Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New patterns: Rose Jam

Some of you may have gathered I have a bit of a thing for roses. I like to look at them, smell them, and for good measure, eat them! Rosewater and rose jam are lovely in desserts and baking, and fun to experiment with. My favourite combos are quince jam made with rosewater (recipe here), and rose jam on scones with whipped cream. :)

It was only a matter of time before I came up with a rosy knitting pattern, and in fact I've made two: the Rose Jam Hat and matching Rose Jam Mitts.

The stitch pattern is inspired by rose petals, which sometimes have a very sweet heart-shape in some old-fashioned and wild varieties. Like so:

Rosa moyesii, at Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens

Hat features:
  • all-over mini-cable texture inspired by rose petals
  • the petals flow smoothly out of the ribbing and up to the crown 
  • a one-skein project (128-160 yards of worsted-weight yarn)
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • two adult sizes, photos show larger size  
  • both charted and written instructions. 

 Mitts features:
  • all-over mini-cable texture inspired by rose petals
  • the thumb gusset emerges naturally from the stitch pattern
  • a one-skein project (140 yards of worsted-weight yarn)
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways 
  • one size, to fit 7-8" palm circumference
  • both charted and written instructions. 

The 2-stitch cables in the hat and mitts can easily be knit without a cable needle, making these quite straightforward projects for an intermediate-level knitter. I've included a guide in each pattern based on this excellent method.

The yarn I used for my hat and mitts is the famously-squishable Malabrigo Rios, in the semi-solid colour 'Ravelry Red'.

The Rose Jam Hat and Mitts are available as separate patterns, or together.

Ravelry links: Rose Jam Hat and Rose Jam Mitts, and the ebook Rose Jam.
Loveknitting links: Rose Jam Hat and Rose Jam Mitts.


The little white flowers in some of the photos above are from Mum and Dad's Viburnum opulus, known to us as the 'Snowball Tree'. After our Rose Jam photoshoot, Dad took photos of me messing about and making the tree 'snow'. And then he made an animated gif. ;)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A rainbow of lace

Well, my Indie Gift-A-Long knitting is off to a slow start. I somehow sprained my right index finger (don't worry, it's nearly better now!), so I've had a frustrating week of trying not to knit or use my laptop too much.

One slight silver lining was that I finally found time to watch some Craftsy class videos. I'm now in the middle of Miriam Felton's 'Lace Shawl Design' class, and I'm getting some new insights into how lace works. I'm looking forward to the 'fixing mistakes' video, a subject dear to my heart! Here's a Craftsy affiliate link to the class if you're interested: Lace Shawl Design

I clearly have lace on the brain, because I soon found myself browsing through lace patterns on Ravelry. Here's a selection, all by fellow GAL designers - some are more complex, some more simple, most are knitted, one is crocheted, some have texture, some have beads. There were so many that caught my eye, I started narrowing them down by colour, and a rainbow happened...

Tiong Bahru by Åsa Tricosa, photo by Åsa Söderman

Hugs and Stitches by Yuliya Tkacheva

Afterglow by Diana Rozenshteyn

Laura's Leaves by Emily K Williams

Lichen Mists by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud

Midnight in Sydney by Meg Gadsbey

When The Leaves Fall by Lily Go

And for one final bit of lace, check out this amazing yarn-bombed tree! It's part of Yarn Corner's series of tree-cosies in Melbourne's City Square, all with a Christmas theme. The others were cool, but this one really wowed me, especially since I don't see much knitted lace yarnbombing around. The red and green striped under-layer sets off the lovely lace patterns beautifully. <3

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Gift-A-Long is here!

The annual Indie Design Gift-A-Long has begun! Come and join us in the Ravelry group for a knitting/crocheting party, and get some handmade gifts sorted. To kick things off, the participating designers (all 335 of us) are having a 25%-off sale on some of our designs. The sale lasts until Friday 27th of November, but the Gift-A-Long runs until the end of the year with games and prizes to be won.

My on-sale patterns are collected here!

For my first Gift-A-Long post, I'd like to highlight a few patterns by fellow Downunder designers. I can vouch for the Scott Base Socks as an excellent and practical sock pattern, as I made a pair for myself last year. :)

The following beauties are all by NZ or Australian designers, and all are in the 25%-off sale this week. Click the links to see more.

Nardoo by Ambah O'Brien

Awhitu by Kelly Brooker, photo © Briony Singleton

Koru by Libby Jonson

Spirit of Ahuriri by Brenda Green

Daybreak by Nim Teasdale

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New pattern: Deco City

I'm back in Melbourne, and hiding indoors from the heat! A mini-heatwave has arrived to welcome me back. It always takes me a little while to readjust to the time difference too, even though it's only two hours.

