Episode 6: Karen Templer and #summerofbasics

Hello!

I was so excited to chat to karentempler about #summerofbasics and slow fashion at Squam Lake. I have long admired Karen’s work. Are you taking part in #summerofbasics? I would love to hear about it if you are!

Show notes can be found in the thread for Episode 6 in the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group.

Happy knitting,

Rx

Advertisements

Colors of Fall 2015

Hello!

Aren’t make-alongs great? I am a big fan.

I joined the Yarniacs Colours of Fall knit-along to spur me on to make myself a Yama cardigan, and, well, it worked.

Although I don’t think you can tell from my face in the photo below, I am really pleased with my finished Yama! Admittedly, it is not the most adventurous of versions, but I wanted a wardrobe staple and I got one. It is perfect for wearing over dresses and with higher-waisted skirts.

yama-cardigan-by-renee-callahan

I’m not bragging (well, I am), but I not only managed to finish the cardigan, I also finished a long-languishing dress for a whole outfit.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress

I am especially proud of this dress. Not because I designed it: I didn’t, it’s based on a favourite dress of mine from Old Town. And not because it is a perfect fit; it’s not (I refer you to the innovative ‘bust darts’). But because it is my first attempt at ‘clean work’, that is to say, a sewn garment with all of the fabric edges enclosed in the seams.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress-3

This was relatively simple in the case of the side seams and the fact that it is a sleeveless dress was also helpful. That said, I nearly broke my brain trying to figure out how to make the belt hole placket ‘clean’ and I had to admit defeat when it came to the patch pocket.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress-2

As for the difference in the fabric between fronts and back, I really don’t even know what happened there, as I cut all the pieces from a single piece of fabric. It was clearly fated to be a learning project.

I feel like this is a slippery slope: I have to make the dress again, this time with improved fit, matching fabric and there must be a clever way of working those pockets…. (read: the beginning of an obsession here… :0)

Happy knitting (and sewing),

R.

An Instagram giveaway

Hello!

As I ease back into normal life after the Squam Art Workshops, I decided to host an Instagram giveaway!

yarn giveaway from EastLondonKnit (1 of 1

Share the love giveaway time…
I had the good fortune to spend a fantastic week with a bunch of amazing crafters and I want to share the joy with you.
I have two beautiful skeins of yarn: Shibui Silk Cloud in Ash and Tosh Merino Light in Begonia Leaf (Cosmic Dandy anyone? @julieknitsinparis ;)) as well as the fantastic West Water Tunic sewing pattern to give away.
To win all of this gorgeousness, please follow me on Instagram @eastlondonknit and tag three knitting friends in the comments. I will randomly choose some lucky person next week.

During my week at Squam, I took some great classes, including a photography class with Helene Dujardin, which resulted in some of these lovely pics:

Lakelet by Renée Callahan

This is my lovely classmate Michelle, who was an excellent model for the Lakelet shawl. I designed the shawl especially for my trip to Squam based on my first retreat, in which I spent every possible moment on the dock, and witnessed some of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.

I will be publishing the shawl shortly, and can’t wait to share it with you!

Beetlebum by Renée Callahan

I also got some great new photos of the Beetlebum shawl

Happy knitting,

Renée

Happy New Year!

Hello!

Happy New Year people! In celebration of a new year and selfish-knitting season, all my individual patterns are 15% off. Please do have a look at the patterns & join us in the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group for the Klee Collection Knit-Along, if you are that way inclined.

EastLondonKnit Knitting Pattern Sale

It is a shiny new year (my favourite kind) and I have been trying to sort the wheat from the chaff in my resolutions. I love making ’em en mass and then working my way back toward reality. Because I’m not really going to learn Spanish and complete 3 new part-time degrees as well as design 4 new collections before 2017, am I? So, what to focus on this year?

Well, I am still feeling very enthusiastic about the whole handmade wardrobe thing. I especially like it because it’s both personal and global.

The global issues have been well discussed by more knowledge people than me. The environmental impact of mass-market clothing production and the living/working conditions for many of the people who make our clothing, among other ethical considerations, have brought people in the crafting community together, and I feel like I am taking part in something really worthwhile by considering my wardrobe more carefully and making more of my own clothing.

On the personal side, the question of wardrobe has been the sand in my oyster for years; I hope for pearls but often just end up with a bit of annoying grit. I used to think what I wore didn’t really matter, and maybe, in the back of my mind, I still think it shouldn’t. But really, it does. For me, the proof is in the doing. Now that I work from home, I’m not so motivated to get dressed in the morning. I mean, who am I dressing up for? May as well stay comfy.

However.

The truth is that how I dress changes how I feel and what I do, even when I am by myself. If I don’t get dressed, I am less productive and feel a bit like a slob. This is probably a similar logic at work to the ‘smile and you will feel happier’. No doubt this is an obvious thing everyone knows, but I have only just realised. This happens more often than I would like to admit, but let’s focus on the wardrobe today.

So I accept the fact that I have to get dressed. And I know that what I put on when I get dressed also matters.

If I were a swanky business person, I would perhaps discuss personal branding here. ‘Branding’ is a term that puts lots of people off, including me. But I think there’s a context wider than business and marketing for me here. In this case, I am thinking about who I am as a person and who I want to be, which is a more vexed question than it might be.

