The beginnings of a tradition?

So last year the usual suspects and myself went on a little retreat you may have read about it here.

Well all good things should happen more than once and we all decided that a repeat of the even was in order. For a while it looked like the place we went to last year would be booked out but fortune favoured us and well we got a booking for this coming weekend. It has been a long slow buildup but finally it is the eve before the retreat and I am uber excited.

I have packed way too much stuff (not everything) but still way too much. There are at least three no four quilting projects o_O some knitting and even some stitching as well as a whole bucket load of food (and we said we would take it easy with the food this time lol). The tequila, lime, cointreau and salt are packed, cider, wine and even some non-alcoholic beverages are along for the ride too.

What will I work on…who knows? Originally I had hoped to sew some garments this weekend but I have been very ill for just over a week so didn’t get myself kitted out enough for that really (aka no zippers, interfacing and all the essential bits to make a garment all garmenty).
So… what does that leave me with.. A LOT!
I have packed the space quilt kit that tipped me over the edge on the whole quilting thing even though I haven’t even started it yet, my hexie templates and fabric for the quilt I talked about last post… my sampler quilt to hopefully finish those corners and the spare fabric from said quilt to make some extra blocks for practicing the whole final quilting stage. Hmm there is also a Jinny Beyer table runner kit and that’s just the quilt bits.

Last year I thought I packed a lot.. this year well I’ve simply out done myself .. it’s good to have options though .. right?

So wish me luck who knows there may even be a few updates on projects long forgotten when I get back.

This was where I started from last year.. I hope we all fit around the table this year 😀

Retreat beginnings 2012

Progress report – March

Here we are again endings and beginnings…
March saw the deadline for the blanket come around a lot faster than expected with the mother to be heading off on maternity leave before the en of term. I dropped everything else in a last ditch bid to get the blanket finished, washed and blocked not to mention dried in time to hand it over. Surprisingly I actually managed it,but the photos I have are not the best, taken in a rush in fading light. I only did 45 repeats of the shale pattern compared to the 57 recommended but blocked it was larger than the specified size anyway. Final size was ~41×51″ plenty big enough for a baby blanket. The lace work opened up nicely and the wool relaxed to be super soft and squishy. The mum to be loved it and has promised pictures with the baby eventually.
Baby Shale
The quilting course still marches on, however, we have been told that the store is closing down in June. It is sad to see another local craft store closing it’s doors but in many ways I find it hard to justify the increased price in many of these stores not to mention that my tastes are rarely catered for. The place up the road where the lovely Miss Sharon and myself have been doing our course is one of these stores. Most fabrics are around $25 a metre and the selection is of very traditional fabrics in browns and florals. There are a lot of American Civil War reproduction fabrics and 1930s reproductions. While pretty in their own right they certainly aren’t the fabrics I would be buying.. and believe me I have looked. I do have a great fabric store I like to go to over in Brunswick but still while it has a fantastic range they rarely stock the fabrics that I am drawn to that I can find online.

Anyway discussions of the benefits and drawbacks of online shopping in the craft world the class has continued over march with two new techniques and a number of new blocks. Not quite the 12 I was hoping for but I am now up to nine blocks completed with two more cut and ready to piece… maybe even today.

The blocks done this month were:

Block 6 - Flying Geese Symmetry in motion (Block 7)                                    Flying Geese                                                                                  Symmetry in Motion

Block 5 - Dresden PlateCard Trick
Dresden Plate                                                                                             Card Trick
Drunkards Path - Falling Timber

Falling Timber

The curved piecing on Falling Timber was a challenge it is a block that would be easier to complete hand sewing I think. So much easier to control the fabric than using the machine. As much as I like the speed of the machine I’m likely to try hand piecing at some stage… there is always Moonglow to try though that still seems way out of my league skills and time wise.

All up there are 9 blocks now:

The first 9

The light this morning was very bad for picture taking but you get an idea of how they are looking all together. The next lesson is foundation piecing… hmmm wonder how that one will go, another challenging class I suspect.

