Rhymes with

There were no fireworks to mark it, but the year of the vintage pattern has commenced. The last of my modern projects was finished nearly a month ago (photos of three unblogged but finished modern projects will be forthcoming once the weather and I are back on speaking terms) so all I’m working on at the moment are projects from vintage patterns.


One of the projects I’m working on is the highly descriptive ‘Variation of Cable Stitch’ from Hughes Book 208. It took me a while to notice this pattern because I was distracted by the model’s facial expression. Why does she look so startled? Did she knock her head on the branch? Was she just really excited to be there? Was she trying to distract everyone from her talon-like fingernails? The most likely possibility is that she was just surprised at the colour of the yarn I’m using to make this jumper:

Pile of orange knitting.jpg

Orange! It’s only a little outside of my usual blue/grey/brown choices but the more I knit with it, the more I like it. I think it’s a good complement and counterpoint to the normal colours in my wardrobe.

The only problem I’ve had with the yarn (Morris and Sons Estate 8ply, if you’re interested) so far is not the colour, but the amount of yarn. I picked up 400 grams of the yarn at a market in February and by the time I got to the sleeves at the end of May, it was evident that there wasn’t enough to finish it with what I had left. Compounding the problem was the fact I couldn’t get any more of the same dye lot and Morris and Sons had it on back order. So I waited, and waited and waited until more yarn came in.

When I picked up the yarn last week, it looked like I was running headlong into a dye lot nightmare. Luckily my colour memory is pretty bad, because when they’re together they look pretty much the same to me. If anything, the new dye lot (on the left) is possibly slightly lighter than the original dye lot.

Matchy matchy dye lots.JPG

Even though they look like a pretty good match, there’s still that tiny little concern that there might be a noticeable difference between the two once they’re knitted up. So, I’m taking the tedious route of striping the two dye lots just in case. Such is the cost of being a risk averse soul.

The problem with swatching

This week I had a rare encounter with a knitter on the train to work. Every now and again I see knitters and crocheters on the train and sometimes there’s a smile of acknowledgement, but usually there’s not even a glimmer of recognition that there’s a shared interest. That doesn’t bother me too much because I generally like to keep to myself and I don’t see knitting or crocheting on public transport as any different to commuters who play games on their phones or read; it’s a way to pass time while getting to your destination.

This week, however, a fellow commuting knitter started up a conversation about knitting. Even though I tend to keep to myself, I also don’t mind engaging in a little bit of knitterly banter. So with one paragraph I somewhat shun the community attributes of knitting, and in the next I’m somewhat embracing them. What can I say, I’m a complex individual.

It was a pleasant conversation, but when the conversation inevitably lead to ‘what are you knitting?’, their response to my answer got me thinking. That day I was working on a swatch for a future project, and the response was sympathetic but negative, like swatching was a necessary burden. But is it really?

When I first started knitting, I avoided swatching. I just wanted to proceed to the main event and didn’t want to deal with trifling matters of gauge and fit. If the required yarn was 8ply and I was working with 8ply, then that was more than sufficient preparation. After the inevitable happened and projects ended up ill fitting and looking downright hideous in some cases, swatching became part of the normal knitting routine. Now I don’t even think about it; if I’m working on a project where gauge is important, then I need to knit a swatch. Ultimately I’d rather spend a couple of train trips making sure the yarn/needle combo is right for the pattern than spend many hours on a project that doesn’t work because the gauge is off. I guess it all comes down to preference so neither way is going to be objectively right or wrong, but I am interested to know what the popular opinion is about swatching; is it really all that tedious?

As for the swatch, it was made in preparation for some travel knitting I plan to take on a holiday Matt and I will be going on next week. Last year, a knitting book I bought at the Brunswick Wool Expo contained a pattern, a jumper with a high v-neck, that prompted thoughts of spending this year knitting only from vintage patterns. That plan hasn’t really worked out as there are a few ‘modern’ projects that have stuck around from last year. Little by little though, I’ve been finishing the modern projects (and then taking my sweet time photographing and writing blog posts about them) and casting on projects from vintage patterns.

