Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I think I'm turning eco-friendly

(that's supposed to be sung to the tune of Turning Japanese).

I got my Lara Cameron Kawaii fabric yesterday. No pics yet, but it is a similar brown to the Kristen Doran. A little more sivery though. Yes, silvery brown. It exists, okay? My solution is to buy some more Echino fabric to lighten up the browns. In red ladybug and green dots.
There's been a lot of buying and not so much making round these parts, if you haven't noticed. I've got a week set aside in early June that will be a week free for me and Mathilda to get reacquainted. So I'm stocking up for then. I'm planning a Built By Wendy top, placemats, table runner, cushion cover, apron and maybe some pyjamas.

I've also been terribly distracted by the challenge of finding the most environmentally friendly shampoo in the world (that I could afford). The finalists were Lush shampoo bars, Natural Instincts and MooGoo. Lush is packaging free, but isn't organic and ontains sodium laureth sulphate (I was also trying to skip the SLS, to see if it makes my scalp happier). MooGoo is oragnic, SLS-free and locally produced (thus saving on transport pollution), but is packaged in plastic and has animal-derived ingredients (resource intensive). Natural Instincts is vegetarian, organic and SLS-free, but comes in plastic. I went as far as buying some Natural Instincts and oo! it gives a lovely wash, but then I heard rumour that part of their proceeds go to a Christian charity. Until I can make sure that it isn't a proselytising charity I won't be rebuying the stuff.
See how difficult this ethical consumption caper is?

On the subject, Ecoyarns are now stocking organic cotton jersey. Looks like they've sold out of plain cotton, and I must admit the stuff is still very pricy (compared to the price difference between regular and organic cotton yarn). But it's a start. Hopefully it'll become more common.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Complex Cable Surgery

I realised yesterday that I'd crossed a cable the wrong way about four rows back. To rip back four rows would mean ripping out my 92 stitch sleeve. Wasn't going to happen. So I dropped back just the stitches involved to fix them. I do this quite a bit in lace and knit/ purl patterns, but I'd never done it in cables before. And while there's plenty of great advice about fixing cables by dropping back the stitches (or cutting and kitchener stitching, or overstitching), the illustrations only ever deal with very simple cables. My mess has other cables hanging about, other crosses to make before I got back to the top, and one pair of stitches were knit on the right side while the others were purl on the right side. It took a while to work out what I was looking at.
My cable surgery took an hour or so, I think. At one point seven needles were involved. Don't you love that despite my awkward situation I still grabbed the camera? I fixed it all up so it looked fine at the front, but there were a couple of weird loops at the back that concerned me, so they all got dropped again. That lengthened the process a little. And a couple of the knit stitches are still 'open' (you know, the oppposite of twisted), but I'm zen with that, all things considered.

I also got another good mail day. Duckcloth/ Kristen Doran fabric. Nicely packaged, and I like that the care instructions were included (machine washable, yeah!).

The fabric is actually a darker brown than this. I'd almost call the colour donkey, or light cocoa. The print is that slightly rubbery kind that sits above the fabric, you know? The detail is very crisp though. The fabric is interior decorating weight - cushion cover or tote bag weight. It's got a kind of sheen to it that I can't quite work out. Different.
I'm thinking it doesn't work quite so well in the living room as I'd hoped (too brown), so I'm thinking the feathers may be part of my placemat/ tablerunner campaign (I'll explain another day); and the flowers maybe will be bag. Because I really like the flowers. And then my Lara Cameron Kawaii (I bought the red) fabric can be the cushion cover (if it isn't too brown as well... hmmm...).

Friday, May 25, 2007


Isn't he lovely? I just bought this from Sugarloop's etsy shop. She really is one of my favourite Etsy sellers (for two reasons, one we're about to get to, the other because of her artwork). Oh, and the price! This came in at the ridiculous price of $20 Australian icluding shipping! Not that I'm complaining about a bargain. I kept umm-ing and ahh-ing over which of her prints to buy, then the one I liked would sell out, so when this one was listed this morning I didn't hesitate over the fact that nothing else in my house was orange, I snapped it up for its fab design. And given the size, I think it will fit into those delightfully low-price Ikea frames that are designed to hold Ikea postcards.

