Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who could ever throw away Kaffe?

I stopped off at the annual Save the Children book sale at uni the other day. It opened on the weekend, so I missed all the best books, but I did pick up Vogue Knitting 1930s - 1980s Volumes 1 & 2 (weirdly enough, I already have 3, and 3 wasn't there). I also got Glorious Colour by Kaffe Fassett. Whoever did the pricing knew their craftspeople, because although the same size, shape, and era as the VKs it was twice the price. It's a big fat hardcover with knitting and needlepoint patterns (sometimes interchangeable charts) produced for his first ever exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum (my absolute favourite museum in the entire world, by the way).

Now, it might be from the 1980s, but seriously amazing design just can't date. Look at the Juliet Coat (first designed for a stage production).

And because the idea of his exhibition was that he was inspired by the V&A, there are heaps of shots of his work and parts of the collection that inspired it.

I love love love Kaffe. I really do. And, in an interesting aside, a while ago I read a comment by the lady that designed Babette that said she was inspired by Kaffe. Easy enough to see, given the geometry and colour. But might it not have been this exact design, do you think?

(actually, there's a design featured, The Stamps Shawl, that is even more similar to Babette in design, but there isn't a large, clear shot of it that I could photograph).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The problem with Ravelry

is that there are just too many options - too many yarns, too many patterns, to many links to places to buy. It does my head in. I read somewhere that humans get confused and unable to make a choice if presented with more than X number of options. I can't remember what X was, but I'm pretty sure the choices on Ravelry > X (oh, yeah! Maths!)
This explains why you get overwhelmed when looking at 48 brands of olive oil in the supermarket, by the way.

Anyway, my dilemma is that I'm in terrible danger of developing a stash. Normally I buy yarn for one project as I near the end of another, and it is for a specific project I have in mind. But right now I want to buy yarn for Rogue, and the tangled yoke cardigan, and maybe an as-yet-undecided Ysolda pattern too... But I'm all confused as to how and when I will make these things. And when I tell myself to just pick one, well, I can't.

I like the idea of knitting something pretty and neat like the tangled yoke cardie, but then I'd probably get more wear out of Rogue, even thought I like to imagine I always dress prettily. But then, is it worth making Rogue in a handwash only yarn? It seems like the kind of jumper I'd want to be able to throw in the machine, so maybe should make the cardigan. And although I wear a lot of hoodies now, will I wear so many next year when I have to wear a suit five days a week? So maybe it should be the cardigan... but then that's still handwash... and so it goes in circles...

Monday, August 27, 2007

On onionskins and madder and alum and cutch

Well, not so much on the knitting front. My new needles (to finish my socks) still haven't turned up. I have a lot more babette squares. So many that I'm running out of yarn at an alarming rate. I grabbed some acrylic scraps at mum's last night, but I still need to go buy some more (wool) yarn. The acrylic because, well, hell it was free, and it was a startlingly good match for some hand-dyed yarn I'm running out of. Not quite as hot or pale, but it was two shades of pink and mauve in very short repeats. Not a bad match for a complete coincidence.

I'm also on a big search for naturally dyed yarns. Why? Oh, just because I can. They're not necessarily any less toxic than acid dyes, but I like the muted colours, and the depth, and the relatively limited palette. I think what attracted me was the yellow dyes. I detest yellow in virtually all its forms normally, but in natural dyes the yellows are quite attractive to me.

So far I've found some at NatureSong, and some at FreshIsle Fibers, while a few dyers over at Ravelry have assured me they're working on natural dye batches right now and will list them in the next few weeks.

And I'm dipping my toe (almost literally) in the natural dye caper myself, with onion skin dye. Apparently it isn't particularly lightfast, but it is the only natural dye that uses a common household foodstuff (vinegar) as a mordant. I'm just doing up a single ball to do toes and heels on socks, because I kind of like contrast toes and heels, and I don't want yellow socks. So they won't see a whole lot of light anyway.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A sock! I gots a sock!

I finished my first Anastasia sock today. It fits and all! I'm quite pleased. Unlike my first ever sock, of which no photographic evidence exists. It made my foot look like an overstuffed chorizo sausage. It was really unpretty. Y'know, unlike these carefully styled, magazine-quality shots. Oh hell, it'd probably be good enough for American Apparel, so shut up.

