Friday, October 31, 2014

Fantastic Yarn Day

Last Thursday was a really, really, really good yarn day. Two different packages full of yarn showed up. And since they were sent by two different methods, they showed up at different times. I got to be excited twice in one day. Although I didn't open them right away. (With good reason I assure you.)

And that reason was because I went down to the Holland Road Yarn Co on Willis St. in Wellington and taught a class on starting the Southern Skies. Well, of course I forgot to take a picture of everyone. But I did get a picture of Jenn's start on her Southern Skies.

Now, being at the Holland Road Yarn Co, it's hard not to leave without some yarn. I'd been there earlier in my trip, so I thought I was safe. Not so. They had restocked their Mythral.... and they had the Rata color way that I had been unsuccessful in procuring the last time I'd been in New Zealand. I hemmed, I hawed, I bought.

But with only 8 balls (I had bought all they had in stock) I wasn't sure I'd be able to make the sweater I wanted. After talking to Wei Siew about what my options might be, she dove into her stash and came out with 5 more balls... in the same dye lot. She asked how many I needed, but I honestly couldn't answer her because my jaw had dropped. Too bad there isn't a picture of it. She said I could take all of them after I was unable to scoop my jaw back up off of the floor. She also gave me a project bag. I suppose stuffing one's half knit sock into one's pocket guarantees sympathy from another knitter.

So after all that, I did finally open my yarn packages. I ordered 5 skeins of Anna Gratton's 4ply Pure Wool in Natural White for a super secret project. Poor Wei Siew has had to listen to me prattle on about what they will grow up to be.

And after knitting part of a sock in the Stray Cat Sock that Wei Siew treated me to, I went ahead and bought myself two more balls in the Jaffa and Silver Star color ways.

So if we knitters are to learn any lesson in all of this, it is that if you are far away from your yarn stash, you will start building a new one. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Colonial Knob

The weather report is always threatening rain, but every time I go hiking it doesn't seem to happen. Last week Chris, Ian, and I went out to Colonial Knob. 

Apparently Chris and Ian usually go a different direction. The way we went involved a million steps. Every time I thought we had gotten to the top of all the steps a new long line would appear.
Not pictured: the other 999,950 other steps

We finally emerged out of the bush and went to a lookout. I mistakenly thought that we had reached the peak of our hike. I didn't mention this to anyone. Especially not after it was pointed out that we were still had a ways to go. And that included climbing upwards still. At least the steps were gone.

I felt like I'd earned lunch by the time we made it to the top.

I also got a lesson on another plant. It has hooks on the underside of the leaf and is called Bush Lawyer. Presumably because once it has got its claws in you....

Before heading back down, we hopped a fence and got a terrific view of the South Island. I'm looking forward to actually being on that island rather than just seeing it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Otari-Wilton's Bush

Chris is leading a walk in the Otari-Wilton's Bush, so Owen and I came along as he did the walk to test out how long it would be.

Part of the walk takes you through a graveyard. And one of the graves belongs to a man who was on the Shackleton expedition: Harry McNish. 

McNish was the carpenter. He had a cat that unfortunately had to be put down after the ship broke up in the ice.

There were some more surprises in store during the walk. A warning was painted on this low hanging branch. Owen commented that despite the warning, you were more likely to be looking down while passing by and would hit your head anyways. We thought that a streamer should also be hung to help preserve heads.

When we reached the pine forest, Chris told us about the time that he saw the ground move in a similar pine forest. Apparently it had been so windy and the pine trees were swaying so much that their roots were lifting the ground.

 Along the way I finally learned what a stinging nettle looked like. Luckily I didn't learn the hard way.

It really was a great day for a walk. I keep packing my raincoat just in case, but it always seems to stay pretty sunny when I go out hiking. I hope my luck continues.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eel Luring

I've been in New Zealand just over 3 weeks now. Even though I've had many great experiences so far, I'll admit to also being a bit homesick. (I also have chosen not to post about the days I was bored or spent time weeding in Chris' garden. Just know that in between days of adventure are days of monotony.) That being said, I'd like to talk about eel day.

Kiwipurler and her kids came over for dinner. I made a fantastic taco salad, if I do say so myself. While normally I'd be hesitant to show a food picture, I want to show this one off because I made the salsa and guacamole from scratch! Much chopping and mixing went into this. It was a great hit. I also had set aside some mince (ground beef if you are in the States) for later on.

Chris had agreed to take all of us to see glowworms and eels. First we had a peek at the glowworms. It was night when we went, so we saw them glowing. During the day, this is what a glowworm area looks like. You can find them along damp rock. (There are pictures in this post if you want to see glowworms at night)

But the highlight of the evening was when we went to lure the eel. There is a big eel living in a crevice of a rock in a stream and when Liam had visited, we tried to lure him out of his hole with some bread we found in a trash can. He poked his head out, nipped the bread, but spat it back out. This time I was armed with mince. Despite my best effort, which included wiggling a stick near the eel's nose, he refused to come out. But then something even better happened. A smaller eel swam up the stream, wiggled over some rocks, and ate the mince. Then the big eel popped his head out and nipped the small eel on the nose! The small eel had gotten the biggest bit of mince and decided that he big eel was a bully, so he swam back down stream. It was one of the neatest things i've seen in New Zealand. Felt like a David Attenborough or Marty Stouffer moment.
 The big eel's nose is visible just to the right of the small eel's fin.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dinosaurs Underfoot

On Thursday, Amanda and I met up in Wellington, had lunch, and headed over to the Te Papa museum to see the dinosaur exhibit. 

