Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Malabrigo lace love...

I was lucky enough, a few weeks ago, to have bought a skein of Malabrigo lace in the colourway Cinnabar (though I would describe is as terra cotta) on sale! I've used this yarn before and immediately fell in love with its softness, so you can understand how happy I was to have found this stunning colour on sale! It will be perfect for autumn, and although the British weather has finally (!!!) decided it is summer after all, I reckon you can't prepare too early for the change of the seasons! Besides, I've chosen to crochet a cowl in granny stitch, which in lace weight yarn will take me forever to finish anyway, by which time the British 'summer' will be long gone! I have yet to decide if I'm making this for myself or to put up for sale in my Etsy shop, but I have a feeling it will be a present for me! 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

bioRe cotton: organic, ethical and fairtrade

Debbie Bliss yarns are known by most knitters, are found in most of the yarn shops I've been to but although I've used various yarns such as cashmerino, I've never really looked into its origins. But as I was looking for organic cottons, it was mentioned on one website (www.texere-yarns.co.uk) that the Debbie Bliss Fairtrade range used cotton obtained from the bioRe textile chain. I had never heard of this (and it's also not mentioned on the ball band!), so I looked it up and was pleasantly surprised to find a company with a very interesting philosophy!

Quoted from their website (http://www.remei.ch/en/biore-philosophy/)

"Remei AG established the bioRe® Foundation in 1997 with the goal, to strengthen farmer families by means of organic farming and to improve their living conditions. The bioRe® Foundation is the umbrella organisation of a unique value chain originating from the cotton companies in India and Tanzania.
bioRe® India Ltd. and bioRe® Tanzania Ltd. cooperate directly with more than 8,000 bioRe® farmers. Farmers are treated as partners receiving agricultural advice and support.
Organic farming enables farmers to build up agricultural production on a sound basis giving them increasingly stable income without the need to take out loans for expensive chemicals.
This makes farmers less vulnerable financially. bioRe® India supports farmers by means of both a guarantee to purchase their organic cotton and payment of a premium on the local market price."

There is a lot more information on the website.

Luck would have it that the Debbie Bliss Eco Aran (part of this range) was on sale so I bought a few balls and have made some lovely dishcloths, using probably the most traditional design in the world. There's some traditions you just can't beat! The cotton is also dyed with non-toxic dyes in recyclable water. 

I've loved knitting with this yarn, it's incredibly soft! The only negative point I could make is that the yarn splits quite easily. But that was quickly overshadowed by the softness and the amazing colours. Plus knowing that this cotton is pretty much as sustainable and ethical as it gets (of course other than reusing yarn) probably added to my enjoyment. However, I do find it strange that this information about bioRe is not on the ball band or the Debbie Bliss website. I would've thought they'd be proud to be using ethical and sustainable cotton and that the bioRe Foundation would get more exposure. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Exhibition: Heatherwick Studio in the Victoria and Albert Museum

Living in the great city of London means that there is always something to see and do. The frustration when you know this, and you don't find the time to go see and do all these things, can be huge. But this Monday I managed to make some time and my best friend and I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum to go see Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary. The Studio is probably best known to the general public for their design of the UK pavilion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, the Seed Cathedral (image below). 

When entering the exhibition I said: "but this is only one room!" In the end, I am glad it was only one room, as we managed to just about get through all the content 5 minutes before closing time, leaving me just enough time to purchase the book before the shops were cordoned off by the staff waiting for us to leave!

So you guessed it, I was very impressed with the exhibition! Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures, but here's a video link from the V&A channel: 


I was familiar with a few of the projects, having seen them in various design magazines, but there was a lot that was new to me, in particular projects from Thomas Heatherwick's student days. It looks like over time the studio has moved more and more into the field of architecture and urban design. One of the aspects I enjoyed most about this exhibition was that there was a real focus on concept and thought process, on materiality and craftsmanship, through experimental models and images. On occasion I liked the concept better than the end product!  

And as I am not able to show any photographs, you have until the 30th of September to visit and see for yourself! 

