Fresh.

summer1

 

Finally I have found my way back to this precious space of mine….blogging, a very personal collection of my favourite patterns, yarns and sometimes simply life. With a few of my other passions thrown in.

I have been absent for quite some time now, and a few wonderful readers have taken their time to email me, wondering if everything is ok, and how they miss my posts. You can imagine how touched I was my their genuine concern. So, thank you for pulling me out of my everyday. To help me refocus my attention to this space and what it holds for me and you.

But I guess, I do owe you a brief explanation why I have left so many friends and readers hanging?

Well, without boring you with all the minute details, since the summer holidays, life has been incredibly busy, with a few wobblies thrown it for good measure. Mums with small children will be able to empathise with the often challenging phases kids go through. After a few years of blissful cooperation, my two little ones have moved into the age of rivalry and arguments, one definitely becoming an actor the other possibly an argumentative lawyer or a meticulous engineer…in the meantime, I am spending way too much time in arbitration… Don’t get me wrong, they are gorgeous and we are having fun times, but parenting them is requiring a sharp and fair mind and lots of activities to keep their boisterous bodies occupied….Meanwhile, my big girl is watching the shenanigans with disbelief, whilst inching slowly towards pre-teendom….another whole new world….

Once the summer holidays were survived, we had a small house fire, which turned our life upside down for quite a few weeks and we are still living in a state of dishevelment….as we are renting and will be leaving by May, no repairs or painting are being offered…and the building of our own house is coming with its own set of issues….

To top it all, I have been trying to get some of my health issues sorted and get fitter and leaner. Since turning 40, I have been working on my personal bucket list and I have been chipping away at setting myself up to turn my 40ties into the best years to come.

Have you got a bucket list? What would your bucket list look like? If money or health were not objection, what would you do? Of course, besides investing in delicious yarns and spend your day knitting in a mountain cabin, overlooking the Alps and in front of a wood fire? I challenge you to have a think about that and do share. Besides sharing some of my favourite patterns and delicious yarns, I would love to share some of my to 10 bucket list items…and even tell you how I go about ticking some of the boxes. Would you allow me to do that?

 

boys

 

In the meantime, I am back with my needles in hand, once again with more than one project started….my knitting season has truly begun, and as it is, I am covering the basics first. My little boy needs a new winter woolly, and he has decided he preferred a cardigan over a jumper and it had to have a zipper, not buttons. Okay then….

I am knitting him the beautiful Billa Jacket, a hoodie, designed by my very talented friend Ambah. If you haven’t seen Ambah’s patterns yet, you better check her Ravelry page out, as she is  a woman on a knitting mission. Stunning patterns in the most delicious colours….Billa is however her first garment, and it is a winner on so many fronts. First, its seamless, top-down constructions makes it an almost no brainer. There is some very clever detailing and some new techniques that will give you a beautifully finished jacked for your child. Play with colour or leave it plain, there are tons of possibilities. In my mind I had the colours already picked and was looking forward to some colour work…but to my surprise, he picked a very….mature colour….Cascade 220 Superwash in Army Green….A great hardwearing yarn it is, so I am happy to oblige…and he will look super cute, a little bit like a leprechaun…Another great zipper cardie would be ‘Just Chill‘ if you are not keen on the hood…

My girl is growing too fast, almost needing small adult sized patterns….She has discovered a love for turtle necks and chunky knits. I had my eye on Hot Chocolate and its grown up version Caramel Latte. So a Hot Chocolate it is for her….in the squishy Madelinetosh Chunky, a yarn that I would love to have in the shop this winter…..a perfect Aran weight yarn and for her, another forest green called Moorland….

Another little knit, that is sitting patiently is a little sample knit in our stunning Meadow yarn by the fibre company. Checkerboard Lace Scarf by the talented ladies at Purl Soho. It is a great knit, but you do need to be focused….definitely not one for the Friday night movie session…

So what else is on my knitting wish list?

I am more and more drawn to very classic, simple lines this year. Lila, combined with the buttery Swans Island is close to perfection..

Lila

Lila

A cowl that has sparked my imagination, is this Wandering Cowl. Beautifully shaped and with a wandering cable pattern, I love the natural colour…I imagine a Cascade Eco wool or a subtly died Tosh Vintage.

Wandering Cowl

Wandering Lines

While I have fallen in love with shawls, cowls are really the most practical garment in the knitting world in my mind. Especially the super-long ones, that can be wrapped around the neck and keeping it all protected from a cold wind…

Now. I am not normally a bright colours girl. I have spent too many teenage years covered in black and then in Melbourne, to really move too far away from it…But I have discovered colours, and to my own surprise, I am drawn to hot pinks and fuchsias….like Road to China in Rhodolite…And imagine being wrapped up in this beautiful cowl, all cashmere, silk, alpaca and camel softness???

