english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


Sewcialist Gift Guide

Sewcialist Necklace by English Girl at Home and Working Clasp

With my birthday just gone and Christmas approaching, I’ve spent a fair bit of time recently selecting gifts, many of which are sewing or knitted related, for my own wish list. I thought I’d share my list of lovely gifts for people who sew, with the odd knitting gift thrown in.

First up though is a little project of mine. I’ve teamed up with Birmingham-based jewellery designer Rebecca Cowley of Working Clasp to create a sewing-themed necklace.

Sewcialist Necklace by English Girl at Home and Working Clasp

The Sewcialist Necklace is made from perspex and wood, and hangs on a silver-coloured chain. It was made in Rebecca’s studio in Digbeth, Birmingham.

You can purchase a necklace via my shop. I only have a small number in stock (as I wanted to see if you guys liked the idea!) so if you fancy one asap get in quick.

Sewcialist Necklace by English Girl at Home and Working Clasp

Other lovely gifts on my wish list are :

♥ Jewellery

Sewists Christmas Gift Guide

1. Another Birmingham-based independent brand, Frilly Industries make adorable Stork and Swan Scissor necklaces (33% discount and free shipping until Tuesday 1st December using the code BLACKFRIDAY!)

2. I also love Frilly Industries Spool of Thread Brooch which is an exclusive design for Not on the High Street (or available direct at craft fairs if you live in Birmingham)

3-4. Wool and Wire make jewellery with in-built stitch markers. Given that I knit on the train and often forget to pack supplies this is perfect for me. I’ve requested a Stitch Marker Bracelet (3) plus a set of Stitch Markers (4)

♥ Haberdashery

Sewists Christmas Gift Guide

1. I treated myself to one of these stunning porcelain dogs by artist Eleonor Boström for my birthday. They have a pin cushion head and thread holder tail! They’re available to buy from Beyond Measure

2. I also fancy one of Beyond Measure’s exclusive wooden pincushions, which are made in Yorkshire from wood, wool cloth and stuffed with wool. These sell out really fast, I know a new supply is expected about now but you’ll need to order quick if you want one

3. I have some darning projects on my to-do list, and one of these vintage bakelite darning eggs from Loop would be perfect

4. As would this Sajou darning thread, also available from Loop in the UK

5. Coloured dress making shears by Ernest Wright & Son, a Sheffield brand since 1902. The pink edition supports Breast Cancer Care

♥ Books

Sewists Christmas Gift Guide

1. The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar is a lovely addition to my natural dye library, which includes a range of projects as well as lots of info on dyeing with both protein and cellulose fibres

2. Boundless Style by Kristiann Boos is at the top of my Christmas list. I really want to make the cover dress in particular

3. Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith is a beautiful exploration of slow sewing and decorative stitch and textile art. Read my full review of the book here

♥ Wool

Sewists Christmas Gift Guide

1. I’d love to make a winter coat in a British wool, woven in London by The London Cloth Company. Their British Wool is sourced from small conservation flocks, and spun into yarn in Halifax. The resulting yarn is un-dyed, with cloth designed by breed of sheep and natural colour. They also produce a range of rope-dyed indigo fabrics

2. I was alerted to Fabworks by Marilla. Their range of Avoca wool is woven in Ireland using Australian wool

3. Dashing Tweeds also produce a range of fabrics using 100% British wool, designed in London and woven in the UK

Disclaimer: (almost) all photos included in this post are the property of the respective shops.

No affiliate links are included in the post; the Sewcialist Necklace is a product in my own Etsy shop.


A Sunny #CCBloggers Meet-Up at Breadsall Priory

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Happily, I have a few crafty weekends lined up at the moment. Two weeks ago I met up with friends on Sunday for knit and natter, this weekend I’m going to a dyer’s picnic event with my WSD guild where we’ll try a range of natural and acic dyes, and last weekend I attended a Creative and Crafty Bloggers (#CCBloggers) meet-up.

This is the second #CCBloggers meet-up I’ve attended, and they are meticulously organised by Sam and Kat. Sam and Kat are based in Derby, so meet-ups are held in the Derby / Nottingham area. This meet-up was held in a really special venue, Breadsall Priory.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

The original Breadsall Priory was a small Augustinian priory, established before 1266, which housed two or three priests. The current building, which is a Marriott Hotel, was originally built as a private home on the same site in the 16th century.

