Sunday 28 June 2015

Fair Isle and Intarsia Workshop at Make Do and Mend, Chelmsford

Make Do and Mend is a fabulous creative space in Chelmsford, Essex. They have an extensive creative workshop programme offering classes in everything from dress making, crochet, knitting, jewellery making and much more in between! I've been wanting to go along to a workshop for some time so when I heard about the Intarsia and Fair Isle Knitting workshop I took the plunge! 

If you're a regular reader you will know that I'm obsessed with all things Fair Isle at the moment! Having created a hand knitted fair isle jewellery collection and now working on adding to this range I wanted to brush up on my fair isle skills. I have taught myself what I know about fair isle knitting from books but jumped at the chance of the workshop to pick up more knowledge from workshop leader and Make Do and Mend founder Hannah.

We were made at home with coffee, tea (Earl Grey, my favourite!) and biscuits! Hannah told us that the super cute mouse tea cosy was a handmade gift to Make Do and Mend from a lady who learnt to knit there- so lovely!

How cute is the shop front?!

Hannah supplied us with yarn, needles, a fair isle chart to follow and a worksheet to take home

We knitted this Fair Isle sample and I picked up lots of tips that I can apply to my jewellery work. I was heartened to find I haven't been going terribly wrong with the fair isle I've knitted so far and it's given me the confidence to feel I can knit more complex designs

For the other half of the workshop we focused on intarsia knitting, which I haven't tried before. Here we used separate balls of yarn to knit blocks of colour, twisting the yarn together in between to prevent holes

I'd now love to try knitting a picture jumper to these intarsia skills into practice!

The space at Make Do and Mend is well equipped and large enough to cater for groups and even crafty Hen Parties- right up my street!

I came away feeling like I'd really achieved something after a very fun and relaxing morning. Thank you to Hannah for being such a patient tutor, I can't wait to go back and do some more workshops! Check out the Make Do and Mend website here and go and be inspired!

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Happy National Upcycling Day!

As part of National Recycling Week from 22-28th June, Gumtree are championing the work of upcyclers and celebrating National Upcycling Day today, 24th June! Find out more about National Upcycling Day here

I'm delighted that upcycling is being recognised in this way. I love the challenge of making things using upcycled materials- it's very satisfying to give a new life to materials that were destined to be thrown away, re-inventing them as something new to be treasured for years to come. I thought I'd share with you some ways that I  upcycle...

Photo by Green Craft Magazine
My upcycled jewellery pieces (including my Harris Tweed button brooches, above) are handmade using upcycled Harris Tweed, taken from worn garments and scraps from garment making. I also incorporate other fabrics which are upcycled from everything from clothes to curtains. In an age where we are encouraged to constantly buy into the latest trends and discard the old, I love to create jewellery with personality that will be treasured forever. Take a look at more upcycled jewellery pieces in my etsy shop 

If you would like to get crafty and do some upcycling yourself, check out the How To section of my blog where you will find many craft project tutorials made using upcycled materials, from a spray painted vintage tea tray to a photo frame decopatched with upcycled fabrics, to napkins upcycled from tea towels! 

Do you love to upcycle? I'd love to see your creations- share them in the comments below and we'll all celebrate National Upcycling Day together!

Sunday 21 June 2015

WIP- New Fair Isle Jewellery #2

The Fair Isle practice continues here at Louise Dawson Design! As you may know, I have previously hand knitted a fair isle jewellery collection in Shetland wool. I loved using the Jaimesons 4ply to make these, but I'd like to make more complex designs and I've now chosen to make a new range using Susan Crawford Fenella 2ply.  In this post I shared with you the start of some Fair Isle brooch designs in this beautiful 2ply British wool

I used one of the knitted samples to make a round brooch using a cover button but I thought that this hid the fair isle design too much, so I've knitted the same design and made it up as a small square brooch. I'm much happier with this, I think there is more scope for trying out different designs within this shape.

I'm so enjoying making up my own fair isle designs using knitter's graph paper and coloured pencils!

I'm trying out lots of colour ways to find out what works too. I've just ordered a few more colours in the Fenella to add in too- it's such a beautiful yarn, I find it hard to resist!

I'll continue to share my fair isle progress- I'm aiming to create a whole new fair isle collection

Thursday 18 June 2015

Find Me On Instagram!

