Saturday, July 31, 2010


I've been spinning up some of the results of the Natural Dyeing experiments from a few weekends ago. This one is dyed with peach leaves: It's a bit more of the silky wool. I think I had about 100g of it on the day and just distributed it around the different options of pots. So there's about 30g in this colour. I love the deep silvery green--especially combined with the silky sheen of the modified wool. I'm spinning it fairly fine and planning to navaho ply the resulting single. What then? I'm not sure. Perhaps it will turn into some gorgeous tiny thing. Or I'll combine it with something else. I've still got the silk caps dyed on the same day. Just spinning it is making me happy for now.

Friday, July 30, 2010

More Team

I'm stitching down the binding on the Sussex Neighbourhood House Raffle Quilt. Yesterday I picked it up from the office, where my friend V had left it for me. She'd promised to do a bit more quilting after J and I had quilted around the main blocks and L had stitched in the diagonals. I was so thrilled to find she'd done this: There's a free-motion floral-star motif in each of the friendship stars and a matching flower in the plain blocks. I was already quite pleased with how the quilt was coming along, but this has added a whole new dimension to it. V decided to keep the borders fairly plain after all that activity in the centre. So the quilting is done and the binding is on. Later today I'll pass it back to J. She's volunteered to stitch down some more of the binding over the weekend. All that will be left to do next week is the label. It's been prepared already with all the important information, but I'm tempted to pretty it up a bit.

The official launch will be at the House Birthday party on Monday 9 August, but raffle tickets are on sale already. And there's a whole other team of people from the Neighbourhood House managing that side of things: counting and labeling tickets, keeping lists, counting money . . . Did I mention I love working with a team!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's a Sock!

It's a sock. It really is a sock! And I made it myself.

Look, here's my sock:
  • Yes, I'm pleased with myself.
  • Yes, it was easier than I expected, when I finally got to it.
  • Yes, the instructions were lovely and clear.
  • Yes, I'm going to make more.

There are just a few loose stitches on the other side (the side you can't see in my proud pic). I'll be a bit more aware of the tension there next time. The one sock took just about one ball of 8-ply (DK) yarn. I have another three balls of this same yarn, so I could end up with two pairs. My toes will be so warm and I'll be ready to try a finer yarn.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting There

I've been slowly sneaking up on the sock challenge:
  • First I had to manage knitting in the round without tucking a needle under my arm;
  • Then I graduated to double pointed needles: three and then four;
  • Holding the needles from below, rather than from above was the next challenge. That allowed me to manage a rib.

Now it's time for the real thing! I've done a cuff; I'm working a bit of a leg and then it will be time to turn the corner. this is it and so far it's really not a problem. I'm thinking of this as a demo sock, so I'm not worrying too much about guage and fit. And I'm working it in 8-ply (DK), so it's going really quickly. I just want to get through the steps one at a time to demystify the process. Then I expect I'll be off and racing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Slow Start

I've made a slow start today after a disturbed night. I spent most of the morning sitting in my favourite armchair by the window, but I can't do that all day. So to get myself going I plied off the Eucalyptus dyed wool-silk which I spun up last week. Here it is on the bobbin: I've kept it soft, but there's plenty of twist to hold it together and a bit of a fluffy halo to set off the sheen of the silk.

Now what to do with the rest of a slow day? I was thinking I'd take the train into the city and buy the tuning fork I need for my mandolin lesson this evening. I could take some knitting and do as much or as little as I like. On the other hand, the local news tells me there's been a three hour power outage on the City Loop this morning. Perhaps I'd better avoid the trains. Looks like I'm not the only one whose had a slow start to the day, and I'm guessing mine was less frantic and frustrating than the commuters' and Metro staff.

Monday, July 26, 2010

And One More

I had double pointed needles on my wish list when I went to the Craft and Quilt show on the weekend. It would have made sense to look for them the week before at Bendigo, but that was my play it by ear visit and I went without a list. The dpn's I found were bamboo--that's a good thing. I'm enjoying the extra bit of grip they provide. And they came in a set of five, rather than four. I'm surprised at how much easier I'm finding it knitting with this set. Stitches distributed over an even number of needles just seems to make more sense to me and despite having one more pointy stick in my hands, I'm actually finding it less of a juggle.

