Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Autumnal Events

So, it's November! How did that happen? ...Come to think of it, where has this year gone?! It's certainly been an eventful one for me, in any case. 

I am enjoying the autumn show of colours and the crisp scent of bonfires in the air. It always makes me glad when this time of year rolls around, because however much the dark days are a little, well, dark, it's comforting to think of bringing all my cosy knits out of hibernation - and maybe finishing a few too. (Though lately that has eluded me somewhat as due to a bout of tendonitis I havent't been able to touch my knitting for a few weeks now - woe!!)

I'm consoling myself by living vicariously through the craft of others and gathering inspiration for wintery projects in the meantime. Cue a Pinterest frenzy! If you want to see what I've been pinning lately, you can find my boards here: http://www.pinterest.com/wildcatdesigns.

One of the projects I'm hoping to work on is my first foray into quilting. I've been fascinated by the industrious creators of patchwork quilts for many years and this year myself and two friends are challenging ourselves to have a go, with the aim of completing a quilt each by January. So I started to collect ideas and ponder designs, as well as having a rummage through my fabric stash. Despite not being an avid sewer, I have still managed to acquire (hoard) plenty of pretty fabrics. I think my degree in textiles might have *something* to do with that...

Photographs featured in this post are of some of the rather wonderful pieces as seen in my copy of Contemporary American Quilts published by the Crafts Council.

Do you have any tips for me, as a novice quilter? I'd love to know your thoughts, and please feel free to post links! :)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Wondrous Wool

This is a special edition of Woolly Wednesday - it's Wool Week!

(This is a kitty commission I made 
from Merino lambswool a few years ago)

...What's Wool Week, I hear you ask. 2014 is the 5th year of the Campaign for Wool's week dedicated to wool, that most wondrous of natural fibres. This year's edition runs from the 5th - 12th of October and features a whole host of activities and events promoting wool. Want to organise your own? Check out Picknit for some LoveWool resources.

I love the idea of the Wool Ride, a brand new woolly cycle ride held in London on the first day of Wool Week. It appears to have a similar feel to the annual Harris Tweed Ride in Glasgow, albeit perhaps a little more light-hearted and rough (fluff?!) around the edges.

My latest knitting project is a pair of stripy mittens (shown above) in a lovely pure wool yarn. Seemed like the perfect time of year to start something like this, now that the air is crisper, the leaves are turning and it's starting to get dark sooner in the evenings.

One of the reasons I love making things with wool is its versatility. It can be incredibly useful in its many different forms - the elasticity of the fibre lends itself well to clothing which will keep its shape well, but not only that, it has a natural tendency towards repelling water, due to the waxy lanolin of a sheep's coat, even more so if you felt the fabric as the water will simply bead on the surface and roll off.

You can achieve a great stitch definition in a yarn 
with a high wool content such as this one (80% wool)

As many of you will know, wool is a rather wonderful natural fibre, meaning of course that it's biodegradable, unlike many manmade fibres. One which is renewable (thanks to the sheep growing a new fleece every year!), breathable and happens to be pretty great at absorbing a vast rainbow of dyes, as well as coming in a beautiful range of natural hues. Did you know wool can even be used as an insulation material? It's also naturally flame-retardant, believe it or not!

If you're interested in reading further woolly witterings, click here for more #WoollyWednesday posts.

Friday, 3 October 2014

All the Pretty Things

Image via Flickr

Life has been somewhat of a whirlwind lately, so I'm taking a much-needed moment to slow down and contemplate the things that inspire me. Pretty patterned tiles and ceramics have been a feature in recent weeks so here are some of my favourites.

Image found on Pinterest

Image via Flickr

Image via Decor8

Pretty cups via Tumblr

I do hope you liked these pretties and wish you a happy Friday - enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Woolly Wednesday

Here it is! Another Woolly Wednesday :)

I intend to make these themed posts fortnightly for the time being, which hopefully gives me plenty of time to track down some new woolly things to shout about.

