Tag Archives: etsy

Where am I? instalment 1

How cryptic…I guess this is a double-edged post so I’ll write in two parts: firstly, I’ll explain my quietness over the last few months and lead you neatly to instalment 2…

After such great intentions about writing a blog, I haven’t managed to achieve what I aspired to – which was regular and entertaining or informative posts. I’d love to pretend I was totally on top of my social media output and that it was a breeze to keep up. But in fact, being of a generation who’ve had to sort of get used to this sort of stuff, I’ve found it’s slipped to the bottom of the task pile some days when in fact it should have been at the top. So, I’m going to try and be better. I’ve also been having something of a business re-jig: I participated in a couple of craft markets in September and when I displayed my knitted wares, I thought that something was missing….couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I wasn’t happy with how things looked. Luckily for me, my dear friend Jacqueline Curry was visiting me from Australia at the time, and she was kind enough to agree to give me a brutal and honest critique. Jacky is a really talented woven textile designer for InStyle textiles in Sydney: she comes over for London Design Festival and totally has her finger on the pulse. You can see her discussing some of her designs here.

So, we went along my display and literally did “yes/no” for each product. With Jacky’s help, I agreed to jettison some items that are not as current, and we were left with a much more coherent range of colours and pieces. My next task was to create a display for the foyer at my studio complex – here it is: do you think it looks like a ‘together’ range now?

Here is a little collage of my display at the Chocolate Factory's foyer (I am usually only to be found upstairs!) during October 2015.

Here is a little collage of my display at the Chocolate Factory’s foyer (I am usually only to be found upstairs!) during October 2015.

IMG_0798 IMG_0799 IMG_0800

You might notice I’ve got some natty new green boxes now, as well. They are from a brilliant company called SelfPackaging who are based in Barcelona, but their service is so speedy they might as well be based down the road! They have an amazing range of flat-packed boxes available to choose from, so do check them out if you need to create interesting packages for your own goods or for gifts.

IMG_0972 IMG_0956  IMG_0967IMG_0966 IMG_0969IMG_0968 IMG_0975   sale colours!!

So now that I have had something of a purge, I have also been able to make a big sale section in my Etsy shops: I’ve almost finished listing the sale pieces in Cheese at Fourpence, and Lord and Taft will follow next. These pieces are all perfect (unless stated as “samples”) so it’s a good time to get a pre-Christmas bargain (oh no, I went and said it, didn’t I?)

Right – if you want to know what’s come next, then stay tuned for instalment 2, coming next…


The lure of a new season

So it’s July, and I’m making fluffy winter hats. Maybe it’s a little deranged, it’s certainly a hot business, but there’s method in this madness. You see, the warm, wool-free summer months are the best time to devise and make a new winter collection. Not only do you have the luxury of feeling you have time to play, to experiment and get things wrong (because nobody needs to actually wear this stuff yet, right?, I’m looking at you, English summers!) but it feels exciting to be using a new selection of materials, colour combinations, textures and fibres. In case you are wondering about my process, it starts with a lot of trend research. A little snooping and being a flaneur in the right parts of town. And a degree of gut feeling. Twice a year, I will treat myself to the new issue of Textile View magazine, which I have used for years. It’s a textile nerd’s delight and probably dull as dishwater to anyone looking over my shoulder and seeing  photos of squares of fabric and linear fashion doodles. But to me, it’s like breaking news. I love it, and I spend days poring over it, absorbing the new season’s feel so that I really understand it before I go on.  Then, I’ll look in edgy stores and I’ll people watch in the East End, Brixton, or wherever a new vibe seems to be going on, and I’ll make notes on any new street trends I can see. Finally, I’ll come back to the studio and start gathering yarns, colour chips, images and swatches. I’ll doodle and sketch before playing about on my needles, hooks and machines to produce some samples. Then tweaking goes on for a bit, before I decide whether to put a design into my shop or not. This coming season, there are 4 main stories, only one of which I don’t think I’ll use much. It’s pale and neutral and doesn’t really suit my work much.     There’s a bright story, full of unexpected yarn combinations, like sheer striped with thick and chunky, and with blocky, graphic colours, some of which haven’t been round for a while (I really like that emerald green). So far, my work on this one has yielded thoughts about geometric patterned knitted ties, colour work crochet purses, 80s Memphis-type patterns knitted into socks and bags, and busy patterned scarves. I’m enjoying playing about with these ideas.       There’s also a very wearable country-tweed with a twist story, that knits fine yarns together to produce subtly-changing shadowy stripes. I’ve done some pieces like this before, and I’m adding in more texture this time, to keep it fresh. The colours of peacock, grass green and gold are really new and lovely to combine. I’m still at the early stages with this story but it feels like it will inspire some new colour combinations.               Finally, my favourite story is season has to be the ‘interesting darks’ theme. Maybe it’s the old Goth in me but I am so happy when colors you can’t quite define come into vogue like this: a plum shot with deep violet, a greeny-black that is as rich as a beetle shell, a dark grey petrol…Within this theme there is the idea of adding a toot of metallic or glitter somewhere. Just a touch, mind, nothing ostentatious. When paired with the fluffy, furry and feathery textures that are also in fashion, this is intriguing, as the glint of metals iridescence peeps out at irregular intervals. I’ve been gathering yarns for this theme, and am leaning towards fluffy hats, snoods and big cosy scarves, all with a hint of shine somewhere. It’s fun combining yarns I wouldnt have paired before, and I am even using some of my archive Italian yarns from the 1990s, which seem to suit this look so well. I’ll add photos of the new finished pieces to my gallery page as they are complete, and they will be in my shops by the start of September. Just in time for the really early bird shoppers! So you see, it’s not so mad after all to be knitting warm hats in July….

