Crafts & Newspapers

Gentle reader,

As I mentioned briefly in the last post, I was featured in an article in The Sunday Age’s “M” magazine lift-out last Sunday, and as promised I’ve scanned my section and the picture. You can read the whole article online here; the other people featured are quite interesting, especially the polo player.

"Don't Fence Me In" by Natalie Craig, "M", The Sunday Age, 27/11/11. Photo by Simon Schluter

Do you find it surreal when you get attention for things? It’s very strange when you stumble into attention. Lots of people have come into the shop and recognized me and said hello or asked after me. It’s very nice, but also a little intimidating. But, it’s all good publicity to get people crafting, I say!

Speaking of, it’s been far too long since I’ve done some proper craft blogging! Get on with it, Raynor! Oy! So, here is an update and a new thing!

Getting there!

The Boneyard Shawl is coming along; I’m into my third skein and I have another skein floating about somewhere. I mustn’t run out of puff! Christmas is almost here!

To recap, the pattern is by Stephen West (it’s dead easy and free), and the yarn is Silky Tweed by Rowan. I’ll tell you what, I’m totes upset that Silky Tweed is DISCONTINUED! It’s such a beautiful yarn, and absolutely scrumptious to work with. As I knit it and squish it I almost feel as if I’m mourning it. I actually bought the last skein of this colorway from Cleggs. So sad. If you see any in discount bins, snap that stuff up, kay!? You won’t regret it.

Katia Paper

Meanwhile, the store got a new yarn in; Katia Paper. It’s 100% cellulose (aka paper, funnily enough). Texture-wise, it’s more or less like raffia. The amazing thing is that it’s machine washable. My mind? Consider it blown. Anyway, my manager has wanted the store to have a market bag pattern for quite a while, and figured this would be a perfect project to do with this yarn. So, I’m now in the process of designing one.

The pictures above are just of a concept swatch. I tested out a few different ideas for stitches and different chain lengths, so it’s quite scrappy. Once you crochet this up, because of the variegation and the texture, pattern stitches or front/back post stitches really don’t show up so well unless there’s a lot of negative space.  The band above the mesh is a catherine wheel pattern, but it just disappears. I think for this one I’ll keep it simple, but I might just flip through some stitch dictionaries in case there’s a gem of inspiration.

It’s not an easy yarn to crochet with, but it is quite fun and rewarding. I’m working on a miniature prototype of the bag and I think it’s going to look really nice, actually, so I’ll keep you posted.

What’s the most unusual yarn you’ve ever used?

– R




In Which I Knit On The Catherdral Lawn Because I Am A Forgetful Chappy

Gentle reader,

When I was a kid, I was extremely forgetful. Utterly scatterbrained, even. I would forget important things I’d been told, I’d forget to do things, I’d leave things behind, all sorts of worrisome mishaps like that. One of my trademark forgetfulisms was to leave my wallet every possible place imaginable. In the car, at home, at school, at friends’ places, at the corner store. Once, I left it on a stack of Jurassic Park toys at the mall after staring at them longing for a good twenty minutes. Another time I left it atop a hideout my cousins and I had fashioned into the forest-y growth of an empty block in our neighborhood.

I learned not to do this eventually, after leaving my poor mama irate and exasperated at having to drive me back to somewhere to find it and after having to keep myself organized when I was stage managing or production designing at university. But, once a scatterbrain always a scatterbrain, and to this day I have my moments (too many of them, depending on who you ask…) but they don’t all turn out badly.

Yesterday, I left my wallet at work. And I did not have the key to get back in. Oy. This meant missing a BBQ with some friends. More logistically troubling, it also meant I was stranded in the city until Joel returned from said BBQ. But I shall not be beaten so easily! I had knitting in my bag and a full iPod battery, so of I went to find a pleasant place to knit.

A moment is never wasted when you have crafts in your bag.

If you’re familiar with Melbourne, then you’d probably know the cathedral on the corner of Swanston and Collins Streets, and the strip of lawn beside it. I sat on one of the benches and began knitting away, but I then moved to the lawn after many a smoker decided to accompany me on the benches, bless them. But I felt that damp breeches was a small price to pay for a clean air. But, I digress.

