Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Team profile: Ellie Tobin

Who: Ellie Tobin
Role: Hair and make-up artist

Ellie and I have known each other for ten years. Along with Frances (my photographer, more to come on her later) we studied together at Camberwell College of Arts. Since then we've all been off on various different escapades before ending up working together again.

Ellie has consulted for MAC cosmetics and worked with a complete smorgasbord of clients, from band AlunaGeorge, to the Observer, Marie Claire, Boots and Magnum to Natwest, with a forthcoming project for Sky Living in the new year. She recently beautified Hayley Atwell & Ruth Wilson for the recent British Independent Film Awards and has worked with me on three seasons (see above, hard at work on our AW11 shoot) with plenty more to come, I hope!

Eek, silence...

Sorry for the utter radio silence lately, dear readers. Things have been a little hectic since the Vogue coverage. Add to that the fact that I'm working like the clappers on the AW12 collection, we have a brand new stockist (from February - more to come on that...) AND that I recently became an aunt, well - there's barely been time to breathe, let alone anything else!

But over the next couple of weeks I am going to do a profile piece on each member of my brilliant team. You can find out a little bit about each of the people without whom these collections wouldn't make it out into the public domain. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Spring Summer 2012 is now live!

Our first Spring/Summer collection is now available to view online. Click here to inject a bit of colour into a gloomy afternoon!

Hawthorn sweater in yesterday's Times

Our lovely Hawthorn sweater was in The Times yesterday in the fashion pages, you can just see it peeking out from under the coat on the model on the far right.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Interview with Top Stylista

Following the Vogue interview the other week is another Q&A, this time with Jamie from fashion site Top Stylista.

While I'm here I thought I'd give one of those exclusive shots from the new S/S 2012 collection another airing. I hope you like it. More to follow soon...

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Thanks to the team at knitty for this little mention

Friday, 28 October 2011

In Vogue

Today is a pretty exciting day for me and for the label. I'm fairly certain I'm not the only person who has been an avid reader and fan of British Vogue (both in print and online) for many years. Therefore I was extremely excited and honoured to be interviewed by them for a few weeks ago. They asked me all sorts of things, and you can read it all here.

Now I think a drink might be in order.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Yarn Bomb, part 2

OK, I know I've done a blog post on yarn bombing or 'knit grafitti' before so this is a bit of a cheat, but there was a series of images on the subject on the Guardian website today (thanks to my friend Mike for pointing it out to me!) and I love this one so much, I couldn't resist:

[Image taken from the Guardian website]
Visit Knit the City to find out more.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Doe a deer

I absolutely love these beautiful handknitted 'taxidermied' deer heads by Rachel Denny. Yet another bonkers way to put knitting to good use. To see more of her beautiful work, visit her website

[Images taken from Rachel Denny's website]

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Special edition: Willow in blue

I was recently asked if I could make a Willow cape for someone in blue. Although it doesn't officially come in this colour I knew it would look great so I obliged. I'm really pleased with the results:

Unfortunately the blue is a one-off, but to buy the Willow in black, teal, grey or burgundy click here

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Inspiration: the Cherry hat

Dr. Zhivago is such a classic film and one that was often on when I was growing up. I remembered those Cossack hats making several appearances throughout the movie so I watched it again. Not long afterwards the Cherry hat was born!

The A/W 2010 collection was so well received in Russia I was quite inspired, so for A/W 11 I decided to look into traditional Russian clothing and was particularly taken with the fur hats so commonly worn there.

To buy your own Cherry hat in cream or black, click here

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Feature in the Times' Eureka magazine

Both the Sycamore beanie and Hazel wristwarmers have made an appearance in Eureka magazine today as part of their fashion feature.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Post shoot edit/chill out

Doing a rough edit and enjoying the last of the sun in the garden with a glass of wine.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Getting ready...

Model behaviour

So our model has just arrived - you'll recognise her later as one of the two finalists from the most recent series of Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model.

Juste conducted herself brilliantly on the show and is absolutely stunning, so we're looking forward to seeing what she comes up with on today's shoot.

