21 October 2014

"Antipodes" Is Off To The Testers & A Tale About A Dress

Antipodes - A Truly Myrtle Design

My latest design is nearly done! It's been knitted, photographed, edited and is currently being knitted by a few lovely testers to make extra sure the pattern is squeaky clean and perfect for releasing in a couple of weeks. 

I am on a bit of a "shawl-thing" blitz. I love wearing wraps and scarves and now I'm finding I'm getting quite obsessed with various ways they can be constructed, knitted and worn. This design is probably more akin to a scarf than a shawl really but I think it still has a delicate shawl-ish feel. Super long and slender, "Antipodes" wraps around your neck twice so the pretty lace gets double the chance to show off and drape beautifully. Knitted with just one skein of fingering, it's lightweight - so perfect for any season.

Originally, I designed another pattern for this yarn. I finished writing it, started knitting - nearly finished it - then bam! The yarn told me it wanted to be something else. Something prettier, something altogether lacier and most definitely glamorous. How could I refuse? It's such glorious yarn. A 75/25 merino/silk blend, this skein of deep greys and blues was the most luxurious skein in my stash. I bought it at the very lovely yarn shop Loop in London and it was hand dyed in Germany by DyeForYarn. If this yarn wanted to be something else. Well, I had to listen. So, I ripped it out and started again.

Antipodes - A Truly Myrtle Design

And, I upped the anti. This yarn wanted glamour? I'd give it glamour. 

Antipodes is knitted sideways, from corner to corner, so that the elegant crescent shaped garter stitch body takes on a bias look and the intricate pointed lacework is knitted at the same time. This meant I could also include instructions to adjust the length of the shawl. You can make it longer, shorter and also make super-duper sure that you won't run out of yarn! There are written instructions and charts so everyone is happy. I sure am happy and I think the yarn looks happy too. Don't you?

If all goes to plan, this pattern will be available in early November. It'd be perfect for a Christmas party, don't you think? Stay tuned.

Antipodes - A Truly Myrtle Design

And, since this blog is all about celebrating handmade - especially handmade clothing - I have a wee story for you. It's about the beautiful dress in my photo.

Remember how I told you once before about my grandmother and her fabulous style and how she was lucky enough to visit Buckingham Palace several times and party with the Queen? Well guess what? She wore this amazing dress to Buckingham Palace for one of those parties in the 1960's.

My grandather bought her the beautiful silk in India and my mum actually sewed her the dress. She was in her late teens/early twenties at the time and she's done a wonderful job. It's a fully lined, floor length, fitted sheath dress with a high slash neckline at the front and back and a beautifully inserted zip. I think she wore it with long kid gloves with little pearl buttons up the arms and I bet the Queen wished this dress was hers. 

I can't believe that I fit it. I just need a fancy occasion to wear it! (Someone tell Mr Myrtle ...)

Finally, I'm making a list of lovely knitters interested in testing designs for me in the future. Does that sound like something you'd like to do? If it does, leave me a comment or send me an email and let me know your name, ravelry name and email address. I've got another shawl nearly ready to go and a bunch more designs for shawls and other bits and pieces, scrawled on paper and in my head ;)

My Ravelry project page for my Antipodes Shawl is here, in case you want a few more details.

17 October 2014

Share All The Things Friday

Share All The Things Friday ... On Monday!

Oh goodness, you're a wonderful bunch of people! So many of you watched my little youtube clip and lots and lots of you have written encouraging me to start a podcast. Thank you so much! It's made me feel all excited and motivated to get going! Don't worry, I'll not stop blogging - I heard you when you told me you wanted to still read the blog. I'll do my best to make this thing work all together. I've been having a wee think about how I might be able to do it and I'm sure there'll be a way ... I suspect less housework might be the answer ;) Oh wouldn't that be nice?!

I did laugh at some of your comments. Some of you expected a British accent? Nope! Just my Kiwi twang. All those years in England did nothing for my vowels. And those kids! "Strawberry eating bookends" as someone described them :) I'm so glad so many of you also live with constant interruptions!

Anyhow, I think that all means that a Truly Myrtle Podcast WILL HAPPEN! I'll beaver away behind the scenes to get everything ready and I'll let you know when it's ready to roll.

Shall we get on with Share All The Things Friday? The eagle eyed among you will have noticed there was no post last Friday. Whoops. That was life getting the better of me. Mr Myrtle and the kids were all home on holiday and I lost all track of the days ...

  • This book was a total splurge. Months ago I heard it was coming out, then just a few weeks ago I heard that it was published and about a week ago I saw it in the flesh and somehow it just leapt into my basket! The Unbakery is a compilation of dozens of delicious recipes from the Little Bird Cafe, here in Auckland. The food is like nothing I've seen in a cafe before - raw vegan, mostly grain free food. There are two cafe's, both terrifically stylish and funky and I have fallen in love with them. I guess the recipes aren't for everyone - but I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. You'll be pleased to hear I have a new breakfast obsession - Chia porridge with almond milk, grated apple and lemon juice, roughly chopped almonds, sultanas and cinnamon on top. Yum. I've even been making my own almond milk from the book and I managed to whip up a glorious blueberry "cheesecake" for Mr Myrtle's birthday from coconut, nuts and fruit mostly. I'm happy.

