Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yoga Wrap Done!

Yoga Wrap #1

I must say that I am a wee bit ashamed that this was two years in the making. Oh, the shame! I originally started it in 2009, hoping to get it done in time to wear on our European trip. This, of course, didn't happen. I'm slowly learning that knitting to a tight schedule is always guaranteed to end in knitting disaster.

"Well, no worries" I thought to myself. "I'll just take it along with me. If I knit two repeats per day, then I'll have it done in time to wear in Paris. After all, we'll be on plenty of trains - think of how quickly I'll get this knit up!"

Then I discovered that knitting + train = nasty nasty motion sickness for me. And of course there was no knitting done of an evening - not when there was fine cheese to be ate, and lovely wines to sample. I like rules - they have always served me well, and there are two that I hold dear. Rule number one is Don't Fart On Mum (this rule applies to Grumbles in particular, but I suppose to everybody else in general). Rule number two is drinking and knitting is never going to be a good idea. And don't even think of throwing gooey cheese into the equation!

So there we were, traipsing around Europe and enjoying the sights, and in the suitcase that I shared with Galumph were all these massive jumbo balls of yarn, taking up a good third of the space, and no knitting being done at all. Ahem. I shall cast a veil over any arguments this space hogging yarn may have caused. When we got home I stuffed the project into a cupboard, and promptly forgot all about it again until this winter (and hoped Galumph would do the same!)
Fast forward to winter 2011, and I'm doing a little bit of stash clearing. What's all that black yarn lurking in the corner? "Why hello, old friend!" I said as I shook the dust out. "You're the project that made Galumph and I bicker furiously about overpacked suitcases in Gare de Nord that got to see the world with us. Well, now you've had your travels, I suppose you'd like to be finished, eh?" So I sat down, began to knit and had the darn thing finished three weeks later. Better late than never, huh?

Project Details
Pattern: Yoga Wrap from Vogue Knitting Magazine Winter 2005/2006 (the pattern is available to buy from the Vogue Knitting website)
Yarn: 8 x 200g balls of Bendigo Woollen Mills Alpaca in Jet Black. I used double strands to get the correct gauge. This yarn is so super soft! I love it.
Needles: 6mm circular (for the length)

Although it looks a bit tricky, this isn't a hard knit at all if you know how to do yarn overs and slip stitches. The rest is just knit and purl, and making sure you follow the chart properly. The best part is how comfy it is to wear - it's like being snuggled into the world's most fashionable blanket! I usually wear mine belted around the waist, and it's as warm as a coat on a cold winters day. And I have done this pattern the honour of knitting it twice - I can't say that about any other pattern (the first one I made was way back in August 2006)

So, hooray! The Yoga Wrap is done, and I can finally move onto a new project! I only have on question - why the heck did they name it a Yoga Wrap? Can you imagine doing yoga in it? Maybe because it's so big you could conceivably use it as a yoga mat if need be? Suggestions on this most welcome!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seam Allowance Guide Winners


Wow - check out all the entries for the Seam Allowance Guide giveaway! Thanks everybody for entering - it's been a great way to meet some new blogs.

Now without further ado, and with a little help from my friend the Random Number Generator I present the five winners:
#23 - Amy, who said "Such a good idea - this has been on my wishlist since I first saw it. Thanks for the opportunity!"

#10 - Ella, who said "Please pick me! Sounds like such a handy tool. Adding allowances can be so tedious...the faster I can get to cutting, the happier I think I'll be!"

#85 - Reaton, who said "What a great idea. Adding seam allowances is what keeps me from using my Ottobre patterns as much as I would like to."
#66 - Sue, who said "Wow! Lots of interest in these! I am getting into my Burda mag patterns at the moment so would love to give them a whirl.
#13 - Rachel, who said "Yay! Please enter me!" (Rachel, can you send me an email to jorth at bigpond dot net dot au so I can grab your addy? Your email hasn't come up on your profile page. Ta!)

