Love Your Blog: Community & Interaction

Community & Interaction

The Love Your Blog challenge thrown down by A Playful day has come at a perfect time for me. And I'm hoping it's just the kick I need to get me back into my blogging groove.

I love this little corner of the internet. Quite unexpectedly, writing here has become a little like sitting down to sew on my sewing machine. When I sit down and I start to write I breath a sigh of relief and relax. (My kids tell me I do a lot of smiling when I type. I think it's because I write as if you're right in the room and we're having a chat.) But I when I click "publish" and close my computer I quickly forget how much I enjoy it. Writing has become such a satisfying creative outlet for me, something I never could have predicted, even though my career before having children was all about writing. I guess I was writing about the wrong thing ... knitting and crafts are much more fun than legal bits and bobs!

Lately, with the excitement of Instagram and Facebook, I've found myself drawn more and more towards the thrill of quick and simple posts on social media rather than spending time planning, photographing and writing longer posts for my blog. I especially love the chatting and interaction with so many people on social media and wondered if anyone was really reading my blog any more and whether my limited time was better spent elsewhere?

So, the challenge is timely. I do love writing here. I don't fancy stopping, although I'm considering blogging a little less frequently and I'm just going to cross my fingers that you're still reading and will enjoy watching my Love My Blog posts pop up over the coming month.

The first prompt for the challenge is "community & interaction". Oh where do I begin?! Knitting is all about community & interaction for me and since I blog about knitting you'll not be surprised to hear how for me, blogging is also all about community & interaction.

Take a quick look at my photo. I think I can sum it all up with that one image.

  • The gorgeous pink at the back is a Granny's Favourite cardigan for my middle daughter. The pattern was designed by Georgie Hallam. I've knitted so many of Georgie's patterns that I feel like I know her ... Imagine how excited I am at the prospect of meeting her later in the year?! I can't wait. I wonder if we'll have lots to chat about? The pink yarn was dyed by my me and my daughter and a few years ago I was completely inspired to try dyeing by Annette when she talked about dyeing yarn on her podcast Gentle Ribbing. I bought the undyed yarn from a mill here in New Zealand and I visited the mill shop at Skeinz many years ago. It'll be fantastic to peek behind the scenes when I'm there in a few months time too!

  • The red knitting is a nearly finished Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan for my youngest daughter. I've had my eye on the pattern for years but it was my online friend Kat Goldin that inspired me to cast it on after I saw that she was knitting one on the other side of the world in Scotland. I knitted it in very glorious Zealana yarn that I bought years ago during a trip home to New Zealand from the UK from a little yarn shop that's sadly now closed.

  • The mushroom coloured knitting in the front of the photo is the beginnings of a Coraline cardigan for my eldest daughter. I've met the designer Ysolda Teague a couple of times, the first time at Knit Nation in London in 2010 - the event that changed my life. She was lovely and her rack of cardigans was fantastic and I realised in that moment that I could probably try designing something too if I wanted. I'm using yarn that I bought in France years ago from a little old lady in a teeny tiny wool shop stuffed with shelves of yarn that I had to stand on a stool to reach.

  • The beautiful yarn in the middle of the picture is brand new. It arrived in my postbox today. I "met" one of the dyers last year on Instagram before she started dyeing wool. She's also from New Zealand and I've enjoyed getting to know her a little through her photos, although we've not met in person yet. About a month ago she announced that she was planning to start selling hand-dyed local Romney wool. I couldn't resist and that's my haul from Rosewood Wool's first stocking. It's glorious!

  • See the plum sparkle on the right hand side? It's a fabulous skein of hand-dyed yarn with just the perfect amount of sparkle dyed by Jo at Meraki Studio. I've met Jo - in fact I bought this yarn from her at the first Auckland Woolfest last year. It's slowly becoming my next shawl design ...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, for me, every single aspect of knitting has a story and a link to my community, whether it be my neighbourhood community or my online community. And, as a raving extrovert that loves a party, I relish this side of knitting and blogging about knitting. I love the knitting community, I love the interaction, I love the people and I love the stories. I can't imagine knitting any other way and writing this blog has really and truly changed my crafting and my life. Someone pass me a tissue!

A Simple Beginning

A Simple Beginning

Welcome to 2015 everyone! Happy New Year!

I'm feeling excited to be opening the door on a new year. After just over a year in New Zealand, we're feeling more settled in our new home and life is starting to feel reassuringly familiar. It's given me the space to think about how Truly Myrtle might evolve over the coming year and I've made some great plans, all the while chanting my mantra "keep it simple".

"Simple" has become my favourite word. I don't normally choose a word to wrap a year around but if I were to choose one for 2015, this would be it. In fact, focusing on keeping things simple is proving to be helpful in lots of areas of my life. I'm resolving to make more of what we've already got rather than indulge in new things. I'm committing to do less and do it really well. I'm clearing out, tidying up and organising. It's helping me clear my thoughts and "simple" is proving to be a constant reminder of those few things in life that really and truly matter.