Are you on Instagram? It's fast become my favourite of all the social media channels- it's so interactive and from a craft perspective, it's a great way to discover inspiring  makers from all over the world. My page offers a glimpse behind the scenes at Louise Dawson Design- lots of craft, cats, baking and sunshine! You can find me on Instagram here- I'd love to follow you too!

Sunday 14 June 2015

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe- Homemade Father's Day Gift

 It's English strawberry season and each year I love to experiment with new recipes and ways of using my favourite berry. I've also been thinking about handmade Father's Day gift ideas and as my Dad loves white chocolate and strawberries too, I hope he will love a gift of these little cakes! Filled with fresh strawberries and topped with white chocolate buttercream, they are a real treat (I'm enjoying one with a cup of tea as I type). Here's the recipe...

Makes 16 cupcakes


For the cupcakes

  • 150g butter
  • 150g Self Raising Flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 3 medium free range eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g fresh strawberries
For the buttercream icing

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 150g white chocolate
  • Milk chocolate sprinkles
  • 8 strawberries

For the cake

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees and add paper cake cases to cupcake trays

1) Cream the butter and sugar together using a large metal spoon or an electric mixer until smooth

2) Beat the eggs and add them to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time, ensuring the egg is fully combined in the mixture

3) Sift in the flour, then add the vanilla extract and beat until combined

4) Chop the strawberries into small pieces and add these to the cake mixture, mixing until combined

5) Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for aprox 15-25 minutes. The cakes are ready when a skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely

6) To make the white chocolate buttercream, first cream together the butter and icing sugar together using a large metal spoon or electric beater

7) Melt the white chocolate and allow to cool slightly before beating it into the buttercream mixture 

8) If the buttercream looks a little runny, leave in in the fridge for a while to firm up a bit

9) Ice the cakes using a piping bag or add the icing with a knife if you prefer. Top with chocolate sprinkles and half a strawberry

Happy baking!

Wednesday 10 June 2015

WIP- New Fair Isle Jewellery

I thought I'd show you a little look behind the scenes at what I'm working on at the moment! I'm already thinking of Winter designs and adding to my Fair Isle Jewellery range that you can find in my Etsy Shop. I made these pieces using 4ply Shetland wool, which is beautiful and is traditionally used for Fair Isle Designs. However, due to the small scale of the jewellery pieces I felt I couldn't knit as detailed pieces as I would have liked, so for the new designs I'm using a 2ply yarn!

Working out some new designs on knitters graph paper

A friend told me about Susan Crawford Vintage yarns and the Fenella two ply. The colours are inspired by a vintage colour pallette and it's a British grown, spun and dyed yarn too- soo lovely! I've just got a small selection of colours to use at the moment but I'm sure I'll be investing in more of the range!

At the moment I'm just experimenting to see what works. It's more tricky than I thought to select colours that work together in the pattern and It's quite a challenge to fit lots of Fair Isle detail into such a tiny piece. As you can see, once I've used the knitted rectangle to cover the button some of the Fair Isle detail is lost, so I will be working on this!
It's fascinating to see the stitches on the page come to life in knitted form and I'm really enjoying the experimentation. I'll share more as this project progresses!

Sunday 7 June 2015

How To... Make Recycled Fabric Wrapped Bangles With Two Variations

I shared this How To for Recycled Fabric Wrapped Bangles on the blog last Summer. They are extremely thrifty and simple to make using scraps of fabric and old jewellery/beads you are likely to already have to hand. Lovely summer accessories- perfect to wear in the hot weather we've been having!  

If you try this or any of my How Tos and you're on Instagram, tag a pic of your bangles with @louisedawsondesign so I can see your lovely makes! Happy making!

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Father's Day Gift Guide Featuring Sellers from Not On The High Street

It's Father's Day in the UK on Sunday 21st June and as my Dad's birthday falls in the same week, I'm busy searching for two great gifts for him! I've made a Father's Day Gift Guide featuring products from Not On The High Street sellers that I think would make fab gifts for Dads if you're searching for inspiration too! My favourite finds are the Build Your Own Wind Up Car Kit and the Beer Subscription- I bought this for my Dad's birthday last year and he was really chuffed with it!

Foodie Gifts

Gadgets and Gadget Accessories

Small Gifts