Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I made my own Christmas Tree this year out of sticky note flags. Total cost $0.50. 100% recyclable & reusable. Couldn't want better than that!

Snowflake photography is my new hobby for winter. And, yes, my observation so far is that they are all different. They really do look like they do in cartoons though!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Snowy Sort of Christmas Scarf

Its almost Christmas so I thought I'd share some nice gift* with my one or two readers. This is a simple scalloped scarf that falls nicely when draped or when wound around makes a nice lacy collar. You can even wrap it around your head and pretend to be a lion if you like. It works well for that too. I made mine out of a handspun 2ply alpaca which was somewhere between a light to medium weight wool (sport-worsted range) and I used a 4.5mm crochet hook so the scarf is nice and flexible for wrapping around. You will need about one ball somewhere between 40-50g. If you run out you can stop after 4 rows and just have a less scallopy scallop. It will still look nice after 4 rows.

*Most definitely for personal use or for gifting to friends & family. Not for evil profit making purposes, commercial use of any kind or in way. Pattern is not for sale, hire or exploitation. Be good, its Christmas... But if you make it send me a picture cause I'd love to see yours :) Also if my instructions make no sense or you can't figure them out, please let me know!

Hangs nicely for casually throwing about your neck...

A closeup of the scallop repeat.

The scarf curves around into a circle as the stitches are 'overloaded' on the scallop side. This gives it it's nice fall.

The pattern.

Key to the pattern.

The pattern is a five stitch repeat.
(SC= Single Crochet, DC= Double Crochet, CH= Chain)

You start with a chain that is a multiple of 5 + 1 (the +1 is the turning chain). My scarf has 30 scallops so that's 30x5 + 1 =151 chains. If you want it longer or shorter just test out the length while you are chaining along. So go ahead and make chain merrily.

1) The first row is all single crochet. So skip the first chain from the hook and make a single crochet into the second and every chain along until you have 150 single crochet stitches. Then at the end of the row chain three for the turning chain and turn.

2) The second row is all double crochet. So skip the three chains and make double crochet stitches into every single crochet along including the first one until you have 150 double crochet stitches. At the end of the row chain one and turn.

3) The third row starts with one single crochet into the first double crochet of the row below. Then skip one stitch of the row below and (double crochet, chain 1, double crochet, chain one, double crochet into the same DC of the row below) then skip one DC of the row below and make single crochets in the next two stitches. Then repeat the (DC ch 1 DC ch1 DC) + SC until you get to the end of the row. You should have 30 little scallops. At the end of the row ch 1 and turn.

4) The fourth row begins with a single crochet into the first single crochet of the row below. Then three double crochets into the gap made by the ch1 of the row below. After you have made the 3DC then chain 1 and make another 3 DC into the next ch1 space of the row below. Then make a single crochet in the SC of the row below. Then repeat the SC, (3DC, ch1, 3DC), SC until you get to the end of the row. SC in the last SC and then chain one to turn.

5) The fifth row begins with a single crochet into the first SC of the row below. Then ch1 and make DC ch1 DC ch1 DC ch1 DC ch1 DC ch1 DC ch1 into the ch1 gap of the row below. Then make one single crochet into the SC of the row below. Repeat SC (DC, ch1 x 6) SC until you get to the end of the row. Make your last SC and then cut your thread leaving a 10cm long tail to weave in. Weave in the other end and you are done!

Twirl around the room and do a dance!

Monday, November 22, 2010

What does that Birdy do?

This Birdy has been a busy little one with lots of reading, writing and studying in general. I have been fitting in some making though, a stitch here and there and have made progress on several projects.

First is the striped grey & brown alpaca neck-warmer I made for the Mr. Its really soft and warm, ideal for these days as they creep steadily towards the minuses. We've not had much snow yet, but it is getting very snowy about the ears (as Pooh would say). The Mr. has been coping so far with some of the other hat and scarf I have made him, but the change of weather is expected soon and he will no doubt be wearing this often. It doesn't photograph well as the wool has a soft halo that the camera finds hard to focus on. I experimented with jog-less stripe techniques for knitting in the round here and it worked a bit but its still not perfect enough for my liking (though it is pretty nice!):

