Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Summerdays in Dortmund

Hi from Germany!

You might have noticed that there was no blog post last week - which is unusual as Michelle and I aim for two posts a week. The reason for the no post week? Well, we planned to publish two patterns last week and write about it on the blog with discount codes and such.


Due to unforeseen problems with paypal, the publishing did not happen. We tried to set up a joined account as we would like to use the little money from the patterns for the blog; that is give aways, promotions and such. Who would have thought, a joined account could be so complicated?! Certainly not us. Well, right now we are waiting for paypal to reply to our request. Fingers crossed it will happen soon!

On a lighter note: Summer has arrived in Germany! With full force. We have degrees above 30°C this week and for Thursday they are talking about close to 40°C. Ouch. I love the sun but I am not good with hot weather. It makes me exhausted and everything feels harder to do. Even crochet! Gasp! Germany isn't prepared for the heat like other countries (i.e. Australia), so there are hardly any air cons or even fans in the bedroom. 


What do you crochet during summer times? I am busy making lots of blankets but the larger they get, the warmer they become on my lap. Hm. I might switch to making toys for a while. Or making a sun hat. I would love to have a straw sunhat but so far I have found none that I like. Perhaps I should crochet my own?!

Did any of you crochet with straw yet? I imagine it being pretty hard on the hands but really, I have no idea!

My favourite crochet spot in the evenings!

I hope the summer sun isn't bothering you too much (or the winter cold) wherever you are!

Take care
Anne


Friday, 19 June 2015

Captain Poprocks visits the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair 2015

Hello everyone! 

This is going to be a post high in photos but low on text, as I am quite tired after our excursion this morning to the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair! You can click on any of the photos to enlarge :) Apologies in advance for some odd angles; I was in the wheelchair today and manoeuvring around was quite difficult! 


The venue was lovely - the relatively new Sydney Exhibition Centre at Glebe Island. 



We tried out the knitting machine with the Machine Knitters Guild...


And saw some gorgeous embroidery at the Embroidery Guild...




And made some friends at the Doll Maker's Guild!


There were huge displays from the big sewing machine companies.




And we got to have a play with a free quilting machine.


I particularly wanted to see the 50 Years of Flower Power display put together by Prudence Mapstone. You can read all about the project on Prudence's project blog! I recognised quite a few names on the list of contributors, and was very excited to see one of Zooty Owl's Starflower Mandalas :) 







Next stop was the quilt exhibition. Wow. WOW! 














I really loved the signs around the exhibition asking us not to touch the quilts or eat/drink around them. They could have just put shouty signs up, but instead they were beautifully pieced, embroidered and quilted. This one was my favourite! 


Overall we had such a good time - in 3.5 hours we saw barely a third of what was on display! I absolutely recommend going to have a look if you're in Sydney this weekend :) 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Freiburg Adventures

Hi all!

We spent the last couple of days in Freiburg, down in the South of Germany. The boyfriend had an event at the uni down there and thus we decided to combine it with a bit of a holiday.

Freiburg is close to the French border, the Alsace is right around the corner. Thus the town has a rather French feel to it and the wine is fantastic. Our wine taste is a bit exotic for most people as we love Gewürztraminer and Muscat but down there we had a huge selection - even in the supermarket. Wow! So cool! As you might imagine, we had a lot of wine. Oops.


The old town is beautiful and so is the farmer's market at the Münster, the place in front of the cathedral. So many fresh veggie and fruit stalls, fresh bread and so on. Oh my, I could shop there every day. The farmer's market here in Dortmund is nice but nothing compared to the one I saw in Freiburg... 


Of course I took a huge bag of crochet with me. Wouldn't go anywhere without it, would you? I was working on two baby blankets and also on the new beanie pattern. The bonfire beanie pattern is 95 % finished but I decided to try out all the sizes again. And as it happens I decided to make small changes in the pattern as well. I hope to get it finished this week, so that Michelle can read it through. 


