Thursday, May 19, 2016

Finished project: Royally Striped

You guys, I actually finished a garment! This only happens once or twice a year, I am sloooow when it comes to garment knitting - mostly because I have so many other things I want to knit, and if they're my own designs I prioritise them. Which is totally great! But I think I need to get back to doing purely ME-knitting on the weekends, because I'd love a couple more jerseys and cardies in my wardrobe.

This is my Royally Striped cardie, designed by Stephen West and knit in a combo of Morris and Sons Norway 8ply (the natural charcoal and brown colours) and Vintage Purls Max (the burgundy and golds). The golds are actually the leftovers from my Beeswax Set, now put to good use. :)




Isn't this mural neat? It's across the train tracks from our place, on the side of some storage units. I like the little people climbing around in the eucalyptus branches.

Royally Striped is an all-in-one-piece design, where you knit one section and then pick up stitches for the next section. It's quite magical, the way it grows and grows. I really like the i-cord bind off around all of the edges, it finishes it off really tidily. I did add a big wooden button, but I prefer the way it looks unbuttoned.

The striped short-row wedges were fun to knit - don't they look cool?


Here's a closer look at the back, with its block of colourful narrow stripes:


I do love the cuddliness of garter stitch!



Next up will be another one of these. Not as exciting (especially as I've knit one before), but it will be a great basic super-wearable jersey. And my yarn is speckled, so scratch that - it IS exciting!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

New pattern: Amarilli

I have something especially pretty to share with you today! This floaty, lacy shawl is Amarilli, part of the Wool People 10 collection and my second design published in collaboration with Brooklyn Tweed.


You can see the whole collection in the beautiful Lookbook. As well as a few more lace scarves and shawls, there are some very cosy-looking cabled jerseys (I especially love Marylebone).

Below are a couple of backyard photos of Amarilli, which we took late last year before sending it off to Brooklyn Tweed. I've been keeping this one a secret for quite a while!




Amarilli is knit in Brooklyn Tweed's new laceweight yarn, Plains. It's a laceweight with a lot of character and springiness, which gives a slightly rustic feel to the shawl. I used the colour 'Ranier', a calm blue-grey-with-a-hint-of-green that reminds me of lichen.

My starting point for this design was a 'bell lace' pattern from one of Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries. I charted it out, tweaked it to fit a triangular shape, and added a border in keeping with the lace pattern. The design difficulty was in making the edges and border of the shape work with the stitch pattern - it took me a while to find a tidy and elegant solution!

Features:
  • all-over floral lace pattern which becomes nicely intuitive
  • knit and purl stitches only on wrong-side rows
  • top-down triangular construction with garter-tab cast on
  • requires 2 skeins of Plains by Brooklyn Tweed (or 750yds of laceweight yarn)
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • one size: 60" wingspan, 30" along spine
  • both charted and written instructions.


    I named this shawl Amarilli because the lace motifs look like flowering bulbs - think amaryllis, lily, or crocus - but I also had a famous early Baroque song in mind, 'Amarilli, mia bella' by Giulio Caccini (published in Le Nuove Musiche, 1602). It's a very common song for young sopranos to learn - if you know someone who has had formal singing lessons, chances are they know it!

    You can hear the song here:


    And here is a different take on it, a much more decorated version published by Johann Nauwach in 1623:


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    You can purchase the pattern for the Amarilli shawl from Ravelry, or from the Brooklyn Tweed website.

    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...