Sunday in Melbourne

I had just cast on “Jesse’s Christmas Hat” by Elspeth Kursh with some Morris Woollahra (I think… I’ve misplaced the ball band…), and I was quite content to knit away for nigh on two hours. The weather has taken a cold turn after spending nearly a month warming up, so I was rather happy about that.

Meanwhile, I guess sea gulls are supposed to be gross, but they kept me company as did a few of those lovely little brown birds, and they didn’t seem at all cross that I had no food to share with them.

All in all it turned out quite peachy!

Just some other things I wanted to tell you about:

  • I was featured in an article in The Sunday Age yesterday! I’ll post a scan of it this week.
  • My little impromptu yarn giveaway is still going, and I think I’ll close it on Friday and announce a yarn recipient on the weekend. To be in the running, go and comment on this post.
  • I got a new bit of software to put my pictures together. Do you like it? I’m always looking for little helping-hands to make my picture layouts more interesting.

What mishaps have you turned into a little bit of pleasantness recently?

– R

In Which I Espouse The Virtues Of A Selection of Yarns

Gentle reader,

I’m a bit slow on the uptake with this one, but a while back I wrote an article for Pip Lincolne‘s Good Stuff Holiday Guide. In my article, I write about six of my favorite yarns and why I heart the gosh-darn crap outta them. It’s not a definitive list because I tried to cover a nice spread of fibre types, weights and prices – not all of my faves made it in – but they’re all worthy of the praise.

Image Credit: Pip Lincolne, Meet Me At Mike's

Click the pic to go read it! My article is on pages 98 – 99, so have yourself a bo-peep.

And, just for fun, I’ll pick a random person who comments on this post and I’ll send them a ball of one of the featured yarns. Ooooh! (Sure, one ball won’t make anything massive, but you can squish it to your heart’s content and knit or crochet a swatch to see if you like it and then you’ve discovered a new yarn, and that’s fun times!). I’ll probably do a random number moment, but if you really crack me up or something, I might pick a winner on merits. ^_~

Robbie from Knitxcore also wrote a piece! You can check it out on pages 6 – 7.

– R

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder (And It Was Already Quite Fond…)

Gentle reader,

As a gentleman with one foot firmly in the old-timey and the other firmly in tech-nerdery, being without internet for a few weeks was an almost unbearable trial which I was only able to weather on account of knitting, crochet and books not requiring a fat broadband connection (Ravelry not withstanding…).

"It's funny how dogs and cats know the insides of folks better than other folks do, isn't it?"

However, as I’ve been on my Pollyanna kick of finding something to be glad for in everything (if you’ve not read the book, I highly recommend it, as well as the Disney movie staring the incomparable Hayley Mills, but be prepared to get teary) I want to focus on the good stuff that arose from my disconnected purgatory. I missed my blogs! And I’m all the more grateful to be able to read them again without being hindered by trying to read on a cell phone screen or through a painfully slow cell phone hotspot connection. Oy!

And so, to show my appreciation for some of the blogs that I pined for (not in a creepy way of course… well, not tooooo creepy), I wanted to feature some of them. Now, there are a good many blogs that I love, but these are among the ones that are at the top of my to-read list.

Also, just because the internet is like a bridge that trolls live under… I have asked permission from all of these lovely people to pick pictures from their blogs to make a collage for each of them, and they all graciously allowed me to do so. NONE of the images in this post are mine and belong to their respective owners. But anyway, get on with it, Raynie!

Knitxcore by Robbie

I first became aware of Robbie’s Knitxcore blog when we were both featured by Pip-tastic at Meet Me At Mike’s, and then he featured me! Now, Robbie could pretty much cut and paste the phone book and I’d still love his blog because his aesthetic and presentation are absolute perfection. Craft, music, tutorials, photographs… Knitxcore has it all. I love love love his Vinyl Mondays and his seasonal decorating. He makes me so sad and totes jel that I’m not in America for Halloween and Thanksgiving! And, if you’re like me and you firmly believe that brik-a-brak can and should turn up in even the most unexpected places (like on dinner plates amongst the peas), then you’ll hit the jackpot here.

