down and now I don’t remember but this one we all know – an organ pipe cactus about to flower

prickly pear


beautiful sculptural agave

California live oak

olives – hey, I’m doing all right with my naming so far

one of several ponds, this one edged with abalone shells in the shape of lotus flowers

giant clam shell waterfall

in the Japanese garden

large pond filled with lotus

is this bamboo?

just when you’re completely dazzled by the combinations of bright green and silver, you come across the pink residence and signs of Delft

does anyone know what plant this is?

Dracaena from Africa. Lotusland has a spectacular collection.

the fern garden – masterful plantings of trees give it shade.

Even though my small house will have only a tiny space for a garden, I’m inspired by Madame to make it beautiful.




V & A

Monday, December 17th, 2012

I love the Victoria and Albert Museum so much, I could spend days there. This is never possible, but even a hurried visit inspires. Dare I say you could almost limit it to the gift shop and walk away happy?

I almost didn’t make it past the fashion exhibit in the entrance:

It doesn’t get any better than this, a fine, fully-fashioned wool swimsuit

and a pair of platforms from the 1930s, perhaps worn with the swimsuit? The uppers are striped denim fabric, the wooden soles hinged for ease of walking.

Who can resist red shoes, especially wing tips?

18th century fabric slippers,

no doubt worn by a contemporary of this lady, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

This may seem ridiculous after the sublime beauty of hand made shoes, but I do admire this radical Commes des Garcons knitted ensemble for its 1980s daring.

also, this sketching fashion student in fabulous purple tights

No visit to London is complete without a walk across the Millennium Bridge in anticipation of a visit to the Tate Modern.