Convince Me

The man has been busting to go to ‘anything’ at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it is New Zealand’s largest indoor arena, the home of the Highlanders rugby team and occasional concert venue. Late last year the man announced that he’d organised a wee trip to Dunedin to see Roger Waters play at said stadium.

Dunedin has always been a one night stand sort of destination for us. The thought of spending three days there did not excite me. I have vivid memories of gloomy weather, sea fog and the streets surrounding Otago University littered with broken glass.

On a positive note we had spent an absolutely stunning night at Larnach Castle the previous year, which I highly recommend. Ironically the weather on that occasion was foul, it was bitterly cold and we were surrounded by sea fog the entire time.

My challenge was discover the good stuff in Dunedin, to convince myself that this was a worthy destination. The weather in New Zealand was unusually hot during January, in fact the month of January had been our hottest on record. With the sun shining we set off.

The weather in Dunedin was spectacular.


Otago Harbour


Aramoana Beach


St Kilda Beach in the foreground, St Clair in the distance. The beachfront cafes at St Clair did not disappoint.

Our accommodation was centrally located, in George Street, we walked everywhere. This enabled us to take full advantage of all the lovely bars in the city. The stifling heat necessitated lots of beer drinking, of course.

A must do is the Dunedin Street Art Trail. Armed with our map we spent a morning exploring the inner city, discovering art.















Of course we finished our little jaunt off with a well-earned beer at The Duke of Wellington, which was conveniently located near mural number 37.

Lots of unexpected discoveries, Dunedin is an op shoppers paradise, I suppose this is to be expected in a university city. Everything was a third of the price you’d pay in Auckland. Second hand furniture, antique finds were eye-wateringly cheap. There are a plethora of second-hand book shops, allow time to explore. With a lot less traffic it is easier to get around, whether you’re in a car or on foot. Finally the café scene is alive and kicking, serving a wide variety of food, not just your standard fare.

Another must do, if you have wheels, is to drive north to Moeraki and dine at Fleurs Place. An easy hours drive, the seafood restaurant sits on the water front at Moeraki Bay. Local fishing boats supplying fresh fish daily. It was our second visit, keen to try something different we shared the Kai Platter. A gourmet feast of smoked fish, groper, eel, flounder, lemon and cream fish. Pickled fish and mussels, raw fish and a large bowl of shellfish.

smoking fish

For those of you who are feeling daring you could always try the muttonbird.

Ironically we booked tickets on the Taieri Gorge Railway, unfortunately the trip was cancelled. Sea fog at the harbour entrance prevented cruise ships from entering the harbour. A large percentage of the train had been set aside for cruise ship passengers. Oh dear, never mind.

Our evening at the Forsyth Barr Stadium ticked all the boxes, an easy walk from our accommodation, the magnificent covered stand and great music.

Dunedin you rock! Sunshine, great sights, delicious food and excellent company what more could a girl want. I’m convinced.

On a more teachery note, with all this convincing going on, persuasive writing came to mind. I have created a resource that could be used as an introductory activity in persuasive writing. There are three versions, yr1-3, yr4-5, yr6-8. Naturally modelling will have to take place, most importantly choose the version that is suitable for your individual students. As always I love to add an artistic element, a thoughtful character and an outline for arty students to draw their own thoughtful cartoon character.

Convince me

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Ka kite ano.




Posted in Dunedin, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Free resources, Holidays, resorts, travel, travel destinations,, new zealand, Teaching Writing, writing resources | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Something Out Of Nothing

In an effort to stop myself from adding more clothes to my burgeoning wardrobe, I have decided to sew other stuff. Eons ago my friend Margs taught me to felt. My mish mash of multi coloured swathes were then refashioned into a variety of bags.


This bag has travelled the world, it has since been replaced with something a little more practical. Getting a little tatty, never the less I still love the colours.

My most used bag, holds my knitting and crochet. It doesn’t go unnoticed.  At my weekly knitting group, one of my fellow knitters asked about its origins. On discovering that I made it, she responded by saying I should sell them.


Aaaaah, a great idea, unfortunately as anyone who sells crafts at local markets knows, there is a limit to what you can charge for your products. The hourly rate, once you consider the cost of raw materials and time spent, equates to an hourly rate well below the minimum wage. And let me add, that is before tax!! Basically it’s a labour of love.

