21 November 2014

Share All The Things Friday #14


I'm  starting to wonder what summer is going to look like here in New Zealand. We've had some lovely days but there's still a cool wind and I'm mostly wearing lightweight cardigans. I'm sure it was hotter when we arrived back this time last year. (A year! Can you believe it?) 

You know, I really should be making the most of the cooler weather to make some good progress on the numerous cardigans I've started. It'd probably help if I could stop casting on new projects ...

Anyway, straight into it! My mouth is watering looking at that photo. Here are my things to share this Friday:

  • Look at that yarn?! It's the new line from Outlaw Yarn named "Bohemia Sport". So desperate was I to get my hands on some that I may have made a bit of a nuisance of myself waiting for it to be loaded on the website. A loosely spun two ply in sport weight, Bohemia is a blend of 45% Polwarth, 45% Alpaca and 10% Possum. The result is a luxurious, rustic, plump, soft yarn with a beautiful halo of fibres; light from the Alpaca and dark from the Possum. It's glorious! I can't tell you anything about how it's going to knit up or wear yet but I can tell you it took me ages to choose colours because the range of colours available is not only large but beautiful. There's a selection of vibrant and washed out, romantic shades of colour. I chose "London Town" (the darker grey), "Fog" the (silver grey) and "Gaslight" (the spicy mustard) and I'm thinking that they might just turn into a colourwork something all together. I absolutely love that this yarn is 100% made in New Zealand. Grown, spun and dyed here. It's such fabulous quality. Outlaw Yarn should feel proud. Fantastic!

  • Ages ago I shared that I wash my face in the evenings with a selection of oils. Well, this week I've taken natural beauty products one step further and have mixed a concoction to use as a moisturiser. I got the basic "recipe" from Crunchy Betty and mine is a mixture of Apricot Kernel Oil (my base oil), Rosehip Seed Oil (my nourishing oil) and Rose Geranium (my healing essential oil). Although I did initially fancy some of her other suggestions for the nourishing and essential oils, they were just too pricey and the Rose oils worked out to be lovely anyway. I've been using about five drops in the morning for three days now and my skin is enjoying it. So far so good ...

  • Last weekend I had a lovely time at the pop-up fibre festival. I managed to sneak away without the Myrtle clan and really enjoyed chatting to local traders and dyers. I did buy a couple of very scrummy things which I've ear-marked for future designs (designing from my stash is easier said than done!) and I met Deb who owns a shop I'd not heard of before called KnitnStitch. Deb lives quite a distance from me so I was pleased to see that she sells a good range of yarn and notions through her on-line shop, including the Bohemia sport weight yarn I've mentioned above. I've been on the hunt for some sharp tipped lace circular needles for a new design I'm working on and have been having a hard job finding them near me. Excitingly, Deb stocks Addi needles (Turbo needles in the US) and I'm looking forward to some arriving in my letterbox any day now.

Have a happy weekend X

19 November 2014

Teeny Tiny Itsy Bitsy

Teeny Tiny Itsy Bitsy

I have been curious to try a tiny short sock circular needle since I first heard of them - maybe last year? These miniature circular needles are about nine inches long from needle tip to needle tip and come with a choice of steel or bamboo tips that are a teeny weeny two inches long. When you join the ends of your knitting in a circle they are the perfect length for socks (I can also imagine a little sleeve might work well too). 

Opinion seems to be divided about them with some loving them and others really not and I was keen to take some for a whirl. So, when a friend suggested I try hers, I jumped at the chance. I borrowed her Hiya Hiya nine inch US1/2.25mm bamboo needles. 

They look very cute and happily the size is stamped into the wood rather than printed on, so it shouldn't disappear with use. The needles are like thickened matchsticks and the ends taper to a nice sharp point but don't seem so sharp as to poke a hole in my finger. I do like the joins. The needle tips are fixed to the cable and the joins are lovely and smooth. 

So, with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, off I went. 

I hit my first hurdle casting on. My go-to cast-on is a cable cast-on so I gave that a go. Hopeless! I absolutely could not coordinate myself to manage that cast-on with such tiny needles and after trying to get even stitches and fumbling and failing, I gave up. As far as I can work out the best cast-ons for these little needles are ones that involve one needle - backwards loop and long tail. In the end it was long tail that won the day but look at the length of my tail?! looooooong. One day I'll figure that out.

Joining in the round was a breeze and I doubt there's much risk of twisting your stitches because it's so easy to see if they're straight. I cast on an extra stitch and joined by knitting my first and last stitches together. 

We'll see how the rest goes. I'm using some very lovely sock yarn dyed by a local New Zealand dyer Happy Go Knitty - I thought it was the same base as I used for my striped socks earlier in the year (alpaca/merino/nylon) but since I've put the tag in a safe place that now eludes me ... I'm not sure. Maybe it's her BFL sock?! Who knows. It's gloriously soft either way!

I'm reserving judgment about the needles for now. I'm still on the fence. I'll let you know how I get on ...

