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Meet our teachers: Sophia Palmer, freehand machine embroidery

We are so excited to now have freehand machine embroidery on our class timetable! Sophia Palmer is the owner and creator of Jessalli Handmade, a personalised gifts company in Dorset. She spends her days making unique, fun and colourful soft furnishings and gifts for all the family. Her favourite textile media is free-hand machine embroidery and she uses it to create textile portraits from photographs as well as cute pictures and gifts. We are super happy to welcome her to our teaching team with her freehand machine embroidery classes!

Sophia Palmer

Q. How did you first discover your crafting talents?

A. My mother taught me to sew when I was young, but I never thought of it as a career until I was 18. All the skills I learnt since then I’ve taught myself, it’s been a journey of determination really, but once you love something you never give up!

Sophia Palmer

Q. We love your website jessalli.com, tell us about your business and how it all started.

A. When I left school I moved to Australia. It was in Sydney that I got a job at a handmade children’s clothing company. I remember going in there, looking round and just walked up to the friendly lady behind the desk and said “I’m looking for a job and I can sew!”. My boss, Colette, took me under her wing and I basically got hooked on handmade. When I moved back to the UK a year later I knew what I wanted to do. And it was Colette who encouraged me to carry on sewing. After that I just had to convince my parents that it was a good idea to cancel my place at university! (who’s need more journalists anyway!). I went full time with Jessalli in 2011, when I was just 20, it was a big leap but I haven’t looked back since. My aim was to always create personal, sentimental gifts for families, and I hope that people keep their little Jessalli-wares forever.

Sophia Palmer

Q. We are super excited for your first Freehand Machine Embroidery class. For those who don’t know, what is Free Motion Embroidery and what can students expect?

A. The only way I can explain Free Motion Embroidery is that it’s the most expressive variation of sewing. Forget what you know about a sewing machine, and just get creative. It’s great fun, and once you’ve done it, you’ll be hooked! You don’t have to be an expert, you don’t need to be a perfectionist, you don’t even need to be good at sewing! It’s totally unique to you and that’s why I love it.

Sophia Palmer

Q. What other crafts do you enjoy? Do you find the time to craft for yourself as well as work?

A. I have to say all I do is sew. For business, for work and for pleasure. It’s my passion and I hope that never goes away. Sadly I have less and less time for personal sewing projects, but I always squeeze in an evening or a couple of hours sewing somewhere.

Sophia Palmer

Q. What are your favourite materials to work with and why?

A. I love working with cotton, I find there’s such a huge variety. I love quilting cottons for the patterns and prints. I have scrap fabric baskets for my machine embroidery, colour coded of course. You can find a use for the smallest piece of cotton with a cute design on it! It’s a big problem.

Sophia Palmer

Q. Describe your style in 5 words.

A. Colourful, Fun, Happy, Free and Textured.

Sophia Palmer

Q. What would your dream commission be?

A. I would love to work on a huge portrait of someone famous. Past or present. I love doing portraits and think a giant, crazy sewn textile art piece would be great fun.

Sophia Palmer

You can books Sophia’s Crochet classes here, find her on Instagram here. or check out her website here.

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Meet the Maker: TOFT!

Welcome to our latest edition of Meet the Maker! We are so happy to stock so many great products from small businesses in the UK and we really want to show them off. We will be creating features on different designers, companies and crafters so you can find out more about them and their fantastic products. This time we have been chatting to Kerry at TOFT!

Toft

Kym: We love having your super cute kits in our store! Tell us a bit about how TOFT was founded.

Kerry: Today TOFT is now 11 years old and was founded on lots of hard work and a new-found love of yarn and what you could do with it. It has been an amazing journey that I’m pretty sure is still only really at the beginning as I learn more everyday!

Toft

Kym: Where do you take your inspiration for your designs?

Kerry: For my Edward’s Menagerie designs I take inspiration from lots and lots of images and videos of animals, and often a trip to the zoo to meet the real thing. For my knitwear designs I make clothes that I want to wear- and I think I’m just lucky that most of the time other people like them too!

Toft

Kym: A work trip to the zoo sounds like lots of fun! It is so cool that TOFT HQ is based on your Alpaca farm. For those who don’t know, what is Alpaca?

Kerry: An alpaca is a South American camelid know for its super soft fibre and we have over 200 alpacas at our HQ. The vast majority of my designs are worked in pure sheep’s wool rather than alpaca now and TOFT specialises in a variety of luxury natural yarns.

Toft

Kym: Other than taking care of all those amazing alpacas, what are the day to day activities at TOFT HQ?

Kerry: Our Studio HQ is always extremely busy and no day is ever dull or the same as the last. The best thing about working from HQ is that our customers pop in every single day to stock up their stash, ask a question about a technique or enjoy a coffee and a catch up with someone in our team. Our whole team can knit and crochet so we have so much in common it’s hard not to be creative.

