Category Archives: Christchurch

Sifting Through the Dross.

Op shopping has been a bit rubbish lately. Lovely fabrics are thin on the ground and vintage linens practically non-existent. Everywhere I went yesterday, shops were being repaired, had moved somewhere else or simply vanished altogether. It wasn’t fun. I called into Tasman Traders since it was on the way home – they usually have a small selection of slightly overpriced retro fabrics, many of them truly ugly – but you never know. I found this scrunched up piece of fabric which I thought was overpriced at $10…

Until I got it home and ironed it and realised that there was nearly 5 metres of fabric. And it’s not ugly retro, it’s truly beautiful vintage rayon. Delicious blue and purple tulips with gold splashes looking like they’d been crayonned onto the sketchy gray background.

I usually default to a tried and true Kwik Sew pattern for vintage rayon but perhaps I should branch out into this Academy pattern passed on by my MIL who wore it in the 1950s. Looks perfect for cycling don’t you think?


Filed under Christchurch, Sewing, Thrifting

My New Love.

After being teased for years about being allergic to exercise, it has actually given me great pleasure to join the ranks of City commuters cycling to work. And this is the reason why:

My Daily 1 Step-Through. In mint green. With a wicker basket. Isn’t she gorgeous! When I’m cruising along in the cycle lanes, sitting up straight with my hands on the wide handle bars, I can hardly wipe the grin off my face. She makes cycling such a joy! No matter that I was actually overtaken yesterday by a boy on a scooter, I was the one having the most fun.

The basket clicks right off and I can take it into my classroom. It holds my lunch bag and my marking perfectly. The first thing I did when I got it home (after riding right across town and through Hagley Park in the dark) was to sew a basket liner. And then another one. And then a fancy one with handles. And finally, this one with a gingham band and a checkered drawstring top which you can whip right out of the basket and take into the shops.

20130808-124622.jpgAnd then there is the fun of cycling fashions. I was a little chastised when I read one of my favorite cycling blogs recently and the author firmly lectured about the point of riding a bike being to save the planet, not to star in photo shoots, and that baskets should be practical additions not fashion accessories. Surely there is room for both.

Pink checked pencil skirt made from a vintage woollen fabric.
Purple jersey from Nurse Maude.
Pink silk scarf and red belt from the Sallies.
Black Overland boots.
Basket liner in linen and pink retro fabrics all my own work.


Filed under Christchurch, School


It was a murky old day at the beach. Reminded me of a poem I learned as a kid – “The sea is a hungry dog, giant and grey…” It was wild and choppy with a mist of salty sea spray. The Port Hills were completely obscured.


This poor person had to work on Christmas Day. There were not exactly crowds to keep an eye on. I think I managed to get everyone who was swimming in this actual photo.


Despite the grey, murky, choppy, misty day, it was warm at the beach and the kids were in and out of the sea for hours. The current was quite strong which made paddling out hard and the offshore winds were very changeable, but there was enough surf to be able to say “Guess what I did on Christmas Day?”



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Filed under Christchurch, Family, Summer


Golden sunset.

Rather stunning actually.


Filed under Christchurch, Summer

Lazy Sunday Afternoon.

We were on the way to somewhere else when we noticed people lined up on a bridge over the Avon. Normally this riverbank would be a favourite for picnickers spending a lazy Sunday stretched out under a blossom tree. But today it is overgrown and neglected and guarded by a wire fence. Even the river looks sad and forgotten.


And what were the people doing on this warm and sunny Sunday afternoon? Watching the demolition of yet another Christchurch high rise.

The time and effort it takes to smash down one concrete column – 15 minutes of fairly relentless grinding and bashing – makes you realise again the strength of the quake that toppled buildings like these in mere seconds. We watch with morbid fascination as the column shatters all over the ground and then squeal in unison as the bridge we’re standing on shudders with the impact.


It’s easy to forget, when you don’t see it every day, that parts of our city are still very, very broken.

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Filed under Christchurch, Earthquake


No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

~Hal Borland

The pink ladies that line our street have burst into bloom.

And the rhubarb plant, which practically disappears in winter, is sending forth nubby pink shoots and the occasional crinkled leaf.

In spite of all the upheaval, year after year. Certainty.

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Filed under Beautiful, Christchurch

City Libraries.

Some of the best things about living in Christchurch are the City Libraries. Last year,when our local libraries were closed, we relied on the Mobile Library bus to bring us our weekly dose of the printed page. The staff became friends and we looked forward to our visits. They shared recommendations and even saved crafty and action adventure books they thought we might like.

Much as I love whiling away an afternoon at a bricks-and-mortar library, I’ve finally managed to drag myself into the 21st century library world with the realisation that I can download books right to my iPhone. And the best thing- when the lending period is up, the book zips itself back to the library. No more overdue fines! My latest crush is Reinvention by Maya Donenfeld and I was thrilled last week to find it availbale for immediate download. I suggested a while back that the library might like to purchase this book but to be able to tote it round on my laptop is magic.

Over the weekend, I had a go at the first project in the book, Maya’s Story Scarves. I like what she says about the scarf not being able to be planned ahead of time, that it evolves as it is pieced together. I’m a big fan of this kind of stitching and often spend days contemplating the bits I’m going to sew together for some patchy project. They get pinned up and arranged and re-arranged on the inspiration wall at school. The kids have their 2 cents worth and eventually something gets decided.

So, the bits for this. An old linen shirt and scraps of a printed linen skirt. A Japanese floral and some pieces of embroidery. Actually I’ve just realised that all these bits are leftovers from the pink wraparound dress. I also added the last few strips of one of my favourite thrifted fabrics – a soft cotton printed with scenes of New York. And then I pin tucked, pleated and stitched.

Extra lace was added with a doily and some crocheted cuffs found in last week’s treasure trove. It came together easily and all the while I was thinking of other versions. How about a completely linen one with with texture from pleats and tucks and gathers? Or a warm wintery flannel one from old work shirts? Or a woolly one with bits leftover from the quilts?

It was simple and fun, I love how it turned out. And a good project is always the one that you can’t wait to make the next version of. I can see that there’ll be plenty of versions of this.

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Filed under Christchurch, Making

Little Bits

A few little things from today.

It’s the school holidays. That’s 17 days to relax a bit, plan new topics and sew up some new samples. I have some ideas for new wall displays that I can’t wait to start playing with. A little quilting group to set up. New fabrics to find a place for.

A nightshirt pattern. Not sure why I’m so keen to take a giant step back to Year 10 but I have a craving for flannel cosiness. Didn’t check the packet before I shelled out 20 cents. Laughed when I got home because there is no instruction sheet. But I think I can fudge it.

Some pretty fabrics for peanuts including enough of the blue voile for summery top, a furnishing piece to make cushions from and an unusual but striking crepe for a scarf.


A stack of new release library books including Fabricate, With Fabric and Thread and Jax Cooks. I love that our city library is open to suggestions about good books to get and that I can reserve them online for $2.

Moments of contemplation. I’ve been to the installation of 185 empty chairs before but I took the kids today. It’s a powerful reminder of what some people have lost. The little chairs are especially sad.


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Filed under Christchurch, Thrifting



Of course the powers that be wait until we’re actually at school before they cancel school.

But still, it’s nice to have a snow day.


Filed under Christchurch

As If I Don’t Have Enough To Worry About

The local supermarket will now persecute me if I take one of their trolleys across the road to my car.


As if I’m not persecuted enough by the caterwauling neighbours, the crazy city council and the very children I live with.

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Filed under Christchurch