Monday, November 24, 2014

The simplicity of socks


Sometimes you need an easy, brainless knit. Sometimes you want to see a bit of progress for minimal effort and recently the only things I've knitted (minus a baby hat) have been giant. 
Lace sweater, anyone? How about a dress? Both of these projects are taking a bit of concentration and a lot of time, and the end is not yet in sight with either. 

So on Friday I cast-on a nice, plain sock with Knitsch's merino sock yarn in 1/4 Acre Dream. 
I've turned the heel and hope to have a nice fresh pair of socks in time for the weekend.

There is something very meditative about knitting a pair of socks. You knit, knit, knit each stitch, around and around, and after a while, without much thinking, you end up with a garment. 
I haven't knitted any socks in a while and I've definitely missed it. My sock yarn stash is also getting low - that will have to be remedied.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saying no to skinny jeans

I've learnt a few things while getting back on a bike.
1 - You get bruises from pedals when walking with a bike.
2 - How unfit I am. Hills are the worst.
 3 - Skinny jeans are freaking uncomfortable. Actually, fitted denim in general, while on a bike, is freaking uncomfortable.

My skinny jeans have been my go-to weekend trouser for the past 10 years. I love them. They work with everything. They're warm and up until my new hobby proved otherwise, they were very practical. I've made a decision to avoid wearing them as much as possible. It's a good thing summer's coming because it's not quite cold enough to be needing them all the time. It will also help me rethink my wardrobe and what I have. I base a lot of my outfits around my jeans, banning them for a while will make me be more considerate of what I have and how I wear things.

When it comes to trousers, I have real trouble finding ones I like - especially casual ones. I'm not into the loose fitting, printed ones you see all summer long that look like glorified pajamas. My 'work' trousers are fine but I wouldn't want to slouch around in them on the weekend. 
My perfect pair of trousers would be something I can wear with a very casual jumper or dress up slightly to go out for drinks. I'm looking for an all-round workhorse that's not denim, but also not wide in the leg. And they have to be comfortable. Impossible?

Pleated Pants by Papercut Patterns

So I've decided to make this a bit of a sewing challenge. I've found a couple of patterns that could fit the bill - ones that can also be adapted for shorts too.

My favourite so far is Pleated Pants by Papercut Patterns. They look roomy enough to be comfortable without being so wide to get caught in the drive chain of the bike. These can also be made into shorts.

Then there is Clover by Colette Patterns.

Clover by Colette Patterns

I love the leg shape, although I do prefer the pleats on the previous pattern. 

For shorts, I think I've found a perfect cute cycling option.

Tania Culottes 

The Tania Culottes, found over at Dresses and Me, will be great for summer without being too revealing, although I don't have much of an issue cycling in skirts.

A pair of trousers will be one of my upcoming sewing tasks over the summer. I'm a bit daunted, but I've made pajamas before so I guess it's just a fancier version of those, right?


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Knitographer Interviews… Truly Myrtle

I first met Libby Jonson very briefly when I was making my first skirt at Sew Love Tea Do. Except it wasn't until afterwards, when she commented on an Instagram photo of the skirt-in-progress, that we realised who each other was! 

Libby aka Truly Myrtle, has just released her latest pattern and took a few minutes to chat about her designs and love of craft!

Truly Myrtle's Antipodes 


Tell me a bit about Truly Myrtle - who is Myrtle?

Well, I guess Myrtle would be me! My name is actually Libby and I'm not entirely sure how I came up with "Truly Myrtle" but I love everything the word "Truly" evokes and people remember it so it's kind of stuck. I've been making things for as long as I can remember; knitting and sewing since I was a small girl. 


Truly Myrtle started life as a wee on-line space where I could share all my creative adventures but over the past two and half years it's been exciting so see it evolve into something more than that. I didn't anticipate how a blog would connect me with so many fabulous people and I've loved the community that's grown around Truly Myrtle, the things I've learnt and experienced and how it's stretched me creatively in ways I didn't imagine.

You've recently started publishing patterns, with your most recent being Antipodes which was released earlier this month. Where do you get your inspiration from and what is your design process?