Strangely enough I even managed to get about 500-600 stitches in Rose of Sharon. It still feels like I will never get her done but I am determined to keep pressing on. So that I can finally get her framed and out of my house.
Rose of Sharon End of March 2013
So all in all my Feb goals came close:

  1. I would love to get to 18 completed blocks but really I would be happy if I could make it to 12 that in itself will be a feat. Only 9 completed but still not too bad.
  2. 43 repeats of the blanket (Eeeep) 38 completed as well as the edge, cast off and blocking .. Woohoo!
  3. 100 stitches a week on ShazMaybe not each week (it was more of a last minute binge) but ~500+ completed.

Even faster than expected…

I know February is a short month but wow that went fast. I have barely com up for breath over the last few weeks and the constant go go go is taking it’s toll. I have been barely able to stay awake lately which has made any craft time etc after work nigh on impossible.
I would have done my wrap up for February a little sooner but well I was stuck in the wilds of Victoria on Year 7 Camp last week. Ok not so wild we were only in the Dandenong ranges (about 1.5 hours out of town).  While it sucks being on call 24/7 the camp is generally a great chance to spend some time with my students outside of the stricter confines of the classroom, which for the students generally means a cognitive conflict or two about what their teacher is like.

I think the Quote of the week last week was “Miss you’re just not like other teachers…”

All in all it was a bit of fun, a lot of exercise (dropped 0.8kgs yay!) and generally exhausting week. I had to come back a day early in order to attend a conference on the Friday that was going to outline changes to the Year 12 curriculum for this year but unfortunately not early enough to allow me to attend the second of my quilting lessons.
The lovely Miss Sharon spent the day with me on Saturday though taking me through what was covered in the class… Dresden Plates.. can you say Applique!! eep not to mention funky new rulers and SO many pieces. Sharon’s quilt is looking fantastic and I am loving the way that the blocks look so different when put together in different fabrics. I have loads of homework before the next class but there is also a long weekend before now and then so who knows… I may just catch up.

So what did get done in February.. I thought I had kept my goals simple

1. 25 repeats of the blanket … nope! but I did get 14 repeats done and it is looking good (even if I do say so myself)

Shale Baby Blanket - End of Feb 2013
2. Was to put 100 stitches each week in to Shaz… The first couple of weeks went really well but then the wagon and I parted ways. But I am not ready to give up yet and March is a new month 🙂

Rose of Sharon End of Feb 2013

3. Last but not least .. my homework for the quilting course. Technically I didn’t get this all done in Feb as most of it was completed yesterday but seeing as it was before this update I’m just going to roll with it and include it :D.

I managed to bring my finished blocks to a total of 4: The Ohio Star (From my last posting)

Churn Dash
Churn Dash (Block 3)
Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob's Ladder (Block 2)

and finally Annie’s Choice

Annie's Choice (Block 4)
So in total I have four blocks. I was a little concerned about hte fabrics but I do love how they are coming out. I have removed one of the fabrics from my palette (the grey smoke pattern) but hopefully since I picked up a bit extra of all the others this week I will have enough to get me through the rest of the blocks. Borders, and sashing… I’ll worry abou thtat when I get to it.

Sampler Quilt - First Four

So with February quickly fading in to the blur what are my March Goals?

  1. I would love to get to 18 completed blocks but really I would be happy if I could make it to 12 that in itself will be a feat.
  2. 43 repeats of the blanket (Eeeep)
  3. 100 stitches a week on Shaz

Basically a repeat of the previous goals for Feb but with loftier crazier ideas. All of which really need to happen if these projects are going to get done when they need to be.

Why yes.. I am mad!

And that’s it for January

I know I was overseas for most of it but January just seems to have flown by. It has been super busy but loads of fun really (all except for the back to work aspect of course).
There was a night out seeing the wonderful Mr Neil Gaiman chat about his books and upcoming projects. I was rather a good fan girl and even purchased three signed books to add to my collection: Anansi Boys, Coraline and other short stories and a copy of American Gods. There was also a short excerpt of his upcoming book “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”. It was a lovely night out though it was odd to see people fixate on film adaptations of his work and his more recent episode of Dr Who (The Doctor’s wife and an upcoming cyberman episode) rather than his more prolific writing career.


