fun with Pete and Polly

hand woven hats from Niue Island

Good news this week – my new book is going to be published in Finland, translated! To me, Finland means marimekko. I love the Finnish aesthetic, so I hope the feeling will be mutual.

The other good news was this review in NY. If you’ve read it and find yourself back here, yes, I made those tangerine tights. I bought the yarn at Wildfiber, worked on them  for a week in a Santa Monica garden (what else does one do in LA but knit wool tights, you might ask?) knitted all the way home and then some. To quote Jean Paul Gaultier from last year’s New Yorker article: “why not?” and yes, they are a long knitting project, but the good news is that they’re made from the toe up, so you can, if you so desire, stop anywhere on the leg that find yourself wavering, and you have ribbed socks. I made some thigh-highs as a gift this past Christmas, using the same pattern.

As has become obvious to all, one of my ongoing struggles while living here in NZ is that I miss my children (yes they are grown but they will forever be my children. You can’t look at your grown son or daughter without remembering their sweet babyness and wondering where the time went).

Lucky for me, both of mine have visited recently. Pete and his girlfriend Polly were here for a whole wonderful month, long enough for me to become accustomed to their company every day and I now can’t go anywhere without thinking of them. What’s a mother to do. Break camp and move around the world again? More on this subject in months to come. For now, I’m enjoying (through the tears) looking back on our adventures.

They insist that NZ has the very best cafes, far better than London and even the good ones in London are run by Kiwis anyway. On their first morning, after they’d wandered out of customs looking surprisingly fresh after a 28 hour journey, I took them to Queenies.

From outside

to the cute interior

and the paint by numbers mural

every inch of Queenies is my idea of exquisite – water in a recycled milk bottle, real leaf tea in modern retro cups and saucers, and a real teapot.

We’ve had a chilly summer, swimming plans went out the window and we had to be content with hovering near the water instead.

Polly hovers in bright green Saltwater sandals worn with the airplane ankle socks from my book.

Cool weather is good for beach combing, at least. Muriwai on the west coast is a family favourite.


and here’s the famous cave where the graffiti dates back to the early 1800s. Not to be ventured into that day, the treacherous West Cast tide rushing in… you feel a little foolish calling to your grown son “don’t go too far in!” but a mother’s instinct is ever present, yes?

Popping over to the east coast (yes, it’s skinny country here in Auckland, only a half hour from one coast to the other at the narrowest point) This day was a beauty at Goat Island, named because some early settlers put their goats there for safe keeping and returned to find that all of them had swum to the mainland in search of fresh water. It’s not far, as you can see, but still.



a colony of tiny snails

this guy was waiting by the road as if to say goodbye to us before we ventured home.

Back to town and the Pacifika Festival, a glorious day of food and crafts from the many islands of the South Pacific. Each one is unique in its own special way.

Niue Island was our favourite. Perhaps a family holiday next visit? All the ingredients for a good time are there: embroidery, tivaevae, hand weaving. Who needs to swim?

9 Responses to “fun with Pete and Polly”

  1. Mel Says:

    Reading this I feel similarly – I have recently moved back to NZ after 7 years in London and I want to break camp and run away already – although for me it’s missing my friends rather than children. I am desperate to move back to London (my spiritual home) but there’s still some lovely places and faces here.
    Seeing the cafe photos makes me want to get back to Auckland. And the pacifika festival! I went to every year for 8 years as it was right near my house.

  2. Rachel Says:

    How nice that you got to spend time with your family. I love the baskets, hats and those tangerine tights! What a feast of inspiration!

  3. lisa Says:

    how lovely you are with your children….. so beautiful so glad they came to
    I am off to Montreal tomorrow- taking Alba to look at Mcgill Uni- she has
    been accepted, think that it will be the place…..
    long to see you…..

  4. Nellie Says:

    I do understand – two kids in their twenties in the States (I have a Peter too). The heart is divided – I love the pace and the lack of rancour here in NZ. We try to bring the kids here once a year and go there once a year but it doesn’t always work.

  5. Mr. Puffy Says:

    I didn’t know you had a new book out ~ congratulations! I was in NZ about 8 years ago and agree that the tea shops are the cutest and the muffins are divine ~

  6. Polly Says:

    Oh Mel you have me all teary eyed! I want to do it all over again please!! Every time I look at my neon woven basket I feel nostalgic for NZ. Me and Pete have one reliably good cafe we can go to run by a Kiwi no less, where they give you the natural yoghurt along side your chocolate cake, a la every good cafe in NZ. Here’s to more future fun!! xx

  7. Mila Says:

    Hi Mel its Mila here, looked fun in NZ. Those baskets look cute! I’ve tried to knit the Santa Cruz hoodie from your first book, but since I’m still a beginner I’m finding it hard! Looking forward to getting your new book Polly has told me it is really nice!x

  8. Jenny Says:

    I received my copy hot off the press from Fishpond this week. I love it, great variety of patterns. I love the Family Hood, H@T, the Marilyn shorts and most of all the Tangerine Tights! Well done Mel!

  9. Mel Says:

    Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful comments.

    Nellie, it seems we have some things in common. Thank you for your words of encouragement. What a wonderful word rancour is! I’d not heard it in a while.

    Mila, I’m sorry you’ve had trouble knitting the Hoodie. It’s really quite easy. Please email me if you have questions.

    Jenny, thank you for the great review! xx

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