Monday, 31 December 2012

december reading

Phantom by  Jo Nesbø- indeed, can't get enough of these books, although (fortunately?) I will have to take a break and read something else now as this is the most recent in the series. I love the way these Harry hole narratives weave around, how the threads of stories overlap to no effect than other to demonstrate how life does that. Great reading, heart-rending ending.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

october and november reading

The Redeemer, The Snowman and The Leopard, all by  Jo Nesbø - The escapism continues; the last two got a bit ridiculous actually but still loving reading them.
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire - Oh, that this series would go on forever. As it is, I am half-way through and both longing to and dreading reading the next volume as it would take me that much closer to the end. These books are wonderful reading.
The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin Yalom - Didactic, a bit contrived, good reading.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

hello dear blog

Hello dear blog readers (blog readers? anyone out there still?). It has been a while, change of country, change of time zone, change of residence - moving has quite taken it out of me. But I'm back to get the ball of yarn rolling because knitting continues, no matter what!

My Cladonia (remodelled) is currently blocking (and my fingertips are nigh bleeding after pinning out every one of those blasted little picots - ouch!). It is indeed much larger than the first one I knit, certainly wider but perhaps not quite as deep as I might have liked.

I have just realised that the first version was actually my first finished knit this year. I hope that it won't be my last; there are still 12 days left and I have some elephants coming along nicely.

Friday, 26 October 2012

blanket fort

I didn't knit this cowl.

But, oh knitting gods forgive me, I did unravel it.

It was still painful to see those lovely, even stitches disappear even though I didn't make them myself. The yarn is, of course, Brooklyn Tweed Loft in 'blanket fort', the colourway that I refused to buy more of because I was determined, oh so stubbornly determined, to finish my Cladonia without. This cowl, given to me, yes given to me by the incredibly generous jnbrkly, for the express purpose of unravelling it so that I could use the yarn. Hooray!

It came home (to Australia) from home (in Seattle) with Tim last night. Double hooray! He had to go back to the US for a conference (in Seattle of all places, from which we had just packed up and moved) and it has been a very long week or so just me and the children, still in the throes of emotional jetlag and adjustment anxiety. It has been four weeks now since we arrived in Melbourne. On the one hand it feels like forever (I did grow up here, I have lived here forever on and off) and on the other as though it has just been a few days.

Ahh, nothing that a bit of knitting and actually finishing a long-suffering project won't fix though (that and the bottle of duty-free gin - ha ha! no, am saving that for a special occasion, truly).

Monday, 15 October 2012

knitting - encouragement required

Certainly one of the greatest dilemmas for any travelling knitter is - "what knitting to take?"

Yes, there is always the welcome opportunity, should the knitter in question tragically run out of knitting, to purchase more yarn, even just a single skein of something really nice. Actually, that's a good idea as a souvenir anytime but I digress. It's more of a dilemma when there is actual knitting to do but none of it is really inspiring.

I have tired a bit of my Betty Mouat Cowl, unsure whether it is really working out. It is actually working out exactly as I had envisioned and intended, I'm just feeling unsure whether I got that vision and intention right. I was very successful using Judy's Magic Cast-on for my 441 provisional stitches. I am getting just the effect that I desired of a pale band in the middle of the cowl, the colour progression to the dark hues is a little more abrupt than I had expected. I've just ... run out of ... steam a bit ....

And then to just add to the disenchantment - Cladonia. I love this shawl pattern, I love the yarn and colours that I have chosen but it is just not working out (again) and I cannot bear the thought of re-knitting it (a third time).

I am waiting for some yarn to arrive in the mail with which I will be able to finish off the triple-picot edge (not a prospect to relish) - yes, I know that I swore I was going to finish it with what I had but then I swore so much that I reconsidered. I didn't buy the yarn, a lovely fellow Raveller is giving it to me, a whole skein's worth!