SS12 shoot

We're shooting the SS12 lookbook tomorrow. Aptly (and a little annoyingly as we'll be stuck inside all day) it's meant to be another scorcher. You have to love this random September weather.

I'm really excited about this shoot as it's the first Spring/Summer collection for the label and I'm looking forward to seeing how it's recieved. Even more exciting though, is that we have a very special girl modelling for us, so keep an eye on the blog and our Twitter feed for behind the scenes images tomorrow to find out more...

Sunday Express S Magazine

The Willow coat had a nice bit of press coverage a few weeks ago, in S Magazine in the Sunday Express. Broadcaster Anita Rani was asked to share her wardrobe favourites and we're very pleased that this was one of her chosen pieces. Thanks Anita!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Wool week!

I got very excited when we had our first British Wool Week last year - it's not exactly the sexiest sounding thing in the world, but with so many big name designers getting involved, it really helped to elevate the status of wool from being seen as something a bit boring and utilitarian to an incredible versatile fibre that can be used to create extraordinary, beautiful clothes that will last AND keep you warm.

There are a whole host of activities and events going on next week, our second Wool Week and you can find out more by visiting the Campaign for Wool's website.

The thing I am most looking forward to is the Wool Modern exhibit showing at La Galleria on Pall Mall, throughout September. Among the big name designers exhibiting are Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix, Courreges, Erdem, Lanvin and Viviene Westwood as well as smaller names like Louise Gray and Craig Lawrence. To find out more about it go here - it's worth it for the amazing morphing sheep [I took the liberty of nicking the above images from their site for your viewing pleasure - I hope they don't mind....].

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A/W 2011: on sale now

I have been very quiet lately, this is mostly due to the fact that I've been laying low in an attempt to finish the S/S12 collection. Needless to say, I have missed one deadline already, but there is still time....ahem...

Anyway, most importantly, A/W11 has gone on sale today. I can't quite believe it's the 1st September already but at least we can get excited about lovely autumnal clothing even if it is slightly depressing that summer is over.

So! If your wardrobe is in need of a pick me up and you have some cash to flash, you can shop the collection at the following places:

Our online shop, which you can reach via our website or here

ASOS Marketplace, where you can see the whole collection shot 'street style'

Or coming soon, a selection of pieces will be available from the online boutique, Ursa Loves


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Interview with Verena Hafner

Stylist and blogger Verena Hafner got in touch with me recently, wanting to do a feature on her blog about the AW 11 collection with a short interview. You can see what she's written about the new collection here, but I thought I'd print the interview for your reading pleasure:

What is your first fashion memory?

It would have to be learning to knit with my mother and grandmother. This is probably the case with many girls, but it was a generational thing, as my mother remembers her grandmother knitting with her too – and smoking simultaneously! When the sweaters were finished they used to have to hang them out to air for a week before they could be worn to get rid of the smell.

Any time I wanted something and my mother said no, I’d just go off and make it instead. It mostly applied to toys but I definitely did it with clothing and accessories too, usually things I’d spotted on the pages of glossy fashion magazines which I’ve been hooked on for as long as I can remember. I used to read and re-read issues of the now defunct Clothes Show magazine which I saved up my pocket money to buy. Under their influence, I’d spend hours doing ‘fashion sketches’ (which, if unearthed now, I’d probably be mortified about, they were pretty bad). I was convinced I was going to be a fashion designer, but then ended up doing a photography degree.

When did you decide this was the career you wanted to pursue?

I spent a few years working as a photographer, but craved something more and missed the whole process of knitting, so decided professional photography just wasn’t for me. I changed my career and started to teach knitting, something that I love and still do now. In fact, last week I was at Central Saint Martins speaking to the students there. It was inspiring to see such interest and enthusiasm for knitwear.

In late 2009, while I was teaching, I started creating my own bespoke pieces which, when I wore out, attracted a lot of attention. After the fifth person asked where they could buy one of my pieces, I decided that I’d try launching a collection. It was the right decision!

You mainly use British lambs wool and Peruvian alpaca. What draws you to these materials and how do they influence your designs?