Earlier this week on the 30th it was time to go see Cirque du Soleil’s latest offering in Australia “Ovo” as always it was an amazing night out and a much appreciated return of their show to the big top rather than the arena style that they used for Saltimbanco in 2012. I would say that this show is definitely up there as one of my favourites if not the top. The costumes and performances were stunning as always and the storyline blended really well with the clown acts this time. There was so much going on on stage it was hard to keep track of it all making it always interesting and surprising.

At work things have been nuts with the new building almost complete but of course we have had to move in already so there are builders, mad stressed crazy teachers and a few hundred students all busily moving about. As there always is with new builds there are a lot of things that aren’t quite right, some rooms where the power points aren’t working, network issues and the rest. We’re stumbling through though and the new space is so much nicer than the old building you can’t be too grumpy about it. I just wish I got to teach in there more, but with most of my classes in the lab areas I may get to teach in the new areas for 2 lessons a week if I’m lucky.

As you can guess with such a busy routine since getting back from the trip I haven’t had too much time for craft but there are a few things bubbling away in the background. I have done a few more repeats on my simple shawl but truth be told it hasn’t progressed far.

Shale Baby Blanket in Ghost

I cast on a new project… it was meant to be Umaro but I had a look at timings and figured the Shale baby blanket may be a bit faster… fingers crossed I was right… So I have cast that on. It will be a really hard ask to get it done by April especially with school camp approaching fast but I am going to give it a go. It is in Bendigo 10ply luxury in Ghost which is a lovely soft grey. The recipient doesn’t know if she is having a boy or a girl so I figured a soft neutral was probably the best way to go but didn’t want white or cream. So far there is 4 repeats completed of the pattern with a suggested 58 complete the blanket…. eeeep. I think I need to do a repeat a day on average which is 4 rows. It is doable but may be a tight squeeze.

There are a few other crafty plans that will keep me busy in February as well.

I have a resin jewellery workshop to attend as well as starting Quilting classes with the lovely Sharon on Thursday nights. There is a small quilting store just up the road here and I discovered late last year they offered a beginners quilting course and well jumped in feet first. Quilting is something I have been toying with for years but kept chickening out of… not anymore. The quilt design for the class is a sampler and truth be told it is probably not my style but it will be a great introduction to the different techniques and open the floodgates to starting some more complex (i.e Jinny Beyer) quilts that are more my style.
Sampler Quilt

Before I headed overseas I had a bit of a shopping spree at GJ’s in Carlton and got what I thought would be my fabrics for the quilt… problem is now I can’t remember exactly what my plan was and I am not so sure about my selections. Woops. The fabrics below are the ones I picked up and of course the colours are not really representative as purples are so hard to get accurate in pictures.
I’m not sure now if I should be madly trying to get more fabric by the 14th or if I should just go with it and see how it turns out… time and effort involved will probably result in the latter option I fear.

Fabric options

The last great plan for this short month is to get back to Rose of Sharon. She is my focus goal for this year and I really need to make sure she keeps ticking over. So to make sure that happens I have agreed to do a SAL of sorts where I will do 100 stitches a week. It isn’t a strict SAL and really the 100 Stitches a week is my minimum goal but I need to be realistic and there are going to be weeks where even that few will be tough. The picture below is Shaz as of the beginning of Feb I’ll probably only update her once a month rather than each week so hopefully the next time you see her there will be a significantly larger portion of that left hand column completed. 🙂

 Rose of Sharon Feb 2013

So lets break it down into some formal goals:

February Goals

  1. 100 stitches per week on Rose of Sharon
  2. 25 repeats of Shale blanket
  3. Keep up to date with all my quilting homework (this will be hard I suspect)

Where to from here…?

So with 2012 now well and truly behind us an the apocalypse not coming to save us form the prospect of resolutions and goals for 2013 what are my plans?

The intention was to keep it simple… but then I updated my sidebars and realised well .. not so simple. Ok simple might be the wrong word, each individual item I wish to complete is not a big ask in and of itself but combined there is a lot of them and well we all know how my spare time goes in my glorious workaholic world.

What are yearly goals for if not to be lofty and dream filled right?

