Origami Bolero

Bookbinding on the weekend, knitting in the evenings. That’s been the pattern lately. Well, until I picked up TTTGA (That Thing That’s Going Around) with the muscle aches and pains a few days ago. Since then there’s been no knitting at all.

Before then, I finished this:


The Origami Bolero by Jo Sharp. Knit with small batches and leftovers from the stash.


I can now confidently advise that this pattern can be knit with 8ply (dk) weight yarns, but expect to use more balls in all yarns but colour A than the pattern lists. It was a fun knit – fast and a pleasure to watch the colours interact with each other.

I also finished Beky’s Socks:


The main yarn is the Kaffe Fasset sock yarn, with some Lang Jawoll for the toes and heels. I got to give this to the recipient personally, which I’ve only done once before and only with the toddler socks. The fit was close to spot on. Perhaps a teeny bit short in the foot length. I’m going to add 5mm to my basic sock calculations.

My current project is this:


The Argyle Vest, using Cascade 200 I picked up in New York and Toronto. I can see why this yarn is consistently listed as the most popular on Ravelry. Soft yet robust. Lovely to knit. And I love the ribbed sides on the vest pattern. Being intarsia, it’s not a great project to carry about, so I’ll be starting my next Socks For Others Club socks soon.

Panorama Sketch Book

This is what I made when I had to stop and wait for the covers to dry on the Chain Stitch Sketch Book. It was very quick and easy.

Because of the inefficient cutting of the Canson paper, I had some long strips of paper left. It struck me that they were a good shape for drawings of panoramic landscapes. So I trimmed and folded them into a single signature, and made a simple cover out of a piece of ordinary black paper.


I added a sheet of tracing paper to put over new drawings, since if I’m drawing landscapes I’m likely to be out and about and not carrying spray fixative.


The binding is simple pamphlett stitch, using the black waxed thread from Paul’s leatherworking supplies.


The title is a cheap version of Letraset, that old rub-on type from pre-laser printer days. To make sure it didn’t rub off, I covered it with a piece of sticky tape cut to look like the sihouette of a mountain range. (Paul particularly liked that feature.)

Now I just have to remember to take it with me next time I’m going to be somewhere with a good panoramic view to sketch.

Posted in art

Chain Stitch Sketch Book (part 2)

The next morning, the covers were dry. I punched holes in them, then started to sew the book together. It wasn’t difficult, but definitely fiddly and I’m glad I had clear instructions in my books.

When I’d finished I wasn’t happy, though. The spine was very loose, and not because the thread wasn’t tight enough. I have a commercially made chain stitched book, and it was a lot more stable. I noticed that there were differences in the way it was done and the instructions I was following. The instructions resulted in the first and last line of holes being held together by stitches that are less supportive than the middle one, and the commercial book appeared to have only the middle kind of stitching.


So I pulled the whole thing apart and made holes in the signatures and cover for two more lines of stitches. This worked a lot better, giving much more stability to the spine.


A bit more trimming of pages later, and it was done. The front:


The back:


The pages:


From the cover side:


Posted in Uncategorized

Chain Stitch Sketch Book

Most of the tools and material I need for bookbinding I can find at home already. Paul had an awl and some black waxed thread in with some old leatherworking supplies. I have a multitude of needles, including a curved needle, inherited from my grandmothers, and cutting tools from my days as a student, or when I ran an illustration and graphic design business.

I even have a big block of beeswax from my silk painting days. But it was much too big a chunk to be practical, so yesterday I carved off a piece, melted it in the microwave and poured it into a tablespoon to set.


Then I fixed one of the deficits in my bookbinding supplies using the tutorial on the Craft Leftovers site by digging up my old embroidery thread and waxing some by running it over and through the beezwax a few times.

I was all set to go. But what to make first? Well, I figured it would be wise to practise on materials and content that, if I messed up, it wouldn’t bother me.


I inherited some old “How to …” art books a while back. They’re truly awful things, from the perspective of learning art. For a start, the printing was so bad that the colours were never right, and the advice… let’s just say my old art teacher shuddered when I brought them along to class for a laugh.

But they’re also wonderfully kitsch in a faded postcard kind of way. I’ve already made placemats for the dining table by getting covers of six of them, and ten of the pages from one on drawing trees, laminated.


