Spock Hat. Dunzo. Classes. I Haz ‘Em.

Gentle reader,

Are you peeps ready for some SRS BSNS!? (that’s excited text speak for ‘serious business’)

The Spock Hat is finished and photographed! Y’all should give your thanks to The Beard, because he’s been sick and he was on his way to work, but I pulled him outside and made him model it for me before I’d let him leave. “Enough’s enough!” I said to myself. “This needed to be done, like, months ago!”.

And so, I present you with an earflap beanie of the Spock variety. BLAM!

Also, get a load of The Beard’s beard! That’s impressive.

To do the ear detailing, I just did a surface slip stitch in a darker yarn. It turned out pretty well, I think.

“Live long and prosper.”

So Vulcan, so chic.

Well, that’s that done! Finally! I had intended to write the pattern as I made it, but at some point I realized I’d stopped making notes and it was all over. Oh well.

In some housekeeping news, I’ve added a section for my class dates! So, if you’re in la Bourne du Mel (that’s Frenchie for ‘Melbourne’) you can totally come sit with me and I’ll show you how to crochet! Fun times!

Just clicketty-clack in the handy-dandy nav bar, and you can sign yourself up for some crafty education. Hurray!

What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever crafted!? Bonus points for posting pics on the Facebook page! ^_~

 

Of Veggigurumi And Undead Books

Gentle reader,

I had the lovely opportunity of visiting Stephanie and Megan at Can Do Books in Hawthorn today. If you’re in Melbourne and you’ve not been, you really must go. Their selection of crafty and arty books are totes amazeballs, and the prices are kind of jaw-droppingly reasonable (which is a bit of a rare thing in Australia, actually!). We had a chat about some opportunities to do some really cool stuff together, so I’ll keep y’all posted. In the meantime though, do you mind if I show off the purchase I made while I was there? The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt!

Back from the dead!

The 4-1-1 on this book is that it was well popular and then it went out of print for a number of years (the publication details lists it’s last edition as being printed in 1988!). Demand was so high though that people went properly crazy and apparently second hand copies were selling for the $200 ballpark on eBay! Oy! But, it’s been revised and updated and is back on the shelves. Zombie book! It’s alive! I had a quick flip through and was overcome with the desire to take it home with me, so I did, as a matter of fact. I think these will sell like gangbusters, because it’s the kind of book that if you only ever bought one book about knitting, this would do perfectly. Seriously, this thing is so big you could brain someone with it. I tried flipping through some more on the train and I nearly dislocated my arm! And considering it only cost $49.99, let’s be real, I kind of feel like a stole it, just a lil’ bit. I’ll tell you some more about it when I’ve had more time to pour through it (seated safely at the table, mind. No more dislocations).

Meanwhile, I have some crochet FOs to show you! Back when I was at the Loch Quilt and Craft Festival, I was crocheting while I was sitting at my table, and I don’t know what possessed me, but I started to whip up some vegetables, or ‘veggigurumi’ as I like to call them. I did the aubergine first. Now, I would sooner eat my own sick than eat aubergine, but I think they’re pretty and I love their color. And this yarn colorway was even named “Rustic Aubergine” (Morris Estate 14 ply), so I suppose that might have sown the seed for veggigurumi. And the carrot was next because I happened to have a red-orange yarn and I actually do like carrots. So, there you have it!

Do carrots and aubergine even go together? I haven't a clue.

Anyway, I was really quite happy with how they turned out, actually! I think aubergines are a bit longer, but I wanted it to a be fat little nuggety one. I can’t quite remember what yarn the carrot was made of, but I suspect it was Sean Sheep from Big W (don’t pooh-pooh the Sean Sheep from Big W, it’s actually quite lovely!). The green bits were from some Magnum Soft, which is a pretty decent acrylic yarn if you’re on a budget. It’s quite squishy and not at all scratchy or plastic-y). I feel like I need a few more items for the collection, for a fruit/vegetable bowl or cornucopia if you will. Perhaps an apple or broccoli, I’m not sure.

Also, if you missed it, I’ve opened an Etsy store, which you can visit here! And, if you go to this post and comment, I’ll send you a coupon code for 15% off, just ‘cuz I love you. ^_^ Truth be told, you can comment on any post and say you want a coupon code. Ask and ye shall receive.

Have you bought some awesome books lately? Share, share, share!

Of Puppies and Bunnies

Gentle reader,

It’s a new week, and a new entry in the FO parade. I’m gonna jump right into it!

le Bunny du Blue (that's French for Blue Bunny, y'know)

First up is this little blue bunny. He’s a wee little thing, and he looks rather kooky, but I like that. I’m not sure exactly what brand of yarn I used for him, but it was an 8 ply pure wool.

