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When a friend commissions you to knit thre doilies for him, it’s almost an act of kindness. I haven’t really figured out a place for doilies in my life, but I love knitting them so if someone else wants them, it really is Helpful to me!
Here are three doilies I made from a great book, Knitted Lace, by Sonja Esbensen and Anna Rasmussen. A delightfully presented book with 50 patterns.
My friend David asked for these as a way to protect a vintage table. The smaller ones were so quick to make. I made the last one in a matter of hours on Friday!
I’d like to become better at blocking them. They still don’t sit the way I would like. Perhaps I need to iron them once they’re off the blocking pins?
Either way they’re pretty and delicate and my mother has asked for some small ones too so I have a reason to make more.
I think soon though I might tackle a bigger one, like a table cloth size, or at least a large centerpiece. Sometimes when the little ones are done, I feel like it came to a premature end.
A few weeks ago I started a longed for quilting class. Well I thought it was a quilting class. Turns out it’s in fact a patchwork class and there’s a difference that I just hadn’t considered.
A patchwork class is almost entirely about the piecing together of the top of the quilt and while I’m happy to be learning some of the finer points of that skill, having been pretty much self taught to date, I really signed up for the class so I could learn about the quilting part because that’s the hardest part for me.
No matter. I’m getting what I can out of the class and will investigate quilting skills later on. I’ll show you what I’ve been doing for my homework. We’re sent home to work on hand piecing our blocks each week and I’m SO SLOW. It took me all of Sunday afternoon to make just one of my blocks. Considering it’s possible to machine sew a block in under half an hour, a whole afternoon is not an economical use of my time.
But the results are pleasing, if imperfect, so there’s something to be said for it. Here, see what I mean? This block is called Ohio Star. Getting those points to line up was hard but I’m moderately happy with the results.
I love the cream and red tones I’ve chosen. Hopefully it’ll be a lovely, small quilt. This block is called Churn Dash (no idea what the name means but it’s as old as the hills, apparently).
Such a long way to go. I think I’m going to do some of them on the machine. I just don’t have time to get more than one done by hand a week, not if I’m to knit, work, eat, sleep, live as well! OK, maybe I do, but it just seems so slow, which is odd given I’ll happily sit and knit lace for weeks or months at a time. But an afternoon spent on a quilt block seems excessive? Perhaps I need a change in attitude because really, I do like the slow, gentle pace of hand sewing. I just feel somehow like I’m cheating on my knitting.
Speaking of which, I’m blocking my Billie Holiday shawl today. Here’s a sneak peek. It’s awfully pretty. Photos coming soon, hopefully taken while we’re away this weekend.
And finally, I can’t let a certain important birthday pass without comment. This weekend just gone, the lovely Alice turned three. THREE! She’s growing up. She’s talking non-stop, discovering the world anew every day and delighting us all. Uncle Sean bought her a pair of roller skates (he’s got roller derby fantasies I think!) and Alice loved them, even if she found she lacked the skill to go fast.
She stayed safe on carpet on Sunday morning for her first go at getting about. I spoke to her earlier today and she told me she thinks the skates are ‘exciting’. I bet.
We’re setting into a period of steady rain here, and for summer it’s oddly cold (I am wearing a knitted cardigan today, in February. Amazing!). All i want to be doing right now is sitting at home, rain outside, working on finishing a little shrug I’m making for Alice so that I can start swatching for something new for me.
Here’s the shrug in progress. It should be finished, washed and drying by tomorrow morning which is handy because Alice is spending the weekend with us.
Like RoseRed and others I’m stockpiling yarn and ideas for the cardigans I want to knit for winter. I’m itching to get stuck in. Hours have been devoted in recent weeks to matching yarn and patterns. There are cardigans’ worth of yarn I’ve had set aside for some time and I’m going to use them, instead of buying anything new. Revolutionary idea, right?
My top five patterns at the moment, receiving heavy consideration are Seamair by Amy Herzog, Blair by Thaya Preece, Driven by Veera Välimäki, Iced by Carol Feller and Estelle by Linden Down. In a way I think I have to stop looking for Winter 2012 patterns and just pick one and start because I keep finding new ideas and it’s quite paralyising.
