Summer is here!

At last, at last, the gloomy spring became a freaking awesome summer, which makes the fact that I’m coming up to 18 months here (thus 6 months to go) that much harder! I LOVE London in the summer. It just becomes a magical place!

The warm weather doesn’t carry the blazing heat of home (although it is humid at times, yuck) but in honour of the season I finished a little cotton project I started last year.

And it was my first crocheted garment for me! I was super worried about it, because despite doing a tension square, the tension was smaller than I expected and I had to do a WHOLE lot of extra pattern repeats to get it to a decent length (the fact I started it *last* summer might have contributed. oops). On the plus side, looks like my crochet  chains are finally getting away from the loosey goosey end of the spectrum!

A sweet summer top!

A sweet summer top!

The pattern is Petal* from Interweaves crotchet Spring 2011 and the yarn was Rowan cotton glace which i managed to get on sale at Liberty when Sharon visited me last year!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out, since the thing about crochet, is that I don’t have the experience to know how to alter shaping or anything like that. So the fact that the sleeves matched the armholes is a bit of a miracle! It’s a little tight under the arms and the neckline is a bit wonky, but i still love it!

IMG_0035 IMG_0036

This colour isn’t quite right, it’s a very soft blue

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The lovely shell stitch pattern 😀

I’m so super pleased with this, i feel like it’s an amazing accomplishment!

Looking through the remainder of things to work on, it looks like the rest of my time might be spent on heavier garments – jumpers and cardigans and shawls. I’m thinking i have to do another self-imposed sock club next year though! not a pair since i moved!!

Luckily winter is ALWAYS just around the corner here in the UK ,so I’m sure I’ll be luxuriating under piles of wool and mohair and alpaca soon!

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Birthdays!

Birthdays! I had one! I am now 30. I’m quite looking forward to my thirties to be honest. I’m hoping for at least a little improvement on my late twenties.

Some of my friends really caught on to just how much i like yarn this year. I’m very impressed, pleased and excited by a few of my presents!

my darling nett and greg got me Ixchel’s sock club. And Charly, as always, has been a star, sending the first shipment to them so they could give it to me in person and the rest here to me, all with a happy birthday message! Not to mention that I’m pretty sure charly had me in mind when dyeing the first installment. TOTALLY my colours! Also, zen seaweed bunny! fun times!

And then, a whole group of my adelaide besties got together to get me a totally awesome gift voucher to the totally awesome Eat Sleep Knit, a store i have always admired and spent hours in (virtually) but never bought from, for the totally awesome sum of $100!!! The only problem now is deciding what to get!

I also finally spent (most of) my Twist Collective voucher that was part of my REALLY REALLY awesome christmas present from nett and greg

The SQUEAK has a number on the back of it that correlated to my Twist Collective voucher for a cool $40! So I got Farinelli, Sylvi, Dulce de Leche, Sottopassagio and Kiloran. I couldn’t decide on what i wanted to spend the last $7, so i’ll mull it over for a bit. I thought i might use my ESK voucher to grab a garment’s worth, maybe one of my newly acquired patterns but i JUST DON’T KNOW! Spent all last night looking through the pages and pages of pretties and need a little break! When I decide, I’ll let you know!

(TBH, that is one of the problems of having an impulse purchases stash which included sweater quantities of yarn… It’s hard to pick a project on the spot, because there’s already  409867024672 others in my house waiting to be made!)

It was also the birthday of my darling cousin Jade, 4 days before mine. She is the most understanding 10 year old in the world and was completely fine when i told her that her present would be a little late because i was still making it. You may remember her sister got a hand-knitted cardi for HER birthday, so she was expecting something awesome.

Well, this crocheted tunic is from the same book – the rowan story book of knits (except this isn’t knitted!). I ended up doing the 7/8 size with the 9/10 length, since a) Jade is very slim and b) despite getting gauge this is very wide. I took the armholes in a LOT more than they suggested (about 5 stitches either side) and it’s still a bit wide for her around her chest, but at least that means she’ll get years of wear out of it!

