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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wiksten Love

Alright, so maybe I joined the Wiksten Tank sewing community a little late but it sure is nice to be here now!


In an effort to grow my handmade wardrobe and after the relative success of my Colette Violet, I decided a simple but flattering tank that I could make in a bunch of different fabrics would suit me nicely. 

I've had this lovely peacock feather cotton hanging around for over a year now that I knew wanted to become a cute top one day! Well done fabric, you made it! I've worn this a bunch of times already and I'm super pleased with it.


This is such a simple pattern - a back and front pattern piece and a pocket, french seamed together. Easy, peasy! It does also have pattern pieces for the bias binding but I took the easy way out and used some I had bought. 

I cut out pieces for Wiksten #2 last night so should have another by tomorrow - they're addictive and perfect for summer!

Friday, November 8, 2013

New top

My handmade wardrobe just grew by one item - my new Violet top.



The only change I made was to leave it sleeveless and finish the arm holes off with some bias binding. I sewed one sleeve in and just didn't love the way it looked. The combination of floral fabric and slightly puffy sleeves had a distinct 80's vibe that I'd really rather avoid.

My sewing skillz are definitely getting better but I've got a long way to go before I upgrade from decent to quite decent.
The bias binding was necessary in the end to cover the terrible job I'd done at hemming the armholes. Then I spent a really long time practicing my button holes before sewing them on the top just to have Ben ask me why I had done them the wrong way. It literally never occurred to me to do them vertically, only horizontally. I genuinely laughed at him because I thought he must have some weird brain telling him to do button holes vertically. Turns out the joke was on me. On a tighter fitting top my button hole mishap would be more noticeable but Violet is so lovely and loose fitting that there isn't any strain on the buttons anyway. The collar ends don't meet quite where I would like them too and it doesn't sit flat over my shoulders. I didn't use any interfacing because the fabric is so lovely and light that I didn't want anything weighting it down which is maybe part of the problem?



Despite all of that, I'm glad I took my time with this one and have ended up with a top that I will actually wear. It's far from perfect but to an untrained eye the mistakes aren't really noticeable. I wore it to work today and no-one asked if I made it myself which I consider a good sign! Greatest of all, it's nice to be getting back into sewing again.

Thanks to this gal for her pro photography! xx


Monday, November 4, 2013

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

You can follow The Crafty Parcel on Bloglovin by clicking the link in the title!
Bloglovin' is a super dooper blog reading tool that allows you to follow all of your favs from one site - regardless of where they have been published.

In all honesty, I set my morning alarm 15 mins early and catch up on all of my bloglovin posts before I even get out of bed. Too much?

So go on, read about The Crafty Parcel adventures from the comfort of your own bed...or train, or desk, or cafe, or anywhere!

xx



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Violet for Summer

Before we moved house I went through all of my fabric and donated everything I knew I wouldn't use and sorted what was left into piles based on importance or what would be used next. It sounds a lot more organised that it really is - in truth 'sorting' just meant putting in separate drawers. This floral cotton lawn has been sitting around for about a year now; sad, beautiful and project-less.


While I was fabric sorting I went through my patterns and remembered that I bought the Colette Violet pattern some time ago. It's a sweet little buttoned top with either short or 3/4 length sleeves and gorgeous peter pan collar. My wardrobe is seriously lacking tops at the moment and going into summer I need something that I can wear with jeans, pants or skirt. And so, a new project was born...


Looking at what other sloggers (sewing bloggers - can this catch on?) have produced, it seems as though Violet ticks all of the boxes in terms of looks, ease and versatility. I mean, just look at these beauties over at Fancy Tiger Crafts! And this gem by Nette! Just so much cute. 

Remember when I said that I'll take it easy on this project? I was totes serious! I'm determined not to rush through it. I'll just take myself off to a corner and keep repeating that to myself, shall I? 


Yesterday I traced and cut out the pattern pieces and sewed the staystitching around the collar. Tonight I'll give it another half hour of attention - enough to get through the back gathers and maybe start the next step. 
I've got a knitting project on the go at the moment as well that has a fast approaching deadline that I really need to give some attention to so I can't sew all that much anyway. 

Hope you all have a good start to the week and that there is something new on your horizon too!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Seeds

We're almost ready to start planting the garden with herbs and veggies for summer. Ben cleared out a decent sized patch during last week and we're waiting for a new batch of soil to mix in. Our soil is quite sandy and doesn't hold water particularly well so we've got quite a bit of preparation work. The compost (my new favourite obsession) is coming along nicely but isn't ready to use yet.

While we are working on getting the patch ready I thought I'd get a head start on some seeds. 

I made up a bunch of little newspaper pots yesterday and filled them with seed raising mix. I watched this video on youtube for the pots - I used one single page of newspaper for each. 



