Friday, April 27, 2007

stop that door!

echino fabric mark two:

a pyramid doorstop. i'd intended to put up a bit of a basic pattern and instructions, but getting the points to meet and the little grabby loop to fit in as well turned out to be astonishingly difficult. no instructions could adequately describe the sewing and ripping five times over that i suffered. for this:

(also proof that i made two endpaper mitts. bonus points if you spot the nekkid lady on my singlet before you read this sentence). the doorstop was based on one by Holly Daze, that i saw in a magazine. retailing at $29, and in limited edition hand screenprinted fabrics, i'd recommend a purchased one, if they're sold near you.

in other areas, i have nothing to knit. i'm waiting on yarn from the knithappens sale, i've decided my mystery project (a swing coat) is not really worth my time anymore. i've lost interest. i was thinking of using this up out of my stash: the mystical creations yarn i bought before christmas

silk/ wool blend, and so sticky i think frogging is not really an option. i have about 140 yards. and this yarn reminds me of the ocean. my ideas so far are a lacy capelety thing, a one skein wonder, or a wavy lace scarf... i'm rather leaning towards the cloud bolero... i wonder if a 34" bust could get away with 140 yards? any other suggestions?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

seems i'm not the only hungry one round these parts

again, i spoke too soon about the beets (isn't this gardening caper just a roller coaster of emotion?) seems they didn't like the sun so much. some round the clock emergency watering followed by a good day of rain, and i have thirteen beets looking fine and dandy, and the remaining three that i'd written off show disturbing signs of heaving themselves back to life. surprisingly hardy things.
bad news is that something has discovered my tender young beets and is eating the leaves. oi! snails! those leaves are for me to eat, not you! my snail trap is a miserable failure. i dropped a snail in to check that it worked. s/he wallowed about for a bit in the yeasty, sugary buffet, got bored, and climbed right up the side and back into the garden. i would follow up with a homemade garlic spray on the leaves, except that whatever went through the garden last night ate my garlic shoots too! completely gone! so much for companion planting!
this means war. torn between commercial garlic spray, iron-based pellets (don't hurt the earth-wormies, and add micronutrients) and nasty old-school pellets in a dish. and maybe some copper tape round each seedling for good measure.

on the indoor front, finally, something to show you. endpaper mitts.

in denim blue and plum merino (modelled with broccoli). brand names i can't remember (well, the broccoli was 'Marathon'). the yarns were two different kiwi brands. i knit the cuffs flat, because the 2.00mm dpns i had hurt my hands, and i don't mind seaming. you can just see the mock seam on near the cuff in this photo. the slightly darker line near the bottom of my arm. i also finished the mitts five rows shorter than the pattern said, and glad i am for that. because here's how much blue i had left (imagine me holding my hands about a yard apart. i was going to photoraph my scraps, but a yard of yarn is just not very interesting). i started with about 2/3 of a ball of the blue, for anyone else unwilling to fork out for a whole entire ball of yarn to knit these with.

Monday, April 23, 2007


seems i spoke too soon. all but three of my beet seedlings died in the night. damnit. i think i broke their little rooties when i tried to split up the multiple seedlings in each little pocket of the container.

can't decide whether to try and grow some from seed (no roots to damage), or to give up and plant cauliflower.

change of subject from morbid thoughts of death and damage: giftwrap!

presents that have recently been gifted. all to the same person, actually. since the packages weren't a good shape to stack one atop the other (the needle roll ruined it, also the largest base package was an unframed matted etching, and i was leery of squashing it) i went with two stacked packages; one pink and frou-frou, one blue and kind of spunky. the silver ribbon is just wired, and not tied in a bow, so it sticks up. the pink rosette (is that the right word?) was made by leaving extra long tails. i tied a bow, then tied another bow with the ends of the first, then a third bow with the ends again, then tucked the remaining ends under the rosette to make two more loops. looked very swanky, i thought.

i love the look of beautifully wrapped presents. makes whatever is inside look more special.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

crafting with soil

when we first moved into our place, this is what the garden looked like. only imagine those little sprouty bits of grass weren't there. for my nothern hemisphere readers, that white stuff isn't snow. it's dead grass.