  • T pins have become indispensable for blocking my recent design samples (the next one includes some lovely lacy goodness). I'm not sure how I managed without them and in fact, I'd go as far as saying, they are essential shawl knitting kit!

  • Did you notice the theme tune on my wee podcast teaser? I know it was a bit long and I will shorten it but isn't it cool? I just LOVE that song: "Casting On" - I thought it was very apt. It's from one of several fantastic albums written by a local group Mr Roberelli, ostensibly for kids but they're so catchy that sometimes I play them just for me too. If you didn't listen right to the end, do! Their chatter at the end of the song is funny - especially if you knit or crochet in public. You can find out more about the band and purchase albums for you kids (or yourself) on their website. Mr Roberelli himself told me that the single of Casting On is available on itunes.

Have a happy weekend everyone! X

16 October 2014

Truly Myrtle Thinks Out Loud ...

Hello everyone. 

I've been doing a bit of thinking ... rather a lot of talking (without really managing to finish many if any of my sentences) and I've got something to show you ...

Never fear - they'll be fewer children and tons more talking about knitting and other fun stuff if I give this a go ;)

I might even manage to finish a sentence!

8 October 2014

Spinning Treasure

Spinning Treasure

I can't quite believe it - I've been given a new spinning wheel! It's been sitting in a garage for a while and needs a bit of love and attention to get it humming but isn't it sweet? It's quite a bit smaller than my Ashford Traditional in the back of the photo.

Spinning Treasure

A little bit of research has revealed that it was made by E. R. Cole of Glendowie, Auckland. (That's not too far from where I live now.) Mr Cole made a couple of different styles of wheel in the 1970's and this one is a double drive upright wheel. I just love the shaped, ply wheel. It's gorgeous. I'm hankering for a whole kitchen in this sort of ply. 

Apparently the long prong sticking out of the centre front of the axle is designed to hold a hand wound skeiner. Wouldn't that be cool? Skein fresh yarn straight off the bobbin? I might see if I can track one down ...

Spinning Treasure
Spinning Treasure

There are prongs on either side of the wheel for holding spare bobbins and the bobbins are all wooden with a metal rod. Some of them are in good nick, others need gluing and a good clean.

I need to get to grips with how to use it. I finally figured out that you take the bobbin on and off by unwinding the front of the flyer. Easy if you know how. Totally tricky if you don't. 

As far as I can tell, fibre is fed through the pigtail curl at the front of the flyer and then onto the bobbin via one of the wee hooks on either side. My Traditional has the same arrangement of hooks so I'm familiar with them but they're all a bit gunky so I'm going to replace them and clean up the pigtail at the front.

I haven't used a double drive wheel before. Double drive means it has two, rather than one, drive bands. Any tips? I need to replace the bands - one for around the wheel and the fly and a second for around the end of the bobbin and the wheel. There are only one gear on each - that means there is only one groove the bands can lie in. My Traditional has two grooves, one big, one little. They can be used to adjust the speed the bobbin spins around, making your yarn spin more or less tightly. 

The little "handle" which lies down the centre of the wheel groove in the above photo is a bit of a mystery to me. When the wheel is fixed, it will hang higher above the wheel and I'm guessing it might be used as a brake on the band that spins around the end of the bobbin? What do you think?

Am I right in thinking that a double band wheel is good for spinning lovely fine yarn? I'm guessing I might also be able to use it with just one band - scotch method ... So much to learn!

Spinning Treasure

And finally, a shot of the back. I can just imagine Mr E. R. Cole screwing in those screws. Can't you? 

3 October 2014

Share All The Things Friday


I've been knitting like a crazy thing this week. I've got two new designs written up and as soon as I've knitted the samples and fiddled with the patterns so they're just right, they'll be ready for testing. I can't knit fast enough - I'm so excited to see how they both turn out! 

So, ready for some things to share?

  • My mum gave me a great tip this week. Watching me knit and trying to keep track of my rows by marking them with a pencil, losing the pencil and hunting for an eraser when I wanted to go back a row, she suggested I try a trick of hers. See that hot pink pin in the side of my pattern? That's the trick. Mark your rows with a pin stuck into your pattern. It's pretty easy really. The pin stays put when you're on the move and you can quickly shift it up or down as much as you like when you're knitting. I'm converted.

  • I really enjoy yoga but don't have the time, nor the money, to go to a class more than once a week. So, instead, I've been yoga-ring at home with "Adriene". I hunted youtube for a some good classes and stumbled across Adriene's yoga channel. She's got a range of classes that vary in style and length and I like her gentle, organic approach to yoga practice. She's even got a couple for complete beginners.

Righto, best I get back to my knitting! Have a happy weekend everyone! X