Wednesday, 29 August 2007


  1. My favourite colour is red.
  2. I am married, to Tim. We met over eight years ago in Amsterdam and it turns out that we went to primary school together, just for one year.
  3. I love foreign languages and at one time or another have studied Japanese, French, Italian, Latin and Dutch. Of these, I am most proficient in Dutch.
  4. Career-wise I have variously considered becoming an architect, a speech pathologist, a police officer, an art therapist, a lawyer and a clinical neuropsychologist. I am a public servant which I'm very happy with and am currently looking into studying health economics.
  5. Cat, not dog. As a child and even into adolescence I was very frightened of dogs. I have always adored cats and would love to have my own but Tim is allergic and I love him even more.
  6. Spelling and grammar really matter to me - particularly the use of apostrophes and adverbs. This is dangerous to admit, just in case I make any mistakes here!
  7. I have never so much as smoked a cigarette and intend to keep it that way.
  8. I discovered yesterday that I have ancestors named Abraham Halinbourg and Antonio Giovanni Meriga - fabulous!
Thanks for tagging me Martine!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007


I remember when ... oh dear, am I really old enough to be saying things like that? I have lived here in Balaclava (with a couple of side trips) since I was 14, so that's almost 19 years. I do remember when the only place you could get a beer or glass of wine on Carlisle Street was the pub. And a cup of coffee? Ah, no.

Now the dilemma is not where to find a coffee (I use the term 'get a coffee' here loosely because as previously declared, I loathe the stuff) but where can you get a table. There are now more cafes on Carlisle Street than I can count and on weekends they are all packed. There are also a couple of bars and quite a few restaurants that serve alcohol. Hooray.

The issue for me though is where to find a good hot chocolate. What makes it good? Well, that it is hot and that it is chocolate. While these may sound like two self-evident features of a hot chocolate, it is amazing how many are a lukewarm cup of milk atop a layer of gluggy chocolate powder.

But not this one, this one is my favourite. It's served at Gattica (223 Carlisle Street, Balaclava; tel. 9525 8282) where you can also get good food and friendly service. The trick seems to be that they make a uniformly chocolate milk and then warm that thoroughly - yippee, no sediment. You'll have to ask someone else about their coffee though.

Sunday, 26 August 2007


Villette is quite possibly my favourite novel, and Charlotte Brontë is certainly my favourite author. I remember as a child - how old would I have been? - when my mother read Jane Eyre and recounted the story to me as she read it. I didn't read it myself until many years later and Villette only because it was a prescribed text in my 'Women and Fiction in the 19th century' course at uni.

I really enjoyed that course and several of the themes and topics that we discussed have stayed with me, including the origins of the urban myth that the Victorians were such prudes that they invented piano skirts to hide the instrument's legs (origins which I now can't remember).

Anyway, I don't think that I actually read Villette at the time (400 pages of Victorian fiction each week was a big ask!) and ended up instead taking it with me travelling, hence my well worn copy. I have since also read Charlotte
Brontë's other works - The Professor and Shirley. I love her prose, the long complicated sentences, her way of stating things. In fact, my memory of Villette is so sweet that I dare not read it again, just in case.

Since becoming an avid knitter I must admit that I do not read as much as I used to. At one point there I made a conscious decision to read on the train in the morning instead of knitting which helped until I went on maternity leave. So, speaking of knitting - I have completed one of the socks for Tim's dad. I won't have the pair ready for father's day, alas, and the weather will probably have warmed up by the time the second sock is finished but they'll keep until next winter. I think that the trick is to not lose momentum and cast on for the second sock immediately.

Progress has also been made on the linen baby ballerina top - back complete, left side complete, right side cast on and 13 rows in. I'll have to make a detour to Coles tomorrow -
when I want to know exactly how much my knitting weighs, I just pop it in one of those clear plastic bags and put it on the digital scales in the fruit and vegetable section. I want to check how much the left front weighs to give me an idea of how much yarn is left and whether it will be short sleeves or long.

