english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

On Thursday, I booked a day off work to visit The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.

I made a little video of my favourite stands and what I bought, which you can view here:

I was there to help out on the stand of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers in the afternoon. Before that I managed to have a look around and a shop, and during the day I also manged to run into lots of friends. All in all, a very nice day off work!

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

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Slow Stitch: A Book Review

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

I recently received a copy of Claire Wellesley-Smith’s beautiful new book Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art. It’s an absolutely gorgeous book from outside in, with a suitably tactile cover. Given the synergy of the book with Slotober, I thought it’d post a short review and some pictures before the month is up.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Claire is a textile artist based in Bradford and the book contains images of her own textile work, the community projects she has been involved in, and her thoughts and reflections on the slow movement and it’s relevance to her work.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Alongside her own projects, Claire celebrates textile arts and hand stitching by profiling a number of contemporary textile artists whose work is in keeping with the slow textiles movement. Each artist profile includes photos and a description of one work by the artist. A section entitled cross-cultural activity profiles a number of textile traditions, such as boro, kantha and mending, illustrated by beautiful examples of each tradition.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

The book is not structured in the format of many craft books, where a large section of the book is dedicated to projects. Instead a more thematic structure is adopted, but with project ideas jotted throughout. There are a number of relatively detailed tutorials included in the book, including solar dyeing threads, log cabin piecing, and creating and maintaining a stitch diary. Alongside the detailed tutorials, the book contains lots of suggestions for techniques readers may wish to explore such as allowing textiles to weather outside, reusing textiles from past projects, sun bleaching, and collecting and reusing locally sourced materials to create a record of a time and place.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Anyone who is interested in slow textiles, natural dyeing and hand sewing will enjoy this book. The book doesn’t contain a large number of tutorials, so don’t buy this book expecting to be taught how to employ all of the techniques it covers, such as mending, boro, hand-stitching, etc. Instead the book aims to inspire readers to engage with the slow textile movement and explore some of the techniques covered for themselves.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Although I’ve been closely following Slotober, I haven’t actively been participating. I have however been plotting and, inspired by Slow Stitch, I am planning to naturally dye some linen thread which was made in Ireland (pictured above). Once I have a few different colours of thread i’m hoping to attempt some hand stitching, which I plan to incorporate in a #1year1outfit garment. That project will take me well beyond October, but in the short term I’m also planning some mending. I have a lovely British wool jumper, purchased from a vintage kilo sale recently, which is full of holes that I can’t wait to darn!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Slow Stitch in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own.


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British Fibres and Fabrics – a #1year1outfit Update

Brigantia Mittens by Victoria Magnus in Wendy Ramsdale

My productive knitting stretch continues. I’ve recently cast on the Brigantia mittens by Victoria Magnus, which feature colour work and cables. I’m new to colour work and these mittens are a fairly simple project to start learning, but I’ve still managed to make a few errors. I suspect mitten number two, may be a lot more polished than mitten number one!

Wendy Ramsdale Wool Yarn in Malham and Hawes

I’m knitting them in the new Wendy Ramsdale yarn, supplied by Little Lamb Wool, a family-run yarn shop in North Yorkshire. Ramsdale is a DK weight yarn in ten colours, each named after a Yorkshire market town. I’m using the Malham and Hawes shades, which I think are a great match for the Brigantia pattern.

Brigantia Mittens by Victoria Magnus in Wendy Ramsdale

Ramsdale is a single ply yarn and has a really ‘wooly’ feel, with a slight fuzzy halo. I’m really enjoying knitting with it.

It is spun from 100% pure British wool, which is grown, spun and dyed in Yorkshire, local to Little Lamb Wool, where my skeins came from.

Brigantia Mittens by Victoria Magnus in Wendy Ramsdale

I’ve become a bit obsessed with knitting with British wool, as a result of taking part in Nicki’s One Year One Outfit project, and listening to the KnitBritish podcast. I’ve completed three #1year1outfit projects so far, socks (which I later dyed), gloves and a scarf (as yet unblogged). These mittens will be my fourth project. So far I’ve focused on accessories, but I have plans to knit a cardigan and a jumper, and to sew some clothing soon too.

As a result of #1year1outfit, I’ve spent some time researching British fibres and fabrics and thought it would be useful to share my findings. If you’re aware of any interesting resources I’ve missed please do share.

British Wool

Britain has a long history of woolen fabric production, so the majority of British fabric I have been able to locate is wool.

A brilliant source of information on British wool products (fabric, yarn, and just about everything else) is Woolsack, which was created by Sue Blacker. Woolsack can also be found on Ravelry. The Woolsack list of British wool fabric stockists is located here. The British Wool Marketing Board website also provides a list of British companies producing wool fabrics.