 

And finally, one last accessory that gets me through the colder season are fingerless mittens….just great for going on long walks in the morning..they do have to be well-fitting though…and soft!

These are knit in the incredibly soft Dream in Colour ‘Perfectly Posh’ and if you haven’t tried this lush yarn yet, these are a perfect project to test this yarn.

There are so many patterns that are standing out for me….I would be happy to get these on my needles before the cold hits.

 

Has your knitting season started?

 

Best wishes,

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Hibernation.

I love school holidays!

During the school term we are usually busy ticking boxes, driving to and fro, multi-tasking and planning all sorts of things….school lunches, dinners, after school activities and who goes where and when. While of course this is part of every parents reality in our busy lives, school holidays are a welcome break from it all for me…

I do love to go away on a little camping adventure, but this year we are focussing every single spare moment on building our house. So, weekends and holiday are home bound for us.  And these holidays more so than ever. You see, on the last day of school, my son came down with the Chicken Pox. And so started our almost 3 weeks of quarantine as all three turned spotty. It could have been a disaster. But to their credit, they handled it extremely well and made up some hilarious games. We had so much time on our hands that we managed to weed the entire garden and made cubbies in every corner of the house. I threw in some yummy treats, lots of popcorn and chocolate cake and a few movies. The kids thought I was the best and could not believe their luck.  I cleaned the house more that I care to admit, sorted books and washed legos (the cat weed in  it..).

Sometimes you can turn a crappy situation into a positive. We came together as a unit again, regrouped, cuddled and ate popcorn on the couch. They played together more than ever. Because there was no one else….

Admittedly, I didn’t get to knit as much as I would have if we had gone to the beach for a week. But I did finish my linen scarf and also a little pair of baby pants in this delicious yarn Savannah. I got a new baby nephew, a most beautiful little boy called Remy. I have yet to meet him and give him a cuddle and I can’t wait to smell that delicious baby scent…

And today, everyone went back to school. With excitement and butterflies in their tummies…Me too, as I have the house all to myself today and it is soooo good. A most glorious spring day it is….

And speaking of spring, we have been enjoying our yearly flower explosion in our garden with the most beautiful display of colour imaginable. All shades of pink, yellow and orange. The colours crisp and sharp and so luminous you cannot help but want to brighten up your own wardrobe to match our happy environment. I savour it even more knowing that too soon all will be dead and dry again.

I have been busily unpacking all my Cottons and arranging them in the shelves. Cascade’s Ultra Pima is adding a pop of colour to the shop.

And it is tempting me in all sorts of ways…

Cranberry

Cranberry

ultra pima1

Jade

ultra pima2

Turquoise

ultra pima4

Gold

 

Do these colours not sing to your of flowers, blue skies and golden sunshine?

Here are some ideas in case you haven’t got your needles out already, eager to get cracking on some happy spring projects.

Gemini  and Buttercup {two of my all-time favourites. Very flattering and perfect for hot days}

Chinook Scarf {if you are anything like me, you can’t go through spring without something around your neck}

Leafy Baby Blanket {even summer babies need a heirloom blankie}

Primrose {perfectly girly}

Summer Waves Cardi {simple cardi with a beautiful detail}

Ruched Yoke Tee {beautiful neckline}

Rose Garden Shawl {elegant and stunning}

Spa Towel {if you really only want a small project}

Are you inspired yet?

I hope you are all enjoying this glorious season! Too soon it will be too hot….but come to think of it….cotton is much better to knit with on a sandy beach…..

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Crisp.

On a day like today, I can virtually smell the seasons change in the air. And while the flies and bees are buzzing around, so are we…there is great energy in the air and we are finding ourselves spending more and more time outside. As we are not spending as much time on the couch hibernating, my knitting time has drastically been reduced. I am on my last rows of a big girl cardi for my girl in a squishy soft merino but I am so glad to see the end of it…my attention is already moving on to different things…

I have cast on the cute Biscotti tunic for myself in my favourite spring yarn Savannah. While still 50% Wool, it boasts 20% Cotton as well as 15% each of Linen and Soy. The yarn is rustic, slubby and beautifully soft and a dream to knit with. It will make this top just so comfy to wear. Now, if only I could sit down for a while, I would have it knit up in no time…

Savannah

Savannah

Savannah also makes a perfect yarn for baby garments. Spring and summer babies still need some  handmade love to wear, I think, and these little baby pants are not only  super cute but just so practical.

A garment knit with Savannah becomes something that you put on when you want to feel cosy on a lazy weekend….