Toft

Kym: We love to hear more about the people behind fantastic products. Tell us a bit about the TOFT team?

Kerry: I head up an amazing team of fifteen very strong and creative women who work very hard to make TOFT successful.

Toft

Kym: What do you consider to be the company’s biggest achievement to date?

Kerry: Our recent event at the Natural History Museum was amazing and one of the best moments of my career. We successfully ran a crochet whale workshop for 350 attendees beneath the bones of the newly installed central exhibit ‘Hope’ the Blue Whale. It was even better than I could have hoped for.

Toft

Kym: Wow! What an amazing event that must have been! Do you have a personal favourite animal to make? Personally I love Sophia the Flamingo!

Kerry:I am too addicted to making new ones to make any one more than once!

Toft

Kym: The super big animals you create for events are so amazing! How do you go about scaling up your patterns and how long does it take to complete one?

Kerry: I sketch the shapes needed onto wallpaper lining paper and then we crochet to match that scale and it usually takes a few of us a couple of days. This time you can actually get the pattern for the 8ft Caitlin the Giraffe in the Autumn edition of our magazine!

Toft

Kym: Amazing! Thank you so much for chatting to me Kerry!

Toft

You can purchase TOFT yarn and a selection of Kerry’s Kits and Books in our West Hampstead store or shop online here

Let us know in the comments below who you would like to see featured in Meet the Maker next time!

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Meet our teachers: Annie Windley, crochet

We’re so excited to have crochet classes back in our line-up! Our new crochet teacher is Annie Windley. Annie has taught craft skills to both children and adults alike. For many years she was a journalist, working on women’s weekly magazines, writing features as well as checking all the knitting and crochet patterns before publication. She also helped at the company’s knitting and crochet sessions, where many fellow journalists learned the delights of working with wool. Now Annie is spending her time designing, selling hand-made items, teaching one-to-one sessions in and around Crouch End, and writing about crochet and knitting on her website, pickingupstitches.com.

We are so happy to welcome Annie to our team of teachers with her super fun Crochet classes!

Annie Windley

Q. Describe your style in 5 words

A. Colourful, quirky, fun, eclectic, accessible.

Annie Windley Crochet flowers

Q. When did you first fall in love with crochet?

A. When my grandmother taught me to both knit and crochet at the age of about 6. I loved the fact that crochet grew so quickly, and I was soon busy making things for my dolls – both knitted and crocheted. And, growing up in the 70s, crochet was THE craft of the moment. I remember making a poncho when I was around 12, the biggest garment I’d crocheted, in the fashionable colours of chocolate and cream. I loved it!

Annie Windley Crochet bunting

Q. I believe you made the move to teaching crochet and other yarn crafts full time recently. This is brilliant! What made you decide to go for it?

A. Although I was a journalist on music magazines and women’s magazines for over 30 years, I originally trained as a teacher. I’ve never had the urge to return to teaching in schools, but I’ve always taught friends and colleagues knitting and crochet when they asked and really enjoy sharing my skills. Craft has always been my main hobby outside of work along with music (I also run a monthly folky music afternoon called SoftlySoftly in Crouch End, where I sometimes sell my crochet creations, too). While working, I never seemed to have enough spare time to devote to designing and creating. As a stroke of luck, I was offered voluntary redundancy last autumn and jumped at the chance to make knitting and crochet my full time occupation (though it still seems like a hobby to me!). I can now design to my heart’s content, make things to sell, and write on my website (pickingupstitches.com) so my journalistic skills are still coming in useful. And, of course, I can now teach so many more people the delights of working with yarn.

Q. Crochet is such a versatile craft. What kinds of things do you like to stitch?

A. I love little intricate pieces, but I also adore combining colours and experimenting. At the moment, my bunting creations seem to be going down well – especially my carrots and peas bunting, which seems very popular with parents for the nursery. They’re probably keen to encourage their children to eat their greens from an early age! I’ve always got some sort of big project on the go, too – currently it’s a floral granny-square blanket. And I’m designing some cute amigurumi dolls too, who will feature in a children’s book that I’m writing.

Annie Windley crochet bunting

Q. We are super excited for your next crochet class at our West Hampstead store. Tell us a little about what students can expect.

A. Granny squares are so versatile, but so easy to learn how to make, even for complete beginners. So I’ll be teaching the students all about the basic granny square and crochet techniques, showing them how to form the stitches required, and how to read a pattern and chart. By the end of the lesson, everyone will have completed a square to take home with them – the start, I hope, of a whole new hobby.

