Stitching the Day Away

Last weekend i went to a stitching retreat with the lovely Es of Penelope Waits. Stitching (a more free-form type of embroidery) is not usually my thing, but it sounded like such a lovely day and it was such a personal and lovely invitation to do something with my darling friend that away we went!

Well it was an absolutely lovely day.

It was held at the Immerse winery near Yarra Glen, hosted by Leanne Beasley of Leanne’s House, and Rosalie Quinlan and Melanie Hurlston of Melly and Me. Included in the day’s price was delicious food, a glass of wine or bubbly and materials and patterns for three adorable projects.

A project designed by each of the hosts

Es and I both started on the stitchery pouch, although in hindsight i should have started on the baby toy cube (which i have now done) as it’s going to be a PERFECT present for some friends who are expecting! We both purchases some extra colours, since the rainbow supplied was a bit, well, bright. Es went for her usual muted english garden colours while i went for a different kind of bright – rich jewel tones.

I learnt how to do 2 new stitches, which was very exciting. Chain stitch and satin stitch. They’re not very neat yet!

There were a whole lot of show and tell moments and a few give aways – one of which i won! very exciting! It was a selection of fat quarters from Rosalie’s new fabric range, which i promptly gave to Es since she will get much more use out of them. I think she was pretty happy about this!

Some of the show and tells were just amazing! most were quilts, but some were handbags and runners and pillows and of course, Es showed off her fabulous cross stitch designs!

We stitched and ate and walked and chatted to the lovely people around us –  a little like knitters, but a little more old school crafty 🙂 All in all a lovely day!

I came to realise though, that i don’t stitch so much because i need to look at it – i find it a little more solitary than knitting, where i can look around and make eye contact. I do enjoy it though and i’ve been keeping on with both projects i’ve started and am even thinking of stitching a little something for someone for christmas!

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The Land of The Long White Cloud

Last week I took a quick jaunt to New Zealand with my father. When we got on the plane together in Melbourne (he’d flown over from Adelaide to connect at Melb airport) I realised it was the first time we’d been on a plane together in just over 10 years! odd!

We spent 2 nights in Bay of Plenty, just near Tauranga and Mata Mata (where Hobbiton is, but unfortunately it was too wet and i was too at the mercy of our hosts to do a tour) and 2 night staying with my cousin-once-removed and his wife in Nelson, at the top of the South Island. We were well away from Christchurch and felt no tremors or anything, but you could feel the emotional effects across the country. But regardless i had a lovely time, especially in Nelson, which is a gorgeous town (with gorgeous men!) and I would really love to go back again soon! I also get along very well with my cousins (their daughter lives here and has just had a baby boy) and would like to get to know/spend more time with that branch of the family tree.

But you all want to know about the yarns, right? well, unfortunately, being at the whim of two rather, shall we say, outdoorsy type women meant that a yarn store visit was not a top priority, and despite my research, and the find of a few places nearby (ie, within an hour’s drive), I was only offered a brief trip to the ‘best store, up at the mount’ on the recommendation of a knitterly friend of theirs. I, of course, took it. It was a tiny little shop and i can only say that this friend must be a bit of an ‘old school’ knitter, as this place really only stocked workhorse yarns, most of which i could get over here. But! I did find one yarn I hadn’t seen before, although i’m sure it’s available here now, and if not, soon. It’s a Naturally yarn, a brand i think is highly underrated, and it’s a sock yarn blend of wool, alpaca and possum! huzzah, a true NZ yarn as a souvenir. I got it in two rather pretty multicoloured colourways.

I also picked up two lonely skeins of Naturally Sensation, a lovely angora merino blend, in cream. It’s a discontinued yarn and i haven’t seen it around in a while, and i thought it would be lovely to hand dye and weave.

