A Christmas Cardy and all the gnomes

A quick post given the time of year. I am surrounded gnomes. And gingerbread Moomins and pigs. And by lists. The latter is not in itself anything new, I am a major list maker, so here I shall make yet another list. 🙂
This week:

 I got a little excited making my strings of gnomes, based on the one I bought at the Women’s Christmas Fair in Helsinki. I used sparkly yarn for mine. They’re everywhere throughout the house now, and a few are presents. I think I like the windswept biker beards the best. That’s leg hair from my old alpaca, Wally.

2. Worked on my very first glitter house. I am aiming at a village for next year, all illuminated.
3. Made a few more bags and stitch markers.
4. Made a few gift boxes
5. A few more recycled tea light Christmas stars

 6. Discovered we had agapanthus growing! They have never flowered before, but this year has been weird weather wise. The crucifix orchids are still flowering too.

7. Made a big knitting decision. Stop being so bloody impractical. I will be foregoing knitting the heavy cable jumpers and cardigans from now on. 😦 Despite the fact I love making them, they go largely unworn here, apart from about 3 hours every winter and the occasional trip to the other side of the world. My woollies cupboard is full. 
I’ll get through using up the current stash of wool and alpaca yarns, then it’s fingering weight wools, cotton and linen, silk, microfibre, bamboo…there are plenty of fibres that will get more use. It makes me kind of sad, but I want to wear what I make! 
8. In that vein, cast on a Quick Sand for myself, a nice pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier, in Drops Bomull-Lin, a cotton linen blend. Then, thinking I might wear it Christmas Day, unexpectedly finished it in record time… 

and promptly started the finer gauge version, Fine Sand, in this gorgeous linen I got from Finland.

9. Made a rainbow crochet scarf out of Drops Big Delight.

10. And finally a photo shoot. If anyone else has tried to put a hat on a cat, you will understand. Most of the time you end up with pics like this.

Or this.

Or this.

Atticus Finch didn’t actually mind the hat that much, but he wouldn’t get the perpetual Grinchy look off his face.

Douglas Maguire was a little more cute and cheerful. 🙂 He isn’t really bright enough to notice that he was wearing a hat.

 Wishing everyone a lovely Christmas and/or holiday and/or whatever you’re celebrating this time of year, hope you stay safe, drive carefully, laugh a lot, and see you on the other side! 🙂
B 🙂

And home again…

36 degrees Celsius and that super bright, clear Queensland sun have welcomed me home from Finland. What an awesome trip it was, beautiful, inspiring, peaceful and so, so Christmassy. So many gnomes! So much yarn and fleece! So much fantastic art, craft and design! By the time I got back, I was very keen to get back into the train and start creating. One reason I am a little delayed with my blog is that I want to MAKE ALL THE THINGS but can’t keep my eyes open. Stupid jetlag. 🙂  
I went to several of the various Christmas markets in my wanderings during my last week in Helsinki. The Women’s Christmas Fair, Christmas World and the St Thomas Christmas Market in Senate Square, among others. When I try to describe them I am a bit wordless, a rare thing for me. All I can say is if you love Christmas, go. Just go. 🙂 It is an intense experience. I know I will carry the Finnish Christmas spirit with me forever. 

 I realised when I got back that I didn’t take that many photos of my adventures, and I wondered why. I think there is a fine line sometimes between capturing the moment with photos and missing being in the moment altogether because you’re taking too many photos. 🙂 I guess I didn’t want to experience too much of my trip through the screen of an iPhone. It’s a bit different on your own too, as there’s no one else there to notice the things you might be missing while photographing. So I snapped when I thought of it, which wasn’t very often I’m sorry, but otherwise this was a self indulgent trip. I went for me, and I absorbed and loved every second. Even when I tried hard, I couldn’t stop smiling. My head is so full of images they’re still overlaying my vision.

 (If you really want to see all over the real Finland, visit Sartenada’s blog. Best ever.)

I did manage a wool shop selfie. 🙂 A knitter’s paradise.

 For anyone else planning a similar trip, Finland was an easy and safe place to get around as a woman alone. Tickets for bus, tram and boat are easy to get and use. I would recommend knowing a little of the language, and reading the Culture Shock book on Finland by Deborah Swallow. It was very accurate, down to small details like needing to weigh your fruit and veggies before you take them to the register. Handy things that remove the little dramas from life. I also had the excellent Insight Pocket Guide to Helsinki, with several walks mapped out. I had had warnings to the contrary, but I actually found it was not nearly as expensive as some other parts of Europe. Groceries in particular were very reasonable.
I did manage to fit my yarns and gnomes and Moomin purchases in my bags in the end. I had also spontaneously purchased enough cotton and linen yarn to make a jacket, and managed to get it finished in time to wear home. It is an African Expressions free pattern, and I rather like it. I will make it again, perhaps a short version next time. (It’s a little crumpled from the trip.)

 My Lilli Pilli got about half finished. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace. This one really is a lot of work, but I think it will block up nicely if I ever finish the damn thing.

My linen crochet shawl, also laceweight, was almost finished on the way home, both in-flight and sitting in various airport lounges in Helsinki, Amsterdam and Hong Kong getting strange looks. 🙂 I finished off the two-row border yesterday, and happily it’s now done. I love love love love it. I don’t think I’ve ever made something quite so ‘me’ before, if that makes any sense.

 Naturally one of the first things I did when I got back was put up the tree. Oh wait, no the first thing was to put the air conditioner on. Then the tree went up, and a few new decs.

 I got this string of gnomes from the Women’s Christmas Fair. It was meant to be a gift, then I couldn’t part with it…and now I want a heap more of them. 🙂 So after studying the details, I think I can replicate these fairly easily.
And now I am trying to ease back into my life, knitting, working, writing, crafting, avoiding goannas and snakes, spotting koalas, echidnas and possums, and evicting antechinuses from my train. (This latter is a bit half hearted, to tell the truth. They’re cute, they don’t chew things up like rodents do, and they eat the spiders. As long as they stay out of my yarn and fabric, I don’t really mind their presence.) 
It’s always a pleasure to come back here. I feel very, very lucky, and ready to just sit still for a while with M in the peace. 

PS WordPress tells me I have just passed my one year blogiversary. Holy crap. I remember my first post, written while we were in Vanuatu. Was that seriously a whole year ago? 

What have I learned about blogging in the last year…hmmm. Frankly, that I know bugger all about it and certainly not enough to tell anyone else how to do it. I have seen plenty of rules and advice out there for new bloggers, but personally… *shrugs*. 🙂 My only advice is do it however the hell you want to. But my caveat is: whatever your motivation, be your authentic self. I love some blogs that are all words, some that are a million photos. Some that are very personal, others strictly business. Some that post 7 days a week, some once a month. I personally couldn’t care less about how well people set up their blog, themes, whatever, if the content is authentic. I always think if you spend too much time worrying about appearances then naturally your message is going to change too: if you’re trying to look at your own stuff through other people’s eyes, you’ll go a bit nutso. So that’s my only little glop of wisdom after a year and 50+ posts. Just be true to yourself. 🙂