Blank Canvas {by Ysolda Teague}

Sycamore Vest {by Hannah Fettig}

Linden Shawl {by Courtney Kelley}

Schieffelin Shawl {by Kate Gagnon Osborn}

Sweet Peasy {by Heidi Kirrmaier}

The change of season has also brought in another very much anticipated yarn.

Louet Euroflax is a 100% wet spun Linen and on the skein, it feels as expected. Ropey and hard. I was a little bit apprehensive to knit with it, although I just adore Linen as a fabric and love the idea of knitting cool accessories with it…but I am a die-hard wool knitter and the warmer weather usually does not stop me from knitting winter projects. But then I started spotting projects like this cool Ombre Tank. And linen tunics. And lacy summer scarfs…

Ombre Tank

Ombre Tank

And so the Linen has arrived and the colours are just divine! They are vibrant and saturated and I love them all..

louet ginger

Euroflax in Natural and Ginger

Euroflax

Euroflax

louet shamrock

Euroflax in Shamrock

So, of course I had to  sample a skein to be completely head over heels with this fibre. Just one little sneaky skein in Eggplant is mine now and I am whipping up a little Diagonal Lace Scarf, which is coming along nicely.  And yes, I can now officially confirm that I truly love knitting with Linen. Or at least with Euroflax Linen. While it is a bit hard to begin with, it starts to soften even as you knit with it…and it will continue to soften with every wash. And a garment knit with it is hardy. It wears so easily and you can throw it in the machine and dryer and you will love it even more…so I have been told.

One of the most knit garments using linen must be the tunic. Personally, I love wearing layers and floaty and airy tunics can be very flattering and stylish. Linen tops are also wonderful to wear in the blazing sun to cover up shoulders and arms without feeling sticky on the skin.

Here are some tunics and other tops you might want to try.

Pipit {by Heidi Kirrmaier}

Liesl {by Julie Weisenberger}

East End {by Alicia Plummer}

Sara Tunic {by Kelly Mac}

Silken Straw Summer Sweater {by Purl Soho}

Surrounding Tank {by Hannah Fettig}

Chambers Street {by Kirsten Kapur}

Leger {by Espace Tricot}

Leger

Leger

And if tunics and tops are not your thing, totes and bags are the next best thing for this sturdy fibre..

Knit Tote {by PurlSoho}

Knit Tote

Knit Tote

Linen Bag {by Hannah Ingalls}

Net Duffle Bag

Other important Shop News would be the arrival of  SOAK to our selection….just in time for the great change of wardrobe…I have started washing all my winter wollens, ready to be packed away till next year. SOAK is a delicately scented wool wash for all your knit wear and delicates. I love the fact that it does not have to be rinsed out and leaves your garments smelling beautifully (if you are not into scents, then we also have an unscented version). Over the next few weeks all orders will have a little SOAK sample included in the parcel, so you can add a fresh scent to your wash.

We have also topped up all our Knitting Needles and Crochet Hooks. Both Knit Pro and Addi are proving to be very popular and we now also stock the beautifully presented Amour Crochet Hooks with their soft handles and smooth hooks. As summer approaches, Crochet is on the up again, and for good reason…nothing like sitting by the beach and hooking on a ripple blanket for me…

On that note, I will leave you to pull the rest of my weeds….before I can justify another inch of knitting….

Enjoy this wonderful weekend!

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PS: The website is under construction, with the new website going live in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for some hot Grand Opening Giveaways and Discounts….

 

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Seasons Change.

As much as I love a good long winter, I cannot help but feel a bounce in my step. The days are getting longer and it is  great to see some daylight when I head out to go to the gym in the morning.

There is no denying that life is good in Spring, all peachy and pink and blossomy, with love in the air…

The darker side of a change of season is however the pile of unfinished projects. Started during the long and frosty nights on the couch, when all there was to do was knit and drink red wine. When every prowl through Ravelry resulted in a must-knit quick project in an irresistible yarn. Surely 3 months of wintery hibernation should be enough to cover kids and friends in wool, including some last-minute presents and quite possibly a  Veera Valimaki shawl. But no, in my case, there is about 4 unfinished projects lurking in the depths of my knitting basket. A baby cardi with missing sleeves, a half knitted cowl, a beautiful stripy shawl with 4 rows to go. Not to mention the cardi I started last winter….

And yet, here I am, considering the weather, the sweet spring breeze that is yet to come and what project I could knit for the warmer temperatures. Reality is that frost was thick this morning and the rain has not stopped. We are still ankle-deep in mud and I still wear my hand warmers every day…so, there is still hope in finishing those UFO and quite possibly squeeze in another wintry project…..

blanket1

Super Easy Baby Blanket {purlbee}

The imminent arrival of a sweet new baby in our family has had me put everything aside to quickly knit up a little blanket. Of course, I am also sampling a new yarn, which is very convenient.

