Knitting a cardigan

Anyone who follows me on instagram knows this cardigan has been a labour of love for a while now (and will have already seen some of the photos below). It’s on hold  temporarily while I work on a lace scarf (with the help of Woolarium) but I’m actually nearly there. It’s Andi Satturlund’s Hetty pattern .

I was careful about knitting a gauge swatch and blocking it properly. Thankfully, I came out right on track after blocking, as you can (kind of) see from the before and after shots.

Before blocking:



After blocking:



I’m using Quince & Co Opsrey in Winesap, from Suzy Hausfrau. And I LOVE it. Easy to work with and non-itchy, which was always a worry for me, because even soft merino makes me itch like crazy usually.

At least in relation to the back body piece, I was also careful to put in lifelines, which helped enormously. I actually think the process of being so careful with the lifelines meant I made fewer mistakes. It seemed to help my concentration (but cf the sleeves of doom later on, when I didn’t bother with lifelines and made mistakes constantly, causing much aggressive cursing as I ripped and tinked my way back…a lesson also learnt the hard way with my lace scarf). The lifelines are the purple embroidery cotton running through the repeats:

Hetty back

And because it was my first time ever knitting something so big and so complex, I wrote out the repeats row by row, to help me tick them off as I went. I would probably only need one small chart for myself to repeat in future, but I think it was a good way to start for my first cardigan.


And it turned out, this was a good discipline to keep, because once I got over the shoulders, into decrease land, I couldn’t get by without charting The. Whole. Pattern. Perhaps more experienced knitters get by without this. But I couldn’t manage to wrap my brain around the lace repeats and intermittent decreases and how to fit them in at the edges (without missing a yarn over or slip/slip/knit and ending up with the wrong number of stiches) unless I literally charted every row. I found it completely essential.




Picking up stitches for the seamless shoulder, and then shaping it with short rows, were both firsts for me. I’d never done either and I was pretty pleased with how it worked out:

Hetty shoulder


I found some online tutorials for this process really helpful. Fluff and Fuzz on short rows. Cotton and Cloud on short rows. And Purl Bee on short rows too. It’s picking up the wrap on the back row, which isn’t specified in the pattern, that I was a bit slow figuring out. But I don’t find it so challenging now.

This is where I’d gotten up to before leaving for Japan. You can see in the bottom picture there’s a mistake in the pattern, which I had to rip back and fix, but it’s under control now. By the time I got home from holidays at the end of January I had finished the body and the waistband ribbing and knit half of one sleeve. I’m now nearly finished the second sleeve and all that will be left is picking up and knitting the button band and neckline. It’s fascinating to see a seamless knitting pattern take shape and I can’t wait to finish.





I swear I recognise your shape / Haunting, familiar, yet, I can’t seem to place it / Cannot find the candle of thought to light your hem /

Ok ok I’m not funny. But seriously, I started making this skirt in NOVEMBER 2009!!! It was the first garment I started sewing after taking a few beginner classes at Thread Den. I got to the point of finishing the waistband.

By the time I had my own sewing machine, a couple of years later, it didn’t fit me. So it sat in the unfinished pile of doom. Languished in fact. For almost five years.

I finally dragged it out to finish, before Japan last year. It’s made from beautiful wool from Tessuti. (in 2009). I eventually decided to sacrifice the front panel, cut a wider one, and add a creatively-named accidental ‘button tab’ to the waistband to extend its length. Not perfect, obviously. And the hem would be better hand sewn than machine stitched, but I was about to fly overseas so, you know, busy.

But I love it. And it gets a lot of use, so that’s the main thing.



Did I mention I like Pearl Jam? Eddie Vedder on the brain…

Sailor shorts

I won’t lie. These shorts sat in an unfinished pile of doom for a long time. I had started making them last summer, prior to holidays at Aireys, but didn’t follow the instructions, stuffed up the front panel, stretched out the waistband and then got grumpy and put them away.

A little while ago I finally got the nerve to unpick them and inspect the damage. Turned out the waistband was salvageable with some careful re-pinning and slow stitching and I just needed to cut a new piece of facing for the front section and the damage could be fixed. Not so hard.

Buttonholes on the other hand…I have a beautiful old singer machine, courtesy girlprinter’s mum, but no buttonhole attachment = world of pain. And these shorts have two layers of almost-denim. In black. My eyes, my eyes!! Also, after 8 buttonholes I basically wanted to stab someone.

