Saturday, 30 January 2010

mixtape 12

I've been a bit slack promoting the last couple of issues of mixtape but, hey, they've been busy months. Here's a preview of issue 12:

Greg The Quilter

Crafting In The Animal Kingdom

Prints Charming Craft

Cadence Of Craft

An Ode To A Cozy

Whip Up Calendar

Pledge Your Allegiance

Treasure Seeking

Worry Dolls

How To Write A Tutorial

The thrill Of The Make

Crafty Lady

Craft Circus

Photographer – Beth Wilkinson

Work Life Balance

Photographer – Sarah Cunningham

Sweet As

Lark Circus Cuteness

Twitter Directory

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

Fireballs – Go, Go, Go!

Book, Zines & Magazine reviews

Grow Things – Legal Things

Flower Garden

Sadie’s Pickets

Martha Goes Green cookbook

**************** mixtape is a collision of craft, eco-cool and pop culture kitsch ******************

You can pre-order over on the website now!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


I read a book! In keeping with my new year's quasi-resolution I thought that it would be great if I could read a book each month (at least). And January is going well - Stiff: the curious lives of human cadavers by Mary Roach.

Yes, a curiously morbid choice given how incredibly squeamish I am but I saw it in a shop window and my curiosity was peaked. And it is not a morbid book - unsensationalist, droll and informative about cover it. Mary Roach is a journalist which shows in her writing style but not to the detriment of this being an entertaining read.

There are chapters on anatomic dissection, organ donation, crash test dummies, human composting as a cremation alternative and ah, all sorts of other ways in which we can be useful after we die.

For someone such as me who has trouble walking past the meat section at the supermarket it is testament to the way that this book is written that I could indeed stomach it.

buy australian made

With pleasure!
It's Australia Day today so we celebrated with an Australian friend, eating fairy bread (hundreds and thousands on white bread) and TimTams, now available in the US. If you're in Seattle, get over to QFC quick smart!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

forgive me for repeating

I'm still a bit stuck on 2009. I realised that I had one more finished object, you see - the apron that I made for Di's son, C. You can see him putting it to good use here.

Excitingly, this was made predominantly from stash. The fabric that I used also features in my vintage fabrics quilt. And I have actually used it in two further sewing projects already this year (details to come). Pretty good mileage for one shower curtain.
The pattern came from Better Homes and Gardens 167 Things to Make for Children.

So, including my recent appendix, this brings my 2009 tally to:
projects: 36
knitting: 18, sewing: 17, other: 1
recycled/refashioned/upcycled: 26
made from stash: 8

2009 was also significant in terms of what I made, particularly what I knit - garments! adult garments! three adult garments! I don't think that I expressly stated that this was an aim for the year, probably for fear off jinxing myself. But I did it - Sunrise Circle, Wallingford and the Pimlico Snug. I am going to dare say it for 2010 - I would like to knit an adult garment for someone else, namely Tim.

And I also completed my first ever piece of knitted lace - the swallowtail shawl - which is pretty much the reason why I started knitting.

On other matters of repeating - Clapotis is going well. I agonised quite a bit about how large to make it, about how large I could make it, about how to maximise how large I could make it given the amount of yarn that I had. I only did one increase more in section 2 than the pattern directs but am up to 15-odd of the section 3 repeats. I think that I could do as many as 30! The pooling is still happening but never mind. I'm having fun dropping the stitches and helping them to ladder down - it's so contrary to normal knitting practice. Each one is deliciously transgressive. So, I've done about 15 repeats now ... oops, repeating myself.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

doing laps

So, variegated yarns - like them or not? In the hank I often think that they look wonderful and (along perhaps with many a knitter) have been lured into a purchase as a result. Once wound up into a skein some of that mystique tends to disappear as the colours get all tangled up, and you discover some colours that, ah, you didn't quite realise were in there. Is it something about the magic of the dye job that in the hank you only see the colours that you like, and can selectively ignore the ones that make them pop out (which you may not necessarily appreciate as much)? And once it's knit up into a fabric ... well then things can start to not look so good.

The only other time I have really knit with a variegated yarn was the Elizabeth Zimmerman tomten jacket in 2008 from Noro Kureyon, which was a great success. That was knit in garter stitch and I recall deciding at the time that garter stitch was indeed the best choice for such yarns. And here I am now knitting Clapotis which is a whole lot of stocking stitch. I am undecided as to whether it looks like a dog's breakfast, and if it does, whether I can live with that. The dropped stitch effect certainly serves to break up the swathes of colour and it is fun to watch the various hues layering upon each other, row by row. Except when they don't.

Don't layer that is - yes, I'm talking about pooling.

