Friday, 28 January 2011


I've been playing with dyes, using up scraps I bought for $4 a kilo from the Bendigo Mills back room. An assortment of weights, quite a few of them 'unbalanced singles' according to those who know what such a term means. This year I hope to get a bit more creative with my dyeing.

I've also cast on for Harvest Moon. Many thanks for the comments and suggestions, especially those who, er, didn't pull any punches. It's been said before my taste is dubious and now I know for sure! Anyway, the Harvest moon pattern is amazing. Even from the very early stages it's obvious Heidi really knows her stuff - the construction is well thought out, neat and very clever without being difficult. It's greatly enthusing me to knit the Space Girl too (despite your dire warnings).

And the Elsa wool is every bit the delight I thought it would be - rustic and sheepy but super soft and smooshy, quite unlike anything I have knit before. I've been hankering for this wool ever since I saw Alex use it last year and when the Aussie dollar peaked against the US I bought enough for a jumper, plus a little of the lighter weight for something else down the track.

I've also been sorting out my machine knit suite - I bought a new slightly better machine on ebay to replace my Singer 321 which has been passed on to my good friend Maria (blog pending - c'mon Maria!). With a good work over and some spare parts from the wonderful Angela I'm very happy. Between this punchcard machine and my simplistic vintage 200d I have 2 really good work horse machines. I recently acquired another kind of machine - a rare Singer Junior Knitter which I bought as much for the oddity value as anything else - and Amy is dead keen to make it hers. I've yet to give it much of a run, but it is a teeny tiny cutie and may serve me well as a handy go anywhere small project machine. I will report!

I've also organised a course of lessons to move my skill acquisition from random experimentation to systematic experience with the hope it will help me realise some of the garments dancing in my head. I'm really looking forward to some structure now that I feel like I have a grasp of the machines themselves. I think back to how I was in the first few weeks of machining where I felt like I had absolutely no idea at all, stumbling in the dark trying to work out what the hell was going on. Now I am definitely past that stage but still held back by big chunks of missing expertise. The clases are well spaced over a six month period, so I should be regularly posting here about the exciting new things I've learned.

So as you can see, it's been all about yarn of late. With the kids still on holidays and general family chaos, it's been hard to think bigger. I've also decided that for the coming craft camp I want to be more organised than I generally am, so I'm going to start stockpiling projects, using the time between now and then to sort and maybe cut some projects to sew while I am away. I'm car pooling this time and need to be disciplined about space, but I also want to be able to just pull out some stuff I've already done the think work for.  At least, that's the plan.

Friday, 21 January 2011


So I said I'd share and now I am. This is the highlights of the summer sewing.

A final edit on the sack dress I refashioned the year before last. I'd never been happy with the existing neck, it had really awful machine embroidery in orange and a heavy facing that really weighed the top haft of the dress down. It also had a zip down the back which really wasn't needed, so I took it out, cut off the facings and added a light cotton twisted neck (a la ms assemblage).

I made this very heavy weight silk top a long time ago and in my suit wearing days it got a lot of use in the winter. But like lots of things I made ages ago, the shoulders were not exactly right, and because I'm holding up the camera they still don't look right but trust me, they are! I added two pin tucks on either shoulder sloping down to the centre front and back and can I say for a 5 minute sewing job this has really been transformative. Not only is the fit improved but it is more interesting and the faux  v neck that results breaks up my expansive bust line in a flattering sort of way.

I started this shirt back at craft camp, but it sat unfinished for over a month (not like me at all!). The photo isn't great - I do need to get the camera remote thing happening don't I?? - but I really like this shirt a lot. It is made from a fairly lightweight linen elastine, which is my favourite fibre combination right now. The dart placement is unusual (and excellent) and taken from a vintage pattern Michelle lent me. Her pattern was for a dress and it didn't have a front opening, so my shirt doesn't much resemble the original! I love the sleeve bindings (I'm not a cuff fan) and the front zip, but it is the collar I really love.

