Knitting and Stitching Show 2014 – Alexandra Palace

knitting_and_stitching_show_bannerWelcome back to the highlight of this years’s Wool Week! The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace took place during Wool Week this year, and was my personal finale of the week.  My friend Sarah from Nottingham Knitter came to visit so we could spend the day at Ally Pally together, and boy did we have fun!

Our first stop was the LoveKnitting/Rowan Yarns stall. We said Hi to designers Sarah Hatton and Jem Weston before heading off into the depths of the exhibition. Rowan has designed a variety of beautiful ponchos just for Wool Week – I’ve wanted a Poncho for a while now. Just which colourway to choose.. help?

Off we were to  the famous Black Sheep Wools‘ Yarn Dive (which shall not be pictured here – things do get a bit… passionate there sometimes). I managed to pull away from the pile without buying anything for the first year ever, but I was on a budget and there was so much more to see. After all, our biggest interest was yarn, Yarn and more YARN. I was searching for Fyberspates Sparkle Sock Yarn, only to find out it had been discontinued (sad).

Fyberspates

Fyberspates

I had seen Millamia Yarns at the show before and was seriously tempted to buy their new book Winter Knits, but sadly my budget didn’t stretch far enough. It’s on top of my Christmas wishlist though. *hint hint*

MillaMia Sweden

Millamia

Eden Cottage Yarns had some of the softest, fluffiest Baby Alpaca Yarn I’ve ever felt. And such delicious colours too!

Eden Cottage Yarns

Eden Cottage Yarns

But there were of course also lots of finished projects and patterns to be admired. Purl Alpaca Designs are one of my favourite stalls every year, their designs are just so incredibly flattering and I can’t stress enough how much I love their Alpaca Yarns in natural shades.

Purl Alpaca Designs

Purl Alpaca Designs

Mrs Moon‘s stunning Super Giant Granny Square blanket first caught my eye at the Handmade Fair a few weeks ago, I was delighted to see it again at Ally Pally. Another future project for sure, and their pastel colours are just so pretty!

Mrs Moon Crochet Blanket

Mrs Moon

The crochet work on display at Jane Crowfoot‘s stall was just breathtaking, I need to join one of her CAL’s one of these days.

Jane Crowfoot Stall

Jane Crowfoot

And while we’re talking KAL’s – don’t you just love Debbie Abrahams Beneath The Sea blanket? I mean come on, it has mermaids and seahorses and glitzy things, how much better does it get? I was gutted when I found out that the patterns are only available for one year for members of her Mystery Blanket Club.

Beneath the Sea

Debbie Abrahams – Beneath the Sea

Sue Stratford had some pretty cool Knitting Kits. I loved the chickens, Sarah really liked the Monster Cat.

Sue Straford Kits

Sue Stratford Kits

These Hedgehog Hats win my personal ‘Wacky Knit of the Day’ award.

Hedgehog Hats

Gillian Gladrag had the cutest peacock bag felting kit, sadly I missed out on this one.

Gillian Gladrag Felting Kits

Gillian Gladrag Felting Kits

And then there was this incredible exhibition called ‘Black Sheep – The Darker Side of Felt’. Mind. Blown. Check out the amazing dresses, and the felted skulls! And those alien guys – they are the 7 Deadly Sins.

 

But in my last post I promised you the story of how I lost my heart at Ally Pally, so here it goes.
Sarah and I were on our way home, and just wanted to stop quickly at the Toft Alpaca Shop before leaving. Everybody loves the cute crochet animals from Edward’s Menagerie and we are no exception. But when we arrived at the stall, there was THIS guy.

Teddy.

Teddy.

Isn’t he just the cutest, fluffiest, best Teddy you’ve ever seen? And once I had given him a good hug there was no way I could leave him behind. NO WAY. The Toft guys probably thought I was a bit weird. But I don’t care. All I know is that Mr Fox said Teddy could come home with us. And that made me one happy Snowfox.
iamsnowfox_teddy_toftalpacashop
THE END

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The Home of Rowan Yarns – A Visit to the Mill

Hey everyone! I have finally returned to my blog after a few turbulent months. It’s good to be back.
I’d like to tell you about the time Snowfox packed her bags and travelled all the way to picturesque Holmfirth, to visit the home of Rowan Yarns and meet 12 fellow Rowan Ambassadors and the makers and shakers of the brand.

I don’t even know where to start – it was all amazing. I travelled from London to Nottingham, where Sarah from Nottingham Knitter picked me up so we could travel the rest of the way together. We arrived at our hotel in Holmfirth, the Old Bridge Inn, just in time to join the other Ambassadors for dinner. Lots of happy faces greeting us, it was so exciting to finally meet everybody after having communicated online for over a year.