They've been planted with rocket, gem lettuce, flat leaf parsley and beetroot. The beetroot really should have gone in for winter and autumn so I'm not sure how well they will go given the unseasonably warm weather Sydney has been having so far but all in the name of learning, hey? 

They're living in a polystyrene box in front of a window that gets a good amount of warmth and light and hopefully in about a weeks time I will see little flashes of green peeking out!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

My World







A little look at my world. Or the back of it anyway. 
Ben and I have only recently moved into our new home and already we rush home to have a wine in the back while watering the plants and watching Poppy chase her last few lizards of the day. 
Have you seen how happy our clothes look hanging on the line? For the first time in two years we take the washing off and it's crunchy from baking in the sun all day and smells fresh. Turns out dank little courtyards aren't super conducive to dry washing. Who knew?!

It's the perfect spot to be crafty I think. Weekend mornings with a coffee and some knitting, maybe some dying of wool, BBQs wearing sewn summery dresses. I'm ready!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A new house

Ben and I move into a new house in one week - a proper house with a proper sized garden and a shed. We've put up with a tiny, janky courtyard for two years which has meant Poppy has had to stay inside for the majority of the time, our clothes take forever to dry when hanging up and we're generally in a state of misery when we look outside.

We haven't been able to grow a garden or even really have plants inside because it doesn't get enough sun. Ben has had to brew his beer in the laundry which makes everything smell a little farty and we basically live on top of our neighbours.

But all that is about to change as we've just scored a lovely house with light and room and a great yard for veggies and flowers and the dog. I'll have an entire room designated to the sewing table and spinning wheels! 

For some reason, amidst all of this packing, I've got a real sudden urge to sew. 
It might just be because my sewing gear and fabric has had to be packed away and now I want what I can't have. It might be my super strength procrastination skillz at work. It might also be because my modcloth wish list was about 15 simple summer dresses deep and I realised that I probably possess the ability to sew similar dresses myself. It might also be that with going through my wardrobe to get rid of anything that I don't wear or doesn't fit me I've realised how much I am desperate for more clothes. Maybe it's because spring is here and I've not got all that much to wear. 
It's probably a combination of all of the above and it's a lethal combination. 

I've got a plan though to handle this sewing urge better than I have in the past. In the past I've been too impatient to finish something and ended up rushing to the finish line. This time I'm going to take it all slowly. I'd much rather spend longer making a dress and end up with something I can actually wear rather than zip through it and end up with an unusually pretty rag. 

I picked up these beautiful fabrics from the last Fabric-a-brac to hit Sydney in one little bundle of japanese print cotton. I'm not sure yet what they are destined to be but I'm on the look out. 

I also recently remembered that I purchased the Colette Violet pattern that I'm yet to use and I've got some lovely light summery fabrics that I'm going to use. 

I'd say watch this space but then I know how unreliable I am with updating the ol' bloggy blog so I don't want you to hold your breath! Jks. I'll try to post in a timely fashion. 




Sunday, August 11, 2013

Agnes

My lovely Agnes was finally finished the week before last - woven in ends and all!


She would have been finished a little earlier had I not run out of yarn towards the bottom ribbing but she's made it just in time for the end of winter.

The yarn was Valley Yarns Armherst, the in-house brand for Webs and I couldn't be happier. It was ridiculously cheap for the quality - super soft and squishy and 100% wool so it's going to be nice and warm. Actually, she made her first public appearance over the weekend while Ben and I were down in frosty Canberra and the wind didn't touch me - like wearing a knitted shield!


The pattern was meant to be knit in a much thicker yarn but these are the down sides to ordering yarn online - you never quite know what you'll end up with in the end! A little number shifting and making-it-up-as-I-go-along later and I'm pretty chuffed with how well she turned out considering the changes.
A couple of the raglan holes are a little big but I can fix that...


The pockets are knit in a contrasting colour - I went for a cute pale blue. To be honest, as much as I appreciate the little bit of sweetness the pockets bring, I don't think I'll knit them on Agnes#2 (trust me, by all things woollen, there will be another!) My pockets ended up more like knitted in gloves - only just big enough to put my hands in. I didn't want to make them too much bigger for fear of them getting too bulky and weighing the bottom of the jumper down. But they do the job and they do look good and who am I to fix what ain't broken?


I toyed with the idea of knitting full length sleeves but in the end reasoned that as I always end up pushing my sleeves up (and stretching them out in the process) that I would stick with the 3/4 as per the sample knit. I wore her again to work during the week on a cold and rainy day and I was glad for the 3/4 sleeve in the end - they stopped me from overheating.

Little Aggie, as she will be affectionately known, is a darling little thing and she's very welcome in my house! All go out and knit yourself one today!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Finished!

I'd really recommend this pattern to all my knitterly lovers out there - it took me less than a week of train rides and a few episodes of Parks & Rec to smash this gorgeous cowl out and I'm pretty chuffed.