And now that I am back at work two days a week you would think that there would be some reading time. But, as I suspected, sock knitting is very portable and you do get lovely compliments from other commuters.

Friday, 24 August 2007

the return

This week I returned to work on the 18th floor of a very large office block at a very large state government department. I returned to relentless fluorescent lighting, artificial climate control and olive green decor.

I also returned to uninterrupted lunches, cups of tea that I actually get to finish and the city - things may not be so bad after all! And it is only two days a week.

I think that Melbourne city is wonderful - I love the wide streets lined with trees, trams running down the middle, the warren of lanes hiding hole-in-the-wall bars, the bluestone and the concrete. I really connect with the city and find it a wonderful place to work and shop and explore. Earlier today I wandered past Piadina Slow Food, along Crossley Street past Crossley & Scott, Madame Virtue and Gingerboy, to the Salvation Army op shop on Bourke Street and felt like I had come home.

Adjusting my head space to being back at work has been a bit of an effort
though. After spending a little over a year at home surrounded by a truly bonny baby, domesticity and various knitting projects, getting back into the swing of quarterly reporting, progression, performance and
development plans and key performance indicators has my head in a swim. Coming back to work after a year's absence has been quite disorientating - it's like starting a new job and having to take everything in but I already know most of the people and my way around the office. On the surface nothing has changed but the deeper I look the more I find that is new, different, foreign. Everyone here is a year older (including me) although it's hardly obvious, and nothing like the incredible growth and change that baby bear has experienced in the same time period.

Tim likes to remind me that motherhood makes you smarter (apparently) and I must say that my ability to plan and multi-task has certainly improved. I also think that my creativity has soared since baby bear was born, endless ideas about things to make. Some women say that they are desperate to get back to work in order to use their brain again but I haven't felt that way, my brain has been plenty busy with creative pursuits. Now that I am back I hope that there is ample room for both.

And ah, the view.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

janome 720

My Janome 720 sewing machine was purchased from Grace Brothers, Parramatta on 3 November 1983. Not by me, obviously, because I was nine years old at the time and at primary school in Melbourne. It was acquired by me some time when we were living in Sydney on hard rubbish night. Well, the day after hard rubbish night actually.

I always love hard rubbish night – it’s a great way to acquire pre-loved stuff and always fascinating to see what people are getting rid of. Disappointingly,
City of Port Phillip these days has a system whereby you can book in to have your hard rubbish collected for free up to four times a year so there is no longer a hard rubbish night as such. There’s a wonderful film called The Gleaners and I by Agnès Varda in which the director discusses (the French equivalent of) hard rubbish night with a young man who simply considers it to be a shopping night of sorts.

Back in Sydney on this particular evening we had a very enthusiastic gleaning friend staying with us and went on a shopping tour of the neighbourhood. He found lots of computer cables but not much else. It was the next day when I came home from work that I saw a sewing machine case on the nature strip outside the block of flats next to ours. Really, my heart rate went up. And lo and behold, it had a machine inside - a Janome 720 - along with a box of accessories, the manual and original warranty card. I was a bit reticent at first and spent a good 10 minutes waiting for the owner to come back for it; perhaps someone had driven away, accidentally leaving it by the side of the road? Perhaps not.

The machine didn’t work of course but that same enthusiastic gleaning friend is also an electrical engineer and was able to pinpoint and remedy the difficulty which was a bent pin in the plug. Runs like a dream, not that I can actually claim to have used it very much but I do have many plans.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

i op therefore i am

I thought it time to post an update on my Wardrobe Refashion progress, three weeks into my pledge to not buy any new clothing. I must admit how pleased I was when I explained to Tim that I was only going to buy clothes at the op shop and make things for two months and he responded, 'But that's what you do anyway'.

So, I haven't bought anything new in the past three weeks, haven't even actually bothered looking at new clothing at all but I have been shopping, oh yes. To say that I live to (op) shop may be overstating things a bit but it is definitely one of my favorite activities. Fuelled by my previously confessed tendency to confuse buying the materials for a project with actually doing the project, in the last three weeks I have acquired more pre-loved materials with which to work than I could possibly use in two months. Not to mention plenty of items for myself, baby bear and the house.

