Introducing FABRICS by the metre!

There have been a few fabric pieces on Escaped From The Flock in the last year, but now there is also fabric by the metre, so you can order just the amount you need for your project, be it a jumper, some sleeves, a wrap, a beanie, homewares, kids leggings, a cushion, etc. etc. Oh, the possibilities!

They are all the same kind of knit: jacquards, knitted with 3 strands (3 different colours) of Easy Care superfine merino to create the patterns. The back of the fabric is tidy, with no loops, and the edges are neatly finished too.

There are several designs at the moment:

There’s the waratah design, in two shades of red & black, which feature large waratahs and a leafy design background;

A koi fish design, in greens & blue, depicting koi swimming in stylised water;

3 colourways of a botanical design, featuring leafy vines – in blue, green & autumn/fall colours;

and an Aussie animals design, which comes in 2 colourways – yellow & green – featuring some of the lovely & unique creatures we have here in Australia – kangaroos, koalas, platypus, emus, sugar gliders, Tassie devils, wombats, frilled neck lizards, splendid tree frogs, bilbys, echidnas & kookaburras!

So, if you’re a sewer & are looking for some high quality, easy care knit fabric for your next project… and are keen on finding something pretty unique… well, check out the range & see if there’s something you like!

Click on the “SHOP” link at the top of the page to find out more..

Mornington: Then & Now

I went for a stroll around Mornington with some Rose Series postcards (circa 1920s) yesterday, & compared the then & now.  This is what I found:

The Mornington Baths

mornington_baths

The Mornington Pier

mornington_pier

Fishermans Beach, the Esplanade

fishermans_beach

The Royal Hotel, the Esplanade

the_royal

Kirkpatricks Hotel, the Esplanade

kirks_hotel

The Grand Hotel, Main Street

grand_hotel

In summary..  Not a whole lot of change, given the time period I think!  I couldn’t get far enough away to take the picture of the Grand, as the original picture actually has grass in the foreground – so definitely a few changes here & there!  But still a lovely seaside town with great character.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Leaves Scarf Competition

Well the poetry competition to win an Autumn Leaves Scarf wasn’t as exciting as the baby blanket competition, voting-wise, but the quality of the poems was AAA!  There weren’t many entries, so I’ll include them all here.

autumn_leaf_scarf

The Autumn Leaf Scarf: An Easy Care merino scarf, transitioning from green, through red & yellow, to brown leaves.

Gabrielle H (winner!):
Those autumn leaves look like maple,
This woolly scarf’s an autumn staple.
If I had this scarf, I’d be snug,
But if I WON this scarf, I’d be smug!

.. who then added, after winning:

I’m thrilled – that is so exciting!
All that from my clumsy writing.
Now I’ll own a gorgeous scarf
Guess my poem made folks laugh!
You all should put yours in print
Sell a bundle, make a mint
Spend it on a worthy cause:
Little Frock of Sheep of course!

.. and who also bought an additional scarf (Thanks Gabrielle!!)!

Rebecca P:
Autumn, the gateway to winter
Cheeks and noses a gorgeous chilly glow
Crinkly leaves turn to snow…

Autumn Haiku 🙂

Lucy D:
Autumn: Red, orange, yellow
Helps the end of summer not feel mellow
They flitter, glide and fall
My kids crunch, jump and have a ball.

Kerry B:
Crinkling underneath my feet,
Where red, yellow and green meet.
The leaves fall without making a sound,
To be raked into brown piles along the ground.
But when I awaken I shall fall,
Into the pile of leaves and scatter them all.

Jo F:
Golden sunsets,
Cool crisp mornings.
Wrap the neck up,
Winter is dawning.

Mike E:
The Autumn leaves fall softly on her hair
With golden locks and love that’s fair
The Autumn leaves fall all of the time
Land on the love that will never be mine

Aren’t the all fab!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading them, & was amazed by the quality of the entries.  Thanks to everyone to entered and/or voted in the competition.

Suzanne.

 

Limerick Competition Winner!

Congratulations Renee O’Brien for winning the limerick competition about a turtle named Tully!  Loved your wonderful poem!!  A well deserved win 🙂

lfos_comp_update_20150420

 

“There once was a turtle named Tully,
Who loved to eat lots of red jelly.
He ate and he munched,

He chewed and he gulped,
Til no more would fit in his belly.”

