Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Wine bottle cover - knitting pattern

Last weekend I stayed two nights at a friend's place in Sydney and brought her a nice bottle of white wine as a thank-you gift. I thought about how to present it and decided to knit a jumper (sweater), using the skein of multi-coloured super-bulky yarn that I bought the other day because I couldn't resist it ;-). It's almost summer here Down Under, so yes, it's a silly present, but hey, I need a creative outlet now that my sewing machine is in storage!

I measured the circumference of the wine bottle (25 cm / 10 inch) and assuming the gauge on the label (8 stitches = 10 cm / 4 inch) to be correct, cast on 20 stitches on 10 mm (US 15) circular needles. I started knitting in stockinette stitch until the cover was 15 cm / 6 inch high:

Then decreased a few times, knitted some more rows in rib stitch and cast off tightly.

That cover looked alright, but I thought it could be improved a bit by starting in rib stitch, as the bottom edge tends to curl (although this isn't really a problem when it is stretched over the bottle):

I also decided a 'collar' on the jumper would look good. There was just enough yarn to finish the second cover!

The instructions on how to knit these covers are below, if you would like to make one yourself. My very first knitting pattern! (please let me know if you spot any mistakes or if anything isn't clear)
This is a very quick and easy project, suitable for beginning quilters.

Wine bottle cover

Yarn: Electric Beat Jambi Licorice by Passioknit, 90% acrylic, 10% wool (super bulky). One skein (100g /58m/63yd) makes two covers.
Needles: 10 mm / US 15 / UK 000 circular needles. For cover B you also need a pair of regular needles to knit the 'collar'.
Gauge: 8 stitches x 12 rows = 10 x 10 cm / 4 x 4 inch
Circumference bottle = 25 cm /10 inch

Abbreviations used:
sts = stitches
k = knit
p = purl
k2tog = knit 2 stitches together

Directions for Cover A:
Cast on 20 sts on the circular needles.
Row 1-24: Stocking stitch (stockinette - knit the odd rows, purl the even rows) in the round until you have reached 15 cm / 6 inch. Adjust the number of rows if necessary.
Row 25: Decrease as follows: *k2tog, k3* repeat until the end.
Row 26: Purl (16 sts).
Row 27: *k2tog, k2* repeat until the end.
Row 28: Purl (12 sts).
Row 29-36: Rib stitch (k1, p1)
Row 37: Bind off tightly. Weave in the loose ends.

Directions for Cover B:
Cast on 20 sts on the circular needles.
Row 1-2: Rib stitch (k1, p1).
Row 3-24: Continue in stocking stitch (stockinette - knit the odd rows, purl the even rows) in the round until you have reached 15 cm / 6 inch. Adjust the number of rows if necessary.
Row 25: Decrease as follows: *k2tog, k3* repeat until the end.
Row 26-28: Stockinette (you now have 16 sts).
Row 29-36 Rib stitch (k1, p1).
Row 37-44 Switch to regular needles and continue the rib stitch.
Row 45: Bind off.
Weave in the loose end at the bottom. Leave the loose end at the top. Attach a piece of yarn to the other side of the ‘collar’. Tie a knot in both ends to prevent fraying.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Modern Quilt Show Australia 2016, Sydney

On Sunday I was in Sydney and made my way to the Glebe Town Hall to visit the 2016 Modern Quilt Show Australia. It was lovely to see my Colourful Pencils quilt hanging there:

The show wasn't very large but there were some gorgeous quilts. My favourite was this one - a Lone Star of course! - Deconstructed Lonestar, made by Carolyn Murfitt of Free Bird Quilting Designs.

The quilting was spectacular:

I also really liked this quilt; Levitation Fascination made by Di Jobbins. It won the Viewers' Choice!

Another one I liked a lot: Sashing Stash by Jane Frankham. It won second prize in the Small category.

I had never been in Glebe before, so took the time to wander around with my camera. Loved those colourful houses in Glebe Point Road:

And this beautiful window:

The Christmas banners put up by the City of Sydney were very appropriate with their patchwork design:

I stayed with friends in Annandale (just west of Glebe), where I also found some things of interest, such as this art deco window:

And this adorable gingerbread house!

