I am so pleased to be able to say....
Welcome to the very first Whisky Bay Woollens KAL!
Low Tide has been one of the most popular patterns so far for WBW, so I think it’s time we get together and share in a little knit-along.
These sweet anklet socks are seriously addictive to make, and only use approximately 50g of sock yarn, so they are perfect for using up leftovers (or whipping up two pairs?).
So, are you in?!
The Nitty Gritty:
There are two up for grabs!
1x skein of gorgeous Miss Click Clack Merri Creek sock yarn in the ‘Mister Sandman’ colourway
(image credit: Kelly O'Day - Miss Click Clack)
1x sock/shawl-sized project bag sewn by yours truly, using reclaimed vintage fabric from my treasured op-shop stash.
First winner drawn will win the yarn, second winner will be the recipient of the bag.
Feel free to share your progress on Instagram too, using #LowTideKAL. Because veryone loves to see progress photos :)
(but remember; only FO photos posted in the Ravelry group FO Thread are eligible for prizes)
I'm thrilled to share that I will again be teaching classes at The Handmakers Factory this year, coinciding with the move to their new studio in Seddon!
Expanding on the successful Beginner's Knitting workshop from last year, we will be running a full series of workshops on this subject, delivered as a bundle over 3 consecutive weeks. The advantage of this format for participants is the ongoing support through those first steps of learning, and it also allows us to take things slowly and let you really grasp each step before moving to the next. I'm so excited about this series, I think it's a winner!
Returning from 2015 is the popular Toe-up Socks, where we explore the magic of the Turkish cast-on and the short-row heel. Feedback from previous participants was extremely positive and I am looking forward to sharing it with a whole new group of people this year.
And in a new workshop series for 2016, we will incorporate a Whisky Bay Woollens pattern - Urchin - in an introduction to knititng cables and lace, as well as how to work from both written and charted instructions. It's all about upskilling and continually adding to our knitting toolkit!
If that isn't enough, I've also been invited to teach at a special creative series with Hawthorn Arts Centre. Offered as a bundle deal for workshops in May, I'll be taking participants through a series of hands-on projects that equip them with the basic skills, techniques and terminology of knitting, as well as an overview of how to fix common mistakes. Bookings available via their website.
Hopefully there is something there that peaks your interest! It's going to be a busy Winter ahead, which is such a wonderful thing, wouldn't you agree?
So very excited to reveal the second collection of new patterns from Whisky Bay Woollens - Coastal Chill.
There is a definite focus on lace for this collection, and although there is a strong Summer vibe, the patterns are all about the transitions between seasons and going with the flow.
Dune is a long shawl with an impressive fringe, that incorporates a geometric lace stitch pattern with a cotton/hemp yarn. It's flowing and drapey, and great for layering, and who doesn't love a good fringe? Retro summer shawls will never fall from fashion as far as I'm concerned.
Low Tide are some super sweet little anklets with a panel of lace across the top of the foot. Written for Miss Click Clack Merri Creek Sock yarn, these lovelies are truly Made in Melbourne.
I am finding a new love for handknitted socks in the form of anklets too - they are just so cosy to pad around the house early in the morning, or tuck your toes into as the night air cools. These are already in high rotation as we slip from Summer into Autumn here in the southern hemisphere.
Urchin is another beanie, because I doubt anyone can have too many beanies. Lace-and-cable ribs are just so accommodating when it comes to stretch and slouch, and the loose gauge this pattern is knit at only adds to the comfy feel.
I've used Isager Jensen, which is available in Australia from Sunspun Fine Yarns, but Shilasdair Luxury DK or Rowan Felted Tweed DK would also be excellent choices. This little baby is going to be a favourite for many, including my teenager who has already nabbed all the samples for herself and her friends!
All patterns have charts and written instructions, and two sizes have been included for both Low Tide and Urchin.So, get your chill on. Slow down. Relax. Enjoy.
