Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention 2017

I can't believe that a week has passed already since I was at the Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention in Birmingham! It was a wonderful weekend, with inspirational speakers and excellent workshops. If you were at the convention you will know what I mean. If you were unable to make it this year I hope this post will give you a flavour of the weekend and perhaps encourage you to join the Guild and come along for the next one. The Convention was held in the Ibis Hotel in central Birmingham, Friday 6th July to Sunday 8th July 2017. 

Gansey Sweaters from the Gansey Workshop by
Deb Gillanders

Delegates arriving a day early were treated to a series of visits arranged by the Birmingham KCG Branch. These included trips to The Crescent Theatre, Cadbury World, the National Trust Back to Backs properties and the Jewellery Quarter. My weekend began on Friday 7th July with the Convention dinner. The meal was followed by this year's keynote speaker, Betsan Corkhill of Stitchlinks. Betsan’s work on therapeutic crafts is absolutely fascinating. Betsan started Stitchlinks in 2005 with the aim to improve wellbeing through knitting and crochet. Her Convention talk explored ways that people can actively manage symptoms of a condition by using knitting and crochet. In particular, the portability of knit and crochet projects means that they can be carried anywhere for use in multiple situations. The actual process of knitting or crocheting is very calming, however Betsan reminded us of the importance of sitting well while we work and getting up to stretch and move on a regular basis. I particularly liked Betsan’s recommendation to “experiment, explore, be curious” for a healthy brain. For more information please see the Stitchlinks website.

Saturday was a very full day and it got off to a great start with a talk by Emma Price from “In the Wool Shed”. Emma certainly passed on her “deep passion for making” to the delegates! Having trained as an accountant, Emma has since travelled and worked extensively in India. She also completed a degree in Fine Art, creating a rug made from sand as her final piece. As well producing and selling her beautiful natural dyed yarn, she runs creative trips to India exploring techniques such as block printing and weaving. The trips are run for small groups of up to 10 people. Emma’s focus is for the groups to be a part of the local communities, so they stay in the back streets, travel by rickshaw and explore small textile markets together. Emma talked us through some of her own collection of stunning textiles from India to highlight some of the printing and weaving techniques covered on the trips. More information about Emma, her gorgeous yarns and the mindful textile journeys to India can be found on her website.

In The Wool Shed Yarns by Emma Price
In The Wool Shed Yarns by Emma Price
Our annual general meeting took care of the formal business of the convention and was a great opportunity to say thank you to the current board for all their hard work over the year. Our membership has grown to 847 members over the last year. My favourite quote of the meeting is from Tricia, encouraging the setting up of new branches even if there are only a small number of members in one area, “from little acorns, big branches grow.” Branch meetings and events are publicised through the Guild website and the Guild’s Facebook page.

After lunch, we had a presentation from Maureen and Barbara entitled "so you want to host a Trunk Show?". A Trunk Show is one of the ways that the Collection Team can show items to a wide audience who are unable to visit Lee Mills. Items are carefully packed up and mailed out to branches with plenty of descriptive notes and background detail. This provides lots of information for a fascinating presentation and discussion. Everyone at the Convention enjoyed the items Maureen and Barbara had brought along as examples. I know from attending trunk shows at previous events that this is a great way to hear about the stories behind the items in the Guild’s Collections. Barbara has written a blog post about the Convention which you can read here.

Saturday afternoon was a chance for delegates to learn new skills in workshops run by members. I was delighted to have a place on the Gansey Workshop with Deb Gillanders aka “Propagansey”. Deb’s eye for detail is amazing. I was entranced by the way she revealed hidden details on the Ganseys she had brought along. From delicate garter stitch lines within patterns to beautifully neat false side seams that flow into gussets, Deb showed us details that we would have otherwise missed. We looked at the placement of patterning, such as rope and ladder, and the precise positioning of the pattern sections, both horizontally and vertically. I also discovered that although the panels and patterning are placed symmetrically, there is no mirror imaging of the cables. We also talked about what makes a “proper” Gansey and Deb’s descriptions of her Scottish Aunty’s assessment of her Gansey knitting was really funny! There is a wealth of information about Gansey knitting and it’s fascinating history on Deb’s websiteThe other workshops that took place included: Cast On/Cast Off techniques; Crochet Basics; Fair Isle techniques; The History of Knitting; Tunisian Entrelac.

Gansey Workshop in progress
Mini Gansey Sweater sample on display
at the Gansey workshop with Deb Gillanders

Our dinner on Saturday was followed by a conference highlight: Show and Tell! This year everyone had been asked to label items for display before the evening session. This helped delegates to discover more about the work brought along. Rachel was a fantastic Show and Tell Host, reading out the descriptions and encouraging the creator of each piece to reveal more about it. I love listening to the creative passion of our members describing their favourite work, or even their complete disaster, of the past year.

