Saturday, 31 May 2008

Magazines Galore!

I'm currently in seventh heaven, surrounded by the latest editions of some of my favourite magazines.

Vogue Knitting and Knit.1, being U.S. magazines are parading the delights of Summer knitting. They're actually quite a good collection and make me want to create some lovely handknit tops for the Summer months......a long time away for those of us in the Southern hemisphere....I'm thinking, of some lovely slubby fine cotton in my stash. I can't remember where I acquired it, but it's lovely and soft, perhap a bit too fine, but I could ply it together to create some a bit more manageable for handknitting.

I'm not sure which Vogue Knitting is my favourite, but it's interesting to see this idea, again, of knitting two strips, twisting them, then sewing them on. My (get incompleted) jumper, also from Vogue Knitting uses this to good advantage.

I'm still digesting Knit.1, but, how about this Nicky Epsten creation....LOOK at the BUTTONS...

Selvedge arrived in the mail....aaaaaagh.....I just flick through it looking at the pictures. This study in wire intrigues me. A revelation ia also Henry Moore textiles, yes... the sculptor did textiles...fabulous prints.

Now, to our local magazines. Textile Fibre could I go past these knitted forms by Alana Clifton-Cunningham.Theres always weaving in this magazine which does seem to be getting scarce. There are people learning and pursuing weaving, which I love, but it doesn't have the popularity of knitting and crochet.

Finally, I've literally just picked up Yarn. Lots of information on dyeing, but what caught my eye were these wonderful hats on the very first page, spruiking the amazing Alice Springs beanie festival.

What a long blog....Happy reading!

Friday, 30 May 2008

Comfort spinning

I've been pondering the nature of comfort. 'Food Safari' on SBS (a wonderful food program about real food and real people) were looking at Spanish food and lo and behold there's a Spanish equivalent of rice pudding. My Mum used to make rice pudding (very English) and I loved it. Never made it I need to find a recipe...Mum....

Anyway, we find comfort in alot of things. I was given a pair of handknitted socks by a friend (thanks Tammie, they fit), while that was lovely, even better was actually putting them on. There is something very comforting about the feel of socks, even ones I've knitted for myself.

When I don't want to choose what to wear, I put these earings on, put soft black pants and skivvy and my big jumper. It's easy to think of and looks acceptable and very comfortable.

Thinking about this jumper. It's one where I didn't change the pattern, but I did change the yarn. In the original, it was a pretty pink, slightly fluffy.....I did go looking for the pattern, can't find it right now, think it's in a Knitters magazine....I, of course, decided on a much heavier yarn, it does tend to drag, but I like the finished jumper and it is much commented on. It's surprising how much you can change a look by just changing the yarn.

Speaking of yarn, I've just spun some yarn for a group project and started on some yarn that a friend wanted me to spin (She's creating a project where she's buying fibre for friends and asking them to spin it up any way they like. Great idea, happy to be part of it!) Both yarns are wrapped tops around a cotton core. The first is plied with a fine boucle yarn. The second will be plied with another single created in the same way, hopefully finer.

Aaaah, back to spinning, how comforting!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Buttons galore

It's a cold wintry day and I've been out with my umbrella and scarf to my local wool shop to buy more buttons for the fingerless mittens I've been knitting. It puts me in a reflective mood about buttons, and how many of us love to collect buttons.

We almost always have permission to collect buttons..."they'll always come in handy", and, they do. My collection resides in a tin box and there is something very satisfying about poking about through the button box, jar, or, even better, someone elses.
Op shops have wonderful collections, saying as much about the source - the dressmaker, the former shop owner - as well as the people who come to find their own treasures. Some colours can be strangely scarce and finding really large buttons a challenge.
There is also the current trend of lots of young designers using buttons, I'm thinking particularly of the jewellery that is appearing at markets and places like In.cube8tr. I love their creative use of such a simple thing.
I've just remembered this article in an old copy of the magazine 'Piecework', (Nov/Dec 2006). Wouldn't you like these, there is a pattern to make one.
And that reminds me of one of my favourite shops: Buttonmania in the Nicholas Building in the city.
The only drawback with my buttons, is now I have to sew some on!

Friday, 23 May 2008


The Biggest Morning Tea at the guild was a great success with the 'Sea of Scarves', the teacosy exhibition, lots of homemade things to eat, lots of people wearing wonderful things they had made and plenty of conversation.
I did manage to score a teapot at the auction. It's quite beautiful and will fit my collection well. I do like to collect handmade teapots. It's always been one of those things 'I'd like to try one-day', though I suspect that that is definitely in the future. The only experience I had of trying to combine textiles and pottery was a very dear friend...I still have the Kaffe Fassett cardigan she made biggest baby when he was born....who was a dedicated knitter and potter, however, never seemed able to combine them at the same time!
I must photograph my teapots, I have some beautiful ones.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Business needs looking at

I delivered my two wrist warmers to In.cube8tr, including this beautiful pair. I'm enjoying making these and I hope they're successful.
Unfortunately, there have been no sales and I need to examine what might be happening. So I've come up with the following:
1. I'm competing with beautifully packaged items, especially the jewellery. Good packaging can encourage gift giving as well as highlighting the product.
2. I need to look at what has actually sold well. The silk scarves keep moving, the tri-scarf has sold quickly, the wrist warmers, despite few sales, have moved well. They're new and I've made only a few.
3. My art weaving needs to find its own home.
Obviously more thinking is required, but I'll work on that for the next change at In.cube8tr.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

More wrist warmers

More wristies....these use a technique that I've just learnt (thanks Catherine) of casting on then casting off, which gives the little, or long, dangly thing a cute little twist.