The weather here is really starting to warm up as we approach high-Summer, and as happens every year around this time I have begun to think about what my Summer creative life is going to look like. In Summer, I like to slow it down and take it easy...
Although I do knit all year around, I'm similar to a lot of people that like to work on smaller, lighter projects during the warmer months, such as shawls or socks. There has already been plenty of those, but this year there has also been more thought about what other kinds of fibre-related projects I'd like to explore?
One thing I have been meaning to try for a long time is solar dyeing, so with the clear sunny days we've been having, I decided the time was now!
Under my sink was a bag full of brown onion skins that I have been collecting for the last 12 months, and from all my research and discussion with dyers; onion skins seem to be the easiest natural dyestuff to extract colour from. Being a spur of the moment project I didn't have mordants on hand, but I did throw a slug of white vinegar in. I'm not sure what that will actually do but I guess I hoped it might just help the dye "take" a little better?
The jar is one of my Nana's old biscuit jar (because you always keep biscuits in glass to keep them fresh, according to her wisdom) and it was the perfect size to take the 200g skein of some cream 4ply wool that I found at the opshop. I assume that because no mordants have been used, this will not affect the jar's capacity to be used for foodstuff at a future date, either.
I really like the slow nature of this way of dyeing. Results aren't immediate in any way, or even guaranteed. There is always a chance the dyepot, or jar in this case, won't even yield a result.
I posted on Instagram a couple of weeks back, seeking advice about how long to leave the jar, and received many great replies. I really appreciate the generosity of this community, so willing to share knowledge, experiences, and encouragement.
The jar was left for two weeks in a good sunny spot on my back decking. I prodded it a couple of times, and moved the onion skins and yarn around hoping to get even-ish coverage of dye.
The end result was this lovely, butterscotchy semi-solid.
It wasn't exactly what I expected, though. I had always imagined a more turmeric-yellow from onion skins. I am supposing that is the product of using a mordant though?
Regardless, I'm very happy with the butterscotch. I think I'll end up pairing it with another colour and working it into a marled fabric - maybe a beautiful deep indigo blue, or even a darker caramel colour might be lovely?
And the verdict on solar dyeing? I definitely see more in my future! So simple and very little attention required, really. It seems like the perfect way to have a play with natural dyeing. I'd love to hear from you what your favourite dyestuff are for this method of dyeing yarn, too?
I am very exciting to let you all know that Whisky Bay Woollens is participating in the Shepherdess and Friends giveaway, running from Dec 6th -23rd 2015!
The giveaway will be run over on Instagram, and is open to Australian and New Zealand entrants.
There is an amazing group of creative people involved, with prizes covering all sorts of different crafts and handmade products.
I'll be offering two full sets of the Oceanside collection knitting patterns, in pdf downloadable format which will be emailed to the winners after announced on Christmas Eve.
How to enter....Shepherdess and Friends Giveaway!
15 Amazing artists, 15 Awesome Handmade prizes!
Giveaway closes 10am 23rd December 2015 AEST and the lucky winners will be announced 8pm AEST Christmas Eve.
**Australian and NZ entrants only**
For your chance to win one of these amazing prizes you must first:
Good luck to everyone!! Make sure you check out all of the incredible artists accounts for sneak peeks of the amazing prizes up for grabs.
** THIS GIVEAWAY IS IN NO WAY SPONSORED, ENDORSED OR ADMINISTERED BY, OR ASSOCIATED WITH INSTAGRAM**
Just like that; boom! it's November. How did that happen, I ask myself on a daily basis?
It has been a busy time for me, and I guess that is how life goes sometimes. At the start of October I went on a beautiful holiday to Byron Bay with some of my favourite women. We laughed, ate good food and drank too much cider; we swam, did yoga, rode bikes, solved the problems of the world, laughed some more, and celebrate a milestone birthday for one of our group.
It was just the refresh and recharge I needed, and now I've returned I'm busy working hard on the next release of patterns; a collection with some Summer reflection and hints of slowing down.