There’s plenty more fodder in them for fun projects, and one in particular looked ideal for a bookbinding project because of the way the examples were laid out, four to a page.


But I didn’t want a book just of pages from the “How To …” book. I’ve been wanting a sketch book of coloured paper to draw in, so I rifled through my old paper supplies and found sheets of coloured Canson paper from back when I had a go at drawing with pastels. I had five colours and cream.


My bookbinding books all recommend finding and cutting to the grain of the paper, and through this wasn’t the most economical way to cut the paper I was a good girl and obeyed. I got four sheets (to be folded) of each colour and eight of the cream.


Then I placed one page from the “How To …” book on the inside and one on the outside of each section of Canson paper, making six ‘signatures’. I trimmed the edges and used the awl to pierce along the fold where the stitching was going.


And then I covered two rectangles of cardboard with pages from the “How To…” book, for the covers.


This meant I had to leave them to dry squished flat under a pile of heavy books, and do the binding the next day. Since this is going to be a very long post if I show the entire process in it, I’m going to blog about the next step until the next post.

Posted in art

Sketch Sunday 16


This Sketch Sunday comes to you in colour!

In the spirit of loosening up, experimentation and not getting into a sketching rut, I decided to do this week’s sketch in colour after I opened my box labelled “carcoal & crayon” and saw all these cheery sticks of brightness.

Crayon, however, is a very unforgiving medium. Unlike pastel, it doesn’t blend on the page. And if you try to rub a new colour over an old one, it forms a coating that flakes off.

(I often wonder at the sorts of art materials we give children to use. They seem designed to make painting and drawing as difficult and discouraging as possible. Cheap paintbrushes and paint colours that mixed to form shades of uninspiring ‘mud’ had me sticking to drawing and avoiding painting for years.)

I considere this sketch a dud, and nearly did another sketch to post here, but I don’t think Sketch Sunday is only about the successful sketches, just as it isn’t only about the ‘finished’ ones, or doesn’t include brainstorming sketches.

And I won’t let this put me off playing with colour again. Especially since I just finished making a sketchbook full of coloured pages, and I’m looking forward to filling it with drawings.

Concertina Badge Booklet

I’ll be attending a small local SF convention in a week, and as there weren’t any panels on writing (my day job) that interested me, I volunteered to speak on the “Craftinomicon” panel.

It’ll be a nice change and should be a lot of fun. Mostly be a show and tell style panel, my co-panelist and I will take along some things we’ve made and a slideshow of things other people have made (Princess Leia hat, Dark Mark Illusion Scarf, etc). I’m keeping as close to a SF and convention theme as possible.

But since most of what I’ll be showing is knitting related, I needed a few examples of other crafts. Could I think of anything sf/convention related to make using bookbinding methods?

Of course I could. Of all the paraphenalia of cons that you get, I like to keep the badges. They’re small and sometimes have great artwork on them. So far I’ve just hung them on a door handle, but that just forms a tangle of strings. A display book might be better. Here’s what I came up with:


The covers are held together by one of the nicer strings from one of the badges. (Most used cheap twine.) It’s attached the same way as most con badge strings are, too.


The pages are folded into a concertina, with a fold-up base to form pockets for the badges.


It can be opened like a book, or fanned out to display the badges.

This booklet holds all the badges from 2000 – 2009. I’m tempted to make another one for the next decade, but I suppose I won’t know how many badges to allow room for until 2020. Now that’s a freaky thought…

Puddy Tat and Martha TV

It’s proof of how much I hate seaming that I finished knitting this cat a month ago, stuffed it, yet didn’t get around to the sewing up until a few days ago:


You’ll find the pattern here: Brownie the Cat. Here’s a pic from the side:


And my favourite, the rear shot.


I still want to make several more and populate window sills with them.

Work on the Origami Bolero was progressing quickly – it’s such a fun knit – but it came to a sudden halt last week when I ran out of dark green yarn. That’s the trouble with stash-busting projects: you always end up buying more yarn. My local yarn store just happens to be getting more of the yarn in that green this week. They’re going to call me when it arrives.


So in the meantime I’ve been working on these socks.