There's just a tiny bit of this mohair left, so these wristies will be just a little more than woolly bracelets. I found the blueberry pudding set almost too warm when I wore it on the weekend.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's Moments Like These

I went to the Craft and Quilt Show yesterday afternoon. It was a good show, but one event threatened to overshadow the entire experience. After four or five hours of exploring, browsing, admiring and shopping all over the pavilion, I sat down for a moment to rest my feet. All of a sudden I realised I was no longer carrying my camera. You can imagine how I felt. It's not only that it's a good and expensive camera, but it's my daily companion. I am very fond of my camera. L and I did a quick review of where we'd been. Apart from a couple of stalls where I'd spent more time looking at particular items, it really could have been left anywhere. A quick check of those stalls brought only suggestions to "try the office". I didn't hold out much hope, but at the office was this: A young man who asked me a few intelligent questions about my camera and smiled at my breathless, but accurate answers. Behind the counter was my camera, and on the counter was a jar of lollies, including the very relevant mintie. After I'd taken the photo, I gobbled a mintie. It's moments like these, indeed!

By the way, he really was wearing that hat--all day--it was part of some competition or other. And, no, he didn't get paid any extra to wear it. I asked. It wasn't quite right with the apricot stripes on his uniform shirt, but what the heck.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This wool-silk top is one of the results of the Natural Dyeing day at the Guild a couple of weeks ago. It's dyed with Eucalyptus and I'm quite pleased with it. The wool has taken the rich brown-orange colour, while the silk has taken a lighter shade. I'm keen to see how it looks spun up. Even though they're quite fine fibres, I'm going to try to spin it with enough thickness to maintain the marbling in the colour. I always have to think hard to keep spinning a consistent yarn when it's thicker than the fibre calls for. I think it will be worth it.

Later on today I'm going to meet my friend L at the train station. We're off to the Craft Fair, which includes the Victorian Quilters' Annual show. But there's at least an hour of good spinning left in the morning before I need to think about heading out the door. I mean to make the most of it. First a coffee, then I'll be back to the wheel.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blueberry Pudding

Another set of cuties for me to wear--another few balls of yarn moving from my living space to my wardrobe. I finished this hat and wristies set yesterday and by the time I wove in the last loose end I was rather pleased with myself.I've got a matching cowl already in use. It's made from the purple mohair alone. For this set I teamed the mohair with a lavender merino. I found the merino alone a bit bland, but with the mohair it made me happy. The pudding-bowl hat is crocheted with the mohair and wool held together: thick yarn + treble stitch = quick and easy. The wristies are another exercise in "round and round" knitting--I'm getting reasonably confident with juggling those little pointy needles. I finished them off with a crochet ruffle. This morning I read through the introduction to my Sock book. I know, I know, I keep talking about it and I haven't done it yet, but I like to sneak up on these challenges and catch them unawares. By the time I actually get to knitting a sock, I'll have been talking about it for so long that I'll hardly even notice the bump . . . maybe . . .

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Going Home

These bulky creations are going home today. The biggest item is the engagement gift blanket. I started it just under a year ago and it's been nearly finished for ages. A couple of weeks ago I took it to the Neighbourhood House to tie off the fringes. Yesterday I was back there to start the quilting on the Raffle Quilt. J and I had arranged to meet to get that job done together. We took turns quilting and resting. That way we were forced to take suitable breaks--quilting can be tough on the shoulders and hands and I for one find it hard to stop once I've started. I'm pretty much incapable of sitting still, so I packed a couple of items to keep me occupied when it was my turn to rest. I wove in the last few loose ends on the blanket. There werent' many because I designed it in stripes with the ends forming the fringes. The other task I brought, you can just see peeping out from the black plastic bag on the right. It's the new back for the doona cover which came to grief with the family dog. It needed to be ironed. It's huge! I'm struggling for workspace at home. In the big North Studio at the Neighbourhood House ironing it was a manageable task. J even took a turn when it was my turn to get back to the quilting. H just laughed at me when I suggested she do the same while I dealt with an enquiry for her in the office. Oh well, it's done!I'll be glad to send these items off. Lately they've been just sitting around getting in the way and adding to the clutter at my place. That was never the idea. Now I can bundle them up with all the love that was intended and send them to their new home. There are a few other bits and pieces I've been saving to go in the same parcel: a couple of scarves and a hat or two or three. They'll arrive in Brisbane just in time for August, which is usually their coldest month. Great! Now to walk away from the computer and complete the task before I do anything else, come on now . . . .

