Monday, 27 April 2009

poodle girl

DSCF4821, originally uploaded by Soozs.

She so loves it. Me, not so much.

I prefer the lining and the sweet snipet of Aunty Cookie pocket.

craft camp

craft weekend, originally uploaded by Soozs.

two skirts
two tops
two toys
a bag

a lovely, lovely time.

Monday, 20 April 2009

in the pink

in the pink, originally uploaded by Soozs.

A slightly modified version of the hat for Amy. Her fabric choice I hasten to add. She's delighted. I'm still learnin'.

Sunday, 19 April 2009


If you read this blog regularly you've probably got the idea that I'm mostly a make it up as you go along kind of person. While I have toyed with other ways to do things, and despite my preference for having a plan, a list, a map of where I'm headed, I have definitely come from a background of responding to what's in front of me rather than stepping out.

As a crafter this means I have not traditionally been one for patterns. I learned to knit and sew mostly by trial and error, and when I was very young relying on my mum to interpret what came next. It's kind of funny, on reflection, because patterns should really slot right into my love of organising the chaos around me.

But as an early crafter patterns were always a disappointment and since I lacked the skills to fully understand, appropriately alter and selectively disregard them, I abandoned them altogether. I learned most of my garment making skills through a process of elimination, often making the same dumb assumptions over and over again, starting with a piece of fabric on the floor and a vague outline of my body on it. I'd them gradually take it in seam by seam till it sort of resembled a piece of clothing. Lots and lots of failures in there, lots of tantrums (I was a teenager afterall) but also a lot of first principle learning that has stood me in good stead.

Much later I learned pattern drafting, which made me realise how utterly in the dark I'd been as a sewer, and later still I started down the road of understanding and creating knitting and crochet patterns. It's kind of ironic that at a time in my crafting career that, if I had learned in a more traditional way I would be at last abandoning my reliance on patterns, I have gained a whole new respect for them.

While my tendency when presented with a new challenge is still to make stuff up, I am increasingly enjoying the process of just following directions. I'm much more savvy about what I use a commercial pattern for, and whose patterns I'd use, and my frame of mind when using one, but having two such different approaches in my repertoire is very useful.

With all this floating through my head I happily agreed to test a new hat pattern for Nicole. I have made up hats, and they've been quite OK, but not at all approaching real millinery. So I was interested to see if a pattern could take me somewhere really new, and was very pleased when it did.

There's a lot in taking any kind of craft project from the basics to the finessed, and following Nicole's pattern did exactly that for me with the techniques for hat making. This hat is far more complex and finely finished than anything I have ever done before. I am hoping D likes it because I think it would really suit him! I'd like to try the pattern again, using what I learned I think it will be even better, perhaps with the wider brim for me.

Friday, 17 April 2009

lines in the sand

We've been at the beach. Drawing in the sand, building castles and hunting eggs. And being cold, and thus appreciating all the more the patches of glorious sunshine.

Wil delighted in the easter deal for the first time, Amy spent a good many days absorbed in a puzzle book. She's getting a taste for both crosswords and crochet, a girl after her mother's heart.

Feedback on the hair cut has been good - most commonly that it makes me look younger, which I guess is something I could do with. I remember with nostalgia a time when all I wanted was to look older.

There has been much knitting. A few lines crossed here too, lines I didn't imagine myself crossing not so long ago.

Firstly a piece of knitting that is well, just about the knitting. The start of an enormous 1x1 rib scarf in plain cream. Not so long ago I would have thought this was such a waste of time and the very definition of boredom - scarf! cream! rib! And while it could not be considered remotely challenging to knit, the yarn is the single most amazing thing I have ever touched (like a cloud I tell you) and the giant knit stitches are so incredibly pleasing to me that the experience of knitting it is more sensual than anything I have ever done before. A celebration of the utter simplicity, the essence of knitting.

The yarn is an experimental run (read: may well pill or fall apart or who the heck knows) from Shiloh Wool, made using their superb silky wool (that's regular 100% wool that's had the crimp removed and any hint if tickle along with it) mixed with mulberry silk. I bought both the giant skeins they had at the Bendigo wool show and I've been stroking it for close to a year now with the plan for a scarf just like this brewing in my head.

More test knitting. Getting there on the new pattern.

I also finally finished the Hey Teach! cardi. This a project that has been a real education for me - combining both challenges relating to the project itself and challenges about the knitting process. This is a project which has ridden the full gamut from near obsessional pattern stalking (as Nicole from Stash and Burn terms it) through frustration, excitement, despair, abandonment, martyrdom and finally triumph - talk about a freaking roller coaster!

I've thought out several blog posts along the way about the hardship of living in a country where the dominant yarn weight is 8ply/DK when you love pattern designers from a country where the dominant yarn weight is 10ply/worsted. Like a cross cultural marriage made in compromise hell.

Then there was the one about finding myself knitting a lace garment and how much I have grown as a knitter to find myself sitting on the tram with my laminated annotated lace chart balanced on my knee whilst working on a real life adult garment. Such a leap.