The next is something I'm still working on, the Its Cold Outside Cardigan. This is a replacement for the unruly Twinkle cardigan that refused to fit in my suitcase. I'm making up my own pattern here as I go along, inspired by various ones I've seen in knitting magazines and in wandering around window shopping. It's hopefully going to have a soft folded ribbed collar and some pockets (must have pockets!). Progressing so far up to the lower middle back where I'm putting in a couple of darts (knitted decreases) to give it a little shape around the waist. The wool is a wool/acrylic blend from Bernat but has a nice colour depth with light grey flecks through the brown (makes it look more 'expensive'!):

Ahh, the beautiful mitten of loveliness. From this pattern in Debbie Bliss that I wrote about earlier. Strangely, no dramas here. And for my first attempt at knitting with more than two colours and in an intricate design, I must say I am pretty pleased with myself. I have taken to wearing my single mitten around the house to admire it. It will soon be joined with its friend, the other hand mitten and they will dance happily together. Though given the way the temperatures are going, I'll be wearing another pair of gloves underneath. But still, aren't the colours lovely:

The Rebecca Knitted Dress. This is banished to solitary confinement in a plastic bag in the closet for not behaving itself. I have to rip out the last 3-4 inches because my decreasing stitches are not nice enough. I tried to fix them but it just turned out worse. So until I am in the mood for extensive mohair-wrangling ripping out, it shall stay in the closet. The good thing about the knitting is that I have discovered that the gauge and wool make an excellently light and beautifully draping fabric:

And I have been getting a lot of wear out of this scarf, the enormous yellow one as I can bury my face and ears in it. This is particularly important in the Rare Books room of the library which has temperatures ideal for maintaining Renaissance books, but not for maintaining living people!

And I'm currently in knitting love with this beautiful cape:
Yes, its a children's cape, but its so nice, I don't see why 10 year olds should have all the fun. Luckily I'm pretty little and can fit into child's sizes so I'm considering making this one. The dilemma though is whether I'll indeed look like a child in it or just silly or it will look cool. What do you think? Make or not?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kermit & Grover go for a Walk

I recently went for an introductory weaving class here and got to try a small rigid heddle loom (a cricket loom by schacht). It was fun and I managed to weave a scarf for the Mr. in less than 3 hours. The class was taught by Collete of Interstitial Spaces who has a weaving workshop. Having had the class I have been dreaming about weaving ever since. Now I'm planning on getting my own loom but maybe a bit bigger than the Cricket as its only 10 inches of weaving space wide. I like the look of Ashfords slightly bigger loom but I'd like to test drive it first... Here's some pictures of the Mr. modelling his scarf which I have dubbed 'Kermit and Grover go for a walk" due to the colours...

Its a little too short for the Mr. (I used all the wool wound on the loom!) but worn like this with a jacket kinda like a cravat should look okay.

Before washing the weave was slightly more open. Washing pulled it together slightly as well as softened it up nicely.

I wove sections of 4 rows green & 4 rows blue for about 10cm then swapped to 3 rows of each so you get a subtle variation in pattern. Most of the pattern is from the way the loom was warped though (the vertical threads) which Colette set up for us. Its fun how just alternating two different colours can create so many patterns.

I think weaving may be addictive.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Neck Things

I was getting jumpy from lack of making so I made some more necklaces...

New Toast Catalogue is nice to gaze at. May have inadvertently influenced the colours of my necklaces...

Wooden it be Nice? Square wooden beads & copper beads on brown waxed polyester thread (the inter-situ copper beads help it to sit flat when worn)

The Orientalist. Vaguely orientally inspired in the Victorian sense (as in the Victorian era mania for all things oriental resulting in a profusion of 'oriental' goods that were neither from Asia or replicated things from Asia, but were well sought after decorative items in middle class Victorian homes none the less). Black glass matt finish oval beads, bronze beads, red painted wooden carved bird bead. black waxed polyester thread. The whole reason for this necklace is because I found the bird - it was love at first sight - and I had to have it.

Glazed and Confused. Green & blue glazed ceramic beads, small copper beads and brown waxed polyester thread. Likewise, fell for the colour of the beads and the interesting features of the glazes, each bead is interesting in itself.

A paler shade of pale. Grey waxed polyester thread and grey painted seeds. It was grey. What can I say. I love grey.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Living in the Silence Between Movements of a Symphony

I read the new Toast travel article today about the Arctic & Antarctic travels of Sara Wheeler. I was struck by the poetry of that line:

"Life was absent from our landscape; it was like living in the silence between movements of a symphony."