It's certainly not going to make it to blocking. Ever. Because that would mean taking it off. Maybe come summer?
Here it is being worn freshly off the needles at the dog park on Sunday...


It's guaranteed that at least two of my family members will receive one of these for Christmas this year. In fact, I'm off to buy yarn right... now.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An Eternity

An Eternity...is about the length of time that it will take me to learn that I need to read the pattern.

I met a woman on Sunday wearing the Eternity Scarf by Michele Wang and instantly wanted one for myself. I had 13 balls of some pure merino yarn (brand is Zodiac - never heard of it? You aren't alone) that I found at The Fabric Cave a while back and I knew that they'd be a match. The colour is College Grey - isn't that just the best name? I think I'll need to go back to uni and carry around a satchel when I wear this.

I spent the following night and next morning train ride to work casting on the required 120 stitches. Then I read the pattern - cast on using Long Tail Method (Error 1). So out those 120 stitches came. Mildly annoying but not the worst thing to endure.

The scarf is made up of three sections - two different types of rib and stockinette and it's simple enough to be nice, easy knitting but still has enough to keep it interesting. The problem here is that because it looked simple I just sort of...forgot to read the pattern.


Enter Error 2. After the Long Tail Fail I read the first line of the pattern for the first ribbed section - k2, p3 for one round. I then promptly forgot to return to the pattern for round two instructions. And so I have continued in k2, p3 mode for three balls of wool until this morning when I thought I'd take a peek at the pattern to see what was coming up.


I was so close to ripping it all out but decided to keep it as it is at the last minute. It looks good and there really isn't too much difference so it stays. Lucky.

In other news - winter in Sydney is going swimmingly. It's not been as drizzly as last winter and lots of our days have been crisp and sunny. Gosh, I love winter! I hope the weather is lovely in your part of the world too :)




Friday, May 3, 2013

the next big thing

I've finally decided on a pattern and yarn for my next big project!

Meet Agnes, a chunky knit jumper. We're going to be great friends. Simple and with cute pockets knit in a contrast colour, she is going to be a great addition to my wardrobe (if a bit warm for Sydney). As if I needed more encouragement than the look of the jumper alone, pretty much all of the comments from the other Ravelry projects mention how much they love the pattern and design. 


I've ordered Valley Yarns Amherst yarn in a lovely dark slate blue and a pale, stormy blue for the pockets. I considered going for a bright contrasting colour for the pockets but wasn't sure how much they'd show and ending up picking a complimentary colour instead. 

I've not knit with this yarn before but really, as a knitter in Australia, sometimes you just need to jump blindly into ordering yarn online despite never having laid eyes or hands on it before. We do get yarns in Australia but there is really only one store in Sydney that I trust and they just don't stock everything. I ordered all of the yarn for my Featherweight and Walpole online and was perfectly happy with both.
Amherst had wonderful reviews on Webs so I'm putting all of my trust in my fellow knitters!

In the meantime I've got the Crofton Cuffs on the go. I've finished the right hand glove and have just cast on for the left yesterday...



I'm knitting them in the Cascade 220 that Mum snagged for me.
The mitt is super cute but looks totally odd when the top is pulled over. You have to keep your hand in a fist if the top is down and it looks a little odd. Stumpy. And thus, not at all useful. I'd just seen Jamie Lanister's hand being cut off in Game of Thrones and the stump wrist just isn't what I was hoping for. But they'll be super warm and great for quick dashes around when I would otherwise be shoving my hands in my pockets. The happy yellow is going to be fun to look at during winter as well!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Beachy

For the amount of beautiful beaches surrounding Sydney there are a shockingly small number of dog beaches. We did manage to find one within an hours drive from home and have just spend a few hours of our Sunday morning there.
Ben, Dana and Neika came along for the ride, as did my finished Lunatic Fringe.



We threw encouraged Poppy in to the water. She quite promptly got out and busied herself with securing the perimeter of the beach, taking it upon herself to greet all doggy newcomers, bark at their owners and chase gulls. She's kind of a big deal. The little black bullet with attitude. She's done a complete reversal on that and is currently flat.on.her.back. Dead to the world.


Want some beachy, artfully positioned photos of the Lunatic Fringe? Follow me...


What I thought was almost a full ball of wool turned out to be far less so which made getting the shawl finished super speedy. It's hella warm and is big enough to be worn chunky scarf style which I like - I'm not so much a shawl kind of gal. I accidently on purpose made the stockinette sections slightly different sizes (who needs counting when you're having fun?!) and I actually really like it that way. Would you count that as a mod?


Monday, April 1, 2013

I made wool

I finished off a little bag of greasy fleece that my spinning teacher had sent me home with a couple of weeks ago. It was my first lesson in preparing fleece with a hand carder but I'm not sure I'm in love with the process. I like getting into a nice rhythm with spinning and stopping all the time to card the next bit of fleece just got...tedious.