Annie Windley crochet granny squares

Q. Do you have a favourite type of yarn to work with? Why is it your favourite?

A. I can’t say I have an actual favourite yarn, as it really depends on the individual project, but some I do favour are merino blends, which are so smooth and soft and easy to crochet with. Plus bright cotton yarns, which create a lovely, even texture. And I’ve recently been creating giant crochet squares with Hoooked tee-shirt tape, which was fun to use.

Annie Windley

Q. What one item in your craft kit could you not live without?

Well, for knitting, my row counter is a godsend! But, after my sets of knitting needles and crochet hooks, the one item I particularly love is my pair of stork embroidery scissors, which are always in my crochet bag.

You can books Annie’s Crochet classes here, find her on Instagram @pickingupstitches. or check out her blog here.

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Meet the Maker: Amelia Flower

Welcome to our latest edition of Meet the Maker! We are so happy to stock so many great products from small businesses in the UK and we really want to show them off. We will be creating features on different designers, companies and crafters so you can find out more about them and their fantastic products. This time we have been chatting to the lovely Amelia Flower!

Amelia Flower

Kym: We are totally smitten with your quirky designs, tell us about how your brand began.

Amelia: I have always just wanted to draw, it’s all I ever do. Last Summer, I printed a few cards as a way of selling my illustrations and did a local craft fair. I was really nervous, and convinced myself that no one would buy anything. They did, and my cards have kept on selling rapidly since then! I graduated from University two years ago, and worked for two different large creative companies, before deciding to work full-time on my illustration work in March this year. Im in the early stages of my business, so I’m really excited to develop new products and focus more on the freelance side of my work, too!

Amelia Flower

Kym: We love to hear about people taking that leap to create a business, it is so cool that it all started at a local craft fair, they are the best! Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Amelia: You can probably tell that I love to draw people. I get inspiration from everywhere, but mainly by sketching characters when I’m out and about. I always carry a small Moleskine sketchbook with me and draw interesting people or outfits when I’m on a bus or train, or wherever I may be.

Amelia Flower

Kym: People watching is so fun isn’t it! When was it that you first discovered your passion for art?

Amelia: It’s not a very interesting answer, but I really have always been drawing. It’s what I do for fun, and now for work too. I used to always take a sketchbook to school with me and draw in lessons, and I remember more than once having notes from teachers on my work telling me to stop decorating the margins and drawing on everything.

Amelia Flower

Kym: Haha! Love it! What are the major steps in your creative process and what medium do you prefer to work in to create your illustrations?

Amelia: Most of my ideas start as really terrible scribbles in my notebook. As I mentioned previously, I always have my notebook with me so that I can quickly write down an idea that comes to me. When I’m designing cards, I’ll look back through my notebook and choose which idea I’d like to work on. This way, I’m never stuck for a starting point, and don’t have to waste time trying to think of something to draw. I used to use Adobe Illustrator, but now I work solely on my iPad Pro. It’s great because I can carry it with me everywhere I go, and work from anywhere!

Amelia Flower

Kym: I see from your website that you also take illustration commissions. What has been your most bizarre request?!

Amelia: I haven’t had anything particularly bizarre unfortunately, but I have something exciting coming out soon that I can’t mention yet- that’s a very dull answer, sorry!

Amelia Flower

Kym: Oooo, very mysterious… looking forward to hearing more soon! What do you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?

Amelia: This was definitely when Liberty placed their first order for my cards. I was so excited when I went to visit my cards in the shop, and I hovered around the till watching a customer buy one. I couldn’t believe it!

Amelia Flower

Kym: That sounds so exciting! I would have done the same! We love how environmentally friendly your products are. Tell us about how you have achieved this.

Amelia: I am very environmentally conscious in my everyday life, and so using disposable plastic sleeves for my cards made me feel so hypocritical and guilty because it didn’t fit with my personal beliefs. I searched for a long time for a solution and finally found some fantastic compostable and biodegradable display sleeves. They’re great- you can throw them away, and they completely biodegrade! I’m still phasing-out the old packaging to use up stock, but my Christmas cards will be the first to use fully compostable packaging. I’m hoping to become as plastic-free as possible over the next few months.

Amelia Flower

Kym: That is so inspirational! Thank you very much for chatting to me Amelia, just for fun to finish off, how would you describe your style in three words?

Amelia: Colourful, contemporary, fun.

Amelia Flower

You can purchase Amelia’s cards in our West Hampstead store or shop online here! Also check out her awesome website!

Let us know in the comments below who you would like to see featured in Meet the Maker next time!

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Meet the Maker: Multipom!

Welcome to our new feature on The Daily Stitch, Meet the Maker! We are so happy to stock so many great products from small businesses in the UK and we really want to show them off. We will be creating features on different designers, companies and crafters so you can find out more about them and their fantastic products. First up we have Multipom!
Multipom
We first discovered Multipom at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace a few years ago and fell in love with how fun this pom pom gadget is! No more cutting out cardboard circles once you get your hands on one of these!