In the near future I intend to translate the pattern into German, actually I would like to do that with all of Michelle and my patterns. So far I haven't found the time though. Translating takes a lot of time, something I did not expect when I translated my first pattern (Alia's Sunday Shawl). German crochet is a lot more complicated as English if you ask me. For example, there seems to be no short wording for s2tog or hdc2tog. I wish there was! Well that and the fact that I learnt to crochet in English. So there might be a lot of words/terms I don't know yet. Funnily I find it easier to translate French patterns into English... My French teacher would have a good laugh if she heard this. Let's put it like this: I wasn't the best French student. Laughs. 

Perhaps the translation process will get faster with more experience. Do you have any experience with translating patterns?

Take care
Anne

Friday, 12 June 2015

Kirchentag and new Sari Yarn

Hi there!

How are you doing? I am on holidays since yesterday and man, it feels good. The last couple of weeks were great but also very exhausting. 

Last week/weekend I was down in Stuttgart for the Protestant Church day. The Church Day is a huge event with over 100 000 people being there, tons of shows, talks and also full of market stalls where different organisations present themselves. I was there for my work. We had a great stall and an awesome team which made the whole thing a lot of fun. As you can see, Mr. Alienbunny also took the chance to head down to Southern Germany!


The weather was amazing: Over 30 degrees and blue sky. Unfortunately it also meant that the huge tents where the stalls were located heated up really fast. Hot and humid... Not my favorite thing really. 

It was nice for the evenings though, when one could spent the time outside in temperatures above 20 degrees. I met with my cousin who lives in Stuttgart. Good times! We went to see a concent of the Wise Guys and it was fabulous! The Wise Guys are a rather famous acapella band with very funny but also very intelligent songs. Check them out! :)

I managed to sequze some crochet in but "unfortunatly" most of my current works are gifts. As some of the people who shall receive one of the gifts, may read this blog, I can't show you yet... 


Some weeks ago I saw a wonderful shawl made with Sari Yarn. I couldn't resist and ordered some from India. I was surprised that it arrived just five days later (that said I am still waiting for a yarn delievery from the Netherlands which should have been here three weeks ago!). Working with it can be pretty hard but I think I got the hand of it now. The black yarn is Drops Big Merino - so soffftt! As I need to use both yarns at the same time they sometimes tangle but I shall conquer :P


Drops had a wonderful 35 % off sale going on for the last month. Of couuurrsse I had to take advantage of it. Lots of black, red, orange and yellow for some bonfire beanies. I wrote the pattern up but I need to take more pictures before it can be published. Hopefully I can get it done next week during my holiday time!

I hope you all have a wonderful and sunny weekend!

Take care
Anne

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Projects, WIPs and UFOs

Hello everyone! 

I can't believe how fast this year has flown by - how can it possibly be June already!? Hopefully after next weekend life can slow down a little bit, and we can get into a bit more of a routine... The fatigue doesn't like an exciting life at all! 

This week I'm going to tell you about some of my projects, WIPs and UFOs, to try and inspire me to get some of them done soon and out of the "to do" pile (and also to try and stop me picking up more new projects for a bit)!

Market Day

It has finally arrived! This Saturday is the Eastwood Uniting Church Annual Market Day, raising money for the Exodus Foundation. I am having a stall at the market, selling scarves and beanies (and hopefully taking some orders for more animals!). 20% of my sales and orders is going to support Exodus, so if you're in Sydney and want to check out my stuff, and get some super cheap toys, jam, cakes, books, clothes and white elephants, come on down!

My cousin Tracey, also a crochet artist, has sent me some very cute wool beanies and headbands to sell as well! You should definitely go check out her work at Cooper's Craft Corner :) 

My amazing Mum has been making me some organza bags for my customers - what do you think? A nice touch?


And, because everything we do is a family effort, my talented sister has made me a new set of tags for my wares. Don't they look good!



So, hopefully that goes well. I've decided if I sell 5 things, it'll be considered a success :) Any more is just a bonus!