I am constantly amazed by what is available at the op shop - the volume of stuff, the incredible quality of some of the garments, the creeping feeling that so much of what is manufactured new just doesn't need to be because there is already so much stuff out there. To promote the joy of op shopping I have started a collaborative blog called I op therefore I am. It's a site for people to show the great things that they have bought, to find out where the op shops are and to alert others to great buys. If you love to op shop and particularly if you live in Melbourne, Australia and would like to join in (please do!), click on the link and take a look.

Monday, 20 August 2007

botanic gardens

Ah, it's been a busy weekend, none of it spent at the St Kilda Botanic Gardens unfortunately. These gardens are one of my all-time favourite places and particularly since baby bear was born I have spent a lot of time there.

I have played scrabble games here, hung out with play group, walked every path, just plain old lazed on the lawn, a bit of knitting. Pre-pregnancy this is one of the places that I would run to before breakfast (how pre-pregnancy). I was so proud of myself that I could run the whole perimeter without stopping. I came home and measured the park in the Melways to check just how far that is but can't recall the actual distance now ... it's that hazy! Port Phillip EcoCentre is also located in the gardens and they have a children's singing and music session on Tuesday mornings in term time. It starts at 10:30 and goes for an hour.

I have been working on my sewing projects, slowly but surely. I went to Clegs (did you know that they stock some Rowan yarns now!?) on Sunday afternoon to buy a pintuck foot for my sewing machine. The sales assistant wanted to know whether I had a low-shank machine or not - all I could tell her is that I have a Janome. I ended up buying two feet - one for a low-shank machine and the other one. For your information, a Janome 720 takes a low-shank foot. Have I told you the story of how I acquired my sewing machine? Ah, next time.

Friday, 17 August 2007


Oooh, found the photo:

Self-covered buttons, notebooks, Amy Butler fabrics (I think), cushions, storage boxes, t-shirts, ribbons, did I mention ribbons?

festooned dress

A while ago a girlfriend bought a lovely musk pink dress at St Vincent de Paul op shop with the idea in mind that baby bear could wear it first and then her daughter who is six months younger. Alas, the dress didn't fit baby bear very well but I thought that I would decorate it a bit before returning it.

I do love striped grosgrain ribbon (and a quick iron does make a difference). Here's a close up of the ribbon, the stitching and, oh look, matching thread:

I bought the ribbon from a wonderful little shop called Specklefarm (111 Bridport Street, Albert Park; tel. 9696 2477; T-F 11:00-5:00, S 10:30-3:30) which is conveniently located opposite Woolbaa - aaahh, knit heaven. Specklefarm is a little shop with a delicious array of grosgrain ribbons in a multitude of stripe and colour combinations, as well as some accessories including self-covered buttons made from the grosgrain ribbon. Very pretty. (There is also a small selection of striped grosgrain ribbon at The Button Shop, along with everything else under the sun.)

Specklefarm is also a couple of doors down from the Uniting Care Southport op shop (T 11:00-4:00, W-F 11:00-5:00, S 11:00-4:00). I have bought some wonderful things there, including the blue-green caftan top that I plan to shirr this afternoon - ok, I plan to practice shirring on some spare fabric and see how it goes.

(I've also posted about the pink dress across at Wardrobe Refashion - have a look at what people are making!)

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

more on Gütermann

Yes, I do have more to say about sewing thread. A sewing project always means matching the sewing thread to the fabric, either from what I already have or going out and colour matching - such a pleasure.

Top left is the caftan top with matching blue-green thread that I bought at The Button Shop ready for shirring.