I want to use British yarns as much as possible because I think it’s important to support local yarn producers in the current economic climate. The British yarn industry used to be huge but it’s been dying out, which is a terrible shame. I make an exception for alpaca because it’s such a beautiful, warm, fun yarn to work with. But I’ve recently discovered some British alpaca farms so I intend to pay them a visit before I start work on next season – I feel a collaboration coming on! As well as provenance, another crucial element to my work is the variety of yarn weights. I love the contrast between a super chunky knit and something finer. I expect those differences will become more exaggerated in future collections.

Which themes and ideas are behind your AW11 collection?

The AW11 collection was inspired by Russian fashions and traditions – I found my first collection was very well received in Russia so I looked at traditional cold weather clothing there; capes, furs, Cossack hats, Dr Zhivago style outfits. But I also infused the collection with some simplified shapes influenced by classic Japanese design.

What are the next steps for brand going to be? Any upcoming projects you can speak about?

I’m about to finish working on spring summer, which is a first for me. I found it difficult initially to get into the idea of designing knitwear for summer, as previously my work has been so chunky and cosy. But it’s amazing how quickly you get immersed in an idea and swept along by it. If an idea is exciting, it generates its own momentum and I’m looking forward to seeing how the public will react to it.

Friday, 12 August 2011


I am crazy about Balenciaga's A/W 11 collection - this rubbery knitted jacket is incredible.
[Image taken from the Balenciaga website]

Friday, 29 July 2011

Coverage Down Under

I just stumbled across a New Zealand website called Worldwear who have recently tracked me down and have some rather complementary things to say about the latest collection in their blog on winter knits, posted yesterday. They like it so much they even have a thumbnail of the Sycamore beanie on their homepage! I'm very flattered.

You can read the blog post here.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Pitti Filati: big knits big talent

Throughout the duration of the show there was a competition, 'Feel the Yarn', set up as a collaboration between Pitti Immagine and Toscana Promozione who supplied Tuscan yarn to a selection of knitwear students worldwide. Their challenge was to come up with innovative designs using the yarns and all visitors to Pitti Filati were invited to vote for their favourite entry with the winner being announced on the last day*.

There was so much incredible work on display I can't possibly show it all, but here are a few of my favourites, with a few detailed shots for good measure:

First garment by Fan Jiang, of the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, second one down by Ge Bai, also from the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, above garment by Jieun Bae of Polimoda, Italy

*Unfortunately I wasn't there when the winner was announced, nor can I find it anywhere online! If anybody knows, please tell me!


I can't blog without including some shots of the beautiful city itself, that just wouldn't be right.

Pitti Filati: outside in

I have just got back from three days in Florence, at Pitti Filati. For the uninitiated, Pitti Filati is THE main yarn trade fair, held twice a year in a crumbling fort in the north of the city. This was my first visit, both to the show and to Florence and it was an amazing insight into the industry and, of course, great fun getting a bit of culture in.

I wanted to blog 'live from the scene', but for some reason I struggled to get a successful Wi-Fi connection anywhere in the city! So now I'm back, I'm going to give you a few of my highlights.

One of the first things I encountered when I arrived at the show on Tuesday afternoon was the New Mill stand. While they didn't have any suitable yarns for me to look at I absolutely loved their display. I've re-discovered a bit of a lost passion for gardening this summer so I thought it was pretty cool that New Mill had stacks of knitwear hanging between pots bursting with luscious herbs and other foliage.

Gardening and the outdoors was a bit of a theme: another stand having a bit of fun with plants and knits was Lane Cardate, with their chunky knitted pot holders and yummy looking herbs. In addition to those, the chill out area was covered in fake grass, with cut outs of sheep to keep you company and birdsong playing through hidden speakers. The free glasses of bubbly being handed out were pretty nice, too...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

ASOS Marketplace shoot, AW11

We spent Saturday morning photographing the AW11 collection on Columbia Road in East London for ASOS Marketplace. It's deserted on a Saturday, which makes it perfect for a shoot.