House of Humble by Katie & Reuben

I can’t pinpoint the exact time I stumbled upon House of Humble by Katie and Reuben – I know we were featured together over at Knitxcore, but I think Reuben and I might have run into each other on Ravelry first. But the hows are less important that the whys, and there’s lot of reasons why I love House of Humble. Let’s be real, if you crochet and post pictures of your cat, I’ll pretty much sign up for life, but then add to that Katie’s outfit snaps, their adventures in and around Bendigo that could have come straight out of a classic children’s novel, and their beautiful house that they’re making over into a veritable wonderland of everything I love… Oy! I overload on the awesome. Also, Katie recently read Jane Eyre, one of my favorite books of all time. So, just go read it already! House of Humble, I mean. But also Jane Eyre. You won’t be sorry on either count. ^_~

Bonito Club by Tony

I’m pretty sure I started following Tony’s Bonito Club because we befriended each other on Ravelry (I could be completely wrong, I have the worst memory ever!). At any rate, we’re both Melburnians and he’s the only of these bloggers I’ve met in real life. Bonito Club is one of my prime sources for yarn pr0n, because he’s always posting some delicious new yarn – like Brooklyn Tweed Shelter – that he’s procured somewhere along his travels. It helps that we seem to have crazy-similar color tastes. The green Shelter he’s knitting now? Oooh, he’s so lucky I don’t know where he lives so I can’t steal it! We’re also fellow Japanophiles (that’s totes a word now…) and when he posts screen caps of amazing knitwear from old Japanese movies it makes me endlessly happy. Since my move, we’re now in the same-ish neck of the woods, so we’re planning some adventures, which is excitement plus!

All of these blogs make me happy and inspire me to keep improving Shy Lion as much as I can (Robbie makes me itch for a total layout redesign, Katie and Reuben makes me want to go on adventures and make my house all homey and Tony makes me want to knit through every waking moment!). I feel in a way like they’re my crafty blog neighbors and that in some small way I’m a part of a cool little crafty-bloggy community and I love that. Are you puking yet? I know, it sounds twee, but it’s true, and I just wanted to share the love. ❤  And I have more blogs to share too, so keep your peepers peeped!

What blogs to you love? Share, share, share!

– R

Finding The Silver Lining

Gentle reader,

I’ve been in our new house for almost two weeks now, and our internet still hasn’t been switched on! The ETA is tomorrow, so hopefully regular posts will begin again very soon! Cell phone internet is convenient, but it’s not the same.

Anyway, today I wanted to share some Pollyanna-style gladness. I’ve been in the foulest mood the last few days; maybe it’s a crash after the stress of moving, or maybe it’s my man-time-of-the-month or maybe I’ve just been getting out of the bed on the wrong side. Whatever it is, I decided enough was enough! It was time to start looking for the silver linings instead of the being an irksome jerk all the time.

Sometimes this can be easier said than done, but sometimes you just need that lightbulb moment, or that one little success that just makes everything else seem like a piece o’ cake (white chocolate mud cake, please). And today, I had that moment.

Struttin'? I'm doin' it!

I had some errands to run, so I popped in my ear buds and chose the funnest, up-beat-iest tunes I had, and off I went! You know when you’re walking along the street and you’ve got some crazy-town awesome track playing with delicious beats and you can’t help but strut like you’re a rockstar? That was totes me! And then…

I got caught behind a gaggle of slow walkers.

What could I do!? I was hemmed in by shop fronts on one side and street signs and alfresco cafe tables on the other, and these slow walkers were ruining my vibe!

I’ll tell you what I did: like a game of Frogger, I ducked in and out where I could, careful not to bump anyone or seem rude (I didn’t want the vibe-ruining to become contagious!), and when just the right opening presented itself, I emerged victorious – energy renewed, completely in sync with the beat and strutting like nobody’s business!

