Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge


I may have mentioned my ambitious ideas about that well-planned, hand-made wardrobe I was getting around to making. Or maybe I didn’t. It is hard to say as I have spent so much time thinking and talking about it, and not much time actually doing it.

So when I heard Helen of the Curious Handmade podcast throw down the hand-made gauntlet, I was ready to take it up. It was the nudge I needed, really. Helen describes the impetus for the challenge in Curious Handmade blog:

If you heard last week’s podcast, you know that we’ve just launched a really exciting challenge which will be running over the next three months. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can be more intentional about creating (and wearing) a wardrobe of handmade garments and accessories that work together for real lifestyles. There are so many reasons why a handmade wardrobe is a worthy dream: the ability to truly express your individuality, clothes that truly fit your shape, the chance to break free from the destructive cycle of “fast fashion” and (of course) the sheer joy of making things and flourishing in your own creativity.

I identify with this line of thought and really appreciate Helen’s initiative.

The CH rules are thus:

Make some handmade wardrobe items.

August: get the inspiration, design and materials.

September: get to the making

October: get to the finishing.

I, however, am a fan of rules. I work best when I set myself hard and fast (if arbitrary) rules and stick to them. So I decided that I would pick 3 items of clothing I already have–preferably those which I love, but don’t wear so often because they don’t play well with others, and build an outfit around each one. Then I wandered around the wardrobe and settled on these things:

the wardrobeApparently, I have several dresses like this, and my wardrobe is really full of these dark moody colours. the wardrobe-2

This is a sweater from my new collection coming out this Autumn. It is a secret, so you haven’t seen this. I have been pondering what to wear with it for a little while now… And certainly hand knit sweaters are necessarily a solid part of my wardrobe, so there is a gap to fill here.
the wardrobe-4And finally, I do love a vintage dress, and there are a few printed fabrics I just can’t get enough of. These are the exception to the wardrobe, but again, I have more than I would have thought at first. 

In the end, I have 3 garments that I actually wear all the time, but still feel like they are in need of a little something. But what, layers? Accessories? Not sure yet, but it will be fun to decide!

Happy knitting,


Vicarious Knitting


My first collection is nearly finished and I am just starting to get that itch to cast on something new. Of course I can’t do that. I really must finish all the things I started. So I thought I would knit vicariously until a mad scientist can equip me with another pair of knitting arms.

My first would-be project is a linen tee. I have been wanting to knit a linen tee for some years now. Somehow, I never get around to it. But every summer I am reminded of just how useful such a garment would be.

Coral knitting pattern by Helga Isager

I understand that linen can bias when knit. Coral by Helga Isager looks like it may solve that problem by creating different grain lines with increases and decreases. Or maybe that is not the issue at all, and the grain lines just look great. I think the sweetheart neck line on this is really flattering too.
Flex knitting pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier

I think Flex by Heidi Kirrmaier works in a similar way. I love the clean lines on this one. It looks like an instant staple of the wardrobe.

Sous Sous knitting pattern by Norah Gaughan

I have seen some gorgeous versions* of Sous Sous by Norah Gaughan which is a superb layering piece with all that extra ease; a perfect autumnal sweater.

Svalbard knitting patttern by Bristol Ivy

I have been meaning to knit something by Bristol Ivy for ages. I am pretty sure she is a knitting genius. Svalbard is in the queue because it is not only a Bristol classic, but is worked primarily in brioche stitch, which is the most awesome of all the knitting stitches named after foodstuffs.

windswept knitting pattern by tincanknits

Finally, on my ‘someday I am totally knitting this’ list is Windswept, a beautiful pullover by tincanknits. Truth be told, I not only have this pattern, I actually bought yarn for the sweater and swatched for it. But honestly that is as far as I have got with it. I am a big fan of tincanknits and think they have a great pared-back design philosophy. So definitely someday….

Til then, happy knitting,


*I’m looking (with envy) at you TheWoolKitchen!


Winchester Cathedral


Although it isn’t very warm here, it is summer time in the city and everyone I know is away. My world travels start in a few days, but I thought I would just share a few pictures from a trip we took earlier this year to Winchester. I love Gothic architecture–the incredible, and often very weird detail in the Winchester Cathedral is wonderful. There is an incredible about of craftsmanship and handmade love on display here.

Winchester Cathedral exteriorThe nave is a gorgeous Perpendicular-style construction with stone pillars that seem to defy gravity in a bid to get as close as possible to Heaven.

Winchester Cathedral Gothic NaveThere are so many things to appreciate in the space. The West Window is a spectacular monument to the British make do and mend spirit.

Winchester Cathedral West WindowDuring the Civil War, Cromwell’s men smashed the medieval stained glass, which was saved and randomly reassembled a few years later, with no attempt to recreate the images, which I think was a beautiful and brave solution to the problem.

Winchester West Window detailThe ornately carved choir and its screen deserve a dedicated coffee-table book.

Winchester Cathedral Choir

Winchester Cathedral Choir screen

Winchester Cathedral Choir Screen

There is a tradition of including irreverent figures within the decoration of medieval cathedrals and I especially enjoyed this misericord. A keen guide explained to me that the figure on the right was spinning with a spindle, and therefore was identified as a witch…..  you just can’t argue with logic like that.


Finally just a couple of pics of the wonderful 13th century tiles. I found this whole place so full of pattern and design inspiration. Winchester 13th century floor tiles Winchester 13th century floor tilesI hope you enjoyed seeing the some of the images that inspired me, and I hope you are enjoying the summer time or winter time wherever you are.

In an unusual turn of events, I will traveling the world until mid-October and while I have ambitious plans to post brilliant posts throughout my travels, it may well be that I am a bit quiet on the blog front until my jet lag has faded and my first collection of hand knit patterns is ready to publish (!).

Til then, happy knitting!