I have to admit, this is the second time I’ve started them. Somehow with the first version I managed to end up with the wrong number of stitches by the time I got to the heel, then messed up the short rows. I really wasn’t feeling the love at that point, so I frogged and started again with using some purple for the toes and heels, knitting alternately on each sock. Suddenly the sock knitting love was back and I’m whipping through them.

The knitting has been helped along by episodes of the Martha Stewart Show. It’s showing on Seven’s digital channel on weekdays so I’m recording it. The shows are a couple of years old and the ones I started with were all about ‘the holidays’. There were a few references to possible uncertain economic times – and clearly not enough time has passed since Christmas for me to not shudder at all the holiday decorating and cooking.

It also took a while to get used to all the cheering. The audience breaks out into clapping and whooping numerous times, sometimes at the slightest reason. There’s none of the Aussie cringe at enthusiastic self-promotion, too. I find these little cultural differences fascinating.

Everyone seems to talk very slowly and ‘beat around the bush’ a lot, as we Aussies say. I’ve found that if I play the episodes at double speed the dialogue is just a little faster than ‘normal’ (we Aussies do, apparently, talk quickly), and if I skip the ad breaks I can watch three episodes in the time it would take to watch one live.

So far I’ve learned a better way to slice an onion, that you can get rather nifty Japanese hole punches, and that popping champagne corks is considered uncouth now. I admit it… I’m hooked.

Sketch Sunday 15


On time this week! Yay! This is a wooden toy Flintstones car I made in woodwork classes at school. One other girl and I always got the best marks in woodwork and metalwork, which the teachers loved because it made the boys try harder, but frustrated them because they knew there was little chance we’d make use of these skills later in life, and certainly weren’t going to have a career using them. (It was the 80s. That we were allowed to learn these subjects at all still felt like a recent advance for us girls.)

I wish I could go back in time and reassure the woodwork teacher that I’ve used the knowledge he gave me many, many times, either making, restoring or recycling furniture and other objects. At the very least, it certainly helps when putting together IKEA furniture.

On the Rebound

When I was in Brisbane last month, I stumbled upon this book and decided to order it when I got home:


How could I not buy it? It marries recycling with bookbinding. Old and new interests brought together.

There’s a book made out of an old hot water bottle…


… and one made from a bathmat. The cover image is a book made of used up shop loyalty cards…


… and there’s a project using old colour-by-numbers artwork.

Since the materials used in the projects are often unique, you could never replicate them exactly, but you could certainly make something similar. I’m always more likely to diverge from instructions anyway. At the end of the book there is a gallery of books made by artists to use as inspiration.

Even before the book arrived I have been collecting materials to play with, from old postcards to scraps of window fly screen. But there are some basic bookbinding materials and tools I really need to get hold of before I launch into this hobby. I suspect some shopping is in order…

Recycling Ideas?

Along with crafting, coming up with and collecting nifty ideas for recycling things is a family trait that’s been passed down from generation to generation. I have fond memories of my grandfather’s collection of carefully straightened used nails, and bits and pieces that would come in useful some day. My mother tells stories of how my nana made children’s clothes out of old ties and mens shirts.

But these innovations often sprang mainly from necessity. My grandparents raised their children during the depression. My mother’s recycling was as much about a concern for the environment as from a need to be thrifty. She cuts up rubber kitchen gloves to make elastic bands and refused to take plastic bags long before it became an accepted practise.

These days we have recycling bins, with a growing list of packaging and materials that can go in them. We compost. Paul and I rarely fill the small sized bin for garbage. I have a long habit of avoiding polystyrene and plastics that can’t be recycled. Old clothes go to the charity shop if still in good condition, if not they become rags.

But there are a couple of things that we have or get in quantity that I’ve not found a good solution for. First there’s the packing material leftover from the numerous parcels we both receive. My Aussie publisher uses a wonderful product with a recycled paper layer instead of bubble wrap and a celulose version of packing peanuts that dissolves in water, but most of my parcels from overseas and come in awful paper-covered bubble wrap envelopes with polystyrene packing peanuts. Paul’s eBay purchases often come wrapped in bubblewrap and/or filled with more polystyrene peanuts.

I save up the bubble wrap to give to friends who are moving house, but that doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as it used to, and finding space to store it is always a problem. I have no idea what to do with the polystyrene packing peanuts.

I also have lots of audio cassette tapes I don’t want any more. Any suggestions?