Thursday, 29 May 2008


Some time ago, before I started blogging in fact (how strange to be able to categorise the timeline of my life like that) I had a bit of a felting disaster. I remember that it was pre-blog precisely because someone said to me 'you could start a blog just to write about that'.

The project in question was the Fibertrends felted clogs - great pattern, no problem there. I was using some leftovers of Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Wool in deep red, light blue and steel blue.
This is a lovely wool, soft, thick, great colours. I didn't have quite enough leftovers so I had to buy more of the steel blue. Therein lies the start of my problem.

I had test felted (technically fulled because it was already a knitted fabric that went through the hot wash) my original swatches and they had come up really well - a soft, thick felt. These were going to be wonderful slippers. So I knit them up, again, no problem with the pattern although the resulting clog was pretty bizarre looking and I got quite a few dubious glances (from fellow knitters no less!). Then I put them in the machine - top loader - hot wash with soap flakes and a couple of old towels I think.

So, did they felt up well? They did ... and they didn't. The red felted well, the light blue felted well and some of the steel blue felted well, but some of it didn't. Some of it didn't felt at all, leaving me with a pair of very disfigured clogs. You know all that stuff about matching dye lots, it would seem to apply when felting too. My only explanation is that the later batch of steel blue must have been treated differently before dying to the original lot. I have heard that cream and white yarns often won't felt because the process to make them so pale strips them of the little scales that are essential to the felting process, rendering them very machine washable. Perhaps this later batch was so bleached before dying with the same result.

Needless to say, it was a very disappointing experience and I haven't managed to bring myself to attempt them a second time. It's just too hard to have seen that good knitting time (and yarn) go to waste. Because yes, they did go in the bin, they were unsalvageable.

So the moral of the story is to test felt a swatch of the same dye lot that you are going to work with!! And that is the only addition that I would make to the book
I Heart Felt by Kathleen Taylor which was kindly supplied to me by the publisher Taunton. There are some terrific projects in here - lovely felted pumpkins, a very cute baby hat with ear flaps and of course,
slipper patterns (do I dare disturb the universe?) - as well as good general instructions and the admonition that swatching is mandatory!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008


So, pertaining to the last post, I had my last day at work this Monday past to give me time to organise the move and pack up the house. As a farewell gift my colleagues were ever so thoughtful and gave me this book - Shopping for Vintage by Funmi Odulate. Thank you so much FHIP friends!

What a great little book - information about designers and their decades, tips on vintage shopping and an international vintage store directory. Furthermore, many of the textile illustrations are fabulous.

What the term 'vintage' actually means, as opposed to antique, retro or second-hand has received some attention of late. Odulate defines the terms thus:

antique - any garments that pre-date 1920
vintage - anything that dates after 1920 and up to the very early 1980s
retro - mainly Sixties' and Seventies' casual wear
secondhand - anything post early Eighties (so not strictly vintage)

I had always thought that antique referred to items that were more than one-hundred years old (which makes it a movable feast really - as each year passes more things in the world are considered antique and as we hit upon one hundred years since mass production surely the numbers will soar). Vintage - yes, anything that comes after antique. Retro - hmm, more recent than vintage but not necessarily
mutually exclusive and could be stretched out to cover 1950 to 1980. That is, a 1950s sunfrock could be both vintage and retro.

What do you think?

true blue

This is an Australian blog - maybe not quite true blue, perhaps more true periwinkle or true sapphire. Anyway, point is, I am Australian and this is my blog. I don't particularly identify as being "Aussie" - I never say 'g'day' and am completely disinterested in AFL. But I do spell recognise with an s, not a z; I knit moss stitch, not seed stitch; I cast off, I don't bind off; I go to the op shop, not the thrift store and in my craft lexicon there's no such thing as single crochet. My locally posts are about my local neighbourhood (note there's a u in there) which I love and where I have lived for nigh on 20 years (with a few excursions). Whenever I read the international news I am grateful for Australia's political stability, good free health care and easy-going lifestyle.

