Thursday, July 30, 2015

Needle and thread

Hello! I've been getting over a cold (again), so things have been a bit quiet lately. I hope my cough will be gone by Sunday so I can get back to choir...

I decided to use some of my sitting-in-bed-with-tea time to finish off a couple of little sewing projects. I've been putting them off since I find hand-sewing a bit of a chore!

The first mini-project is a set of lavender-bags that I started last time I was in Whakatane, using Mum's sewing machine.


I made basic rectangles, leaving a gap in each one for the filling. One side is patterned fabric from this Etsy shop, and the other side is plain linen with a less-dense weave (to let the scent through). This week, I made a pleasantly-scented mess filling the bags with dried lavender and cedar-wood chips and then stitching them closed.



I'll put one in each of the plastic storage tubs that hold my yarn and woollen clothes and accessories. I'm hoping the lavender and cedar will prevent weird smells from the airtight storage, and if they helps deter moths too that will be a bonus. :)

I also replaced the buttons on an op-shop cardigan which I've had for years.
It has nice classic cables and a warm peanut-butter colour, but the metallic buttons always annoyed me. I bought new buttons for it last year, and finally got around to putting them on the cardie now (that's how much I dislike sewing on buttons)! The new ones look so much better:

Before

During

After

The last little sewing project was supposed to be hemming a couple of pieces of silk fabric which I bought with the intention of turning them into scarves.
I want a scarf I can fold up small and keep in my bag, for surprise encounters with cold wind.

I realised one of my pieces of silk was a good size to turn into a double-wrapped cowl, so I set about pinning and stitching. Unfortunately, I made a silly mistake with the geometry and when I turned the cowl right-side-out, I had a very long tube too narrow to fit over my head.

At least my running-stitch seams will be easy to unpick, when I decide to give it another go. For now, it's back to knitting! :p

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New pattern: Lunate

I have another new shawl design to share: Lunate, a one-skein fingering weight shawl shaped like the crescent moon.



I kept this design quite simple, with a stockinette ground and lace mesh accents. Lunate is a very straightforward knit - most of the shawl is made up of the same two rows repeated. Counting is minimal, as stitch markers tell you when to work the lace parts, and each wrong-side row is a purled 'rest' row.

Features:
  • curved crescent shape which drapes beautifully
  • simple lace mesh and stockinette textures
  • top-down construction, beginning with a garter tab cast-on
  • a one-skein project, requiring 410 yards of fingering-weight yarn
  • one size, easily enlarged by working more repeats
  • written pattern only (for greater simplicity in this case)

I used one skein of Vintage Purls Sock in a pale greyish-yellow called 'Jaune D'antimoine' - perfect for a lunar shawl! The simple textures of Lunate would also work well with a speckled or variegated yarn.




We took the photos at Yarra Bend Park, a bat sanctuary and lovely bit of nature close to the city. I blogged about my first visit earlier this year. We had great fun taking photos at different spots on the riverbank, exploring, and watching the bats.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New pattern: Kea

I'm thrilled and honoured to have a design in Brooklyn Tweed's latest Wool People collection! This is Kea, a triangular shawl with a feather-lace edging named after NZ's mischievous green parrot:

Photo by Brooklyn Tweed

Photo by Brooklyn Tweed

Photo by Brooklyn Tweed

Features:
  • traditional top-down triangular construction
  • garter stitch with ribs and lace to create the impression of feathers
  • two sizes: small shawlette and large shawl
  • beginner-friendly charted and written instructions

The yarn is Brooklyn Tweed's Loft, which I love - its tweediness gives a cosy, rustic feel to the shawl, and the colours are very rich. The complex greens we used for the sample shawls reminded me of kea feathers, and the name stuck! You can read about the birds here and here.

Do check out the beautiful Lookbook for the collection - there are some wonderfully clever lace shawls and wraps and wearable garments in the set, by designers I really admire.

Kea has been a secret project for several months, so it's especially exciting to have it out in the world at last. Just for fun, here are a couple of photos Willie and I took of the large-sized shawl, just before I sent it off to the USofA...