My friend, broadcaster & journalist Kim Taylor Bennett, very kindly agreed to model the collection despite having had very little sleep (she had been busy watching The Killers alongside Prince Harry the previous night)! The weather was a bit overcast but managed not to rain (thankfully) and the light was surprisingly lovely to shoot with.

Keep an eye out for the collection on ASOS Marketplace, it will go on sale in late August/early September.

Friday, 24 June 2011

How to dress as a summer cyclist, according to Vogue... did a piece back in May called How to Dress as a Summer Cyclist and I started to read it thinking it was going to be ridiculously impractical and unrealistic (this wasn't helped by the first image they used, see left - I mean, can you really see either of those models cycling off into the sunset after that shot was taken?!).

Whenever bloggers or magazines shoot girls on bikes they always look very 'fashion' - short shorts with diaphanous blouse and mega wedges. Great if you're getting papped, not so good if you're cycling around London trying to get safely from A to B.

Anyway, as I read on I saw that most of the girls Vogue had spoken to did actually have a fairly practical approach to cycling, with most confessing to having a preference for jeans & flats, with Agyness Deyn saying that her one MUST is to always wear a helmet. They may make you look like a total dweeb, but they're a necessity.

Whenever I'm off somewhere on my bike (and owing to my hatred of London Transport, I pretty much cycle everywhere unless it's tipping down with rain) I'm always in a quandary about what to wear. I'm far too lazy to wear one thing and change when I arrive at my destination which means that, while I love a pair of 5 inch heels and tailored shorts, you'll pretty much always catch me in jeans and flip flops when I'm on my beloved bike. And ALWAYS in a helmet!
[Stephen Meisel image taken from]

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Nervous Stitch

For year-round knitwear you don't have to wear, Nervous Stitch is your go-to for pieces to jazz up your sofa or armchair.

Jenny McHardy is the brains behind the brand, which produces lovingly knitted bespoke interior accessories. She is passionate about knitted textiles and vintage styles and marries the two brilliantly with her cushions, tea cosies and sewing accessories which are available to buy from her Etsy shop. My personal favourites are the olive deer head cushion and the fox terrier dog cushion. Her collection has a strong nostalgic feel. For example, her newest design 'Mix Tape' is a repeated cassette tape patterned cushion dedicated to all of us who obsessively taped the chart show every Sunday.

Jenny graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2007 with an MA in knitted textiles. She started her business after the birth of her daughter because she wanted a flexible job through which to channel her creativity. She makes everything using Scottish lambswool which I love - we both recognise the importance of using local yarns where possible and supporting the UK textile industry.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Unravel: Knitwear in fashion

If only I could make it to Antwerp by 14th August - sadly I think it's unlikely, but I wish I could get over there to see Unravel: Knitwear in fashion, at MoMu. From what I've seen, it looks like an incredible exhibition showcasing some of the most avant garde talent in the industry. Knitwear pieces by Vivienne Westwood, Maison Martin Margiela, Sandra Backlund, Chanel and Mark Fast are all on show, from more classic styles to the most outrageous.

With the amount of work I have to do between now and the middle of August, I shall just have to settle for the exhibition catalogue, but if anyone has seen it, I'd love to hear what you think.

You can read an interview with some of the designers on the Dazed website.

[Images taken from Dazed Digital]

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Pinterest - my new favourite thing

A friend told me about Pinterest the other day and I have been hooked ever since - it's a great social media tool, like Twitter, but with images.

It's a brilliant way of putting all the stuff that inspires you in one place - you create online mood boards and other people can see and share your images too. Twitter can be so useful and interesting in it's way, but it can also be full of drivel. With Pinterest all you have is beautiful images!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Yarn bomb!

According to the New York Times, a new phenomenon is taking over the world - yarn bombing, people!

Also known as grandma graffiti, yarn bombing takes the traditional craft (still associated with old grannies) of knitting and the most maternal of gestures (wrapping something cold in a warm blanket) and transfers it to the concrete and steel structures of the urban landscape. Look out in a city near you - yarn bombers are taking their brightly coloured and fuzzy work to Europe, Asia and beyond.

[Image taken from New York Times website]