Friday, 23 August 2013

Upping Sticks.

Just a short post to let you lovely people know that this blog will be moving to a new home.

My lovely new site - Triskele Designs - is now live and will be where you can follow this blog as well as get news of my work, view images of commissions or buy patterns/finished garments.

It's very exciting and I owe a huge thank you to Lou over at Soulstar Design who has done a stunning. job in creating something that far exceeds my expectations.

Hope to see you over there very soon.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Groundhog Knit

Have you wondered where all my exciting "this is what I'm currently working on" photos are? Do you miss my teasing "I can't show you properly" images of samples? Well probably not because no one likes a tease, but you are right. There has been a distinct lack of things for you to look at.

Well, I'm in the thick of commissions at the moment. I took on a commission from Eribe Knitwear in July thinking "That'll keep me ticking over with paid work and allow me to work on my own designs at the same time". So there I was all organised and planned (Sarah stop giggling back there), when I got a phone call from an old Uni pal who's interning for a studio and they needed a hand knitter. Was I available? I checked the deadline and knew I'd be busy but how could I say no? Well a sensible person would tell me "Simple. You say NO" but I really struggle with that word. Which is why I'm currently knitting 10 pairs of mitts for Eribe and at least 2 long cardigans (although that may increase to 4) long cardigans for Kate.

So gentle reader there is little time for anything else at the moment although that will ease off next week, when the Eribe commission needs to be completed. Then I can concentrate on long cardigans and some more of my designs. I'm itching to get on with my own work and have ideas for at least 2 new designs as well as wanting to knit more of the existing style.

Hang in there, I'll be back to teasing you in no time.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sparking Saturday - Four Beautiful Keys

I have had such a girl crush this week. It's entirely the fault of Haley Key, the designer behind Four Beautiful Keys, and her gorgeous jewellery she creates in her studio in Suffolk.

A business inspired by faith & love which Haley incorporates into each design.    

This is the perfect description of what Haley achieves. Her work have a lightness and whimsy to them that just makes you smile. Don't believe me?

See! Isn't that pretty!

The designs are incredibly feminine without being in your face. They are demure, elegant and incredibly stylish but with a sense of fun. 

The work is delicate and  gentle. It makes me think of long, summer days with the aroma of cut grass, lemonade, roses and warm earth permeating the memory.

These pieces are textured with hammer marks creating a surface that holds and softens light. It also makes them incredibly tactile. As Haley points out -

They do tarnish quickly like an old penny- just gently polish them back up with a silver polishing cloth? Silver oxidises quickly so just  rub it with a silver cloth or dip solution. 
This gentle act of cleaning allows the wearer to work with the pieces and interact with them.

Not only are Haley's pieces beautiful, they do something beautiful too. She works with A Way Out - a charity who "are an outreach and prevention charity, specialised in engaging vulnerable and hard to reach women and young people". Haley created two necklaces, incorporating the charity's logo and donates 50% of the sale to them. Anyone who knows me will understand why this just made me fall even harder for Haley. How appropriate that a designer who's work is based on love and faith works with a charity trying to restore that in such vulnerable people.

If you too are now smitten, visit the site and treat yourself to something full of whimsy and joy.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The First Step.

What an exciting day I've had.

Do you recall the post I wrote about a sweater I had designed? The client was really pleased and that gave me an idea. Open a shop.selling my original designs as finished garments. After some encouragement from friends, it's gone live.

At the moment I'm busy with some outside commissions, but when they're out of the way, I'll be putting more items in there and I have plans for more designs.

As a start though, I'm really excited.


Monday, 12 August 2013

On The Other Foot

It's very interesting to be the client rather than the provider. In reality I am often a client - when I go to the corner shop or the cinema I am a customer, but to actually be asked what you want as a client is a very different experience.

