WIP: Chevron quilt

On the blog: early morning sewing. #handmade #quilt #quilting

A photo posted by Ophélie Lechat (@ophelielechat) on


I love solid fabrics. While I can spend hours admiring the beautiful prints at my two local quilt shops, I always walk out with a few solids to add to my growing collection. Muted colours, dusty greys, monochromatic palettes. It’s become a running joke at the office that grey and blue are the only colours I need.

The palette for this project, a small quilt for a friend’s newborn, came from my memories of that friend’s college bedroom. Organic lines, natural wood, bamboo, muted greens and browns. The plan is to make two chevron columns, trim them down, and lay them on a white background.

I found pattern inspiration on Pinterest, in particular this beauty by Tumbling Blocks.

How good is Pinterest when you have a new hobby? I hadn’t used it for months, but now I can spend hours trawling through the various inspiration boards I follow. True love. I’m over here if you want to take a look.





Finding a Uniform

Dream workwear uniform: Stella McCartney suit

Dream workwear uniform: Stella McCartney suit

At lunch with a friend yesterday, the topic of a daily uniform came up. This friend probably cares the least about his clothes out of anyone I know (and I work in the tech industry!), but the appeal of a daily uniform was clear.

My mornings are stressful. I’m pretty energetic after 9am, but the moments between first waking up and arriving at work are my least favourite hours of the day. This is only compounded by the daily task of picking something to wear. I have fond memories of my high school uniform: scratchy poly-cotton blouse, staticky skirt, polo shirts with curled collar points and baggy short sleeves. Okay, it didn’t look great, but it was so nice to simply pull a shirt and a skirt from the pile, smear on some sparkly eyeshadow and be done with it.

When this story made the rounds a few weeks ago, I felt like I’d met my style soulmate. Wearing the same thing, every day, even though I work in a creative field, even though clothing is meant to project something about my personality, my work ethic, my level of respectability. How refreshing.

Now, of course, comes the task of actually finding that uniform. And because I’m now reluctant to buy ready-to-wear clothes that aren’t of exceptional quality, I think I’ll need to make this uniform myself. So what should it look like?

One option is what I posted above: slim stretchy trousers, fitted blazer, silk crêpe button-down. I’d do without the heels, of course. I’ve always wanted to learn how to properly fit pants, and this sure would give me the occasion…

Black shirt, stainless steel watch, tan pants

Another option, much more casual: soft solid button-down, tan pants. This is perfect for most seasons in Melbourne, and would work well in my laid-back office.

I started sewing a cream silk blouse last night (a short-sleeve Aster, Colette Patterns’s latest!). Unfortunately, I was so distracted by thinking of pretty seam finishes that I stitched the side seams inside-out… with a tiny stitch length. While I brace myself for the unavoidable date with my seam ripper, I’ll start thinking about the next few versions, and maybe about finding that elusive pattern for perfect trousers!




Morris Blazer x2

Grainline Morris blazer in black ponte, by Ophelie Lechat.

Grainline Morris blazer in black ponte, by Ophelie Lechat.


Oh, I love this one.

This is my second Morris blazer in a month. The first one, in a blue merino-nylon sweatshirt blend ($8 a metre!) is in heavy rotation in my autumn wardrobe. I’ve been meaning to make a matching skirt, to complete the comfiest suit in the world. Stretchy fabrics in pulled-together shapes are perfect for my casual office.

Zero alterations to the pattern.  Made in black ponte knit from Tessuti, worn with StyleArc Elle pants in the same fabric (more on those later). I didn’t interface the front facings. Had I had lightweight knit interfacing on hand, I probably would have, but after tearing out the interfacing from my first Morris (it made the lapels stick straight up!) I opted for a simpler, softer shape. I cut a size 10 (my standard Grainline size) and the fit is perfect.

I’m already dreaming of a third Morris: longer, in a hunter green woven viscose or cotton blend, with either in-seam or patch pockets. I’ve worn a similar Club Monaco blazer into the ground (the pocket seams are fraying apart!) and it’s time for a me-made replacement.

