english girl at home

A Crafty Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Indigo & Logwood Dyed Silk Dress & One Year One Outfit Thoughts

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

I realised that I hadn’t written a wrap-up post about my experience of participating in #1year1outfit during 2015. It’s partly because using British fibres has seeped into my making (particularly my knitting) to such an extent that it doesn’t feel like there is an end point. However, I thought I should acknowledge the impact that Nicki’s project has had on my making and also highlight that One Year One Outfit is taking place again in 2016 if you’d like to participate.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

At the start of 2015 I was just beginning to explore British wools in my knitting and the use of natural dyes (as part of my own #naturallydyedwardrobe project), so One Year One Outfit tied in perfectly with my own growing interest in local fibres and materials. However, without One Year One Outfit I never would have fallen quite so fast and far down the rabbit hole.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

The project led me to really question and explore exactly what fabrics and fibres are produced in Britain; the results of that search – so far – are compiled here, and I’m continuing to add more resources as I discover them. Exploring currently available British textiles also led me to give greater consideration to the historic textile industry, both to celebrate the beautiful things produced and the skill required to produce them, but also to be aware of the conditions many of these textiles were produced under. In Britain that included child labour, serious health risks for workers, long hours for low pay, and exploitation of the Empire.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

As a result of participating in the project I’ve produced a number of knitted and sewn garments and accessories (you can see them all here), and it also inspired two articles I wrote for Seamwork magazine profiling British companies: TOFT and Cluny Lace. Most recently I visited the wonderful Ernest Wright & Son in Sheffield (I’m holding their pink 8″ scissors in some of these photos), who I’ll be blogging about soon.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

Not all of the garments I made as part of the project were 100% British (for example I used commercial thread), but the important thing to me is that it made me consciously think through what I was using and where it was produced; something I want to be increasingly true of all of my making.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

The dress is these photos is my latest One Year One Outfit make. It is made with British organic silk from Majestic Textiles. I dyed the top portion of the dress with logwood chips, which were gifted to me by a member of my Weavers, Spinners and Dyers’ Guild. The bottom portion of the dress is dyed with indigo from Fabric Treasury. The pattern is my own Lou Lou Dress, view C. I was rather lax cutting this slippery silk so the lines of the dress are a little wibbly, but I love it all the same.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

For anyone interested in exploring British fibres in their own making there is a huge variety of wool (and sheep, mills, dyers, farmers & designers) to explore. Regardless of your chosen craft (knitter, sewer, embroiderer, weaver, etc.) there are British wool products to try. But British fibres don’t stop with wool, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with British silk, lace, linen, and haberdashery supplies, including scissors, needles, pincushions, and buttons. I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can find in 2016.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

My list of British fibre, fabric & haberdashery suppliers is available here.

All of my #1year1outfit posts are available here.

In these photos I’m wearing the following items which meet my #1year1outfit pledge:

Dress: Lou Lou Dress in Organic British Silk naturally dyed with indigo and logwood
CardiganHancock in Blacker Yarns Lyonesse, in Rose Quartz
Socks: TOFT Bed Socks in TOFT DK, in Oatmeal (naturally dyed with turmeric)
ScarfPianissimo in John Arbon Textiles’ Viola Yarn, in Fern
Scissors: Ernest Wright & Son 8″ Scissors in pink
Brooch: Frilly Industries Spool of Thread Brooch

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit


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Lesley in John Arbon Merino

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

This is my second project from Home & Away by Hannah Fettig (Knitbot), the Lesley sweater. This pattern is the cover star of Home & Away, and the photos of it included in the book are stunning.

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I loved the pattern as soon as I saw it. It’s a great basic which goes with everything. It’s also a straightforward knit, and thanks to the aran weight yarn, knits up really quickly. Kirsten knit her Lesley sweater in one week! I wasn’t that quick, but it didn’t take me much longer.

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I received the yarn for my Lesley as a Christmas present from my Mom and Dad, it’s John Arbon Textiles’ organic Falklands Merino. It makes for a lovely soft sweater. I have one skein of yarn (plus a little bit) left over which I might use to make a hat – probably one of the gorgeous hats from the Autumn 2015 issue of Pom Pom. According to the patterns I won’t have quite enough yarn, but I’m going to chance it and see how I get on!

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I’m wearing my sweater here with a Pianissimo scarf (also in a John Arbon yarn! This is Viola in the Fern colourway), and Stork Scissors by Birmingham-based Frilly Industries.

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I swatched for this sweater on Christmas day, and would have started knitting but didn’t have the correct size circular needles for the ribbing – bad planning on my part. I went into Birmingham on Boxing Day to buy needles and cast on that evening. I was very happy with House of Fraser who were open and had the needles I needed – and not happy with John Lewis who were closed altogether. How is a person supposed to start their #boxingdaycaston!

