creative escapades: sketchbook

Still enjoying my three colour combo! I've had fun playing around with patterns & swatches... I think it might be time to start knitting up some of the garments I've been thinking about, I think I'm going to start with a vest! 


allotment diaries: layout update!

Well the snow and the rain caused a bit of disruption to my layout progress but it's finally sorted! It was definitely a gradual process. I tried to tackle one bed each time I went up, digging it over and weeding as I went along. Then once all the beds where done I started doing a final weed (always seem to miss some!) and raking it over ready to plant in. 
I managed to sort out a few other things I'd been planning as well. I got hold of some palettes for free and built a compost bin, and the final icing on the cake... I got a poly tunnel! Looking forward to seeing how what different stuff I can grow in it and extending how long I can grow for too. Now I just need to keep weeding and planting - so far I've got onions, shallots, garlic, potatoes, broad beans, radish, beetroot and a range of lettuces/salad leaves sown! Looking forward to what May is going to bring, my windowsills are full right now! 
So here it is! This is how my plot is currently looking (you can see what it looked before, here) I decided that for now I'm going to keep a small section at the back covered and just work the beds I've finished - I've got 9 in total so I think it should still keep me pretty busy and of course there's the beds in the poly tunnel now too! 


creative escapades: knitting

A few years ago I made a little collection of baby jumpers, mostly as gifts for friends but also to challenge myself at making garments through knit. The above was one of my favourite colour combinations and patterns so I've used it as a starting point to kick start a new range of clothing. I'm sticking with pink and green but introducing yellow to play around with colour balance a bit more. Once I've got the patterns sorted I'll play around with some other colourways too. I really like designing using three colours it gives me more scope for pattern within the designs. Here's some of the things I've been playing around with so far... 


creative escapades: New Lanark

This year I realised that I'm the kind of person who sometimes needs a brief or set project to get me going. I had been spending most of my free time knitting or at the allotment and despite getting interested in exploring surface design following my Lush placement, I hadn't really done much personal work so I decided to set myself a mini project. I was planning to be all 'teacher' with myself and set a brief but then I came across the New Lanark Textile Print competition which was running alongside their Artist Textiles Exhibition. This was much better than a made up brief I had a real life one to follow and I loved what they were looking for. The brief would allow me to incorporate knitting into a series of designs! 

I am a very drawing focused person so my initial starting point was a series of pen and brush drawings of yarn, pattern and buildings from around New Lanark. I then scanned my drawings in and begun to play around with scale and colour. One of the things that was quite nice about the brief was that there was a set series of colours to work from. When I'm working up a design I like to work in three's when it comes to colour so that's what I did for each of my designs. I finished up my designs and sent them off. I felt really satisfied that I had completed a mini project, complete with a sketchbook of work and a series of prints at the end of it. I hadn't really thought that  anything else would come of it. 

Then much to my surprise I received an email saying I'd been selected as runner up! I think it's safe to stay I'm thrilled, but a little shocked! The prize was lovely, a pair of tickets to the artist textile exhibition and a framed copy of my print! Now I just need to find somewhere to hang it. Below is the print which was chosen for runner up...  there's also a lovely press release, which you can read here (and you can see the amazing winning entry by Zita Katona



creative escapades: Lush Design Placement

This post is a little bit of a throwback but it's one of the thing that got me hooked on exploring surface design in my own practise. In 2016 I had a bit of a change of heart about teaching. In September I'd taken a part-time teaching post with the aim of picking up another part-time post or supply teaching alongside it but that didn't pan out for me so instead I decided to go for a Christmas temp job with Lush. Bit of a curveball but I've always loved the ethics behind the company and it seemed like a lovely place to work. I was kept on after Christmas and at the end of the academic year I decided to leave my teaching post and spend some time developing myself with Lush. 

One of the great things about Lush is the amount of opportunities there are within the company for your own personal development. One of the opportunities that I was fortunate enough to be selected for was a placement with the design team. I got to spend a week working the team on designs for the winter 2017 collection. It was an INSANE week, I've not worked so hard and produced so much work in such a short space of time since University. It was so much fun to get immersed in making in that way and a real learning curve for me to think packaging over fabric. 

We were given a few different starting points based on the different ranges that were going to be launched in 2017 - Valentines, Easter and Mother's Day. I went very hearts and flowers with it all (I do love a bit of pink!). I started each set of designs by hand either with drawing or paper cutting and then work them up digitally. Here's a few of the designs I developed over the week...

Although a lot of the pieces I worked on were digital one of the things I really enjoyed playing around with was the RISO printers they had. Especially as there was neon pink to copy with!