It strikes me that in a reasonably evenly space-dyed yarn that it is inevitable that there will be some combination of stitch count and length of colour repeat that will result in pooling. I have seen quite dramatic photos of seriously pooling socks (no, no idea now where) that were reknit with just an extra stitch or two that resulted in quite a different pattern effect. Anyway, my Clapotis is indeed pooling although interestingly this didn't happen until quite a bit into the current 119 stitch-wide stretch. And I'm about to change skeins. And in the Clapotis pattern I really don't think that it matters as the bias pull means that the columns all sit askew anyway.

So, I am currently knitting laps on my Clapotis, just back and forth with not a lot of variation on each row. I'm doing the sixth repeat in section three and expect to have enough yarn to complete maybe twenty. I am also doing laps around the house - change table to couch to kitchen to laundry and back to the change table. There's a quick detour to the bathroom a few times a day and we are getting out a bit too.

Doing laps is relentless though - I had forgotten how relentless it is to look after a new baby. You get through a day only to wake up again (after a few short bursts of sleep) to another in which you do pretty much exactly the same thing. And newborns are demanding and fragile and as much as I want my baby boy to be just that I also find myself longing for when he's a bit older. Really, I think that I'm just longing for a break from the laps but I know that things don't work that way. So in the meantime I am just learning to love the laps, surrendering myself to them and perfecting the art of knitting while breastfeeding (better than knitting while swimming).

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Does this mean anything to you? It's the brand name (I guess, maybe it's the design name) printed in the selvedge of this awesome fabric that I bought at Goodwill a few days ago. It's a medium- to heavy-weight fabric, I'm assuming cotton. I didn't think to put anything in the photo to give a sense of scale but the pattern is very large. You can see its full width in the photo below which is probably the standard 150cm/60in wide.

This incredible fabric raises a couple of questions - first of all, what to do with it? It is really to heavy to make clothing out of and the scale of the print would probably be considered to large but that is part of what I love about it. Perhaps a duster of some sort (the jacket duster, not the housework type) would work with the weight and scale.

Really, I think that it is a decorator fabric and although I think that it could look great as a slipcover I can't see it in our house (besides which, Tim doesn't like the colours). Perhaps a bag of some sort, although that would lose the effect of the scale of the pattern. There is certainly enough of it - maybe 5 metres.

The other question that it raises for me is one about stash. It is all very well to plan to work from my stash this year and to not go out to buy materials for a project, but what about plain old buying materials because you come across them and they are great and unique and a real bargain (US$4.99). When there is no specific purpose for it, only ideas and aspirations, this fabric just becomes more stash and defeats my good intentions.

Anyway, I'll keep thinking about what to make from it and in the meantime will keep wondering about its provenance. If you recognise it, or the brand, please do let me know!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

the sound of one hand

Clapotis - I absolutely had to get away from all of the venereal disease puns so mine will be called 'applause'. I can pretty much date my knitting career around this pattern. We moved from Sydney back to Melbourne at the very end of 2004 and I started knitting with Melbourne's Stitch 'n' Bitch group that next year in about June.

Clapotis was published in Knitty in the (northern) Fall of 2004 and Clapotis knitting was still going strong in mid-year 2005. A number of people had finished theirs, many were still knitting away, there was much discussion of the recommended yarn (
Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb - unavailable in Australia at the time and really expensive to purchase from overseas), discussion of substitute yarns, whether to knit or purl the stitches to be dropped ...

So, for me Clapotis remains the first, classic social knitting project. I think that it is also known as (one of) the first viral knit(s). For me at the time it was a bit beyond my knitting borders. I was still quite attached to the idea that you had to knit a project from the recommended yarn and did not yet have enough knowledge of what else was out there to make a substitution choice. So I perused the colour swatches for Lion and Lamb, and I dreamt. (Incidentally, I think that I would have chosen Black Pearl had I ever actually gone for the L&L.)

Anyway, five years later and I have since seen many lovely Clapotis knit from sock yarn. I bought this Handmaiden Fine Yarns Casbah sock yarn in the colourway 'Vintage' at Sock Summit last year and decided to cast on myself.

As I am using a different weight yarn I have done more increases (section 2 of the pattern) than the pattern states in order to approximate the original measurements. And now I am just going to knit - knit knit knit until I can knit no more. I weighed the amount of yarn that I used to do sections 1 and 2 and will need that amount to do the decreases. I have three skeins of the Handmaiden and am quite a way through the first skein. When I get to third one I'll be keeping an eye on the weight to know that I have enough left. Also, instead of placing markers to indicate which stitches are to be dropped, I am purling the stitch that will be dropped. That is what gives the fabric its current ribbed appearance.