OK, to complete the task I need to get a big cardboard box out of the car. I got one at the hardware store in anticipation of this occasion and it's been rattling around in there for weeks. A bit of clever construction work with some packing tape and scissors and I'm off to the Post Office.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tidying Up

I seem to be surrounded by people who are getting their lives organised in big and small ways. My friend D has a whole blog full of her Dee-cluttering efforts. Rebecca over at Sticks and Stones is finishing off WIP's and getting sorted. And SewSofie is making Christmas plans already. Meanwhile, I'm planning to take the current quilting project to the Neighbourhood House this afternoon. I have the excuse that it's a community project and I'll be sharing the task with a friend, but honestly, I don't think I could find a large enough flat surface at my house to do the stitching if my life depended on it!

At least I'm trying not to create too many more unfinished bits and pieces. When I decided to tackle a new spinning task yesterday I was determined to finish off what was on my bobbin before I started anything new. It's the variegated grey silky wool which I used to make wrist warmers. I have plans for the rest of that yarn, but there was also another length of tops left unspun. Here's where I'm up to: At the bottom is the leftover ball of yarn: two ply. On the left, the silky wool single, plied with blue silk filament. The one in the centre of the pic is plied with two strands of the silk filament and one of a purple viscose. At the top is whatever was left on the bobbin, navaho plied. The silky wool was quite fine and tightly spun, so plying it off was a bit of a challenge. I persisted until the bobbin was really empty. The new yarns have been soaked and are in the process of drying. I took them off the rack to take the picture. Now to really finish the job I will need to let them dry and then make them into little centre-pull balls, so that they are absolutely ready to go. All I'll need to do then is finalise a design and pick up my needles. Or, as is more likely: pick up my needles to start something off and design it as I go along.

I went on to spin about 100g of bulky wool from fibre I bought at Bendigo. That's plied and ready to wind off this morning. And I got a bit of dyeing done. Over all it was a productive day. You might have noticed, though, no mention of paperwork--that's back on today's list along with more spinning and dyeing and the quilting I mentioned earlier.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another Little Twist

I've been working at adding a few brighter touches to my wardrobe. Last week it was a pair of wristwarmers and matching hat in blue and red. I had a little bit of that yarn left over, not really enough for another project, but I wanted to make something of it. Here's what I did:
I added some black yarn and made a twisted cord. Then I wrapped the two ends together to make a tassel and dressed it up with some beads. I haven't worn it yet. It was made in a burst of creativity before I left for Bendigo on Saturday. I'm a bit ambivalent about it: does it look too much like curtain tie back? I guess I won't really know how it works for me until I put it on and wear it around for a bit. Anyway it was fun and used up the last of that batch of yarn. Now today I'd like to do some dyeing as well as find a bit more space amongst the chaos. And I'd better get some paperwork sorted.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wrong is Good

I thought I didn't have room in my home for another loom. At least not until I manage to build the big garden shed I'm dreaming of as a studio. I mentioned in yesterday's post that I made a couple of spontaneous purchases at the Bendigo Wool Show. Here's one: It's the teeniest tiniest loom I've ever seen. It's a version of the "weave-it loom" and I'm glad to find room for it at my place. It could pretty much fit in my pocket and might even make it past airport security, since the needle has a blunted end. I'm not going to try that, though because it's a precious little thing. It came with lovely clear instructions. They turned out to be as easy as 1, 2, 3--and the numbers are branded on the timber, so it's extra clear.

Oh, it's nice to be wrong when it means I have a super-cute new little piece of equipment to enjoy! Already my brain is generating variations and possibilites and meanwhile I need to make a few more little squares to memorise the pattern of interlacing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bendigo with a Twist

This is the weekend of the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo--usually a highlight of my year. This time I nearly didn't go. Somehow I managed to get myself all twisted up about it: I don't need any more fibre; it's a long way; I'm tired . . . I'd kept a couple of days free for the show, so there wasn't really a problem with conflicting commitments, though I do have a quilt working bee to run today. On Thursday evening I decided to see how I felt when I woke up. On Friday all I really wanted to do was sit in front of the heater and knit. I did that. Yesterday was similar, though by half way through the morning I'd had a creative burst and got a bit of my big table cleared. The phone rang just before 11 am: my friend M, just leaving home on her way to Bendigo, did I want her to pick me up. Yes, please!