The yarn is Koigu. If you haven’t heard of this Canadian yarn yet, you are not alone. I only discovered it recently, after having heard lots of great things about their amazing colour range. A customer brought some in for me from her recent trip to the US. And I was very impressed by the unique feel. Whilst being a lovely merino, it  has an unusual firmness to it, which is something I have been missing from some of the superfine yarns I use.

The blanket in the picture above is the Super {Easy Baby Blanket} from Purlbee, knit in Koigu Kersti. Another first for me, as I never thought I liked crepe yarn. But there you go, a winner for me.

So stay tuned, as I will be getting a little range of the 4ply  soon….

And speaking of babies, there are about 5 new little people on their way in my circle of friends, which is always great news and a perfect excuse for some tiny in-between knitting (not so good for the UFO’s in the basket..)

I have helped a grandmother-to-be embark on her first of many knitting projects. {Milo} seemed to be the perfect choice and still one of my favourite baby patterns.

Another new pattern that looks very do-able for a beginner knitter is the {Paw Print Cardi}. It would look super cute in our new range of Skein Yarns.

Skein DK - Ayame

Skein DK – Ayame

I am loving this new base by Australian dyer Kirsten. A lovely twist and 8ply is one of the most versatile yarns and the subtle variegation are just delicious.

But if you are not knitting for a baby, then this beautiful shawl might inspire you more….{French Cancan}, would be beautiful in Skeins stunning colour ‘Hopeless Romantic’.

French Cancan

French Cancan

If a shawl is too much of a commitment, you might like the delicate {Ceramic Flowers} by the same designer. Perfect for the cool breeze we get in spring…and ‘Peppermint‘ would be a perfect match.

Fingering weight yarns are just perfect for the warmer weather, when you still want something to cover your neck and shoulders or a cardi to throw on when it gets chilly. For a strong yarn with just a bit of drape and shine, Canopy is a great choice.

Parquet in Canopy fingering

Parquet in Canopy fingering

{Parquet} is a stunning shawl. A  labour of love and just perfect over a t-shirt.

If you prefer something simpler, {Henslowe} might be just your kind of project…

Canopy Fingering in Camu Camu

Canopy Fingering in Camu Camu

{Framed Pullover} is a stunning jumper by Hannah Fettig and Canopy will give it a touch of luxury, perfect drape and most importantly, durability.

A few more patterns that will get you into the mood for spring knitting are:

{Torrent} by Lisa Much

{Chadwick} by Stephen West

{Earth and Sky} by Stephen West

{Amelie} by Gudrun Johnston

{Baby Fiddlehead} by Courtney Kelley

{Cultivar Cardigan} by Megan Goodacre

{Charm} by Juju Vail

{Honey} by Amy Miller

I hope this little list will get you thinking of warmer days. As it is, I am cowering in front of the heater and still warming my bed with a hot water bottle….it may be spring in a couple of weeks and I am still finishing off my UFO’s…

But Spring is in the air. Most definitely!

I would love to hear of your long list of unfinished projects and your plans for Spring….

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The Craft Sessions.

craft sessions 1

Photo by Felicia Semple

My life is pretty simple. Really. Busy, but simple. I don’t need much to keep me happy, content and purring…

..some cheese and quince paste, a rich and hot curry, avocado on toast….and a nice crisp white wine are a few of my favorite things…

…and a good book. A page turner that takes you on a journey and transports you to a life of another era…

…an evening with friends, laughter and a shared meal leaves me with a deep sense of satisfaction….

But above all, there is my craft…

It all starts with falling in love with a colour or shade (be it fabric or yarn). Just the right combination of softness and drape. A light shine and depth of colour. The idea and promise of a new project. The search for a pattern that is just right. And the hours spent letting my hands do the work. Standing back and watching the process unfold. Learning a new skill, being inspired.

The company of women around a craft table and our weekly knitting nights, where it is all about the craft and so much more….

As I said, pretty simple.

And I know one lady in particular, that is feeling very much the same about her craft (and maybe about the food too?).  She felt the same powerful connections that are formed when a group of crafters get together and share their skills and encourage each other in their learning. And it has become her dream to create this community of learning on a larger scale. Combining all the good things a lot of crafters appreciate and crave. Beautiful surroundings, companionship and inspiring craft. Learning new skills, perfecting others and share …

Felicia Semple has been working on this passion of hers for quite some time and this year she has finally made it a reality by creating The Craft Sessions.

The Craft Sessions is a weekend retreat of creative workshops, delicious food, quiet moments and inspiring people. It’s about coming together and sharing a love of ‘making’, appreciating the beauty in the smaller things, and delighting in the pleasure and simplicity of all things handmade.

