Monday, December 24, 2007

Whah! Snowed under!

Which is funny, because it doesn't snow here. See, there's a combination of my working Christmas retail hours and my partying Christmas period style that means, no exaggeration, I go to my house to sleep, change clothes and have breakfast. I had some excellent photos for you all of a pudding in a can, and this astonishing spider that built a web in my tomato plants, and my beautiful, beautiful, Asian-glazed free range ham. But in the middle of all this Christmas capering (carols by candle light were such a highlight. A lot of my friends from highschool were well into choral singing. One is now has the university degree to prove she's an opera singer. So my darling friends were of such strength and tunefulness that they attracted attention from the nearby picnickers) I lost the cable for my camera. So we'll have to go with a web image.

Not quite so festive as you might have expected, but I did have the girlishly blushing pleasure of saying "Um, all the bank eftpos lines are down - could you pay with cash? And did you want these giftwrapped?" to the gentlemen above today. That'd be one Mr Heath Ledger, kids, if you couldn't tell through the makeup. Definitely added interest to Christmas Eve retail (along with aforementioned inability to accept any kind of electronic payment). I'm afraid as far as serving famous people goes it probably does beat Ben Elton, who stuffed $500 worth of coffee table books in his backpack and asked where was the nearest place he could buy a record player.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas wrap

Here's my giftwrapping from this year. How cool is the snowflake ribbon? It's from Calico&Ivy (they really do have awesome Christmas stuff). The brown paper is the last of my Ikea brown paper. And um, just in case you're confused, that brown mottled thing in the upper right corner is the vase for my Christmas stick.
Easiest wrap job was definitely the little box with the brown ribbon and bells. It's just the box that this Adorapop pendant came in

Plus the ribbon leftover from two Lindt Easter bunny chocolates. They stretched over the box (one in each direction) perfectly. I didn't even have to retie the bows or anything. Knew I kept them for a reason. See, despite buying my uber-fancy snowflake ribbon I also obsessively hoard things that might in any way be used to wrap a gift. The gold tissue paper above is recycled, as is the red box and the wide silver ribbon. The narrow silver ribbon was $2 for a haberdasher's size card/ roll/ thing (you know, the flat cards from which you buy trim by the metre) at a market stall selling vintage haberdashery.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sewn gifts

A bag from a Martha Stewart online pattern, made in Amy Butler fabric. True to form, the pattern was missing handles. So I had to kind of make up my own. I was going to make a few more of these bags, but sewing on the bias binding was rooly difficult. I also shrunk the pattern a little - as given it would've made one very large bag! This is still big enough to fit A4 documents with plenty of room to spare.

A Lotta Jansdotter pattern for a full body apron. Half aprons are cute, but I always find I get food spatters above my waist when cooking. I like this pattern a lot. Can you see it actually, very cleverly, has slight shaping in it? Tricky, huh? Hard to tell, but that's the Michael Miller Eiffel Tower print. The reverse (because the apron is reversible) is in a of black and white barcode-type stripe. It's going with a cookie cookbook and a set of cookie cutters.

And a third apron, in feedsack prints. This is my favourite, I think.

Next post: giftwrapping. Oh, just you wait. Three words: laser-cut; snowflake; ribbon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Vintage knitting

I went down South for a couple of days, to visit Badly Coloured Boy's mum. We rode horsies and fed orphaned possums and met the new dog and were offered an unwanted kitten (see orphaned possums above) and I saw a very interesting frog in the lettuce patch, so it was an excellent visit all round. And of course when we went into town we did a run of the op-shops. I was really disappointed that someone has cleared out all the vintage sewing patterns. Last time there were heaps from the sixties and seventies. Now they're all late eighties or more recent. I did get some fabric remnants and some excellent vintage knitting booklets. These are my favourites.

A beginner's knitting guide for teenage girls, from the 1960s! But what might a teenage girl make?

Why, a sweater, to catch a beau! (Guess the boyfriend sweater curse is a fairly recent superstition). There was a pattern for a hat and booties 'to show off baby' a couple of pages earlier, so methinks knitting wasn't the only things the girls were doing to snag a guy! Which is a pity, because

in ten years time those women will look up from their needles and realise the handsome beau they snagged/ married with the aid of a shotgun and a baby bump has turned into one of these four men. Hirsute, wearing clothes too tight and apparently interested only in other men (I do like the brown and yellow number on the far right, though).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Boys, knitting and tragedy: some thoughts

What is it with people connecting personal difficulties, boys, and knitting? My friend J learned to knit off his mum a little while ago. When his ex-housemate dropped by and saw knitting on his bed, apparently her immediate reaction was "Darling! Are you knitting? What's wrong?"

And today BCB's very close friend, who's having a bit of yuck time with his (ex?)-girlfriend asked me to teach him to knit. Actually, technically he asked me to teach him to knit a gun so he could 'shoot happy b*stards'. I'm thinking the Mochimochi-land gun may not be quite what he's after. We might start with a garter stitch scarf, I think.