We got to the showground just after 2 in the afternoon. Admittedly we'd had quite a successful visit to the Woollen Mills on our way. The Fashion Parade was over for the day. I decided not to try to see all the exhibits. I didn't have a shopping list. What about just focussing on fun and friendship? That was a good plan. I talked to people, saw some great fibre and bought one or two things that I don't really need.
Right at the end of the day I found my friend Charly, tucked away in a shed right at the end of the showground. To think that I nearly missed this:

If you're looking for Charly at the show: she's in the Flower Shed, right down the bottom of the showgrounds, past the back gate. Can I say, her fibres are even more spectacular than her green plush bunny costume. Note to self: when in doubt, try letting go and having fun.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Party Challenge

Here's a response to my friend D's party invitation / challenge on her blog Make Mine Silk. This fabric arrived in the mail last month. My task was to make something. Yesterday I made this button: I've been wanting to try out these DIY buttons for a while. Covering the metal cap with fabric and sealing off the back was easy. I added the beads for a bit of extra brightness and texture. I'm quite happy with the result. It was quick and fun. I went on to make another button with some different fabric and beads. This could get to be a habit! Unfortunately the base buttons themselves cost enough that I'll have to think about it before I go completely crazy making buttons with all my pretty fabrics. I've got two more from the set I bought to try out. Then I'll have to see whether I can source them somewhere else, or save them for special. Meanwhile, D, please note: I made something! There still seems to be an awful lot of that cute fabric left on my table, though, so I'll have to see about making something else maybe.

By the way, I happen to know that there's still an incredible amount of that fabric at D's place, so get onto her blog if you'd like to play. Or let me know if you live locally, and I'll happily pass some on to you. I think I signed up for 2 bits and got about 6, so I'm more than happy to share and save on postage. It's a short pile cotton velvet with the all over floral print.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I've just finished reading a biography of Oodgeroo, Aboriginal rights activist and poet. She took her name from the Paperbark trees of her homeland, Stradbroke Island. For me reading the biography brought a response that is becoming all too familiar when I try to learn about Indigenous affairs: "I'm sorry, I had no idea". Poems by Kath Walker (the name she had for most of her life) were a small, but significant part of my education. Their strong rhythms are like a heart-beat. But I don't remember anyone pointing out that this poet was fighting for basic human rights for her people; that the power of her words drew from deep loss and anger at injustice. That wasn't part of a 70's education in Queensland! With Oodgeroo and her land on my mind--visits to the beaches of Stradbroke Island were another part of my growing up--I picked up the silk hankies from last weekend's natural dyeing with a new set of eyes. I wonder if I could explore the paperbark tree with these fibres dyed with eucalypt and peach leaves. It wouldn't be Oodgeroo's paperbark tree--I don't know enough to claim that right--but some sort of response and exploration seems appropriate.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Tubes

I've continued to practise going round and round. This time with the grey silky wool which I bought at the Handknitters' Guild sale and spun up the next day.Just now I'd like to rename the silky wool and slinky wool--it's so slippery and I'm using metal needles. I don't normally fuss much about the needles that I use, but if you look carefully at the wristwarmer that I've finished, you might notice that there's about an inch of rib on the far right. To knit the rib I have to change the orientation of the working needle after every stitch. With slippery wool on metal needles, that feels like the proverbial can of worms. Oh well . . . overall I was pleased with how the knitting went ahead and I hope to have another completed project to check off my list soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Round and Red

Remember my "round and round" challenge? I've been getting myself used to using four double pointed needles to make knitted tubes. I've been happily wearing those wrist warmers and decided I could use another pair. Another recent personal challenge has been to wear a bit more brightness than usual--and to find some accessories to complement my new trousers. Yesterday those two challenges came together in a pretty bit of spontenaeity. Here's the result: Knitted wrist warmers with a touch of red--the red and blue stripe is a crochet trim--and a crochet hat to match. The hat is done with the two yarns held together and 5 mm crochet hook, so it's really thick and solid. And today just happens to be Bastille day. I'm not expecting to storm any fortresses, but with a forecast of 13, hail and a possible thunder storm, I could do with a bit of extra protection from the elements.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Yesterday was my second session at Newlands Community Centre for their Arabic Women's Quilt Project. When we met last week, the women agreed to bring along some items which they had brought to Australia from their homeland. I didn't quite know what to expect. Note to self: always expect the unexpected!