Pinterest and Instagram are full of positive slogans proclaiming you should ‘be yourself’ in all your quirky glory.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 13.42.29

Am I the only one who doesn’t know what that means? I am in a constant state of flux, which is probably why I like the idea of New Year’s resolutions so much. Why not just decide to be someone different, someone better this year? In fact, why not decide that everyday? This may be a new definition of insanity, or just indicative of a mid-life crisis, but what can I say? I haven’t decided who I am. I am still becoming.

My understanding of myself is worked out through multiple paths—the way I dress and style myself is one of them, as is the work that I do, the people I choose to spend time with, etc. This isn’t only about what I am showing to other people, but also about what I show to myself.

For all of these reasons, my hand-made wardrobe is still on the agenda for 2016. The Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge (which is on-going if you are interested!) really set this off for me last year, and I have been thinking about it pretty much nonstop since then. This year I am going to work out my ‘uniform’ and get my sewing mojo on.

There are other goals, and so many knitwear designs, but that is perhaps for another day…

Don’t forget the New Year Sale on EastLondonKnit patterns runs until 11 January.

Happy knitting,

R.

How are those resolutions coming along?

Hello!

I may have mentioned this once or twice (or at every opportunity); last year’s New Year’s resolutions were uniquely successful, and I was super keen when the time came to set this year’s resolutions. My key resolution for this year was all about participating more. Finding my people is a particularly important aspect for not only for my business, but also for my mental well-being. It is all too easy for me to sit on the sidelines–just read the conversations without taking part and just admire the photos without letting people know I appreciate them.

To that end, I made an active effort to take part in Ravelry forums and on Instagram, which has apparently become my social media of choice. Although I still feel awkward, I do think it has been working–I do feel as if I am more connected to both people I have never met, and those I have, but don’t see as often as I would like.

There were specific bits of participation I wanted to embrace, such as my first KAL: The Fringe Co.’s Hat Along, giving me the rare excuse to knit someone else’s design: Cirilia Rose’s L’Arbre hat, which I love.

 L'Arbre Hat by Cirilia Rose

And then there was my slightly less successful attempt to multitask: I tried to take part in 3 make-alongs at once:the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge, Truly Myrtle’s Selfish Make Along and the Double Knit Podcast Cardi Party. The result was that I did actually finish my Endless Summer Tunic by A Verb for Making Warm, which definitely wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been trying to play along.

endless summer tunic

My cardigan-based offering didn’t quite work out though, as I mentioned last week...
summer tunic dress

The Ravelry boards and blog post comments were really lively, and although it was difficult to keep up, it was really rewarding to see the other participants chatting and encouraging each other.

Participation is more than the virtual contact to me. Maybe I am just a throw back to the pre-internet dark ages, but I need to meet people in a face to face kind of way. I did get a chance to do that thanks to Linda of Kettle Yarn Co. who let me hang around her stand at various and wonderful fibre festivals, such as the I Knit Fandango…

I knit fandango

And I taught some workshops, which is perhaps the most rewarding and the most stressful kind of connection I can make.

ELK teaches knit techniques

In the end, I think it was a successful resolution. I am really pleased I made the effort, and am already thinking about how I can expand on the participation for next year. I have a few ideas, but making more connections with my knitting community and reinforcing the old ones are absolutely the ways forward.

Speaking of participation, the Klee Collection KAL is warming up. Please do join us over on the forum to knit along, get help and win lovely prizes!

Happy holidays and I will see you in the New Year!

R.

Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge

Hello!

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,

R.

Brighton Social

Hello!

This weekend was packed with craftastic events. Saturday was the Brighton Knit and Make Social organised by the lovely ladies of Yarn in the City.

Brighton Knit and Make Social

It’s a great idea: a mini-tour of craft shops in Brighton giving crafters a chance to get to know each other and find new sources for materials. Our first stop was The Brighton Sewing Centre, just minutes from the station.

Brighton Sewing Centre
Photo copyright of Brighton Sewing Centre

The BSC is a small shop with a great selection of haberdashery, fabrics (particularly of the quilting variety) and sewing machines. I was sorely tempted by some marled grey jersey, but strangely I always find it difficult to buy something in the first shop at these events. A quirk of the mind I suppose. I managed to get over that particular quirk by the time we reached the second stop. Ditto Fabrics specialises in dress making fabrics and tongue-in-cheek signage.

Brighton Social Shop Ditto Fabrics

The shop seems to have a lot going on, including a ‘Dressmakers Social’ which sounds not unlike a knit night.

Ditto Fabrics Brighton Social They have a less predictable range of fabrics, with some real treasures hiding in plain sight. I made off with some unusual cotton printed fabric that with a fantastic selvedge before our final stop.

Brighton Social Craft Shopping

Yarn and Knitting is one of my favourite local yarn stores and the subject of previous blogging. YAK’s owner, Kate, has curated a wonderful collection of indie dyers and, in spite of the fact that I needed nothing, I bought a stunning skein of Life in the Long Grass Dappled sock yarn. The colour way Tin Shed, is a blue-grey with large rust-coloured speckles. I can’t wait to see it knit up. The Ravelry projects look super-fab!

And finally, I won! There were great door prizes and I actually won one. Unbelievable. And awesome.

Knitting Pattern and Yarn Brighton Social Door Prize

I won a gorgeous skein of The Uncommon Thread’s BFL fingering and beautiful shawl pattern by Dani Sunshine.

What a day! I was exhausted by the time I got home but it was worth it. New toys and a whole day with my crafty folk-too much good stuff.

Happy knitting,

R.