Wednesday, 29 March 2017

New Vintage

I found this gorgeous linen cloth - now a cross back apron -  a few weeks ago,
 I often find them in an excellent condition but this is the first that I have found that's absolutely brand sparkly new.  These cloths are printed with a turquoise dye that will last for years without perishing, only water will remove the original print.

You can see from these close up photos how precise this embroideress was 
hitting the lines bang on.

At the same time I also found this pink linen with teal cut work embroidery.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Spring At Last

Sun at last, today we opened up the studio 
and some of us managed to catch some rays.  

A little bit of Harris Tweed in the shop.

Mark Hearld, Squirrel and Sunflower and a few other items added.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Shetland Here We Come

I'm a little bit delirious this afternoon, 
I've just booked my flights for Shetland Wool Week 2017!

On the production front, I've been busy with some Mark Hearld fabrics.
Squirrel and Sunflower project bag, brick red on linen union backed with an oatmeal pure wool.
The Uradale yarn is from Shetland  and the hand made leather note book was a mail order purchase from Shetland, way before I'd ever thought about going there.

make-up bag, travel bag or whatever you want bag.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Manx Tweed

A little bit of Manx Tweed  that used to be a scarf,  originally produced at Tynwald Mills,

 St. Johns, Isle of Man.


Harris Tweed vintage herringbone, I used to be a skirt!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Harris Tweed Rainbow

I've been sewing up my Harris Tweed remnants today.  I bought this from a fair a while ago, I think it's 1980's, it was the end of a bolt and I was very excited to see the Orb stamp.

After much deliberation I made it up into a coat for myself and put the orb in the pocket,
 I even lined it in bright red.

I love this edge to edge style, it's so versatile.

First outing to the V&A.

Freshly made Harris Tweed, Hot pink, grey and yellow, what's not to like?

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hand Embroidered Linen

I've been busy in the studio with my vintage tablecloths.   For these photos we tried using the quilt I made for my M.A.  it's completely made up from embroidered tablecloths and the batting is pure wool, I've washed it a good few times in the washing machine and it's doing very well.  This apron has a cottage garden design all around the border, lots of tiny but beautiful flowers and even more abundant now I've added pockets.

I love a good steady curve.

So many woman hours must have gone into this one.

A bright and pretty printed retro floral, these wild roses on linen just make me happy.

Most of the tablecloths that I use have some signs of wear, they've been used and laundered a lot but this is why they appeal to me.  Good linen becomes so soft with age, you just can't get it with anything new.  This one had a repair and it's still there but inside the pocket with the embroidered pocket panel sitting almost exactly over the same corner design.


We have babies on the horizon so Miss Belle decided she needed to get busy.

She's making careful notes/photos so she gets her quilts just right.  Some of her patches have inspirational words that she picked for herself, I asked if these were appropriate for babies and she said, "well they won't be able to read so it'll be fine".

She's been taking over my studio after school and enjoying playing with my new sewing machine, I've had it for a year but this is the first time she's ventured away from hers.  I don't think I'll ever get her off the reverse pedal and leg riser!

She's left just a little bit of space for me and the Welsh gals.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

EYF - What Came Home

Firstly, I can justify all of these purchases because my nearest actual 'wool' shop is an hour away, the excellent Ewe & Ply in Shrewsbury.  I'm knitting in their very own Shropshire Ply from their own sheep at the moment, purchased at Wonderful Wool Day, you can see literally how it was made on their blog.  Sadly, there is a wool shop in my village but not a bit of animal fibre to be had, however they do sell something called Shetland Mist, what's in a name?  Well certainly not premium acrylic!

The only purchase I made without a plan was Iona Wool in Atlantic Blue and very unusually for me I hesitated and ran back at closing time for this.  I am a fan of proper wool that feels like wool, not flimsy merino but something robust and with integrity.

Tuku Wool made in Finland which I'd never even heard of, fabulous colours and samples to drool over on the stall.  I came away with sock yarn, hence the 20% nylon, I only wear hand knit wool socks and I want to poke in the eye anyone who tries to sell me sock yarn without a bit of man-made strength, they just wear straight through, I have tried in my foolish past.

I'm very excited about this Uradale Yarns , I missed out on the tour of their farm in Shetland last year because I was so busy but it's on the list for next time.  It's an organic DK weight and  I plan to knit Cascades by Michelle Wang.   It's a Brooklyn Tweed pattern and I fully intended to buy the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter to knit it in at the show, knitters rave about it, BUT in my humble opinion the yarn quality doesn't match that of the excellent patterns.   I must be in the minority but there it is,  the yarn felt a bit squeaky and over processed and if it hadn't had a label on I would have guessed acrylic.

Midwinter Yarns have only good stuff, if someone had to buy me a surprise bag of yarn I could direct them to Midwinter and know I'd be happy with absolutely anything they had.  I once knitted a pair of socks in their Raggsocks on the flight to New York.  I've had my eye on Pirkkalanka  for a while but never had a project in mind, I found Mayhem at EYF.

Mayhem was launched at the show and I don't think it's on Ravelry until the end of the month, it's a very cleverly constructed garment designed by Asa Tricosa.  It was at Ginger Twist Studio and I was very impressed by what they had to offer, I imagine their shop must be fab, I tried it on and I could have happily walked off with it.    It was knit up in Ginger Twist's Mashem Mayhem DK, a Blue Faced Leicester and Masham mix   and I can highly recommend this yarn, I would have bought the whole caboodle if I hadn't been knitting a cardigan in exactly the same colour from Ewe & Ply.  The Ziggurat Method engineering was new to me,  I'm definitely going to be learning on the job for this one and if I needed any more enticement, there's a tiny pocket knit in a different colour so I was sold.