There'll be a weeny hiatus on my knitting the second sock though, because I haven't got a replacement needle yet. I finished the top of the leg with only four, but I don't want to start a sock that way.

Crossways in Subiaco didn't have any 2.25mm or 2.5mm dpns, and the last pair of 2.5mms at Calico & Ivy were the ones that I bought and that went ker-snap (and they don't have 2.25mm there either). So I've internet ordered. From TapestryCraft. Both sizes. It's really hard to find places that stock .25mm increments! Not a single ebay store selling those desirably cheap needles from China did, though some stores had 2.25mm and some had 2.5mm (here's another pic for luck).

I've enjoyed this sock caper. Having seen the way mah mama fondled my new Claudia's Handpainted and heard the way she wistfully said '[My friend's] socks are all handknitted... do these skeins do one or two socks each?' I think some socks for her are next up after the second Anastasia. And unlike some big investment like a jumper, socks are relatively small and sweet. Concentrated love, as it were. Yep, I think I'm a sock convert. Because after the Mumsocks (Charade, I think?) I'm planning to Kool-Aid dye some lovely pure merino I have and turn them into lacy socks for me.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Quilting, hey?

There's a special on a fat quarter bundle at Hancock's of Paducah that brings the Moda American Jane prints down to about $6.50 a metre (plus postage). Why is that so terribly tempting? What would I do with 30 fat quarters? And why does 'make a quilt!' seem like a reasonably answer to that question? Maybe because I've been suckered in by American Jane's distressingly fab quilt patterns. Old fashioned, but not too kitschy.

(I'm feeling much better now. Trying desperately to catch up on uni work. I've never had a full week off uni (or highschool, for that matter) for illness in my life).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

If my tonsils were any larger

they could probably reach out of my mouth and type this entry on their own.

I'm feeling incredibly sorry for myself. Sleeping fourteen hours a day since Sunday. My throat hurt so much it made me cry. And it did this awkward spasming thing at the doctor's reception so that instead of saying 'I have an appointment' I made this gagging, gasping noise instead. And just as my throat got better, I started throwing up instead.
I think this might be an actual case of the flu, not the trumped up colds that most people call flu. It seems to have been going round uni.

And last night Badly Coloured Boy sat on the couch to comfort me, except he sat on my sock instead and snapped one of my dpns. Which are a bi-atch to find in this city.

Oh, did I mention that I'm in the midst of job interviews right now too? Yeah, wicked.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Here you go...

One self-made dress. Two, actually. The person in the white dress to the left is my best friend from primary school, and that dress she's wearing is her first ever shot at sewing something. I love this girl for spending $250 on the best quality sequinned fabric and silk lining that she could find when she's never sewn clothes before ('well, it wasn't all on fabric - I had to buy thread and a tape measure and pins and all that stuff too. That adds up!). I think we could all learn from her confidence.

I had to blur her face (not something I've ever done before) because she was unhappy about 'being on the internet', and I couldn't crop her face without cropping half my dress. Yep, she reall is that short. Her heels were a lot higher than mine too.

Now, mine. You can pretty much see how it works, even though the metallic thread (and this weird sort of frosted white thread) in the lace reflects back and erases any detail. It's a pretty flattering design, I think. Beware though, it is split up the front to here *indicates a mere couple of inches from the top of her thigh*. The dress and slip have enough fullness to them that one is only at risk of revealing oneself when seated, though. The skirt on the slip follows the same pattern as the dress - the bodice kind of scoops down below your butt, then a short, roughly rectangular panel makes the actual skirt. I really like the line the scoopy-butt-seam makes (yes, I think that is the technical term). Said seam then pulls up towards the ruches at the front (you can kind of see a diagonal line going across my body from my hand to the centre front of the dress?) The slip is completely backless, eliminating any hope of wearing a regular bra. The straps go over the shoulder, then around under the arm to join the front of the slip below the armpit. Yep, that backless.

You can't see it in the photo, but I ended up wearing a little rectangular vintage rhinestone brooch over the ruching. The design looks a little bare without something there, I think (though Badly Coloured Boy always point out that in his opinion it looks like I'm deliberately marking the location of my girly-parts for the benefit of anyone I meet. This observation is possibly the only thing that puts me off this dress).