now, i don't actually care much for gardening. but i do care about my belly, and i like filling it with vegie-stuff. and it killed me to have to shell out for fresh herbs (actually, i refused to buy them). so, i zoned in on one particularly large, empty bed. i put manure on it, and mulch (lupin mulch, of course). last week i planted some rosemary and parsley and thyme that mah mum grew in pots for me. they loved it. within two days the thyme was making little baby thymes.
emboldened by my gardening 'sucess' (nothing died within the week), i went out and bought some broccoli, and some beetroot.

i was going to mail order some heirloom beets, but was a bit scared about growing something from seed. when i went to the garden centre, what did lucky ol' me find, but mixed heirloom beet seedlings! i have high hopes for them. there's a regular red one (bullsblood), a white one, a yellow one (golden something), and chioggia. chioggia beets have pink and white rings like a lollipop! i think this is probably a chioggia:

here's out little bed all up.

the brown pot has mint, the purple is a spare rosemary. the really leafy thing is the parsley, and the tall thing to its left is the rosemary. a thyme and a wild alyssium. there's an odd yellow-fruiting chilli to the diagonal right of the parsley. badly coloured boy chose it. you can also see his terrifically complex reticulation system. which will be completely unnecessary once i install the grey water recycling system i bought. all the washing machine and shower water will land on the garden! the brownish stuff in the takeaway container is an organic snail trap. sugar, water and vegemite. so far the only thing to have drowned in it is a cricket.

Friday, April 20, 2007

bits & pieces

there's been no real progress on the knitting front, i'm afraid. too busy. i have managed to bite my nails to pinkish shreds (i'm so good at externalising stress), but you don't want to see that. i showed my friend, and he gasped and made little wincing faces.

instead, i'm going to show you all some Cool Stuff (TM) that ive found recently.

this is a detail from 'Tokyo Winters', a screenprint by Brooke Bobridge. i don't normally do cute, girly art (spending much of one's major analysing Interior Scroll will do that to a girl), but this i could hang on my wall. or any of bobridge's prints, actually. they're a mere $60, signed and numbered, and for sale at Keith & Lottie.

also at Keith & Lottie is this most fabulous t-shirt, by australian designer Princess Tina/ Beci Orpin.

i do not have $69 to spend on a t-shirt right now. if anyone does, please, feel free to purchase it for me. i'd be a medium. and also yours for life.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

i gots a bag!

all finished! i did get the extra fat quarter from C&I. They don't normally sell single fat quarters, but the lady felt sorry for me, so pulled the quarter i needed out of a pack. so or meshell or kita, can one of you make a point of buying the set of three fat quarters when you head down there for some echino goodness?

here's a picture of the other side (BCB still having problems with exposure times on the camera).

the straps are a dark denim-type fabric. they're the ties off a pair of pants i've had for years, and don't wear anymore because i don't like the ties. so i cut 'em off. they were covered in white topstitching which i had to unpick (and replaced with purple). it took a few hours to unpick it all, but, taking a metaphorical leaf out of ysolda's book i downloaded and listened to the first seven chapters of dickens' oliver twist.

it was such good fun. i enjoyed great expectations when i read it (for uni), but dickens works so much better aloud. which is how his work was intended to be enjoyed. his books were originally sold as serials, a chapter a week say, with the idea that everyone would gather round the family patriarch after dinner and listen to him read. in fact, its suggested that dickens didn't plan the entire plotline but rather made it up as he went along, deciding who lived and who died based on how popular certain characters were. just like a modern soapie. the convoluted sentence structure dickens uses is not so disorienting when heard, which means you 'get' the jokes more easily. i was laughing aloud. though, aloud you also notice the cheap sentimentality dickens employed more easily. i finally understand what my lecturers were on about. i wish i'd known about this site before i finished my arts degree.

most of the readers have strong american accents, but i got used to it. they were generally of very good quality. the only reader that took mildly irritating pauses and stumbled on the odd word also did the best character voices, so i forgave her.

the selection of stuff available is okay. i'd love to volunteer to read The Picture of Dorian Gray. or maybe get together with someone to do The Importance of Being Ernest. When i was sixteen i and a friend read Ernest entirely aloud in one go (assisted by a bottle of toffee flavoured liquer), splitting the cast between us on a haphazard basis, so it's certainly doable.