It’s a beautiful venue, surrounded by gardens and a golf course, and was an amazing place to spend a sunny Sunday. We were lucky enough to receive spa passes so I’ll be heading back in the near future.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

The #CCBloggers meet-ups differ from other meet-ups I attend because they include local bloggers with a wide range of different craft interests and blogging styles. While I can never resist a chance to talk sewing (and now knitting) with other sewists, it’s also great to meet bloggers with different interests, and who are part of different online groups and circles.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Our chatting was facilitated by a lovely afternoon tea, accompanied by raspberry ginger beers and bellinis.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

The #CCBloggers meet-ups focus on giving attendees time to chat and network, to take part in crafts, and to learn from others. The meet-up was part of the Etsy Craft Party global event, so we took part in a range of crafts inspired by the craft party theme: colour, kaleidoscope and paper.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

We also got the chance to try out products from organic beauty company Weleda, and paint company Polyvine, and to learn more about the Derby-based businesses/projects of two attendees, Lunar21, described as Derby’s ‘non-political think-tank’ and the Bless your Arts boutique.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Everyone went away with overflowing goody bags. Mine included aloe vera scented cotton yarn that I’m intrigued to try out. Apparently the scent is released as you knit, which sounds very soothing! The embroidery hoop contains my unfinished craft project from the day.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Each attendee contributed a gift for a swap – the idea being that you provided a ‘kit’ to inspire the recipient to get crafting. I received an envelope of colourful paper supplies from Emma.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

The event also raised £100 for Mollie Makes Crafternoon For Comic Relief. Roll-on the next meet-up!

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

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SewBrum Meet-Up 2015 – Save the Date

#SewBrum 2015 save the date

Just a quick post to let you know that there will be a second #SewBrum meet-up on Saturday 31st October 2015 (my wrap-up of the 2014 meet-up is here).

Like last time, the meet-up will start in Birmingham City Centre, before moving to Moseley Village to visit Guthrie & Ghani.

I’ll post details nearer the date, but I’m planning a few tweaks for this year – generally I’m thinking more tea, more food, and more goodie bags!

Everyone will be welcome. Hope you can make it x

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Favourite Crafty Podcasts

Woolful Podcast

Like just about every other sewist, I’m partial to a podcast while sewing or knitting.

Zoe wrote a great post recently about her favourite podcasts, where I found a few more to subscribe to. Zoe’s list didn’t include any crafty podcasts, and I’m particularly partial to a crafty podcast for inspiration when I’m creating. Below are some of my favourites.


Woolful may be my favourite podcast. It’s released weekly so you can get a regular fix, I like listening every weekend:) It’s a podcast which features interviews (normally two per episode) with a diverse range of people involved in the fibre industry, including farmers, yarn producers, dyers, and shearers. As a result, I have learned loads about yarn production from listening. It’s also great for learning about independent businesses and products – so is highly likely to result in you buying more yarn.

The Sewing Affair

Each episode of the Sewing Affair contains a single interview with a sewing blogger / designer. By focusing each episode on a single interview, host Corinne is able to spend time exploring how the interviewee started sewing, their other craft interests, their current projects, their business, etc. I like having the opportunity to hear some of my favourite bloggers tell us a bit more about themselves.

Crafty Planner

Like the Sewing Affair, each episode of Craft Planner includes a single interview with a creative: designer / business owner / artist (with quilting most heavily featured). Interestingly, host Sandi has recently been trying to celebrate diversity in the craft world by interviewing makers from a range of different backgrounds.

♥  Thread Cult

Episodes are released infrequently, but I’d highly recommend the past episodes. Again, episodes typically feature a single interview with a creative from the sewing and textile community. The interviews cover a really wide range of topics including haute couture, quilting, shibori, and natural dyeing.


The podcast for Pom Pom Quarterly magazine. Each episode includes updates from the London-based Pom Pom Quarterly team, product reviews and interviews.

Knit British

The Knit British podcast explores UK produced yarns, yarn events, and businesses. This one is probably more relevant if you live in the UK, although it has an international audience. The blog has great posts on locally produced yarns for £5 or less and £10 or less.


A really unique podcast which explores knitting and yarn in relation to sound, and knitting inspired by everyday places and objects. I’d also really recommend the KNITSONIK blog.

Curious Handmade

A podcast exploring knitting and craft, including regular interviews, with knit designer Helen.

Yarn in the City

London-based podcast exploring what hosts Rachel and Allison are knitting and spinning, and fibre events. Rachel and Allison also organise the Yarn in the City, London yarn crawl.

A Playful Day

Knitting and craft podcast, with news from host Kate, and interviews. Host Kate is currently exploring new-to-her crafts.

