Tuesday 1 March 2016

I've Moved! (Online that is)

My blog has moved!  It is now linked directly to the front page of my website http://www.donnasmithdesigns.co.uk

I am now using Wordpress instead of Blogger as a platform as I find Wordpress is a bit easier to use and altogether a bit sleeker.

If you have subscribed to this blog and you would still like to receive emails when a new post is written, please hop on over to the new site and enter your email address there.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Maggie's Gloves

For Shetland Wool Week last year, I wrote a pattern for Fair Isle gloves based on ones that my Grandmother, Maggie used to make.  The annual has sold out but the pattern is now available to purchase and download from Ravelry here.

Happy Knitting!

Monday 15 February 2016

Tales from New York City

In my last post I mentioned I was going to Vogue Knitting Live (VKL) in New York to represent Shetland Wool Week.  We have been back for three weeks now (the jetlag always affects me coming back and then I had a bout of the flu) and I am happy to say the event was extremely successful.  We spoke to what seemed a huge number of people and handed out all the leaflets about Shetland Wool Week we had taken with us.

It took place in the Marriott Hotel in Time's Square, so we couldn't have been more central. 

Before the market began, I took part in a lecture on knitting in Shetland with June Hemmons Hiatt (author of Principles of Knitting and who is producing her own knitting belts) and Hazel Tindall (fastest knitter in the world and authority on all things Fair Isle)
Hazel was asked to demonstrate her knitting at the end of the lecture. 

Misa and Kirty who worked really hard to get us there and were real trooper over the whole event.  Thank you lasses!

We made sure we got our pins on the map!

The event was made up of many workshops and classes through the hotel and a marketplace (in which we had a stand) which was on two floors of the hotel.

We spoke to many people and it was really good to have people stop by to show me photos of their baa-ble hats...

And to show me their hats in real life...

We had a little bit of time at the end to go exploring and sightseeing, of course I had to knit on Brookyln Bridge.  It was -5C so the knitting was purely for photographic purposes before the gloves went back on!

The iconic flatiron building
Misa, myself, Carol and Kirsty in Central Park.

And then again in the evening I had to do a bit of knitting on top of the Rockefeller centre!

We managed to get back to the UK just before the snow hit New York...

Thank you so much to everyone who spoke to us and took time to show us their work.  I certainly hope to come back again some day!

(I went there without my camera and my phone battery kept going flat so many of these photos were taken by Kirsty - thank you!)

Sunday 10 January 2016

Looking Backwards and Forwards

I am not big on making New Years Resolutions, to be honest, I find New Year a bit of a strange time. There is so much hype, it is almost portrayed as if after the bells we will be launched into a brand new time, when really its just another day.  However, I have been thinking quite a lot lately thought about my textile work, how I should manage my time and what I should concentrate on.  I would like to be more efficient with the time I have and learn not to be too hard on myself when I don't achieve much.  I still work part time in my "real job" as a Science Technician for the High Schools in Shetland and in the afternoons I have a very active four year old to keep entertained.  He will be at school next year, then I will have some more time to myself.  I don't want to spend this short time working.

I had a really busy but exciting time last year as Patron of Shetland Wool Week, in fact my last blog post was at the end of that week!  Somebody stated that they suffered from Jet lag after the event and I certainly think that was the case with me.  I had a bit of time off with health issues (which are now more or less under control thankfully) and then I spent November working on an exciting project which will be revealed through time.  Then it was December, which was....well.....December. 

In October I decided to leave Not On The High Street, I had been thinking about it for a while as I haven't been spending much time making the felt products many of your know me for and to be frank I have become fed up with churning out the same things.  I have become much more interested in knitting patterns and designing my own, it is something that has almost come about naturally, and Shetland Wool Week has certainly given me the boost and confidence to do this.  I can knit in the evenings when I am too tried to do anything else, I can knit while I am doing things like waiting for bath time to be over, it fits far better into my lifestyle and it is something I really love doing.

Early last year I designed the Baable hat as the official pattern for Shetland Wool Week 2016 which had an amazing response.  It was declared the most queued pattern on Ravelry in 2015 and at the time of writing this post it had 3201 projects on Ravelry!

I am totally overwhelmed at the response, as I didn't think it would appeal to many people! It gives me so much encouragement although it is also a bit bizarre when I see them, like this class I taught at wool week and almost everyone has their own version!

I also designed Maggie's gloves for the Shetland Wool Week annual, my version of the gloves I remember by Granny making.

I was very proud to have been part of the first Shetland Wool Weel annual, it was such a brilliant publication.

The Annual has now sold out but the pattern will be available to purchase through Ravelry very soon, I just have to finally check it over. 