Now, the other reason I like Sugarloop's Etsy shop is to do with 'prints'. Many artists on Etsy sell 'prints'. Unfortunately, from a fine art perspective, what they actually sell is reproductions - a high quality copy (scanned and colour-printed, generally) of an original of their artwork, made in an unlimited/ unnumbered quantity*, sometimes signed. A print, technically, is a piece of art produced in a limited edition multiple, numbered and signed. There's nothing wrong with selling reproductions, but it makes it nearly impossible for those looking for prints to find them, short of searching individually for 'etching', 'linocut', 'gocco', 'screenprint', etc. I was lucky to stumble across Sugarloop.
I wish the terminology on Etsy was more precise, so as to separate out original artworks (prints) from the reproductions.

And many of the artists selling prints made from more accessible methods (gocco, screenprint, photography) don't number their work. I think this is a pity, as it prevents the work being regarded as 'real', collectable art in the traditional sense. When I print-made (what an excellent past-tense) my teacher used to make me destroy the plates/ screens after I completed an edition. And I was just a nobody churning out art to get a grade. He said it was a good habit to get into (and as a printmaker himself, I guess he would know). I personally won't buy a print that isn't numbered. I want to know how many other out there will have a piece of art like mine. Judging by Sugarloop's sucess, limiting the number of prints you make doesn't hurt business. She sells in sets of 80 to 100, generally, but there's no reason that editions can't be bigger. I have other etchings that are from editions of 500 and 1500 respectively. And you don't actually have to make all 1500 in one go. It's just a commitment that you won't make more than that number. And small alterations (hand-colouring part; or changing the ink colour) can justify a new edition.
Perhaps that's old fashioned of me, expecting editions to be limited. Are there other perspectives that defend not numbering works?

* Some reproductions are sold in limited editions too, actually. Banksy, for instance, sells limited edition reproductions (in the form of posters) that fetch high prices. Jury's out on this for me. I have no problem with the practice of selling limited edition repros, but I don't think I'll ever buy one personally. Maybe I'm just an art snob.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Surprise mail!

I have a cold (again!) and was all cranky this morning, then I heard the parcel delivery guy's truck (he never knocks on the door, charming man, just drops the parcel and runs). Thought it might be my Duckcloth fabric, but the package was waaaay heavy. Also it did seem a little over the top to address it 'The Lovely Lupin Bunny' if it was from someone I'd never met. Turned out to be a surprise gift from Badly Coloured Boy's Mum and her partner - a Yates guide! With all the sections on organic gardening, water-wise gardening, no dig gardens (BCB's mum is a big fan of the no-dig garden) and vegie growing bookmarked! How nice is that? Cheered me right up (well, that and the cold'n'flu tablet).

There was also a copy of the film The Machinist in there for BCB.

And here's how the Cardigan for Arwen is progressing. The cabling is not so difficult after all. I've even memorised the eight row repeat! Look at the IK model peering cheekily over the top of my needle. I ran into a friend in the library at uni the other day, and while he had no problem with the knitting, I noticed a supressed smirk at the name of the pattern. I too find the name, Cardigan for Arwen, a bit pretentious and over the top. And I'm not a massive fan of Lord of the Rings either. Never made it through the whole of any of the books or the films. Tried repeatedly with the books too. Any suggestions for an alternative name for my cardigan? I wanted to call it the Little Red Riding Hoodie, but that's already taken.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I say!

Check it out. Locher's are taking the purpose and function of machine embroidery to a whole new level. I rather like some of these, and I really like the idea, but wish I has access to an embroidery machine. None is *quite* perfect (thought I'm seriously tempted by Tops 2 and 3). Some of the phrases are a leetle cliched, or I would be uncomfortable wearing them ('I play rough', fine. 'Good luck, motherf*cker', fine. 'Sorry boys, good girls swallow', not fine in my delicately calibrated offence-o-meter). I don't particularly like those that make the phrase overtly obvious (across the back, say). It takes away from the assumption that it's some girly little slogan dropped 'mongst the flowers.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

things is growing

Remember this? Well, four weeks in an things have grown.