— Renee O’Brien

 

 

Thanks for sharing a picture on Instagram of your gorgeous girl with her prize, the pink elephant blanket (http://littlefrockofsheep.com.au/australian-made-knitted-merino-baby-wares/pink-elephant-knitted-merino-baby-blanket.html):

rug_winner

The competition was a lot of fun & all the entries were great.  It was a tough battle between Renee & Nicole Quirk in the end, & I was a bit nervous approaching the deadline, as I hadn’t worked out a plan for if there was a tie!!  Anyhoo, it was in Renee’s favor at the finish, & she picked the pink elephant blanket for her beautiful little girl.  Congratulations Renee, & thanks everyone for having a bit of fun with it 🙂

Suzanne.

Traveling Light & Easy

Before I became a knitwear designer, a business owner, & a mum, I used to be a travel junkie.  I worked contracts & my goal was generally to work 3/4 of the year & travel 1/4.  I’d go on trips for several months with carry on luggage & people were generally amazed with how light I would travel.

Although I feel like I’m living the dream now, I also thought I was living the dream then, & was just reminiscing.. and thought I’d write a blog about some ideas I gathered along the way that suit my travel style!

Luggage Size (Carry On, All The Way)

  • I always think carry-on only is the way to go.  You can check in online & turn up just before boarding; no-one’s going to lose your luggage; you’re straight out of the airport when you arrive; when you’re moving between locations on your trip, it’s easy to manage your kit & you’re not desperate to offload it if you make a surprise side-trip, etc.
  • Don’t buy a hard suitcase on wheels for your carry-on luggage.  Gliding elegantly through the airport with a fancy bag can look très international, but it’ll use up more than half of your baggage weight allowance.  A light, durable duffel bag is my bag of choice – one that fits in to those size checkers at the terminal (because they tend to look bigger than they are, so you get asked semi-regularly to try & squeeze it in one).  It’s easy to sling over your shoulder, cram into a locker, etc.

cambodia

Cambodia

Fitting In

  • Don’t take a backpack, large or small.  There are people riding around town all day looking for just that, so they can try & take advantage of you.  Even if you’re savvy enough to get out of those situations easily, it’s still annoying.  If you have a handbag or satchel that you can’t easily reach your hand into without opening, & has a long strap so you can wear it across your body, I find that a much better choice.  You can stroll confidently through town, & people tend to assume you are from around there, & that makes for a much nicer experience.
  • Similarly, if you need to spend some quality time with your map or travel guide, I would find a nice cafe, pull up a comfy chair, order something local & plan the rest of the day in there – rather than sit on the steps of the museum for example.  It’s a cultural experience if you order something local!
  • I always try & learn a bit of the language, as I find even though I probably sound gratingly terrible to a native speaker, they always appreciate the effort.  It’s also the quickest way to get a French person to speak English – they seem to hate their language being butchered the most!  I find preparing for a holiday almost as exciting as going on one, & learning some local lingo adds to that for me.
  • I have a quad band phone, which generally works all around the world, & that’s been fab.  I buy a local SIM with a data plan, & that’s great for getting around & making bookings, etc.  Vodaphone always seem to have a great plan for tourists, in the places I’ve been.

new_zealandNew Zealand

Play It By Ear

  • I learned not to worry about having much of the trip booked in advance.  Unless you’re off to a small town for their annual festival, there always seems to be plenty of accommodation choice the day before, or the day of your arrival, & it gets cheaper & cheaper by the minute.  A popular overnight trip on a train might need a little forethought too.  But playing it by ear means you have a bit more flexibility, if you want to stay longer, or discoveries en route change your itinerary a little.
  • Consider a day without a map (until the end, when you have to work out how to get home perhaps), where you just see where your nose takes you.  I’ve had some great days doing that.  You inevitably end up finding all sorts of back street gems, meet some locals, & feel like you understand the real culture a little better.

