Five Little Knitters Went To Castlemaine

Gentle reader,

Once upon a time, there was a little town nestled in a valley called Castlemaine, and in this little town was a little yarn store called Zigo Zago.


Read More »


December Travels – Chapter One

Gentle reader,

As many of you may know, I moved to Melbourne from Brisbane about a year ago and these holidays I’m spending two weeks in my home state of Queensland. Week one is almost down, and here are a few highlights! (Please forgive the iffy picture quality; some of the shots and all of the editing were done on my iPod and iPad!)

First, the flight from Melbourne to Brisbane!

I LOVE flying, and I love flying even better when you take off before dark and are still in the air after dark. These pictures don’t do the amazing horizon justice. Also, I love photographing clouds. I think they’re totes amazing.

Clearly, she is a model and I am not.

My best friend Panda picked me up from the airport and I stayed at her place in Brisbane which she shares with Audra and Eden who are also amazing peeps and were so generous with their hospitality.

Over the few days I was there, we checked out some great stores, got a Totoro phone trinket, ate crazy amounts of Bread Top, went to visit our lovely friend Kath and her beautiful shop, Handmade High Street. We also went on a wild goose chase for yarn stores – one was shut and one didn’t exist anymore – before we finally made it to Tangled Yarns, which is AMAZEBALLS. They stock Berocco, Pierrot (my fave!), Cascade 220, madelainetosh, and Malabrigo. I’ll definitely be going back there. We also wandered through an antique/bric-a-brac store where I picked up some delightful old knitting patterns (more on that later!). I also got to catch up with my adorable friends, Alf and Robert.

Suzie, the lovely lady, and Larry, the resident water dragon.

On the Sunday, I visited Judy, one of my favorite people ever (you may remember her from my post about the crochet bolero I did a while back). Her and her husband Peter made the most delicious BBQ lunch, and we relaxed on their back veranda while Suzie and Larry kept us company.

Judy's hat, made from Noro Kochoran.

I also snapped Judy in the hat I knitted for her (and finished the night before). I made it using the Hurricane Hat pattern by Andrea Goutier with Noro Kochoran yarn. I’m not sure what color way, because it was just a left over ball from something with no label. I don’t know why, but all those shots came out blurry. Oy. But, Kate will be pleased that I’ve posted another FO. Happy, Kate!? Geesh. ^_~


I also managed to get a bit done on my Bon Qui Qui cross stitch. The picture is terrible, but you get an idea. I drew Bon Qui Qui on some graph paper and then used colored pencils to figure out my color blocking, and then started stitching. I’ve got a looooong way to go, but it was nice to do something a bit different.

Pan-Pan! I miss you already! (Also, is my bottom lip really that big? Oy.)

Finally, on Monday, Panda dropped me off at the bus depot to catch a Greyhound to my home town. I was super sad to say buh-bye to Pan, and there were some friends I just didn’t have time to visit. But, I was so excited to see my folks, and we’ve been having a great time so far. More to come!

How is your holiday season going so far? ^_^

– R

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



A Deer-ish Dear, A Post-Op Teddy & New Toys!

Gentle reader,

I’ve been house hunting lately and attempting to start packing (read: procrastinating and putting something into a box every couple of hours. Oy!), so it has been mildly cray-cray around here. But, I’ve also gotten a few things done and treated myself a lil bit.

First up, we have the Pop Merino teddy who had some serious proportion/club-foot issues. Well, I operated and I think he came out on top. I also tweaked his eyes a touch.

I also finished off a new ami. I had a ball of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran that I’d bought for something or other but had since forgotten what for. Well, I’ve been told by a few people that Cashmerino pills like crazy-town, so I decided I’d make a critter with it rather than a garment. I had literally no idea what it would be until I’d made the body, head and face, and then I was stuck. “What are you!?”

As it turns out, I was watching season two of True Blood (I’m not a totes massive fan or anything – it’s a little rudey-nudey for me – but I did enjoy it) and a deer popped onto the screen and *bing!* went the little light bulb above my head. He didn’t come out a dyed-in-the-wool deer – he’s too round and chubby – but rather had a deer-ishness about him, so he’s kind of his own little critter, which makes me kinda happy. So, I’ll package up Mr. Deer-ish and his newly-leggy buddy so they’re ready for my Etsy store.

O Hai! Antlers? I Got 'Em.

I’m also pretty excited about my little treat to myself. My yarn store I work in has a loyalty program that sends you a gift voucher after you accrue a certain amount of points, and I got mine the other day and it was pretty much burning a hole in my pocket. So, I bought myself the Clover Takumi interchangeable needle set.

