Friday, March 9, 2012

War! HUH!

There's a very cool collaborative art project that I stumbled across called 'In a War Someone Has to Die'. It's by a Danish artist named Hanne Bang, and what she's doing is asking people all around the world to embroider the phrase 'In a war someone has to die' on a handkerchief, in their own language, in any style they like, and then send them to her. She's going to stitch them all into a massive wall hanging, accompanied by a list of the names and countries of the contributors.

Here's my contribution:

I chose an old hanky of mum's because I think she would have been keen to be involved in this.

I think the deadline for getting a hanky to her is June this year. It doesn't have to be perfect, skilled embroidery. Do it.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Drop Yarns, Not Bombs

Hey hey you guys, happy new year and all that... Guess I missed that boat, huh?

Anyway, just quickly, look at some of my Chrissie swag... This is miles and miles of rather wonderful, incredibly fine, blue merino knit from my Aunty (haven't figured out what I'm going to make into yet), and a monk bag that my Dad made for me. He reverse-engineered the pattern from a bag that he was given from Cambodia. How good is it?

Anyway, I've been madly doing uni stuff, but I've had a smidge of time for tomfoolery and hijinks, so I joined the Yarn Corner yarn-bombing (aka knit graffiti) collective. This week, I put up my first yarn bomb! It was part of a group project commissioned by the GoGet share care company, to mark their 300th car (I think?). So, we had to do it in the orange(ish) and blue company colours. Some people did decorative bits for cars, and others did covers for the GoGet car station poles. That's what I did, and here's my effort. (You can see the monk bag at work in the bottom corner!)

The stripy bits are by me, and the ruffly bit is by another Yarn Corner member. Isn't it cool? Here's how to do it. It's on the corner of Pelham and Barry St in Carlton, just near the University of Melbourne Law School, if you want to go and see. Keep your eyes open, and you'll probably see a whole lot more of them around, too!

Friday, December 9, 2011

In Which I am a Grown-Up, Briefly.

Here's a story about what to do with trousers that fit weird.

I started with this pair of trousers:

I bought them in a hurry when I was working boring office jobs, because I needed a new pair of trousers. They were pretty nice trousers, and nice fabric, but to be honest they didn't fit comfortably. They were too tight around my thighs, but too loose at the waist. They did the job for going to work, but after I went back to uni, I just didn't enjoy wearing them.

Usually, I would just donate them to charity, but they'd had a lining which had got ripped, and I'd taken up the bottom of the legs a bit shonkily, so they weren't really op-shoppable. So, rather than waste them, I decided to turn them into a short skirt.

After hacking the trousers to bits, I found that I had plenty of fabric left over to make the front of a waist coat, so with the addition of some lining fabric and some snazzy silver buttons I picked up in Japan, I got this rather natty little ensemble:

Looks pretty smart and grown-up huh? Fear ye not! I haven't gone all sensible or anything. You see, while I was sewing the above ensemble, I was also watching 'Thor'. It's a good sewing movie because it's basically stretches of stuff I don't need to watch (and can run the sewing machine through), punctuated with short bursts of Tom Hiddleston. And he is the best kind of punctuation. Well, maybe the second best, after proper and grammatical use of punctuation marks. That is also pretty sexy.

Wait, what? I don't know where I was going with that metaphor. Anyway, the point is, large swathes of 'Thor' are basically cape porn, and I found myself thinking: "What I am really missing in life is a cape. A really good, swooshy cape."

So, I took myself off to the fabric shop, and spent a really long time picking up different botls of fabric and swooshing them around until I found something that gave the effect I wanted. I bought enough to go from my shoulders to the ground, plus a bit extra for a fudge margin.

To get good fullness in the cape, I got 150cm wide fabric, and pleated one end down to the width of my shoulders. The effect was that it fit across my back at the top, but could fly out wide at the bottom. And them I sewed straps to the pleated end, so I could tie it on my back.

I wear it by taking a tie under over each shoulder, and then tying a bow behind my back, just under my shoulder blades. It's a little restrictive, but it works. The only thing is, the cape does tend to slide down my shoulders a little, because it's quite heavy. But the effect in general is quite good. It swooshes. Oh, how it swooshes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

iMittens, or 'GOOD LUCK ANYA!'

Ye gods, is this my third post in as many weeks? I am on FIRE over here!

