Monday, February 28, 2011

Craft Camp: The Bottom Line

It’s probably because all three of my children have fallen about in horror and mortification, that I am uncharacteristically delighted to post an image of my not-as-perky-as-it-used-to-be rear end, wearing a craft camp finished object. I told you I had moved on from bosoms.

Jodie and Sooz plotted the Great Gocco Undie Print-Off and we were advised to bring designs and printables. I can assure you that I am not the only one gadding about in limited edition designer underwear today.

Over the top of my undies, I am also wearing another finished craft camp object – thanks to Nikki and her pattern and her enduring patience and invisible zip foot and overlocker. An a-line skirt, properly constructed and gosh, isn’t it amazing how comfy garments feel when they are made to measure and fit beautifully?

Thanks to Sooz and the other Nikki, I have also conquered a fear and dread of any fabric with ‘give’. Turns out I do have a stretchy stitch thing on my dodgy machine and remarkably the world did not implode when I used it. I suspect that this discovery has the potential to Change My World. Much like overlockers apparently do.

As intended, the quilt top happened and with a king size amount of relatively straight stitching and throwing bits together, I shall now need approximately twelve years of recovery time. The whole thing measures 2.2 metres by 2.4 metres and you’re looking at a 40 cm-ish area here. This is because I can not bring myself to clear the living room floor.

Most of it is texturally subtle,

(intentionally weirdly so)

and is about seventy per cent of what I had in my head. I am in need of therapeutic rocking in the corner while I gather the wherewithal and fresh eyeballs and the physical SPACE to fathom where it isn’t working. I agree, there is a distinct danger of ‘slow burn project’ about this one...

So after a craft camp filled with excellent company and fabulous food and learning and working-into-the-wee-hours-bad-influence (not looking at anyone in particular, no Maria, not you either), I was so knackered by Sunday I could not string any sentences together. But today I wear the afterglow of a weekend away with like-minded peeps and a very comfortable pair of underwear.

Thanks for having me girls.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Creative Space

Earlier this week, I was having a little connipt. Scrap that. Earlier this week, it was big time, all-over-the-place, connipting. This weekend I am off to craft camp. Everyone knows that craft camp is a fabulous opportunity to get a huge amount of unfettered, throw-scraps-on-floor, potentially mischief-making crafting done. One thing I have learned, is that craft camp is not about finishing projects (yawn). Heck no, craft camp is for big, juicy, stay-up-late, NEW projects – ones wholly unlikely to see the light of day on my kitchen table at home. ’Course, this could just be my take on craft camp.

The family have been nothing less than rivoted and intrigued by the seven per hour WHAT AM I GOING TO MAKE?! outbursts from moi. There was some effort at a helpful suggestion: Gee, Mum, if you’re really desperate, you could knit me a wristwarmer. I would probably wear it when it is the coldest day in 100 year recorded weather history and hell has frozen over. But I wouldn’t bother knitting a second one...

At one point, I was moseying about over at Cath’s and she pointed me in the direction of the Rainbow House. I was fixated on the weirdy floorboards. Even though the weirdy floorboards are not my default aesthetic, I quite unexpectedly thought they would look rather striking on a quilt. I whipped up a sort-of mock-up, sort-of test:

It’s still twelve light years away from that default aesthetic. But if I slept in a bedroom that could do justice to such a quilt, (complete with a quilted homage to wood grain), I would give this little number a whirl – even if it would be like sleeping under a floor. Or under a Mondrian painting with a limited colour palette.

Since then, it’s been a week of feigning interest in work stuff for the Mr and scribbling bits on paper that have nothing to do with work stuff for the Mr. Somewhere inbetween I spotted some breathtaking quilts by Yoshiko Jinzenji. Wow. A while later, I scribbled this:

Everything made exciting sense! Well, to me.

After a little brainstorming with an excellent brainstormy-type person at Amitié, I now have a plan of craft camp attack.

I’m aiming for texture and delicate wonk,

and nuance and subtlety.

And (preventatively pre-washed) non-subtlety:

Course, after all this talking up of the quilt thing, it’s best you note the usual hit and miss, change-my-mind disclaimer. If it all goes to the dogs, next Monday I shall show you a beautifully knitted wristwarmer.

