Sunday, 27 April 2008


It is nine years since I was last in Paris. I wouldn't claim to know the city well enough to say that so much has changed (or not) but I have noticed some definite differences.

The first is the
Vélib' scheme - free-use bicycles which are stationed all over the city and appear to be well used. Despite having lived in Amsterdam for two years and having ridden a bike everywhere without a helmet it terrifies me to see people riding the boulevards of Paris bare headed. Ah, if I were younger and more foolhardy perhaps ...

And the second is wifi - everywhere, including the parks. Yes, there are people lazing around on the grass in the Place des Vosges quite possibly reading this sentence.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

en vacances

bollewangenhaptoet and family will be on holiday for the next few weeks (guess where!). I'll try and post a few photos from the road.

Monday, 21 April 2008

vol 7

Knitting - yes, I think that it is my favourite creative past time. I love to crochet and have recently been enjoying a bit of embroidery and sewing but really, it is knitting that I adore. And finally, in volume 7 of Golden Hands: the complete knitting, dressmaking and needlecraft guide, I have found something that I want to knit!
The pattern calls for an obsolete (thank goodness) 4ply - Bairnswear Babysoft Nylon - but I think that I will use the Grignasco Bambi which was originally intended for Lynda. I'm not sure that my resizing aspirations for Lynda are going to be successful with a 4ply so will use it instead for this adorable puff-sleeved cardigan. Codename? Mavis perhaps?

There are also some good knitting technique chapters in this volume, including how to knit 'slimming darts'. Just make sure that the neck opening is big enough to accommodate that hairdo!

prince dande lion

What a long week's worth of children's book illustrations! Thank you again Pip for the inspiration.

Being an blog from Australia, I wanted to include
May Gibbs who is best known for her books about the gumnut babies, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Here are some images though from my 1953 copy of the lesser known Prince Dande Lion. See the big bad banksia men in the second of the line drawings?

Gorgeous illustrations, classic Australiana.

husk - collins street

Sunday, 20 April 2008

the juniper tree

I've always known that fairy tales were grim(m) - children in ovens, girls in towers, wicked stepmothers - but they are even more so when illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Installment six in my week's worth of children's book illustrations - The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm, a queer book, yes queer in the old-fashioned sense of strange or odd.

Sendak is probably best known for his picture-story books Where the Wild Things Are (like) and In the Night Kitchen (dislike). I find these illustrations unsettling.

footscray fortune garden

We attended the opening yesterday afternoon of Elaine Su-Hui Chew's 'The Footscray Fortune Garden'. The exhibition is an installation garden, constructed entirely from two-dollar shop plastic flowers and plants, all purchased in Footscray. You can wander around the 'garden' or stop for a bit on one of the plastic stools provided. There are questions about nature and symbolism, abundance and fantasy, identity and transience but mostly it's about happiness. walking into the gallery puts a smile on your face - highly recommended.

We were a bit hesitant about letting baby bear loose on the installation for fear that she might engage in some overzealous pruning but our fears were unfounded - she completely ignored the flowers and plants and instead was fascinated by the plastic stools. She worked out that they were stackable and ran around the room, gathering all the stools and making one great stack (or at least attempting to). As this defied half the point of stopping to sit and look we did have to contain her in the end.

Photographs from
here and here on the Trocadero Art Space website.

I have to admit - I think that it was the first time that I had ever been to Footscray, which is probably even closer to the city than Balaclava
... but on the other side. Anyway, it was fascinating - incredible mix of people and cultures and shops, bustling and alive. It's so easy to forget that you don't have to travel far for a completely new experience, that in your own city there are always places to discover. Also highly recommended.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

vol 6

With volume 6 of Golden Hands: the complete knitting, dressmaking and needlecraft guide I thought that I would focus on the dressmaking chapters, partly because some friends have expressed an interest in pattern drafting and garment construction recently, partly because I've neglected it so far.
The dressmaking chapters are very detailed with plenty of instructions on how to sew into the bias, make French seams, lay out pattern pieces, and notes about fitting.

