Paisley potato printing

After Alice and I made our bird and leaf lino cuts for the William Morris Society earlier this year, I figured my next printing project would have to be even more elaborate and ambitious, because, well, I’m competitive with myself. But a crafty night in with my flatmate, a roll of brown paper, a potato, craft knife and some gouache paint has reminded me how satisfying the simpler projects can be.

paisleypaper01paisleypaper02I cut out a very simple paisley design and printed the whole roll of paper with white footprints. I went to bed feeling just a little bit smudged. The next morning I added some colour, picking combinations from a very lovely library book on Central Asian Textiles (perhaps Indian or Scottish textiles would have been more appropriate, but this eye-popping blaze is just what I wanted and had to hand). paisleypaper03 paisleypaper04 paisleypaper05 paisleypaper06 paisleypaper07 paisleypaper08 paisleypaper10

I was inspired to use a paisley design by what I’ve recently learnt about the history of the Scottish textile industry, and its surprising international connections. Paisley is a town in West Scotland which became so well known in the nineteenth century for its reproductions of imported Indian shawls that the motif (also known as boteh) became synonymous with the town.

At Glasgow University some interesting research is uncovering various aspects of the Scottish Textile Industry. Below are links to current research projects:

ReCREATE – a network of specialists and academics researching Scotland’s textile industry during the Industrial Revolution. Talks at an event of its forerunner ReINVENT are available to view here.

Glasgow Dyes Project – Julie Wertz’s PhD project to research and recreate the brilliant ‘turkey red’ dye used by Scottish dyers. She’s also written a post about her research here on the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History blog.

Darning Scotland’s Textile Heritage – the University of Glasgow archive’s project to enhance their collection of records relating to the Scottish textile industry.

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Cockpit Arts Open Studios

I’m really looking forward to Cockpit Arts Open Studios this weekend. Their 2012 (somehow I missed last year) evening in Deptford was AMAZING – we got to amble into studios and work spaces, ogle at looms and printing presses and paints, then ask the makers nosy questions. There was also some tasty food to be had, oh, and lots of beautiful handcrafted things to buy. As you might expect from a place full of talented and creative individuals who share a love for the beautiful and useful, the atmosphere of the studios is pretty wonderful too.

The Holborn studios are open this weekend, then Deptford next weekend. See you at both!

Phone Case Knitting Pattern

Back in January 2013 I wrote this post on double-sided knitting, a technique that drew lots of ‘oohs!’ and ‘aahs!’ from fellow knitters and Pinterest users. So here’s a way of using a slightly different double-sided  technique to make a simple phone cover.

This pattern is also featured on the East London Craft Guerrilla blog. Recently I’ve helped out with a number of workshops and events run by Craft Guerrilla – a collective of designer makers dedicated to spreading the craft – and we have some exciting projects lined up for the future. Do please check out what we’re up to on the CG blog and website.

Pattern by No Idle Han. Many thanks to Penny Vickers for her astute pattern testing and Sayed Hasan for his photographic expertise.

phonecaseDifficulty level: average

Sizing: One size fits most smart phones (approx. 14cm circumference)

Click here for the no-nonsense, 1 sheet pdf version – Phone case pattern

01 02 03-204 05 06 0708-2 09 10 11 12-213 14 15 1617-2 18-21920 slip121222324..and you’re done!knitutorial68knitutorial69

Bye bye Wool Week

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Wool Week is nearly over. As anticipated, I spent much of it knitting, talking about knitting and lusting after other people’s knitting.

Much of this indulgence went on in a couple of visits to the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis, which has been playing host to five days of knitting workshops. What a wonderful event! But woefully under-advertised by the store. Their beautiful and entertaining ‘live knitting’ window would have surely attracted many extra customers both into the haberdashery department and the rest of the store if displayed up front. Instead, it was relegated to the far side of the building, where few but staff on their fag break got to see it.

Ah well, at least I can show you here.