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

These photos were taken out-and-about in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade (Gillian, I’m listening! #betterpicturesproject). It’s a beautiful arcade with great indie shops but you wouldn’t really know from these photos as you can’t see much of it – I blame the camera man;) One of the most enjoyable film screenings I ever attended was held in the Great Western Arcade as part of Flatpack Festival (p.s. if you’re local, this year’s festival starts 19th April). It was a screening of Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last!, it took place in March when it should have been warm enough for a screening in the arcade, but that day it was very cold and snowed. Note that the arcade is open to the outdoors at both ends. The organisers were fantastic and provided us each with a blanket and cup of tea, along with popcorn and chocolates. Such a fun evening.

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I’m finishing up a few small knitting projects currently but looking forward to casting on another sweater/cardigan soon!

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn


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Not So Successful Marigold Dyeing

Natural Dyeing with Marigolds

As mentioned back in March, marigold was one of the plants I decided to grow from seed last year to use for natural dyeing. However, I bought quite a few of my dye plant seeds from the local garden centre, as opposed to a shop specialising in seeds for dye plants such as Wild Colours. As a result the marigold seeds I brought were a French variety (pictured above in the garden), although I didn’t realise that was a problem at the time (or, to be honest, even notice until I went back to check recently)…

Natural Dyeing with Marigolds

In order to build up a sufficient stock of flower heads, I cut them as they flowered and stored them in the freezer. My mom also donated some flower heads from her garden to help increase my supply.

Natural Dyeing with Marigolds

I used an approximately 1:1 ratio (equal weight) of flower heads to fabric. I heated the flower heads in a pan of water, raising the temperature to 70-80ºC, and then adding pre-wetted fabrics and retaining the temperature for one hour. I left the fabric to soak in the pan for an hour before rinsing; finally I gave the fabric a proper wash. Before dyeing, my fabric had been pre-mordanted using the methods previously described in this post.

Natural Dyeing with Marigolds

So, I was expecting shades of yellow and brown. I achieved no colour whatsoever on a selection of cotton fabrics, but the marigold dyed the silk swatches below a range of pale purples! Not what I was expecting at all. (All of the silk swatches are from Minerva Crafts and I have some more successful results to show with their natural fibre fabrics soon).

Silk Naturally Dyed with Marigold Flowers

I do like the resulting colours, even though they were unexpected and I wouldn’t try to repeat them.

Silk Naturally Dyed with Marigold Flowers

This year I’ve bought seeds specifically for dye plants from Wild Colours – I’ve purchased Dyers Coreopsis, Woad, Weld, and Dyers Chamomile. Although natural dyeing always has an element of unpredictability I’m unlikely to get such unexpected results with those seeds.

Silk Naturally Dyed with Marigold Flowers

Silk Naturally Dyed with Marigold Flowers


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Coat Ogling

Max Mara Coats Book

It’s getting pretty cold here in the UK, and during January it’s Coat Month on IndieSew and Fancy Tiger Crafts are hosting a coat sew-along. Regardless, I’m resisting the urge to sew a coat as I don’t really need a new one (not that I normally let that interfere with my sewing plans), but that hasn’t stopped me from ogling outerwear.

I found this lovely book of Max Mara coats in the library at work. The book was published to accompany a travelling exhibition and features some gorgeous coats from Max Mara’s history, from its founding in the 50s until the 2000s.

If you’re also resisting coat making, one of these might just push you over the edge.

Max Mara Coats Book: F/W 1992-1993

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book

Max Mara Coats Book


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Midlands Sewcialists

Midlands Sewcialists

I realised recently that I’m attending the local Weavers, Spinners, & Dyers Guild, and the Embroiderers’ Guild monthly, but I don’t meet with other local sewists nearly that often.

In order to change that I’m suggesting having a regular catch-up in the diary once a month. Given that setting aside a whole day can be difficult, I’m thinking one evening a month (roughly 6pm-9pm) to chat and (optionally) eat/drink/craft/swap. Everyone is welcome.

To get the ball rolling, I’m proposing that the first two dates are Tuesday 26th January, and Friday 26th February. The January get together will take place in Birmingham City Centre (I’m suggesting The Stable if that sounds ok to everyone), but we can vary the location in future.

In order for everyone to have an idea of roughly who/how many people can make it I’ve created a basic poll. Add your name & tick the dates you’re planning to attend. If your plans change you can alter your selection. The poll can be found here: http://doodle.com/poll/eemuhrm2kkcuncbw

P.S. Rachel is organising meet-ups to Leicester Market on 06th Feb, and to the Birmingham Hobbycrafts show in March.


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Hancock in Lyonesse

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Inspired by Gillian’s Better Pictures Project, and Katie’s guest post in particular, I photographed this recent knitting project indoors. However, I was paranoid the photos would be too dark (it was a grey day) so there is a mixture of indoor and outdoor photos below!

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

This is the Hancock pattern from Home & Away by Hannah Fettig, also known as Knitbot. I ordered the book straight after it was published (self published by Hannah) and love it. It contains eight cardigan/jumper patterns (plus one hat), which can be knitted flat or in the round. The book also contains some great general knitting tutorials, such as gauge, blocking, and weaving in ends. Plus it’s a beautiful book.