Top right is a piece of Chinese embroidery that I bought at Sacred Heart Mission op shop on Chapel Street last Saturday - 50c, yay. Unfortunately I recklessly put it through the washing machine and as it wasn't particularly well made in the first place it fell apart a bit. Hence four circles of very careful hand stitching to bring it all back into shape and three matching sewing threads.
The black I already had (of course) and the orangey red, the slightly yellow beige was picked up at Hot Bargain on Carlisle Street. Yes, Balaclava has no fewer than half a dozen two-dollar shops but Hot Bargain is our favourite, for Tim because it is the closest and for me because it stocks a small range of haberdashery, including an abridged selection of Gütermann sewing threads. I'm always very happy when I can find what I want locally.

Bottom left are the materials for a bag that I intend to make, all recycled from op shop finds, the sewing thread all from the collection. I will be app
liquéing a tree to decorate the bag - brown lambswool jumper for the trunk, green cotton jumper for the leaves (using some unravelled cotton from that jumper as thread), felted orange jumper for birds using matching and contrasting threads.

Bottom right is the cotton miniskirt which will be pintucked to create a child's summer dress, using basic off-white (which I have somehow acquired four spools of).

There will be sewing time tomorrow - will there be a
finished project? or some progress four times over? Hmmm, I have some knitting to do ....

Monday, 13 August 2007

old school

Actually, what precedes old school? Relic or anachronism have a tinge of morbidity about them, antiquated or archaic suggests that something is completely out of date, old fashioned is also just not right.

Blast from the past - that's The Button Shop (
181 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern; tel. 95097077; M-F 9:00-5:30, S 9:00-4:00).

I dashed in here on Saturday afternoon after completely losing track of time pruning rose bushes to buy sewing thread and ribbon. I did have to pop into Spotlight afterwards to buy some iron-on interfacing as The Button Shop doesn't sell fabric but, heavens, it has almost everything else. And what's more - this is the old-fashioned bit - it is an independent retailer, a genuine old-time haberdasherer with no fluorescent-lit refurbishment, no VIP programme, no (e)mailing list. I love it.

I remember my mother bringing me to The Button Shop when I was in primary school nearby, so around 1984 onwards. I think that hardly anything has changed, indeed some of the stock looks like it may already have been there in 1984. The store is quite deep, the rear third full of knitting yarn - lots of Patons and Cleckheaton but also yarns by Naturally and Heirloom; along the right-hand wall is an incredible array of buttons and otherwise there is an incredible array of sewing threads, ribbons, elastic, ric-rac, sewing accessories, shoulder pads, knitting needles, knitting patterns - the place is a treasure trove.

While I was there I bought a spool of Gütermann sewing thread. Talk about brand loyalty, I am a marketer's dream in this sense. I always buy Gütermann because I like all of my spools to be the same. Truly. And I would quite happily acquire every single colour thread available if the need existed.
Above is only a small selection of what I already have. I love the way that a spool can set off a memory - like that silky blue that I used to mend a lovely cornflower blue Saba cardigan that was part of a twin-set; or that light olive green that I used to sew in a zip in a knitting project. Sadly, the spools can also set off memories of projects that never came to fruition. I have a tendency to confuse buying the supplies for a project with actually doing the project - sewing thread, oil pastels, language books ....

On Saturday, I bought the dark blue-green (utmost top right) to do the shirring on the caftan top in order to turn it into a dress for baby bear. I also bought some musk pink grosgrain ribbon to match a cotton miniskirt that I bought at the op shop last Friday. I am in the process of putting in pintucks in front and back and it will become another summer dress for baby bear. The ribbon will be used for the straps and a sash. I hereby declare these supplies and my intention to produce a finished product.

Friday, 10 August 2007

café au lait

I don't drink coffee - ever. Never, ever, ever. Ok, maybe once when I was 19 in Yokohama at a cookie shop. They didn't sell any drinks but did provide free instant coffee so I ended up half filling a plastic cup with coffee, the other half with the contents of a number of mini uht milk containers and heaps of sugar. Needless to say, it tasted dreadful.

Not that I have based my dislike of coffee on this experience alone. I don't actually remember that pivotal moment of tasting coffee and disliking it - perhaps it never happened, just the smell is enough to put me off. I really loathe coffee.

