Category Archives: textiles

shop update: pouches!

In the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival, my friend Lorna of Chookiebirdie and I hatched a plan to work on a small collaboration- I would make some of my regular pouches and she would work her magic on them, embroidering with wool felt and threads in her own charming style. I left the design up to her but, as the base fabric was a dark, heathered blue-brown reminiscent of the sea and seaweeds of West Scotland, we discussed the idea of a sea creature of some kind… we hoped that they’d capture the hearts of knitters attending the festival and they certainly did- her oystercatchers (an iconic bird found on Scottish coasts in the warmer months) had such life and character that they found homes in the first ten minutes of the show! So, when the opportunity to exhibit at Pomfest came, we thought it was time to make more of those beautiful pouches for me to take along! And, because I know that not everyone can go to Pomfest, I held back a small number for the shop  : )

Lorna made more Oystercatchers…

Oystercatcher Pouch

Oystercatcher Pouch

as well as exclusive Pompom heart pouches to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pompom magazine…

Pompom hearts for Pomfest!

Pompom hearts for Pomfest!

and used the wee knitting foxes from her much-loved badges on others…

Wee knitting foxes!

Wee knitting foxes!

and combined birds and flowers for these- perfect for a Chookiebirdie-woollenflower collaboration, aren’t they?

Bird and Flower Pouch

Bird and flower pouch

I also have a handful of my own, unadorned pouches going into the shop too…

A classic herringbone in silver/ charcoal

Beautifully subtle salmon/ oatmeal

A warm and joyous blue

Shades of heather from a 1970’s Scottish skirt

As you can see on the sky-blue and charcoal pouches, I’ve used tweed from jacket fronts that have darts in them… for a long time, I stored these pieces, assuming that people would not want seam lines on their pouches and wondering what I could do with them. And then, talking to Lorna, I discovered that she didn’t think that seams were a problem, that people may in fact feel that the seams told more of the story of the jacket as origin… I hadn’t thought of that! That is such a good example of why working with others is so important- it’s just so easy to become fixed in the way we see things, isn’t it?

All the pouches are now in the shop for a sneak peak and will be available at 9pm Glasgow-time tomorrow, Sunday July 30. Enjoy and many thanks for your interest in my work!

(A brief word on pricing… Lorna’s pouches are a very special bunch and the price reflects the fact that they incorporate both her handwork and my sewing. And I have been holding off on increasing the price of my pouches but, after hikes in the cost of materials, such as zips and lining, I’ve had to push it up a bit. I hope that you understand and that it doesn’t make them too exclusive- I’m increasingly aware of the fact that certain corners of the knitting community can be a bit intimidating to those with less income so please do get in touch if you desperately want one but are not able to afford it- I’d be very happy to discuss a trade of some kind!)

shop update

It’s been a while between drinks but I’ve made some pouches for the shop! The update  will be tomorrow, Saturday April 8 at 3pm Glasgow-time, but they’re already loaded in the shop in case you feel like having a leisurely browse beforehand : )

As always, I got a kick out of choosing fabrics that work together and there is quite a bit of Harris Tweed in this batch, as well as the last of the teal camper van cushion covers and a couple of other colourways…

Pouches!

Scottish wool in oatmeal/ berry from my friend Lorna of Chookiebirdie

Harris Tweed in sage green/ straw

Tobacco/ rust/ oatmeal

Harris Tweed in tobacco/ rust/ oatmeal

If you’re in the market, I hope you get the one you like! Thank you as always for your enthusiasm and support xx

coming home: an old maiden aunt collaboration

Last June an email from Lilith of Old Maiden Aunt dropped into my inbox about the making of a book to celebrate the tenth year of her business. I was super excited for her but, as I opened the email, wondered why she was contacting me about it… We are friends and have had some lovely chats about dyeing and running a small business but I didn’t know what I might have to offer such a project… and then she came to it- would I act as her pattern model for the book?

I have to say, my gut clenched slightly as I read this and the rest of the email! As any regular readers will know, I very rarely post photos of myself, either here on or on my Instagram feed, and get very nervous standing up in front of a group to talk or teach. I push myself on this because part of my job is teaching and I love sharing skills but it is an ongoing challenge for me! When it comes down to it, I’ve realised that it’s not that I’m particularly camera-shy but more that having everyones’s eyes on me provokes real anxiety for me… and I knew that taking this on would challenge all that. (And, let’s be honest, challenge my vanity too!)

But I really wanted to be part of such an amazing project! And to have the chance to work with not only Lilith and Jeni (who knows my deal and, over the course of photographing a few patterns for me, has worked out how to put me at ease!) but all the other amazing women who had gathered around Lilith for the project: designers Anna Maltz, Ysolda Teague, Kristen Kapur, Rachel Coopey, Lorna Reid, Felix Ford and Bristol Ivy, essayist Clara Parkes and book-makers Amelia Hodson and Nic Vowles… How often do so many talented women come together?! I feel so lucky to be able to have a small business, to be able to make my own work and shape my year as I like, but I really do miss working with other people and these kinds of collaborations are becoming more and more important to me… did I really want to let my own thoughts of whether I looked ridiculous get in the way of being part of this wonderful undertaking?!

