From Dorset With Love

Can we take a moment to celebrate the power of female friendship please?

Flowers and friendship.jpg


I spent last weekend running workshops with a group of women so creative and amazing, I felt like I moonwalked right out of the teaching space. I jumped in a cab and checked my phone. I saw the happiest of news: my good friend is totally having her moment and causing a big buzz around her new collection launch. It felt so good to see women just owning their ambitions and working with clarity and focus to achieve them. 

I had the pleasure of shooting this special collection a few months ago. It was my first full shoot with models and I was more than a little nervous about getting my friend, Clare Devine,  what she needed. When the samples arrived, I was instantly inspired and moved them around in my hands, examining seams, hems, details..... the feel and look of each piece. The colour choices reminded me so much of the nature tones that inspire me here everyday and I felt a new confidence. 

' Lulworth Cove ', available on Ravelry. 

'Lulworth Cove', available on Ravelry. 

I contacted friends to help and put together a day full of pictures, laughter and happiness. I really think you can tell how much fun we had. 

' Corfe Castle ', available on Ravelry

'Corfe Castle', available on Ravelry

The collection is called, 'From Dorset with Love' and includes Clare's first sweater design (and it's a goodie). Each piece is a wardrobe staple, thoughtfully designed to make it a pleasure to knit and sit *just* right when worn. Clare is releasing these over the coming week and I have a special code for you today if you wish to knit your new favourite project. 

To enjoy 20% off at checkout when shopping on Ravelry, you can use the code '"APD20"

'Swyres Head' available on Ravelry

'Swyres Head' available on Ravelry

I'd like to shout out a few lovelies who also helped make this shoot special:

Model extraordinaire- Sarah Knight

White Striped Dress- STALF 

Beautiful Bouquet- Beards and Daisies (my go to florist, every shoot)

And my dear friend Elaine who doesn't have an online presence for me to link to for you to go and high five her, sadly. She's quiet and gentle and finds the big wide world of the internet a bit intimidating. Let's not tell her we're all pouring over her photos and finding her cute as a button shall we?

Happy knitting! x


Art Inspired Knitwear {Guest Post}

On the last podcast episode I introduced Renee Callaghan's latest knitwear release, 'The Klee Collection' and promised a guest post sharing all her inspiration. Here it is and I love how much detail and form that Renee has captured from her time spent gazing at Klee's beautiful work. 


I have always been attracted to the arts. Long before it ever occurred to me to make things myself, I studied and loved things that other people made; paintings, drawings, sculpture. When I began to study art history, it was the very uselessness of the fine arts that attracted me. These objects seemed like tangible proof that the need to create aesthetically pleasing things transcended the basic necessities of survival such as food and shelter. As long as people have existed, they have created objects and made marks above and beyond what was strictly useful. 

And yet… 

When I came to the decision that designing and making things was just too important to me to do anything else, I felt an overwhelming urge to make useful things that people would use—hopefully—every day. I felt, and continue to feel we live in a world full of stuff, much of it mass produced, and that the making of a thing with your own hands is valuable both as an act of creation and as a tiny defiance of the disposable nature of all that stuff in our world. 

This all sounds very worthy, but it is more than that. It is also about pleasure. The pleasure in making things by hand. The pleasure in seeing something beautiful. The pleasure in seeing something beautiful, and then following it into another act of creation…. 

Inspiration is a nebulous thing. A couple of years ago, the Tate Modern put on a wonderful exhibition of Paul Klee’s work and after going to see it, I was inspired to be more creatively ambitious and pursue my hand-knitting design with a collection. I choose a few of Klee’s paintings and started to extract little bits of beauty from them and try to make them my own. 

It was not a smooth or direct path. Sometimes it was a single colour, as the shocking red of Angel in the Making.

Angel in the Making

Sometimes it is a more subtle thing, such as the title of the painting. I took this concept into knit with the idea of an evolving lace stitch, a lace in the making beginning with a single eyelet, evolving as the eyelets multiply and resolve themselves into pretty lace patterns. The Angel in the Making shawl and Angel in the Making sweater were the results.

Angel in the Making Shawl & Sweater

Sometimes a metaphor morphs into another shape in the mind, as did the idea of graphic arm/wings in Angelus Novus.

Angelus Novus

Isn’t she a beauty? I imagined the arms wrapping around the body and turned into a wing-like pattern that envelops the body. There is joy in the simplicity of the shapes, something both childlike and elegant. My interpretation produced the Angelus Novus cardigan

Angelus Novus Cardigan
Angelus Novus Shawl

Twilight Flowers was painted just a few months before Klee’s death in 1940. I love the flat, patterned aspect of the simple geometric shapes and the pops of colour among the muted palette.