Back when I was pondering what colour to make the jumper, light yellow, mustard and brown had made my short list. Then Bendigo Woollen Mills decided to discontinue their nice dark brown colourway from their Luxury line, leading to a little bit of panic buying. So, I can thank Bendigo Woollen Mills for making the decision for me.

lonely swatch.jpg

Even though it’s just a rectangle of stocking stitch at the moment, I’m really looking forward to properly casting on. I think I’ll get a lot of wear from it and it’ll go with a lot of my other clothes. I’m almost looking forward to the long flight we’ve got ahead of us, just so I can spend some quality time with it. Given that I’m no fan of flying, it goes to show that this swatch has some pretty magic qualities!

Tricked up grey socks

diamond socks, aerial view.jpg

Gentleman’s sock with Lozenge Pattern by Nancy Bush
125g Patonyle 4ply, Charcoal
2.25mm needles
Started: February 2013
Finished: April 2013
Ravelryed: here

These socks were finished in April, but circumstances meant that I could only take photos of them yesterday. This meant that for about a month, I wouldn’t let Matt wear them for fear of them spontaneously disintegrating in his boots and thus going undocumented. Now that he has my blessing to wear them, they feel like they’re really finished.

The results are pretty pleasing but I’m glad they’re done. This is mostly because I ended up knitting approximately three socks in the pursuit of making two. Part of this was to make sure the socks fit Matt’s skinny legs, but most of it was because I wasn’t paying attention at the appropriate moments. In the end, I only made two minor modifications; the legs are narrower than given in the pattern, and the feet are longer.

When I first came across the pattern, I was drawn to the diamonds. Now that they’re done, the elements I like the most are the cuff and the faux seam that runs down the back of the sock. I think they look rather handsome and fancy up the socks just nicely.

the seam, the seam.jpg

The yarn did an impressive job of keeping it together as it was continually frogged and knocked around in my bag as I took it to and from work. However, by the end of the first sock, the cuff was starting to look a bit fluffy and in need of a visit from the magic depiller (the honeymoon period is still not over).

side on hipster view.jpg

Both Matt and I are people of simple tastes when it comes to yarn colourways. The more solid (and closer to grey) the colourway, the more we seem to like it. So while picking charcoal Patonyle might seem a boring choice, I think the solid grey suited both the pattern and the recipient well. Let’s hope they don’t spontaneously disintegrate upon contact with his boots.

BWM 2013 shade card round up

Just in case you needed reminding, it’s March! I have no idea how we got to March already, but here we are, and here is this year’s Bendigo Woollen Mills shade card. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as shade card spoilers. If there is, consider this your spoiler alert.

This year I was more excited about writing this compare/contrast post than finding out which colours have gone and what’s replaced them. A lot of this is to do with the current status of my stash, but part of it related to a deep-seated desire to be a shade card analyst when I grow up.

2013 BWM shade card.jpg

Here’s a summary of the differences between the 2012 and 2013 shade card:


  • Pink (shade number 338), Acorn (345) and Desert Pea (346) discontinued
  • Fuchsia (magenta-purple, 303), Pine (dark green, 305) and slate (dark grey!, 307) added
  • Slate (307), Lotus (322), Aquarium (324), Sunflower (344), Forest (360) added to the 10 ply range, with Frost (312), Brick (361) and Purple Storm (367) discontinued from the 10ply range


  • Passionfruit (749), Coffee Bean (750) and Burnt Rose (751) discontinued
  • Coral (orange-pink, 752), Hunter (dark green, 753) and Blazer (dark blue, 754) added to the 5 and 8 ply ranges
  • Charcoal (618) and Cranberry (664) added to the 2/3/12 ply range

Alpaca Rich

  • Rich Sky (409) and Rich Fern (410) discontinued
  • Rich Azure (mid blue, 419) and Rich Rust (brown-red, 420) added


  • Wineberry (928) and Carbon (929) discontinued
  • Linen Fleck (very light brown tweed, 904) and Cinder Fleck (black tweed, 902) added

2013 BWM shade card Rustic.jpg

Being a new colourway is evidently a tough old business at the Bendigo Woollen Mills, because the majority of the colourways discontinued in 2013 were added to their respective ranges in 2012. Of all the discontinued colourways, I’m feeling most sad about the demise of Acorn from the Luxury range. I thought Luxury was crying out for a nice chocolate brown like Acorn, so I’m surprised to see it go.

The only comfort I can take from the discontinuation of Acorn is the introduction of Slate, a very nice dark grey. From the teeny tiny sample in the shade card, it’s the sort of grey that I could wear all the time. Because I like it so much, I full expect to be panic buying both 4ply and 8ply versions when it’s discontinued next year.

