knitting

anita chew, handmade, knit

TT: Fashion Illustration

Textile inspiration can start with anything really. But normally, for me, it begins with either an illustration, croquis (which is a small test pattern) or photo. Illustrations, especially fashion ones give a lot more information than the other options. This can be really helpful in deciding things like fibre, density of the fabric, and even how much detail may or may not be added. Like any form of design outcome (and probably like most things in life?) the more you know, the better off you are. 

INSPIRATION: Hand drawn fashion illustration

INSPIRATION: Hand drawn fashion illustration

OUTCOME: Lightweight silk with hand embroidered weaving in 

OUTCOME: Lightweight silk with hand embroidered weaving in 

anita chew, handmade, knit

Translation Tuesday

For me, knitting is all about translation. It's about taking inspiration from an image or artwork or texture and recreating it into a textile. Recently, I was digging through some older work and it gave me the idea of Translation Tuesday. A special day to celebrate textile translations. (And perhaps also celebrate words that begin with the letter T.) AND because I'm a terrible blogger and this seemed like a fun way to at least TRY and be a bit consistent with posts. 

So here we go.  It'll be a mix of old and new work and will showcase the textile inspiration and the knitted outcome. And it'll happen (fingers crossed) every Tuesday!

INSPIRATION: Original hand drawn floral 

INSPIRATION: Original hand drawn floral 

OUTCOME: Floral knit with beading

OUTCOME: Floral knit with beading

knit, yarnbombing

Yarnbombing

This weekend was my first experience in yarnbombing. I've never been much into it to be honest. Sometimes I just don't 'get' it. Like do tree branches really need extra warmth? 

But because my small home town was having a big community event, we started to knit. (Me, my mum and my sister.) And knit. And knit. And pom-pom. AND knit and pom-pom. For weeks until it was the night before... and then the rain came. Which was very unfortunate and a bit annoying because we live in 'the sunshine state'. Where there is sunshine approximately 350 days a year.

YB_3.jpg

Here's our top tips for first time yarnbombers from first time yarnbombers.

1. Knit everything slightly smaller than you think it should be. Wraps need to be firm to stay in place throughout whatever weather is thrown at them. 

2. Don't darn in or cut off the ends of your yarn at colour changes. The ends can come in handy to sew on large pieces using the colours you've already got which makes the join neater.

3. It's totally more fun to 'bomb' under the cover of darkness. Even if it means you have to be up before the sun. You'll also be able to tell if you'd make a good criminal* and how stealth you actually are. 

*Terrible. I was late and then forgot to bring the actual knitted piece to wrap around the street post. And also forgot scissors. So, yeah... no, not stealth nor would I make a good criminal. 

- Possums are made from a Australian Country Spinners Australian Animals pattern book. Chickens are made from a Jacqui Turner Designs pattern available for purchase at http://www.ravelry.com/stores/jacqui-turner-designs 

anita chew, handmade knitwear australia, knit, handmade

Make My Beanie

Recently I’ve been running my very first competition, #MakeMyBeanie. To enter you had to colour in the supplied beanie template with the winner receiving his or her own beanie made. 

I had some great entries but from the start I was hoping to get one that would push the creative boundaries a bit, something that may be a bit of a challenge. And I always look at a kid’s artwork and see amazing textile potential, so for me choosing the winner was a pretty easy choice.

Normally I create adult size beanies but because of the design it seemed necessary to scale down a little. So firstly, a bit of math and some basic planning was required. 

Because in knitting we start at the bottom and work upwards the first real challenge was how to create that rib. I thought the easiest way to achieve a similar black and white mix was to simply knit one black yarn and one white yarn together to create a marl effect. Interesting as it knitted it created obvious horizontal lines which initially I wasn't so fond of but grew on me (probably because there was no easy fix). 

Once the full piece of knitting was done it was time to embroider the coloured design into the fabric. Using both swiss darning and backstitch techniques I did the design by eye rather than drawing it out first. While it means it's slightly disproportionate in places I hoped it would help recreate the free loose line work of the original. 

 

From there it was just a matter of finishing touches like the pom pom and tidying up all the loose ends. I have to confess I LOVED this project (enough that I'll probably run another one next year), and I am SUPER happy with the result. I hope it's new owner will be as well. 

anita chew, knitwear, queensland

First market

So we (the knitting and I) stepped out into the world of retail at our very first market stall a few weekends ago. Not one to do things by halves, for some reason I decided that the first market we’d go off to was Finders Keepers in my home state of Queensland. With a crowd of over ten thousand people expected, I found the experience overwhelmingly positive.

Probably the biggest surprise of the whole experience is that the actual retail sales over the weekend weren’t what I feel was the most successful part. Don’t get me wrong, making sales was excellent but there was so much more to it. It was interesting to gauge people’s responses to product and price, which gives you so much insight for development. It was amazing to get specific promotion from the Finders Keepers team and then visually see the flow on effect of that in social media numbers. And it was super exciting that a sale of a beanie on Saturday turned into a wholesale enquiry on Sunday.

Clearly, after just one market I’m no expert but here are my top three tips from a first time market stallholder to any other first time market stallholders out there:

1.     Build a team.
You’ll NEED your family and your mates. So don’t be coy when people offer to help. Just say yes, and then apologise to them later when they realise what they’ve let themselves in for. And if you’re lucky (like me) to have friends in the events hire and styling industries all the better. Make use of them, but be nice about it and promote them as the best stylists in the world. Best stylists in the world = The Styled Group.

2.     Talk to everyone and try and find your people.
Whether it’s customers or other vendors, you just never know where a conversation will lead. Other stallholders can offer great advice and the same goes for customers especially if they’re professional fields are things like marketing or pr. As for finding your people, it’s a matter of seeing where your target market is (mine, not so much in sunny Queensland), where your contemporaries are, and finding those people that ‘get’ what you’re doing. These will be the people that will help you move forward.

3.     Think about the logistics.  
We spent hours and hours and hours building a backdrop for the stall, which looked amazing but turned out wasn’t super practical. I didn’t think about the fact that other stallholders would be butted up to our space so it made it difficult to get to anything we had stored behind it. So I’d definitely think about different storage options and how to really maximise the space better.

But really if I could give any advice to someone who’s thinking about creating a market stall, it would be to just do it. For me, it was a really positive experience and something I’m looking forward to building on. 

anita chew, knit, queensland

tools of the trade 1

Meet my Singer knitting machine (now I realise I should have named her)... Betsy.

I've had Betsy for about 3 years, which is only a very short part of her life. She was made around 1974 and has spent the majority of her time with a lady in Victoria. As her third owner, she spent some time with another RMIT knit graduate for a few years before I bought her during my final year of uni studying textiles in Melbourne. 

Domestic knitting machines like Betsy are a bit unheard of these days but were big business back in the day. Your nana has probably got one tucked away in a cupboard or the back shed that's been untouched for decades. Depending on the make, model and condition they can still bring in a bit of money today. Recently I met a lovely lady, Thelma, who told me about how she bought her first knitting machine, a $1100 Passap, back in the 80's from Myer. Interestingly today Thelma could realistically get a similar price if she sold that exact machine. 

I'll be posting more about Betsy and her workings but maybe in the meantime go check out what you can find in your Nana's back shed.