So, what will happen when we move to Seattle next month? Yes, we spent a good 2.5 hours yesterday at the US Consulate General here in Melbourne applying for our visas. Tim has a 12-month contract at Microsoft Research and I am gearing up for my year as a dependent (potentially the most challenging aspect of the whole venture). Thanks to the internationally accessible nature of the internet blogging will continue, as will crafting. Locally posts will take on a whole new flavour.

Twelve months - goodness,
in that time I may even get something done.

ps - if you're in the Seattle area and read this blog, please do let me know!

Thursday, 22 May 2008


I was completely serious about antique macramé lace, although I may have gotten my centuries wrong. This is a picture of a towel with lacis insertion and macramé border from the 16th century taken from Italian Lace Designs: 243 classic examples by Elisa Ricci.

Monday, 19 May 2008

vol 8

A quick look at some of the forgotten arts in volume 8 of Golden Hands: the complete knitting, dressmaking and needlecraft guide. Macramé and needle-made lace are two occupations that haven't really experienced the recent craft boom. I have very vivid memories of macramé pot holders in my grandmother's house - vivid orange memories in fact. There are in fact some lovely examples of very fine macramé lace from the 15th century, some of which I saw at Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan (as well as lots of other wonderful lace - eccentric museum, eccentric collection, eccentric staff, loved it). Antique macramé lace must be an unusual thing though because I can't find any good references on the internet.

Needle-made lace is still practiced in Australia and around the world. I think that I have previously mentioned that I was a member for a couple of years of the Australian Lace Guild. They seem to be mostly into bobbin lace (or in Sydney at least they are) but there is some needle lace as well which is my preference.

Anyway, trusty Golden Hands being the complete guide that it is has chapters on both crafts.

My progress update - I have a finished object to show but alas, no camera at present. This was my reward project for having completed Tim's dad's socks and the tomten. I have decided that as a complement to general knitting it is necessary to always have a pair of socks on the go. They are very portable and great while travelling so in the past few weeks I have gotten most of the way through the first Gentleman's Fancy sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks in a (discontinued)
Patonyle variegated blue on my new bamboo dpns. It's going very well.

And as the cold weather is upon us I have also started on some headwear but it's to be a present so I won't elaborate more than to say that it's from Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran Tweed in a lovely mossy green (#126 Highland) which was a gift from a lovely friend. I want to include some more in-process photos instead of just out-of-the-blue "look what I made!" This is a scanner photo and doesn't show the colour at all well but just to show what I've achieved since 2:30 this morning. The white scrap is my make-do stitch marker.

I have also had a close look at the instructions for Mavis - "worked in one piece from the neck downwards, the only seaming required is an underarm seam". Can't wait.

I have made some reading progress too - about one hundred pages into The Poisonwood Bible. I'm really enjoying it. I love a book that is responsive to the reader. Just when I was thinking, hmm, enough of this bit, part one ended. Perfectly timed.


It turns out that baby bear is actually a panda! She has taken to sitting on her reading cushion (purple yoga bolster - finally came in useful) with her young beside her (toy panda) and reading a book to him/her.

This makes a lot of sense because mummy bear (that is me) currently looks like a panda:

Coping with jet lag is taking its toll - we were up between 2:30 and 5:00ish this morning. Those dark circles under the eyes aren't quite so cute on me.

Friday, 16 May 2008

the cure

... for jet lag is parenthood! Twenty months of broken sleep, irregular sleep, disturbed sleep, too little sleep and here we are, home safe and sound after fifty hours of travel (including an overnight stopover) and I feel pretty ok.

Our travels took us to Paris, and also Zurich, Bern, Milan, Goettingen and Quedlinburg, plus a very rushed afternoon in Singapore. There was lots of museuming, a couple of wonderful yarn shops, premium op shopping in Switzerland, books books books, food food food, sunshine, speaking foreign languages (I impressed myself with what I could manage in French), family, friends, airports, train stations, a small lost luggage experience and plenty of chocolate. Too few photos because I, oops, left the camera in Switzerland and it is still making its way home to us.

Craft/life blogging will resume shortly although I am going to have get imaginative with achieving images using the scanner.

Now, the cure for toddler jet lag? That would appear to be a different matter entirely, one that may just keep me up all night.