Lydia Flower Pattern

When we first started out spinning and writing patterns and kits – nearly seven years ago now, one of the first to appear on Knit on the Net, the online knitting magazine fun by Susan Crawford was this one, the Lydia Flower.

The pattern ended up on my ravelry page as a free download and it was really popular – downloaded hundreds of times and we received lots of lovely comments of thanks from fellow ravelry friends.

But then someone got in touch and I realised I’d made an error in the writing. It was a tiny error, the missing of an asterisk but it would have thrown a new knitter and I felt so bad that I removed it.

Anyway, the lovely Frances from left a comment asking for it, so here it is all correct and no mistakes.  I really hope you enjoy knitting it Frances and anyone else who fancies having a go, it’s very easy (even I can knit it!)

  So get knitting and stick your flowers on hats, wear them as brooches, place them on your slippers! If you do, please send me a photo and let me see them.


Catching Up

I know, I know, it’s been a very long time. Here’s what’s been going on.

I’ve been taking an embroidery course at Knit Wise in Ormskirk.  It’s gone very well.  Embroidery was my first love and the reason that I started to spin in the first place.  I started as many people do with across Stitch and went on to other forms of embroidery, stumpwork, Hardanger. Tapestry, I had a go at the lot.

I attended the workshops of Ann McTavish, a textile artist based in Liverpool. She used very textured threads in her wallhangings and I wanted to create my own so began spinning.

Stumpwork Butterfly by Cathy Wright

So it’s ben such a buzz to run an embroidery course of my own, starting from running stitch at the very beginning through the work of Helen Stevens, Marna Lunt and Annemieke Mein. Embroidery is such a huge medium the ten week course only touches the surface. 

Frog embroidery by Annemieke Mein

So I’m hoping to incorporate my own handspun yarn into the embroidery course and in my own embroidery too so that there are possibilities for those that love to spin but don’t necessarily love to knit.  There has to be more than just me out there!

Ten week embroidery course running again from January 2016.  If embroidery could be your thing, come along and give it a try. We try to keep costs low so it’s just £10 for two hours, you can bring your own materials along or buy in the shop for a 10% discount on the day. I would love to meet like minded people and once we’re off we’ll be launching our Stitchers Social where we can all stitch together.  How cool is that!

Skills Event Updates

It’s been an incredibly buy few weeks for me, I’ll start with the Manchester and  Rochdale Skills Events which I was invited to by the Alliance Project. This is a scheme run by Lord Alliance, formerly of Coats Crafts and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to look into the repatriation of the textile industry. There is a huge skill shortage in this country and the Alliance Project is a scheme tht is trying o address that. So where better to stat with than at Option level school children.

We began on the Monday at the Manchester Convention Centre (formerly the GMEX) with our stand showcasingBritish  Weaving Companies such as the Very English Weaving Company and Mallalieus of Oldham who have been manufacturing in Britain since 1840 There was also Dionne Swift, textile designer and Lisa Watson, quiltmaker. I felt very honoured to be there.



The event itself was quiet, the students were slightly reserved and we really had to encourage them to get involved and I have to say that the teachers were not particularly in evidence. I spoke to one textile teacher all day which was disappointing considering we were trying to give support to their subject. Take up of Textiles as a subject has been dropping over the past few years.


We were visited though by the local Police, who loved the looms and even started to teach some of the students themselves. The lads were definitely more happy to be taught by a man.



Wednesday at Heywood Distribution Centre was a completely different event, it was loud and manic and the students were completely engaged, willing to have a go at everything!

Our group was joined by Manchester University Textile Department and Heather Jacks, the winner of the Great British Sewing Bee last year. It was such a brilliant day and the teachers couldn’t have been more enthusiastic.


It would be wonderful if textiles could have more of a role in this country’s manufacturing and let’s hope that events like this are the start, there lots of very talented people out there that we don’t hear about. I don’t know if it was a good idea that I heard about them (keeping an eye on my credit card)



I’d like to thank everyone who donated wool, fibre, buttons, beads and fabric for this event, it was brilliant to have such a varied amount of materials and they definitely inspired everyone to have a go. The little looms were wonderful, so user friendly. I’ll be using them again, so if anyone wants a go…….

Alysn Midgleow Martin Workshop

So after my last post about working alone, I was plunged into working among a group. I attended Alysn Midgelow Martin’s personal statement workshop at Art Van Go in Hertfordshire. I had a five and a half hour drive through rush hour and fog and stayed in a Bed and Breakfast with a shared bathroom where you weren’t allowed to use the bath but hey, no pain no gain.

My chosen statesman of ‘creative minds are rarely tidy’ I found online under quotes from Winnie the Pooh (it’s always nice to have a few quotes under your belt and I love AA Milne). Imagine how flabbergasted I was when I discovered it was said by John William Gardener (sometimes also credited to Carl Gustav Jung, but on further investigation this seems incorrect). Just glad I didn’t credit it to Winnie the Pooh.

Faced with a room full of ladies who had City and Guilds certificates all over the place, I have to admit, I did feel incredibly intimidated. I started to miss my little room on my own, but how do you inspire and bounce ideas if not with other people. I was just out of the habit of it all.

We started with monoprinting on paper.


