Saturday, 31 December 2011

going loopy

Looped picot bind off on my Cladonia shawl - it's pretty tedious. There's the casting on and the casting off and more casting on and more casting off. More casting on, even more casting off and you are four stitches along. Over the course of 310 stitches you can see how this could get a tad brain numbing.

My problem with it really is that once I've done a dozen or so of these picot-adorned loops, I decide that I'm not actually happy with the previous rows and rip it all out. My first problem was with knitting the eyelet bands and lace border in two different colours. It didn't work and I didn't like the grey-brown (Truffle Hunt) next to the lavender (Blanket Fort).

I didn't even make it to the looped picot bind off that time. I frogged all the way back to the stripes and knit the eyelet bands and lace all in the lavender. Then, to hold the whole thing together I knit an extra garter stitch band in dark blue before starting the edging in lavender.

And knit about a dozen of the bind off loops before deciding, no, not right, and ripped it. No photo. Then I repeated this, knitting instead two extra stocking stitch rows in the dark blue so that they would recede between the garter stitch rows. Made it through about half a dozen picoted loops and, no, not right, it's the dark blue, too obtrusive. Ripped that back.

So yes, now I'm considering knitting that extra two rows of stocking stitch in the grey-brown (even though I'm not fond of it next to the lavender it may be the subtlety that's required) and then proceeding with the looped picot bind off. If you happen to have persevered in reading this far, any opinions?

Thursday, 29 December 2011

brooklyn tam

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Autumn Tam by Sandy Blue from Simply Shetland.
Size: One size.
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Loft in colourways Truffle Hunt, Stormcloud, Nest, Pumpernickel, Meteorite, Barn Owl, Blanket Fort and Old World. There is really good meterage in this yarn - from 50 gram skins after using just a little bit, I still had 51 grams left ...
Needles: 2.75mm and 3mm.
Start to finish: 7 to 16 December 2011.
Stash/recycle content: Ah no, none whatsoever.

Comments: So much to say. First of all, the most wonderful thing that happened to me today with this hat. I went to Churchmouse Yarns and Tea on Bainbridge Island where I bought the yarn and the pattern a few weeks ago. I was delighted to be able to show my finished version to the employee there who had helped me and she proceeded to show it off to the other staff. It was very well received. Then, just as I was getting ready to leave another woman told me how much she liked my colour choice and that woman turned out to be Sandy Blue, the hat's designer! Extremely gratifying and lovely to meet the creator of such a wonderful design.

I was never really attracted to Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, perhaps because it is worsted weight. But when this fingering weight version came out, with extra colourways, I was intrigued and made my way to Churchmouse to buy some, some eight skeins. I had been thinking about doing some stranded colourwork in browns and this yarn was just the thing. I hadn't actually decided on a pattern until I got there and saw the lovely Autumn Tam exemplar and pattern.

The Autumn Tam actually asks for ten different shades and I only used eight so there was a bit of substitution (detailed on Ravelry) and shuffling and ripping back when I just got it wrong. When I looked at the other projects for this design on ravelry I saw that someone had taken a year to knit it which I thought to be perfectly reasonable - it's complex. Well, once I got going on this, I could not put it down. Stranded colourwork would seem to be my metier at the moment; the thrill of seeing how every next row comes out, how the colours will work, how they will develop. And a tam is the perfect size to do this. Thrilling knitting!

Wonderful and so warm. Also a surprisingly quick knit which really gives me occasion to think about my languishing projects. I clearly am able to power knit my way through something when I want to!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


I knit my hado from Noro, a Noro hado, naruhodo (Japanese for 'of course').

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Hado Slouch by Olga Buraya-Kefelian.
Size: I knit the 23" ribbing. There are two smaller ribbing sizes but note that the crown is the same size for all three versions. I've been wearing it for a bit now and could probably have done a smaller measurement for the ribbing.
Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock in in S233; 0.55 skeins. Is it possible to be in love with a skein of yarn? I am in love with this yarn, specifically in this colourway. Just love it. Want to swathe myself in it. I used it in my Daybreak shawl as well and had/have some other plans for it as well. As with so many Noro colourways, there is a shade or two in there that I either don't like or feel doesn't fit well; but as soon as it's knit up, the colour genius is unmistakeable.
2.75mm and 3.25mm needles.
Stash/recycle content: Yes, I had this in stash. I have a few balls of this in stash ...
Start to finish:
28 November to 3 December 2011.