So, back to the reason for this blog. To prevent myself from getting the teaching twitches. ( I should be in the classroom preparing for the new school year). I have decided to distract myself, creating something out of nothing.

The teacher in me can’t resist following the Technology Design Process. So here goes.

Identifying a Need

Make a tote bag that can be used for shopping, crafts etc. That I can maybe sell?


  • I collect recycled wool blankets, they will be used to make the bag.
  • Felt I have made will be used to decorate the bags. Making felt is time-consuming and time is money. Felt bows will be used to decorate.
  • Suitable fabric to line bag
  • I can sew, knit and crochet


I would like to make a product that I could sell. The bag will appeal to women who want something unique. The bag should be quick and easy to assemble, which will allow me to sell it for a reasonable price.

Concept Drawing

Concept drawings


A medium-sized bag, with strong handles, similar to my craft bag. The bag should be lined and able to sit upright, not collapsing when it is placed on the floor. Felt bows will decorate the bag. I would like to include some other form of decoration, a 3D element?

Mock Up

My craft bag is sort of my mock-up. My only concern is the material I am using is not as firm and the bag may not stand up on its own.

Product Development

I felted some fabric to be used for bows. A variety of colours were used.

Carded wool was laid out on bubble wrap in two layers, perpendicular to each other.

A net curtain is placed over the wool, boiling water and soap flakes are carefully poured over. Lots of rubbing followed.

After being rolled hundreds of times, then tossed onto bubble wrap, washed and ironed, we’re done. A piece of felt big enough to create multiple bows.

The bag was cut from a blanket purchased at the local op shop. It was lined with a piece of fabric in my leftovers box.


Putting the bag together was relatively easy. The handles are reinforced to add strength.


The lining was problematic, it slipped and slid as I sewed it.


Felt bows being made.


A terrible photo of my 3D butterflies. Great pattern, I’ll use it again.




Photographs, where do I start. My eyes aren’t what they used to be , my photography skills went down the toilet as my eyesight deteriorated. The man gave me a flashier camera, to improve my skills?? It didn’t help. It was bulkier, too hard to carry around so I took less photos. I’ve gone back to my cheap and cheerful, and guess what I’m having fun.


If you revisit the aim of this little experiment, it was to make a bag I could sell.  The whole thing is an unmitigated failure. It took way too much time to make, time is money. Adding fluffy bits like bows and butterflies didn’t help. Oh well, the frivolous stuff is part of who I am.

The bag is not as rigid as I had hoped and flops over when put on the ground. overall I am pleased with how it looks.

I suppose I’ve proved a point craft stalls don’t pay. I need to find something equally as funky to make, that is going to be a heck of a lot cheaper. Watch this space.

On a positive note someone will get a really cool birthday present.

Ka kite ano.


Posted in Craft project, Technology Design Process | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Winding Down

I started writing this wee little ditty over a month ago, took photos, then Paddington happened, Christmas popped up and the visitors arrived. It’s been languishing as a Word Doc that I’ve added this and that to since. Yesterday, I dusted off my computer and read it. As you can imagine it was a disjointed mess.

So here we go a recount of my last two months. It starts with an itch I have to scratch. I am quite convinced that a significant percentage of the population have lost the ability to reason. The world is becoming a crazy place, in fact 2017 seemed to be a year filled with more than our fair share of craziness. Donald Trump is President of America, New Zealand now has a new inexperienced government, which makes me incredibly nervous.

The teaching profession continues to be criticised. As a reliever I have the luxury of walking in and out. Doing my job well, making children’s day magical, so that their teacher can return to a problem free world. My heart goes out to all teachers at this time of the year. Their holidays will be spent catching up on tasks that have been neglected and nursing themselves back to good health.

Professionally 2017 has been a year of new experiences. I had to laugh when a recently registered teacher announced, “That at least they now knew everything about teaching”. Oh my gosh, you never ever stop learning.

Anyway I digress, we’re winding down. Summer is finally here. Lets get back to the things one does to distract themselves from the craziness that surrounds them.

Long walks on the beach with the man and the dog.






Crocheting …… Attic24  is one of my favourite blog sites. Late last year I was searching for a summer project. I decided on the Summer Harmony blanket as seen on the Attic24 website. Just a wee something to keep me busy, I would wile away my summer evenings crocheting blanket squares. Sewing it together in the cooler months.

I purchased the wool through Lucy’s shop, $58.00NZ delivered. My Christmas present to me, what a stupendous deal!