Sometimes things just reach into you and dig deep resonating with somewhere deep inside. I like this line because it does seem to me that the essence of our lives are not found in moving from one activity to another but in the stillness in between. Not of doing but of being (we are human beings after all, not human doings). In these moments where everything comes into this strange clarity and makes sense just for a moment, very briefly. The sunlight falling across autumn leaves, the clearing in the clouds, the smile of a friend.

Quietness, stillness, silence.

Monday, September 27, 2010

And we make things

Even though I'm supposed to be here in Canada studying, I can't help but make things. Making is comforting to me when I'm tired, stressed or simply had enough reading for the day. Even just a few minutes, a round of my knitting before I sleep helps.

I've also been photographing my fruits and veggies because the veggies here look great. The weather this summer must have been nice because all the veggies at the market are beautiful...




Potatoes (and yes, my nice new teapot)


Not a veggie but very nice Sugared Almonds

I brought the new Debbie Bliss knitting magazine to gaze at while not studying. It has a gorgeous colourful fair isle (I think!) jumper on the cover that I'd love to make but it looks just a little too challenging for me just yet. They have these cute mittens inside though that I might be able to manage. It think they would be nice in alpaca or cashmere...

This is what I brought with me: my tool kit for the year. The chunky grey wool is from that cardigan I was making. The little bit of wool managed to sneak into my bag while the cardigan would not sneak nicely.

The wool I brought along: Grey fluffy Mohair and Purple Alpaca. The purple alpaca calls to me but I don't yet know what to make from it...

The beginnings of the Rebecca knitted dress with grey fluffy mohair. I'm making it as I choose, and not following the pattern (I can't read it anyway). I'm starting with my measurements based on the way I made the knitted skirt a while back. So I'm starting from the bottom and working up using circular needles until I get to the armholes then I'll put parts on stitch holders and extend up for the neckline so its almost seamless. Then I'll make the sleeves in the round too and then sew them on. This also means that if happen to have not calculated the amount of wool I need correctly, and I run out part way, I'll have a long tube I can wear as a cowl scarf. So either way, I win, as knitting in really fine mohair is really slow going and its hard to undo as it felts to itself easily.

I also made a little necklace with crochet thread and yellow beads. Its really simple and cost me a grand total of 60 cents. I made knots between the beads to keep them from sliding and to give them more definition and separation.

I like it a lot. I'm planning on making a trip here later to pick up some more beads for some more little necklaces.

I've had a migraine for 3 days now and I don't really feel like reading (since I can neither see properly or focus on words - I touch type so I'm not so bad on the computer, plus I can make the screen bigger!) so making some things would be just the thing... if only I didn't have to present this book tomorrow for my seminar... sigh... schedules don't allow for human frailty.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Squirrel Hunting

No birdies to report but I've been chasing squirrels! Here are some of the squirrels I met (pictures courtesy of the Mr. as I was too busy squealing at the squirrels in happiness).

Hands clasped over the stomach in action intended to gain food from us (nope, sorry, you are a wild squirrel, you must find your own). Eastern Gray Squirrel.

This handsome striped fellow is the Golden-mantled ground squirrel. He is really really small compared to the Gray squirrel (and also really really cute).

He stopped to eat something...before darting back into the undergrowth of the tree

Here he is sitting on a rock beside the path - you can see how tiny he is!

The most friendly gray squirrel to date came right up to the camera lens to check if we really didn't have any food.

A little squirrel in a big world

Yep, that's an albino Gray squirrel (we later saw another one). Its a beautiful creamy colour.

We also saw very briefly what looked like a Groundhog grazing on some roadside clearing out in the suburbs. No picture though as it saw us and run away really fast. It was quite big and was a rich brown colour.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Things that Birdy has been up to and other stories

There won't be any more pictures of Rambutan-eating Birds for a while because me and the Mr. just moved to Canada for a year. This has been an involved procedure taking many months and right up until the last week, it was not certain that we were actually going. But we got here in the end. This relocation of course means a whole new lot of birdy adventures are to be had both in actual bird paparazzi-ing and in making and finding new things.

