Elbow Surgery

My sister in law loves this jumper, she wears it in the morning around the house, gardening and just for feeling cosy and snug. And I can see why, it is a wonderful fit and has a collar that is loose, yet keeps the neck warm. But is starts wearing out at the elbow and needs surgery…

Not a Problem, I thought… can do… can mend… can fix.

To begin with, I simply picked up all the unraveled stitches and worked them with a crotchet hook. In places the yarn was very thin. Then I knitted a patch to fill the hole in the elbow and sewed it down along the edges. The result was not so pleasing… bumpy and thick – sticking out like a sore thumb.

Then I turned to Mr google to find out how to really mend a hole in a knitted garnment and didn’t get anywhere… so I turned to my knitting library and found wisdom in June Hammond’s Principles of Knitting!

Unpicking my handiwork was really tricky, since the yarn around my mending was really fragile…

So what you do is this: find yarn that is the right thickness to start with, and hopefully close in color. Cut a long piece and thread a darning needle to the other end. Pick up the stitches of the hole and knit your first row on a double pointed needle – when you have finished the first row, use the end with the darning needle to sew a few stitches at the end of the row – you basically go over the existing stitches, reinforce them and at the same time fix the knitted patch to the garnment.

Then work the second row and so on and so forth until the hole is filled.

Graft the top of the hole to the knitted patch. Boom. Done!

Turn your attention to the wrong side of the garnment and sew in all loose ends.

Much better…

In Top Gear

I am beside myself with exitement because I made a phone call, just checking how the land lies in regard to that film/ theatre work. Part of me thought it was a bad idea because it makes me look potentially very pushy. But on the other hand I thought that I might just not get the work, unless I am proactive and let people know that I am keen.

So, I made the call and managed a light chit chat with the designer, pleasantries and so forth, but mainly letting her know that I am very keen to take on some work and that there is that flexibility with my other job and voila – within 12 hrs I had a call from the cutter to let me know that she is totally overwhelmed with various jobs and could I please come and work in her workroom for one or two weeks! YIKES!

This opportunity has made me so very very happy, I have been sewing and making patterns for all sorts of things during the weekend.

I cut Esther’s T-shirt up and up-cycled my old plain one. Looks cute!image image

I took the pattern of Clare’s jumper – it is the nicest fit ever, so plain and elegant! Now I need to do the number crunching and then I can start knitting away. I am afraid it will be a slow process, the alpaca yarn is very thin and I will knit it with 2 mm needles.image

Here are some linen pants that I started. The pattern is from the Mills & Merchant book. Unfortunately this project is on hold, since I broke the only needle for my industrial sewing machine. Spares are arriving mid- week! I enjoyed the fly, the pockets… All that detail…image

And I also prepared some patterns from the Alabama Chanin book. I bought this some time ago because I just love the simplicity of the collection – the book comes with a CD with all the patterns! But wow – printing the patterns and sticking them together takes forever…image

I did not buy organic cotton – I just cut up some old T-shirts! imageThis skirt is so comfortable. And again – the pattern for my size was way too big, so I just took the skirt in. Any other patterns I will make I will use one or even two sizes smaller!image

Upcycling to Relax

DSCN9678It’s probably the most relaxing activity I can think of – playing in the shed. Without purpose. Playing with new ideas, having the time to pursue and trial, un-do, re-do, add, change. There were a number of things I have been keen to DO (as opposed to just ‘toying with the idea’), these being

  • much more upcylcling, recycling, re-using to make new objects, finding a purpose even for the tiniest scrap, button…
  • finding a useful everyday object to decorate and to turn it into ‘special’ – and hey, I am always short of notebooks!
  • less measuring, more approximating and going with the flow (I guess this is trying to move away from my roots as a tailor, where every 1/8 or even 1/16 inch counts)
  • trying out button making
  • creating a bit of a pattern/ instruction for the classes
  • being more open minded about changing decorative patterns

I started with the button, ages ago I had saved a tutorial on pinterest. That took ages!DSCN9674

