Thursday, January 21, 2010

~lace hem~

I've been knitting this pretty pretty lace hem for my latest project - isn't it exquisite?  I wish you could handle it because that is half it's beauty - the yarn is Naturally NZ Dawn, a 50% wool/50% silk blend, and the resulting lace looks delicate and rather vintage.

Vogue knitters might recognise this lace pattern - it is actually the hem of #11 Lace Tank by Nancy Cassels, from their S/S 2007 issue.  However that isn't what I'm knitting - even though that is actually in my queue!  This is the first time I've knitted lace with yarnovers and decreases in every row - just as well each row only has a few stitches!  For the record I am using 3mm needles to get a finer lace.

So what have I really started knitting?

I've begun the Ruffle and Pleat Skirt by Cecily Glowick MacDonald, from Interweave Knits Summer 2009, and my little piece of lace is going on the hem of the underskirt, so it peeps out all pretty-like!  However I've renamed it the Ladder and Lace skirt, because the so-called 'pleats' are really strategically placed ladders, and my underskirt will feature lace.

Here's my swatch for the main skirt so you get the picture (excuse the mess - it's only my swatch!):

The yarn is Cleckheaton Bamboo, which knits up nice and drapy and suitable for this skirt, and it will go with my favourite shoes!

So once I have finished this lace, my immediate future involves a lot of tedious stocking stitch.....
But I'll have fun making those ladders!

Monday, January 18, 2010

~azuki top~


#39 Azuki
Verena Knitting, Summer 2009
Size - 36", for a 36" bust
Yarn - Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK (80% bamboo viscose, 20% wool), shade 136, 9 balls used

This is my favourite finished item so far - unlike a lot of items I've knitted, I will definitely wear this one a lot!  It is really soft and drapy, and it's not too hot to wear for an Auckland summer.  I love the yarn and the colour, in fact the colour range in this yarn is so gorgeous I found it hard to decide which one to use.  I suppose I can always knit another!

I can't decide whether I prefer it tied at the waist or higher up - what do you think?
(I know - I'm so short-waisted there is not much difference!)

Can you see the little monkey in the photo in the background?  That is L when he was about 3 years old.  I'm missing him heaps at the moment, but he is due home today after 2 weeks staying with his grandparents, so it's all exciting.

There is a small error in the pattern - you work even in p4, k4 rib for 27cm, not 17cm as stated.  The measurement in inches is correct.  Otherwise I followed the pattern exactly, and it is very well written.  I really like the way the decreases on the bodice are designed.

I would recommend using a fairly loose tension on the crocheted slipstitching around the front neck where it crosses the bustline, before you add the neck band - especially if you have a large cup size.  I did the slipstitching on the cast-on edge of the shoulder straps three times to get it even, and not too loose!

At first I thought the flower might have been a bit large, but I'm used to it now and like it.  Mine looks completely different to the sample, so I have no idea what happened there - but by then I just wanted it finished!

The quilt is coming along nicely - I've sewn all the blocks, and I'm pleased to report it has Tiggi's approval!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

~clandestine socks~

I've had these socks 'almost finished' for a while, and they were just waiting for me to graft the toes before their official completion.  Grafting always gets put on hold by me - I can never remember what to do and have to get out my instructions every time.  As part of a New Year resolution to finish my half completed objects, I finally got around to it today.   I really don't know why I always put this job off because it took all of 10 minutes!

I hand dyed the yarn for these socks, and as you can see by the little piece in the photo, I just had enough!  My dye method is described in this previous post.  The colour came out slightly different than I intended, so I decided to knit Cookie A's "Clandestine Socks" instead.  I don't know why I chose to knit such a complex pattern in variegated yarn, but once I got going I found the pattern so interesting I couldn't stop!  Perhaps a plain coloured version will be completed in the future, but I'm not making any guarantees with my queue in its current state.

