Why 'Baroque Purls'?

I just made the switch from my old Instagram handle @amyvdlaar (an abbreviation of my name) to @baroquepurls, which I’ve been using on Ravelry for years. Now that I’m using Instagram as much as Ravelry, I decided it was high time my names on my two favourite sites matched, so that people can find and recognise me more easily. And I realised that while I’m at it, I should probably explain why I originally chose the name!

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Knitted treasure

Have you been following the Yarn Love Challenge on Instagram? I've been doing my best to keep up with the prompts for the last couple of months, and it's been great for sparking ideas for my daily photos and also discovering other yarn-loving people through the hashtag.

The challenge prompt for April 30th was "made for me", which gave me the idea of showing off an amazing sweater which my Mum made for me, almost 30 years ago...

That's me and my brother feeding the chooks!

I'm a big fan of the harmonious colour palette, with its brights toned down with greys and pastels. Isn't it beautiful?

The pattern is 'Outlined Star' from Kaffe Fassett's 1985 book Glorious Knitting. It's one of the gems from Mum's collection of retro knitting books which we get out now and then to marvel over. Some of the 80s books are more valuable as comedy than inspiration right now, but Glorious Knitting still stands up in my opinion! I love the photography and colours, and I'm in awe of some of the designs. If you're keen for some top-notch colourwork inspiration, you might be able to find it at your local library or second-hand bookshop. 

There are certain knitting techniques that are generally considered difficult or advanced at the moment, that weren't so much when I was growing up. This sweater incorporates two of them: stranded colourwork knit flat, and 3-colour stranding. And because Mum was comfortable with these techniques, I didn't shy away from them when I first learned to knit. Thanks Mum!

My first attempt at colourwork of any kind was an Inga Hat, which I tried to adapt for flat knitting, but got horribly confused by the braid at the brim. Later, when I'd learned to knit in the round, my first completed colourwork project was an Opus Spicatum hat in a full rainbow of colours instead of the original two - which resulted in working 3-colour (and even a few 4-colour) rounds. It was a massive challenge, but I managed to finish it with the help of online tutorials and sheer bloody-mindedness. Hooray for adventurous newbies! ;)

Insulate 1,000!

My INSULATE! Hat has reached 1,000 projects on Ravelry - that's a huge milestone for me, and I'm thrilled that so many people liked my hat enough to knit their own! You can see a few of these fabulous projects (in an amazing array of colour combos) on the pattern's Ravelry page.

The INSULATE! Hat was one of my early-ish knit designs from mid-2012, and I offered it as a free pattern to other knitters who share my geeky love of Daleks. Its stranded colourwork design is nice and simple, and every now and then I receive a lovely comment from someone who used this hat as their gateway to knitting colourwork, which really warms my designer heart!

If you'd like to make one of your own, you can download the free pattern here.

Up for a crafting challenge?

Like any popular website with a big social element, Ravelry has its own traditions and special events. One of my favourites is the Ravellenic Games, held every two years to coincide with the winter or summer Olympics.

Ravellenics participants choose one or more projects that will be a personal challenge, and try to finish before the closing ceremony. The next Games are coming up in a few weeks beginning on the 5th of August, so if this sounds like fun you still have time to pick your projects. Joining a team is optional, but definitely adds to the fun in my opinion!

Last time around I crocheted a great big rainbow blanket:

I'm still super proud of it, and it's fantastic to have a real wool lap blanket in the lounge when it gets cold.

This time, I'm going to go big again and knit a Blank Canvas sweater. It's DK-weight, with 3/4 sleeves, and using a pattern I've knit before, so it shouldn't be impossible to finish in two-and-a-bit weeks (I hope). But it will still be a stretch for me, since I usually take ages to finish a garment. My plan is to halt all design-related knitting during the Games and concentrate on making myself a new comfy jersey. :)

Swatching ahead of time is encouraged (by analogy to 'training' for an event), so I've begun my quest to get my gauge correct. This is my first swatch in Madelinetosh Longrider DK, which I need to undo and knit again on smaller needles:

Wish me luck!

Birthday Sale + Slow Fashion II

I'm having a pattern sale in my Ravelry store! On October 13th, all of my individual self-published patterns will be 20% off. Just use the code BDAYSALE20 at the Ravelry checkout.


I'm not sure yet how we'll be celebrating, but I'm leaning towards fish and chips at the beach. :)

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Now on to Slow Fashion October... this week I've been focusing on the 'handmade' part of the prompt:
Week 2, October 5-11: SMALL
handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

I desperately need more lightweight, breezy summer tops, preferably sleeveless or with very short sleeves. Tshirts just don't cut it for an Australian summer! I also want to sew at least one long lightweight skirt with an elastic waist for maximum comfort.

I've been doing lots of research, and even ordering some supplies. I've gotten as far as ordering some fabric, and I've found a few indie patterns for the kinds of tops I want to wear: simple, fuss-free, and beginner-level (especially as I haven't sewn from patterns before). I'm most excited about Sew DIY's Lou Box Top, which includes different options for the neckline and hem. I also ordered a copy of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, which looks amazing.

I'm also hoping to replicate my home-made dinosaur top in a lighter fabric. I sewed the original three years ago and I still wear it regularly! It's held up to wear and washing a lot better than my shop-bought tshirts, which usually end up out-of-shape and shabby after a year or two - hooray for handmade. :)

Dino top + crochet-in-progress (Feb 2014)