This is currently mine. I'm working with website developer who is building a site for me. I thought I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted and what was required. We talked about the colour palette and the use of images, what sections I wanted and what add-ons may be of use. My webby person went off and did what we'd agreed and it's looking great so far. Just recently we've had a discussion about fonts and text size. All perfectly sensible questions and ones I realised, I hadn't considered. Rather than making me feel stupid for not considering something really basic, my webby person gave me examples, played with ideas and offered some thoughts.

The important thing was that I trusted her entirely. Not only is she extremely talented at what she does, I've known her for a few years so she had an idea of what I would like. It got me thinking about my relationship with my clients. The really good ones do take time to develop and build up but they only get that chance if there is the potential for trust. Behaving in a professional manner is key but also open and honest dialogue with the client. When things go wrong as they undoubtedly do, being able to take responsibility for that and finding a solution is what makes the difference between customer service and great customer service.

I have recently experienced the worst customer service ever. I ordered an item which, according to the terms within the company website, was late. When I queried this with the manager, using the relevant information, he told me it wasn't late, I was wrong and if I didn't want the item, he'd "chuck it in the bin". I was shocked. Suffice to say I'll never use that company again.

Both of these experiences have reinforced for me the importance of excellent customer service. The customer may not always be perfect but then nor am I. Similarly, being experienced in a field doesn't mean that I shouldn't listen to an outsider when they offer their thoughts or advice. It may be an old fashioned notion, but it's worth remembering do as you would be done by. After all, if someone wants to be your client in the first place, it does indicate they have excellent taste and that should be respected.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Sparkling Saturday - Sarah Hamilton Prints

This morning I'd like to share the fun prints and works by Sarah Hamilton.

Sarah is a printmaker based in South London who creates an extensive range of cards, wooden blocks, prints and paintings. She talks about her work with such joy, it's infectious -

Every mirror, print, card and woodblock made in my sunny South London studio reflects my passion for colour, drawing and textured materials. Joyful, fresh and contemporary, with a Mid-Century Scandinavian feel, my images emerge from sketchbooks and are hand, or digitally, printed. Silkscreen printing is my first love – lifting a screen to reveal a glorious hit of rich colour is heaven. Colours, and their effect on each other, fascinate me. Put simply my colours must sing – which is harder to achieve than it sounds – and is why my studio creaks under the weight of endless colour tests and samples. I thoroughly enjoy everything about making my work, and each aspect receives the same loving attention to detail, from packaging a card to designing a large commission.

Her work is certainly richly coloured and full of joy.

As you can see the work is wonderfully playful and has a lightness to it. The colours are bright and there is a definite Scandinavian feel to the images. It puts me in mind of crisp air and sun shining on a chilly day.

Her drawings have a similar feel which is a gorgeous feat in monochrome.

Sarah also creates woodblocks which are bursts of colour that can really brighten a space.

Sarah's work is bright and vibrant and at the same time playful. I love the deceptively simplistic lines. It gives the overall print a very clean feel. I am in awe of anyone who works within print - it's a way of mark making I've never been able to master. and Sarah's definitely that. When I look at her prints it makes me happy that there are such things in the world.

If you wish to explore more of Sarah's work, then visit her site and enjoy these wonderful pieces of art.


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Do Something Scary

Today I'm offering up a challenge.

We all know that doing something scary is good for us. It pushes us and tests us. It causes us to lose control which can be exhilarating. It emboldens and empowers us.

Today I filled out my first ever tax form. "Big whoop" I hear you respond but actually, to me, it is. My little Type A self is often terrified of "doing it wrong" ("it" being anything). I find myself paralysed at the thought of doing something because I end up over thinking it. In this instance "I'll get it wrong, not be able to afford to pay them what I owe and go to prison". Despite the fact that I know I can ring HMRC with as many questions as I like, I was scared. Today, being Admin Wednesday, I bit the bullet and 2 hours later, my tax return was filled out and returned. And I feel amazing! I've conquered a thing! I beat it.

Now I'm not suggest you all go and do your taxes. You're all well rounded individuals and get your kicks in better, more inventive ways, but I am suggesting you do something that scares you.