W had brought several parcels all wrapped up in plastic bags. This came out of one of them.Out of another bag came a portable record player and an album of perfectly preserved 45 rpm singles. Before I knew what was happening, the room was filled with music and one by one the women began to clap and dance and snap their fingers. All this in and around and between the sewing machines, the mending and the cutting of fabric.

For a while I managed to hide behind my camera, capturing the movement. I was amazed at how women like those I see in the street: covered, restrained, careful; started to show their warmth and delight--in their own space, with their own music. All of a sudden I was the awkward stranger. Those who know me best will be able to imagine how strange and how awkward I felt when I was energetically invited to join in: trying to overcome my personal "freeze" to join in the shake and shimmy.

We have only a few more sessions together before the group takes a month break for Ramadan. My challenge is to come up with a design that will allow the group to put something of themselves into a quilt which will be in public view for their community and the wider community for years to come. Just now my awareness of my own limitations is heightened, as is my awareness of the beauty and strength of what I'm trying to help to capture and display.

Monday, July 12, 2010

That's Yellow

Yesterday was a rinsing day. Most of my dyeing from Saturday is still either on the line or in the sink, but this bit of wool top is all ready to go.Now that's what I call yellow! I'm thoroughly convinced that tumeric is a very effective natural dye. Yes, it does still smell a bit like curry. I'm told that a bit of fabric conditioner in the final rinse might help.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Natural Dyeing

It was another busy and productive day at the Guild yesterday. Sue had prepared an exciting variety of natural dye experiences for us. Natural dyeing is always a bit of a gamble as this pot demonstrates--it's a bucket of of Shiraz grapes: They had been slowly ripened on the vine, frozen, crushed, boiled, strained, crushed and strained again to release their rich wine colour. The dyepot was promising; the results were disappointing. We got muted light pinks on most of our samples. The tumeric, peach leaves and Eucalyptus pots were much more satisfying. You can imagine how the hall looked and smelled with all these concoctions simmering away in different parts of the room.

Initially the set-up looked very professional, with a row of electric heating elements across one end of the teaching area, all lined up with their respective ingredients. It was all too much for the old hall's wiring, though. There was a frantic and doubtful half hour while the safety switch repeatedly tripped, the pots wouldn't warm up and the phone system and other equipment rang and beeped their alarm at the unusual demand. Eventually compromise won the day: the ambitious array was dismantled and pots were relegated to the gas stove, back hallway and corner bench. That left the teaching table free for arranging and labelling our skeins and samples. We spent the rest of the day dashing between table, pots, buckets and kitchen sink. The Eucalyptus pot was the slowest and most surprising. There we were at the end of the day, distributing and bagging up our samples before going home; stretching tired limbs and waiting for the rich orange-brown colours to come out of the big boiler which we had filled six hours before with fresh green leaves.

Today, you guessed it, I'm rinsing. The Eucalyptus is pretty much done. I don't think a bit of residual smell will worry me at all there. The peach leaf samples are in the sink now. I'll leave the tumeric samples until last. I have no idea how long it will take for the smell of rich curry to dissipate; but the matching colour is worth it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

So Many Treats

It was my birthday yesterday, and it turned out to be a day full of special things. It also turned out to be a long busy day and this morning I'm tired and need to be ready to head out the door in fifteen minutes or so. Just enough time to take a pic of these "blue" roses which are adorning my kitchen bench.
Another day workshop at the Guild today. This time it's natural dyeing--I'm keen to learn. I don't expect the bright vibrant colours that we've been getting from the synthetic dyes, but that's ok. The depth of colour and the excitement of making colour from scratch should be enough to keep me interested and happy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Meet a Treat

I bought myself a very special treat this week--and it's not textiles! It's my new mandolin:I've been thinking about learning mandolin for quite a while. Now I've taken the plunge. So far I'm just working out the basics and toughening up my finger tips, but I've booked myself a few lessons to give me a boost. It's been too long since I actively pursued music in my life and I'm looking forward to learning something new.

I said, "it's not textiles". Well, that's true so far, though, as you can see in the pic it's nestling amongst my usual sea of textile stuff on the big table. And I will need a strap to help me hold it: now let me see . . . card weaving, braiding, twisted cord, macrame . . .

