2 Aug 2012

London to Coventry and back - my inspiring travels

So I did go down to London last week but strangely it was just a coincidence that it was the same weekend as the Olympic opening ceremony.  

I hope they leave Blackfriars bridge this way

Cider in Sun by the river- anything better?

So inviting! 

So much going on for the Olympics...
Southbank art 

1 Aug 2012

Knitting - or lack of it! (Etsy, London and machines)

I have been fairly busy with all manor of things lately but most of these have not been knitting related. Visiting London twice (recommend the Tate Modern Tanks -http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tanks-tate-modern/eventseries/tanks-art-action), working extra shifts at the pub, friends birthdays ect...... It's taken its toll on the business and me. 
When you work for yourself it's all too easy to put things off, give others priority and just generally waste away your time. From 9 till late in the evening, Monday to Friday I am supposed to be working in my studio. No use making excuses (it's too distracting in the house, I will make it up at a later time) I need to work harder on this! 

Fair Isle Shetland and Cotton Jumper -  'Two Season'  in Yellow and Navy
The Two Season has had a good response on Etsy 

Fingerless Mitts or Wrist Warmers with Cables in Blue Grey
Beside's from all the distractions keeping me from knitting other admin jobs have taken priority. Don't know if you have checked out the Etsy shop lately but I have been workings really hard on it. It's not as simple as getting everything up there and then just waiting for the sales to comes in. There is so much details that go into the listings and so many tricks and hints to learn. Luckily Etsy know this and so have a great community page to help with this - http://www.etsy.com/community/online-labs. I think there is just so much to talk about on this matter that I may save it for another day!

However it seems that the gods are against me knitting all together. Last night I put needles to the metal and started on a new cotton shawl - (lovely fair isle, using the holding stitch). Just as I was getting going I dropped the carriage off the side of the machine........ big holding of my breath...... yep you guessed it -I broke it! It wasn't too serious at first, it just wouldn't fit back on to the machine. After my many years machine knitting I have become an adequate technician but this quickly became too hard for me to fix. The carriage on my knitting machine is very complicated and has lots of little parts and screws, it's tough but just a touch in the wrong place and it's all out of whack. 

So this is a major problem as I have no back up and it is hard to get these machines fixed (brother no longer makes knitting machines). At the moment I am looking at buying another machine until I can get this one fixed and then see if I still need two. I can't be out of action for too long so this will need to be solved soon but I will keep you up to date with any news. 

13 Jul 2012

Logo, website, shop - GO!

So those of you paying attention may have noticed my new logo appear on the banner image for the blog:
Before the craft show I decided to give Polly Purl a little face lift, a new logo for a new start!
Also a new webpage www.pollypurl.co.uk - check it out and let me know what you think. But please don't be too harsh as it takes so much time and patience to just do the simplest thing on that darn website!
I am working on a 'design your own' page- to offer customised jumpers and cardigans in your chosen fair isle and colours! Once it's set up it should be fun but I am sure it will be painful to get there!
And finally my Etsy shop is now up to date- 'at last' I hear you say. All my stock up to now is there so take a look http://www.etsy.com/shop/Pollypurl
I am already working on Autumn/Winter stuff so who knows how long this up to date version will last!

11 Jul 2012

The Contemporary Craft Fair Devon

Sorry it's late but here are some pic's of the Devon Show:

The Stall was only 1.5m by 2m

It was a real learning curve- the craft fair, definitely a new experience. Over 3 days, 150 makers got together in a muddy field hoping the public would not be put off by the rain. There was three main tents that were huge and hard to navigate, food vendors, demonstrations and the great little tent I was in. Called 'One Year On' it was made up of people in their first year of business, a variety of very experienced with the novice's like me. The atmosphere was great, everyone was friendly and chatting, standing around for 7 hours together meant we got to know each other. The support was great too - one girl made a big sale but was wary of celebrating too much in case some of us hadn't done too well that day. http://craftsatboveytracey.co.uk/makers/one+year+on/

My Lovely tables made by Rhys and myself

I didn't get much chance to look around the other tents but I did sneak a peak and the work was amazing. There did seem to be about 85% ceramics and jewellery but also some amazing art and textiles.
I am kicking myself that I didn't get photo's of anything, the ones here were taken by my sister. My only excuse is my exhaustion- staying up all night (no sleep at all) pre show and then camping on the ground in heavy rain does not make a happy Polly!

Overall the show was just the best way to launch myself into the craft world. It helped to kick start my motivation and the feedback I gained will help to push me onwards. Unfortunately I think the rain did put people off and I feel the numbers were down (they stated 6,000-8,000 visitors). In the end I just about covered my costs (which were not small) - I will have to think if I can improve and come again next year.

My neighbours -

And I had a lot I wanted to put into it

The hanging scarves did great but the rail not so much

You can see my lovely neighbour

Rhys trying to sell

Rhys in his lovely Wolf jumper

Mum was not camping but still came round for tea
Trying to look awake at the end of the first day

My amazing sister who helped in so many ways

A break in the heavy rain

The second day and feeling better

24 Jun 2012

The most cool cinema experience...