Remember when you were a little kid. I bet you cycled down a steep hill and took you feet off the pedals. If you were the one that tumbled to the bottom and ended up in a full body cast for the rest of the Summer, then I'm sorry, but if you remained unscathed, remember how it felt to free wheel down that hill. Now remember how you laughed like a loon. It was fun. It was exhilarating. That's the feeling I want you to have today.

Today is Hump Day so why not free wheel into the weekend with a smile on your face and laughter in your voice. Do something that scares you.


Saturday, 3 August 2013

Sparking Saturday - Sarah and the Moon

Today I want to feature someone I've admired for a long time. 

Sarah Cross is a weaver with passion and a flair for using unconventional yarns within her work. She works with the SAORI style of weaving.If you look at they explain the ethos -

In SAORI, on the other hand, we put more importance on free expression, because hand weaving is different from the machine weaving. In SAORI, we always try to follow 4 slogans, because to free oneself from conventional way of weaving is sometimes very challenging. 

SAORI 4 Slogans

1) Consider the differences between a machine and a human being.
2) Be bold and adventurous
3) Let’s look out through eyes that shine.
4) Inspire on another, and everyone in the group.

Knowing the principles, it's easy to see how Sarah's work falls into that philosophy.

Inspired by the song "La Mer", this beautifully captures the feeling of underwater plants and gently lapping waves.

It's the combination of colour that really makes my heart sing. Every single colour has a purpose within the piece and no one dominates. It's a symphony within the weaving. All the yarns get to strut their stuff but the skill lies in keeping the overall piece harmonious. The pieces are bold and Sarah uses unconventional yarns in her work but with an understanding that transforms it from "novelty yarn" to "reminiscent of waves".

Inspired by bluebell woods. You get a sense of the flowers bobbing in a gentle morning breeze.

Even more traditional weaving motifs follow the SAORI style.

 Sarah explains her inspiration -
My main passion is weaving, which I do from my studio which overlooks the beautiful scenery of rural North Devon in the UK. I love to blend different yarns and textures so that everything that I make is unique, and I often take my inspiration from the landscape around me....although sometimes my mind will go off at tangent and come up with something a bit bonkers.

Bonkers or not the result is eye catching, and beautiful. They are statement pieces but underpinned with style and grace.

If you'd like to see more of Sarah's work or even own a piece, then visit her Etsy shop. Although be warned, I may fight you for them!


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Control Freak?

The title is not a criticism. It's a question. Did you see the punctuation mark there at the end? It's a question I'm pondering.

Before we go further, I should make my position clear. I am a control freak. It's not always obvious and can surprise people who don't know me because I appear to be very relaxed and chilled out about things. Those who know me better will tell you it's an act. I am a little bundle of perfectionist anxiety. However, we are not here to discuss my neuroses. This blog isn't big enough and it would get boring very quickly. I'm just explaining that I may have a bias.

This post has been prompted by the previous one discussing the frustration I experience when I'm waiting for others. It seems I'm not alone in this. I've spoken to other creatives about this issue and it seems to be more common than I thought. "Thank God it's not just me!" is the frequent response. I know my frustration lies in the fact that this is an element that is out of my hands. I have no control over what someone else is doing and that brings about anxiety. Why can't they do it faster? What's taking so long? Are they even giving it the proper attention it deserves?

I remember my tutor at Uni telling us that knitting was perfect for control freaks because you decide everything. The weight of the yarn, the colour, what happens at what point within that fabric. The length, the width, the outcome. You are creating something out of nothing. You have ultimate control. But then maybe that's true for all creatives. Whether you're a potter, weaver, graphic artist, musician, unicycling juggler, you have the control. You decide where to put the minor chord. You control the tension of the warp. You decide on the glaze or the stroke of a brush. There is an argument for "allowing the medium to talk" and there is an element of that. The potter works with the clay to create a pot instead of an intended mug. The weight of yarn will dictate which stitches are likely to work best, but ultimately we decide. By selecting chunky weight, I know I'm not going to be knitting lace.