The colour is a little duskier than this, and please forgive the ends, but needed to grab a photo before i went to see her! I really like the shape and look of this pattern, but i think it’s flawed. next time i would definitely shape the armholes even more and make them not as deep.  (well, for jade anyway! she’s tiny!). Actually I’d quite like this as an adult pattern and i loved the lace

The best laid plans… are made at 3am.

A little while ago, one of my absolute besties, vintagenettles and i were chatting on ichat in the wee hours, when she had a brainwave.

“Let’s do a swap where we make each other squares and send them to each other.”

I agreed that this was indeed and awesome idea, and we laid out a few groundrule: Each square is to be approximately 20x20cm, all forms of fibre craftiness are game (sewn, woven, crocheted or knitted), we would send them each month and eventually sew them together and back them with something pretty. They may only end up being pillows or lapblankets, but they will be made of love 🙂

the final piece of the puzzle was asking miss penelope-waits to be an unbiased theme setter 🙂 And obligingly she agreed and has so far given us two themes…

The squares:

Theme #1 Ring-ring-a-rosies

I used the intarsia pattern from a Rowan pattern – it’s designed to sit across the bust with a rose either side – and I worked it in Heirloom Easy care because, let’s face it, it’s cheap and this took 8 colours! That being said, it’s a really nice yarn to work with and i will probably use it for children’s clothes or similar at some point! softened up a lot! I blocked it out and it’s slightly larger than 20×20 but that’s what seams are for! It also appeared on The Circle!!! you can watch our knitting group on TV here (see how i just slipped that in?)

Theme #2 “Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you” – Luka Bloom

This theme was to use the lyrics of the luka bloom song as inspiration. this an absolutely beautiful song and the imagery is full of dark purples and midnight colours and the idea of the soul shining through it. I found this adorable crochet motif and used some slightly shiny white yarn, the grey mohair with a strand of metallic embroidery thread and edged it in inca lite 8ply which is a marled grey, blue and purple!

so this is the best friend square swap so far… watch this space as the adventure continues!

almost instant gratification

One of the reasons I love weaving (and to a lesser extent, spinning) is because i can start a project and have it finished the same day. At the moment I have 4 active knitting projects and 2 crochet projects, most of which are long term endeavours. The Fay jumper is coming along slowly but surely, whilst I’m whipping through Mary Jane, a short sleeved scoop neck top in cotton cashmere. I’ve finally succumbed and am working on a Clapotis, which is my ‘travelling’ project whilst my Kid Silk Haze Gossamer shrug has floudered somewhat. Meanwhile I have ALMOST finished my granny square blanket (only ends to sew in now!!) and I have a long term motif silk scarf that is hiding in my room somewhere.

But the other night I picked up the matching Ixchel fibres I picked up when i was at Charly‘s Ixchel spin-in and warped the loom whilst waiting for the dinner to roast. After dinner i set to weaving and by 10pm I had my new favourite scarf.

I absolutely LOVE the colours and the two yarns are made of love – BFL and Angora sock yarn for the warp and Angora and Suri Alpaca for the weft, both dyed in purples, plums and reds. The colours remind me of the Blood Plum and Rhubarb Linzer Torte I often get at HausFrau in Yarraville and so it has been named the Blood Plum Scarf. The only downside is i don;t have as many things as I thought that go with it in my wardrobe! Obviously it goes with black and grey and white, and I have one grey purple top that looks good with it, but clearly i need to buy some more rich red and plum coloured tops this winter!

Further Adventures in Spinning

I feel like i have come so far in the last month! (not too mention bought so much delicious fibre!!)

First Up – I’d had some pure merino roving in two different colours since i first got my wheel, which i’d always planned on plying together. So! that’s what i did!

