Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: Exhibitions: WARM and The Royal Melbourne Show

Some of these landscape squares were knit by me! 1000 pieces, 250 Victorian hand knitters
SEAM's WARM community knitting project
Hasn't time flown!
I've got a few things I'll share here so I remember what I did for next time, and some lovely things I've been part of that deserve to be remembered in this space.

I've continued to dabble in machine knitting, and emboldened by my Dairing 2/3/Four, I made the matching Two/3/4 top, a sideways knitted tank in the same thin cotton/stainless steel/silk mix, with neck, arm and hem edges left to roll. 

I took my time joining the side seams by hand, and thoroughly enjoyed the process. I had difficulties with keeping my cast on edges loose, so I joined them to each other and the result is a modern asymmetrical top that I adore. I entered it into my local show, The Royal Melbourne and was rather chuffed to receive a third place against some rather talented, and very experienced competition - definite beginners luck!

No luck was involved in Mr MaciNic's results, he's a very talented artist over several mediums and was placed for some lovely woodworking and took the blue ribbon in the rather obscure printing technique, Intalagio.

The Blyde River Butts image was taken by the equally talented Jenny Rennous_oh_Glennus in Africa and then printed:

Intaglio is a rather time-consuming technique using an etching press and plates.

In detail, it involves converting an image to digital and then using photopolymer plates. These have the image inkjet printed directly onto the plate and exposed to uv light. The plates are then washed with water to remove unhardened polymer, Inked and wiped, same as traditional Intaglio, and passed through an A3 sized benchtop press onto dampened cotton rag paper. 

In September he wanted to try copper drypoint next, and he has. I have some rather fetching octopi etchings, hand coloured with watercolours, and a study of our somnolent dachshund.

I was also fabulously fortunate to stumble across the WARM project, a community knitting project where Victorian hand knitters were asked to knit from designs, specific to the project, designed in Victoria by Georgie of Tikki. I contributed several pieces. A large scale image of a rejuvenated open cut mine was then created to open conversation on renewable energy and the environment. Why? Because we've forgotten how to warm ourselves with wool.
It was rather lovely to see the installation at the Art Gallery of Ballarat and to be able to take my grandma. She's an amazing crafter who is still knitting and crocheting for charity, at 93.

It's currently touring, and I believe it has just left the Ararat Art Gallery after spending time at the Geelong Wool Museum. Details can be found on the SEAM page.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Couturier sewing class: Velvet Top

My newest sewing book acquisition is the Japanese language Couturier Sewing Class, one of the Heart Warming Life Series publications. It was released in October 2015 and I've had it in an eBay cart ever since.
I love the green wide legged pants, the gorgeous mustard raglan dress as made in black by Justine (on Bombazine) recently, the draped cardigan and the sweet white top/green ruffled dress. My absolute favourite however, is the top on the cover, especially it's image in wool inside.
There's a thorough review on the Japan Sewing Books blog - it's what swayed my decision that I simply must have the book!
So that's what I made first ;)
it has a faced neckline and partially interfaced waist
I was shopping with Helen and bought 2m of a stable black velvet for this very top, before the book arrived. I am very pleased to report that this top is exactly as I envisioned, was a pleasure to sew and has had lots of wear already - don't you love it when that happens!!
Black Velvet: so lovely to wear, so hard to photograph
This is the LL, largest, size made without alteration.
For body measurements: height 160-165cm, bust 94, waist 74, hips 98cm. The L would have been fine.

The round neckline is the front, it's shown reversible above, however when I wear the V to the front, it sits a little awkwardly.
and besides, the V at the back is cute and shows the back of the neck ;)
It is a fabric hog. I bought my very first piece of nani-iro double gauze from Miss Matatabi with this book and regrettably, it won't fit on the 1.5m (x106cm) piece without changes.
I will be making a summery version, it's too lovely a pattern not to!
I've been wearing it a lot, on date days with my beau, out to see Curtains at the Art Centre and again to the NGV International for the unpacking of their new acquisitions, all fabulous and fun times!
And my emerald accessory - it's a hand knitted clutch in super bulky acrylic - very hard on the wrists, but it's all worth it for fashion? no? ;)
Knitted on 8mm needles, black 4mm for comparison


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

KNIT: All the hats!