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

I knitted Hancock in the round, using the smallest pattern size. The yarn I used is Blacker Yarns Lyonesse 4-ply in colour Rose Quartz. Lyonesse is a blend of linen and Falkland Island Corriedale/Merino wool. Blacker Yarns refer to Lyonesse as their ‘summer range’, and the inclusion of linen in the yarn means it is lightweight and relatively summery. However I’m still wearing it this winter over long sleeve dresses / tops.

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

You can see Hancock is relatively short (this is accurately shown in the pattern photos) and I considered lengthening it, but ultimately followed the pattern without any changes. I’ve found it the perfect length to pair with a dress or high waisted skirt or trousers, but it’s worth bearing in mind if/when knitting it.

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

The pattern is an open cardigan without any fastenings. I’ve been intending to buy a shawl pin (as every knitter surely ends up knitting shawls, despite previously never knowing that you needed one!) and think that Hancock would also look good pinned closed when I want a bit of extra warmth.

Hancock is a straightforward knit, if relatively time consuming (at least for a slow knitter like me) due to the use of 4-ply yarn.

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

I’m classing this as one of my #1year1outfit projects since it is made with a yarn produced by British mill Blacker Yarns, using Falkland wool (it’s unclear from the Blacker Yarns website where the linen was sourced). Given that my 2015 One Year One Outfit pledge already allowed me to use fibre from the entirely of the UK, I might be pushing it by also including Falkland wool. However, BritYarn’s definition of British includes overseas territories, and that’s good enough for me!

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

I’m just in the process of blocking another completed project from Home & Away which I’ll be blogging soon.

P.S. If you’re on Ravelry you can find me here.


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British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

My second article for Seamwork magazine was published in their December issue.

The article is a profile of Cluny Lace, the only remaining company in the UK making leaver’s lace using traditional leavers and jacquard machinery, which was also designed and built in Nottingham.

Cluny Lace is a family-run business, and has been in the family for 9 generations. Cluny are based in Ilkeston, near Nottingham where lace-making was historically the dominant industry, employing a third of the city’s working population.

Lace produced by Cluny Lace is frequently used by couture and pret-a-porter design houses, and the company regularly post examples to their Facebook page.

You can read my full Seamwork article here, or download the magazine from the Seamwork website.

I was very lucky to be provided with some pieces of lace by Cluny following my visit.

British Made Lace by Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

British Made Lace by Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

I finally bit the bullet and cut into the lace, plus some organic British silk from Majestic Textiles, to make the Savannah Camisole from Seamwork.

Madder Dyeing

Prior to constructing the camisole I dyed both the (cotton) lace and silk using madder. Before dyeing, both textiles had been pre-mordanted using the methods previously described in this post, although mordanting isn’t strictly necessary with madder. I used a madder extract purchased from Wild Colours, and also followed their instructions for using the extract (one of a number of natural dye recipes on their website). Madder extract is very easy to use; following the Wild Colours guide I simply made a paste with 10g of powdered madder and added this to a pan of water on the hob. After adding my pre-wetted textiles I raised the temperature to 60° C and kept it there for 60 minutes. I left the textiles in the pan overnight, before rinsing and then washing them in the washing machine on a low heat.

Madder Dyeing

I decided to make the Savannah camisole mainly based on Sarai’s gorgeous version and because the pattern features lace.

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

I made up a test version in cotton before cutting into my silk and got a good fit by grading between a 0 at the bust and 2 at the waist and hips. However, I think I stretched out the neckline through handling this silk version as it ended up too wide; I addressed the issue by gathering the neckline to achieve the required width.

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

I sewed the sides of the cami on my machine using french-seams, but sewed everything else by hand. The only changes I made to the pattern were cutting the shoulder straps to the required length (as opposed to creating adjustable straps using bra rings and sliders) and slightly altering the application of the lace due to the width of the lace I used.
British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

The cami is one of my #1year1outfit projects. It’s not strictly 100% British, but I’d say it is close enough;) The lace is made with Egyptian cotton and is finished (washed / dyed) in France, but is woven in the UK. I also used standard Gutterman thread to make it – I do have some Irish linen thread, but I didn’t have any in an appropriate colour. The silk is from Majestic Textiles, a silk farm in Hertfordshire. I ordered the silk direct but they mainly sell by the bolt so a shorter length incurs a cutting charge, as well as a standard UP postage charge of £11. With those costs added on the silk worked out at £17.50 per metre. Botanical Inks stock a couple of styles of silk produced by Majestic Textiles and allow online ordering.

The silk handles well during sewing and doesn’t mind being washed in the machine, but you can see it seriously holds a crease.

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

Cluny Lace mainly sell direct to design houses, but you can purchase small quantities of their lace via a number of UK stockists, who mainly stock lace trims. Magic Round About Vintage clearly state which of their lace trims and fabrics are produced by Cluny in the UK. Little Trimmings and The Ribbon Girl are also stockists, but their website are less clear which laces are made in the UK. You can also buy direct from Blue Riband in Kent or Kleins in London.

A few photos of the Cluny Lace factory which weren’t included in the Seamwork article are below.

P.S. let me know if you have some suggestions for great patterns for the rest of my Cluny Lace. I’m thinking the wider lace would look great on the Papercut Clover dress bust panel.

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

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