Congrats! I'll send you an email to let you know you've won, and to grab your address details. Keep an eye on the mailbox - a Seam Allowance Guide will soon be on it's way :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When in doubt, read the instructions


Well, so much for my escape from Sleeve Island! Blithely I'd started the second sleeve on my yoga wrap, and was merrily knitting away when I ran into a smidge of trouble with the sleeve cap decreases. For some reason, I didn't have enough stitches, but for the life of me couldn't figure out where I had gone wrong.

"Never mind!", I thought, and like an idiot knitted on, reconfiguring my calculations and making up my own cap decreases on the fly, and ignoring the little voice that kept insistently saying "Jorth! You KNOW this isn't working! What are you doing? This is going to be a disaster!"

You know what happened next, of course. I finished the sleeve, and put it next to the first sleeve. That sleeve had a lovely normal looking sleeve cap. The second one was oddly elongated and skinny, like a sleeve cap that had been stretched and starved by some renegade knitting tyrant. And that knitting tyrant was me, because I am both impatient and stupid.

Yet STILL I couldn't figure out where I had gone wrong. Until, um, hello? Let's reread the pattern. That would be a clever idea, yeah? And there it was, as clear as day: Working in chart pattern, at the same time INC 1 ST EACH SIDE on 23rd, then following 22nd rows 6 times etc etc. Cue light bulb. Oh yeah, the increases. I kinda forgot all about those. D'oh!

So if anybody wants me, I'll be in the frog pond, ripping, ripping, ripping away. And most deservedly so!


Don't forget - you've only got one more day to enter the Seam Allowance Guide giveaway, so if you haven't gotten your entry in yet, you'd best skedaddle!

Monday, June 27, 2011



Bowling 2

Saturday morning found us bright and early in the city and ready for some bowling action, to celebrate Grumble's birthday with her grandparents. I was particularly excited, as I had never been ten pin bowling before, and couldn't wait to try a sport where you get to wear funny shoes.

Can I just say that I totally, utterly, completely suck at bowling? I have never been any good at hand/eye coordination sports, but my abysmal failure at this one took it to a whole new level. I think my best score was a measly 42 out of a possible 300.  It didn't help that more of my bowls landed in the gutter than hit pins. Yikes! I probably should have had the guards put up on the lane, so I at least had a chance of making contact with something. But despite my severe lack of bowling prowess, did I have fun! And the shoes? Surprisingly comfy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cupcakes for my favourite little lady


Aw, c'mon - a birthday isn't a birthday unless Mum delivers cupcakes for the whole class to devour!

Happy 7th birthday, oh darling Grumbles of mine. You are, as always, my favourite and my best.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A ticket off Sleeve Island

Yoga Wrap Sleeve

Jorth was wandering the sandy beaches of Sleeve Island, and was in quite a despondant mood when she suddenly stubbed her toe. "For the love of garter stitch!" she growled. "It's bad enough that I'm stuck here, getting more freckly by the day, and with no balls of black yarn in sight with which to finish my striped sleeve, and now I have to go and injure myself. Grrrrrrrrr!"

She bent down with the intention of finding the offending object and hurling it out as far to sea as she could. But to her great surprise she discovered as she dug around in the sand that instead of being a mere rock or stick, it was actually a treasure chest. Jorth carefully prised open the lid, and instantly recognised the bag within. It was her old canvas knitting bag, and inside was the completed body and sleeve of a Yoga Wrap she had begun back in 2009. But best of all were the knitting needles, and two lovely big balls of alpaca yarn.

Jorth began to do the most uncoordinated happy dance you ever would see on the sand. She cared not that her fingers were likely to sweat knitting up the alpaca in the heat. She cared not that her knitting would probably be covered in gritty sand from knitting on the beach. She certainly didn't care that the knitting smelt rather dusty from being hidden away as a wip for so long. All she cared about was Monday, when the Sleeve Island Service would once more be arriving, for she would be standing there on the jetty with two finished yoga wrap sleeves to present as her ticket off the cursed place, and the unfinished striped jumper sleeves carefully hidden away under her shirt.


