Monday, January 29, 2007

happy birthday me!

it's my birthday today. this time last year i was in venice, at the cafe where byron had breakfast, toasting myself with glacee chestnuts. this year i'm in my own little (rented) place (that i share with badly coloured boy), but closer to friends and family. and my new baby. this is mathilda:

she's a bernina 830, bought second-hand to celebrate the anniversary of my birth. the exact same model as my mum has (coincidence. the first second hand bernina we could track down). together we've learnt buttonholes, and tested all the embroidery stitches. in short, everything mum told me not do until i had mathilda serviced. tomorrow me and Tildy are going to try and sew another Simplicity 4111.

and, just as i sat here typing this, badly coloured boy handed me his gift - a copy of this. it's been so long since i've had an art book, and this is just so inspiring. it reminds me of so much i'm forgetting - delacroixe vs david. courbet and the birth of modernism. see, i actually have a degree in art history. i just don't use it for anything other than lecturing bored acquaintance and feeling superior.

wound up!

i borrowed clementine's retro little ballwinder (and her superior winding skills) to sort out the rest of that merino. the stripy gingham (yup, more stripy gingham! remind me to post the chair cushion i made sometime too) is tied to the ends, so i don't lose them.

Friday, January 26, 2007

ostraya day

for the non-australian 'mongst you, today was australia day. national holiday to celebrate... y'know. like, straya (which is how our country is pronounced in our oddly lazy accent).
it's also the day that the publically funded national youth radio counts down the listener-voted hottest 100 songs of the last year. so for many young-uns, australia day = hottest 100 day.

and what did we do?
this, of course:

a bbq was so patently obvious that people turned up with packs of meat without even knowing whether we owned a bbq.
look, we did throw prawns on the barbie! For me, who does not eat the piggy-animal (pork chops, and pork sausages, i think, for others). the pot has potato salad with chilli mayo in it. and there was other bread, too. solid, basic barbie food.

today was the hottest day this summer by far. 41C! 106F! so what these photos don't show is the afternoon we spent laid out like lizards, with sweat-sheens, listening to the radio and drinking revolting quantities of beer.
then after our guests left, badly coloured boy and i drove across down to the nicest beach we know. we went swimming in the gloaming with quite a lot of other people still down at the beach. the water was the clearest i have ever seen it. it was clear like a swimming pool. BCB couldn't swim up and grab my ankles because i could see him every time.
driving home at night we saw the fireworks put on over the river next to the city, through gaps in the trees. and now i am eating toast for dinner. quite a lovely day.

spotlight goodies

the closest spotlight to me is in the process of closing down (lease is up, the landowners want to put in a car dealership). everything is half price. i also had to stand in a queue to get my fabric cut for at least an hour. i actually sent badly coloured boy to go buy a vacuum cleaner and iron while i was in the queue. he shopped around a bit, bargained a decent deal, then drove back to find me still waiting to get my fabric cut.
some people were buying terrifying quantities of fabric.... like, no exaggeration, maybe thirty rolls. some remnants, some needing to be measured out. what i thought was a counter full (full!) of stuff to be reshelved turned out to be some lady's 'to buy' pile.

only the heavy cotton weave on the right had to be cut. the denim and stripes on the left were all remnants. which was kind of neat. because i was looking high and low for the two middle rolls, because i wanted to buy a bit. couldn't find them anywhere, then saw a lady wheel them out on a trolley. $7 and $5 for the rolls, respectively. though my terrible camera skills don't show it, the navy and white striped roll has a quite unusual weave. in the middle of each white stripe some of there is, like... less warp (or weft?) threads, so the bareness makes an extra stripe. sort of the optical illusion principle in the invisible stripe scarf, on a much, much finer scale.

when it came to trims, i bought all the gingham bias binding they had left (only three metres!); half the blue and green tartan; all of that pretty crochet stuff. and some wooden buttons that were 50c and $1 each respectively, though the spotlight people threw in two free buttons to get rid of the tube.

also bought another pair of clover needles, and a zipper to match the denim (i'm going to try to make a pair of short shorts... the denim has a wee bit of stretch in it, which should make up for any weird shaping my inadequate skills produce).

