Friday, 28 June 2013

more barkcloth

This is the other barkcloth fabric that I am using to make the floor cushions. When we first moved to Seattle, I had no idea really of distance so when I saw interesting yard sales advertised on Craig's List I just thought, oh yeah, I'll go there. This took me to the residential back blocks of Edmonds, Renton, Kirkland, Redmond, all sorts of places. It was a learning experience.

Anyway, this particular yard sale I went to because they had advertised California King bedding (unusual bed size that we had just acquired). Unfortunately, the yard sale holder had sold the bedding already before the sale even started so I was completely out of luck on that note but I did buy these wonderful 1940s (I think she said) barkcloth curtains which we used in our Seattle house.

There's not really a window for them here in Melbourne and they are quite damaged in places so I have decided to make them into cushion covers instead. The covers are going to be about 85 centimetres square so the scale of the print will be retained.

I still have quite a lot of mending to do on them yet. It is curious that the damage appears to be caused by light as the worn-through sections are predominantly those areas printed in yellow and at the top of the curtains (the lower half that hung in front of the wall is in much better shape). I wonder what sort of photosensitive dyes were used? I'm just going to mend the affected areas by patching from beneath followed by some basic embroidery from a lovely array of floss that I have bought just for the purpose. And maybe some top stitching too (of course).

Thursday, 27 June 2013

top stitch

Can you imagine a half-hour television show all about sewing and sewing machines? Comparing design and stitch galleries, speed stitching competitions, showcasing vintage and industrial models, special segments on different types of needles, prototype presser foot designs? I wish ...

Anyway, this past week or so I have been enjoying sewing. Long straight seams so I can go really fast and the machine makes some noise. It's very satisfying.

I'm sewing some square cushion covers from bark cloth that I brought back from the US. I had to piece one side of the cover together so then took the opportunity for some therapeutic hand stitching using six strands of embroidery floss. I'm really liking the effect of some ... rough? rustic? casual? ... top stitching at the moment, by which I mean that it's not too measured or even, not too delicate, a bit more than an accent but still utilitarian as I used it to fell the seams. I'm also using top stitching like this on a little baby quilt that I'm working on but that will have to wait to be finished and received before it is revealed!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

don't often talk about the weather

But wow, this was the view from my office window at about 8:15 this morning. The dome there is the top of the Royal Exhibition Building, a World Heritage Site-listed building completed in 1880.

Thursday, 20 June 2013


Socks, I shall knit socks. And not even for miss bear, just for myself. 

Ever since I knit the secret-pink-stripes socks for Tim, I have been meaning to knit another pair for myself. It's the same pattern and I might try and make these ones knee socks to use up as much random sock yarn leftovers as possible. There are three rows there of Grignasco Strong Print in yellow at the toe which I swear is the absolute last of that yarn (initially used for illicit socks in 2008). I started off striping them (some op shop Patonyle in blue/grey and some thrift store Trekking XXL) then realised, for goodness' sake, I'm knitting with self-striping yarn (the Trekking) - just knit!

Which I have continued to do, blissfully mindlessly. That's what I like about knitting socks from the toe up - a tube, a heel, then another tube (no gusset decreases) so great expanses of just knit, knit, knit. And two at a time using the magic-loop method, which worked well for me last time.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

a weighty matter

No, not politics or religion - weight, yarn weight and pattern gauge.

Vent d'Antan, Epilobe and Sweet Peasy all call for a dk-weight yarn and gauge of 22 stitches to 10 centimetres.
Mini Manu calls for a dk-weight yarn and gauge of 24 stitches per 10 centimetres. Which is more of a sport-weight gauge.

Little Ancolie calls for a sport-weight yarn and gauge of 22 stitches per 10 centimetres. Which is what dk usually knits at.

As does Mi Avril.

Brock calls for a fingering-weight yarn and gauge of 25 stitches per 10 centimetres. Fingering usually knits at 28 to 32 stitches per 10 centimetres, sport weight at 25 stitches.

Then Leonie calls for a light fingering-weight yarn and gauge of 30 stitches per 10 centimetres.

