Friday, May 31, 2013

Knitted leaves, deconstructed.

This past week I've been feeling a bit like a Bletchley Park girl. I've been hunched over a type of code, muttering to myself with my brow furrowed, grey lead pencil making deft marks over certain numbers, and a little pile of eraser rubbings forming at my side. There was puzzle in front of me, and I was damned if I wasn't going to crack the encryption!

But before you get all excited and start imagining me working for ASIO, or even M16 (how cool would that be!?!) the only code I've been working on is a knitting code. Yup, yet again another one of the patterns in the Labour of Love book is wrong. Terribly wrong!

Now, I haven't spent this long growing my hair only to be tearing it out, but that is what this book is making me do! Firstly the Isabel Cable dress pattern was wrong, and now I've found out that the Flora Layered Leaf Skirt pattern is also. I've hunted about on Ravelry, and learnt that another pattern in the book is also riddled with errors. 3 patterns in one book? That's a bit rich! And now, as a result this lovely piece of work...

Grey Yarn #1 looks like this:

Grey Yarn #2

It took me 11 pattern repeats before I sorted the mistake out for once and for all, and got the pattern right. Which mean, for the layperson, that 10 out of 11 knitted leaves were dodgy. Sure, I could have left it. After all, I probably would have been the only one to have noticed it, but it would have bugged me for ever, and once I had posted the pictures of the finished garment up on this little ol' blog, I would have lived in fear that some clever knitter would point out my mistake, and call me out as a big fat knitting dunderhead.

Now, I'm not sure about you, but I don't fancy being called a big fat knitting dunderhead, even if it wasn't my fault that the pattern was incorrect, so I ripped the whole darn thing. Every single row. Every single stitch. I was going to knit it again, and this time it was going to be PERFECT, nagdammit. But don't let me spare you feelings, dear reader - it hurt. After all, that's 220 rows of knitting down the drain!

But all is not lost - every cloud has a silver lining etc etc, and if there is anything this exercise has taught me is that how important - crucially important - testing a pattern is. I'd quite like to start making some knitting patterns of my own in the not-so-distant future, and when I do I am going to test them so hard that they will be begging for mercy.

In the meantime, I have a grey lead pencil to sharpen. And another 220 rows to be reknit.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Knitting of the cheering up variety

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the love on Dapple. Seriously, guys, your kind words totally made my day(s). I'm still not sure what to do with it, so I have folded it nicely and popped in away in the drawer, and will give myself time to muse.

And you know what they say - if you have a problem that you are dwelling on, a little bit of knitting is just the thing to let your mind free up and roam over the possibilities. Well, that's my excuse for this:

Pink Lace

Yup! Pink lace. I couldn't help myself - the yarn was there in my stash, imploring to be used, so I simply had to set it free! It's actually part of this cardigan, which I'm making for the Tyger, and being aran weight it's almost done. Nothing like a bit of speedy knitting to cheer a lass up!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dapple, the knitted dress, is done!

So my Dapple is finished. Many hours and 13 balls of yarn later, and all I've got is a whopping big case of CPA, otherwise known as Completed Project Apathy.

I really cannot figure out if I like this dress or not. Even though the dress is fitted, I feel like I'm drowning in it. The baggy sleeves certainly don't help! When I first saw the photos my initial thought was "Oh my word, I'm wearing a big purple cabled sack!", so I scurried over to the mirror to double-check the sackiness, but didn't think it looked too bad. Maybe it's one of those outfits that look better in real life? And let's face it, I'm no model! Maybe if I had legs up to here, was better endowed in the bosom department and learnt how to do my hair properly I would rock it, but at the moment it's more Cable Loss than Kate Moss.

On the plus side, I love the colour, and the cables are pretty cool. But then again the neckline is way too wide for me, and the overall design silhouette makes me feel a lot wider than I actually am. Gah! Do I like the darn thing or not? I think it definitely needs a belt, to break up the upper width.

It also didn't help that the cable pattern graph in the book was wrong. But no problem - there was an errata insert that gave the correct graph symbols. Except, darn it, they were wrong too! I spent a couple of hours swatching, exclaiming at intervals "What am I doing WRONG? I know I can be a dunderhead a times, but surely I'm not that stupid!" Finally I jumped onto ravelry and discovered that the errata was also incorrect. D'oh! So if you want to make the dress, the corrections for the cable pattern can be found here. Nobly I have suffered so you don't have to. You can thank me later. Chocolates are always nice.

So that, my friends, is the tale of Dapple. Well, I guess you win some and you lose some. That's the problem with knitting - a whole lot of work can go into a project, only to find the final result is more "meh" than "look at meeeee!" At least with sewing projects you can more easily try things on as you go, and it's usually only a couple of days work down the drain if it doesn't work out, rather than weeks for knitting.