The Craft Club will be bringing the knitted cinema to Manchester on October 19th - what a lovely and whacky idea. A short film about knitting and it's joy's within our lives. It is a family event and has a knit-along activity afterward. 
Cinema Knit-along with Craft Club / What's On / Crafts Council

'Craft Club Film – ‘The Happy Couple’, 2011 ©Crush Creative

The Craft Club is all about getting craft to the young people - check them out below and you can also watch a bit of the film too -

23 Jun 2012

Cinema Knit-along with Craft Club / What's On / Crafts Council

lacy crochet pendant shades

So I may not have been blogging for a while but I was
collecting ideas.....

I fell in love with the idea of knitted lampshades and so found some great examples online,
How could you not want to make one of these- just so beautiful and delicate.

victorian crochet lampshade

You can have lots of fun with them as well.... it's a trend that is picking up but there still isn't that many out there

It seems the trend is not just for lampshades- anything interior can be covered in knit....


22 Jun 2012

Off to the Woolfest

Polly Purl, by that I mean myself and my mum, are off to the Wool fest today!!!! http://www.woolfest.co.uk/
It's my first time and I am so excited, to quote the website
 'Woolfest is a celebration of natural fibres, especially all aspects of wool, wool products and wool crafts'


I'm not just going to this for fun though, I hope to come back with many ideas and contacts to help me with my yarns for Winter. I would like to create and use something extra special for the new collection, a yarn that is British but also something that will sit well with my luxurious designs'- nothing too scratchy in other words. 

It is unfortunate and somewhat surprising that there was not much ethical and/or eco friendly materials being shown at the contemporary craft fair. It maybe seems that when people buy crafts they are less worried about the products being tainted with sweatshops, un-ethical farming or anything of the like. Yet I would say as a small business it is harder to go eco- with cost being such an issue and companies not being worried about losing your orders- I certainly feel the pressure to take the easy route. 

Below is an article about last years Wool fest, very interesting reading - 

21 Jun 2012

A grand return

This weekend Polly Purl was lucky enough to show at the contemporary crafty fair in Devon. An amazing show with 160 designer/makers selling their wares over 3 days. 

So to catch you up on all that has been going on.....
Pre-market it was this scary big cloud hanging over me,  a big step up from the little one day markets I had done before Christmas. But there was no turning back from it and it hurtled towards me, giving me no time to stop and worry. I unfortunately stopped blogging so you will have to take my word for all of this but I am sure anyone who was around could tell you just how stressed I was.

Of course in hindsight I see that stressing was helping no-one, unfortunately I wanted everything to be perfect. I was working on Shetland jumpers and cardigans with fair isle patterns on the shoulders, however this being June I was worried it would be one of those rare hot days we get during the summer. So I was also working with Merino and cotton. These I bought from a company called Yeoman Yarns and both were spun in Europe, although they are lovely yarns and got great compliments at the fair I don't think I will be using these again as I can not get full tractability of either. After the panic buying of these yarns I did some more research and found lots more information on British spun versions. But I think this is a topic for another blog as I still have lots of research to do.

I also had to worry about the layout, packaging and presentation, I didn't want to look out of place and I really wanted to help make my space feel luxurious -i.e expensive. So I roped the boyfriend into helping me make four small tables in varying heights and lengths. It was actually a lot of fun and we didn't fight too much! We managed to pick up some off cuts from B & Q for 50p each, these were then painted a dark walnut colour and we added detachable legs (the hardest thing by far was those darn detachable legs!)

My most lovely sister helped me out with the packaging, getting everything from leaflets (a really good idea) to bags and stickers with my logo on.

I fear this is already an overly long post so I will save the details of the fair for another day........

15 Mar 2012

Locally sourced.....

                 A very interesting blog post on the Etsy this week: The Challenges and Rewards of Local Production by Karen Brown.
The cyclocarder - used to card the
Alpca fiber
The post talks about locally sourcing and producing a coat, made from felted Alpca yarn, a unique opportunity to understand the work that goes into a garment.

 'Could we live happily with fewer, better made things, exchanging our money directly with one another?'

Back during one of the Christmas Markets I clearly remember a lady looking at my items with indifference. We got to talking about machine knitting which is when she came out with the statement that my snoods must take just 15 mins to run up. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth, that somebody could look at something that was detailed, hand crafted, unique and dismiss it as something I could run up that quick. Some people are just so out of touch with the reality of garment production, both mass and hand crafted. 

