Sunday, 30 August 2009

kioskiosk part deux

Beautiful sunshine for the second installment at the kioskiosk and lots of friendly knitters, like Lettice, who came on her lunch break to sit and knit with us in the warm sunny weather. Thanks to those of you who make a special trip to come and see me, it made my day :)
I hear the kiosk's run has been extended throughout September, and then possibly on to pastures new, so keep an eye out for strange little boxes housing mad little wannabe shop owners selling handmade wares popping up all over the place soon!
In the meantime, I will be at We Make London's next fair in Stoke Newington next weekend, teaching knitting and crochet and doing a bit of cake decorating...! I will also be selling my wares, so if you fancy anything you see here and are in North London at the weekend, I may see you there.
Happy Bank Holidays!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

roll up, roll up!

The time has come for another day at the lovely kioskiosk. This Thursday the 27th August I shall be selling my wares and helping with crafty queries by the Thames.

This time alongside my own knitted toys and other goodies, I will be selling Model Robot screen printed t-shirts and bags, and some beautiful jewellery by Jenny and the Bead Stall, as well as starting a mini knitting bee with Mrs G.

Do drop by to have a little knit by the river, or to just say hello, I'll be there from 10am.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

making the most of the summer

It is still the summer hols from my work at the college, so I have been making the most of it by getting out and about in town, seeing exhibitions, enjoying the weather and knitting on the bus on my way round.

This week I saw the latest offering from Contemporary Applied Arts in Percy Street, Inner Voice. Some very interesting and intricate jewellery pieces were on show and I particularly liked Helen Carnac's recycled pieces, embellished with hand sewing and drawing.

On the bus I have been trying my hand at double knitting, a way of stranding multicoloured knitting to get a reversible fabric. I adore the final, double-warm, squishy fabric it produces but, oh my, it is so time consuming. I think I manage about one or two lines per bus journey.

It is part of my new Autumn range so here is a sneak peak of some of the colours you can expect.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

in a twist

At long last I can tell you about the secret project which has been bubbling away since early this year...I have a pattern in the latest issue of the fantastic online magazine Twist Collective! For those of you who haven't heard of it (where have you been for the last year?!) it is a knitting magazine with a difference, trying to support its designers more fully than any other publication, with a percentage of the fee from each individual pattern sold going to the designer.
The journey to today's publication began way back in January, when I received the initial mood boards from Twist. One of the themes was vintage inspired and I immediately thought of a sweater I have wanted to knit for ages, but had never had the time to bring to life. I had made this sketch while watching a favourite film, Bell, Book and Candle, starring two of my favourite hollywood stars, Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. It is my interpretation of a sweater Novak wears in the film; I have always found her wardrobe in it is spectacularly dramatic and inspirational, as her character is a mysterious witch who falls in love with Stewart's more human form. With design already sorted, I did some swatching for the woven look trims and sent off a my board, complete with swatches, and luckily the Twist folk liked the idea as much as I did.

From there it was all systems go and in March we struggled over choosing a yarn which would do the sweater justice, while also creating a satisfyingly swift knit. Eventually Frog Tree Merino Melange 2ply was chosen, a beautiful worsted weight yarn in one of my of the moment shades, a soft rust red, as opposed to the scarlet of the original film.

The yarn eventually arrived from over the seas after a scarily long time and I began work in April, with a tight deadline to keep to get it back to Canada by May. This led to a few weeks tied to a cold sofa with only daytime T.V. and my woolen blanket and slippers for company! Luckily the yarn was a dream to work with and aside from having to re-knit the neckline many times to get the shape I wanted, it was a really enjoyable process.

I originally envisaged a soft, cosy and quick knit, with a big fifties kick and while throughout the deisgn process Novak has evolved, I am very pleased with the finished product. The simple structure and retro silhouette are very me and therefore before the sweater went on its round the world trip, I could not resist having a fun trying on session, imitating those elegantly eccentric poses of the many old knitting patterns I have from the era. The yarn is beautiful, giving a sumptuous drape and unbelievably light and cosy fabric and Twist Collective have made it shine with the fifties styling. So, the only downside to the whole affair is that I won't be able to wear it this winter, as Novak is still touring the world, enjoying its fame and freedom!

There are some gorgeous patterns in Fall's Twist, so if you need a new project or want to read some interesting stitch related articles this Autumn, make sure you get over there and support one of the many talented small designers.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

birthday celebrations

As you all well know, I have been very busy recently, and after celebrating my book launch and birthday with lots of lovely knitters on Thursday, I then spent my actual birthday weekend doing lots of lovely indulgent things!

