english girl at home

A Crafty Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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A Naturally Dyed Wardrobe: Turmeric

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

I recently dyed a range of yarns, some cotton, and my recently completed knitted socks, with turmeric.

In preparation, I tied the loops of yarns in a number of places, and then soaked the yarn, fabric and socks in cold water so that they would take the dye better.

I made a paste with a full jar of ground turmeric from the supermarket (approx 45g), and placed this and my yarn and cotton in a large stainless steel pot with enough water to cover everything.

Turmeric dyeing in progress

I heated the pan on the hob on a low temperature for one hour. As I was more cautious about my socks I added these for the last 30 minutes only.

I did stir the pan occasionally to try and ensure the colour would be even, but didn’t stir excessively as I was wary about the wool items felting.

After an hour I turned off the heat, but left the items in the pan for another couple of hours, after which I rinsed the items with a mild wool wash, and left them to dry.

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

The yarns I started with were all white or off-white. The yarns used (shown from left to right below) were:

♥ Fingering-weight synthetic yarn with glitter and sequins

♥ 100% cotton (Rowan handknit cotton)

♥ 75% merino / 20% silk / 5% cashmere DK (Sublime)

♥ 100% wool DK (TOFT Alpaca, in Oatmeal)

♥ 100% merino wool chunky (Rowan Big Wool)

Yarn prepared for dyeing

You can see the range of yellows I achieved below. The cotton fabric and yarn (on the left) are the lightest, the synthetic yarn (top) and merino/silk/cashmere blend (centre) are a medium shade, and the 100% wool yarns and socks achieved the darkest shades.

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

Turmeric is a substantive dye, so I dyed these without mordanting my yarn / fabric. However, turmeric is reported to fade easily, so if you’re dyeing something that you plan to wash, it would be best to mordant. I wasn’t concerned because I’m planning to use the yarn in a weaving, and if the colour of the socks fades I’ll redye them.

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

Turmeric Dyes Wool Socks

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

Turmeric Dyed Yarns


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RTW Shirt Love & Elsewhere

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

It’s been a while since I got excited about RTW, but I’m madly in love with this shirt from The African Shirt Company. It’s from their Core Range, in print Blue Lagoon.

The African Shirt Company’s shirts are made in the village of Kiteghe in south-western Kenya. The company was designed to provide an alternative source of income for villagers, and has so far employed a small number of local women. The company also supports a local reforestation project, with a donation made with each sale.

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

The shirts are made by hand using foot pedalled sewing machines, without electricity or running water, and ironed using a charcoal iron.

The fabric used is kanga, a traditional East African fabric which dates back to the 19th century. The label attached to the shirt recommends dipping it in the ocean (or cold salt water) to set the colour!

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

As much as I love making as much as my clothing as possible, I also like making an exception for something as special as this shirt. Buying mass produced RTW from a mall, knowing that it has been produced unsustainably, isn’t exciting. But when you know where your clothing was produced and who made it it can be! I love knowing that this shirt has travelled to me from the village of  Kiteghe, and that it was constructed on a treadle sewing machine.

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

Having bought very little RTW clothing recently, I think I’m going to start buying more RTW, from sustainable companies. I strongly believe that you need to support and invest in the things you care about, and independent sustainable fashion and accessory companies need support if they are going to thrive.

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

Elsewhere

♥ I love the Purl Bee Gathered Skirt for all Ages tutorial.

♥ These Found Paper Memo Books are adorable – each book is made up of various pages of found paper. Plus they have scissors on the front;)

♥ The Spring WestKnits Scarf KAL is now in progress. 2-3 scarf patterns will be revealed each Friday, but I already know that I MUST knit Unicorn Parallelograms.

♥ The latest issue of Pom Pom Quarterly has just been released; I’m considering a subscription… They Pom Pom team also produce a Pomcast (podcast).

♥ There’s a cool event taking place in Hoxton, London on Saturday June 13th. #GRANDFEST2015 will feature a number of people over the age of 70 running free master classes in traditional skills like knitting, jam making, and brewing in cafes and shops around Hoxton Square.

♥ TRAID will be presenting & selling a collection by designer Alex Noble produced with refashioned textiles. The Traidremade collection will be on sale from a pop-up shop at 2 Berwick Street, SoHo, London between May 22 – June 14 2015. Profits will be used to fund the purchase of birth certificates for the children of Bangladeshi garment workers, allowing them to be recognised as citizens.

♥ The latest episode of BBC podcast In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg, focuses on the Cotton Famine in Lancashire from 1861-65. This followed the blockade of Confederate Southern ports during the American Civil War which stopped the flow of cotton into mills in Britain, leading to starvation, mass unemployment and migration. Dramatic stuff!


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Copenhagen – Shopping & Sightseeing

Before our holiday to Copenhagen becomes a distant memory, I wanted to tell you about some great shops we found, and share a few favourite photos of the trip.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Phil thought that he’d been conned, as our hotel happened to be located directly opposite a haberdashery (not planned in advance – honest)! Stof 2000 is a chain store, which you’ll find across Scandinavia. They stock a decent range of sewing and knitting supplies, including fabric, patterns, wool and haberdashery items (e.g. knitting needles, sewing supplies).

Copenhagen, Denmark

The road our hotel was located on (Vesterbrogade, just past Tivoli) also included a STOFF & STIL store (a chain store haberdashery with A LOT of fabric and sewing patterns), and a small yarn shop, Therese Garn.

