Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Creative Recap

It's time for the annual creative recap. I don't know why, but this year I was convinced I hadn't knit or designed all that much. I was wrong. When I looked at my ravelry projects from 2014, I was impressed to see that I had knit up 7 samples for designs, two of which are not yet released. Overall, I'd knit up 11 pairs of socks, 4 hats, 2 sweaters (one sport weight and one fingering), 2 pairs of fingerless mitts, 1 shawl, and 1 infinity scarf. I'm most impressed with the number of socks that were knit. I know many people like to challenge themselves to knit 12 pairs of socks in 12 months. I almost did it on accident. 

I also finally finished spinning the yarn for my blanket project. For the last 4 years, I've been working on spinning all the brown colored mill scraps I had collected while working at the Yolo Wool Mill into yarn. Before I left for New Zealand, I mailed all of the yarn off to a weaver. I'm not sure how the blanket will turn out or what size it will finally end up being. But there is enough yarn for about a Queen sized blanket. I'm looking forward to snuggling under it at some point.

This year proved to me that I have no idea what the future will hold, creatively or otherwise. What I do know is that I will continue to learn as much as I can about fiber and yarn. It still is a passion. But what form that will continually evolve.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Waitomo, Whitebait, And The End Of The Adventures

The next day, Connor, Chris, and I headed out to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Chris and I hadn't been there in quite some time. Connor loves caves, so I thought he might enjoy it. Getting there was quite the ordeal though. There were two possible routes. We chose the southern route so that Connor could see a different bit of the countryside. I made sure to have a hard copy of a map and I set the GPS before handing it over to Connor. Classic mistake. The GPS rerouted at some point and we ended up on backroads. I knew we should have been about 15 minutes to our destination, so I asked how far the GPS said we were. 54 minutes! Chris then asked if I had taken the northern route. No, I hadn't. But for some reason we were pretty far north of where we should have been. Connor was a bit embarrassed. He told Chris that I had prepared for everything except for the "Connor Contingency."

We eventually made it to the caves. Unfortunately there is no photography allowed in the caves. But the bit of the tour where you see the glowworms involves sitting in a boat and floating along a bit of river in a cave. There were so many glowworms that you could easily see everyone in the boat. It turns out that we came at the right time of year. The display is much better in summer than in winter.

As we left, I handed the GPS back to Connor. He asked if we trusted him and Chris and I both said yes. The car was silent as we started backing out. All of a sudden, from the back seat, we heard, "GPS signal is lost." Connor looked back at Chris and Chris gave a sheepish look.
It was getting a bit late, so we all stopped at a cafe. Whitebait was on the menu and I thought Connor should have a taste. I've decided that Whitebait isn't my thing. There is just something about having your food look at you that puts me off my tucker.
Later on that evening Sarah and Ben took us to Kerosene Creek, which has a hot and cold sling running into it. We sat in the warm water underneath the night sky and enjoyed ourselves.

On our last day, I drove Connor and I back up to Auckland. Along the way we stopped for lunch in Matamata, which is right by Hobbiton. Our Hobbiton tour guide had told us about how people would sometimes take off their shoes and kneel on them to look more like a Hobbit. A certain someone enthusiastically jogged over to the town sign to do just that.

Before going to the airport I took Connor to Takapuna, where I had spend much of my time in New Zealand as a child. While we were there Connor brought out some greenstone he had bought me and dipped it into the ocean. Dad and I had done something similar for Mum's greenstone on a previous visit.

We walked up and down the beach and enjoyed the last bits of New Zealand.

This was to be the last calm moment we would have for the next few hours. We hit the worst traffic I have ever seen in Auckland and almost missed our flight back home. It's an involved story, but everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Highlights included all the rental car drop off spots were full, getting separated and only one of us having a working mobile, losing my boarding pass as we were being called to board (I've never lost one until now), going to the desk to get a new pass... only no one is there. We did make it. But we got to the gate with less than 10 minutes to spare. But we made it! And so ends the great New Zealand adventure chapter of my life.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

From Hobbiton To Blue Lake

Because Connor wasn't going to be in New Zealand for very long, I wanted to do my best to share parts of my childhood as well as some touristy things with him. Being the Lord of the Rings fan that he is, I knew I had to take him to Hobbiton.

Any local will tell you that if you live in an area, you will have missed out on some of the classic touristy stuff that you can do. When I had found out that Chris also hadn't been to Hobbiton, I did my best to convince him that he should come with us. I succeeded.

I've been to Hobbiton twice at this point and I've decided that my very favorite place is the Green Dragon. I only wish I knew the song that Merry and Pippin sing about it.

Last time I was here, there were generic mugs to have your pint in. This time around they had Green Dragon pint glasses. And I thought to myself: "They have pint glasses? I'm getting one."

We also popped into the gift shop. And wouldn't you know it, one of Wei Siew's patterns is in there with Stansborough yarn.