For a Thursday-worth of My Creative Space action, drop by here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tarts and (Hand-On-Heart Promise) The Last of the Bosom Posts

I confess, I have rather enjoyed typing the word ‘bosom’ in recent posts. It’s a word that looks every bit as matronly as I mean it – and with two ‘o’s to boot...

Below is a shot of the back of one completed Tarty Cardi (Tea Leaves Cardigan in Madelinetosh Tart yarn), with all ends woven in and buttons sewn on and (just to be unexpected) not involving any bosoms.

Here is a shot of the front of the same cardi, involving bosoms and the tartiest looking floral arrangement I could muster from my garden. Apologies for the weirdy posing.

Another shot from the back, again not involving bosoms and showcasing the fact that I could have further reduced the amount of stitches in the back – but overall, I’m pretty happy with that waist shaping.

A final bosom shot of the Tarty Cardi, with distracting purchasings from Ceres so I don’t feel like I am doing more weirdy posings. This also serves to document the existence of living herbery (etc), in case this dodgiest of green thumbs commits some forgetful sin and things start looking less healthy.

Vital Stats on the Tarty Cardi
NON KNITTERS LOOK AWAY NOW (or you’ll pass out from sheer boredom)...
I cast on as per a size 38 of the Tea Leaves Cardigan pattern. I began waist shaping 34 rows after the yoke section. I knit five rows of dart-like decreases (front and back – so decreasing eight stitches in total per row) with eight rows between each decrease row. Three rounds of dart-like lifted increases followed (front and back, so eight increased stitches per row), again with eight rows between each increase row. Another eight rounds of stockinette and five rounds of garter stitch to finish.

The non-sleeves
Because I already own a Tea Leaves with sleeves, I thought I’d see how much more wear I got out of non-sleeve version. I picked up eighteen stitches under the arm and proceeded to knit five rows. The intention was for a bit of cap sleeve-thing, which after blocking has flopped down more than I thought it would. The first row I increased a stitch every five stitches, the second row every tenth – probably an entirely dodgy way of going about things. Three more rows and a loose cast off.

The Clever Bit
I used precisely three skeins of the Madelinetosh Tosh DK Tart – with fifteen centimetres to spare. It was touch and go for a wee while there.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Creative Space: Throwing a Hissy Fit

In my final year at university, one of my design lecturers challenged me to construct a model of the C-3P0, Star Wars, gold, droid-thing, from paper. He was a clever university lecturer, because he knew how to get a rise out of this university student. My C-3P0 involved weeks of paper mechanics and reams of gold cardboard and eye-bags worthy of a galaxy far, far away and went on to win a national prize for Now I Can’t For The Life Of Me Remember What.

I am utterly and entirely aware that paper mechanics is not exactly sewing. My sewing know-how is limited to a-line skirts, cushions and softies and once I even ascertained the width of required skirt fabric by performing a 360 degree roll on laid-out fabric. But once I didn’t know anything about paper mechanics either. So I thought I’d give that lovely Schoolhouse Tunic pattern a whirl.

The Schoolhouse Tunic is just the sort of dress I love to wear. Mel and Nikki model it and its making to perfection and I’ve seen Sophie’s gorgeous version in the flesh. While those three sew with great finesse, in truth I reckon that even an absolute beginner such as moi could achieve a Schoolhouse Tunic. Well, in fact I did – in a size 16. I even cared about all my seams and limiting wonk and stuff.

The inherent problem, for a beginner such as moi, is that while the bosomy bit of me apparently merits a size 16, the rest of me requires a size 10.

As it turns out, the mechanics of gold paper are not at all the same for fabric (and sticky tape doesn’t much work). And even though I have given the metamorphosis between size 10 and 16 a good, gung-ho, five hour, laterally creative go, the only way I’m ever going to get this thing to fit in any flattering fashion and over my head is to use a bloomin’ zip. Which I would have known were I not a beginner and will now surely never forget.

Instead of starting again, I did the next logical thing, came over all hissy fit and pulled off a sleeve.

There was scrunching and stomping while a toddler looked on tolerantly.

The sort-of adult in me has since kicked in.