PS! Don't forget to enter the marvellous Seam Allowance Guide Giveaway!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seam Allowance Guide Review and Giveaway

Seam Allowance Guide

A couple of weeks ago I was contact by Hollie, who has made a new tool called a Seam Allowance Guide, which is a nifty tool you attach to your scissors when cutting out a pattern that requires a seam allowance. Hollie was interested in knowing if I would be eager to try it out. My answer? Boy, would I!

It arrived in the post yesterday, and today I tested it out. The theory behind it is that instead of laboriously measuring out the seam allowances on a traced out pattern (i.e. Burda Magazine, Ottobre Design Magazine, Japanese pattern books) you attach the tool to your scissors, and use the guide to cut around your pattern, creating the seam allowance as you go.

I am here to tell you that it worked a treat! My first attempt was ever so slightly wonky, but my second was perfect, so it's not at all tricky to get the hang of. And let me tell you, I'm not the most coordinated seamstress on the planet! You can move the black ring on the guide along to create different sized seam allowances, which means that you could use it to make a seam allowance, a hem allowance etc.

Now, I'm not the sort of sewer who has every sewing gadget under the sun. In fact, I like to keep my tool box pretty spare, and only use the essentials. But this has definitely earned its place in the kit. As somebody who does trace out a lot of patterns, I can see that this tool will be indispensable. Not only will it save me time, but it will also make it much easier to make pattern alterations, which I always seem to do (ahem!).

The kit contains two guides - one to use on scissors with straight blades, and another to use on blades that slope. Seriously, the girl has thought of everything. There's also an instructions card, and if you need extra help Hollie has put a tutorial up on her website.

But the best news is that I have 5 Seam Allowance Guide packs to give away. Yes! So leave a comment in the box - I'll draw the winners randomly on Wednesday 29th June. Please leave your contact email address so I can contact you if you win.

Update: Happy to post both Australia wide and overseas. So don't be shy - enter! Oh, and if you wanted to be a follower of my blog, that would be nice too ;)

Best of luck!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Birthday dolls


There are several very nifty things about the dolls I've just made for Grumble's birthday:

1 - They are all made from scraps or recycled materials (excluding the stuffing). Even the buttons, which came from a box of used buttons I bought on eBay aaaaaaages ago. Austerity crafting at its best!

2 - Each fabric, being a scrap from another project, has a memory. The pink doll, for example, features fabrics left over from the pjs Grumbles and I made. I really like that about these dolls.

3 - They are so darn huggable! Especially the pink flannel one. Which is good, because her arms are kinda permanently in hug-mode, due to my wonky sewing. Um, design feature?

4 - The pattern, from the amazingly talented Nic of 60 piggies, is free, so you can made some for yourself. Give Nic a virtual internet high five, ok?

5 - When Grumbles wakes up on her birthday morning and sees these two perched on the end of her bed, she's going to LOVE them (I hope!)


Monday, June 20, 2011



Jorth stood at the edge of the jetty, shielding her eyes from the sun sparkling off the waves, and watched the boat motor in. The captain brought his vessel in close to the jetty edge, and after securing the ropes he put down the plank. Jorth picked up her knitting bag, and was all set to climb aboard when the captain said "Welcome, passengers, to the Sleeve Island Service. Please show your tickets before boarding the boat."

"Oh!" said Jorth in a panic. "I don't have a ticket!"

The lady with the purple rinse perm who had been waiting in line behind Jorth chuckled and said in a kindly tone "Of course you do, my dear!", then fished into her own knitting bag and presented two finished knitted sleeves to the captain, who tipped his cap and helped her onto the boat.

"Goshdarnit!" thought Jorth. "Finished sleeves are the ticket." She looked imploringly at the captain, and began to explain how she had run out of black yarn, and so only had one finished sleeve to show. Would that do the trick?

"Sorry, lady" said the captain. "No sleeves, no boat ride. You're just gonna have to stay on Sleeve Island until both - and I mean both - sleeves are done."