Next I made this hot day dress - a trade off between comfort and sackyness. I used the blue/grey mottled jersey I got from the opshop (I figure this dress cost about $0.80) to try out something loosely based on an Ottobre pattern that didn't come in my size. The result is fantastic, I was super pleased and then promptly spilt mayo all down the front of it. Luckily I was all ready to make a second version anyway.

In version 2, made with a shot black/red linen, I added an extra seam so I could pop some pockets in. I love this one too, though I think the jersey one is a little more flattering, this one is definitely more stylish. A couple of times I've worn it over leggings or pants and it feels great.

I finally made this drape drape top for myself - having already made it for someone else and simply dismissed the possibility of getting that itty bitty size to fit me. But hey, those voluminous styles are clearly adaptable! This one is made of a gauzy grey cotton knit and it's getting a bit of use these days over grotty T-shirts.

This top is made with a Jalie pattern from a heavy weight cotton elastine jersey. I picked it up as a remnant (Tessuti?) and then dyed it this colour. This will be a great one in winter, the fit is pretty good and I'd be keen to make one or two more, slightly altered. It shows up that I did all my sewing without the use of an ironing board and with a very rudimentary 30+ year old iron!

Another reno on an existing top. This knit had saggy shoulders and no shape - I unpicked the sleeve seams, raised the shoulders and shaped the side seams. Once it's ironed (!) it should be good.

I started renovating this shirt in the great turnover of 2009 but I didn't finish! I raised the shoulders, shortened the sleeves and hem, added darts all over the place and out of sheer frustration sewed the front opening closed. The soft fabric combined with stretched out button holes meant it kept coming open is a very not good way. It ended up being quite a bit over work over the two sessions of altering, but I really love the collar on this one so I'm glad I persisted.

I also did a pile of other entirely uninteresting hems and repairs that are not at all photo worthy.

Although I didn't knit much there are a few catch up items here.

I finally photographed the kimono cardi I knitted on the machine at last craft camp. This time I used a heavier yarn and it's much less drapey and soft than the first version, but also much warmer. I love the dye job (not too clear in this pic I'm sorry) which has a perfect level of variation and no pooling. And heck, not bad for something that took a day to make!

This wrap is currently in very heavy rotation. It is the largest I've made, using a silk/wool lace weight combined with an alpaca laceweight. It is soft, warm and the perfect size. I borrowed a friend's card 232 and man, I really like the stitch (a kind of mock seed or moss stitch) so I will be haunting ebay for my own copy!

I also finally finished the socks of doom and I'm still too traumatised to speak of it.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


I am paralysed and really need some direction. But feel a very strong compulsion to cast on RIGHT NOW.
Harvest moon?A cardi I am sure I would wear a lot, though some people's versions get the balance between the collar and body pretty wrong. 18 st/25 rows 1475m - I could use my lovely sheepy Elsa Wool.
Lambs lace cardi?A vest type arrangement for putting over a long sleeve T-shirt looks to be fairly risk free?18 st/20 rows 900m - I could use some soft Malabrigo in grey or a striped Rowan cashsoft but I would need to upsize the pattern and might run short on yarn.
Grapevine? Would I wear this? I like the pattern, but it looks more like it is intended to wear on it's own as a top and I just don't wear wool that way - could I use it as a jumper? 22st/30 rows 1400m - I could knit it in some merino/cashmere I have in grey.
Summer solstice? A cardi for throwing over the top of other things with an interesting construction, but perhaps too plain and unflattering? 21st/28 rows 1350 - in the merino above or some multi stripe version in Willabaa.
Space girl? I just love this jumper! But lots of knitters have gotten the collar wrong and that wide sleeve rib might have a seriously and unwelcome widening effect on me. D also lobbied quite hard for changing the v-neck to a round neck and this might prove a bit tricky. At 20 st gauge I would almost certainly have to muck about with combining two finer yarns or buy something entirely new, or do some major maths to get it to fit a stashed yarn
Kerrera? A fairly major undertaking but a very nice hoodie.
Liesl? I've been meaning to do this one for ages and the yarn possibilities are pretty wide.
Amelia? Looks pretty darn good too.