On the bird front so far we have seen only pigeons, sparrows and seagulls. The seagulls are very much larger than I have seen before and in the evenings seem fond of circling over the city in large numbers. We saw some ducks too (probably the Mallard Duck) swimming around the pond in our local park and some North American Starlings which unlike the Singaporean versions, don't seem to have red eyes. We've also been enjoying the abundant squirrels and even saw a beautiful creamy coloured albino squirrel at our local park. Seems like our local park may be our new creature-spotting area of choice.

On the making of things front, I was making a chunky wool coat to bring with me to Canada. Because I hear it gets cold here! I got the back done and halfway up one sleeve before I left only to discover that the chunky wool is really very chunky, and I couldn't fit it in my suitcase! Sigh...

The pattern has pockets - pockets! I love this! The wool is a Lion Brand chunky weight in a charcoal grey.

The pattern is by Wenlan Chia of Twinkle. See here for a hilarious review of this and other patterns in the same issue of Vogue Knitting. I personally think the chunky jacket look is nice, you just accept that you will look like you are being eaten by a jacket and you wear it like you don't care. It would have been warm, cozy and would double as a blanket, all pluses in my book! I wish I could have squeezed it into my suitcase. Sigh again...

I did manage to complete and fit into my suitcase two recently finished sewn items: a skirt and a t-shirt.

The t-shirt is an altered Uniquo t-shirt which I wrote about here. I finally got to stitching it in place by machine and taking out the tacking stitches. Its comfortable and fits well except for the neckline as I made it a little too wide and it tends to slide off the shoulders. This would be fine, except it wasn't the look I was going for (plus I'm shy of sharing my shoulders with the world). But with a scarf, singlet or the sleeves pushed up it stays in place, so it works out.

Back in October last year when I went to Malacca I got this cute cotton floral fabric amongst other treasures. I finally figured out what I was going to do with it. Following on from my Gingham skirt experiment with the rectangles and t-shirt fabric waistband, I broke out my precious fabric. Shown here unhemmed (I've since stitched up the hem!) the skirt is comfortable and sits nicely. Its got a kind-of bubble-skirt feel to the waist. Like the Gingham skirt, its reversible and the inside is plain calico. I haven't yet printed anything on the inside yet or decided what to print. I've found a shop here though that sells fabric paints, so I'm set once the inspiration arrives!

The t-shirt for the waistband comes leftovers from this t-shirt dress I sewed previously. I love having no waste when sewing!

Having to move countries with only two suitcases means making supplies and things have to be culled back to bare essentials. I did however squeeze in 4 balls of purple alpaca wool and 4 balls of light soft mohair blend. The soft mohair will come in very handy as on my way to Canada I picked up the latest issue of Rebecca knitting magazine while in Germany. I've been wanting to get my hands on this magazine for ages, but couldn't find it locally. In it there are a host of cute patterns that use mohair. My favourite is the long sleeved tunic dress seen here on their website. You can also look at the other patterns they have in the issue (Issue 43). Its all good stuff, but unless you read German, anything other than simple stocking stitch knitting would be difficult. It think I can manage the dress from the schematic diagram & measurements as its is stocking stitch, but the cabled military style coat might be impossible unless I were very very determined!

But there will be no winter woollens out just yet, because for the last few days and for the rest of this week the weather is expected to stay above 30 degrees C. Though this means the cotton skirt has come in very handy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I have been collecting drinking straws for a while now (I wash and dry them first so they aren't icky!) with the view to making things with them and also to document my own consumption. Collecting, rather than throwing away made me aware of exactly how much I use and throw away. I was inspired by the necklaces Lauren Manoogian makes with their geometry and colours and decided to try necklace made of straws.

The Mr. likes his Yakult but never uses the straws, so I had 5 packets of 5 straws to use for this necklace. Its not recycling in the strictest sense (eg: these are not used straws) but up-cycling something that would just be thrown out unused or languish in a drawer somewhere until being thrown out in 5 years time.

After a few experiments, I found the light grey crochet thread to be the best for thickness as well as colour. Threads of other colours made the straws look dirty, as the plastic is quite thin!

Its a really light necklace and comfortable to wear unlike a ceramic or glass bead necklace would be of a similar size.


I broke out my little rectangular loom again to make some small rectangles. I just enjoyed trying out different patterns with the colours, mostly I tried simple stripes & checks. I do like the plain rectangles too for their simplicity. I'll probably crochet the rectangles together to make something larger.

Stripes, Solids & Checks

Some of the rectangles

The little loom