Friday, 25 June 2010


Red-letter/-hair day - Australia has its first female prime minister. Congratulations Julia Gillard! I am so excited.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

the thin green line

Ever since completing the doily quilt top some, oh, nine months ago (I really have to get on top of this too many unfinished projects at once thing) I have been umming and ahhing about the sashing - to sash or not to sash. About a month ago I was pondering the use of decorative machine stitching using perle 8 cotton and, having indeed located the correct shade of green in the meantime, last night I finally got to it.

Rather than sewing a whole new nine-patch square or risking making a mess of the completed quilt top I just mocked up an edging using some spare embroidered doily blocks. I sewed the green lines (on the wrong side) and pinned them to the quilt top to approximate what effect this sort of accent sewing might produce.

I am delighted to have come to the conclusion that the quilt would not be enhanced by adding the stitching. There is a lovely flow at the moment between the blank blocks and the embroidered blocks; any sashing or stitching would break that up and instead strengthen the geometry of the quilt. So, no extra stitching - hooray! Now I just have to quilt and back the whole thing. Actually, after nine months what I need to do is iron it.

willow, weep for me (part 4)

Or, 'Make do and mend' (the mend bit).

This is my lovely Japanese-made Willow pattern tea pot which I bought at the Salvation Army in Seattle. The whole set was there but as it has gold trim and was not suitable for use in the microwave or to go through the dishwasher there was really no place for it in our house. But the teapot, the teapot I could just rinse out every now and then and it didn't need to go in the microwave. You just make a new pot of tea.

It's a very elegant teapot, a good shape, dripless pour (oh so important), makes two cups. So, you can well imagine that I was devastated when I dropped the lid and it broke in two upon the floor; I thought that I was going to have to bid farewell to my otherwise perfectly good teapot.

But no! This is where them mend comes in. My lovely friend Heidi Kunkel is a potter and she was kind enough to make a new teapot lid for me which was no mean feat. Pottery shrinks twice during the making process - once when it is bisque fired and once when it is glaze fired - so to get a teapot lid to fit so perfectly into a teapot is sheer artistry. And she added the little blue motifs and birds as a finishing touch. I love it.

And, whereas I certainly wept over my broken teapot lid when it happened, now every time I look at my teapot I smile and am reminded what a wonderful friend I have. Thank you Heidi! (Ah, thank you also for making this for me some, um, twelve months ago - I cannot believe how the time has flown.) Heidi sells her pottery online and in person at the Fremont Market here in Seattle - please do visit her!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


More instant gratification knitting. This yarn came in a grab bag from Value Village and I had to use it straight away.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Clemence by Katya Frankel, available free through Ravelry.
Size: smaller size.
Yarn: Noro Transitions in colourway 21, 55 per cent wool, 10 per cent silk, 7 per cent alpaca, 7 per cent angora, 7 per cent cashmere; almost one skein.
Needles: 7mm circular needle.
Start to finish: 1 to 2 June 2010.
Stash/recycle content: 100 per cent.
Comments: As I was using a heavier weight yarn than the pattern calls for, I cast on only 72 stitches for this then just followed the chart.
Verdict: Self-striping yarns - there have been problems before but I'm really happy with how the lace pattern breaks the striping up on this item. And what strange yarn this is, so many different fibres, a slightly thick-thin ply with bits of stuff in it. Very Noro but I love it.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

willow, weep for me (part 3)

There is a wonderful second-hand book store in the University District of Seattle called Magus Books. I always find something when I go there, like this lovely volume - Blue and White: The cotton embroideries of rural China by Muriel Baker and Margaret Lunt (ISBN: 0283984813).

Needless to say I had no idea that blue and white embroidery was done in China - I always think of silks in those rich jewel tones and lots of metallic embroidery. There are lots of wonderful examples of the embroidery itself, like the child's vest below, as well as information about the symbols and their meaning. And then there is a heap of charts as well so that you can do your own, although unfortunately, no actual blue willow pattern although I'm sure that you could cobble something together from what is there. You, meaning me, one day, when I find the time.

I recall seeing a crochet cushion cover once in one of my favourite magazines - World of Interiors - from which I have derived so much inspiration. The cushion cover in question was ... I'm having trouble remembering but what it puts in my mind is blue and white crochet with the stitches making up a picture, stitch by stitch. Ok, quick internet search, I believe that this is called tapestry crochet and I would prefer that to cross stitch or needlepoint I think which are not my fortes.

I would love to do one of these Chinese embroidery charts in this tapestry crochet style.

willow, weep for me (part 2)

I'm not sure now whether the brooch came first or the idea to knit the, um, capelet but they are a happy match.

