a treasured gift

What’s this? A handknitted hoose? With flowers in the garden . . . . . . and a wee gate . . . . . leading to a horse-shoe adorned front door . . . . . . there are flowers in the windows too . . . . . . shrubs round the side…

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yoke in a bag!

What’s this? Some “Shetland” yarn of very vintage hue, spun and branded here in Scotland? . . .and an accompanying pattern? But wait! There’s more . . . . Yes, this is a kit to knit your own yoked cardigan or jumper! Having heard of the existence of these kits (from your comments and elsewhere)…

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A chat with Tom of Holland

I am sure that many of you may be familiar with the work of my good friend and woolly comrade Tom van Deijnen, also known as Tom of Holland. Tom is perhaps best known for his expertise in, and celebration of, darning, which he puts into practice in his classes and workshops, as well as…

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finishing a steek

I have recently been designing and knitting a thing with steeks, which required finishing. This project is part of an exciting collaboration, and I’ll be able to tell you (and show you) more about it in a couple of weeks. When working on the steeks, it occurred to me how many different ways there are…

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my handmade childhood

Various things have been prompting me to think a lot recently about the role that sewing and knitting and other handmade things can play in the shape of ones life. Like many crafty folk in the UK, I enjoyed watching the Great British Sewing Bee. Unlike so many of these competitive TV formats, this programme…

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botched

I am out of sewing practice. At least that’s my excuse: yesterday I managed to make a botched job of things . . I bought this tweed when visiting Harris a couple of years ago – I love the bright blue, green, and orange flecks sitting in among the herringbone. My idea was to turn…

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matchy matchy

Wool — being wonderfully warm, breathable, and flexible — really is the ultimate Winter fabric for someone who likes to be outdoors. I have worn a near-as-damn-it 100% wool outfit every day so far this WOVEMBER, and fully intend to do so for the rest of the month. I’ll say more about some of the…

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Buttons of Dreams

Several of you left comments or sent me messages regarding my button dilemma (for which many thanks). But the biggest thanks must go to Jayne, who told me about the amazing buttons of Lionel Nichols. (Warning! Prepare yourselves! The link takes you directly to button heaven!) Sixty years ago, Nichols fashioned beautiful glass buttons by…

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racy mending

I have been playing around with ideas about mending and darning for a forthcoming article, and have been turning up some interesting tangential things in various digital collections. Pictured above are “Chicago’s top models for 1922” who have been co-opted to advertise the novel innovation of the seam ripper. The caption reads “Ripping is a…

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stitched up

Though I love the Gainsborough films, Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones and Michael Winterbottom’s A Cock and Bull Story, I am not generally a fan of contemporary cinematic takes on eighteenth- and nineteenth century literature. This is probably because of what I do: a generation of students who have grown up with the unshakeable idea that…

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shirt –> handkerchiefs

Tom was getting rid of some shirts. This one was very old and worn. But I loved the fabric — a soft, light weight cotton shirting with a very high thread count, a bit like Tana Lawn. I just couldn’t let it go to the charity shop. A while ago, Felix sent me some lovely…

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another dress

Here’s another dress I made for myself over the holidays. This is something I intend to wear for work: it is neat and smart, but also easy to get about in during my daily walks to the station and back. The pattern is Vogue 8146 — one of those ‘easy’ Vogue suit patterns, which includes…

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more on mauds

(photo from J.G. Martindale, The Scottish Woollen Industry, (1954)) You may remember that a while ago I got all excited about the maud — the traditional shepherd’s plaid that’s woven and worn in the Scottish Borders. You can see one above being used for its original function — protecting the shepherd and his lambs from…

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tweed frock

In a couple of weeks time, I shall be going to the US for some work-related events, chief among which is delivering a talk in this public lecture series. I don’t mind admitting that I’m the sort of person who thinks about what they will wear some time in advance of such an occasion. My…

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repair

A few weeks ago, something rather unpleasant happened while we were camping on Islay. I’ve not talked about this much. I found it quite disturbing at the time, and — because it happened in a place I am very fond of, while engaged in an activity that I love — I’ve not really wanted to…

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