Not literally, it's ok. Don't panic.

Today's story is about a friend of mine named Anya who is incredibly clever. I mean, you might think you're clever, but have you had Cambridge and Yale cage-fight over the privilege of educating you? No? Didn't think so. Me neither, alas. Anya, however, has had this spectacle play out before her, and is heading for Yale this very week. Much to the sadness of her housemates and those of us who spend FAR TOO MUCH TIME at their house, she is also taking her ipad with her. :''( *sniff*

To mark the occasion, I made Anya some mittens to keep her hands warm in the cold New England winter. Not just any mittens, of course: ipad-friendly mittens, in Yale colours!

See how they flip up, so you can use a touchscreen? They are based on the 'Mittens with a Flap' pattern by PJ Allen, which you can get as a free download on Ravelry from PrettyKnittyJewelry Designs. It's a good, clearly-written pattern, I'd recommend it if it's mittens you're after. The thumb flap is my own twist though - 'cos you've gotta be able to use your thumb to get the zoom action on your ipad. Very important. I did it by pretty much copying how the flap on the fingers works, like this:

Rounds 1-2: As for 'Thumb' in original pattern.
Rounds 3-4: Knit around.
Round 5: Figure out the 'front' half of the thumb (i.e. the 8 sts closest to the rest of the mitten) and the 'back' half. Knit the 'front' sts and purl the 'back' sts.
Round 6: Knit around.
Rounds 7-15: k2, p2 rib. Cast off as per the rib.

Thumb flap:
Round 1: Pick up 8 sts from 'back' half purl bumps. Cast on another 8 sts, join in the round.
Rounds 2-9: The sts attached to the 'back' or 'hinge' half should be all knit, the 'front' half should be k2, p2 rib.
Rounds 10-14: Knit around.
Round 15: K2tog around. Cut yarn leaving a long tail, draw through live stitches, fasten thumb closed.

I spent quite a lot of time faffing around in yarn shops, trying to find the yarn that seemed best to match 'Yale Blue' and Yale's favoured tone of grey - an entirely pointless effort, given the differences between the Pantone specifications and the apparent colour of the sample colour on my ipod, and between my ipod and the yarn, but the thought was there... In the end, I settled for Lincraft's Merrijig 12ply in colours 3016 and 3015. It's a nice warm 100% wool yarn, but it's also machine-washable, so that's nice and handy. (lol 'handy'. Mittens... Handy... Get it? rofl.)

And here they are in use:

Not only has she got it going on in the brains department, she's also a natural at hand modelling... Sheesh.


Aaaaand, apropos of nothing, here's a photo of some fun knit grafitti I saw yesterday in the Bourke Street Mall:

Apparently it's by Yarn Corner, and has been up since the end of July - that shows you how often I head into the city!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shelf Life.

You may recall, I've spoken of the joys of hard rubbish day before. Well, here is another such tale. You see, once upon a time, there was a chest of drawers. Alas, but the drawers were long gone, making it merely a Chest-of-No-Drawers.

A sad, hollow existence it was for the poor little Chest-of-No-Drawers, cast out onto the hard, cold footpath, all alone. Awww :'(

But suddenly, in a poof of glitter and thrift, the Fairy Scroungemother appeared. "Why, little Chest-of-No-Drawers," she said, "Look at your fine, sturdy wooden runners, spaced a convenient distance apart. You could support a fine set of shelves of perfect dimensions for storing shoes." So saying, the Fairy Scroungemother scooped up the little chest and took it home (and left it in her room for several months until she got her tax return and could afford a saw and some clamps and some hardboard).

And with a wave of her magic saw, the little Chest-of-No-Drawers became a handy set of shoe shelves.

Hurrah! :D

This little revamp project was suuuuper fun because I hadn't done any woodwork-type stuff in ages. So, it was also highly educational. (Note to self, hardboard is probably best attacked with a fine-toothed hacksaw, not a huge, shark-toothed panel saw. Hah... Yeah.) But the upshot is that I am pumped to get into a bit more of this, now I have a basic complement of tools. Probably not full-scale, from-scratch furniture creation, but IKEA hacking (or, hard rubbish hacking :P) and that kind of thing. I'll be looking at hard rubbish day in a whole new light now...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Zee Leetle Grey Cells, Hastings

Mes amis, I think it's time for another dice bag! What is this, about the fourth dice bag I've made? Geeky as charged, yer'onner. I love making them, they're so much fun because they're the epitome of quick, instant-gratification crafting. Also, you're pretty much only limited by your imagination, so they're great for a personalised gift - today's example being a case in point.