So here we go breaking down according to type of stick / fabric / thread to be used :p

Knitting Goals

  • Umaro Blanket – Bendigo Woolen Mills Luxury in Ghost
  • Lace Shawl – Woodland to be completed
  • Possum Cardi – Start (and hopefully finish)
  • finish the secret project (Shh it’s secret)

Stitching Goals

  • Finish Rose of Sharon
  • Restart the PINN stitch Bangkok Lady
  • 2 Name Trees
  • Complete page 3 of Violet

General Crafty Goals

  • Sew a Dress – (50s / 60s style similar to the one I made for my PhD graduation which is now too big)
  • Complete a Quilt top – Quilting course to start in Feb making a sampler quilt
  • Make a T-Shirt Quilt from my favourite old shirts – Really really really want to attempt this this year and for about the past three year o_O
  • Sew a paneled Aline Skirt – paneled version of the skirt made at the end of 2012
  • Spin 100g of ixcehl fibre

It seems like a lot and well it is but these are the things I would really like to try and get done this year. The added goal is to drastically reduce the money I am spending on stash and general craft bits. This includes fibre, patterns and just general spendage. So an underlying goal to all of this is stash reduction. New starts will need to be done from existing stash unless it can’t possibly done. It’s not like I don’t have a mega stash for all my hobbies including dressmaking, although I think materials for the dress may end up being one of the exceptions to no new materials but I will need to delve into the great piles of fabric to see what I have that may be suitable.

So there we have it the grand plans of 2013. I really do need to remind myself that I need to fit work in amongst this and a mid year holiday to Peru… Bring it on!

While I was away

So as always before heading off on my travels I packed a few things to keep me busy along the road. I always find it difficult to choose what I should work on.. a wip, something new, should it be easy or intricate enough to keep my attention?
Of course those of you who know me well enough will already be chuckling because what this means is that decisions need to be made and decisions and I are never the best of friends… so… I packed Stockholm to work on and an extra 200g ball of bendy luxury 12 ply because it would need a bit extra. I also packed a skein of Cousteau for a hat and 2 balls of Debbie bliss Riva for a second hat. Two skeins of Knittery chubby sock for a shawl and of course all the requisite patterns printed out for reference in case my iPad ran out of battery. Oh and did I mention my full set of interchangeable needles, double pointed needles and cables?

I’m mad… stark raving mad when did I ever think while gallivanting around the northern hemisphere where there was snow to be played in that I would ever need that much knitting! ( I may have purchased a couple of skeins of some lovely 4ply in Norway as well, and dropped in to half a dozen yarn stores in my travels).

Surprisingly I did use a lot of what I packed…. okay well I didn’t even look at the stitching I packed and the Cousteau came back untouched but… there was casting on and even a few finishes 🙂

Lets look at those finishes first shall we –
1. Stockholm (Norway)

Stockholm II

I didn’t get this finished before the trip and ended up actually completely restarting it while in Brisbane over the Christmas period. The flight over was a great help though and I made steady progress leaving me to finish it While on the cruise up the Norwegian coast. I did take some photos at the time in the ships cabin but none of them really turned out and new pictures were taken once I got home. The yarn is lovely and squooshy but I do fear with a lot of wear this would see some obvious pilling and surface damage. I ended up using about 1.5 skeins of the Bendigo luxury in 10ply which was 14 pattern repeats coming to an unblocked width of ~10 -11 inches.

2. Simple Slouchy Beanie… aka emergency hat replacement (Finland)

not so slouchie

So this hat was started on the 11th oh January and finished on the 12th of Jan. Super fast and super easy. It is quite cute but really has no slouch what so ever. It sits more on my head like a cloche, I’m told it still looks good but it wasn’t quite the look I was after. The original intention with this yarn and hat was to knit it up before I went so I didn’t have to take the Etta hat I knitted in 2011 in the scrummy Malbrigo purpuras… of course that didn’t happen and Etta was my main stay hat throughout the trip… that was until I left it on the bus between Inari and Kakslauttanen in Finland. The day I lost my hat was incredibly stressful as it also had the travel vouchers for the rest of the trip, not so much of a concern for the flights and hotels as they all work with booking etc anyway but the local bus transfers were going to be hard without tickets. So after much talking with the more than useless staff at Kakslauttanen and waiting in the snow and cold for an hour that night for a bus that never came I gave up on ever getting my hat back, resigned myself to difficult conversations with bus drivers in order to get to Rovaneimi and cast on a new hat to distress. The knitting was great for calming me and by the next day I was ready to face down the dilemma of the travel vouchers, long story short though I got Etta back thanks to a wonderful bus driver that dropped hat, vouchers and gloves off at the reception to the hotel *hooray*. So this poor hat was put into the suitcase and never got the opportunity to keep my head warm as I meandered my way through Lapland… maybe next Melbourne winter it will get a look in.