Coming Full Circle Cardi

You know how you have those moments sometimes, when you see something and your brain just stops and shouts "WOW! MUST HAVE/DO THAT RIGHT NOW!!" Wandering through Ravelry about a week ago, I stumbled across the Coming Full Circle Vest by Lily Chin, and wow! I had to make it for me, right then. It's published in a book rather than online, but thankfully (?) there were so many errors in the published pattern that the whole thing is in the errata notes on Interweave's website! It feels a bit naughty, but the book is very expensive to buy when I just want the one pattern. 

Using Moda Vera Fayette in Pastel Mix (my favourite self-striping yarn is back in Spotlight! Yay!), I've been happily v-stitching round and round in circles for the last week or so :) It's not quite finished yet in this photo, but I wanted to try it on!


I'm up to the border now. The pattern asks for a shell/picot border, and.. well, after my Sunday Poncho I just don't think I can face more picots just at the moment. After a little Google image search (such a great way to look at lots of pictures!), I think I've decided on this two strand braid. What do you think?


Lily Pond CAL

After a slow start, I'm starting to enjoy the Stylecraft/Jane Crowfoot Lily Pond Blanket CAL. I'm not quite up to date at the moment though! The colours are just beautiful - very reminiscent of a pond. I'm glad I chose to do mostly Stylecraft Special DK with a few Life DK colours thrown in when there wasn't a Special DK to match, as it seems to be lighter and brighter than the original while retaining some deep colours for the deep waters of the pond.


The Order Mountain

I'm slowly working my way through my crochet orders. Fortunately my clients give me lots of notice so I don't have to be stressed about getting things done. Next off the rank is a cute pink and tan hippo, and then some Crocodile Stitch Booties in lovely Moda Vera Fayette Jewel Mix! Just like these ones, but adult sized ;)



Tumbling Blocks Baby Blanket - New Pattern

In between everything else, I've been steadily working on my Tumbling Blocks Baby Blanket Pattern - both writing up the (sometimes very odd) instructions for the squares, and crocheting away on the prototype. It's looking really good so far, if I do say so myself! I'm hoping to get it done and published by the end of July, but that really depends on the order list, work, the fatigue monster and whatever else falls in my lap in the next few months!

Overlay Crochet Purse - "Turkish Doorways" - New Pattern

Somewhere at the bottom of my cotton yarn bag is a half-done, half-written, half considered new pattern for a little coin purse (or pencil case or phone case or clutch - so many options!). I really need to pull it out, get it finished and written up, and then published, to get it out of my hair! 

And... don't even ask me about my cross-stitch. It hasn't been out of the bag in at least a month!

Do you have any projects that just feel like they will never end? 
How do you inspire yourself to finish them off? 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Captain Poprocks' Adventures - Apollo Bay to Adelaide - May 2015

Hello everyone! 

Thank you so much for reading our crazy little blog - we love your comments and shares on Facebook :) If you're not following our page on Facebook already, you should!

This week is a pretty epic post from me, so I hope you're prepared for lots of photos. If you follow me/us on Instagram, you may have seen a few of these photos already!

A few weeks ago, Captain Poprocks travelled with my family and friends down to Apollo Bay again for the Great Ocean Road Running Festival. We had a great house right in town, with an excellent view of the Great Ocean Road itself.



My dad ran in the 6km race...


My brother James in the 14km race...



And Pat and my sister Kathryn in the 45km ultramarathon! 





They all finished their races in close to the expected time - a great success! And there were lots of little stalls around for the festival, including some amazingly delicious cupcakes :) 


After some recovery time, and farewelling those who had to go home to Sydney for work or uni, Mum, Dad, Kathryn, the Captain and I set off for Adelaide. The plan was to spend 3-4 days travelling along the coast, then a few days in Adelaide before heading back to the real world. 

We had a glorious day - cold but sunny! The car was exactly the right size for all our stuff!


And off we went!


We paused for morning tea at Lavers Hill, slightly inland with loads of rolling farmland.