Colour-wise: The hotel waitstaff had one woman whose job was to go to each table, find the people who pre-ordered vego meals, and note down what they were wearing so the waitstaff delivering the meals could elegantly give everyone the right food without asking who was who. Once Vego-Finding-Lady found me she kind of pulled back looking puzzled - 'Uh... what colour are you wearing?' I told her just to note I was the redhead at our table and she sighed at me and told me that the boy-waiters were too aesthetically ignorant to even identify a redhead (!). She eventually put me down as 'lace dress'.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Gown photo soon kids, promise. In signature style, I thought I could knit for half an hour before I got ready... cue me running out the door for the taxi trailing a lot of weirdly unnecessary things (I ended up with smalls in my clutch... *looks puzzled*), but sans camera. Luckily for you lot, about a squillion lovely boys and girls snapped my pic, so one at least should be full-length. Just a matter of waiting for uploads.

And I was right to get a new pair of shoes. I got a whole glass of wine tipped down the back of my right leg into my shoe, and some guy stood on both my toes at once - his left foot on my left foot, his right foot on my right foot. Ouch!

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Shoes

Alright, not so crafty. But I do love new shoes so. very. much. I actually don't buy new shoes too often, but I lust after them a lot. I 'needed' new evening shoes for the ball tonight, as currently my black evening shoes and my job interview shoes are the one and same, and given that (a) last time I went to this ball someone in stilettos stepped on my foot, I didn't notice, and I bled through my shoe so much I had to throw them out; and (b) I have three job interviews in the next fortnight, it seemed like two separate pairs might be in order.

So I got these.

Even Badly Coloured Boy looked at them and said 'hey, that's that style you've been wanting for months.' Uh-huh. Little chubby heel (I don't do stiletto), lace up, feminised oxford (I already sort of have a pair of feminised oxfords in tan... and I could go more. My favourite shoe style ever). Maybe not traditionally evening-y, but with that Vogue dress and some seamed tights I hope it will work. Isn't the curve around the back of the foot and into the heel just to die for?

The lower foot is the evening shoe as seen from above. The upper shoe is my new bookwench shoe. I realised my current work shoes have a split heel (I realised when I stepped in a puddle and got damp socks), so it was two pairs in one day (a rare luxury). Bookwench shoes are a style specific to youngish booksellers, see (identified and named by the probably more shoe-enthusiastic Ms Vyvyan*). They must be flat, to assist with the sprinting about the store (yes, I run in the bookshop. Customers are not permitted such freedom). They must accomodate stupid socks and tights of all descriptions (self-imposed uniform, worn with skirts and woolen cardigans and glasses - people take your opinions more seriously if you looked like you might have had tea with Agatha Christie), and they must have a retro, bookish charm. Tick, tick and tick.

* potentially not work-safe. But I thought credit where credit is due.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Anastasia Socks

Remember I got that handpainted yarn a couple of weeks back? Well my babette blankie has gone on hold while I make socks (that's okay - I always intended it as an interruptable project). I wanted to make jaywalkers, but wanted them toe-up. Using the universal sock pattern on knitty, and the gauge of the chevron pattern I would up with stocking stitch toes that would be an appropriate fit on Badly Coloured Boy (and his men's size eleven puppy-feet)... I'm not sure how to fix that problem.

So I swapped for Anastasia, simply because I was hitting gauge, they were toe up, I had the right size needles, and it looked nice with variegated yarn.

I personally have never had a problem with turning heels (well, you can see a weird hole in the corner there, but I don't find the process scary/ difficult), it's the getting-socks-to-fit bit that trouble me. Which is why I'm very pleased with how these look. Now I just have to get used to wearing woollen socks. Did I mention they're really not the norm in these deserty climes?

(and about my evening dress - I'll take photos tomorrow night when I'm all dolled up. And wearing my new shoes. I really, really like these new shoes).


So, a while ago when the new Norah Gaughan for Berocco booklet came out, I lamented on Ravelry that good ol' Berocco won't ship internationally. Seaanemone came to my rescue, and offered a swap. So here's me thinking it'll be my pattern book plus a few little odds and sods in my parcel... Um, no. I am rather overwhelmed.

First up are stitch markers, with purple pearls and no sharp bits to catch on knitting, all housed in a little acrylic box (I'm really facinated by the box. It's so little, and so perfect... ). This is rather lovely, as while I have a pair of Bib'n'Bub's stitch markers, to date I have not had a set.