But they’ve done the trick this summer. Comfy and they fit reasonably well. The pattern is this one from Thread Den, for the second time. This one fits better than the last. But even though denim was a recommended fabric choice, I don’t think I’ll make them again and especially not in a heavy weight of fabric – it’s too many layers around the tummy. Underneath that front panel, the two sides of the waist meet and button, so there’s three layers with buttons right in the front of the pants.

Say hello to Tosca, who helped! In addition to the aforementioned Singer and the lovely Tosca, Girlprinter gets credit for the lovely sunny spot, these photos and my knitting skills, among other things.





Adventures in Japan


I barely know where to start with this post. Believe me when I tell you that the selection of photos I’m including in this post is edited down. I’ll focus on the sewing & knitting inspiration for today. I will need an entirely separate post to chronicle the beautiful kimono I brought home.

We were in Japan for a little over two weeks. It was around new years, which, as it happened, put a real dent in our usual travel itinerary. Because of the public holidays either side of new year (shogatsu) there was a lot that wasn’t open while we were there. Out-of-the-way fabric stores fell into that category. As did museums, art galleries and other public places which in other countries are more likely to be buzzing over the holidays. Nonetheless, we found plenty of adventures. We ate all the a lot of ramen. We wandered the main streets of many prefectures. We went skiing. We saw snow monkeys. We loved the trains and the noise and the people and the onsen and the food. Everything about Japan was wonderful (with the possible exception of its coffee!). I would go back in a heartbeat.

You could, over two weeks of travel, easily spend most of your time doing crafty things. Exploring giant stationery stores, gazing at art, learning about calligraphy and hanko and kimono. And of course, spending all your pocket money on yarn and fabric. I didn’t buy a copy of the Tokyo Craft Guide (although if you’re going to spend two weeks doing crafty things, you probably should) but I did refer often to the posts on its blog. I was also lucky enough to have Gillian’s top tips for Japan fabric shopping, which was wonderful! There’s also a good shortlist on Tomatoes & Jasmine.

So, even though my husband is threatening to make me start a ‘pointless walk jar’ for all the trips to closed fabric shops that marked our travels, you will see from the post to follow that I wasn’t really deprived.

avril night


Just go there. Seriously. It’s twenty minutes from Shinjuku on the train. And it’s gorgeous. Old, new, cute, big, noise, mess and fun. For the Melbournians, it’s the nearest thing to Fitzroy you could imagine in Tokyo.

In Kichijoji I spent an absurd amount of money on about 3 buttons [*cough* worth it *cough*] and had several small brain explosions in Avril Yarn Store.

Beautiful vintage buttons from L.Musée:

black buttons

blue buttons

Avril was a beautiful store to visit. Many threads and yarns for weaving, probably more so than for knitting or crochet, but such fun to look at!




I came away with a 200g cone of wool/silk “Peinee” yarn in mist.

wool cone


I also popped into Yuzawaya on a separate trip to Kichijoji. It’s big. It’s got pretty much everything. It takes up about 3 floors of a big department store building. And it does have some really stunning fabrics. But I was a bit tired and grumbly and at the end of a long day when I visited this shop, so didn’t leave with anything. I did, however, enjoy some eye candy. Corduroy Liberty for goodness’ sake!!




Unfortunately Cottonfield (Gillian’s favourite fabric store!) had closed down before I visited, but apparently they still have a notions shop in Kichijoji and if the reviews of the original fabric store are anything to go by, I’m sure it’s lovely. Worth a visit if you can find the time (which I could not)!

Other fun things in Tokyo

Rob and I dedicated one morning to choose our own adventures. Rob set off for Akihabara (electronics town) while I set out for the famous Nippori Fabric Town. A whole street of fabric stores! Zip shops. Button shops. Second hand fabric. I wore a backpack and sensible shoes, took the camera and prepared to be overwhelmed.

I followed the signs from the train station…


…and looked out for the bunting and a street lined with tables of fabric…



…but alas that was the extent of my adventure. Tomato, the biggest store there, had closed for the new year break (the dates were on the website, but I misread them aaarrrgh) and just about everything else was closed too. So that was that. I’ll save it up for the next Japan adventure.

