These were an ideal way of upping the colour intake (big, cheap, simple). I went for pastel grey and green, with bright pink.
I confess I wasn’t convinced they would look very good, perhaps a little *too* obviously DIY, but an evening’s trial run with a friend put paid to those worries. Here are some great things about them:
They’re super simple (and satisfying) to make
They’re cheap (you can get good-value big fat rolls of tissue paper sheets in Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road for London-dwellers)
You don’t have to make them well or even accurately for them to look great
It’s quite hard not to rip the tissue paper when fanning it out but IT DOESN’T MATTER OR NOTICE IN THE SLIGHTEST
They look fantastic
Cue my mum and I creating a pom pom factory on the kitchen table a couple of days before the wedding. We used fishing line to hang them up on the beams which was much stronger than invisible thread and didn’t show like string did.
I like them so much that I’m considering putting some up at home. Great party decoration idea too.
I mentioned before about a top secret project I was planning. Well, here it is: a hand-knitted shrug for my wedding day!
I didn’t have many shots of the shrug itself from the day, so I was forced to put on my wedding dress again to take these… what a hardship!
And all the credit goes to my talented friend and knitting buddy, Ali, who made it for me, after I spotted the Pickles pattern on Ravelry.
I spent a few weeks agonising over which yarn to go for. It was tough to find a shade of white/cream/in-between that exactly matched the ivory dress but I was determined to find one.
I love the way things work out sometimes, because I found the most wedding-appropriate luxurious silk and merino yarn in my local knitting shop Knit With Attitude, which just happened to be a darn good colour match.
I was thrilled with how it came out. Having had most of the outfit planned for a while, I only saw and tried on the shrug for the first time a couple of days before the wedding, and it was wonderful to feel the super soft yarn in classy moss stitch and see it fit perfectly. It was like the icing on the, er, wedding cake. The moss stitch draped beautifully and was a great contrast to the satin on the upper half of my dress.
On the day itself, I put it on in the evening when it got a little chilly and it totally did the trick. It felt pretty special to wear such a beautiful hand-knitted item.
Ali has come up with the genius idea of dyeing it a different colour to give it a new lease of life. I’m still in the afterglow of the wedding and feel a bit protective of it right now, but it’s a great idea and one I may well try…. I’ll keep you posted.
ooo pretty shoes
I asked Ali if she’d like to write a mini-guest post on making it, and she wrote the following which was just lovely for me to read 🙂
Jen and I bonded long ago over a love of knitting, and soon learned we shared more than that in common. We would put the world to rights after work over a hot drink and a little knitting session, and did some great projects together.
I couldn’t have been happier to watch Jen prepare for her marriage, and although I couldn’t be there in person to celebrate, it was only fitting to be there in spirit with this project.
I tend to be a bit of a maverick knitter, using patterns as a guide (and occasionally messing up along the way!) but I wanted this to be perfect for the big day. After talking through the fit she was after and knitting up some swatches to get the tension and needle size right, I followed each stitch to the letter and was pleased with the result. Having a five month old at the time meant it took a little longer than expected, and the shrug came all the way across the Atlantic with me (knitting in the Florida sun was bliss!) but arrived in the UK just in time.
Knitting has always been something special to me and to make this for Jen felt like the perfect way to share in her happiness. The years ahead of us will hold a lot of changes but I know we’ll always be able to sit down with a cuppa and our knitting, and pick up right where we left off.
I’ve always loved cut flowers, but when it came to picking some out for the wedding bouquets, I didn’t really know where to start. I flirted with the idea of bold ranunculus, as marigolds weren’t in season, but in the end, went with my very first idea – apricot, lemon and soft pink peonies and roses. Joi at Flowers by Clowance suggested the cinera eucalyptus foliage and we were set.
The nice thing (and slightly scary thing if you’re a control freak like me) is that it’s one of the few bits of the outfit that does remain a surprise on the day. You’ve seen the dress, put it on loads of times, chosen the jewellery, the shoes, had a hair trial… but the flowers arrive on the morning, all fresh and dewy in their jam jars, sparkling with water drops. I really didn’t have a clear impression of what they would look like but I was chuffed to bits. I wish I could have taken them on honeymoon with me. Luckily I can still drool over the pictures.
And the table flowers were a total joy too. Jan at the farm offered to fill mismatched vintage jugs for the tables for the refreshingly cheap price of £5 a pop! She made it clear she wasn’t a pro florist, but who cares when they’re this pretty? I asked for a colourful wild flower-style arrangement and they went perfectly with the rural farm venue. Check out those sweet peas! The corn flowers! Sorry, bit gushy there.
I’m looking at flowers in a whole new light these days and find myself browsing beautiful natural-style arrangements. Now I just need to plant a garden to give me fresh cut flowers on demand… Hmm, with a house as in need of work as mine, it may be a while.
It was a brilliant bonus to our rural wedding venue that there were all kinds of interesting animals around, including camels, wallabies and peacocks. The peacocks apparently liked company, and were quite happy to join in the ceremony with their squawks, as well as show off their feathers to everyone. Having never seen one before, I thought the patterned display was pretty damn impressive actually, and they know it too!