Nelson offered a little more excitement. For a start it was only drizzling, not pissing down with rain, which meant we could spend the morning at the market. Lots of lovely hand made items as well as local produce and things like possum and merino blend clothing. They had a bit of Touch yarns at one of the stalls, but i knew where i was heading later in the day, so i resisted. I looked at some of the possum blend clothes – something i was hoping to get for myself this trip – but none grabbed me. I did buy an adorable hand made hair clip. It’s got netting, beads, wire curls and a fabric flower. It’s made of win! On the way out I also checked out a clothing store which, if i remember correctly, is called Puss Puss (it’s off trafalgar street in a little mall if you’re ever in Nelson) that made AMAZING dresses, skirts and corsets. Seriously, it made me want to have a fiance, just so i could get a wedding dress made there!

Then, I went to the place i’d been saving up for – Fibre Spectrum. It’s a sort of handweavers and spinners group outlet (not sure it’s an actual guild) and whilst most of their stock is finished objects – clothes, accessories, homewares etc – they did have some handspun yarn available, including HUZZAH handspun merino and possum. I picked up 100g of black and 100g of a variegated berryish colour, as well as 50g of green for Katie. It’s all about 8ply

Sunday i seemed to spend entirely in airports or planes, but i did manage to snap up that possum merino garment i was wanting. I bought a lovely longline cardigan (with cables and pockets and a big collar) in a charcoaly colour and it is just so SOFT! I popped it on on Monday night and almost went into a fibre coma. If anyone takes a photo of me in it, i will share.

Meanwhile, here are some more generic holiday snaps of NZ

Bay of Plenty from the lookout

and again. so ridiculously green!

The pumphouse at the goldmine in Waihi

The breakwater in Nelson – the boatshed cafe on the left is where we had lunch

which included this little gem! very nomable

and one last photo for all my fibre (and wine) loving friends – Lawn Mowing, NZ style!

A Present (and some other FOs)

I decided this year to take on a great undertaking. I decided around easter that i would knit my father a garment. His birthday is in December which is a) close to christmas and so a present of this type would interfere with xmas knitting and b) the middle of summer and not condusive to a great reception of a knitted item. So I decided to do something for Father’s Day instead.

One knitted garment i remember my dad wearing (that my mother made) was a maroon and blue striped zip up cardigan. It was in a chunkyish yarn with wide stripes and he wore it ALL THE TIME! so I decided to do something similar… I chose Avast from Knitty, a lovely raglan sleeve zip up jackety cardigan with a simple cable along the bottom. I splurged and bought Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran for the project (no one tell dad how much  it cost!!) in a gorgeous denimy dusty grey blue which i knew would work with Dad’s blue eyes – since they’re the same as mine!

The hardest part was choosing a size. I couldn’t measure him, since he lives in a different state, and I wanted it to be more or less a surprise so didn’t ask mum to measure him. (he’d seen the colour, but that was it). eventually i did ask him to measure one of his favourite loose fitting jumpers (relaxed) to get a size idea. At first he said 22″ across. Then he measured under the armpits (cos i asked ‘was that across the chest?’) and said 24″. This of course gave me 44″ and 48″ chest sizes. The L and XL sizes. bugger. Which to choose. I decided to err on the size of caution and knit the larger one, freaking out the WHOLE time about it being too big because men, are, well, BIG, and i’ve never knitted for a man before!

So the whole thing knitted up in less than 5 weeks (with time off because of my stupid sore wrist and a funeral – not related events) and then i blocked it, seamed and hemmed it and finally sewed in the zip (eep!) with a week left before i would see Dad in NZ (the perfect place to give someone a warm knitted gift!) I highly recommend it as a knit and the yarn was super super soft!

And then I got to give it to him. The reaction was, as i expected, somewhat reserved. It’s one of the reasons i haven’t knitted a garment for him before now – i know he’s not a gusher and i like gushing when i make gifts! lots and lots of praise! but, he put it on and said it was very soft and warm and while i voiced my fears that it might be too large, he said if it was meant to be more of a jacket than a cardigan (which it is) it was fine.