As for my next visit: Barbican here I come!! Bauhaus: Art as life will be there until August (though I hope to visit in the next couple of weeks).

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Learning new techniques: macrame!

My friend at work is a very talented girl in many areas. She's a brilliant painter, makes bags with applique fabric, beads and sequins, and also she makes incredible macrame necklaces and bracelets. The other day she made me a necklace (see below) for my birthday. She made it in a hurry and, no offence to her and I absolutely love the necklace, her other necklaces are much more complicated and intricate. 

She had brought her other necklaces to work before, after we'd been talking about handmade work, and I thought it was about time that I asked her to teach me how to do macrame! So last night I went to her house, where she has boxes full of thread, beads, stones and more, it was like a treasure trove! She uses a waxed synthetic thread, which was a bit hard for me to get used to, being used to knitting with natural materials. I chose a burgundy red thread to work with, because, if I was actually successful in making a decent looking item, it would match a dress that I've not worn in a while. I've only just starting experimenting with the basics, but here's my first attempts. The thread is a lot darker than displayed in the pictures. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Let's go to the market!

Ok so spring has decided to skip London, and it's still raining and cold (despite the fact that England is suffering a drought, yes I know the irony!) However, I've been stubbornly creating things for spring and summer regardless of the weather! My shopping bags are of course suitable for every season, but during the spring and summer visits to the farmer's markets are much more appealing. Now I just have to find one in my area! In an area dominated by the major supermarkets Sainsbury's and Morrisons, and Tesco is under construction (they only got planning permission because they are building homes and a sports centre) and Polish supermarkets it's going to be a tough task and I may just have look a bit further outside my local area. It's not a farmer's market but maybe Brixton market is going to be my next stop! 

The yellow and orange bags are made of linen (the same linen as my feather and fan scarves) and the last one is made of this amazing Peruvian organic, fairtrade, naturally coloured cotton called Pakucho that I found the other day in Loop in Angel. It's very soft! The bags can be found in my Etsy shop:


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

It's been a while...

As you may have noticed, I'm not used to keeping a regular blog yet. What do I write? Does anyone care? Should I write about personal things? Should I keep things strictly focused on my work? I guess the answer is: it's completely up to me! I can write about absolutely anything! Most people probably figured this out years ago when they started their blogs, but this is still a little awkward for me, sharing words and thoughts and images with the world.

So, what's been happening? Well, we've had our one week of summer in March, and now it's freezing cold again (even if the sun is shining, it's very deceptive!!) But I tried to make the most of that one week in our local park (of course accompanied by my knitting bag) which has some beautiful areas, I should take some photos next time! Living in South London means that I'm surrounded by huge areas of greenery. Both Streatham Common and Tooting Bec Common are in close walking distance of my flat, so that makes up a little for the lack of outdoors space in my flat. But I'm growing more and more jealous of those people that have even just a little balcony to grow some flowers/herbs/veg... I can't even grow anything on my window sill as my windows open outwards and would knock everything over.

I've also painted my kitchen, with much help from my boyfriend, and it now has one bright wall in a burnt orange colour (Charlotte's Locks by Farrow and Ball) and grey skirting boards. It looks great! All I need now is a nice piece of art to break up this bright wall! I hope to take some pictures soon! This is only the beginning of my decorating, I've been hating the peach feature walls of my flat since we moved in, but time and money are always the issue...

Of course I've been knitting too. My orange linen scarf is ready and listed on Etsy and Folksy.


I have also made a few string bags in linen, which have yet to be photographed. And the baby blanket I wrote about before is also finished and waiting to be photographed.  So I have been busy and I'm hoping to update this post with photos very soon!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Done and listed!

I have finally finished, blocked and listed my linen scarf! It has actually turned out a little longer than anticipated, but I love it that way! Plus it's quite wide so you can wear it like a shawl or wrap. It just means that maybe shorter people might want to take some of the length off.. Anyway here are the pictures! Let me know what you think! I've already started another one in orange...