The Vital Statistics Pattern: Yves by Kim Hargreaves from Rowan 36.
One size.
Rowan Big Wool, yarn held double, in colourway 57 Commodore, three skeins (yes, the same yarn that I used to knit the ill-considered shrug bug. Remember I had a skein left over? Well I had to buy two more so that I could use it up ...)
12.75mm and 15mm.
Start to finish: 19 May to 24 May 2010.
Recycle/stash content: Hmm, does that count - spending money to make money? Buying more yarn in order to use up yarn that you already have? Anyway, I got to use those needles again.
omments: This was a real instant gratification project for me. When I had that one ball of the Big Wool left over, I recalled a pattern that I had liked that was made from it ... and so it goes. Actually, Yves is not knit from Big Wool but another (I think now discontinued) Rowan yarn called Plaid but it worked well for the project. Having always eschewed navy blue as too matronly on me, I am very drawn at the moment to inky blues. And I love the brooch on it (the pattern called for a ribbon or a cord with pom-poms - not an option.)
This is a bit of a departure for me but I do like the finished product a lot and hope that I wear it.

Monday, 14 June 2010

fuzzy little alien

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Fuzzy Alien from Creepy Cute Crochet: zombies, robots ninjas and more by Christen Haden.
One size.
Yarn: Dune by Trendsetter Yarns, 41 per cent mohair, 30 per cent acrylic, 12 per cent viscose, 11 per cent nylon, 6 per cent metal.
Hook: 4mm crochet.
Start to finish: all done on 8 June 2010.
Recycle/stash content: 100 per cent - hooray! The yarn was from my stash, I got it at a yarn swap. The embroidery and antennae were done with the aforementioned Red heart acrylic. The stuffing came from a thrifted cushion.
Comments: This was my first 'amigurumi' project and I wasn't thrilled by it. The book has indeed very cute patterns but I didn't find the instructions very clear and it was a pain to have to flip to the back for the basic body part instructions.
Verdict: Cute.

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Today was World Wide Knit in Public Day. We hung out at Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill and knit (and crocheted) some slugs, mushrooms, leaves, gnomes and fuzzy little aliens which we then left behind in the playground for the (hopeful) delight of local children.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Knitted 'Shrooms by Abby Kroken.
Size: one size.
Yarn: Ugh, Red Heart Super Saver 100 per cent petrochemical-derived nightmare yarn. I can't believe that people would actually knit with and wear anything made from this, it is truly horrible, it almost crunches when you knit with it. It's also weather proof and we wanted something that could stand the rain if necessary.
Needles: 4mm double-pointed needles.
Start to finish: All done within about half an hour on this auspicious day.
Recycle/stash content: 100 per cent - all the yarn came from the thrift store.
Comments: Cute pattern and I like the idea of a child somewhere maybe having a vague memory of the day they found a mushroom in the swing. Maybe they'll keep it, maybe they'll learn to knit
Verdict: I hope to see them popping up all over the place.

Monday, 7 June 2010


Not yet part 2 of my Willow saga but in the same vein - SPODE!! All of the transferware that I have ever purchased new has been Spode, mostly from the Blue Italian range and on sale. I stress on sale because the stuff is expensive. I used to buy one piece each payday, whatever was marked down that fortnight. Now I just shop at Goodwill - $3.99!

This plate is from the Aesop's Fables range featuring 'The Lion and the Fox'. It is in perfect condition; I'm guessing that its previous owner had it on display because when I bought it, it still had one of those wire and spring plate display hangers hooked around it. Who parts with their Spode?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

willow, weep for me (part 1)

I grew up with blue and white transferware. Because it comes in so many different patterns, it is easy to build up a dinner set's worth from disparate pieces. When we came to the US that is what I went shopping for at the thrift stores. And of course, thrift stores being what they are here I had plenty to choose from.

My favourite transferware design is, I think, the classic 'Blue Willow'.

I did feel a bit, well, childish, reverting to exactly what I had grown up with and the plates don't really go with our contemporary cutlery. But then I came across an awesome and wonderful book that put all that to rights -Wary Meyers' Tossed and Found: Unconventional Design from Cast-offs. (I highly recommend this book. I borrowed it from the library, then I bought it.)

It turns out that Linda and John Meyers, the super-creative folk behind Wary Meyers, also like Blue Willow (yes, silly that I need a book to justify my crockery choices but oh well, whatever works for me) and have done some great work with the concept, including this chair. I would never have imagined a graffiti-esque, Posca-pen version of the blue Willow design, but fortunately they have and I love it. (Complete aside - anyone else recall the advent of middle-class white private-school boys with their Posca pens 'tagging' the seats on public transport in 1990s Melbourne? Groan, I do.)

Anyway, I am filled with a renewed and newly justified love for the Willow pattern so when I saw this kitsch little brooch at Goodwill on Mother's Day, I just couldn't resist. And it fits perfectly on my newest knit, but more on that next time.

ps - Wes Montgomery, Willow, Weep For Me.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

may reading

The Outlander by Gil Adamson - This book took a bit of getting into; in fact, for about the first hundred pages I wasn't sure whether I would persevere. By halfway (200 pages) I was enjoying it and the rest was great. I saw this book in a bookshop and reserved it at the library where it became almost immediately available. I felt sorry for the bookshop but gee I love the library. Interestingly, the word 'revenant' appeared in this book, a word that I came across for the very first time in the book that I read last month, If Ever I return, Pretty Peggy-O. Same word, two books in a row.
The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter by Sharyn McCrumb - More sheriff fiction, the next in the series to If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O. I found the plot rather unlikely (just as the first but enjoyed the writing and the characters.