Designer of the Month at Stephen & Penelope, Amsterdam

S&P Designer of the monthYou go for months without so much as a word from me and then you can’t shut me up.

Ok so maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement but there will definitely be a few blogs posts coming up in pretty quick succession over the next week or so as a number of things are revealed.

Today’s reveal is that throughout June I have the absolute pleasure of being featured as Designer of the Month at the Stephen & Penelope store in  Amsterdam. If you haven’t heard of them – how could you not? Owned by the amazing Stephen West and the gorgeous Malia Mae Joseph the store is a real h(e)aven where you’ll find yarns from all over the world, most recently stocking yarns from UK based indie dyer The Urban Purl.

The shop will be home for the next month to four of my lace designs: Dionne, Diamond Corner, Naomi and No1 Skeete Road. Earlier this year I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with Stephen & Penelope’s own yarn brand West Wool and knowing that I’d be featured this month I thought it was the perfect excuse to re-knit two of these designs in Bicycle which is the brand’s fingering weight.

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I’m not usually a sucker for grey but decided when re-working Naomi to choose Dutch Sky for the main shade with the bobble edge knitted in Citroen which is the BEST acidic yellow I’ve ever laid eyes on. If that colour doesn’t lift your heart, I really don’t know what will.

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And of course if you’ve seen the previous post about No1 Skeete Road you’ll know that I reverted to type and went for the spicy orange warmth of Kardemumma when having that one re-knitted. Thanks again to my friend Mary Alderton for putting your skilful fingers to work and knitting it so beautifully and so quickly too.

All four designs are available as PDFs in my Ravelry Pattern Store and for the first time they’re also now available through yarn stores signed up to Ravelry’s Instore Pattern Sales. If you’re heading to Amsterdam you’ll find the store at Nieuwe Hoogstraat 29, 1011HD Amsterdam, The Netherlands  if not their website is www.stephenandpenelope.com

I am so, so happy to be featured, thank you so much Emily, Malia and all at Stephen & Penelope for featuring my work in your amazing store.

 

J x

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No1 Skeete Road

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How did we suddenly get to June already?! This year is absolutely raging past and whilst I haven’t been committed to regularly posting here on the blog I have been busy pretty much everywhere else so I’ll be doing a series of quick blog posts just to keep you up to date with what’s been happening.

Today I just wanted to let you know that my design No1 Skeete Road is now available in my Pattern Store on Ravelry. Originally knitted in John Arbon’s now discontinued Alpaca Delight it was first published in the December issue of Knitting (no 188) but the pattern has been updated to include full instructions in both written and charted form which should make it more accessible to both chart lovers and chart haters. Oh and what’s that amazing yarn you’re asking? This new version was knitted (by my lovely friend Mary Alderton) in West Wool Bicycle. It’s a fingering weight blend of 90% Falkand Merino 10% Texel which comes in a really uplifting palette of colours and includes eye popping brights as well as cool greys but of course I went for this shade of spicy orange called Kardemumma.

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I can’t really decide whether this design is best described as a shawl or a scarf but I guess it depends on how you wear it. However you style it you’ll find the pattern for No1 Skeete Road here

J x

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Perth Festival of Yarn 7 & 8th September 2019

 

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There’s been a lot of anticipation and excitement but finally the tickets for this year’s Perth Festival of Yarn are now on sale. I’ve known a lot about the classes, events and vendors on offer for some time but now all the secrets are finally out of the bag so you’d better be quick if you don’t want to miss out. 

I’ve never been to PFY before but I’m making up for that by taking on two very important roles. First and perhaps most nerve wrackingly I’ll be there as Keynote Speaker to talk about BIPOC representation in the knitting community; why it’s important and how the community needs to change to make it more truly diverse. The website describes this as a lecture but I hate the idea of ‘lecturing’ people although having been married to me for years my husband Sam would no doubt disagree. 

‘BIPOC and the need for representation in the Knitting Community’ at 1:15pm on 7 September at the Dewars Centre. For more details click here

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I’ll also going be teaching a class where you can learn the technique of ‘dipped stitches’. This is a really interesting and unusual technique that explores working through the knitting to create dense, squishy fabric textures with exciting surface effects. As a designer I’m excited by any technique that makes me question how it might done so I’m really looking forward to teaching this class. In it you’ll learn the basics, learn how to read dipped stitch charts and start to create your own dipped stitches. 

You’ll nee to bring along a few basic materials such as 4.00 mm needles, a could of balls of DK weight yarn and small amounts of DK / fingering weight in contrasting colours as well as scissors, notebook and pen.