Rowan_Ambassadors

From the Rowan Yarns facebook page

From front  left to right:
Ute from Heute strick ich
Anja from IamSnowfox
Maria Niedermayer 
Violeta from A Knitting Bakery
Linda from Knitted Pink
Cindi from PurlOne
Kristen from Knitionary
Dayana from Dayana Knits
Esther from Knitting with Rowan
Anne from Life Lackadaisical 
Konrad from Knittingkonrad
Claire from Knit And Purl Garden
Sarah from Nottingham Knitter

After a delicious and satisfying dinner, we all unpacked our knitting (of course) and wound down from a long day of travelling before heading up to our separate rooms.

Holmfirth_from_Old_Bridge_Inn

Room with a view

The next morning we got whisked off to The Mill to finally meet the Rowan Yarns team.
The Green Lane Mill has been the home of Rowan Yarns since 1979. It’s a beautiful old building, lots of exposed brick walls and wooden beams that ooze character and work as a beautiful backdrop for the offices and show room.

Rowan_Mill_Entrance

At last – The Rowan Mill

We were introduced to brand manager Kate Buller and the Rowan Team, including designers – Imagine getting to meet all the people who’s designs you’ve admired and recreated over the years – I was pretty star-struck. The creativity and expertise in that room was unbelievable.

Rowan_Designers

Martin Storey, Marie Wallin, Lisa Richardson, Sarah Hatton, Gemma Atkinson, Kate Buller

Every single Rowan Magazine in existance was carefully laid out for us to look at – the early issues are hard to come by and are popular collectors items, I almost didn’t dare picking up some of the rarer magazines as I’m so clumsy and tend to break things. I couldn’t resist picking up the first ever Rowan Magazine though – and my very own first issue, Magazine 48.
IamSnowfox_Rowan_Magazines

But what would a visit to the mothership of beautiful knitted garments be without garments – there were of course several models from the A/W collection on display. Lots of oohing and aahing, and of course thorough discussion of the new season going on!

Marie_Wallin_Scaven

Scaven‘ by Marie Wallin

We even got to try things on!

Lisa_Richardson_Ulrika

Ulrika by Lisa Richardson

We spent time discussing current and future projects, amongst others the first ever Rowan Knit-A-Long, a beautiful  Mystery Afghan designed by Martin Storey and Knitted with Rowan’s Pure Wool Worsted. The pattern is free and can be downloaded from the Rowan Yarns Website here, all you need to do is sign up as a site member (which is also free).

Martin_Storey_Mystery_Afghan

Martin Storey presenting his very own Mystery Afghan

We spent a day learning about the design process at Rowan Yarns – from brief to swatching to finished garment, and even had a chance of working on our own designs with help and advice from the pros. After two full days at The Mill filled with so much creative input, some fresh air was exactly what I needed, so some of us went for a beautiful walk in the Peak District, with lots of sheep to keep us company of course.

IamSnowfox_Nottingham_Knitter_Peak_District

With Nottingham Knitter Sarah

And last – but certainly not least! – there was CAKE.

Rowan_Ambassadors_CakeI hope you enjoyed taking this little tour with me. In my next post I’ll tell you all about the new season yarns and my favourite A/W 2014/15 designs. See you then!

DIY Recycled Cardboard Jewellery Display Tutorial

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display

I don’t know about you, but it’s already March and some of my NYE resolutions haven’t really taken off. Like reducing my yarn stash. Or fitting back into my old jeans. Or decluttering.
Decluttering! It’s amazing how much stuff we collect over the years. I’ve been feeling quite heavy (not literally.. ok maybe a little bit) with things in the last few months.
I was originally planning to get rid of at least one possession every day of the year. That makes 365 things in a year. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But as things go, I commute between two countries, I have two households, I have a lot of stuff, but not necessarily all in one place. So the decluttering doesn’t always happen when and where I’d like it to happen.
I’m  spending 2 consecutive weeks in the same house this month, so last week saw me frantically rooting through my wardrobes, drawers, boxes, tins – you name it, I’ve probably got something stored in it.

I don’t like throwing perfectly good clothes (jewellery, household items) away, I’d rather swap or resell them, or give them to charity. Time for a trip to the flea market! 

Previous trips to markets and car boot sales have taught me that chaos is not good. Jumble is not good. Nobody will be interested in your things if your stall is one big mess. So this year, I’m being super organised. I’m taking tables to display all the little items, clothes racks for all the stuff I don’t wear anymore.. but what to do with the jewellery?
I could buy a jewellery display. But wait, the whole idea was to get rid of things, not buy more things! So I came up with a quick and simple solution: A cardboard display that can be discarded (you can of course keep it and reuse it later).
I had all the materials at home so it cost me literally nothing apart from a little time. So here’s my tutorial for a super easy, cost effective and environment friendly portable jewellery display.