And really that's just the start! Feel free to give some opinions and/or suggest others (preferably in 18st gauge since I really feel drawn to the elsa wool). I await your advice.

in droughts and flooding rains

There's no words for the kind of horrific scenes we are seeing in Queensland right now. There are lots of others who are out there working incredibly hard though to make it real for peope and to galvanise support in all kinds of ways.


I've been madly bidding in a range of auctions that are fundraisers, the whole shebang has been organised by Toni from Make it Perfect and I highly recommend you get on this bandwagon for those who donate money to The Premiers Flood Relief Appeal. Donate and maybe win something too (personally I am BUSTING to get Jodie's items, so thankfully there's plenty of other stuff YOU could like and please don't bid there).

Monday, 10 January 2011

like looking in a mirror, only better

I was reading a forum on Ravelry about choosing projects to suit your body. I loved the idea that people on Ravelry were working together to learn from each other's mistakes and successes in such a finely tuned way. Beyond how well a pattern is written, or how cute the design. Beyond even how well this works in a size 18 or for an hourglass figure. This is about finding other people who are exactly like you in size and shape. Seeing how knitted stuff looks on them, not just the gorgeous model on the pattern cover.

In one of the discussion threads I found this link My Body Gallery - What Real Women Look Like. On the surface it's a great resource for getting some images in your own mind about people who are about your own size and shape, or some other size and shape if you are making things for other people.

But after cruising the images for a while I noticed all the text on the page. This is a site about much more than finding your twin, it's also about research that indicates that a really alarming number of women of all sizes and shapes do not really see themselves when they look in the mirror. While we might be able to accurately size up a box, or maybe even another person, our perception of size in relation to ourselves is overwhelmed by what we believe about ourselves. When we look in the mirror we almost certainly don't see ourselves really accurately and we're quite possibly inflating ourselves by quite a bit.

So go visit and look, and while you are there why not upload your own anonymous images to help build the library up.

Friday, 7 January 2011


I am thinking about starting work on Monday. It's the first in a series of milestones that are the ritual beginning of a new year.

Start work, start childcare, start vacation care, start kinder, start school.

And really, this is the start of the very last of such years - next year I'll have two school kids and summer holidays will take on a new character.

While I love the holidays, and these ones have been great, I feel almost excited by the return to real life. Despite all the good thing brought to my life by a bit of spontaneity, I like routine too.

I'm looking forward to two weeks of vacation care for Amy in my building at work, tram commutes together and lunches out with friends and colleagues.

I'm looking forward to wearing some of my newly sewn and renovated clothes to work (and photographing them and posting them here).

I am not looking forward to having an MRI next week, but I am looking forward to having it over, and for the dudes at the stroke clinic to tell me I am wasting their time.

I am looking forward to planning at least one and maybe two holidays for the year. Our planned trip to Japan has been postponed until 2012, and while I'm at least a little bit sad about this, it does leave open the possibility of tagging along when D visits his new project site in the Pilbara. The northern part of WA has long been a place I want to go, and the only major region of Australia I've never been to. We are also wondering about going to Bali to introduce Wil to international travel and give Amy a refresher course.

I'm looking forward to working further on the workroom to make it the ideal creative space and doing my very best to run down the stash somewhat.

I'm looking forward to a little bit of spring cleaning before the school year starts too. To experience, however fleetingly, the sense of things being in order and the cobwebs cleared.

I'm still enjoying the last few days of freedom, I'm in the moment for sure, but I'm also getting ready.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


I got taken off to the annual sale at Joy's discount fabric warehouse today. Seriously, I said to my dearly beloved, really, I don't need any fabric. And he took me anyway. Love. That. Man. How much does he get it?

It was 25% off fabric that is already very cheap so of course once I was there it was pretty hard to walk away empty handed. Linen for $10 a metre further reduced to $7.50 - could you? Wouldn't the very idea fill you with joy?

