You know, no matter how much you enjoy and love your chosen craft I think there's always one or two things about it that are a bit of proverbial pain. The things that really bug you about it and become a bit of a bane for you. For knitters it seems to be things like knitting tension squares, sewing up seams or even weaving in ends. I don't really mind any of those things, for me my bane is pilling.
Oh my lordy, how I shudder at the sight of pilled knitwear. I cannot stand the way it blurs the fabric and you lose the stitch definition. Lovely defined stitches are like sunshine.
Pilling is a bit like an unmade bed for me, it's just one of those things I can't bear the sight of. I have to change it. Making beds is pretty easy but I have to tell you over the years I have battled the pill in a pretty major way. I've tried everything from picking them off to ezy-combs to razors to those little battery operated depillers you can get in the haby sections of supermarkets and big sewing stores. While I've had limited success it has been tedious though, mind numbingly tedious.AQnd given my love for super-soft merino yarns, that was a bit of a problem.
And then I discovered something almost akin to magic.
An Electric Depiller.
An electric depiller that made the whole process bearable; not just bearable, but almost possibly pleasurable. There is something super satisfying in seeing your pilled knitted item rejuvenated and brought back to life, as if it was new again. Something oh so very satisfying. Perhaps even a little addictive.
I love the ease of this little machine. I've given mine a really good work out over the years and I know I've blogged about it at least once and also raved on about it on Facebook and Instagram quite recently. I really do just love this little machine that much.
It means my kids can wear my sample garments as much as they like, get them as pilly and dirty as they are want to do. A good wash and depill and they are ready for action again, or to even front up at a trunk show. THAT really is testament to how well this thing works.
I use my depiller regularly. At the moment it has a semi-permanent place plugged in near my dining table. This week I've on a number of occasions given the kids jumpers a quick depill before they set off for kinder and school. I've depilled so well that in preparation for this post, I couldn't find a pilled garment anywhere.
But I did find Lily's favourite rug. This rug is so loved and cuddled and snuggled; she can't sleep without it. If your kid is going to love a knitted rug so much it's probably not a great idea to knit it in a loose garter stitch in the softest organic merino you can find.
It is oh so beautiful but it does pill like crazy. Hugging tends to do that.
My electric depiller of choice is the Classic 50 Fabric Shaver from The Fabric Care Company, a company with a commitment to Australian products.
What I love about this depiller is that you can buy extra blades, which means this becomes less of a disposable product. For me, both those factors about this company are important. I'd much rather purchase from a company with a commitment to quality production.
The lovely people at The Fabric Care Company have generously given me a Classic 50 Shaver with a spare blade to give away to my blog readers. I was a bit stoked that they gave me a new one to keep for myself as well!
To enter all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post telling me:
What is the bane of your crafting existence?
Entries will close in a week's time, Wednesday August 7th at midnight AEST.
Entries are only open to residents of Australia and New Zealand.
This time around the school holidays came and went so quickly, it seems just like a blur. So much to do and pack into so little time collides with the need for some slow time and space. We ended the holidays feeling like we desperately needed another week just to feel grounded again. There's a lot to be said for the idea of a three week break in the middle of the year.
I think this photo is currently one of my favourites of Lily from the holidays. Even though you can't see her face, I still love it. I love that she's at a place that was so special to me growing up, and she's found her bit of space there. She's content. She has such a busy mind that it's so lovely when it slows down and you can capture her like this.
I love this next one too. I love her messy hair and the fact that she's filthy dirty, covered in dirt and plants and even some black from the burnt trees she's climbing all over.
I love this one because it shows how far from precious you need to be about wool. Some people always worry about them getting dirty or getting a pull if they let their kids play outside in their knitteds. You know what? Pulls are easily fixed. And dirty? That's what kids are for. And knitteds stand up to dirt almost better than anything, dirt stains wash out far easier than they do in t-shirt material or even these jeans! They required a couple of soakings and scrubbings!
I love looking at photos my kids and seeing them wearing my knitteds. Invariably at this time of year, they are and it makes it all the more real for me. My sample garments are not kept pristine and only used for trunk shows or markets; they're worn and loved. As they were intended to be.