The more I look at these photos the more undecided I feel. Keep? Unravel? eBay? Can. Not. Decide. At. All. I feel I ought to like it just because there is over 1.1 kilometres of yarn in the darn thing!
Ok, over to you: thumbs up or thumbs down? Be kind - this whole Dapple drama has left my knitting ego feeling rather fragile!

Dapple #1

Dapple #2

Dapple #3

Project Details
Pattern: Dapple by Kim Hargreaves, from the book Nectar
Yarn: 13 balls of Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran in shade 0226, purchased from Sunspun
Needles: 4.5mm, 5mm straight needles and 4mm and 4.5mm circular needles

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monthly Meal Plan - May/June


Can I just say YAY for winter? I am love love loving these cool winter dishes now. It's my favourite time for hunkering down, enjoying our space whilst letting the house warm up with slow cooked dishes. No need to rush, and no special place to be when the rain is hammering at the windows - just inside with my favourite people. Feeding. Nurturing. Appreciating all that is good, and how very lucky and blessed we are.

Week One:
Monday - Ham, cheese and pea frittata with new potatoes and green salad
Tuesday - Zucchini, pumpkin and chickpea pasta
Wednesday - Potato and leek soup with garlic baguettes
Thursday - Moroccan lamb sausage rolls with salad
Friday - Roasted vegetable and barley risotto topped with fresh rocket
Saturday - Satay veggie and tofu burgers with wedges
Sunday - Sweet potato and pea curry puffs with salad

Week Two:
Monday - Pumpkin and macaroni pasta bake
Tuesday - Beetroot and chilli soup with rocket, cucumber, red onion and feta pitas
Wednesday - Chicken and chorizo risotto
Thursday - Carrot fritters with broad bean and spinach salad
Friday - Spinach, feta and onion tarts with salad
Saturday - Baked fish with spiced sweet potato mash
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Three:
Monday - Creamy chicken pasta (with left over roast chicken)
Tuesday - Minestrone with cheesy toasts
Wednesday - Silverbeet and cauliflower wraps
Thursday - Mixed tomato and herb pie with salad
Friday - Salmon and zucchini pasta
Saturday - Home made pizzas
Sunday - Cauliflower soup with cheese scones

Week Four:
Monday - Vegetable and ricotta cannelloni
Tuesday - Pea, dill and rice soup
Wednesday - Sausage and beans stew
Thursday - Mushroom and spinach risotto
Friday - Lentil shepherd's pies with salads
Saturday - Chicken and lentil soup
Sunday - Birthday party - dinner out!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Loving those print out patterns!

Lola Pattern

I'm sitting here inside today, feeling snug and warm as the rain lashes at the windows, merrily beavering away at sticking a print out pattern together, and I suddenly realised, with a great big warm gush of gratitude, how very very glad I am for the internet.

It has brought me so many things: a craft community, access to mountains of inspiration, the chance to make new friends - both online and in real life - and the ability to share my projects and in turn delight in creations by others.

But one of the very best things is being able to buy a new pattern and print it right out! Seriously, how blimming awesome is that? Remember the bad, dark days of crafting, where you had to plan an expedition into town, and had to hope that (a) they had the pattern in your size and (b) you might be lucky enough to chance upon the right fabric while you there? It was such a dicey business, particularly if you were in the country, and choices were limited. Now, I'll always love being able to go into shops and paw their fabrics/yarns but it's also such a brilliant thing to be able to buy online, especially if you are not lucky enough to have a wealth of craft supply stores on your doorstep.

So today's post is a big shout-out thank you to all of the people, particularly the indie designers, who are making digital patterns, and making crafters happy everywhere. My particular favourites are:

Victory Patterns (I'm actually cutting out their Lola dress right now!)
Oliver + S
Figgy's Patterns
Colette Patterns
Violet Fields Threads
Grainline Studio (thanks to Suzy from Floating World)
Made by Rae (thanks to Jacinta from Sew {MM} )
BurdaStyle (again thanks to Jacinta)
Cake Patterns (thanks to Tania)
Wink Designs
Kitschy Coo (thanks to Kate from Two Little Banshees for the above 3 links!)
Ohhh Lulu for gorgeous lingerie patterns (thanks to Lucy from Maud Made)
Pattern Runway (thanks to Jano from Sallieoh)
Salme Sewing Patterns (thanks to Kirsty from Top Notch)
Thread Theory for menswear patterns (thanks to Threadie of We Sew Retro)
Tessuti (thanks to Stitching at Stone Cottage)
SavageCoco Patterns (thanks to Coco Savage)
Blank Slate Patterns (thanks to Melly of Melly Sews)
Sinbad and Sailor (thanks to Kirsty again!)
Your Style Rocks (thanks to Megan of Meggipeg)

Any other great digital patterns out there that I don't know about? I'd love to hear about 'em, so leave a comment and share the love!