Worn with a handknit ribbed cowl in Shibui Knits’s gorgeous, amazing Maai.


I’ve been busy

A few overdue finished objects, in no particular order:

Purl Bee Toddler Tshirt

A Purl Bee toddler t-shirt made for Kirsta‘s little one. Jared and I babysat this weekend. One year-olds have so much energy! We were worn out by naptime.

Dotted Chambray Archer Shirt

An Archer button-up in the same dotted chambray. I made a size 10 with slimmer sleeves. My next Archer (this is the second, and there will be more!) will be a 10 in the shoulders and the bust, grading down to a 6 for the rest, and with much slimmer sleeves. I love how adaptable this pattern is, and the instructions (including the sewalong) are phenomenal.  Highly recommended.

Rock Island Lace Eding

I can’t show finished pictures of this one just yet, so here’s a peek at a Rock Island shawl in the world’s most luxurious yarn, Superior. Cashmere! Silk! Lace! It’s for a friend’s wedding, and (if the postage gods smile down on me) it should arrive safely next week.

Blackwork embroidery zigzag

A bit of blackwork (navywork?) embroidery on linen cloth. I have sixteen squares of different patterns, started on a whim. These might become a quilt, or maybe a pillow cover? I enjoy the process of needlework but never know what to make with the finished product.

Purl Bee linen robe detailIt’s already been several months since I made this (a Purl Bee robe in a gorgeous linen from Tessuti) and I can’t believe how far I’ve come in my sewing already. This project (basically made up of rectangles stitched together) was positively daunting back in January, but I learned so much making it. It’s one of my most-used makes, and I’m already planning a cozy merino version for the upcoming winter.



Now Also Addicted to Sewing


I finally purchased a decent sewing machine a few weeks ago, after pushing the limits of the IKEA model I picked up two years ago. After a few cushions, pot holders and pillowcases, I finally made a garment — the ever-popular Scout tee in Nani Iro double gauze.


Setting in the sleeve nearly drove me nuts, but I got it in the end. Now I’m planning my next four or five projects. Not quite as portable as knitting, but so much faster!


2014 Review: Knitting Projects

Knitting Roundup 2014 - 1

I know it’s likely the same for everyone, but 2014 was a huge year for me. Settling into a new role at work, seeing that role expand midway through the year, a bit of international travel and a lot of goals met. Teaching knitting classes at the Woolarium, falling in love with the knitting community on Instagram, finishing more projects than ever before, and finally knitting some fun things for tiny people.

Here are some of my favourite projects finished in the last 12 months. Above, clockwise from the top:

1. Channel Cardigan in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. This was the thickest layer I needed during the chilly Melbourne months. It took forever, but the details on this one are incredible. Highly recommended.

2. Banana Leaf Shawl in Handmaiden Lino. Loved, loved this one… and then I lost it the second time I wore it out. Someone in Melbourne now has a lovely handknit linen/silk shawl!

3. Laminaria in Shibui Cima. Triangle shawls get me every time. They look too small, so I add another repeat, and wind up with something enormous. Totally worth it with this one!

3. Elijah in Debbie Bliss Rialto, made for a coworker’s baby. Awesome pattern, I already have a second one on the needles.

4. Hitofude Cardigan in Shibui Linen. The whole cardigan is knit in one continuous piece, with a single piece of yarn (this is where my beloved Russian Join came in handy). I learned so much while knitting this one.

5. Storytime Scholar cardigan in Spud and Chloe Sweater and Fine. Made for the lovely Clementine, to match her mommy’s sweater.

Knitting roundup 2014 - 2

1. Garter stitch baby blanket in Debbie Bliss Eco Baby cotton. I love the colour range in this Debbie Bliss cotton.

2.  Chance of Showers cardigan in Shibui Staccato. I knit most of this while flying to Los Angeles — so glad that knitting needles can (usually) make it through airport security.

3. Blocks of Colour scarf in Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico. The best kind of mindless knitting: uses one stitch, is delightfully soft, and looks way more complicated than it is.