Tuesday

I bounded up the escalators with great zeal and camera/ knitting needles at the ready; slightly nonplussed to discover, on my arrival at the haberdashery department, a distinct lack of Wool Week activity. Shop assistant not sure where it is. Am I in the right store? I wonder on way back down to the information point on ground floor.

Directed up to first – through shoe section and into ladieswear, round to the right – and eventually find the woolly haven. It’s an admittedly intimate spot, squeezed between clothes rails; browsers step over balls of wool and beanbags, knitters make friends fast as they rub elbows on squashy sofas. I meet today’s knitting gurus – Norwegian duo Arne and Carlos  – and get to work on Magnus Mouse. Having expected a variation on the beginners staple garter stitch square, I’m pleased to discover Arne and Carlos’ mouse cuts an elegant, elongated figure, knitted in the round on double-ended needles. After nearly two hours I am still working up Magnus’ ankle and am well into a continental style (left-handed) vs English (right-handed) knitting debate with Arne, Carlos and accomplished Canadian crafter Natalie Selles. Time to go, unfortunately, but will return – soon.

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Thursday

I return on Thursday night, armed with a better camera and greater resolve to use it. Meet the designer of tonight’s workshop and pattern, Sarah Hatton, who kindly demonstrates her extremely efficient underarm knitting technique. Her design for Rowan’s workshop this evening cleverly comes in garter, stocking stitch and cable options for all knitting levels. DSC_4874

DSC_4877DSC_4876DSC_4880There was some awesome cable needle accessorizing on the part of fellow knitter/ blogger, Snowfox of I am Snowfox.

Look, look!

DSC_4906DSC_4894DSC_4889DSC_4898Wool Week on Make A GifDSC_4915DSC_4888

We wrap up the evening snapping away at the Toft Alpaca team in their glass tank of yarn. I leave with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Goodbye Wool Week! Until next time..

next week: Wool Week

Somehow, knitting season has taken me by surprise all over again.

You might say that the wool has been pulled over my eyes (if you were a desperate blogger after any opportunity to throw in cheap and cheesy cliches to appear effortlessly silver-fingered; not a writer feeling laboured and awkward, spending an inordinate amount of time nose-deep in the thesaurus).

Nevertheless, I’m pretty taken aback to discover Wool Week (14th – 20th October) is here again. It seems like only last week that the beautiful Wool House was on display at Somerset House, but, in fact it’s been a full six months.

© 2013 Campaign For Wool

This time, the Campaign for Wool team have hooked up with John Lewis to host a week of FREE knitting classes. Each of the six classes is run by a different supplier, ranging from Christmas jumpers with Sue Stratford to snoods with Rowan (full timetable below). You can either secure a place in the morning or afternoon sessions, or drop in anytime in-between. There’s lots more info here on the Campaign for Wool website.

The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

The London Knitting and Stitching show is on next week, 10th – 13th October. I’ve never been to any of the shows (two in London at Ally Pally and Olympia, as well as Dublin and Harrogate) so am looking forward to exploring as many of the stands, galleries and workshops as possible.

A few galleries that have especially caught my eye are:

the Knitted Textile Awards

the Graduate Showcase

‘Sewing for Survival: Arctic Stitchery’

‘A timeline of crewel work, 1630-1930’

I’ll also be helping out on the UK Hand Knitting Association stand, so come and say hello if you’re there on Thursday afternoon!

Visit the show’s website here for more information on tickets and how to get there.

Wool House III + Tom of Holland

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My last few pictures from Wool House (sigh!).

More sheep, some wool couture and a darning session with the very delightful and diligent Tom of Holland. Holey socks, darning thread and mushrooms at the ready, he showed a flock of wool enthusiasts the power of darning. There was much lamentation and sympathy over the destructive capacity of clothes moths, but not enough to dampen spirits, darn it!

Inspired, I’m determined to a) fill my wardrobe with sprigs of lavender against the winged wool nemeses and b) scour local charity shops for a darning mushroom of my own.

wool12wool13wool14wool16Goodbye Wool House! Until next time…(there will be a next time yes?)wool11wool17