You can tell, right? Well, in case you can't here's what that wussy little beet seedling looks like now. With some garlic to the right of it.

My knitting's grown too. I've finished the back of the Cardigan for Arwen:

Instead of whipstitching up the facing I used a provisional cast on, and just k2tog'ed when the back was the same length as the facing. Neat, huh?
Now I'm onto the cables and, uh, I never thought about it before, but I've never cabled anything more complex than Knitty's Fetching. These cables are really, really hard. Not just complex, but reversible, so I'm throwing a whole heap of unexpected purls into knit rows and vice versa.

I was disrupted from photographing the beets by Badly Coloured Boy arriving home from doing the shopping. When he saw me outside he rapped on the kitchen window and beckoned for me. When I signalled 'give me a minute' he shook his head, and made bunny ears. He bought me a bunny-rabbit! Well, no. Turns out one of our neighbours has just got two biggish kittens and they were exploring our carport. He thought I might want to come and play with them (he was dead right). I love the little kitties, and to make things worse, our lease explicitly allows cats. And one of BCB's friends is trying to find a new home for his kitties Belle (old and fat) and Sebastian (young and springy). It's so tempting, but I have to keep reminding myself I'm allergic. They're fun to play with, not to keep. Whenever BCB says 'No, for your own good' when I ask for a kitty I ask him for a bunny. Today he said 'Well, you better check with the landlord. That's the first step.' That is distinctly not a 'no'. Someone talk me out of saddling myself with a largeish rodent please. Why does 'but I could cuddle it!' seem to outweigh 'food costs money, you might want to move house or even States, it's hard to go on holiday, you're surrounded by predatory cats' on the list of pros and cons?

Friday, May 18, 2007

hip, hip hoo-duckcloth!

Three cheers for my new favourite online fabric store, Duckcloth! Not only do they stock Kristen Doran and a ginormous range of Echino but they have free shipping anywhere in Australia! Yeah, free*! And they’re sooo quick and helpful with the Queries and the Orders and the Customers and the Shipping! And you can get 20% off your order until the end of May if you visit MissyConfidential and find the promotional code! Stop looking at all my exclamation marks and go buy stuff already!

I was also told in response to some comments that I added to my order that they’ll be stocking a couple of other indie fabric designers in the near future, but it’s not very fair of me to say more before they do. You can sign up to their newsletter.

My good self got some Kristen Doran Botanical and Feathers to make a cushion cover for my nekkid cushion. In biscuit and red. But now I wants me some Mollybird print too.

* For the Perth girls who avoid a Certain Fabric Store, this free shipping means you can get the same products delivered right to your door at no extra cost! In fact, the Echino fabric is actually $2 less than That Certain Store charges (though though they don’t have fat quarters, admittedly).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

seven random things

Yep, this meme's still goin'. I'm quite excited - it's the first time I've been tagged. Here goes:

1. Penguin have the publishing rights to a novella I wrote. It won a competition, with part of the prize being that my work was published by them. That bit never happened (unfortunately), and I never asked for the rights back, so technically they still have 'em.

2. I hate the sensation of having toenails. I keep them clipped below the quick all the time. I find having the white bit of the nail quite uncomfortable, especially on my big toes. I think I might have wrecked my feet ballet dancing as a tween, because I mentally associate that discomfort especially with ballet shoes.

3. I am often assumed to be vegetarian, though I'm not. And I never tell people I am. Though as a matter of personal choice I never eat red meat or poultry during the day, and try to eat vego dinners a couple of times a week. The Western world consumes far too much meat. And I only eat free range, if I can help it (though if you invite me round for dinner I'll eat your factory chicken without saying a word). Badly Coloured Boy and I eat kangaroo instead of beef, as it's a far more environmentally friendly meat for Australians to consume. Astonishingly high in iron and low in fat too. One day I'll blog about about the benefits of roo for your general edification.

(gosh, this is quite hard! Harder than I expected!)

4. I'm an only child. Make of that what you will.

5. Sometimes I read the birth notices in the newspaper and count how many children have a name with an inappropriately placed X or Y in it, then work out that number a percentage of children in the birth notices.

