Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Made in Manchester (or thereabouts)

Today I started to think about how many creative sellers there are in and around Manchester. This may be due in part to the levels of support that are given to artisans here (like at the Craft and Design Centre or through Artlink), and I'm sure it's also due to the size of the area. Whatever it is that draws creative people here, I wanted to showcase what I came across, so here for your visual enjoyment are three of the best!

Liberty Freedom sells gorgeous garments that have been stylishly designed and meticulously made. I was lucky enough to try on one of the jackets last year and I'm saving up to buy one! The fabulous pink linings are a great touch.

Green Eyed Monsters is run by Katherine, who sells beautiful hand-dyed yarn. I particularly adore the GEM Bifflesock, which is incredibly light and soft. It's perfect for shawls, fingerless gloves and socks (of course).

A Few Fine Things is located in the heart of the Northern Quarter, just around the corner from the Craft & Design Centre. Their handbags and pouches are exquisite and extremely well-made. Perfect for a gift, the prices won't break the bank either.

Who are your favourite local creative sellers?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Picnic in the park

The weather in the UK this weekend was gorgeous! This is very unusual for our little island, so when the sun shines we all get very excited. When I woke up, the view from the window looked like this:

 After lazing around drinking iced tea in the morning, we spent a lovely afternoon having a picnic in the park.We got a picnic set about 2 years ago and this was its first outing, which was very exciting!

We went to Quarrybank Mill, which has a gorgeous meadow with huge trees for shade. I lay in the grass, drawing and reading all afternoon - it was heavenly and made me wish I could do it everyday. When we got restless we wandered around the old mill which has some great exhibits, including a demonstration of a spinning wheel.
While we were strolling I saw this tree with beautiful blossoms. I adore the colours and wish I could replicate this in one of my accessory designs!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Basket Case Cowl Pattern

Here's a little cowl I whipped up this week for my stepmum. She saw the yarn at my house and asked me to make her something, so I used my limited knitting skills to put this cowl together!

Basket Case Cowl
This pattern uses a simple basketweave pattern, surrounded by a garter stitch border. The cowl is knit flat and sewed up after blocking.

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease (20% wool, 80% acrylic)
Needles: 5mm
Gauge: Not important for this pattern

CO 50 sts using long-tail cast on.

Rows 1-5: Knit

Basketweave section:
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K5, *K6, P4*, rep between * and * to 5 sts before end, K5
Row 3: K5, *K4, P6*, rep between * and * to 8 sts before end, yo, P2tog, K5
Row 4: K5, *K6, P4*, rep between * and * to 5 sts before end, K5
Row 5: K5, *K4, P6*, rep between * and * to 5 sts before end, K5
Row 6: K5, *K6, P4*, rep between * and *  to 5 sts before end, K5
Row 7: Knit
Rows 8, 10 & 12: K5, *P4, K6*, rep between * and * to 5 sts before end, K5
Rows 9 & 11: K5, *P6, K4*, rep between * and * to 5 sts before end, K5
Rep these 12 rows 7 times.
On last row of basketweave pattern: K5, P2, YO, P2tog, K6, *P4, K6*, rep between * and * to 5 sts before end, K5

Next 5 rows: Knit
BO and weave in ends, steam block flat.
Sew on buttons, then sew cowl ends together from top of bottom garter stitch border to where corners begin to fold.

Thanks to Knitting on the Net for the easy-to-understand description of the basketweave stitch pattern.

7 Craft Blogs I Love

I spend much of my time perusing crafty blogs on the Internet (or "researching for my Etsy shop" as I like to call it). There are so many fantastic sites out there, both for showcasing handmade items and for advice on turning your crafty talents into a viable business.

Here's a selection of my favourites.

Sweet Sweet Life
The visuals on Amy's blog are amazing! I don't know how she manages to take such consistently great photos but it's certainly impressive. I also love reading the insights into stylish homes, what an inspiration!