However, just because it’s cold and wet this week, doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way and I’m sure there’s some summer left to be had, so I’ve got some time to think.
I’ll leave you with something that’s thrilling me in my garden at the moment. My sunflowers. Their big, happy faces (which are under constant threat by the cockatoos that sit over head waiting for them to be ripe) are such a wonderful addition to my garden. I think, like daffodils in spring, I must always have sunflowers in summer.
Almost the end of the week. It can’t come soon enough.
It’s been a while since I knitted black lace. I in fact didn’t think I’d do it again since the last one, which I made in 2009, took me so long. If you were around you might remember my Myrtle Leaf shawl from Victorian Lace Today. A long time in the making, it was lovely and worth it, but I said it’d be a long time before I did black lace again, even though the results are fabulous (yes I was trying to emulate the photos from Victorian Lace Today!)
Well not only am I doing black lace again. I’m doing black lace with bling. Or beads. I present the beginning of Billie Holiday, an elegant black, beaded shawl which I’m completely loving.
I have a friend who finds patterns on Ravelry that I’ve never seen before. She sends me links to patterns that are sometimes outside the popular range. They are often patterns that very few people have made, patterns that are a bit different. They often come just when I’m looking for something different and remind me that we can all get into ruts with how we use search engines.
Billie Holiday is a semi circular shawl, in a shape I’ve not made before. If you follow the link you’ll see what I mean.
Here’s how mine looks so far.
I’m even using yarn and beads that my friend gave me, leftover from hers. Lotus Yarns ‘Miya’ which is part mink. Mink! I know! It’s lovely. I did some reading on modern mink yarn production and it’s safe to say no minks died in the production of this yarn.
Unlike many other shawls I’ve knit, this one starts from the long edge, casting on 341 stitches. Let me just say that was not fun or easy and I two or three rows in I mucked it up and started over, but it was worth it and we’re getting along just fine now.
So really I just wanted to show it off, to show you what I’m knitting and to tell you that black lace and beads are fun and thrilling, if you’re into that sort of thrill, which I am.
I can’t wait to have it finished. Which reminds me – I must stop casting on new fun stuff. I really want to have something finished!
What’s a tea wallet? Is that what you’re asking? Yeah I did too the first time I saw one last year. Cute, I thought. Nice idea, i mused. But I wasn’t sure I needed one. When would I need to take tea bags anywhere with me? If I’m in a cafe, I order leaf tea. If I’m at someone’s house, I have whatever they’re offering. I don’t take flasks of hot water on the road with tea bags. So where’s the need? I filed tea wallets away as cute but not for me.
Then something happened. I found out that I can no longer consume dairy. A series of tests, followed by a diagnosis of no more dairy, at least not for a long time was for this milk addict a life changing moment. No dairy? No cheese! No milk! No butter! No products that contain hidden milk solids. You’d be amazed how many products that rules out. It’s been a learning process. Three weeks in and I feel markedly better. I didn’t believe it would happen but it did.
So now I’m drinking soy milk in tea. That’s an adjustment and not one I’ve made well yet. I may yet switch to black tea but I’m not ready to do that. So if I’m at someone’s house and they don’t have any herbal tea on offer, now I don’t have to go without. I can take my tea with me!
At least, the need for a tea wallet was immediately obvious to me. Today I made one because really, who wants to carry a zip lock bag around in their handbag? Not me.
I even found some cute tea pot fabric in my stash.
It’s tiny. That surprised me. For some reason I thought it would be bigger, but it’s perfect for me! Fits in my hand nicely.
Open it up and look inside.
I totally think this is a bit of a twee little thing, but there’s a place for twee, right? It’s cute, it’s functional, it’s not entirely necessary but as I said, who wants to carry a zip log bag around? This is so much nicer.
The pattern is from here. One of the most commonly made tea wallets you can find on the net. And it took about 45 mins. Very satisfying.