Dive Into Dipped Stitches  2:30pm – 5:30pm on 8 September in the Methven Room, The Station Hotel, 1 Leonard Street, PH2 8HE. For more details click here

I’m not going to list everything else that’s happening as you really should visit the website for all the details but I will just add that as well as me the other tutors are Francoise Danoy, Steve Malcolm, Beverley Dott, Karina Westermann, André de Castro, Julie Dubreux  and Lyndsey Roberts. There’s also a Gin Flight Night (I think tickets may have sold out for that, oops) plus a fantastic marketplace full of incredible vendors including the amazing Lady Dye Yarns from Boston, MA USA who I worked with earlier this year for one of their Craft Club Collaborations.

One of the major issues in the continuing conversations about lack of BIPOC representation, diversity and racism in the knitting community was the call for organisers of fibre festivals to step up and be much more intentionally inclusive when planning their events. Well having contacted me back in October last year Festival Director Eva Christie was already ahead of the curve when the discussion set social media alight at the beginning of January this year. Having had the pleasure of getting to know Eva over the last 5 months I know how carefully she’s curated this event and the lineup of tutors and vendors shows how diversity can be thoughtfully realised when it’s always at the heart of what you do and not simply a just knee jerk reaction. 

Roll on September!

J x

Post EYF 2019

This time last week I was in Scotland getting ready for Edinburgh Yarn Festival and although I arrived home on Monday evening I found it so exhausting that it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts on how it went. Being a first time visitor to the show there was a certain amount of anticipation but as I was also sitting on the Diversity and Inclusion panel held on the last day of the festival there was of course a lot of added pressure. Oh yes I forgot I’d also written this.

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As part of the Wool:press guide to the festival event organisers Jo & Mica created a double page feature highlighting POC working in the fibre community many of whom they’d found through the list of POC Designers & Crafters I started last year. I was honoured to be asked to write the introduction to the piece as I hope it added context for anyone not on social media who previously may not have aware of the discussion.  

To be honest I met and spoke to so many people that Saturday was a bit of a blur for my already fried brain to remember everyone I actually spoke with. Plus time went so quickly that I actually forgot vendors wouldn’t be there the following day which accounts for me attending such a big yarn event having bought NOT ONE HANK OF YARN…….AT…..ALL! 

Yes I know what you’re thinking….. I wouldn’t have thought it possible either. My only bit of EYF swag came courtesy of the lovely and talented @julietillyflop from whom I bought a selection of her brilliant and witty cards whilst we had a good chat about the lack of BIPOC representation in our community. 

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Ok so I need to rewind a little bit. At the start of the show a small group of us had arranged to meet in front of @mahliqwire’s stand for something of a BIPOC photocall. As you can see it’s a wonderful shot for many reasons. For a start I’ve never seen so many BIPOC / POC faces at any UK yarn event I’ve attended so it truly was a beautiful thing to be a part of this picture. Secondly, we’d been chatting so much online it was lovely to actually meet in person so there was a lot of hugging going on but unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to spend any time actually sitting and chatting together. Never mind, fingers crossed there’s always the next festival. 

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The rest of Saturday was spent catching up with lots of folk, some from my days living in Edinburgh others I’d never met before and whilst I’d love to tell you everyone I met you could do without reading a list which resembles a fibre themed Oscar acceptance speech. 

What I can tease you with is that there is exciting news to come; some very soon so watch out for future blog posts and some later on in the year.

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Aimee Gille from @labeinaimee
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Cecelia Nelson-Hurt @creativececi
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Sopha Cai @sophiatron

 

The big event at EYF on Sunday was the Diversity and Inclusion panel in which I took part with Sophia Cai @sophiatron, Aimee Gille @labienaimee and moderator Cecilia Nelson-Hurt @creaticececi. For anyone who wasn’t already aware this was a pretty big deal given the current discussions surrounding racism in the fibre community and the lack of diversity and representation of BIPOC in knitting. The panel was a ticketed event which took place on Sunday morning and although priority was given to BIPOC I was really pleased to see there were also many non BIPOC faces in the audience. It may sound odd but there was no point having this discussion with only non white crafters in attendance, after all there’s no point preaching to the choir.  As the event was professionally videoed for later release I won’t go into detail about what was discussed but what I will say is that it seemed to be well received. As soon as the video is available to view I’ll let you know. With all the controversy about Kate Davies not speaking at EYF this panel was convened at pretty late notice so Jo & Mica should be congratulated on what they managed to achieved in such a short amount of time. I do hope however that as was mentioned by someone in the audience they won’t feel it’s ‘business as usual’ when selecting vendors for next year’s EYF. The issue of BIPOC representation in the fibre community isn’t just a 2019 hashtag or trend. I really want to see change. 

Enjoy the rest of my rather random Edinburgh highlights and please excuse any poor grammar, still recover from a migraine. Oh and sorry there’s not more yarn porn, but there is food porn

 

J x

Riley Stripe wrap pattern release

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This design was originally published in issue 122 of The Knitter in March 2018 and now the rights have reverted to me I’m really keen to get into my Ravelry Pattern Store. I must admit to having a bias towards charts when it comes to designing and because of this I haven’t properly catered for knitters who find them off putting so I really must apologise for that. With this in mind when releasing this pattern I’ve decided  to include both charts and full written instructions so it’s a bit more appealing to both chart lovers and chart haters.