So really, all the effort that I went to to laboriously unpick and laboriously reweave those two 'truffle hunt' rows was ... just laborious. And tedious. And in retrospect completely unnecessary. I am even tempted to rip back a good two thirds of it to rework the stripe sequence but now I dread not only knitting the lace again but also the striped rows with all the extra increases that I have introduced at the edges. Actually, scrap that notion altogether - I have so little of the 'old world' left over (and not to hand) that I couldn't risk re-knitting the stripes. Solved! When the yarn arrives, I will knit the picot edge, fix up a bit where I have started another unnecessary row of shawl surgery, block it and claim 'design choice' to explain any flaws.

Still, any encouragement on either of these projects would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

look what i found

At the op shop (yes, we're back in Australia):

Yes, the M2818 sewing pattern of my recent ill-fated dressmaking attempts. In my size too, for a dollar. I'm going to keep at it and it's good to have a spare on hand in case my current version gets too tattered.

In the last fortnight, I've also picked up:

- various decor and tupperware plastic storage containers
- a size 4 Country Road hooded sweatshirt for baby b
- a green Seed hooded sweatshirt, size 5/6, for baby b for later
- some unworn European leather shoes for baby b for later
- a pair of Ecco girls boots for a friend's daughter (not sure which friend yet, they're size 23 - give me a yell if you have a daughter)
- likewise for a pair of silver Tip Toey Joey slip-ons
- a Trenery blouse for myself
- great children's books of Aesop's fables, Hans Christian Andersen tales and tales of the Arabian Nights, all with wonderful illustrations
- a wooden circus game
- a linen dress to repurpose as a school uniform piece for miss bear
- a hat for school, also for miss bear
- an unopened packet of overnight nappies for baby b
- a t-shirt for baby b
- a black woollen skirt for myself
- trousers for Tim
- a mug, and I'm sure that's not all.

Guess what else I finally found - free wireless internet (at home, not at the op shop).

ps. There is a spinning wheel in the window at Cheltenham Salvo's (or at least there was a few days ago).

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

september reading

Stressed much? Overdose on complex, multi-layered, can't-put-down Norwegian crime thrillers by  Jo Nesbø:The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil's Star. I probably would have finished off The Redeemer as well but the removalists packed my half-read book.

Saturday, 29 September 2012


Was a very good year for design as it turns out and and as this Playmobil figure illustrates. Oh dear, the nostalgia - I'm 38.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


They say that change is good (not sure which 'they', the conceptual unembodied 'they' I guess). It gets you out of a rut, introduces you to new people, places, challenges, etcetera.

Hmm, I think it depends on just how much change, whether it's a piddly five cents worth of change, that you don't even realise is in your pocket. Or one of those big, heavy, multi-sided fifty-cents worth of change. Not surprisingly, we're embarking on the latter. See you on Thursday on the other side (of the world).

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

... .-- ..-..

Translation: swf

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Attabi Wrap by Laura Chau, but all modifications are based on robbyracoon's delightful 'morse code' version (and modeled by our equally delightful babysitter, Nadia).
Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns MountainTop Vista (50 per cent wool, 50 per cent alpaca) in shade 6076, 4.8 skeins; Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend (70 per cent merino, 30 per cent silk) in shade 3073, 0.28 skeins.
Needles: 5mm.
Start to finish: 28 June to 17 September 2012. Actual knitting was finished in July ...
Stash/recycle content: Alas, no.

Comments: I must repeat that this project is an unabashed copy of robbyraccoon's 'morse code'; joining the wrap into a cowl, leaving a notch at the border, the colour scheme, everything.

Reproducing this cowl was a great design and thinking challenge for me - initially I purchased (online) the exact same main colour yarn but found that in the wool it wasn't really the colour I was wanting. I really had to analyse what textures and what quality of yarn I needed to recreate the object of my obsession.  The trick was to pair something rustic with a bit of halo (MountainTop Vista, comes in great natural shades) and something smooth with sheen (silk content in the Malabrigo made it perfect and I love the way it moves ever so subtly from gold to amber to pink).

I didn't weave in the contrast thread Malabrigo as I knit: tedious. Instead I knit the entire round and then wove the contrast thread in as I slipped the stitches purlwise: still tedious but slightly less so. I also used a separate strand of contrast thread on every row, instead of one long strand. To finish them, I trimmed and spit felted the ends together so there was no weaving in of ends.