After Hobbiton, Sarah and her boyfriend Ben invited Connor and I to hike around Blue Lake. Her father has some legendary stories (many of which Chris has been a part of) so I asked Sarah if anything crazy ever happens to her. In other words, is it genetic? She said she couldn't remember. Famous last words.
Rosie, the dog who was with us and has infinite energy, spotted a duck and went out into the lake to get it. Every time she got close, the duck would fly just a few feet further. We thought the duck was stupid... until we realized it had ducklings. We then knew that not only was the duck not going to leave, neither was Rosie. Sarah made the bold decision to swim out into the cold lake to get Rosie. She almost succeeded, but Rosie spotted the duckling and started anew. At the point we decided on a different strategy. Rosie loves her people, so we walked on, hoping that she would realize we were gone and come looking for us. A bit down the trail we realized that we couldn't hear the duck quacking anymore. We knew it had ended, but we didn't know how. Did Rosie catch the duck? Did she drown? A few seconds later Rosie came charging down the trail.

I felt quite lucky to have gotten to see another part of New Zealand that I didn't know existed. The evening was beautiful and I got to spend it with great company.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One Ring To Rule Them All

Hello dear readers, my name is Connor. You may remember me from previous blog posts such as Monterey Bay Aquarium, Yosemite, and Kentucky. For this special edition blog post, Audry has kindly allowed me a guest write and share with you yet another adventure we've had together. As you know, Audry has been in New Zealand going on 9.5 weeks. What you didn't know is that I joined her out there for a short time (4 days). This was my first time outside of the States, so I had no idea what I was doing. I packed few clothes and checked in a big empty bag so I could bring back all the yarn Audry bought out there.

Our first destination was Paeroa, known for its naturally fizzy water which inspired a local favorite drink called Lemon and Paeroa, or L&P. Tagline: "World famous in New Zealand." I highly recommend it if you're ever in the area.

From there we took a beautiful drive through the countryside to Mt. Maunganui, where she'd spent time as a child at her grandparents' timeshare. The ocean is very beautiful, but still cold. I decided it was a "looking ocean" after all.

Now I hear you asking, "So why, Connor? Why fly all the way to New Zealand just for 4 days?" Indeed it was not just to look at a beautiful country, nor just to transport yarn back to the States. There at Mt. Maungani I proposed to Audry. Several times. She said yes each time. 
I knelt here in this bit of sand as she sat beneath the bolder.

The rest of that short trip was pretty great too, but I'll leave it to Audry to tell the rest. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Once In A Blue Moon Socks

Any knitter will attest to the fact that they will always bring more knitting and yarn with them on vacation than they can possibly use. We all do this because we have heard the horror story of the one time a knitter didn't do that and had absolutely no knitting with them. That should not ever be allowed to happen, hence the overabundance of projects. While in New Zealand, I finished an already started pair of socks, a hat, and a whole new pair of socks. Wei Siew so sweetly gave me the yarn for this pair.
The one time I remembered to get a picture with the both of us in it. Thanks for taking the picture Eric!

A few days before leaving New Zealand, I managed to finish the pair. Yay!

The yarn is by Stray Cat Socks and is in the Blue Moon colorway.

I was quite happy to not only finish them in New Zealand, but to wear them on my last day in the country.
 Thanks for taking the pictures Connor. It was so much easier than contorting myself in order to get them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Patuna Chasm

When I first came to Wellington, Chris told me about an amazing hike at Patuna Chasm. He told me that since half the hike is in water, we would need to wait until the weather warmed up so that we wouldn't be frozen the whole way. During my last week in Wellington, Chris, Owen, and I made the trip out. A French couple also was there, so the five of us did the hike. Adele and Martin were quite sweet. When I lost my sunglasses, Martin ran back to look for them with me. We were lucky that they weren't too far down the trail.

The first half of the hike is through farm land and near some amazing rock formations. This bit is optional, and I considered walking around because of the bees. That's right. The hole right above Chris' head contains a whole swarm, honeycomb and all. Owen made fun of me for not having a sense of adventure (but not a sense of self preservation) so I went ahead and walked this bit as well.

We walked along narrow trails, including some bits that had rope attached so you could pull yourself up difficult portions, until we reached the ladder that lead into the chasm. Not pictured is the really slick mud that was along the narrow trail.

We first walked upstream to a waterfall. Martin and Adele went back down while Owen, Chris, and I had lunch. We agreed to meet up at a spot downstream. Bits of the stream were pretty deep and I walked tip toe at parts in a desperate bit to keep my underwear dry.

We scrambled around, eventually reaching this large rock that had split. The only way through was so narrow that I climbed up the rock to see if we could get down another way. We couldn't, but as I came down I slipped, fell hard on my side and arm, and proceeded to slide another meter or so. I was ok, but it took me a minute to feel it. We all eventually shimmied through the narrow rock opening. Because Owen and Chris are such gentlemen, every time we got to a slick portion of the trail where they thought I might fall, they whipped their cameras out waiting for the perfect moment. That moment came (the one time they didn't pull out their cameras) and I fell on the same side again. It was a slower fall, so I laughed. But I fell into the river, so my underwear got wet despite my best efforts.

