Thursday, March 31, 2016

Northwards

I can't believe I'm off to Europe tomorrow! It's my first trip to the northern hemisphere, and my first long-haul flight (eeep). We've been planning and preparing like mad this week, looking up all the things we want to see and making a Google map of them all. You can get a glimpse of it here:


I've been stockpiling podcast episodes on my phone for the various plane and train rides. Some are yarn-related (Woolful, A Playful Day, Pomcast, and Truly Myrtle) and others are language-related, as I'm hoping to pick up a wee bit of German, Italian, and Dutch if I can.

I'm also trying to finish a pair of woolly slippers to wear on the plane. They're Simple Garter Stitch Slippers in two very bright colours of sock yarn held together. The first one fits well, but I still have most of a slipper to go...

Fair warning - I plan to blog about my trip, so if you'd prefer to wait for more knitting posts, I suggest you pop back some time in May. I do have plans to visit a certain yarn shop in Amsterdam however, so it won't all be pictures of architecture and stuff. ;)

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Indigo and cobalt

I have a pretty-pictures post for you today! I visited the NGV on Sunday after choir, and saw an exhibition that's been on my to-see list for a while.

Blue: Alchemy of a Colour definitely lived up to my textile/dye geek expectations, once my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. I really enjoyed seeing all the different textile decoration techniques from various places and time periods - and it was so much easier to see the details and differences in real life. Being able to see the texture of the fabric from various angles makes such a difference. That said, I hope you find my photos interesting! ;)

Most of the fabrics below are dyed with indigo. This beautiful kimono and wall hanging were decorated using resist techniques, which you can read about here: Resist-Dyed Textiles.





And here are examples of ikat fabric, where the threads are resist-dyed in a pattern prior to weaving. You can find out about how it's made in this photo gallery: Making Ikat Cloth.

 


The 'rag kimono' below is an example of boro patchwork, a traditional Japanese form of visible mending. You can see the parallel lines of running stitch holding the layers together in the close-up photo.

You can read more about traditional boro and sashiko embroidery here: The Japanese Art of Sashiko Stitching; and you can see examples of modern sashiko-inspired visible mending here: Three Easy Ways to Mend Fabric, Inspire by Japanese Textiles.



This quilted bodice with indigo-dyed silk ribbons and 18thC embroidered bedspread are just too pretty, especially with the depth of colour in the ribbons. I recognised the bedspread from last year's 'Exquisite Threads' embroidery exhibition...



Lastly, I had a look at the ceramics. This article on the exhibition describes the use of cobalt in ceramic decoration, which goes back over 1,000 years. The 18thC Delft tiles were especially cute! I've included by favourite below...




If you're curious about indigo dyeing, here are a couple of videos I found interesting. The first is about cloth-dyeing in India, and the second (specially for my fellow knitters) is about dyeing yarn. I must get some real indigo yarn to play with!

 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

New pattern: Liquid Honey

So happy I can finally share this with all of you! Liquid Honey is my second pattern to be published in Knitty, and it's one I'm super proud of.
And that's not all... my face is on the cover of the Spring + Summer issue! I've been making 'cover girl' jokes all day, it's been quite surreal... :)


I love yellow, and I love knitting lace, and I'm totally fascinated by bees. Put it all together, and you get a sunny yellow shawl inspired by honeycomb dripping with honey. I thought its cheeriness would make it a great fit for Knitty, and a nice gift for my fellow knitters.



Features:
  • honeycomb lace with a zigzagging lace border
  • top-down triangular construction with garter-tab cast on
  • no special stitches: just knit, purl, single and double yarn-overs, k2tog, ssk 
  • a decorative picot bind off
  • requires 1.5 skeins of Malabrigo Lace (700yds of laceweight yarn)
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • one size: 63" wingspan, 29" along spine
  • both charted and written instructions. 

The main part of the shawl is very repetitive and intuitive to knit, perfect for an on-the-go or tv-knitting project. The edging requires a little more attention, and I do recommend using needles with nice sharp points, for example Addi Lace needles. They kept me sane!



Shout out to my best photographer Dad for doing the photoshoot with me, and finding all the summery-looking flowers in the garden and around the town. And another shout out to Mum & Dad's 'Fortune' plum tree for co-starring in the photos! Since then, the plums have ripened and been turned into a couple of dozen jars of sauces and jams. Go tree.



The pattern is available for free here at Knitty.com. Its Ravelry page is here.
You can also read my post from last September on the story of Knitty and me.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Purls KAL project love

Well, my singing practice hasn't been going so well thanks to an unfortunate chest cold. Nice timing, cold. But I do have some cool things to share with you folks, namely the fantastic projects that were made during February's Purls KAL.

There were 20 (wow!) finished projects by the end of the month, plus a few more finished since. Of the projects finished during the KAL, the most popular pattern was Beeswax mitts, with 4 projects, followed by Beeswax hat, Beeswax cowl, and Bushwalk Beanie with 3 projects each. It was such a delight seeing all the wonderful colourful projects pop up! Thanks to all the participants for making it such a fun and inspiring month. :)

Here are a few of my favourite project photos from the KAL...

MallowFallow's Droste Effect

flamingandromeda's Beeswax Hat

Woolly-de-Rosie's Bright Side

MallowFallow's Bushwalk Beanie

natsmum1's Beeswax Mitts

LeighC's INSULATE! hat

Doesn't Morag's yarn make everything cooler?
I'm definitely looking forward to hosting more KALs in the future!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

It's Bach season!

