Sunday, 26 April 2009


So I never quite understood the apples reference from Good Will Hunting:

Will Hunting: Do you like apples?
Clark: Yeah.
Will Hunting: Well, I got her number. How do you like them apples?

But guess what I got at Goodwill last week?

Christian Dior, one hundred per cent silk apple green blouse. It's made in Hong Kong so I'm guessing that it was made under license. I love the way that the brand name is embroidered onto the inner yoke. And the cufflinks! I don't know whether they are original to the blouse but they're great (and heavy).

And another treasure - this wooden sewing box, made in Poland, complete with dove-tail joinery, which so reminds me of one that my grandmother had.

It even came with a bonus crochet hook and a few shirt buttons inside, so it was clearly in use by someone. I love the way the sides open out accordion-fashion.

door prize

Today I attended a knit-in for feminist scholarship held at the Phinney Neighborhood Association; all funds raised today are to be donated to the University of Washington Women Studies Department to pay for undergraduate awards for activism, service and academic rigour. Why they needed to have a knit-in to raise this money is all to do with budget cuts and economic downturns and other concepts which really have no place on this blog even though they seem to have saturated the rest of our lives. Anyway, hooray - I won a door prize. A hank of Pagewood Farms Yukon Hand Dyed Sock Yarn, which is a merino/bamboo/nylon blend, in the colourway 'crayon'.

Alas, attending a knit-in and winning doorprizes is about as much as I feel I can do for feminist scholarship at the moment, or scholarship in general. I used to think that I would be a uni student forever; whenever I became interested in something my first thought was to do a degree in it. I used to feel that the structure of formal study was what was necessary to make my learning real, to validate it. Key words there are 'used to'. That structure of reading lists, essays, exercises, due dates, exams - I'm afraid that I have passed that phase in my life.

Where does this leave my health economics study? In limbo, until I finally get around to writing a letter asking to be officially discontinued. Sigh. More time to knit I guess.

Monday, 20 April 2009

i still knit

Truly I do. Every day in fact, which is probably why I don't have time to read quilting books but anyway ...
this is a random knitting update post:

Baudelaire socks - I cannot remember the last time that I didn't look at these. I know that I got over the trauma of the dropped stitches and started on the leg. Ah, that's right - the dilemma of how do I know when I have enough yarn left to complete twelve rows of ribbing (and a bind-off)? My good friend Heidi (who is merchgirl on Ravelry - check out her astounding Laminaria) suggested test knitting a row of ribbing, then frogging it and measuring how much yarn it required. Measure out twelve times as much yarn from the wrong end of the ball (and some more for the bind-off I imagine) and then just knit to that point. Such a good idea, I'll try it someday.

Faux Prussian Stole - I completed one of the five-and-a-half 81-stitch-by-96-row repeats and collapsed from exhaustion. That in itself was such a feat that I have not yet quite recovered enough to start on the next repeat. I did, however, purchase an Addi Nature circular needle (bamboo tips) which I think will hold the yarn better. It was very slippery knitting on the Addi Turbos that I was using.

Diamond mittens - Going well but haven't picked them up for a while. All I have to go on the left mitten is the individual fingers (which get tucked in underneath the mitten top) and the thumb. On the right mitten I have started the ribbing thereby hoping to avoid second mitten syndrome.

So what have I been knitting everyday?? Wallingford! Which is actually a pattern called Wallington but as I go to a knit night in Wallingford on Mondays it was too much to have two such similar words milling around in my brain. Rather than rename the neighbourhood I thought it easier to rename my project (ah, yeah). Besides, I like the word Wallingford better. This is my first adult-sized garment project and I am knitting it from recycled wool. So far I have completed the two sleeves, the back to just beyond the armhole shaping and one front about as far as the waist. This leaves: the rest of the back, the rest of one front, all of the second front, the collar and front bands, the wrist straps and the belt and the wrist and waist casings.

Hmmm, will I make it? I think so. It won't matter too much if the casings are knit from a different yarn as they are on the inside of the garment and I imagine that even a portion of the wrist straps could be in a different yarn too as that portion will always be concealed inside the casing. The belt is a bit more of a challenge in the potential substitute stakes - where the belt would sit inside the casing depends whether I want to wear it buckled up or tied. This is likely to make it more difficult to conceal a portion knit in a different yarn. Regardless, this is all down the track - I have to complete the garment pieces first before I do the finishing (although I predict that I will be seaming with a different yarn: just. in. case.)

Saturday, 18 April 2009


More book love. This is another of the swag that I picked up at Bellevue Library a week or so ago - Quilts of Tennessee: Images of Domestic Life prior to 1930 by Bets Ramsay and Marikay Waldvogel. I've only had time so far to leaf through and look at the photos of the quilts and read a few captions and sidebars but just that experience has been wonderful. The work(wo)manship, the make-do-and-mend mentality, the pride and most of all the incredible amount of time that went into making these quilts. And best of all the reassurance because I tell you, some of them are really lumpy!

