Friday, December 23, 2011

RIP Fifty

We came back from the cabin last weekend to find Fifty the fish lying on the bottom of his tank. Fin was determined that he should have all the funeral rites so took charge of the arrangements.

Fifty was buried under the path, with a short but moving ceremony. The eulogy was read by Fin.

A rose will blossom
a flower will fall
but this fish is better than them all
kittens will run
kites will fly
but 50 was good
rest in peace.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Strike up the band

Both boys performed in music concerts at school last week - so we got the chance to hear Adam playing the trombone with the entire Brass ensemble. Adam is back row third from left.

He had previously told us that it sounded a lot better when all the brass instruments played together - and it was true - the effect was actually pretty good. Interesting demographic - out of the 30 or so 5th grade brass players, there were 3 girls.

We also got to see Fin lip-sync some songs with the 3rd grade.  He had told us in advance that he was not going to sing - which is a shame as he sings all the time at home.

Fin is far left on the 2nd row, in grey and white striped top.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eleven in eleven

 There are eleven days left in 2011...and we recently celebrated an 11th birthday! Adam requested being woken early to start the celebrations.

He was thrilled with all his presents and immediately set off to school on his present from us. Yet another scooter (apparently this is different from the scooter he already has - but looks pretty similar to me!)

Once they got back from school we had the obligatory cake.  Eleven  candles generates quite a blaze!

I did give Adam a free pass on his homework - but he decided that he would rather complete it - proud mother moment there!  However it didn't take long and he was back outside on his scooter until dark.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Its that time of year again: We went to Castle Rock Christmas Tree Farm again, but this time they were only harvesting White Fir - so in addition to choosing a nice tree, we had to select only from the white firs (and also identify one!).  This is the tree we chose, and Adam and Fin cut it down.

It appears that white firs are a more dense wood than Douglas Fir, and it was hard to cut, and also heavy.  As the trunk was almost sawn through Fin said he would hold the tree while the final cut was made. This photo taken just as he was saying "I've got it!"...

 This was the tree they had their eyes on..luckily it's not a White Fir - so we were not able to harvest it.

The eagle eyed will notice that Fin is wearing 2 different checked clothes items and a pink cashmere scarf...apparently it was colder than he expected...

Monday, December 12, 2011


Fin, Nigel, and I got up at 5:45 on Saturday to watch the Lunar Eclipse. It was actually rather marvellous, we watched the moon disappear behind the earth's shadow and glow a large luminous, rusty, red.

I do think I need lessons with my new camera. This was the best photo I got: 

The moon is there at the top of our street - as you can see we had an excellent view of the eclipse.
Most of the photos I took looked more like this:

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Fin celebrated his ninth birthday. It was a fun-filled day.  It coincided with the town's annual Christmas Parade in which the scouts push each other on go-carts. They always enjoy it - and it was a lovely sunny day so the crowds were out!

We had lunch at our favourite restaurant - Nigel and I are drinking Margaritas purely for restorative purposes - all those cubs are tiring you know!

When we got home Fin tried out the Chemistry set he got for his birthday and created a physics experiment with the results! 

Finally - there was cake. Banana cake this time.
Fin shown here modeling the chef's coat he got as a gift.

Friday, December 02, 2011

School spirit

Adam thoroughly embraces the concept of 'school spirit'.  The school had a crazy hair day last week and Adam is here modeling his creation: the 'po-hawk' (portmanteau word combining Pony tail and Mohawk*).

Fin appropriately enough chose 2 'horns' of hair!

*Interestingly (or maybe not) this hairstyle was always called a Mohican in my youth - or maybe just in the UK - but here it's called a Mohawk.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Tulips for Eloise

Adam's tutor just had a baby: her second girl. I thought it was an ideal opportunity to knit the baby sweater that is popular on the internet right now. This is the Dream in Colour Baby Tulips Sweater which I bought as a kit from Yarndogs.

The pattern is pretty simple, but effective: the seed stitch transition between the colours is really pretty. However, the main appeal of the sweater is the lovely colours. DIC yarn is also machine washable which is good for babies.