So what's in store for Truly Myrtle during 2015?

  • Well, of course there'll be blogging. Yay! I'm planning a nice mixture of tutorials, interviews, general chit-chat and lots of pretty pictures showing you what I'm working on.
  • I'm going to get that jolly podcast started and am aiming for a monthly schedule. I'm sooooo nervous now!
  • The Truly Myrtle Handmade Newsletter is also new. A monthly, exclusive, "mini-mag", the Handmade Newsletter will be full of interesting articles, links to cool stuff, previews and peeks behind the scenes. It'll always be completely free and you can sign up by entering your email address where indicated on my sidebar. Expect the first copy to hit your inbox in the third week of January.
  • There will be more patterns. Feminine, stylish, wearable knitting patterns for women that are written as clearly as possible so you can make something beautiful and have a great knitting experience along the way. I can't wait!

And, I'm looking forward to getting to know you a little bit more. Meeting new people has been one of the greatest pleasures that's come out of Truly Myrtle these last (nearly) three years. Sharing stories, inspiration and lessons is fun. I so love it when you leave comments for me here on the blog, on Facebook or instagram and I love getting your chatty emails. Keep them coming! 

I do hope 2015 is looking inviting and positive for you too. Have you made plans? Resolutions? Do you have a word for your year? I'd love to know.

Love Libby X

Keep It Simple

Demystifying Navajo Plying

It's been a hive of activity behind the scenes at Truly Myrtle lately. 

As we approach the end of the year, start to feel the change of seasons and get ready for the long summer holidays I've naturally been drawn to thinking about how I'd like next year to unfold. I feel the end of the year and the promise of a new year, a blank slate, much more strongly in the southern hemisphere than I did living on the other side of the world. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the school year ends in December? Maybe it's because warmer weather and the promise of the great holiday slow-down prompts us to throw open the doors and windows and welcome in new ideas?

Christmas is a special day for a lot of people in New Zealand but we don't tend to celebrate it in the same way as our Northern hemisphere friends. In comparison, it's a low-key affair. It's too light to see twinkly lights properly, too hot to plan a long, hot, convoluted meal. Plus, it's holiday time - summer holiday time -  and holidays and the coming new year seem to be the first things on everyone's minds. Well, my mind anyway!

So, I've been busy plotting and scheming, thinking and mulling over what 2015 holds for Truly Myrtle. My overwhelming thought is "keep it simple" and it's the phrase I've been bringing myself back to when I start getting all excitable about the things I could do once my "baby" heads off to school in March. 

This coming year will be the first year in almost 13 years that I'll have no children at home with me during the school day. Of course that's bittersweet, I'm ready for a change but it's the end of an amazing era. I invested a lot of time and energy into the last 13 years and I keep telling myself that when it's over it'll be ok to take things slowly. In fact, it's probably the best thing I could do. Breathe out, relax and enjoy the change of pace. 

"Keeping it simple" is starting to mean lots of things. I'm determined to simplify my surroundings and I'm starting by having a clear out. Old recipe books, drink bottles and gadgets that we never use were the first to go. The kids clothes have been sorted and I've finally finished washing all the winter woollens so they can be packed away. I've pared back the list of blogs I read so it feels more manageable and I've been fiddling about with my blog page a bit so it's less "busy" (that's a work in progress - I'm hoping for a total revamp next year). My yarn and fabric stashes are on the list for simplifying next ... 

"Simple" also means simplifying my ideas for Truly Myrtle. It's so tempting to chase every single idea that pops into my head but I have TONS of ideas so that's a crazy prospect. Lately I've found myself dreaming about dyeing and selling yarn, teaching classes, making small runs of things to sell, designing a million and one patterns, starting a fibre festival, owing a yarn shop, having a regular magazine column and writing a book! Sometimes I believe that everything might be possible but I doubt it is all at the same time. Well, my first challenge has been to figure out what is really important to me, do that and do it really well. 

So far, I'm thinking I'd like to focus first on designing knitting patterns, writing a blog that you love to read and starting a podcast to show you a bit more of what I'm up to. I'm trying hard to keep it simple. I'd also like to sew more regularly and I think I'm going to have to schedule it in to make sure it happens. Tash from Sewaholic sews for fun every Friday and I rather like that idea.

It's been revealing mulling everything over and cathartic starting to make changes. It feels good. A good way to start a new year.

And, I've been learning new things too. I've demystified Navajo plying and it was hugely exciting. I've been wanting to try it for ages but have been quite paralysed with the prospect of complicated hand movements and crazy twisted yarn. Instead, I plodded away with spinning my two braids of beautiful fibre from Hedgehog Fibres into singles. When it finally was finished I had no choice. I'd only one bobbin left and it was time to try this different way of plying.

