Monday, 30 July 2007


They say that it's never too early to start your child on reading; nor is it too early to start your child on modern art history. What a terrific idea though, to take Andy Warhol drawings and make a colour book for children. It's Andy Warhol's Colors by Susan Goldman Rubin and was a gift to baby bear - thank you Renée!

I remember going in 1985 to see the Pop Art 1955-70 exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. What I remember most vividly is Roy Lichtenstein's Drowning Girl image but there were surely Andy Warhol pieces in there as well.

Well, first thing tomorrow morning (or at least as soon as I can) I will be casting on in my recycled linen for the ballerina top. Yes, that means that I have finished seaming the baby bobble jacket and have even sewn on the fastenings. Looking back over the previous post I see that reading about seaming is just as onerous as doing it so I won't go into it any further! There will be photos tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 July 2007


Whoa - a little bit of green food colouring goes a long way!

These are the choc mint cupcakes from last weekend, all iced up and off to Parkville for a crafternoon. Thanks for hosting Gloria!

I worked on seaming the baby bobble jacket - again. Last night, until late, I was busy seaming one of the sleeves to the body, the sleeve seam and the side seam. This morning baby bear obliged with a fitting and I decided that the sleeves were way too long. I had knitted three and a half repeats of the pattern into the sleeves and frogged both back the half repeat. Now I have both sleeves seamed to the body and it's just sleeve and side seams to go. Hooray! Seaming is so onerous and I can't wait to cast on for the ballerina top in linen but I must
complete something first.

I also turned the heel on the first sock for Tim's dad this afternoon. It will be my first pair of adult-sized socks - very standard Patons sock pattern but so much fun watching the stripes emerge in the self-patterning wool.

Saturday, 28 July 2007


Have you ever been reading the newspaper and come across a word that you had never seen before? No sooner do you look it up in the dictionary and add it to your vocabulary than you come across it again in the novel that you are reading. And then again on the radio. And then someone uses it in conversation with you. What is that phenomenon called? For lack of actually knowing what it is called I have come up with my own term - ubiquidipity. It's a new word to describe things that suddenly and serendipitously become ubiquitous. Things like words, and fabric.

Last week I encountered a woman carrying this very bag (recognise the fabric?). Her husband had purchased it for her from Red Dog 3 (13 Ormond Road, Elwood). A quick trip to Elwood and I learnt that the bag is a Catherine Manuell design (apparently not part of the recent catalogue) and the fabric is called Helsinki. Ubiquidipity.

But that's not all. On a stroll along Carlisle Street, St Kilda last week I walked past Dollhouse Clothing (23 Carlisle Street, St Kilda; 9525 3520) and learned what 'ex-designer fabric' means. It means this designer on the right. Ubiquidipity.

Friday, 27 July 2007

it's all about the accessories

Of course the best thing about a hobby or pastime is all of the accessories. My very favourite knitting accessory is my Royal ball winder. This was given to me as a birthday gift by, would you believe it, my workmates at the time - it is truly one of the best gifts that I have ever received.

My maternal grandmother was a great craftswoman and she had a ball winder in the bungalow that she used as her craft room. As a child I loved to wind all the leftover balls of wool - once I had finished what was available I would just start again on the ones that I had already wound. Nowadays, I wind all of my skeins/balls/hanks of yarn - they really do take up less space (which just means that there is room for more).

I have long been curious about Euroflax
linen yarn which gets mentioned quite a bit on US blogs (like here) and features in a knitted skirt pattern in Knit 2 Together. It's not available (to my knowledge) in Australia but with the help of my trusty Royal ball winder I turned a women's linen knit that I bought at the op shop into four balls of linen yarn within minutes. Now I'll just have to choose something to make - perhaps the ballerina top from Debbie Bliss' Quick Baby Knits for baby bear. That's it there on the cover. Linen really does have lovely drape, I think that they are well suited.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

stitch 'n' bitch

I love to knit.

What more is there to say? My crafting tale starts about 5 years ago when I visited a family friend in Tasmania who taught me to crochet - thanks Pam! As I crocheted my way through a scarf, some slippers and a bedspread (queen size - oh yeah!) I discovered Irish crochet lace and developed an interest in lace. Finally, I learnt to knit bc I wanted to make knitted lace. Four years of knitting later, I still want to make some lace but have been sidetracked by baby blankets, numerous
scarves, more slippers, baby clothes etc.

Yesterday evening I went to the South Yarra meet of the Melbourne Stitch 'n' Bitch group. A small turn out but enjoyable as always. I've been knitting with the Melbourne group at various locations for a couple of years now and it has opened up a world of knitting, friends and blogs to me for which I am so very grateful. Thank you Kitty B for setting up the group.