 Facebook/Instagram has just notified me that exactly 104 weeks, or 2 years ago, I posted this:
It's still the best feeling! My mumma is still awesome, knitting and crocheting away for charity and new great grandchildren, inspiring all of us with her independence and enthusiasm.

My very first hat attempts are still works-in-progress. It was spring and I tried knitting hats in cotton and bamboo, on double pointed needles.... it wasn't pretty. Since then I've reached out to the knitters amongst you, fondled your MadTosh cowls, hand-knit socks and snuggly cardigans, soaked up your thoughts and opinions, passed my mistakes over to be ripped and learnt to put life-lines in. 

My very first hat and my penultimate one (for this post).

I've moved from cloche style hats in 2015 to slouchy versions in 2016, I've even ventured back into the non-woollen with a self-drafted version that is simply perfect for days when it's a tad warm for wool.

Hat #1. Escargot by Veronica Parsons May-June 2015
Invigorated with my new found knitting experience on circular needles - the sleeves on my Liathite cardigan - I decided to try knitting a hat again, this time on circular needles.

It worked.

I had to draw/chart the instructions, as I couldn't visualise what I was knitting, the brim, or the snail. It otherwise came together easily enough in 8ply Bendigo Woollen Mills Rustic (feltable Australian wool) with accents of my 12ply BWM Stellar (50:50 Australian wool:bamboo)

I'll always be proud of my first hat, even thought it came out a bit wide and far too shallow, I wanted it felted and in hindsight, should have left it alone - it sits a bit high over my curls, so I don't reach for it much.

Hat #2. Sprig Cloche by Alana Dakos in Malabrigo Arroyo - 045 Circas colurway.
Oh how I adore this hat! I love all of the Botanical Knits designs, proper foliage decorating hats, mitts, scarves, cardigans and jumpers. The leafy brim was delightfully addictive knitting, I couldn't put it down and had to knit 'just one more' leaf. I was attempting to make a set of mitts to match and got worried about yardage, so I ordered a 2nd ball online - those following along on Instagram may recall my bewilderment during my first introduction to widely different colours in the same colourway. I knit the body of the hat from the 2nd skein.

Hat #3. Betsy by Jane Richmond in Malabrigo Twist in Grapes

Close on it's heels was my first attempts at lace. Yes, this is supposed to be a lacy pattern. I've since realised that I was knitting into the back of my yarn overs and closing them up - I learn something new with every pattern. I had an absolute ball knitting this up as well, it took me 5 days in August 2015. It's been a surprise hit in my hat wardrobe, super snuggly and is long enough to pull down over my ears and forehead, perfect for this Melbourne winter.

I know I'm not alone when I declare that one of the most rewarding things to knit are hats.

Fortunately I wear hats. I like a woollen hat in winter, they keep my ears warm and best of all, hide a mess of unruly curls during early morning school runs...

Hat #4. Man Hat by Haven Ashley in RedRidingHood yarns Belle 8ply

I have a wonderful DH, who deserved a hat of his very own for those cold mornings and afternoons. He gave me ideas of what he liked, then I let him loose on Ravelry with a tailored search. He chose the free Man Hat by Haven Ashley and it only took me a few rounds to remember how much I detest 1:1 rib. Lucky I love him. It's a broken rib with rest knit rows, which made it go faster - and I enlisted his mum to knit a few rows. That was a fascinating study into tension, our gauges were several needle sizes off and his hat has a lovely demarcation row where I hadn't realised. It's visible if you look for it ;)
The wool is lovely, and possibly started my fascination with shaded greys. It's the Incognito colourway in Red Riding Hood yarn's 8ply Belle Superwash and it was a gift from NZ by the lovely Stitchseekers who run the monthly Men in Knitwear calendar, check it out if you're ever in need of some eye candy paired with masculine knitwear ;)
Yes Maci, it smells like him ;)

Hat #5: My raspberry (non)beret, the Houzuki Hat (free) by Yoko Johnston in indie-dyed bluefaced leicester wool by Little Dipper Yarns

I had a lovely morning at the Handknitters Guild market in Coburg in June. I carried a swatch of my pink Liberty sweatshirting and held it up to the masses of gorgeous hand dyed yarns on offer - it actually made my choice easier by trying to complement it rather than being torn between so many desirable shades. That this Flamenco pink was on a non-merino base sealed the deal, I've been wanting to try different sheep breeds since I realised I could!