Close up of Sally Magill's delicate Crochet on display for Show and Tell
Section of a stunning crochet blanket by Gillian Oliver
on display for Show and Tell
Sunday morning began with a talk by Guild Life Member, Denise Musk. Denise discussed her career and showed us her amazing mixed media garments. She had brought along a wide selection of her work and we were all able to have a close look at her techniques as she described her inspiration.

Small section of a garment by Denise Musk

Our second set of workshops began mid morning and I took the opportunity to try a new technique. Having long admired amazing creations that use brioche knitting, Mary Lambert's “Brioche Basics” Workshop was perfect for me. Mary had brought along lots of examples and her stunning orange scarf was outstanding. Learning this technique required a lot of concentration and I would like to say a big thank you to Gill who spotted that my yarn overs were going the wrong way round. In my knitted sample, you can clearly see the point where she intervened and the pattern fell into place! The other workshops running on Sunday morning were: Beaded Knitting; E textiles; Broomstick Crochet; Möbius Knitting; Steeking.

Close up of Mary's Brioche Scarf
Once again, thank you to all the organisers, especially Tricia, Janet and the Birmingham Branch for such a wonderful weekend. Talking to Guild members throughout the weekend is the best part of the Convention for me. I love catching up with everyone I have met at previous events and making lots of new friends too. We all have so much in common and it's great getting to know people over the weekend. Next year's conference dates and location are already set for 6th to 8th July 2018 at the Warwick University Convention Centre in Coventry. This will be a very special Convention celebrating 40 years of the Knitting and Crochet Guild. I hope to see you there!

Friday, 30 June 2017

New Designs for The Knitter Magazine

I am absolutely thrilled that my two most recent designs for The Knitter Magazine have been styled with garments by Gudrun Sjoden! Wych Elm from Issue 111 and Rococo Diamonds from Issue 112 both look fantastic paired with the beautiful Gudrun Sjoden designs. 

Wych Elm by Emma Vining
Photo copyright Immediate Media

Rococo Diamonds by Emma Vining
Photo copyright Immediate Media

My Wych Elm design is a fitted cardigan knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners BFL DK. The gorgeous colour shade is olive. My inspiration for the stitch pattern came from the natural world, with the linked buds capturing the moment before a new leaf unfurls. The straight lines of rib contrast with the curved lines linking the buds to create flattering long lines on the cardigan.

Wych Elm by Emma Vining
Photo copyright Immediate Media

Wych Elm by Emma Vining
Photo copyright Immediate Media

My Rococo Diamonds sleeveless top is knitted in Yarn Stories Fine Merino DK. The delicate shade of grey is called Dove. The stitch pattern is formed with a series of linked diamond shapes that begin in the cast on edging. The beautiful Yarn Stories yarn shows this delicate stitch pattern really well. 

Rococo Diamonds by Emma Vining
Photo copyright Immediate Media
The Knitter Issue 112 is on sale now and you can find more information on both these designs on my Ravelry page

Saturday, 20 May 2017

PaisleyMake at London Craft Week 2017

As I was deciding which demonstrations and events to attend during this year's London Craft Week (LCW), one theme became clear and I was delighted to get places on LCW events hosted by PaisleyMake. My previous work with Norwich Shawls had introduced me to the world of Norwich, Edinburgh and Paisley Pattern and I was keen to learn more. 


My Paisley Pin Designs from the LCW Workshop
The town of Paisley is currently bidding to become U.K. City of Culture in 2021. Last September there were a series of exciting events in Paisley and the organisers had brought this enthusiasm to London for LCW. On Wednesday 3rd May I attended an evening reception at the Scotland Office in Westminster where several exciting announcements were made. The official Paisley 2021 bid had just been launched and Penny Martin, editor in chief of the Gentlewoman Magazine gave an excellent speech in support. Penny had contributed many ideas and is a great promoter of all elements of the bid. 

Knitwear company Pringle of Scotland followed Penny's speech by announcing details of their AW17 collection. This new collection was developed with the Paisley Museum archive and will feature designs originating from Paisley. The company explored printing on knitwear for this collection and I can't wait to see the garments in store from August 2017.

A few weeks ago I visited the Paisley Museum in Paisley and discovered that it will close next year for a multi-million pound refurbishment. The new museum will put much more emphasis on the weaving looms that are currently located towards the back of the museum. The archive of stunning shawls and designs for the shawls will also play a prominent role. It was therefore a delight to talk to Dr Dan Coughlan, the curator of the museum on Wednesday evening. He is the driving force behind the restoration of the weaving looms and his knowledge of the looms is second to none. He told us how he had rebuilt many of them in order to have working looms at the Museum. Hearing about the huge archive was amazing and as well as original Paisley pattern sample books, there is even a Norwich Shawls pattern book in the collection!