Fabric

A number of the British companies producing fabric don’t sell direct to consumers and/or online. Some that do are listed below:

London Cloth Company – London-based micro-mill specialising in weaving to order, but with cloth also available via the meterage

Dashing Tweeds – London-based (menswear) company/store with a range of British wool fabrics

Harris Tweed and Knitwear – Family company producing a range of Harris Tweed cloth and products

Harris Tweed Hebrides – Wide selection of tweeds

Hebridean Wool House – Tweeds made with wool from hebridean sheep (listed under ‘tweed products’)

Robert Noble – Established in 1666, and now producing cloth at a Scottish mill

Ardalanish – A range of tweeds woven using 100% pure new Hebridean, Manx and Shetland wool

Shawbost Weavers – Harris Tweed – Catherine weaves single width (75cm) Harris Tweed by traditional methods on a Hattersley loom. She sells via her Facebook page. It’s approximately £17.50 per metre; payment is via paypal.

The following online fabric shops are also good sources of British wool fabrics. You may need to request further information about a specific product to confirm that it is 100% British (e.g. British wool and woven/dyed in the UK).

MacCullock & Wallis – A number of fabrics in the Wool Fabrics section are listed as made in the UK. You’ll need to select individual items to find out, although you’ll definitely be ok with the Harris Tweeds:)

Croft Mill – Croft Mill allow you to view products under a ‘British Fabric‘ heading – yay

Merchant & Mills – A number of fabrics in the Wool & Tweed section are listed as made in the UK. You’ll need to select individual items to find out.

Herts Specialist Fabrics stock a range of British wool fabric, including undyed wool suitable for home dyeing.

Wendy Ramsdale Wool Yarn in Malham and Hawes

Yarn

There are a wide range of UK companies producing British wool yarns. The online store BritYarn is a  great place to shop for them, since it only sells wool which is 100% British grown. I’d also particularly recommend Blacker YarnsJamieson & SmithJohn Arbon, and local-to-me TOFT. For an extensive list see Woolsack.

I’ve also learned loads about British wool from the KnitBritish blog and podcast.

British Silk

Organic Silks in London produce a range of peace silks. I was tipped off to this by Steely Seamstress, who has already dyed and made a top with some of their silk. To order, you need to email them to confirm a price, and can then pay by card over the phone.

British Linen

Herts Specialist Fabrics stock Irish linen fabric and threads, as well as British wool and damask fabrics.

Lace

Cluny Lace have been producing lace in Ilkeston for nine generations. They mainly sell direct to design houses, but you can purchase small quantities of their lace via a number of stockists, who mainly sell lace trims. Magic Round About Vintage clearly list 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. The lace is made with Egyptian cotton and is finished (washed / dyed) in France, but is woven in the UK on historical Leavers Lace machines.

Haberdashery Supplies

Irish linen thread is availble from Herts Specialist Fabrics.

Pewter Buttons stock a range of historical-inspired buttons made in the UK with English pewter.

John James stock a wide range of needles for sewing and weaving.

Ernest Wright and Son is a family company making scissors and shears in Sheffield since 1902.

Beyond Measure stock a range of British-made haberdashery items, including buttons, wooden items by Hugh Leishman, and leather goods by Awl Co.

Disclaimer: I was provided with two free skeins of yarn by Little Lamb Wool; all opinions expressed are my own.


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Fabric Revolution

Fabric Revolution Logo

Partly inspired by Fashion Revolution, I’ve become more conscious about how and where the fabric I buy is made. Just as Fashion Revolution challenges us to be curious and ask clothing companies who made our clothes, I’ve been asking some of my favourite fabric companies about the production of their fabrics. The information I have received so far is below (listed alphabetically by company). I’ll add to this post when I receive additional information & please do comment / get in touch if you can add more.

Previous thoughts from me on why it’s important to think about how our fabric is made here. Offset Warehouse deserve a mention, as an online fabric store which provides lots of information in their fabric listings, including country of manufacture, eco credentials and accreditors.

You may also be interested in my post about British fabric producers (including British wool, silk and lace fabrics).

Art Gallery Fabrics
The cotton for the majority of Art Gallery fabrics is grown in the USA, Brazil and China, weaving is done in South Korea or China, and dying and printing in South Korea.

Art Gallery work with mills in South Korea which are public companies and have tight security measures to make sure the products they produce comply with all the local and international laws.

All the dyes and inks that we use are ecologically safe and have been tested and passed all the safety requirements required by international regulators.

Atelier Brunette
Atelier Brunette fabrics are designed in France and produced in India – the cotton is grown in India, and weaving and printing takes place in India. Atelier Brunette have chosen to work in India due to the quality of Indian cotton and a personal connection with the country.

Cloud9
Cloud9 Fabrics are produced in India, using only 100% certified organic cotton in the manufacturing of our base cloths and eco-responsible low impact dyes for printing and dying. We work closely with mills that are committed to ethical and responsible conduct.