Summer Orchard

Summer Orchard

It ended up a nice bulky weight – about 7 wpi – and i have a whopping 170m of it, So i’m thinking a lovely scarf! I actually don’t have a scarf in these colours at all, so it’s just perfect! It’s sooooo lovely and smooshy. I called it Summer Orchard because the colours remind me of the plums and cherries i get to scoff in December and January 🙂

Second – Again, some merino I picked up ages ago at the Handweavers and Spinners guild of victoria. This was a gorgeous multidyed blue based roving, which had been dyed seperately and then carded together (rather than hand dyed). I considered plying with a solid colour, but in the end i just practiced my fineness and evenness and 2 plied the yarn with itself.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3280/3103681719_65c05f4d5c.jpg?v=0

Mariana

Mariana

This one i named Mariana after the Underwater trench in the pacific. I’m sure the Mariana Trench is actually pitch black but these are such beautiful underwatery colours that the name just fit. This one is about 92m and a heavy worsted weight at 8 wpi.

Third – Fractal Spinning!! I received some beautifully hand dyed Norwegian roving from Ewe Give Me The Knits! in a ravelry swap. The colours ranged from bright red through pink and orange, great combination, but not for me, so i had the ingenious idea of spinning it up for my new friend S who is a total orange girl!! Since the colours were really clear i decided to try Fractal Spinning – this is a technique for getting a less randomised colouring through the yarn The basic idea is to split the roving into two halves – one which is spun with one full colour repeat (ie as is) and the other split three or four times and spun in multiple colour repeats. Depending on how the original colours are spaced, the colours should start to line up like so AA, AB, AC, BA, BB, BC, CA, CB, CC.

Cherry Bomb

This is one of the most even yarns i’ve spun and whilst the Norwegian is not as soft as Merino, it’s a dream to spin! almost spun itself!! The final stats were 100m, 100g, 10wpi (my finest yarn yet too!)

And S love it, naturally 🙂

Fourth! My friend E is a felter and had a whole pile of beautifully coloured merino slivers left over. she gave them to me for spinning, suggesting i put all the colours (she’s a quilter so she spends a lot of time putting colours together) in the one yarn. She’s also suggested that were i to make something out of it for her, that might not be a bad thing lol.

Es Roses

E's Roses

stats: 115m, 85g, 8-9 wpi (worsted weight)

It’s going to end up a cowl based on a scallop stitch pattern with pearl buttons

Five (omg) Is another Christmas present! I went and picked out a beautiful red based merino and silk blend at the spinner’s guild. The plum red is flecked with white and black and is just gorgeous! SJ had commented that she loved the smooshiness of my early yarns so i deliberately spun the first single thick and thin with a lot of smoosh factor. The other single i spun as evenly as i could (i do need to practice lol) and then plied the two together.

Cherry Ripe

Cherry Ripe

Stats: 80g, 85m, 8wpi

SJ loved it, and the 15% silk really does add a real shine!

Six (wow) nummy nummy bunny fur! I FINALLY got around to spinning some beautiful Angorino (80% 18 micron merino, 20% angora) from Ixchel. This was an unnamed colourway and so i named it Soft Sunset because of the colours i’d seen in the sky  just the day before! I decided to navajo ply this to try and maintain the colour bands. The result was ok… It was my first time spinning straight from the braid without separating it all out – i found this really hard and tiring. And found it MUCH harder to maintain an even yarn this way. That being said, i spun the finest single i’ve spun, since the result is a 3 ply and about the weight of my previous 2plys. I let the wheel get away from me whilst plying (SLOW wheel for navajo) so it’s over plied in places, but it’s still quite lovely and the slow colour changes are gorgeous

Soft Sunset

Soft Sunset

144m, 151g, 9wpi. I’m thinking fingerless gloves to really show off the colour changes

Seven (phew) My first Silk Hanky! This was spun on the spindle and was a lot of fun. and i just lurrrrve the colour. I navajo plied after i spun the single – also on the spindle, but not on the fly. D came over and commented on the colour – so it ended up being her christmas present in the form of a crocheted choker!