My aim is to design garments that are modern, feminine and interesting, that I'd enjoy wearing.  Most of my ideas hit me when I'm not actually thinking about designing or even looking at something terribly inspiring. Like when I'm driving or in the shower or falling asleep. There must be a part of my brain permanently wired to think about clothes and knitting that chugs away in the background. 


Sometimes I see a colour, shape or even an interesting person that might inspire the seed of an idea. I've learnt that it's best to sit back and watch that germ turn into something because the harder I try to come up with a particular idea, the harder it is to think of something. I do believe that if somethings meant to be, it'll work out a way of happening. I just have to trust that the idea will flesh out if it wants to. I'm sure that sounds quite airy-fairy and undoubtedly there is a more eloquent way to say it - but it works for me and makes the whole process very pleasurable rather than stressy. Once an idea is forming I start swatching to see how it feels "out loud". Sometimes things work out just as I'd imagined but more often than not they keep changing and evolving once I get started. 

My latest pattern Antipodes was one of these times. The yarn was destined for another pattern (due to be released early next year) but once I started knitting it became very clear that the yarn had other ideas. I could almost hear it telling me it wanted to be lacy and glamorous not the cute, fun pattern I was knitting! So I started again and in that case the beautiful yarn ended up being the inspiration behind my lace Antipodes shawlette.

Truly Myrtle's Skeppe hat 



You don't just knit! A quick look at your blog shows you sew, spin, dye things and do lots of crafty goodness! Have you always been into making or is it something you've come to quite recently?

I was a born "maker" and have many happy memories of spending hours as a child pottering away with fabric, fibre, clay, paper and paint. I was lucky to have parents who were both avid creators themselves so it felt very natural to do the same. In fact, when I look back, my childhood was full of creative adults and I guess that's had a huge impact on me in that I strongly believe we are all creative and all have a drive to create things whether it's with yarn, fabric, wood, glass or plants. It makes me sad to hear people say they're not creative or have no talent. I simply don't believe it. I think it's all about finding your "thing" and it although it might take time, patience and possibly a leap of faith, it's worth it.

You have a young family and live rurally, so you must be quite busy! How do you juggle your day-to-day stuff with blogging and designing?

I've never learnt to juggle, I drop all the balls all the time. My four small children keep me on my toes and since we've recently moved to a lifestyle block with chickens, calves,  gardens and a house that needs a makeover, there's always something that I could be doing. Quite simply, I just do what I can when I can and as long as the bathrooms get a swish and the floors are relatively clean I'm happy. 


I spend a lot of time sorting out squabbles, talking about homework, cooking and knitting and fit in everything else around that. Blogging often happens late at night and photos when I can catch a moment. My kids are quite used to me grabbing my camera and running outside or climbing into precarious places when the light is good. Meals are often late! My youngest is off to school next year and I've started thinking how my days might look once that happens. I've got grand plans involving more designing, writing and starting a podcast but I'm realistic that they might not happen quite as I imagine or all that fast!

 You moved to NZ from the UK last year - has the move inspired your crafting or changed they kind of things you like to make?

We've been in New Zealand exactly a year this past week and It's been a massive year for our whole family. I was really sad to say goodbye to the amazing creative scene that was all around me in the UK but it's been exciting to find out what's happening in New Zealand. There are so many fantastic people and events all over the country and it feels like we're on the brink of a big creative wave. I'm really optimistic. 


As far as my crafting goes, my wardrobe needs a complete overhaul. Before we arrived I was worried that I'd have to pack up my needles and put away all my woolies but I totally froze this winter. I was thrilled to be wearing all my hats and scarves and desperately need more chunky cardigans and jumpers to wear inside! My pretty fingering weight garments didn't work without central heating! Summer is the same. I melted in my UK summer clothes last summer and have already started sewing myself sleeveless tops and lightweight dresses to cope with the impending New Zealand heat. Overall, I'm feeling pretty inspired.

Truly Myrtle's Settler Shawl



Are you planning a new design at the moment? Any hints as to what you're working on?