In our D&D party, there is a human wizard whose name is Hercule Poirot. He has a Belgian accent and is a bit of a neat freak. He also collects hats and likes to make things magically smell like barbecue chicken, but I don't think that's 'canon', as they say. Due to a birthday recently occurring, the following dice bag was produced:

To get the perfect moustachey shape I trawled the internet for a good picture of Poirot (aka David Suchet), traced the moustache in GIMP (aka I Can't Believe It's Not Photoshop), re-sized the outline and printed it off. Then it was easy to trace the outline onto the fabric so I could colour it in by just embroidering around and around in concentric lines until it filled up.

I must say, I am rather proud of the embroidery. Look at those evenly-sized stitches! Who needs fancy-schmancy stitches when you've got back stitch, eh?

Friday, June 24, 2011

On Not Taking The Small Things For Granted

Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference. I had cause to reflect on this recently when I lost one of the foam covers of my earbuds. I'd always thought they were fairly extraneous and cosmetic, but I was certainly wrong. As they say, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, and your earbud keeps bloody falling out of your ear. However, crochet came to my rescue...

There are a lot of theis sort of thing out there on the internet, some even purporting to have 'patterns'. I'm not sure that you really need a pattern. I made it up. It kind of worked like this:
Use your thinnest yarn (mine was a smidge bulky... I reckon you might be best off using embroidery thread), make a tiny crochet circle to fit the surface of your earbud.
When it's the right size, stop the circle increases and do another row or two.
When it looks like it'll cover your earbud, fasten off and drawstring onto your earbud.
Stitch thread in place to fix.

Easy peasy.

***** ***** ***** ***** ******

The other thing that happened recently was CAEK for Dear SO's birthday. He asked for a caramel mudcake, and I found a good, easy recipe here. I highly recommend it, if for some reason you wish to have a mudcake that is not chocolate. You strange person.

Also, I made him a GIANT FLORENTINE, because he likes florentines. I made him a batch of normal-sized ones once, years ago, which was fiddly. I wholeheartedly recommend making one giant florentine rather than making a zillion little ones. I will give you my recipe, because there's quite a few out there but this one is the best, I think, because it doesn't have cornflakes in it. (WTF. Why would you put cornflakes in florentines? If you're going to be that cheapass, what's the point?)

GIANT FLORENTINE Recipe. (Yes, you have to spell it in all caps.)

100g unsalted butter
2 tbsp honey
75g mixed peel
200g flaked almonds
200g dark chocolate
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup cream
60g glace cherries
50g plain flour

1) Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking slide with greaseproof paper. Finely chop the mixed peel and the glace cherries.

2) In a saucepan, melt the butter and then stir in sugar, honey and cream. Bring it slowly to the boil. Boil WITHOUT STIRRING for a few minutes, until it's caramel coloured and at 'soft ball' stage. (So, if you drip a bit into cold water, it makes a soft ball.)

3) Remove from heat, add peel, cherries and almonds. Once they're mixed in, mix in the flour too. Make sure it's all mixed through evenly, then turn out onto the prepared baking slide and leave to cool a bit.

4) Seriously, let it cool down. Don't get too keen or you will burn your hands.

5) Is it cooled down? Really? OK, get another piece of greaseproof, lay it on top of the florentine mix, and spread the mix out into a kind of a circle (Or, whatever shape you want, really) with your hands. Try and make it the same thicknesss all the way around, more or less.

6) See? I told you it would be hot.

7) Bake in over for 10-15 minutes, or however long it takes for it to be toffee-coloured all over. Take it out of the oven, and leave to cool on the tray for at least 10 minutes before you move it onto a wire rack.

8) When it really is completely and utterly cold (you might want to put it in the fridge), melt the chocolate. Turn the florentine over, pour the melted chocolate on the bottom and spread it around. Then use a fork to put wavy lines in the chocolate. That's important, otherwise it's not really a proper florentine.

There may, in time, be a photo of the finished result here. But I have to get it off Dear SO's phone. So for now, if you want to see what a GIANT FLORENTINE looks like, you'll just have to make one.