Silk Hanky

Silk Hanky

Silk Choker

Silk Choker

And Last but not Least – My first Art Yarn! Mandie at Ewe Give Me the Knits kindly carded some gorgeous green merino with red wing flash angelina. I spun it nice and thick (and not so thick) and plied it with a cranberry variegated plying thread which i’d strung with seed beads! Wow. was that a lot of work! the single kept breaking, the beads got tangled, the plying thread doubled back on itself… but i love the result: A christmas yarn for the spin up challenge at the Ewe Give Me the Knits group on Rav.

Happy Hollydays

Happy Hollydays

Named for the holly green colour and the season of course! 104, 113g, and i haven’t bothered to take wip reading… it’s to varied.

so it’s almost christmas…

and i fail at craft blogging! I fail at blogging all over the place pretty much… but that’s because it’s very hard to type with yarn/fibre/fabric/needles/hooks in your hand!

I started making christmas presents about a month ago, knowing that i would feel happier getting them out of the way early. for christmas day we’re having a secret santa type set up, so i’m only giving one official present to the ‘other half’ of the family, but I’ve still made a few extras, plus a few for family members to buy off me to give to other family members! how awesome is that

So for my own spirit of christmas I have made:

2 seahorses for my cousins aged 5 and 7

seahorses

seahorses

a beautiful alpaca silk scarf for my aunty sue – one of my official secret santa presents

alpaca silk scarflette

alpaca silk scarflette

a pair of burgandy mitts to match the hat i made for mothers day, and a hand embroidered apron for my mother

evangeline mitts

evangeline mitts

a tea cosy for my grandfather

diagonal cosy in noro silk garden (226)

diagonal cosy in noro silk garden (226)

a pair of adorable little mitts for my cousin aged 16

Twee mitts

Twee mitts

a beautiful bookmark for one of my best friends and a beautiful striped crocheted scarf in pinks and green for another of my best friends (no photos – they might see!!)

for others to give to people, I have made

A hat for my grandfather to give to my older cousin

Kates beret

Kate's beret

A pair of face cloths for the little girls

)

E + J = 🙂

2 sets of wine charms for my mother to give to people

charming

charming

colourful

colourful

a set of felted bowls for my grandmother to give my mother – I’m still a bit uncertain about this one, if they don’t work out, my grandmother can give mum the fingerless gloves and i will just give her the apron.

and still to make (!!!)

a hat for my father out of zara wool – beeeautiful stuff

a skein of handspun for one of my best friends (I’ve been practicing like mad!)

a felted bag for one of my besties (possibly from hand spun)

a scarf (same as my aunt’s) from alpaca for my cousin – I’ve been planning this present for ages and I’m going to give it to her dammit – even if it’s a ‘late birthday present’

a hand embroidered apron for my grandmother.

a crocheted cuff for a friend

a market bag

arrrgh still so many to make! lol

Some of these can’t have pictures, because then the people who they’re for might see them!! but i have photographed everything, so all in good time.

and then there’s all the stuff i’m making for me lol!!

a long time, no write… but plenty of craft!

So, I have been very quiet, spending much of my time volunteering at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival and working at the fabulous Wool Baa. mmm. I love my job!

I found out a few weeks ago that my friends are having a baby! This will the first bubs in my circle of friends and I’m very excited. I made my first pair of baby booties! I used Saartje‘s very famous free booty pattern, which is quick and adorable and knitted in Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino in a beautful teal colour – very gender neutral. the buttons are little red buttons that i fished out of my big grab bag of buttons. They took me a saturday evening of Gilmore Girls and Tea

I’m also planning on knitting Zoo from Rowan. I’m going to do it in bamboo in chocolate and cream with a pale purple elephant. ELEPHANT!!! i wonder if it’s appropriate to ask that the recipients of a baby top return said baby top when the child has grown out of it…

I managed another ‘saturday evening’ project this weekend, crocheting for myself Gem from Kim Hargreaves ‘Heartfelt’. I’d ordered some kidsilk night from the fabulous folks at cucumperpatch and it arrived on Friday, so I bought the kid classic to match up with it and off i went! Here is the result and I wore it all day today!

It’s VERY warm. The beads on the brim are just little pale purple seed beads. My friend said the kidsilk night made it sparkle like it had been rained  on or it was dewy, which is just the right amount of sparkle XD.

