Craft, stitchin' and sustainable living

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stitchin' with friends

Cutting out my Bella high-waist shorts, with assistance.

I know, it's hard work, isn't it Snorky?

: )

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Planning my warm-weather wardrobe

Spring has sprung and summer is around the corner, which means it's time to start planning the warm-weather wardrobe.  So far I have two items planned for the making.

Image from Burdastyle Jersey Dress #109 - link
I bought this pink-ish patterned jersey at the Noordermarkt in Amsterdam, 5 euros per metre.  I had been especially on the look out for patterned jerseys (why are they so hard to find?) so was pleased to find this one.  I am planning to use it to make Burdastyle's Jersey Dress #109, except I'll be making the sleeves longer so that it's work-friendly for the summer.  Of course I'll need to get my overlocker threading issue fixed before I start, then hopefully I can use it to knock up almost the whole thing.

Image from Burdastyle's Bella high-waisted trousers pattern - link
I thought I would attempt the high-waisted shorts look this year, although I couldn't find a pattern for high-waisted shorts, so I am using Burdastyle's Bella trousers pattern instead (I just find it so convenient to download patterns at home, which is why I keep going back to Burdastyle).  This denim-look cotton was a hand-me-down from my Nana's fabric stash.  It's a nice medium-weight cotton with a grainy denim look. It'll be a bit of a challenge - I can't remember the last time I did buttonholes - in fact, my sewing machine will need a service before I attempt tricky little things like those.  So it's off to the repair shop for me before I get much further with my plans.

I've recently started a new (full time) job, so my sewing output has decreased somewhat.  But my plan is to try to have these two finished before the end of October, so that I can get a good summer's wear out of them both.  Let's see how I go...

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Ok, so every stitcher under the sun has now had a go at the Colette Sorbetto pattern.  Simple, sweet and super versatile, it's also completely free to download, so if you haven't already, you may as well.

I found this cute-busy-floral fabric at the Maybackufer market in Berlin for 2 Euro per metre.  And I only bought one metre.  You see, I told myself that I wasn't to buy unnecessary fabric, and I was particularly on the look out for patterned jersey.  So when this light summery, drapey synthetic caught my eye, I couldn't go without.  Funnily enough, of all the fabric I bought on my trip, this is the first one I have used.

I returned from my trip and best friend's birthday was around the corner.  Wanting to give something handmade, and knowing that this print was very 'her', I scratched my head for a minute thinking "what on earth can I make from only one metre?".  The answer - a Sorbetto, of course!

The finished product looked quite nice and as everyone says, it is a breeze to whip up.  Off the Sorbetto went to Melbourne (with a bottle of Sake for good measure) and was gladly received by best friend in time for birthday celebrations.

A winner, me thinks : )

Friday, September 9, 2011


As time goes on (dare I say, as I become more of an adult?) I've noticed myself becoming increasingly foodie.  I'm not only interested in good food and cooking, but also where my food comes from, how it was produced and what the effects the process had on animals and the environment.

As a child, my family ate pretty healthy meals.  There was a lot of brown rice and veggies involved, and not so much meat.  When I left home, I had a five year period of being a vegetarian, then as my body developed different nutritional needs (in all honesty, I was a bad vegetarian and ate lots of carbs, not enough protein), and as my pay packet grew with my career, meals became more and more centred on meat.
My grandma's recipe Tomato Relish
Then, probably in my mid 20s, I started eating less meat again, for both ethical and health reasons.  I became very aware of ethical and sustainable farming practices, and started choosing free range and organic options over your conventional supermarket varieties of meat and other products.

Now, into my early 30s, I am more aware of my food choices than ever.  We still eat meat, but probably only every third night, and we buy it from a sustainable, free-range meat supplier who has a direct link with the farmers who produce it (Sydney-siders, check out Urban Food Market).  As you might have seen in an earlier post, we joined a veggie co-op, and we get a fantastic delivery of farmer's market fruit and veg every week.  We also try to waste less food, coming up with new recipes to use up whatever in our fridge really needs using up.  We make preserves from gluttons of fruit and stock from roast chicken carcasses.  It's not just less-wasteful, it's also thrifty and yummy!

