Friday, March 30, 2007

i put the ribbon on my needle roll

nice, huh? i just need some clear nail polish to seal the ends. it is very prone to fraying. also, um, if you look again... i sewed it on upside down. but i don't think the ribbon would hold up to being unpicked, i'm almost out of red thread, and i couldn't unpick the stitching without also gouging out the topstitching (the ribbon is sewed along the topstitching line). so upside down it stays.

also, we all remember the pain and suffering of the washed candygan? well, i threw it in the corner of my room. then, when i moved house, i threw it in a box, then threw it into my bedside cabinet in my new house. and left there, until a couple of nights ago, in a girlish fit of 'i hate all my clothes' i tried it on again. um, it's a little bigger than pre-washing but it certainly still fits. it is, however, rather prone to pilling.

can you see the fuzz along the edge of the arm? i've only worn it maybe six or seven times, tops. in the background is anatolia, which has been thrown aside in disgust. the neckband design is quite odd - not ribbed at all - and it gapes quite badly. so i need to rip and redo, and, as ever, i can't muster the enthusiasm.

i've started on eunny jang's endpaper mitts, and heavens! they're addictive. good fun, and soooo carefully designed.

oh my god! i just realised - i hope that candy doesn't fit now because i've stacked on the kilos! uh-oh... well, my jeans still fit. maybe being sent to the corner for a few months shrinks things. that's gotta be it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

i think i'm craving plum.

isn't this beautiful? it's After the Fire - Leaf Surge, by John Wolseley. i'd give an awful lot to be able to hang it above my desk. Wolseley was one of my influences in high school (the art curriculum forces students to nominate official influences), for my most favourite print that i turned out. maybe i'll post a picture of it sometime. i periodically forget that Wolseley exists, then about six months ago i heard him interviewed on the radio. and tonight he's hosting an art program, which made me seek him out again.

myself? i've discovered i've moved on a little from the red/ pink/ blue combination that's dominated by colour choices over the past year. unconsciously, recently, it seems i've been a little bit obsessed with purple.

swatch and yarn for mystery project, fabric for dress lining, and merino for some endpaper mitts.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

holy bejesus

watching sweet ol' J-TV (don't you just love Rosie Beaton's completely terrible presenting? it's so endearingly amateur) some band requested some other band's song. and the clip they showed wins the Inaugral Bunny with Loops Award for Best Use of Handicrafts in a Music Video Clip.

wanna see? well, okay.

(and in quasi-related news, Badly Coloured Boy's clip for Abbe Fuzz's* Sidewinder wins the Inaugral Bunny with Loops Award for Best Use of Three Hundred Hand-painted Foam Bricks in a Music Video Clip. you can't see it anywhere yet, because the colour grading and post-production isn't done yet. but rest assured i'll be bouncing about it a bit more when they do... whatever it is you do with finished video-clips...)

* beware! live-recorded noise plays as soon as page loads. i recommend railroad song.

no martha stewart am i

nor am i belinda jeffrey (she is single-handedly saving the CWA-style slice from extinction), nor even the black apple.

but i did make a cake.

okay. it was betty crocker's, with ready-to-spread frosting. with my own personal touch of strawberry sprinkles on top. it has to live in a soup pot, because i don't have an airtight container large enough to hold (most of) a cake. the gladwrap is underneath the cake and the base of the cake pan, to assist in the removal and replacement of the cake from and into its soupy little home.

it's quite a nice cake. an improvement on other packet mixes.
when i finish the frozen cookie dough log in the freezer (marked down to 20c, because the brand changed their packaging!) i will make my own cookie dough from scratch, and freeze it in a log.

Friday, March 23, 2007


oo! that'd be the first anatolia in blogland. all pieces finished, blocked and ready to seam. pity i'm more entranced by actual knitting right now, rather than finishing.

i am so, so, so pleased with my yarn choice for this thing. not one regret. it's all 4 ply (sportsweight) merino. soft, bright, not prone to unfortunate incidents like the Candy cardigan.

other projects in the pipeline that is my brain/ feverish fingers: mystery project; jumper from a vintage pattern (more 4 ply!); scarf that looks like the ocean; endpaper mitts.

Monday, March 19, 2007

oh blah.

good thing i'd already given up on the pringle pattern.