4. Grettir in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. This one didn’t see much wear, unfortunately — it’s much too warm in Melbourne for thick turtlenecks.


Knitting roundup 2014 - 3


1. Storytime Scholar in Spud and Chloe Sweater. A tiny one for my baby nephew Nolan.

2.Saco Stripes in Quince & Co Sparrow. Oh how I love this smooth linen yarn…

3. Camilla Blanket in Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK. This was a really enjoyable knit, very easy to memorise!

4. Improvised baby pullover in Spud and Chloe Sweater.

Knitting roundup 2014 - 4

1. A summery version of Natsumi in Manos del Uruguay Serena. Meant to be knit in a fingering weight wool, I made it instead in a light fingering cotton/alpaca blend, resulting in a drapey, summery sweater, perfect for Melbourne.

2. Reversible hat in Classic Elite Vail. I purchased this yarn with Marika and knit this little hat on the plane.

3. Biston shrug in Brooklyn Tweed Loft. This pattern is a lot nicer than my awkward photo shows!

4. Hari in Malabrigo Sock. Loved, loved knitting this one. Super simple stitches with a huge payoff — look at those spikes! I’m already planning to knit another one this autumn.

5. Improvised top in Shibui Linen, held double. This has definitely been the Year of Linen, and I’ve learned to love linen’s simplicity and versatility.

I already have a long list of projects for 2015, including at least one cabled jacket, a few big lace pieces, and more baby knits.

What’s on your list for 2015? What was your favourite project last year? I’d love to know!





Finished Object: Sashiko Bag

Sashiko BagA quick update before Jared and I head out for New Year’s Eve! I finished this little bag a few days ago. It’s 33cm across, just the right size to carry essentials (small book, knitting project, wallet, keys) down the street to the cafe.

Both fabrics are linens from Tessuti, purchased two years ago when I made my first attempts at sewing. The project was inspired by two different posts over at Sake Puppets: her Sashiko for Spring bag and the Persimmon Flowers pattern.

Sashiko Grid

This was my first sashiko project, and I learned a few things…

  • I really need to buy a proper sashiko needle if I’m going to do this again! I used a long embroidery needle, with which I could pick up three or four stitches maximum. It’s hard to get into a rhythm when you have to pull the stitches through so often.
  • Marking the grid with chalk wasn’t terribly efficient. I wound up rubbing off most of the markings before I even started embroidering. Next up on my list of purchases is a water-soluble pencil.
  • Since this was meant to be an easy, learning project, I made a wide grid (1/2 inch). In a typical embroidery project, I still would have made tiny stitches, but in sashiko you’re stitching from corner to corner. This means that the stitches are quite loose, and are already starting to catch on belt buckles, keys and fingernails (ouch!).

If the embroidery gets too ragged, I might end up pulling it out entirely — the bag would still look great with plain blue linen, I think.

Elsewhere: Instagram, Kollabora.



At Your Own Pace

Yarn scraps

A crazy thought came to me this week.

Remember George W. Bush’s paintings? Once he left the White House, Dubya took up painting. According to Salon he “freely admits the paintings aren’t especially good”.

I find that admirable *. I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel the pressure to only show my best outcomes: in craft, in fashion, in my work life, in my marriage, in the way our home looks (whoops).

How liberating would it be to say “eff that” and put something before the world that isn’t necessarily impressive? To freely make mistakes, create things without striving for technical perfection, to really show your work, not just a polished product?

I have conflicting feelings about this. On the one hand, I can completely, completely relate to Jerome on the Woolful podcast** when he talks about the satisfaction of making something the hard way: thin yarns, tiny needles, tightly-spun multi-ply fibre, detailed patterns.  It speaks to a minimalist ethos that has always resonated with me: do less, do better.

Then again. I first got involved in the knitting community around the time when Wenlan Chia’s book Twinkle’s Big City Knits was published. I worked in a yarn store back then, and while some people were openly disdainful of the new knitters who came in, Twinkle book in hand, seeking big yarn and  bigger needles, I loved the new energy these people brought to our craft. Knit quick! Make more! Have fun!