I did a provisional cast on for the i-cord bind off and grafted the stitches together after completing the bind off. This worked well but I think would have been better if I had cut the yarn after finishing the body of the cowl and started with a fresh piece of yarn, instead of striving to avoid two ends and making it a bit messy.

Verdict: Oh, so many variations that you could do with this pattern; the mind boggles. I'm very happy with this version and it has made a wonderful gift to a wonderful friend (I've made something for everyone in our fantastic neighbour family across the road now, hooray!)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

spacing out

That would be me. Transition back into the school year has been more consuming than I expected. Anyway, having lived here for more than four years, we finally went up the Space Needle. We have had amazingly sunny weather here in Seattle for an almost record number of days, but come Sunday it clouded over for us. So, an authentic Seattle experience.

It was a pretty cool thing to do, and I think knowing the city actually made it a richer experience because I knew what I was seeing from that new perspective, could pick buildings out, follow the lay of the land. Then afterwards we went for a ride on a duck (also pretty cool although I wouldn't admit that to anyone).

Sunday, 9 September 2012

sweet hex | heges

Sweet hex - one hat.
Sweet heges - two hats.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Sweet Hex Child's Hood by Lisa Shroyer, available for free.

Size: One size.

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (45 per cent wool, 35 per cent silk, 20 per cent nylon) in 24 'claret' and '01 'chalk'.

Needles: 2.25 and 2.75mm needles.

Start to finish: I started the project on 6 March 2012 and finished it yesterday, 7 September 2012, six months all up. I knit two hats though, the first was finished on 12 March, so took only six days to knit. The other hat I started on 7 August and finished knitting on 18 August, so eleven days.

Recycle/stash content: Yes, all yarn from stash and acquired at the Seattle Knitters' Guild Fiber Frenzy.

Comments: The pattern instructs to knit the hat in the round (and then steek) which I suppose is conducive to stranded knitting but strikes me as an odd choice given the yarn used, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. Or rather, Silky Wool is an odd choice of yarn, given the technique required. I did in fact use Silky Wool because I happened to have some at hand but I used a different technique - knit the hat back and forth (I don't mind stranding on the purl side) and grafted the last row together. Really, if you're not using a sticky wool, I would recommend doing this.

There is also a discrepancy in the pattern regarding the facings, one is six rows deep, the other nine - unclear why.

Rather than using a commercially manufactured cord and tassels, I attempted to knit i-cord on 2.25mm needles but it was almost unbearable with the Silky Wool which is  bit nubby and doesn't pull through smoothly at that gauge. After managing a few centimetres and realising that I would put off finishing this project forever if I went down that path, I instead made a really tight plait using six strands of yarn. Tassels I had made before for 'the cat on the hat' so I was able to wing it this time.

Verdict: I made these hats in reverse colourways, one for my daughter and one for her best friend who lives across the street. Their names are almost identical (just one sound different, think along the lines of Mara and Lara, which makes for a laugh when calling out to them at a playground) and now they have almost identical hats. I'm delighted with them.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

what a tassle!

What is it about finishing? Why do I have such a mental block about it? I love making things, these tassels were great fun to make once I actually got around to it. And I certainly love to finish a project.

But these tassels, and the cords that they are attached to and the casings that the cords thread through, have taken me weeks to get around to. Actually, I have actively been putting it off. Why?? Is it a reluctance to let go of a project, even though I am simultaneously desperate to finish? Is it a fear of not creating a perfect project? Motivation fascinates me.

I realise that I have also completely neglected to mention these sweet little hats that I am knitting (actually have knit, have completely knit and finished and will showcase shortly). I started them way back in March ...

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


I am entering a finishing phase, so many projects hovering at 90 per cent complete. But not fast enough for how baby b is growing!

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Ziggy Zag by Carol Feller.
Size: Three years, supposedly for baby b.
Yarn: Dale of Norway/Dalegarn Baby Ull (100 per cent wool) in 5775 (dark blue), 2.4 skeins; and Patons Australia Patonyle (80 per cent merino, 20 per cent nylon) in 1009 (red), 0.3 skeins.
Needles: 3.75mm for the body and 2.75mm for the cuffs and hem, although it may have been 2.25mm but it was knit over some period of time and I didn't make a note and then I forgot ... the collar was knit with 2.75mm needles. I know this because that was the last thing I did.
Start to finish: 25 October 2011 to 31 August 2012.
Stash/recycle content: Yes, all from stash.