****UPDATE!**** Just had a scathingly brilliant idea - if you leave a suggestion I'll add it to the above list, with a thank you link to who provided it. That way we can all be happy digital sewing campers. Hoorah!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hail the hail!

It's got nothing to do with sewing. Or knitting. Or even cooking. But how cool (hee hee, geddit?) is this hail action shot?


Makes me wish so hard that it would snow in Melbourne. Proper snow, like. Not the odd dusting every 68 years.

I love interesting weather. I love hail, I love wind, I love looking up at big storm clouds. In my next life I am definitely coming back as a meteorologist.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Things I have

Well, looky at what we have here!

Purple Cables

I have a blocked piece of Dapple. In fact, I have four blocked pieces (front, back, two sleeves) of Dapple. I also have Tyger home with me, full of the cold, but that's more than ok because it means that what I don't have is a school pick up deadline, and instead do have a lovely clear afternoon in front of me, the only interruptions being to make another cup of lemon/ginger tea or heat up more chicken soup.

I also have one ball of yarn left, with which I need to pick up 192 stitches, and knit up a lovely thick garter stich neckline.

Gulp. One measly ball with which to do all that? As you can probably imagine, I also have clammy hands, severe doubts about my yarn supply and very few fingernails left, as I have bitten them all down to the quick in my current state of lack-of-yarn induced anxiety.

If this doesn't work out, I may also have a hissy fit. Just warning y'all!

(And trust me - although they don't happen often, my husband tells me that when they do, they are SPECTACTULAR! Even more so when craft induced.)

Monday, May 06, 2013

Bringing them over to the knit side

I had so much fun on Saturday. In fact, I was in crafting heaven! Not only did I get to spend a very pleasant afternoon knitting away inbetween scoffing bits of sponge cake, but I got to do it in the company of some freaking awesome people!

Knitting Class

I was pretty chuffed to discover that both Poppykettle and Julia Bobbin were coming along to the Handmaker's Factory Learn to Knit class. I love teaching people how to knit, but even better than that is teaching people who I have pretty darn serious blog crushes on! Over the course of the afternoon Nichola and I gave them a crash course on knitting basics: casting on, knit, purl, increasing, decreasing, chart reading and casting off, and they mastered it like the crafting superstars that they are!

I was so proud of them! Ladies, next time I see you I expect knitted dresses all around, ja?

So. Much. Fun!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Elephant Dress

Have you ever made something for your child, and thought to yourself "Hot diggity dog - I could TOTALLY do with one of those for myself?"

Me too. Case in point below:

Elephant Dress #5

Elephant Dress #4

Elephant Dress #3

Elephant Dress #2

Seriously - how cute is this elephant dress? I love the cut, I love the pocket slash side panel design, I love the pleated sleeve caps, I love the overlapping shoulders. I think I need to make her another. Denim? Liberty print? Maybe a whole wardrobe, in every colour/design that I can think of!

The fabric I used was a heavier weight cotton, and I was a bit nervous that the dress might end up a bit stiff looking, but it actually has turned out perfectly. In fact, I think if you used a quilting weight cotton, the dress might not hold up as well.

Project Details
Pattern: Sunki Dress ePattern from Figgy's Patterns
Fabric: I.5m of "Trèfle" by Kokka, purchased from l'uccello.
Notions: 30cm invisible zipper

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

All cry and no wool

Cast On

"Take cover!", yelped Jorth, as almighty crashing noise reverberated around the lounge room.

"What the devil was that?!", asked an understandably a shell-shocked Galumph as he got to his feet.

Wiping her brow, Jorth answered "Oh, just the sound of my illusions disintegrating around me. What was I thinking - who knits up an entire dress in 3 weeks? I must have been mad!"

Galumph was about to speak, but was interrupted by an odd, windy sound that blew chillingly right past him. "And that...?" he queried.

"That would be my knitting reputation, flying out of the window. I was so close! One sleeve and the finishing to do, but alas - time was no friend of mine. Gah!"

Once more Galumph opened his mouth to say something reassuring but was again interrupted - this time by the merest echo of the saddest song he'd ever heard. He didn't even bother to speak this time - just raised his eyebrows in his wife's direction.

"My bitter, bitter disappointment that I won't be able to start a new project this week, like I'd planned. The crushing horror of it all!"

And with that Jorth stalked off to begin that dastardly second sleeve, leaving Galumph to wonder, once more, if his wife was perhaps wired a little differently to other people.