Saturday, January 31, 2015

Flat white - beginner fingerless mitt pattern

I've been craving to start something new this week. Since I gave up on the jumper, I've had wool on the winder ready to start making a new jumper. I've even got the pattern all ready.
I've gone though the stash and considered all the new socks I could start. And the shawls. I need a new scarf, even though it's the middle of summer. 

I've been working on the dress, it's been on the needles for so long that I just want something new.
I just need to finish something. The lace jumper has been given-up on, so I'm feeling like a bit of a quitter. That's where these fingerless mitts come in. The first one I knitted in June for my knitting class at Sew Love Tea Do. The second one has never been finished. 

These mitts are what my knitting students make for their first projects. It's a 6x6 inch garter stitch square, and you sew up the cast-on and bind-off edges leaving a 1 inch hole for the thumb. It's an achievable first project without the daunting amount of inches that a scarf requires but still very practical. And I do think Garter Stitch is the most under-rated of all the stitches. I just love the texture.

The first mitt was knitted as the finished product to show the class. The second one was knitted and un-knitted many times as the classes went on, to show people how to cast-on and make garter stitch.

I found the half-knitted second mitt in my project bag yesterday, and it just needed to be finished. This little project, with its fat wool and big needles, was my perfect solution. I completed a knitting project today! I'm calling them my Flat White Mitts - knitted flat, they're white… and I was drinking coffee at the time - here's how I did it.

Flat White Mitts

You need aran weight yarn (I used some leftover Cascade Eco Wool)
Large needles (I used size 7mm)

Gauge doesn't really matter, adjust your needle size to make a 6 inch square.


CO = cast-on
K = knit
BO = bind off


CO 25 stitches, or enough to make your glove 6 inches wide depending on the yarn/needle size used.

K each row until piece measures 6 inches from cast-on edge.

BO all stitches, leaving a long tail of yarn at the end.

Using the tail of yarn, sew the CO and BO edges together. Sew 4 inches, leave the following 1 inch unsewn for the thumbhole and then sew the last inch.

Make 2!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I'm breaking up with this jumper

It hasn't been an easy decision. I've already eaten my way through half a family block of Whittaker's dark Ghana. The jumper is sitting on the table in the corner. We're currently not speaking. 
It just doesn't fit with me. I checked my measurements all the way. But something wasn't right. The lace panel didn't look like the one in the magazine photos. There were big loopy bits instead of flowers. I blocked it to size but I felt uneasy. And I'm glad I'm ending it now, before I start on the sleeves. 

I'm a bit disappointed because a lot of time was invested in this jumper. I tried it on and it creeps up something terrible at the back - not the nice cropped style I had in mind at all. 

You can see what I mean about the lace - no amount of pulling threads through would fix it.
This was one of my Focus on Finishing projects, but as a bit of a product knitter, carrying on with something that will not be used will be a waste of time. 

I'm going to put it away for a while and then decide what to do with it. I'll probably frog it and see what else can be done with the yarn. I've definitely had enough of lace-weight for now though!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

This dress. What a vintage find.

When we got back from Melbourne I caught up with a lovely friend who works in an amazing second hand shop (pretty much the dream, right?). Her mum's next-door neighbour was moving into a rest home, and the lady's daughters were taking the time to clean out what can only be an amazing vintage wardrobe. There were two fur stoles and matching hats - not really my thing but this told us that this lady must have been quite the dresser back in the day!

Lots of clothes were given to my friend to sell on in the shop, but there were a couple of dresses that she's kindly given to me, and oh my goodness, this might be the most perfect dress in existence. 

I'm calling her Audrey. She has a metal zipper down the centre back, so I'm dating it as late 50s or early 60s. Boat neck with a low back and a full pleated skirt that would look great with a tulle petticoat. 

She was made in New Zealand under the Cole of California brand and she just fits like a dream.

I've spent a bit of time bringing her back to her former glory. She needed a good wash and soak to get rid of a few stains on the skirt, but it came out really well. 
She also had one of those uncomfortable built-in bras that after a few decades, really lose its shape! 
I cut that out this morning and overlocked the edge of the lining, and now it's all good.

I'm off to the Auckland Anniversary Races tomorrow (happy birthday Auckland - 175 years old!) for a friend's hens party and I think Audrey will be the perfect outfit with some vintage flowers in my hair!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I will finish these projects.

Sometimes you just need a bit of motivation.
My Amelie Dress and Garland Lace Jumper have been a tad neglected recently.

They are big projects. The dress is 83cm long and the jumper is lace weight yarn with lace in it. Two things that definitely slow me down! So to give myself a bit of incentive and try to get these finished, I've signed up to Holland Road Yarn Co's Focus on Finishing

I have until 31 March to finish these UFOs. Each week we will be getting little reminders and encouragement in the Ravelry forum to keep at it. 

In the last two days I've knitted the sleeves for the dress and made a bit of progress on the jumper - more to do today! Do you have any UFOs you need a bit of motivation to get done? Maybe the Focus on Finishing is for you, too!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New listening

Progress on Amelie is aided by podcasts!
I'm the first to admit that I'm not very good at keeping up with the who's cool of the knitting scene. I'm especially bad at keeping on top of podcast episodes. With a new year and a bit of time hanging out on a plane already this year, I've had a little bit of time to get a bit more up to speed and discover some new podcasts. I've been having a listen while working on my Amelie Dress (back and one sleeve now done!) 