Then there was Moda Dea Tweedle Dee yarn. Enough for a wee neckwarmer, I think. Actually, given the colourway I'd really like to make something for Badly Coloured Boy (it'd suit), but I don't think he'd go for 'neckwarmer'. Maybe if I called it an ascot, or a cravat he might fall for it.
Oh, the colourway is called Surf & Turf. For some reason I find that hilarious. I mean, I know it's because the yarn is brown and blue, but I keep looking at it and thinking 'but steak and prawns is brown and pink'.

Ulp. Then we come to the sock-yarn-I-barely-deserve (given I'm on my first pair of socks ever right now). It's Claudia's handpainted, and dear Lord I can't work out how Claudia handpaints this. I'm counting five shades of yellow/ tan. Three of purple. Three greens, two reds, a grey, some black and navy.... just astonishing. It's really, really beautiful. And it comes with little yarn-themed pins too.* And I just noticed it's apparently machine washable. Excellent. Now I just need a pattern to show it off...

No, not done yet (did I mention I was overly spoilt?) I got a needle case in fabbo Moda fabric, and some hairpins (which I will try wearing with my new bookwench shoes - the subject of a forthcoming post). I'm not sure if it's intended for dpns or hooks, but my crazy Australian dpns are a little long to fit. It's perfect for hooks, so my crochet hooks now have a happy home, instead of being flung all about. Nice, huh? And the colours match my regular needle-roll too.

Oh, I suppose we can finally get to the point of the swap - my Norah Gaughan book. 'S pretty awesome. I think I'm going to make Anais, out of O-Wool Balance. Though I'm going to make it much longer (22" is the ideal torso length for me, none of this 20.5" caper).

And to the left is a sheep-shaped, mint-scented sachet of bath/ shower gel. Mint is a really peculiar scent for a sheep, but an excellent scent for me. And I ran out of shower gel this morning. Perfect timing. Tomorrow I will minty fresh all over, not just mouth-wise (y'know, because toothpaste is mint-flavoured, yeah?) Oh! And I just found a little screenprinted fabric square of a geisha tucked inside the cover of the book too! (can you tell I photographed before I even properly explored?)

Conclusion? I rather recommend Ms Seaanemone for swapping with, should you be able to swing it (unlikely, she's very busy right now, so sucks to you all for missing out). I'm rather in awe, and suffering mild swap-anxiety, as I actually can't quite remember all that I sent her. I know there was fabric from Aunty Cookie, and Jo Sharp yarn, and NZ Naturally yarn, and some chocolate... perhaps that was all? *cue swap angst*

* which I am not allowed to pin on a knitting bag. I had one on a bag and recently when I was on the train it flicked off and landed in the door tracks and a casual acquaintance I was chatting to spent some time on his hands and knees digging about in the grimy/ greasy door track to fish it out. He was concerned it would jam the train doors (I personally doubted it...). All very embarassing.

Friday, August 03, 2007

No need for super-urgency-last-minute sewing. Sorry to disappoint.

Okay, it seems I panicked too soon. Apparently noone really wears black-tie, it's more cocktail. And, unbeknowst to all you, I have a sad passion for cocktail frocks that I have only recently curbed. So while I could wear a candy-pink fifties-inspired Wayne Cooper number, or a pink and silver vintage wiggle-dress, or this astonishing slinky silver skin-baring dress that I bought at a sample sale I think I will go with my version of this.

I made it a few years ago, when I still lived at home and had no idea about sewing. I figured I could cope with a Vogue 'average' pattern (ha!), and it would give me something to do for the day. My mum came home from work and freaked when she saw all the masses of lace and satin and whatnot laying about, and I looked up at her and said sweetly 'How do you make darts in lace? I can't make the pins stay in?' Anyway, courtesy (apparently) of my mother's skills, said dress was saved. Though I'd like to point out that it was I who hand-stitched 5.6m of lace scallop to every hem! (yes, that's how the scallops get there. You cut them off the selvedges, and hand-stitch them in place at the very end). Also the slip straps regularly fall down unless I pin them to the dress, because I didn't make a muslin, and didn't know at the time that all commercial patterns are too broad in the back for me.

Mine is a grey/mauve and silver lace over pea-green slip. I normally wear a rhinestone brooch in the appropriate spot, but I think I might tack a velvet ribbon rosette in place instead. Lighter, less worry over losing it.

In knitting news, I am making Anastasia socks and they are working out well. No photos because I am housesitting and have no camera.