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bunny Rug--Reprise

I'm trying to get some order in my house. That's a long term project--such a long term project that I don't really want to think about it. One small step in that project involves finding and completing some of the little items that are piling up on various chairs around the place.

This is one of the bunny rugs I started some time ago. There should be a link in the previous sentence to take you to the spot in this blog where I posted about it. I don't want to face that reality just now. On the positive side, here it is: complete. There's a layer of hot pink starry flannel, backed by a layer of pretty purple starry cotton; all bound together with a strip of lemon yellow. I think that's three bunny rugs done and five to go. I also think that if I want to improve my completion rate I'm going to have to change my approach. I love hand-hemming, but I can feel a batch of machine-stitched binding coming on. Apart from getting the job done faster, it will make me more confident in guiding those of my students who are horrified by all those little fiddly stitches around the edge of a completed quilt.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Nice Red

I needed some help to relax yesterday--what with bathroom dramas and personal dramas on top of a heavy couple of weeks. The renewed water leak in the bathroom/laundry was fixed by lunch time. After resolving to wait until the plumber could come and get me out of trouble, I called a friend who was able to deal with the problem much more promptly. By the time I'd managed my appointments for the day and done a round trip to Werribee where young R is in hospital, it was late and I was tired. I'm not one for a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. Instead, here's a skein of wool-silk handspun which has a similar effect: It's a 60%-40% wool-silk blend plied with merino--the colour is "cabernet"--it's smooth richness will do for me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not Funny!

No photo and very little textile news this morning. I'm feeling rather flat.

Yesterday I started a new project at Newlands Community Centre. It's a quilt project with a group of Arabic speaking women. The morning went quickly. It's going to be a challenge, but in a good way. I now know three words of Arabic. I'll sound more excited about it when I have fewer other things to worry about . . .

I came home to the news that my friend R--let's call him my foster son, since that's how we operate--had been admitted to hospital. That's a long hard story and I'm worried about him. I thought about him a fair bit during the night and didn't sleep all that well.

When I woke and went to the kitchen to make myself a coffee this morning, I heard a definite dripping sound--please don't laugh--I traced it to the bathroom,which was awash. I can only think this is the next installment in my DIY drama. I'd hoped that particular saga was over. Apparently not. I'm not going to get myself out of this particular spot of trouble with my usual energy and ingenuity. Instead I'm going for the mature wisdom approach--when DIY goes bad twice in the same project it's time to call a professional. He's booked to come tomorrow. Meanwhile my friend L can give me a bed for the night and I'm going to call the hospital.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cafe Knitting

I caught up with my friend M after spinning yesterday afternoon. I arrived at the cafe half an hour or so ahead of time and sat sipping my smoothie and knitting my scarf--a pleasant way to wind up a Sunday afternoon. When M arrived we ordered coffees and compared knitting progress. M is about to become a grandmother for the first time. She's been knitting up a lovely nest of cardigans and blankets for the little one. When she pulled out her latest effort I spied a cute, clever little gizmo. You know, I love gizmos.

It's a teeny tiny stitch holder: About the length of a teaspoon! It's like a miniature knitting needle with a springy strap and a little end cap to secure the stitches. It looked just perfect on a cream wool newborn sized cardi. M reckons she's had these at least thirty years and was surprised at my fascination. Oh, so cute and functional--there's nowhere for the stitches to get snagged and they're not going to fall off.

Well, we knitted a little, chatted a little, enjoyed our coffees and headed our separate ways home. But I took a picture of this clever cutie with me to share.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


I'm slowly recovering from last weekend's DIY disaster. Yesterday I spent an amusing and productive hour at the local hardware store buying supplies to patch my plaster wall. If I had a bit more courage I could probably make up my losses with a couple of comedy gigs! The story gets a reaction every time. I'm now the owner of a stud detector that also traces power cables behind the wall. Apparently there is no tool to detect plastic (PVC) water pipes--at least according to my group of new hardware friends.