There is a shank at the back – sorry for the blurry photo…DSCN9673

Then I cut out a foundation fabric (some sturdy cotton) and chose some nice fabrics for the notebook cover.DSCN9648

I decided to put some decorative hand stitches on the plain fabric. First I marked some diagonal lines with fabric marker (those will evaporate soon!). Then I started stitching. When I got bored with the intricate pattern and just added plain diagonal stitches. It looked a bit plain… so I cut out some pretty shapes and machined them on the empty space. DSCN9676

And then I put it on the notebook! I had to peel the top and bottom at the spiral back, just as you do when you cover school books. I just top-stitched the folded bit down.

Finally, I secured the four folded sides to the wholes in the cardboard of the notebook, so they would stay in place nicely. DSCN9677

And then I put the button and the button loop on! Bingo!!!DSCN9675

What a Find!

So there are many perks with that special time in the printing studio… one – printing! Two – a great dry cleaner around the corner that turned my $4 Op Shop buy into something extremely smart. Three – an amazing Op Shop and look what was waiting there for me  this week: DSCN7793So beautiful, in such good condition, so useful: DSCN7794

And here is a closeup of my ‘knitting kit’ housed in this beautiful new home.DSCN7795

New Pursuits… and other things that make me happy

I have forever wanted to learn to screen print! I am fascinated by textures and patterns, their rhythm and moods… It has occurred to me many times that screen printing is a lot faster than sewing bits of fabric together to achieve a pattern…Not sure why it turned (in my mind only…) into a ‘bigger than Ben Hur’ type thing. Maybe I thought it is rocket science, or that I need to purchase a huge amount of equipment to get started… So all of a sudden things fell into place. It started with my son mentioning that he’d love to sell some T-shirts and that he is looking into screen printing. I thought courses he is looking into, but no, he was looking into a company that would print his designs. By the time we had cleared up this little misunderstanding, I had already enrolled in a one day course at the local community college. Voila:     DSCN7640

This was achieved in 3 hours in the lovely studio! I got inspired by this fairly basic goat (?) that I spotted somewhere, did a quick hand drawing, transferred the drawing on the ezicut paper, selected my frame and my color – DONE! There is so much to learn… I am really inspired to explore this further… so if I am organised with work, I may be able to skip Tuesdays and print!

But wait, there is more! Here are my feeble attempts at gardening. I am so over buying lettuce and herbs in the shops! Again, why was it sooo very hard? I wasn’t sure if I would stay interested, nor if the plants would survive my scatty memory (watering in this heat!), the possums, my judgement of a good place for a small garden in terms of light and so forth… so I took a ‘no investment – no pain at failure’ approach and planted all this in yogurt pots. I can move them around and they are free!

DSCN7625The parsley has not survived the possums! And all of a sudden this felt very easy and I went as far as investing into a seed tray and sowed a whole heap of herbs! And I bought parsley – it goes behind locked doors (laundry) at night!DSCN7643 And as you can see, I have re-instated the compost bin (background).

And here some pics of things that make me happy: a gorgeous hibiscus from Justine that still has not been re-potted

DSCN7641Lilys going mad in my lounge room and spreading their wonderful scent.

DSCN7642A pair of Tanwy Frog mouthsDSCN7621 right in front of my door step!

And here some organizational fun, a copious amount of random buttons finding friendsDSCN7636 .DSCN7635DSCN7637

Labour of Love


???? A textile riddle – what is about to happen here ???? (answer below)

Whilst I am trying to slot into my old life after an amazing two little summer holidays, and after spending lot’s of quality time with my loved ones and enjoying a lazy life – I am unable to put up any more posts up telling you about my time in Tasmania – because I lost my little camera (the big one used on the hike was out of battery at this point) and have no pictures to show. I had planned a post about our visit at MONA and one about HOBART and one about KNITTING IN HOBART, but that will all have to wait.

