Route 1 and a trip to market

The sun peeked through for a trip to the market last Sunday. This is the drive to the Southside markets at Gympie, all taken on the go through the car window. Zoom zoom, life is too short for stopping apparently! It’s a bit of a drive, so we left at 6:30am.

Mango farm in our road

Macadamia nut farm at the end of our road.

Views over town

Court house

Lots of old miner’s cottages in Gympie.

Straight ahead you can make out Gympie hospital, and just to the right with the steaming chimneys is the Nestle factory, producing International Roast coffee. 😬

Over the river

And the market.
It’s a pretty good market. In the past I have purchased furniture, puppies, chickens, a kindle, fruit and vegetables here. This trip we just got sweet potato, a picture and a woollen coat.

So far in this oddly warm winter we’ve only had two wood fires. Atticus, for one, clearly enjoyed them. Toasty feets…

And speaking of toasty feets, more socks of course. Another boring grey pair for M that I didn’t bother to photograph, and a chocolatey pair for me. I’m putting some little flowers around the tops of these.

I’ve never purchased sock blockers as they seemed expensive and pointless. But when you’re constantly photographing socks, they begin to have some appeal…so I asked M if he could make me some. He said ‘draw a picture’, so I did. 20 minutes later he emerged from his shed and handed me these, out of recycled Perspex sheet.

What a legend. 🙂 He wanted to put holes in them for faster drying, but so far that has proven unnecessary. 
So then, in the spirit of pushing my luck, I said…you know what I’d reeeeeeally like? An e-spinner. (For the non-spinners, this is an electronic spinning machine, very handy if you have bad joints). They are expensive (very). And M said ‘show me a picture’. So I did. 
‘I can make you that’, he said. ‘Okay,’ I said. Yay!! I will keep you posted. 🙂
I’ve been spinning a lot, and I do mean a lot. Inspired in part by the acquisition of a pair of Majacraft wool combs, which make fibre preparation so much more fun than boring old carding. 


Practising two ply, 3 ply and chain plying. 

I also finished my Route 1 by Norah Gaughan. This is the second of these I’ve made, it’s a free pattern, a quick knit and a useful style for in-between weather. The yarn is Bergere de France’s ‘Recycline’.

Year of William Morris update: tapestry has resumed with the assistance of adjustable tapestry stand that means I can now lounge and stitch at the same time. 🙂

But for now, back to the wheel! 
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. 🙂

Week two in Finland

There’s something incredibly freeing about wandering alone through a foreign city. The liberation of the anonymous, I suppose. I’ve lived in small country Australian towns now for the last fifteen years. Anonymity does not exist in such places, even as a rather solitary creature who prefers my own company. I’ve never been able to blend in.
But here I do, a foreign city, surrounded by people speaking a foreign language…I could be anyone. I stand on Aleksanterinkatu, drawn to a corner by a delightful noise, and I am honestly moved to tears by a man playing beautiful music on an elaborate array of glass bottles. 

Surrounding me, watching also, are rosy cheeked Finnish faces, rugged up in big coats and beanies and mittens just like me. No one looks twice at me, and I feel like one of them. Except I lack the high, razor-sharp cheek bones. All around me, massive displays of Christmas lights and trees and hanging stars create a true winter wonderland that I had thought could only exist in my imagination or old movies. There are gnomes everywhere! Fairy lights everywhere! The windows of Stockmann’s department store house intricate, animated, musical displays that fascinate children. And a spinning one made of chocolate that fascinates me. 

Small pieces of white fluff start falling from the sky. I look up. Did someone shake a rug out of a top floor window? That’s going to set off my hayfever. I chuckle at myself as I realise it is snowing, and can’t believe I actually thought that. Apparently still very much an Australian. 

I came here to discover a part of my heritage, a part that had always drawn me despite being only one eighth of my genetics. I’ve thrown myself into the crowds and the energy and the pulse of the city. This trip, like all travel, is changing me. So many little mysteries falling into place, so many things make sense now. I am perpetually surprised that my halting Finnish is understood. Something about me is attracting the attention of tourists, and no less than four times so far I have been asked directions. What is that about? I am guessing the openness of the Australian face versus the more unreadable Finn. Or maybe just because I keep grinning. 😀

Around every corner here is a sense of the familiar. Oh, and a yarn store. 🙂

Working my way across the city, I have gathered a nice little collection of Finnish yarn and accessories. Also a little Drops. And maybe a Rowan or two. Because I’m three quarters English too. 

Jetlag has worked wonders on my knitting, and the fiddly Lilli Pilli and the linen crochet shawl charge ahead in the early hours of each morning. I’m also working on a jacket, which hopefully I’ll get finished to wear on the trip home because no way will it fit in my case. 

Tempting as it has been to bust open the beautiful new Finnish yarns and have a party, I am keeping them perfect and chaste for now. Something very special will be planned for them…if indeed I can fit them in my suitcase too. In addition to the surreally appealing Muumi merchandise I keep buying, I may be struggling for room. 

Come on. It’s a Moomin cookie cutter. How could anyone resist? 🙂
A splash of afternoon sun brings everyone out, turning their faces and bodies toward it. I find myself naturally avoiding it. It is the Europeans who love sunbaking, while ironically most of the Australians nowadays seem to hiss at it and run for the shade…

 But then just as quickly it’s back to lovely cold and grey. I walk to the Hakaniemi market, past the gorgeous Kiasma gallery, across the water and through parks dusted with snow.

I wander also in quieter areas on days when I’m struggling a little. I largely ignore my diagnosis but occasionally it sneaks up and I have to pace myself as my joints crackle like bubble wrap. So I head for the beautiful cemetery by the water, where candles are lit on the graves throughout the dark winter months. The Sibelius monument. The Olympic stadium. This time of year, there are very few tourists. There’s a peace here, a comfortable, relaxed connection to the seasons. A different ebb and flow to the extreme brightness, energy and polarity of Queensland, currently sweltering in the summer heat and humidity.

I am reminded of a ring I used to wear, an intricately carved silver snail. It was a talisman at a traumatic time in my life, a symbol and a protective shell. A reminder that everything I needed was always carried within me. It feels good not to need that symbolic protection anymore, to know I can be at home anywhere. Even so, I miss it. Or rather, I miss M. He has not expressed the slightest word of complaint, despite the fact this trip has been so hard on him. We don’t live the kind of lifestyle one person alone can easily maintain whilst working full time. 
I’ll be coming back here regularly. Even without the genetic link, my inexorable adoration of Moomins ensures it. But M will be coming too. 
Next week…finally…the Christmas markets!! 😀

B x