"If you're quite done, now?" inquired a burly man sporting a ginormous walrus moustache and clutching two intricately coloured Fair Isle sleeves which the captain smiled appreciatively at. He was followed by a horde of knitters, all anxious to depart from Sleeve Island and make their way to Blocking Central. Once the last sleeve-toting passenger was safely on board, the captain removed the plank and set sail.

Jorth slumped down on the jetty, and watched until the boat was a tiny speck in the distance. As it was swallowed by the big, blue horizon Jorth wondered how she could have miscalculated her yarn requirements so badly, and how long it would take to deliver a single ball of black yarn to her place of maroonment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jelly Roll Party Bags - with a tutorial!


I love jelly rolls - those brightly coloured strips of fabric kindly put together by quilting fabric lines to give you a taste of each fabric in a particular collection. I bought a jelly roll from Moda Fabrics recently when I was putting together this quilt for Grumbles (and yikes, I still haven't finished that. Bad me!) and then was left with a whole bunch of strips which didn't fit in with my quilt plan.

Then yesterday when I began to draft a pattern for Grumble's party bags, I struck inspiration - why not make calico and jelly roll strip bags? Brilliant, eh? After all, I do have a roll of calico sitting in the cupboard, and heavens knows I have enough scraps to sink? build? decorate? a ship. After patting myself on the back for my amazing stash busting (yes, yes, so it's one strip at a time, but who's counting?) I got to work and made these bags for all of Grumble's friends to take home. I quite like the thought of a more permanent keepsake, and am holding tight to the hope that her friends will love these bags, and merrily fill them with all their treasures. Please humour me on that one.

So I hereby present the Jorth Jelly Roll Party Bag Tutorial.

Step one:
For each bag cut out 2 pieces of calico measuring 22cm/8.75inches by 25cm/10inches.
Cut two pieces of jelly roll strip into 22cm/8.75 inches by 6.5cm/2.5 inches. These will be placed onto the bottom of each calico piece.

Step two:
Sew your jelly roll strip onto the bottom of the calico pieces. Press the seam down towards the jelly roll strip, then topstitch along the seam line. These make the front and back bag pieces. If you like, finish all your edges now.


Step three:
With right sides together, sew the front and back bag side seams together. Sew the bottom edge of the bag (the strip part) together.

Step four:
Press down and then sew a 1cm/0.5inch hem at the top of the bag.

Step five:
Cut a 35cm/14 inch piece of ribbon, and attach the centre of the ribbon to the centre back of the bag, about 2.5cm/1 inch below the hem. Your bag is now complete - fill with party favours and then tie the bag closed with a lovely bright bow!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tulle Hair Ties

Grumbles and Jorth were sitting at the kitchen table, intently planning her 7th birthday party. Since Grumbles was only allowed a big party every two years, this was quite an event to her almost 7 year old mind.

"So!", said Jorth, sucking hard at the end of her pencil as she looked at the list in front of her, "we're agreed on a cup cake cooking party, yeah? With Pass-the-Parcel as the game, and fairy bread to snack on."

"And party bags!" said Grumbles. "Don't forget the party bags!"

Jorth grinned at her daughter. "Of course we'll have party bags, you duffer. What do you want to put in them?"

Grumbles sat and thought hard. Finally she said "Mum, I'm not really into all the plastic junk that most people put in theirs. Can we make the party bag things?"

"Ahhh!", thought Jorth. "She's a maker, this one! And wants to be plastic free! I'm as proud as punch."

The kid wanted to make, so we did make. First cab off the rank are some super sweet fluffy tulle hair ties. I googled around for a bit, and found this tutorial from Martha Stewart. They are really very simple: basically you cut a long piece of tulle, then do a long gathering stitch down the centre (either by hand, or using a sewing machine). Gather up the tulle, then firmly attach to a hair tie. Done! Repeat 10 times so all the party girls can get one.