I lost the camera at Port Arthur, just as I was about to take a picture of an amazing hexagon quilt which was lying on a bed in the old surgeon’s quarters! And guess what – it had a similar pattern as The Quilt I am currently working on! I was so stunned, I was unable to think (my sister in law’s comment: “you should have taken a photo on your phone!”).

To cut a long story short:

  1. the camera was found and I am waiting for it to arrive in Sydney and then I can get back to business and post photos…
  2. I could not get the quilt I didn’t photograph out of my mind, couldn’t find any reference to it on the net – rang Port Arthur Historic Site and they gave me the name of the lady who looks after the textiles there and she would love to talk to me! All I need to do is remember to ring back.

Whilst I wait for the camera to arrive, let me show you what I did just before our hike to Tasmania, which gives you the answer to the ???? photo above. My late mother gave me a set of warm silk underwear 30 years ago. The top is as good as new, still after all these years. The long johns are long stretched and have taken on their own shape, but they are still keeping me warm and have traveled with me to the snow all over the place. There are some significant ladders in them, I had many times intended to get them professionally mended, but it is one of those ‘extra’ things I never get ’round to. Encouraged by Tom of Holland I gave it a go, just before we went to Tasmania. In fact, this post is dedicated to Tom and his blog. He fearlessly tackles the knitty gritty of knitting and mending, just wonderful and inspiring, and has posted an amazing  post on darning this morning. I didn’t have any special tools (as Tom would have) , only a wooden seam board from my tailoring days and a tiny rusty crotchet hook, which I sanded smooth with a very fine emery cloth. I finished off the ladders with silk applique thread and a very fine applique needle.


As you can see, the ladder was really long (there were two in fact), and in some sections it was 2 – 4 stitches wide. DSCN5112I think all in all it would have been about 1.5metres of ladder that I mended… it took 5 hours and I got a very stiff neck. After the hike, there is a new ladder in my long johns… I might just keep it there for some time before mending that one.

An Old – but finished Item

Hey, look at this – a button necklace (or necklace made from buttons…?) – it has a nice story! I made it about 3 years ago for my friend Ruth, for her birthday. She expected a certain gentleman to only give her ‘boring chocolates’. So I packed the necklace into tissue paper and placed it into an old chocolate box. When she got the packet, she smiled politely and said, “Oh yeah, more chocolates” and she wouldn’t even open the box! So I said I really wanted to try some – I insisted. And when she opened the box, she loved the necklace! A year ago Ruth packed up her house, sold it and went traveling and teaching maths for an ngo in Malawi! In the process of consolidating her possessions, I fortunately ended up with this wonderful treasure. Lucky me!

We have not heard from Mr Fox… but the pirates are back on the piano, I told you they wouldn’t get far, didn’t I?

Dr Sustainable!

I heard about The Clothing Exchange some time ago – and forgot all about it again… there is a clothes swap in Waverley THIS Thursday night! Check out the details here.

What a wonderful idea – you grab 6 of your good quality garments that you don’t wear anymore and swap them for something new and spunky! The Clothing Exchange is the brainchild of Kate Luckins, who now has got her PhD in “sustainable lifestyle” –  here is the outline of her thesis: “This research identifies how some young people are discontent with the consumerist status quo and as such, are seeking to adopt alternative, sustainable lifestyles. To gain insights into the sustainable lifestyles of young people, fourteen individuals committed to sustainable living (aged 18-35 years) are interviewed in-depth. Their stories are analysed and constructed into lifestyle portraits.” I would love reading this whole thesis some time!

I like a lot what she has got to say. We have got everything we need, don’t we? Why have more, more, more all the time? Having more rarely makes us more happy. Here we go again, my stashless life is very straightforward and happy. As I started this blog, I was wondering  whether I should not say at all that I use a lot of old garments in my quilts, that I recycle old clothes – would people think I am just stingy and boring, would I be more funky, would my quilts be held in higher esteem if  I  said “Vintage, darling, vintage!“. On second thoughts – no, no no no. A lot of my materials are pre- loved, they are old clothes, I fully support sustainability and I am proud of it.