Comments: I started knitting this for baby b, who is nearing three, but he's a sturdy boy and there wouldn't have been much wear in this for him. So it was a two-year-old birthday gift for a friend's son instead - perfect! There are a few, ahem, 'design features' included like the red showing through in the change from blue to red yarn. I know that there's a way of avoiding that but I recall not having the oomph to get up and look it up at the time I changed yarns. So, design feature. I knit extra rows on the neck edging to help balance it up with the cuffs and hem. I am normally not one for colour blocking at all and now can't remember why I decided to use the red. An Estonian friend told me though that red at the cuffs is one of the oldest protective magics and I do like the idea of that. The cuffs and hem were knit flat and seamed because I don't mind seaming but I do mind that jog when you cast off in the round. I also decided not to sew on a button closure at the neck because by the time I finally had all the knitting done and the ends woven in, well, I made a design decision not to.

Verdict: Not quite the garment I had hoped for. It's very difficult to adequately block garments that are knit seamlessly. I tried a steam with the iron and maybe a few wears will help it along. The proportion of the yoke depth and underarm measurement also look a little strange to me. I'll be interested to hear how it wears.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

august reading

Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip Through the Land Art of the American West by Erin Hogan - I really enjoyed this book. Just the right amount of art history and theory mixed with a candid account of driving around in the middle of nowhere, facing up to your fears of being alone and trying to find meaning in art.

Friday, 31 August 2012

delicious, a smorgasbord

New socks for Tim, with a secret ingredient:

Pink stripes!

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Delicious Knee Socks by Laura Chau.

Size: Oh, can't remember of course. I think I ended up with 72 stitches, realised that they would be too big for me and decided to make them for Tim instead.

Yarn: Six of them from the toe up: Fiber Optic Yarns Foot Notes (80 per cent merino, 20 per cent nylon) in 'Black coffee no.9'; Grignasco Strong Print (75 per cent merino, 25 per cent nylon ); Zitron Trekking (XXL) (75 per cent wool, 25 per cent  Nylon) in 126 and then later in 81; Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball (75 per cent wool, 25 per cent nylon) in 'U-boot'; and Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn (50 per cent alpaca, 30 per cent merino, 10 per cent nylon, 10 per cent silk) in 'Blues in the Night'.
Needles: 2.25mm.

Start to finish: 10 June to 30 August 2012, so two-and-a-half months. Considering that the last pair of socks took me some two-and-a-half years, I feel as though I am making real progress here!

Stash/recycle content: All of them - the Foot Notes I previously used for the Honey Cowl, the Strong Print for a pair of socks, the Trekking (XXL) were both used in Babette (and came from the thrift store originally), Crazy Zauberball from Kerchief and Babette, and the Hand Paint Sock Yarn I got in a stash swap and used in both Daybreak and Babette.

Comments: I started off knitting these for myself but even though I seemed to be getting gauge they were going to be too big for me. And once I had finished the toe, I couldn't bear to pull it out so I knit them for Tim instead. Inspired by various projects on Ravelry, I really wanted to use up all the odds and ends of sock yarn that I have floating around from various shawl projects mostly. And really, woollen socks get worn under boots mostly so it doesn't really matter if they are multi-coloured. I followed the pattern up until the calf shaping started and knit ribbing after that instead. If I knit another pair, and I think I will, I might try for knee highs for myself. Oh and cast-on was my new favourite, Judy's Magic Cast On.

Oh, and I knit these two at a time, toe up! I'm very proud of myself. They did drag on a bit but there was certainly no second-sock syndrome difficulty. It might make it more fun to change yarns more often, although that would mean more ends to weave in ...

Verdict:  Deliciously happy. They are a great fit for Tim, of course, because I knit them that way! It was also fun to see the self-striping come out on the Trekking (XXL) which I had only previously crocheted with.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Wow, summer seems to have gotten the better of me. Routine totally out the window, sporadic knitting, hot weather that just melts my brains, limited internet access and a trip to the lake.

