Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rose Again

I haven't been making rose brooches since my elbow started playing up. I had a skein of variegated yarn which I'd dyed especially, though. It's been talking to me and I've been resisting. This morning I decided to try a knitted rose.  

I like the range of colours. So much so that I'm tempted to risk a bout of crochet to see how it looks in my favourite pattern. Of course the dyed variegations can never really reproduce the beauty of the real thing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Do

I have a guest coming to stay later this week. The spare bed is covered in knitting stuff. And there are various other bits and pieces stored in the spare room that need to find a better home. Clearing that up is a priority for today. The forecast is for a typical hot and windy Melbourne summer day. It's still officially spring here, and later in the week it will be cool and wet. But I shouldn't really wait till later in the week to get things sorted. On the other hand there are lots of crochet flowers to be finished off.

There's a bag full of brooch backs and an airconditioner in the studio. So if it gets too hot I can retreat there and still do something useful. I'll see how I go.

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Mohair

I'm still stitching away at the mohair tube scarf. It's become my take-along project because it's easy to just knit a bit at a time, anytime. The only hold-up is sorting the double-pointed needles when I pull the whole thing out of my knitting bag, but I'm getting better at that. It is growing gradually.

I guess I'm about two-thirds of the way there. I haven't yet decided how I'll finish it. The original plan was to graft or stitch the ends together to make a loop. Then it could be worn as one long loop or doubled over. As I've been knitting, I've been wondering about making a feature of the join, maybe with some beading. Then again I really like the subtle colour changes in the yarn and a feature might distract from that. I don't have to decide yet, so I'll just keep knitting away at it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I hunted out my small stash of handmade papers.

I've been saving them for something special, but none of them have the strength I want for more of the woven balls. I'll have to see what else I can do with them. Maybe saving them is more of a waste than putting them to some good use. That's always the risk of putting materials aside for "special" I guess.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Indigo Balls

I've finished eight of the woven star balls with my handmade indigo paper. I'm quite pleased with how they're turning out.

Now that I'm comfortable with the geometry of the assembly process, the hardest part is cutting the paper strips. I've been using one of my quilting rulers and a stanley knife, but I'm getting blisters on my hand. The paper is tough--almost leathery. I've been starting to check out the possibility of investing in a good paper trimmer. I have a couple of little ones, but they're not up to a heavy duty task like this. Before I do that, I'll see what other lovely thick papers I have for making these balls.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sample, Sample, Sample

I'm getting more confident with the 3-D geometry of these woven balls. And I'm convincing myself that I really can see the 5-pointed star which the strips of card outline on each side. I expect that would be even clearer if the print on the card wasn't so distracting. Then again, it's been nice to put the junk mail to some good use. I have "No Junk Mail" in letters several inches high on my letterbox, but some always slips through.
I have some lovely textured indigo-dyed paper on my shelf. I think it might be time to pull it out and put it to use.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Woven Star Ball

I am inordinately proud of this woven paper ball.

This is my third attempt over as many days--not counting lots of fiddling and grumbling. You can see it's a rough sample: made with strips of card from the back of a furniture catalogue. I found a tutorial here, but even so the last few steps puzzled me for quite a while. I never was good at 3-D puzzles! I've been looking for things to make that don't involve my usual stitching activities, since my elbow is still giving me grief. Now I've got this figured out I'll see how I go making some with a nicer card.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rose Harvest

The weather has been alternating rainy days and warm days here. Good for the weeds! But thankfully also good for the roses. I'm hoping to make some pot pourri sachets for the Christmas market. Every few days there are more rose blooms which have opened up and are ready to add to my collection.
I have yet to decide what recipe I will use this year. In the meantime the petals are drying.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plain and Done

The garter stitch face washer now has a crochet border and hanging loop. That makes it ready to add to the Neighbourhood House Christmas Hamper collection.
I've been slow to finish it because I'm mostly avoiding repetitive stitches at the moment--especially in crochet. And the needle and thread is featured because it still feels like a major achievement to run in the loose ends immediately when I finish the fun part of my knit or crochet creations.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Craft Date

My friend L and I have been planning to get together to fix this necklace for ages.
Every time I've seen her at work lately I've been aware of the little bag of necklace bits sitting on her desk. The necklace was a gift and it's a favourite of hers. Apologies for not crediting the designer--I have no idea. As for the construction methods--I think it really did wear out from overuse! The lightweight coconut shell buttons and sequins are threaded together with something that looks a lot like fishing line. I ended up joining on a piece of tigertail to re-thread the beads that had come adrift.