Here's a snap of what I am working on:

It's the baby bobble jacket from Debbie Bliss' Cotton knits for all seasons : 25 projects for babies, children, and adults. An astute knitting friend commented to me the other day that I knit for texture rather than shape and recommended that I try some knitted lace (will do). So far I have finished all of the baby bobble jacket pieces and now have to seam it up (this is where my projects tend to fall down) and knit the collar. Hopefully I'll have a finished object and all the vital statistics for you within a few days.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

in praise of hoarding

A few years ago the mother of a friend of ours passed away. She was a craftsy* woman and our friend was kind enough to let me go through her craft supplies to see if there was anything that I wanted, which of course there was.

This brings us to yesterday when I was cleaning out a cupboard, trying to create more storage space out of thin air and look what I found (again):

So lovely - the braid is 83mm wide and there is not quite a metre of it, the buttons I think are made of glass. They were both packed away in a little souvenir bag with line drawings of scenes that I recognised as being from Vienna (and a sticker that says Wien) so I gather that they came from Austria. That would be 50 schillings then for the buttons.

What shall I use them for? Craft-wise my mind always turns to things to make for baby bear. I have some black cotton velvet (recycled out of a skirt that I bought at the op shop) that I could perhaps make a dress from. Wouldn't the braid look lovely as a waist band?

The buttons are about the size of a 5c coin - perhaps a pale blue cotton cardi? I do have just the thing in Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK cotton, shade 218 Cloudless; yes, I have it hoarded away somewhere ...

* I prefer craftsy to crafty, to say that she was a crafty woman could be construed as an insult and it just reminds me of those Beastie Boy lyrics.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

how to be a domestic goddess

I think that the trick is to be selective, to show the finished cupcakes on a cut glass platter:

but not the dishes that are waiting to be done:

Show the knitting needle roll, made with Marimekko fabric:

but not the toys strewn all over the floor.

Going by my own instructions I think that I fail as a domestic goddess but it has, nevertheless, been a lovely domestic day - a few loads of washing, some ironing, two batches of cupcakes (choc cherry for today's afternoon tea and choc mint in the freezer for next weekend), and I finished sewing the needle roll. I've been working on it for a couple of days but didn't mention it bc it was a present - happy birthday Olivia! I pretty much made it up as I went along but took some inspiration from my own knitting needle roll (custom made by Nikki-Shell) and from the instructions in Stitch n Bitch (thanks for the lend Kirsten!). Nichola also helped me out with some sewing tips - thank you!

I have had my sewing machine for three or four years now and honestly, I think that this is the first complete item that I have ever produced! I really enjoyed making it (although some of the angles are a bit dodgy) but it has increased my confidence and I think that I could try some children's clothes.

For those who like to bake I recommend 500 Cupcakes which I rely on for all cupcake-worthy occasions. Each recipe has some five or six variations which is how the book manages to come up with 500. I've used a dozen or so recipes so far and all have been successful. My only hint would be to make a half quantity of icing, even that's more than enough.

Friday, 20 July 2007

locally #1

This post also falls into the favourite things category - one of my absolute favourite places, my local library.

We went there this morning for story time. I have been taking baby bear since she was a couple of months old - even then she would be rapt, attention focussed on the story teller and the other children. Now she knows why we are at the library and is squeaking with excitement before I even have her out of the stroller.

I took the shot above on Wednesday evening when I went to collect my inter-library loans. Port Phillip Library is terrific - they don't charge for inter-library loans. I love the library and am a member of every library service within 10 kilometres of our house - Stonnington, Glen Eira, Yarra Melbourne, Kingston - but Port Phillip gets my v
ote. They have a four-week loan period and have recently started sending me polite emails to remind me that my books are due back shortly (this probably bc my loans always become overdue - oops).

They have recently very kindly procured Red & white : American redwork quilts and Angel Threads: creating lovable clothes for little ones
for me. I also recently requested Knitting lingerie style: more than 30 basic and lingerie-inspired designs which isn't held at any Australian libraries. I suggested that Port Phillip Library Service purchase it and they are going to - excellent. And they are also going to purchase another of my requests - Make your own Contemporary Quilts. Love my local library.