It is all in the twist, as I keep telling people at the moment. Twist holds fibres together, makes them soft or strong and gives them purpose.
One interesting aspect of twist is whether, as you knit, you twist or untwist the yarn. This can be important. For instance, you probably want more twist in the cast-on, cast-off edge, as it will be stronger.
My investigations, so far, have also shown that twisting at the edges makes them neater. I don't know how much this depends on your knitting style. I knit continental, but even that I think I knit oddly. One thing I do know is that if I do a knit stitch, I twist a 'S' plyed yarn.
See, it's all in the twist.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Ceres Community Environment Park

Yesterday was the 3D5S trip to Ceres Community Environment Park. ( What a wonderful place.

There was sculpture all through the gardens, chooks, kids at the African display making bricks and obviously had been playing the drums. There was a mosaic sculpture workshop in progress. A lovely coffee shop and even on the cold wet weekend, plenty of people looking, working, participating in the community that is obviously here.

It made me think quite alot about what I want to do. A workshop in this environment would be, at the least, stimulating with a community of youthful enthusiasm and people searching for new ways of doing things and valuing difference. There are all sorts of groups here from LETS to a Sweat Lodge.
I think I will make more trips here to learn more about what they do, maybe look at their gardens more, the seedsaver group, all sorts.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Flora and Fauna

I have finally got around to sampling for the 3D5S project for the Australian Sheep and Wool Show. I've tried to get a real frilly effect. I've used crochet as you can build a shape as you go, though knitting would have worked now I think about it. Anyway the centre is not quite right.
I'm going to do another, working on that centre piece, making it more uneven both as a whole and at the edges. I still have spikes to try.
Last night I attended the Banyule Council volunteer awards night. Held in the great hall in Heidelberg, which is a fabulous art deco building. The 9"x5" Steering Committee had been nominated for a group award. We sat at a table, listened to Con the Fruiterer (comedian), and applauded the winners, who were an amazing group of volunteers. We talked, planned had lovely wine and food. It's nice to be appreciated.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Inspired by students

After changing over at Incube8tr, still no sales, I took myself off to the Ian Potter Centre ( to see what was showing. The current blockbuster is the Sidney Nolan exhibition, as that cost to go in, I decided that the other exhibitions were more in line with my 'penniless' mood. What a treat!

The first exhibition was about Black in fashion. It was a very small exhibition and not quite as groundbreaking as you might have thought. The older mourning dresses were wonderful as anything made by hand for the wealthy always has a wealth of detail, but the modern pieces were interesting, but surely there is more, especially Punk.

I then decided to head to the Top Arts exhibition. I must admit, I do always like these exhibitions. Seeing students work in an exhibition setting always highlights what it means to have enthusiasm and energy. The works are always of a high standard, with some being able to fit into any 'professional' exhibition.

My favourites were:

1. three panels where the artist had spread gesso with their hands, let it dry and then did fine line work on top. Initially this looked random, but after reading their artists' statement, there could be found some personal references. I loved this, as you could look at it for ages, it was a really interesting idea and it just looked good as a piece of work.

2. printed paper was cut up and woven. Couldn't go past this one!

3. there was a ceramic work in the exhibition, but, for me, more interestingly, they had the workbook for the artist. It was wonderful, full of ideas, materials, technical details. A work of art on it's own.

Over coffee, I decided that for my newspaper, totem pole, eyes work that I'm about to embark on, I'll keep a detailed workbook and make regular contributions and hopefully create a number of works.
I've also decided that I need to 'package' my work. It makes it easier to buy for gifts and hopefully looks better. Will have to have a play.

I did manage to finish a small scarf. This goes with the hat and the wrist warmers. I like playing with two yarns at one time, trying to make them do different things. (Sorry about the colour, I can't photograph red)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

More spinning newspaper

Yesterday was spent doing my homework for my Web Design class, getting to grips with Dreamweaver. I'm starting to feel confident that I understand what can be done with all this new technology, which means that I now have a feel for how much more I need to learn. However, the products are excellent and I think that I can do some excellent development.

I was tired after the class, so I sat down with my newspaper spinning. I decided to try using a sponge to wet the paper. This worked really well as you can control how wet the paper gets (important when working with different papers), and the paper is wet very evenly.

As a significant breaking point is where dry paper meets wet paper, I also dampened the 'yarn' already on the bobbin. I felt much more confident, the spinning was good and the wheel drew the paper on reasonably well, though any bump did mean a little hand winding.