Twilight Flowers

Each design features unique geometric lace knitting inspired by the strange and wonderful shapes that run like a language through Klee’s work, and the Twilight Flowers Mitts…

Twilight Flower Mitts

…and Twilight Flowers pullover designs in particular focus on the beauty of simple repeats, and incorporating my inspiration and love of Klee into wearable garments that knitters will make and wear for years to come.

Twilight Flowers Sweater

The Klee Collection is available here.

This Month I Wish I was Knitting..... The Sweater Edition.

It would seem all the inspiration I could possibly need has hit me. This week, designers are releasing fab new patterns everywhere, I went stash diving (more on that in a moment) and I've started 2015 with one resolution: a better work/ life balance. My resolution thus far has meant more time to tidy up the house, knit and be inspired. I am one content and excited crafter right now!

joji's 3 colour cashmere cowl

Yesterday I was determine to do two things: choose colours from my stash to make Joji's fabulous 3 colour cashmere cowl and settle on a sweater and swatch the yarn. How hard could it be right? Well, anyone who found me on Instagram yesterday will know I was knee deep in stash and had to call in a knit friend for an intervention. Who knew yarn could be so captivating? 

... yes, I know the stupidity of what I just said. Let's move on shall we?

As I was knee deep in stash and checking yardages of my many queued sweaters, I kept seeing new patterns popping up in my feed. OH NO! Like a moth to the flame I have queued and have swatching plans for multiple sweaters. My dear friend Lisa released an entire collection of new shawls! I might not be heard of for some time people....

I'm swatching for:

This was an instant love affair for me as it ticks all the right boxes: length, pockets, deep button band and texture that makes hand dyes sing. I have been slowly falling under the spell of Melissa too, she's a seriously talented designer. I can't wait to get to know her pattern writing. I'm going to admit to being a little intimidated by picking up for button bands and getting enough knitting time to get into the swing of those textured stitches so they become a comfort knit. However, I've read through the pattern and it's extremely clear so I feel I just need to take the plunge really. 

What will I be using?

Plump, squooshy and non pilly. This is a hand dyed colourway from Jeni's hand dyeing glory days.  

Swatching number 2...

Climb Every Mountain  by Heidi Kirrmaier

Climb Every Mountain by Heidi Kirrmaier

I adore this look. An oversize sweater or tee with a longsleeve tshirt underneath and jeans is basically my staple look. It's practical, warm and stylish enough that I don't feel like a frumpy tired out mum even on those days I do inside! It's also low yardage and has that 'simple enough with a little interest' thing that I love in my knitting projects. The low yardage thing reminded me I had this stash I have had no plans for:

Yes. It's green. I am trying to move on from Green, I swear! I'm also aware I'm working with 2 discontinued hand dyers work and I swear I'm not doing this to taunt you!

The sweater that instantly joined the queue of MUST KNITS?

Justyna seems to have this incredible habit of churning out to die for knits. She knits like a machine too- have you seen the videos she posts on Facebook? I could knit so much more if I moved my needles that fast! I adore this stylish, textured cardigan and will be keeping an eye out for worsted sweater quantities this year. Yum. 

I queued the entire collection:

Did you spot this release just before Christmas? Let me assure you I did and my heart stopped a little. I'm convinced that someone at Quince and Co has direct access to my brain and the aesthetic that just makes me want to knit. 'Home: 18 knittable projects to keep you comfy' by Pam Allen is a collection I need to get my hands on and work my way through. Then I will waft around in my cool, creamy coloured knitwear and be a paragon of xen motherhood and stylish home living. Yes. It's going to happen. No more rice crispies in my hair. 


So that's just some of my knitting inspiration this month. What's been on your radar?

This Month I Wish I was Knitting... October 2014 Edition

I've decided to add a monthly feature where I round up my current knitting yearnings and inspirations. I've talked a lot about imaginary knitting- a phrase coined by Brenda Dayne of Cast On- where you imagine all the things you would be knitting if you only had the time. Imaginary knitting goes beyond the whimsical and somewhere into obsessive for me as I choose yarn I'd use, think about how the stitches would feel to work and try to predict what I'd enjoy most about the process of knitting it. All of this being dreamt about while doing unavoidable tasks such as peeling potatoes or brushing my teeth. 

So this month I'm kicking off with what's been hitting my radar and making me really itch to cast on if only to cleanse the yearning and spread the obsession around the internet a little. You will thank me in time, I know it. 