More information is available on the Cloud9 website FAQ page.

Cotton + Steel
Cotton + Steel fabrics are designed in the US and produced in Japan. The About page of the Cotton + Steel website includes a video showing the production process in detail.

Free Spirit
Free Spirit quilting cottons are printed in Korea, and woven goods are made in India.

Liberty
The cotton used to produce Liberty Tana Lawn is all grown in Egypt, woven in different locations across Europe, and printed in Italy. Crepe de Chine and Georgette fabrics are printed in Italy.

Marimekko
This April, Marimekko published a list of its significant suppliers and some pictures from the factories making our clothes on Fashion Revolution day. The list of suppliers is available here.

Regarding the fabrics we use…we have our own fabric printing mill in Helsinki, Finland, where around a million metres of cotton, linen and cotton blend fabrics are printed every year to be sold by meter or to produce Marimekko clothes, bags and home textiles. The base fabrics to be printed are mainly sourced from fabric weaving mills in Germany, Turkey, Portugal, Peru and Lithuania. Raw cotton fibre for the fabrics is sourced all over the world depending on the quality, availability and price. Some fabric manufacturers also blend cotton from different countries to ensure the consistent quality of the fabrics. The quality of cotton from different countries can vary significantly from one year to another due to weather conditions during the growing season for example. To improve the transparency of our cotton supply chain and help improve cotton production for people and the environment, Marimekko is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative. Our goal is to increase the share of Better Cotton in our cotton fabrics significantly over the next years.

Our in-house printing mill does not possess the capacity or all the machinery and equipment needed to produce all of the fabrics used in our wide product collection. We place high value on the quality of the fabrics we use and our designers and sourcing team work hard to find the best fabric qualities for a reasonable price. In our clothing collections we use, for example, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Korean, Turkish and Chinese fabrics, depending on the product. Italian fabric mills are world famous for the quality of their printing, whereas Japanese and Korean fabric manufacturers specialize in more technical fabrics and man-made fibres. Chinese manufacturers have a long heritage in silk production and printing.

Since Marimekko collections carry hundreds of products made of different materials and the different fabric qualities have a different production process, it’s difficult to give a comprehensive answer to your questions in one email. The basic fabric production process is more or less the same: fibre production, spinning, weaving or knitting, printing, finishing and cut-and-sew. Regarding the printing process in our in-house printing factory, please visit: https://www.marimekko.com/marimekko/design/from-sketch-to-fabric. However, the technical details and social and environmental impacts in different stages can be very different, depending on the fabric. Marimekko are currently preparing an information kit to be shared with store personnel and customers about different fabrics and their social and environmental aspects, but this publication is still in the process and will most likely be published after the summer.

Further information is available on the Marimekko website: http://company.marimekko.com/sustainability

Merchant & Mills
The Merchant & Mills website includes information on country of manufacture in the listings of many of their fabrics. They have a dedicated section of organic fabrics.


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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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Slumberland Fabric Design

Slumberland Fabric Design

Yay, my submission for By Hand London’s second fabric design competition made the shortlist! The competition theme is Once Upon a Dream.

Slumberland Fabric Design

My design was inspired by the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay. It has a central image of a sleeping kid, with various slumberland-inspired images surrounding him.

Slumberland Fabric Design

There are some really cool entries in the competition. I love Hannah’s abstract design and Tor’s fairies. Go check them out here; voting closes Friday 13th February.

Slumberland Fabric Design


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Handmade Christmas Stockings

Handmade Christmas Stocking
I’ve been meaning to make Christmas stockings for a few years but for some reason – given that they are a pretty quick make – have never gotten around to it. This year I finally made a pair for myself and Phil.

I made the pattern for the stockings myself (e.g. I drew a large sock shape and cut the fabric around that to ensure the sizing was consistent).
Handmade Christmas Stocking
I purchased the rather amazing fabric and the ribbon from Guthrie and Ghani. The fabric is Hip Holidays by Josephine Kimberling. I love that it isn’t immediately obvious that it is a Christmas print – it takes a second glance to realise. I actually purchased it at the Guthrie & Ghani Christmas Party. The shop had been decked out for Christmas and looked great, and Lauren wore a very cute elf outfit!

The stockings are backed with a thicker fabric to keep their shape and the top of the stockings is covered with some bias binding I made from the front fabric. Each stocking has a nice big bell in the top corner next to a ribbon bow.
Handmade Christmas Stocking
To personalise the stockings I printed our names on the front of the stockings using a stamp pad that can be used on paper or fabric.
Handmade Christmas Stocking

Handmade Christmas Stocking
This week I also finally got around to making some Christmas cards for family. These were made by cutting shapes out of leftover felt.
Handmade Felt Christmas Cards