Tulle Hair Tie

After making these, I am TOTALLY thinking a garland of bigger and even fluffier ones would be the height of awesomeness draped around the living room!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Queen's birthday weekend


Barossa Valley Vineyard

Dear Her Royal Majesty the Queen,

Thanks ever so much for being born! No, really - if you hadn't been born, then I, as a citizen of a country included in your commonwealth would not have had the chance to celebrate your birthday with a public holiday. Really, it's smashing of you to have, er, existed like that. Most grateful!

I suppose you'd wish to know what we did to celebrate you, eh? Well, we borrowed the mother-in-law's car and took a drive to Adelaide, named after one of your relatives. It's quite a lovely city, I'm pleased to report, but alas Grumbles took ill with a dreadful, phlegmy cough, so most of our sightseeing was confined to places we could visit in the car.

We drove all over, and saw Glenelg, Port Adelaide, the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills, accompanied by a continual soundtrack of coughing and hacking. Apart from the flying spittle it was all rather splendid.

We were going to break our journey on the way home with a stopover in Horsham (they have the most spiffing aquatic centre I've ever seen!) but we decided to plough on and drove all the way home in a single day. Numb bums all around, but worth it for the lovely countryside!

There's not much else to report from my corner of Australia (we might ban live cattle exports, the Dalai Lama thought the Prime Minister was a man, we're still dragging our feet on climate change etc etc) so I'll sign off now. Once again, thanks so much for the public holiday. You're such a good egg!

Yours respectfully, and with blood flow once more restored to hind regions,

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Three Choices


Jorth stood at the crossroads, and examined the signpost in front of her. There were three forks in the road. The one directly in front of her went straight on ahead, with no visible turns or twists as far as the road went to the horizon in front. The road was called “Go On As You Are Way”. Hmm, thought Jorth. Even though the road was very well maintained, and the path seemed like an easy walk, the way seemed shrouded with an air of dull predictability. Yearning for a bit more excitement, Jorth looked at the other options.

The road that led off to the right went straight down into a deep gully. Jorth could feel a cold wind coming from that direction, and the road itself was strewn with rocks and potholes. The signpost declared that road was called “Never Take A Chance Street”, and underneath in smaller letters read “To Regret Avenue”. Something about the road itself gave Jorth the heebie jeebies, so she turned and looked at the last option.

This road, called “Give It A Go Lane” seemed to meander about a fair amount. There were, by the looks of things, a series of hills that rose up and then fell quite steeply. Hillwalking, thought Jorth, is pretty hard work, but the view from the top is always magnificent. Looking harder, Jorth realised that unlike the others, this road wasn’t even paved. It was more of a path, and it struck Jorth that if one didn’t keep one’s wits about them, then you could quite easily get lost.

She stood for a few moments, weighing up the options in her mind. Which life path should she choose? Regret Avenue didn’t sound like the sort of place she was keen on visiting, so it came down to the other two. She gazed hard at the sign, and thought about the difficulties each presented. “Go On As You Are Way” seemed clean and prosperous enough, but where, thought Jorth, was the sense of adventure? Would there be any feeling of achievement from walking along a dead straight road? “Give It A Go Lane”, however, seemed to present obstacles of its own. Still, thought Jorth, you’ve only got one life. You may as well do what feels right.

Hoisting her backpack on, she began to walk along the faint path in the grass. The afternoon, it must be said, was a spectacular one. Birdsong filled the warm summer air, and scent of meadow flowers wafted delightfully on the gentle breeze. "Oh!", exclaimed Jorth, "this isn’t too bad at all." She walked on for a while, and was just passing a large tree when a voice spoke out to her. “Yes, it always seems fine at the beginning, when you are full of enthusiasm and optimism, but how will you go after days and days of climbing up hills, then climbing back down hills, picking your way through when the path seems to have disappeared, all the while trying to keep dry whilst storms rage around you, hmmm?

"What the fuck?" thought Jorth in a panic. She was just beginning to open her mouth when the voice said “And PLEASE don’t say “OMG, it’s a talking tree! I expect you authors to be more original that that!”

Jorth shut her mouth stupidly, and gazed at the tree. Even though she couldn’t make out any facial features at all, tree seemed to be looking expectantly at her, so she said “What sort of tree are you, um, Mr. Tree sir?”