back to uni on monday though, so back to having no time at all.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


i was cutting the fabric for my bag (1 and 3, incidentally, after much handwringing), and i cut the tree & bird panel on the left of design 1 rather off centre. it wasn't my fault. really. because when you turn it over, you can see the red tree print through the fabric, but not the paler, leafy outlined tree. so i cut centring the red tree. which means in order not to sew over parts of the leafy tree, i have a seam allowance of, oh... 2mm?
so i'm going to see if i can get another fat quarter of that print. stupidly expensive, but i figured i'd rather do that than have my fabulous bag bugging the hell out of me every time i used it.
plan b is just to lop half an inch off the bag width, so the bird and tree print is centred on a narrower-than-intended strip, with a little off the leafy tree lopped off, and the red tree butting up against the seam.

i'm also going to topstitch round every square i think. though i'm worried this will look too busy. i'm more worried the weight of my laptop will rip out the seams though.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

a library bag

i've decided that's what my echino fabric will become. not tremendously exciting, but fact is i carry my laptop and papers to uni every day in a calico tote bag/ shopping bag (you know, two rectangles with handles). it is getting so gross and old it is actually worn and discoloured from where it rubs against my hip when i walk.

a swanky new version of the two-rectangles-with-handles is in order, i think. i've decided against a base and 'sides', unless someone can give me a compelling reason why i shouldn't just sew my two rectangles together. it will be lined with pale blue striped shirting fabric.

now, here's where you all come in. i can't decided what patchwork design i like. the front and the back can be different, but here's the options i've narrowed it down to.

i think i like the first, fourth and fifth best. which do you like?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Other Wendydress: Space Invaders

same pattern, but i changed the neck facing. It's a 30" x 5" rectangle, to make a kind of draped funnel-neck. are we loving badly coloured boy and his playing with every portable light source in our house, plus the halogen worklamp he insisted on purchasing just for this purpose? it's a little hard, when he's got the tech skills, and i have the compositional skills and know what about the dress i want to show off. lots of jumping back and forth. also (don't tell him) he doesn't quite have the focus under control yet.

here's the Space Invader dress in full. it's made of grey cotton drill - what schoolboys' shorts are made of. it was the only grey cotton in spotlight. there was a table of scrungy khaki and browns with a sign saying 'winter's hottest shades!' sorry spotlight, but... nup. maybe your buyers want to flick through a fashion magazine every now and then. it'd do a world of good.

one of the best things about this dress is how you can start to take it off, but still look like you're wearing it. that's raglan for ya.

bad girl! *slaps wrist*

i used to be so good with money. now that i'm living below the poverty line (no, no joke) as soon as the stuff is in my grasp it's out again. i cleaned out my drawers on the weekend, and found christmas money i'd stashed with my smalls, then forgotton about.
so today i bought a kit with a quilting ruler, quilting mat and rotary cutter; and some fabric. the kit was because i was driven to distraction making that second needle roll. the fabrics had been cut very unevenly, and i had little to assist me in the creation of straight lines and right angles. and ive bought a copy of In Stitches (see, the money again... *sigh*) and you can make very little out of that book without some things that help you rule straight lines.

then, since i was in the area, i decided to just take a peek in calico & ivy for some inspiration. while i've been wanting some fresh, cool fabric the idea of picking some out online was a bit too much. i wanted someone to just hand me a set of things that looked good together. and C&I have bucketloads of sets of fat quarters. now, for the Crafty Action girls accustomed to C&I service, here's the surprise: they had no fat quarter sets i liked, but i really liked the echino range. so they OFFERED to make me up a set, with AS MANY or AS FEW fat quarters as i liked (i picked four, to be a good girl), and they HELPED me pick a nice set of coordinating pretties. i was very, very impressed. maybe they just prefer quilters to knitters.

so, here's the sixty-four dollar question: what do i make with my fat quarters? they're interior decorating weight cotton. they'd make pretty cushion covers, and the colours are perfect for the living room, but i'm a little tempted by this bag, but then i'm worried the bag is too little for my needs, and the print's too large for the patchwork.

i guess in a perfect world i'd have a pattern for a roomy bag with a soft-ish shape, the potential for a little bit of patch work action, a base, and a zip closure. i guess like this, or this, or maybe this, or even this.
(can you guess who made the last handbag i bought?)

