Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Knitmas!

I thought this was appropriate for the present weather!! Have a lovely Christmas and build lots of happy snowmen!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Debbie Bliss The Knitter's Year

Debbie Bliss has always been an inspiration to me as a designer, she is a lovely woman and is very driven and hardworking. When I saw the title of her new book, The Knitter's Year, I thought it was such a fabulous idea and was so annoyed that I didn't think of it first!
The book is divided into four sections, one for each season, and there are 52 patterns - one for every week of the year. I am obviously a little bit sad, as I get so excited just thinking about how perfect this layout and concept is for a craft book. However, I must say, Debbie must have nearly killed herself by working on a knitting book with 52 patterns. My latest has around 30 and I almost had a breakdown writing it!
Like the Erika Knight book I talked about yesterday, the styling of the book is just as fabulous as the concept. The country cottage style setting, whitewashed wood and washed out colours are so pretty and of course make a good setting for every season and weather.
The projects are simple enough to actually able to give knitting a project a week for year a stab (maybe one year I will try it...!) but look interesting enough to keep you knitting. Another thing I like about the book are the practicality of its size and paper stock, it feels substantial yet ultimately usable.
The projects are, on the whole, relevant to the season they are in, which is great. I am partial to the plant pot covers in spring, the peg bag in summer, the pin cushion in autumn and the hottie in winter. I also love the opener pages, with their silhouetted illustrations of leaves and flowers in pretty colours.
My only niggle is that there are far too many decorations in winter. The chapters, or seasons, contain thirteen patterns each, and you would think that these would be split quite evenly between the three months they encompass. However, winter has dedicated nearly half of its patterns to Christmassy themed items, or colours that scream holidays. I would rather have more of the hotties and woolly warmers than Christmas nik-naks, even though I love this time of year. Aside from this and the flags, which seem a bit strange and out of context to me, the patterns are very in keeping with Debbie's great taste and style and are all simple yet beautiful classic pieces.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Erika Knight Simple Knitting

Erika Knight has championed the cause of crochet this year by appearing on Kirstie's Homemade Home to show Kirstie the basics of the craft. In her book, Simple Knitting, she teaches novices the craft of knitting in a simple yet elegant style.
The book tries something new in its approach, treating the instructions and patterns within as if they are from Knight's own sketchbook, with pretty, pencil-drawn line diagrams and illustrations and casual graph paper grounds, strewn with pins. Despite the unusual layout, the illustrations are clear and easy to read.
The simple style continues in the colour palette, which keeps to neutrals and muted shades for a classic overall look. I like this coherent, sophisticated way of styling, which seems almost 'coffee table' book rather than craft book, which I love. I always try to aim for that styling in my books as I think it is important to enjoy reading and looking at a craft book as you spend so much time poring over the patterns when knitting! My only criticism is due to the fact that I love colour so much, I find the limited shades a little repetitive when you flick through. However, the very easy, beginner projects are very practical and the final products will all be fabulously classic and wearable if you make them in Erika's colours but will look just as good if you ditch the neutrals and grab a ball of bright pink to use!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

new pattern

Sorry for the lapse in posting but I have been very busy Christmas shopping, writing books and working on the magazine. I am very pleased with this month's issue, which has a beautiful cardigan by Sarah Francis on the cover. I have a very simple rug pattern inside, which is perfect for beginners and can easily be made into a throw or blanket instead of a rug - just use a cosy, fluffy wool yarn instead.

Monday, 29 November 2010

the aliens have landed!

More toys made for the exhibition, I love how weird these ones are, and how much expression they seem to have with only their cute little button eyes...

Saturday, 6 November 2010


It was with great excitement that this morning I visited the new knitting shop around the corner from my flat. Nest is not only just a few minutes walk away but is full to brimming of fabulous yarns that I have not seen sold in other bricks and mortar shops.
I love the way the shop has J C Rennie yarn on cones, which you can buy spun off into little balls of the exact weight that you need and wrapped in beautiful brown paper nest labels (above).

Other exciting stock is malabrigo yarns, (including Rasta and Lace which are both used in Linda Permann's Pebble hat in the Christmas issue of Inside Crochet) Drops yarn and patterns and British based John Arbon, Skein Queen and Fyberspates.

I was also saved from a trip into town by purchasing some lovely black and gold beads for a crochet project, which you can buy by weight (60p for 10g - very reasonable!) and was tempted by hello kitty buttons and vintage knitting books, maybe next time!
I spoke to Amy, one of the owners of the shop and her young man (who was clad in a very fetching hand made jumper) who are very friendly and I
have already heard tales of groups sitting down with tea
to knit and natter so I am thinking that this is going to be a cosy, must-see destination for North London knitters very soon - get down there while it is still quiet and they have plenty of stock!

While all of this is definitely a good thing, I can see myself frequently popping out for some groceries and ending up with armfuls of yarn and no dinner. Temptation should never be placed this close, to your doorstep!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

toys, toys, toys

Been busy making lots and lots of little creatures for an upcoming exhibition, Tales From the Sock Drawer.
Here are some Wise Old Owls...
...without faces....

...and with!
More little folk soon.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Stitching and Knitting

I have finally found a free moment to fill you in on what else went on at the stitch and knit show at Ally Pally this year so here are pictures of some of the things which inspired me most....
Of course the students' work was my first port of call, as I love seeing
what the fresh young designers of tomorrow will be creating. This year I was mainly looking at crochet, following the trend that I seem to be following lately and for a change there was quite a bit of it!
Grace Hamilton's very wearable statement jewellery was my favourite as it was unique and exciting yet practical.
Emma Philpot's knitted and crocheted sculptural dresses were not new to me as I had first noticed them at her graduate fashion show, but it was great to get to see them up close and personal and they did not disappoint.
I was on the Kal Media stand all weekend, which was fabulous as I got to meet loads of people who I had only got to know virtually, and the new issue of Inside Crochet was really well received, which was lovely.
This is the Artyarns stand, which was a magpie's dream - all sparkles and glitter with heavily embellished luxury yarns glinting in the artificial light. Their yarn is also the one in the top picture, which just demonstrates what a fabulously vivid colour palette of yarns they stock.
Finally, (as I could go on forever, but bedtime calls) here's a glimpse of Mrs Moon's store. I have not yet managed to get down to the relatively new yarn shop in south London. It looks adorable, with pretty candy coloured yarns and decorated with girly printed wallpapers.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

crochet floral necklace class

This weekend it was Stitch and Knit show time again and I was asked to run some workshops for West Dean college.
We only had an hour so I taught my crocheters how to make a simple floral necklace, one of my favourite accessories.
More pictures from the stalls and the show later...

Monday, 4 October 2010

dmc patterns

Earlier this year I was asked to design some patterns for a lovely new yarn by that well known threads company DMC. The yarn I was given to use was a new range specifically for crochet called Petra, which has all the fabulous crochet-friendly properties of a traditional crochet cotton, but with a fabulously bright and modern colour palette.
So, here are the final patterns which are out in all good yarn shops now! I designed the fashion based ones, but there are a range of interiors products too, so go check em out.