I think that at some point in our teenage years as we've been working out just what our look is (oh ok, and in later years) making our own clothes seems like a great way to get just exactly what we want. I myself was put off by all the jargon on the sewing patterns, the ill-sized dimensions, the fact that the finish wouldn't be what I had come to expect from commercially produced fashion (raw edges, unh). I even did a pattern-making and a dressmaking course once, way back when, at CAE.

I really like the idea of Thread Den - a 'sewing lounge' - although I haven't made it for a visit yet (North Melbourne, tad inconvenient for this south-of-the-Yarra girl). The concept though is great - sewing machines available for hire, assistance on hand, classes available and apparently a full set of Golden Hands.

I've mentioned before that I rarely wear shirts or blouses because they invariably gape across the front - not a good look. It would be great to learn how to either draft or adjust a pattern so that doesn't happen. Oh yeah, maybe one day.

The current craft update: I have been really busy finishing things. This is partly because I have had too many projects on the go at once for too long and have had no satisfaction from seeing things come to fruition which is eventually quite discouraging. Jeremy has been blocked and seamed - just the collar to go, ends to weave and then some embroidery. I have actually been working on the baby ballerina sleeves - hooray. The felted jumper bag is going slowly.

And according to my complete-two-start-one formula, Tim's dad's socks + tomten = new project time. Subsequent posts will reveal that my maths is not very good (I'm up to sewing on the buttons already).

Monday, 14 April 2008


A while ago I mentioned 'the whole EZ thing' which is an illustration of something that I have come to realise about myself - I can be really resistant to new things (or at least, things new to me). I think that part of it is a fear that I won't be able to master said thing so I just don't want to know about it. Elizabeth Zimmerman is, of course and rightly so, a knitting legend and there is a knitiverse of her work and patterns and knowledge out there. Perhaps I just found it all too overwhelming because when I got my first inkling of her work, that resistance swelled on up. Yep, 'the whole EZ thing'.

Slowly but surely, however, I allowed myself to learn a bit more, to look at some of the books, to visit Zimmermania and although I still find her style a little brusque I would count myself among the converts. So it is with great pride that I present my first EZ project.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Modular Tomten Jacket taken from Knitting Without Tears.
Yarn: Noro Kureyon in shade 148; 100% wool; four skeins.
Needles: 5mm
Start to finish: Sunday 14 October 2007 to Monday 14 April 2008 - this was such a quick knit, I was finished on 2 November 2007, about 19 days of knitting. The rest of the six months has been taken up with finishing - seaming, choosing buttons, making loops for fastening. I need to lift my game.

Comments: Such a great pattern. I love the construction and doing it in a variegated wool highlights this. As I didn't want to put in a zip or knit a button band, I knit an extra panel and affixed it just inside one of the fronts so that when the jacket is done up there will be no gaps for the cold to get in. I took EZ's advice (really, how could you not?) and did some short rows across the back to make it just that little bit longer.

As usual, it was the finishing that let me down, timeliness wise. I think that because the size of this is way too big for baby bear at present (no worries, she's growing fast), I didn't feel any urgency to complete it. But then it just sits around, an unfinished object and weighs on my mind.

It did take me a good while to decide on the buttons - ultimately, black wooden toggles. At first I wanted rustic bamboo toggles but had trouble finding appropriate ones and was then talked out of it anyway (good-o). The colour changes in the jacket are already a feature, the toggles didn't need to be. the fastening loops are i-cord (three stitches or four? can't remember).

A couple of disappointments with the Kureyon though - there was a lot of debris in it and quite a few joins. Oh well, I just picked it out and knit over them. Terrific that I was able to join balls though with a quick spit and vigorous rub between my palms.

I would still really like to do a round of double crochet along the front but have run out of yarn. So if you happen to have a good few metres of spare Kureyon 148 that you would be willing to part with - please let me know.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

illicit sox

This pair of socks was my treat pair of socks – my reward for having finished two projects . They are a special thank-you gift for our friends in Tasmania where no doubt they will shortly be wanting something to keep their toes toasty. Unfortunately, I don’t think that a finished treat project can count as a finished project towards the ‘complete-two-cast-on-one’ rule because otherwise I would never get ahead.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: the classic basic Patons sock pattern.
Yarn: Grignasco Strong Print (4 ply) in Multi Blue/yellow/pink; 75% Merino Wool, 25% Nylon; two balls; purchased at Clegs.

