english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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British Fabrics Haul Vlog

British Fabrics

For the latest vlog, I’ve filmed a guide to sources of British-made fabrics. It was a perfect excuse to order lots of swatches!

You can view the vlog here:

For more info on British-made fabrics, see my list of British fibres, fabrics & haberdashery supplies.

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

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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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A Week in Paris

I spent a week in Paris back in September but it’s taken me until now to get around to going through the photos. I recently wrote a blog post for The Foldline about shopping in Paris so won’t talk too much about shops, but I did want to share a couple of favourite purchases and some photos of the trip.

On this holiday I visited Malhia Kent for the first time. It’s located on the Viaduc des Arts near embroidery specialist Bonheur des Dames. Malhia Kent weave fabric for pret-a-porter and couture, but also sell their unique fabrics direct. Cut from the bolt fabrics are approximately €30 per metre, but coupons are a much more reasonable €10 per metre and they have a lot of coupons in the shop (if I hadn’t been on my way to catch a train I would have been in the shop for ages).

Malhia Kent, Paris

Malhia Kent, Paris

I came away with the two larger coupons (I think about half a metre each) below, as well as two smaller pieces I am hoping to piece into garments.

Malhia Kent Fabric from Paris

Malhia Kent Fabric from Paris

I had good company for fabric shopping on the Saturday, when I met up with Lisa, Carmen, Sabine and Olivier. We shopped in the Saint-Pierre area, and had particular luck in Sacrés Coupons.

Sewing Meet-Up, Paris

By chance, I was in Paris for Journées du Patrimoine, an annual event where historical monuments (including some that are normally inaccessible)  are open to the public and museums organise special events. I wouldn’t even have realised it was taking place if Carmen and Sabine hadn’t given me the heads up. Based on their recommendations me and Phil took the opportunity to visit La Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent for free.

The foundation can be visited on a guided tour which takes in a reception room, meeting room, Pierre Bergé’s office and one studio room. The studio space was unsurprisingly my favourite since it contains a rail of toiles and some examples of YSL originals. We attended a tour in French, I started off ok when Yves Saint Laurent’s life and career were being described since I’m already familiar with the details, but then totally failed to understand some of the later sections of the tour. If your French is as poor as mine, they run the tour in English once per month.

La Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent

We also saw Wool War One by artist Delit Maille, which Sabine had participated in the knitting of. The exhibition contains 780 soldiers knitted by hand by over 500 participants internationally, to commemorate soldiers killed in northern France during WWI.

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Me and Phil spent quite a bit of the week in various museums and galleries, many of which contained textiles for me to admire. A few photos of these are below.

Palais de la Porte Dorée, which contains Paris’ History of Immigration Museum and a beautiful old aquarium, was exhibiting amazing hats inspired by Paris landmarks (the red one at the front below is inspired by Notre-Dame) and inventors, with hats inspired by their inventions (see below traffic light, saxophone, football boot).

Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris

Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris

Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris

We took a train to visit Château de Fontainebleau, which contains a selection of historical textiles linked to royalty and to Napoleon and his family.

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau

Centre Pompidou had an exhibition of Palestinian embroidery on display. The pieces, which showcase traditional techniques, are created by Inaash, an NGO.

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Also on display at Pompidou, a Mona Hatoum piece woven with hair.

Centre Pompidou, Paris

The permanent collection of the Musée du Quai Branly, one of my favorite galleries in Paris, contains a huge range of textiles from around the world.

Musée du Quai Branly

Musée du Quai Branly

Musée du Quai Branly

And finally, Les Invalides has a huge permanent collection of uniforms and other textiles related to WWI and WWII. I have to admit to being a total sucker for an epaulet, they make me think of toy soldiers and those little plastic epaulets that came with every Lego soldier.

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris


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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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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

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.

PomCast

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.

♥ KNITSONIK

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?