I read something in the Age
the other day which made fun of Australians ordering a larday, that is, a latte when they want a white coffee. That Australians, or at least Melburnians, choose to abbreviate caffe(l)latte doesn't bother me - language works like that, it borrows and adapts - but I personally prefer the French term café au lait. Prefer linguistically that is, wouldn't consider drinking one. Café au lait is also what I would call the colour of the linen that I am using to knit the ballerina top. I'm 52 rows into the back which is halfway before the shoulder shaping starts. I don't think that the current ball will make it that far but I have three (four?) more with which to work. Could the universe and I be in harmony?

Thursday, 9 August 2007

patchwork on central park

I had the fortunate occasion to visit this lovely patchwork/quilt/fabric store a couple of weeks ago. Patchwork on Central Park is located at 148 Burke Rd, East Malvern (tel. 9885 4480) - may you also be so fortunate as to visit!

They have a great website with lots of photos of their stock and on-line shopping. Making a quilt, or at least trying my hand at some quilting techniques, is something that is on my hmm-yeah-maybe-one-day-I'll-get-around-to-that list and I certainly have a number of patchwork and quilt books in my collection to support this notion (it would take me forever to actually try my hand at every needlework technique/craft that I have a book on).

Visiting this shop though made me want to start on one straight away. Whilst there I also came across
Childhood treasures : handmade gifts for babies and children by Caroline Zoob. My beloved local library were very prompt in getting it in for me on inter-library loan but I think that it's going to be one of those occasions when I need my own copy. I love this book's aesthetic and need very little inducement to (attempt to) create childhood treasures in my own home.

On a more serious note, I saw I Have Never Forgotten You at the spit-the-dummy session at the Elsternwick Classic yesterday. It is a documentary about Simon Wiesenthal who worked tirelessly after the second world war to have Nazi war criminals brought to justice - eloquent and moving.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

both sides of the tracks

How apt that my neighbourhood should share its name with a knitted garment.

On one side of the tracks there are single-fronted weatherboard Victorian workers' cottages.

On the other side of the tracks there are warehouses (including Husk), auto repairs and Golds World of Judaica. That about sums up Balaclava really - the modern and fashionable, the everyday and the orthodox. I have lived in this area since I was 14 (I'm 32 now) and I love it here.

Balaclava train station itself is not much to look at - unlike Ripponlea, one station down the tracks, there is no historical wooden building - but it is the local facility that I use most of all. Until just a couple of years ago I didn't have access to a car (I didn't even get my license until I was 25) and have always been a staunch public transport user. Apparently, with the rising price of petrol, so are a lot of other people and the peak hour trains are overcrowded. As I haven't been commuting to work these past 12 months I haven't had firsthand experience of this but I will find out come September when I return to work.

One thing about commuting to work again (albeit only two days a week) is that I will have some knitting time both morning and evening (hmm, assuming that I can get a seat). Sock knitting seems like good pt knitting - compact, quick to get to the end of the row, reasonably mindless on the straight stretches. On the left the sock that I currently have underway.

When there is a second sock this pair will be for Tim's dad (if you know Tim's dad - shhh, they're to be a surprise). They are my first pair of adult-sized socks and I'm enjoying knitting them. I've forgotten what the yarn is but it was kindly provided by Jane - many thanks! Please note the wonderful old-school knitting pamphlet; apparently the Patons' sock pattern has remained the same for decades. In other knitting news, I have a good amount of linen 5 ply and am 17 rows into the back of the ballerina top and have purchased a pattern book - Patons Classic Baby Knits - for the pale blue v-neck cardigan that will be graced with the lovely Austrian buttons. Maybe I'll have to go back to work more than two days a week to get all of this done.

Monday, 6 August 2007

punica granatum

I first came across
pomegranates in early primary school when I learnt the story of the Greek goddess Persephone who was abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld. There she refused to eat until the very last moment before being retrieved by Hermes when she took a bite of pomegranate. She ate six seeds and for these six seeds she was compelled to return to the underworld for six months of the year. This caused her mother, Demeter, goddess of the Earth, to despair for six months of the year, hence explaining the winter months when the earth is not bountiful. Some things from childhood really stick in your mind and this is one of them for me.