As you can see from these photos I’m ripping through it. It is stinking hot here and I’m desperate to finish this rug. Not that we need it, but I’ve never been known for my patience.

Journalling saved my bacon during term 4 last year. Relieving in the last term of the school year is often fraught. The need to do something new and different, something that could be used across all curriculum areas and at all levels, saw me creating journals. I played around with different styles of covers, bindings, etc.


Covers made from the delicious Daphnes Diary



My most important consideration was, as a reliever, I don’t have access to unlimited resources. After a rummage through my book collection I found some sacrificial offerings. A very successful term of journal making ensued.


In the classroom


For all those teachers out there, a gift for you. I have included some of my doodlings below, if you’re so inclined. These journal pages have multiple uses in the classroom. They could be incorporated into personal journals for each student, used to publish individual writing. The possibilities are endless.

Sharyn’s journal pages

Before printing, go into your print settings, Page Size and Handling, click on Custom Scale, changing it from 100% to 98%, this will ensure that the borders aren’t trimmed.

Wishing you all the very best for the coming year.

Ka kite ano




Posted in Craft project, Creative writing, Crochet, journal pages, Free resources, new zealand | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a wrap! Thank you for looking after this bear.

This blog in part, is a tribute to my late mother. She is the reason I made Paddington. Gaynor was exceptionally creative, I’ve inherited my creative bent from her. Constantly knitting, she made sure her grandchildren were always warmly dressed. Knitting toys was a passion.


Unfortunately she died in her early sixties, I inherited her knitting patterns. Two decades ago, as I sorted through them I discovered a knitting pattern for Paddington Bear. I dutifully kept it, knowing that if Gaynor had still been alive she would have made it.

It can now be purchased on-line. Paddington knitting pattern

Twenty years later, with a grandnephew on the way, I dusted the pattern off and started knitting.

Hat and duffle coat nearly completed

When buying Paddington’s gumboots the shop assistant asked me who they were for? “Maybe I should come back with the child in question”. I informed him they were for Paddington and returned with his leg.

This project was an exercise in determination. I kept running out of wool and the assembly instructions were a little vague. Every time I went to attach Paddingtons arms and legs I had heart palpitations.

Elliot my grandnephew, bless him, was born two months premature. Time to panic!IMG_3686

Legs and arms in place


Everything held on with pins. Playing around with his face, trying to get it right. I had a terrible time getting his head straight, Paddington was determined to look to the right.IMG_3691

Duffle coat finishedIMG_3693

Hat firmly in placeIMG_3703

All done. Gumboots squished on, label attached to a toggle, washing instructions in his pocket. I’ve fallen in love all over again.IMG_3711

It’s a wrap

After a huge hug and  kiss, Paddington was carefully packaged up. He is now on his way to Vancouver. Travel safe. Thank you Elliot for looking after this bear.

Ka kite ano.

Posted in Craft project, Knitting, Paddington Bear | Tagged | Leave a comment

On the road again

This was meant to be a spontaneous blog, come home and I’d slap together this clever witty, fluffy piece on Rotorua. Best laid plans, my good intentions wafted off into the ionosphere never to be seen again.

The man and I just love an excuse for a holiday. Road trips are a firm favourite. My husband’s recent birthday provided us with an excuse. The birthday boy’s wants and desires were paramount. A massage had to be part of the package. Taking that into consideration there was only one possible destination, The Polynesian Spa in Rotorua.

Rotorua is a tourist hot spot, with that in mind, accommodation was our first priority. It had to be walking distance to the city centre, restaurants, bars, etc. Jet Park Rotorua fitted the bill. We had stayed here the previous year; breakfast is part of the deal.

Escaping Auckland on a week day is problematic, travelling from the rural west and heading south is fraught, traffic jams galore. Adopting a common sense approach we decided on a leisurely mid-morning start.

Arriving in Rotorua, we donned our tourist hats.


Memories of the Pink and White Terraces, destroyed when Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886.

Rotorua, the city of tulips.


First stop Whakarewarewa Village, it must be at least twenty years since our last visit.


Yay, for my Ellsworth coat. Whakarewarewa is a geothermal wonderland, boiling hot pools and bubbling mud.


I tried very hard to capture a mud hiccup here, after dozens of photos I gave up.

You’ve heard of the Terracotta Warriors.



