Colour vomit

So, last month I finished my crochet ripple blanket. I’m so happy with it. It’s a glorious riot of random and beautiful colour combinations. I think the randomness is a feature; others in the household disagree.

I proudly displayed it to my beloved (also known, not coincidentally, as He Who Sits on His Taste Buds). His remarks were barely luke warm.

“You don’t like it, do you?”

“Too many colours,” he said. “It looks like you just vomited colour all over it.”

Fortunately, knowing his taste in clothes, his opinion did nothing to dent my happy feelings of achievement. A finished blanket! Warm and cuddly and beautiful! (Did I mention I actually managed to finish a whole big blanket-sized project? Go, me!)

Even better, I loved the whole process, from the picking out of wool:

and the first joyful colour combinations:

to seeing it grow:


And trying out new arrangements of colours:

  Adding in a new colour was my favourite part. It was hard to picture, just from holding a ball of wool against the blanket, exactly how that colour would look when it was stitched on. It was always exciting to see the new combination taking shape.

It was such a relaxing project. Whenever I needed to do something completely mindless, I could pick it up and do another row or two, and though I sometimes went months without touching it, it continued to grow steadily, till at last I decided it was long enough.

I loved how it looked with its ripply ends:

and I wasn’t sure whether I should add a border or not. In the end I decided to give it a go, as part of the learning experience. If I didn’t like it I could always undo it.

 First I added red up the long straight sides, so it had a border of red all around (I started and finished my regular ripple rows with red). This looked so good I almost stopped there.

But I’d chosen some other colours, so I added a gold border which straightened out the ripply ends. This also looked so good I almost stopped there! In fact, every time I added a new colour to the border it got better and better. Hello, my name is Marina and I’m addicted to colour.

Here it is after the third round:

Finally I had five colours on my border and decided that was enough (colours are a little weird here — I’ve been waiting ages for a nice sunny day to photograph it but sadly the weather hasn’t been cooperating!):

Ta-dah! I love it. Can’t wait to start another one! Just got to get that vomit ready …

New Zealand through a quilter’s eyes (Part 2)

New Zealand is a beautiful country, and I took scads of touristy photos of all the gorgeous places we visited, but as I mentioned in my previous post on New Zealand through a quilter’s eyes, I also took some that appealed to the quilter in me and left my family scratching their heads.

At the Waitangi Treaty Grounds we saw a 35m waka or war canoe, built in 1940 for the centenary of the signing of the treaty between the British and the Maori. Its name was almost as long – Ngatokimatawhaorua. Old skills had to be relearned to construct the canoe in the traditional way, including intricate carving like this:

Such gorgeous texture and pattern.

More texture caught my eye in Waipoua Forest. The mighty kauri trees had such interesting bark, almost like dinosaur skin. 

You can’t see the effect so well on this one, but I loved the contrast of the fluffy, almost velvety green moss against the red whorls of the trunk.

More colour delight at Huka Falls:

Can you believe that fabulous clean blue-green water??

For a different shade of blue, here’s a shot across Lake Taupo, the biggest freshwater lake in Australasia, formed in the crater of an old volcano, which must have been truly enormous.

 You can see the peaks of active volcanoes in the background. When Taupo itself last erupted, about 2000 years ago, it buried the country for miles around in 200 metres of ash. The red light of it in the sky was seen as far away as Rome and China. I sure wouldn’t like to be around if it ever went up again!

In the town of Taupo itself I embarrassed my children enormously by taking photos of the garbage bins. I have to admit, even I felt a little peculiar about it, but look – they were so gorgeous! – how could I resist?

In Hamilton, there was lots to admire in the very pretty Hamilton Gardens.

Gorgeous repeating patterns:
and an absolute riot of colour:

How eye-popping is that colour combination? Wouldn’t it look sensational in a quilt?

Then there was this café at the glow worm cave at Waitomo. It made me think of quilting too, with the diamonds formed by the lovely arching lines of the overhead shelter very reminiscent of a quilting pattern.


Really, there’s quilting inspiration everywhere. If only there were enough time to make all the quilts I can imagine!

Depilated Demon Duck

Well, she’s done it. Determination and feverish fundraising have brought her total raised to $150.50. At this rate she may even top $200.

Her school is one of the biggest fundraisers in the state, with their combined total currently standing at over $36,000. Twenty-one girls shaved their hair off in the school hall this week, with many more colouring their hair red, blue or pink.

Today it was her turn. She went from this:

to this:

I’m surprised you didn’t all hear the squeals of glee from wherever you are. To say she was excited to see her new look doesn’t begin to cover it. She bounded off to the nearest mirror like Tigger on speed, and the shrieks of delight echoed through the house. She is not a child who believes in hiding her feelings. Thank goodness she was happy with it, or things could have got ugly!

