24 December 2013

Days 8 - 10: Meeting Family and Friends, and The Shard | Around the World in 40 Days

Day 8: Meeting with friends and family day

We went to see J's childhood buddy Jordan in the morning.  J met Jordan (who suffers from muscular dystrophy) when they were just five years old at year 1 in primary school. At that time Jordan could still walk but with difficulty, J was his little buddy and they'd been friends since. Jordan's mum warned me that he's quite different from our last visit seven years ago, but she needn't have worried, the two buddies picked it up right where they'd left off as if they'd never been apart.
In the evening there was a family get together, they surprised DH with cards and presents - DH turns 50 in January but his birthday is after we leave England, so he had a surprise party early!

Day 9: Rest day - we did go to see DH's aunt and had tea there, DH picked up some old photos to add to the family tree he's making.

Day 10: The Shard

DH's brothers and sister-in-laws booked the The Shard as a birthday present, so we all went today. The Shard is boasting to be the tallest building in Western Europe, standing at 310m (1016 ft). It's on the south bank of the Thames between the Tower Bridge and London Bridge, it's not far from where I used to work on Union Street. 
The view from the bottom.
The View at the top!
Please excuse the photos, the view was spectacular, only it would've been better if it was a better day. The weather bureau issued a severe warning for after the midday, so we didn't linger. As soon as we came down from The Shard we took the earliest possible train back, which was just as well, as most trains were cancelled in the late afternoon and evening due to storms and strong wind. It wouldn't be fun to be stranded in London just before Christmas!

Oh yes, before I sign off today I have to share this with you - the loo with a view, from the top of The Shard:
-- you can close the blind with the flick of a button, in case you don't want to share the view from the inside :P

21 December 2013

Days 5-7: Back in England | Around the World in 40 Days

Day 5: We arrived in London in the morning of 18th December, after a 13.5 hours flight from Singapore to Zurich and another 2 hours flight from Zurich to London - it was a loooong day. But the welcome party meeting us at the airport really lifted our spirits, it's been seven years since our last visit, it's good to be back.

Day 6: Warner Brother's Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter

We really wanted to do this but didn't realise that you had to pre-book the time-slotted tour online. When my SIL pointed it out and we checked the online booking, we found that the earliest available time was 8th January which is the day after we leave England. On an off chance I called the studio in the morning and pleaded our misfortune, the lady answered the phone took my number and said if something came up she'd call me back. I never thought she would but she did, two hours later! She said she'd managed to find some tickets from their corporate partners and could we make it to the studio by 2pm? Oh yes please! So off we went...

"Hogwart" was everything we'd imagined and more, not only we get to see the Great Hall, we also saw thousands of props, costumes and scenes, all were "the real thing" that appeared in the movies. Elli got a special passport to collect special stamps at each location and he had to find snitches hidden at various places.  There were interactive displays showing different types of snow they used, how they made the special creatures like Hippogriff and Dobby the house elf and the Goblins, there's also a display of how they made the footprints in the snow when Harry was wearing the Invisibility Cloak.
Dining table in The Great Hall
The Diary from The Chamber of Secrets
Elli and I dueling - clearly he's faster than I am
Yummy butterbeer!
We spent four hours in the studio and could have easily stayed for longer if it hadn't been for the closing time. I would definitely recommend this to all Potterites - 10 out of 10!

Day 7: Bricksmas at Legoland Windsor

J had been to Legoland Windsor half a dozen times when he was younger, but he doesn't really remember, Elli has never been. Unfortunately many of the attractions weren't open at this time of the year due to the cold weather. There is a Christmas Special but really it's geared towards a much younger audience than my 16 and 10 year old. Nevertheless Elli did enjoy the visit, especially the laser rides and the Star Wars adventure.

Elli and his Santa creation
Someone was very tired!
It's been a jampacked first week, with Christmas and New Year almost upon us, the next week or so will no doubt be just as busy.

If I don't get chance to update the blog, may I wish everyone a very festive holiday.

Merry Christmas!

17 December 2013

Day 4: Farewell Singapore | Around the World in 40 Days

Yesterday we went to the Adventure Cove Water Park on Sentosa Island, it was a fun packed visit. I thought we would only be there for 4/5 hours but we stayed for the whole day, and still someone (i.e. Jelly) was not happy when we had to leave at closing time, because he didn't get around to do the Splash Works and snorkeling at Rainbow Reef.

We don't have a waterproof camera so I didn't take any photos, but we do have some bird's eye view photos from the day before when we took the cable car.
Whirlpool Washout & Spiral Washout
The water park was a big hit, we all had a lot of fun. The only problem we found was at the end, if you decide to stay till the closing time you risk of having to queue up for a very long time to get showered and changed. I queued for 30 minutes for the shower and during that time only 2 people came out, can't understand why someone would take so long to take a shower. In the end I gave up and just went to a toilet cubicle to get changed without a shower.