The design is assymetric, and there are charts for L and R socks so that they mirror each other.  I love the way the twisted rib decreases into the wrapped stitches, and the slight scallop it forms.  And in between the fans lies a pretty lace design - Cookie A is so clever!

I find them a little baggy around the lower leg though - if I make them again I would use a smaller needle in this region.  There is also a little error in the L Foot Chart with the knit tbl stitches, so for rows 5 and 9 - the knit tbl should be k2tog tbl, and vice versa.  If you knit the R sock first this will be clear.

I won't really be wearing them with these shoes - I'm purely copying the styling on the Clandestine pattern

If you asked me a year ago, I would have said "whoever would knit a pair of socks?"  Now, I think I'm hooked because I'm planning which socks to knit next - I blame Ravelry!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

~quilt in progress~

The initial quilt I was intending to make was a multicoloured scrappy quilt, designed to use up all your little bits and pieces of fabric.  Since I have only just begun collecting patchwork fabrics and my stash is fairly small, the credit card alarm bells soon rang loud and clear.

So what to do?  Make another quilt design that uses a smaller range of fabrics! 

I found one I liked - one that I already had lots of suitable fabric for - in Australian Homespun magazine.   It is called 'Road to Oklahoma' by Rosalee Clark, and uses the very patriotic colours of red, white and blue.  Since our New Zealand flag is also red, white and blue, the patriotic colours still apply here down under!  Plus, I love traditional red and white quilts, as well as blue and white quilts, and when you can't decide between the two.....

This, of course, meant another trip to Cushla's Village Fabrics to pick up a few extra fat quarters - this time without dear son!  I also treated myself to a rotary cutter, which I am so pleased I purchased as the cutting time is much reduced with this tool - don't even think about using shears!

And of course I had to get stuck in as soon as I got home!  I've cut all the red strips, pieced them by machine, and crosscut them into 336 segments.  Now they are ready to assemble into blocks, and I've started cutting the blue fabrics.

There is an potentially disastrous error in the instructions.  Just in case you happen to be making this quilt too, in step 10 you should be working with squares A and B, not squares C and D.  But otherwise the instructions are very clear to me - although I am an experienced sewer, this is my first actual quilt!

I can't wait to see how it all comes together, and to begin the hand quilting!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

~today in my garden~

I love hibiscus, with their delicate fluttery petals and intricate stamens with velvety stigmas. Their touch of tropicana never fails to make your day feel happier. If you are in the snow-covered Northern Hemisphere I do hope it adds some sunshine to your day as well!

This particular hibiscus is sending out masses of blooms at the moment, all reaching madly towards the sky to maximise their sun exposure. The pastel orange isn't my favourite colour, but it is an established tree now so it is staying!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


One of my New Year resolutions is to avoid food additives as much as possible. I'm not going to be overly precious about it, I just want to minimise artificial ingredients in my food - such as those that begin with numbers - eek! Reading nutritional labels these days can be quite unappetising, and there are a lot of foods out there that I would hardly classify as food.

I've been making my own breakfast muesli for a few months now, it is effortless and it tastes great - unlike many commercial versions which can taste like sugar-coated cardboard. I vary the ingredients each time, and unlike the bought stuff, I haven't got sick of it yet! It is nutty and fresh tasting, and leaves a wonderful aroma in the kitchen every time it is made.

My recipe is adapted from the one on the pack of Harraway's Traditional Wholegrain Oats. In my opinion these are the best in the world - and that has nothing to do with the fact they are from my home province! Check out that ingredients list: 100% oats!

Toasted Muesli

4 C Harraway's Traditonal Wholegrain Oats
1/2 C oat bran
1/2 C wheatgerm
1/2 C coconut (I use a mixture of dessicated and thread coconut)
1/2 C of your favourite nuts
2 T pumpkin seeds
2 T sunflower seeds
2 T linseeds
1/2 C raisins or sultanas
1/2 C other dried fruit
1/4 C rice bran oil
3 t Airborne Vipers Bugloss honey

Mix first 8 ingredients in a large roasting dish.
Melt honey in oil and mix evenly with dry ingredients - I use my fingers here!
Bake at 100 C for 30 mins, opening the oven door occasionally to stir, and inhale the lovely aroma.
When cooked stir through the raisins and dried fruit.
Cool and store in airtight container.

