Degree Show – Manchester School of Art

IMG_20170609_180719Last Friday I very proudly made my way up to Manchester. My eldest son has been studying three dimensional design for 3 years at Manchester Metropolitan and it was his degree show.  It was also a great opportunity for me to see what the fashion and textile students had been up to in the lovely company of Emma Varnam.

IMG_20170609_180716Following on from his dissertation that covered the democratisation of design and open source furniture, Joe’s final project was called Miss Marble.  He worked with a paper marbling artist in Bristol to learn how to use the technique on wood.  And the hard work paid off.  He won the alumni award for this work, but it doesn’t end there.  He picked up more awards for a collaboration with a glass blower.

IMG_20170609_180510IMG_20170609_180211The Project was called Breathe and Joe created the mould in beech wood based on sound waves before Jadhay blew the glass cylinder to go in.  The scorch marks you can see is because the wood burns when the glass hits it.  They will be doing an exhibition together in 2018.  Joe was really quite overwhelmed with all the accolades, especially because they were from fellow crafts people.

Then on to the textile  students.  I’m afraid I didn’t note down any names.

IMG_20170609_192036I loved this mixture of media.

IMG_20170609_182116A nice mix of machine knitting and crochet.

IMG_20170609_191612Quilting in an intriguing plasticised fabric.

IMG_20170609_191602Just look at those colours!

IMG_20170609_191943Interesting structure on this sleeve.

IMG_20170609_191717Printing on knitting.

IMG_20170609_191739Not sure how these were made but they are fascinating.

I feel so privileged to have seen so much amazing creativity under one roof. Congratulations to all the students at Manchester’s School of Art.

Crochet Joy

This weekend my mum asked me to put some things in to her loft and get down her summer clothes.  I love that she packs seasonal clothes away every six months but wrestling the cases through a small hatch is always tricky.

While I was up there I decided to have  a little rootle through a couple of boxes of yarn.  I have been feeling a strong urge to crochet a blanket and wanted to see if I had enough yarn to make it (I can hear you laughing – of course I do). As I looked through the boxes a colour palette seemed to jump out at me.  There were so many greys and creams and they looked so subtle all piled up.  I’m not usually a fan of orange but, when one ball fell out on top of the pile it just kind of worked.  What do you think?


I am not that brilliant at crochet but I could just imagine what a blanket in these colours could look like.  In the end I decided to just pull out a hook and try a few squares.  What I do love about crochet is the immediacy of working colours together –  squares have such a lovely rhythm and you can stop and start at will.  I have been doing so much knitting lately that making these four squares was a wonderful antidote to Fair Isle yet still giving me the thrill I get when working colours together.



I based my design on this lovely square from Cherry Heart


Just a quick post this week because my youngest son is still on holiday and I intend to spend some time with in between his revision. Lucky me!

I have been working on my design for the Faroe Island holiday I am teaching on for Arena Travel later in the year. I have designed a tea cosy and mug cosies so we can practise continental knitting, two-handed Fair Isle and Steeking.  I am using Debbie Bliss’ Fine Donegal Tweed which is a lovely yarn which blooms beautifully when it has been steamed.

Here is a sneak preview for you.

A shameless bit of self-promotion

Hat 1

A few years ago, when I was editor of The Knitter, a lovely lady came on to our stand at Ally Pally.  She worked in the movie industry in Hollywood and was working on the promotion of one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  We stayed in touch and have met up when she is in the UK. It tickles me that she works in such an amazing industry yet loves to craft and even set up The Depressed Cake Shop in her ‘spare’ time.  She is such an inspiration – love you Val.

Early in 2015 she got in touch about a movie she was working on as a producer.  I must admit when she told me about Eddie The Eagle I did wonder why it was being made, remembering how the press used to take the micky out of Eddie.  But with a cast including Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton, Dexter Fletcher as the director and Marv Films behind the movie, I knew it was going to be a class act.  Val was contacting me to see if I could get a couple of jumpers made for Eddie’s movie mum and dad.  Apparently his gran used to knit all the family jumpers with ‘I’m Eddies Mum/Dad/Sister’ intarsia-ed on the front.

Luckily, one of my clients, Yarn Stories, was able to help and after a weekend sewing the garments together and finishing them off, I sent them to the filming at Elstree. It was such a tight deadline and I hate intarsia so I put in a couple of late nights to knit the front of the mum’s jumper. I get ridiculously excited every time I watch the trailer and see the jumper!

Fast forward to this January and the Sundance festival where Eddie The Eagle was launched to great acclaim.  Laura Zander from Jimmy Beans Wool took the Yarn Stories pattern and created some special jumpers for the premier and a social media campaign was launched – you may have noticed the tweets with #iKnitforEddie flying around.


The UK premier is next week so I have designed a special hat which is available as a free download here.  The chiselled cheek bones in the shot at the top of this post belong to my 17 year-old son who kindly modelled for me.  Yarn Stories have teamed up with the Mission to Seafarers and we are asking knitters to donate an Eddie hat to the charity – we already have 20 to give to them.

So if you have the time please knit a hat for this great charity.  Details of where to send the hat are on the pattern.


Design your own crochet blanket

Last year, everywhere you looked there was a Crochet Along and I must admit I found them very seductive but somehow the designs just weren’t quite me – I couldn’t imagine any of the blankets actually fitting in with my home.


If you know me, or have met me, you will know I tend to favour something bold or slightly odd. My home is largely painted white with lots of ‘things’ dotted around such as a cow skin throw, a candlestick made from metal and wood found on the beach, a triangular vase made from a slate roof tile, an old weaving shuttle rescued from a Scottish mill.  As much as I can appreciate them I am not a flowery person! So even though I wanted to take part in one of the lovely CALs I knew I wouldn’t be motivated enough to finish them.

While browsing through the V&A website, researching an article I came across this great idea for quilters, The Patchwork Pattern Maker, and it set me thinking.  What many crocheted blankets are made up of is squares so was this app something I could use to create my own design?

It’s a great tool which has been greatly  improved  since the Beta version was launched last year.  All you need to do is upload your image and crop it to the shape you want. Just to show I have nothing against flowers I have used this picture of the hollyhocks in my garden.


There are lots of options to choose such as how many colours you want in your final design or the number of squares in your quilt, or even if you want to include triangles.

Screenshot 2016-02-03 16.58.22.png

And there you go a crochet blanket design. Now all you have to do is source your yarn, check your square size and plan your blanket. There are lots of yarn companies that have a huge amount of shades available for you to choose from.

I now have a bag of yarn in the right shades for my project and I am starting to crochet filled granny squares (as seen on Attic 24) to make my own blanket.