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I do think it’s too big – not a lot, but enough to notice, and mum agrees (I think dad said to her that it might be bit too big). SO! what to do! Mum has suggested putting in false seams down the sides to take it in a little. The length is actually fine, but dad slumps, so it looks too long at the front but fine at the back. The sleeves there are two choices – either pop a bit of elastic in the hem so that they stay loose, but don’t sit over the hands, or rip back and reknit the hem shorter. It’s stockinette so that would work fine and the hemming is surprisingly easy (and neat)

Anyway, he didn’t show mum until he had sufficient time to ‘show her properly’ (he worked pretty much ALL day the 2 days after he got back from NZ) which means he thinks it’s important enough to warrant full attention. That’s a good sign. And if nothing else he will DEFINITELY wear it for walking the dog on cold mornings. lol. But I’m going to Adelaide for a wedding weekend after next so i will take the left over yarn and mum and i will analyze! I would only have to do the sleeves – mum would do the seams!

But enough about knitting for other people! what am i? a generous, unselfish knitter! nope! I am a (mostly) selfish knitter and there are a few other FOs for me!

I finished the Knitalong Project the Richmond Knitter’s decided on for June – the Clapotis.  I worked it in some handdyed sock yarn, a blend of angora, bamboo and silk from the incomparable Charly of Ixchel. ( I do heart her!). The colourway was called Timeless Clock from her Alice in Wonderland themed batch and I had two skeins totalling about 750- 800m. I ripped back once, deciding i’d made it too wide (and thus too short) and in the end I’m glad i did, because it’s just about perfect. The whole time I worried it would be too short, but after a block (which has given the bamboo such LOVELY drape) it sits beautifully. It’s definitely more a scarf than a shawl but it will be perfect for spring!

I can’t get the richness of the colours in a photo – they blend together much better than they seem to here.

The other major project I’ve finished is the Mary Jane from Twist Collective. It’s designed by the girls from Zephyr Style and it’s the second pattern of theirs i’ve knit, the other being my Ms Marigold. I used our new Adorn Cotton Cashmere DK from work in a lovely musky pink. It’s turned out a little larger than i’d like, but it goes through the dryer like a dream and that just tightens up all the stitches and makes it sit beautifully! I kinda love it (although am very jealous because it looks even better on penelope_waits!) I don’t have a FO photo, and none of it on, but here’s the beautiful stitch definition!

I am now working on the Pfeiffer Falls Hooded Scarf from Interweave Knits in the delicious buttery Malabrigo. mmmmmmmm. sooooo soft and smooooooshy. I LOVE it! It’s almost finished, I’m about halfway through the hood and then i think i might be starting Christmas presents, starting with the snapdragon flip top mitts for my cousin.

Advice please…

There’s going to be a few posts over the next few days – isn’t that exciting?

first things first… I’m trying to make a decision.

I bought this awesome fabric on special (just at spotlight, but isn’t it so me). It’s a jersey knit kind of fabric (pretty sure it’s just polyester, but it has a lovely drape) and i know i want to make a dress with a sort of 70s-ish feel to it but i can’t find the right one!

I have these two in my collection (i’ve made the one on the right before and it’s an ok pattern – very drapey and has once or twice been accused of being a dressing gown!!). I would need to make a larger size than last time though and it may not suit as well now.

The one on the left i can’t say too much about except i like the style and it doesn’t seem to complicated. I would be looking at doing the highlighted version.

Online I’ve found a few more possibilities…

1) 2)

3) 4)

They’re all available as immediate downloads from sewingpatterns.com or as paper patterns (except no. 2) which i’ve found reputable in the past… but i just CAN’T DECIDE!!! what do you all think? I’m leaning towards no. 1 from sewingpatterns.com i think, but would love your weigh ins!

a VERY belated Bendi post

Today Mel, the lovely Yorkshirepud, came to visit me and we had an absolutely lovely crafty afternoon! First we stopped in at Onabee, the new craft store nearby (where i bought pear tree yarn, yum) and looked in at a fabulous little gift shop, then we headed back to mine for tea and teaching.