Now I give you the TerraWhaka Warriors




A relaxing afternoon was spent at the Polynesian Spa. An afternoon in the Retreat, a relaxing soak in the mineral pools overlooking Lake Rotorua, followed by a leisurely massage and a restorative tonic.

The Trip Advisor Gods were consulted before deciding on where to dine. We both have a penchant for the different. Rotorua didn’t disappoint, Che Chorizo and Ali Baba Tunisian Takeaways were superb.

I marvel at what this blog has become. Has it fulfilled its original intentions, yes and no? I started out all teachery. Funnily enough when I was immersed in that other realm, called education, I didn’t have time to blog. The creativity was squished out of me, tired and exhausted this blog collected dust. Now I have time to be me.

I have always been a writer, I thought I might write a book one day, don’t hold your breath. I wanted to do a Master’s Degree in Writing, then I discovered others wanted to steer my boat. I am not good at doing what I’m told. What The Colour of Knowing has given me is a vehicle to express myself in a guarded way. A chance to play with words, big words that I wouldn’t ordinarily use. It makes me feel clever. Most importantly I’ve discovered that if you don’t use it you lose.

So here I am three years on, The Colour of Knowing came out of a very dark place, a poem I wrote after a distressing day in the classroom. A poem I will never share. It has evolved into a mish mash that is me, the teacher, the adventurer, the creator of wonderful things and the occasional writer. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

Ka kite ano.

Posted in Christine Haynes Ellsworth Coat, Holidays, resorts, travel, travel destinations,, Home, new zealand, Rotorua, The Polynesian Spa Rotorua, Whakarewarewa Village | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Tunic Bible Review and a bit of other stuff?

For those of you in a hurry skip to paragraph seven for my review.

I learnt to sew through necessity. Television did not exist in my childhood world and when it finally came along I was in my early teens. We found other ways to entertain ourselves. I learnt to knit, crochet and sew. The ability to create was surreptitiously instilled in us from an early age. I married young; handicapped by a mortgage I sewed clothes once again through necessity. It became part of who I am, part of my culture. Some of my efforts were successful others a dismal failures. I like to think I learnt from my mistakes.

I briefly dabbled in pattern cutting courses, two semesters of study, I failed to complete the course but boy did I learn a lot during those evening classes. My mother, who I inherited much of my talent from, proudly presented me with Volume 1 and 2 of The Modern Tailor Outfitter and Clothier (1950), they have pride of place in my library and I have drafted patterns from them.

Over the last two decades I have continued to sew intermittently. Other things have taken priority, raising children, surviving the bumpy road called life. Four years at university and I became a teacher, my trusty sewing machine sat on its antique table waiting for me to return.

With sewing on the back burner, teaching consumed me in a good and bad way. My passion for writing reignited, out of both necessity and a desire to have a creative outlet. Writing with my classes during our weekly Juicy Writing sessions allowed me to dwell on and write about, all manner of things, even sewing.

One such writing lesson inspired by Colin Thompson’s, How To Live Forever, transported us into a world of ‘book houses’. A fantastical library which came to life at night. Doors and windows appeared on the library books, trees grew, staircases meandered and chimneys billowed smoke.  We invited ourselves into that world and imagined what it would be like to live there. What would you see when you entered your book house?

Naturally, following my passion I chose a sewing theme.


Book house

As the front door swings open, the burble of a well-oiled Bernina resonates off the cluttered walls. Bolts of delicate silk, flimsy organza, luscious velvet and tweed sit, stacked in a far corner. Like soldiers standing to attention, row after row of pattern blocks hang, waiting expectantly, in an antique wardrobe. Cluttered mahogany shelves line the left hand wall. Jar after jar of buttons, lovingly sorted, classified by colour, a kaleidoscope, competing for shelf space. Reel after reel of cotton, carefully stacked and sorted in tiers. A leather grandfather chair sits by a large bay window, basking in the late afternoon sun. Needlework, intricately embellished, lies expectantly by the chair, waiting for a spare moment. Half finished, incomplete garments tease, torment, titillate and tentatively beg for a final stitch, a carefully executed buttonhole or a flourish of lace and ribbon. While in the corner, hangs a testament to the seamstresses’ skills, an exquisite heavily embroidered crimson velvet coat.