It's March, and for those of us in choir-land that means the countdown to Holy Week has begun. As well as our St John Passion performance on Good Friday, my choir at the Scots' Church is doing a few Bach cantatas spaced throughout the year. We did one last Sunday - the first half of BWV 147, 'Hertz und Mund und Tat und Leben' - and it was really lovely to sing. The opening chorus was fast and exciting with its trumpet solos, and the final chorale was just beautiful. Definitely worth getting up at 7am on a Sunday. ;)

There's a video of us singing & playing the final chorale here on Facebook, courtesy of our organist Ria. The tune is best known as "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" - you might recognise it when you hear it. I remember coming across a piano arrangement at Nana's house many years ago and playing it on the dodgy old piano...

This is a video of the whole cantata, performed by The Sixteen:


I'm glad it won't be my first time singing the St John Passion this year, there aren't many weeks left now to brush up on my German (not to mention all of the notes). I'm also glad we have more than one special rehearsal scheduled this time in addition to the Sunday morning run-throughs.

One of my favourite Bach interpreters, John Butt and his Dunedin Consort, have recorded a liturgical reconstruction of the St John Passion. Here's a short intro video with some rehearsal clips:


After filling my head with all of this music, I'm going to be super-primed for a very, very exciting trip... This April I'll be heading off on my first trip to Europe with Willie and Julian! I really can't believe it's actually happening. We'll start with a visit to Berlin where Chloe and Celena live, and spend three weeks exploring a few different cities including Florence, Rome, and Amsterdam, with short stops in Leipzig and Munich. It was incredibly hard to narrow down our list of places to visit, but I prioritised the places with the art and architecture I most want to see (as a consequence of my years of studying music and art history and Latin).

In Leipzig I plan to visit the Bach Museum, the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche, a museum of musical instruments, and a music bookshop. And hopefully a coffeehouse or two!

More on the trip later. For now I need to work on my German and Italian (both beginner-level, alas) and do some more plotting and planning...

Friday, February 12, 2016

New pattern: Heartpops

New pattern day! Heartpops is a cute textured tam or beret, with embossed hearts popping out from a lattice of cables.



I took advantage of the Valentine's Day display at the lolly shop for my photo props. ;) My sweet tooth is pretty much non-existent, so my flatmates will have to take on the task of eating the lollies now I'm done photographing them... I'm sure they won't complain too much!

This is what the bright blue yarn from my Wellington trip became - it's Madelinetosh Tosh DK in 'Button Jar Blue'. Tosh DK has great stitch definition and, best of all for someone who tends to do a lot of un-knitting in order to get a project just so, it's tough enough to stand up several rounds of frogging without getting damaged. And the colour is just unreal...




Features:
  • textured pattern with embossed hearts and cable lattice
  • 1/1 cables that can be knit without a cable needle
  • the lattice flows out of the ribbing and into a star-shaped crown
  • can be blocked into a tam/beret shape or a beanie shape
  • a one-skein project for 100g of DK-weight yarn
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • four sizes (Child Small to Adult Large)
  • both charted and written instructions.

Here's a link to my favourite tutorial on knitting small cables without a cable needle: Twisted Stitches.

There are a couple of special increases and decreases in this pattern, which are explained in the stitch glossary. They only occur a few times - mostly you'll be working plain old m1, k2tog, and ssk. This pattern would be suitable for an intermediate or advanced level knitter.



The Heartpops pattern is available to download as a pdf from Ravelry, Loveknitting, Craftsy, or Etsy.

Friday, February 5, 2016

You're invited: Join the Purls KAL!

For the month of February I'm co-hosting a knit-along or KAL with Morag of Vintage Purls, and I hope you'll come join in! If you haven't been part of a knit-along before, the idea is that a group of people knit similar-themed projects, and chat and post photos for the others to admire. The Purls KAL is one of the monthly knit-alongs held in the Ravelry group Budding Designers Downunder.

The theme of the Purls KAL is knitting any of my designs in Vintage Purls yarn. I'm offering a 25% discount on all of my self-published patterns and pattern collections during the first week of the KAL, using the Ravelry coupon code ALLTHEPURLS. You've still got until the end of Sunday to take advantage of the pattern sale. :)

www.ravelry.com/discuss/budding-designers-downunder/3367815/1-25

Full details are in the KAL thread on Ravelry: February 2016 Purls KAL: Baroque Purls + Vintage Purls.

In case you've been wondering, yes there are prizes! Really cool ones too, if I do say so myself. Check them out:

2 Skeins of VP Sock in “Silver Arrow” + “High and Mighty”

2 skeins of VP Max in "A Handful of Silver” + “Man From the Sea”

A notions pouch (or pencil case) by Belinda Piper

A set of stitch markers by Marmalade Scarf + a small pouch (or coin purse)

Aren't they pretty?

And for some pattern inspiration, below are some of my designs using Vintage Purls yarns. They're definitely among my favourites, with their subtle, rich colours and great stitch definition.

Amy's Scarf

Droste Effect

The Beeswax Set

Quite a few knitters have already joined in and posted yarn-photos and work-in-progress photos. It's going to be a fun month! :)