Guest blog series2 2011

Tegan Rose & Lara Cameron run the textile design and print studio, Ink & Spindle, located in inner city Melbourne. Their focus is on sustainable, ethical & local production.

Thanks Kathreen for asking us to guest blog today! Very exciting.

Lara & I had a chat about what we should write about & decided that if you wanted to read about us, you could do so on our blog or Facebook page. So instead I’m going to tell you about a fun, non-Ink & Spindle thing that has been happening after hours here in the studio this year!

Knitting. Machine Knitting to be precise!

And we have the raddest machine knitting crew around…

Backstory: My mum taught me how to hand knit when I was very little. We lived on a property in South West Victoria, with no TV, far away from anything or anyone that wasn’t a cow or sheep, so I spent my childhood following my parents around, probably loudly complaining about being bored. As a consequence of that I learned how to do a lot of odd things. From catching yabbies with my bare hands, to making candlestick holders on a lathe, to knitting. Not that knitting is particularly odd. Though it was maybe 1990 and I was around 6 years old. I have no idea what other 6 year olds were doing in 1990, but they were probably having an ace time playing Guess Who or Hungry Hungry Hippo (I always wanted, never had, those games – deprived child, I know), probably not hanging out in the garden with knitting needles.

So as you can probably already tell, I have a little trouble staying on topic at the best of times… ok – KNITTING! You see, I could decide on, plan and begin a project no worries. But finish one? Rarely. I have very distinct memories of my step-dad telling me – throughout my childhood, probably every time I picked up my needles – that I needed a knitting machine. I had no idea what one was, but he would describe one to me and tell me how his mum had one when he was little and used to knit all his clothes on it. And how great they are. And how I’d absolutely LOVE one.

But it was all just a bit too abstract and complicated for my brain to get a handle on without ever actually seeing one in action. But I always remembered about the mythical, amazing knitting machine.

So last October, when my lovely friend Suzie said she had just aquired a knitting machine and it was totally awesome, my immediate response was: FIND ME ONE TOO. So she did.

Less than 2 weeks later I was sitting in the home of the President of the Machine Knitters Association of Victoria, having a lesson on how to clean, care for and (thankfully!) use my new, highly confusing, complicated, beautiful and retro looking Singer 888 from 1960-something. I excitedly called my step-dad on my way home and told him it may have taken 20 years, but guess what I just bought? Hilariously, he couldn’t remember ever telling me I needed one.

But yay! It was fair to say my new machine was totally overwhelming, and also super exciting. Mostly overwhelming. I could make scarves – because they’re rectangle. But I needed lessons. Pronto.

The cool thing was, that Suzie dove head first in to the land of MK’ing and got involved in different groups like the Brunswick Novices Group and the Aussie Machine Knitters – Suzie was also experimenting like crazy with yarns and talking to people who had been knitting forever and generally doing all kinds of really awesome stuff… but best of all, through her our little crew of newbie MK’ers (who also needed lessons, pronto) developed and Suzie organised us a semester of classes with the hugely knowledgable Angela. [You can read about Sooz’s machine knitting journey on a previous guest post here. ed.]

Lara and I quickly volunteered our studio to host the classes, as we have a big long table perfect for the machines & really love that we can share our studio space with other creative and like-minded people within the Melbourne/handcrafted/local community.

We spent the next 6 months learning, practicing, making mistakes, doing homework (my step-dad scored himself a very unattractive birthday beanie which, I have it on good authority, he loves) then our beginner classes came to an end…

Have to say I felt quite bereft when our monthly Friday night MK classes stopped! (Yes, Friday night. I had to laugh when I turned down invites from my 20-something friends to all kinds of ace gigs/parties/bars because I was much too busy… attending knitting class.)

Again Suzie came to the rescue. Now we had learned just how to use our machines, we wanted to learn more about technique and garment construction. Suzie got us Brianna. Brianna has an amazing knowledge of machine knitted garment construction and generally I think is pretty brilliant at all things textile related.

Brianna spent the whole day yesterday teaching the crew all kinds of nifty tips and tricks, not just how to knit a super cool cardi. Which, yes, I am totally wearing today. That’s how great knitting machines are – in one day, even learning a new thing (so we were really slow) and we all have a spanky new cardigan.

To conclude: My step-dad was right. They really ARE awesome. Go get yourself a knitting machine and someone to teach you how to use it – build your own crew of MK newbies and a wardrobe of handmade garments!

xx Teegs


The ladies at The Polka-Dot Umbrella love DIY projects.  They blog about adventures with sewing, quilting, decorating, thrifting, entertaining their kids, cooking and baking, and giving new life to old furniture. Each member of the team has a different style and perspective, but they all share in their love for making and creating!    