After a while, I thought I’d be damned if my weirdo proportioned, shade-of-its-former-self Schoolhouse Tunic was beating me. Then I thought more rationally. What about if I learn a thing or two about sewing rules before I try hacking into this pattern from every direction? What about if one of you lovely, clever, sewing bloggy types had a notion for another simply-styled dress pattern, preferably with a nice flattering empire line seam right under the bosom bit and a straight-ish skirt, which no doubt incorporates a zip? A zip which I could plan for and accommodate from the start? I would be heartily, joyously pleased to hear any advice or suggestions you may have – even if it is STICK WITH THE KNITTING.


PS. My apologies that this blog seems to have come over quite bosomy lately.

PPS. Just watch how this gorgeous chook turns Failure Dress into Plan B Success Dress...

PPS. Check in with the green thumbed Kirst for the My Creative Space world-wide, whirlwind whip around...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bits of Finished

Sunday night, I finished my tarty cardi. A sleeveless sort-of version of the Tea Leaves. It’s not finished-finished. Not ends-woven in, buttons-sewn-on finished. You know what I’m like at finished-finished.

For the two of you who expressed some concern before Christmas at the in-limbo state of the festive beetle, he is finished. This is a minor miracle because I had a sudden embroidered breakdown (i.e. was overcome by a spontaneous and wanton urge to knit).

Even though I am very much in love with the Cosmo embroidery floss because I had to try very hard for it to split or tangle and the colour range (hundreds of greens!) is pretty spiffy too,

I have not been very in love with the Christmas Beetle. With his wavy unbacked linen, his was a forced finish. I have been pretty much convinced by the resident bug kid that he would make a cool knee patch. I have no doubt that resident bug kid would adore such a knee patch with voracity and vehemence and this, I think, is what matters. Not that hours of stitchery will be crawling through the dirt thirty per cent of any given day.

Last week, Tina sent me a package of goodness. A giveaway win containing the most comfy-looking pair of (organic! upcycled!) baby daks. We grown ups are seriously missing out.

There were bonus pieces of loveliness too.

The framed pedal to the metal print prompted the beginning of another project – of the sewing kind. But that’s a tale of traumatically unfinished for tomorrow day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Goodbye Hello

Hello new week, with all your possibility and probability and inevitability. It’s nice to see you.

Goodbye last week. It’s nice to see you go. You were a bit off-ish. A bit edgy. A bit rub up the wrong way. By the time Sunday woke, I was on to you. We rolled out of town, went looking for air.

I found some. Magic, even. I found it here. I didn’t find it in the mazes, or the gift shop or during our fleeting attempt to find gnomes for a lolly reward. I found it in the bottom paddock amongst a tangle of blackberry bushes with full bellies and blackberry dribbles down hands and t-shirt fronts.

I found it looking up,

I found it in this little adventurer,


And in those knees,

I found it in fairy cups,

In... Pardon me, Mr Tree. So sorry to disturb you...

I found it playing rhinoceros amongst thorny roses,

In those heady, pungent roses (WISH I could blog a smell),

Hello this week,

Let’s get busy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Creative Space: Knitting ’Round Curves

My grandmother Eunice was a mad-keen Scrabble fanatic (she had a bit of competitive feist, you know), an accomplished pianist and was prone to ironing undies. With starch. She was an absolute shorty and I towered over her from the age of 12 – at least as much as anyone destined to end up at 153cm can expect to ‘tower’. Eunice was also rather curvy. Long have my cousin and I eye-rolled our grimaced thanks for our grandmother’s buxomly generous, genetic gift.

I have an unswerving theory that the sort of clothing that best befits a vertically challenged, well-endowed figure, is that of the beautifully tailored kind. The kind that requires an iron. And possibly starch. The kind that has a hope in heck of making it in to my day-to-day wardrobe. Notably, I have never, ever, owned a piece of knitwear of the flattering kind.

It was with a last-ditched, leap of faith, that I cast on a Tea Leaves Cardigan. Bored of all that peripheral hat, scarf, etceteras knitwear, I was determined to give torso knitwear a best possible shot. The click clack of needles accompanied the din of Rain on Tent throughout our summer holiday. Only when I had cast off a completed cardigan (ok, minus the sleeves) did I try it on for size. There isn’t a lot of mirror to be found while camping. Even so, I could tell that I had modelled some luscious Madelinetosh yarn into something akin to a knitted sack.