Princetown was the next stop, where they had a proper old-school general store! I was particularly tickled by the "Do Duck In Cafe"! 


At Gibson's steps, there was almost a catastrophe. The Captain, a little too eager to enjoy the view, fell off the fence and almost over the cliff! Fortunately Kathryn's arms were long enough to rescue him.


After that incident, he had to wear a leash to prevent any further, worser accidents. As you might imagine, this was only grudgingly accepted.


The views were pretty spectacular though :) 


Our next stop was the 12 Apostles Lookout. 


What an absolutely spectacular part of the world!! There are not quite 12 Apostles left any more (I think we're down to 8?), as they keep falling into the water. The power of the ocean to carve out these little outcrops was very visible, and just incredible.



A bit further down the road is the Loch Ard Gorge. It is named after a ship which was wrecked off the coast in 1878. Only two people survived, washed into the gorge. One of them climbed out of the gorge to get help to rescue the other person. It's a very dramatic place, and I can hardly imagine climbing out those sheer walls!



Our day's adventure came to an end in Warrnambool, in a very strange, old motel. I was super excited about visiting Warrnambool - it was the site of the well known Warrnambool Knitting Mills! I had dreams of yarn shopping, delicious hand spun, hand dyed yarns, filling my suitcase... everyone I had mentioned Warrnambool to was also excited about the Knitting Mills.

Turns out, I should have actually looked it up before we left Sydney. The Knitting Mills closed down in 2001, and the site is now a housing estate. Devastating!! 

The next morning the weather had changed a bit, so we had a brief drive around Warrnambool. The most interesting part was definitely the Whale Nursery. Sadly, despite calling, we didn't see any whales. Maybe we can't speak Whale after all?



Our next stop was Cape Bridgewater, just in time for lunch. There were lots of wind farms around the area - very appropriate, given the level of wind! 




The road to Mt Gambier headed inland, and we drove through hectares and hectares of pine forest plantations. Dad nodded off for a snooze in the back seat while we discussed the economics and practicalities of pine farming, when all of a sudden...

EMU!! 



Dad rudely awoken, we reversed back down the highway to take photos of these magnificent wild birds, just jogging along between the road and the plantation. I've never seen emus in the wild before! 

Next came another milestone of the trip for me - we crossed the border into South Australia! I had never been to this state before. 



The rest of the trip to Mt Gambier was quite uneventful. After arriving at our motel, we decided to have a quick drive to the tourist information centre, and then up to the Blue Lake to see whether it was worth coming back the next morning. Although it was almost dusk, and the clouds had started coming over again, the view was amazing. The Blue Lake really is blue, even though it wasn't the right time of year for the real turquoise colour!






We even saw a wallaby of some kind, looking for its evening meal!


Thoroughly satisfied by the Blue Lake, the next morning we visited Mt Gambier's other main attraction, which we had never heard of! The town is apparently riddled with sinkholes (which in retrospect should be obvious, given the rock composition and the volcanic lakes), so we set off to visit the Umpherston Sinkhole. Named after the man who turned it into a delightful backyard garden, the sinkhole was enormous. I was much too tired to go all the way down, but Kathryn took the Captain down to investigate the ground floor.




In the late morning, we drove a little further along the South Australian coast to the town of Robe. It is obviously a summer resort town - at the end of May, it was very quiet and VERY cold. We had a brief look at the view, which was cold and threatening, and then retreated into town for lunch.


My favourite historical plaque so far was outside the bakery where we had lunch! 


In the afternoon we had a super relaxing time - crocheting and cross-stitching while watching TV series together :) After all that travel we needed a bit of a holiday! In the evening we went to Sails Restaurant, and had the most incredible food. Delicious!


On our way out of Robe, we visited a local icon - Mahalia Coffee, tucked away in the industrial area of town. Such amazing coffee, and a shop crammed full of tea and coffee paraphenalia, including my first sight of my new favourite mugs! (that blue one in the background ;) )


We also visited Maud's on the Hill, an Aladdin's Cave of patchwork and fabric! 