I am Erica, and I am one of the five ladies who blog over at The Polka-Dot Umbrella  I am a slow decorator.  My husband and I bought our first home around three years ago, and I am just barely getting around to decorating the master bedroom.  I finally decided what colors and style I wanted to go with.  When I refinished a hand-me-down dresser in February in a gorgeous blue color,  I knew I wanted to bring more blue into the room, and since my husband is an awesome artist, we (well actually I) decided to do a hand drawn wall mural. When we first moved in we painted all of the walls tan, except for one wall in the master bedroom that we painted dark brown. I knew this would be the perfect wall to add something to.

This is what we did:

There are a few ways we tried to paint this huge wall mural.  The first technique we tried was to use a projector to project the image on the wall.  We wanted to make sure this idea would work, so we just started with the area to the right of the window.  We were afraid of not getting straight lines, so my husband had the great idea of using painters tape.

First we overlapped the tape and covered the area where we wanted the image.  We projected the image onto the wall, then traced the outline with a sharpie.  Finally we used an X-Acto knife to cut out the space that we wanted to paint.  We used left over white paint that we already had on hand.  Here comes the problem with technique number one.  When we pulled the tape off, the paint had run.  We were able to fix it after wards using a white paint pen.

For the rest of the tree, we tried out a second technique.  We did the same thing using the tape, sharpie, and X-Acto knife, the only difference was we used white spray paint.  We were afraid it wouldn’t match the first part we had done, but since they aren’t actually touching you can’t tell at all.  The other change was that my husband drew the rest of the tree freehand, because we had to take the projector back.  I actually like his freehand work better than the original.

The final step was to add cute little blue birds.  Yet again using the same technique, my husband drew some birds that we painted the same color blue as my refinished dresser.  I absolutely love how it turned out.  I also love that it was hand drawn by my adorable husband, he truly is amazing.

Thanks Whipup for giving me the chance to share!


Lisa Ramsey Whitesell enjoys being a stay at home mom of 2 girls. Vegetarian cooking, sewing, gardening, and living the “natural way” is her bliss. She shares her lifestyle at her blog and runs an Etsy business where she makes plush and pillows.
  • 1. Cut out pieces from pattern.
  • 2. Whip stitch the body pieces together.
  • 3. Leave a space open to stuff the ladybug; stuff, then whipstitch closed.
  • 4. Stitch the spots onto the red wings.
  • 5. Whipstitch the wings to the ladybug.
  • 6. Stitch on the antennae.
  • 7. Sew black pupils onto the eyes by using a running stitch. Add a little white “x” for a little sparkle in the eye. You can add a wink to one of the eyes by using a backstitch.
  • 8. Stitch eyes onto the ladybug.


Katie Startzman blogs at Duo Fiberworks. She writes about simple wood carving, knitting and felting, and is right now obsessed with making sandals and shoes.

Knitting pattern: felted milk & juice bottles for pretend play

I like making small felted toys for my two sons. We’ve been working on adding to our play kitchen by making play food from wood, but I wanted to bring some softness to the space.

These sturdy felted bottles are just the thing for a pretend glass of milk or juice. You can knit up both bottles in an evening, and the pattern includes illustrated directions for how to hand felt, embellish and shape the bottles.

The bottles are knit in the round and require only simple shaping. It’s a great project for beginners because minor mistakes will be unnoticeable after felting. The yarn choice determines the finished size, the juice bottle is knit with a heavy worsted wool and is a bit larger. The bottles are adorned with a simple wool-felt label and the cork stoppers are an old-fashioned touch.

Download the PDF knitting pattern here.


Kirsten Johnstone is an Architect based in Melbourne, Australia who uses the mediums of built form and interior space to create refined designs. She also uses yarn, fabric and photography to explore her modern aesthetic on a smaller scale. She has an eye for flattering forms that are deceptively simple yet frequently transformable, designs with a distinctive urban edge yet elegantly wearable. Find her online at assemblage.


Here is a super sweet linen skirt with top stitched appliqued circles randomly scattered across the skirt. This Tutorial provides instructions for a simple elastic waist skirt for your favourite little girl.

petite pluie d’ete : French for Little Summer Rain, the circles and fabric colours provide fond memories of gentle rain showers to relieve the summer heat.

SIZES: Made to Measure

FABRIC: 1m x 1.3m wide linen, approximately, washed + pressed and 0.2m x 1.0m wide medium weight fusible interfacing


  • Scissors
  • Chalk Pencil
  • 3 x circle templates (or use different size crockery like I did!)
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread, matching + contrast
  • 25mm wide non-roll elastic
  • Needle, for handsewing


  • Other fabrics would look fantastic but not as ‘summery’ – I think fine pinwale corduroy works brilliantly with the textural contrast but I would suggest keeping it to plain colours ie not using fabric printed with patterns
  • Using this method for circles across the skirt of a tunic dress would be gorgeous.
  • And yes, definitely, a skirt for yourself would be beautiful!
  • I choose to machine wash my skirt on the “handwash” setting to limit fraying although it is certainly a design feature of this skirt.
  • Find the full tutorial and pattern details on this 6 page PDF download.