Lilith reassured me that she was after a very relaxed look for the book and, as I thought about it, I began to trust that, if Jeni thought she could get what she needed from me, I’d take the leap and see it as a chance to explore and learn- and, after all, a weekend in a cottage in the forests of Dumfries with friends and a dog was a major enticement…

Lilith, Amelia and Jeni all did a beautiful job at putting me at ease, making me laugh in between shots and discretely looking the other way when I was trying to relax my face out of a grimace! It was a joy to work with them and I think we were all aware just how rare that kind of time is, to be working with friends and colleagues in such a beautiful setting and on such a heartfelt project.

Lilith realising I really didn’t have any idea how to put on my own makeup ; )

Amelia working her production editor magic in the Dumfries woods

Lilith giving me a lesson on how not to look ridiculous leaning against a tree

And I’m so glad I did take that leap. So often we hold back from doing things because of the anticipation of things going somehow horribly wrong and this is the perfect example of that… and yet such a huge amount of joy was had that weekend (and since) that all that anxiety has faded into the background! And look at the beautiful shots that Jeni made:

Felix’s Mountain Time mitts and flowering quinces

The perfect setting for Anna’s beautiful Bounnet

All the colours in the landscape picked up in Ysolda’s Inchgarvie shawl

Bristol Ivy’s beautiful Canadee-i-o cowl made me feel like I was on a shoot for a Rowan magazine!

Lilith is launching Coming Home at this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival but you can see all the designs on Ravelry and preorder your copy via Lilith’s shop. It’s a real beauty of a book and I’m so pleased to have played a small role in its making… thank you so much, Lilith, for including me in this lovely group of women (and giving me a gentle nudge to do something I never thought I could) and huge congratulations on 10 years of your business!

winter solstice raffle

It’s well into winter here in Glasgow and the shortest day of the year is upon us…

Grasses

The sun rose this morning at 8.44 and will have set by 4 and, even when it’s up, the sky is often heavy with rain, such a contrast to the warmth and light we’ve just been soaking up on a brief trip home to Melbourne! It was SO lovely to be among family and friends and a powerful reminder of how incredibly lucky we are to so be loved and supported, of how much we have in our lives… We said hello to our lovely wee house and the family enjoying living in it, walked our regular routes and some new ones, ate at our favourite places (yet to find any good Middle Eastern or Japanese restaurants here!) and soaked up the birdsong, the golden bright light and the smell of eucalypts.

Back here in Scotland, we are settling into our second winter here and, this time, embracing the slower rhythm of winter with a bit more knowledge of the long, dark months and how to get through them…  I do love the dark and cold but struggled a bit with just how long and dark it was last year! Friends say that exercise, vitamin D, good company, blankets and other warm woollies, candles and lights and just embracing the need to achieve less and sleep more all help to make winter more fun. I’ll let you know how I go and whether I turn into a hibernating bear as much as I did last year ; )

Today is my birthday and, after the year that we’ve all had, my birthday wish was for a little bit of peace and good news in the world. Instead, I was deeply saddened to wake up to news of more violence, this time in Germany and Turkey, knowing that both events have the potential to further fuel racial hatred. More and more, like so many others, I am finding myself reaching out, scrabbling, wishing I could do something, anything, to make a difference. I know what is happening in the world is so much bigger than me, than any of us, but I want to use the resources I have, humble though they are, to do something. So I am holding a small raffle in the hope of raising money for those who are far less fortunate than Scotto and I and most people we know.

How will it work? I’m offering up 3 pouches made from a very understated Harris Tweed but lined with bright, cheerful cotton, an unexpected burst of colour and joy when the zip is opened, something we all need when times are dark!

Pouch in oatmeal/ lichen Harris Tweed

Pouch in oatmeal/ lichen Harris Tweed

Pouch in oatmeal/ lichen Harris Tweed

I’ll draw three winners from a hat on December 28 and send them each a pouch as a post-festive/ end-of-year treat! To go into the draw to win one, I just ask that, in the spirit of humanity and kindness, you make a contribution to a humanitarian aid organisation- I’m suggesting Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres or Oxfam for the incredibly important work they are doing  with Syrian refugees but please let me know if there is another group that you know of who does good work! The raffle is open to all countries and there is no minimum donation but please give as much as you can afford. I’m not going to ask for proof of donation but instead will rely on honesty! All you need to do is leave a comment here or on my Instagram feed to let me know who you decided to donate to and you’ll be in the hat on Dec 28. Good luck and huge thanks for any support you can give!

last shop update for the year

Just a quick heads up that I’ll be updating the shop with some pouches, cowls and plant-dyed yarns tomorrow, Sunday November 20 at 8pm Glasgow time! Below is a sneak peek but you can also preview all items in the shop now if you’d like a bit of time to have a good look.

Pouch made from dressmaking scraps

Pouch made from dressmaking scraps

Shetland Pine Cowl in Flannel/Bokhara

Shetland Pine Cowl in Flannel/Bokhara

Plant-dyed baby alpaca/ linen/ silk

Plant-dyed baby alpaca/ linen/ silk

Plant-dyed kid mohair/ silk

Plant-dyed kid mohair/ silk

I’m heading back to Australia for a fortnight on Thursday so all orders received by 9pm Wednesday will be sent before I leave, in plenty of time for Christmas post!

Please feel free to email me if you’d like to discuss yarn colours (always difficult to assess on a computer screen!), combining postage or other issues…

Huge thanks to all of you for your interest in and support of my work this year, whether dyeing and making, knitting, travelling or plant-hunting- I really appreciate it and would like to wish you a happy and peaceful end to the year xx