I wasn't in Sydney just for the quilt show - the main reason for my visit was to find a rental house in the Northern Beaches. On Saturday I inspected four houses. We put in an application for one of them, in Collaroy Plateau, and yesterday were told that the owner has accepted it. Hurray, we have a place to live in Sydney!!!

We will move in on Monday the 19th of December, when the boys have finished school and hubby has finished work here in Brisbane. I am so happy and so relieved to finally know where we are going to live!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Auckland Festival of Quilts 2016

From 2 until 6 November I was in New Zealand, as I was asked to be one of the judges at the Auckland Festival of Quilts 2016. My fellow judges were Chris Kenna and Marion Manson.

The three of us were unanimous in our decision to award Best of Show to this quilt, No Entry by Norma Slabbert:

We were very impressed by the strong, original design and the impeccable hand and machine quilting in this piece:

This is my Judge's Choice: Frida No.2 by Ngaire Fleming:

I also loved the other judges' choices. This is Chris Kenna's: Watermark by Alison Laurence:

And Marion Manson's: Blue Illusion by Cheryl Houston:

There were lots and lots of fabulous quilts, and the prize winners should be up on the website of the Auckland Quilt Guild soon. I'll just show one more - a quilt made for the Guild Challenge 'Gone to Pieces', Visa. Mastercard by Jo Hollings. It won the award for Most Quirky Quilt. I love it!

The judges were asked to bring a few small samples of their own work - here is my judge's exhibit:

I had one day to do some sightseeing in Auckland and enjoyed wandering around with my camera. Here I've caught the reflection of the Sky Tower in the windows of an office building:

I also spotted some street art - one of my favourite subjects to photograph. More pics of Auckland can be found on my photo blog.

I had a wonderful time in Auckland - it was lovely to be away from all the moving stress for a little while. Many thanks to the Auckland Quilt Guild for inviting me, and especially to my wonderful hosts Chris and Terry for providing a home away from home!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Mondrian's Lone Star up for auction

Mondrian's Lone Star, the little (16'' x 16'') quilt I made back in April for the Quilt Alliance Contest, is now up for auction with 34 other quilts. You can view and bid for them here.

I would still like to make this Lone Star in a larger size, maybe as a baby quilt. Oh well, it will have to wait until we have moved to Sydney and my sewing machine is out of storage!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Lone Star Quilt

With everything that has been happening I had forgotten all about my Lone Star Quilt being featured as a project in the current issue of Down Under Quilts. It's even made it onto the cover - although I much prefer the photo on the project page.

The quilt itself is now in storage (as is the magazine) - we won't need it in the coming weeks as it is rapidly warming up here in Brisbane, and we only brought the most essential stuff with us to this one-room apartment. Yes, the five of us live and sleep in this room! (well, four at the moment - hubby is in Europe for two weeks) At night the chair is moved aside and more mattresses come out from under the beds...

I'm glad we brought the Big Cushions I made for the boys earlier this year - they are so useful, and decorative as well! :-)

After all the stress of the last few weeks, things have begun to settle down a bit now, and I am enjoying a few quiet days until hubby comes back next week and the next challenge starts: finding a house in Sydney! I am going down to visit the Modern Quilt Show Australia which will be on in Sydney from 25 until 27 November (because one of my quilts has been selected!) and hope to look at some houses then as well. To be continued!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Summer scarf

A lot has happened since the last posting. First things first: I finished the summer scarf!

I love it - it's light and airy, perfect for summer nights when you need something to cover your bare shoulders.

And summer has started here in Brisbane, with temperatures in the 30s and horrible humidity. We have moved out of our roomy rental and into very small temporary accommodation. Most of our possessions have gone into storage - so long, my lovely sewing machine, I will miss you...

I have just spent five wonderful days in New Zealand, judging at the Auckland Festival of Quilts 2016. More about that in the next posting!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Summer knitting projects

In 10 days we move to very small temporary lodgings, so I have started packing. My sewing room is full of boxes and most of my fabric stash is already packed, so no more sewing or quilting for me this year... boohoo! It will all go in storage until we have found a place to live in Sydney and moved there, which we hope will be in mid-December, when the boys have finished school here in Brisbane.

So knitting it is now - the Tumbling Blocks baby blanket is halfway finished (it's rather time-consuming), and I have also started another project: a summer scarf. Spring has sprung here and temperatures are rising, so no more beanies or wrist warmers, but an airy cotton scarf to use on summer nights. I found the pattern here and decided to make it in my favourite colour, turquoise:

My BFF in the Netherlands sent me a gorgeous belated birthday present: this beautiful yarn bowl.

