Tuesday, 24 June 2008

next

Oh that was quick! More delightful Pippijoe fabric and stash lining and batting. Super quick and my own pattern.

And because I can't stand to waste a scrap - a little bag to hold my sock knitting for the commute to work. Whew. Time for a rest now. Or perhaps a wee swatch knitting session...

out of the box

There's been a wee burst of activity here. Highly enjoyable and productive.

The bunch of crochet classes I am currently teaching has shifted my butt into gear on this project which has been languishing for too long. I hate it how Ravelry tells you exactly how long. There's only the border edging to do and it is done. I can't wait to block it and throw it in the tumble dryer where apparently it will get softer and thicker (how could that be possible?!) and the natural undyed cotton colours will deepen. Despite being a little splitty I still totally love this yarn. Though after hearing that Malabrigio has a very similar organic cotton I may be tempted to stray...

I've also vowed to start making my way through some of the truly breathtaking screen print fabrics I have in the stash. This Pippijoe hemp has been burning a hole in my imagination so I just had to get it out there. Since I bought the wonderful Japanese handles nearly 2 years ago I figured it was about time I used them too. Inside there's a little frivolity with Trefle pigs and chickens and a stunning array of pockets and slots for all my bits and pieces. Including one edged in fold over elastic (great stuff you can get here) just big enough for business cards. We'll have to see how I go balancing it on my arm whilst knitting on the tram.

I also finished a hat for a friend. I had to frog the top to reset the shaping (he wanted it squared off and flat on top) and it ended up too big so I had to felt it lightly. Really a bit more traumatic than a hat should be, but he was totally particular about what he wanted and I was busting to meet his expectations. I really like the finished fabric - still soft and with clear stitch definition, but the felting has given it lovely structure.

And since D nearly lost a hand yesterday when taking my cast iron casserole out of the oven with his 20 year old mitts (yep, worn out) I'm onto oven mitts today.

As my flickr watchers may have noticed I have been a bit interested in looking up lately. So I was thrilled to be asked to a function on the 89th floor of one Melbourne's newest sky scrapers. Just my luck that there was a cloud hovering...

And finally some cute. My boy is at a really delightful stage right now and I can't get enough of watching him be charming.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

time time time see what's become of me (or: I'm an old bag and I don't care)

It's all been happening around here.

I turned 40 and had a seriously good party to celebrate (photos here).

Things that crossed my mind during the storm that was party preparation, speech writing (in my head only - when it came time to speak I just mumbled thanks and let everyone get on with the eating and drinking), very long morning after which started approximately 3.15 hours after the night before ended, and whilst wandering from conversation to conversation:
  • I am happier at 40 than I have been at any other time in my life (despite the falling apart physically thing which really sucks). I really love my life
  • The falling apart thing really sucks
  • Some people don't listen when you say no presents please (and sometimes that is a really excellent thing especially when they have good taste and know me well)
  • A sister you can depend upon is worth a lot. Especially when she is also skilled and capable and fun and can cook a really superior cake (lemon syrup with a lemon curd and fresh cream filling, just in case you wanted to know)
  • Left over cake is the gift that keeps giving
  • I am really lucky to have so many good friends. It's trite but no less true
  • The skirt felt as good to wear as I had hoped (and I did get that top made)
  • The only thing I regret about not getting married is a chance to tell everyone in a long detailed way how great D is
  • When it comes to a big party, children who wake before 5am the morning after are a serious liability.
My 3 year bogging anniversary has also passed unmarked, even though I have a big box of stuff for giveaways and swaps. Time. Too short. Much to say. Soon.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Greed

Many years, decades even, of fabric buying, collecting and hoarding has taught me a thing or two.

It has taught me to take what you can when you can, for this opportunity may not come your way again. From original screen prints in limited runs to op shops finds and bequests from de-stashers - an offer of good fabric cannot, should not be refused.

I know there are some problems with this. Space for one. Organising systems and relocation problems. Choosing quantities is a total pain if you don't yet know what a piece of fabric will become (an evening purse? doll clothes? an overcoat?). Colourway choices can reduce me to a blithering idiot.

But what I know for sure is that if I set out to buy a particular kind of fabric for a particular purpose I am almost guaranteed to be unable to find it, and to waste a whole sewing day looking to boot. This is tantamount to inviting the sewing mozz to come stay. Frustration in extremis.

I just love that when the mood and opportunity come together I can make pretty much anything without needing to go shopping first. Like today. Two kid free hours and the centre piece of my birthday outfit was all but done. It features a selection of silk fabrics, one I inherited from D's grandmother that must be older than me, scraps from vintage kimonos, pieces of Thai silk I bought back from Chiang Mai and left over silk lining from two previous outfits.

Aside from being perpetually prepared for any sewing whim, my other great lesson has been to cut with abandon. I won't kid you that this one is always easy, but bitter experience has taught me that no piece of fabric is too special to be used. You need to strike when the iron is ready to burn.

How do I know this? Many a piece has been coveted by me only to end up being given away when I no longer care for it. There have been premeditated purchases I have lusted after and spent considerable dollars on. Fabric I loved so fiercely that I kept it for just the right project on a day when I was feeling supremely confident.