I did wait to see if she had a girl or boy, as I would probably have substituted something for the lightest pink if the baby had been male - but the sweater is so pretty as designed.

While I was at it, I also knitted a 'soaker': a wool knitted cover for nappies. Crissy does cloth diapering and wool covers are supposedly very effective.

The soaker looks a bit odd as the waist is very heavily ribbed - but I think it will fit well over the bulk of cloth nappies.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A camel through the eye of a needle

I did a little more spinning - this time some camel/silk fiber I bought at Stitches from A Verb for Keeping Warm. I recommend you look at the photo of the fiber here as it is lovely in it's natural colour.

The fiber was lovely and soft - but actually really hard for me to spin! The silk fibers are long, but the camel clearly has a short staple and I felt I was often spinning lumps of camel fiber onto the silk. I hoped that some of my inadequate spinning would be disguised when I plied - and maybe it is, but the resulting yarn has a very obvious thick-and-thin character.

However it was really fun trying to spin this evenly and a good learning experience for me. The yarn is pretty soft and I still love the colour. I have plans for this yarn for Gill!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Off the needles: Mystery Shawl

I finished the Mystery Shawl pretty quickly. That's the nice thing about starting on the long edge and decreasing. However I realized that I had made an error in the set-up repeat of the shawl which is obvious now - but I'm clearly not going to go back and fix. I am going to work on the principle that if I move fast enough while wearing it, no one will notice.

The miracle of blocking...

It was really fun to knit a shawl in parts without knowing what the final item would look like, the pattern is pretty but not terribly exciting - but it was easy and quick. The best thing though is the marriage of yarn to pattern - the cashmere fingering weight Nimu yarn that Christina gave me is just lovely in this shawl - the simple pattern and the slight colour variegation work well together and this is a shawl I will certainly wear (but maybe not for a little while!).

Thursday, June 30, 2011

He's on a roll

Fin did more cooking last weekend: Another cheesecake and Sticky Date Muffins.

Good job I took this photograph quickly because they didn't last long.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Say Cheese

More of Fin's Fablious Food. He decided he wanted to make a cheesecake after we ate a ready-made one. He has become quite snooty about making things from packets: "That's not cooking; cooking has ingredients" so I bought the ingredients for cheesecake from memory while shopping - then had to find a recipe that used ricotta and cream cheese since that is what I bought and not gelatin which many seem to be based on. We used this recipe:, halved the quantities, and substituted ricotta for half the cream cheese.

Fin did all the mixing and measuring, and especially creating crumbs with the rolling pin. He was interested that we baked it in a bath of water.

He was very pleased with it - and especially enjoyed taking it out of the spring-form pan.

It was delicious! I was glad, however that we had made half the quantity - I think we will be eating it all week as it is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gold Dust or Bust

I went to school today to see Adam's class perform "Gold Dust or Bust": a musical based around the 1849 California Gold Rush. It fits in with the California history they have studied this semester and I think they had a lot of fun doing it. My measure of this is how many of the boys were actually singing rather than just standing there.

They did a fine job and the performance was entertaining (and short!). I think the highlight for the boys though were the moustaches:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spending their inheritance

The boys recently inherited some money from my Grandfather - they decided that they would save most of it (for cars!) and spend about $100 each. This expenditure has been the subject of much discussion and finally this weekend they chose what they were going to buy.

Fin decided on an electric guitar. Adam has been playing the guitar for about 2 years now and Fin, having toyed with the idea of drums for a while, thankfully chose a guitar too.
We went to Guitar Showcase again. Adam advising on a choice of instrument:

Adam decided to replace his skateboard - he wants something smaller and lighter for better tricks. After extensive discussion with the chap in the NC Boardshop he chose one and spent the rest of the afternoon practicing his ollies on the drive.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A spot of spinning

Despite evidence to the contrary, my wheel has not been sitting idle. I spun this fibre that I bought at Stitches 2011 from A Verb for Keeping Warm. The fibre is 60% Merino/30% Yak/30% Silk.
The colours are lovely subtle shades of blue and it was very easy to spin.