A section of a Paisley Shawl from the Paisley Museum
on display at G F Smith
PaisleyMake also supports new designers and emerging talent. I was delighted to be introduced to two creative businesses through workshops on Thursday 4th May at the G F Smith Showspace. G F Smith is a paper merchant supplying a wide range of papers to industry and individuals. Their Showspace provided a fantastic location for PaisleyMake to highlight the designers involved in the project.



The G F Smith Wall of paper
Misty Concepts is run by the talented designer Melissa Watt. Her speciality is origami and one of her stunning paper folded lampshades was on display at the ShowSpace. Mel's workshop explored the origami skills she uses in her business and we all enjoyed making folded cranes and a lily too. I will also be looking out for Mel's folded lampshade workshops in Paisley and London. 


Origami Lampshade by Misty Concepts
During a recent visit to The Lighthouse in Glasgow, I spotted a display by Paisley Pins. This creative business uses the famous Paisley teardrop design as the basis for beautiful brooches and jewellery. The afternoon's Paisley pattern workshop explored some of these designs. There were amazing pattern books, pens, pencils and more for us to experiment with. Andrea and Laura were really great tutors and we were all excited when they photographed our drawings and told us they will make one of them into a laser cut pin for each of us. Mine has just arrived and I love it!



I hope that my two blog posts have given you a taste of events and talks than happen as part of London Craft Week. I'm already looking forward to next year (9th to 13th May 2018) and can't wait to see what is included in the programme! Look out for updates on the LCW website.

Friday, 19 May 2017

London Craft Week 2017

This annual celebration of high quality craft is a great opportunity to discover more about the extremely talented makers and designers behind many well known brands and new creative businesses. This year's programme was absolutely packed! A huge range of skills were featured including those as diverse as marquetry, ceramics, origami and of course, knitting. The London Craft Week (LCW) team go to a great deal of trouble to ensure a broad range of crafts are represented during the Week and the number of events has grown from 60 to 250! I visited events and demonstrations on Wednesday 3rd May and Thursday 4th May and have decided to write about them in two posts as there is so much to say.


Art by Hazel Thorn on display in the V&A Museum Silver Galleries

My London Craft Week visits began on Wednesday at the V&A Museum. It was a delight to talk to silversmith Hazel Thorn in the V&A Sliver Galleries. Hazel was demonstrating how she creates her stunning work. We chatted about how design can be transferable between different disciplines. Hazel's work involves combining different metals by fusing them together, then in some designs cutting them up to create new shapes and patterns. Hazel can control the fusing process to create the alignment of lines that she wants. I was really struck by the similarities to weaving and knitting and I loved the beautiful pieces she had brought along.


Fused and Cut Sample by Hazel Thorn

A visit to Liberty London first thing on Thursday morning allowed me to have a close look at designer Jonathan Anderson's Loewe "This Is Home" Collection. Jonathan Anderson is collaborating with the Workshop of Robert Thompson, known as The Mouseman, for some of the items in the collection. Several years ago, I visited The Mouseman Workshop in Yorkshire with my family and we loved seeing how each piece of handmade furniture has a tiny mouse carved into it. Jonathan Anderson promotes high quality craft within his businesses and these skills are clearly important to him. In celebration of the Mouseman, Loewe have commissioned a selection of little mouse charms, made in both leather and wood. 


Loewe Mouse Charm selection at Liberty London

Loewe Wooden Mouse Keychain at Liberty London
The Loewe hand knitted cushions and wall art were fabulous. Each portrait cushion cover had leather backing with signature Loewe stitching. The hand knitted standing figures were very dramatic and Jenny from Loewe told me that they are also designed to be worn as scarves!


Hand Knitted Cushion Cover by Loewe This Is Home

Hand Knitted Cushion Cover by Loewe This Is Home

Hand Knitted Standing Figures by Loewe This Is Home

London Craft week runs during the first week of May. There is a mix of free and paying events that are open to anyone. Some require advance booking and others are open displays and demonstrations. All provide an excellent insight into the world of high quality craft and all are extremely inspiring! 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Selsey Cardigan in the Knitter Issue 110

My new Selsey cardigan design is on the cover of The Knitter Magazine! I have used multiple stitch patterns for lots of contrast in this design.

Selsey by Emma Vining on the cover of
The Knitter Magazine Issue 110
The lower borders and cuffs are worked in a textured slip stitch mosaic pattern. Using shades of light and dark blue creates a fascinating optical illusion. The shades reverse half way through the border. 

Selsey by Emma Vining
Image from The Knitter Magazine
The main body is knitted in two colours and has a garter stitch ridge stripe in the dark blue shade. The sleeves have a mosaic stitch cuff and are then knitted in stocking stitch in the light blue shade. 