17 November 2014

Pins - The Pointy Kind

Pins - The Pointy Kind

I've nearly finished the top for my next outfit. It's just waiting for a hem which I'm planning on sewing once I've sewn my skirt so that it's just the right length.

Pins - The Pointy Kind Pins - The Pointy Kind

It really didn't need much work to get this top to the "nearly finished except for the hem" stage. I can't believe that it has sat around for so long waiting. I'd dyed the cotton for the bias binding around the armholes a long time ago - all it needed was to be cut into bias binding and attached!

Pins - The Pointy Kind
Pins - The Pointy Kind

I've mostly stuck to the Washi dress pattern as it comes, other than taking some of the width out of the body fabric from under the bodice down to the seam. The end result is slimmer and less roomy over my middle and hips.

I'm rather keen on my contrasting yellow bias around the armholes. Because I dyed it myself the fabric isn't a perfect solid but slightly tonal and I like that. I'm imagining it gives it a more "bespoke" vibe (even if no one sees it!).

I actually could've taken a little more fabric out from under the arms to get an even better fit. I think I've changed shape slightly since first cutting the top out last year. But, it's ok as is, perfectly wearable.

I'm also not entirely sure that I like the stiffness in the neck facing. The fabric is a slightly weighty woven quilting cotton and the extra facing seems a bit of overkill around the neck. It just feels a bit formal for a tank top. It crossed my mind that I could take it off and re-face the neck but I couldn't bring myself to make the extra effort - this top might never get finished if I start doing things like that!

Pins - The Pointy Kind

You can see in the pictures how I attached my binding. I first pinned the right sides of my fabric together and then sewed, flipped, ironed, folded and ironed (again) the binding inside the armholes, pinned it again and then hand-sewed it down. While I was pinning it occurred to me that you might enjoy a quick chat about pins.

Once upon a time, I learnt to sew by copying my mum. That meant, I pinned my sewing just like she did and she probably pinned hers just like her mum and so on. Roll on a couple of decades and the internet and I started to notice that other people pinned their sewing a little differently. They placed their pins into fabric perpendicular to their seams whereas I had always pinned my parallel to my seams. Of course this made me curious and so I set out to find out if whether there was a difference.

Pins - The Pointy Kind

Well, it turns out, there just might be.

There is apparently an adage that goes something like: "use your pins like a stitch". That is, use them to hold your fabric firmly in exactly the right spot just like a stitch would. Some people would argue that the best way to achieve this is to pin your fabric perpendicularly to your seam - not the parallel pinning that I'd always done. So, I did some experimenting while machine sewing and hand-sewing my most recent armhole binding and I placed some pins parallel to my seams and some perpendicular to my seams ... 

What did I find out?
  • it's a little easier to manipulate your machine sewing when you're pinning perpendicular to your seam but easier to hold the fabric and pins when you're hand-sewing if your pins are parallel to your seam;
  • the perpendicular pins can stay in for longer when you're machine sewing; 
  • if you run over a perpendicular pin with your machine by accident it's unlikely to be a big problem that breaks your needle;
  • you can use heaps more pins to keep things in place if you pin them perpendicularly
  • there seems less chance of being pricked with pins placed perpendicular to your seam when you're machine sewing but more chance when you're hand-sewing;
  • you can accidentally pin your pins into your fabric upside down if you place pins parallel to your seam and that means you either have to turn them all around or stop your sewing machine well before your pin so you can take it out and that defeats that point of your pin!
  • old habits die hard and new things feel strange for a while.
So, overall? I liked the perpendicular pinning for machine sewing and my old method of placing my pins parallel to my seams when I'm hand-sewing.

What about you? 

Are you particular about your pinning? Parallel or perpendicular? (confused by all the P's?!)

P.S. I was interviewed by Joanna on The Knitographer today! I'm over there chatting about Truly Myrtle, new designs and my creative process, if you fancy a read.

14 November 2014

Share All The Things Friday #13

Share All The Things Friday Share All The Things Friday

I simply had to show you two photos this week rather than my usual one on a Friday. I'm sure you understand why. Isn't this smocking just exquisite? 

My Mum's friend Carol made every one of these lovely pieces. There is actually one more that makes up the set - a white dress with beautiful blue smocking that's a similar size to the pretty pink dress on the left - but it's at my sister's at the moment and she was already on her way to my place this afternoon when I called to ask her pop it in her car.

Carol made the pink dress on the far right for me when I was just 7 years old. The front bodice is made up of the most perfectly straight pin-tucks and originally it had a pink velvet ribbon around the waist that tied into a bow at the back. I do remember loving that dress and even though the lace at the neck is getting a little worn, my two big girls have both enjoyed wearing it too.

The others were all made especially for my children. First came the blue romper for my son and it fitted him at about 8 months old or so. I remember him wearing it to a wedding at that age, all rolly-polly and bald in his cute outfit. The white dress (not in the picture) was made for my first daughter and she wore it for the first time to my sister's wedding. Then came the very sweet cream and pink dress for my middle daughter. She wore that dress to my brother's wedding at about 9 months old and then lots and lots until she was quite a big toddler as I decided it was simply too pretty to hide away. Carol allows a very generous hem and I just lowered it and lowered it as she grew taller. Just this year my youngest daughter was thrilled beyond belief to be given the apricot sprig dress with wide sashes that tie behind her back. There's been no weddings to go to but no matter, because she's four she's worn her party dress as much as she's able anyway, in all weather!