And the yarn - it feels lovely, it is merino, cashmere and nylon and just slips through the stitches. But the variegation ... the variegation - what is it about variegated yarns? That will be a discussion for next time.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

chunky children's mittens

Absolutely the last knitting project for 2009 - I don't have any more up my sleeve.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Chunky Children's Mittens by Adrienne Jones, available free at Fabric Addict.
Size: 3-4 years.
Ístex Álafoss Lopi in shade 133, purchased at St Vincent de Paul op shop in Malvern, Melbourne.
Needles: 4.5mm
Start to finish: 6 December 2009 to 28 December 2009.
Recycle/stash content: 100 per cent! I was so delighted when I found this yarn at the op shop because it was one that I hadn't encountered before and it seemed quite, well, exotic.
Comments: While I am very grateful for patterns that are provided free of charge on the internet, I guess that they don't get quite the same degree of quality control/checking as those that originate from commercial sources. I knit the first mitten in an evening but had to rip it back to the cuff the next day because the proportions were way out - may have just been a case of the yarn that I used and my gauge. I knit them again, measuring against little miss bear's hand as I went. I also mucked up the stitch count on the first mitten as the pattern is written using the abbreviation M1 (make 1) but actually defines this as 'knit through the front and back' (which I would denote as kfb). This does make a difference.

Hmmm, ok. Next time I would knit the cuffs using a smaller needle to keep them snugger. And the yarn - yes, exotic and still filled with scraps of Icelandic vegetation but really, these heavier yarns are just not my knitting cup of tea. I would like to embroider or needle felt a snowflake onto the back of these mittens but that will have to be considered a separate project!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Actually, there are a few things that I made last year that I simply never got around to blogging about, post baby.

feather and fan bonnet; felt booties; cache-cœur

The Vital Statistics
Feather and Fan bonnet by Larissa Brown, available free as a Ravelry download.
only one size, depends on what yarn you use.
Rowan Wool Cotton in shade 973 Blue Wash. I had been curious about this yarn for a while and picked up a ball a few weeks back, just for the sake of it really. The bonnet used up a little more than half the skein.

Start to finish:
28 November 2009 to 4 December 2009.
I love the feather and fan stitch pattern. It is enjoyable to knit, old-fashioned and still lovely. I am loathe to put ribbons or strings onto babies clothing though so I just did a very short crochet chain which I fixed at the centre back of the bonnet.
Love feather and fan but am not sure that a bonnet (apart from looking very precious) is really that useful; I haven't managed to keep it on baby bear's head yet.
Recycle/stash content: none.

The two sewing projects came from a wonderful book, Intemporels pour Bebe, that I bought in Paris when we were there the year before last. The booties are made from wool felt that I purchased for the project at Nancy's Sewing Basket in Queen Anne, here in Seattle (but I would be keen to try them using a felted jumper/sweater). I machine stitched the two uppers together at the front centre seam but hand stitched the sole to the uppers as this was too fiddly given the size (shown are the 0-3 months size, I also made 3-6 and 6-9 at the same time). The buttons came from the same Ann Taylor blazer that I used to trim the Carmine jacket in February last year. Baby bear hasn't worn them yet because, umm, I can't find the pair at the moment ...

And the
cache-cœur - I love this little garment. It is made from a felted woollen jumper/sweater that was given to me by a neighbour (already felted). Her husband apparently thought it very strange that she was passing a laundry mishap along to someone but I appreciated it immensely. It was a lovely woollen and a really good weight to sew with. The green ribbon was one that I had in stash. I also made a biscuit-coloured version of this but it is currently recovering from a baby spew incident (aka in the wash).

These were both very simple projects: the full-size patterns were included in the book and the sewing up was straightforward.There was some hand finishing involved but that was my choice. The instructions are all (bien-sur) in French but if you do any crafting from Japanese books then these would be a breeze. And recycled/stash content: quite high - the buttons on the booties and everything for the

One more project in the next post ...

Saturday, 2 January 2010


Happy new year!

I'm very excited about 2010 - we're really settled in here in Seattle, we have a new family member and there is so much to be made, ah done. A quick look back first: This time last year I wrote that it was going to be a priority to read more books. Hmmm, I have read a few and more is a relative term. Was there a real dearth in 2008? I'm going to keep trying on this one. I also wanted to craft from my fabric stash but looking at the photos above I can see that most of the fabrics used here were purchased for the purpose. I think that some of the knitting came from stash.

projects: 32
knitting: 17, sewing: 14, other: 1
recycled/refashioned/upcycled: 24
made from stash: 6

This was also quite a year of firsts - my first significant piece of lace (Swallowtail shawl) and my first adult garments (Wallingford, Sunrise Circle and Pimlico Snug). And I finally completed the felted jumper bag - hooray! All in all, a very satisfying year. (And there's one project in there that I haven't shared yet - some mittens.)

So, 2010 - well, now I have two children to sew for and I hope that this will translate into twice as much sewing. And this year, this year it's s-t-r-e-t-c-h; yes, I am going to come to terms with sewing knits. I now have my machine and overlocker set up side by side in my own sewing space so there are no excuses! And I'll stick with crafting from stash and reading books again. What about you? Any craft horizons that you are determined to conquer this year?

(ps. I pinched this fantastic mosaic trick from Di.)