Sustainable World Radio – Ecology and Permaculture Podcast

Sustainable World Radio has interesting episodes about natural dyeing, the fibershed project, and other permaculture topics.

Reyna Lay Designs Podcast

Interviews with creatives, exploring their creative background, current plans, and the response they have received online.

Yarns from the Plain

Updates from Nic on what she has been knitting and dyeing, and what she is exciting about.

Plutonium Muffins Podcast

Knitting, spinning, and craft podcast, with a focus on natural fibres. Host Corrie updates on her current projects, talks about UK fibre events, and conducts interviews.

What’s Your Story

Another great interview podcast. Host Meighan interviews creatives in a wide range of areas, including weaving, sewing and quilting.

BBC In Our Time

This BBC history podcast has a huge archive, which includes an episode on the Silk Road, and the Cotton Famine (along with many, many other topics).

BBC Woman’s Hour

This BBC daily podcast recently interviewed Alexander McQueen’s sister and biographer (episode dated 23/03/15), and aired a ‘craft special’ episode (06/04/15).

Any recommendations for podcasts I’ve missed?

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Chunky Knitted Rug

Handmade Knitted Rug
Yippee, after a busy few weeks (including two work trips to Istanbul in two weeks) I’m on holiday from work so I’m finding the time to complete some projects. Back at Christmas when I taught myself to knit I bought all the supplies to knit a chunky rug featured in Makery by Kate Smith. I thought it would be a safe beginners project since the sizing isn’t too important. However I do most of my knitting while travelling and a rug isn’t a very portable project so the supplies sat around for the next 9-10 months and I knit a jumper and a cardigan (to be blogged soon) first. Oh well, what I learned knitting those made knitting this rug much faster!
Handmade Knitted Rug
This is a great quick & easy project. It’s knit in moss stitch and I managed to complete it in a couple of sittings while watching episodes of Project Runway (although I’m watching them online via mylifetime and they include so many adverts that you could probably knit a whole jumper during an episode…). The rug is going to be used in our living room and will replace the previous Urban Outfitters rug which is now looking pretty faded. I might knit another for our bedroom. It feels lovely and soft on your feet so I think it would be nice to have one beside the bed.
Handmade Knitted Rug
Supplies wise I used four balls of super chunky wool (I used Patons Fab Big 200g balls) and 20mm needles. The only down side to knitting with such big needles is that it feels more like wresting with wool than knitting. I found I was moving the wool around the needles rather than strictly knitting with them. Not the most relaxing knitting but certainly quick. I might knit a cushion next before starting my next jumper/cardigan. Not that I strictly need more cushions (I bought two this week as they were on sale in Habitat) but there are some lovely pattern in the Knitted Home by Ruth Cross that I fancy giving a try.

Handmade Knitted Rug


Knitted Lavender Bags

Knitted Lavender Bags
After I finished my Owls jumper I wanted a quick project to keep me busy while travelling. I got the idea for these knitted lavender bags from the lovely The Knitted Home by Ruth Cross. The book includes some great cushion designs I’m planning to try. The book includes a pattern for an irregular striped lavender bag, but I just cast on 18 stitches and then winged a stripe design. I have a lavender shrub in my garden (actually purchased at Château de Villandry in France) but it doesn’t flower nearly enough to fill these bags, I think it misses the south of France! So instead I bought some lavender sachets & placed one inside each before sewing them closed. I gave these bags to my family, hopefully they keep the moths from their wardrobes.
Knitted Lavender Bags
Knitted Lavender Bags


My First Knitting Project

Hand Knitted Fox Draft Excluder
Inspired by all the gorgeous knitting projects that have been appearing on blogs lately I decided it was time to learn to knit. That was over the Christmas break so I’m rather late posting the results of my first attempt. I thought it would be a smart move to start with a non-clothing item so I didn’t have to worry about fit and could get away with some wonky stitches. Phil’s sister Lucy treated me to the Mollie Makes Woodland Friends book for Christmas and I picked the fox draft excluder as my first knitting project.
Hand Knitted Fox Draft Excluder
The wool is Patrons Fab Big, a  super chunky wool in red. He was a fairly straightforward knit, but being a newbie I did lose track and sew the wrong row part way down his body as you can see below. That’s what can happen when you’re watching tv and not paying enough attention… Phil says it looks like a roadkill tyre mark!
Hand Knitted Fox Draft Excluder
For my second knitting project I’m participating in the Owls sew along being led by Kat and Sabs. I’m being more careful with my stitches this time to ensure I make something wearable outside of the house.