Comments: This hat is designed to be knit in stripes of four different colours, breaking the yarn every three rows and weaving in the ends to make the hat reversible. Stripes in four different colours? Ha ha, that’s what Noro is for. I don't know that the effect was as, well, effective but I do like the finished product. I didn't account for the shorter rows when I did the crown decreases so the dark section there is very wide. Design feature. Oh, and I actually blocked my hat out on a dinner plate for some extra slouch.

Verdict: Fun to knit and to great effect. If I were to do this again, I'm not sure that I would bother with the reverse stocking stitch welts and would just do the whole thing in stocking stitch.

Monday, 26 December 2011

i wrapped a hula hoop

Miss bear made the gingerbread house.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

two (part two)

Sunday was 'goggie'.

finally five

Miss bear's fifth birthday coincided with the end of preschool and the beginning of elementary school (that is, it was three months ago). We had a mini-party at preschool, we had cupcakes at school, we had cupcakes at home. But we never had a family-shared birthday cake that I had made.

And then baby b turned two and I couldn't make a cake for him when I hadn't made one for her and I had to make one for him because that time of the year is fast approaching and I didn't want his birthday celebration to blend into those festivities and ... last weekend we ate cake:

Saturday was flamingo.

Monday, 19 December 2011

black walnut clemence

I actually finished this one before reclemence.

The Vital Statistics
Clémence by Katya Frankel, available for free through Ravelry.
cast on 90 stitches.
Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica in an unknown colourway; 0.8 skeins.
Stash/recycle content:
100 per cent; I purchased this yarn at Value Village in Redmond. It had no ball band.
Start to finish:
24th to 26th of November 2011.
This was one of those burning-a-hole in my cupboard skeins of yarn, just needing to be used. So I did. I'm not sure if that forced approach to pairing a yarn with its destiny is ever really a good idea. My problem is mostly with the yarn - there are some beautiful shades in it but it's all so patchy that the beauty is lost. Ever heard that about variegated yarns before? Ever heard that here before? Yup.
Stay away from variegated yarn, even if it is a super cheap steal of a thrifting find.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

that time of the year

When priorities go awry, weekends are overbooked, schedules are chock full, appointments are unavailable, tempers are fraying, drivers are impatient, et cetera et cetera. And all because it's 'that time of the year'.

Don't worry, knitting continues unabated.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I recently ripped out the Clemence cowl that I knit in June last year. It was really sad to do this because I loved it but it was even sadder that I wasn't wearing it because it was too loose. So I reknit it with one less repeat width-wise and on a smaller needle.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Clémence by Katya Frankel, available for free through Ravelry.
Size: I cast on 63 stitches as I was using a heavier yarn than that which the pattern calls for.
Yarn: Noro Transitions in shade 21 purchased at Lake City Way Value Village.
Needles: 6.5mm.
Start to finish: 26 to 27 November 2011 and then wove the ends in the next day.
Stash/recycle content: Yes!
Comments: Great pattern, easily memorised, great for a self-striping yarn as the combination of increases and decreases every row really breaks up the chunks of colour.
Verdict: It is lovely again. Actually, hard to discern from the original but I hope that I'll wear this more often.

Monday, 21 November 2011


It's a full week ago, but allow me to report on my trip to Bainbridge Island to buy some of the new Brooklyn Tweed yarn, Loft. It really is lucky to have one of the only ten or so brick-and-mortar stores that stock the stuff right here in the neighbourhood because it is so lovely to look at all the colours together and touch them and hold them against each other in different combinations.

I purchased (clockwise from top left): blanket fort, barn owl, pumpernickel, storm cloud, truffle hunt, nest, meteorite and old world. Just one skein of each, yes 'just' as I have many plans for them. I want to knit a striped version of Cladonia in truffle hunt (possibly my favourite shade) and old world, using blanket fort (which is actually a light purple) as a contrast in the lace.

I also want to knit a stranded colour-work tam in all the brown/grey shades, using blanket fort and old world as the highlights. I'm considering the Autumn Tam pattern which actually calls for ten shades (I only have eight) so that will take either some working out or two more skeins ...