As I am sure the astute reader will have picked up, I have a few issues with perfectionism, namely with letting go of it. I would say that, apart from time and energy constraints, it is the thing that has held me up the most in the past with my creative endeavours. You know, that it wouldn't be good enough, that it wouldn't work out, that it ... blah blah blah. It is reassuring to see that wonderful works of creativity have a few unique bumps in them. When did it become the case that quilts were supposed to be perfectly smooth and orthogonal? When did idiosyncracy go out the window and machine-made precision became the requirement? Point of all this being that I'm a little anxious about some of the rumples that I expect to see in my quilt as a result of some puckering in the batting. I could just say that I'm going authentic (although I did receive some great advice from millymollymandy about reducing the pressure on the foot - I can see how this would help the fabrics to glide through more easily).

Anyway, a wonderful book, even just to look at. The premise that quilts can tell a story about domestic life is also fascinating and I hope that I manage to read just a bit of it before it's due back.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

in the ditch

Stitch in the ditch, that is. Yes - hooray - much sooner than expected I have gotten around to doing some further sewing on my vintage fabrics quilt. When I consider how much prevaricating there has been around this project, it is actually quite amazing that I am up to the quilting stage - yes, quilting!

I don't want the quilting to be too obtrusive because really, it's all about the different colours and patterns so I have opted for the 'stitch in the ditch' quilting method, which is about as un-decorative as you can get. It involves stitching ever so carefully along the actual seam between the two fabrics. I found it fun to do because you have to gently but firmly pull the two fabrics apart to expose the seam and then try to stitch along it. The example on the left shows a line of purple quilting stitches along the 'ditch' between a floral square and a purple patterned square. As is always the case with my illustrations, this one was carefully chosen to reflect only the highest point of my stitching efforts (that is to say, there are other, lower, points).

It's even more surprising that I have gotten around to doing this when you consider what I had to come to terms with in order to do the quilting - a walking foot. What is that big white appendage that all too closely resembles the distended belly of some particularly scary insect? And that needle-sharp proboscis; oh wait, that is the needle. But you get the picture - I found the walking foot to be very daunting. What it, apparently, does is help to feed the upper and lower fabrics through at the same speed, thereby reducing the chances of the fabrics becoming misaligned. There are actually a couple more parts to the foot that aren't even shown here. Please believe me that it was scary.

So what I am up to now is the cross quilting - two diagonal lines from corner to corner on each square. Now that I have the walking foot attached and the tension correctly set, I dare not take it off which means no other sewing until I get all the quilting done. Should push me along a bit (or signal a return to exclusive knitting).

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


Have I mentioned abebooks before? I love abebooks.

We visited the Bellevue branch of the King County Library Service on the weekend. I could hardly carry the pile of books that I found there - books on knitting, on quilting, on trapunto and Period Needlepoint for Antique Furniture by Madeleine Jarry and Maryvonne Dobry. Translated from the French - who in 1976 thought that this book was worth translating from the French? I love them too.

Of course, as often happens with fabulous library books, I fell in love immediately and dearly wanted my own copy. I had a quick check on abebooks thinking that if it wasn't too expensive, $5 or so, I would grab my own copy. Could I be so lucky? Yes, even luckier - $1.88. I ordered it about an hour ago and it has already been shipped. I love abebooks.

ps - If you want your own copy, be quick! The next cheapest copy is $1.91!


Today baby bear told me that this is her telephone.

Love it.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

j crew collection

I like J Crew. Particularly, I like J Crew woollen knits - 100 per cent lambswool, lovely colours. I also love the fact that 100 per cent lambswool J Crew knits in lovely colours are very easy to find at the thrift store. And they unravel really well.

I have an ongoing anxiety about not having enough recycled yarn to complete the project that I'm working on. Sometimes it's ok; yes, one adult sweater will definitely yield a pair of mittens or a child's cardigan. But what about an adult cardigan, an adult cardigan for me? Like the one that I cast on for on the weekend, totally outside the strictures of my knit list. More about that in a moment.

So the J Crew sweaters - I have decided to start a collection of them. Eventually, surely, I will find some duplicates that will allow me to cast on for the Sunrise Circle Jacket or Wallington without any niggling fears. Surely. Or else I'll just have to keep knitting children's garments, but that's ok too. I think that the benefit of restricting myself to a particular brand is that I can be more confident about finding the same colours and weights. Also, it will prevent the closet from overflowing too much.

As it is, I have cast on for Wallington in some 8ply/dk claret recycled J Crew lambswool. It comes from a men's extra large but still I'm not sure - differences in gauge between the machine knit and my hand knit?? So I have started on a sleeve - we'll see how it goes.

ps - they also machine wash really well, despite what the tag says!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

april is the cruellest month

... breeding,
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Or with spring snow. No joke - it has been snowing today in Seattle.

But I have pretty posies:

This is a black cotton skirt with a lovely floral print that (again) I just grabbed at the op shop (yep, back in Australia) simply for the fabric.
And because it reminds me so of a skirt that my dear friend Reneé wears. I could get the zipper done up but the waistband was too small, so off with the waistband and in with some darts in that top tier. A lovely bright blue grosgrain ribbon as the waist facing and it is springtime at my house, whatever the weather.

I have also finished adjusting the waist of my autumn leaves black velvet skirt. That was again a too-small waistband with quite a full gathered skirt attached. Again, I took off the waistband and put in some darts (sort of in the form of inverted pleats) and of course, a grosgrain facing inside the waist.