Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New pattern: Paper Planes

The third pattern in my 'Paper Hats' set is out - this one's called Paper Planes. A tutorial for making my favourite made-of-actual-paper planes (like the ones in the photos) is included below. I couldn't find one online for this method, so I made my own. :)

  • textured paper-plane shapes, outlined with twisted stitches
  • a cosy garter-stitch brim
  • both charted and written instructions
  • five sizes - for babies, kids, and adults
  • requires only one 50g ball of Merino Soft 4ply from Skeinz
    (or 85-185 yards of 4ply/sock/fingering weight yarn)

There are two kinds of twisted stitches used: the 'normal' one, i.e. knitting through the back loop of a stitch, plus its mirror image, which is slightly more complicated. You slip the stitch knitwise, then slip it back the left needle purlwise, and finally knit the stitch. I've abbreviated this as 'skw spw k', which in my head tends to turn into 'skew spew knit'!


Best Paper Planes
- A tutorial by Amy van de Laar

You will need a pair of scissors, and a sheet of paper - printer paper is fine, or coloured paper if you choose. I usually use a sheet of A4 paper (or a halved sheet of A4). Take care to line up the edges/corners well when you make your folds, and try to make your folds nice and crisp.

1. Fold your paper in half lengthwise, and open it out again:

2. Fold each of the top corners down, to meet the central fold from step 1:

3. Fold the top triangle down, lining up the point with the central fold:

4. Fold your rectangle in half lengthwise, with your folded triangle visible on the outside:

5. Snip a small-ish square out of the top outer corner:

6. Open out your rectangle, with your folded triangle visible on top:

 7. Fold each of the top corners down, to meet the central fold:

8.  Fold the little triangle up, so that the folded parts are 'locked' in place:

9.  Fold your plane in half lengthwise, with the folded parts visible on the outside:

10. Fold down your wings (flight-testing will help you find the best angle):

11. Test out your airplane!

© Amy van de Laar 2014.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Roses after the storm

Last night we had a pretty intense thunderstorm. I don't think I've ever heard that much thunder - loud, rapid-fire waves of it. Needless to say, no-one got enough sleep last night! But my roses look amazing covered in the rainy aftermath...

This is my 'Lamarque' rose, which came back from the dead last summer (it had dried out during one of our heatwaves and played dead for a few weeks). It has an amazing scent, and I love the way the petals unfurl from the centre. It's a really old-fashioned-looking rose. <3

Here are a couple of shots I took a few days ago, when the first flowers were newly open:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New pattern: Paper Hearts

Introducing the second pattern in my 'Paper Hats' collection: Paper Hearts!

  • a ring of hearts, outlined with simple 2-stitch mini-cables
  • knit-purl texture within each heart, imitating woven paper
  • a cosy garter-stitch brim
  • both charted and written instructions
  • five sizes - for babies, kids, and adults

You will need 95-220 yards of 4ply/sock/fingering weight yarn, depending on the size you knit. I used Skeinz Merino Soft 4ply in Red. It's such a bright, pure red I had real trouble photographing it! The glow is quite something...

As you can see, the inspiration for this hat is woven paper hearts, which are a Christmas-time tradition in northern Europe. They make very cute ornaments - in fact, we still have a couple of ribbons-ful hanging from our ceiling from last Christmas! 

Here are a couple of tutorials, if you'd like to make some:
How to Make Woven Paper Hearts (includes a template)
Making Woven Paper Heart Baskets to Celebrate Santa Lucia Day

And here is a crochet pattern for woven hearts: Danish Heart by Allison Baker. I made a couple of them last December, in the midst of my decorating excitement. ;)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy birthday to me!

I'm 35 today (whoa). So far, the highlight has been a gift voucher for one of my favourite yarn shops - thanks Mum & Dad! And for dinner tonight, I have been promised pancakes. :)

The other thing I've been up to today is releasing a new hat pattern, called 'Paper Crown'...

Fittingly, it's inspired by the paper crowns worn at kids' birthday parties. Here's a not-so-recent example (my Dearest Brother is doing his best to steal my candle-blowing glory):

The hat is a fairly simple knitted beanie, livened up with some mini-cables forming the crown shape between the ribbing and the plain top. 'Paper Crown' would make a great introduction to knitting cables if you haven't tried them before. Here is my favourite tutorial on knitting mini-cables without a cable needle: twisted stitches.

Five sizes are included in the pattern: Baby (to fit 16"/40.5cm head) Toddler (18"/45.5cm), Kid/Teen (20"/50.5cm), Adult Small (22"/56cm), and Adult Large (24"/61cm).

You'll need a smooth, bouncy 4ply/fingering/sock yarn - I used Merino Soft 4ply from Skeinz, in 'Gold'. One 50g ball will be enough for any size, but you might be cutting it fine for the Adult Large size (I'd get two balls to be safe).
How to Make a Regular, Life-Sized King's Crown Out of Paper Only

Read more :
How to Make a Regular, Life-Sized King's Crown Out of Paper Only

Read more :
How to Make a Regular, Life-Sized King's Crown Out of Paper Only

Read more :
How to Make a Regular, Life-Sized King's Crown Out of Paper Only

Read more :

'Paper Crown' is the first in a set of five hat patterns inspired by the paper-craft projects I enjoyed as a kid. We had a couple of great books with step-by step projects. I have particularly fond memories of the excellent paper plane design, and the origami water-bomb. ;)

I'll be releasing my 'Paper Hats' collection hat-by-hat over the next few weeks. Here's a preview - yes, I had great fun making the photo props!