I caught up with the lovely Sue from Multipom to have a good chat about what makes them tick!

Kym: So how did Multipom come to be?

Sue: I am a ‘slightly mathematical’ textile artist who creates high relief/sculptural work. I designed the Multipom to enable me to make lots of identical fibre components which I could incorporate into my work. By having lots of one identical article increases its uses enormously and by having the creative textile knowledge, this enabled me to exploit, expand and stretch the boundaries of the uses of the traditional pompom.

Multipom

Kym: It is so nice when a project can evolve like that. What would you say makes the Multipom unique from other the other pom pom makers out there?

Sue: Other pompom makers make just one at a time and a different sized gadget is required for every size. The Multipom is unique in that up to 20 pompoms can be made at a time, in all sizes from 1cm – 12cm, all on the one frame. Also each ‘batch’ will be identical, making the uses of them vast. The Multipom frame is constructed of metal and is very rigid, light and portable.

Multipom

Kym: It is so great that all you need is the one tool to make so many different sizes.

Sue: It really is, all sizes from 1cm – 12cm diameter can be made and any yarns can be used.

Kym: Are there any variations on the standard pompom you can make with Multipom?

Sue: It’s exciting to see the results of making pompoms with ‘unusual’ yarns and of course different colours and thicknesses can be mixed together. The pompoms can be cut to shape, felted (if wool is used), dyed (if cotton is used) and made on a cord. These are illustrated in the instructions which come with all the kits.

Multipom

Kym: We just sell the pom pom maker itself in store at the moment, tell us more about what else your kits include.

Sue: The ‘Multipom pompom maker‘ (which is what you stock) comes with clear instructions including lots of tips and ideas. This is contained in all of our other kits, which also have a needle for attaching the pompoms and are packaged in handy fabric bags, (which can be decorated with the pompoms). The starter kits come in a choice of 4 colours (pink, blue, green and yellow) and have 2 balls of acrylic yarn which co-ordinates with the bag. The deluxe kit contains 1 ball of acrylic, 100g of 100% cotton and 10g perle cotton. Being white cotton, the yarn and fabric bag may be dyed. The braid making starter kit contains the same yarn as the deluxe kit in a natural colour and also 4 meters of tapes, ribbons, trimming and glass beads. There are additional instructions to show you how to make exquisite braids for interior furnishings, which can be made at a fraction of the cost of purchasing them and of course can be made in any colour to match your decor. The rug making kits contain all the yarn, base and backing fabric to make a 60cm diameter rug….which nobody will be able to resist touching!

Multipom

Kym: A pompom rug… I want one of those in my house! You must have a busy time putting all those things together, what are your day to day activities in the Multipom office?

Sue: Surrounded by pompoms, we firstly ensure all orders received by midday (and where possible up to 4pm) are dispatched by 1st class Royal Mail post, so generally our customers receive them the following morning, and technically could also be surrounded by pompoms within 24 hours! We almost always have a pompom project on the go, which we photograph to share on Social Media. We love to see our customers creations too, so if anyone makes something with their Multipom, and sends us an image, it’s great to share it with our followers.

Multipom

Kym: We love to see what our customers make with our fabrics too, it is so lovely to be part of someones creative process. There must be more than just yourself surrounded by pompoms, tell us about the team you work with.

Sue: We’re a family business. I run the business, organise stock, send out orders and answer any questions customers may write in with. Our daughter Ellie runs the trade side of the business, the social media and comes along to help demonstrate at the shows that we attend. Our other daughter Alice, who is a ceramicist, organises the website and also helps at shows. My husband Pete is our roadie! He does the driving to the shows, helps set up the stand, serves the customers and most importantly does the tea runs! Ellie is able to communicate with British Sign Language and on numerous occasions has done so at the shows, with me demonstrating, Ellie signing and Pete serving the customers – a real team effort for which I am so proud.

Multipom Team

Kym: Wow! A really close family business, that is so great! What would you say has been your biggest achievement to date?

Sue: At the first show we attended, we entirely ran out of stock about 3 hours from the end of the 4 day show, even though we had taken LOTS! We were nominated for the most innovative new product in the British Sew Awards. In the last 12 months we have done 6 hours of live television (Hochanda). My most personal achievement is just the fact that our customers really love the Multipom and the pompoms make them happy!

Multipom

Kym: They make us very happy too! Finally Sue just to finish off our chat, if you could describe Multipom’s style in three words what would they be?

Sue: Fluffy, Tactile, Happy!

Kym: Thanks Sue!

Multipom
Get your own Multipom maker here and don’t forget to share your pictures with #thevillagehaberdashery and #multipom

Let us know in the comments below who you would like to see featured in Meet the Maker next time!

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