Aren't they all just so beautiful? True heirlooms.

The reason I've shown you Carol's amazing dresses this week is not just because they are worthy of showing off but also because Carol gave me a tip I'm going to share with you. And when you read her tip - you'll understand why I chose to take a photo of her dresses rather than of anything related to what she told me ...

So, here we go:
  • We are just about to plant potatoes in our summer garden (I know, a bit late!). Anyhow, Carol (who just happens to be as fabulous a gardener as she is a sewer) told me to wrap each potato in a comfrey leaf as we plant them. Apparently the comfrey gives lots of nutrients to the potato while simultaneously providing some natural protection from pests. Sounds good. We're going to try it. (The dresses were a better picture weren't they?!)
  • An exciting thing is happening close to me this weekend! A "pop-up" fibre festival is being held in the Pukekohe Town Hall tomorrow; Saturday the 15th of November, between 12:30 and 2:30pm. Yahooooo! There are about 16 stallholders setting up shop and some are coming from an hour away. I'm thrilled - will I see you there? If you do come and you see me - please say hello. I'd just love to meet you. X
  • Lovely Helen of Curious Handmade gorgeousness has just released details about this year's Knitvent collection. I was lucky enough to receive her Knitvent collection last year and it was super fun being surprised with new patterns in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This year the collection is already looking to be pretty darn fabulous - in true Helen style. The first pattern a delicate beaded shawl, has been released and it's stunning. So, how does it all work? Well, Helen releases the patterns one by one each Tuesday in the weeks leading up to christmas. It's a bit like opening the doors on an advent calendar, you don't know what's inside beforehand but the surprise is reliably good. You can read more details here but I do feel compelled to mention - that if you buy Knitvent 2014 before the end of this weekend (Sunday 14 November 2014) you'll automatically get last year's fantastic Knitvent 2013 collection for free! Go! Quick!

Have a happy weekend! X

P.S. For a variety of reasons this week, not least of which was terribly shoddy internet service, I now have a backlog of things to catch you up on! Look out for a couple of extra posts next week :)

7 November 2014

Share All The Things Friday #12

Share All The Things Friday

Thank you for all the love you've been giving Antipodes! I do hope you enjoy your beautiful shawls and I can't wait to see photos of them on Ravelry. It's quite a thrill :)

The weather is slowly warming up here in New Zealand but the wind has been brisk and the evenings chilly. This kind of weather spells "accessories" to me - particularly knitted shawls and scarves. I've been living in jeans, light tops and gorgeous shawls this week and I donned a cowl and a cosy hat for bonfire night. It suits me that summer is taking it's time!

Have fun with my picks for you this week:

  • I know that some of you run, or are thinking of starting, a small business and I wondered if you'd heard of Elise Blaha Cripe. This week I stumbled upon her speech at the World Domination Summit and through that found her blog and in the last couple of days have been enjoying some of her audio podcasts. Elise is open, fresh and quite candid about running a small business, particularly in combination with a blog. I'm in a similar boat to Elise (albeit on a much more modest scale!) in that I'm a blogger that's developing a small business rather than someone trying to make money from blogging or someone that has a blog purely started to support a business. It's a funny but apparently manageable combination. I think Elise particularly appeals to me because I hear myself in lots of her comments. I am a born "maker" of things. I can't help myself and I can't stop. I have a tendency to jump in and learn on the go and I automatically tend to break things down into managable chunks rather than being overwhelmed with the enormity of what I'm trying to do. I'm definitely overflowing with ideas and love starting things but it's true that I need regular changes to keep things interesting and I find rules a bit suffocating. I'm not conventional and that's ok with me, I like to learn all the things and I might be one of the most curious/nosy people you'll ever meet. Anyhow, if starting or running a small business is your thing, check her out. Even if it's not - you might find her speech entertaining and motivating.

  • I fell in love with Gabriella Henry's Lucie Shawlette this week. (What is it with me and shawls at the moment? I just can't get enough of them.) Not only is her lead photo absolutely swoon-worthy but the shawl looks like something that could quickly become a wardrobe staple. It's a squishy DK weight garter crescent shawl with a gorgeous crochet border that you crochet on from side to side once you've finished knitting. It's adjustable so you can make it bigger (I think I might make it a little longer so it could fling around my neck at least once) and making changes looks like a very easy process with the use of a kitchen scale. Overall, I think Lucie looks like a fun, quick knit/crochet and does a fabulous job of modernising a very stylish 1970's look. I love it.

  • If you're after something fun and delicious - look no further than Mr November. I've been rather enjoying the Stitch Seekers Men in Knitwear calendar this year and up until this month Mr February was my favourite. Maybe because it's my birthday this month? Who knows. Whatever the reason, Mr November wins the day. Having said that, there's still December. And, my goodness, there's still 2015!

Have a happy weekend! X