You will need:

Strong cardboard (an old box does the job)
Scissors
A very sharp knife
Large darning needle
Surface you can cut on

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_materials

Start by deciding what items you want to display, and how big you’d like your display to be. Cut your cardboard to the desired size using the scissors (I used the knife, but scissors are a bit neater. The knife will leave your edges slighty rough). Next, decide what you want to hang where. Earrings take up the least space, short necklaces can be displayed beneath each other, long ones lined up next to each other.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_earrings

To hang your earrings, simply punch a hole for each earring through the cardboard with your darning needle. Make sure to leave some space between the holes so your dangly earrings don’t get tangled.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_earrings_tutorial

For shorter necklaces, use your knife to diagonally make one cut into each side of your cardboard like shown in the photo below.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_short_tutorial

For really long or bulky necklaces, cut out an upside down ‘U’.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_long_tutorial_diy

Punch the ‘U’ from the back of the cardboard so it stands out a little bit. Use the ‘U’ like a hook to hang up your necklace. This method also works well for bracelets.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_long_tutorial

Before you hang up all your things, you could also use pens, markers or paint to draw on your cardboard. Once you’re satisfied with how your display looks, decide how you want to hang it. I used metal scarf hangers as their grip is quite firm and they will hold a lot of weight. I can simply hang them onto the ends of the clothes racks and people will be able to see all the pretty things without having to dig through a box of tangled chains. You could of course also just lean them against something, or tie some string through two holes at the top and hang them on a wall. Or use a skirt hanger and hang inside your wardrobe for neat jewellery storage.

Cardboard jewelry display

Wool Week – Day 4: Knitting is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll

As I am writing this, Wool Week 2013 draws to a close. It’s been a wonderful week full of  inspiration, shared creativity and  fun.
I tried to go to as many events and workshops as time would allow. On schedule for thursday was the Rowan Yarns workshop at John Lewis Oxford Street. The classes were all booked out, so I decided to just drop into one of their open sessions, which also allowed me to check out the progress of the wool window.
People have been hard at work all week, and by now you can view the finished room in the side streets off Oxford Street. Just as a reminder, we started out with this on monday…

Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas

By Thursday, things were looking rather different. A majority of the originally white interior is now covered in colourful stitches.. they don’t even stop at the afternoon tea.


Those who still think knitting is for old ladies only, think again. Knitting is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Knitting is the new  Rock 'n' Roll

After saying Hi to the busy people in the window, I headed up the First Floor for the Rowan workshop. Upon arriving I noticed models of the snoods they were teaching to people – 3 different variations, all knit in wonderfully soft and chunky Big Wool. I borrowed a pair of needles, and one of the design consultants who work at John Lewis attempted to teach me to knit English Style (I’m normally a continental knitter). I started working on this cabled cowl and will definitely be making a few of these as Christmas presents.
 Cabled Cowl


Stuart Hillard from the Great British Sewing Bee having fun knitting a purple scarf.

Stuart Hillard Knitting

After a good two hours during which I more or less successfully attempted fair isle knitting with one colour in each hand, it was time for another class. This one was fully booked, and even reality TV star Oliver Proudlock joined the group to learn how to knit. Since the pop-up store was getting really crowded, I packed what I had made into my already too-full bag and headed over to Liberty’s, where the Awards ceremony for the winner of Wool Week 2013 Hand Knit & Crochet Award was taking place.
The Awards are a collaboration between Rowan Yarns, The Campaign for Wool, Liberty’s and The Royal College of Arts. To learn more about the awards, head over to the Campaign for Wool’s website. I got a chance to talk to the winners and Rowan brand manager Kate Buller and designer Marie Wallin, who are both very passionate about the competition, and who knows – they might even be recruiting some of those fresh talents to work with on future collections. Marie Wallin (wearing her own design Anatolia from Rowan Mag 54) then presented the awards and prizes to the winners and told the audience a little more about the designs and the creative minds behind them.


I am a bit sad that Wool Week 2013 is now nearly over, but am sure that Wool Week 2014 is already being planned as we speak, and will have many more inspiring exhibitions and events in store for all of us. I’m signing off now to work on my knitting :)

Wool Week ‘Knit Nation’ – Day 1

This year’s wool week has finally arrived! I kicked off the week by joining Toft Alpaca Shop for some live Yarn Bombing in a window display at John Lewis in Oxford Street. The idea is to start out with a completely white space, and gradually cover it in colourful stitches during the week. Lots of different artists are joining the fun, and there will be stints of live knitting and crocheting every day. 
John Lewis is also hosting FREE knitting workshops every day, for more information and class schedules check the Campaign for Wool’s website
We spent the afternoon covering the sofa in what will be a fitted throw by the end of the week, and were joined by Dan from Sheperd’s delight. Check out his pictures of Daisy Lowe opening Wool Week on tumblr.

After finishing the crochet session in the window I joined WOOL AND THE GANG for a free knitting class in the women’s fashion department. They had been doing some live knitting in the window earlier and were now busy teaching knitting chunky hats and scarves to anyone who dropped in.

I had so much fun and can’t wait to be back on thursday to check out the progress of the wooly window and join Rowan Yarns for free workshops during the day. Follow me on facebook for some live updates!

Travel in style – Customize your luggage!

Suitcase

I travel a lot. Like, a lot. As in: On a plane almost every week. Most of the time I try and travel light, as checking in a bag when you fly often means waiting ages after you’ve landed to get your suitcase back, and anyone who’s had  their luggage lost on a trip to a foreign country with literally everything in it will know how stressful it is not knowing if you’ll ever get your things back. A few things I have learned over the years are: If you can, travel with carry on luggage only. If you need to check in a bag, make sure you have at least one change of clothes, your toothbrush and any toiletries which you might need to get you through one or two days without your luggage in your carry-on luggage.

The other thing I have learned is: Suitcases all look the same, and for most of them unfortunately that means they look quite boring. Customising your luggage is a fun and cheap way to make your bag look cool, and make sure you never confuse it with that other suitcase on the luggage belt that looked just the same, because it will be unique.

All you need to transform your luggage is:

  • An old suitcase
  • Spraypaint
  • Clear top coat (optional)
  • Masking tape
  • Stencils (I used lace curtain)
  • Fine sandpaper (optional)
  • Newspaper (optional)

If your suitcase is made of plastic, it would be wise to get a spray paint that is made to adhere to plastic, or a primer that will make your regular spray paint stick. My suitcase is made of a strong cardboard-like fiber, so I bought univeral spray paint in two different colours: A matte grey for the background and a neon yellow for the highlights.

Suitcase before

If your suitcase is made of cardboard like mine, or fabric, there isn’t much you need to do before you can start. It is a good idea to clean the surface you want to paint to make sure the paint will stick properly. I used a damp cloth first to get any bits of dust and dirt off, and then wiped it down with a little bit of alcohol. If your suitcase has a plastic shell, it would be a good idea to lightly sand the surfaces down and clean with alcohol afterwards.

Suitcase before

Next, cover anything you don’t want to spray with masking tape and/or newspaper. I am lucky enough to have a garden, but I still used newspaper to cover the ground I was working on.
Use your base colour to spray on a thin first coat. Hold the spray can about 20cms away from your case and spray evenly. I let the first coat dry for about 15 minutes before doing a second coat. All in all I did 3 coats with the base colour.

Half way

If you don’t want to add any highlights or patterns, you’re almost done. You can cover the case with a clear top coat which will make the colours last longer, but if you’d like your case to look worn and a bit battered, I recommend skipping this step.
I wanted my suitcase to be a bit more interesting though, and slightly girly. If you are good at painting, you could either paint something on, or use a stencil. You can buy stencils at any craft store, or make your own from a bit of cardboard.
I really like the current trend of all things lace and doily, so I used a bit of lace curtain as my stencil. You can get small scraps of lace curtain from any fabric or interior design store for very little money.
Cut your lace the size you want the pattern on your case to be and make sure to leave a bit of allowance on the sides. Use the allowance to fix your lace to the suitcase with a little tape to make sure it doesn’t move while you work.
I was very shy with the spray paint on the bottom of the case as I wanted it to be delicate and didn’t want to ruin the pattern by heavily layering on the colour, however when I removed the lace it was a bit too faint for my liking.
So for the top half I sprayed the pattern on just like I did the base coat, and used about 2 layers at the top and 3 at the bottom of the pattern to give it a bit of a faded look. Make sure to not move your lace during the process, I know it is tempting to just have a quick look, but you will never get the lace back into the same position and that will make your pattern look blurry.
Let it dry for a few minutes and then carefully remove the lace without touching the wet lace or pattern. You don’t want the lace to dry on the pattern as it will stick to the surface and smudge the delicate lines.

After

You can see that my pattern is a little bit blurred in places, especially around the wooden decorations, due to the lace not lying entirely flat on the surface. I don’t mind as I quite like how it looks, but if this bothers you, make sure your suitcase has an even surface.

After flat

Let your suitcase dry thoroughly (you will find instructions how long your paint needs to dry on the spray can), and either leave it as it is, or spray on some clear top coat to give the colour some extra protection. You’ll never have problems finding your suitcase on the luggage carousel from now on!