It's been a bargain fabric new year. Last week I scored big at the op shop where someone was destashing and brought home a 2m piece of good heavy denim for $5, a roll of turquoise cotton jersey (8m or so) for $15 and a mess of a lovely mottled grey blue cotton jersey for $5 (6m or so). On the same trip I also got a king size hand stitched cotton quilt for $2! It's faded and a bit stained, but I reckon a dye job will give it a new lease of life and at the very least it will make a fabulous picnic rug.

And I'll have you know it hasn't all been acquisition. In addition to dusting off and completely working through my entire pile of refashion/resize/mend/redeem garments (14 items all up and some of them terrific saves), I have also sewn a fabulous linen and elastine shirt, a giant heavy weight tote out of the denim for my overlocker, a lovely summer dress out of the blue grey jersey, an over top from drape drape, a long sleeve jersey top using a Jalie pattern, a new iPad cover for D and a carrier for my knitting machine combs. Talk about the stars aligning!! I'm cursing that I didn't bring more pattern books with me to knock up a few things for the kids, so sadly I'll have to keep working on myself! The burden.

In amongst this I've had the joy of lovely visitors (you know who you are, but I can't make links work on this software), chats and card games, cider and BBQs, walks on the beach and some lovely photos. Of course I can't show you any of them because until last week I didn't even know you could connect a camera to an ipad, so I don't have the necessary hardware. Yet.

Speaking of which there has been much ipad joy this holiday. You know when D gave me mine for my birthday I was thrilled, it was exciting, and a whole lot of fun. But over time this device has become a second brain for me, and there seems no limits to the entertainment and convenience it can provide. Now that D is on board there is a whole other way of exploring going on. Love it.

There has been joy of the baby kind on my mind - an unexpected girl child arrived, and a boy who will be here any day now, for good, dear friends. They are the first babies for ages in my circle and it's nice to get happy all over again about that whole making new people thing.

Oh and how's this - walking down the beach, hearing my name called and discovering a friend I haven't seen for 30 odd years. You look just the same, she said, and while I know I don't really look like a 12 year old girl anymore isn't it grand to think that 12 year old is still in there, still visible to the outside world? I'm have beers at her house tomorrow and it's just wonderful to feel like some of the good bits of life come back even if they sometimes feel lost.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 1 January 2011


In my mind I've declared 2011 the year of finding calm. For a long time I've resisted this search out of fear of losing some essential part of me. The getting stuff done part of me.

I could analyse my drive beyond the bounds of interest, but the point is not so much why I am like that as what am I going to do with it. I think the Graves diagnosis has set me thinking about the pace I live my life. And while Graves is basically characterised by a hyper activity in the thyroid, it can also manifest as it's opposite, a hypo, or under, active thyroid. Or a rollercoaster mix of both. And even if the disease manifests in a particular way for you, the treatment will almost certainly provide at least a taste of the other.

What all this means in essence is that I can't take for granted any kind of reliable metabolic regulation. Unlike most people I have cause to observe and second guess the messages my own body gives me about how fast and slow things are, about how tired I am, about how excited or anxious I am and so on. I have to note changes and question why, I have to be able to describe them to my doctor, I have to separate things I feel as a result the disease from the things the drugs cause, to the things that arise from, you know, life.

I know these things predate Graves for me and many people feel similarly whipped about. I've always had trouble finding a path between too much and not enough. Not enough sleep, too much to eat, not enough exercise, too much activity. There are times I know I need to stop and yet my body compels me on, times when my mind plays tricks to keep me at it long past when I should have moved on.

And let's be honest here, when it comes to getting more stuff done I don't fight against it too hard. Why would I? I absolutely love being able to run through a string of projects in record time, I love packing more into a day, juggling those balls, tetrisising until there is not a slot wasted. it makes me feel good, productive, competent, happy.

But it is exhausting too and I know that exhaustion exacts it's own price over time. Not being able to trust my own instincts and believe what my body tells me is wearing.

So I'm not looking to be excessively chilled, to slow down too much, to experience some kind of personality reformation, but I am looking for a little space between the drive and the action, a moment of calm in which to decide whether to go with the instinct or to strategically pass. That would be good wouldn't it? To make those moves more deliberately and not feel quite so much like flotsam in the wind.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad