Lava Landscape

Last week, my friend Fu and I returned from an amazing holiday to Iceland. We had a fantastic fortnight despite the cold and rather wet weather. The first week involved an Hélène Magnússon hiking and knitting tour of the Tröllaskagi mountains, north of Akureyri. Under Hélène’s knowledgeable guidance, we walked along beautiful trails, admired numerous Icelandic plants and knitted our way to a pair of lace weight mittens!

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After a stopover in Reykjavík, we headed for the Volcano Trails in the Þórsmörk valley. The scenery was stunning: dark volcanic river beds; basaltic slopes; and ancient lava flows. And the plants: pink and purple alpine flowers; white lichens; and green mosses of every hue.

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Inspired by the colours and shapes that surrounded us, I started thinking about a new design which encompassed: the volcanic sand and rocks; the mosses; the lichens; and the flowering plants.

I first designed the background of black igneous rocks encircling moss mounds, which I machine knit in Spindrift Shetland wool from Jamieson’s of Shetland. Flowers and lichens were added by hand using Swedish linen embroidery thread from Linladan, and French Knot or Seed stitches. Finally, I sewed the bag together with a contrasting pink linen/cotton lining fabric from Scottish Linen in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

A small number of these limited edition bags will be available to purchase on Saturday 28th July 2018 at the Indie Burgh Craft Crawl evening party at Akva in Edinburgh. I’ll also be available to talk about machine knitting and the design process.

Woolly Originals – The Next Step

I started Woolly Originals in June 2015. Never in my sanest dreams, let alone the wild ones, did I expect the success that has materialised. After the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March, I realised that I was struggling to meet demand. I love making my Woolly bags, from machine knitting the outer fabric, to sewing the wool and linen components together, to labelling the bag with its Woolly swing-tag. I make every bag as though it was for my own use. But, in order to make my bags, I was close to making myself ill.

So, I decided in April that I needed more help. Many of you have met, either personally or through social media, Jo @angleoftheforth. She knits up some of my Woolly fabric and attends yarn festivals either with me or more recently on her own! We both love our knitting machines and I wanted us to continue to make the outer fabric. So, that left the sewing up. Could I find someone who valued the environment, who felt the importance of community, who understood that people were more important than profit? And, the answer is yes!

The Kalopsia Collective is an amazing company. Established in 2012 by British/Swedish duo, Robertson & Falk, Kalopsia began as a textiles and design organisation to challenge the way textiles were seen. Today, Kalopsia operates as a Social Enterprise in Edinburgh’s busy creative and cultural port, Leith, with the aim to batch manufacture textiles products in Britain. Waste management, micro manufacturing, ethical production, sustainability, the love of textiles, and combining innovation with tradition all play an important part in Kalopsia’s business ethos.

So, Jo and I will continue to knit up our Woolly fabric and Kalopsia will now sew this in Edinburgh into a Woolly Originals bag with a beautiful linen or cotton lining from Scottish Linen with the same Opti zips. And, with the free time that I’ll now have, I can design new patterns and make my hand-decorated larger bags.

The only remaining question is, why didn’t I do this sooner!

EShop Update

ESHOP UPDATE on Monday 16th April 2018 at 10pm (Edinburgh time). Apologies for the delay: a post-EYF cold and an injured hand have curtailed my productivity! There will be a number of bags for sale, including these two in my Scottish Wildflowers design.

Thank you, Edinburgh Yarn Festival!

Well, another Edinburgh Yarn Festival is over! And, what a festival it was! Three whole days of wonderful wool, knitters, crocheters and spinners from all over the world. It was fantastic to chat to so many people from so many nations. Thank you to everyone who popped by our stand; who bought a bag, pattern or badge; or who looked at or liked our photos on social media. And, a huge Thank You to Jo & Mica who run the Festival. They put together another amazing show! Finally, thank you to Jo (@angeloftheforth) who not only knits up the Heritage Orchard fabric for me, but also helps run my stand.

Here’s a small selection of photos of some of the lovely people we met; of my Woolly stand; and of my own purchases. I’ll be taking a short break, and then plan to update my Eshop in early April.

Iona: Wool & Art

“Warmed by the sun, blown by the wind…” are the opening words of an unfinished poem by F.C.B. Cadell, one of the four Scottish Colourists known for their bright, distinctive works. These early 20th Century Scottish artists which included S.J. Peploe, J.D. Ferguson & G.L. Hunter, though never an actual group at that time, individually visited and trained in France to continue learning their craft. Cadell returned to Scotland in 1908.

I have always admired Edinburgh-born Cadell’s work, visiting the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art whenever possible. So, when I came across the Iona Craft Shop wools at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March last year I knew that I wanted to use their very special single origin wool to interpret one of Cadell’s paintings, “Iona Sound and Ben More” as shown above. Their yarn comes in a range of natural and beautifully dyed colours, with thicknesses varying from weaving yarn to DK to Super Chunky.

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Cadell visited the Hebridean island of Iona, which lies off the southwest of Mull, almost every year from 1912 until 1933, except when he served as a private in the Royals Scots during WWI. During his annual summer trips, he would paint the land and seascapes of Iona and Mull. My first trip to Iona was during a geology field trip in the eighties. I subsequently visited with Neil, and then in 2008 with our sons and of course, Badger! It’s a very special place that I can’t wait to revisit.

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I first designed an interpretation of the background seascape and worked out the wool gauge. After machine knitting the base fabric using both the Iona DK dyed wool and natural-coloured weaving wools, I washed and blocked the material. Once dried and attached to a tapestry frame, I was able to hand embroider the bag using these same yarns to highlight specific details. Buttons were then added to depict the rocks in the painting. The clouds, handles and lining were made out of a beautiful linen fabric from Scottish Linen in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

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Once the front and a simple back had been completed, I took my sewing scissors to cut out the bag using my own template. Always an anxious moment! I then simply had to sew the various components together to make the finished article.

This shopper-sized bag will be for sale at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival at the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh in March 2018.

Bibliography

A. Strang, F.C.B.Cadell, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2011

National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish Colourists, Pomegranate, Warwick, 2008