You can purchase the Kea pattern from Ravelry or Brooklyn Tweed.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A shawl, a scarf, and some stripes

Would you like a peek at what I've been working on recently? As usual I have a few knitting projects on the needles, as well as assorted swatches for trying out new ideas.

I have a bit of an obsession with speckled yarn at the moment. This shawl is a new design, in speckle-dyed BFL Sock yarn from Skein - the colour is called 'Neon + Grey'. I've finished the knitting, but haven't blocked it yet as I'm quite enjoying the unblocked texture:

These ribs will turn into lace when blocked

The edging, with alternating texture 'stripes'

The wrong side looks pretty mad. :)

This silvery scarf is another design in progress, in Outlaw Yarn's Bohemia Worsted - it's a pleasure to knit with something so soft! I'm about halfway through this one...

Texture and softness

And this is the beginning of a cardie I'm making for myself, in various 8ply yarns including Morris Norway 8ply in natural shades and Vintage Purls Max in shades of gold and burgundy. The pattern is Stephen West's Royally Striped. It should be super cosy! Hopefully I can finish it before spring.

Short rows and stripes

What are you working on at the moment?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Exquisite Threads (Part II)

(Continued from Part I)

The samplers were one of the most interesting parts of the NGV's historical embroidery exhibition. They were displayed in a table-height cabinet with seats so people can take their time examining them. They're very much a display of skill and invention, as well as part of an embroiderer's education - the fine detail in them was seriously impressive, especially as some were made by children! Just mind-boggling.

I've included some close-ups as well as photos of the whole samplers.
Click to enlarge...












The lacy background is made of teeny-tiny patterns of holes!

Exquisite Threads (Part I)

Mum and Oma, this one's for you! :)

Last Thursday I treated myself to a trip to the NGV, to see the Exquisite Threads: English Embroidery 1600s-1900s exhibition. For a fibre-arts nerd who has dabbled in embroidery and cross-stitch, it was totally amazing!
I spent over an hour peering closely at the stitches, taking photos, and eavesdropping on a group of women who were explaining the techniques to each other.

Some things I found surprising were the raised or 3D style of embroidery on some of the 17th and 18thC items - this isn't always apparent in photos, so a real-life look was eye-opening. The shading and range of colours was also a surprise, and got me wondering about the dyeing industry for embroidery threads. And the fineness of the work was a shock in some cases - again, it can be hard to imagine the correct scale unless you're actually there.

Click to enlarge the photos for a closer look...


The embroidery on this is very 3D!



White-on-white


A 'stomacher'

The black background is only partially filled-in

Some serious 3D work!

A dear little deer


A detail from a gigantic 19thC piece

See Part II for the samplers (they deserve their own post)!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New pattern: Fretboard

This one's been a while in the making! Fretboard is a cabled and textured scarf which I designed last winter, as a present for Willie's brother Julian. He's an amazing bass guitar player, so I decided to knit him a scarf which looks like the fretboard of a bass. It has cabled 'strings', garter stitch 'frets', and a simple ribbed background. The frets start out widely spaced, and shift closer together as the scarf grows.



Features:
  • simple cables and a knit-and-purl texture 
  • fully reversible - identical on both sides
  • two versions: for DK-weight and fingering-weight yarn
  • adjustable length, to suit the wearer's height
  • optional tubular cast-on and bind-off for beautifully-finished ends
  • both charted and written instructions, so you can follow your preferred type.

The pattern includes two versions of the scarf: one in DK-weight yarn with four cables/strings (for bass guitar and ukulele lovers), and one in fingering-weight yarn with six cables/strings (for guitar and viola da gamba lovers).

Julian's scarf is the DK-weight version, knit in WOOLganic 8ply, a certified organic Australian merino (6 balls of the colour 'Charbon'). My scarf is the fingering-weight version, in Malabrigo Sock (2 skeins of 'Botticelli Red'):




A line-up of fretted string instruments (no prizes for guessing my favourite!)


Julian and Chloe's band Booty Pageant released an EP (mini album) last week. If you're interested in checking them out, you can listen and download here.