Image of Knit-felt Bowl

The Etsy post starts with a link to the Fibershed website, an amazing non profit organisation in California. This market place was set up to support local farmers and artisans. The idea of knowing where your product comes from is something I strive for- I can only wish I was set up in California! And of course I had to show you this lovely knit-felt cat bowl - it comes with a full description of where and how the bowl came to be:
 'Jacalyn spins the wool from her own flock in Solano County'

I had wished for Etsy to be a bit more like Fibershed, with more information on the products then you would get from the big chain store's. It is the same with most of these craft marketplace website's - without a philosophy of letting the buyer know the life story of the product how can we expect a buyer to know why it is worth the price? 

Karen Brown - the author of the Etsy post- is the creative director of Center for Ecoliteracy'She believes that the handmade movement is a fundamental force for transforming society and the economy'
She was interested in local production and asks herself at the start "Is it still possible to dress locally?"- this isn't a question I can answer myself. For all my love of buying locally I have never found any locally made clothing, but I shall keep looking! 

Of course there is also the chance that the lady at the market just didn't care about buying my hand crafted goods?

12 Mar 2012

A Post from Tom Cat

The Cats have started (ok they have finished as well) to take over my life! Every single aspect of it!
Before they moved in they lived a quiet life and had only a little attention from humans but once they knew that they could get a cuddle and a play with just a cute look or a meow all hope was lost! I came across the below blog post which made me giggle and so thought I would share -
Storyboard: Cat Lady | The Etsy Blog:

Another great blog about something a bit different is 'The girl who looks like a cake'. Some interesting writing and a subject that I love- Fashion - means that I got caught on this blog for longer than I should have. But it does bring me to a jumper featured on the blog- 

Meadham Kirchhoff

I saw this jumper in this week's Elle magazine and loved it, I think its happiness could win anyone over. But not so- my mother really didn't like it, something about the colours..... Is it a total love it or hate it item? 

10 Mar 2012


When I was looking into British knitwear manufacturing I came across a great video from the 50's of knitwear manufacture at Pathe. I think my favourite bit of this video is the phrase 'If you're feeling depressed....' at about two minutes through-  ITALIAN KNITWEAR - British Pathé:

9 Mar 2012

Looking at the knitwear ahead.....

Knitwear is not just for Winter.....
I love Spring summer knitwear, a chance to play with a rainbow of colours and create great little cover up's for the colder days of the summer - 

Navy Short Sleeve Sequin Birds Jumper, Markus Lupfer
Markus Lupfer
Blue Colour Block Cardigan, T by Alexander Wang
T by Alexander Wang

In the summer knitwear comes alive with bright colours and pattern's, a chance to have some fun as Markus Lupfer has in the super cool parrot jumper, I couldn't wear this one as the temptation for people to say 'Polly want a cracker' would be too much -  http://www.liberty.co.uk/fcp/categorylist/dept/womenswear_knitwear?resetFilters=true
Alexander Wang 
You would have to be super
confident to wear this one

Rainbow Lace Print Jumper, Christopher Kane
Christopher Kane
A.P.C. Fine-knit wool cardigan

Oh the joy of this jumper by Christopher Kane- it's a lesson in happiness. I absolutely love yellow, from sunshine to mustard but find it hard to wear with the washed out winter look I have at the moment. So I can't wait for the summer to be able to wear this great cardigan by A.P.C- http://www.net-a-porter.com/Shop/Clothing/Knitwear

And looking even further ahead- 
Some of the lovely Jumpers at the Pringle Mens AW12 show- these just look so comfortable and warm. I love the chunky understated look and the colours are perfect for the Autumn- bring on next winter already! (not really, I want to warm up a bit first in the sun!)

And you couldn't look to the future without a thought of the past -  http://www.style.com/stylefile/2012/02/inside-impact/
Would love to be able to attend this exhibition at the FIT in New York on the impact of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. So many great image's and you can imagine the stories behind some of them.... I'll just have to try to get hold of the book.

14 Feb 2012

Catching up....

I have finally returned....can't believe how long it's been since my last post. Not much has happened but at the same time some things have really changed. One of the reason's I haven't been on for a while is my new part time job at a pub, just something else to split my time with.

And the other time consuming change to the Polly Purl world is the arrival of two new team members:

Let me introduce Tom and Mao cat:

The boyfriend's mum has moved out of her house and these two needed a new home- they've had to move all the way from a green suburb of London to the cold, grim North. I don't think they've found it easy and when they first arrived last Sunday they were very stressed and scared, Tom found a hiding hole under our lazy boy chair and would not come out at all. But they have now settled in and are treating this place like their personally palace and me like their servant. Tom really loves a cuddle especially when I'm watching TV in bed and Mao follows me around waiting for something, not sure what yet?

Tom and Mao have not been that helpful in my knitting, in fact some would say they are a nuisance. But I have managed to get some work done this week and below are a few teaser pictures.

I've got my self a new dummy that is a smaller size which helps as I can now see things on different sizes without bugging my friends to try things on.  

As well as all the above I have become a bit addicted to Etsy, I have discovered the joy of creating a treasury list and window shopping on the site. You can see some of mine below - http://www.etsy.com/people/Pollypurl/treasury?sort=creation_date&order=desc

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