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.


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Sparking Saturday - Nicola Crocker.

This week I joined twitter. I've resisted for a long time but I realised I need it for work. Not only is it an immediate promotional tool but it's also excellent at allowing me to discover other incredible designers and makers.

So I've decided to introduce "Sparking Saturday" - a chance for me to share something exciting I've discovered. It won't always be yarn related but there will be an element within the work that I really enjoy or find inspiring. Hopefully it will spark something in you too.

So first up is Nicola Crocker - a ceramics artist based in North Devon.

I completely fell in love with Nicola's pieces the moment I saw them. I also love her inspiration source -

  I am inspired by the coastline and surrounding environment in North Devon. Interested in the nature of the clay; the forms I can produce from it, the colours and how the two can work together. I enjoy the making process as well as seeing how people respond to my work.

What I love most about Nicola's work is how beautifully she captures the North Devon coastline, To make something that recreates that texture is a real skill but the creative element is in harnessing the spirit of that environment. 

These pieces are North Devon.  But it's not just in the texture of the pieces, Nicola also uses glazes with flair. The colours are subtle but with flashes of intensity - much like sunlight dancing on the sea. I see these colours and can almost smell the tang of warm salty water.

These are pieces begging to be held and interacted with much like the coastline of North Devon. You want to sit by the sea and be close to the soothing power of water, whilst at the same time wanting to dive head first into the surf and feel it's raw, tempestuous energy. How can you not feel inspired by these ceramics?

If Nicola's work has inspired you, then I urge you to visit her site for more information.



Wednesday, 3 July 2013

No Rest for The Wicked

I can only assume I've been very naughty in a previous life!

I've started working with the new studio, so I'm in the midst of sample production. The owner is off to New York next week so I'm trying to get things together for her to take with her.

There's a nice collection of samples currently blocking which gave me the ideal opportunity to take some shots. Fancy a look?

Movement is a definite theme within this collection.

As ever with this kind of work, I have to keep the images vague so it doesn't compromise them when selling to clients, however, there's a hint of what I've been up to.

I know I'm a terrible tease but if I like to be busy and there really is no rest for the wicked.