The Project That Never Came.

And then a few years later as I am digging for treasure I find it and somehow it just isn't special any more. Its moment has passed and I never got to enjoy the use of it. How wrong is that?

So the other piece of fabric I used today was the bundle of denim and stainless steel my fashion icon (man, can she sew!) procured for me just a few weeks ago. I love this stuff so much I never even put it into the stash. It's been sitting on my desk screaming out to be used ever since I got it.

I was so scared I might let the moment slip with this fabric that I pushed away my initial plans for it because I knew I just wasn't going to have the time and space to get that project done. Instead I opted for an entirely achievable and no less pleasing project. In fact this garment makes excellent use of the fabric's drape and hold. I'm planning on wearing it for a very special occasion, but I know it will get plenty of use after that too.

Thank you so very much Kirsten! I love it!!

The basic structure of the skirt is from Ottobre magazine, though I altered it heavily and the embellishments are of my own devising (with advice and opinions from Amy and D). Some of my alterations were brought about by needing to make it smaller (such a lovely chore for me), but now that I know what size I am in their scheme* I won't be making that mistake again. I am sure I will be whipping up a few more of these now that I have the fittings down pat.

I am eyeing off some top patterns too for the luscious piece of merino tencel I bought (also hasn't made it as far as the stash), with perhaps a few embellishments from the knit stash box. I can't quite see how I'll fit that in between now and the party, but never say never.


*Does it happen to everyone else too that they take their measurements for a commercial pattern, find out they are a MUCH bigger size than they are in shop made clothes and then make the clothes only to find they are too big? I have been sewing for a long time and it drives me nuts the way I always get sucked into making this mistake.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

pride

Sometimes a little project works out so well I feel a real buzz of pride. It doesn't happen all that often, I can easily get caught up in the comparison game and find my work lacking when it stands next to what I had pictured in my mind or the outstanding work of others. But this week while making a real effort to churn through a few of the things on my to do list in preparation for a big upcoming milestone of mine (hello middle age!) I finally finished the baby blanket. A little bit about how it began. My friend the communist is about to become a parent. I have planned a number of baby projects for his about to be youngster but everything has gone wrong with them from materials supply to seasonal requirements to gender considerations. I was hitting dead ends and the clock was ticking on arrival time.

Quite some time ago I was bequeathed a hand knit jumper made from undyed wool my sister in law's mother had spun. It had a lovely lustre and was actually plenty big enough for me (miracle!), though the sleeves did come down to my knees (clearly it wasn't made for a short fat girl but rather a very large and tall man) and the drop shoulder box shape was not exactly flattering. For ages I contemplated dying it. Then trying to alter it. Then at last I decided to frog it. I just couldn't go past the divine wool and what with my dying obsession, well, it was a marriage made in heaven. first I unpicked it all which was not an inconsiderable job. Next I started to unravel the sleeves which was a total bitch of a job. The wool is a bit fuzzy and slubby and caught ever 5 stitches and kept breaking. As I was pulling and swearing and untangling Amy (who was sitting beside me) complained of being cold and pulled the as yet not unravelled back over her knees. The moment she snuggled down it was all too obvious how I could make use of the beautiful work that had already been put into the jumper but give it my own spin too and make sure it would get the visibility and use the gorgeous fibre deserved. So I finished frogging the sleeves and skeined out the balls I'd made and Amy and I dyed it in stunning shades of red (as befits the son of a communist). Next I picked up all the stitches on three sides of the back, leaving the bottom rib band as the blanket's top edge, and knit a mitred gartered stitch border. Lastly I embroidered a little Ee on the bottom for the intended recipient and posted it off to a far away place where it is cold.
This project is, to my mind, darn near perfect and one of the very few I have had real trouble parting with. I have no need for a baby blanket, and if I did I would always pull out of the cupboard the snuggly alpaca cable my mum made for Wil. But nonetheless. I want to have it around to stroke and look at.

And such success has been most timely. It has been a week in which I have had cause for much self-reflection, not all of it in a good way. A long standing stressful situation came to a (for me) dramatic and abrupt end and it has really given me pause for thought. There have been a couple of times in my life when I have stayed in a situation long beyond when I instinctively knew nothing good was coming from it, but still I persisted. And every time I have ended up doing things I'm not proud of. I've lost perspective, become frustrated, behaved badly.

We've been re-watching our DVD collection of West Wing and in light of recent events I have acutely felt the trade offs that get made in the political cut and thrust. I've always felt that injuries inflicted and hurts received were an inevitable part of not just big P politics, but in all realms where people come together and do big and messy work. Crosses to bear or something. But something in how I regard this kind of work has shifted this last week. I think it is no accident of circumstance that I am not Josh Lyman or CJ Craig and right now I feel immensely glad of that.

So it's nice to stand back and admire a spot of knitting and feel like I've got some things right.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

woof

Wil loves dogs. Oof and Og are frequent almost words. Said whilst looking out windows or riding in the pusher or looking at books with four legged friends in them.
Woof dog was made using my own hand dyed yarn and a made up pattern.