And from finishes to new starts –
Aiming for a finish in each of the nordic countries I visited I cast on another project after the hat, a simple shawl – called less is more it is a basic stockingette in an 8 row repeat that has three ridges of texture stitches in each repeated section. Fantastic flight knitting as you don’t really have to be that with it to keep it progressing. Of course that would of been the case if the Scandinavian airlines let you knit on the flight… grrrr… so away my knitting went into my checked baggage and there it stayed. Of course I could of knit on it during the 20+ hours I was in flight back to Australia but well of course I only remembered that as I was waiting to board at my gate and realised I had left my knitting in my check baggage with absolutely no way I could access it now… woops. I will probably just keep working on this in bits and pieces as it will be great knitting for those nights I really want something to wind down a little after work but I’m too brain fried to even count through a simple pattern.

Less is more shawl


So there you have it.. all in all I think I was rather productive during my holiday even if I did over pack and cater for far too many eventualities. It was nice to see I was not the only one knitting too. During the cruise I met a lovely lady from the UK that was knitting a gorgeous aran style cable jumper in a deep sea green and there was always a Norwegian lady sitting in the corridor before dinner service knitting on traditional colour work mittens. She had a whole bag of them by the end of the cruise. They were so beautiful and she worked so fast. I would have loved to of bought back books of traditional Norwegian patterns but unfortunately my Norwegian is non-existent and whiel I looked at them to see if I would be able to work out the jist of them from the symbols and common terminology there was no chance. So I just ooh’d and ahh’d when I saw the beautiful work in the shops and put the books back in what is a more sensible than usual kind of behaviour from the likes of me 😀

Reviews and reflections

It may not seem like the end of January is quite right for wrapping up the previous year but well I’ve been busy running around in the snow 😀

December was a crazy month and while I got a lot achieved not all my goals were met. Stockholm was packed into my travle bag incomplete but with  determination that it would be finished.. eventually.
All in all 2012 was a bit like a longer December, some things that I wanted to get done were managed but many were left unfinished or even not even attempted. So lets see how far I was from my goals.

  • Stitching Goals 2012

    • Finish Bramble and the Rose I did pack this on the holiday but it remained as it had for the whole of 2012.. untouched
    • Finish Rose of Sharon Progress was made on Shaz this year but yet again new year has come and gone and my headless lady remains a steady companion.
    • Complete QS Lost
    • Finish the PINN stitch Bangkok Lady
    • Page 4 of St Nick
    • Stitch on three old HAED wips

    Pretty much everything else was abandoned in 2012. I think I may have put a few stitches into Violet but largely my stitching was neglected, something I hope to remedy in 2013 a little.

  • Knitting Goals 2012

    • Dr Who Scarf Done done done and I am still over the moon that I don’t have to work with that evil yarn anymore
    • Lace Shawl I have made good progress on both woodland and Holden but neither is finished at this stage

    Holden Shawlette

    • Mitts to match Etta Hat Nope not even cast on
    • Scarf for Mr B Stockholm will be his when complete but not in 2012

    In addition to this though I did knit a baby hat two adult hats and a cowl as gifts as well as completing my cardigan so not too shabby.

  • General Craft Goals 2012

    • Learn to crochet A work in progress
    • start piecing a quilt/ similar project I’ve played around buying fabrics and kits but wasn’t quite ready to jump.
    • Sew a dress / skirt I got an A-line skirt made and hope to make some more of my own clothes in the coming year.

    I’ve also picked away at my spinning and made a few small presents for people so all in all 2012 wasn’t as dismal as I was thinking especially with the long hours work demanded throughout most of the year.

    2012 mosaic

The end of an era

Well it seems that way at least.