Because someone else has already done it. even in the cardigan form i was planning on copying.
guess i'll just use her pattern then, once i get some yarn.

but it's okay. i have Other Plans. it involves Paton's Woolcraft 1938; K-Mart '5, 8 & 12-ply designs' brochure (circa mid-70s), my stitch dictionary, and a largeish dose of lunatic measuring.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

grunch grunch grunch

that's the sound i make when i'm sort of cross and skulking round the house so that badly coloured boy knows to stay out of my way.

see, when knitting the principle swatch i discovered that the wool i got is actually really quite itchy, and i wouldn't ever wear it. i have squishy red merino worsted reclaimed from a less-than-flattering boobholder, and it is sooooo much nicer. except i don't have enough to make a jumper. and i don't have money to buy yarn.
i'm stuck between an itchy rock and a squishy, too little place.

grunch grunch grunch.

i think i've settled on using the itchy plum stuff for something less fitting than i originally intended, so i'll wear it over other layers. lots of other layers. it's still itchy to knit with though. and my swatching for stitch patterns to use is going a bit so-so to boot. so really, i'm grumpy.

Friday, March 16, 2007

how i narrowly avoided

a pringle knockoff almost as ugly.

i've been intending to work out a copy of a the pringle jumper for a while now. starting on a swatch last night i worked out what makes the other 'inspired' versions i've seen look cheap.
fine gauge.
the fabric just won't sit right in anything less than so-bulky-you-just-knit-the-wool-with-the-sheep-still-attached.

which stymies my 8 ply/ DK knit version.

and as i don't really have the cash to splash on some superbulky yarn right now, i have to find something else to do with nine balls of plum and three of lavender... i want to play with the trapeze silhouettes that are around right now, but the soft drape of the 8 ply is making that difficult. i'm going to spend this morning trawling the paris autumn/ winter ready to wear shows (though it isn't looking promising - even mcqueen has used furs in place of knits), netaporter and anthropologie. stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


the ugliest knockoff of the pretty pringle jumper ever.

brought to you by justjeans.

seriously. i have seen this in the stores, and it is knit in a thin, almost boucle acrylic on a slightly too large gauge so the cables are virtually flat. mmmm, tasteful.

Monday, March 12, 2007

on sewing and feminist art

my ribbon arrived a little while back.

isn't it fabulous? far nicer in real life than the website indicated. the little diagrams reminded me of the hands in this artwork by Barbara Kruger. I wonder what Ms Kruger would think of my associating her work with the domestic, feminine sphere?

i remember finding this work in an anthology of feminist art writing editing by Lucy Lippard and just being floored by it. i love the force of the hands in 'will'. look at how the man is the one with the power to see (the effect of this is weakened by using a gender-indeterminate person for 'heard'). though these days i wonder if it doesn't say more about the disabled than women? also its implicit insistence on strictly dichotomous gender doesn't really leave much room transgender people/ transexuals.

god, you know what i'd love to do? print each of these images (that's actually nine separate artworks in a series) onto iron on transfer paper, transfer them to fabric, stitch them together and make a patchwork cushion.
the irony would kill me. me and all my fine-arts friends.

what's wrong with this picture?

(hint: it's not some wussy invisible mistake. i've left a hundred of those in this jumper).

i cast off the last sleeve of anatolia. can you see why i'm about to undo that cast off? utterly misreable-making. not to mention it's the third time i've done that on this sleeve, and not once did i do it anywhere else on the jumper.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

keeping things neat and tidy

aren't these just the cutest little storage boxes? my good ol' mum bought them from ikea as a birthday pressie for moi. from the children's section. pink and red with pictures of buttons. i feel like some icy blonde ikea designer was sitting on a pine stool next to some bold graphic print curtains, tapping her recycled material pencil against her chin going 'what would CLARE like? what would CLARE like?' when these were designed. so perfectly me. i have nice fabric in the largest box, notions in one little box, and lace-weight merino in the third.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

the Sewn Thing: Built By Wendy/ Simplicity 3835

here it is. unironed hem and all. i was a little worried when making this dress that it was less quirky, and more raggedy-ann, but i've decided i like it. a lot. this was me wearing it out on a 32C/ 100F night (ah, summer). it was much cuter with black tights and ballet slippers, which is how i wore it on sunday night. there's no real tricks or quirks with the pattern, save that i'd recommend gathering the neckline most over the shoulders and in the centre front, and less around the raglan seams. just to make it sit super-nice.