vietnamVietnam

 What To Pack

  • I have been known to buy things purely because they’d be good for travel.  Something that coordinates well with other stuff I have that’s good for travel; some comfy shoes that are quite smart but also good for hours of walking; easy care clothes that wash & wear well & are not too heavy.  Wool is an absolute winner of course – very light weight for it’s thermal properties; Easy Care is the way to go; naturally odour resistant; no worries about creases; & good all year round.
  • If you’re going into boot & coat weather, wear it on the plane.  There’s no room for that in carry-on.  Make sure your coat covers your backside when you sit down too!  You might want to take a load off now & then when your on the go, & it’s much more enjoyable if you’re not worried about frostbite on your tush.
  • Leave your PJs at home, & just shower at night & pop on the basics from your next day’s outfit (eg. undies & t-shirt).  One less thing in the bag.
  • Pack some special items that can glam up an everyday item, but I’d steer clear of flash jewelry.  Things like a beautiful scarf (that doesn’t need ironing), a great belt; a way to do your hair up nicely, can be all you need when you head out for a more special occasion.  That way you can reduce the number of outfits you need to pack.
  • It’s always good to remember: they probably do have shops where you are going.  If you are not sure if you will need something, perhaps leave it at home, & consider it a souvenir if you need to buy one while you’re away.

italyPerugia, Italy

 So there are a few things I do when trying to travel light & easy!  If you’re off on a holiday soon… Jealous!! … but bon voyage!  Have a great time!!

Blog moved!

Welcome to Little Frock of Sheep’s blog’s new home!  Sorry to lose everyone’s likes & comments.  Wow, a year between entries… a new one coming soon!

GIRL POWER!

I’m in my 30’s now, & pretty comfortable in my own skin.  That wasn’t always the case.  I remember being a teenager having to play tennis in a little tennis skirt & feeling like the whole world was judging me.  I could barely move, let alone enthusiastically bounce from foot to foot as I awaited a serve.
Now if I still had that body I’d wander down the street in my knickers so it didn’t go to waste!  I think it’s just that us women are predisposed to thinking we’re not quite up to scratch, especially when it comes to physical appearance, no matter what we’ve got.I’ve given that all a lot of thought since opening my pop-up shop in Melbourne during September.  I have a pretty confident circle of close girlfriends.  I believe they genuinely value what they have to offer the world via their mind & heart, & as a consequence get about town with their heads held high.  Nothing more gorgeous than that.  I was lulled into a false theory that women shook off the self-doubts when they reached some age, kinda 30+, & it was onward & upward from there.  No, not according to the string of very beautiful women who came in through the store in September.  A whole spectrum of ages of women came through & tried garments on, or held them against their body & listed their flaws as they looked in the mirror.  This or that was always too big or too something & a couple were so ridiculous that I spent the rest of the afternoon worrying about the entire female population.  One made me laugh.  In my defence, it was so absurd I thought she was being sarcastic.  Nope.I’ve done a bit of reading on the topic since then, & collected some thoughts…

The saddest story I saw was about a terminal cancer patient, Lisa Connell, who reportedly spent $60,000+ on plastic surgery so she could die looking like Demi Moore, because she thought Moore was beautiful & she was not.  She was very beautiful & I felt very very sad that any woman would spend such precious time trying not to look like herself any more so she could die happy.  A pretty extreme case, but there is a lot of plastic surgery going on in the world & I can’t see what’s wrong with the originals!  Everyone’s got to have the right kind of eyelid & the right sized nose & heaven forbid not have balloon-like breasts & lips.  It seems to me like a poor reflection of what we think is important about ourselves.

I read some articles about where we get this obsession with looks & comparing/ranking each other against other women of the world, & there was some theorising that us women are our own worst enemy, & it’s due to the race to nab the best man.  We all know heterosexual men are quite driven by looks of women, & the theory being thrown around is that we’re a bunch of catty competitors who pick on each other’s looks so that the men looking on will see the flaws in the other contenders.  In the meantime, we’ve become completely obsessed with looks & how we rank against others.  I say let the men who are just looking for looks have their pick of the chicks.  Stand back.  It’s a good way to get rid of the duds.  Then the men left standing will be the ones that need a little more of a connection, & can offer a more meaningful relationship, & may actually be able to engage in a conversation at dinner rather than have glazed over eyes that drift through you as a good looking girl heads to the bar, once you’ve been together for more than a few months.  I have a brunette friend who has said on more than one occasion that if she was blonde, dating would be a whole different, busier, scene – if that’s true I think she should be thankful she gets to weed out all the shallow guys without even trying!