I've got a couple of designs in the works. I've just finished a fun summery shawl that I'm planning to release early next year. In the meantime I'm working on a couple of new accessories and a cardigan that I designed a couple of years ago. I can't wait to get that one published, I've lived in my original version and just love it. I'm trying to use my stash for new designs but I'm afraid I'm failing miserably. New yarn is too irresistible! I'm full of ideas and my little sketch book is filling up faster than I can knit or write. It's so much fun.

 Summer's coming, so for me that means a bit less knitting! What kind of crafty things do you do when the weather warms up?

I'm not sure that I ever really stop knitting, my knitting just changes in warmer weather. A huge adult sweater draped over my knee doesn't work so well when it's hot but it's a great time for socks, accessories and children's clothes. Having said that, I'm hoping to sew more and make a bit of jewellery. I recently inherited a potters wheel so that's an adventure waiting to happen too. I'm thinking a yarn bowl? There's always something!


You can find out more about Libby on the Truly Myrtle blog or check out her designs on Ravelry.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The day Jo did screen printing

Yesterday I went on a bit of an adventure. I went to Hamilton.
I know what you're thinking. Why would I bother driving all the way down to the Tron in search of excitement? I have two reasons. Good friends and a screen printing lesson from one of said friends.


My pal Andrew is quite crafty, and not bad a drawing very cute animals. He's also a very good teacher.


He showed me how to draw, cut and print a super cute Sir Dougal-inspired illustration onto a cushion cover he'd sewn himself. I found the cutting quite hard and I was at risk of losing a finger and ruining the stencil at one point, but I've learnt a very important lesson. Sticky tape saves all. 


There is also a very fine line between applying too little and too much ink.


Isn't he cute! Today I have to give it a good press - the heat permanently sets the ink to reduce fading. He will take pride of place next to the real Dougal on the couch.
Thanks Andrew for showing me! I hope to have another go soon.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Guy Fawkes '14


It's that time of year again, and sometimes there's nothing as good as a (well supervised!) bonfire on a friend's farm, accompanied by a few fireworks.


And a good opportunity to play with some longer exposure settings on my camera - please excuse the lack of tripod!



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Laurel and my new sewing assistant

I've been making use of Mum's sewing machine! Last week I finished making Laurel at home, by myself (adding some bias binding and finishing the sleeves and hem). Big deal for me! And I discovered that as well as loving playing with knitting needles, Sir Dougal finds sewing machines very interesting…


He likes to be part of the action, I was just relieved he was happy to sit on my lap and not start playing with anything!


And here is my finished Laurel! I'm so happy with it, I'm pretty much living in it.
I do need to overlock the cuff and sleeves but you can't tell right now, as long as I do it before it falls apart…
Fabric - blue and white striped cotton for $3 at Auckland's Fabric-a-brac.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A little craftivist


One of the benefits of being sick over a long holiday weekend is the amount of time you are stuck inside avoiding spreading your germs. It gives you plenty of time to hit the books and catch up on some much needed reading time. I took a wander up to our local indie book shop and bought a book I've been wanting to buy since it came out earlier this year, Craftivism: the art of craft and activism edited by Betsy Greer. 

Over the last week I've read through nearly the whole thing and it has given me the opportunity to keep re-evaluating why I do craft and make things. At first it was just because I was bored and sick of trying to entertain myself by sitting in front of a screen. Then it evolved into more of a stress relief thing, giving myself the space to just focus on doing one task at a time and not rush around trying to do a million things at once. 
Then it became a good reason to vary up my wardrobe and avoid buying the same stuff everyone else has from the chain stores, to support local and indie businesses and make me thing more about where my stuff was coming from. It became a good way to give gifts perfectly suited to friends and family, and a way to make little items for people in need. 

I guess in my own small way, I am a craftivist. If supporting local, buying and making handmade, and making things to make a positive difference on both a big and small scale is craftivism, then I'll happily consider myself one. I'm not one for marching up streets in anger, but if these little things make a small change for the better, I'll keep on crafting.