And the extra little thread on L's black t-shirt--consider it a bonus from my studio. It's impossible to go out there without picking up something.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Studio Slippers

I bought these knitted slippers with bling a year or so ago.

I stumbled across them at the grocery store--who knows why they were there--and thought they were too cute to leave behind. Unfortunately they weren't quite the right shape for my foot, so when my friend L was here yesterday I passed them on for her to use. Turning them over revealed some of their history in my studio!

Friday, November 18, 2011


I'm still nursing my irritated-irritating elbow, so here's another rose to serve as inspiration.

I don't know the name of this one. The bush was in the garden when I arrived here. The combination of soft pinks and yellow-golds complements the dutch gold which I featured a while ago, but this flower is much more delicate. And if you look at the leaves you will see that my rose garden needs more than just weeding! It's going to be hot today though, and I need to take it easy, so that will have to wait.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fibre Fix

Sometimes a class full of enthusiastic students is just the right medicine! Wednesday is my regular quilt class night. And for the second time in a row we had a special guest.
L has just about finished her jelly-roll quilt. All it needs is borders and it will be ready to quilt. She wanted a big space to lay it out and the computer room was available again. As a bonus my students had a chance to enjoy it too. I won't be surprised if a few copies of Pam and Nicky Lintott's Jelly Roll Quilts book are sold this week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It's official: I have tennis elbow--probably as a result of recent wild weeding efforts. Unfortunately the treatment involves rest plus anti-inflammatories and appropriate exercises. And most of my crafting activities rely on being able to flex my elbow. So my pic today is my radio--tuned as usual to ABC Classic FM.
I like to have music in the background as I work, but it's not enough to occupy my mind if I don't have crafts to do. If this goes on much longer I'll be teaching myself to work left-handed. I did teach myself to knit in the continental style a while ago, but I don't know if that action will protect my inflamed tendon enough. Oh well, I'll just have to see how things go.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I'm not sure when, where or why I picked up this cone of yarn.
It's quite a sturdy cotton. I've started knitting it into a bath mat, though that won't go anywhere near finishing it off . . . and yes, the dog hairs on the floor are another part of my domestic reality!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Something Else

Here's something else I've been working on lately.

To add some perspective to the picture: it's lace-weight alpaca yarn and that pink blob in the top left-hand corner is the tip of my index finger. This is going to have to be blocked when it's done. At the moments it's a bit of a wrinkly mess, but that's not unexpected. And apologies in advance . . . it's coming into gift-giving season and I'm planning on some hand-made gifts, so there will probably be some cryptic posts in the next little while.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Today I need to spend some more time in the garden. Those weeds are not going to go away on their own. Here's another one of my roses to remind me that it's worth the effort.

I don't know the name of this one. The flower is relatively small, but the variegated petals are so much fun.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stitch by Stitch

I'm continuing to knit the mohair tubular scarf. Here's where I'm up to this morning.

It's a simple knit: around and around; one stitch at a time. Every stitch is the same--and yet every stitch is different. That's the fascination for me. I love the steady repetition and the subtle colour changes.

 . . . by the way, this is knit on 3.5 mm needles, so on my screen at least the pic is bigger than life size.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tube Scarf

I've been working away at the mohair tubular scarf in various odd bits of time.
I've just finished re-knitting the yarn that I'd ripped out from my previous attempt. Thankfully it held up quite well to all the handling. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Appearance

My friend Vireya was kind enough to bring her quilt to my class last night.

This isn't the best pic of what is really an interesting and very clever quilt. The quilt top was on the table and I decided not to climb up on a chair in front of a room full of students.

The quilt gave us lots of different aspects to discuss and the students loved it. Afterwards Vireya was able to use the big table next door to get the basting done. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another Re-think

I didn't have a particular project in mind when I spun up this mohair yarn. It was just a case of making the most of the characteristics of the fibre. I knew I wanted to keep the design simple. What could be simpler than a garter stitch scarf? I tried that. The result was disappointing. Yesterday I pulled out what I'd done and had another go.

What about stocking stitch?

All very well, but the inevitable curling of the edges would be a problem.

OK, if it's going to curl anyway, what about knitting a tube?
No, it's not another pair of wristies. I'm going to try a tubular scarf. At this stage I'm thinking I'll join the ends so it can be looped around  one or more times. The smooth outer texture of the knitting shows up the lustre and halo of the mohair beautifully and the subtle colour variations should be a feature. I'll see how it goes. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pretty Plain

This garter stitch square will be a pretty face washer.
A crochet border will dress it up just enough I think. Last week I made one entirely in crochet with one of my little flowers to add a bright spot. Unfortunately my muscles didn't enjoy the constant repetition of the one stitch--there's a twisting motion in the wrist involved in crochet which gets wearing after a while. I've had to be careful since then not to do more than a bit at a time until things settle down. That's a pity because often it's the meditative rhythm of the work that I enjoy.