In the evening we went back to the Marina Bay Front to watch the laser light show, we read some rave reviews on Tripadvisor that it was really worth seeing. It was alright but nothing special, I certainly wouldn't call it spectacular. But the setting was nice, the bay front was a beautiful place and the ambiance quite amiable.
laser show at Marina Bay Front
Singapore is a lovely place, it certainly has made an impression, even though we're only here for a very short time. This is a city that never sleeps, it is clean, efficient, very well organised and with extreme commercialism at it's highest status.

So that was Singapore, today we pack our bags and fly to London via Zurich.

16 December 2013

Day 2: Singapore | Around the World in 40 Days

We arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning, when we got to the hotel (Holiday Inn Orchard City) we were told that they didn't have the twin queen-bed room as reserved, the only one they could give us was a room with a king size bed - which is not very convenient for a family of four. They promised to change the room for us in the morning, and as compensation they added late check-out and free breakfasts. We were too tired to argue, for the night J slept on the mattress they brought in and the rest of us slept in the King size bed which was actually quite roomy.

After six hours' sleep we felt fresh enough to explore. It took us a couple of go's to get the hang of the MRT system, and we got lost a few times, but it all worked out in the end!

Photos of the day:

Christmas tree/lights at Changi Airport Terminal 2
Marina Bay Gardens - bird's eye view from the Singapore Flyer
Cable car to Sentosa Island

Christmas lights on Orchard Road
Thai hotpot dinner
It's been a long day but we enjoyed ourselves. Now that we have our room sorted out I'm looking forward to a goodnight's sleep.... bye for now!

14 December 2013

Day 1: Departure | Around the World in 40 Days

After years of saving, months of planning, it is finally here. Today is the day.

This is our route map. First stop: Singapore.
We will be in Singapore for three days, the weather does not look good. Let's hope there are gaps in between thunderstorms so we get to do some of the touristy things!

This is us all set to go!

13 December 2013

Murano Tric Finale & Topsy Turvy Cowl

I finished the Murano Tric cardigan, finally, yay!!
Pattern: Tric by ├ůsa Tricosa
Yarn: Murano from Bendigo Woollen Mills
Needles: 4mm circular
Yardage: 800m
Notes:  Tric is a lovely pattern, it appealed to me because it's knit from top-down, seamless and with simultaneous set-in sleeves. But I will say this is a tricky pattern and I'm glad it is finally done. I love how it turned out, although if I were to do it again I will add a couple more collar increases and lower the button hole to under the bust.
Mods: I didn't do the triangular pattern on the sleeves and shortened them to 3/4 length.
I hope my friend will like it.

One more project which was a really quick make, once I'd figured out how to do the mobius. This is the Topsy Turvy Cowl, a free pattern on Ravelry.  The yarn is my alpaca handspun that spun up during the TdF, then later I dyed in the crockpot.
I love how the same stitch produces two different fabrics purely due to the structure without your having to do anything. Love it :D

This MIGHT be my last Fibre Arts Friday post for this year, tomorrow we embark on our big trip: Around the World in 40 Days. I'm hoping to keep a travel journal along the way, so I can share my experience with you.

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

06 December 2013

Building a loom

Last week I showed you the big loom I bought in all its bits and pieces, today I had the good fortune of two lovely friends come help me setting it up. I had managed to persuade (ahem) DH to move the bookcase from one end of the lounge so that I could bring the loom inside.

After unwrapping everything we found out the loom is actually a Finlandia 8 shaft by Finnish loom maker Varpapuu. I couldn't find much current information on the maker, they might have gone out of business, so if you happen to know anything about them please feel free to point me in the right direction.

Here are my friends helping me with the set up, the one on the right is Rachael the Sparrow :-)
Actually just after this photo was taken Pamela (above left), who is a weaving guru, realised that we'd set the frames the wrong way around, so we quickly rectified that!
Now that's better! Unfortunately we couldn't go much further as we found that there were some bits and bobs missing to complete the assembly. I called the seller who is going to have a look for me when she get home from work. So looks like I might need to wait until we come back from our trip to complete the set up and start weaving. But that's ok, there's plenty to keep me occupied in the meantime :-)

And I'm really beginning to panic, one more week to take off!!!

Oh yes, there's some new stock just been added to our Etsy shop, use code XMAS13 at checkout to receive 10% off storewide :D

Now what have you been up to this week? 

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

29 November 2013

A FO and, Gasp! A Floor Loom!!

Hello me dears! Welcome to Fibre Arts Friday! Today I have a FO (finished object) to share and... wait for it... a floor loom!! Yay!!! well, it will be a floor loom once I figure out how to assemble it!