It looks uninspiring in the photo but this  Alpaca Mohair  from The Border Mill is just divine when knit up, they had a multi-coloured sweater on the stand which is something else I could have happily sneaked away with.   I met the lady from The Border Mill a couple of years ago in Glasgow and bought some alpaca which was a real treat to knit with so I know it's good stuff.

I made a few smaller purchases at the show,  lots of haberdashery and a killer car sticker but that will have to wait for the car wash.   On Saturday we spent a very happy hour in Blackwell's and amongst other books I came away with  Stylish Party Dresses by Yoshiko Tsukiori, her designs are simple, very wearable and easy to make and the pattern sheet is included.  Why We Make Things & Why It Matters by Peter Korn, the blurb suggested it was along the lines of the best book ever written on making/learning a craft The Craftsman by Richard Sennett .

In case you aren't familiar with The Craftsman, in a very small nutshell Sennett's ideas are; 10,000 hours;  to be the best you need to know your craft - whatever it may be - inside out and back to front, be able to take apart and re-build, re-invent;  don't be concerned with where you are in the learning process there is value in where you are and it is important to be at that point;  the better we get the more critical we are of our work.  If you are any sort of a maker of anything at all or just interested and haven't read this then you must, I've given so many copies of this away and it never disappoints and even as the queen of Audible I managed to read it.  A fellow enthusiast told me about The Craftsman at a quilt symposium I was attending at the V&A in 2010 that went along with their quilt exhibition, 'Hidden Histories, Untold Stories',  she also told me about Shetland Wool Week, boy was that my lucky day!

Have a conversation with someone you don't know, you never know where it might take you.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

I popped off to EYF last week, I always go to my favourite Woolfest,  Wonderwool Wales and now Shetland Wool Week, but this was the first urban one I've been to.  I hope it goes without saying that these are nothing like the Knitting and Stitching show etc - big corporate events in massive halls  - I like to meet the real makers and I certainly did in Edinburgh.

On Wednesday we got aquainted with the area and called in to The Treasure Trove, the shop of The Royal Edinburgh Repository and Self Aid Society  which I had heard lots about.  In the evening  we dined at Laconda de Gusti which I can highly recommend.

  I had a class on Thursday with the very talented Di Gilpin  - patience of a saint - which I'd describe as using colour and texture but not as you'd expect.  I met knitters from the USA and Germany in the class and on my way into The Corn Exchange I assisted an Indie Dyer from Switzerland with her wares.   Meanwhile my friend sat knitting with some Swedish ladies at the cafe around the corner, it truly was an international event.

In the evening we went to the Knit Night which was absolutely heaving, on the table I shoehorned myself onto - green chair first photo was my seat for four hours - were some of the very welcoming volunteers with knitters from Japan and Belgium.  I find that at any type of wool/textile event you can plonk yourself down next to anyone in the room and have a good conversation, no need to be shy because your all going to be on more-or-less the same wavelength.

My gold wristband from my class got me into the show at 9 on Friday morning, doors opened to everyone else at 10.  This was the scene at 9 and we left at about 12.30, it was far too busy for me but I'd got everything I went for.  We lunched in a local cafe and my friend went off to do a darning class with Tom of Holland.  I sat merrily in the cafe for 3 hours and had a variety of previously unknown to me knitting companions.  I collected my friend who had been in between a knitter from Nebraska and a Shetlander in her class.  At this point I must say that when you knowing one knitter in Shetland this qualifies you as knowing them all because they really do all know each other which is brilliant for outsiders because you just list your friends and you are immediately the friend of the new person.  Shetland's are the warmest people I have ever met and that's saying a lot as I come from Stoke.  Thus, we are having a night out with our new friend in September.

We popped back into the show for a final walk around just before it closed, I had been regretting missing a cone of Iona wool.  As we were walking out of the door I bumped into a London friend of mine who I first met at the In The Loop  - run by Southampton University - conference in Shetland, serendipity.

The view from our fabulous apartment, perfect walking distance and halfway between the centre of Edinburgh and the Corn Exchange where EYF was held.

On Saturday we left our luggage at the bus station, far far cheaper than the train station, and went off in search of fabric and cake.  We found both in the morning, perhaps the monster Victoria Sponge was a foolish choice so close to our lunch reservations but it was excellent.  We dined at Mother India for lunch and spent an hour in the very good Blackwells Book Shop.  On or way to our last dinning appointment of the trip we were sidetracked by a shop full of Harris Tweed and some German knitters lingering in the doorway in very good hand knits.

Finally - almost - we visited Antiques for tea and scones and the best/only violet petal jam I've ever had.  I left with a bag full of Violet Petal Jam, Rose Petal Jam, Violet Petal Tea, Rose Petal Tea and Lady Mary Grey Tea.    Absolutely finally as we were briskly marching to retrieve our luggage we couldn't resist The Wee Boulangerie, with sourdough and raisin bread safely stowed we caught our train home.  But...

Sitting behind us on the train was a lady from Brazil who crochets bikinis for a living - I saw the photos and definitely no jam and scones for those girls - and across from us was another crocheter from Cumbria, home of the famous Woolfest.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Vintage Linen

Last push in the studio before I sneak off to Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  My young assistant thought we might change the way we photograph our wares, it also means she can stay in the warm.

Petrol blue linen cut from an unused bolt with the most amazing colour way, the blooms just look like grey but on closer inspection they have hints of pink, yellow and blue which adds to the depth of the print.  Perfect pattern matching on the pockets is essential so as not to loose the impact of the design.

Old school Sanderson, cut from an unused bolt of upholstery linen, lucky me.
This is the type of design that everyone tries to copy but Sanderson are the original best.

 This vintage French linen is classic over the top blooms and scrolls.