Finally after almost three years my journey with the yarn from hell and the scarf that seems it would never end is done. Washed, trimmed edged and ready to go. Even though it seemed to take forever I am really happy with how it turned out and super pleased that I will be able to deliver it in person the to recipient this weekend 😀

100% complete

 It’s been a crazy busy week since School finished up but also a very productive one after getting all my baking done it has been full steam ahead for trip preparations (that’s another post for another day) and squeezing in as much craft time as possible, which really hasn’t been that much unfortunately, to try and get a few things finished. While I don’t think I will get the Holden shawlette finished before Saturday which is when I would need it to gift it there is a chance it will be done before the end of December.

I did manage one other finish this week though. I finally got around to adding the facing for the yoke and hemming the skirt I started back at the retreat at the end of September. I probably should have made the smaller size as this sits on my hips rather than waist but I am just happy to have finished a sewing project again. I miss making my own clothes and making this highlighted how rusty my sewing skills are.

When I got this pattern form a local quilt store I also picked up some great fabrics to make a few paneled versions (some for work some for fun) the one thing I will say about quilt fabrics though is that I am not convinced on their use as bulk fabric for a garment. Cotton just creases too easily and requires too much ironing for my liking.

I am still debating as to whether or not I will add a black lace trim to the bottom of this but I don’t have time to do it now and it is always something I can add later on.

So there you have it two finishes (though I am cheating using the scarf again but it is a BIG finish).

Next up… future starts and travel plans… I mentioned things have been busy around here right?

That Christmassy time of year

Of course I forgot to do a goals wrap up and set new goals in my last post.

The wrap up is not so tough, with no goals set for October or November there wasn’t much to chat about.

December on the other hand is a little crazy though. It is of course that Christmas time of year and I have many projects that I was planning on using for gifts.. most incomplete. So my goals all revolve around those and my mad dash to see how many I can complete.

So the goals for December are

  1. Complete the finishing on the Dr Who Scarf ready for gifting
  2. Finish the Holden Shalwette to be used as a gift
  3. Stitch markers and bag for Tracy to match those made for Nancy and Sharon
  4. Baking for the baking exchnage at work
  5. Complete stockholm
  6. Kit up a small shawlette as a travel project
  7. Organise a crafty day with the usual suspects
  8. Games day before going away
  9. Dinner party before trip
  10. and of course Christmas shopping and gift wrapping

Hmm I forsee some busy busy days and evenings in my future, but at least it is fun stuff and not reports and marking. 🙂


An end of sorts

Well I am not sure what happened to October and November other than exams, reports and the usual crazy Term 4 School stuff. But here I am at the beginning of December looking back and realising that somewhere in amongst the crazy I did manage a few bits and bobs.

First up… The Dustland hat was finished off. I only read most of the Ravelry comments on this pattern once I was almost done. So I missed all the warnings that the pattern ran large. Boy they weren’t kidding. I had knit the large size as it was for Mr B and his head does run on the larger size… he often finds it very hard to find hats that fit. I wanted it to have some slouch so thought it would be ok, it is but really it is still roomy even on him. It is a lovely squooshy and very warm hat though.  It should be just perfect for galavanting around the arctic circle come January.
Dustland Slouch

The hat took about 75% of a 200g ball of Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 10ply, which is why it is so soft and warm. I reduced the number of pattern rows between decreases towards the end as I was concerned over just how big it was going to end up. All in all I am pretty happy with how it turned out. Hats really are great to knit, so quick and satisfying.

My other big news is that I have finally finished all the rows on my Dr Who Season 18 scarf. A big push this last week saw me put the last rows in and cast off on the 30th of November. All that’s left now is the crocheted edge and the tassels… of course they can’t be done until I have sewn in all those ends. All things considered I am hoping to pass it on to the intended recipient when I am in Brisbane for Christmas.

Tombo 18 III


So there we have it Two finishes while I have been away, of course not else has been done, the Stockholm scarf sits untouched as do all the other wips but what did I do today instead of sewing in some of those ends…. Why I started a new project of course 😛

The Holden Shawlette
Time for a new start

I have grand plans of gifting this to someone for Christmas but really I know I am just kidding myself. It does use probably a skein of the oldest yarn in my stash, a skein of Knittery slim sock in Bloody May colourway. I am really looking forward to seeing how this looks once knitted up, as long as I can remember how to do my YO’s correctly… not to mention those pesky purl stitches.


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