Located beautiful Yarra Valley, the event is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a weekend knitting, stitching, sewing, printing, dyeing and making. The workshops are a chance to learn new skills and be inspired by an amazing group of gifted and passionate teachers from Australia and NZ. The Craft Sessions aims to bring together people who craft for joy. “

If this sounds like your idea of a perfect weekend, you will want to visit Felicia’s beautiful website and blog for a detailed descriptions of what such a weekend entails. It includes inspiring workshops and wonderful teachers. And the space and time to spread our crafting wings.

The weekend will be held from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th of October 2013. Pop over to the website to register and sign up to their newsletter too. I am sure lots of creative bursts will come from Felicia in the future.

I, for one, am very exited about the wonderful selection of teachers that will be at the weekend. I know many have knitted a “Milo“, so you will be familiar with the name Georgie Hallam from tikki . A wonderful and creative designer, she has come up with some iconic designs that are on the top-to-knit list  on Ravelry. Another teacher is the  amazing knit wear designer and one of my favourites, Kirsten Johnstone. Check out the rest of the impressive list of creatives that will be teaching workshops in Embroidery, Sewing and Dyeing. The hardest will be to choose what classes to attend….

craft

Photo by Felicia Semple

But lets learn more about Felicia, her crafty passions and this wonderful new venture.

ZigoZago: Knitting or Sewing?:

Felicia  :  I love them both for different reasons – they give me different things. A few years ago I would have told you that I wasn’t creative and that I was only interested in the outcome; I just wanted to make some pants or one of the kids needed a cardigan. It turns out that wasn’t so true. I actually love the process. 

I’d say that over the years knitting has been my one true love. It provides a moment of space amongst the daily (joyful?) mess of family life. It brings you back to the moment and centres you where you are. Knitting offers a little bit of meditation no matter where you are or what else is going on. As Elizabeth Zimmerman said “Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises”…..could there be a better life strategy. I think not. Plus you get knitwear at the end of it! How could craft get better??

But then there is sewing. I really don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t sew. What do people do? How do they mend the thousands of holes their kids put in their clothes? Do they just throw them out? And how do you find clothes you truly want to wear. That fit your body and suit your style. I’m finding more and more that the only way to get what I want is to just do it myself.

So there you have it – I probably love sewing because of the product and knitting more because of the process. An answer that isn’t an answer.

 ZigoZago: What makes your crafty heart sing? What inspires you?:

Felicia  : Wow – what a question. Possibility is the thing I love – the possibility that you can make a beautiful things with your hands. I love walking in to my sewing space and looking over some of the pretty things that are sitting on the shelf, sparkling at me. I love the feeling you get when you start a project that you can already see in your head. The joy that comes when you are totally in the flow of a project.

The other thing I love about craft is the community it creates. The discussions that happen at late night craft groups over cake and wine; about family, religion, politics, philosophy, ageing, schooling, love and longing that occur because you have common starting point – the craft.  Or someone dropping in for 15 minutes after school, desperate to sort out a knitting mistake that then turns into a shared dinner. I love the fact it is all about the love really.

ZigoZago: What inspired you to start The Craft Sessions?:

Felicia  : I guess initially we were inspired by similar events that existed overseas. There wasn’t anything like them in here. In Australia there were markets for makers, and day long workshops, and houses you could hire for group craft, but there wasn’t anything for people like us really. People who craft just for the joy of it and who wanted to meet others who did the same, learn some things and come away feeling inspired. There was nothing in Australia at the time that was teaching old school traditional handcrafts in the way that we were doing them. We couldn’t learn from the people whose work we loved as they weren’t really teaching.

Fast forward three years, one more baby and two kids at school means that the time has come when I could have a crack at creating something inspiring.

Plagiarising our own website, we explained a bit about the motivation here:

Over the past 5 years, we have gathered in kitchens and living rooms across Melbourne to craft. The idea of The Craft Sessions has grown out of those gatherings –  a collective love for making things, sharing stories and recognition that there is a spirit in the craft revival that involves both the beauty of the product and also the shared process that is making. The Craft Sessions are based on the simple idea that craft can build community.

We created The Craft Sessions to provide a space for crafters to come together; to share ideas, to learn from, and be inspired by one another. We wanted time to retreat together. To connect over more than just craft. To meet others who value handmade and the joy that creating brings to our everyday life.

We wanted to create an event where enthusiastic beginners could come and learn to make beautiful things with simple techniques. Where old-school crafts could be taught in new-school ways. Where already skilled crafters could come, be inspired and walk away with some new tricks or skills. Everyone loves a new trick – yes?

And finally the best reason for creating The Craft Sessions (which is purely selfish!) was that we wanted the opportunity to meet, hangout with and be taught by some of our crafting heros. People whose work we love and who inspire us in the everyday.