One good thing about being back from holiday (other than hanging out with Willie and Ju again) is finally getting my hands on Pom Pom Quarterly's Winter issue and seeing my name in print for the first time as a designer. It's a pretty amazing feeling!

My shawl is called 'Deco City' after New Zealand's capital of Art Deco, Napier. My newly-wed brother lives there with his family, and it's a cool place to visit! I particularly love the art gallery by the waterfront:

Photo by Dad

Deco City is a crescent-shaped shawl with an all-over lace pattern inspired by Art Deco design. It's quite simple to knit, with purled ‘rest’ rows on every wrong-side row and stitch markers to indicate where the middle section begins and ends.

  • curved crescent shape with elegant drape
  • all-over geometric lace pattern
  • top-down construction, beginning with a garter tab cast-on
  • two sizes, photos show larger size
  • requires 318 - 477 yards of sport-weight yarn
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • written pattern only (for greater simplicity in this case)

The lovely deep blue yarn I used is Road to China Light from The Fibre Company, a very soft blend of baby alpaca, silk, cashmere, and camel. I used three skeins for the larger size, but for the smaller you only need two.

Photo by Pom Pom Quarterly

You can buy a digital copy of the magazine (and see all the other designs!)
on Ravelry or on Pom Pom Quarterly's site, and you can buy a print copy directly from Pom Pom or from their retailers.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Craft holiday

My stay in Whakatane is drawing to an end, and on Saturday I'll be flying back to Melbourne. As always, I've done a lot of crafting while hanging out with Mum & Dad, sitting in my favourite knitting spot in the sun-room or bent over the sewing machine.

As part of my getting-ready-for-summer project, I sewed a couple of lightweight cotton skirts. I used the Purl Bee's tutorial Gathered Skirt for All Ages, and adapted it for a longer length and no pockets. My skirts are super comfy to wear, and were quite straightforward to make for a semi-beginner like me. Each one took me two days of tinkering. :)

I also want to finish sewing my ill-fated silk cowl, which will hopefully work out this time around! 

Last week I finished knitting a hat-and-mitts set, tweaked their patterns, and had a photoshoot with Dad behind the camera (which is always fun). I'm planning to release the patterns in December, so I don't want to give too much away just yet. Here's a tiny peek...

Finally, here are a few photos from Mum and Dad's garden. Yesterday I played around with Dad's smaller camera - it's never hard to find interesting things to photograph in a garden...

A rose called 'Greensleeves'

A fern frond unfurling

Plenty of thyme

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dyeing with eucalyptus II

We had a wonderful time in Napier! The food was amazing, the weather was pleasant, and the hotel was great. And so was the main event! Congrats Jeff and Colleen, it was a lovely wedding. I'm so glad Willie and I were able to be there. <3

The day after the wedding, hordes of friends and family descended on the Grays' place for lunch. The best part for me was watching their (very bouncy) dog play with their three goats. We've been hassling Jeff to take a video to put online, because it's ridiculously entertaining...

Between the goat paddock and the beehives were some eucalyptus trees with blue-green leaves. I've been on the lookout for some accessible blue-green eucalypts to dye fabric with, ever since I read in India Flint's Eco Colour that these are the ones which give orange or red dye. I asked nicely, and picked a few good-sized twigs to experiment with back in Whakatane.

On Tuesday I had a go at Flint's 'eco-print' technique, scattering pieces of eucalyptus twigs between the folds of a plain silk scarf, rolling it around a stick, and tying the bundle tightly with string.

I tossed the bundle and some leftover leaves and twigs into a pot with enough water to cover it all, and boiled it all for 45 minutes. Then the hard part began - waiting until the next day to unroll the bundle and see what colours I had!

And... it worked! The scarf has areas of apricot-orange where the leaves were pressed tightly against the fabric, and paler areas in between. I didn't achieve strongly defined leaf prints, but I'm happy with my first attempt. I imagine tighter rolling and tying of the bundle would produce clearer prints.

If you click and enlarge this last photo, you can see stripes in the upper left corner from the string around the bundle. Pretty cool! It's amazing what just leaves + fabric + water + heat can do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bird Sanctuary + Slow Fashion IV

This is another belated Slow Fashion October post, as my weekend was full up with visiting a bird sanctuary, working on a new hat design, choir, brunch, and other pleasant-but-tiring things.

The Serendip Sanctuary was amazing, by the way - very chilled out and quiet (except for the birds), so we were able to take our time wandering around and noticing the more camouflaged wildlife. A lengthy discussion occurred over whether a particular brown shape was a bird, lizard, or stick. It turned out to be a napping tawny frogmouth!