The final countdown has began for our big trip - Around The World in 40 Days, as I write this there are 15 days 5 hours 48 minutes... I will try to keep a travel blog while on the trip to keep you updated. As for now, I am beginning to panic: there are still presents to be made, packing to be commenced, and all sorts of arrangement to be organised... ... and I can't seem to get into gear, eek!!

OK, the FO... this is a throw for my friend Elaine whom we will be seeing on our trip when we stop in Seattle. She picked the yarn herself as it goes with the decor in her house.
Tunisian crochet is most suited for entrelac, the process is much simpler than the knitted ones. As you only work with one square at a time you don't even need a real Tunisian hook, any crochet hook with a straight shaft should do the trick. The pattern is Sunset Ruana from Interweave Crochet Winter 2009.  I love this pattern for blankets or throws, I already used this pattern for a baby blanket in two different yarns which also turned out very nice. For this throw I added two rounds of crochet for the border with my handspun, I was going to do a bigger border but I didn't have enough yarn.

Now, what would you do if you see a floor loom for sale for only $180? You grab it quick of course! I couldn't believe my eyes when a listing popped up on my local "buy sell swap" page for a floor loom with bench, the interest was phenomenal but I was the lucky one, oh yeah :D 

The trouble is it has been dismantled for storage, and the lady who was selling it for her aunt had no idea what the make or model it was. Still, it was too good an opportunity to miss...
It's in my garage at the moment while I search for more information and, hopefully, an assembling manual. I posted the photo on Ravelry and some weavers recon it's a Toika Liisa loom judging by the side frame, so I sent an email to Toika to confirm. A lady from my spinning group who is also an avid weaver offered to help me put it together, so did Rachael (Sparrow). With any luck we could have this baby set up before my holiday, fingers crossed!

The question is: where do I put it? ... a sensible person would have asked this question before the purchase, obviously that wasn't me...

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

22 November 2013

A Fine Gradient

Happy Fibre Arts Friday! This is going to be a shortie today, Jelly is having a birthday sleepover tomorrow and he's ordered a mango cheesecake. I've never done one before, although there are tons of information on the WWW it can get a little overwhelming…. after hours of trolling through different websites and blogs I'd settled on a combination of recipes, if it turn out to be a success I'll tell you about it next week ;)

This week I finished spinning and plying a gradient skein, I made the batt back in September, it's a super duper soft and indulgent blend: Baby Llama, Corriedale Finn X, Alpaca, Merino & Cashmere. All natural colours.

Here it was on the drum carder:
And here it is all spun up:
It's a fingering weight, the skein weighs 134g and about 441 meters. I'm thinking a shawl, any suggestions of patterns?

Before I go I just have to share this little gem I found on Ravelry, it made me giggle - "accessory for fingerless mitts" :P
This is a free pattern, pattern link here.

Sparrow (Rachael) is away this weekend at a bluegrass festival, lucky her! I'm not if she'll manage a post for Cat & Sparrow, but we have some exciting stuff coming up soon, so stay tuned :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

15 November 2013

A little fibre blending experiment...

I did a little fibre blending experiment during the week, it's a bit like making a meal from leftovers, I blended various bits of fibre on the drum carder - there was merino, silk, bamboo, and some sparkly nylon, in an assortment of colours: lime, yellow, green, blue, red, pink, purple… And then instead of taking it off the carder in a batt as I normally do I pulled it off in a roving (well, several rovings actually) through a diz, erm, button… the result is quite stunning:
I'm calling it Carnival, because it's a cheerful colour way and it makes me happy, can't wait to spin this up :-) 

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

08 November 2013

Market Mitts and Tric progress

Yesterday I talked about Melbourne's weather being up and down like a yo-yo, and true to it's form today's temperature dropped 10℃ from yesterday's 26℃! Oh well, at least it wasn't as freezing as last Sunday when I was at the Gisborne market. It was a miserable day with rain and wind, my hands were so cold that I'd taken one of my handspuns from the stock and started making myself a pair of fingerless mitts. I only had a crochet hook with me so I started with a crochet mitts pattern, but my hands were so numb that I just couldn't continue to make the mitts to keep my hands warm.

I still couldn't continue with the piece after I got home because I didn't like the look of it, so I ripped it back and started again. The pattern I chose was the Garter Stitch Mitts by Ysolda Teague, it is a simple pattern worked sideways using short-row shaping.
I really like how they turned out, the handspun is very squishy and soft, they should keep my hands nice and toasty on cold market days. I only cast on 38 stitches and they worked up quickly. The project only used 58g of the handspun, so the pattern is a perfect fit for that single skein that you don't know what to do with. Raverly project page here.

A project update for Tric that I started back in August for my friend Elaine, it's been slow going due to the intricacies of the pattern (pattern recap: top-down seamless with collar and set-in sleeves worked simultaneously). At last I can report some progress:

Only the sleeves to do now so hopefully I will finish it soon. Some of the project notes on Ravelry noted that the piece grew after blocking so I'm keeping the length as it is and will take take when blocking so it doesn't grow too much.