ZigoZago: Tell me about your crafting journey – and how you fit crafting into your life.

Felicia  : My mum was a sewing teacher and ran a quilting shop for 15years. My nanna was a maker as was my aunt and I really don’t remember not sewing. I made a little red dolls bikini when I was five or six.

That said there was a period in my late teens and nearly all of my 20s that I didn’t make a thing. What brought me back to making was that my oldest friend was turning 30. I wanted to make her something special and as I was overseas without a sewing machine, I decided to learn how to knit. I found a pattern I liked – a lace shawl obviously – and purchased some yarn and began. I ripped that shawl out over and over again and when it was finished it did have many an error (feature?) but my love affair with knitting had begun.

I then had a pile of little kids and discovered that making gave me something of me back in amongst the chaos. Crafting has become part of my everyday life. I use it as a reward for doing housework, and a way to get through the boring bits of life. It means that there is something visible that comes out of my day – other than a house that looks like it’s been burgled – I make stuff.

Zigozago: Where can I find out more about the Craft Sessions? 

Felicia  : Have a look at our website thecraftsessions.com. We share a few photos of our workshops, we have a blog, and a facebook page where we share some of our goings on. You can also follow us on instagram at @thecraftsessions. 

knit

Photo by Felicia Semple

And if you head over the the super cute Che and Fidel Blog, you can participate in an awesome giveaway with prizes from Felicia and the Teachers of the Craft Sessions.

Felicia has also recently published a beautiful pattern  Big Hearted Cowl on her blog. Do check it out and if you like it, then you must knit it. I know I will…

If you have been inspired by Felicia’s crafty passions and new venture, do let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear how you nurture your passions, what makes your heart sing or simply, why you love crafting.

I hope you have been well. Spring is near and with it a whole lot of new patterns to explore and new yarns to discover….

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Breathless.

Do you sometimes feel you are on the go all day, everyday, with only little snippets of downtime gleaned here and there?

Well, I just had a stretch of 4 weeks where I hardly looked up to do the proverbial smelling of the roses. Add to that School Holidays and 3 lively rascals and I am feeling  exhausted and in desperate need of some quiet time. Preferably with a knitting project. Making matters harder is the constant influx of amazing yarns and the temptation of a quick-fix project to take me to the verge of slight desperation. I even fantasise about the perfect hiding spot where I can take refuge just for an hour or two. Sometimes life is just a wee bit too fast for me and I need to take a step back and go back to basics. Do an Eskimo Roll*, more menu planning, more exercise and more knitting…and a holiday to Bali would not hurt either…

However, the second best thing to hiding out on an island with some hidden yarn treasure is of course to talk to other equally passionate knitters. The best panacea to the general feeling of  ‘blah, is to surround oneself with vibrant, passionate and slighty obsessed yarnies. To contemplate the qualities of different yarn bases, muse over the stunning range of the colour grey and debate over the many benefits of crafting. …

And to help someone fall in love with a yarn and reignite that knitting fire is second to none…

Which brings me to the mother of all yarn conventions, otherwise known as the Australian Sheep and Wool show, which will be starting this Friday in Bendigo. A yearly event, the Show has gone from strength to strengths over the past years. Partly thanks to the incredible popularity of Ravelry and the Renaissance of the ancient craft of Knitting and Crochet. While I have always loved the rural feel of the show and am passionate about  supporting our local industry, the show has now started to attract a much younger and hip crowd of yarn lovers and, dare I say the word, yarn snobs.

So, with the island holiday in the background, life this week is a flurry of activity. Kids are back at school and the shop is opening its doors once again to the local lovers of wool and to boxes of new deliveries ordered to coincide with the wool show. Hurray for yarn deliveries!

Packing shelves and banners and bags, along with all my lovely yarns, we will be holding the fort at the Wool show with lots of wonderful yarns. A stunning range of the madly popular Madelinetosh (pending delivery of 2 pesky boxes who got lost in transit), a fresh batch of Skein, some scrumptious Dream in Colour and of course the supremely luxurious and addictive Fibre Company Yarns. This years big intro will be The Fibre company’s newest range called Meadow.

gentianviolet_375

A lace weight yarn, Meadow boast an exiting  blend of fibres consisting of 40% Merino, 25% Baby Llama, 20% Silk + 15% Linen. So you have the bounce, the softness and drape, the shine and the rustic feel and dry hand. I have yet to try it out but I am told it is has a beautiful, modern feel and just the perfect weight for spring and summer knitting. And as usual with the Fibre Company Yarns, the range of colours is quite unique and elegant.

Meadow in Aster

Meadow in Aster

Meadow in Pokeweed

Meadow in Pokeweed

With its feather light construction, shawls are a must for Meadow and there are wonderful patterns to tempt.

