31 October 2014

Share All The Things Friday

Share All The Things Friday

How was your week? We had a short one here in New Zealand since Monday was a public holiday. Mr Myrtle and I managed to do some work in our garden before the rain started. I'd forgotten how much it rains in Auckland! A LOT. Fingers crossed we get some good days this weekend - we've got more gardening plans.

Have you made plans for your weekend? Here's my things to share this week - maybe there's something there that inspires you!

  • I borrowed a book called The Stress Free Home out of the library recently because it looked intriguing and I've been thinking a lot about decorating our home so it's more to our taste. To be honest, the book was full of beautiful rooms that looked totally unobtainable or at least, unsustainable for a family of six. You know; white sofas, clear surfaces, large sparkly clean windows and carefully positioned, fragile ornaments. But, it did contain a wee gem. Hidden within the dozens of "serenity secrets" dotted through the book was a secret about stress-free dinner times. We eat dinner all together around our dining room table almost every night and I'll not beat around the bush - our kids' table manners are pretty hairy. More often than not dinner time is pure chaos, far from the serene image you see on the movies. Anyhow, the book suggested sitting everyone according to the "ba-gua" diagram which is feng shui I think. Here's what it said: 
Middle son - north
Youngest son - northeast
Eldest son - east
Father - northwest
Eldest daughter - southeast
Middle daughter - south
Mother - southwest
Youngest daughter - west

So, we tried it. You know? There might be something in it. Maybe it's more about putting the two males together in our house and the baby between mum and dad? Dunno. But, whatever it is, we (mostly) seem to be having calmer dinner times. Especially when we toss in a good game of eye spy, chinese whispers or charades ...

  • I've knitted lots of sweaters, cardigans, nappy covers and vests for my kids but I haven't crocheted a thing for them. Well, I rather suspect that's about to change and Kat Goldin's gorgeous Ripple Cardigan will the perfect crochet project to start me off. The combination of Kat's fabulous design skills and her magical photography skills just wowed me with this cardigan. I absolutely looooooove it. The Ripple Cardigan is knitted with a sock yarn, which Kat quite rightly points out is a fantastic yarn for kids because it's lightweight, warm and hardwearing. And, with sizing from 0-6months to 10 years ... I have a feeling I'll be making quite a few Ripples ;)

  • I discovered Abbey Morris and her cute sock patterns this week. Abbey started designing knitwear this year after she set herself a goal to publish a knitting pattern before she turned 21. She's actually published four patterns now, including three very cute sock patterns. Abbey's Sweet Pea Shoots pattern caught my eye especially. I love them in the green but I rather fancy them in a hot pink or cornflower blue too :)


Have a happy weekend! X


28 October 2014

Blackout

Blackout

Oh my goodness. The Outfit is going awry. Check it out. I tried to get the colours as accurate as I could but everything still looks a little greyer than it does in real life. Think pitch black. BLACK.

I actually dyed both the fabric and the shoes twice. The first time I bought a small packet of black dye for the washing machine and a bag of salt and chucked it all in. Around and around they span and looking through the door (front loader) I was hopeful. But when they came out and then dried, my hopes were dashed. The shoes were ok-ish but a bit motley but the fabric was a solid olive green. Far from the grey I was after. Bother.

It took another week to get more dye and then a bit longer to get them back in the machine. I hunted for grey dye but couldn't find any and settled for more black. To be on the safe side I bought a bigger packet and I tentatively thought I could just keep adding more until it all turned out perfectly.

The story goes downhill at this point. One day, whilst trying to do a million and one other things at the same time (most likely cook dinner, supervise homework, sweep the kitchen floor and talk on the phone) I was struck with the thought that I'd do a quick dye job while the washing machine was free ... Dumb idea because in the chaos I decided to chuck the whole large packet of dye in to save mucking about with copious dye jobs. 

You can imagine what happened. In fact, you can see what happened. The whole belly lot went blacker than black except for the stitching on the shoes which is still too light, the rubber soles which are a decidedly dodgy shades of blue and the elastic which looks worse with the stains even more noticeable. The shoes are a disaster!

I'm trying to talk myself into the fabric. After all, everyone wears black in New Zealand, I wouldn't be out of place? Except I haven't worn black for years. I embrace colour and frills and sequins these days. I'm not sure whether I want a black skirt. Maybe with some top-stitching? Dunno. That might just look odd. 

I think I'll have to take the plunge and see how it goes. I don't think I can do anything to lighten my black fabric and I really don't want to buy more. This is it. I'll have to make it work!

Make me feel better. Tell me about your dyeing disasters!


24 October 2014

Share All The Things Friday

Share All The Things Friday

I'm getting quite desperate to get behind my sewing machine and sew something that's just for me. 

Lately, I've been sewing bits and pieces for a variety of children ... and chickens. I know, chickens. My kids had their annual "Ag Day" at school last weekend and they took along their baby chickens which they've been training (fairly spasmodically) for the last six weeks or so. It became apparently fairly early in the piece that tricks weren't going to be our strong suit so I suggested we add costumes to keep things interesting. Of course the kids were keen and of course, I left nearly all of it till the last minute and the evening before I was whipping up pirate capes and frilly pink tutus for children and chicken's alike. So, it's my turn now and I can't wait.

What's to share this week?

  • Here are the three baby chooks; Fluffy, Buster and Toffee-Popcorn. Just this week we've allowed to roam into the big paddock with the other chickens. The others are a bit mean to them so they mostly stick together but generally they seem to be muddling along ok. The big news is that yesterday they started laying. Well, at least one of them has but we're not sure who. Everyone wants it to be their chicken of course. So, if you're thinking of getting chickens and you get hold of some wee little chickens (Brown Shavers - not sure about heritage chicks), you can probably expect them to start laying from about 14 weeks or so if you give them lots of space and yummy food. Cool huh?!


  • This week Hannah Fettig from Knitbot, in conjunction with the folks at the yarn company Quince & Co. released a pretty funky app for iOS users (iPhone, iPod and iPad) called StashBot which costs US$5. I've been waiting for this one because I've had a hard job tracking down the original print version of the app. Basically, StashBot is a yardage tool. It helps you figure out just how much yarn to buy if you've got a vague idea of what you might like to make with a fabulous yarn but don't have a particular pattern in mind. I know I buy yarn just because it looks gorgeous - don't we all? Sometimes I buy several skeins with the idea that I might have enough for a garment but inevitably I either end up playing chicken or adding stripes because I've not bought quite enough or I have masses left over. The app lets you pop in details about the garment you're thinking of making, the stitch count as indicated on the ball band and the size you're after (chest, head, hand, foot, length) and it works out in yards or metres roughly how much yarn you'll need. There's a bunch of info about how the numbers were all worked in this blog post and there's a cute video that tells the story pretty well. Android user? Apparently yours is on the way ...


  • A while ago I showed you some very glorious gradient yarn dyed by Briony of Gradient in Australia (GradientAus). Well, I've been watching Briony's progress this last couple of months and not only is she now offering group and private dyeing lessons in Melbourne but today she's published an ebook which guides you through dyeing gradient yarns yourself! She says her method is simple using just one pot. No plastic wrap or microwaves. Fantastic stuff. You can buy the ebook in her Etsy store.

Have a happy weekend! X


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