The drive across to Adelaide was fairly uneventful, except, of course, for the Big Lobster! It was certainly big and a lobster.



Adelaide! We had arrived! Our hotel was right in the middle of the city, in Hindmarsh Square. 


Of course, the main attraction of Adelaide for me was the wonderful friends living there :) On Thursday evening when we arrived, we went out for dinner with our friends Matt and Alicia. There was great Italian food, lots of chatting, and then we went back to their house for tea and to finally meet their puppy Astra. 


The next morning started with a bit of excitement - the fire alarm went off just as we were finishing our breakfast! We were all evacuated from the hotel and a large collection of fire trucks arrived very quickly. Sudden terrible thought: We had left Captain Poprocks in our room - what if he had decided to make toast or light a cigar?? Hopefully it wasn't our room that was on fire! 


Fortunately, it turned out there was an electrical fault in an unoccupied room which had set off the alarm and sprinkler system. The poor hotel staff - it was raining through the light fittings in reception when we were finally allowed back in! At least the system works, right?

After all that excitement, we set off for a small circuit of the Adelaide Hills. This region is famous for its wineries and artisan food producers. The area was originally settled by German families, and this German tradition is still strong in the region.

Our first stop was at Chain of Ponds Winery. We tasted some very nice wines, and had a lovely chat with the ladies at the cellar door. If this was how the day was going to go, I was very happy indeed!


There were even some grape vines that still had grapes on them!


On the way to the next stop was the World Largest Rockinghorse! Of course, we had to stop and get a picture!!


Our next stop was Woodside Cheesewrights. This dairy produces mostly goat, cow and buffalo cheeses, as well as a range of fruit, jams and chutneys. We sampled the offerings... extensively. So tasty!


Next door was Melba's Chocolate Factory - we figured that was a sign. The warehouse shop was loaded with old school chocolates and lollies: raspberries, licorice, chocolate fruit and nuts, frogs... we were in heaven. The Captain may have over-indulged a little :P 


Our final tasting stop was at Hahndorf Hill Winery, just outside the town of Hahndorf. While Dad, Kathryn and I were wine tasting (mmmm), Mum took the Captain on a little explore of the vineyard. The autumn colours were just extraordinary! Pity it was such a grey day. 



They also had local arts and crafts for sale at the cellar door, which I think was a nice touch.


The Captain did come back to join us for the end of the wine-tasting, and our hostess was very happy to get a wine glass for him to stand on for this photo!


Friday evening was planned to be another meeting with a new friend this time - Jodie from Lupey Loops. It's so nice to meet internet friends for the first time, and it's like catching up with an old friend after a long absence. We had lots of fun showing off crochet projects, chattering about different kinds of yarn and techniques, and all in all staying out a bit later than our illnesses would prefer. She is writing a much more detailed report on our crochet time together :) A particular thank you to Adrienne who drove and was excellent company! Please excuse the terrible photos - I'm hoping Jodie got some better ones!



On our last afternoon, we thought we had better see a little bit more of Adelaide city before heading off to another friends' house for dinner. Rundle Mall is the main shopping street in the city, and has some pretty cool street art!



In the evening we finally got to meet the children of some very dear friends, Chaka and Lori. It was just wonderful to sit around chatting, playing with tea sets and generally catching up. We have hardly seen them since they moved to Adelaide a few years ago - but that's the thing with good friends. Catching up after a long absence just gives you more to talk about :) I completely failed to get any photos of that visit at all, because we were having too much fun!!

Phew! What a trip! And what an epic blog post! Applause and cookies to those of you who made it this far :) Here's a little reward for you - my favourite sign from the whole trip!

At the World's Largest Rocking Horse there was a very entertaining sign under the tail :P In case you're not up with Australian sayings, if something is very unlikely or unusual, we say it's rare as rockinghorse poop! Fortunately it didn't happen to Captain Poprocks, even though he disobeyed the sign and looked up.


Have you ever travelled to any of these places? We'd love to hear your travel stories!