On Friday, I had a look at the freaky exhibits in the Wellcome Collection's Exquisite Bodies exhibition, then went shopping in Liberty of London and Carnaby street. It was here that I came across the Sorry you missed the 60's exhibition in the Newburgh Quarter. The show could have been speaking to me specifically, as I am sorry I missed parts of the sixties, especially Mary Quant's first designs, Biba and the music scene. It was a small but perfectly formed exhibition of Phillip Townsend prints and I left a business card for the draw to win one, but no success there I am afraid; I had to make to with a few greetings cards.
While shopping, I managed to buy a fantastically comfy pair of Melissa shoes in the sales and this adorable lucky charm fashioned in the shape of a spinning wheel from an antiques stall....

...I hope I don't prink my finger on its spindle and fall asleep for one hundred years, even though after last week I feel like I could easily do so!

The final treat over my long, lazy birthday weekend was yet another trip to my favourite shop, Liberty, for the private view of their lovely exhibition Prints Charming. Six artists: Grayson Perry, Paul Morrison, Mike McInnerney, Michael Angove, Anj Smith and Simon Hart, have drawn from the Liberty heritage for inspiration and designed their own wonderfully inventive prints for the collection. Original one-off pieces of furniture, interior products and artworks have been produced for the show and there are also some great archive images and information on how Liberty prints have been utilised by past artists and fashion designers. Grayson Perry was there, dressed as his alter-ego, who is, of course, also called Claire! She was a wonderful sight to behold dressed in a custom made Liberty print dress, and I thoroughly enjoyed a leisurely stroll round the fourth floor sipping on a yummy Tom Collins cocktail.

In celebration of the exhibition, the folk at Liberty have covered the Carnaby Street entrance of the shop in their own Betsey print which looks fabulous. I think I shall be purchasing some of the Grayson Perry Cranford Tana Lawn fabric, although I have promised myself that I will finish off some of my planned projects using my last bumper lot of Liberty print first, so perhaps this will be the motivation I need to finally pull out the sewing machine...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

up, up and away!

A huge thank you to everyone who braved the elements to visit Loop last Thursday and support the launch of my new book, Easy Kids Knits. I had loads of fun and really enjoyed meeting everyone. There were fabulous prizes to be won, and with a grand total of twelve of them, and free samples of soak wash, most visitors went away with something lovely in their knitting bag.

The shop was packed to bursting!

Scrummy cakes baked by the lovely Gingerknits - she must've known that strawberries are my favourite fruit.

Sorry about my terrible handwriting everyone!
There were also two very special visitors in the shape of these handsome boys. If you recognise them, it is because they were models in Easy Kids Knits and little Finley was also a model for Easy Baby Knits. Well done to Fin for sporting some of the projects in very humid weather!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

we have lift off!

Finally, Easy Kids Knits has been published and to celebrate the fact, I shall be throwing a launch party at Loop on Thursday the 6th August. It is my birthday the next day so I will have cake and something fizzy to drink for the knitters who make it in. The book will be discounted by 10% on the night, and if you buy it you will be in with a chance of winning some lovely yarn. We have some Debbie Bliss Eco yarn and pattern books and a selection of the beautiful Sublime yarn, which is used in the book.
The lovely folk at Sublime have even sent their yarn in beautiful gift boxes, which make me want to keep the prizes all to myself...but I shan't, I promise!
Oh, and did I mention that everyone who steps through the doors will also receive a sample of Soak wash for while stocks last?!
The launch will be on between 6 and 8pm this Thursday, I hope to see you then.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Hairpin Lace

All last week I was in hairpin lace land. This was due to being at City Lit college for three evenings, teaching my first ever class on the technique and it was really fun. Hairpin lace, or crochet, is basically an advanced crochet technique using a hairpin, prong or, more often these days, a frame like the one above. The frame helps to create large loops held together by the basic crochet stitches; strips made in this way can then be joined together to make open, lacy fabrics, which are very quick to make up.
The technique is very absorbing and hypnotic due to its repetitive nature and as a result the class was the quietest I think I have ever taught!
Once the technique has been learned, you can play with the strips in many ways creating textural motifs as well as regular flat fabrics. A traditional way to use the strips is as braids and edgings.
Hui Ting tried an old pattern for a delicate edging using a thin strip made on a small width of the frame. The strips all come off the frame looking almost the same; the variations occur in how you treat the individual or groups of strips. Here, she used some simple crochet to join groups of the loops, creating a beautifully lacy piece which would make a stunning edge if she recreated it over a longer length.

Jo worked some fabulously striking circular motifs out of the originally straight strips, using varying shades of green. This would make a fun yet sophisicated throw when finished.

I also showed the ladies how to bead the strips and Carolina brought in some very bright, beautiful red wire and orange beads, which worked fabulously well in her strip, which may well become a bracelet. (bottom)

If you do not crochet, let that not be a barrier to learning the craft of hairpin lace, as most of these ladies were not confident crocheters, and a couple had never crocheted before, but all came away confidentally able to wield the hairpin looms and try some of the basic techniques.

If you are interested in learning the skill, I would heartily recommend it, for its theraputic qualities, simplicity and speed. Contact me if you are interested and I may be able to point you in the right direction.