For this batch I was still feeling rather Christmassy, and used dried cranberries and pistachios. Other favorite combinations are apricot and almond, or date and walnut with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. There are endless possibilities - and I'd love to hear your favourite version!

Monday, January 4, 2010

~cushla's village fabrics~

Here in Auckland it is summer, and humid, and it feels kind of incongruous to pick up those knitting needles and start knitting with wool. A part of me wants it to be snowing outside like it is in many parts of the world, just so I can snuggle up on the sofa with my knitting and the cat!

Enter - my rediscovered enthusiasm for sewing.

I've always been a sewer, and one of my early sewing memories was making a pair of jeans for my Barbie doll - complete with belt loops and faux twinstitched pockets! I graduated to making my own wardrobe, then my own clothing label, then my own shop. Until it all became a bit, well - unsatisfying. I know it is a dream job for many aspiring designers, but I found that once I got to where I wanted to be, the challenges ceased to exist anymore. And to design within the commercial constraints of price, positioning, and profit was frustratingly restricting. My sewing machine came to mean work, not pleasure.

So I stopped.

And I haven't sewn anything for myself for about 5 years.

It has taken this long for me to feel that flash of inspiration again.

(OK - it also helps that my sewing machine has ended up in our lounge!!)

And that flash of inspiration came from Lucy at Attic 24. A lovely colourful photo of her Cath Kidson teatowels, and the suggestion that she might turn them into a quilt, was all it took. It reminded me that I had always desired to make a quilt, so after some magazine buying, and some googling, I found out about Cushla's Village Fabrics in Devonport.

L and I crossed the harbour on the ferry, then walked up Victoria Avenue to number 38 and stepped inside, through the narrow doorway into a colourful fabric-lined cavern. If you ever have the opportunity to visit you must - it is true fabric heaven. And if you're a knitter needing an excuse you can visit Wild 'n Woolly at the same time, as it is right next door!

I managed to spend a good hour there fossicking about, but as you can imagine it is not exactly the place a 10 year old boy likes to hang out, so I suffered a fair bit of flak! The customer service was excellent and very friendly, and eventually I walked out delighted with these:

I've already begun cutting and sewing parts of my quilt, but need more supplies to really get it underway. So it looks like I will definitely be making a return trip, and hopefully many more, to this wonderful store.

And I've now realised how much I miss sewing, I don't think I will be able to stop!

Cushla's Village Fabrics
38 Victoria Road

Friday, January 1, 2010

~new year, new room~

Last year, if you stood in our spare room and looked north, you saw this:

Yes, a yucky old wall.

This year, if you stand in our spare room and look north, you see this:

No, you are not seeing things - the other day we really did knock out a wall of our house!

As you can see from the markings on the wall and floor we had the tiniest lounge, which was fine when there was just the two of us, and when L was a baby.

But now he is ten, and space was at a premium, so we removed the wall between the lounge and spare room.

Now look at all that space!

And all that extra light!

There is so much space I am finding it hard to fill with our existing furniture - I am constantly rearranging it and no doubt the layout will evolve a few more times.

And I have woken up the last few mornings so delighted with our new room that I've felt like doing cartwheels in it - just because I now can!

But if I am to be completely honest with you, the view in the opposite direction includes a large pile of books and magazines (new bookcase desparately needed), a filing cabinet (got to go) and my sewing machine - but you don't need a photo of all that!

So there is a lot of arranging still to do.

And a lot of renovating to do as well - my job this year (the only catch to all this!) is to reline and paint all those walls, then sand and varnish the floors.

Now which colour will tone in with my Babette Blanket?