Whilst I'm happy with the label of control freak, I understand that others may shy away from it. Maybe there is a better way of describing it. I had a friend who worked as a manager in HR and was fond of those buzz phrases that don't actually mean much - "blue sky thinking" and "flexibility within a framework" but maybe she was on the right lines.

Maybe what we do is not control but intelligently design?


Monday, 29 July 2013

Patience is a Virtue

It's fair to say that I'm a Type A personality. Being busy is a good thing. Ticking things off a to do list makes my heart sing. There is something very Zen in a nice tidy pile of things done. This is why I like to keep deadlines tight. When I give clients a time frame. they often seem surprised. "Really? That soon?" Yes. Really. What can I say, I'm just a masochist.

So imagine my consternation when I'm waiting on someone else. This is the situation I currently find myself in.

I'm very much someone who, having made a decision, has to execute it fairly promptly. We're going to do a thing. OK. Let's go. In fact, life is never that simple. Often other parties have to be gingered up. (It's baffling to me that other people don't move so speedily.) When I was a manager, this was less of a problem. It will be done this way and it will be done now. Working with other people is whole other matter entirely.

Other people have other things to do and I have to wait patiently for it to be my turn. When this is the very final step in a process it can drive me to distraction. Everything is ready to go but I just need to be patient. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a serious issue. I'm not waiting on test results or someone else's answer. I'm just waiting for someone to finish a job so that I can finish mine and have a nice neat pile of "done"

What do you find yourself waiting for today?


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Sparking Saturday - Electrobloom

Today I want to share something with you that just makes me smile.

Electrobloom is the brainchild of Mark Bloomfield and is one of the best uses of 3D printing I've seen.


You see! How can these not make you smile?!

Mark has an MA (RCA) and is a trained jeweller. Alongside this, he has a strong interest in science and technology. It's that element that makes the "blooms" stand out. They have a simple line elegance that is particular to scientific diagrams - DNA helix and chemical structures - but that line is beautifully bold and being 3D allows for texture.

Mark's genius lies not only in eye-catching design but in enabling the customer to make the jewellery truly individual by making the charms interchangeable. You can match your wardrobe, express your mood, make a statement or just give your playful side free rein.

The Electrobloom site is hours of interactive fun and allows you to manipulate the charm in 3D space, changing the colour and petal formulation until you find something that is perfectly "you"..

If you wish to see more, go to flickr stream which is full of amazing and inspiring images.

Today is a day to go and play and be creative.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Downtime Knitting

Some of you may remember that I mentioned an event in June. On the 21st June I got married. We started with a registry office ceremony for the legal element which was followed by us gathering in a local wood with our family and friends for a pagan handfasting.

The handfasting was a wonderful ceremony and was the highlight of our day filled with lots of amazing memories.

We made beautiful quarter staffs to represent Earth, Air, Fire and Water

Now whilst this is all very nice, I know you're really here for the knitting.I wanted to keep the quarters as a memento of the day but they take up a fair amount of space that we just don't have at home. So I came up with a solution.

I pulled the ribbons off the quarter staffs and then, having put them in a bag, pulled them out at random and knitted them on 12mm needles.

There's no rules with this knitting just 27 stitches (21 + 6 = our wedding date) in garter stitch. I love how the different types, thickness and quality of ribbons work together and how they interact. There are some really interesting textures created by this kind of work.

We will have a beautiful wall hanging, filled with good vibes and wonderful memories from our special day.


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Sparking Saturday - Justine Nettleton.

Today I want to feature the work of Justine Nettleton, an artist based in Nottingham/Derbyshire, who creates beautifully vibrant paintings and jewellery.

Justine explains her inspiration -

I moved to Long Eaton, Nottingham in 2003 and began making a daily bike ride around West Park to keep fit and unwind. I quickly realised that the park can be the most beautiful place in the world. Throughout the year the colours and light change on a daily basis. The shapes and shadows vary as the seasons progress.

