Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Pitti FIlati

Day two in Florence and it's time for a trip to the fabulous yarn fair itself, Pitti Filati.
I headed straight for the Senso trend forecasting area to collect my shade card for Spring/Summer 2012 and see what those in the know are predicting we will be wearing and knitting in 2012.
The layout was slightly different to previous years I have attended, with the experimental and textural samples draped around tiny dummies to also provide an indication of the shapes for the coming seasons.
I noted a muted, organic colour palette, highly textured and layered, sculptural knits constructed with unusual yarns such as nylon monofilament, stiff raffia and draping, shiny tapes. The funnel neck also seems to be making a comeback - which we have already started to see in the present season.
There was so much to see, we were overwhelmed, so we are going back tomorrow to finish off the rounds of the yarn companies. However, we did round off the day with a trip to the unmissable second hand fair, Vintage Selection. The Italians have not yet grasped the vintage trend as wholeheartedly as us Brits, meaning the selection is simply stunning - they still have plenty of authentic items left from pre-1970, having not yet had every store plundered for goodies. Unfortunately, the growth in popularity of the show meant that the prices had increased too. I left with only some fabulous buttons to show for my trip. I had hoped to find a friend for the bargain basement price, amazing Italian leather, statement 60s suede wedges I picked up on my last trip. Twas not to be...perhaps next year!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Well, here I am in Italy, in beautiful and exciting Florence to be precise, for the bi-annual yarn extravaganza that is the Pitti Filati trade fair, a yarn and trend fair for the knitting industry. We flew over the alps very early this morning on a beautiful sunny and misty day.
So far we have visited the absolutely stunning Duomo cathedral, which I never tire of seeing, and in fact made a beeline for today.

I topped off the day with the most delicious fruits of the forest gelato....

Well, you can't not have ice cream in Italy! When in Rome (or florence) and all that...

Friday, 14 January 2011

knitting for children

I've finally received the first copy of my new book, Knitting for Children, and I am so excited - I love it! We tried to keep it colourful and fun, with simple and yet interesting projects that little ones will love to make. It's out in March, so if you have children who want to learn, or if you are young at heart or want to knit projects kids will love, go check it out and let me know what you think

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Fern Cowl

Issue 14 of Inside Crochet is out now and has a pattern of my own in - the Fern Cowl. I ripped out this cowl so many times trying to get the pattern just right, but now I love it, and hope it is still cold enough to wear it myself when I get it back.
In other exciting IC news, the website should be up any day - yay!

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Last batch of piccies from 2010 - a trip to the Clothes Show Live in Birmingham to man the Kal Media stall. It was the coldest December I recall, we awoke in our B&B on the second day to a magical frosty countryside and the car thermometer showing a temperature of minus nine, but it looked amazing.
The main show was a real disappointment - loads of screaming girls and cheap, boring clothes, it was a real homage to fast fashion and a homogenised high street, all very depressing for a craftsperson and hand maker. The Sknitch section, dedicated to the hand made side of fashion, was a sight for sore eyes amongst all the mass produced tat. Other exhibitors were Cloth Kits, the UK Handknitting Association, Josy Rose and lots of other inspiring businesses.
I managed to max out the credit card at The Eternal Maker, a shop I had been meaning to visit in Chichester since a friend from West Dean had recommended it, so I was over the moon to see the stall right next door to ours.
I could easily have bought up the entire stand but in the end I settled for as much as my tiny suitcase could carry home.
I indulged in a fabulous Oliver + S pattern, for a friend expecting a baby girl next month - I had wanted to buy one of their fabulous patterns for ages, but had not had a reason to myself, but a gift -why, that feels as good as spending money on myself, if not better!
For myself I bought some fabulous cute baby buttons in the shape of clouds and raindrops and an extra long tape measure - very handy indeed, and comes in a tidy little tin - great news for a messy crafter like me. I also bought a great array of fabrics in some of the prettiest and most quirky, fun designs I have ever seen. Lots were Japanese made, along with some of the buttons available, which added to the quirkiness and originality of the stock. You just cannot buy anything like most of their stock anywhere else in the UK.
I also enjoyed a catch up with Susan Crawford. You can see her eloquent and likeminded thoughts on the Clothes Show at her blog, Just call me Ruby. I was excited to find out that she is bringing out a vintage inspired crochet book - just what the crochet world needs, as there are so very few good quality crochet books around. She has also launched some fabulous kits - if you like vintage knitting, you should search them out.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

More from 2010: Horrockses

Amongst the selection of fabulous exhibitions I visited last year was the Horrockses Fashion at the FTM, the wonderful, intimate venue in Bermondsey.
For those of you who haven't come across the company the museum was highlighting, Horrockses Fashion Limited was a ready-to-wear manufacturer of fashionable, mid-market clothing in the 1950s.