Back on track soon!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

the patient

I am patiently stitching away on Cladonia. I removed one 'blanket fort' stripe, unpicking one row and then unravelling the second. Replacing it with 'truffle hunt' required knitting one row and then Kitchener stitching to graft that row to the next across many hundred stitches. Tedious, and nerve wracking.

The second row I am approaching somewhat differently, unpicking the 'blanket fort' and following up with the 'truffle hunt' stitch by stitch. Also incredibly tedious but not so nerve-wracking and with less chance of mistakes (I had to actually undo my Kitchener stitching a few times where I had lost the rhythm), especially when it comes to incorporating increases, and infinitely neater. Then every hour or so, I get to knit a few dozen stitches with the  yarn that I have salvaged.

Yes, this is nuts but I have decided to finish this with the yarn that I have and I am stubborn.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

m2818 AA v.2

Palmer Pletsch for McCall's 2818
Alma Aguilar version 2

And here is version 2, with a differently cut yoke and the same gaping problem.

Again, fits very nicely across the bust - hooray! I cut the yoke across the princess seams just above the bust apex and the neckline even deeper and wider and it does sit ok if allowed to sit very wide on my shoulders (much wider than I would like, strapless-bra required wide) and I haven't done the understitching on the neckline yet and it doesn't have sleeves, which do tend to pull things into shape, but I have run out of fabric until I can find another French Connection butterfly print top on ebay and ...

It also occurs to me that this is a semi-fitted pattern. I'm wondering if that doesn't lend itself to a deep neckline. Anyway, I'm going to put this one away for (maybe) later.

(Final lesson learned - maybe those late-night dressmaking sessions are not such a good idea.)

Monday, 13 August 2012

m2818 AA v.1

Palmer Pletsch for McCall's 2818
Alma Aguilar version 1

This is what I have spent a lot of time working on recently - a lot of time adjusting the pattern with a full bust adjustment (fba) (it took me four tries but I got it right), then sewing a toile, then altering the neckline, then cutting and pinning and sewing and facing and interfacing.

And, I'm afraid, it has not wholly been a success. I have a litany of little woes to recount about this project; oh where to start? With a positive - the fba turned out very well and now that I am confident with that I will not hesitate to do it again. Hooray! This Palmer Pletsch pattern includes all of the lines upon which you need to cut in order to make the adjustments and it is really easy. Double hooray!

The greatest problem that I encountered here was with the neckline and I must note that I altered it in an effort to emulate the Alma Aguilar dress of my dreams and perhaps that is where it all went wrong? Anyway, the neckline gapes (see fuzzy middle image), that is, doesn't sit flat against my chest. This may be an issue with the original pattern, unfortunately I never completed my toile of that far enough to assess the neckline, I was too focussed on getting the fba perfected. I cut my neckline a lot deeper than that in the pattern, not sure whether a deeper neckline calls for tightening up elsewhere - would need to make a toile again to assess that but I am very over this sewing pattern. I also made some mistakes with interfacing and sewing the yoke and I had a lot of trouble with the facings and the sleeves aren't finished because I absolutely ran out of steam and ... in short, I've had it with this one.

I did have some fun with the back though - the pattern calls for a placket up the back and I was planning on using an invisible zip at the side but since I was upcycling a men's shirt I just cut the back pieces from the front of the shirt and incorporated the placket. I left the chest pocket on the shirt and you can (sort of, just) see where that is incorporated into the princess seams.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

shawl surgery

I'm not sure whether I have completely lost the plot but my Cladonia remodel has taken on the dimensions of full reconstructive surgery.

I ran out of yarn - the 'blanket fort' this time - and am feeling completely contrary about making the trip to Bainbridge Island to buy some more or paying delivery costs if I purchase it online (two things that I normally wouldn't blink an eye at). Part of it may be that as I was knitting the stripes, after the colour change, it did occur to me more than once that it might be an idea to throw in a 'truffle hunt' stripe here or there (see photo at right). But I couldn't really decide and I was a bit far along and didn't want to rip back the few rows so I just kept knitting; kept knitting until I was the cast-off edging and two-and-a-half rows short of 'blanket fort' yarn.