The Allium collection is a series of patterns specifically designed for Meadow and the style is  utterly modern and stylish. I love the understated elegance of the large shawls and wraps.

Allium

Umbrel

Ursa

Shallot

I dare you to find just one favourite…

At the show we will also introduce a new local pattern designer and fabulous knitter, Ambah OBrien and her lovely  patterns. All Ambah’s patterns are now available as PDF’s in the shop and they will be available over the Show Weekend too.

I will leave you with these photos and  pattern suggestions to dream up projects and maybe fantasize about your quiet place.

I am off to load the truck, track boxes and generally trying to keep it all together till the weekend.

See you at NOBLE HALL, stall 21,  in Bendigo.

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Packing hundreds of skeins of wool into

Packing hundreds of skeins of wool into plastic tubs is never fun, but I am really looking forward to setting up my temporary home at the Bendigo Wool and Sheep Show this weekend. If you can make it down for a day, then be sure to check out the Sheep Shearing Compentition….;)

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A Royal visit.

Firewood Shawl

Firewood Shawl

Well, it almost feels like royalty.

I have discovered  Pompom Quarterly through a lovely customer a while back and when I finally got my hands on this quirky mag, I knew I just had to have it in the shop. It felt like Pompom and ZigoZago were meant to go together. Gorgeous patterns and Artisan yarns are a perfect match!

Every issue us beautifully photographed and styled, each pattern unique and fresh. And the 5th issue is making me want to drop every single project (yes, there are a few), so that I can cast on for something new.

pompom5

pompom Issue 5

My favourite has to be the Firefly Shawl but I also love the Camp & Trail Socks.

Camp and trail socks

Camp and trail socks

Firewood Shawl

Firewood Shawl

However, Mountain Moss Shawl combines my favourite colour with a simple construction and just a beautiful lace detail.

So you can imagine, I was sitting on my hands waiting patiently for my delivery but it now seems my precious parcel has been held up in transit. I imagine some postal operator between London and Melbourne has discovered Pompom and has forgotten to pass the parcel along.

But on the positive side, ZigoZago will be hosting a very special afternoon tea and show & tell with none other than the lovely Meghan Fernandes, one half of the two publishers of Pompom Quarterly. That is right, Meghan will be visiting us on Sunday, 23rd June at 2pm for tea and she is bringing with her more copies of the Issue 5 and all the lovely samples of this issues patterns for us to admire and try out.

Meghan is of course also an  accomplished knitter and has even got a MA in Knitting in 20th Century Literature, so I imagine this will be a lovely afternoon, with yummy treats, good company and interesting conversation…

So this is the time to plan a trip to the country and visit us for a cosy afternoon.

If you are interested in joining just, please RSVP for catering purposes to info@zigozago.com.au.

And I am certain, we will have all of our copies of the magazine in store before then too….

Looking forward meeting lots of you for Sunday tea..

Till then,

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Fun times…

Well, they do say time flies when you are having fun, don’t they?

We  have enjoy the glorious autumnal colour display and the misty and foggy  mornings…but sadly autumn is making its exit, so knitting is high on everyone’s agenda at the moment it seems…

Boxes of yarn arrive weekly and the shelves are bursting with colour and texture. The shop is buzzing with new customers and regulars topping up their stash and planning out new projects. I have been now in the shop almost 4 months and over the last few weeks, it has been getting noticeably busier. Saturdays  a lot of customers  make the trip from Melbourne and it is so lovely to meet online customers in person. This is certainly the best part of having a bricks and mortar shop…there is a vibrant energy when knitters get together…The enthusiasm is infectious and we all share the same passion for all things yarny and Ravelry. And if someone doesn’t know Ravelry yet, well, then we certainly don’t hesitate to introduce them to the time-wasting delights of this site. A life without Ravelry? Unthinkable…Don’ you agree?

Outside of the shop, life has gotten busier too it seems…the kids are thriving and enjoying school and all their many activities, coming home bouncing, boisterous and loud. As the temperatures drop, we all had to scramble through our winter boxes in search of last year’s woollens to assess who needs what this year. Who’s arms have grown the most? Who’s head does not fit into last year’s beanie? Well, these growing bodies sure keep me busy…So a few new knits have already been cast on and off and more are in my project list. I  have almost completed my last  custom orders, so its time for an indulgent knit or two.

So lets start you off with some of our new yarns and colours in the shop, some oldies that are making a fresh appearance and some fabulous patterns that are making the headlines….