And then I'm wondering if I were to hold the yarn four strands together whether I could use it to make a very earthy pair of Little Duffers for my baby b whose birthday is rapidly approaching. He's getting a big kid bed so that would fit nicely with the bedtime theme.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

riding the wave

So now that I have some screen printing under my belt I'm gung-ho to do it all over the place. Miss bear was not prepared to wear this blue fine wool t-shirt when it was 'clear' (her term for plain), she wanted it fancy so we printed the waves/clouds patterns onto it in silver. It came out reasonably well. She is yet to wear it but hey, I made the effort. The t-shirt is a thrift store purchase.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

handprinted: catching the wave

Well phew, I didn't drown! Actually, these look more like clouds don't they? I have been thinking of them as crashing waves, like really rough surf. perhaps because I had a pretty rough time getting these done.

I was so inspired when I became aware of this fabric swap - oh and an apology to my swap partners or Leslie the organiser if they happen to be reading this, the responsibility for taking this on was completely my own and I was delighted to participate but do have to be honest about the process - and jumped right in without really thinking what it would be like for me to have a deadline. Now I know - not good.

When it's up to me I work furiously on things for a few days, or even weeks if I'm lucky, then let them lie fallow until the creative spirit moves me again. This can take a long time. I also make my stuff at home, by myself, no requiring any technical assistance which is why it can also take a long time if there's a thread colour I need, or a type of ink. Needless to say, this style of making stuff is not really compatible with a deadline and a screenprinting project that was really beyond my at-home resources.

LinkFirst of all, I had to burn the screen, that is use a light-sensitive photo emulsion to create the screen image ready for printing. No, first I had to buy the screen, a big one to make a fat quarter size print. And for that I went trekking across town, kids in tow, to an industrial screenprinting place that sold me a used one for $15, once I found them in an old building in Interbay, down a flight of stairs and through a door, and down a hallway. Actually, that bit was quite fun - I enjoy exploring.

Then I bought the photo emulsion and a pouring device and the light bulb for the exposing and then decided that I just couldn't face it and booked in some time at the Vera Project's silk screening studio. That didn't turn out so well - apologies now to the Vera Project in general because I think they have a great facility and programs going there - but the day that I went in the guy 'helping out' in the silkscreening studio was a total ... if I used the same language that was in the music that he had playing in the studio, I would have to rate this post 18+.

I mean, the screen got burned fine (although not large enough so I didn't manage to print fat quarters) but I found the whole experience incredibly demoralising. Perhaps it was just my own self-consciousness about being there (which was sky high), that I wanted to ask them to turn off the insulting music but didn't dare and then was frustrated with myself, didn't really know what I was doing and wasn't getting any help - whatever. Anyway, I felt really old.

But, I got four pieces of re/upcycled linen printed with the image of a block print that I made, taking the design from the end papers of an old book. They are not great - the printing is not great, they are not large enough - but they are done and I am happy with the visual effect and I stayed true to my values by using recycled fabric. I particularly like the slightly offset version where I used the black and silver. And I got awesome swap fabrics in return (more on those next time).

Thursday, 10 November 2011

turn a square

Sometimes unique names for my projects come to me, and sometimes they don't.

The Vital Statistics
Turn A Square by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed; available for free through Ravelry.
Just the one size.
Cascade 220 Heathers in Walnut and Plymouth Boku in 5 Plum Forest.
4 and 4.5mm.
Start to finish:
7 November to 8 November 2011.
Stash/recycle content:
All from stash; the Cascade 220 was leftover from Jarrett and the Boku from a very scary crochet project.
It was fun to learn the jogless stripe technique and reassuring that there is something to be done with self-striping yarns (sometimes I do despair).
Great knit, quick, easy, fun to see how the colours emerge in the stripes and great to use up leftover worsted-weight yarn.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

putting it all together

I have started to seam together squares for the Babette blanket. It's going well and not nearly as onerous as I expected. Just like the crocheting of the squares themselves, it's exciting to see which squares end up where, which colours end up against each other.

I have been using mattress stitch through the back loops of the edge stitches which is giving a very satisfactory result. Once this stage of the project is finished, I'll have to start thinking about the border - which yarn/s to use, how deep to make it. I'm afraid that the finished product is not going to be as large as I had hoped for, so a good border may be in order. Once it is all pieced together I expect that I'll have a better idea of whether the blanket needs anchoring with a darker border or a lift with a brighter border.