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

07 November 2013

Warmer weather = "Bush Salute" season!

If you don't know what "bush salute" is you've obviously not been to Australia in the warmer seasons, for those who do, well you know what I'm talking about!

Tuesday was Melbourne Cup day (the biggest race event in Oz), we are not big horse racing fans so we didn't bother to partake but welcomed a public holiday nonetheless. It was a fine day, especially after the freezing weather last weekend - yes that's Melbourne weather for you, up and down like a yo-yo! Anyway it was a beautiful day so we went for a walk around the Cherry Lakes, well when I say "we" that didn't include J who was having his usual teenager sleeping-in, it was just myself, hubby and Jelly. There were some pretty pink flowers in the meadows:
...  pelicans flying in the sky (not a good picture, sorry!)
... and of course the typical Aussie backdrop of gumtrees
But where does the bush salute come in? Well, if you've ever been out and about on a warm day in Australia you are guaranteed to be greeted by swarms of flies, persistent flies. As Mr. Bryson testifies in his book Down Under or In A Sunburned Country depending which version you are reading:
... ... An Australian fly will try to suck the moisture off your eyeball. He will, if not constantly turned back, go into parts of your ears that a Q-tip can only dream about. He will happily die for the glory of taking a tiny dump on your tongue. Get thirty of forty of them dancing around you in the same way and madness will shortly follow.
   And so I proceeded into the park, lost inside my own little buzzing cloud of woe, waving at my head in an increasingly hopeless and desultory manner - it is called the bush salute - blowing constantly out of my mouth and nose, shaking my head in a kind of furious dementia, occasionally slapping myself with startling violence on the cheek or forehead. Eventually, as the flies knew all along I would, I gave up and they fell upon me as on a corpse.
Luckily the flies that swarmed us didn't all find us that interesting, only one or two pursued us most of the journey, the rest found other more attractive victims to bother instead. Bryson's account might have been a little extreme but you get the gist, maybe I should get one of those cork hats ;)

01 November 2013

Checking on the Spindle Candy forum is a dangerous thing...

... because you can so easily get hoodwinked, and I can prove it! I was just having a look (no harm in looking surely?) on the spindle de-stash page, the next thing I know I was spinning on these two little cuties:
The one on the left is a trindle, I have wanted one ever since I saw the one appeared in Andrea's posts over a year ago, even though I hadn't started spinning back then. So when I saw someone was destashing theirs I decided to grab it. I LOVE how the trindle spins, albeit a little wobbly but it spins and spins and spins, and it's so easy to wind on. The right hand one is a Riley's Turkish spindle, it's a little slow than I thought but still spins beautifully, maybe once there's more fibre on it it will spin faster.

The rolags are made on my blending board, of various dyed merino, silk, mohair locks and some sparkle, they are pretty easy to draft and very addictive to spin!

Meanwhile my production line for Christmas presents kept running, and I finished my scarf #4 the Yorkshire Moors scarf that was on the loom last week. I love how the self striping yarn in the warp make the colours shift.
And here's scarf #5 an Alpaca blend in greys and naturals, same yarn for both warp and weft.
That's it for me this week, now show us yours!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

25 October 2013

Just keep weaving...

Happy Fibre Arts Friday! It's that time of the week again, this week it's all about handwoven scarves, well mostly :-)

Some of you may already know that we are going back to England for Christmas this year, then we're going to the U.S. for a "real" holiday, woohoo! I was making the list for family presents last weekend (it's a bit late I know), there were 19 names on the list not including children, eek! Then I thought: I can do this - I already collected a few items I made throughout the year and I need to practice my weaving, so I will make scarves! ... if you are one of my folks from the "old country" please look away now ;-)

Scarf #1: that was the Monet's Garden I showed you last week.

Scarf #2: Cherry Ripe Scarf for my FIL, so named after the chocolate of the same name :-)
It came off the loom a bit shorter than I intended, but he doesn't like long scarves anyway, or so I'm told.

Scarf #3: A study of pickup sticks - actually I might keep this one to my self, it's made of cotton and there were a few mistakes.

Scarf #4: Yorkshire Moors - the colours remind me of the heathers on the Yorkshire moors, and this is all my handspun. The Warp is a 2-ply yarn that I spun with one single from the Rolags made on the blending board, plied with another single of alpaca, the weft is a 2-ply that I spun in the TDF. It's still a WIP and it's looking great :-)

Last weekend I had a lot of fun dyeing silk hankies with Jelly, he's pretty good with colours!
These are in our Etsy shop now, and there's a 10% discount for October. If you're interested you can get the coupon code here :-)  

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!