This was also the time when top-down, seamless raglans were starting to trend. Easy and practical, yes, but not the most refined, structured knits you’ll wear. So what?

There’s a place for all of these, and I’m not just being accommodating. I want to celebrate people making things, even when those things aren’t better than the factory-made goods we’re used to. It’s just not what it’s about.

Go at your own pace. Make what you like. Show it proudly. Celebrate it in others.


  1. Finding myself admiring George W. Bush is the crazy part here.
  2. Yep, I’m still obsessed.

Penguins and Programming

Knitted penguin in front of a laptopI don’t talk about my work very much here, but it’s a huge part of my life. I work at SitePoint, one of the world’s biggest resources for web developers. Every year, we have a massive Christmas sale. This year, we’ve decided to go bigger than usual, and share the love.

Penguin on laptop


We decided to offer two years of access to Learnable, our learning platform, for the price of one year, plus donate 50% of that price to The Penguin Foundation, a local organisation that is working on exciting technology using magnets to remove spilled oil from bird feathers. Our original goal was to raise $10,000. Once we reached that goal (within a few hours!), we raised the bar to $30k… and now, we’re nearly at $50k. We’ll likely go over our goal before the sale ends in two weeks!

This is only one of the projects we’re working on at the moment, and everyone is working so hard — but are also having so much fun. The days are long, but we’re all smiling at the end. It’s very fulfilling.

I knit this small penguin, about the size of a fairy penguin, as a keepsake for the team. A reminder of those long days of incredible team work.

If you’re interested in learning web design and development, head over to the SitePoint Christmas Sale — the 2-for-1 penguin deal is still on, and we have lots more in store.

Pasha pattern knit in Cascade 22o. See this project on Ravelry


On Australian Wool

One of the few things I knew about Australia when we moved here was that it was one of the world’s top producers of Merino wool. I envisioned huge fields with flocks of sheep, shearing days and carts piled high with raw wool, a thriving industry of scourers, spinners, dyers and distributors, and a bustling market for both unspun top and finished handknitting yarn.

Reality is quite different. Soon after landing in Australia, I found out about Kylie’s Ton of Wool project and backed the second Pozible campaign. The massive 300-gram skein of grey 4-ply wool I received in exchange is still one of my favourite yarn purchases ever, and I love the final product, a striped cardigan.

Ton of Wool Striped Cardigan

Kylie’s story shed a little bit of light on the many troubles of the Australian wool industry. Talking to yarn shop owners and distributors taught me a little bit more.

Then, during a trip to Queensland with Marika, we happened upon a large sign on the highway advertising a mohair farm and yarn shop. We turned down a small road, kept driving until I lost my data connection, then finally (finally!) saw the sign for Wagtail Yarn, a mohair farm and spinnery. The owner walked us through the outbuildings, where her family scours, spins, dyes and skeins the mohair. I had no idea small-scale producers like this still existed.

According to this interview with a wool-producing family, the final commercial yarn processor in Australia shut its doors in 2005. Now yarn producers have to sell the raw fleece or send it to China (or, in some cases to New Zealand) for spinning.

An Australian brand is currently marketing its latest product as being fully Aussie-made, but a close reading of the label and marketing materials show that there’s a big question mark as to the location of the spinning mill. How sad, that even when trying to sell a product as 100% Australian, we have to omit a big part of the yarn’s lifecycle.

Why does it matter? I know North Americans often think that Australia is an island, too small to be fully self-sustaining, and yet too far to really rely on trade partners. Neither is true. Australia did, once, have a thriving wool growing and processing industry (in fact, it was once the foundations of our economy!). Do we no longer care about what our yarn is made of, and where it’s made? Wool processing can be very damaging to the environment (scouring, dyeing, and the superwash process all use massive amounts of water and/or chemicals) — do we now prefer to simply send this off to another country?

Kylie addresses some of these questions in her interview for the inaugural Woolful podcast. It’s worth a good listen.