I have to admit, it does look good. Let’s hope it doesn’t wash out too quickly. The packaging refuses to be pinned down: “colour will last from three to thirty washes”. They couldn’t manage to be just a little more specific? There’s a bit of a difference between three and thirty! Might as well just say “we’ve got no idea how long this stuff lasts – probably not as long as you’d like it to, but we’re not giving you your money back if you’re not happy, so there!”

Fingers crossed she gets to enjoy the reward for all her hard work for at least a few weeks. Myself, I’m quite looking forward to my own reward – I get to stop making friendship bracelets. I’ll hardly know what to do with myself!

Might even have to do something radical like getting back to work on my Nano novel.

New Zealand through a quilter’s eyes (Part 1)

Lines, patterns, colours. Sometimes a quilter’s holiday snaps focus on things that don’t interest the average tourist.

Take this wall down by the docks in Auckland, for instance. It looked like it had been made out of old weathered packing crates.

The Carnivore just shook his head. Why are you taking photos of this piece of junk? But I thought the soft aged colours were beautiful.

Then there was this building nearby. Patterns of lines and colours. Very cool.

At the aquarium the jellyfish looked like an abstract painting, softly glowing.

Or maybe some kind of alien life form? So pretty!

We took the ferry to Devonport quite unexpectedly, having to fill in a couple of hours before our harbour cruise one morning in Auckland. Imagine my delight in finding a whole row of poles along the street covered in crochet! Naturally I had to embarrass my family by taking scads of photos.

Aren’t those frogs just the cutest?? I just love that there are people out there who see a whole bunch of plain poles and think wouldn’t it be great to cover those suckers in crochet? So whimsically pointless, but why the hell not?

Further north I was taken by the light through foliage, particularly the marvellous umbrella-like spokes of the ferns.

Out on the beautiful Bay of Islands I loved this pop of bright orange against the blue water. This photo doesn’t do justice to the colour of the water there, though, which was a glorious deep blue, shading to a clear green in the shallows.

So much colour everywhere! And of course I’m all about the colour, so I loved it. I have lots more pretties to show you, but I’ll save them for another post lest you die of old age waiting for the page to load.

Happiness is …

Happiness is a pretty rainbow of threads making a bright spot in your day.
I took this photo in the midst of the renovation horrors of last year. I was sitting on my bed in the middle of the kitchen, sewing little birds and resolutely ignoring the chaos all around.
It looks so pretty and serene, doesn’t it? – almost like something out of a magazine. But just out of shot the debris of our lives was piled up in huge, depressing, tottering stacks. I can still see it when I look at this photo.
Sometimes sewing is a real sanity-saver.

When is a ripple not a ripple?

Answer: When it’s a straight line. Something wrong with this pattern, I think. The crochet gods of the internet have never let me down before, but I really don’t think it was me. I tried a couple of times with the same result, so then I started counting the steps in the pattern, and I couldn’t make the maths come out right. There always seemed to be a couple of stitches left over, so the parts of the pattern never lined up properly.

This is what it was supposed to look like:

I tried a different set of instructions, from a magazine, and hey presto! new blanket for Little Brown Bear. All pretty and ripply, like it was supposed to be. Little Brown Bear is also sporting a new scarf in this photo – I was in the mood for crochet.

Santa brought me this lovely book for Christmas, so next I tried some of the easier flowers.

My newfound rippling skills came in handy here, as I can now increase and decrease. Crochet is gradually becoming less mysterious. Although I have to say: what the beep is with the whole UK/US divide? Whose brilliant idea was it to use the same stitch names on both sides of the Atlantic, but have them refer to different stitches?? They can go stick their crochet hook where the sun don’t shine, as far as I’m concerned. As if learning crochet isn’t challenging enough without having to begin every crochet endeavour with a sleuthing exercise. Where does this blogger live? Where was this pattern/magazine published? Because your single crochets, double crochets and every other flipping stitch are going to mean something completely different, depending on whether they’re using UK or US terminology. And then you’ve got to keep it all straight in your head. Single crochet = double crochet. Double crochet = treble crochet. And double trebles are … Aaargh!

+Deep breath+

I’m gradually building up a collection of flowers. When I have enough I’ll sew them all to a cushion. [Yay, says the Carnivore. More cushions.]

Anyway, back to ripples. I’ve been watching Lucy over at

My in-laws always give me money for Christmas. Have I mentioned before what marvellous, charming, considerate people my parents-in-law are? Good-looking too.

Ahem. But I digress. So I rocked up to the shop today and had a delightful time, drinking in the colours, stroking and squeezing all the lovely skeins and balls of wool, cotton, bamboo and silk. Some of them were so soft and smooth they were almost slimy. Slimy in a good way, if you can imagine that.

Drama Duck enjoyed helping me pick colours. I wish I could have bought one in every colour, but alas, this beautiful stuff is merino wool from Italy, and it ain’t cheap. So I had to behave and limit myself to this glorious selection.

Sigh. Isn’t it beautiful? Can’t wait to see how it feels to work with. I just want to keep stroking it. Could make progress on the actual blanket rather slow! Wish me luck.