The tree waved its arms? branches? impressively around and said in a loud booming voice “I am the tree born of the Seed of Doubt!

"Oh. Hello." said Jorth. “How did you know I wished to become an author?

“Part of my job description”, said the tree "is to know the true desires of the heart of all who pass by." Eyeing her shrewdly, the tree said “The other part of the job description is to warn you – go past me and there is no turning back. The way ahead can be littered with many dangers to aspiring authors like yourself. The path may become faint, or disappear all together. There are rocks and branches that may trip you up, and no helping hands to pick you up again and dust you off. There will even, I dare say, be rejection letters!”

Jorth looked at the path in front. She could see that the journey may indeed be hard, but for all that she felt compelled to continue on. She was just about to open her mouth to speak, when the tree said “But you’ll go on regardless, won’t you? Very well. Use your courage, dear author, when the writing seems hard. Use your imagination, when the words won’t flow. Use your ingenuity to come up with the most incredible plot devices. Use your gift wisely to produce only your best, and let it touch the hearts, the minds, the souls of those who grant you the privilege of reading the words you write. But most of all, I implore you – use recycled paper, won’t you? There’s a dear."

With one last flutter of the branch waving her onwards, the tree fell silent one more. And with nary a backwards glance, Jorth walked on.

The little tale above is, I suppose, a roundabout way of telling you all that I've been accepted into a professional writing and editing course. So I'll be leaving my job at Tessuti Fabrics and focusing on become a writer. Wooooo! Exciting times ahead! But fear not - there shall still be plenty of crafting and sewing around these parts. In fact, since I figure that I'll need to exercise my writing muscles, I plan to post here on a daily basis (fingers crossed!)
Thanks to Tessuti for having me for the last two years - it's been great. But now I must enter the writing wilderness. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Pink to banish the grey

It was a cold, cold day in Melbourne town. The rain was steadily drumming on the roof, and the chill was setting in. Jorth looked out at the bleak greyness, and thought to herself "What this day needs is a pop of colour, and I've just made the very thing!"

Scrutinising herself in the mirror she decided that her pink linen top just wasn't quite bright enough to banish the gloom away. She put on her new red glasses. "That's better!", she thought. "The pink and the red clash perfectly!"

And so, though it may have been rather dull and drab outside, the world was bright in Jorth land.

Pink Linen Top #2

Pink Linen Top #1

Project Details
Pattern: Vogue 1020 (out of print, but still available on the Vogue Patterns website if you're quick!)
Fabric: 1.4 m of Hot Pink Linen Knit from Tessuti Fabrics
Notions: 0.5cm wide length of elastic

 I've had this pattern in my stash for ages. I initially bought it because it was very similar to a top I had bought somewhere, that I wore until it fell apart. It's a great pattern - the gathering hides any bumps, it's tremendously comfortable to wear, and can be dressed up for down as required. Great for work.

Alterations made: I lengthened the sleeves (as per usual) and made a neckline band. I also ditched the side zip. Why would you put a zip into a knit top? I simply could not see the logic of that at all. Seems like a lot of fuss for no reason.

Sewing took all of 2 hours. I can see that I'll be making this top again and again, and I dare say the dress version will also feature in my future!

The linen knit is a rather interesting fabric. Even though technically it is a knit, you can't stretch it too much, so you need to be careful with it so you don't distort the shape. I find myself doing a very careful wriggle dance to get into the top! It's also rather sheer, so you need to wear something underneath to protect your modesty (or not, I suppose!)

And, of course, it's PINK! I'm right into pink this year. I'm not quite sure where this has come from, but suddenly I can't get enough of gutsy, ballsy pinks!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Feeling kinda famous!

It's excitement plus around here this morning - I've been picked by BurdaStyle to be their current Featured Member. Hoorah! So swing on by to read an interview with yours truly, and to check out some of my projects, my sewing space and last but not least, my goofy baby pic!

Burda Style Featured Member