Not only this but the pomegranate is a visually evocative fruit. It features as a design element in Italian brocades of the 15th and 16th centuries, as detailed in a lovely book that I have Historic Textile Fabrics by Richard Glazier, published in London by Batsford in 1923. On the right below is a Florentine brocaded silk damask
from the late 15th century of rose and pomegranate design woven in gold on white silk.

On Saturday night I went to Blue Diamond for a friend's birthday drinks and tasted a Moulin Rouge cocktail. I chose it because one of the ingredients is grenadine, traditionally a red syrup made from pomegranate.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

nothing if not

So far I have let it be known that I love to knit and that I love to op shop. Far and away beyond these things though, I love to get my own way. This has caused me quite some difficulties in the past, particularly when I was of the opinion that the universe should jive left and the universe was of the opinion that it would jive right (yes, didn't you know that the universe jives?).

Do you recall my lovely wound recycled
linen yarn of a week or so ago? Well, the pattern that it was destined for (note use of cosmic language here) called for 5 ply (25 sts to 10 cm) and that is the gauge that it was knit at in the original garment (an Elle b knit that i bought at the op shop - remember Elle b? It was a Sportsgirl diffusion label in the mid- to late-90s).

That, however, was a machine knit and that makes a difference. On my 3.25mm knitting needles it came out more like a 4ply (28sts to 10cm). So, did I just decide to knit something different with it? No, of course not. I want to get my own way.

The original linen yarn is made up of three strands. A quick test knit over a fair few rows of stocking stitch proved that five strands of the linen would provide a perfect 5-ply thread (funny that). To this end I have been rewinding the linen, a three-strand thread from one ball combines with just two strands from another. To achieve this I have to separate out a single strand from the second ball of linen. Oh what a tangled web I weave. That third strand does not separate out easily and not only have I decreased my yardage by putting the five strands together, I have also wasted quite a bit in tangles that I could only come to terms with using scissors.

The result though is a very satisfactory 5 ply. Whether I end up with enough to actually knit the ballerina top remains to be seen. I'm already thinking that it could have short sleeves instead of long, and ribbon ties instead of knitted ties. Who will win this argument, me or the universe?

ps. A great tutorial on how to unravel a jumper is available over at Neauveau Fibre Arts, although I must admit that I skip the skein-making and washing step, I just unravel straight onto my ball winder. As evidenced by my crinkly yarn.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

the fourth r

Reduce, re-use, recycle - I try to do all of these things. But where does reproduce fit in with all of this? Having a child has made me reflect on how much I use - how much electricity, how much water, how much petrol. In 15 years time when I tell baby bear that in 2007 we used to shower once a day what will her reaction be?

"Only once a day?" or "Once a day?! You mean every single day?"

I fear that it will be the latter (but given that she will then be a teenager it is more likely to be "Yeah, so?"). For all the chatter on the radio about climate change and what to do about the Murray-Darling basin, there are people out there doing something about their consumption. I am very inspired by the collaborative Wardrobe Refashion blog and have signed up for a two-month pledge for both baby bear and I:
I pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing,
for the period of two months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle
pre-loved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium
for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love
and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created
item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog,
so that others may share the joy that thriftiness brings!

I love to op shop and have done since my early teens. There was a lull there before baby bear came along but now that I am home with a bit more time on my hands I have gotten right back into it, for the whole family.

These are some items that I have bought at the op shop in the past couple of months. The cardigan on the left is a wool/acrylic/polyamide mix and I am planning to use the sleeves to make some pants for baby bear as per this tutorial. From the back and fronts I would like to try and fashion a simple dress. I don't usually go for synthetics but I loved the pattern and colours in this cardigan and it will wash and wear well. The top on the right is again something where the fabric caught my eye - it was one of those moments when I feverishly reached out and grabbed the hanger tightly lest someone else get their hands on it in an otherwise empty op shop. Unfortunately, it doesn't actually fit me but I think that with some shirring I could turn the lower part into a dress for baby bear using the ties as straps, then perhaps a pair of matching bloomers using the fabric from the bodice and sleeves. That will require a pattern and some patience but I'm game.