I won’t even try to list all of the homeware stores in Copenhagen, there are tons, but I’d recommend a trip to Retro Villa, which has an amazing selection of vintage wallpapers (sold by the metre), as well as some nice accessories for the home. I treated myself to a couple of wallpaper off-cuts which I’m planning to get framed (although I’m not entirely sure where I’ll hang then, as wall space is in pretty short supply).

Copenhagen, Denmark

I’ve posted previously about the Fashion & Textile exhibit at the Danish Museum of Art & Design, which I’d recommend to all sewists / fashion lovers. The National Museum of Denmark also has tons to see, including a very cool toy section – with a street of dolls houses.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Of course, you have to visit Tivoli when in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen, Denmark

And I’d highly recommend the Natural History Museum of Denmark, which houses a Diplodocus skeleton, amongst lots of other fascinating things.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

While staying in Copenhagen, me and Phil caught the train into Sweden, and briefly visited Malmo and Lund.

I loved the Form/Design Center in Malmo. The centre has an exhibition space, cafe, and stunning shop. The high street also houses numerous homeware stores.

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

We also visited Malmöhus Castle, which houses a number of museums, of these don’t miss Malmö Art Museum, and I also liked the toy exhibit.

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Lund has a gorgeous little yarn shop, Slandan, which sells some great quality yarns, including their own, unlabelled, skeins. I picked up some Icelandic Alafosslopi yarn from chain craft store Panduro Hobby, which is located a few doors down from Slandan.

Lund, Sweden

Lund, Sweden

Now I’m wondering when we can go back:) A trip to Berlin is next for us though, as we’ve booked to go for a week in July. Any yarn/fabric shop recommendations in advance?

Copenhagen, Denmark


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Fashion & Fabric at Copenhagen Design Museum

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

While on holiday in Copenhagen, me and Phil visited the Danish Museum of Art & Design. Phil hadn’t realised beforehand that the museum has a permanent fashion and textiles exhibit;p

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

The exhibition includes an interesting mixture of clothing and accessories, from the 18th century to the present day, from the Museum’s permanent collection, with a focus on Danish fashion. I’ll leave you to enjoy some photos from the exhibition.

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark


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Cacti Clémence Skirt in Copenhagen

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

A few weeks ago, me and Phil visited Copenhagen for a few nights. While there, I took the opportunity to get a few photos of this Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt. These photos were taken in the Christianshavn neighbourhood, close to Noma (regularly selected as one of the best restaurants in the world); not that we were eating there, we ate smørrebrød at a nearby (much cheaper) cafe.

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

The fabric is chambray from my stash, originally purchased from Barry’s. I doodled a cacti design on the front of my skirt using fabric pens from Ikea. I was going to lino print the design but went with fabric pens as a lazy / way faster option. Next time, I might lino print the outline and then fill-in the coloured sections with fabric pens; I always find printing multi-coloured images with lino blocks a bit frustrating as I never manage to line-up the separate colours perfectly.

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

I actually made the skirt months ago, but it’s been cold so it’s stayed in the wardrobe until recently. The Clémence Skirt is one of the patterns in Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch. It’s a simple gathered skirt so the book includes instructions to construct the skirt based on your measurements, rather than a paper pattern. It’s dead easy.

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

This skirt goes with most tops in my wardrobe, so I’ll start putting it to use now that the weather is (sort of) warming up. Using solid coloured fabrics is so practical, it’s just not as exciting at the fabric shopping stage. In fact, even when I did make a solid-coloured skirt I ended up doodling on it. Whoops…

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark


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Knitted Socks for #1year1outfit

TOFT DK Oatmeal Bed Socks

Have you seen This is Moonlight’s One Year One Outfit challenge?

I’m in, and these socks are my first make; they are made using the TOFT Alpaca Bed Socks pattern, and TOFT’s DK wool in Oatmeal. I used approximately 80g of a 100g ball. The last 20g is probably going to be used for weaving as I can’t think of anything else small enough.

The #1year1outfit challenge is to make clothing out of locally produced and sourced fabrics or fibres. The challenge is inspired by Rebecca Burgess’ Fibershed project, which began when she decided to source the fibres and dyes for a year’s clothing within a 150 mile radius.

Nicki from This is Moonlight, has set herself the goal of creating an outfit using natural fibres sourced in southwest Western Australia, within a 500km radius of her home. She’s also planning to buy no new fabric that doesn’t meet this requirement.

TOFT DK Oatmeal Bed Socks

Personally, I want to make an outfit made from fibres/fabrics produced in the UK. That gives me a very generous radius, but given that the UK is relatively small I think that’s ok;) I’m starting close to home, as TOFT Alpaca who produced this wool are located only 43 miles from my home.

I’m thinking a jumper with Hole & Sons wool (if I can get hold of some of their next batch) would be a good #1year1outfit addition (they are based approx 179 miles from my home). Harris Tweed is the only fabric I’m aware of that is produced wholly in the UK, so that’s on my #1year1outfit list. Is anyone aware of any other fabric? I’ve also found a local branch of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers who meet monthly, where I’m hoping to pick up some tips.

TOFT DK Oatmeal Bed Socks


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Happy Me-Made-May

Malmo, Sweden

Happy Me-Made-May! This will be my second year taking part. I’m planning to wear something me-made everyday.

I’m not yet at a point with my handmade wardrobe where I can wear only handmade, but during May I’m going to try & pair my me-made clothing with clothing which I’ve purchased second hand, or which is from a sustainable clothing company (I’ve just ordered a shirt from the African Shirt Company that I’m excited to receive).

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