A while back, quite some time ago, ok about three years ago I did some screen printing - a quick afternoon class at Pratt Fine Arts Center, an introductory course at the Vera Project. And my silk screen equipment has gathered dust in the basement ever since.

But the spark of interest didn't go away and flared up again when I saw this intriguing button on Di's blog - 'handprinted: a fabric swap'. Ah, just what I need, I thought, to give me reason to get back to it. Yes, just what I need - juggling baby sitters and open studio session times, feverish child, frantic thrift store visits for fabric to print on, frantic art supply store visits, cancelled studio sessions and a deadline.

Yes, I'm really having fun.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

october reading

The September Society by Charles Finch - This is the book that I originally picked up that lead me to this author; but then I had to read the first book first, of course. I enjoyed this one more. Finch writes very lovingly of Oxford and the plot has some good twists.

Inspector Singh Investigates: a most peculiar Malaysian murder by Shamini Flint - I just love the title of this book although I'm not sure if it's the murder that is peculiar and it also happens to be Malaysian or whether it's a peculiar, a murder most peculiar by Malaysian murder standards. Anyway, fun to read, a bit of a genre buster and interesting cultural slants.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

[hershey's] kiss of death

Ah, Hallowe'en. Lots of people in the US have told me that it is their favourite holiday (quick aside, I do love the way that Americans use the word holiday in its original sense to mean 'holy-day' and vacation to mean that they are having time off or going away somewhere; of course, for Australians any day off is holy but anyway ...) and it is certainly the one that gets miss bear all excited.

Is it the excitement of getting dressed up? Is it the anticipation of going out, at night, for trick or treating? Is it the frisson of fear at the ghoulish decorations appearing in people's yards?

Or, is it just mass hysteria induced by the prospect of a poor quality compound-chocolate high-fructose-corn-syrup-saturated high? I can't stop eating these dreadful things, I'm all snogged out.

Friday, 28 October 2011


So yeah, what would the world look like if everything got used and re-used and mended until it had totally exhausted its usefulness?

I can begin to see what this would look like for consumption because this is what I am already trying to do myself: it looks like a t-shirt that gets a patch on it, rather than being thrown away; knitwear made from other knitwear; clothes made from other clothes; recycled buttons and zippers; and last but not least, an extra $56.00 to spend on ... um, groceries? And to me, that looks great. How far can it go though? Is there a future where there is more respect for the eco-consciousness of a patched business suit, for instance, than for brand new attire?

And what would it look like for production? If demand for newly manufactured items decreases, what sort of shift will there be in the labour market? I recently attempted to sew myself a t-shirt because I'm not entirely comfortable with the cheap made-in-Sri Lanka ones that I'm currently wearing. I don't know what sort of working conditions they were manufactured under, what sort of emissions the factory made, what carbon cost there was in transporting them to the US; and I care about these things. I also care about the welfare of women in Sri Lanka: one less t-shirt purchased by me may not make a huge difference but if everyone stopped buying them ...

I'm also aware that in order for me to re-use something it has to be manufactured and bought new by someone else in the first place. But what is the tipping point? If everything that already existed were to be re-used to the end of its usefulness, how much would need to be manufactured anew? I have no idea but I find it fascinating to consider.

Anyway, to get around to the point - I made an attempt to tidy up my craft space recently. Tim always gets so frustrated with my efforts at tidying because I micro-tidy, I look at each thing, consider it and deal with it. His version of tidying is to put all the offending mess and paperwork in a drawer (and then wonder why the electricity bill didn't get paid). The other day I got no further in my efforts than some sweater pieces that I cut out goodness knows how long ago (I truly don't remember) that have been sitting there on the table ever since, waiting to be tidied up. So tidy them up I did by sewing the actual sweater.

It's for baby b, recycled from a men's sweater that I bought at the thrift store, 100 per cent wool. I had to cut the front out in two pieces because the sweater had holes in it, so I put on some decorative red stitching; it's never a mistake, it's a design feature. I also cut the pieces to take advantage of the existing hems and cuffs so the only binding that was needed was around the neck. This is a great fit for him right now, a perfect transitional layer, but I can't for the life of me remember what pattern I cut it out from (it's been that long). And one of the great things about upcycling clothing is that you get children's clothes in colours and textures that you just can't find otherwise.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

thriftonomics (still rambling)

So back to those snipped-off buttons: why the (perceived) disdain from an older generation that I am doing by choice something that they perhaps once had to do by necessity? It seems that at one point brand new and shiny became cheap and accessible and also preferable.