now, i actually need to get onto sewing some stuff.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

liberty fabrics

god i am lusting after this soooooo badly. the colour scheme is so uncompromisingly fifties. i think it'd make a wonderful built by wendy top.
the problem with this fabulous built by wendy top is that it encourages me to imagine the squillion different prints that it could work with. like, eiffel towers, say. or toile de jouy (i love this stuff, in any weight, for any purpose).

last year in london, before i was really into sewing, i bought a pre-cut metre of liberty lawn at the actual Liberty store in London (possibly the most fabulous department store in the world. can you imagine changerooms with tiny tudor windows onto the outside world? and tudor handcarved balustrades?). Anyway, the fabric. It was the Ianthe pattern (that you can see on that linked page, under the subheading '1890s'), in purple and aqua and fuschia, and on sale cost enough to make me cough a little. i couldn't understand how these other women were walking away with armsful of this fabric. until i realised later how much the retail price was. and the other day when i actually unfolded and measured my fabric, i found out the 'metre' was more like a metre and a half squared. i paid really a very, very good price.
my point? um.... if any londoner reads this and fancies custom purchasing me a sale-price piece of pre-cut lawn from the liberty store i can organise a swap of australian bits and pieces that would certainly make it worth your while. bear it in mind. perhaps they have a mid-year sale?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

so very edwardian, don't you think?

i love it. i feel like julia margaret cameron (alright, she was victorian; and i don't take photos of naked children... but i could have a salon in the country in this top).

it's the Built By Wendy Simplicity 4111. made out of a beautiful voile i found at spotlight. i went back today for more, but it had all sold out. the red bias binding on the facing (my own touch) is 'vintage' (stolen from my mum's sewing stash). i had to take out some of the elastic in the arms, and the back is too wide for me (not that i did anything about it).

some people have had problems with the armholes on this. they are small, but certainly fit me. i think they are drafted small so that the garment is quite fitted around the shoulders, to prevent it looking like a sack.

i have bought more voile, to make another of these (i am determined to get better at sewing). this time it's black and white stripes, and (i nearly passed out with joy when i found this) tartan bias binding. tartan! floral would have been better, but still. a pattern!

i christened the floral top by taking it to see Marie Antoinette. i was much disappointed, but the costumes have led me to wonder whether a layer of soft tulle ruffles could be inserted on the inside of the neckline of this top.

Monday, January 15, 2007


it's an upturned dirty washing basket. and it seemed like an excellent way to handwind my skein. except that that's an hour's worth of winding. it's laceweight. there's 1.4 kilometres there... i'm going to make myself get my hands on a borrowed ball winder. but i still think the upturned basket shows promise for regular, smaller skeins.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


i was rootling round at my mum's place today and found some crafty stuff that i bought overseas last year that had been temporarily lost. sadly, my camera and my internet connection are not yet in the same place. but as soon as the two converge i will post pictures. promise. because who doesn't love moroccan sewing supplies?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


thus the temporary silence.
my new place is nice. there are quite a few little bugs, because the place has been vacant for a couple of months; but on the upside i have a really lovely new bedspread and a very ginormous bookcase (it very nearly didn't make it, because it didn't fit inside the horse float we were using to move things).
despite the nearly-dead garden there are lots of little birds twittering about in the trees outside (or making that deafening squawking noise in the case of the galahs). which is also a bit nice. i have plans for a herb garden, and some zucchini plants.

i am planning on turning my old clothes into a knitted rag rug to cover over the terrible lino (please, can someone explain how one actually covers lino in small, deep, black cuts (when the rest of the lino is cream)?). so pictures of that once i get started.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Baby E - the noro entrelac scarf

- 3 skeins Noro Silk Garden (colourway 211 if you wanna be just like me). I used up just shy of three balls. I worked out I could cut out the boring grey bits of the end of the third ball and still have a long enough scarf. You can see the amount I didn't use in the pic at the end of this post.
- 4.5mm bamboo needles

Dimensions/ Specifications
5 inches/ 13cm wide; 66 inches/ 166 cm long
(X) = 5. That is, I each block was five stitches wide.

I have chosen to write this pattern out with some flexibility, because when learning new techniques (like entrelac) I have difficulty separating what parts/ numbers of stitches are specific to the pattern, and what parts belong to the actual stitch pattern/ technique. So, this is intended for someone who might want to make their entrelac squares a different size, despite having never entrelac'ed before.