I was aiming for a DK weight to knit a hat for Nigel - but it looks a little thinner than that. I think I will knit a top-down pattern and knit as long as the yarn lasts. I only have 2oz of the fibre so I may mix it with another yarn once I settle on a pattern. However, since Nigel won't be needing a hat for a while it will probably sit in my yarn stash for a while.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

On the needles: Mystery Shawl

I decided to sign up for the Mystery Shawl knit-along at the library. We are all knitting the Wendy Knits Summer Shawlette pattern available from Wendy's website. The pattern is released in parts (or 'clues') over several weeks. I'm a bit behind the other knitters - but hopefully will catch up before too long.

I'm knitting it in the lovely Nimu Yarns Helvellyn yarn that Christina gave me for my birthday. This lovely red/orange yarn is a 65% cashmere/35% silk mix and is very soft to work with.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More costumes

I signed up to make some costumes for the 2nd grade play. The play is about lifecycles and has lots of characters. I agreed to source 2 zookeeper vests/jackets, and 2 lab coats. The plan is to keep these costumes at school for future productions of the play.

The zookeeper jackets I got from Goodwill. The longer jacket had puffed sleeves so I removed those, the shorter jacket I left the sleeves on as I thought they were quite suitable for either a boy or girls. Someone else is providing hats.

The lab coats I adapted from a couple of white shirts that another parent provided. I just modified the collars, shortened the sleeves, and added the pocket. Someone else is providing round spectacles.

Hopefully these will work out. Of course, Fin declined a speaking, costumed part, and is part of the chorus.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gold Rush!

Friday was the 4th Grade Gold Rush Day! It's a day of gold-rush themed activities such as panning for gold, playing with hoops and sticks, building clipper ships from tin foil, all intended to reinforce the history that the 4th grade have been studying.

Both the children and parent volunteers are encouraged to dress up, and you know that I never need asking twice to put on a costume. Actually I think since I was a girl I have always wanted a "Little House on the Prarie" outfit so it was the ideal opportunity to make one.

This is McCalls pattern #9423 and is intended to be a wrapper or prarie dress - the sort of dress you would wear to do your housework rather than go into town. I used some lightweight cotton print for the dress and some Kaffe Fasset shot cotton for the bonnet.

I found wearing the bonnet all day rather a strange experience as I had almost no peripheral vision and felt like the children were suddenly appearing out of nowhere. I chickened out of making the petticoats and bloomers for fear that it would be too hot.

I spent the morning talking to the children about clipper ships and their role in the development of California, the whole of 4th grade rotated through each station so it was fun to see all Adam's friends show up in turn.

Of course I also made Adam a costume:

This tunic is Butterick Historic pattern number #B4486, although I simplified the sleeves to a simple t-shape rather than a gathered sleeve. I used the leftover cotton/linen mix from the study curtains - which seemed sufficiently rustic for the purpose.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Maker Faire 2011

We visited the Maker Faire again last weekend. This is our third year attending and we have yet to repeat any activity. There were the usual mechanical contraptions: this is a giraffe named Russell that 'talks' in response to touch.

There were lots of hands-on activities: this year the boys both had a go at turning wood on a lathe:

Fin also made himself a catapult at the Society for Creative Anacronism while Adam tried on armour.

We also got to design some metal pieces (although we didn't get to use the oxy-acetelene torch ourselves). We watched a whiskey barrel velodrome; and the Eepybird coke-and-mentos fountain.

There were both static and interactive sculpture:

I loved this dragon peeping out from a fence.

This sculpture played 'noises' based on either a kinetic hand-on component or when connected to this electric guitar -

Adam was playing "Smoke on the Water".

We had a super day - yet again I didn't visit any of the fiber arts, in fact we didn't go inside all day. We also didn't bump into any of the friends who also attended the same day. The boys are already looking forward to next year.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Collective cardigans

Is there a collective noun for one-button short-sleeved cardigans? If so, I need it since that seems to be what I'm knitting currently!

First up: Shalom cardigan by Meghan McFarlane. This is a free pattern that is made available in one-size, so I am adjusting the stitch counts based on other projects on Ravelry.

I'm knitting it in Rowan Cocoon which was a birthday present from Eileen.