I had never much thought about economics as anything much beyond "the economy" until I did that Health Economics subjects. And “the economy” has always been something monolithic that I am all too aware that I don't understand well and am therefore hesitant to write much about. But with wikipedia everyone's an expert so here goes: economics is "the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services." I like to think of it in terms of flow, the flow of money in and out, the flow of goods production and disposal. I also like to think of it as a closed system, to recognise the finite nature of our resources.

And I do think that there is a finite number of zippers in our world and in our future; to throw away a worn out garment with a perfectly serviceable zipper still attached, to let it rot and rust, is unconscionable.

I’m sure that I have written before about the amazing mother lode of goods that are available at thrift stores here in the US (well, here in the Seattle area certainly but I’ve visited some pretty huge ones in San Francisco, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Georgia now too). I often wonder when I am there, what if everything here in this store were utilised straight away, if everything reusable were indeed reused, instead of something new being manufactured and purchased?

Please consider the Primigi girls shoes above. One pair was purchased online for $60.00 and has been worn for a couple of weeks. The other pair is the next size up and was purchased at Value Village for $3.99. They are in roughly equivalent condition. That's $56.00 to spend on ... ah, groceries?

Friday, 14 October 2011

off the hook

I have completed all of the squares for my Babette Blanket. It was quite a slog but enjoyable, especially seeing how all of the different colours turn out in combination with each other. While I so hoped that this project would use up lots of stashed yarn I actually only used up, in the sense of have nothing left of, a couple of the yarns. So I now still have less of lots of yarns.

I have also woven in the ends on most of the squares and steam blocked them using my iron. The next task will of course be to start seaming them together. This is a big project but indeed one that can be worked on nicely bit by bit. A few quick notes about the colour schematic
  • each square consists of at least two colours;
  • the same colour combination square only happens once or twice;
  • yarns A and B feature strongly in all the ten- and twelve- round squares, and;
  • there are no squares where the same colour is repeated (as in, you may have two or three rows of the same colour but once you've done those rows, the colour will not be repeated again in that square).
I've made a photo set of them over at flickr if you'd like to take a look: Babette's feast [of colour] - it's giving me a tummy ache.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Finally ...

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Bergamot by Marie Wallin from Rowan Purelife - The Organic Wool Collection.
Size: medium for the body and small for the sleeve.
Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool (100 per cent wool) in Mulberry; 18.5 skeins.
Start to finish:
26 May 2010 to 28 September 2011. Stash/recycle content: No, I purchased this wool new at Little Knits in Seattle specifically for this project.
Comments: Oh the hubris! This is the first project where I have really made my own alterations for better fit. I chose to do it on a crochet garment because crochet is so much faster than knitting and so much easier to rip out. Well, rip out I did, over and over again. I swear that I have crocheted this garment three or four times over in the 16 months that it took me to get this thing done. Sixteen months!

I worked waist shaping, decreasing by one bobble on both the second and fifth rows, increasing by one bobble on both the seventh and ninth rows. I also worked the body in size medium and the sleeve in size small so that necessitated changes to the stitch count for the upper back and fronts

Verdict: I have been wearing this and it's working for me. I was initially apprehensive about wearing so much crochet but I think that it suits in this garment. Despite being so open it also keeps me reasonably warm so it's great over a t-shirt for when that chill is just starting to set in.

A note on the wonderful antler toggles: they were sent to me from Melbourne by the equally wonderful Di of Clementine's Shoes. I just hadn't been able to find the right thing here in Seattle, or online and the Rowan toggles used in the book are no longer available. Di went to The Button Shop and selected some possibilities for me, then bought and posted them to me. Thank you so much Di! They really are perfect for the jacket and I'm so happy with them, not to mention thinking about their provenance every time I wear this.