The first one is very very new - Truly Myrtle has just started her very own podcast which launched today. Very exciting. This is going to be a monthly podcast and I'm really looking forward to the next one - not only because she's so lovely but her knitting is just so awesome that I can't help staring at the photos on her blog allllll the time. 

The next one is the Pomcast by the lovely ladies at Pom Pom Quarterly. As you know, I am a massive fan of the magazine and read each issue religiously, and was extremely fortunate to contribute an article to the Winter 2013 edition. With this podcast, I just feel like I'm there. Super cool. The aren't many episodes just yet - I'm working my way back from the Christmas edition - episode eight. Love. 

And another recent addition to podcast land is Woolful by Ashley Joy Yousling. I love the focus on sustainability and finding out more about how yarn is produced in one of the most recent episodes. I love to support indie and local brands but I still don't feel like I know where a lot of yarn bases I used are initially made, their environmental impact and the process from sheep to shop. This is something i'd like to find out more about this year, and I think Woolful will be a great companion. Ashley is also creating her own farm and fibre mill in Idaho with her family, and I'm really interested to follow this journey too. 

Finally, one that I have to do a serious amount of catching-up on is BookishStitcher. I discovered Jeanette on Instagram a few weeks ago and I'm really enjoying her podcast so far!

It's nice to find out what other knitters are up to and see that I'm not the only one with a several WIPs that need attention! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My vintage Melbourne - a small shopping guide

I didn't do many knitting-related things in Melbourne. But I did invest a lot of time (and a bit of money) into my other love - vintage shopping.

Auckland is a little city by comparison to Melbourne. In Melbourne, I was just astounded by the amount and choice of the vintage shopping. All up I probably spent a fifth of my holiday trawling the treasure troves.

The photos are just a little snapshot of some of the amazing spaces I found. 

I've only scratched the surface of Melbourne's vintage scene. Since we travelled over the Christmas and New Year break, I wasn't surprised to find a lot of independent businesses closed for the holiday, so I'm already planning my next visit for a time of year when shops will be open.

I found beautiful clothes from the 1920s to 1990s and found a great dress for my friends' 1920s-inspired wedding in April. 

To find some great vintage shops in the CBD, I'd recommend checking out Retrostar Vintage in the Nicholas Building and Vintage Sole in the Cathedral Arcade, Swanston Street.
Then there's the beautiful Circa Vintage Clothing in Mitchell House on Lonsdale Street which has some beautifully curated stuff, and next door is Dames of Distinction that specialises in vintage-style lingerie and beauty. 

And that's just what I found in the CBD. 

For me the magic happened in Fitzroy and Brunswick, a quick tram ride from the city centre.

A very good friend took me to the Lost and Found Market. Just amazing. So big. Homewares, clothing, shoes, vinyl - you name it, they probably have it. I could've just moved in there. 

In Fitzroy, it seemed like every second shop along Smith Street and Brunswick Street were vintage. My favourites were Sheila Vintage, Shag Vintage (both on Brunswick) and Vintage Garage and Shappere on Smith Street. 

As I mentioned - these are only the shops I managed to visit - there are so many more that I can't wait to check out next time I'm in Melbourne. Any recommendations - let me know!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 - a different kind of resolution

The closest I've been to knitting this year - lovely handspun from Hawthorne
Cottage Yarns
at the Melbourne Art Centre market.
We're seven days into the new year and I haven't picked up my knitting needles once. 
For one, I've been overseas and made a decision to leave craft projects at home to entirely make the most of limited time with family and friends. And also, I just haven't been that inspired.

Normally the new year is the time I get really excited about what the next 12 months could hold for my knitting journey and for this little blog, but this year, I haven't been that excited. Maybe I can blame the post-holiday blues (back to work today!) but if I'm being honest it's because I have a terrible habit of comparing myself with others. I read a lot of crafty blogs by a lot of very talented people. I browse Instagram in my spare moments and see all these beautiful projects. And then I start thinking about what I'm doing or not doing. 

I'm certainly not designing really creative patterns, or dyeing yarn, or running a podcast or coming up with great tips and tricks to help others improve their own knitting. I certainly wish sometimes that I could come up with some exciting design for a hat or scarf, but no ideas seem to stick. And then, it spirals a little bit - because I don't feel like I'm offering that much back to this amazing creative community that I've gained so much from. 

Last year I had a few knitting resolutions. I was going to knit a cardigan (not knitted but I have the yarn!) I was going to finish something with cables (one hat!) and finish something with lace (I've finished the lace panel on my jumper - even though the jumper isn't a completed garment yet, I think it still counts). And the hexipuffs for the beekeeper quilt? I've knitted a grand total of six. All up. In two years.

I'm not going to set myself any project-based or technique goals this year, other than to just keep going and see what gets made. I'm going to do the same with the sewing too. 

My resolution this year is instead to stop trying to compare myself to what everyone else is doing, how many projects people finish and how many patterns people write, because knitting should be fun! This is a journey that's mine, different to anyone else's, and I need to keep reminding myself that. 
It shouldn't matter how much I make or don't make, or what other creative endeavours come from this, as long as I am happy doing it. So onwards, for a happy, crafty 2015.