Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cinderella Syndrome

I find myself unexpectedly attending a ball, and in typical fairytale style I have nothing to wear. And given that a fairy godmother seems unlikely to step forward I am reliant upon my own wits and skill.
Now, in an ideal world I'd be able to make this in time (view D, with the flowing cummerbund of course).

But that pattern isn't even available in Australia yet. And said ball is next Friday. I need to get creative quickly. And given I'll have no time to search for nice fabric, I think I'm going to have to get upclose and personal with... satin. That most unforgiving and unflattering of fabrics.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Interweave knits preview

Is up. It's a nice enough issue, though there's little in it I would personally knit. Except this. Eunny Jang's (of course) Tangled Yoke Cardigan. Isn't it fabulous? Do you think it would be more fabulous if the cuffs and bands were tipped in a colour just one shade different from the main colour? (I'm imagining red and fuchsia pink, I think).

There's also the question of yarn subs. It's a DK weight tweed. I wish that O-Wool Balance would fit into my budget. Jo Sharp Silk Road Tweed leaps to mind. Anything else? Anything - dare I say it - cheaper?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sophia Coppola Collection - Marie Antoinette Pt 2

So, we all remember the skirt that formed the first part of the Marie Antoinette collection, yes? Well this top is the second. Builty By Wendy 3964. Damn I found this puppy difficult. It is really, really hard to set in that yoke. And, to boot, the entire yoke, front and back, is lined. Looks much neater, sure. Very hard to match the front and back (there was some sneaky handsewing of errant pieces). I used the Eiffel tower print by Michael Miller, and some cheapy black and white gingham from Spotlight. Hence the French theme, see?
I also sewed some extra ties, and added those into the side seams around the bust. Having a sash to tie the thing back makes it a lot less shapeless. While I like it, and I'll wear it, I think I'm over BBW's sort of shapeless sack-garments. Oh, and one sleeve is folded up in that photo. Sorry.

And, an interruption in your usual crafty transmission by way of public service announcement.

The cervical cancer vaccine is free for Australian women 18 - 26. Just rock up at your GP's, or even a family health clinic (I think) and ask for the jabs. It's a series of three over six months (you can get SMS reminders to book your next appointment), and it feels no worse than a tetanus shot. I should know. That's me with the campaign's 'I did it' bandaid (that's what it says beyond the blurs).
It protects against 70% of HPVs that cause cervical cancer, and 80% of HPVs that cause visible gential warts. And it was developed in good ol' Perth. What's not to love?

disclaimer: I didn't realise how blurry these photos were till just now. Again, I blame my photographer. He may be a wonderful first AD, gaffa and editor, but cinemtography will never be his forte.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Here are some of my Babette squares laid out. I didn't bother pulling out all the two-round squares. The blotchy square in the upper right uses up some of my handdyed yarn, as does the orange and pink square in the lower left. What are we thinking about the colours so far? I worry it somehow doesn't look cohesive. It's kind of fun though, and uses up all my spare yarns (it chews through them, actually).
I have some 4ply purple that I might double up and use a bit too.

The colours were chosen to match my bedspread, which is sage green and beige and kind of metallic (that's the best way to describe it. It isn't shiny, or satiny or anything) and so very difficult to match colours with. I've decided fuchsias, beiges (boring!) and aquas work with it all right. But then of course I worry the whole thing looks too feminine for Badly Coloured Boy. Luckily he's colourblind. I haven't asked him, but he probably thinks all those pinky-purples are actually 'reddy-blues'. He has trouble seeing secondary colours as something other than a composite of primaries. So while pink ('light red') is disliked, pinky purple isn't, because it isn't pink at all. It's a 'light reddy-blue'. Does that make sense? No? Ask to borrow him sometime, take him to the towel displays in a department store, and ask him to name each colour... Hours of fun.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Spidersknit's mama has been a silk painter for a long time, and Ms Spidersknit has been trying to 'splain that the same dyes will do for sock yarn, and sock yarn can be a surprisingly lucrative business. So last night Spiderknit's mama (whose name I never found out, actually) brought her first tries to our S'n'B, where they were snapped up in minutes. Being a half hour late, this was the only yarn left! (Not that I'm at all complaining. It would have been my pick of the bunch anyway). Can you believe this is her first try at dying? No? Well, let's compare it to this esteemed knitter's first try at dying.

Now do you see?

The yarn will become my first pair of socks. Undecided between Monkey and Jaywalkers (look, I might as well go with a winner, seeing as how the other sock I've knitted turned out).

Monday, July 16, 2007

More from the garden

This is terrible of me - I have two sewing projects still to show off, and I've started on a Babette blankie, but I'm showing off the garden instead (why? Because I can still get decent light outside, and I think it's interesting).

The first thing I planted after we moved was a lavender. I wanted to test my green thumbs, and figured that if some fool put our washing line over a garden bed, at least I'd scent my sheets with something. It's just put on its first show of blooms. I'm not sure how the lavender gets from this (click to see the individual little pale blue blue flowers):

to those sort of long, scented pod-things that are dried lavender.

It's surprised and embarassed me to realise how little I know about the process of growing, actually. I know what a fully-fledged broccoli looks like, but I really had trouble imagining how it would grow - would it be shrouded in leaves until it burst into, ah, ripeness? Turns out no - you get a weeny little pale broccoli and (hopefully) it gets bigger.
See that yellowy-green bump right in the middle of all the leaves? Yes. That's a bubba broccoli.

