Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Workshop news

As you can probably tell by the gaps between recent posts, things have been getting busy in Made by Loulabelle land. There's a few different schemes a-cooking, but I'm really excited to be able to announce that I am soon going to be tutoring my first ever bag-making workshop!

It's hard to believe it's possible in a civilised society, but Oxford had long been lacking a haberdashery/fabric shop until the lovely Jo recently opened Darn it and Stitch. She's created a fabulous space with a gorgeous mix of new and vintage trims and buttons, wool, fabric and haberdashery essentials. And, even more excitingly, she has turned the upstairs into a venue for crafting workshops. On the list are beginner’s classes in knitting, crochet, sock knitting, patchwork, smocking, bobbin lace making, corsetry, embroidery and felting. And now... bag making!

The workshop will be held on 9th October and we'll be making a trapeze tote which designed especially for the occasion. Here are the samples, currently residing in the shop:

More details to follow soon - I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Vintage knits

Where have I been for the past fortnight?... well, in the meandering lanes of my little mind I have been skipping through the soft-focused meadows and European walled gardens of the mid seventies, resplendent in some rather marvellous and also terrifying knitwear.

I recently acquired two vintage knitting books and have to share some of their highlights and downright mystifying moments ...

First up is the Woolworth Knitting Magazine 1974 Issue 5 which offers "something for everyone whatever the weather", claiming that "no one has been neglected". It's true. I don't think I'll be knitting myself a bikini or bodysuit any time soon, but I'll know where to look if I change my mind.

I will however, be having a go at this scoop neck tank top:

Life is so much fun when you're drunk on ale and highly patterned knitwear.

Here are some ambitious crochet projects - I find myself strangely drawn to the button-up dress on the right (or maybe it's just the man proffering crisps that's doing it for me):

Anyone noticed the pink theme yet? Oh, there's much more...

Have you ever seen a man in salmon crochet look quite so manly and yet... thoughtful... hmmmm.

There are some very cute girl's patterns - the knitted dress on the left is on my to-do list. But, someone needs to undo her poor little friend's collar - she looks like she might keel over at any minute (must...have..air).

This is my favourite pattern - how gorgeous is this smock top?

Okay, are you ready for more? This time it's the Patons Fashion Knits 76 book. Patons wax a bit more lyrical than Woolworth. The fashion story for 1976 is the "straight-to-your-heart" look which involves straighter lines but with a "strong mood for romance." There is some mention of "flying sleeves" and "a sweetening of crochet lace". The soft focus is definitely out in force because apparently "a new gentleness is here, there and everywhere." Lovely. Again, there is a great mix of the 'yes-please' and the 'what-were-they-thinking'.

I think the jumper/hat combo on the front cover look great on the model, but fear it would make me look like a sack of potatoes.. is it worth the risk I wonder?

I love this whole brown and cream ensemble - this is the lady I've spent most time pretending to be - the perfect hair helps. And even though I think she is probably VERY hot in her wool dress and shawl, clutching her wool bag, and no doubt wearing matching wool underwear, I will one day create this dress and wear it.. I will.

This however, is a dress I will not be wearing - and not just because I haven't been proposed to yet. You just can't risk a crochet wedding dress with weather like ours - imagine getting rained on in that creation?

This picture troubles me. Yes, they look very much in love in their bobbly his'n'hers cardigans, but something in her expression makes me think this is the moment of realisation that they are actually stuck together like two strips of velcro.

And last, but oh, by no means least... I bring to you.... 'The Homespun Look':

There are no words.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

... and relax....

Ahhhhhh.... That, my friends, is the sound of a deep breath of relaxation and relief after a frantic week of preparation for today's craft fair. All in all - a good day.

It's hard to predict how busy craft fairs will be, but whatever the takings, it's worth it for the opportunity to get real feedback and interaction from people that you know aren't just being nice to you because they have to be! I love seeing which bags people's eyes are drawn to, which ones get the most strokes, which ones remind them of their grandma's kitchen curtains.... I always come away with a massive list of new ideas and things to improve next time.

My other favourite thing about craft fairs is the opportunity to meet other crafters - some friends who came to visit wanted to know if there was any sabotage going on behind the scenes, but it couldn't be further from the truth! My stand neighbour today was Nicola from Marmalade Button who makes the most amazing cake stands from vintage British plates - check out her folksy shop.

photo from

I'm off to take another sip of wine now, but before I go, I wanted to let you know about another treasury - it's been a good couple of weeks on the treasury front! This time it's been the turn of the Dorothy and Dot tote and clutch to be featured in fosterbk's collection of houndstooth treats entitled Release the Hounds. Sherlock Holmes has never looked so cool!


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