I could have written a whole post about gauge when I cast off the back, realised that my gauge swatch (I swatched! Lots!) bore no relationship to the gauge I had achieved in the garment and the back was several inches too small. Oh the humanity. And then the elation of seeing the yarn totally flop on washing thus bringing the garment bang on back to gauge.

There was a lesson or two about technique too when my observation about the smallness of my eyelets led a fellow knitter to observe that my yarn overs were wrong (really you are supposed to bring the yarn UNDER the needle which should be totally obvious from the term yarn OVER, right?) and so I started doing them right so now the lace on the back and the fronts is completly different. And how I told myself that would be OK.

And then the post where I realised it was not OK, it was delusional to think it was OK. And how I decided to cut my losses and stop right there and call it a learning experience - hey teach! I learned OK? - and be thankful I didn't invest too much in the yarn and so on and so forth.

But even as I wrote that post in my head I knew that I couldn't stand by that kind of talk. Persistence would teach me a whole other kind of lesson, so I decided to carry on and write about getting as much learning as one can from a project, that even if the finished object was already a dead loss there was still stuff to be learned.

But hey, just to prove than in education there is always more to learn, it turned out the whole thing worked afterall. So there's a whole evolution there, a whole chrysallis and another line crossed.

And I really like the finished product. I like the lace and the set in sleeves and the buttons and the colour. It isn't perfect, there are things I'd change and I know it would be better in a lighter weight yarn, but it worked and it is more than wearable. So you know, yay me. I'll post all the mod and yarn details over on Ravelry as soon as I get a chance.

I knocked off another cross over neck warmer for my MIL, using up the other skein of Colinette Jitterbug I had in my stash that I will not ever use for socks since the bugger wears through in nothing flat. Quick and satisfying - a great pattern from 101 designer one skein wonders.

I've made bugger all progress on the crochet toy monkey.

I had both kids with me in crap-mart the other day to get dye for D's linen trousers (which came out perfect by the way) and left with hot pink zip up knee high suede boots and a Lightening McQueen T-shirt. It crossed my mind that somewhere I got possessed by someone who was not me and I wasn't entirely comfortable with that. But both kids were freakin rapt and Wil has worn the shirt and keenly followed it through the washing process and got it back on the second it was dry. And Amy has worn her boots all day every day since.

And I could write more about that - I should write more about that - because branding and consumption and all that are actually really really important, but I'm afraid I am all out of time. D is off again - Aceh this time in case you were interested - and with school holidays I am highly sought after right now.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

snip snip

new hair, originally uploaded by Soozs.

All gone. Such a nice feeling. A whole other kind of tidy.


tidy, originally uploaded by Soozs.

Ever since I got my own craft/office space, I have been in a losing struggle against the stuff. The stash, the tools, the projects, the mending piles, the stuff. It filled the space under my work table, across my desk and all over the floor and quite frankly it was getting me down.

But because I have a really really great partner, I was able to do something about it. And not some compromise off the shelf option from Ikea. This unit is made to the exact specifications of my stash boxes (also thoughtfully chosen with D's superior input) so I can slide the big boxes in and out easily, without wasting any space.

It is fabuloso and has inspired all kinds of re-organising that should see me able to put my hands on absolutely anything at the drop of a hat. So happy.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

things I am trying to remember to do

...finish the amigurumi monkey I started for class last weekend
...finish the hey teach cardi rapidly becoming my millstone
...finish the scarf for the April family birthday giftee
...clean up my goddam desk already
...sort through all the paper work in my drawers pertaining to old computers and redundant electronic equipment. What a freakin waste of space that is. the bills
...go through all my old interweave knits/knit books/ravelry in some kind of systematic search for a stole pattern for the stormy silk merino. Or you know, make one up using my stitch dictionaries the same search as above for a jumper for me for cooler weather
...dye yarn for me for above
...and search again for a jumper pattern for D (I know, the CURSE...)
...dye yarn for D for above knit my new pattern
...write up the skirt pattern form last year and load it up to Ravelry baby gifties to my buddy
...find some winter boots that fit around my monster calves
...fold all my fabric using the 6.5 inch ruler method linked to here
...rewrite my class handouts and materials sheets
...knit a new hoodie for Wil from the pear tree stash
...knit something for Amy so she doesn't bitch about being left out
...knit D some new socks for father's day some sewing, just to keep my hand in
...find out more about using the overlocker the last 2 episodes of mad men season 2 before I forget what all the other episodes were about some mending - the pile is out of control a day trip on the train to Kyenton before it is too cold some video editing of Thailand footage and for a baby DVD for Wil so he doesn't grow up hating me for treating him shabbily as a second child.
...cook a decent meal for a change
...knit myself some socks. Nice ones.
...see the chiro and go for a swim
...knit the checkers and backgammon boards from weekend knitting
...make some stuff from the meet me at mikes book
...have a nap