The Review

Which makes it all the more poignant that I am now here, back doing what I love sewing, and writing about it. Here is my review of The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr. On-line reviews played a part in the purchase of this book. It’s a beautifully presented book, one pattern and you have endless possibilities. Over the last few months I’ve mulled over what I would make first. With summer in mind I threw ‘wobbly upper arm syndrome’ out the door and decided to focus on a couple of sleeveless tunics.

I’d have to admit that I was a little over whelmed by the prospect of using this book. When I finally threw care to the wind and started reading, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to use. Patterns were traced, muslin sewn, those dam darts had to be lowered, with perfect results.

My first choice was the Inside-Facing Wide Split Placket with angled collar. Using a floral cotton I had purchased in Samoa. The comprehensive instructions made construction of the tunic seamless. The most complex part was sewing the trim on accurately.

I have to admit that interfacing and I are not good friends. I’ve had some disasters in the past and I now often stiffen collars and facings with another layer of fabric rather than interfacing, which I did here. This tunic is a loose fit, no back darts.



Buoyed on by the success of my first tunic I was torn. Should I make a sleeveless tunic with a ruffled neckline or an Outside-Facing V-Neck Placket? I chose the latter. I had an unusual piece of fabric which I had picked up in Japan and a small piece of silk my sister had given me from India. Lots of colour happening here, I’ve always been a risk taker when it comes to colour. Any problems I had with this little number were of my own making. The silk facing took on a life of its own and I’ve stupidly decided to use the same silk to finish off the armholes. Probably not a smart move, watch this space!  Adding the contoured back darts made a huge difference.


These photos aren’t the greatest, my photographer is at work, it’s a very grey afternoon with a foul thunderstorm raging outside. Not the best lighting for good pictures. As you can see this is still a work in progress. I’ll update the post with a completed picture asap.

The Tunic Bible is something I will continue to use. The possibilities are endless. Happy sewing.

Ka kite ano.






Posted in Review, Sewing, Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr, Tunic Bible Pattern Review, Tunic Bible, One Pattern, Interchangeable Pieces | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

In praise of Mesa

I have well and truly got the sewing bug. Fortuitously I have the gift of time. Add to that downloadable PDF patterns that are sooo easy to use, a much-loved repaired sewing machine, an antique baby over locker that keeps on keeping on and you have the perfect breeding ground for a new wardrobe.

I haven’t yet dipped my toes into on-line shopping for fabric, that’s coming. There are a few problems to overcome, my fear of buying the wrong thing, some companies don’t post to New Zealand and the cheap skate in me loves a bargain. Exploring a fabric shop, the smells, and the colours, touching swathes of material, fossicing through the remnant box, imagining possibilities, playing with ideas and forgetting that I’m an old dame who shouldn’t be dressing like that, is one of my favourite pastimes. Anyway my relative isolation is going to force me into on-line shopping for fabric ….eventually.

I always read reviews on patterns, now it is my turn to return the favour. This is my review of the Mesa dress by Seamworks. A simple little number to construct, I have made three. I’ve become a fan of dresses. The jeans and little tops have been discarded, or are languishing in the back of my wardrobe. I have been fortunate, tall and slim my weight never varied, until menopause knocked on my door. Now my weight fluctuates, just enough to be annoying, my waist has thickened and no amount of exercise or good eating is going to change that. Hence, my love of all that stretches.

I cut out the medium size, made up my muslin. There was a teeny tiny gape at the neckline as mention in other reviews, not enough to worry about. I’m quite wide in the shoulders which may have compensated for this?? The medium was a little snug around my old lady waist and hips so I’ve added a smidge on there.

Having my photo taken to plonk all over the internet is not my favourite thing to do. This particular version was made with winter in mind, a heavier knit fabric, worn with a black polo merino underneath and black leggings, the perfect outfit on a chilly day. It is only just warming up here and this dress is a firm favourite.


Toffee to the rescue and I start to relax. A summer version, in a lighter weight knit. All the fabric was purchased at Centrepoint Fabrics in Auckland. I adore this dress. The hem gave me some grief, I always have problems hemming lightweight knits. This hem was hand sewn in the end.



Mesa is a dress I will continue to make. Happy sewing.

Ka kite ano.

Posted in Colette Patterns Mesa 3013, Sewing Pattern Review, Colette Seamworks Mesa Dress, Home, Mesa by Seamworks, Mesa pattern by Seamworks, PDF Downloadable Patterns, Review, Sewing | Tagged , | Leave a comment