Ah, knitting content - yes, as promised:

I knitted this scarf for Tim - in four or five years of knitting, it's the very first thing for him. I'm going to pinch some formatting from Clementine's Shoes to tell you about this.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: hmm, I just made it up really, I think that this may be called brioche stitch, it's 2 stitches of garter, 2 of stocking, 2 of garter, 2 of reverse stocking with 2 stitches of garter as a border. I cast on 34 stitches.
Yarn: Five balls of Patons Inca, shade 7008 - 50% wool, 30% acrylic, 20% alpaca.
Needles: 7mm plastic in bright green.
Comments: Now, I remain unconvinced about this yarn. I first purchased it a couple of years ago to knit my first ever garment which got part way through seaming-up stage and then no further than a plastic bag for the ensuing couple of years. The other day I realised that it will never make it to the op shop and finally frogged it. Tim has been wanting a scarf of his own and said that he'd be happy to have one from the Inca so it is partly reborn this way - I have a few balls left over, maybe a matching beanie? What is it about the Inca? Well, there's that 30% problem, yes, 30% acrylic. Everything about synthetics is there in that first syllable. I am a yarn snob and stick almost exclusively to 100% natural fibres. I think that the fact that Inca doesn't fit this bill means that I was never comfortable with it from the start. I also feel that it promises more visually than it actually delivers but don't know how to explain this further.

Anyway, Tim is happy, I'm happy and I can add something to my finished list.

Thursday, 19 July 2007


Ah, the fallibility of memory. It was last Thursday that I saw the lovely children's coat in Armadale and Tuesday that I saw the lovely stock at Cutting Edge and was convinced that they were one and the same fabric. Hmm, not so sure now. Yesterday I was walking down Gelnhuntly Road in Elsternwick and in the window of a children's wear shop saw yet another jacket, but I'm pretty sure that this is the fabric:

This is the fabric that they have at Cutting Edge:

There is certainly a similarity. Apparently it also came in cream with red and white embroidery but that sold out v quickly.

And the reason for wandering down Glenhuntly Road yesterday? Ah, I took baby bear to the Spit the Dummy session at the Elsternwick Classic Cinema along with a couple of other mums from my parents' group. Black Book was showing and I really enjoyed it. It's a WWII Nazi spy drama/thriller set in the Netherlands. The director is Paul Verhoeven (he of Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers and Showgirls fame) and the film is highly stylised - the glamour is glamorous, the dirt is dirty, the goodies are good and the baddies are bad, but with just enough ambiguity in there to keep it interesting. I hadn't realised that it would be subtitled though - not that I mind a subtitled film at all, it's just hard to keep your eyes glued to the screen while keeping an eye on the 10 month old crawling around on the floor at your feet, heading for the nearest cable and picking up yesterday's lost popcorn. Thank you Elsternwick Classic for having these sessions, I love being able to go to the movies.

There is also a finished knitted item to show but I'm going to save that for tomorrow - oooh, the anticipation!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

favourite things #1

"... whiskers on kittens, brown paper packages tied up with string..." you get the picture.

I have a lot of favourite things to share with you but today's discovery is foremost in my mind so that's what I'll share first.

I went to Spotlight today (not a favourite thing) and they didn't have the interfacing that I was looking for so I ventured further to Cutting Edge Fabric at 189 Glenferrie Road, Malvern. I hadn't been there before and I'm so glad that I went - what an excellent shop! I didn't ask exactly what 'ex-designer fabrics' means but they have lovely fabrics at reduced prices. Last week I was having a quick look around in Armadale (strictly inspiration only) and found a lovely child's coat, on sale for $202 (eek). The fabric was a pale neutral embroidered with red medallions. Well, I found the same fabric (albeit in different colourways) today at Cutting Edge for $24 per metre.

The woman who served me was very friendly and helpful and even gave me tips on how to thread my overlocker (that's another story). What I also particularly liked about the shop was that they have samples of the fabric precut and attached to the end of the bolt, so you get a good size piece of fabric, as opposed to the usual sliver.

The shop is open
Monday to Friday 9:30 - 5:30, Saturday 9:00 to 5:00 and I recommend a look if you are planning to sew something (or just like to dream that you will).

Monday, 16 July 2007

do you have a blog?

I was first asked this question in September 2005 when I was on holiday in London. I attended the Central London Knitters group in the cafe at Foyle's and upon discovering that I was from Australia, that was the first question that they asked. At the time I was in awe of all the great knit blogs that I had seen and the idea of having my own - 'heavens no'.

I was asked the same question this Friday past and my response was, 'no i don't, but it's about time I did'. What prompted me to change my mind? I was chatting with a dear friend last week and she was waxing nostalgic for her former life in London. Me, I was just waxing lyrical about my current life, 'enthused' is the word for how I feel about the here and now. And I want to share it with the world.

So here it is - welcome to bollewangenhaptoet. This is an affectionate nickname in Dutch for a child with chubby cheeks; it's what my great-uncle called me as a child. Most of the
family photos are in storage at the moment but here is a very early shot of me, perhaps just a day or so old.

So what will this blog be about? Well knitting, because that's where it all started, also some sewing (I hope), some other crafting, stories of my op shopping adventures, a bit of family life, some info about my local area - whatever takes my fancy really. I hope that you enjoy - please spread the word!

Still don't have a mobile phone though.