This inspiration is evident in her work

A stunning landscape with a true sense of scale 

Justine works in acrylics to create striking colours that nudge against each other. In the example above from the "Wollaton Park 2012"series,  the stark contrast within the snowscape, produces some really interesting negative spaces that invite you into the piece.

Justine's studio space.

Of course this talented woman doesn't just produce incredible canvases. She also takes her large scale paintings as inspiration for a range of gifts including cards and pieces of jewellry.

As with Justine's canvases, the minimalist images have a sense of quiet space and peace. This line is quite rightly called Art You Wear and is an eye catching line of jewellery as well as mini paintings/cards.

If you wish to see more of Justine's full sized canvases, then I urge you to visit her site to appreciate the wide range of light inspired works.


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Rome Wasn't Built in Day

This week I've been mostly working on a sweater for my next designer step.

It's a design that I love knitting and one that you've seen before. This design is called "Roman" and is one of my favourites because of the elongated stitch which gives the sweater an open texture.

This works really well in all different weights of yarn but I'm particularly fond of chunky and aran weight. It gives them an extra twist and really makes the stitch pop. If the yarn looks familiar then you get a gold star observant reader. It's the lovely "Clotted Cream" I bought from Sheepfold and it is knitting up like a dream.

Remember the sweater name, you may hear it again.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013


This morning I had a wonderful parcel in the post.

 I bet you can't guess what is in the box!

I've been ordering yarn for my line of finished garments. Sheepfold is a wonderful shop that is committed to supplying British yarn and particularly fibre from rare breeds. I love the quality of the product and it's perfect for my mens wear collection. Of course knitting a heavy yarn in this heat may be regarded as madness but to me it's knitting something I love in yarn that is glorious so allow me this insanity. You know you'll love the results.


Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sparking Saturday - Dovecot Tapestry Studio

I love colour. I get really giddy when I see a range of yarns in a the shades of the rainbow and start to think of the endless combinations. So imagine my excitement when I discovered Dovecot Tapestry Studio.

The studio is a light, airy place - the perfect place to create - and look at all those lovely yarns.

From very traditional roots, the studio came back from the threat of closure in 2000 and went on to celebrate it's centenary last year.  It's founding weavers came from the William Morris’ Merton Abbey Workshops in Wimbledon, London, famous for trail blazing patterns and designs within the Arts and Crafts movement and that ethos of care and pride within craftsmanship is still present  in the work today. The commitment to passing on knowledge and preserving techniques is evident from the apprenticeship scheme they run. But this is not a studio trapped in the past of it's heritage. This is a studio that spearheads the new.

A light and airy working space.

These are weavers that work to create stunning, contemporary pieces of art. This piece is based on a painting called Large Tree Group by Victoria Crowe and uses undyed, British yarn.

These are pieces of art in their own right. A true celebrations of yarn, technique and heritage but within a  contemporary setting. I love work that embraces traditional methods but that applies a modern context to them. It keeps the heritage alive and adds to it's story.

For more images and information on their lively programme of events, go to the Dovecot Tapestry Studio site.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Starting Again.

Well, the samples arrived at the studio and seemed to meet with the approval of Emily (the boss). Now we just have to see what potential clients think.

However, I am now starting to plan for the next set of samples.

I'm still working with the same theme as before and focusing on menswear but with different images. Would you like to see?

Interesting angles.


The repetitious nature of these windows is perfect for pattern construction.

There are some really interesting angles here which will be challenging to interpret into stitches and angles. I see a lot of potential for  textures to come together and move away from each other. This won't be done with cables but with increases and decreases,  Different textures rubbing up against each other and some construction interest.

This is just the starting point but there is a lot of exciting potential in these images - although I try and keep my samples away from literal translation. There may even be some sneaky peaks of them as I knit. No promises but maybe.