There will be much more on this blog about op shopping, and hopefully about some of the crafty things that I get up to with my finds. Perhaps I could even inspire you to join in at Wardrobe Refashion?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

baby bobble jacket

How to be a good parent? How do you insert idyllic experiences into your child's life? I mean apart from the love, comfort, shelter, love, security, food, warmth and endless love that you provide on a day-to-day basis. I suppose that our children will look back on their childhoods and the things that they will remember as being special will be things that we provided inadvertently. There was a small orange and brown suitcase with a picture of a clown on it which I kept my matchbox cars in that I think back on with great fondness. I don't think that my mother could have anticipated this. There are also photos of me in handknits and hand-crocheted items, I'm thinking particularly of a multi-coloured matinee jacket that my mother crocheted which I still have. Looking at those photos when I got older let me know that I was special.

So, it is important to me that baby bear have handknits; besides which, I love to knit.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: 9-12 month size baby bobble jacket from Debbie Bliss' Cotton knits for all seasons : 25 projects for babies, children, and adults.
Yarn: 250 grams of cotton recycled from a Country Road jumper that I bought at a Salvation Army op shop for $4.50. There is quite a bit left.
Needles: 4mm and 4.5mm metal straights. The pattern calls for 2.75mm and 3.25mm needles but as I substituted yarn I changed the needles accordingly. Usually I knit with bamboo needles but found that the cotton caught too much on them so used the metals instead - not as pleasant a knitting experience.
Comments: I'm very pleased with how this project has turned out bc I substituted yarn and played around with the pattern a bit. The pattern calls for Debbie Bliss wool/cotton which knits at a gauge of 25 stitches per 10 centimetres (and which I notice has been discontinued in any case). The cotton that I used knits up at 22 sts per 10 cms (so more of an 8 ply) but this was ok as I want the jacket to fit baby bear beyond 12 months. In terms of how long to make the pieces I judged by the photo in the pattern, although this turned out not
to be so successful as I did have to frog back the half repeat on the sleeves. I'm so glad that I did bc as you can see they are still almost a little too long. I often knit the sleeves first but where you are playing around with variables like gauge, knitting the back first would be wiser.

I also cut out the button band and one of central cables from the front, and a garter stitch panel and cable from the back, otherwise the garment was going to be preposterously wide. This obviated the need to make button holes (hooray); what I did instead was knit in garter stitch for 5 sts on one side front, and a 4-st wide cable plus one knit st on the other. I then used clear plastic press-studs instead of buttons.

I think that I may have misjudged a bit with where I started the decreases for the V-neck (I started at the beginning of the fifth pattern repeat) as it could have been deeper. Also, bc I had omitted stitches to make the fronts narrower I ended up decreasing on the actual stitch pattern, rather than across garter stitch and this was a bit tricky.

As for the actual pattern - construction-wise it's pretty simple and I loved the stitch repeat. I really enjoy complex patterns, the trepidation and intense concentration with which you knit the first repeat, the sense of accomplishment on the next couple as you get into the swing, the excitement of understanding the internal logic of how all the stitches fit together, the fact that you hardly even need the pattern by the time you knit the last repeat. Bobbles - I like knitting bobbles, however, I do suspect that the instructions given in this pattern for bobbles (work k1, p1, k1, p1, k1 into next st, turn, p5, turn, k5, pass 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th st over first and off the needle) produce a different bobble to that which is illustrated in the photo that accompanies the pattern.* And there is a bit of short-row shaping in the collar which I hadn't encountered before but think is a great idea - it makes the collar wider at the centre back than it is at either end so that it sits nicely.

Oh yes, baby bear is also a bollewangenhaptoet.

* Nora Gaughan employs a great non-turning bobble technique in her Droplet Hat in Knitting Nature: 39 designs inspired by Patterns in Nature which works on a similar principle to i-cord.