Selsey by Emma Vining
Image from The Knitter Magazine
The lovely yarn, Sublime Extra Fine Merino Wool, is soft and lightweight. The Riviera and Indigo shades show off the contrasting stitch patterns really well. You can read more about Selsey and all the other beautiful designs in this issue on The Yarn Loop Website or on Ravelry

Monday, 10 April 2017

A New Pattern and New Visits!

My Chrysler sweater design is in The Knitter Magazine, Issue 109! This textured lace pattern changes scale from cast on to cast off, giving the appearance of layers of arches. The beautiful yarn is Fyberspates Vivacious DK is shade Deep Aqua. I love the subtle colour variation throughout the sweater.

Chrysler Sweater by Emma Vining
Photo from The Knitter Magazine
Chrysler Sweater by Emma Vining
Photo from The Knitter Magazine
The multiple scales of the arches are based on a short Fibonacci sequence of 3, 5 and 8. In a Fibonacci sequence, the next number in the sequence is the sum of the two previous numbers. The first arches in my design have three rows of eyelets, the next set have five and final elongated arches have eight rows of eyelets.

As well as working on commissions I have been to some great events over the last few weeks.

At the beginning of March, I represented the Knitting & Crochet Guild on their stand at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. If you were there, you will know what a fantastic event it was and if you didn't make it this year, I really recommend a visit! There was an amazing atmosphere. Everyone was there because of a love of all things relating to yarn, knitting, crochet and creative crafts. You could feel the excitement, enthusiasm and goodwill all around. There were a very large number of visitors, from the UK and from all over the World.

Bohus Sweater from the Knitting & Crochet Guild Collection
Photo by Emma Vining
The Guild's stand had a beautiful display of Bohus knitting from the Guild's Collection. Visitors were fascinated by this textured stranded knitting and we had many insightful conversations. A highlight was chatting to Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed about the Guild's Bohus accessories. Jared had taken a close look at the Bohus gloves on display and it was a real pleasure to discuss this with him.

Also in March, I went on a great V&A Member's visit to The School of Historical Dress. I first heard of the amazing work done by Jenny Tiramani and her colleagues at a talk by the V&A Curator, Susan North. Susan and Jenny co-edited an excellent book on Seventeenth Century Women's Dress Patterns. This collaboration between the V&A and The School of Historical Dress drew on the in-depth studies of the late Janet Arnold. Janet Arnold's books, Patterns of Fashion, are a detailed historical record of Englishwomen's dress, full of beautiful illustrations. You can read more about Janet Arnold on the School of Historical Dress Website here.

Image from The School of Historical Dress website

Our group was the very first to visit the School in their new home opposite the Imperial War Museum in London and we were made extremely welcome! Jenny, Claire and Nicky were wonderful hosts and we loved hearing about their exciting work with the Globe Theatre and Mark Rylance.  Our visit was full of amazing insights into historical garment construction and re-construction. The afternoon concluded with a look at some of Janet Arnorld's original illustrations. An absolutely amazing finale to a fantastic afternoon!

Friday, 3 March 2017

Yarn Stories Heritage Collection

The new Yarn Stories Heritage Collection has just been released! The beautiful photographs for the collection were all taken at the Yarn Stories Yorkshire spinning mill. The collection theme is all about the tradition of the mill and the new designs have also been named to reflect the theme. I'm delighted that my new sweater design, Winder, is in this gorgeous collection. Winder is knitted in Yarn Stories 4ply and the stunning shade is Cobalt

Winder Sweater by Emma Vining
Image by Yarn Stories
My design was inspired by a simple leaf shape with an Art Deco twist. A single row of leaves form the lower border of the sweater. These leaves are joined to the upper body pattern using long lines of wide rib. The upper body has rows of leaves extending from shoulder to shoulder. Each leaf is filled with moss stitch texture. The wide rib has a background stitch of reverse stocking stitch giving the pattern an embossed, raised look. 

Winder Sweater by Emma Vining
Image by Yarn Stories

The Heritage Collection has six stunning designs. All the designs except Winder, are knitted in Fine Merino DK. Bobbin by Charlotte Johnson is a two colour cardigan with interlinking chevrons knitted  in shades blackberry and thistle. Reel, a cardigan designed by Katya Frankel is knitted in shade Iced Teal and features a beautiful delicate leaf and cable pattern. Roving by Amanda Crawford is knitted in  shade bottle and has a lovely cabled diamond pattern on the back. Twist, also designed by Amanda Crawford is an elegant jumper with a scoop neck, knitted with cables and eyelets in shade Fuchsia. Yarn Stories have also included a new version of my Feldspar sweater. Version II has longer sleeves and a longer body and has been reknitted in shade fuchsia. 

All these beautiful designs, including my Winder pattern are available to buy on the Yarn Stories website or through Ravelry.