scared of the lapped zipper instructions in the pattern, i tried the tutorial on how to put in zippers that's in Sew U. it recommends taping the zip in place with stickytape. Worst. Idea. Ever. well, not quite. but not as great as it initially seemed. the stickytape moves, then sticks to something else, so the zip goes out of place. also the tape stuck to my machine arm as i sewed the fabric. this meant it either a) got all bunched up and sticky so the fabric wouldn't feed any further or b) got sucked into the feed dogs, causing a sticky mess than prevented the fabric from feeding any further. i'll stick to pins in future.

i've managed to get badly coloured boy to stop snapping incredibly utilitarian photos of me. see how this one is kind of composed? my entreaties to 'take a nice photo' never produced results. turns out the magic words were 'Honey, pretend you're filming me and compose the shot properly'. magically he learns the rule of thirds. it also prompts him to suddenly volunteer to bring home the big, expensive still cameras with manual focus from university for when i need to take blog photos. i think i will try chatting to his film-self more often.

but back to my dress: my favourite bit is the contrast lining on the elbow ties.

the elbow ties are insanely, ridiculously fiddly, but worth it, i think.

i'm going to make another of these dresses. maybe in a dark checked cotton.

Monday, March 05, 2007

no photos yet

but i have finished another Thing (sewn) of which i am very, very proud. i was a little worried about it at first, but it got an outing last night and lots of people commented positively on it. it's the first Sewn Thing i've made that really encapsulates what i want from the clothes i make: quirky to the point of being fashion forward (not easy when the pattern drafters copy from the catwalks), and flattering enough that i get plenty of compliments that allow me to tell people that i made what i'm wearing.

which brings me to this: it surprises me how, to people that don't knit or sew or otherwise make garments and accessories, this act of creation is some mystical skill of great monetary value. last night a friend's mother, a most high-powered lawyer, told me i should open a shop. with what? i wanted to say. with my poorly finished items made from commercial patterns that don't extend beyond the 'easy' and 'very easy' classifications? my manager at work told me i should drop everything and become a fashion a designer. again, why? i just pick commercial patterns, scrounge around for what fabric i can find and hope for the best. that has nothing in common with what i imagine an actual designer does (with the exception of the hoping for the best bit, maybe).
i understand these comments were meant as compliments, and of course i took them as such, but i just found they revealed an attitude towards home garment-making that i didn't realise existed. because my mum always sewed, so i've always regarded it as a home hobby, nothing particularly special and (given my current skill level) certainly nothing to base a career upon.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

twinkletoes ballet slippers

i apologise for yet another set of creatively modelled 'object laid flat on fugly carpet' pictures. i would have modeled these cute little twinkletoes, but, uh, they were for a swap and i think Meshell would've preferred that I didn't stuff my own feet inside her shoelettes (they're not quite a shoe, not quite a sock). oh, and thel heel is neatly folded down in these photos, which is why the shoelettes look a little short.

these were nice to knit up. i substituted the cotton/ acrylic recommended for pure merino, because it was the colour that was asked for. I think the merino will hold shape better anyway. I also did the ribbing round the foothole with 3.5mm needles. the pattern doesn't call for any change of needle, but i found that resulted in unsightly gaping (imagine i said that in a disapproving, plummy dishwashing detergent ad voice).

i also felt the finished slipper was a little bland looking. i tried threading a ribbon round the ribbing, but it just looked blah. so i settled on little crocheted flowers, with centres made of buttons covered with red tartan. i'm quite proud of the flowers. i can't really crochet and i certainly can't read a crochet pattern to save my life*, so i found an illustrated pattern online, and sort of winged it based on that.

and i was kindly gifted some dark reddish leather to do the soles. i traced the toe and heel part from a pair of ballet slipper-style shoes i own, and then made it look a little smoother.

the left heel in the picture is not terribly discoloured. it's actually wet all through. i started to block the slippers, then realised i wasn't sure that soaking leather was the best idea, so i stopped. but that heel had got wet. as it was, it turns out you can block leather! that heel went nice and smooth and tight, compared to the others. it just takes a few days to dry.

* in my head i've named the stitches. there's 'the ordinary one', and 'the stabby-stabby one', and 'the one that fixes the stabby-stabby one'.