I’ve now also done Calm from this collection, in Jo Sharp’s mohair, but I’m yet to take good photos of it.

I must say that while I LOVE kim, i find i need to add more in the sleeves. I did this with calm and even then it still pulls up a bit short, so I’m tempted to knit some little ruffly cuffs in kid silk haze to wear underneath to add length – would also be useful under my cherish.

Speaking of which it is now Spring! which means it should be just right to wear Cherish soon – the problem with it is it’s too warm to wear inside, but it’s still too cold outside in Melb to wear the bolero without a coat – and the big wool is just too thick to wear a coat over! so it needs to be cool enough to wear outside, but warm enough to not need another layer – hello spring! I do love it though and want to wear it more!!

my current WIP is a jo nathan design from her Merino Deluxe DK book, though I’m working on it in Zara. mmmm Zara. photos to come… I’m also working on a beautiful baby alpaca scarf which I have a feeling i will wear CONSTANTLY when it’s finished!

Yesterday was the Melbourne Etsy sellers meet. I had a fantastic time and met some fabulous people, some of whom are on Rav, which is great, and all of whom I have favourited (or will when i dig out the business cards!) and genuinedly favourited too, I really do love everyone’s stuff. Made me feel a little inadequate and unoriginal really. I’m also now struggling with the copy cat bug! everyone’s ideas are so great it’s hard not to want to experiment with them! does anyone else have this problem? the only thing I’ve borrowed (?) – expanded upon (?) is kalliopi who makes fabulous button jewellery. I was making up a package for a raveller who loves buttons and i made some stitchmarkers with buttons instead of beads. I liked them so much I made a few sets. So inspired by, but not really a copy…

I am really excited about the next one and I must say I picked up a lot of business tips and ideas too, which is great.

Speaking of etsy there are now some ‘manly’ things on there, something I’m working on. There’s a gorgeous black and tan scarf and a reversable rib beanie. I’m also trying to make a bit of a niche for myself with knitted flower accessories, like hair clips and brooches.

I’ve been getting a lot done, but I still feel like there are things I need to finish – primarily because i either have everything i need, or i’ve actually started them. Mainly this is sewn items – including the dress I’ve actually cut out and need to put together. I cut it out in May… lol.

Anyway I will leave you with two things. The first are some little felted birdies that need a purpose… ideas are welcome. The second is a link to the most hilariously awesome thing i have ever seen on etsy made by fellow melbournian jellibat.

the best soft toy ever made...

A whole new craft!

(precursor – I apologise for not updating in AGES, but I can’t craft and type at the same time! – yet!)

Well, I can now cross one thing off my ‘things i want to learn to do in 2008’ list…

I can crochet!

I bought a book at work which I highly recommend to anyone wanting to learn (from a book) – Learn to Knit, from Patons Australia. It uses Jet, a 12 ply and Inca, a 14 ply (bulky weight yarns) so it’s quick and easy to see what you’re doing.

I bought it on a Wednesday, took it on a plane with a ball of yarn and a plastic hook and by Sunday I had made these:

The hat is made from Jet (and will be available on my etsy site as soon as I have some better pictures of it) which is an Alpaca blend so beautifully warm. I would keep it, but the style doesn’t suit me at all!

The scarf is made from a soybean/wool mix and despite being a tad rough, i love love love love it and wear it at least once a week! It goes with ALL my purple things and is super warm.

There is also a crochet scarf available on my etsy (after i made one for me!)

I splurged and bought The Happy Hooker (Debbie Stoller’s crochet book in the Stitch n Bitch series) and have the yarn for a couple of the bags from it. I’ve also favourited a pile of patterns on ravelry, including the prepster blazer, the crocheted skirt and the cold-shoulders capelet, which i have some gorgeous mohair I bought on sale i want to use up on it!

I’m also now waiting for Sensual Crochet (and Sensual Knits, Scarf Style and Nicky Epstein’s Knitted Flowers) to arrive from the UK. I’m hooked!

(boomboomching)