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Back in the eighties, I was quite obsessed with knitwear Kaffe Fassett. Those glorious colours, so seemingly randomly, yet intricately compiled.

I used to get his books out of the library and pore over them. Of course I never actually knitted one, I was too scared of patterns.

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Being as it’s the depths of winter, and I’m hibernating, I’ve formed another group. Yes, it’s the Kaffe Fassett knitting society, held at a gun club near you.

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This is L, longtime friend of my sister and I, and someone who can actually claim she knitted a Kaffe Fassett jumper when we were teenagers. Who better to lead such a society?

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To be honest, calling it a society makes it sound a bit grander than it really is, at only two members. But I like to think it’s a movement that’s about to take off.

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The knitting itself has been easier than I anticipated, although I started off by pulling the first ten rows apart about ten times in total.

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It’s enormously satisfying to see it take shape, albeit a rather wild and unregulated shape, with a few stitches wrong here and there.

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Wild

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It’s easy to stay inside in the middle of winter, hunkered down. Lately I’ve been craving the outdoors.

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I’m not great at team activities. I dropped out of a cringeworthy ante-natal class long before the baby actually arrived, and after that scarring experience avoided formal coffee mornings since. Yet despite this I’ve long wanted there to be a local Nature Play group I could bring P to. The other week it occurred to me – why not start one up? So I invited a few friends for an outdoor play date.

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A took us to one of his favourite local spots, which had plenty of pine needles and bark chips for building.

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Of course there was quite a lot of snacking involved, to remind ourselves just how good food  tastes outdoors.

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It was exhilarating to be out in the crisp air,

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eat sticks,

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and cast aside the restraints of polite society.

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Running through muddy puddles, does life get any freer?

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Conventions were abandoned, although L hilariously refused to let go of his bike helmet, the joy of his life.

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Talking about reading

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Sweet Pea, in Petone, is the place to go if you want cup cakes.

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But if you don’t want a cup cake, it’s still a nice place to while away some time,

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with a cup of coffee and a macaroon,

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or even a sausage roll.

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Everything is pleasingly pale and pretty, with touches of pastel.

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Which was perfectly in sync with the boots I’d just found at the op shop down the road.

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This is my friend S. She is a dab hand at drinking coffee and chatting about books. She also knows everything worth knowing about children’s literature, so I learn something every time I see her.

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The baby is also sometimes the recipient of her generosity in this area…

One

It’s been – a while. First, I fell down some stairs. And then, just when life had gotten back to normal, our car got broken into and someone stole my phone, which was, of course, also my camera.

Various things happened.

The baby turned one.

It was joyous and it was incredible. One whole year of the baby. A tiny, nuzzling creature that slowly became a small person, filled with her own ideas and enthusiasms. Herself,  clearly. And yet, recognisably us too, in fleeting glimpses, a funny button nose (me), blue blue eyes (her father), a cheeky beaming grin (her granddad).

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I’ve never been so constantly tired. I’ve never laughed so much. I’ve never felt so vulnerable, yet so fearless. She is, simply, an explosion of pure joy.

And mayhem.

It was well worth a celebration and so we did.

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My mother came to stay, and we baked and put up decorations. I do so love getting ready for a party.

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We invited friends and family, all the people who have welcomed the baby and shared good times and bad.

It was a very nice event indeed.

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The only person who didn’t really seem to enjoy herself was the baby. Perhaps it is the beginning of an existential crisis?

Under the Mountain

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I’ve always been curious about Crystal Mountain, in Swanson. It claims to have “New Zealand’s largest selection of crystals and minerals from around the world and Beyond”. Don’t you just love the capitalisation in “Beyond”? So evocative and so mysterious.

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There is a somewhat confusing conglomeration of activities on offer. Upstairs is a shop selling crystals, outside is a theme park and petting zoo.

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But I can recommend making your way through the vast shop to the very end and taking the lift down – down to the bowels of the earth – to the Crystal Museum.

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There are murals, to remind you you’re in the bowels of the earth.

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Or up in the sky?

And there are crystals galore. Big ones, small ones, shiny ones, glittery ones.

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I can recommend it, although certainly not if you have a fear of being underground.

The Ides of Nidus

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This is Tamara from Nidus, a shop / showroom by designer Andrew Missen. Which is at the raggle taggle end of Newtown, at least, it used to be, until it closed last weekend.

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F Stop introduced me to Nidus when I first moved to this city four years ago and we have visited it at least once a month ever since. It began as the meeting point between two divergent tastes – that is, F Stop’s lowbrow modernism (his description) and my shabby chic (ah, op shop finds and hand me downs). When we started living together Nidus was proof that our disparate approaches were not, in fact, so far apart. The gun club is the melding together of our tastes, Curvesse chair alongside crocheted blanket. And all knitted together with a lot of Nidus.

I’ve lost count of how many lamps and lights we have from Nidus. Sitting here in the hall I’ve made a visual count of 13, and that’s just on this floor. But the most special item we have from Nidus is this table,

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made by Andrew from rimu planks rescued from our renovations, originally used as the sarking of the rifle range extension. When Andrew delivered the table back to us he said he had discovered bullets embedded into the underside of the wood! It’s a solid beast of an object, rough but beautiful.

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Tamara was the Sunday shop girl and an artist in her own right. We made friends with her by turning up Sunday after Sunday, sitting on the chairs for sale, stroking the ceramics, settling in and pondering possible purchases. Probably getting in the way of other customers, but she was unfailingly kind and welcoming. Popping in to see Tamara and checking out new stock became an important part of our weekends, even when we had no intention of buying anything. We would take visitors to Nidus as part of our Introduction to Wellington (the South Coast, Moore Wilsons, Duke Carvells, Martha’s Pantry…). More recently the baby has joined our jaunts.

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It’s hard to describe how important a shop might become to your life without sounding overly dramatic, or worse, thoroughly consumerist. We probably don’t need any more lamps, not for a good long while. And god knows we’re drowning in ceramics. But, on that last weekend, when we bought Tamara flowers and some elderflower fizz to toast the end of an era, I felt a deep sadness. I can’t imagine our weekends without “just popping in to see Tamara” or wondering “what Andrew’s got in stock at the moment”.

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Thanks Andrew, thanks Nidus and thanks Tamara. We wish you all the best for the future. We’ll miss you.