Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fabric-a-brac Auckland 2016

Today is one of my favourite days on my crafty calendar - the day when Fabric-a-brac comes to Auckland. At last year's event I got some great fabric, but some of it I bought just because it looked pretty, and it never made it out of the stash to be used. So this year, I gave that fabric to a friend who had a table at this year's event to sell on, and I set myself some rules.

I had a budget (admittedly I went over by $10 but my local coffee shop gave me a free flat white today, so technically I was only over by $5....) and I was only allowed to buy things that I would actually make into something.

I needed to buy some blue cotton for a Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress I've been planning to make, so I ticked that off the list quite early on. I had been looking for some nice silk for my birthday dress, but I didn't find exactly what I was looking for. 

I did find two metres of black merino for $20 though! I've paid around $40 per metre before, so I consider that quite a bargain, and will likely be made into a Moneta dress for work.

Then there is that amazing stripey knit goodness. I'm dreaming of a nautical summer. There's quite a bit of fabric but I'm not sure if it's quite enough for what I have in mind, which is a short Kielo dress for the summer. 

I'm trying my best to use patterns I already have for planned projects, but I think I might have to have a good think about what I should use for this amazing grey and gold t-shirting! I've got 1.5 metres, so a bit to work with, but not quite enough for a wrap dress. I thought about yet another Moneta (because four in the wardrobe isn't totally unreasonable) but then I'm worried the overall effect might be a bit too much disco ball. 

Instead I'm thinking about a t-shirt or a tank top. I could go for a Linden sweatshirt and go for the short sleeve option, or I was thinking this Adventure tank top from Fancy Tiger. I do wear a lot of tanks in the summer, so that could be a good option too.

This lot of fabric should definitely keep me busy for the next few months - now I've just got to decide which project to start on first.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A crafty Wellington weekend

I found the solution to the knitting rut I've been stuck in - a weekend away! Sometimes you just need a bit of a break or a change of scenery to get re-inspired, and the Labour Day long weekend was the perfect solution to that.

We spent the weekend in the capital (Wellington for the international readers) and stayed with dear friends for three days. I'm a big fan of city breaks - I like nothing better than wandering streets, checking out street art and sampling lots of brunch spots. 

One of the friends we stayed with is a knitter, and straight after brunch on morning number one, we were happily browsing Holland Road Yarn Company.

The latest yarns from Happy Go Knitty, on the shop's Indie Shelf for the month, are just gorgeous. And then there was the wall full of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. I wanted it all, but kept my cool and didn't buy anything, although it has given me a few ideas of what to cast on next.

We were so lucky with the weather. The city has a bit of a reputation for being grey and drizzly, but there is no better place than Wellington when the sun is shining, and we got a whole weekend of it.

I don't know if it was the weather, or being around another knitter, or excellent yarn shop visits or a combination of all three, but I got my knitting mojo back over the weekend. I'm starting off small, with a pair of socks, but it's nice to feel like making something. The weekend has definitely given me ideas for the next few things I want to make, so I'm starting to plan and write lists and borrow pattern books from the library. Watch this space!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Knitographer interviews... Fabricate Magazine

Every so often, something happens in our craft community that gets me really excited. I'm often meeting really creative people who design stunning garments or dye great yarns, and recently I met a lady who shares a passion of mine for telling some of these stories. Cait McLennan Whyte is the creator and editor of the beautiful Fabricate Magazine, and the first issue is out now.  From my first read, it fills a big hole in our local market for magazines about local textile art and craft. It's got modern design, great interviews and covers a range of different textile crafts, so there's something for everyone. Cait kindly told me a bit more about her vision for the magazine.

Fabricate Magazine has been an idea that's been germinating for a number of years - where did the idea come from and how did you go from initial concept to the printing of your first issue?

 I have been incubating the idea of Fabricate Magazine for some years actually. I hit on the idea right about the time that Selvedge appeared on the scene so I figured it must have been a good one as I heard that Polly Leonard mortgaged her London house to get Selvedge off the ground such was her conviction! But I had been running alterknitives since the late nineties and had watched the textile scene developing without much real connectedness. My own interest in textiles is broader than just knitting and I kept finding out about great exhibitions or workshops or suchlike just after they were finished or full or whatever so I came to the conclusion that there were all sorts of people out there who needed to know about each other. After such a long gestation getting to print was an exciting process. Karen at Artside Studios totally got the vision that I was aiming at and as she has a textile interest herself and experience in NZ style publications it all came together pretty well.         

Fabricate reminds me a bit of great international magazines like Selvedge, which provide some really insightful commentary around textiles. Are you hoping that Fabricate will perform a similar role locally? What sets Fabricate apart from the rest?

