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.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

let's go to florida!

I tell you, despite being no advocate of heat, sun bathing, surf or sand, I would go to Florida in a heart beat if I thought I could get hold of this vintage pattern. It's Vogue 8617, a "sightseeing dress of cucumber-green linen".

In fact, it has become my life's new mission (on the sewing front at least) to track down and acquire this pattern. I have saved a search for it on ebay, trawled google, searched vintage sewing pattern sites. Short of actually going to Florida (school starts next week you know), any other suggestions?

august reading

Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains by Catriona McPherson - Lots of fun to read. Dandy is a great character and the mystery is good. This book also addresses the class divide between aristocrats and their servants. There is a wonderful moment when Dandy, posing as a lady's maid, is upon questioning tongue tied as to what her fictional first name is, as if it had never occurred to her that lady's maid would actually have a first name. This gives her cause to ponder what her own maid's first name might be. Sadly, this is the most recent Dandy Gilver book so I shall be waiting for the next volume and then waiting for the library to get a copy.

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch - also a period mystery (although somewhat earlier), also with aristocracy, servants and murder. Not as good as Dandy Gilver but thankfully the first in a series of four.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

violent voile

This is the absolute cheapest, not to mention most horrendous, voile that I could find in Seattle. I bought it at a certain 'big box' store (as they are called in these parts). When I paid, the dear cashier commented what a great print it was and I couldn't help but tell her exactly, well, that it was horrendous and the cheapest that I could find.

I am ready to make a toile of Vogue 1573 in the actual weight fabric that I intend to use. May I stress, this is not the fabric that I intend to use for the final version. No way. I'm just serious about making sure that when I do cut into that beautiful Italian cotton voile that what I make is going to be something that I will wear. Surely there is no quicker way to put yourself off home dressmaking than to rush through it and produce a ... significant waste of funds. Experience is always invaluable.

And to that end I am prepared to sew with this violent voile. Maybe I'll use the wrong side instead.