It’s the time of year when I most need easy, portable and social knitting. The kind of stuff that doesn’t get messed up once I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine and am talking and not necessarily paying attention. With all the christmas parties, pre-christmas catch up drinks and all the rest of it, I need plain socks.
This doesn’t mean I need boring socks. Oh no. The fun yarns come out when the need arises for plain knitting. Enter Yarntini. A dyer with my calling card if ever there was such a thing.
It’s me. So me. When I pulled out these socks at my brother’s wedding, my younger cousin said to me ‘You’re knitting? At a wedding?’ Hell yes. It’s my brother’s wedding, the meal is over and I have a glass of wine and my family around me. I’ll do what I like! And I knitted merrily on the first of these two socks for the evening (except for when I was dancing with my nephew!).
There’s a fair bit of Christmas knitting going on but these are not Christmas gifts. These are for me. The yarn came to me via RoseRed last year when we shared the fruits of the Yarntini club over the course of a few months. I love this one. It’s called Mint Fizz.
Really there’s nothing new left to say about plain socks which is why you let the yarn choice do the singing of praises for you. Who doesn’t love a bit of self striping yarn? Round and around in pleasing circles, I’m always reminded of the Yarn Harlot’s line from Knitting Rules where she talks about the simple pleasure of self striping yarns. ‘Perhaps I’m just dim enough to get a kick out the colour changes’ she says, or words to that effect. I know she definitely says dim.
I don’t know about you but I feel a bit dim after a few drinks so there’s plenty of pleasure to be had from pretty colour changes when the work itself is frightfully boring. (They’re knit on 2.75mm dps, 64 stitch cuffs, knit top down, with an eye of partridge heel and toes bound off at 28 stitches, for those who care for the fine print.)
But then who needs thrills a minute in their knitting when the real action is taking place with your friends or family over a drink or two? All I ever need is my fingers kept busy and the quiet certainty in the back of my mind that a) the socks will be fine and b) I’m multi-tasking.
That said, these are a bit loose on me. That’s the main reflection I’ve got. I’ve started a new pair in another Yarntini colour (Alice saw the yarn and asked if it was ‘for Alice?’) and I’m going to knit them at a finer gauge, see if that helps.
Speaking of Alice, she’s been here most of the weekend. We took her shopping for seedlings. How grown up does she look pushing along a little trolley?
She’s wearing an old beaded necklace that kicks around in the car (ever since she left it there) and which she wears when she wants to look pretty. Personally I think she doesn’t need the adornment but then I’m not two-going-on-three. Maybe that demographic is all about wearing their beads to the garden centre?
On the weekend, I was finally able to wear my beautiful Estonian Lilac Leaf Shawl to my brother’s wedding. The day was, as predicted, incredibly hot with a fierce dry wind but I was determined to wear the shawl come what may, even if only for a while. Thankfully at the venue we were in a sheltered garden under shady trees so having it draped around my shoulders wasn’t unbearable. (As an aside, the day after the wedding dawned cold and wet. Would have been a much better day for a shawl!)
I had planned to have a fun photo shoot at the venue in the two hours between the ceremony and the reception but once I had a glass of champagne in my hand and was chatting with family, I completely forgot. Thankfully, we grabbed a few shots hurriedly at my house before we left.
Here’s one with my gorgeous nephew Willem. He scrubbed up beautifully and looked so handsome in his shirt and tie. We loved that we matched with my blue dress and his blue tie.
Later in the evening, I got to dance with him – something we’d both been talking about for weeks. He’s a real groover and for a while we got the dance floor to ourselves. What a special moment. He’s so grown up. At seven, he’s not such a little boy any more. He was the only child at the wedding and handled the night beautifully.
I didn’t actually try the shawl on with my dress until the moment it came to get ready to go and so I was thrilled to find that the smokey grey really did go well with it. I wore silvery grey shoes, a grey flower in my hair and carried a small grey bag. It came together well. I bought the dress months ago from a shop in Braidwood called Hoola Hoop. A shop that sells American imported classic 1950s outfits for both men and women. It’s a Heartbreaker dress, as noted elsewhere by WebGoddess. I felt very much like I was in an outfit from Mad Men .