So it seems that both boys and girls assume that if boys knit they're knitting through tragedy (or that knitting through tragedy might make said tragedy easier). Where on earth does this come from? Ideas, anyone?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Finishing/ Norwegian Purl/ Sewing

I've been sewing a lot over the past two weeks. I only paused because we have a rent inspection tomorrow and it looked like some kind of haberdashery bomb went off in the house. You know you've been sewing a bit too much when you find fabric scraps in your bed.

That picture above is from a dress I've made. My favourite thing I've made so far, I think, though the pattern is not especially well-fitting (in more respects than the one I'm about to detail). I went down one size from the recommended size, which should have left me with 1.5" ease sort of all-round (yeah, I do actually tend to fit dress pattern ratios). The lower line is the seam according to the pattern. The upper line is the seam I needed to sew to give me a fit I was happy with. Admittedly that was probably less than 1.5" of ease, but I took out about 4" in the bodice. I can only imagine the sack I would've had if I'd made my recommended size. It's the kind of dress that works best when worn with virtually no ease in the body. I'll blog the damn thing when I get some pictures, and you'll all drool over my beautiful dress and marvel at my Mad Sewing Skillz. My mama has a lady from Brazil staying with her right now, and said Brazilian lady apparently used to have a boutique where she sold clothing she made, when she was younger. All quilted clothing, she said. I liked that when I showed her my dress she didn't go 'oo, that's nice'. She immediately flipped it inside out and examined my seam finishing technique!

Why have I been sewing so much? I finally finished my uni degree(s) forever, and am on holiday. BCB and I are so used to the study thing that we are surprised by everyone reacting with congratulations on finishing. Both of us needed reminding that we've both achieved something quite important (to us at this point in our lives, anyway). While neither of us did much celebratory we've been dined by all parts of the family except BCB's mother who is sending us away for a weekend. In a good way. She's booking a surprise-location chalet for us somewhere.

And now for the best thing since sliced bread (this may pre-date the sliced bread, actually): Norwegian purling. I have to thank Elin for this. I commented on her blog about how I knit continental and purl English, because I can't purl continental to save my life. She e-mailed me and offhandedly said she purls Norwegian-style. I looked it up, and oh god! It's magic! It's not quite as economical of movement as some other knitting styles but it has rhythm and I've taken to it like a duck to an inground water feature. The rhythm is possibly the best part, followed closely by the fact that even when purling the working yarn is held behind the work. Which makes ribbing a breeze. No more moving the yarn about, yeah? Should you wish to try it, I started with SpellingTuesday's instructions, but in them missed the detail about holding the working yarn behind the work (um, yah. I'm a bright one sometimes). I found Interweave's written instructions (pdf) made sense of SpellingTuesday's illustrations.

Oo! And congratulations to Michelle and her n00b Patrick, born yesterday. May he fully appreciate those cabled elf booties and never tangle your yarn.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Oh Christmas stick, oh Christmas stick...

Doesn't quite have the same ring, does it? Too bad. It's what I've got. A Christmas stick. I was having angst over the cost (financial and environmental) of buying a big hunk o' plastic for the living room (not that I don't love Christmas trees, I just had this internal battle going on). So I got a stick instead. The deepest irony is that my stick is actually a secondhand stick. It was my mother's. She picked it up off the lawn at Easter (Germanic countries have this tradition of Easter trees too, using pussy-willow branches. She uses gumtree branches in the absence of budding willow in Australia). It's a really elegant stick, huh? It can only take the most lightweight of my decorations, so I've got to work out some way of displaying all my awesome papier-mache-handpainted baubles too. I'm thinking of stringing them from the curtain rod. I already have some felt garlands over the curtains though. Got a better solution?

And here is the wreath. It cost $3, and involved no purchase of plastic. The ribbon I 'borrowed' out of my mother's stash. That bizzarely naff gold sprig in the middle is there as a result of an in-joke between Badly Coloured Boy and myself. There was originally just the lovely minimalist ribbon. My mother is definitely of the more-is-more school of Christmas decorating (she wanted red tinsel wrapped round that wreath too), and when decorating her tree she whipped out that sprig (can you see the gold plastic pinecone? That's my favourite part) and suggested I add it to my wreath. Seeing the horror in my eyes BCB unleashed his inner bitch and chimed in with a "Yeah! Add that! It'd look much better with the sprig too!" knowing full well my mother regards his opinion as trumping mine. And I was the only one in the room that could tell he was doing it to irk me. Never mind, I can completely see the hilarity in the situation (I'd've done the same, I think), so the sprig stays as a reminder that BCB is a bi-atch. Ignore the creepy disembodied flyscreen. I had to photoshop out our house number.