I think perhaps the poster girl from my reading about women & confidence might be Robyn Lawley, an Australian model, who is doing quite well in the “plus-sized” modeling scene.  One question I do have is why on earth is she “plus-sized”..  I did some research while planning the sizing for Little Frock of Sheep, & the average Australian woman is size 16 apparently.  Robyn Lawley is over 6 foot & is size 12.  If she was any less than size 12 I suggest she might well flop over in a light breeze.  Anyhoo, that wasn’t why she was in the news.  She was in the news because she made it into some small-minded person’s collection of women who aren’t up to scratch because she doesn’t have enough space between her thighs.  It churns my stomach to think of what kind of person decides they can compile & publish this list.  Also, I’m not sure why broadcasters insist on finding the most moronic people’s opinions on things & then make a news story out of them for sensible people to have to stumble upon.. So, what does young Robyn do?  Gives the most mature & natural response I’ve ever heard: “The truth is I couldn’t care less about needing a supposed ‘thigh gap.’ It’s just another tool of manipulation that other people are trying to use to keep me from loving my body. Why would I want to starve and weaken my natural body size?” “I’m not saying women who have it naturally are unattractive. But I would have to change my entire frame just to achieve something that seems so trivial” “I’ve been trying to do just the opposite. I want my thighs to be bigger and stronger. I want to run faster and swim longer.” “I suppose we all just want different things, but women have enough pressure as it is without the added burden of achieving a ‘thigh gap.'”.  Wowzers.  I’m impressed.  She’s drop-dead gorgeous of course, so it’s probably a little easier to be filled with confidence, but I loved the fact that she’s more interested in being physically fit than conform to some ridiculous set of expectations for women.  She wasn’t always confident – she tried to get down several sizes when she was a tenager & just starting out in modeling & it made her miserable – said she has improved her self confidence since then by repeating the mantra “I love my body” until it became true.  Could it be that easy?

It may be quite a simple process, according to Margo Maine, who compiled a list of “20 ways to love your body” for nationaleatingdisorders.org that seemed to make sense, & made it sound like it could be as easy as talking ourselves around. To summarise my favourite suggestions.. :

  • She recommends thinking of your body as just that: a body, that gets you from A to B, where B can be wherever your heart desires: not an ornament.
  • Think about the people in the world who you admire, & in particular, what it is you admire about them.  Is appearance in the list?
  • Do exercise for fun & not to lose weight. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired.
  • Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

So there endeth my thoughts on the topic for the moment!  Obviously an opinion piece only.  I’d love to hear your opinions on the topic, & any thoughts you have about keeping women feeling like the amazing creatures that they are, & especially if you have suggestions on how to help young women get through their youth feeling that way – please share.

Designing a jacquard

Like probably any knitter, I started knitting with little square projects: scarves & blanket squares.  I then ventured into slightly shaped squares, such as beanies; then on to baby jumpers for friends; then onto jumpers for myself.

I haven’t made many jumpers for myself, but they do have a lot of variation!  I started with a cable knit.  That wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated, so I thought I’d try a jacquard (a picture knitted in) from a book.  That was nice & repetitive.  One of those ski bunny type ones.  It took many hours, but once you got to know the pattern repetition you could switch off a little as you went along & multitask something else into the evening.  By the time I finished that I had decided I needed my projects to be more individual if I was going to make something by hand, & I did the jumper that turned me on to commercial knitwear: the Tex Perkins jumper, or the tex-vest as I fondly think of it.I’m not much of a groupie, but Tex does cut a handsome silhouette, & I do generally like his style, & a memory of a great poster I saw advertising a gig of his (probably from a decade ago) seemed like the perfect place to start my project.  I really had to hunt for the poster, but I found it eventually (although, credit: unknown).