Image via Selvedge

The first of these this week is the recent KNIT issue of Selvedge magazine (issue 60). If you're not familiar with it, the magazine is a rather wonderful publication and provides articles covering the world of textiles, via its many applications in art, craft, fashion, design and interiors. The title is published bi-monthly and is one of my favourites (and has been for a number of years), as it features beautiful photography, insightful pieces on the history of textiles and it showcases some really beautiful art and craft. A highly recommended read. I also *love* the giant chunky cable knit scarf on the cover

Image via Selvedge

Issue 60 features knitting in its many forms and some absolutely stunning photography from Ian Lawson's book, "From the Land Comes the Cloth" - a breathtaking visual journey telling the story of Harris Tweed, showcasing the natural beauty of the Hebrides, the woollen raw materials, the painstaking traditional production process and the world-famous finished product. Needless to say, the book is on this girl's wishlist! If you want to have a look at a little preview of the book, click here.

Image via The Catskill Kiwi on Instagram

Continuing with the woven cloth theme... in my Instagram wanderings, I discovered The Catskill Kiwi's feed which piqued my interest because as someone who dabbled with weaving but realised it wasn't for me, I can live vicariously through the lovely textured tapestries of Toni Brogan.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

IT'S Woolly Wednesday!

One thing you should know about me... I love a bit of alliteration, so when I was dreaming up ideas for blog posts recently, I thought, how about having a Woolly Wednesday! (Why not?!)

...I very much doubt I'm the first person ever to have come up with that but I do hope you like it anyway :)

Here are some woolly things that have tickled my fancy this week:

Image via Etsy

I love this Lambswool Birdie by Sally Nencini, discovered while having a look at a few things that popped up on my feed whilst using the Etsy app. Not just because I adore birds, and think lambswool is pretty awesome, either! I particularly like the way she has used different patterns and muted colours to create an overall kind of folkloric effect. Plus, who wouldn't want one of these cheery birdies sitting on their mantlepiece?

I quite enjoy using the "your feed" tab as a way of browsing actually, and it's a great way to find new things or stumble across pretty treasuries. Do check out Sally Nencini's Etsy shop, it's packed with lots of fun (woolly) designs including an elephant cushion or one featuring a fleet of red London double-decker buses, not to mention her quirky knitted toys!

Image via Ohhdeer

How about some woolly jumpers? This "Cool Sweaters" greeting card with sheep sporting knitted designs made me smile. It's the work of illustrator Jacques Maes, and I very much like the nostalgic feel of this print of his.

...and finally, here's a little bit of sporting yarnbombery: Commonwealth Games nations knitted flags for Glasgow 2014
Fear not, dear reader, more wool-related action coming soon!

In the meantime, you can check out all of my blog posts related to this rather fabulous fibre here.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Free Shipping at WildCat Designs!

A little something, just for the bank holiday weekend...

Get free worldwide shipping on everything at http://wildcatdesigns.etsy.com until the end of Monday 26th May. Just quote "FREESHIPYAY" during checkout to claim this offer.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

...yes, there's been virtual tumbleweed blowing around here lately, I confess! Things have been a little crazy but I have lots of inspiring things to share with you in the coming weeks.

I recently started a new job which has got me walking down familiar paths but seeing things in a new light. I'm revisiting many things I used to be so involved with as a textile student - it's hard to believe it was almost a decade ago that I completed my degree in that field!

The wonderful thing is that I still find this area so inspiring even after all these years. I thought I'd give you a visual tour of what's got my creative juices flowing of late:

This is a gorgeous fabric I recently received in the post, as part of the Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition. The fabric is called Bird Parade and it's from their Country Retreat range. I have yet to make something with it, at this point I'm thinking my limited sewing skills might stretch to a bag but I love the idea of a skirt, should I have enough material! If you want to find out more about the comp, check out this post on the UK Craft Blog.

Image via Pinterest

The colours of spring emerging from the garden always have an impact on me at this time of year. I love that first sign of delicate snowdrops, heralding new life and fresh growth, which is soon followed by crocus, daffodils and tulips (one of my favourite flowers).