(c) Alicia Plummer

(c) Alicia Plummer

Alicia Plummer just released Wolcott that made me regret my current cowl wip instantly. The soft cables and oversize slouch is exactly what I was craving when I gleefully cast on something in aran weight yarn last month (more on that in next week's podcast). I rather suspect though that this was more what I needed- soft cables are kinder on RSI prone wrists and fast to knit up. A paid for pattern from a designer I love that really is tempting me to rip out the aran, hold it double and go, go, go. Tempting. 

(c) Alicia plummer

(c) Alicia plummer

The whole Alicia Plummer obsession actually began thanks to those wonderfully enabling pom pom girls when they released the free knitting pattern Campside on their blog in collaboration with Alicia and super indie dyer Julie Asselin. I spent a serious amount of time concertedly ignoring Juno Fibre Arts last ever DK update because Asti's subtle tones and that shawl would be a match made in heaven right?

'Puck' by Lioness Arts

'Puck' by Lioness Arts

Lioness Arts brought out this cute little hat a few weeks ago and I've literally been using some DK leftovers as a carrot to hold infront of myself to get enough work done that I can justify just sitting, winding the yarn and knitting for the rest of the day. I've not yet managed but it's going to happen because oh my word- my girl needs this hat!

(c) Coopknits

(c) Coopknits

So then it happened that scraps got me thinking and dreaming about what to do with leftover yarn. I have a fair amount of fingering weight adding up that possibly wants to be some scrappy socks and so I'm hovering between Mixalot by Rachel Coopey and Susan B Anderson's Patchwork Socks. Choices, choices. 

(c) Susan B Anderson

(c) Susan B Anderson

So just as I'm pondering stash busting scraps of sock weight, Joji goes and brings out this:

(c) Joji

(c) Joji

Joji's Hat Season is the perfect stashbuster: stripes, something clever to do with that single skein of variegated you've hoarded for too long and delicious texture


Sigh. I need more limbs....

HarvestCal14 Inspirations: Get Layering

The countdown is on for the #Harvestcal14! Midday today I will be searching through all the hashtags, the chatter thread and the FO thread and hitting the random number generator. Tune in tomorrow for the announcements!

I thought I'd keep things a little fluffy today and talk about one of my favourite things about Autumn: layering! As knitters and crafters, Autumn has to be one of the most satisfying seasons surely? We can still wear our favourite tunics and tees but we can add all the accessories we want. More is more when it comes to feeling snuggly. 

Here's some of my favourite key looks with clickable images so you can get the goodies too:

The Blanket Scarf- I love the oversized scarf and the great news is that this season, the blanket scarf was all over the fashion pages. Fashion has a love affair with OTT textiles and as a knitter and lover of layers, that's something I applaud. 

Buy it: Zara's shawl scarf

Buy it: Zara's shawl scarf

Make it yourself: Jared Flood's Kelpie

Make it yourself: Jared Flood's Kelpie

The BIG scarf: Whether it's a Dr Who Scarf, a cabled thing of wonder or just garter, glorious garter, I LOVE my scarves big, chunky and hanging down to my waist even when I've twisted them up. In fact, If I can knot them and get all snuggled in and slightly ridiculous? All the better in my humble experience. 

Buy it: Big Scarves over at Hush

Buy it: Big Scarves over at Hush

Make It: Amy Miller's Parkway Scarf (I'd make this in Bulky to go big big big)

Make It: Amy Miller's Parkway Scarf (I'd make this in Bulky to go big big big)

Plaid: This was a big story on the catwalk and even me, non fashion follower sat up and listened because I was a 90's child and I wore plaid trousers just like those girls in Friends did. Oh the shame! I can't help but love the nostalgic feel though, can you?

Buy it: DKNY Oversize Shirt. Perfect with leggings, boots and some mitts. 

Buy it: DKNY Oversize Shirt. Perfect with leggings, boots and some mitts. 

Make it: Stephen West's Kex scarf

Make it: Stephen West's Kex scarf

Oversized Knits: The message I'm getting from looking around both in the stores and online is go big or go home where shape is concerned. It's like the blanket scarf came in and took over the shape of your entire wardrobe. Yum is all I can say!

Buy it: Oversized sweater via ASOS

Buy it: Oversized sweater via ASOS

Make it: Joji Locatelli's Boxy

Make it: Joji Locatelli's Boxy

So what are you wrapping up in this season? 


Don't forget t check out all our lovely #harvestcal14 prizes thanks to the sponsors!