I have been really thrilled since the launch of the Magazine with feedback that has mentioned Fabricate and Selvedge in the same sentence and I couldn’t have hoped for a better reaction as I set out to create a magazine that was full of intelligent content , that looks stylish and that features a wide variety of material that informs and inspires. By exploring the whole gamut of the textile craft arts rather than just focussing on one discipline only hopefully Fabricate can speak to all those who are fascinated with textile in one way or another.  I wanted to celebrate the handmade and the sustainable slow stitch traditions that we must not lose. But also I want to showcase what New Zealand artists and makers are doing in our own distinctive way. And particularly to explore the innovations and creative impulses that see cross crafting and the pushing of boundaries.

New Zealand has a great textiles scene with so many creatives working in this space - do you think Kiwis are good at telling their stories about their work, or are we suffering with a bit of Tall Poppy Syndrome in this space?

I am not sure about this. It has been fantastic getting around the country and meeting and talking to makers and artists who articulate what they do so clearly. I think art textiles and craft have had such poor press that we are not used to hearing the stories and the intention of these artists perhaps. Many of them are established and recognised in the niche that they occupy and the newer practitioners are embraced by the NZ audience which relishes innovative ideas and forms.    

At the moment you're a print-only magazine. Has this been a conscious decision to encourage people to hold something in their hands?

Definitely I decided to produce a print version only since textile people are tactile people and the interface with a medium that is physical encourages a paced and considered engagement with the material I think. The byline -in touch with the material world – means exactly what it says . Maybe one day we will get a digital version up and running as well but for now I hope Fabricate makes a statement that stands in time.

Where can people get their hands on a copy? 
Fabricate is available in selected stockists around the country and directly and by subscription from

Monday, October 17, 2016

Stuck in a knitting rut.

I have no idea what to cast on next. I've made an effort at using up scraps and knitted up a couple of beanies with a pattern I'm improvising, but there isn't much else I want to make right now. It feels weird, because I always want to be knitting something. My stash is getting to the point of random odds and ends or single skeins that could only work for socks. 

I need a good basic fitted cardigan, preferably with a bit of vintage style, that I can knit in a really dark grey or black to be a go-to for work, but I haven't found the pattern yet. 

I'm also dreaming about a cable sweater for next winter, or maybe a sweater for husband, but nothing is really jumping out right now. What do you do if you're stuck in a rut and not much is inspiring you?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Moana dress in Parisian fabric

I was terrified to cut this fabric. It has a very loose weave, and even though I got a three metre "coupon" in Paris, it's a long way to go and get more if I really screwed it up. Whenever I got close with a scissors, the fabric would just move. When I was sewing, the fabric just moved even more. 

Luckily I'd had a test run with the pattern, having made the Moana Top out of some Liberty fabric, so all I had to do was figure out how to add the skirt. As I've previously mentioned, Papercut Patterns write amazingly clear instructions, and I've got the burrito method of adding a facing pretty much down now. 

I think this is going to be a summer staple. I've already worn it to work dressed up, and paired with some Chucks, I think it will be perfect for bike rides and ice cream stops when the weather warms up.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Slow Fashion October 2016

I think it's quite fitting that the first week of October is the first week that I've been sick all year. I'm usually pretty good at avoiding all the seasonal bugs that go around, and I figured that since it's October, I'd made it through another year without getting anything more substantial than a runny nose. How wrong I was!

It's fitting because this week is the start of Karen Templer's Slow Fashion October, and what better way for me to start thinking more slowly than by having to physically stop everything, and take time to be still and stop running around so much. I'm one of those people who crams a lot in. I have an awesome job, but it can be very full on. I try to catch up with friends as often as possible, and that doesn't leave much time for resting and slowing down. 

I'm on day three of being at home, away from the office, with the biggest cold I've had in years. Today I'm starting to feel more like myself, so I'm likely to be back at work tomorrow, but I know I needed to take this time to not do much except catch up on my Gilmore Girls, and actually rest. 

Which brings me back to Slow Fashion October. This week in Auckland, both Zara and H&M have opened their first flagship stores in New Zealand. Being at the bottom of the world, it's taken a long time for some of the big international brands to get here. Top Shop arrived about a year ago, and Kiwis' love of fast, international brands looks set to continue. I'm doing my best to avoid the hype and make my own clothes, and if I can't make it, I'm doing what I can to source ethically made.

Since early this year I've been taking part in The Craft Sessions' Stash Less Challenge, and I think this year's Slow Fashion October will be an extension of that. I don't really have any specific plans for making, but I think I'll spend the month going back to my wardrobe and figuring out what I'm wearing, and what I'm not. 

While I was previously concerned about the amount of clothing I used to buy, now I'm concerned that my wardrobe is getting bigger again due to all the handmade things I keep adding. I'm happy that most of my wardrobe is handmade, but I'm still worried about how much I'm consuming by way of knitting supplies and fabric. Am I making things I need? Do I keep justifying my fabric and yarn consumption because I'm not buying into sweatshop production by making clothes myself? All things for me to think about over the next month!