Friday, 7 October 2011


We interrupt this ramble for a quick assurance that home-grown, grass-roots crafting is still taking place.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Vintage Beret by Sarah Hatton from Rowan 44.
Size: Just the one size and it turned out small. I didn't, ahem, check my gauge so am unsure whether it is supposed to be this size.
Yarn: Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool in Mulberry; 1.2 skeins.
Needles: 3.25 and 4mm (I think, I didn't make a note but that's what I usually use with dk wool).
Start to finish: 29th of September to 3rd of October 2011. Quick knit!
Stash/recycle content: Well, the yarn is leftover from my Bergamot jacket (which means yes, I have also finished the Bergamot jacket!) so I guess that it could be called stash.
Comments: I was utterly confounded by this pattern. It is written to be knit flat and seamed but I really cannot see the point of doing that so knit it in the round instead (as many others have done). Except I had so much trouble adapting the written instructions to knitting in the round; I actually ended up charting it myself from others' examples on ravelry (thank you ravelry!)
Verdict: It came out nicely and is a great fit for miss bear who is very happy to have a new hat. And this colour is quite sophisticated for a child, she looks adorable.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

ramble continued

So, on the topic of returning to roots - where did it all go astray in the first place? I was certainly born in a time when handmade was already a faint(ish) memory. My grandmother knit sweaters (by hand and by machine) for us but already that was an anachronism. And here I am now, knitting sweaters by hand for my own family.

Roy's Jeans - Video by Self Edge from Self Edge on Vimeo.

Reading United States of Americana has got me thinking about so much, about what was once, and could again, be handmade; about the loss of skills to indeed make things yourself (and their blessed revival); about the greater quality but also cost of things like handmade shoes (for example). A weakness of Reighley's book is that it doesn't consider the greater context of people's lives back in 'better times' when they wore handmade shoes. I suspect that if you were wearing a pair of handmade shoes that they were just that one pair that you owned and wore every single day, for every occasion until they were worn into the ground. Yes, it's nice today to eulogise a return to that sort of quality but I doubt that many now would be happy with a single pair of shoes for every single day.

I was often slightly bemused reading Wardrobe Refashion (now sadly defunct but which I absolutely loved and loved the principle behind) when participants were alarmed about whether they could buy new socks and underwear. This concern seemed to belie the fact that socks and underwear are indeed made, somewhere, by someone. They can also be made by you or me, perhaps not to the manufacturing standards that we are accustomed to, but made nevertheless. Fine gauge dress socks, yes, you would have trouble producing those at home, but socks can be knit, undies can be sewn. (Says she, who has been knitting the same pair of socks for some two-and-a-half years now; yes, I concede that time is also a huge cost to be factored in here.)

I remember the first time a friend made tira misu for me (thanks Tamar!), I was devastated. Tira misu was food from the gods, it just miraculously existed; I didn’t want it to be demystified and revealed as the work of human hands. Sometimes it seems that socks and undies are the tira misu of self-sufficient crafting.

Lastly, please do enjoy the wonderful video above about how Roy makes jeans that reminds and inspires me that everything is made, somewhere, by someone, and (given the chance) that someone could be me.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

september reading (and a ramble)

United States of Americana: Backyard Chickens, Burlesque Beauties, and Handmade Bitters: A Field Guide to the New American Roots Movement by Kurt Reighley - This is an interesting book that covers a number of aspects of current American life and culture that are harkening back to 'roots', things like home canning, straight razor shaving, bluegrass, knitting, taxidermy and speakeasies. Reighley is Seattle based so I enjoyed it that there was a lot in here that is local to me.

I enjoyed this book and it really got me thinking about 'old times' and the return to doing things in a deliberate, hands-on, 'old-fashioned' way. Back in 2oo8 when I attended the Stitches and Craft Show in Melbourne, I was actually a little disconcerted by some of the older women who looked at my recycled yarns and garments and, umm, scoffed (no, that's too harsh but a lighter shade thereof) that they used to do the same "way back when".

Yes, I save buttons and zippers off worn-out garments, in fact I save worn-out garments, with the hope that I will one day get around to using them to make something else. And yes, I do realise that I am not the first to be doing so, but I do feel that I am part of doing things that way again.
And whereas this sort of thrift in the past was probably a necessity (Tim suggests also a manifestation of Protestant values) today for me it is about an ethical choice for sustainability (and yes also for saving money but I just seem to spend that on more craft supplies!).