I find the quizzical look on his face slightly comedy in this one
All credit for the pics goes to my friends Hannah and Laurence, with the exception of the first one which was taken by Camera Hannah.
Before I even knew where or when I was getting married, before I had planned anything at all for the day, I knew I wanted papel picado. It was pretty much the first decision I made. And not the plastic stuff either – the proper, authentic, tissue paper version from Mexico.
papel picado, “perforated paper”, is made by cutting out intricate patterns from layers of tissue paper with chisels
Mexico has been a bit of a theme in my life – I’ve lived there twice, visited twice more – and I love the traditional banners Mexicans put up at celebrations. I love how beautifully delicate they are, and the elaborate different patterns on each one. A bit like a Mexican version of British bunting.
It was a bit of a mission to get the strings of banners up at the venue, as they can tear so easily, but I was chuffed with the result.
I bought a brightly coloured string of them a few years ago from eBay shop Beyond The Trees, which I was very pleased with, so I didn’t have to look far to buy the wedding version. (Having said that, I can’t seem to see them on there now, perhaps they are re-stocking). I had the coloured ones up for my hen do, and only just managed to bring myself to take them down. They are so cheery.
I’ve had a little break from posting recently to get married and settle into the new place. But having acquired a ‘project’ house massively in need of DIY, and my mind running over ways to incorporate lovely fabrics, patterns and craft projects to my currently overly BROWN home, I’m feeling the need to get bloggy again.
Before I do, as everyone loves a wedding pic, I’ll be blogging about some details from the day. At this point, I’d like to big up my wonderful photographer, Camera Hannah, who took the photos here, and in other wedding posts. She nailed the shots, and just as importantly, was a total joy to have around on the day (and, crucially, a calming presence in the face of pre-ceremony stresses). Highly recommend!
One of the most exciting new places to open up in Stokey over the last few years is Knit With Attitude, run by the lovely Maya. In its first incarnation, it was a tiny shop tucked away on Northwold Road, drawing me in with its delectable all-natural yarns. I didn’t knit when it opened. I must have lasted about two weeks before I caved and announced my decision to Learn Properly. I spent most of the next few weeks poring over online video-tutorials*, lurching wildly between tears of frustration and extreme satisfaction.
It remains my all-time favourite yarn shop. Some yarn shops I walk in and – nothing – no inspiration. And some, within seconds I’m planning the next hundred projects (and struggling to stick to my ‘no buying yarn more than one project in advance’ rule designed to help with stash control). And Knit With Attitude is the resolutely the latter.
I simultaneously blame and thank it for my yarn snobbery (no acrylic thanks very much) and steadfast loyalty to Japanese Clover ‘Takumi’ bamboo needles. And the start of a major new hobby which is showing no signs of going anywhere fast.
Happily, the shop has moved to larger premises on the High Street, and has a knitting group every second Thursday of the month, the key elements of which are chat, nibbles, wine and your work-in-progress. So what better way to say farewell and toast my time in this corner of the city than with a glass of red, DPNs in hand.
For fun, and because I do love a list, here are my top three yarns from Knit With Attitude (all of which you can buy online):
This was the yarn that got me when the shop first opened. I never realised yarn could be that soft, and instantly saw countless projects in its subdued but classy hues of cream, dark grey and brown. Hampered as I was by my total lack of skillz, I made a moss-stitch scarf but eventually progressed on to a stripy tea cosy. I’m pleased to see the shop is stocking more colours now but the original muted tones remain my faves.
This yarn is all about the colours for me. It’s pure wool, so not as soft as others, but I do love a comfortingly straightforward wool yarn for some projects. I found that I couldn’t live without spice, sugar and sunflower in my life, so I promptly bought them all. I’m yet to make the stripy pink/orange ‘sugar and spice’ hottie cover which is their ultimate destiny.
Aha, now this yarn has bitter-sweet memories for me, but it’s not the yarn’s fault. This is the perfect match between stroke-worthy alpaca and bang-on colours. I’ve spent a long time dreaming up gorgeous combos. I still have the grey and pink logged for future reference. It had the misfortune to be used for my first project knitting in the round with DPNs (cue tears, needles sticking out everywhere and several hundred froggings). That project was my first and only grudge-knit (it will get finished, or else I will die trying) but all credit to the yarn.
A special mention must go to Scrumptious DK/Worsted by Fyberspates, a luxurious mix of merino and silk, which has been set aside for a top secret project which will be revealed in due course.
So farewell Stokey and Knit With Attitude, but I’ll certainly be back.
* As recommended by Maya, www.knittinghelp.com is all you need, should you be in the market for free video tutorials. Their videos are brilliant and very clear, and the voice-over isn’t annoying (not a given).
Yes, indeed. The reason for the blog silence these past few weeks is because I’ve moved house. I have finally poked my head above the piles of cardboard boxes and mountains of admin, to blog some pics of the place I’ve called my haven for the last (nearly) 7 years – Stoke Newington or Stokey if you’re, y’know, in the cool gang.