First up we have a yarn that has been part of ZigoZago since the beginnings but only played second fiddle to the super popular Cascade 220. I have used Lana d’Oro a couple of years ago for the cute vest  Like sleeves for kids, and thankfully, I made it big enough for my girl to still wear it. Knowing my girl and looking at the vest now, I am very pleased at how the yarn has worn. I mean, lets face it, pilling is part of the package when working with natural fibres, and some yarns pill more than others. While I can tolerate a certain amount of pilling, it is sometimes quite disheartening when a beloved projects looks like it has been chewed up after only a couple of wears….So, I have always been on the lookout for the perfect yarn for kids garments in particular. And while I have found a few, this humble skein has won me over. With a fibre content of 50/50 Wool and Alpaca, this 10-ply yarn it is soft without being too hairy and has a very gentle drape. It is not your luxurious fibre, but when it comes to choosing a solid, honest yarn for a much worn garment,  Lana d’Oro is right up there…

Lana d'Oro - Dawn

Lana d’Oro – Dawn

Lana d'Oro

Lana d’Oro

Abate {knit} a perfect boy jumper and Ease, the grown up version

Antler and Moss cardigan {knit} another cute kids cardi

Greyhaven Hat {knit}

X-stitch shrug {crochet}

Nanook {knit} a beautiful ladies cardi

Vancouver Fog {knit} some fancy mittens

My own Abate has been knit up and is going to its new home soon. I loved this pattern so much, I will have to make one for my own sweet boy…

Abate in Lana d'Oro - Hare

Abate in Lana d’Oro – Hare

And still from Cascade, lots of top ups of some old favourites in the popular 220 and a few new colours are now filling up the shelves…

220 in Pacific

220 in Pacific

220 in Turtle

220 in Turtle

220 is such a versatile yarn..It is sturdy and rustic and hard-wearing. And it felts beautifully…

French Press Felted Slippers {knit}

Rosebud {knit}

Little Coffee Bean Cardigan {knit}

Koolhaas {knit}

A very braidy cowl {knit}

We have also started stocking 220 Superwash and it is proving very popular with our local customers…

220 Superwash in Straw

220 Superwash in Straw

220 Superwash in Mauve

220 Superwash in Mauve

Another popular yarn when it comes to choose a hardy yarn is Eco Wool. The many natural hues seem to be very popular for a chunky man jumper, but it is equally fantastic for knitting up rustic blankets when you want to keep it muted and neutral.

Eco Wool in Silver Grey

Eco Wool in Silver Grey

Latte Baby Coat {knit} for the little ones…

Agnes {knit} a timeless piece..

Boot Cuffs {knit} a quick project

State Street Cowl {knit} chunky and cosy

Enso {knit} cosy and stylish coat

Hot Chocolate {knit} a cosy jumper for your girl

And while we are talking about chunky yarns, I am loving another chunky yarn that has arrived this week and make a grand entrance with its bold and luminous colours….yes, Malabrigo Chunky has finally arrived and the new base is just fantastic.

The new delivery is noticeably glowing and it has almost got a shine to it….so I can’t wait to cast on for a little project on the side…

With colours like Malabrigo, you just need a simple project to get the ‘whow’ effect. A beanie, a garter neck warmer or a chunky cowl is a wonderful way to sample this plush and soft gem.

Holland Cowl {knit}

Grown up cosy {knit} a quick project to make an entrance

I heart cables Thorpe  and Toasty Topper are my favourite chunky hats for Malabrigo..

And speaking of Malabrigo, Rios has also made a splash with the new colours in stock.

Rios in Ivy

Rios in Ivy

Rios in Lotus

Rios in Lotus

Rios is a great favourite with many because of its superb softness and for being superwash. It is a great yarn for beanies, cosy shawls and of course, garments. Superwash garments have the tendency to grow after its first wash and I have certainly found this to be true with Rios. If you make a garment with Rios, it certainly pays to factor this in when choosing a size.

Small things sweater {knit} a classic baby top

Cambio {knit} an easy vest

Dragon’s Rest Shaw {knit}

Over on the hand dyed front I must confess I am still in love with the luscious Road to China and it gives me a thrill every time I get new customers to give this little skein a pat. And often, one or two skeins find a new hope and a special project to delight.

On the weekends I have been sneaking an hour or two at the dye pots, still learning and playing with colours and discovering new yarn bases…gosh, it is addictive! Surprisingly, I have been drawn to the reds and purples and pinks, but I had a go at greens too…there is still so much to learn, but in the meantime, I have a gorgeous pile one one-of-a-kind skeins of my own creation.

Pinks

Pinks

hand dyed 3

Greens

hand dyed 6

Slouchy beanie in hand dyed Merino/Alpaca

hand dyed 4 hand dyed 5

I hope you have enjoyed this autumn weather, knitting up cosy accessories and warm jumpers for the chilly season. And there is still so much to do….

Stay warm,

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