: op shop 2.25mm aluminium, still not nice to knit with. I have purchased a bamboo set and will use them for my next pair.
Start to finish
: January 2008 to 6 April 2008
: Again, the basic sock pattern – a basic and enjoyable knit. The bands of colour are much wider than with the self-patterning yarn but I still like the effect.

The next pair will be Gentleman’s Fancy Sock (take a peek at this pair) from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks.

Monday, 7 April 2008


Sara is a lovely little girl who recently turned one. She is the daughter of one of my dearest friends (from way back in high school days) who, with her two beautiful children, is certainly one of my models for motherhood.

This little jacket is made from the 100 per cent silk egg-shell coloured knit that I bought
for $1.50 back in January at the Strathbogie Summer Festival. Usually I unravel second-hand knits in order to re-knit with the yarn but I loved the texture of this one so much that I decided to just use it as a fabric instead. It was quite tricky going with the sewing at times - parts of the garment are very thick and the silk hardly holds together in its knitted form when you cut it. So to start, I outlined each of the pattern pieces to be cut from the fabric with a very small stitch on the sewing machine. Then I was able to cut the pieces out without worrying about them unravelling. There were a few seams where both the machine and the overlocker skipped a bit, particularly where those bobbles are.

The lining is taken from a Thai silk skirt that I bought at Savers in Brunswick - $7.99 perhaps? As the silk knit fabric was quite loose, I chose the black to go underneath and give definition to the stitch pattern.

The pattern - and this is a proud moment - is one (albeit very straightforward) that I drafted myself from Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear. If you want to try some pattern drafting I recommend this as a good place to start.

This is another of the items that I presented as part of my refashion display at the Stitches and Craft Show. A 100 per cent silk jacket for a child for under $10. Oh, and did I mention that it's machine washable? That's my first test for fabrics that I reuse - they go through the wash on a cold cycle, possibly in a lingerie bag if I'm feeling very kind. That way I know that the finished product (assuming that my hand work holds up) is up to the same treatment.

Happy birthday Sara!

moomin, mymble and little my

My week's worth of vintage children's book illustrations continues (after Pip's example) with Tove Jansson's The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My from 1952.

I read this the other night to baby bear - the story was too long and complicated but wow, at 18 months she was fascinated by the pictures, remembered the book and wanted it the next night as well. Perhaps it was the cutouts on each page so you can peek forward to the next illustration and once you've turned the page look back towards the previous (and even the one before that in places). Very graphic, strong lines and planes of colour - a wonderful book. I bought it in Finland in 1999 as a present for myself.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

french art deco

Where does the time go? March was quite a big blogging month for me - I try to post every four days or so and here it is a week has gone by. After the flurry of crafting activity in the lead up to the Stitches and Craft show I am slowing things down a bit and concentrating on my uni studies. Who would have thought that health economics could be so fascinating? Not being a business-minded person I have always shied away from that monolith 'the economy' and anything to do with it. But economics is proving to be very interesting, particularly in the context of health where the idealised competitive market model doesn't hold for all sorts of reasons.

Anyway, on to more important things like wonderful fabric design. You know sometimes you see an image and it just lifts you up inside? That's what this design, 'Wallflowers' by Atelier Martine, does for me. It's a printed velvet from 1923 and is taken from the book Art Deco Textiles: the French designers by Alain-Rene Hardy. I saw it first at the bookshop on Easter Monday when I was perusing and very nearly bought the book then and there for this one image. Good sense prevailed though and Monash Uni library delivered the goods. This design makes me want to draw and paint and colour in. I want to trace it onto fabric and make a huge fabric panel. I want to repeat print it and make a little girl's summer dress. I want to ...

And it's not just me - I've also done a colour printout and a couple of the blokes here at work have commented "what a lovely image". Hmmm? What - I'm blogging at work? Yeah, oops.