Wetland with birds (click to enlarge, and spot the emus in the distance!)

A tawny frogmouth staring us down

Slow Fashion October prompt:
Week 4, October 19-25: WORN
second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …) / heirlooms

This one's very timely for me, as I've been getting my outfit ready for my brother's wedding this Saturday (yay Jeff!). As usual, I'll be wearing several second-hand pieces - my blouse, jacket, shoes, and jewellery.

I have a glass-bead necklace which I inherited from my Nana, which I've worn on fancy-dress-up occasions before, like choir concerts. It's always been a little too short for me, and the clasp was quite tarnished, so I decided to re-string it for this occasion.



I struggled a bit with knotting the silk thread and securing the ends tidily, but the clasp will be hidden by my hair anyway so I think it's fine.

I also have more mending to do today, if I have time - I'd like to replace the buttons on a black silk shirt so I can wear it to dinner on Friday. We'll be staying at a posh Art Deco hotel in Napier, which I'm looking forward to!

I'll be staying on after the wedding festivities, relaxing at Mum & Dad's and doing lots of sewing and knitting. Can't wait. :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Slow Fashion III

This week's prompt:
Week 3, October 12-18: LOVED
proudest accomplishment / most loved item / most frequently worn item / thing you saved up for / investment pieces / thing you worked a long time on / oldest thing that’s still in rotation

My most frequently worn hand-knit garment is definitely my Blank Canvas jersey. I knit it back in 2013, and in winter I wear it a few times a week.
It's very soft and comforting (the yarn is a DK-weight cashmere from Colourmart), and the three-quarter sleeves are very practical since I'm generally doing stuff with my hands all day. Its simple design and plain dark brown colour make it a perfect wardrobe staple.

Me, my jersey, and my ride (October 2013)

In fact, I'm so happy with this jersey that I'm planning to knit the same pattern again! This time I'll use a 'busier' yarn, since this pattern can take it.

I ordered five skeins of Longrider DK in 'River Water' from Madelinetosh's recent sale, and the parcel arrived this morning (to much excitement). This yarn is a squishy, soft merino with 25% nylon for durability. I want this jersey to last a long time!

Don't you just love the speckles? 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New pattern: Above the Clouds

My latest pattern is a cosy scarf that's been in the works for quite a while.
I had the idea to design a soft textured scarf while looking out the window of an airplane, admiring the shapes of the clouds below. After much swatching, refining, finding the perfect yarn, and knitting, I finally have my scarf! This is Above the Clouds, a worsted-weight wintery scarf with cloudlike texture...

  • knit-and-purl texture based on garter stitch and double moss stitch
  • completely reversible - identical on both sides
  • worsted-weight polwarth/alpaca/possum yarn for warmth
  • unisex style with adjustable length, to suit the wearer's height
  • long-tail cast on + simple knitted bind off
  • both charted and written instructions. 

For my nice long scarf I used 3 balls of Outlaw Yarn's Bohemia Worsted
(a blend of 45% polwarth, 45% alpaca, and 10% possum) in the colour 'Fog', which is a pale silvery grey. The possum and alpaca in the mix give Bohemia a slight fuzzy halo, but still leave stitch patterns well defined.

'Above the Clouds' is available to download as a pdf from Ravelry, Loveknitting, Craftsy, or Etsy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Birthday Sale + Slow Fashion II

I'm having a pattern sale in my Ravelry store! On October 13th, all of my individual self-published patterns will be 20% off. Just use the code BDAYSALE20 at the Ravelry checkout.

I'm not sure yet how we'll be celebrating, but I'm leaning towards fish and chips at the beach. :)


Now on to Slow Fashion October... this week I've been focusing on the 'handmade' part of the prompt:
Week 2, October 5-11: SMALL
handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

I desperately need more lightweight, breezy summer tops, preferably sleeveless or with very short sleeves. Tshirts just don't cut it for an Australian summer! I also want to sew at least one long lightweight skirt with an elastic waist for maximum comfort.

I've been doing lots of research, and even ordering some supplies. I've gotten as far as ordering some fabric, and I've found a few indie patterns for the kinds of tops I want to wear: simple, fuss-free, and beginner-level (especially as I haven't sewn from patterns before). I'm most excited about Sew DIY's Lou Box Top, which includes different options for the neckline and hem. I also ordered a copy of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, which looks amazing.

I'm also hoping to replicate my home-made dinosaur top in a lighter fabric. I sewed the original three years ago and I still wear it regularly! It's held up to wear and washing a lot better than my shop-bought tshirts, which usually end up out-of-shape and shabby after a year or two - hooray for handmade. :)

Dino top + crochet-in-progress (Feb 2014)