Image via Designers Guild

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sunday Treat

It's February (already?! Where did January go...) so I figured it's time to unveil the next part of my 2014 Desktop Calendar Project.

You can download the freebie desktop wallpaper calendar I've designed for February 2014 - click here to view (then right-click on the image and select "save image as..."). This is optimised for 1024 x 768 screen resolutions. (I'm happy to make other sizes on demand - just email info {at} catcodes {dot} co {dot} uk to request it!)

...Romance is in the air...

If you're looking for a little romantic inspiration, I happen to have a section in my WildCat Designs Etsy Boutique entitled "Be my Valentine" featuring some scarves with a heart pattern I designed. I can vouch for the fact that they are not only cute, but super cosy as I made (kept!) one for myself and love wearing it.

P.S. As love is in the air this month, and I'm feeling generous, I've extended the Super Scarf Sale! It will now run until Friday 14th February, giving you a chance to snap up a brand new scarf - or treat your Valentine.

Monday, 27 January 2014

New Year, New Project

I got a bit of a shock when I realised about a fortnight ago that I hadn't actually done *any* knitting yet this year! (gasp!)

Not like me at all...but I have been enjoying reading "Knit the Season" - the third book in the Friday Night Knitting Club series by Kate Jacobs. Always nice to revisit favourite characters and it's a lovely seasonal tale of their continually intertwining lives. So this has acted as a kind of substitute in a way. I'm so glad someone finally got me it for Christmas (my other half, he rocks), as it's been on my wishlist for a while.

Anyway, it got to the point where enough was enough, I had gotten pretty far into the book and my fingers were itching to do some real-life knitting, instead of just reading about it! I decided to start a brand new project, one I've been thinking about for some time. It's a beautiful lace shawl (or wrap) design which I previously designed and created for a commission using a silvery-white yarn, Rowan's Kidsilk Night in Starlight [Ravelry link].

I am making this year's version based on my notes and pattern from this - it's been adapted from two different lace motifs I liked, a chevron one from a pattern library which forms the border of my design and one which borrows a section of the lacework from the beautiful Anice Shawl in Rowan Magazine 41, which was out around the time I was working as a Design Consultant for Rowan yarns. (Yes, I'm still a Rowan addict!)

I've made some progress on it so far and have named this incarnation the
Goddess of the Night Shawl. A fitting name for its inky plum purple darkness with a shimmering glint of silvery thread.

I don't have a particular recipient in mind, I simply decided to work on this piece for the sheer joy of having a nice cerebral lace project on the go, not to mention something visually stunning developing before my eyes as I continue to work on it.

No instant gratification here, I'm in this for the long haul. I've realised over the years that there is indeed merit in quick, simple projects, which can be easily completed in a short space of time but somethimes you need something a little deeper to get your teeth into. Did I mention it's a bit like therapy? (albeit generally* a lot cheaper!)

* depending on your yarn habit...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Does your winter need warming up?

Well, I might be able to help with that...

Chase away the January blues
with a brand new WildCat Designs scarf
- snap one up in my Super Scarf Sale!

You'll find lots of my best selling designs marked down
in my Etsy online shop, available while stocks last...

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Hello 2014!

Welcome in, 2014! I wonder what adventures we'll have together...

I do hope you all had a lovely festive period and are feeling refreshed 
and rejuvenated, ready to start the new year with a smile :)

A new year brings new beginnings and mine is no exception. This year I have decided to design a year's worth of monthly calendars - which I will make available to download for free from my website!

It's taken me a little bit longer than I'd intended to get the project kick-started but here is my contribution for January 2014 - click here to view (then right-click on the image and select "save image as...").

Note, this desktop wallpaper is optimised for 1024 x 768 resolutions.
I hope to produce more options in the coming months!

The image is intended to be used as a desktop calendar, but you could always print it out onto cardstock, if you prefer.

Incidentally, the website is my new portfolio site featuring my web & graphic design work - feel free to have a browse! The address is www.catcodes.co.uk.