The first thing I learned was that Tyrannosaurs is the family name for many, many different dinosaurs. "Rex" just happens to be part of the family. I think the small ones were just as scary as the big ones.

Don't get me wrong. I also wouldn't want to be eaten by a big one.

I'd always wanted to see real dinosaur bones in person. Finally can cross that off of the bucket list. These bones were on loan.

The biggest skeleton towered above me. I started to get a better sense of why I'd never want to visit Jurassic Park.

There were all sorts of neat displays. At first I just admired how well the bones silhouetted on the wall.

But every once in awhile the shadow would move and do something silly, like fart or pretend to do shadow puppets. Whoever thought of that was quite clever.

As Amanda and I left, we learned that New Zealand is actually overrun by dinosaurs. Stay long enough and you'll find them underfoot.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Otaki Forks

This past Sunday found me at the Otaki Forks with Chris and Ray. We ended up going 12k, or 7.4 miles. 

Back home that would be a bit of a workout, but not too bad. But at home, I'm typically not hopping from rock to rock to pass streams or scrambling up steep slopes, clinging to tree branches in order to avoid falling down where large slips have taken place. So this one took a bit more out of me.

I was told that this was "good track" Much of the track was about a foot wide with a steep drop on one side. I wondered what "bad track" looked like, but was happy to not encounter any.

When we reached one end of the hike, there was a bridge troll there to greet us. By this time we'd been hiking for two hours and Chris and I had been wanting lunch an hour previous. 

Ray finally pronounced us worthy of lunch. But since the view wasn't so great, we hiked back 15 minutes to a clearing we had seen and enjoyed a little break.

By the end of the day we heard thunder in the distance. The view was wonderful, but I was quite happy to return to the car and sit. I think we all felt like we had earned it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yarn Zealand

The other day I had a day on my own in Wellington. I took the train down and went to visit the weekend underground market. Kiwipurler had tipped me off that Helene of Happy Go Knitty would be there and I ought to go say hi. I am weak though, so a skein of the 100% BFL in the Forget Me Not color way came home with me. Whoops.

I figured out that the Wellington location of the Holland Road Yarn Company was nearby, so I headed over. At first I was just going to get wool wash. Ha! That would requite self control... and fewer yarn fumes. I skein of Ashford 12ply will become a hat that matches my wool coat. Knitsch isn't being dyed as regularly now, so when I saw these skeins of Mad Blood Stirreth, I couldn't say no.

Tash was in, so I was able to show her my Police Box Sox in person. Jenn let me try on her beautiful sweater. I was interested in knitting with the yarn it was made out of. (Anna Gratton's 4 ply) and have largely decided that the yarn is right for my future project.

Meanwhile, I made a decision on what to cast on next. The Stray Cat Socks in the Blue Moon color way seemed like the way to go. I might want more of the yarn and I thought I ought to test it out.

This also means that I finished my Yoga For Elephants socks. I'm so pleased! Just in time to warm my cold tootsies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rock Climbing And Smoking Desserts

Chris' godson Liam came to visit during his school holidays last week. We picked him up from the airport and I saw a Weta Workshops display that I had missed seeing when I had arrived.

Unfortunately I ended up with a migraine the next day, but the day after we all took the train down to town. (I learned that going into town means going into Wellington) First we gave rock climbing a go. Liam started and Chris was belaying him. It took me a good twenty minutes to muster up the courage to give it a shot. But once I got going I quite enjoyed myself.

I also learned that there are quite a few muscles I don't normally use. It was almost as much work belaying as it was climbing.

Afterwards we took the cable car up to the top of the botanical gardens.

Chris asked Liam if he wanted to have a picture taken, to which Liam said "No." I asked Liam if he would take a jumping shot with me. Chris: 0, Audry: 1.

In the evening we went to Genghis Khan, a Mongolian restaurant, for dinner. The best part is always the smoking desserts, though.

We walked up to the top of Mt. Victoria after dinner to have a look at the city lights. It was only after we got to the top that we realized that we'd missed the lunar eclipse. Ah well. It was still a beautiful night.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mt. Lowry

The adventures continue! Last weekend I went hiking with Chris, Owen, and Ray to the top of Mt. Lowry. I've started to take pictures of the maps just in case I get turned around.

As expected for a mountain, the first half was up. I was informed that I needed to slow down for the rest of them. It worked for me. I took in the view and got a few pictures of the guys coming up while waiting.

The view at the top was less that impressive. I was amused by the sign though.

We walked another 150 meters down the track and were rewarded by a much better view of the harbor.

Owen kindly took a picture of me having a good old time. I was the last person to receive the picture though. Owen sent it to Dad who sent it to Connor who sent it on to me when I asked for it.

I know that the view of tree ferns is a bit less impressive to the regular New Zealand hikers, but I think it is my favorite bit every time we go out. Something about standing underneath giant ferns make me feel like I've gone back in time.
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