6. I'm going to buy a new pair of sneakers tonight. The streetwear kind (I don't exercise...). It will be my first new pair of sneakers since 2001, which is pretty awful, considering I wear them nearly every day.

7. I learnt to knit with fluffy blue acrylic/mohair on yellow needles with pineapples on the ends. The yarn got snagged on the pineapple leaves alot.

So, am I interesting enough for y'all?

my new favourite place to shop

On Kita's recommendation I went to Textile Traders yesterday. They're a chain of fabric shops in Perth which, unlike Spotlight (our other big chain) are situated awkwardly in semi-industrial areas (for the most part). But I was big and brave and drove on the freeway and it was worth it.
They had Michael Miller, Robert Kaufman, Denyse Schmidt, Andover Mills and Moda (I know, I'm mixing designers and manufacturers) quilting cottons for between $3.50 and $10 a metre!
I gots these:

Half a metre of Michael Miller Eiffel Towers, half a metre of Andover girl-faces, two metres of Moda Happy Go Retro, and two metres of Denyse Schmidt Retro Flea Market. For $12.75! Admittedly, the Moda has a flaw which I didn't notice until I got home - a small white fleck at regular intervals down the print, but as it falls right on the fold line it will end up in the seams of anything I make, I figure. The others are fine.
I held off on the Retro Rocket Michael Miller print (I don't actually like it much, but I have flannelette pyjamas made out of a very, very similar print, and I was kind of excited by making something that matched my PJs... till I realised I didn't really want something that matched my PJs).
I broke my 'no yellow' rule for the Retro Flea Market. I hate yellow, as a general rule, so if I'm momentarily attracted to a yellow something I try not to buy it. Because guaranteed I'll dislike it when I get it home. But this matches my kitchen real well, and is kind of apricot, not yellow. Right? It's going to be an apron and an oven glove, I think. And maybe the backs of some placemats if I have enough over.
Any ideas on what to do with the rest? I bought the Moda imagining it as pyjamas, but maybe something else is a better idea? I can't turn the Eiffel Towers into anything homewaresy - just as I have an irrational hatred of yellow, so does Badly Coloured Boy feel the same way about pink. So, no towel trim or cushions or anything.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


this is the handbag I use every day. See how the fabric is wearing away around the knot? You can't really tell from this photo, but it's also quite a grotty colour (washing machine has failed to fix this), and the fabric is also literally wearing away where it rubs against my hip (see the white flecks on the aqua part of the middle flower?)

Thing is, it's so roomy. It fit a water bottle and a lunch box and an umbrella and two glasses cases and my wallet and my phone and two sets of keys and some other sundry bits and pieces, despite looking no larger than the average bag. It's like a Tardis-Bag. I think it's because it has a base on it that's the size of a small dinner plate.
I figured I'd use it until the end of this year, then carefully unpick it for the pattern.
The other joy of this bag, however, is the pattern. I love it. It actually matches most things I own. It's bright, and it gains attention.
Well looky what I found:

Okay, this one has been sold, but the lovely NeverEnoughHours has others in her etsy shop in other colours. Maybe she will make another in the blue floral? I love the shape of the bag. And the kicker? She lives right in my city! It's like it was meant to be. Okay, I would need to (a) save up/ work a little extra (story of my life); (b) ask her to try and dump the contents of her life into the bag to check it's large enough for me (I think it is); and (c) enquire about a zip (prone to running, throwing bag on ground with gusto, carrying valuable loose in handbag, etc).
But I am very, very excited.

aside, here's what I gave mah mama for mother's day (unrotated, because I'm lazy). Note that the giftwrap from my work matches the complimentary 'thanks mum' sticker issued by head office (without knowing what colour wrap we had) which matches the Lotta Jansdotter notecard that I had in my stationery stash.

Also note my wonderful cloth napkins, which I use as placemats when guests come over.

Monday, May 14, 2007

little odds and sods

I'm not going to complain about the yarn to Mystical Creations. Seems their customer service and yarn generally is of not great quality, and I don't think I'll gain anything by contacting them. Ah well. Learns me for not researching before I buy.