Newest project: Silverbell Cardigan from the Classic Elite booklet "Magnolia". I saw this knitted as a sample at Bobbin's Nest on the 'field trip' that I made with Kerstin last weekend. It's a lovely yarn store with lots of samples - which I always like to see. They also have fabric and I bought some to make a dress.

The yarn is the Madeline Tosh Laceweight in Kelp that I bought at Imagiknit when Christina was visiting. I had planned to knit a whisper cardigan - but didn't like the knitted fabric so I frogged that project. I'm using the yarn held double to get gauge, which I don't usually like to do - but the yarn seems to be quite sticky and I'm not losing stitches as much as I thought I would. I'm really liking the knitted fabric and the colours are lovely and saturated.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Due to the recent posting on Kate Davis' blog Needled about the story of the hat, my blog has received a hitherto unprecedented flurry of action!

This chart shows the hits on my blog for the last 2 weeks - it just made me laugh that a load of people would visit Ferretworld because of a lost hat!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stitches Scabbard

I finished my first project knitted from Stitches West 2011 yarn!

The pattern is Silken Scabbard from Stitch Diva, designed Jennifer Hansen. I knitted the summer neckline variation. The yarn is Kollage Yarns Riveting which is made from recycled blue jeans. I chose the colour Night Denim (7903). Surprisingly for a 100% cotton yarn it was pretty soft and flexible to work with and actually was a good choice for this pattern.

The design of the sweater is very nice - especially the details. Where the horseshoe cable morphs into a braided cable in the armpit - and where the braided/horseshoe cable creates some shaping in the side.

However, the actual pattern, while technically well written, is laid out in a rather confusing way. I think because it's a printed pattern, the layout tries to keep the pattern onto 2 A4 sides - but in my opinion, at the cost of clarity. I spent a lot of time flipping the pattern back and forth to follow the instructions, and some of the short-cuts in the explanation were not clear. I consider that I am an experienced knitter and pattern reader and some of the pattern sections took my multiple readings to understand. Which is a shame because this is a lovely pattern with enough clever detail to keep the knitting interesting, but quick enough that you get a sweater before too long.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Old skirt

I knitted this skirt last summer, I tried it on as I knitted it to ensure a good fit, but it was very unflattering somehow so I put it away and didn't think about it.

I found it in my sweater drawer recently and tried it on again - I think the running is making a difference to my shape because I think it looks a lot better now. I wore it on Friday and got Adam to take a photo for me.

It's knitted in Elann Limited Edition Cottone-Lin yarn in colour 4, I think I used 8 balls. The pattern is 118-14 skirt with lace pattern from Drops Designs Book 118. Link is here. I modified the pattern to knit a casing for a 1" elastic instead of using a drawstring. I also knitted 3 repeats of the lace pattern because I thought an odd number of repeats looks better.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mothers Day

We spent Mothers day morning in Santa Cruz at the Marine Discovery Run. The run raises money for the Marine Discovery center and lab which we have visited with the boys in the past. It's an interesting place to visit, they rescue and study marine mammals, as well as a little museum/exhibition of other local marine life and issues.

The location of the run was lovely: around Natural Bridges State Park and along Westcliff Drive. The day was overcast with rain threatening - but most of all windy!

This photo was taken in front of the whale skeleton just before the start - we had left our sweatshirts and were waiting for the 5K to start. The boys were cold - but we soon warmed up. We all ran together - Adam encouraging us all - and finished the race in 37 minutes. My last 5K took me 39 minutes and so I was pleased it was faster - although not the 36 minutes I was aiming for! Fin sprinted the last 200 yards or so, so his time is slightly faster! Nigel, Adam, and I ran over the finish holding hands.

After the race there was fresh fruit, and an excellent goody bag, as well as flowers for the Mums running today.

It was a really well organized race, and pretty small - I think there were less than 100 doing the 5K. There was also a really cute kids 1K where everyone cheered the little ones along - some of them were really small!

We headed home - stopping for coffee and the doughnuts that Fin had been motivating himself with! Once we got home. I opened my lovely mothers day gifts: a home-made spoon rest, a pollock-inspired painting, and a home-made candle, then we repaired to the spa!