Continuing along the theme of events causing epic stroppiness, I decided to try and find Odakaya in Shinjuku before meeting Rob as planned. I had no WiFi on my own, got lost in the wrong bit of Shinjuku station and tried to rely on the kind directions given by a cafe waitress in half-Japanese-half-English…and failed badly! I did find Odakaya later, with the help of Rob’s WiFi, but to be honest I was underwhelmed. And I would recommend looking at some blogs which offer directions on how to get there, because I found it a bit tricky!

In Things Which Are More Fun, on a later part of the trip we visited Harajuku. We had fantastic ramen, on Spicy’s recommendation, and then bustled through the busy streets with (it seemed) half of Tokyo. We accidentally stumbled upon a pop up shop in front of the bank on a busy corner, selling second hand kimono, yukata, haori, obi and fabric scraps. And seriously, for cheap. I unwittingly picked some Meiji-era kimono and bought them for a stupidly cheap price and will blog about them another time in reverential tones. But for now, here is the shop and a picture of some yukata fabric offcuts I bought there:



yukata fabric

If you’re interested, a yukata is a cotton kimono for wearing around the house. They were provided as part of our stay in our little ryokan in Kyoto, as demonstrated in the next photo. I was in love!

yukata kyoto

Finally, while in Tokyo, I should mention the La Droguerie and 100 Idees outlets in the Seibu Department Store, Shibuya. Knitters, be warned: La Droguerie is pretty! I didn’t buy anything there in the end, but I did stop to take photos of the beautiful store:




In the 100 Idees section of the Department store, I did take the opportunity to snap up some Clover bits and pieces for much better prices than at home.

rotary cutter

embroidery scissors



In Kyoto, there were a couple of places I wanted to visit (such as Habu Textiles) which simply weren’t open. However, I did find the Shijo Nomura Tailor Store, which was as excellent as several reviews had promised.

Several floors of fashion fabric. Walls of buttons. Long sections of remnants. Quilted materials. Fleecy plaid. Felt. Sparkles. Nani Iro. Liberty of London. Stripes, spots, tartan, floral – they had everything. Somehow, unlike some of the other big stores I’ve been to (both at home and in Tokyo – like Odakaya and Yuzawaya) I felt really inspired here. Maybe the fluorescent lights weren’t so blinding. Maybe it was because it was my first morning in gorgeous Kyoto. Maybe it was the fact that things were a bit more orderly. I don’t know. It was just such a great shop and I’m glad that Rob had me on a time limit, or I may not have emerged.

This is the shop:





And these are the treasures I brought home:

striped knit


After the fabric shopping, we had a lovely lunch around the corner (with beer, naturally) and then rambled through Nishiki markets. Which were amazing. So many pickles. More chopstick shops than you’ve ever seen. Robert bought his own seal. I bought some snips.


Aren’t they gorgeous? They came in a little paper box and wrapped in gingham-patterned paper, which did somewhat add to the charm. Between the snips, the embroidery scissors and the rotary cutter which were now in my suitcase, I was beginning to wonder whether I’d be allowed on the shinkansen back to Tokyo.

The source of the pointless walk jar remark above was our trip to the Nani Iro Atelier in Osaka, which was closed when we got there. And, as Rob remarked, there was not a single other person on the street, which he didn’t think was possible. Someone please go there and tell me whether it’s as awesome as it sounds!!

nani iro

No visit to Japan is complete without reference to stationery. Please be sure to visit Ito-ya. You won’t regret it.



And finally, because everywhere we went there was something beautiful, here are some examples from an ikebana installation in Rappongi Hills. Because in Japan, they just do things right.



To Japan: arigato gozaimasu. You were wonderful. x

Staying in the Vacuum

This was Pearl Jam concert number 4.

As we got off the tram in Flemington I felt a bit sick, looking around at the other ‘old’ people in doc martens and Pearl Jam tshirts and wondering whether we’d be able to get close to the stage at the end of the day. I was sure that the proper fans would be camped at the front of the blue stage from 9am. If I were a proper fan, wouldn’t I camp out all day too?

As it was, our plan was to see the Drones, Cosmic Psychos and maybe the Hives or Mudhoney before camping out at the Pearl Jam fence. I intended to see the Hives while Rob went to Mudhoney, until Rob reminded me that Mudhoney might involve bonus Eddie Veder, because the Seattle bands often tour together. I was glad for that advice. Mudhoney were brilliant, captivating and what’s more, Eddie Veder was backstage with his kids for the whole concert, so I did kind of get bonus Eddie.