I've been on caterpillar duty these last few days. My big broccolis haven't had any cabbage moth caterpillars, but the littler ones further down the bed have. The only organic way to get rid of the 'pillars is to hand-pick and hand-squash (and the vegetarians say they don't kill things to get their meal!) Needless to say, the task is incredibly distasteful. I use a paper towel as a barrier between me and bright green caterpillar guts. I read that leaving the dead caterpillars on the leaves discourages moths from laying their eggs, but I don't think it worked. And it was kind of extra-gruesome, trying to wipe these mangled bodies onto the leaves. So now I just bury them. I'd leave them for the birds, but I've also been spraying with petroleum oil (organic gardeners can use that) for aphidy-things, and I worry that while the caterpillars are immune to the oil, the birdy eating them would not be.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

tres exotique

I said ages ago I was going to blog about the crafty things I bought on my Big Europe (and Africa) Trip a year and a half ago. There wasn't a whole lot of stuff, because at the time I didn't knit quite to obsessively as now, and I didn't sew at all.

Nonetheless, in the Liberty after Christmas sales I knew I was onto something when I saw women carrying STACKS of pre-cut pieces of Liberty print fabrics. I just about died at the price (even at half price, the cost of a pre-cut metre seemed abhorrent). Couldn't understand why women were walking out with twelve, fourteen pieces. I contented myself with a single piece of the Ianthe print. It's a pretty iconic art nouveau Liberty print - they also emboss it on journal covers and photo albums, and recently I saw a girl in Perth wearing the most amazing sundress with the Ianthe print blown up so a single repeat took up the whole length of the skirt. Recently when I unfolded and measured the piece I discovered it's actually about a metre and a half long. Generous metre.

The spools are Moroccan silk, for embroidering special-occasion djellabah (kaftans). I was suspicious as to whether they were actually silk, but the fact that a burn test didn't smell bad, and that they are wrapped around spools of bamboo (indicating they've likely come from China) would seem to point to real silk. Thing is, they were 80c a spool, Australian. So, 60c American? (Probably four or five times that if you aren't accompanied by a guide who genuinely seemed to have some kind of mafia connections - only time ever that we paid local prices). They're unplied, and made up of so many fine filaments I honestly can't work out how you'd embroider with them. And they're sold in every single colour. I was told the metreage to a double-spool, but I can't remember it. Something very long, anyway.

Don't mind my washed-out face a bit. That's just the flash. Look at the store/ stall! Makes Gutterman thread look a bit limited, doesn't it? And there were three more just like it nearby.

If anyone has great ideas on what to make with my fabric and/ or my thread, do speak up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Arwen finished

There. In all her dim, unphotographable-red glory. Yes, she's very snuggly; yes, she pills like a bi-atch. I am impressed at how flattering complete shapelessness is (it is a series of rectangles). I have abandoned my plans to add toggles and i-cord loops for fastening. I just pin it closed with that awesome bunny rabbit brooch I wore in the Marie photo too.

I think she's my favourite handknitted jumper right now. Well, the only real competition is the Candygan, so that doesn't mean much.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sophia Coppola Collection - Marie Antoinette Pt 1

woola! After collapsing in a heap on Friday night, crawling under my doona and making Badly Coloured Boy come home from his night out to cook me some broccoli and parmesan, I was recovered enough on Saturday night to go out, wearing my new Burdastyle skirt. Made from pink and silver upholstery fabric from Spotlight that reminded me of the fabric in the dresses in Marie Antoinette (costuming being the best thing about that film). I know grey tights would have looked better (I'm dying for heavy grey ribbed cotton tights, like really long ribbed socks, but can't find them anywhere) but beggars, choosers. Black's what's in my drawer.

The skirt really was super-beginner level. It's awesome to find something so fashionable that's suitable for those of little skill. The pattern printed off the internet just fine, went together, no complaints there at all. I'm a convert to the free, printable pattern now (I used to think it was a hassle, and it probably still is if the garment is like that Galliano jacket from a couple of years back; but this had three pieces). The instructions are translated from German (I think) and do get a little bit mysterious in places (putting in the zip, the lower hem facing), but I was able to work through it using my superior Skillz of Logica. Warning though! There's hand finishing of the bottom hem.

I actually ended up making two skirts. I made the one for my hip size according to the pattern first (12), and decided after putting the zip in that it was too big, but so pretty that I should go to the effort of remaking it in my size. Luckily I bought the fabric as a remnant, and had just enough left for another go in my ready-to-wear size (10). Much better result.

I warn against wearing this anywhere you need to walk alot or quickly. The shape means the lower hem circumference is remarkably small. It acts like a hobble skirt. If you have to go the bathroom, the skirt won't scrunch up over your hips - it has to be unzipped and pulled down. But the latent fetishist in me loves restrictive clothing, so I happen think that's kind of cool, albeit frustrating when you go to dinner with three tall boys in jeans.

Other news? Beet harvest time! Turns out they weren't red, pink & white, yellow and white at all. I think they may have cross-pollinated at the seed raising centre, because we had dark red with purple leaves, regular red with green leaves, and pink & white stripes (chioggia). Above is a chioggia. They were sweeter than commercial beets, except for one that tasted kind of bitter. Something had been eating part of it underground, and I think the beet reacted by turning yuck *nods*