I am rather loving this new blog (though perhaps just because she has the same Ikea boxes as me? Though mine are navy and baby pink). Go and check it out.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

MCY - Mystically not Colourfast Yarn

I finished the cloud skein wonder, washed it and laid it out to block. An awful lot of blue came out the in the washing (water, no soap or detergent). Shmeh, I thought. It's hand-dyed. A little excess is bound to come out.
However, I didn't expect that so much dye would come out that the front of the cloud skein wonder would look slightly faded, while the back which (being 'underneath' when blocking, and thus where gravity took what water i didn't squeeze out) would end up a much more intense colour. See the line across the sleeve?

Not a shadow. A tidemark from where the dye leached from and to. After I squeezed out all excess water. That's not a little bit of excess dye. It dyed my towel too. I am seriously unimpressed, and join the ranks of those who wouldn't buy Mystical Creations Yarn again. There's more dye movement than after my DIY Kool-Aid experiments, for feck's sake! I can't decide whether to drop them a (whinging) line or not.

Anyway, here's the finished thing. Quite pretty, if you discount the dye difference. Not that i can wear it out anywhere it might get a little bit damp. I fancy my clothes not adulterated with more blue-green dye.

In better news, I've started playing with all the debbie bliss cashmerino aran I got on sale. Unfortunately, I was unaware of its reputation for pilling. however, two gauge swatches (yes, two! i'm trying to do this proper) went through the washing machine no problem. No fuzzing, no colour running (take that, MCY!) Though the yarn does feel a bit funny to work with. My fibre research has told me that microfiber (a pretty large percentage of cashmerino) is known for wicking moisture away. So I think the odd feeling is the yarn sucking away at any sweat/ oils on my fingers. This is the start of the cardigan for Arwen, from Winter Interweave Knits. Nice and casual (so if it pills, I'll still wear it to uni), but an unusual construction that I hope will teach me to understand short rows better.

I've been messing about with combination knitting, to see how I like it and how it works with my RSI. I might have tried to knit the whole thing combination-style, but I've discovered that the yarn is so smooth and regular and I'm so skilled that I can - wait for it - read and knit at the same time! Vistas open before me! Mostly vistas of spiral-bound uni readers right now, but eventually I imagine getting through books for work while making myself a useful garment at the same time.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

noro ponderables.

Yes, I'm back. I'm obviously alive and recovering (if you discount the traffic jam in my sinuses) (and no thanks to the lurkers who didn't wish me well *sniff* we can tell who won't be inheriting what stash I have, should the next sickness carry me off), but there were a few leery moment there. I called in sick to work. The first time in eight years I've done that. The twenty hour period where my physical illness was compounded by the discovery that I had completely failed to complete (or even start) an tutorial paper due last Thursday was a particularly squicky moment. Adding anxiety-based stomach cramps to fever and sniffles isn't fun kids. Don't try it at home.
However, that's all sorted out now, I'm on the mend, the sun is shining again.

I'm trying to work out what to what to do with my new yarn. I'm a little unsure whether the Noro colourway is too pretty for me, or a little too intense as a piece of clothing.

What do we all think? I would wear any of the colours individually, I just worry that all together it's a little... well, that felt-art-and-macrame-lovin' bogie is rearing her head again, y'know?
So I'm not going to leap straight into Tithe just yet. I was browsing Flickr to see what other people made with their Noro (in short: entrelac scarfs and Lizard Ridge throw rugs), and I found this:

The original page is just here, but I wanted to post the actual image, so those of you who are too lazy to follow a link still got to see. The model/ designer, TamaraKnits has some lovely knits. It's a pity she doesn't blog.

Isn't the intarsia an unusual use of the slow colour changes in noro? I'm quite intrigued by it. I think it looks great, and is very, very clever. I've also decided that I like Noro striped (alternating with itself or a plain yarn), but not cabled or lace-knit. So that narrows down any potential wearables a little (with Tithe still being a distinct possibility, if I head down the wearables road).