What remains constant is that this is three blocks wide. So for a scarf that is five blocks wide, cast on 3 x (X) stitches, etc.

Because of all that totally complex maths, you might like to copy this into Word and replace all the (X)es with the number you actually intend to use.

Set Up Triangles
Cast on 3 x (X) stitches.

P2, turn.
K2, turn.
P3, turn.
K3, turn.
Continue until you P (X). Do not turn.

Ignore what you've already made (a little funny curled up triangle) and repeat again:

P2, turn.
K2, turn.
Continue until you P (X). Do not turn.

P2, turn.
K2, turn.
Continue until you P(X). You've finished all the stitches on the left-hand needle, right? (If you cast on more than 3 x (X) you'll have to repeat the above instructions again/ more times).

Pass 1 - the one with the half-blocks.
K2, turn.
P2, turn.
K into the front and back of first stitch (Kfb), SSK, turn.
P3, turn.
Kfb, K1, SSK, turn.
P4, turn.
Continue until you Kfb; K (X - 2); SSK. Do not turn.

Pick up and knit (X) stitches from the side of the set-up triangle that is stretched between your needles right now.
*P(X), turn.
K (X - 1); SSK, turn.*
Repeat ** (X - 1) more times. You'll 'use up' a group of stitches (X number of stitches) that were on your left-hand needle. After the last knit row, do not turn.

Pick up and knit (X) stitches from the side of the set-up triangle that is stretched between your needles right now.
*P(X), turn.
K (X - 1); SSK, turn.*
Repeat ** (X - 1) more times. After the last knit row, do not turn.

You've used up all the stitches on the left-hand needle. Now, pick up and knit (X) stitches from the diagonal that is hanging down from your needle. Turn.
P2 together, P (X-2), turn.
K(x-1), turn.
P2 together, P(X-3), turn.
K(X-2), turn.
Continue until you P2tog and have no more stitches (in that little group). That remaining stitch will become part of the second pass.

The Second Pass - the one with the whole blocks.
You already have one stitch on the right-hand needle. Pick up and purl (X-2) stitches, turn.
*K(X), turn.
P(x-1), P2tog, turn.*
Repeat ** (X-1) more times.

Pick up and purl (X) stitches from the block stretched between your needles.
Repeat ** (X) times.

Pick up and purl (X) stitches from the block stretched between your needles.
Repeat ** (X) times.

Do Pass 1 and Pass 2 over and over until your scarf is a nice scarfy length. Your last row before finishing must be a Pass 1.

You have one stitch on the right-hand needle. Pick up and purl (X-1) stitches, turn.
*K(X), turn.
P2tog, K(X-3), P2tog, turn.
K(X-1), turn.
P2tog, K(X-4), P2tog, turn.

Continue until you K2, turn.
P1, P2tog, turn.
K2, turn.

Pick up and purl (X-1) stitches, turn. Repeat **; then pick up and purl (X-1) stitches again. Repeat **.

Cast off the one remaining stitch on the needle.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

on fresh starts

it seems that in blogland everyone is all for the resolutions and the recappings of years. i'm not so much that kind. i rolled over in bed last night (several days late) to tell badly coloured boy that my new years resolution was to manage stress better. not to stress less, see, because i am hardwired for that and have little control in that respect. but this year instead of absolutely freezing up in panic over the fact that, say, i have a dissertation due in october (yes, i have already freaked out over the 'nearness' of that date) i am going to say to myself 'duh. that's actually quite a long time away. relax'.

oh, okay, also i vow this year to not let the shower get all gross and mouldy. i always neglect cleaning the shower until it's too late.

i do also promise to photograph and type up the pattern for the Baby E Noro Entrelac Scarf. I've finished it, but it needs blocking.

i got a little distracted by a trip to combined mecca spotlight/ ikea today. spotlight never have the nice patterns in the pattern books, so just to torture myself i asked them to find me a built by wendy pattern.... which they had! it caught me totally off guard, and i couldn't decide whether i actually wanted it! but i found some very nice black and cream sort of florence broadhurst/ bold liberty print voile which sealed the deal. now i wish i'd asked about this one too... it wouldn't hurt to go back tomorrow and found out, would it? given that there's a half-price sale on patterns right now...