Tex Perkins promo → pixelated grided design to work from → vest front (minus one shoulder)

The steps involved in taking a design I liked & putting it into knit were:

  1. identifying the design I wanted (in this case hoping copyright isn’t an issue for a one-off hand-made jumper made for myself) – something simple colour-wise,
  2. using Photoshop, adjusting the image to the size of the jumper ie. as many pixels across the picture as there are stitches across the jumper.  Also, adjust the ratio of width:height to suit your stitch ratio ie. if the stitch is longer than it is wide, then you will need to shorted the height of the image accordingly for it to come out looking proportionate,
  3. reducing the image to as many colours as there are yarn colours (in this case, 4).  I also made sure I was only knitting in two colours at any time (one colour knitted in front & only one looped behind at any time, so the thickness of the jumper was consistent),
  4. adjusting parts of the image so that the components looked okay eg. I adjusted the foliage to what pleased my eye at that scale; added in clouds so to add another colour to soften the look of the knit a little; added some birds to put some black in the right shoulder, etc.,
  5. added in a visible grid per stitch, with a bolder grid per 10 stitches to make for easy counting,
  6. printed the image out so I could keep it with the knitting,
  7. got knitting.

The reasons the tex-vest put me on to commercial knitwear are a few:

  • It was a fun project & I wanted more!;
  • I knitted it in 8 ply for ease, my sanity, & because I found some simply beautiful wool/silk yarn I couldn’t do without that was 8 ply – but because the yarn’s thicker you get jaggered edges on the image & it looks pretty clunky – while on a commercial knitting machine, you can get a pretty smooth curve on a line if you use a fine yarn & it’s a much superior outcome picture-wise;
  • when you hand knit it you have all the free loops of the colour you’re not using at the time on the back surface, while on a machine you can neatly tidy them away by knitting a double thickness using the back bed of the machine (on the right kind of machine);
  • you never have to see another repetitive knit again – the machine couldn’t care less if it’s a repeated snowflake design or a freehand squiggle of a castle in the hills, so the skies are the limit when it comes to your imagination (except for the number of colours your imagination can play with).  The tex-vest was a major ordeal to knit, as 100% of my attention was needed for it due to the lack of repetition, & no multitasking could be done – which is not how I like to knit.  I only knit in winter, & I think it took me 3 winters to finish the project!;
  • or, in summary, I might be a little OCD.

There was only one way to go from the tex-vest to achieve satisfaction – get my computer talking to a knitting machine & think up something bigger & better.

Little Frock of Sheep jacquards:

The tex-vest graphic I created to work from is a very similar file to what I need to create to provide to a professional knit technician for Little Frock of Sheep projects – everything but the grid.  You can create the picture from anything really.  Here are two from Little Frock of Sheep’s Appalachian range:

From a hand drawn picture of a koi fish, drawn specifically for the range.
From a photograph, taken while on a hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2012.

If you are planning on creating your own jacquard, it certainly helps to be handy with a computer, & have either Photoshop, or GIMP (which is an excellent & yet free package very similar to Photoshop), but otherwise, a piece of gridded paper will do the job nicely too!  I remember my mum making me a jumper when I was a kid from a snowflake design I jotted down on graph paper, which turned out a treat.  It’s certainly worth the time making up your own design in my opinion: if you are going to spend the time knitting your own jumper, you may as well make it completely unique.

If you’ve got a fun project on the go, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy knitting 🙂

10 FAB FACTS about Little Frock of Sheep (in no particular order)

1. All items are machine washable, so it’s no fuss & you wool lovers out there can reclaim your weekends!
2. The collection is environmentally friendly, using a renewable resource and knitted to shape – so next to no waste to boot.
3. Everything’s made in Australia – around Melbourne in fact – by people working happily in ethical conditions.
4. The knits are lush & comfy which means you feel like you’ve snuck into work in your PJs all day while still looking super fancy.
5. The items are made from Australian merino, so we’re supporting one of Australia’s finest, most admirable industries.
6. The woolen yarn used is excellent quality, so you can say goodbye to pilling & twisting.
7. Because there are very limited production numbers from Little Frock of Sheep, & the items are quite unique looking in their own right, you can really make a statement in Little Frock of Sheep.
8. You can dress the garments up or down & make an easy transition between work & play – perfect for travel!
9. We strive for quality in both yarn & manufacturing, so these items should last a lifetime.
10. Our yarn meets the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, so no-one has to worry about having nasty chemicals against their skin.