I was also quite pleased (and surprised) to see Cinder Fleck introduced as a Rustic colourway. I bought a few balls of that colourway when the limited edition Highlands was available, but was kicking myself for not buying enough to make multiple jumpers from it. As a yarn, Highlands always seemed very Rustic-like to me, so I think the colourway will translate well in Rustic.

That’s enough shade card analysis from me for the year. If you get the Bendigo Woollen Mills shade cards, what did you think of this year’s effort?


On a recent trip away, I acquired some more vintage patterns. This is not an altogether unusual occurrence but instead of just adding them to the pile of somewhat neglected patterns like I normally do, I’ve started scanning them. My collection of patterns is fairly modest, but it’s taking a little while to scan all the patterns, let alone start cataloguing them so they’ll be easy(-ish) to find.

when patterns met scanner.JPG

Since being the epic scanning journey, I’ve rediscovered some lovely patterns, some patterns that haven’t aged all that well and some unintentionally hilarious styling. Here’s an example of a nice pattern with unintentionally (?) hilarious styling:

Nice Sunnies.jpg

Every time I see that photo it makes me chuckle. I think it’s because those glasses have a real ‘Kim Jong-Il looking at things‘ vibe about them…

As a result of finding gems like the photo above, I’ve started a new blog with bits and pieces of my collection that I like or have found amusing. The usual new blog caveats apply — I’m still working on the design, and there are only three posts so far. This is not the end of this blog, it’s just a side project. More accurately, it’s another blog to add to the collection of blogs that I rarely update.


I am ridiculously excited to have finally finished a project. My last reported project was the draft stopper in September last year, and the lack of finishing has made me a little antsy. Even though I’m not a craft factory and this hobby of mine is not about how quickly I can produce crafty output, it really does feel good, almost triumphant, to say ‘I’m finished!’.

Hypnowolf action shot.jpg

This bag was a lot of fun to make and I’m incredibly pleased with the result. One of the things I liked the most about it was how unfussy it was – the design is asymmetric so it didn’t matter when my stitching became a bit… asymmetric. I also liked that the fabric was thick enough that I didn’t need my embroidery hoop. Even though using an embroidery hoop isn’t that much of a hassle, it was still nice to have one less thing to worry about when working on the bag.

I also liked taking photos of it as I finished with each colour. In my last post, I posted a photo after finishing all the dark brown sections. Here it is after completing the mid brown sections:

Mid brown complete.jpg

And with the light brown sections completed:

light brown, completed.jpg

I love how striking the wolf is. Matt thought that it looked a little scary, but I can’t stop looking at it. In fact, I’m considering doing all over again but in a wall hanging. Let’s call it a potential rebound project.

The only area of concern for me was the amount of floss included in the kit. I had plenty of light and dark brown floss left, but I used every last skerrick of the mid brown. This was good from the perspective of using everything up, but not so good for my poor risk-averse nerves. If I had come up short, I would have been trying to find the same dye lot. Given that the kit came from the UK and I’m in Australia, I suspect I would have been out of luck. It’s entirely possible that I lost some floss along the way, but it did cause me some slight heartburn as I neared the end of the floss.

Now that it’s finished, I’m a little sad I won’t be working on it again. Hence, the consideration of the rebound project. If you’re in the market for an easy but slightly hypnotic embroidery project, this one is definitely worth considering.

Holiday crafting

Before my holidays started, I had grand plans to bowl over some neglected knitting and sewing. Then Christmas happened and my little sister gave me a Navajo Wolf bag kit from What Delilah Did. Then I started working on it straight away. Then my eyes and shoulders got tired (I’d like to say I really get my shoulders into cross stitching, but I just have terrible posture), but I worked through the pain. It’s been while since I’d cross stitched and evidently I forgot how much I enjoy it.

Now I’m back at work, I’ve gone back to knitting on my commute. For the sake of my eyes, hands, shoulders and relationship (can’t talk, cross stitching.), I’m rationing the cross stitching to only a little bit each night after dinner. This is what it looked like after finishing all the dark brown parts:

Navajo Wolf, dark brown completed.jpg

I’m now working on the mid brown sections and it’s nice seeing the colours come together. For once I’m not worried about my stitches being a bit wonky in places; I’m enjoying the process and love seeing the grey crosses printed on the back being filled in, little by little, by colour.