I'm so looking forward to sharing more with you soon, but until then I will leave you with some of the beautiful scenery of Byron Bay...
The light was amazing in Byron, everywhere we went! I could have spent so much longer photographing it everyday.
Today I headed to the Cranbourne Sheep and Woolcraft Fair, a local annual event run by the South East Region of Black and Coloured Sheep Breeders Association. The Fair showcases everything woolly from raw fleeces, roving, handspun and commercial yarns, weaving, spinning and the accessories to facilitate use of them all!
We arrived right on opening at 9.30am, and were casually strolling around stalls but within 20 minutes the hall was a-buzz and pumping with people, and it was clear this event has well and truly hit the fibrecraft community's calendar.
This year was my second trip to the Fair, and I was looking forward to seeing what was on offer, as well as meeting up with a few traders I've been chatting with via social media. It's always exciting to discover new creative, and even more exciting to find out they are locals.
Shepherdess was one of those on my list to seek out. She's working with indigo on roving and finished yarn and I managed to snap up one of her sock yarn skeins. I love this soft blue, aptly named 'Clouds' and am looking forward to getting it onto the needles soon!
I also picked up a skein of Araucania Ranco (sock) in a particularly gorgeous colourway full of sea blues, greens and deep browns. I'm debating whether this will be socks or perhaps I will pair it with a complementary solid and work it into a shawl of some sort?
There is a big focus on spinning and rovings at this Fair, which I remembered from last year too. I don't spin, myself, however it was wonderful to walk through all the beautiful fleeces and rovings and take the time to speak to the many people there who were plying away. Tempting as it all looked, I think adding another craft to my list of things to do wouldn't be wise...at this stage. Never say never!
Not feeling like I'd collected enough, I had another sweep of the stalls and these cute stitch markers from Small Finds were too hard to resist. I like 'flat' stitch markers as I find they don't get in the way as much as rounded shapes. I had a good chat to the stallholder about this and she happily helped me hunt through to find all the flat ones to choose from. That's another reason why I like this event so much; it's small enough that it retains a personable feel and the stallholders and the visitors alike all reflect this. I possibly spent as much time chatting to people passionate about their product or craft as I did browsing stalls.
On our final pass around the market hall before we left, I picked up some natural moth repellent sachets which smell so good you'd be happy to use them just for their scent alone. I'm always on the lookout for these kind of natural products and they were very reasonable priced at $2.50 per sachet. They are also sold on etsy via the MisterStiltSkin store if you would like to check them out further.
All in all, this is a lovely event, with a definite "grassroots" local vibe and a great collective showcase aspect. I really enjoyed the day, and would recommend it to anyone interested in going next year. It's always listed on the Black and Coloured Sheep Breeders Association calendar and the Handknitters Guild of Victoria are likewise very good at advertising on their calendar and social media.
I'm slowly returning to reality after attending the Craft Sessions 2015 this weekend. This was my third year attending the event - yes, I have been fortunate to have attended every year so far, from the inaugural event in 2013. Re-entry is always a bit of a shock and I never remember to book an extra day of leave to help with the assimilation!
Felicia and her band of women - Anna, Claire, Jenn and Martine - went to great lengths to ensure 2015 lived up to expectations, but also to show the growth and evolution of the event too. A few things were comfortingly the same; a few were pleasantly different. The inclusion of the Mini Market on Saturday afternoon was a big hit, and lots of lovely wares were on display (and being purchased judging by the happy people clasping bags of goodies at pre-dinner drinks!)
I went to yoga with Gemma both mornings and it was a perfect, grounding way to start the day. Sunday morning I was rather early so I sat chatting quietly with Gemma waiting for the class to start, and as we were admiring the bushland setting the sun started to peak up over the ridge and shine upon the space. It was just a bit magical.
