Craig Lawrence

One of the benefits of being a friend of the V&A is that you are invited to various members only events.  Last night I attended a talk by Craig Lawrence, a young knitwear designer who uses unusual materials and techniques to create garments that are somewhere between high fashion and art.

Barrier tape!

As a boy Craig was taught to knit by his Grandmother and he developed his technique at Central St Martin’s and whilst working with Gareth Pugh.  He said he liked knitwear because he found the process of creating the fabric for a garment adds a dimension which would otherwise be missing.  Originally he eschewed the use of traditional yarn because of the cost and started to look out for interesting materials he could use instead. He found pound shops and DIY stores could supply him with black bin liners and barrier tape; anything so long as it came in a long strand.

Many of the garment he knits are made on knitting machines but others are made by hand using extraordinarily fat needles.  Some garments are made using a loop stitch and it will take up to 20 minutes to pull each loop through to get the right texture.

Selfridges window – apparently the model was tipped like this to give emphasis to the mitts which were for sale!




He has exhibited in Japan and Hong Kong as well as London and has dress Lady Gaga, Bjork and Tilda Swinton.

I love that the V&A supports young designers like this and gives them a platform to display their work.  Craig’s garments are beautiful, innovative and inspiring; full of light and movement as if they have a life of their own.



Crow Waltzing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few weeks ago I needed a quick project to see me through a barren week, I had just finished a cardigan (well finished the knitting still trying to work out what I am going to do button wise) and had ordered some yarn for my next project but had nothing to knit in the mean time. I happened to be passing Loop (as you do!) and found the pattern for the crow waltz scarf , a couple of hanks of Old Maiden Aunt and I had the perfect filler-in project.

The pattern is for either a rectangular scarf or a triangular shawl, I’m more of a scarf person so I went for that option but decided on using the same brown/purple colour way as the pattern gives for the shawl. Old Maiden Aunt is fabulous stuff, I made a small scarf out of a hank a couple of years ago and during this cold winter it has been my constant companion. My only complaint is that I find it a bit splitty and was constantly having to check my stitch count to ensure I wasn’t adding in stitches by accident. The two colours I used have the fabulous names of Hebridean and Derelict Daughter.

Juju Vail at Loop designed the pattern and chose the colourways; I have often admired her garments in the past. This one has a very pretty lace edge (the crow waltz) a few rows in a simple garter stitch interspersed with an eyelet row and then the bulk of the scarf is knitted in a basket weave stitch using the two colours to produce a lovely soft tweedy texture.

It took rather longer to knit than I had hoped. In part because I kept getting distracted – what with moving and sewing and all the other stuff life has thrown up in the last few weeks I haven’t really had much time for knitting.

I love my scarf, it’s perfect for these cold days (is spring ever going to come?). More details can be found on Ravelry.

Christmas Knitting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the lovely present I received at Christmas was a ball of Freia Ombre sport yarn and the radiance shawlette pattern from KnitWhits. This proved to be the perfect Christmas project, knitting up very quickly in a simple to remember leafy lace pattern.

The finished scarf is quite small but that’s perfect for me as I like to wrap it around my neck on a cold day but not have the bulk of a full sized shawl.

I finished it on New Year’s Eve and then took a few days to block it and sew in the ends. I love small projects; they are so satisfying!

The “C” Word

Sorry to be mentioning this so early, it’s really not my fault, all the blame should go to the lovely Gilly at  Knit and Yarn who held a Christmas Balls workshop today.

The balls were easy to knit; starting was a little fiddly but no more complicated than starting a sock toe.  I used 2.5mm DPNs and a small amount of sock yarn. It is stuffed with a polystyrene ball and finished with a little bell.

Whilst this was a quick project I can see I have built a rod for my own back as one on its own looks a little lonely. Fortunately I have Arne and Carlos‘s book to guide me in making some more.

In other news I took a trip to Brighton earlier this week primarily to have lunch at Terre a Terre (so good and don’t worry if, like me, you aren’t a vegetarian I promise you won’t miss the meat). Whilst walking around the Laines I spotted this fabulous knitted ferris wheel in the window of a cafe.

A few knitting bits and pieces

For some reason this year has been a bit slow on the knitting front. Last November I started a summer cardigan which I had planned to wear during my trip to New Zealand in February. Progress has been very slow, so slow in fact that not only did I not wear it during the antipodean summer but I also didn’t wear it during the UK summer. In fact I only finished it last week (well almost finished it still needs some buttons).

