Thursday, 21 April 2016

The big move....

This year will mark 10 years of knit and destroy (i know right, where did that go)! And up until this year, I have run everything to do with this from my house. 

I have often thought about having a studio elsewhere, daydreamed about what I could do with a space that wasn't inside my house but never even looked into it until late last year when I bumped into a friend who used to run a craft fair that I sold at and now runs her screen-printed textiles business full-time! Seeing what she was doing with her practice made me think about the possibilities for my own work and what I could do if I took that brave step outside my house...

So why...what was wrong with that room in my house? Mostly that I really wanted to run workshops but couldn't do that from my spare bedroom studio, also, I like to change things up sometimes and felt like a new working environment would be good for me.

A few weeks after I moved into the studio, the opportunity to apply for a microgrant from Yorkshire Artspace (the organisation who run the studios I am in) came up. It was also linked with the Sheffield year of making which was perfect, I'm all about the making! 


Fast forward a month, and I have been awarded one of the micogrants, yay! This not only means that I will be able to get machine knitting workshops up and running this summer, but it also makes me feel moving to the studios was the right decision. 

Watch this space for updates on workshops and general studio shenanigans! 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Crochet Confessions...

As you can see, the name I chose for my label is knit and destroy. I am a knitter, and I love knitting...most of the time...but sometimes crochet is just better! 

Most of my knitting is by machine, and I can find hand knitting slow and frustrating sometimes. It's great for certain things, I love my hand knitted mittens and my jumper (both done in double knit yarn, none of that thin faffy stuff), but for some projects crochet wins. Also, I find crochet more flexible as a process, easier to make it up as you go, and definitely better than knit for 3D pieces. 

For my 'tricks and treats' exhibition last year, I mixed machine knit and crochet, using crochet for the edging on my ouija board, as well as crocheting the candles that sat with it.  

I use crochet for projects in Sugar Paper zine quite a lot, with things from daisy chain glasses chains to binocular bags. I'm working on the solar system for the next issue of Sugar Paper right now, here's a work in progress shot...

I can't remember when I learnt to crochet, probably when I saw that amigurumi existed and I wanted to make them, but I'm glad I did. I'm also glad that other people did too. Some of my favourite artists who use textiles as their medium use crochet. 

Here are two of my top faves, Olek, and Joana Vasconcelos, both who use crochet on a large scale, exploiting its sculptural properties and using the bright colour palette that I know I associate with domestic crochet. 


                            Joana Vasconcelos

If you are a die-hard knitter who has never tried crochet, or a keen crafter who has never picked it up then have a go! 

Knitting, I love you, but sometimes, you just make me want to crochet! 

Monday, 13 April 2015

We have LIFT OFF!!!

That's right, knit and destroy has left planet earth and I'm floating about in outer space...ok, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but, there is a new collection out, and that definitely is intergalactic!

I have been fascinated with space for years, I remember going to the London Planetarium age 9 and having my mind blown, coming home with a poster of 'space' (I think it was a galaxy)that lived on my bedroom wall for years. I must admit, my dinosaur obsession took over for a few years but the moon and stars were always there to gaze at and the love of space never went away.  

As well as real space, there are so many great films,fictions, music and fashions that use 'space' as inspiration, I was really excited to have a go at making my own space inspired creations.

It was tough to decide on what to focus on for this, there were almost aliens and UFOs too but I figured I can save them for another collection and make this one about the planets.  

This collection sees the return of glow in the dark knits, as well as glitter yarns and some space dye. I had lots of fun putting this collection together, playing with new yarns and making the biggest cushion I have ever attempted. 

We all know that the moon glows in the dark, this cushion and scarf are no exception. 

It's not all about the moon though, when I dreamed up this collection, I knew that Saturn would need to feature in it, and it definitely does, with this large shaped cushion that gives Saturn the shine it deserves...

I couldn't stop at one Saturn and got the super-talented Ben Cooney to design this non-knitted treat of a brooch that is a pretty pastel planet by day, and by night it GLOWS!!

Not wanting to leave any planets of the solar system out, I also designed this scarf which has Saturn along with all it's spacey friends knitted into the design.

Go and check out the full collection over at my shop...and keep a look out for the final design in the collection which is coming soon! 

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014....the year of making things that go on walls not people!

The year started with an exciting meeting with the ever lovely Rachel of Prick Your Finger in January!

Rachel's shop is full of all the best knitting supplies you could ever dream of, AND she uses it as an exhibition space too, at no charge to the artist, because she's nice like that. I had been working on my 'Death by knitting' idea for a while before I met with Rachel (by this I mean watching horror films where people get attacked/killed with knitting needles) and her offer to exhibit my work gave me the excuse to finally make it! Fast forward to April, lots of computer based knit design work, 3D trickery, and some hand stitching later...'Death by knitting' was a reality...


I was super happy to see all the work come together, and people's reactions to it, especially the 3D working! Following a chat with Rachel about Halloween, I found myself with another opportunity to exhibit at the awesome Prick Your Finger. This time, I mostly used hand knitting which was really satisfying in a very different way to the work I did for death by knitting. This project was much newer to me and I had lots of fun making these pieces, so much so, I want to keep knitting masks and expand the collection in the future...

I also used crochet for some of the pieces, I really enjoy crochet and how easily things become 3D by using it.
While this exhibition was being put together, my 3D posters were accepted for a group exhibition 'Craft Emergency' at Aspex gallery in Portsmouth, here they are all framed up like proper movie posters!

November also saw Yiiikes!' glowing world coming back out of it's various boxes and living in the window at Nexus Art CafĂ©, it's still there until Saturday if you've not seen it yet!
I did make some things that were for people to wear, continuing with my Twin peaks collection from last year and collaborating with a x-stitch designer on a very popular Slayer themed scarf!  