I also would like to get outside more this year, but the weather hasn't been suitable for taking a young child out without blowing away!  If it has been good weather we have been to busy.   I know we can wrap up and drive to the town where it is more sheltered but once we get home where it is cosy, if we don't have anything else to do its a struggle to feel inspired to get out, and it gets dark around 3.30p.m. at the moment. This is something I am definitely going to have to work on.

I managed to get out one day between Christmas and New Year, I walked around the shore from our house to Hamnavoe watching the waves as I went.  And it reminded me how much I miss being able just to walk where I want when I want.

There are a few exciting things happening in the next few months, I will be travelling to Vogue Knitting Live in New York with the Shetland Wool Week team to help out on their stand.  I will also be taking part in a lecture on Friday 15th January from 2-3 p.m. on Shetland Knitting: Past and Present, with June Hiatt (author of the highly acclaimed book the Principles of Knitting) and Hazel Tindall (fastest knitter in the world, fantastic knitwear designer and fount of all knowledge when if come to Fair Isle knitting).  There are still spaces available for this event so if you are going to be in New York at the time, it would be great to see you! 

I am also teaching a night class in Fair Isle knitting for the first time this year in our local Primary School which I am really looking forward to, so its going to be fairly busy for a while and I need to figure out how to find time to work on the ideas in my head!

I will be back soon with tales from New York!

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Shetland Wool Week 2015 Days 8 & 9

On Saturday my class was in Knitted Christmas Baubles, there were a choice of two different Fair Isle patterns - or sheep!
There was also a Maker's Market in Room 16 of Isleburgh Community Centre where my class was taking place.  I managed to nip out for a quick look during our lunchbreak.  There were knitted items, patterns, yarn and jewellery.  You could also purchase tea and coffee, sandwiches and homebakes in the hall and the room was set out with tables with vintage cloths.  It had a lovely atmosphere - and it was incredibly busy! Unfortunately my camera's battery was exhausted (a bit like a lot of us!) so I only managed to get two photos of the market. 

Saturday was the last official day of Shetland Wool Week, but on Sunday I went to the famous Sunday teas in the Tingwall Hall organised by the Shetland Guild of Weavers, Spinners, Dyers and Knitters.
There were tea and coffee and abundant sandwiches and homebakes.  All you could eat for £4!
The Guild also have demonstrations and finished items on display.  There were beautiful Fair Isle hats and gloves: 

Lace and Fair Isle Items by Hazel Tindall:

Amazing lace by Kathleen Anderson:

Unusual knitted garments such as this lace jumper by Pearl Johnson.  Felicity Ford and I stood for a while trying to figure out it's construction:

I think my favourite garment on display was this Fair Isle allover also knitted by Pearl.  I just couldn't stop looking at it.  The pattern and colours are so cleverly put together it almost has a 3D quality about it:

And then that was it.  I felt quite sad when it was all over, I have had a great time and have made lots of new friends and enjoyed spending time with old friends.  It was a beautiful night on Sunday with what seemed a very appropriate sunset. We had a wander down to the Meal beach (in an attempt to burn off some sugar from the homebakes earlier in the day!) 
I would like to thank everyone who was involved in organising Shetland Wool Week, it really is a fantastic event.  I would also like to thank everyone for coming as if there were no visitors there would be no event! 
Of course, my pictures only show a small part of what is happening during the week, there is so much going on all over Shetland.
Roll on Shetland Wool Week 2016!

Sunday 4 October 2015

Shetland Wool Week 2015 - Day 7

It was another busy day on Friday.  In the morning I taught another group of lovely ladies "Fair Isle Knitting".  The task was to start knitting a phone cover or pouch from a choice of patterns.

Friday afternoon was really the first chance I have had to go out and about, I went to visit the girls at Ninian - they have such a beautiful range of yarn colours in the studio.

Finished garments in the shop:

 While I was there I knitted a coiple of rows on the Muckle Gravit (great big scarf), which was started by Shetland Arts and Crafts Association over ten years ago.
Empty shelves at Jamieson's of Shetland shows evidence that Lerwick has been invaded by knitters.

Fair Isle garments for sale at Jamieson's of Shetland:

Over at Vaila Fine Art  Shetland Organics have once again put on a beautiful display of a variety of work made mainly be local makers.

There I met  Alicja Tyburska  from Poland, she has been based at Vaila Fine Art during Wool Week and is demonstrating weaving traditional Polish doubleweave cloth on an antique loom.  Examples of double weave cloth can be seen behind Alicja.

The gallery is filled with examples of items using Shetland Organic wool:

Wool Week wouldn't be wool week without a trip to Jamieson and Smith - I dropped in on my way home, the shop was really busy and Deborah Gray had just finished a class on drop spindle techniques.  My camera card was full so I had to resort to taking photos with the iPad, so the quality is not very good.

It is now Sunday night as I write this and its all over - I am feeling quite emotional, very tired and looking forward to getting back to normal but also sad as I will really miss it.
I will be back tomorrow with photos of the last two days!