By the time we made it to the Pearl Jam stage, with three hours of camping out in the sun ahead of us, we had made it to about 6 people back from the barrier. Not too bad, although if you’re short (as I am) that still only means occasional glimpses of the band between people’s shoulders and a mouthful of whoever’s hair is hanging an inch from your face.

Still, it’s worth it to to be close. Because in those glimpses you see the band members’ eyes and faces and sweat and guitars. You can feel the amps.

As the time gets closer, I want to ignore all the excitement around me. I don’t want to listen to everyone else’s thoughts on Pearl Jam, how long they’ve loved them, how many concerts they’ve seen, their favourite song. It’s just me and Rob and our Pearl Jam and our anxious anticipation.

But when the band arrives and you’re in it, in the concert, in that weird vacuum of concert brain, you’re sharing that vacuum with everyone around you. It’s you and those ten club fans who’ve lived and breathed Pearl Jam for decades. The long-haired dudes in the mosh pit. The girl near me who nearly cried when they played Low Light, who knew to call out for Kick Out the Jam when Mark Arm from Mudhoney came out. She was a proper fan alright. But it’s you and all those others with their arms raised in a V in Jeremy, singing the responses in the Daughter break, counting the 5s in Animal. You’re all in the vacuum.

This year I was hoping for a Man trilogy. Mainly because I wanted Nothingman live in front of me. I got it. No Leatherman, so no trilogy, but close. Betterman, not one of my favourites, but one of the best parts of every concert; the whole crowd singing the verses after Eddie plays just that first distinct chord. It’s the vacuum again.

I never want to leave that vacuum. I still remember my first Pearl Jam concert and the shock of leaving the dome, but wanting the concert to go on forever. Every time, playing the songs on constant repeat for weeks until the feeling is spent. On the Backspacer tour, I thought that would be my last Pearl Jam concert – they’re getting older, surely it won’t be as good and I’ll want to finish with good memories, right? But I went to that concert, waited 5 hours for a good spot, just about killed my feet and the long-haired sweaty tall person who was in front of me for the entire gig, but then cursed myself for not buying tickets to the Sydney show as well. I went home and joined ten club, because there was no way I wouldn’t get to the very front next time.

I’m not even one of the proper fans. Rob definitely is. I’m a blow in really. But I’m in post-concert mourning still. I don’t want the show to end. I am searching out set lists, photos from the concert, bootlegged video. I know I’ll have to stop daydreaming when work returns, but I’m desperate to hold on to the memories, to stay in the vacuum. I’m sad at the thought that one day the concerts will end, that they’ll be too old to tour, that Eddie’s voice won’t hold out.

But for now, for another day, there is Jeremy playing a loop in my brain and there are pictures to find and the new album to learn. And the daydreaming about what I want them to play next time.

Top 5 of 2013

I am loving reading the blog round ups for the end of the year. Mostly to see everyone’s pictures again!

I’m in Japan right now, following Gillian’s most helpful tips for finding sewing shops and other lovely places. So this comes to you from my i-device!!


1. Most worn

These black pants. I wear them for work probably twice a week. They’re far from perfect, especially after a zip-related disaster. But they’re a good shape for me and comfortable. And I’m very glad I converted the front from a button closure to pockets! *pats self on back*

I can throw on a jacket with them and often wear them with a mustard coloured, long-sleeve silk blouse. Or with the blouse at number 2…

2. Second most worn item!

It’s a bit of a stretch to include this category, but whatevs.

I made this blouse to wear for frocktails. I was still sewing buttonholes half an hour before the time to arrive! And true confessions – *whispers* still haven’t hemmed the darn thing! Oops.

Anyway, I love the shape of the blouse and the keyhole neckline, love the fabric and colour and wear it a lot for work and going out.

3. Absolute favourite thing

My black circle skirt, hands down. I took time to finish it all properly, so the inside and the outside are pretty. The jacquard fabric has bounce so it practically flounces itself. Plus, it’s twirly.

4. Things I’ve learnt

Mostly these are knitting related actually. I have LOADS to learn in the world of sewing, but I can kind of manage to throw something together in a haphazard way and make something resembling a wearable item (possible exception was learning boning and shirring in preparation for last year’s NYE party and following Amanda’s lapped zip tutorial for my circle skirt).

Knitting, not so much. Every step just about involves something new. First finished garments, first lace pattern, first chart, first wrap and turn, first short rows, &c. And I tried a lot of different ways to tension my yarn, so as to avoid RSI, finally finding something that worked for me.