A big learning curve for me during the week was thinking about how a design would translate into 3D when applied to packaging and for one of my designs I got to create a mock-up onto a heart shaped box which was rather challenging! 

Another learning curve was the colours on screen vs off screen during the printing process, which are visible below. It's interesting getting used to using a dull shade of pink on screen knowing that it's going to print really vividly. I really enjoyed the week and it left me excited to continue exploring surface design. Also some of the hearts I worked on ended up being developed and released as part of the Valentines range for the gift 'In your dreams' which was really exciting!


teaching tidbits: the denim project

Of all the projects I've ever done with my students, I think this might be one of my favourites! I started a new post this September teaching BTEC Fashion and I was keen to display work at our upcoming open evening that really showcased the direction I want to take the Fashion course in... the thing was I only had 4 weeks till open evening. One evening I was browsing Pinterest (as one does when hunting teaching inspo!) and I came across the work of ..... and suddenly I had an idea. Better than that I had an exciting idea that wasn't going to cost anything either! I put a shout out on my own Facebook page and sent round an all staff email - got any jeans you don't want? Pass them my way! Within a few days I had enough jeans to run the project this year (& probably next). One mans trash is another's gold hey? 

Armed with materials all that was left was to pitch it to my students in a way that got them excited, not terrified, at the thought of making a garment with a 1 week turn around. To give the project a bit of context, my class were at the beginning of a unit for fabric manipulation so my aim was to treat the denim garment as one big sample for exploring fabric manipulation techniques, a chance to really go nuts! I decided to keep it elusive to begin, all the jeans were hidden in a bag at the front of the classroom and one by one they pulled a pair out. I then popped the following up on the white board... 

The project went really well and I had an incredible display up for our first open day...

I was blown away with creativity that my students had with this project and when I did learner voice later that term it was one of the things that the whole class agreed on - the denim project was one of their highlights of the term! In teaching I think there's nothing more satisfying than when your students and you are on the same page about something that worked really well!


allotment diaries: layout!

When I first got my allotment in February 2017 it was just a big patch of grass/couch grass (and some sneaky dormant weeds not yet visible to me!). I had gardened before but only in small beds at my parents and grandads, I'd never had such a huge space to work with and to be honest I had no idea what to do! All I had in mind was that I wanted to do it myself and try to avoid the weed-killer approach. I was also keen to try and start growing stuff asap! So with that in mind I took two approaches! I decided to dig out a few 'beds' of varying sizes in the front half and try a 'no dig' approach on the back half. Around a month after I started it looked like it was going well... 

...and for quite some time it was! I started planting in the front half of the plot and was successful growing potatoes, beans, radish, onions, beetroot, chard, kale, swede, sprouts, pumpkins, lettuce, a few herbs, some carrots, that lists makes it sound very impressive hey? Well here's what also happened, which will ruin that 'good life' image you might have of me harvesting away on my plot! 

Yep that's my plot, and yep that was after I'd done the above clearing. We had a really hot June and the combination of that with me being away in Greece for a bit, followed swiftly by moving house meant I spent around 3/4 weeks away from the plot and this is what greeted me on my return. It is definitely true what they say about weeds! Thankfully I still had a good lot of veg underneath it all. I learnt two things from my first year; that you can't just leave weeding to another day and that my 'no dig' approach had failed, it required much more layering than I had attempted. I was also starting to realise that the layout I had wasn't really suiting me and that grass paths are hard to maintain when you don't have a lawnmower, anywhere to store one or a car big enough to burrow one! As I'd already planted and it was summer there was not a lot I could do other than clear and carry on. 

Once I'd harvested the last of my lot for the season I decided to have a think about what I wanted from the allotment. I actually did most of this thinking whilst leaving the whole plot covered over for the winter. I left the front bed 'active' as I still had chard, sprouts and kale on the go and were happy right through till January this year. The two things I'd found most challenging were keeping on top of the weeding (especially as the beds I'd made were quite big) and having grass paths. So in January this year I took to making smaller beds and completely taking out the grass paths. 

The beds are starting to take shape and paths are forming between each of the beds. I'm trying to be more thorough with clearing the beds - making sure I lift out any left over clumps of grass/couch grass and trying to remove any weeds and roots I come across. Only time will tell but at least now I think I'll be able to tackle the weeds more constantly, a bed at a time! My aim is to get the first half of the plot sorted, 8 beds, and then move on and tackle the back. It's funny looking back on the last year! If I'd known what I was doing and what I wanted I probably could have done this straight away, but I guess I had to learn for myself what I wanted and although at times it really tested me I enjoyed my first year!