So last night, having saved myself from previously ripping back a few rows, I cut into my Cladonia, oh yes, cut in with scissors and removed a blanket fort stripe. I am halfway through replacing it with a truffle hunt stripe which is going surprisingly well (but that's because 200-odd stitches to be kitchenered together are yet to come). See photo below of great gaping wound:

And, I'll have to this at least twice more I figure in order to have enough yarn to finish, the triple bypass of knitting surgery.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

learning curve

Ah, inspiration. At what point does it turn into obsession? I appear to be on my way to finding out. As soon as I saw this Alma Aguilar dress I became, shall we say, completely preoccupied with recreating the bodice. I think it is just beautiful, not so taken with the skirt shape but I'm busy with blouses at the moment so that's ok (a dress is in the planning stage but that will be later, much later).

So I have been busy sewing and busy learning, mostly about how to sew a curve. It's hard work. The issue with sewing a curved seam (as in the seam between the yoke and bodice at left) is that the seam line (where you sew) is the same length on both pieces but, given the seam allowance, the edges of the pieces are different lengths. They are also different shapes.(You can get a bit of an idea from this Collette sew-along tutorial.)

My original pattern (McCall's 2818) had no such curved seam issues but I had to go and modify it, twice over, in an attempt to mimic the bodice of my inspira... obsessi... preoccupation. There was much clipping and notching and pinning and stitching and puckering and undoing and restitching and ... I'll show you the results next time.

(image credit)

Thursday, 2 August 2012

july reading

In the Woods by Tana French  - Hmm, a good read but could have stood on its own without all of the protagonist's psychological trauma. The psychological thriller angle just became too noisy and a bit pointless in the end. 

Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo - Less gruesome than the first two in the series and oddly enough, exactly the same plot device as In the Woods.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson - Such a good read although populated by all too many unpleasant characters with even more unpleasant attitudes about women.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

fifth course

I've been randomly knitting away on Tim's secret pink stripe smorgasbord delicious socks. I'm up to the fifth different yarn and they're coming along nicely. Just stocking stitch in the round for a while now, then ribbing I guess. I don't think I'll even need to do any shaping as they are certainly not going to be knee highs (as the pattern accommodates).

And I am working on the lace edging for Cladonia, these are long rows now:

And I'm still working on my blouse. Here's a snippet of the fabric, upcycled from a men's shirt that I bought in ... Australia, maybe? From the op shop, brand is Blazer, it's a medium-weight cotton with this little dark blue print of sprigs. It looks just like a patchwork print but the material is heavier.

I managed to totally muck up the front yoke facing so it wasn't sitting nicely at all. Now that I have removed it, it appears that the front yoke and front yoke facing are completely different shapes ... not at all sure how I managed that. Am trying to maintain momentum in order to actually finish it (rather than resorting to the more pleasant task of cutting pattern pieces out for a different blouse. I've only done one so far).

Saturday, 28 July 2012

all that remains

I have finished the striping on my Cladonia (the second version) and this is all that I have left of my skein of Brooklyn Tweed Loft in 'old world'. There's only a few metres there. I truly thought that I was going to run out, so sure that I started canvassing other Ravellers with 'old world' in their stash to see if anyone could spare a gram or two. It wasn't necessary (phew) and now I am on to working the lace section in 'blanket fort' which really is beautiful (only two rows so far so not much to see). I'm just hoping that I'll have enough yarn to finish it ...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

key change

Not to infer that 'truffle hunt' is a major colourway and 'blanket fort' a minor (although 'truffle hunt' is the most wonderful brown/grey with a hint of lavender that ever existed) but in the process of reworking my Cladonia I have just shifted from striping in 'truffle hunt'/'old world' to 'blanket fort'/'old world' before working the border in 'blanket fort'.

(Now I am completely unmusical and actually have no idea what a key change really is. Tim and I will be listening to music and he'll say 'there's the key change' and I am oblivious. On the other hand, when Tim asks me what I'm laughing at and I say that it was something in the lyrics, his response is 'oh, you actually listen to the words'.)

