Simple lace: a love letter

I have a confession to make. Relatively simple lace made up of basic stitches is one of my favourite kinds of knitting! I love to look at complex lace as much as the next knitting-obsessed person, but I really enjoy the process of knitting simpler lace. It just flows off my needles! And you can do a lot with simple lace stitches, with a little inspiration.

I've designed a few scarves and shawls that fall into this category of deceptively-simple lace, most recently my Hextile Wrap:

Its basic elements are garter stitch with some areas of yarn-overs and k2togs, and once you get the gist of the pattern you really don't need to check the chart/instructions very often. The speediness of simple lace means you can see the shapes emerging quickly, which is really satisfying. I find it keeps me wanting to knit "just one more repeat"...

Two of my lace shawls which I think also hit this sweet spot of simple-but-satisfying are Folia Crescent, which has a nice small easily-memorised lace repeat, and Silverwing, which has a closely-related lace pattern elongated into feathers.

Keeping to the bird theme, I have two more examples in my Tailfeather scarf and Kea shawl. Once again, one of these stitch patterns is a variation on the other. Simple stitches; endless possibilities!

These two designs aren't quite as straightforward, since their vertical ribs mean no 'rest' rows on the wrong side, and they also require the occasional double decrease stitch in addition to knit/purl/yo/k2tog/ssk. But they do share my favourite characteristic of simple geometric lace in that you can always tell what comes next, just by looking at your knitting.

I'll be casting on a new simple lace shawl tomorrow. :)

Wellington appreciation

I was lucky enough to visit Wellington last week! Willie's grandma was turning 90, so we all came over from Melbourne for the celebrations and to see our family & friends. It's always great to see my home city again, but this trip had a few extra-special highlights. 

Thursday was a whirlwind of brunch at Island Bay, settling into the hotel where we would be holding the first of the birthday parties, and zipping around town gathering supplies (and coffee)...

The waves at Island Bay, across the road from our brunch cafe

Julian and I stopped for long blacks at the Flight Coffee Hangar!

On Friday, after the party, I went for a lovely solo stroll from our hotel to the waterfront and back. The familiar landmarks looked beautiful in the early evening light...

Looking across the harbour

Over the bridge to Civic Square

My favourite library ever (sniff)...

Old Bank Arcade with overhead bus power-lines

I had Saturday afternoon all to myself, so naturally I headed for Tash's amazing yarn shop Holland Road Yarn Co, stopping for a quick lunch at Deluxe on the way.

Oriental Bay beach, below my old flat

Deluxe Cafe has reliably amazing salads!

I spent nearly two hours at the yarn shop, browsing and chatting... and spinning! A spinning group was in residence on the shop's couches, with wheels and spindles whizzing. Jen invited me to join in, and loaned me one of the shop spinning wheels and some fibre to have a try at wheel-spinning.

I had only ever spun yarn using a spindle, so I needed help to get started (thank you Alexis!). I managed to get everything flowing nicely a couple of times, in between fighting with over-twisting, re-attaching my fibre, and spinning the wheel the wrong way. I definitely got a good taste of using a wheel, and I've started researching affordable models. ;)

Holland Road is a wonderfully colourful place!

A rainbow of Quince & Co yarn

The Brooklyn Tweed Shelter wall

My very first wheel-spun yarn!

An amazing Sophie's Universe blanket on the shop's knitting couch

Heading back to Oriental Bay via the waterfront

Boat-sheds in the sun

The other big highlight of my few days in Wellington was joining my old choir on Sunday morning for some plainchant, Byrd, and Palestrina. Due to a long and expensive period of earthquake-strengthening, St Mary's has been closed for the last few years and only re-opened a couple of weeks ago. It was so good to see my choir friends and sing with them again...

The restored St Mary of the Angels, open again at last!

My view from the choir loft

I rounded out my trip with a lovely lunch with Willie and family, and then headed north to my family in Whakatane. I'll be here for a couple more weeks before I fly back to Melbourne. So far I've been enjoying Mum & Dad's cooking, scoffing all the feijoas I can find, and quietly getting back to my knitting projects.

These are my precious new yarn pets from Holland Road - aren't they gorgeous?