Needless to say, I converted my hank to a cake asap and cast on! The wool is a delight to knit with and the subtleties in the colour way are beautiful. The Houzuki hat pattern was clear and easy to follow, such a delight. I carried it around everywhere and found myself knitting 'just one more round' - simply the best feeling.

My modification was a rolled stockinette brim (as I was still scarred and couldn't face a ribbed band), as described on WoollyWormheads blog.

Hat #6. Self drafted Rustic Summer Tam - aka, lets have some fun and see what I've learnt!
In the string-like Shibui Twig - a blend of only 12% wool, with 46% linen and 42% recycled silk. I bought this at Sunspun Fine Yarn's sale, a completely spontaneous purchase based on how unexpectedly soft Jenny's was when we wound it into cakes, and a little bit of fascination with it. It's described as a sport or DK weight to knit with, yet is clearly barely a 4ply/fingering in thickness. It's designed to be used for airy summer garments, so, it's perfect for this.
I held the sock yarn Acorny by Blue moon fibre arts Socks that Rock lightweight doubled with the Twig for the brim as I worried about the lack of intrinsic elasticity in the Twig. And yes, it's a 1:1 rib that I didn't mind knitting, phew! Aren't the colours gorgeous? I have matching pair of fingerless mitts that are almost complete.
I had an absolute blast knitting this and making it up as I went. I have rows of purl/garter ridges and rows of eyelets, and a really cute spiralling decrease for the crown. It's the perfect non-hot hat for warm messy hair days - I love it!

It's been a wild ride! I've had a delightful time, I've met so many fabulous people and patted so many glorious skeins, hanks and balls of wool. I do rather like this knitting caper.
why yes, this is a gratuitous Maci photo!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Listening to the fabric - Felted Wool Jacket

I love this jacket.
A couple of years ago, Helen mentioned that a small local fabric store was closing down. I managed to go in during its final days and after chatting to the lovely proprietress, I left with some very lovely pieces of fabric.
And every few months I pulled the fabric from my special stash, patted it, dreamt of what it would like to be, and tucked it away again in its tissue paper.
This amazing felted wool is part of that small collection.
I finally settled on a cape last winter, and amped up my collection of all the cape patterns, vintage and contemporary, Japanese, French and English, jacket-cape styles, raglan or circle, arm slits or arms underneath, I have them all.
None of them were 'just right' for this wool though.
So I made my own.
I love that I have raw edges wherever I could. I especially love that the entire jacket is cut from one piece, with zero waste and no interruption to the border print.
Want to know what I did?
It's simply a rectangle of fabric, with 2 slits vertically at my shoulders. I then inserted 4 triangles, cut from a rectangle along the non-border print edge, as raglan sleeves along this slit. I have considered inserting godets in the diamond shaped underarms, however the open diamonds are working very well.
Ok, so I do have 2 spare triangles, but they aren't waste ;)
The felted wool isn't perfect - although it's perfectly striking. I had to reinforce each seamline as it's not particularly strong. I started using rayon seam tape, then changed to strips of charcoal silk. The back neckline is faced with silk as well. Each seam is top stitched on each side for added stability.
Apart from a rather high level of satisfaction that my concept worked (YAY!), what I adore and makes this a 'throw on every day' jacket is that it's perfectly versatile. It is delightfully snuggly when pinned closed high on my neck, perfectly warm when worn with a V-neck - with either a casual exposed facing collar, or with them tucked in for a neat version - or open and breezy when I only need my back and shoulders covered. I've not put any permanent closures on, my everyday bag style is a messenger bag/cross body satchel and it holds it in place perfectly when I'm not using a shawl pin.
And the fabric, I am SO glad I took that deep breath and nabbed my 1.5m of felted grey wool with felted black foliage.