Further, recently the Modern Quilt Guild called for submissions of 'modern quilts' to be part of an online exhibition. I had hoped to submit something - maybe the turbulent river baby quilt or the Franco-Australian wagga - but I found myself a bit stuck on the prompt "what, in your opinion, makes it modern." What is modern about my quilting? Certainly not the colours that I use, not the shapes, not the techniques - just that I do it in a really old-fashioned way. Which seems to be new all over again.

Monday, 26 September 2011

colour sense

One of the things that I really love about the folk skirt of my dreams is the colour combination of the green of the skirt and the blue in the braid trim; all of it anchored by the black. That blue and green together, it's not quite right, slightly off kilter and the impact of that is part of what makes the skirt.

Anyway, I've got some braid, I've got a sewing pattern to work with (New Look 6981), now what colour to make the skirt? I was thinking a dusty pink, reasoning that red is next to orange on the colour wheel (as blue is next to green) but wanting to mute it down a bit. That's actually coral there above and some other combinations that fell out of my fabric cupboard when I opened it are below. But hmm, what about lavender?

Friday, 23 September 2011


I love it when you come across a knitting project and all you want to do is work on it.

And it's a pleasure to work on it. You pick it up without even deliberating between this and the dozen or so other things that are on the needles. And lo and behold, things actually go pretty quickly when you work exclusively on one thing - I've divided for the sleeves already. This yarn - Karabella Aurora 8 - is knitting up beautifully. The cables are so squishy. That's my project - the cables are so squishy.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

must. cast. on.

This book, Contemporary Irish Knits by Carol Feller, arrived in the mail today - hooray! I don't often buy books for patterns, preferring to borrow them from the library or wait until they turn up second hand.

But autumn weather is upon us here in Seattle (gorgeous weather, crisp morning, warm sunny day, cool evening) and miss bear is going to need something warm soon. She has, sadly, outgrown her tomten and I fell in knit-love with Rossbeg as soon as I saw it.

I also had yarn all set to go - nine skeins of Karabella Aurora 8 in colourway 5 'crimson', purchased at Capitol Hill Value Village for about $1 per ball *. Yes, I decided that what I had saved on yarn I could spend on the pattern book.

* That was an amazing thrift day: I also got four skeins of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, five skeins of Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Chunky, two skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece and three skeins of Karabella Gossamer. All for one dollar each.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

routine search

That is, the search for routine.

Miss bear has turned five and started school, baby B has returned to toddler group and I now have four whole hours a week (count 'em) alone, to my self, solo.

And there is afternoon nap time all to myself as well, five days a week now. Until school pick-up time, which is right in the middle of nap time.

Routine: we'll get there eventually.

So far I've managed to catch up with a couple of old friends - my Alabama Chanin dress and Tibetan Clouds (un)Beaded Stole. I completed stitching on two more of the large dark blue spirals and finished the eighth repeat on the stole. I'll get there eventually.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

sculptural knits

"Antje Pugnat graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 2005 with a Master’s degree in fashion design knitwear. One year later, she founded her own label in Berlin.

... A second and more recent phase of production moves now into the realm of thicker and more voluminous handknits.

Driving Pugnat is a vision of knitwear that is sophisticated, beautiful, and unpredictable. In stylistic terms, she plays with idiosyncratic color, with transparency and lightness, but at the same time with sculptural, monochromatic, and organic structures. Her distinctly romantic approach features experimental finishes, and she explores materials in unexpected ways in order to propel her knitwear towards sensuality and luxury. Inspiring her designs is a search for the kind of individualized techniques which lead simultaneously toward heightened delicacy and fragility, and toward greater voluminosity and sculptural shape."

Ooh, that was a lot of quotation but I just love these Pugnat knits and the idea of "heightened delicacy and fragility, ... greater voluminosity and sculptural shape." Oh how I want to knit one of these garments. Why are there no knitting patterns around for things like this? This is what I want to knit.

And yes, I would like someone to provide me with a pattern. Even more so, I would also like to sit for days and weeks and swatch all sorts of increases and decreases to use as a little reference library to create my own. Realistically, it is more likely that someone else will provide a suitable pattern than it is that I will find the time to swatch.