Friday, May 04, 2007


I'm sick. I'm horribly sick. This is no ordinary headcold, I seem to have caught some kind of mutant crossbreed of SARS and birdflu. My gums and the roof of my mouth are all tender and I am so thirsty. I feel like I've eaten a bag of salt. My thought processes are slow and plodding. Normally being inside my head is quite exciting. Not quite as exciting as being inside, say, Bjork's head, but there's a few things going on at once normally. Now my synapses are not so much firing as smouldering gently when they collapse on top of each other in a wearied heap.

i have curled up in bed with this:

my legs are actually under all that. the cloud skein wonder and my knit happens order, which arrived today (awesome. it arrives on the one day that I'm too sick to care). the noro silk garden is very pretty. perhaps a bit too pretty for my tastes usually. I'm rethinking making tithe, and thinking (very slowly, oh, so slowly it hurts... *sneeze, sniffle*) about making, like, a cushion cover and striped jumper. Maybe. I'll make a final decision when my zombie self is replaced with my real self again. the cashmerino aran is going to become this. Or if gauge doesn't work out, maybe arwen's cardy, from interweave knits.

I was going to go on for a little longer, but even my lying-in-bed-typing strength is fading. so farewell. If I never post again you'll know I succumbed to the fever. Make sure I get a nice obituary in the paper. And mention how I died. It drives me crazy trying to guess that when I read other people's obituaries.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Turns out MCY yarn can be frogged, which is handy, given that some of this yarn has now been knit and ripped five times. It's patently clear from the picture that I'm knitting a Frankenstein mash of the cloud bolero and the one skein wonder, right? which means I'm putting a feather and fan pattern into the one skein wonder, having thieved the idea from the cloud bolero.

It looks like something, right? Something that's not just a mess, I mean. I'm a little worried that uneven single ply yarn + lace = something 'bohemian' that a middle aged 'artistic' lady who also enjoys felt art and macrame might make. I'm also a bit worried about my ability to increase in lace. My skills so far have been responsible for all the ripping. I tried reading eunny jang's articles on increasing/ decreasing in lace patterns, but I think they're something I need to come back to another time. for now they're doing my head in.

See my pretty stitch markers? The ones that aren't loops of wool? Easter gift from someone in my stitch'n'bitch. Aren't they lovely? First time i've ever used 'proper' stitch markers, let alone pretty ones. I'm quite sold on them, I think.

I had this terrible gardening emergency yesterday (yes, more on my garden. I've got self sprouting sweet potato and garlic too now). The mulch has been growing this weird white fungus, but in the past 48 hours, due to pretty much constant rain I guess, the fungus went WILD. It was EVERYWHERE! Including on my plants! Growing on my living plants, but actually killing them off! There was nothing I could do to stop it! Maybe it was even poisonous to me, and I shouldn't even be outside breathing in the spores! I rang my mum, who said that a little fungus was normal, a lot was not. She'd never seen it kill plants. She recommended that i ring bunnings. I rang my local bunnings, who told me fungus was normal and good. Unconvinced, I rang a different bunnings, who doubtfully told me that maybe copper oxychloride would kill it. A quick google revealed copper oxychloride is for killing black spot fungus on rosebushes. Not deadly white grows-on-mulch-and-my-plants fungus. No good. I ring the people that made the mulch! The lady that answers gives me her husband' mobile number. This is an emergency! The guy has no idea what it is, has never heard of it. He's quite hopeful it's the delightfully named dog's vomit slime mould, but descriptions don't match. He tells me to pop down to my local indie garden centre. It's raining and I have no car. But this is an emergency! Heirloom beets are at stake! I throw some dead, fungus laden leaves in a plastic bag and set off in the sleet.
I find the guy at the local garden store. I explain my predicament.
"That fungus is normal. It's good for the plants."
"But it's KILLING them! Look"
He inspects my bag of leaves.
"Uh, nope. You're killing them. They've got collar rot. The fungus has grown on them because you put the mulch too close to the stems, and that also caused collar rot. The fungus by itself doesn't do anything."
"oh. you sure?"
I went home a moved the mulch away from my plants. Periodically I also go outside and bash away at the larger patches of fungus with my trowel. More to make myself feel better than anything else. One beetroot fell victim to collar rot, everything else seems to be doing okay.