Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

popping in

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Hello Friends,

First, an announcement: all of my yarn that can be seen on South Seas Knitting can now be bought from Wildfiber, my former store, which almost closed but was rescued at the last minute by two lovely ladies, Teri and Claudia. They don’t yet have e-commerce up and running but I’ll bet if you called or email them they would send you whatever you want.

I have been a recalcitrant blogger, I know. It’s because of life’s changes that we must all go through and there’ve been many in the past year. When I popped in to say hello last October, I was in New Zealand for the funeral of my only sibling, my sister, Robyn, who had been unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer a few months before, and whom I thankfully came to New Zealand to see a month before she passed away. Writing this, I still can hardly believe she’s gone. Thankfully, I am still connected to her through my nephew and niece, both of whom I adore, and who have two gorgeous children apiece.

Here are my nephew Joe’s two kids wearing their hats I knitted for them. Ruben’s hat is the one from my last post, that I had to make all over again due to the twisted stitches. Lucia’s is the Blue Sky Alpacas Kitty Hat, a genius design by Lisa Whiting. I love this hat so much I’ve made another one for my niece’s little girl.

 

 

At the end of last year I embarked on a major knitting project. After spending three years writing my two latest books, I fancied following someone else’s pattern for a change, so I went searching for something to use up my enormous stash of Koigu. I decided on Hue Shift Afghan by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence.

It uses 10 shades, with 100 permutations. I love the way Kerin combined the colors and it’s the best use of mitered squares I’ve even seen. It’s made of four sections. The only sewing is the connection of these 4 squares. I knit the whole blanket on 2 size US 5 double pointed needles [I have a habit of using the shortest needles I can whenever I can and often use a couple of dpns]

Here’s my blanket when I was about to begin the 4th and final square. I could barely believe I’d gotten this far.

and here it is, finished with the 10 rows of garter stitch edging. I made it for my son, Pete.

 

Before I parted ways with my glorious and beloved stash of yarn sold to Wildfiber, they invited me to participate in a pop up store. so. much. fun.

Over three days I saw many of my friends and former customers. It was like having a knitting shop all over again. And part of having that all-over-again-feeling, was the exhaustion at the end of each day!

There was Mary, wearing her Everyday Cardigan from Knitting Everyday Finery

 

and Karen wearing Wandering Cable Scarf. (I recently added this pattern to Ravelry). How pretty is this pink and yellow colour combination?

Now I’ll leave you with a peek in a corner of our garden at our tiny house in Santa Monica. We are now living in it. It is very very small, but I’ve been reminded that I’m a spoiled Kiwi-Californian who is used to space. We’ve made a gorgeous little garden, full of the drought tolerant plants I love so much, and 5 New Zealand pohutukawa trees in pots.

 

Lotusland

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

multitude

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.

Mel

 

 

what I’ve been up to

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

I used to be a conscientious blogger. But then I decided to move countries, again. The result was an adventure that has not been easy. But here I am, back in my beloved Santa Monica, and life is starting to take shape once more.

My new book, Knitting Gifts for Baby has been released at last!

Here are a few photos from the inside pages:

Little Fishing Vest

Spring Blanket

 

Horseshoe Pullover

 

Cable Cape

There are 26 projects in total, for newborns and toddlers. I’m very proud of this book. If can say so myself, it’s beautiful. I did all the photo styling myself, and knitted all the projects. It was a labor of love.

For anyone who lives in Southern California, I’m teaching workshops at Compatto, on Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica. The green Spring blanket (above) is one scheduled for August.

I have a new passion. For a few years now I’ve been interested in small houses and their increasing popularity.  As anyone who visited me in Auckland will know, I lived in a rather large modern house. Many an evening David and I discussed how little of it we actually used. In fact we’d stride around the kitchen and living area and demonstrate to ourselves how wasteful we were.  While it’s wonderful to have space, there are heating, water and electricity costs, and padding around the big empty rooms reminds you that your family have left home, as if you needed a reminder. So here we are in California, about to buy a small house and put our money where our mouths are. Our object of desire is a teensy cottage in Ocean Park, just around the corner from Whole Foods  on Lincoln Blvd (walking distance, yes!), Rose Ave, and the beach. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with it as much depends on the state of the walls and foundations, which we’ll know more about once we take possession.We may renovate it, or we may build a new, small house.  This will keep me busy, so knitting is going to become for the first time in many years, my hobby.

Knowing this was going to happen, I’ve been deciding whether to continue with this blog or start a new one. I love knitting, but it’s not all of my story. I still haven’t decided and I welcome your input.

In the meantime, here are some photos of the Getty Center which I’ve visited several times since we’ve been back in LA. I love the outdoor spaces and the spectacular views even more than the galleries. I’m thinking that once I’m living in my small house I’ll be able to come here for a sense of grandeur.

terrace with the city Pacific Ocean in the distance

fabulous curves

later afternoon shadows

the rill

giant bouquets of bougainvillea above the pond

maze