 I usually do a new collection each year but this one just didn't quite make it, I have started on some new pieces and hope to launch the collection in January, here is a sneak peek for now...

I am super-grateful for all the people who have supported my adventures in yarn this year, given me opportunities to show my work, bought things from me, helped me work things out, made me cups of tea etc. Without you I would probably just be sat here surrounded by half-finished knitted things which wouldn't be very satisfying at all...Keep being awesome, and I'll see you in the future!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

National Knitting Week

Every year, there is a week dedicated to knitting, aptly named 'national knitting week', and every year (apart from one about 6 years ago) I miss it.

I always see things that happened in 'National knitting week' when it's over, which is a shame because I love knitting and encouraging others to knit. This made me think that for me, most weeks of the year centre around knitting, whether it's making (knitting) my own work or teaching knit design in my jobs. That said...what was I doing in national knitting week?!

I was mostly knitting this mask for my current exhibition at Prick Your Finger...

Along with this I made 2 other masks, all hand knitted. These were challenging and fun to make. I mostly machine knit and these took lots of shaping and a bit of calculating but I'm happy with the results AND..I was hand knitting in national knitting week! I also taught machine knitting, I think we were doing shaping and intentional laddering that week, and did some knit design tutorials with my awesome students.

I think the moral of the story is, it's nice to have a 'week' where knitting is recognised and celebrated but... EVERY week can be KNITTING week, just pick up your needles and get creating!



Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tricks and Treats

All has been quiet on this blog for a while. Mostly because my hands have been busy! I have been making work for my second solo exhibition which opens THIS FRIDAY - 17th October at Prick Your Finger.

Here are some sneak peeks of what I've been up to over the past months ...

Planning out the first hand-knit piece
Choosing the colour palette
Hand knitting blue bunny...
Went back to my machine for this 'centrepiece'
Close-up of one of the completed hand-knit pieces
And finally, making my own sparkly pink yarn by mixing wool and lurex together!

More info about the opening event and the exhibition here. And for those of you who can't make it, I'll make sure I get some pics on here when it's all up!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Knit and handy! How my products became patterns...

This time last year, I was doing the final checks of the pages for my book that had been sent to me by the lovely folk at Cabin Creative before it went to print! I learnt a lot from putting this book together and thought I would share some of the main stages of this process with you.

HOW TO PUBLISH: I had the idea to put together a book of hand knit patterns of my designs a good few years ago, and as more and more craft books (of varying quality) filled up the shelves, I decided it was time to put the wheels in motion with my own book. I did a bit of initial research into publishing but nothing was really making sense or speaking to me, so, as always I turned to real people. I knew Suzy and Ian from their awesome counter culture magazine NUDE, which my work had featured in, also, knowing that they had released their own book 'Bare Essentials - the best of NUDE magazine 2003-2011' I contacted Suzy with lots of questions about publishing a book. Her response was great, she set out all my different options and we decided to meet for a cuppa and a chat, which was when I found out about their new endeavour, Cabin Creative, and the book went from an idea to the beginnings of a reality!

I already had the ideas, the patterns were mostly coming from existing machine knitted products so I had something to work from.

YARN: Before I could do any tension swatches, I had to decide on the yarn, I wanted something good quality but not too expensive, so went for King Cole merino blend DK. I contacted King Cole and they agreed to provide all the yarn I needed for my pattern testing and knitted pieces for the book, this saved lots of money and the yarn was perfect.

SWATCHING: Now I had the yarn, I could start making tension swatches, after I had these I worked out the patterns one by one, testing techniques as I went along. I used my sketchbook to write down measurements and the basics of each pattern as I created them and using graph paper to plan out charts for pictorial designs.
KNITTING: I then took the patterns from my sketchbook, typed them all out then it was time to knit them and see if they worked! I had a great little gang of knitters, including myself, we knitted and refined the patterns until they were good to go. It was great to have an external influence at this early stage and see what other people thought of the patterns and the outcomes, I also had a professional pattern designer check the patterns for me before they went to print. Now, it was time to start setting things in motion with the design and layout of the book itself.
PHOTOGRAPHS: When all the knitting was done it was time to photograph everything, both on and off models as well as some close-up shots, we got plenty of photos so we could choose from them. I got friends of mine to model for me, and the photographer was also someone I know!


ILLUSTRATION: I'm very fortunate to have an 'in house' illustrator, my partner Ben has done illustrations for Knit and Destroy from the very start, we work so well together and he knows exactly the sort of thing I want from the illustrations. We decided to use illustrated 'scenes' for most of the patterns, we had lots of other hand drawn elements, the balls of wool for difficulty ratings, a picture of me giving hints and tips throughout the book as well as the instructional diagrams. Ben also worked the graphs for the patterns in photoshop.


LAYOUT: When I decided to work with Cabin Creative, they offered for Ian (one half of the company) to do the layout of the book, I loved the visual of NUDE magazine and knew that Ian would be easy to work with. After a few meetings to show Ian examples of the visual style I was after and a confirmation of the size of the book and final colour palette the layouts started coming my way. 
BIG DECISIONS: Now we were almost there, but this was where the really big decisions had to be made. What weight of paper should it be on? Matt or gloss? What kind of cover? Weight of cover? What order should it all go in? These weren't easy decisions to make but I made them, then it was time for the final check through and it was sent to the printers! Here is the first photograph I took of the finished book just after they had been delivered. I was really please with the outcome, and the amount of input publishing through Cabin Creative let me have.   
If you've not already got a copy, click the photo above to get one from my shop where you will get a free bonus pattern, not available anywhere else!