I gave all of the skeins that I'd finished since my first lesson a good bath and used a day of nice Sydney sunshine to hang them out on the line to dry.

I'm so happy with how they've turned out. The original chocolate brown wool is the teensiest bit crunchy thanks to it being a tad overspun but they are nicely balanced and the latest skeins of the greasy are so amazingly soft; they felt like they would melt at any second in the water.



Holding actual wool that I actually made with my own hands spurred me on a little bit and before I knew it I had a full bobbin of the most lovely rich purple merino!


Monday, March 25, 2013

travel knitting

The postman was kind to me last week. Here are some goodies that arrived:


3 gorgeous braids of Merino tops as a late birthday present from Ben's mum and two fresh new bobbins ready to fill with goodness.

Ben and I went down to Canberra for the weekend for a birthday and the whole way down I was wishing I had a travelling wheel. Truthfully I knew that I'd not have any time to spin but it felt a little sad leaving these beauties home alone all weekend. Turns out they were happy sitting in the spinning basket getting to know the other fleece. I've got some great greasy fleece that I'm carding myself in there too... So much to spin!


Canberra turned on the beautiful weather for us; we walked, Poppy chased ducks and swans and then rolled in their poo (hence the bath photo below), we farmers marketed with Mum and had breakfasts and coffee with our Dads.


I did manage to knit almost a full beanie on the trip back to Sydney - I've been commissioned to make a beanie for a 4 year old girl and after casting on three times (despite the patterns saying they were written for children, these first attempts were so big that Ben could wear them) I decided to make up the pattern myself. Not too tricky considering it's just a plain stockinette stitch hat but I had to think a bit about decreases. I initially planned to decrease at the beginning and end of the rows and I got through a few in the car when I realised that they were creating big ladders down the sides of the beanie. I ripped back...


... and did some Actual Research. I got there in the end - decreasing around the whole hat to make a nice little swirl at the top and cast off last night. I've now got to make a garter stich bow to attached to one side and matching scarf. I love the idea of a sending my hand knits off into the world to be worn by people I don't know!



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Schmidt

I have completely finished Ben's cabled vest. Did I mention I was knitting Ben a vest? I am/I did. I picked up 15 balls of a granddad grey, 8-ply Cleckheaton wool at The Fabric Cave for a crazy cheap price - like $12 for the lot. I gave Ben almost free reign of Ravelry to pick some patterns that he liked the look of and he came back with this; the Schmidt . It's a lovely pattern, really well written and easy to follow.


When I can, I use the Good Reader app on my iPhone to read my patterns. It's a great little app and I found it really useful when reading charts. This vest was not only my first big cabled pattern but also the first time I've had to rely on a chart. The only problem was that the phone screen was a little small and so I had to zoom in on the chart and really triple check my counting. But then, the most lovely surprise came to me for my birthday: my gorgeous mum bought me an iPad! Ben had been watching me read charts on my small phone screen for about a month knowing that one day, iPad in hand, I would struggle no longer! Talk about First World Problems, hey? But let me tell you, charts on this baby have been a breeze.


I finished this in perfect time because it's been fresh the last couple of days - I think maybe autumn is finally here. I knit the medium size and it fits Ben perfectly. The wool is probably going to be too warm for Sydney winters; it's made such a lovely thick fabric but it will be perfect for going back to Canberra.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spinny

For my birthday this year Ben and a couple of family members chipped in to buy me a new spinning wheel. My first one is an antique and I learnt recently is probably handmade and more suited to spinning flax and linen. It all gets fairly technical and long winded here but it all culminates in a lovely Ashford Traditional (not new but new to me) coming home to stay with me.


The place where I bought her from teach classes and as I'd only had one informal lesson for my first wheel I signed up straight away for the beginners class. So my Saturday mornings have a new addition - for two hours I sit, spin, chat and learn.

This past Saturday was my second lesson and I had managed to stress myself out in the morning about housework (of all the silly things to stress about) and then the ridiculous Sydney traffic made me late and I was all hot and flustered. And all it took for me to relax was to sit outside, drop my shoulders and spin. It works wonders, this spinning.

After my first lesson I bought 200g of a lovely natural chocolate brown merino to spin. It's all spun and plied and after I wash it it's going to become a (lumpy) beanie for Ben.


I've also gotten to the end of spinning the singles of a handpainted merino that I bought through an Etsy seller; Jumbuk Julie. They are different colours than I am used to buying/knitting with but I'm really keen to see what they become. I'm going to find a cream merino to spin and ply it with. This should mean more yardage to work with and the lovely spots of colour won't muddy themselves like they would if I spin them together. That's the idea anyway, we'll have to wait and see how it turns out!