Although they were mass-manufactured, the dresses were well designed, wearable and made from wonderful, uniquely designed textiles.
The exhibition was small, yet packed in a huge amount of interesting and colourful artefacts, including actual garments, original designs, signage, advertising and fabric samples as well as some ephemera donated by the public. There was a wall showcasing personal black and white snaps of glamourous 1950s young ladies donning the stunning sundresses.
A fabulous fact discovered in the fascinating exhibition literature was that the company came into its own just as Britons began to holiday abroad, as the lightweight, prettily patterned cotton dresses and sun suits were perfect warm weather attire.
I loved everything about this exhibition and found the beachwear and sundresses still eminently wearable. In fact, continuing my New Years Resolutions theme for these posts, I have my eye on a couple of the designs to try to recreate myself.
This must be the year I conquer my sewing machine, if only to benefit my first beach holiday in years, as I am not a typical beach holiday dresser. I think that I've mentioned before that I have what I like to call an 'English Rose' complexion - snow white and freckly! This means that in the sun I will inevitably eschew the short shorts and teeny bikinis for swathes of cotton, a huge floppy hat and oversized sunnies. (I like to think I look enigmatic and glamourous sitting under the parasol, rather than an eccentric recluse - think Joan Collins rather than Miss Havisham). These voluminous skirts will fit in perfectly with my alternative holiday wardrobe...wish me luck!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

I hope you all have a fantabulous 2011! I feel that this year will be a year when hopefully you will see a more focused and organised Monty. Last year was more of a transitional year for me, with many changes and projects and yet not a huge amount of time for decisions and planning. I achieved a lot, including becoming a magazine editor, which I love, and finishing a book that aims to teach children to knit (above), which I have wanted to complete for many years. However, as a freelancer, one always feels that no offers of work should be turned down, as you do not know what the future holds, so I have often wasted energy working on things that I have little interest in. I hope 2011 will be the year when I may complete fewer projects, but base them around themes and goals I have always wanted to achieve, while also working on having a lot more relaxation and personal time! (I am hoping that a long awaited holiday is on the cards this year!!)
Before I move on totally from 2010 however, I have just found a whole camera full of pictures from the end of the year that I never got round to posting about. So, over the next few posts, I shall give you a quick round up of those things, and some other important parts of my 2010.
Way back in the spring, I went to see the Quilts exhibition at the V&A with a very good friend who I did my textiles degree with. I really enjoyed this show, and surprisingly I loved the older quilts more than the modern versions, some of which I feel lacked the beauty and intricacies of the antique blankets.
However, I adored Sara Impey's Punctuation (above) and I have always loved Tracey Emin's quilts. At around the same time as the exhibition was on I read a great interview with Emin in Vogue where she stated that:
'...there [is] a contraditction within the quilts: the message [is] immediate, but that message would have taken a painfully long time to put together.'
This is what I love about Emin's and Impey's work, as well as that of the older quilts. The messages are important and instant to the viewer, but when you begin to look closely at the stitching and fabrics, you see the maker's hand and processes and the piece takes on a whole other importance, life and meaning. In Impey's work the negative space is as important as the stitches, as the lettering is made from the plain, unstitched fabric and the words chosen derive from a personal, family letter. Some of the older quilts were displayed so that you could see the reverse, with the templates the maker had used to create the quilt still visible. I love this reverence for the skill, process and time involved within the craft. As a textiles designer, I have always felt that the making is as important as the final piece with involved and time-consuming crafts, where the thoughts, conversations even relationships you have as you make a certain piece all add to the final product. As Emin stated in Vogue:
'It is not just the words I make that are sewn onto the blanket that are important. It's the thoughts and the words that are spoken as the blankets are sewn.'
This is a great way to end this post, as it refers back, in some way, to what I was speaking of at the beginning of the post; I am going to give myself the time and space to concentrate on my knitting, crochet and sewing this year and hopefully the decisions I make while creating some fabulous pieces will be all the better for the added time and care I have taken over them.
I still have some more pictures to show you from 2010, here's hoping I can learn more about where I want 2011 to lead from looking back at those, too!! More soon.