Behold! And Drool With Crafty Covetousness!

The store had gotten these sets in months ago, and being the Clover fanboy that I am, I immediately fell in love and have been coveting them ever since. With my voucher and my staff discount, I couldn’t resist any longer, and I’ll tell you what, I carried that box home in my arms like a baby. Yup, I’m that sad.

I could tell you all of the things that I love about them, but I think I’ll save it for a proper review to post another time after I’ve played with them for a while.

Have any TV shows ever influenced your projects? Or are there some crafty treats you’ve been coveting? Sharing is caring! ^_~

Watching Yourself Is Painful. Trust Me.

Gentle reader,

I always say that I’m going to keep my posts regular, and I have only the most honest of intentions to prove that statement true, but inevitably I get sidetracked.

One of the things that has sidetracked me this time I hope is a forgivable distraction: the first episode of the Stitchonomy podcast!

Let me just tell y’all, watching yourself over and over is the most painful thing I can think of right now. I’ve done theater and such, and I’ve even made a few youtube videos before, but first of all, on stage you don’t have to watch yourself and secondly my youtube videos were me being silly. But when you have to just be yourself and then watch your mannerisms over and over while editing… well, I was sick of the sight of myself.

That aside, I’m quite happy with it, and we’re even having a giveaway! Go join our Ravelry group here and then comment with a suggestion for a KAL or CAL in the competition thread and you could win a hank of Morris Pure yarn. Beyond that, feedback and comments are always appreciated.

I start regular posts again soon, promise!

More Classes!


Gentle reader,

If you’re one of the people who asked about Amigurumi classes at the Yarn Store and I gave you a card with my website written on it, I have good news for you! If you attend the One Step Up Crochet class this Saturday at the yarn store, I’ll be taking it and will teach some Ami basics. You can call the Yarn Store (the number is on the card I gave you) or drop into the store to book in.

If you’re not one of those people, but you’re in Melbourne, have some beginners crochet know-how and you’re interested in Amigurumi or just the next step in crochet, you can sign up for the class too! It’s this Saturday afternoon. Email me for details. Quick-quack!

A Few Of My Favorite Things. Also, A Busy Week.

Gentle reader,

Mondays are my Fridays, in that Monday is the last day of my working work. And it’s been a busy one. This weekend at the Yarn Store, we had two workshops/classes on both days and most of all, I was teaching one of them! I taught my first class – Beginners’ Crochet – on Saturday and let me tell you, I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! I wrote my own class information packet instead of using the usual instructors notes, because I figured I’d be more confident using my own material, and I’d written them in such a way that if I suffered a nervous breakdown they’d be pretty self-explanatory. The good news, however, was that I didn’t suffer a nervous breakdown and it actually seemed to go quite well, so I’m very grateful. I’ve even seen a few of the attendees since then and they remarked that they really enjoyed it. So, I’m not a total failure as an instructor, which is reassuring to know.

Speaking of teaching too, a few customers at the Yarn Store have expressed interest in my teaching an Amigurumi crochet class, which I think is a wonderful idea. So, if you’re in Melbourne and you’d be interested in an Amigurumi class, please send me an email or comment below and I’ll see if I can arrange one at the store. Otherwise, if you’re interested in private lessons, let me know also. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I can definitely share a few tricks.

Anyway, I decided to clear off the photos from my cell phone and realized that I had some nice ones on there. Nice more in the sense of them making me happy rather than any comment on my photographic skills. So, I shall share them and hopefully they might make you a bit happy too.

Hydrangeas behind the bins

The garbage bins for my apartment are by the driveway next to a garden bed that is positively bursting with hydrangeas, which I love. The odd balance of garbage and blooming deliciousness always struck me as just as things ought to be, in some quaint little way.

Cold Mountain in the mail

The Book Depository is one of my favorite online stores because not only does it satisfy my craving for books but there’s the added joy of getting packages in the mail! I’d been craving something new to read, and I wanted something rural or pastoral and somewhat dark. So, I came to the decision to buy Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. I suspect that Cold Mountain will be more rural/pastoral and Winter’s Bone will the darker of the two.

At any rate, Cold Mountain came in the mail last week, and this is the beautiful cover artwork which I’m completely besotted with. I’ve started reading it, and I’m already completely hooked but I’ve also spent God knows how long just looking at the cover. It’s by Sanna Annukka Smith, who also did the album artwork for one of Keane’s albums. I’ve only had a quick skim of her website and already it’s made sweet love to my eyeballs. Winter’s Bone came in the mail today, so I’ll probably start reading that tonight and see which one I want to read first.