I put a lot of thought into where to make the colour change. I decided to stripe half of the shawl's area in truffle hunt' and 'old world' and the other half in 'blanket fort' and 'old world'. To work out which row this meant making the colour change on, I had to rummage deep in the recesses of brain and recall some maths. I based the calculations on a full circle and started by calculated the circumference as sixteen times the number of stitches in each section (448). From there I got the nominal radius of the circle (and from there calculated the area nominal radius (c = 2πr) - I say nominal because the radius of a circle cannot be expressed in stitches). Result was 71(-ish).  

Then to calculate the area of the circle (a=πr2) ... and yes, blah blah blah. I remember in high school maths classes there was always someone who would complain 'when am I ever going to use this in real life?' Not me because I was studious but if someone had told me I'd be using it to calculate how much of my shawl to knit in a different colour I would never have believed them.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

attitude adjustment

So after my recent mini crisis of confidence in the sewing field, I took a deep breath and just got down to it. I think part of it is just accepting that it's a learning process and that there are going to (possibly, likely) be a few iterations.

I laid out my front side pattern piece and cut into it, lowering the bust apex, spreading the pattern piece out, closing the resulting dart, inserting extra tissue paper and taping it all together. It was, like most things when you follow the directions, easy.

Then yesterday evening I cut out the front, back and side pieces from calico and stitched it up. It was a bust (pardon the pun but was one ever more apposite?) Didn't fit - I had lowered the bust apex too far and hadn't added enough in the bust and will have to start over again. BUT, even with these shortcomings, I saw the shape of things to come, a top that is going to fit me. As soon as I get a free half hour or so (which really, is as long as it takes to do the fba as per the instructions that come with the pattern) I'll give it another shot.

And I'm delighted that I didn't even cut into or waste a shred of my super-cute fabric, upcycled from a French Connection blouse purchased second hand.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


And then after I have finished a couple of knitting projects, I inevitably find my interest swinging back to sewing.

Part of the impetus for this is the recent demise of a couple of t-shirts. In all of America, or so it seems, I have not been able to find anything as good as my favourite Witchery t-shirts - 100 per cent cotton, scoop neck, and long. I've tried a Gap essential t-shirt in the tall fit - good length, atrocious quality. I've tried an American Apparel u-neck t-shirt - ok, except really limited colour choice. And as I may have mentioned before, I'm really tired of wearing t-shirts all the time and long for a blouse or dress from woven fabric. One that fits.

Will this be it?

I was reading somewhere about full bust adjustment (fba) methods and came across mention of Palmer Pletsch's Fit for Real People which I then bought and read (and really liked) and then looked at their patterns and bought this one (McCall's M2818). Mostly because with the princess seams it has the potential to resemble a gorgeous Alma Aguilar dress that I have fallen in love with.

So, yes, now all I have to do is actually make it. These Palmer Pletsch patterns come with all of the markings necessary for making common fit adjustments, including the fba. And although I found their book very up-beat and encouraging, somehow, faced with the pattern, I feel terribly daunted. Yes I need to adjust the bust but by how much? And how much ease do I want? And is there enough ease in the pattern already if I just lower the bust apex? And ... and I just need to get on with it. Lower the bust apex, do the fba and sew a muslin.

Yeah. In the meantime, I ordered a few more t-shirts.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

in the sink

But not down the drain (phew!).

This is my Attabi Wrap/Cowl/Infinity Loop having a little soak before blocking (so to speak):

And here it is 'blocking', that is, stretching out:

This is how I have had good results blocking a long cowl before - instead of lying it flat and risking creases, I block them in the round:

Step 1 - pad a broom with a couple of towels.
Step 2 - loop cowl over padding and suspend broom between two chairs, or, if the cowl is really long as was the case here, between two lines on the clothesline.
Step 3 - weight it down with a heavy book resting on a bundled up towel.

I have used the most recent Haruki Murakami here - 1Q84 - and I fear that this is the only use that I will have for it. After having waited months for my turn to read it from the library, I don't think there is any way I could get through it in the allotted three-week time period.

Anyway, there is a significant difference in stretch factor between the i-cord cast-off edge and the rest of the cowl, so I concentrated the not insignificant weight of Murakami there. I may use the woven floats to tighten the opposite edge up a bit, or not - will try it on first to see how it sits.