These, however, ARE the same garments that I do take along to markets and use for trunk shows. if you're coming along to The Craft Sessions, the samples I will have there are all the worn items from my kids wardrobe. Preparation involves a big washing and drying session, followed by a date with my flash-as electric depiller. And you know what? The knits always come up looking brand new! I don't think there's any other clothing fabric you can do that with!
The Rainbow Dress Lily's wearing was knit in May 2009, four years ago. That's another thing I love about wool, because of its lovely stretch Lily can still wear this dress; a 20" chest when her chest is now about 23". I so love that.
Wool for girls doesn't get grown out of very easily; dresses just get shorter until they're tunics, cardies become three quarter sleeved. And while you're this young and lean and limber, you can so rock the negative ease look as much as you like!
Earlier this month I released a new pattern. A fun little slouchie beanie called Scrap Heap.
I had so much fun working on this design because I got to work with a sweet little up and coming designer, my wee eight year old Lily. She is so much fun to work with, she has a mountain of ideas and is always super keen to put me to work. Ever since she has been little she has been sketching out her "designs" in my visual diary with the expectation that I would knit them. Most of them are pretty out there and haven't seen the light of day, much to her chagrin. Every now and again she still asks me when I'm going to knit her teepee dress; a design she drew when she was about three! I am such a mean mummy!
This time, I asked her to help me though. She wanted me to knit a couple of beanies for two of her friends' birthdays; two brothers who happen to have their birthdays in the same month. She wanted something that really captured their personalities. One of these brothers you may be familiar with already, his name is Griffin. Remember him? That may give you a bit of an idea of the design brief before us.
We settled on a striped slouch beanie and Lily selected the colours from my 8ply scrap tub. Yes, I have a whole tub of 8ply leftovers that are slowly being transformed into a blanket. Slowly. Then we decided to personalise it and I set Lily the job of designing a duplicate stitch image for each of the beanies. She thought monsters would work and quickly had her sketches organised.
Next with some knitters graph paper she set about creating the duplicate chart pattern. Meanwhile I knitted away.
I finished knitting and then late one night while she was in bed I duplicate stitched the monsters on. They were soooo ace I was really really tempted to go and wake her to show her then but I controlled that crazy crafting urge, having done it to my husband too many times with nary the response I was hoping for, and resisted waking her. Next morning, I shared our work with her and she was so stoked, one of her big excited grins appeared and she started chattering ten to the dozen, a sure sign that she was very happy and pleased with them.
We decided they were too cute not to share, so the pattern had to be written up. Given that I'd used leftovers to make our beanies, it seemed only fitting that I grade the pattern in a number of different weights so it can be used that way by lots of knitters. I graded it for five different yarn weights; sport/5ply, dk/8ply, worsted/10ply, /heavy worsted/aran and chunky/12ply and five different head sizes; 16", 18", 20", 22" and 24" so it will fit most people from baby size up until a large adult.
Beyond the awesome duplicate charts that come with this pattern, there are a couple of other cool things about it.
It has a little colour bar down the side of the first page of the pattern itself to help you with your colour sequence, I used five colours in both beanies and had fun switching them in and out over the two round stripes.
As I used such short stripes, I also used a jogless stripe technique that is fully detailed in the pattern so that the stripes matched nicely around the circumference of the hats.
One of the other things that is a bit of a pain with stripes is the transition between each stripe in ribbing, in the purl section you get the two different yarns wrapping around each other on the right side. If you're using a thicker stripe, this can be easily disguised by just knitting the first round of each new stripe. Given these were two round stripes, that wasn't going to work so I decided to try and minimise it by making the knit section of the rib slightly thicker. I really quite like a 3x2 rib, it seems to transition well into stocking stitch almost seamlessly.
So there you have it. Scrap Heap, the perfect project for all those scraps and for peeps who really can't be bothered using them to knit a blanket. This would be a great hat to knit for charity; and as with all my patterns you can use it to do so.
Additionally, for the remainder of July if you've ever purchased a pattern from me before, this pattern is free. Just take it through the ravelry cart checkout and the price will automatically be deducted.
For all those details and to purchase or get your free copy, pop over here.
P.S. Stayed tuned as later this week I have a VERY exciting giveaway to announce!!
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Textile artist, knitwear designer and teacher.
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