Narnia must be nearby...

This lamp post is just outside the entrance to the building the Yarn Store is in, so I pass it numerous times most days. Naturally, it always makes me think of Narnia, and this makes me very happy in my little, silly heart.

Sleepy Lady

And last, but not at all least, is my little fur baby, Lady (she has many names, but she’s almost always referred to as Lady). She spends the vast majority of her time snoozing on my bed, which you can’t really hold against her. She’s thirteen now, and a little bit addled. But, she’s my precious pudding. In fact, I shall bid you all adieu and go join her, I think! It’s awfully late. 気をつけて!

Peaks Island, Take Two (Three? Two & A Half?)

It may be that I’ll have to swallow a few “I told you so”s tomorrow. When I was choosing yarn for Ysolda Teague’s Peaks Island Hood which I’m making for my Ma, I had settled on Heirloom Easy Care 12 ply. When he saw what I’d chosen, he seemed to trying to be dissuading me without coming right out and saying not to buy it.

“Oh, really? I find that yarn a bit weird… it shows up mistakes really obviously.”

He’s a lovely and well-meaning guy, so I pondered for a second, and said “Well, that might actually be perfect, since I’m not a super confident knitter, if I can see my mistake then I’ll know I’m making them and I can be aware of it. It’ll be a good exercise.”

He tried again to divert me to another yarn; any yarn but that. I laughed. “You just don’t like this yarn, do you?”.

“Well… no.”

But, in spite of his best efforts, I ploughed ahead. I’ve ripped out parts at least twice and started again with the same yarn once.  And today, I stand before you, with my work frogged and two new balls of yarn ready to start again. To be honest, I love this color a lot more; especially for my Ma. And I’ve used Estate 8 ply before and it’s very nice. So, I think this will be great.

Morris Estate 14 ply

But, even after all that ripping out and starting again; I won’t say a bad word against the Heirloom. It -does- show mistakes very apparently, and I’ve definitely learned a lot about my knitting from using it. I’ll probably use it in a crochet project a bit later, because I think it would look super nice crocheted. Perhaps an amigurumi.

As for now, I’m keen to get started on the hood yet again with the Estate. And after my second or third time working the beginnings of it, I’m still not sick of it. I’m such an Ysolda fan-boy now.

Koalas Are The Gatekeepers Of Hell – or – Project Rut

Eugh! I’ve been in a such a rut with my knitting and crochet projects. But I’ve resolved myself to change that! First, here’s a quick update on my WIPs.

  • My green Ranco Arucania sock
    My sock is still cracking along, so all is not too bad. It’s my public transport project, so I keep it in my backpack and I’ve cracked it out on the tram a few times, which is nice. I’m not yet to the heel, but I will be soooooon!
  • Amigurumi Koala
    I feel a little bad about this one. It’s a sample for work, and I ought to have finished it by now, but I’m just not feeling it at all.
Koala Face - WIP

Now, look, I don’t know how familiar y’all are with koalas, but I’m fully convinced that they’re Satan’s fuzzy minions. You might think they look cute from tourism ads or cartoons or whatever, but in person they have sharp little claws and beady, dead eyes. And they make this noise like they’re coughing up the bones of their last victim. Clearly, I don’t care for them terribly, and I think that’s what’s made this project somewhat of a chore. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the week, partly because I feel bad that it’s taken me so long and partly to just get it off my plate. I really don’t like making amigurumis from pattern, and I don’t want to be glorifying koalas (Lucifer’s right hand critter)  but since it’s a store sample, I just have to suck it up. I’ve gotten the face done, and that’s given me a bit of motivation to keep at it, because I think it turned out alright.

My manager didn’t want me to use the buttons like on the pattern; we both thought they looked pretty creepy. I used my standard safety eyes instead and I think it was the right choice. Besides, koalas *do* have nasty, beady, little eyes, so it was entirely appropriate. Horrid little things, they are.

Creepy button eyes! It's eating your soul just by looking at you!

Once I get this koala done, I feel like my project rut will be rectified. I feel like I can’t start anything new until I’ve finished this, and then I procrastinate like crazy-town. But, it’s time to bite the bullet! I’ve lined up some shows (apparently, I’ve committed a major offense by not having seen Big Bang Theory or knowing what “bazinga” is), and I’ma spend tomorrow planted on the couch and get this sucker licked. Wish me luck!