Then stamping and embossing with heat tools



We burnt brass and stainless steel with a camp stove burner to create colours in the metal


We painted lutrador (a polyester material, feels like thick paper) with silk paints, attached it to metal and then machined our saying over the top of it. Then we heated the Lutrador to distress it and create this effect, which I really like


On Friday we were told to put it all together. This is where I struggled. I was in good company though, quite a few of us did. We had lots of samples of processes – to do what with? Alysn was a very helpful, hands on and generous teacher, offering loads of tips and encouragement. But if your head is empty, then it’s just empty.

So here is my finished piece. The big reveal. I cannot believe I’m putting this out there but here you go.


I can almost hear the quizzical looks on faces. D’you know it wasn’t the best in the class by any stretch, but it wasn’t the worst either and for someone completely thrown in the deep end its alright. Will it be going on a wall anytime soon – I think not.

But I had a wonderful time away, I learned loads of processes that I plan to experiment with using my new heat gun(!!!) and did something that frightened me each day. And that’s what’s it’s all about.

Is it always healthy to work alone?

I was privileged on Monday to be able to go to work with my friend Paula of Paulafingers Contemporary Ceramics. Paula has a studio in Liverpool and it was interesting to be able to work in a space that wasn’t connected to a house, like mine is.

While Paula’s studio is a space surrounded by other artists, often they work outside normal working hours and so Paula, like me spends hours working alone.


This isn’t always helpful as it can be difficult to keep perspective over the things we produce. Is it any good? How can it be improved? How much time should be spent creating and how much time on social media or networking? Hours of mulling these feelings over can leave you feeling frustrated and short tempered rather than having a sense of achievement.

So it was a real treat to spend time together, bouncing ideas off each other, comparing work practises and techniques.

Paula has created a collection of knitting bowls in pastel shades that hopefully will be ready soon. These slipcasted bowls have a section for your yarn to pull through will move with the ball. Here’s a sneaky peak of what’s on its way.


Creative Textiles class at Knit Wise

Well I see the NHS claiming that the Flu jab program for this year is a success and having had the combined flu and pneumonia jab this week I can only think this is because it’s killing people before they can get the flu!

Anyway, a few days off wasn’t so bad, it certainly got the creative ideas flowing.

As spinners, we end up with lots of fibres knocking about, some we know what they are, some are all mixed together so there is no chance of working it out. As dyers, some of those may have been mistakes, strange shades or partly felted mishaps.

Some of those can be recycled. Monday morning was spent with Jess and Erin, two lovely girls who are taught by their mum. They came along to make felt and dye fibre and before we knew it, three hours had gone by. They worked so hard and their felt balsa, pictures and hand dyed fibre was gorgeous. Now it’s dried, I will pass it on, but I’m very tempted to keep it.


So with some of the other bits and pieces, fibres, threads and handspun experiments I wanted to be able to use those little bits and pieces to create something new. Add in some handspun yarn, bondaweb, sewing machine threads and you end up with an abstract piece


But what do we do with all these experiments? We might love the things we create but how to use them? Well, on the Creative Textiles morning at Knit Wise, we can look at how to use our work. The first item we’ll attempt is abound book cover with our piece on the front.

The beauty of this class is that it’s an ongoing process, we come each week and just add a little bit more to our worK. We can keep sketching for ideas, then put those ideas into work and end up with something we’ve made. Whether it be a book cover, pin cushion, needle case, whatever takes our fancy.

We can mix ‘new’ experimental ways of creating our work, using tyvek, bondaweb and heat tools and mix them with traditional embroidery methods.

The class is £4 and is on every week from 10-4, newbies and experienced members most welcome. Why not come along and join me? Otherwise I’ll be sitting on my own (but at least I won’t be at home doing the ironing)

Sketching for Inspiration

Sketching, I believe is an important part of creating. And because I believe it I usually have a sketchbook or notepad in my bag at all times. Most of them end up something like this


A great place to store a shopping list. If I’m feeling very creative it might end up like this


A holiday list. With bunting.

Sketchbooks scare me, I’m much happier throwing dyes in a pot and spinning or felting to create than actually drawing something that (horror of horrors) someone might see. And yet, when I do attempt to draw and return to those images sometimes years later, they evoke feelings and emotions that don’t come with a photograph.

So I’m trying to do it properly this time and to that end, I’ve got my copy of Creating Sketchbooks by Kate Greenlees out of the cupboard and have been hitting Pinterest by the minutes.


I came across textile which is a great resource for all textile artists. There is an article by Bren Boardman which goes through a mind mapping approach for sketchbooks. I would wholeheartedly recommend reading it

So with that in mind I started with a photo of these seed heads. These were growing outside our local retirement apartments


I found out that they are Rudbeckia or Black Eyed Susan seed heads. These happy little yellow flowers can be used in dyeing, producing a range of browny tan shades which is perhaps something I could think about for a project.


I may not use it at all, but the sketching process certainly got the ideas flowing. It takes time, but I’m going to be making more of an effort to sketch regularly in the future….

I’m hosting a loosely termed Knit’n’Natter at Knit Wise in Ormskirk. It’s a weekly event, Thursday mornings 10-12. I’d like to welcome all kinds of crafters, but one of the things I’ll be encouraging us all to do is keep a sketchbook, then we can discuss inspiration and ideas and try and get some sparks going. It would be great to get a vibrant group together, so if you’d like to attend, I’d be happy to see you. I’ve even baked a fruit cake


In the meantime here’s some links for sketchers