We continued downriver, admiring the limestone formations and overhanging trees. I felt like I was in The Jungle Book. Part of the hike was through a cave. I had heard that there might be eels around, so I was a little nervous. Of course Owen asked me to stay standing in the dark water for a bit while he took pictures. There were some neat pictures to be had because despite there being a cave, there was just enough light from the other end. 
Chris entering the cave

I knew that eels liked the dark, but near the end of the hike, we found two eels who were swimming around in daylight. One of them was quite curious and came right up to us. I didn't like how he looked at my shoes, so I continued on to find a dry patch to stand on. Chris put his hiking stick near the eel and the eel obliged him by biting the stick! I was less inclined to go into deeper water after that.

We met back up with Martin and Adele and walked through the pasture to get back to the car. It was a vigorous hike, but one of the best I had ever done. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Crow's Nest

I've been back home for a week now and finally have time to sit down and relate the last two weeks of my NZ trip. After Blenheim, I went back to Chris' in Wellington where we went on several more hikes before the last leg of my trip. From the window of the room I was staying in, I could see the Crow's Nest. I asked Chris if we could hike it. Little did I know that we would end up doing it twice: once from each direction.

It was quite windy the first time we went up. On our way down Chris spotted a plant he didn't recognize (a rarity) so we picked a sample. Neither of us were able to figure out what it was beyond that it was from the mint family. Chris had a friend that was particularly good at identifying plants, but our sample was pretty wilted, so we climbed back up. (It ended up being Balm of Gilead)

Since we were so close to the top, Chris asked if I'd like to continue on. Of course I would!

We sat at the top, ate some chocolate, and headed back down. We were pretty lucky to have such great weather. As we headed back down, we took in the view of Wellington harbor.

Once we had descended back into the bush, I noticed that a few trees were full of holes. Chris told me about the Puriri moth.

The grubs burrow into trees and spend a few years maturing. They create camouflaged caps over their holes. We were able to spot a few. The moths themselves only live a few days and are uncommon to see.

A few weeks before this, Wei Siew had brought over one she had found. I didn't realize how lucky I was to see one in person. It was quite large. We let it loose in Chris' back yard and it flew off drunkenly, hit a tree branch, and disappeared.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bud Rubbing

After the adventure at Sawcut Gorge, Chris and I returned to working on Jon's vineyard. Chris was quite gleeful that he was going to go back to Wellington before me, so he would not have to keep working. By this time we had finished all the wire lifting and moved on to bud rubbing. Bud rubbing consisted of knocking off all the canes that are growing along the main stalk of the vine. 

As I was going up and down the rows, I heard this strange cheeping sound. It seemed as if it was simultaneously in front of me and far away. I stood for a bit, listening carefully.

Eventually I determined that the sound was right under my nose. These four guys were hungry and waiting for mum. Every time I tapped the vine, they would open their mouths. Jon had told us to take out any nests we found. I wasn't sure what to do in this case. He told me we turn a blind eye to nests with personality.

However, nests where there weren't personalities living, we still took out. I must have pulled out a good seven nests. Some empty, some not. In one case, I found a nest because a bird flew out of it right in front of my face. It gave me a serious fright!

After three days, we finished the bud rubbing. At some point, I asked why there were roses by so many of the the vines. I was informed that the roses catch disease faster than the vines, so if a rose is unwell, it is possible to treat the vines before they die.

I had a great time with Jon and Bev and I learned quite a bit in a short amount of time. On my last day, they both took me back out to Picton to catch the ferry. The view along the Marlborough Sounds is breath taking. It was the reason I took the ferry rather than fly. Unfortunately, I was so tired after a solid three weeks of activity that I passed out during a good part of the Sounds leg of the journey. Ah well. What I saw was still worth it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sawcut Gorge

Whenever I agree to go with Chris on a hike, I go knowing full well that anything could happen and that the track could be in any condition.

As usual, I was treated to one of New Zealand's finest tracks. And by finest track, I mean that there was none. We just scrambled over rocks looking for orange triangles that would prove we were going the right direction.

We crossed the river multiple times. Chris said that the water was cold enough to allow boys to be mistaken for girls. I told him that girls didn't like being in water that cold either.

After all the scrambling we did, we eventually reached the gorge. A Spanish couple was sitting and having lunch by it. I was impressed that there was anyone else out there since the drive in was long, winding, and dangerous followed by a hike that was long, winding, and dangerous. 

We walked up the gorge, through the river, and had lunch. 

As we walked back down, the light started to shine right down into the gorge. I marveled that we could have come at any time of the year at any time of the day and could have missed this phenomenon.

I was tired, cold, wet... and I didn't want to be anywhere else in the world in that moment.
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