In the meantime, I'm considering Teva Durham's Diagonal Twist Princess-Seam Jacket from Loop-d-loop which shares some of the design elements. Maybe I'll experiment with the collar and cuffs and shoulder shaping ...

Sunday, 11 September 2011

a matter of graves importance

Tea. My morning cup of tea is indeed a matter of grave importance. I like Twinings Irish Breakfast, medium strong, no milk or sugar in a white Ikea 365+ mug (I don't like mugs that are not white, at least on the inside, because how can you see how strong your tea is?). Also of grave importance in the matter of making tea is boiling water. Piping hot, roiling boil boiling water, poured directly onto the tea bag in the mug.

Tea drinking does not seem to be of such grave importance generally here in the US and boiling water can be hard to come by. It's all espresso makers, mr coffee and drive-through Starbucks. Anyway, we have been through a couple of electric kettles since we arrived in Seattle. The first was turning itself off before the water was truly roiling and the second just stopped heating all together. Tim, of the quaint old-fashioned notion that things should really last forever, insisted that we not get another electric kettle but instead a stove top version.

LinkSo, I took the opportunity to procure an item a that I have long admired - the Alessi whistling bird kettle (thank you ebay), designed by American architect Michael Graves. I'm not sure when I became aware of this kettle (it was introduced in 1985) but probably sometime while I was working at a department store in my university years (a decade later). I always loved its sense of humour and I'm delighted to have finally bought one in my own sweet time (ages down the track) and my own sweet fashion (second hand).

(ooh, and here's something that I bought at an estate sale recently and something that I did not buy because it was too small (thankfully)).

Thursday, 8 September 2011


My folk skirt - yes, remember the skirt that I so wanted from a few weeks back? that I saw on the table of contents page of a knitting book? that I emailed the author and photographer about to see if they knew where it was from? Yes, that one there on the left.

Alas, all of my research came up with nowt so I took matters into my own hands and started to collect images and details of suitable jacquard ribbons (you can see the collection at Pinterest). Imagine my delight when I checked the web page for Esther's Fabrics (go on, take a look too) while organising our trip to Bainbridge Island and saw one of the ribbons!

The photo must have been taken a while ago because they only had one colourway still available in said ribbon, a blue/orange/bronze combination. I'm not sure whether I would have chosen this one (over the garnet/fuschia/black or pink/cream/green alternatives) but I am delighted to have some in my hot little hands.

And to think that I can now actually start making my own folk skirt. I'm going to look for some poplin in cotton and experiment a bit with how to get the look of those lace appliqués: draw them on with a fabric pen or (Alabama-Chanin style) just with a Sharpie? freehand or make a stencil? or then actually go to the trouble of screenprinting? And of course, what colour fabric for the skirt??

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

bainbridge bounty

We made a last hurrah of summer trip to Bainbridge Island this past weekend. the trip was ostensibly to eat ice cream from Mora Iced Creamery but I did have a couple of ulterior destinations in mind: Churchmouse Yarns and Teas and Esther's Fabrics.

I was looking mainly for toggles to finish mulbermot. It has been a really long time coming but I have almost completed it, again and again and some three or four times over. Yes, I have crocheted and ripped out this garment so many times as I fine tuned the waist shaping and the sleeves. Really, I could have completed it three times over by now. And the toggles - Rowan appears to have discontinued their button range and of course I have my heart set on the horn toggles featured on the garment. they are button number 00411 in case anyone has half a dozen sitting around needing a new home.

Anyway, no toggle luck at Churchmouse but I did take a deep breath and got a little buzzed on the yarn fumes. Then in a slightly altered mental state I went and spent up big at Esther's; yes, toggles (made of antler, stiull not sure about them though and waiting for word from Di in Melbourne on some other options) and also two Oliver + S sewing patterns, Sewn with Love by Fiona Bell, two lengths of ribbon trim, some Anna Maria Horner cotton voile from the Loulouthi range, and a Leisure Arts pamphlet called Simple Pleasures in Redwork by Kathy Schmitz. Then at the book shop I bought Growing up Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee (new), and Felted Knits by Bev Galeskas , Knitting Circles Around Socks by Antje Gillingham and Heartfelt by Teresa Searle (all second hand).

Umm, like I needed any more inspiration/projects/ideas. But at least now I can maybe finish mulbermot and perhaps get started on my folk skirt.