In praise of purple

Purple has always figured large in my family. It’s been my favourite colour since I was a child, and my maternal grandmother was completely obsessed with it. So much so that she would go to her weekly bingo nights dressed in an extravagant range of hues from lilac to deep violet (occasionally bordering on gaudy) but we loved her for her refusal to dress like an old lady, something she kept up until she was very old indeed. By the way, she never won at the bingo, due to her refusal to admit she needed to wear her hearing aid….

Last week would have been her birthday. I have a ritual of buying purple flowers for her on the day; they were in short supply this year for some reason, but I managed to find a sweet-scented hyacinth. She would have liked that. And I love coming into the living room in the morning and inhaling the soft perfume.


As I’ve got older, I still treasure purple. But I’ve refined my preferences to a particular area of the purple spectrum: towards blue rather then red, with my absolute favourite being that almost Yves Klein [link takes you to Tate website] violet/ultramarine hue. Funnily enough I don’t often wear purple, but I just love looking  at it.

According to the colour theorist and psychologist Faber Birren, in his work Colour and Human Response [1978], to show a preference for purple as your favourite colour indicates that you are “sensitive and have above-average taste. While vanity may be involved, the purple lovers have unusual endowments, are fond of all the arts, of philosophy, the ballet, symphony, and other such refined pursuits. They may be temperamental, but easy to live with if one is accepted by them. They carefully avoid the mores sordid and vulgar aspects of life and have high ideas for themselves and for everyone else- but to their standards.” Now, I’m not going to pretend that either my grandmother or myself spent a lot of time engaging in “the ballet” or “symphony and other such refined pursuits”. But I’ll take some of the other insights!

On the other hand, Birren says that to dislike purple indicates “difficulty separating spiritual qualities in others from that which is wordly” and people who dislike purple are “enemies of pretense [sic], vanity, conceit, and will readily disparage things cultural, which to them may be purely artificial”. I’d prefer to view Birren’s analyses of colour preference as something to be taken with a pinch of salt (as indeed, he also seems to) – but it’s nice to hear that purple is associated with the arts, at any rate!

Did you know that the origin of the word purple is Purpura, a mollusc that was used to dye purple cloth in ancient times, and one whose dye was very highly valued.

Purple is one of the few colours that has a similar message across many cultures: purple does tend to signify royalty, richness and empire, and sometimes piety. It has absolutely no sense of frugality or restraint about it. It’s associated with silks, satins, velvets and tulles. If you want a rustic hairshirt, look elsewhere.

There’s probably never been a time when I didn’t use violet or purple in my work, and I have to actually restrain myself from always gravitating towards it in a yarn shop. Here are some recent impulse purchases – notice a theme?


sized for toddlers age 1 to 3, all cotton

from top: sized for 6-12 months, 0-6 months, 1 to 3 years, all cotton: from my Cheese at Fourpence Etsy shop

So I was very happy to see that British Vogue are touting purple as one of their key trends for spring summer 2015. The perfect excuse to indulge myself in working with my favourite! Here are a few recent pieces I’ve made that are influenced by this trend and also the trend for geisha/kimono designs. I’m in the process of adding them to my online shops and I’ll be at craft fairs with them in the next few months, details to come soon.


I think my dog shares my love of purple: she singled this skein of yarn out for some naughty play when I was out recently…

Oh yes, one last violet indulgence for you: if you want the complete violet experience, seek out Penhaligons’ Violetta perfume, which is the absolute essence of Parma Violets.  Some might call it “a bit old lady” but when I think about the particular old lady it reminds me of, I’m proud to wear it.