When I don’t know how to do something, I look on YouTube or google it. There is ALWAYS an answer out there. Or I take it to crafternoon and ask my knitting oracle, Carolyn.

I’ll always sew a little bit, come what may, because it’s necessary – when you’re short like me, hemming and mending will always be virtually essential skills! But I hope I always knit too, because I’m falling in love.

5. Favourite item for someone else

Definitely the chenille chevron blanket for my loveliest friends’ baby.


And now for evidence of lovely Japan purchases:


Christmas fun

So the annual Christmas card-making in our house has begun.



I admit that the source of inspiration was Sunrise #3 – the painted wall mural by Robert Owen at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Sydney. What started as a crappy iPhone photo was overlayed and scratched up and distorted and I added snowflakes and stars.

The font is a stencil font from dafont, which unintentionally looks a bit festive.

The little logo for the back of the card is hand drawn, just with a felt tip pen. I’ve done a little stamp like this for the back of our Christmas cards most years for the last few years.

Printed on matte, slightly textured Pixma card from Dean’s Art. Just printed on the little canon inkjet at home.

Nothing earth-shattering, but I do like to get my hands dirty at Christmas.

Echidnas are the bestest


Look, I’ll be honest. He’s a bit demented. I don’t think I understood properly where to pick up stitches for the body. But he’s cute. And he’s for my beautiful 1yo cousin.

And he’s definitely an echidna, not a hedgehog. I don’t care what the pattern says.

Happy birthday baby Alice. x




Gertie’s {Modified} Bow Tie Blouse



I am still enjoying feasting my eyes and sewing from Gertie’s book. Finally – I made this top! I’ve had it bubbling in the back of my mind for a while. I intended to make it while on holidays in May. Then I stuffed it up. Then my sewing machine needed repair. Then, you know, life.

But Frocktails beckoned, so Saturday afternoon I rushed to finish* it.

*By ‘finish’ I mean get it to wearable. I was still sewing on the last button at 5.45pm and it’s yet to be hemmed or have the back facings sewn down. Oops. Also – bound buttonholes, no sirree.

I decided to keep the keyhole feature in the modified version. And I’m glad I did.

Keyhole detail

Keyhole detail

Shoulder shirring detail

Shoulder shirring detail

The shirring was a bugger to get right. The first time I tried it, muddling along with Gertie’s instructions, the shirring resulted in a lot of fabric pooling…somewhere around my underarm. I slightly modified the angle of the shirring and made the shirred section longer, which seemed to do the trick, fit-wise. Attaching the shirred front of the blouse to the back pieces was not straightforward and looks a bit lumpy. It’s fair to say I have not learnt the meaning of the phrase “ease in”. Although I will say it looks neater on a person than it does hanging over the corner of a chair.

Shoulder shirring - inside view

Shoulder shirring – inside view



The shape of the darts in the back makes for a very flattering shape. It’s a really good looking pattern I reckon. Here you can see the inside, focussing on the darts and the back facing. You can see that the reverse side of the fabric has little fuzzy patches where the silk pattern has been stitched into the fabric. This became a bit tricky in places when working on the bias bound openings.

Back view - darts and back button band facing

Back view – darts and back button band facing

Sleeve - visible self-bias binding

Sleeve – visible self-bias binding

It’s not perfect but I rather love it and I think it will become a good work staple.

AND I got it close enough for jazz that I could wear it to Frocktails with my favourite black circle skirt. Yesssss.

Back View

Back View

Oh Clementine!


New scarf, knit for the mother of the twins for whom I recently made little beanies.

It’s knit with Debbie Bliss Andes in sage. I used knit pro polished wood 4mm needles. It’s a very easy pattern, with just four rows in the pattern repeat. It just takes a while to make it long enough to wear comfortably! I think the lace pattern is gorgeous and would make a nice panel running down the front of a cardigan or other large item.

This is the ‘right’ or front side of the scarf:

This is what the back looks like:

Here and in the next one (though the photos are terrible) you can get a sense of the little circles which form the lace pattern. It’s a pattern inspired by clementine oranges and so the lace work amounts to neat little rows of circles on the front side of the scarf. The silk/alpaca blend I used makes for a lovely, squishy scarf but, because of the fuzziness of the yarn, doesn’t show off the pattern especially well.



Look, photobomb! This one’s just hilarious.


Ravelled here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.