I came home with enough plaster to fix many, many holes--3 kg is the smallest tub available.
I love the name: "Final Finish". It has a tone of assurance about it! I need that. You can see the patched wall in the background. This morning I'm trying to convince myself that it's safe to have another go at installing that cupboard. I have to confess that patching my wall was easier than patching my confidence. I'm going to carefully map out the territory lurking behind the plaster before I even think about picking up my power drill. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fascinating Rhythm

Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that I am fascinated by colour: the way colours combine with one another; how to mix them; variegations; contrasts; colour illusions. I'm never done thinking about them and experimenting to see what I can make. Lately I've been thinking particularly about the ways colour is distributed in a skein of dyed yarn. Here are some examples from my drying rack:All four skeins are the same fine cotton yarn--designed for crochet, but in my mind intended for weaving. The outer two skeins are dip-dyed. The pattern of colour in the skein depends on the way I've folded the skeins before dipping them into the dye bath. the blue skein on the left was turned over after the warm blue dyeing was finished and the opposite end of the bundle of yarn was then soaked in a turquoise blue. By the way, I thread a chopstick through the looped skein and balance it on the outside of the dye pot to keep the yarn where I want it to be.

The inner two skeins in the pic are cram-jar dyed. This is more random, because the skein is pressed into a confined space to combine with the dye. For the red-orange skein I first used a warm red along with about a third of the skein of yarn; then the warm yellow and as much more of the yarn as I thought would take up the amount of dye I had poured in. Finally I tipped a little bit of cool yellow over the top. The colour change is slow and fairly regular, though not as predictable as it would have been if I'd used the dip-dye technique. The blue-green skein second from the left is more jazzy. I was getting to the end of my dyes and the end of my energy for the day. I had soaked the skein in soda ash to prepare it to take the colour. When it was readyI just poured the blue into the top of the jar where the yarn had been soaking. I tipped a bit of yellow into one corner and got ready for bed. I couldn't resist having a look after half an hour or so, and found that the colour had all stayed in the top part of the skein as it was crammed into the dye pot. I turned it over and added a bit more blue dye. I decided to leave it at that. I quite like the lighter and white areas as part of the colour scheme.

As if all this variation in the rhythms of colour across the skein wasn't enough, I'm now anticipating what will happen when the yarn is turned into fabric. Whether I knit, crochet or weave it, the colours will combine again in different ways depending on the pattern I use and the size of the piece I make. In weaving, there's the added variable of the colours of two different yarns interlacing with one another. Oh, it's exciting to think of all the possibilities!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Ah ha! I found the motivational key to my mending dilemma. The combination of public accountability and human interest did the trick. Here's the repair, done:Once I started, it was a case of tackling the problem step by step. First weave in the broken ends. Then thread the needle with the repair thread and join it into the work near the holes. I've copied the treble stitches by making a double strand of yarn and working a couple of half hitches over each one. Then I've woven in the repair thread. That's the technical detail. The human detail is that I picked up the phone and chatted with my friend D while I did the job. That gave me an instant reinforcement on why I was being so crazy as to try to fix such a fiddly thing!

Repair Operation

Here's the pair of fingerless mittens which arrived in the mail this week. I made them for my friend D a year or few ago. The challenge is to mend the small area where the moths have eaten away some of the fibre. You can just see it on the left--slap bang in the centre of the back where a repair will be most obvious. Darn!The fabric isn't all gone, but there's a weak area about the size of a ten cent piece and a few loose threads sticking out. This is going to be a case of creative reconstruction. I can't think of a way to actually replicate the crochet stitches. Thankfully there is a bit more of the exact same yarn available for me to work with, so colour matching isn't a problem. I'm not looking forward to this task, but it's not going to get any easier by delaying it, so I'm about to sign off here and just have a go.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yay Team!

Oh, I love a team! Unusually for a Victorian, not a football team, but a work-team. Here's why:
Yesterday morning this was a box of unconnected quilt blocks and squares. A couple of quilters had done some extra work to make spare triangle units. If you want to know how it looked, you can find it on the Quilters at Sussex Blog. Four of us got together at the Neighbourhood House yesterday afternoon to see what we could do about putting it together into a quilt top. Within three hours the job was done. It was so easy compared to doing it on my own. For a start, setting a time and place for a job helps me to get some focus. Then the company and wisdom of others is great for my motivation and problem-solving. While someone stitched, someone else pressed and another trimmed. Here are the details. We had cake and cookies and cups of tea and by dinner time I had a completed quilt top to take home. Today I'm going to drop into a couple of quilt stores to see about a border. Then there will be another team get together to do the basting. If yesterday's effort is anything to go by, we may even get to start the quilting on that day.