The biggest problem is really wetting the paper. Paper dries really fast when just damp, so you are literally stopping for each piece of paper. The next part of the experiment is to get a wet towel and see if they stay wet in that.

Much fun.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Happy Mothers' Day

Mothers' Day was a bit strange as the 9"x5" QMM market was on so I spent most of my day sitting on the stall. However, I did get a lovely bunch of flowers when I finally made it home and my oldest son made my lunch for me. Lovely roll with proscuitto, brie, olives, sundried tomatoes and some chocolates included. Excellent.
The market did go reasonably well. I sold a few smaller items, still not alot of scarves. Yarns for the first time and I probably could have sold all the fingerless mittens I could make.....guess what I'll be making for the next month?
While not wildly financially successful, am feeling a whole lot better about the venture.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Five scarves

Had a lovely day yesterday. Finished weaving the last scarf. This was a little annoying as I was weaving with some nice fluffy yarn, thinking I had more....wrong. I decided to start again with some handspun and it worked well.
With a little dyeing I now have five very difference scarves. I did try tumeric, which is the bright yellow. Takes alot of rinsing out as you don't want to leave the scarf with a foody sort of smell!
Having not woven fabric for awhile, this has been a great exercise to get back into it. I already have several ideas for the next warp. I do also want to try some of the weaves that I didn't have a chance to do when I was at I have an eight shaft loom.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Sandra Backlund

More information on the knitter on the cover of Sublime, Sandra Backlund, can be found at her website

She's a Swedish designer and her designs are wonderful. Have a look at her website, it's a bit slow loading and you might miss the small arrows which show the whole of a collection. Well worth a look.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Have been fixing, finishing, organising, all ready for both the 9"x5" QMM on Sunday, (Come and see us on Mothers' Day) and, also for the monthly changeover at In.cube8tr, so not alot of show and tell.

However, for inspiration.........I've been waiting for the latest editions of Vogue Knitting or Knit 1, which must be due any moment when I found this cover. There's not alot of information, except the caption ''In no time' Sandra Backlund crafted collection. (Must 'google'.) It was very difficult, but I finally decided I must buy it. I didn't need the magazine, but I had to have these pictures. Spectacular.

They put me in mind of some armour shapes I was playing around with a few years ago, when I did some machine knitting with copper wire. I think I might have a look and see if they can put me in mind of a few good 'vests' with impact.

The magazine 'Sublime' is interesting. It's English and this issue had a 'green' tinge. I'm not sure I would always get this, but it's worth checking. Having said that, it also had an article on Polar Bears and also Antarctica, with the requisite amazing pictures. Definitely worth a look.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Newspaper and Magazines

What an interesting weekend! Friday was spent 'helping' in the Guild library. Unfortunately, we were more interested in looking at the latest magazines and chatting and realised, almost too late that we needed to do the returns in the returns box. All done, but next month I will be more attentive to the required tasks.
I am in love though. I was introduced to a new magazine 'VAV magasinet' - a Swedish weaving magazine. This was wonderful and I'm going to explore it more, find out how is available through Glenora Weaving....and....
I have been looking for a good weaving magazine, this could be it.
Saturday was Experimental Spinning and we were going to explore newspaper and wire. Unfortunately, newspaper took up all our time and the wire will have to wait for another time. There was some fantastic spinning, unfortunately not by me. Everyone was very amused by my repeatedly unsuccessful attempts to spin the newspaper. Every time I would start, there would be a break, by the time I rejoined, I was back at the start. I got angry and so desperate, I was starting to blame the wheel....always a bad sign...
Anyway, I was determined to do this as I was quite intrigued by the array of information on the subject that had been sent to me, and the possibilities. I went home and as the boys watched 'The Godfather' (I don't watch 'The Godfather') I sat spinning paper.
I did start with a firmer paper, more a magazine weight. However, I am getting the feel of how wet the paper needs to be and how to approach various tasks such as joining (squish it yourself), rethreading after a break (don't expect the paper to slide, grab right at the end and pull through).
There are still a number of questions to be tested/asked. Firstly, it seems obvious, but it would be better if the paper is cut in continuous lengths. Secondly, how do you moisten a lot of paper? Would a steamer work better?
Food for thought on a Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Musings on making it work.

It's always interesting the way the world talks to you. One conversation, leads to another, leads to just wandering around and then finding more information and hopefully inspiration.

It's the ongoing conversation about how to make your art your work and provide you with an income of some sorts. In my conversation with a friend, who has some enforced time away from work and is also a passionate knitter, about this very question. Her particular take is the co-operative approach. As an admirer of what the Meat Market used to be, as I am, wondering about how to create a similar workshop/sales/teaching space by utilising the many talented people sharing(?) the same path....

I've just been checking some of the blogs that I like to look at. One 'Dinosaurs and Robots' had a guest blogger who is an embroiderer, whose own blog sent me to 'Venuszine' where there are a number of articles on this very topic. I've now downloaded them and will read them with great interest.

It is interesting that whilst they may not be helpful, the fact that they are there is heartening. There must be a way......

Back to the weaving.