The pattern is Gabriela and comes from Whisper by Kim Hargreaves. The lacey, cabled stitch was remarkably simple to remember and it should have come together very quickly. I think the reason it took so long is that I don’t really like knitting with cotton, I find it a bit tough on my hands and prefer the elasticity of wool. The yarn I used was Rowan Siena and the colour is Tandoori (although it looks very unlike any Tandoori I have ever seen). I think this will grow on me and I will probably get quite a lot of use out of it. At present I’m just feeling a bit fed up with it because it took so long to knit.

After the cardigan I needed a quick and simple project to get me back in the swing of knitting again so I picked up my Toft Alpaca Giant Bulb bag kit. I had seen this kit for sale several times but it was only last year, at a show in London that I got around to buying it. Toft not only make lovely yarn but they also make very stylish patterns, they apparently only sell items they would use or wear themselves which I think gives them the edge on other specialist yarn manufacturers.

The bag is knitted on 20mm(!) circular needles. There usually isn’t much call for 20mm needles and shops don’t often stock them so my lovely friend Gilly at Knit and Yarn ordered me a set from Addi. Unfortunately I broke these about a third of the way into the project, so Gilly lent me her set. These also broke but by then I had mended the first pair with some superglue so all was not lost.

I have finished the knitting but now need to sew the handle onto the bag and then felt it. I am not sure how my washing machine is going to feel about this.

Having my knitting mojo back I then started a third project. This is the Netherton Cardigan shown on the front cover of the first issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. It’s proving to be a very simple and quick; I’ve almost finished the body despite only starting on Wednesday. The entire cardigan is knitted in one piece starting at the top and working down. Most of it is stocking stitch but it has nice detailing around the bottom, on the ribs, the button bands and raglan shaping. There is the option of putting buttons at the bottom, as shown in the picture, or at the top, which most people on Ravelry have opted for. I have decided to go for buttons at the bottom

My original plan was to knit this in a Rowan yarn but for some reason they don’t have any decent reds in their range. Debbie Bliss makes a lovely red in her Rialto yarn but I decided this was too solid. In the end I opted for Shilasdair Luxury DK (the yarn recommended in the magazine) in Rowan Berry. The website doesn’t really do justice to the feel and depth of colour in this yarn (but then what website does?). The red I selected is very subtly mottled with shades of Autumn. I don’t really go for self-striping or hand-painted yarns much but I do like a bit of flecking or dappling. At 300m in 100g I only needed 3 hanks for this project which struck me as being a bit of a bargain.

It feels as if we are moving towards Autumn at present; we’ve had some pretty atrocious weather in the last couple of weeks (and also some nice days). September reminds me of the new school year and seems a good time to start to pick up knitting again. I don’t want to hurry the winter in but I am looking forward to needing a good woolly jumper again soon.

Knitting and what’s on my needles

Jane suddenly realised that she had written all these blog posts but nowhere mentioned knitting.  “How can that be?” she mused, after all knitting had been a passion for most of her life. A misspent youth had involved lots of late nights wrestling with the intricacies of cables, lace, intarsia and fair isle. As she got older her knitting pattern library and wool stash grew and grew along with the sweaters, until she was force to move house.  More recently her knitting heros included Ysolda, Kate and Kim and she was finding she spent more time on Ravelry than any other website.

OK, you get the picture.

This is a dress I am very proud of.  Kaffe Fasset (another hero!) produced something very similar in last winter’s Rowan magazine.  His dress however was huge, even the smallest size would have given me 10 inches of ease around the chest.  Also I didn’t think the collar on his dress was very flattering.  The colours were lovely but the pattern looks as if it would be a pig to follow (I like simple things where you can get the rhythm and not have to refer back to the pattern too often).  Also I wasn’t sure I could cope with stranding three colours of yarn.  I was taught to knit by a Swede so I knit Viking style (yarn in my left hand) but can also knit English style (yarn in my right hand) so stranded knits in two colours are easy as I keep the yarns separate by holding them in different hands.

Anyway to make the dress I used exactly the same colours as the Kaffe Fasset dress (it’s the colours he always does so well) but reworked the pattern so it was much simpler; only using a max of two colours in any one row and making the pattern repeats more regular.

I knit the whole thing in the round, starting from the top and knitting downwards so I could try it on as I went.  I worked out my tension and then worked out my circumference every two inches down my body and using these figures calculated the number of stitches I would need at any one time.

I finished by cutting down the centre (which had been steeked) and adding the collar you can see.  The hems on the sleeves and at the bottom have a picot edging and an extra inch or so was turned under to stop the fabric from curling up.

It’s a lovely, cosy dress and I’ve worn it a lot this winter.

So what’s on my needles now?

Well this cropped cardigan from Kim Hargreaves called Gabriella. I am making it in pink and am hoping it will be finished for the summer.