One deep breath later, I cast on Tea Leaves Cardi #2 – knitting and simultaneously frogging Tea Leaves Cardi #1.

By the time we had arrived home from our holiday, I had gone so far as to cater for waist shaping. I followed Sooz’s sage advice and transferred the stitches to waste yarn. I tried it on. In front of a mirror. Three times.

What I ended up with was a cardi which is a careful mixture of a size 36 through to a size 40. It has weird sleeves. I learnt something about shaping. I know about lifted increases. I know that even a second go at excruciatingly careful blocking of this yarn, unfortunately enlarges the whole affair by an approximate size. This is something of a bummer. I do love that I applied myself to working out the nuts and bolts for myself, rather than blindly following the pattern.

Even though I reckon it’s a jolly commendable, nearly twice-knitted effort, I remain unconvinced that knitwear does me any favours at all. Although this bit of knitwear is a veritable JOY to wear and I’m not particularly sure I could care less whether it does me any favours at all. Every time I don this lusciously snuggly cardigan, I do wear a wry smile on my face – the yarn colourway is unfortunately, equinely, titled Mare.

Because I never know when to quit, below is a Tea Leaves-inspired, making-up-as-I-go-along ‘something’. This time I am using an anniversary gift of Madelinetosh Tart. I am grinning from ear to ear with the very POSSIBILITY of a tarty cardi.

You can purchase a Tea Leaves Cardigan pattern, via Ravelry, here. You can find a bazillion other crafty creative spaces right here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What Colin Did Next

A couple of weeks ago, I was one very lucky bidder and won the opportunity for Colin to live at my house. He was lovingly crafted and donated by the Bear Guru, Jess, as part of the inspired Queensland Flood Relief Appeal Auctions. I know Jess well enough to understand that she has a very large soft spot for Colin and that she would like to know how Colin has been faring in his new home. Here is a photographic glimpse...

Colin has settled in supremely well, winning many hearts. He has learned to steer clear of the Carnivorous Fish and he and Camouflaged Twig have become buddies of the bosomy kind.

This is a photo taken of Colin yesterday morning, after much of the garden had puddled over and all the children had splashed and pranced about and then dripped their way through the entire house before Mummy was awake. Colin is quite a careful bear and requested that he be allowed to enjoy standing in his first puddle without any of that splashing malarkey. Colin felt quite a surge of adrenaline after standing in the puddle.

The puddle-related adrenaline surge, prompted Colin to come over quite death-defying and he thought he’d like to try a King Kong impersonation.

There was a horrified intake of breath from all at chez Myrtleandeunice, (with the exception of Carnivorous Fish who doesn’t do intakes of breath), when Colin’s death defying feat ended in disaster.

Jess, Colin and I would like you to know that everything is now fine. A wee lie down, a cup of tea with honey and a band aid, was all that was required.

After lunch, Colin felt suitably recovered for a spot of quiet thread-end-weaving-in. Some of you will understand how beside myself with joy I am that Colin enjoys thread-end-weaving-in. Colin says he should have the pesky blanket finished halfway through 2013. This is a glorious twenty seven years ahead of schedule.

Colin also indulges me with wool winding. I am careful not to push things because I can tell his arms get a little stiff.

To help restore the feeling in his arms, Colin performs a little Liberace-inspired number. He says that he would quite like a candlestick for his birthday.

Yesterday afternoon, the entire family visited the local library. Colin was allowed to borrow a book too. It wasn’t a difficult choice.

He solemnly insisted in standing in the borrowing line. The Please Queue Here sign towered above his head and a large thong (flip flop) wearing human pushed in front of him. But Colin is a determined soul.

The librarian was very nice and said that she would send Colin an email three days in advance of the return due date. This seemed to alleviate Colin’s concern over accumulating a (twenty cents per day) late fine.

When we arrived home, the Mr, who rather aspires to a bee keeping future, offered to read to Colin.

It is true that the Mr performed a small faint upon hearing the news of the winning Colin bid. This is now long-forgotten. The Mr is enamoured to have an interested household member at hand, to discuss the intricacies of bee hive construction, the therapeutic qualities of manuka honey and debate the merits of smothered-with-honey toast versus dripping-with-honey crumpet.