I found a bunch of tutorials demonstrating Navajo plying on youtube and started. Guess what? It's not that tricky at all. It's actually really good fun and quite addictive. I started by plying the odds and ends I had lying around and that's why my picture above shows brown yarn on the niddy noddy and green on the bobbin. I just kept going until all the odd singles were gone. I've started my fancy singles now and I'll show you when they're all finished and in pretty skeins. If you want a sneaky peek in the meantime, I've posted an in-progress picture on Instagram.

I'm resolved to try hard to stick to the mantra "keep it simple". In fact, Navajo plying has been a good reminder that "Simple" is right under my nose. It's just quietly and patiently waiting for me to be ready.

Socks That Sing


It's been far too quiet on this blog. Truth be told, I've been feeling stressed, wound up and a bit down and although I have a tendency to go a bit quiet when I'm like that - it's probably the worst thing I could do. I love people, love chatting, both in real life and here on my wee blog and when I'm not blogging I really miss the company, the stimulation and the satisfying feeling of making art by taking photos and writing about what I'm up to.

So, I'm going to make a real effort to get back into the groove of blogging. I need it. Plus, I've accumulated a backlog of things to show you!

Shall we start with socks? I showed you my puffin yarn, a scrummy blend of merino, cashmere and a smidge of nylon ... well, this is how it's knitting up. I'm knitting a three by one rib - three knit stitches and one purl stitch - but you can't really tell in the picture. 

Speaking of the picture, how many ways are there to photograph a sock and keep it interesting? I'm not sure if this one worked all that well but I'm always trying :)

I was promised that I would constantly stop and caress this yarn and it's true, I am. I'm even pushing it towards anyone near me and instructing them to feel it too. The cashmere is divine and my knitting feels fantastically soft and silky. 

Aren't the colours crazy? I'm totally entertained by the way it's knitting up and keep imagining how it might be slightly or even drastically different if I was knitting larger or smaller socks. I'm getting a spiral effect with the stripes with the 64 stitches I've cast on for my feet. I'm guessing that the stripes would be straighter with more stitches and probably even more curly wurly with less.

I'm still a fan of my double pointed needles for socks, especially my pretty KnitPro rosewood needles. It's a pain in the neck when you drop one in the car and it slides down between the seats but I do love how they look and how they feel. I've had a few questions lately about how to fix the "ladders" that you can get between the needles when you're first learning to knit socks. I used to get those too. Initially I gave my first couple of stitches a good tug when starting on a new needle but eventually I think they just vanished with practice.

Knitting is all about practice. Stick at it and do it regularly and everything will be alright. I'm sure it's true of blogging about knitting too.

Colourful Giveaway!


Welcome to day one of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012. It's going to be a fun week. A post a day for seven days.... phew!

We've been given general topics to write about each day, and part of the fun is to see how these topics are interpreted blog to blog. So take a look around, here and elsewhere. The code to search for in Google today is 3KCBWDAY1. I'll pop the search codes for the other days at the bottom of my posts.

Anyhow, Monday. The theme is Colour Lovers.

Taking a peek around my blog you'll see that I am fairly colourful. Funnily enough I LOVE muted colours but rarely buy them. Big bold bright colours just jump into my bag... and to celebrate big bold bright colours I thought we'd have a giveaway. A knitterly giveaway. This is Knitting blog week after all :)


For ages now I've been wanting a case for my interchangable knitting needles, cables and bits and bobs.

I've finally gotten around to making one. And, while I was at it I made two. One for you too!

colours colours colours colours

A colourful extravaganza, no?! I drew inspiration from  a lovely pen wrap roll over at No Big Dill, hunted about for knitting needle cases I liked, and went from there. 

There are pockets for 16 pairs of tips, 12cm / 4.5cm long. Tucked behind are three larger pockets perfect for lots and lots of cables. Connectors, caps and cable keys can be safely tucked away in the zip pocket at the end.The case is padded to protect your precious needles. A soft flap makes sure your needles don't slip out and, once rolled up, the whole thing is held shut with an elastic cord, encased in pretty dotty cotton.

colours colours colours

To enter, leave a comment at the bottom of this post before 10pm, Sunday 29th April GMT. I'll let you know who won on Monday morning.
PLEASE! Leave me an email address so I can get hold of you. Or, make sure you pop back to see who won!!! - this giveaway has now closed.

So, fingers crossed, you can have one of your own. Mine is already in use! I've got a pair of wee scissors and a few crochet hooks tucked in there too.I did get a bit of a surprise this week. I thought I'd photograph my latest yarn purchases to show you what lovely colours they were. I bought them on a couple of separate occasions. Anyhow, look what I found....

colours colours

They're nearly all red and green. Who'd have thought? I thought I was in a yellow phase :)
See you tomorrow!