Monday, November 7, 2011


"Rhapsody in Blue" is the name of this climbing rose. I have two of them growing on my front fence.
The picture colour is fairly true to life this time--on my monitor at least. I often have trouble with purple shades. And it's not exactly what I would call "blue", but it's on the blue side for a rose anyway. Dead-heading these roses is about the only thing I got done yesterday. Apart from a bit of random knitting. It was rather a slow day for me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


When I decided to investigate quilt as you go techniques yesterday I had visions of a systematic process with carefully labelled samples. The reality turned out to be a bit different.

By the time I got to the studio I was less than enthusiastic. The morning was hotter than I'd expected. The weeds are tough and persistent. Digging made me tired, dirty and sweaty. Then I took a while to cool down and clean up. There was laundry to do. And yes, my studio is rather a mess at the moment. . . Are you getting the idea? On the other hand, I had declared that I was going to do something. So I made a quick, rough start. Sometimes just having a go without any finesse isn't such a bad idea. I'll have another go soon. Next time I'll use bigger samples so I can leave a good few centimetres of unquilted edge around each block. I'll trim the wadding more carefully and try to join more than a couple of blocks together. That's the plan, anyway. But I don't think it will be today. I've ended up with a sore stiff back after my digging efforts. Sitting and sewing won't be the best activity for me today. Unfortunately, neither will digging more weeds this morning. And it's going to be another hot day. I might just need to declare myself a holiday and settle down with a good book.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I've been investigating the idea of "quilt as you go" lately. Frankly the challenge of trying to fit a large quilt under a small domestic sewing machine has become a little stale. And I have students facing the same issue. The idea of quilt as you go is to quilt smaller units and then combine them to make the finished quilt. It seems like a logical solution to the problem. As I say, I've been investigating . . . and there are several different approaches to the challenge. Now it's time to choose an approach and try it. I won't use a full size quilt, though. I'd like to try a few of the different techniques and I don't want to waste time, effort and fabric. On the other hand I had set aside these fabrics as scrap.
Just right to use for a sample--and they even match. In fact the floral looks better than I remember it with a little morning sunshine and the contrast of the timber table top . . .

Here's my plan for the day. The forecast is for 30--double what it was earlier in the week. I still have plenty of weeding to do in the garden. I'll tackle that before the weather warms up too much. Then I can turn the air conditioner on in my studio and have a go at this. Unfortunately the studio is rather a mess at the moment, but I should be able to clear enough space. 

Friday, November 4, 2011


When I first tried the rose-in-a-square pattern from the Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches, I had two criticisms: it was a bit too square and a bit too flat. Considering that it was designed as a motif to be made into a blanket, maybe criticism isn't the right word. Anyway, I wanted to use it as a flower brooch, so square and flat weren't such desirable features.

Changing the sequence of stitches for the edges of the petal helped solve the square issue. Now I think I've found a solution for flatness. 
I added a couple of extra stitches to each petal. That makes the whole flower a bit tighter and pushes the petals together just a bit. I think it's better. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Up Close

My cup day rose has taken up residence on my kitchen table. It's slowly opening. 
I decided to have a close look at the colours. The rose is called "dutch gold". I can see various shades of yellow from deep gold through to a pale lemon. And there are touches of red-pink there too. The gold deepens to a warm orange and some of the petals look just as if I'd dropped a couple of grains of my red dye on a wet patch of fabric--lovely! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spring Fashion

Where else in the world do they declare a public holiday for a horse race! Yesterday was Melbourne Cup day, "the celebration that stops a nation" is the slogan. My day wasn't filled with champagne and high fashion.
I chose muddy boots rather than strappy sandals since I needed to tackle the abundant weeds in my front garden. A couple of hours of serious digging got me through about half of that garden bed--and tired me out thoroughly. The rose is my touch of prettiness and a reward for my efforts. Hopefully all the rose bushes in that section will be happier once I complete the job. That will take several more days like yesterday to achieve. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I realised after I posted this crochet Christmas star ornament the other day that I hadn't included anything in the picture to give an indication of size. I've made four of them now. The other thing I've realised is that it's going to take an awful lot of little stars before I use up my 100 gram ball of fine mercerised cotton. I originally dyed it thinking of a weaving project.
Four stars have used up about 10 grams. Unless I get a sudden burst of starry enthusiasm, there will be enough for years to come!