I really liked the format of starting classes on the Friday afternoon, which I can't recall if was the same program as last year, or something that came out of the suggestions from 2014? Either way, shortly after check-in on Friday afternoon we will all immersed in our first classes. I'd elected for Knitting stitch patterns in the round and upside down, with Georgie Hallam from tikkiknits. It was my first time taking one of her classes and it was great - for those that haven't had the pleasure, Georgie has a lovely, fun way of teaching and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all aspects of knitwear design.
Saturday was spent with a teacher I'm so lucky to also call a friend. Jules, from woollenflower, who has recently moved to Scotland to live (and I miss her dreadfully!) was teaching her Knitting for Speed, Comfort and Efficiency workshop where I learned, among other things, how to knit Portuguese-style. Oh my. It's amazing and particularly good for textured stitch patterns incorporate knit and purl stitches, like Balnarring, due to how the yarn is tensioned between these two stitches. I didn't manage to get a photo of any of us practicing the technique though!
Here I am trying Lever knitting, which is how Stephanie Pearl-McPhee knits (take a look here at how fast she is at it!). I'm also wearing a vintage tartan woollen scarf that Jules brought me back from Scotland as a gift. I love it's whisky colours and it will be treasured.
During the class we also had a quick demo of a traditional knitting belt, which fascinate me.
Saturday afternoon was listed as "free time" on the program, although there were several mini workshops and demos throughout the afternoon if you were inclined. Spinning, spoon carving, blocking your knits were a few of the things on offer however we decided to take the opportunity to sit and knit with a glass (or two) of wine, and catch up with everyone.
I stepped outside of knitting-related workshops for the Sunday, and instead chose to do some screen printing with Lesley from mazeandvale. Every year I've been keen to try one of her classes but there was always a timetable clash of some sort preventing me. If you aren't familiar with Lesley's work you should go and check it out now. Not only does she produce stunning printed fabric but recently she has been working on a beautiful series of watercolours, and you can find both for sale on her website.
This is Lesley showing us how to print repeats, which was surprisingly easier than I'd remembered (if you get your design right).
I hadn't done screen printing since my art school days, and never on fabric, so this was a great way to spend a sunny day. We set up out on the balcony of one of the conference rooms and away we went. The aim of the class was to show you how to screen print easily at home with limited equipment and material, which was particularly appealing to me. There were a lot of areas of creating work that I could no longer utilise when I left my studio behind years ago, and to have access to one of those again was a little exciting.
Before we knew it, it was time for final farewells and it seemed like it was over all too soon. With last hugs and exchanges of contact details with new found friends, we were on our way out of the Yarra Valley and back towards home. Back to reality, but with new inspiration, skills and friendships and a renewed sense of how creativity and craft fits within daily life. It was a good vibe to finish the weekend on.
If you'd like to see more of the Craft Sessions, the hashtag to follow on all social media is #thecraftsessions2015
As I've mentioned before, a good deal of my insipiration is drawn from nature. I love the colour plays and the textures, and the process of then trying to translate them into knitting patterns.
I spent this afternoon looking back through some photos and my creative notebook. So many new ideas were popping into my head that I barely had time to get them all down on paper before I forgot!
How beautiful are the textural elements of these barnacles on the remnants of the old jetty? Their sharp surface sit against the weathered wood and rusty bolts in such a great way and the bleached colour of the barnacles has a gorgeous depth and nuance.
These pockets of rockpools filled with mustard coloured seaweed and the black, cracked rock surface are so beautiful too. A classic colour combination that has been used successfully in designs many times. I have an idea brewing for a shawl from this little snapshot.
Looking through the stash of yarn I have on hand, it was interesting to note how many of these colours are already there. Not really that surprising, but interesting especially when to starting to pair them up.
So now I have a head full of even more ideas for new patterns for you! I can't wait to get them out of my head and into reality so I can share them with you all.
In other news Whisky Bay Woollens patterns are now also available via Craftsy, for those who don't use Ravelry or just prefer the option.