I absolutely love it, and am glad that I will have something of my own in our temporary living space that will make me feel happy whenever I look at it!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Knitting Needle Case - Tutorial

Since I rediscovered knitting in July, I have finished quite a few projects (you can see them all here on my Ravelry page) and collected a lot of stuff - knitting needles, circular needles, cable needles, a crochet hook etc. With our upcoming move to a temporary smaller place in mind, I decided to make a case to keep it all together.

It was a quick and easy project (finished in less than two hours) and I thought I'd share the instructions here for those of you who would like to make a case of their own. You don't need to be an experienced sewer to make this case - it is enough if you can sew a straight line.

You will need:
Outer fabric (I used a heavyweight home dec fabric from Ikea):
- 18'' x 20'' (46 cm x 51 cm) rectangle
Inner fabric (I used plain muslin/calico):
- 18'' x 20'' (46 cm x 51 cm) rectangle
- 18'' x 26'' (46 cm x 66 cm) rectangle , folded in half to create a 18'' x 13'' pocket
- 18'' x 16'' (46 cm x 41 cm) rectangle, folded in half to create a 18'' x 8'' pocket
- 18'' x 8'' (46 cm x 20 cm) rectangle, folded in half to create a 18'' x 4'' pocket
Ribbon: 36'' (90 cm)

Note: If you want to use a lightweight cotton fabric for the outside, I would add a layer of batting between the outer and inner fabric.

You will also need:
- measuring tape
- thread in a matching colour,
- pins,
- scissors,
- fabric marker and ruler,
- sewing machine,
- iron and ironing board.

1. Lay down the 18'' x 20'' inner fabric rectangle. Lay the 18'' x 13'' pocket on top with the bottom edges matching. Lay the 18'' x 8'' pocket on top of that one, bottom edges matching, and the 18'' x 4'' pocket on top of that one (see photo below).

2. Lay the 18'' x 20'' outer fabric rectangle on top of the inner fabrics with the right side facing down. Trim off both top corners as shown in the photo below and pin the layers together:

3. Sew around the edges using a 1/2'' seam allowance, leaving a 6'' gap in the middle of the top edge. Trim the corners. Turn the case right side out through the gap. Use a pointy tool to push out the corners (I use the end of a paint brush). Press the case, folding in the fabric edges at the gap. Top-stitch all around, a few millimetres from the edge, thereby closing the gap.

4. Use a fabric marker and a ruler to draw vertical lines on the inside of the case. I decided to make (from left to right) two 1'' sections, four 2'' sections and two 3'' sections, but you may want to use different sizes. Sew along those lines, starting at the bottom edge, and backstitching at both ends.

5. Find the middle of the ribbon. Sew it to the front of the case, just above the middle pocket. Stitch back and forth a few times, over the top-stitching that was already there.

6. Fold down and press the flap at the top.

I decided that the bottom row of pockets was too deep (the darning needle got lost in it), so stitched a horizontal line 1'' from the bottom edge.

Put your knitting stuff in the pockets, roll up the case, tie the ribbon and admire your handiwork!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Since we are moving to Sydney in December, we drove down there in the September school holidays to check things out, and to do the touristy things with the kids, who had never been to Sydney before. We all loved Taronga Zoo, and the photo above is my favourite from the trip. Of course the Opera House always looks great too:

We stayed in Narrabeen in the Northern Beaches, which is the area we hope to live in. So beautiful!

We drove home via Armidale, where we stayed for two nights, and did some sightseeing. The Wollomombi Falls were spectacular:

My husband and eldest son went for a walk together and saw an echidna! Hugo managed to take this photo with my DSLR:

I did a lot of knitting in the car (we drove more than 2500 km in 8 days) and managed to finish my Josephine Shawl:

Not too happy with the yarn I used - it does pill a lot, but I like the shawl!

And now it's time to start packing - in 3 weeks time, on November 1st, we move out of this house into temporary lodgings. The location is perfect (close to schools, gymnastics, hubby's work) but it's very small, so all our furniture, including my sewing machine, will have to go into storage until we move to Sydney.

So sadly no more quilting for me this year, instead I'll be knitting and designing quilts in Illustrator!