Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Knitty & Me

Back in the mists of time - *cough* - ok, in 2009, I was a fairly new knitter with a few scarves under my belt. One was a giant garter-stitch scarf in Gryffindor colours, one featured mint and neon green stripes and ruffled ends (that started off as a mistake), and one was actually quite nice - a linen scarf in basket stitch which I gave to Willie.

And then I discovered two things that completely changed my crafting life: Ravelry and Knitty.

And I started knitting things like this anatomically-inspired heart, which I think was my first experience with knitting in the round. I used double-pointed needles and yarn held double, which wasn't easy...

Anniversary heart, 2009 (pattern: Kristen Legett's Heart)

And then I made these three-fingered gloves, which I remember struggling with. Double-pointed needles AND a cable needle added up to a handful of unruly spikes. But I got there, and the gloves were cool!

Reptile gloves, 2009 (pattern: Tina Melvin's Tridactyl)

The fun patterns that were coming out began to spark ideas, like the alternative moustache shape I used on this cowl. I shared my moustache chart on my Ravelry project page, and it was a thrill to see a few people use it on their own cowls.

Cowl of Disguise, 2010 (pattern: Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark's Incognito)

I had a go at whichever patterns inspired me, and built up a lot of new skills as I went. This hat (covered in fossil trilobites!) was my introduction to more complex texture with cables and bobbles. I'm keen to knit a new one actually, I love this design.

Fossil hat, 2010 (pattern: Hannah Ingalls' Trilobite)

Eventually I took the plunge and knit an actual garment for myself. And I didn't choose a simple one - I went for it and chose one that looked AMAZING. It's knit in separate pieces, with complex cables on the front and back, and double-moss-stitch texture on the sleeves and sides. It took me about three months to knit, and I was super-proud when it fit!

A progress photo, courtesy of Dad

My First Jersey, 2011 (pattern is Norah Gaughan's Beatnik)

I've since knit more things from Knitty (like my steeked Iðunn cardie), and I have more things in my queue waiting to be knit (like these cute Geek Socks). I've also learned heaps from the articles, and refer back to them for reminders of particular techniques. And I still can't quite believe I have a pattern of my own in Knitty too. :)

Knitty is going through some changes at the moment, and I'm supporting it through Patreon so it can keep being awesome. I've got a massive amount out of it over the years, especially when I was a relative beginner. Easily accessible free patterns for stuff I actually wanted to make? And articles with tutorials for all the new tricks I wanted to learn? Gold.

Thank you, Knitty. <3

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Free pattern: Droste Effect

I have a hat pattern in the latest issue of Knitty! This is really exciting for me, as I first got lured into knitting as a hobby by the fun, free patterns in Knitty. This is Droste Effect, a hat covered in cables inspired by the structure of stockinette stitch: 

  • all-over cable pattern designed to look like stockinette stitch
  • crown decreases are integrated into the cable pattern
  • two sizes: adult small + large
  • a one-skein project: requires up to 185 yards of DK-weight yarn
  • full charted and written instructions
  • available for free!

The yarns I chose are two NZ yarns which have excellent stitch definition, perfect for knitting cables. The brown hat (size L) was knit using 2 balls of Skeinz Silver Lining in 'Clifton Stone', and the sea-green hat (size S) was knit using 1 skein of Vintage Purls Max in 'Abel Tasman'.

The name 'Droste Effect' is taken from the visual effect of a picture-within-a-picture, because the hat's cables represent a large-scale stockinette stitch (it's a knitting pattern that looks like knitting). Tins of Droste brand cocoa famously feature a nurse holding a tray with a cup and the same tin on it:


The photos were taken by Jos, my dad, when I was visiting Whakatane last. We went to one of my old childhood haunts - the playground by the river at The Heads. Bay of Plenty locals might recognise the rocks and Moutohorā/Whale Island in the background...

 We also played around with the picture-within-a-picture idea... :)

Droste Effect is available as a free pattern here at
Its Ravelry page is here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A walk in the park

On Saturday Willie and I went for a mini road trip to the Dandenong Ranges, which are about an hour out of Melbourne. Willie has been making a list of nearby-ish gardens and bird sanctuaries and the like, which we might want to go and visit. For this outing, we chose the National Rhododendron Garden.

Lots of photos ahead! Click to enlarge them. :)

It wasn't very busy, as the cherry blossoms and most of the rhododendrons have yet to flower, so it was the perfect place for a low-key late afternoon stroll. The first moment of excitement (after sniffing several daphne bushes) was this lovely kookaburra who was keeping an eye on us from its tree:

It looks so much like a puppet or soft toy! What a cutie.

The garden is made up of different areas, featuring different kinds of plants. Massed hellebores under trees, a reedy lake, and long stretches of daffodils under the cherry trees...

I really loved finding unfamiliar trees, like this hornbeam with its very vertical branches, some flowering witch hazels, and some interesting conifers I'd never come across before:

Now I know what fake Christmas trees are modelled after!

Before making our way back through the garden and home (via a great fish-and-chip shop), we paused for a rest by the camellias. Willie took a few snaps of me in my green woolly hat, which I realised I hadn't shown off yet. It's a simple ribbed beanie in Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter. The colour is called 'Button Jar', and the pattern is Swoon. I think it's just right. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New pattern: Spacedust

My latest shawl pattern is out, and I love it to bits! This is Spacedust, a lace mesh shawl with textured 'stripes' at one end.

  • asymmetric triangular shape, knit on the bias
  • lace mesh and textured stitch patterns (both easily memorised)
  • end-to-end construction, beginning at the longest point
  • a one-skein project, requiring 410 yards of fingering-weight yarn 
  • suitable for variegated yarn, as well as solid and semi-solid colours
  • one size, easily altered by working more or fewer repeats
  • full written and charted instructions

I designed this shawl to show off a very cool skein of speckle-dyed sock yarn from Skein - it's their BFL Sock in 'Neon + Grey'. I really love speckle-dyed yarn at the moment! It's a yarn trend I am very much on board with.

The main stitch pattern in my Spacedust shawl is 'Star Rib Mesh' lace, which makes the shawl very airy and also allows one to get a pretty big shawl out of only one skein. This stitch pattern works very well with the variegated yarn.

We had a lot of fun taking the photos for this design! Julian suggested a motorway underpass which he was keen to explore. It had a lot of cool concrete textures, and best of all, giant colourful sculptures which we'd seen from the car before but never close up. Apparently they're known as the 'red sticks' or 'cheese sticks' (or, officially, as the 'Gateway'). I've been calling them 'the chip and the sauce'. ;)

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:




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.

  • 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

  • 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.