Knitsch Singularity + Brooklyn Tweed Arbor

Yarn is definitely my favourite kind of souvenir. <3

Ombré crochet: How to make a gradient square

I've started a new 'relaxation project'! I really like having something uncomplicated to work on when I want to pay attention to conversations/tv or when I'm tired - I'm all for multiple works-in-progress with a variety of techniques and difficulty levels.

I'm making another crochet blanket, this time made up of squares which I'll seam together later. In each square, the colours will radiate from dark-to-light or light-to-dark, alternating like a chessboard.

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Indigo and cobalt

I have a pretty-pictures post for you today! I visited the NGV on Sunday after choir, and saw an exhibition that's been on my to-see list for a while.

Blue: Alchemy of a Colour definitely lived up to my textile/dye geek expectations, once my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. I really enjoyed seeing all the different textile decoration techniques from various places and time periods - and it was so much easier to see the details and differences in real life. Being able to see the texture of the fabric from various angles makes such a difference. That said, I hope you find my photos interesting! ;)

Most of the fabrics below are dyed with indigo. This beautiful kimono and wall hanging were decorated using resist techniques, which you can read about here: Resist-Dyed Textiles.

And here are examples of ikat fabric, where the threads are resist-dyed in a pattern prior to weaving. You can find out about how it's made in this photo gallery: Making Ikat Cloth.

The 'rag kimono' below is an example of boro patchwork, a traditional Japanese form of visible mending. You can see the parallel lines of running stitch holding the layers together in the close-up photo.

You can read more about traditional boro and sashiko embroidery here: The Japanese Art of Sashiko Stitching; and you can see examples of modern sashiko-inspired visible mending here: Three Easy Ways to Mend Fabric, Inspire by Japanese Textiles.

This quilted bodice with indigo-dyed silk ribbons and 18thC embroidered bedspread are just too pretty, especially with the depth of colour in the ribbons. I recognised the bedspread from last year's 'Exquisite Threads' embroidery exhibition...

Lastly, I had a look at the ceramics. This article on the exhibition describes the use of cobalt in ceramic decoration, which goes back over 1,000 years. The 18thC Delft tiles were especially cute! I've included by favourite below...

If you're curious about indigo dyeing, here are a couple of videos I found interesting. The first is about cloth-dyeing in India, and the second (specially for my fellow knitters) is about dyeing yarn. I must get some real indigo yarn to play with!

A flying visit

This time last week I was rushing around Wellington with Mum and Dad and Willie - a brief burst in my old city, sandwiched between my Christmas with the in-laws in Taranaki and my summer break in Whakatane. We all stayed on upper Cuba St, which was fantastic! We never had to walk far to get coffee, and it was really nostalgic being in that part of town.

Our one full day in Wellington was a very busy one, beginning with a cafe breakfast, shopping for fabric and second-hand clothes and yarn, a gallery visit after lunch, and (after a much-needed nap back at the hotel) a lovely dinner with the four of us and my old friend Rowan.

As always, Dad took plenty of photos...

Me and Mum at Midnight Espresso

On our way to the City Gallery (with bonus pigeon)

Part of the swatch collection at Holland Road Yarn Co.

Visiting the Holland Road yarn shop on Willis St was a major highlight for Mum and me, as we don't often get to see such a great collection of yarn in real life. I'm a happy online yarn shopper, but it really was great to be able to compare colours and textures in the shop!

I eventually decided on a skein of Madelinetosh DK in 'Button Jar Blue' for a hat I'm in the process of designing, some Knitsch Sock in 'Sweet Pea' which I'll combine with 'Silver Lining' from my stash for some stranded mittens, and coordinating colours of Zealana Kiwi 4ply for some stranded mitts... or possibly another hat. I also made mental notes of other lovely yarns that I want to try later (honourable mention: Quince & Co Piper in 'Austin', a lovely auburn laceweight).

My new treasures!

The fabric above is from The Fabric Store, both woven linen-blends. Once again, I plan to commandeer Mum's sewing machine and make some clothes while I'm in Whakatane. I've started making a Wiksten Tank using less-precious cotton fabric from my stash, after enlarging the pattern one extra size beyond the largest included size. If that turns out well (fingers crossed), I'll make another out of my new grey-and-silver linen. The black lightweight linen will probably become a Fen tee.

My grand plan for the holiday is to make lots of sewing and knitting progress, in between beach and lake visits. :)