Dapper Dog

I’m quite pleased with how this dog turned out. I think he’s rather dapper! I haven’t made too many dogs or puppies before, but I think I’ll make some more, and perhaps try a version on all fours. He’s made out of Cleckheaton Country Naturals, which I really like working with and I like the extra bit of texture it has over regular Cleckheaton Country.

Well, that’s all for today, it’s a short and sweet one, I’m afraid.

How was your weekend? Did you have a good one? I hope so!

– R

Of Owls and Dinosaurs (Maybe Dragons?)

Gentle reader,

I’ve been crocheting up a storm lately! I have lots of finished objects to show you, but rather than blast them all at you at once, I’m going to do it bit by bit. That gives me time to keep making more and we can see just how long I can make the FO Parade last!

First up today is an owl I finished just the other day! I’d made a smaller owl in this fashion a few years back as gift for a friend, and this is kind of like a bigger, refined version.

'Nugget' the Green Owl

I named him Nugget because I love how he’s just a little nuggety unit with owl parts. He makes me happy, and is definitely my favorite of today’s line-up. His eyes are made by layering three buttons, and his beak is this bizarre button I had lying around that’s made from a shell! I thought it was just the right shape for a little owl nugget.

Trade secret: You know the black rectangles of plastic in the bottoms of environmental shopping bags? To make his little tooshy flat and to keep his wings and tail stiff, I cut the shapes out of that plastic rectangle and then stitched the felt over it, or pressed it into the bottom of his body before I stuffed it. He also has a Gacha machine capsule filled with rice in his center so his nose doesn’t tip him forward. Which is a good way of reusing them, since I am clinically incapable of passing a Gacha machine without getting something. Oy! I have problems.

Now, the last one for today, well, I’m undecided what he is. If he’s a dinosaur, he’s part T-rex and part Stegosaurus. But, maybe then he’s a dragon? Who knows? You’ll have to ask him yourself.

"Am I a dragon or a dinosaur? I'm so confused!"

He was a bit of an experiment, and while I consider the experiment a success, I definitely have my lessons learned for next time. His face could be a lil’ bit cuter, and I might even add claws next time.

Meanwhile, I used my Kanji and Hiragana charts as backgrounds for a change. I really like it! It’s a nice change from black or white paper. What do you think?

– R

The Shy Lion! 2012! Aaaaaannnnddd…. GO! Crochet Classes at Thread Den!

Gentle reader,

Apologies for the long post title! I got a bit over-excited. Oy! I have some cool things happening in 2012 and the first cool thing is that I’ll be doing even more teaching. So, if you’re looking for crochet classes in Melbourne, then you’ve come to the right place!

The most exciting thing that I’ve been dying to share with you for ages is that in addition to the classes I’ve been teaching for Morris & Sons, I’m now teaching at Thread Den. I’m so super stoked about it, and the first class is soon!

Hamanaka crochet hooks are love.

The class is a two and a half hour session on Sunday the 29th of January at Thread Den in Fitzroy from 2pm to 4:30pm, and it costs $49 for the session. You can get all the details here. Go give Thread Den some love! They’re really awesome. That’s the only class officially on the calendar at the moment, but I’ll keep posted on more. They also have excellent sewing classes, so check ’em out!

In the next few days, I’ll make a new page in the navigation bar listing my class schedules and how to book etc. Maybe I’ll see some of your lovely faces, huh? ^_~

I’m hoping to do some writing too, but we shall see! What cool stuff will you be getting up to in 2012?

– R

 

December Travels – Chapter Three – Thrifting!

Gentle reader,

This will probably be the last of my December Travels posts before I get back down to business. But, it’s also probably the post I’m most excited to share with you!

I don’t know about you, but I love, love, LOVE a good poke about a thrift store. Back when I used to do costume design, I would hit the thrift stores hard – I once costumed a cast of 30+ on $200 with change to spare – but I didn’t come to love it until I quit theater and started thrifting for myself. Some things just aren’t fun when it’s work!

Well, while I was up in Queensland, I managed to do a bit of crafty thrifting and I think I did pretty well! First up, while I was in Brisbane, Panda and I dropped into this crazy antique store that we happened upon. It was quite big, and was more of a serious antique/collectors store, and some of the treasures in there were mind-blowing (with prices to match, in a good way!), but they also had some small little lovelies with more thrifty prices. Naturally, I managed to sniff out the craft accoutrements and patterns in no time, and I picked up these babies with change out of a tenner.

Lower left! Totes adorbz, yes?

After my few days in Brisbane, I caught the bus to my home town. After Christmas, my fantastic friends, Alf and Robert, drove up from Brisbane to visit me and we went thrifting! Now, my home town has some amazing thrifting. Because it’s a smaller town, and perhaps a little bit conservative, it’s not yet caught on that thrift stores are a bit “cool” these days. Or at least, that’s what it was like last time I shopped there…

But now, they’d finally caught on! And prices reflected that. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind. Most of them are charity stores, remember! So more money in their pockets are a good thing. But, I still felt a small niggle of nostalgia for the days of filling a bag for two dollars. Ahhh!