If you want to make an actual paper crown, here's a really easy method:
How to make a regular, life-sized king's crown out of paper only

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy strawberries and lemons for tonight's pancake extravaganza. Yeaaahh lemon & sugar!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I've been playing around with some really lovely yarns lately, super-soft and luxurious! I thought I'd tell you about them all at once. ;)

Two of the yarns have been knit into swatches for a secret project - a design submission to the knit magazine Twist Collective. It's my first submission to a publication, so it's been pretty exciting (and nerve-wracking)! I can't show you the swatches, but I can show you the fancy yarn: "ethical superfine merino" from Tasmania's White Gum Wool, and the merino/silk blend "Scrumptious" from Fyberspates, both in 4ply/fingering weight. The silk content in the aptly-named Scrumptious gives it a nice sheen, which helps highlight textured stitch patterns like moss stitch and garter stitch.

White Gum Wool 4ply, and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply

Next is a brand-new luxury yarn from New Zealand, which I just had to get my hands on: "Vanitas" from Outlaw Yarn. It's a DK-weight blend of alpaca and a little bit of merino. I love the design of the ball-band!

The colours are inspired by European 'vanitas' paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries. A couple of examples (click to enlarge):

Philippe de Champaigne, Still-Life with a Skull, c.1671

Adriaen van Utrecht, Vanitas - Still Life with Bouquet and Skull, c.1642
Johann de Cordua, Vanité au buste, 1665

So you can see why this yarn appealed to me! I chose the colours 'Vanity' and 'Mahogany'. I'll probably turn them into a cowl and a hat. :)

Lastly, I managed to get my hands on some very special yarn through a bit of luck. I entered a contest on Instagram by posting a photo of a past-or-present knitting project using Zealana's yarn. I entered this photo of my 'Bushwalk Beanie' knit in their Kauri 4ply:

And I won! My very generous prize arrived last week - four balls of the cashmere/possum/silk blend Air laceweight, along with a book of patterns.

It's very, very soft and has Zealana's usual subtly-heathered look and slight halo from the possum fur. I think a striped scarf or shawl will really make the most of this yarn. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A 48-hour adventure

This past weekend was completely insane. Hours of intense concentration alternating with hours of waiting, not enough sleep, fast meals, quick costume changes, and a very ill-timed migraine... yes, I was involved in a 48 Hour Film Project! It's a kind of film-making endurance event, where your team finds out on the Friday evening what genre you'll be doing (drawn at random), and you're given a set line of dialogue, prop, and character to include in your 4-7 minute film. You then have until the Sunday evening to write the script, film it, add music and sound effects, edit it, and get two digital copies to headquarters before the deadline.

Celena had put together a fantastic team of film students, musicians and assorted skilful folk. The music team (the three Lewises and me) had expected to be needed only on the Saturday to put together some background music and whatever else was needed. However, the genre we drew was 'Musical'.
So once we all got over our shock and dismay, the writers started writing and the composers started composing...

The music team set up a 'lair' in a bedroom at our team's base. Laptops and keyboards and instruments were everywhere! I recorded some vocals for one of the musical numbers, plus a drawn-out high-C for a sound effect. Chloe's amazing new microphone was a huge help:

A most excellent microphone
Chloe and Willie composing amidst the chaos

I hadn't expected to actually appear on camera, but I did! We were filmed playing our instruments for the film's intro, and we appear in another couple of scenes as well. I was a bit freaked out at first, but got over it pretty quick. :)

Being filmed for the intro (photo by Celena)

I've now seen the finished film, and it's both fun and funny - yay! There are definitely a few things we would have tweaked if we'd had more time, but on the whole it's a damn good effort.

I can't wait to go and see all the films on the big screen in two weeks time. We're pretty confident we have a shot at some of the prizes. Fingers crossed! ;)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sanctuary II

It's parrot time! The 'Land of Parrots' enclosure was definitely the highlight of our trip to Healesville. We were a little nervous feeding the birds (with birdseed and 'nectar') at first, because they're pretty rowdy and are as likely to land on your arm/hand as on the feeding dish. But we soon got used to them, and had a great time admiring their colourful feathers close up - and taking zillions of photos! Make sure you click to enlarge the ones below. :)

These green-and-red Scaly-Breasted Lorikeets were the busiest and noisiest birds there:

Feasting on flowering wattle

Nectar party!

Posing with parrots
My favourite birds were the Regent Parrots, who were a little more reserved than the lorikeets. I love their colours, and cute faces...

Such a cool colour combo!

There were also budgies and finches flitting about, and popping in and out of holes in the tree trunks. They mostly stayed out of the way of the lorikeets, and we didn't manage to lure any down for a feed.

Budgie meeting

In an adjoining enclosure, we found the bigger birds. The keeper was trying to lure some of the parrots and cockatoos down for the 'Spirits of the Sky' show, but they had other ideas! This Red-Tailed Cockatoo eventually cooperated, and got a treat for his trouble:

A well-camouflaged bird with a bright blue eye

An Eclectus Parrot eating out of Willie's hand

I definitely want to visit again! Birds are so cool. :)