When I arrived in London, overwhelmed by the swarms of commuters and petrified of the certain peril of the big city, Stokey was my sanctuary. I ended up there as my sister told me “it’s for people who hate London”. Getting off the 73 on Church Street for the first time, I knew within about 30 seconds it was the place for me.
stoke newington reservoir
abney park cemetery in autumn
abney park cemetery in winter
springfield park – clissold’s prettier, quieter and better-kept cousin
Stokey has got a lot busier than when I first moved there. It’s become slightly less villagey, slightly more clubby (I call it the Dalston creep – possibly a good thing, the jury’s out. Either way, it should definitely be a new dance move). Gone are any residues of non-gentrified shops along Church Street (RIP Haringey Electrics – what they didn’t know about Hoover bags wasn’t worth knowing) and increasingly the same is the case on the high street. But we still love it.
It was because of its stratospheric rise to house price silliness that we have sadly had to leave the area. Having sworn never to live in another area of London, melodramatically, we thought we’d never love again. But we have, and this time it’s Forest Gate, where we’ve bought our first place.
Ever since I knew I was moving, the nostalgia kicked in and I felt the need to document some classic shop fronts.
And here are my highly subjective top 10 Stokey establishments, in no particular order:
Jan’s Bar: on Northwold Road off the main drag, Belgian ales with unusual glasses, and infamous lock-ins. Stokey’s greatest hidden gem
Yep, as the main event and big finale to the excellent six-week sewing school I’ve been doing at Ray Stitch, we made a rather fetching weekend bag. Or large handbag, depending on how you see it. It was certainly the most complex project I’ve tried, and so the sense of achievement is jump-up-and-down high. I loved the cheers of glee and applause that erupted periodically in the room as each of us turned our bags the right way round to reveal the final thing. It took me and my lovely fellow bag-ladies three sessions to complete, and incorporated a zip, lining, piping, an inner pocket and various panels (just don’t mention the gusset…).
We were advised to pick out a medium/heavyweight cotton which makes for a more sturdy bag, and I found this dark blue herringbone design in Ray Stitch, and chose a bright yellow lining, yellow zip and orange tape handles. Certainly a summery combo which is making me yearn for warmer days.
Prior to the bag project, we had a whistle stop tour of all manner of seaming and finishing techniques such piping, bias binding, French seams, gathering and more besides. I never realised that gathering simply involves pulling the thread until it bunches up to the desired length, much like a drawstring. Much less complicated than I thought. And piping is definitely my new favourite thing – so satisfying and looks mega pro.
We also made a cute stuffed heart in time for Mother’s Day. I intended my mum’s to be a pin cushion but I think it’s ended up as a grab-able and chewable soft toy for my baby niece. Endless uses!
disclaimer: this pretty heart is not mine, my one was shipped down to my mum before I got a chance to take a picture…
I’m really tempted to sign up to the sewing school dress making course, which Moyna our teacher is taking, but sadly I think I’ll have to wait as I’m going to have a lot on in the next few months (moving house and getting married!) It will be first on my list of courses once I’m back in the groove though.
It’s not a genre I’d ever thought much about before moving to East London. But living here means that you pass it all the time, on the bus, walking along, caught in the corner of your eye. And whilst some graffiti is undoubtedly rubbish, I love that moment on the bus, say, when you see something quite different and extraordinary, and physically sit up to get a proper look. It’s definitely a thrill for me and an ‘I love London’ kick. It’s just so darn cool.
brick lane wall cartoons
I remember only just spotting a life-size fox stencil in Stoke Newington, poised as if it were about to sneak into a house. It wasn’t that obvious, and I was whizzing by on the bus, so almost missed it. It looks very much like a Stewy, as it’s identical to other foxes I’ve seen as part of his alphabet of 26 British animals series.
possible stewy fox in stoke newington
When I used to get the bus to work, there would be certain pieces of street art that I would look forward to spotting every day and the flip-side is the horror when you see someone has painted over or tried to remove them. That happens quite a lot but I guess it’s all part of the genre in some ways.
The other weekend, I went down to Redchurch Street for the first time in a while, and was saddened to see my favourite Roa work of the giant squirrel on Club Row gone, and a handsome Native American Indian gracing the wall where he once was.
the squirrel that once was
I was heartened though to see an enormous Roa hedgehog round the corner on Chance Street, almost as if to make up for it.
Roa is one of my favourite street artists. I love how unashamedly massive his animals are. You can’t argue with the amazing crane on Hanbury Street.
I enjoyed seeing some new street art up, and I particularly liked this girl crouching down to take a photo (in a clever mirror image of me… see what they’ve done there), and the brilliantly creepy little man just to the right.
look for the creepy ghost-like man
I long to spot a Pablo Delgado work but it’s tricky as they are so tiny. Check out some of his brilliant mini figures with big personalities here and here.
Here are some others shots I took. I don’t know who did them – please let me know if you do!