We popped into a few stores (in spite of my nearly getting us horribly lost a few times – it’s been a long time since I’ve had to get around town, everything had changed!), but nothing struck my fancy. Until we got to the big Lifeline store, and I managed to find a taste of the old days with some ridiculously cheap gems!

It seems that while it’s caught on that thrifting is “cool”, it’s yet to catch on that knitting and crochet is now a bit “cool” too! I found two pattern books and… A DROP SPINDLE!

I love the aran sweater on the front, but there are some tragic beauties inside!
"Raynie! Take me home! I've been waiting for you!"

Now, none of their patterns were priced, and I don’t think anyone knew what the spindle was. I took them to the counter, and I was served by the most gorgeous elderly lady named Vera. She looked them over, and not seeing any prices, she ummed to herself for a bit.

“How does fifty cents sound?” she asked with a lovely big smile.

I was floored! “Really!?” I exclaimed. I rummaged in my wallet and found a two dollar coin. “Let’s make it two dollars, shall we?”

“One dollar!” countered Vera, bless her!

“Vera! Why are you trying to talk me down? Take the two dollars!” I said with a laugh. She looked at me for a second and then giggled as she took the coin and bagged up my purchases. Too adorable!

I think vintage patterns are becoming a compulsion for me. I don’t even really intend to make most of them. Definitely some of the mens patterns. But, even if I don’t plan on using them, I just adore them! And I feel like, what will happen to them if sympathetic crafters don’t take them home? I can see this becoming a hoarders-like situation. Oy.

Things will be back to normal after this one, I think! Be prepared, I have a finished object parade busting to be blogged, and I have lots of exciting news (classes, anyone?). So, stay tuned!

What are your favorite thrift store purchases? Share, share, share!

– R

Teach Me How To Dougie… erm… I Mean… Do Crafty Things…

Gentle reader,

The results are in (sort of)! Here are the results of my poll as they stand now. It’s still active, but the rank has more or less stayed the same, the numbers just grew.

And the people have spoken.

I knew the craft posts would be at the top, because that’s what The Shy Lion is all about. The biggest surprise was my interludes in third place. You peeps like my random chatter? Oh, I do love you. But the coolest thing is tutorials coming in second. That’s exciting!

So, now I’m going to ask for your thoughts once more. What kind of tutorials would you like? Is there any thing in particular you want to know?

Disclaimer: Now, crochet is all fine and dandy; I’ve been crocheting for years and teaching for about a year now. But, keep in mind that as far as knitting goes, I’m practically still a noob. I’m just very lucky that a lot of my good friend are knitting superstars so I have excellent resources to pick brains and get help (and a penchant for jumping in the deep end with projects). But perhaps you can learn as I learn? Or perhaps I can have tutorial guests? I dunno! And if there are non-crochet/knit stuff that I’ve posted that you’re interested in, let me know too.

I don’t know… I’m brainstorming on my end, but let me know what you think. And would you like photographic tutorials with instructions, or would you like video tutorials? Or a combination? Have at it!

– R

Of Birthdays And Nests

Gentle reader,

It was my birthday on Wednesday, and I really wasn’t going to make a thing of it, but I got so much unexpected love and such thoughtful and sweet gifts that I wanted to show ’em off a bit.

Birthday Swag From Some Awesome Peeps! ❤
  • Judith got me a whole bunch of Japanese books she happened across at a thrift store. Some of them are children’s books which are great for reading practice when your kanji comprehension is atrocious (yes, that would be me), and the rest seem like text books for lower grades in Japan rather than actual “Hey foreigner! Learn some Japanese!” books (well, except for one).
  • Marelle and Kendyl got me some funny stickers and a gift voucher for Minotaur (for non-Melburnians, Minotaur is a shop that is more or less the geek mother ship).
  • And Jules (of Woollenflower fame) got me two amazing old crochet books, which I’m sure you’ll see more of. “Crochet Sweaters” is a priceless mix of really tasteful and timeless gems (including a couple for gentlemen!) and utterly tragic disasters that makes me laugh so hard that I’m in danger of peeing myself. Not kidding.
"How do you do, Raynor? I'm your new home. Step inside, won't you?"

Meanwhile, my house is slowly, slowly getting sorted out, but I’ve been procrastinating yet again. At any rate, the more time I spend in the house, the more I love it. It has quite a bit of character and I really hope I can channel my interior designer and really make it the cozy home it deserves to be. (Let’s be real though, I kind of just want it to be the same as Katie and Reuben’s place, ala House of Humble. I can’t lie.)

Finally… tomorrow (Friday) is the last day to comment on my other post here to win yourself a squishable, scrummy ball of yarn. So, go do that! I want to share the love.

What’s been the best birthday gift you’ve ever gotten? (Or the most disastrous…?)

– 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