Monday, April 09, 2007

pay no attention to the girl behind the curtain!

i was going to go all high-class model on y'all, but since i wore the dress out for easter breakfast i figured i'd just snap a photo then. bear in mind that i'm feeling a bit queasy from pancakes here, and i am a little worried about how well i'm matching our very late 70s decor.

badly coloured boy an i agreed the dress is alot less Curtain with the red tights. the inevitable contrast lining is here:

the only fabric in the whole of spotlight in that nice plum purple was a poly-cotton pre-crushed number *shudder* so i bought some, and steam-ironed it for a good fifteen minutes. what do you know, pre-crushing ain't so permanent as you might think! the floral was also the nicest thing i've seen in spotlight for a long time.

a tip for anyone else making this dress with the little sleeve ties: when sewing the band (floral) to the band facing (purple), sew it band side up. not the most intuitive way to feed it through the machine (for me, anyway), but much, much easier to get a neat finish next to where the band ends and the sleeve cuts up a bit.

the dress length is squarely between the length of View A and View B on the packet envelope. a length i really like. when you see my grey Space Invader dress you'll get an idea of where View B falls on me.
I also ran the side seams in a little extra on this dress. it seemed a little loose for whatever reason. i mean, i know it's A-line, but it seemed looser than my other dresses.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

i've been a busy 'un

another needle roll, for mah mum (shh! it's a birthday surprise!) check out the awesome water-print (is there a better word for that?) grosgrain ribbon that i found. also, the needle roll tutorial is now illustrated.

i've also made two dresses, but i'm going to let badly coloured boy bring home lots of lights and camera and action to photograph me. also, i'm a little unsure of said dresses. i REALLY liked the grey one, till BCB said it was 'nice, but it does make you look a little stocky'. and the floral one has this awesome graphic print... sadly, i underestimated my ability to look like i'm wearing a curtain. also the neck facing is a bit of a mess, and i don't really care because of said curtainality. i'll let you all judge me when i have photos.

i've also completely finished one endpaper mitt, complete with fancy-pants tubular bind off. i'm a wee bit disappointed. it looks nice, but i'm really not finding it as elastic as everyone seems to think it is. i had to redo both the hand and thumb cast off to make them looser, so the cast off would stretch out enough.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

i have a nakey cushion on my couch/ rambling about pottery

isn't it hilarious? it looks like a paint-by-number with an area left out. however, 'hilarious' is not really the look i'm going for overall. i've been pondering cushion covers for a bit, knit and sewn. i remembered liking some mitred square rugs i'd seen floating about, but a google search threw up an old favourite i'd forgotton about.

excuse the tragic photo quality - blame Interweave, not me. for that's where the pattern's from.
a block of three squares by three squares would fit my cushion insert perfectly, plus use up some of this.

that's all my DK and aran oddballs and stash, with the exception of a single skein of black. i think i may have a colour theme going, huh? take especial note of the two rather garish handdyes, that i made myself.
also take especial note of that you can see of my couscous bowl. i bought that bowl in morocco, and because of its fragile nature i carried on my lap in a bus across the desert for ten days, then took it as hand luggage on two international flights. if my house were burning down, the couscous bowl would be one of the first things i grabbed. i love it to pieces. it cost what felt like alot to my student self (some $70 Australian... about 420 dirham, I guess), but i haven't seen such vibrant, detailed, accurate handpainting on porcelain since, for any price. and the place i bought it from had piles of these bowls, from the ground to knee height, maybe ten or twenty piles, and i never found two with the same design. honestly.
i think maryam could make a bomb exporting the higher quality pottery pieces to fancy homewares store.

oh look, indulge me. here's a picture of the factory (factory? crafthouse? i'm not sure what to call it) where my bowl came from.

these are the unfired pieces. I think the purple goes blue when fired. I can't remember what colour black goes. maybe it stays black. the yellow stays yellow.

Monday, April 02, 2007

mittens for kittens

i'm up to the thumb gusset on these. everything else has been dropped for the joy that is bicolour fair isle. one yarn in each hand, and i can knit like a demon!
i wish there was a little more contract between the colours, but, ah well. lessons learned for next time. pick some really garish colours.