Wednesday, 30 April 2008

My First Book

On Wednesday nights I've been going to a bookbinding course at RMIT Brunswick, something I've been wanting to do for a long time. It's just as interesting as I hoped it would be, and over the fifteen week course we will be making three books. Well, I just finished my first one, an A5 hardback book with plain pages, half-bound with a rounded spine! It's far from perfect but I'm pretty pleased with my first effort.

There's quite a lot of steps in hand binding a book, and I found a great photo tutorial by Dave the Designer, which shows it step by step. We even got to gold block the cover (or in my case, silver block) using amazing old brass wheels that have to be heated up and then rolled over the foil and book cover. It's quite tricky to apply the pattern evenly.

My first Malabrigo purchase arrived last week, from Yarnandkisses, which has just started selling Malabrigo in Australia. I chose Sealing Wax, hoping for a bright red, but as you can see, while a delightful colour, it is definately more orange than red. Unfortunately, I look terrible in orange, so I was in a bit of a quandry. Lovely Jolene from Yarnandkisses offered to swap the skeins for another colour, but in the end I swapped them with my mother who knits a lot and she also likes the colour orange! The wool was so soft and lovely though, that I ended up ordering some more, in Tuareg, so we shall have to see how that turns out.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Hungarian Embroidery

This is a detail of a table runner that I have been working on lately. It's traditional Hungarian embroidery in the Kalocsa style, and done in satin stitch. The design is pre-printed on the fabric in blue, which is supposed to disappear when you wash the piece on completion of the embroidery. Lets hope so. The little circles around the design are where I am supposed to embroider eyelets in white (sort of like broiderie englaise) which sends shivers down my spine as there are about a million wanna-be eyelets over the whole runner. I may chicken out of that part...

Hungarian embroidery always seems very jolly to me, I love the bright colours and strange, naive flowers that are nevertheless each based on a real flower. Here we have a rose, violets, and a crysanthemum, plus some unidentified blooms. I would love to see one of those bobbly flowers in real life.

I finally bit the bullet and cast on for the Spring Fling cardigan, and have completed the ribbing at the back. Now I'm onto the lace which took a while to get the hang of. Oh damn it, it's just such beautiful weather here, warm and sunny and still, that I cannot stay in front of the computer a moment longer. I must go frolic!

By the way, I'm enjoying the blog A Dress a Day immensely, do go and check it out if you are at all interested in vintage dresses. The Secret Lives of Dresses are particularly clever, and the whole site is written in such a charming and witty way. I love 1950s pattern illustrations, the women always look so smug and elegant!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Neil Gaiman

I'm terribly excited, one of my all-time-favourite authors is coming to Melbourne! Of course I mean the esteemed Neil Gaiman, who is speaking at the Children's Book Council of Australia conference at the beginning of May. The Wolf and I have tickets to see him there and also on the 5 May when he is doing a short talk and book signing at the State Library of Victoria. All the info is on his blog, which is also very interesting and sometimes quite amusing too. He is definately top of my list if I ever have the (unlikely) opportunity of choosing a famous person to have round to dinner. I have promised the Wolf that I will make him a new Death t-shirt to wear.

Last week I went to a really great exhibition at the aforementioned State Library of Victoria, called the Medieval Imagination. It is a collection of illuminated manuscripts from the 8th to the 16th centuries, and they are just breathtaking. The detail is truly amazing, and the colours are so rich and vibrant, and there were both sacred and secular works on display, including some gorgeous psalters and a wonderfully imaginative beastiary with a very amusing illustration of an elephant. Fortunately, the exhibition is free, so I will go back and see it a few more times.

I've been a little busy lately, and haven't finished anything worth mentioning, except I did manage to make one Ukrainian egg for Easter. It turned out a little darker than I had hoped, I had to swap between red and blue dye to obtain the right shade of purple, but it was fun doing all the tiny details. They are very time consuming, I wish I could do lots more of them.

Oh, and here is a card I made for my friend John's birthday, which was last Monday.

Friday, 4 April 2008


Last week I made a pilgrimage to what is, in my mind, one of the nicest yarn shops in Melbourne, Sunspun. It took me one and a half hours to get there on public transport, but it was worth it to gaze adoringly at all that beautiful yarn. I also made my first Rowan purchase ever, 8 balls of Wool Cotton in Inky. I'm going to make the Spring Fling cardigan from Knitty, but with longer sleeves, down just past the elbow. Now the wool is sitting on my shelf, and I'm being strict with myself and finishing a few things before I even cast on for a gauge square.

One thing I have finished are the mittens I was making for my cousin in London. At her request I embroidered her initials on the back. They were very easy to make, hopefully it will still be cold in England by the time they arrive there!

Pattern: Garter-Cuff Mittens by Deborah Newton
Source: Weekend Knitting
Yarn: Patons Merino DK 8ply
Needles: 3.5mm
Modifications: I shortened the mitten by about an inch as they seemed a bit long and floppy, and made the cuffs a bit longer because Alice's wrists get cold

Also last week, my copy of Interweave Knits Fall 2007 arrived in the mail. I have been yearning to knit the Minimalist Cardigan for a while now, and despaired of ever getting my hand on a copy of the pattern, but through the magical world that is Ravelry, I had found someone who with a spare copy. The day after it arrived, I recieved an email from Interweave saying that they have just added that pattern to their shop to download for $5.50! Oh well, at least I have the rest of the magazine to read... Anyway, I have decided on Naturally Merino et Soie, in a rather nice dark gunmetal grey, the silk gives it a slightly metallic sheen.

Funnily enough, my mother is now knitting the same cardigan with the same yarn at the same time, only hers is purple, so we will have a minature knitalong together and compare notes.