Thursday, 25 April 2013

bookmark me

It's hard to tell you how much this photograph absolutely delights me. Yes, it's a poor quality i-phone photo that I've fiddled with the contrast on but that's not the point. The point is all those little post-it notes stuck in there.

The book is Intemporels pour enfants: Modèles et patrons de 2 à 8 ans (rough translation: Classics for children: designs and patterns from 2 to 8 years) by Astrid Le Provost, whom I believe is behind the French company Citronille. I first encountered her book for babies in Paris some six years ago and as miss bear grew of course I needed a bigger book. After despairing at the price of postage fro the book from France, it occurred to me to try our Francophone neighbours (we were living in the US at the time) and got it really easily through Amazon Canada. (Speaking of which, that is, postage costs, I was recently shopping on eBay for some shoes for miss bear and found that similar shoes for a similar price shipped for a fraction of the cost from the UK compared to from the US.)

Anyway, the point of all this is that a few evenings ago, miss bear took this book with her to bed at bedtime to look through, When I went in to say goodnight, she had carefully marked with a post-it note each of the eight-or-so items that she wants me to sew for her. Oh, with pleasure sweet miss bear, with pleasure!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

more duffers

I identify for the most part as a process knitter (knit for the knitting experience, rarely the same thing twice) so the fact that this is my third pair of duffers this year (and fourth overall) is testament to the knittability of these slippers! These ones were a birthday present for a friend of miss bear's, here modelled by the birthday girl herself.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Duffers - revisited by Mindie Tallack.
Size: I knit US 3 but they fulled down to more of a US1.
Yarn: Patons Inca (50 per cent wool, 30 per cent acrylic, 20 per cent alpaca) in 7040 red (0.7 skeins) and 7041 purple (0.9 skeins). Washing instructions are strictly to hand wash only. Take note!
Needles: 8mm.
Stash/recycle content: Not this time. There was a specific colour request which I didn't have in stash.
Start to finish: 7 April to 10 April 2013.

Comments: Oh what a journey these were! I chose the Patons Inca because the red and purple shades were better than those of the Patons Jet (which I have successfully fulled before, no trouble). The knitting was no trouble, used Judy's (truly) Magic Cast-on to begin, but when it came to fulling them - nothing. No success whatsoever. I tried first by hand because you do never know and want to do these things slowly, just in case. Then I did some five minutes stints in the front loader on a hot wash with towels (just as with the previous pairs). Still absolutely nothing.

The next day, the day of the birthday, miss bear and I headed out to the laundromat to do a hot wash in a top loader but we left the house in a hurry and I forgot to take any towels. Fortunately, there is an op shop in our local shopping strip and we dropped in to buy some towels. Well, just one towel because as it turned out, I didn't have much cash on me and they don't take cards.

Off to the laundromat - front loaders only. Off to the other laundromat and finally got a wash going but, of course, you can't regulate the water level on those machines so the slippers and towel just floated around in the hot water. Fulling result - zilch. We went to the party with no present.

That night I was so fed up with them (and the prospect of having to buy more wool and knit another pair) that I put them into my front loader with a few towels on a normal wash and turned the water temperature way up high. Then I went to bed. The next morning, fully fulled slippers and just the right size - thank goodness!

Verdict: Finally, fantastic. Hand-made gift given with delight by my daughter and received with delight by the birthday girl. But Patons Inca - beware, requires major fulling effort!

Monday, 15 April 2013

little duffers

It's just the right time of the year for these (down here in the southern hemisphere, that is).

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Little Duffers by Mindie Tallack.
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Cascade 220 Heathers (100 per cent wool) in 9322 and Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend (70 per cent merino, 30 per cent silk) in 3075.
Needles: 6mm.
Size: US 8.
Start to finish: 28 March to 29 March 2013.
Stash/recycle content: Yes and yes! The Cascade 220 is leftover from my Pimlico Snug and the Manos del Uruguay from the Attabi Wrap. 

Comments: This is the little brother/sister pattern to the Duffers that I knit recently for miss bear. Unlike the Duffers pattern which requires using a double strand of yarn, this mini version requires only a single strand. I had half knit a slipper before I remembered this. The Cascade 200 and Manos del Uruguay felted differently, to be expected given the silk content of the latter and could probably benefit from a bit more concentrated hand felting. At the moment though baby b is thoroughly delighted with them so I might just wait until he grows!  

Verdict: Quick, satisfying and effective knit, and an excellent way to use up stash!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

what a production

Five mothers, nine children, various eats and drinks and many cups of tea, two sewing machines, two irons, many pins, a little bit of swearing, and five hours later we had thirty drawstring bags ready to take to school on Monday. The best outcome though was a really wonderful sense of community. I had such a great day, so much fun and felt so good afterwards.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Sometimes it's just good to do something, even a very little something, on a project that you have in mind. Just to keep it alive when you don't have any likelihood of really launching into it anytime soon. I think I just have to embrace my completely haphazard, ad hoc way of working on and prioritising things.

 I bought this quilt a few years ago at the now defunct Kirkland Antiques Center. One of the stalls there was closing down (the whole place has since done so) and everything was discounted by 70 per cent, including this 1930s quilt from Nebraska. Parts of it, particularly the borders, were very damaged, so I trimmed them off (not sure whether this is quilt sacrilege or not) and it has sat that way for a good long time, always with the intention of mending and rehabilitating it.

Over the past few nights I have unpicked the cut-off sections, taking out the batting and salvaging what pieced sections I can. I hope to use them one day to repair other parts of the quilt and perhaps the backing for a new binding. It has been fascinating to see the true fabric colours revealed inside the seams and to see how much they have faded over time. I have also learned that the quilt is machine pieced and hand quilted and that the maker's sewing machine's tension was off.

* Quick gripe about the Kirkland Antiques Center: my goodness, I went there one day when miss bear was small and they insisted that I couldn't take the stroller in. It wasn't that busy and there was plenty of room to move the stroller about. So instead I got to walk around the place with an inquisitive two year old and a staff member none too discreetly trailed us around the entire shop.

Monday, 1 April 2013

march reading

The Shark Net by Robert Drewe -Sometimes just has to be the right time to read a certain book. I first picked this up a month or two ago, read a chapter and could not get into it. Put it down and read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest instead and a number of other quick reads since. Then this past month I picked it up again. Not a particularly long book but dense, it took me almost the entire month to read and it is fabulous, an excellent book, well written, finely crafted, evocative, interesting, funny. I am so glad that I put it down when it wasn't the right time to read it and picked it up again when it was. I highly recommend this book for when you want a good, deep read.