This project has given me a taste of working on pre-printed needlework bag kits, so I’ve been digging around for more. What Delilah Did has another kit, and although it’s not cross stitch, Sublime Stitching also has some nice totes. In all honesty I don’t know if I need any more totes, but sometimes there’s no point trying to fight these things.

2012: accessorise, accessorise, accessorise

Over the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about my crafting year, and haven’t felt particularly compelled to write a post. However, for posterity, it’s probably a good idea to write down a few words.

2012 knitting.jpg

This year was again a fairly quiet knitting year, filled mostly with relatively quick to knit accessories and not one jumper to speak of! Using Ravelry as the definitive source of my knitting productivity, all of my finished objects were fun to knit and featured elements that kept me interested (even the very basic stockinette stitch beanie I knit in July). Some of them, Jan and Wavy Line in particular, get a lot of wear. Seeing all the finished objects together made me realise something quite disturbing; there was a distinct lack of grey yarn. Before you start fretting about the future of grey in my wardrobe, let me assure you that there is some grey yarn at the top of my stash, ready to go for next year.

There are quite a few WIPs lying around the house, more than I care to contemplate. Late this year I broke my slightly arbitrary ‘only two WIPs at a time’ rule, thinking it was a temporary measure so I could keep knitting on my commute to and from work. However, I overestimated my enthusiasm to finish up those WIPs. As keen as I am to start on the year of vintage patterns, my first job next year will be gather the unfinished knitted objects that have been artfully strewn around the house and finish them. An exception to this is my wretched Pickadilly Cardigan, which needs to sit in the corner and think about itself for a little while longer. I never thought I could harbour as much animosity towards an inanimate object as I do with Pickadilly! In general I consider myself a relatively patient knitter, but that project has had me on the expressway to tantrumtown a number of times.

2012 sewing grid

Aside from knitting, I made (another) tentative foray into sewing. This attempt seems more successful than the last, even though the projects I took on were all pretty basic. Despite being fairly simple, I use them often (with the exception of the baby bootees) and I’m still quite happy with how they all turned out. As with my knitting projects, I’ve got a few sewing WIPs as well that I need to finish before starting anything new. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to start doing something about that fabric stash of mine.

Now that I’m here on the last day of 2012, I don’t really know how to describe it. From a crafting and non-crafting perspective, it wasn’t a bad year. However, I couldn’t say it was a great year either. Let’s just split it down the middle and call it neutral.


Brown paper packages tied up with string.jpg

This Christmas season, my demeanour can be best described as frazzled. I’ve not got into the Christmas spirit at all this year, in fact it’s only been in the last couple of weeks that Christmas has been on my radar! Once all the wrapping is finished (hopefully today) and work finishes (tomorrow), I’m looking forward to having a short rest, where I can spend some quality time with my knitting and sewing.

However you celebrate the festive season, I hope it’s a safe and happy one!

Switch swatch

The version of Orangina in my last post wasn’t really feeling right, and that menacing curl created enough irritation for me to want to start again. In the end it wasn’t so much starting again as experimenting with a looser cast on. If it didn’t curl as much, then I could rip out the first attempt — if it had the same amount of curl, it could either be used as the front piece, or I could reconsider whether I wanted to go ahead with making Orangina at all.

Orangina Swatch.JPG

After digging up my gauge swatch (thanks Lynne for jogging my memory with your suggestion!), it seemed that perhaps it was my tight cast on causing the issues. There was a wee bit of curling at the cast on edge of the swatch, but not to the same degree as the back piece.

So, the back piece was taken off the needles and a new, more relaxed, cast on was attempted. I think the curling situation is now much improved:

Slightly less curly Orangina.jpg

I’m also working one less repeat this time around. Despite careful measuring, the first attempt was a bit big. Orangina is a top that doesn’t seem particularly forgiving when it comes to fit; for it to work with my body shape, it needs either no or negative ease. Now that it’s one repeat smaller, I think it’s probably just right.

In my dreams I wanted to have this finished by the end of the year so I could start the year of vintage knitting with a clean slate. This doesn’t look likely, which leaves me with a small dilemma. Do I finish it off next year, meaning that at least one FO will be from a modern pattern, or should I leave it until the following year? (Insignificant) decisions, decisions.