I have enough Handmaiden Bess (above in blue), a sport-weight yarn, to knit Brock (calls for fingering weight) but not Mini Manu (calls for dk). I have six fingering-weight yarns that I could use for Leonie. But I don't think that any of those would work for Brock, which calls for them. I have dk yarn that I could use for Little Ancolie or Mi Avril, which calls for sport weight. I wouldn't use those for Mini Manu, which calls for them. The only yarn I have enough of to knit that is a sport weight.

And the question is - what shall I knit for miss bear and what yarn shall I use?

Monday, 10 June 2013

gaspard le nuage d'orage

Gaspard the storm cloud
The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Gaspard le Grand by Christine Rouvillé from WMD Les Wouimardis.
Size: Four years.
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk in Composition Book Grey.
Needles: 3.75 mm.
Stash/recycle content: Ah, no.
Start to finish: 8 May to 8 June 2013 - one month (plus a day)!

Comments: This little sweater was love at first sight. I made a lot of modifications structurally, which was branching out a bit for me. To start with, I knit this sweater seamlessly instead of in one piece from front hem to back hem as the pattern instructs. To do so, I cast on 4 stitches less required for both the back and front together and knit in the round to the underarms, again creating an Elizabeth Zimmerman faux seam on the inside (I think it is a bit more stable than just a line of reverse stocking stitch).

Then I divided the work to knit the upper fronts and upper back from bottom up and didn't cast off at the shoulders which I grafted together (but wouldn't do this again as there does need to be some reinforcement there - three-needle bind off would be a better choice).
The stitches for the front collar were already on hold and I continued to knit across the remaining live stitches from the back. I also knit the collar longer than required for this size, 20 ridges altogether.The sleeves were also knit in the round with a faux seam; the garter stitch cuffs I knit flat and seamed.

I did have some trouble with the pattern - as far as the sleeve decreases go, when the pattern instructs to decrease 'All 4 and 2 rows' I believe that it means, decrease on the fourth and then the second row. The sleeve decreases are a bit odd in that they are more widely spaced at the top of the sleeve and more narrowly placed at the cuff which is the opposite of usual sleeve shaping. I also encountered a bit of trouble
in that my gauge knitting in the round does not seem to be the same as my gauge when knitting flat so I had to knit a few extra rows in the body and before the cuff of the sleeves to compensate.

There are a couple more translation errors but nothing that interferes with u understanding the pattern.

The kangaroo pocket is adorable. Knitting note to self - yes, by all means pick up stitches with a smaller needle but remember to switch back to the correct size needle for the actual knitting (how many times have I done that?).

I think that this may be my first time knitting anything sizeable with madelinetosh yarn and I was very pleased with it. The degree of shade variegation is just about at my limit but I think that it works really well on this garment. The fabric is lovely and squishy.

Verdict: I am really, really delighted with this garment and baby b likes wearing it - hooray! I'm hoping to knit it again and again and again in the 6, 8 and 10 year sizes, have already stashed the yarn.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

sara's hat

Last time I made something for Sara was when she turned one. Of course, she's at school now and needs a woolly hat for winter.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Basic Hat Pattern by Ann Budd.
Size: 21" head circumference.
Yarn: Morris Estate 14ply in '1441 Spruce' (100 per cent wool); 2 skeins.
Needles: 6.5mm for the ribbing, 7mm for the rest.
Stash/recycle content: No.
Start to finish: 2 June to 4 June 2013.
Comments: Such a useful idea this book, yet the available gauges don't really add up to anything useful. At least, there's no 5.25 stitches per inch which gives a good basic dk-weight gauge of 22 stitches per 4 inches. And this yarn, destined to be knit at 14 stitches per 4 inches presented a similar dilemma. As I was worried that the size (21" head circumference for child to small woman's) might be a little roomy, I chose the instructions for knitting at a gauge of 3 stitches per 4 inches.

Verdict: Hope it keeps her warm!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

may reading

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris - the last Sookie bookie!

Headhunters by Jo Nesbø - Norwegian thriller, not a Harry Hole novel but still a gripping read.