Inspirational reading for sustainable foodies
With pretty much every food item now, I start to wonder... could I make this? (just like us stitchy people think when we walk into a clothes store).  This has been encouraged by some of my favourite books on the topic of sustainable eating and living, such as Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and Frugavore by Arabella Forge.  Likewise, we've become addicted to tv shows like River Cottage and Gourmet Farmer, both about city folk who move to the country to grow and rear their own food.

I'm not about to pack up and move to the country; I like my inner-city lifestyle too much.  But I would like to continue to learn about more sustainable ways of living, whether it be by making my own cleaning products or eating more peasant style foods (which are often more nutritious and economical as the same time as being more tasty).  I'll continue sharing my learnings here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The socks!

Well, the holiday is now over, and so is the sock knitting... yes!  I finally finished that second sock!

Being the first pair of socks that I have knitted, they are not perfect.  There are some small flaws and I have made a few mental notes of how to do things better next time.  But they are totally wearable, and boyfriend, bless him, thinks they're great.

I knitted these socks in Morris Yarns Empire Merino in 4 ply (I bought three 50g balls, but only used 1.5).  I used size 3.75mm circular needles, but if I was to use the same yarn again I would go with a smaller gauge.

You might remember that I decided to give 'the magic loop' a go.  If you're not familiar with the magic loop, you can see a demonstration of it here.  Basically it allows you to use circular needles for knitting small circumference items (like socks) instead of using double pointed needles.  And the verdict?

It took me a few rounds of knitting and watching the above video over and over to make sure I was on track.  After three rounds I was on a roll and it was easy to follow from there.  Some people say that the magic loop is easier than using double pointed needles, but I've never had a problem with them.  In fact, I do think that I like using them better.  The problem with the magic loop is that you are always knitting in a circle, and even though it's split into two rows most of the time, it's easy to lose track of which row you're up to.  I find the motion of changing from one double pointed needle to the next clearly marks the end of each row or section for me.  I also often l tell myself "I'll just knit to the end of this row", which doesn't really work for the magic loop.  On the plus side, the magic loop is quite good for travelling with, as you can't drop stitches off the ends of the needles as easily as what you can with dpns.  But at the end of the day, I find dpns more methodical and easy to follow, so I'll stick to them.

Has anyone else used the magic loop?  If so, what did you think?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Unravel: Knitwear in fashion exhibition - Antwerp

While we were in Antwerp, we were lucky enough to stumble upon the Unravel exhibition about knitwear in the history of fashion being hosted by the Momu Fashion Museum.  I had no idea that the exhibition was on - it was just pure luck that we walked past the Musuem and I happened to notice a rather large piece of knitting hanging from the first level (as pictured above).  Of course I dragged boyfriend through the doors and immediately bought entry tickets.

Knitted orb lamp cover
The exhibition featured a tour of knitwear 'through the eras' amongst some interesting knitted items, such as the orb lamp cover (above), which stood about one metre high and knitted fruit and vegetables.  A number of famous designer pieces were on display - Westwood, Chanel, Missoni etc.

It was difficult to pick my favourite era - the 20s had many great wooly garments, but then I was also drawn to the oversized jumpers of the 80s (think Daryl Sommers).

Some of the pieces were bizarre (I'm thinking 'Bjork-wear') while others were simply sculpturally amazing.  Given that I had only just mastered the art of turning the heel in a pair of knitted socks, I could certainly appreciate the craftmanship (or craft-womanship) that went into creating these knitted shapes and textures.
Stitchybritt and a pile of BIG knitting
You can see some more professional shots of some of the exhibition here

As our holiday drew to an end, I was pleased to cast off the last few stitches and finally be able to say "I knitted a sock!".  Ok, so it was only one sock, and pretty much completely useless without a matching friend.  But having been through the process, unravelled and re-knitted bits that looked a bit dodgy, and persevered - I knew that the second one would be much easier knitting.

Next post I'll wrap-up my sock knitting adventure, the lessons I learnt, and the pros and cons of using the magic loop.