Sew Weekly
This blog is written by Mena, who has decided to sew an outfit a week - completely from scratch! The photos and stories behind the outfits are so interesting. Sew Weekly has inspired me to start polishing my sewing skills - watch this space!

What the Craft
A great mix of tutorials and advice, WTC has a fab, colourful design and interesting content. If you're suffering from an inspirational dead-end, it's the place to visit!

Under the Rainbow
Nina's adventures are so great to read. Her sewing projects are amazing and cool, and her children are adorable! Her posts always cheer me up.


The following sites provide invaluable advice on how to conquer the world with your craft. There are practical tips, colourful photos and reeeeally nice people running the show - what more could you want?

Please feel free to post your favourite craft blogs!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Yarn cakes

Having been in Paris for the week, I came back with lots of beautiful yarn and was very happy to find my recently-ordered yarn swift and ball winder just waiting for me to make some yummy yarn cakes today!

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted



I absolutely love this colour, which is called 'Courage'.

Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock



I adore this colourway, 'River'. These two yarns were purchased from L'OisiveThe, a fantastic cafe and yarn store in the Butte aux Cailles area of Paris. I went to the Wednesday evening knitting circle, TricotThe, which was wonderful!

La Droguerie Fleur de Coton

Before (oops, it got a bit tangled en route!):


This was purchased from La Droguerie, a great Parisian yarn and notions store. They have gorgeous fabric, ribbons and buttons too!

I can't wait to make more yarn cakes!

Sunday, 28 March 2010


I've been Etsyfied! I had my first sale last week through my Etsy shop, Ellie Thouret Designs and I've been very excited about it. It's even kicked me into gear to take some decent photos of my designs to upload.

Here's a selection, let me know what you think!

I am a really big fan of websites like Etsy that encourage independent designers to share their work. I have a raft of designs to make up in the next few weeks and I hope I'll be blogging about more sales in future!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Shh! It's a secret (scarf)

Secrets are great fun, aren't they? And I've discovered that they're even more fun when you get a gift at the end! I'm talking about secret swaps of course, as I've just participated in the first round of the great 2010 Ravelry secret (and not-so-secret) scarf swap.

The basic premise is that you join the group on Ravelry, send details of your likes/dislikes (colours, styles etc.) and the moderator gives you a partner. From that point on, you know who you are knitting for, but not who is knitting for you.

Participating in this swap was an interesting exercise in choosing a style and colours for someone that I didn't know at all. All I had to go on was basic information, so it really encouraged me to be creative. I looked at a load of patterns before I found one that I thought my scarfee would like, as well as considering the right level of difficulty - after all, I've only been knitting seriously for 3 months.

Once I had settled on my pattern - the gorgeous Flame Chevron Scarf - I had so much fun picking out the yarn. I decided to go with the yarn that the pattern calls for, as I wanted the FO to resemble the photo as closely as possible, but choosing the colours was an adventure! My partner said that she liked bright colours, nothing boring, so I went for a mix of purples, blues and greens. The colours that Araucania Ranco Multy comes in are amazing and the yarn is lovely. I highly recommend it, especially as it is very affordable.

Then came the knitting, which was challenging enough to teach me new skills, but easy to memorise. I enjoyed it although it became a little repetive towards the end. I was worried that the scarf would be too short, but I needn't have been because after blocking it really grew and showed off the beautiful lace texture.

I packaged the scarf up with some Cadbury's chocolate and sent it off to my partner.


Then I went away for work for a week, and when I got home, this was waiting for me!

The second round kicks off on March 12 with the theme 'A Sense of Whimsy'. I have a good idea of what to make but am waiting until I get my partner before I cast on in case they hate the colour I've chosen!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Knitty gritty

I love knitting! I feel like a total crochet traitor admitting that, but right now I love knitting more than crochet. It came along with its neat little stitches and lacy texture and stole my heart. I'm on a knitting kick, which means my crochet designing and making is suffering a little - oops!

Here's a selection of my recent knitFOs:

And of course one for Mr NTLP!

Next stop...lace knitting!
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