In March I’ll be going to another family wedding (Sean’s brother) so I’ve got my outfit good to go well ahead of time. No need to make my fingers ache with a looming deadline then!).
We saw a segment on Gardening Australia earlier this year about using twigs and branches from trees to build wicker style garden beds. Sean never forgot it and so he persuaded me we should build some. The basic idea is to take still green twigs and thin branches from trees and weave them around vertical garden stakes or other firm sticks. As you stack the woven branches on top of each other, you end up with a wall. It’s an ancient technique so you feel as if you’re doing something with history behind it.
Here’s how one of them looked once filled with dirt (actually filled with layers of wet newspaper, straw, blood and bone, compost and soil in the style of No Dig Garden beds).
You can see in this photo too some hessian poking out. We lined the inside of the beds with hessian to help with the problem of weeds and grass poking through. And yes, for the observant among you, the bed does cross a concrete path. that’s ok. The plants we’ve put there are very shallow rooted.
The twigs we wove around garden stakes to form the edging were from a large tree in the front yard – we (ok, Sean) cut loads of the green twigs in different lengths and we passed a pleasant afternoon teaching ourselves how to build them.
It wasn’t that hard in the end but I did think next time I’d put more stakes in and try to make the sides taller but as rustic style beds, designed to have herbs close to the house, they work well enough.
We got a nice bit of rain the day after and I thought everything settled in well. I felt very pleased with our efforts.
The lavender will be both useful and pretty.
The oregano is so lush and vibrant. I hope it stays that way.
Elsewhere in the beds we’ve planted chives, dill, parsley, thyme and warrigal greens. It’ll be wonderful!
If you’ve got a tree that sends out loads of lovely bendy shoots, I highly recommend this as a way to make use of them and build something that won’t cost you the earth.
Useful tutorial here.
Sometimes I set myself a goal and prove to myself I can do it. It might come at a cost but I get there and it’s worth it. The cost for this one was that my hands were really sore after about five hours straight last night of fast knitting on 2.5mm needles. Ouch!
I made this little singlet in less than 48 hours, leaving just enough time to get it dry on the deck this morning in the sun that I was so thankful to see! I cast on Sunday morning, finished at 11:30pm Monday night. I’d been prepared to pull an all nighter if I had to. Turns out I didn’t need to. I can be fast when I want to and let’s face it, 3month old babies just aren’t very big.
Ok so I could have started to knit for my hairdresser’s baby when she was born three months ago. I didn’t. I meant to but she’s funny about wool (she claims she’s allergic but then I show her the nice wool I knit with and she wonders if maybe she’s not allergic. If all you’ve known is scratchy stuff, then of course you’re going to think you can’t wear it!)
But with a knitting grandmother, she knows all about Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton and has often waxed lyrical about how lovely and soft it is so I suppose it was meant to be that I would choose Bendigo cotton for little Juliette, who I am yet to meet.
And the colour! Why oh why did Bendigo discontinue the only decent red cotton they’ve ever done? Thank goodness I stocked up when I was there last year. This took one tiny little ball of 4ply cotton and I’ve got several more.
This pattern had some new (to me) techniques in the design that I just loved – the clever way you start at the neck and with a few twists and turns, all of a sudden you have the bodice of a singlet.
A bodice with ruffles. And a bow. And openings for sweet little arms. Unbeatable.
The pattern is Baby Acacia by Georgie Hallam, aka Tikki, from her Spring Wildflowers collection. If you have little girls in your life to knit for, you would do well to go and buy her patterns. I can’t praise her work enough. I got a huge order from Bendigo Woollen Mills yesterday (massive bag on the doorstep when I got home – joy!) and there will be an Acacia for summer in Alice’s life very, very soon.
ps I’m thinking of signing up for a month of daily blogging with NaBloPoMo. It’s been a while since I embarked on the crazy, frenzied push for daily output but I think it might be good for me. Check back tomorrow to see if I really did sign up.