Mel has borrowed an Ashford Knitter’s Loom and i promised to teach her the basics! so with a cup of english breakfast to steel ourselves, i showed her how to warp up the loom and got her weaving! In return, she has donated some gorgeous Malabrigo to my stash… i have a feeling it might end up being a present for my cousin since it is the most wonderful green and i ❤ redheads in green! I also demonstrated some spinning… which lead to a broad investigation of the stash…

I showed Mel all my souvenir sock and lace yarn (i love a captive audience) and then i got onto the handspun, which of course led this very new spinner into the world of fibre stash. I pulled out all 5 large plastic pillow/quilt bags from under the bed and proceeded to pull out handdyed top after handdyed batt to show her. She patted and oohed and ahhed and coveted appropriately and even tried to tell me i don’t have one SERIOUS problem. She helped with my problem a little bit by taking away some silk/merino that i will never spin but will suit her wonderfully!

This, in turn led to a discussion on ‘what i bought at bendi’ which made me realise i had neglected you all for an ENTIRE month! i even have photos of my bendi purchases ready to go! *facepalm* I apologise dear readers and hope that my belated gushings will go some way to tiding things over…

This was my first  year at bendi and, to be honest, i didn’t buy as much as i thought i would. i don’t know why – maybe i found it all a little overwhelming, and certainly, since i have, as mentioned, an extensive stash, i was very much looking for things that really spoke to me, rather than just buying everything. That being said, i did spend well over $200 so i can’t have done too badly!

First the standard favourites – Mandie and Charly. I bought stuff from Mandie first – a whole lotta stuff. It was my first time meeting Mandie in the flesh, which was great, and it had been a while since i had purchased from her. She had some delicious handdyed sock yarn with one in just the MOST perfect colours for me…

I don’t think it was mandie’s intention to create a Port Adelaide sock yarn, but this WILL become a pair of football match day socks for me!

I also fell in love with this sock yarn with its rose petally goodness

Fibre-wise there was one blend that i just had to get – a polworth/silk. i’ve only spun polworth once, but i really really loved it – like BUTTER – so i had to snatch up some more (hard to find!). only one colour sang out to me, so i bought 2!

I also picked up some great pink sock blockers and some little charms – not sure what to do with them, but i love them!

I said a quick hello to Charly and had a look around, but knew i’d end up back in the woolcraft shed before heading home, so postponed purchasing from her to the end of the day (can’t NOT buy Ixchel stuff!)

I had a wander around – said hello to Ms Gusset and fondled her wares, met SeeAPenny at Try Dyeing where i bought 2 dyeing kits – one for me and one for Katie – Met Jane from Moseley Park and fondled HER wares (there was lots of fondling going on), bought some delicious carded alpaca (i have a thing for it, clearly -and sorry no photo), picked up some natural coloured brown wool for Katie, said hello to the lovely pear tree ladies, met Jo of the bird and the fish, Tara of Mayhem and Chaos and other ravelers, bought ENORMOUS alpaca socks for Papa, got a fantastic sheep incognito calendar, discovered fibre red where i ordered the most wonderful teal skirt, ate potato spiral chips on a stick, ate doughnuts and then headed back to Charly where i caved and bought some cashmerino bunny and some bfl-bunny *passout*

There is just the subtlest hint of pink in this and LOVE it – have some pure BFL in very similar colours i might ply it with

i have some angorino from charly in a very similar colourway that i thought i might ply this with for extra nomability.

Then i managed to gather my wits about me, purchase a cup of tea and start the long drive home (which seemed so much longer than the drive there!)

all in all it was an AMAZING day and i have to say, Bendigo is PRETTY. I was quite awestruck by the catherdral and the fountain/roundabout in the middle of town. next year i will pull over and take many more pictures, but this year it was ALL about the fibre and yarn!

So not a massive haul, but pretty respectable and it was absolutely wonderful to meet so many people i knew only via rav. Now to get on with the spinning, knitting, dyeing and weaving!

Keep your eyes peeled for a multiple FO post here later this week!!! *excited*