Sunday, 24 November 2013


I am a passionate knitter.  Much as I love designing and making clothes, in an ideal world (where hand knitting would be paid what it is actually worth)  I would stop sewing at the drop of a hat to be able to just knit.  I remember my Aunty Babs helping me when she babysat for us at the home we moved from when I was 5, so I started early.  From the proverbial scarf I quickly progressed onto knitting for my Sindy doll (English version of Barbie). 

I just found this photo on the web (and I'm pretty sure Mum still has this booklet in her sewing box) and seeing it again for the first time for years I am smiling to myself whilst I realise how early my style inspirations were formed.  I guess I was a Chanel fan before I even realised who Chanel was.

I knitted TinTin sweaters for Paul Smith in my younger days ...

... and I've knitted all through my life; there's something about the contact of the needles and yarn in my hands that I find so satisying, and it's my way of relaxing.  It's such a part of my life now that if I have an evening where I'm home too late to pick up my needles I feel like I've really missed something.

There are always examples of my latest hand knits in the shop and they fly off the rails.  They are all one offs, and I like to think they show what you can do with 2 needles, some yarn and a little imagination, an alternative to what comes to mind for most people when they think of 'hand knitted jumpers'.  

This year I had the opportunity to participate in a Yarnbombing project in Narbonne, where I live. For those who haven't heard of Yarnbombing here's the Wikipedia definition:  Yarn bombingyarnbombingyarn stormingguerrilla knittingurban knitting or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.  I can't tell you how much fun I had playing with different designs and stitches.  It was a voyage of discovery and quite an inspiration.  I picked up my crochet hook again too in the interest of speed (crochet is so much faster than knitting) and love the results.   

And knitting is making its way back to an "acceptable" past time for women other than white-haired grandmothers.  The move to "hand made" in our society has been growing for over a decade, and more and more people are discovering the satisfaction of standing back and admiring (and having admired) something they have physically produced, as well as discovering an age-old skill.  And of course, this leads to an appreciation of the beautiful hand made work that comes from those countries that we have historically exploited and a realisation that we should pay them a more realistic price for this labour-intensive work (even if this battle is still waging in Western society: hand made versus "intellectual" work, and don't even start me off on the "female" skills versus "male" skills monetary value discrepancies).  

So, why not get out those needles, search youtube for some tutorials, and get knitting!

Monday, 18 November 2013


We all get bored with our wardrobe and have experienced that feeling of standing in front of the open doors, gazing at everything hanging up, and seeing nothing that inspires.  That's just the moment to stop looking and start playing.  I mentioned in My Signature Dress how that hugely successful design came about, and it's an idea that lends itself to other garments, particularly skirts. Here are just a few of my ideas that have worked well.

The elasticated waist skirt is simply hitched up under the arms and belted for a simple and stylish dress.

The drawstring waistline of the skirt becomes the halterneck of the dress version.

This bias cut skirt works really well as a dress, here over slim indian style trousers.

So, next time you're stuck for something 'new' to wear, just remember that a skirt is never just a skirt, and how much fun you can have just by adding a belt!