Let’s be real, re-finding your strut after an obstacle has that same tingly feeling and smile-inspiring rush as an epic key change in a power pop song. Best. Ever.

And, so, gentle reader, though it may not sound like much, that’s how I beat the down-in-the-dumps and found my silver lining.

What silver linings have you found lately?

– R

Let The Right In

Gentle reader,

It’s 3am here, and today (yesterday, rather) I woke up sick as a dog and slept most of the afternoon, and now I can’t sleep, so I thought I’d write y’all a post. Hopefully it won’t sound like some cray-cray fever dream… I’ll be sure to proof read it again when I wake up! ^_~

So, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been on a bit of a reading binge lately, largely since my craft projects have mostly been packed up. But, I’ve also just been super lucky to have such an awesome line up of books. I’m on a roll! I’ve already talked about Cold Mountain and True Grit, and I recently finished World War Z, which I’ll save for another post. Now I’m reading Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Let The Right One In - Book Covers & Film Posters

I had seen the Swedish film adaptation of this novel a year or two ago and was completely amazed by it. I’d looked for the book a few times but ended up putting it back because of the somewhat unappealing cover of the Australian edition. I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover… but books are so expensive here that I usually jump on any excuse not to spend (if only I were such a thrifty-nickel in other areas…). Usually it’s in the “Paranormal” section of the bookstore and is surrounded by a bunch of tween-y paranormal romance stuff, but don’t let that or the cover put you off (though other editions seem to have awesome covers).

Also, I didn’t realize that the “Paranormal” section was a thing until recently; I thought this stuff would be either in the “Horror” or “Sci-Fi/Fantasty” sections. For some reason it made me feel old… But I digress.

Then, recently, my inestimable friend, Marelle, borrowed it from the library and thought it was such an neat read that on one of our Sundays at work she dashed down to the book store and bought me a copy (friends who buy you books? BEST. EVER. Keep them around, y’all!). I’m about three quarters of the way through, and I have to say, I don’t even need to finish it to be able to recommend this book to you.

If you love a book that is beautiful and dark, and uncomfortable in all the right ways, or you’re looking for the vampire antithesis of Twilight, then definitely put this on your reading list. Lindqvist manages to cram a whole bunch of characters into the novel, but he weaves them all together just so, and it never feels crowded, with each character given a distinct personality and internal narrative no matter how briefly they appear. The two main characters, Oskar and Eli are exceptionally written, and they counterpoint each other in quite a profound way, and if you’ve ever been an outcast they will resonate with you on some level.

I’m also really keen to see the American film adaptation, Let Me In, because it’s been quite well received too, and I think Chloe Moretz is a crazy good actress (Did you see her in Kick-Ass? Oy.). I’ll wait ’til I’ve finished the book though.

Also, are you on Do you like it? Enjoy it? I’ve just joined there and have found it quite useful to figure out what to add to my reading list. Feel free to befriend me there!

I do apologize sincerely that my posts haven’t been too crafty lately. My creative endeavors have come to a screeching halt, what with this whole packing and moving caper. But, I assure you that I have barrels of fun planned once I’m in my new house, including videos and interviews with some of my crafty friends and all sorts of things… (maybe some giveaways…? Ooooh!).

In the mean time, my posts will be a bit less craft related, I guess, but I hope you find them fun and interesting anyway. Just bear with me for a bit. We’ll have fun anyway, ‘kay? Great!

– R

Music To Make To: Brett Domino & Steven Peavis

Gentle reader,

I love music, and also love a good laugh. And that’s why I love Brett Domino and Steven Peavis. Their unique brand of cover songs make me so happy in my dorky little heart that I can barely stand it. It tickles me that they’ve gone for humor without sacrificing quality; I love how their musical production has such depth and texture when a lot of it is done without crazy expensive studio tools. Sometimes all you need is talent. ^_~

You can find more Brett Domino here. They’ve recently posted a cover of Katy Perry’s “Firework” to their Youtube (which, IMHO is better that the original).

What songs make you crazy happy or tickle your funny bone? ^_^

– R