This means additional tech editing which will happen over the next couple of weeks so my release date is set for 12th April.  The PDF pattern will also include lots of juicy close up shots and links to video tutorials for some of the techniques used. You can *pre-order the pattern by going to my Ravelry Pattern Store. I  recently reached an amazing 10,000 followers on Instagram which has both amazed and humbled me. Thank you all so much. So to celebrate there’s 20% off the Riley Stripe pattern and the rest of my designs from 0:00 am March 21st  until 23:59 GMT March 24th 2019. Theres no minimum purchase and no code required. The discount will be applied when you checkout. 

See you the other side of EYF

 

J x

*When pre-ordering Riley Stripe you’ll receive a temporary PDF with some basic information about the yarn required, on release date this will be updated to the full tech edited pattern in PDF format

 

Diversity and inclusion at EYF 2019

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This time next week I’ll be travelling up to Scotland for my first Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

Initially I hadn’t planned on visiting the show but a couple of opportunities arose which made it a good excuse to combine these meetings with seeing some of our non knitting friends. (As for who I’m meeting, can’t say, sorry!) Plus going to EYF meant I could basically drool my way around the Corn Exchange at a fibre event which started after Sam and I relocated to the south coast. What I hadn’t envisaged was being asked to be part of a panel discussion on  Diversity and Inclusion taking place on Sunday the final day.

Those of you already aware of the current conversations about racism and the lack of diversity in the knitting community will know that this was arranged to replace the scheduled speaker, Kate Davies who unfortunately had to withdraw due to ill health. I’m sorry that she won’t be speaking and I genuinely wish her well.

The discussion about racism in knitting is both difficult and uncomfortable. It takes many of us out of our comfort zones and forces us to look within and examine how we humans behave towards each other. Or at least that’s what it should be doing. If we as BIPOC (Black & Indigenous People Of Colour) / POC are to see ourselves represented in the fibre community we need to be able to have open, honest and respectful conversations about the racism within it. Ones where BIPOC  / POC can share their experiences and non BIPOC / POC listen, learn and work with us to move forward.

When I posted on Instagram that I was taking part in this panel I saw a comment that referred to ‘waves of aggression’. Perhaps it’s due to my age but I really don’t do aggression, I like to be measured in my responses and thoughtful with my words. So when I take part in this discussion on Sunday along with Cecilia Nelson @creativceci, Aimee Gille of @labienaimee and Sophia Cai @sophiatron I’m hoping to hear voices from knitters of all colour; black, brown, white and every other combination. EYF are making this a ticketed event with priority going to BIPOC / POC but it can’t be a ‘one sided’ conversation if we want to make the fibre community one that reflects and respects us all.

If you’re coming on Sunday, already have tickets for the Make:Wool event and are interested in attending you can find out more information on the talk here 

As I mentioned doing this really takes me out of my comfort zone but I feel this topic is far too important for me not to be part of this discussion. I’m looking forward to meeting up with people I’ve only previously spoken with on Instagram so if you see me and want to say hi, then do!

J x

North Point, The Knitter issue 134

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This design takes its name comes from the cliffs of North Point which can be found in the parish of St Lucy on the island of Barbados. Sitting at the northern post tip of the island it’s renowned for the powerful Atlantic Ocean waves that pound the rugged landscape throwing columns of sea spray upwards onto the limestone cliffs above. Whilst I was swatching for this design I was intrigued that moving the initial vertical lace pattern just one stitch in either direction on successive rows created arcs of pattern that reminded me of those constantly crashing Atlantic waves, hence the name. Standing on the cliff edge at North Point in the hot Bajan sun the sea views are both dramatic and uninterrupted, in fact you could literally be teetering on the edge of the world.

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Back in the slightly chillier UK I wanted this wrap to be your ‘go to’ cover up if, like me, you’re always cold. It’s a lace design but not in a traditional sense as it’s worked in Erika Knight’s Wild Wool, an Aran weight blend of 85% wool 15% nettle fibre (shown as viscose on the label). Knitted in two pieces grafted at the centre each piece begins with a provisional cast on. The main section of each piece is knitted in a broad vertical rib with single stitch decreases, slip stitches and eyelets defining where the knit columns meet the purl.

 

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As I mentioned previously the travelling arcs of lace are created by moving the pattern one stitch to the right on the first piece and one stitch to the left on the second piece and this produces a mirrored effect when the two sections are grafted together. The edges of the wrap are slipped which gives them a rounded finish and this look continues when the provisional cast on stitches are picked up and finished with an i-cord cast off. There are lots of reasons why I love this design; the stitch pattern is completely reversible, the yarn has the most incredible drape and given the mix of knit & purl and the gauge of the yarn, I think that may be the best seam I have EVER grafted.

I really hope you like it too. 

J x

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