Catwalk Inspiration

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Co-authoring a crochet book with my friends Cornel and Elsbeth is an experience in every sense of the word. It’s scary, challenging, exciting and exhilarating all at the same time. There are days of sheer frustration. Days when I question why I ever agreed to do this. But ultimately, when I stand back and reflect, I know that this experience is cementing friendships, creating proof of a craft we all love dearly, building character and stretching our dreams.

This process has taught me to seek inspiration in everything around me.

The three of us have created secret boards on Pinterest which reflects our own individual style.   We refer to these boards on a daily basis while creating and crafting new patters for our book.

The catwalk has been a source of great inspiration, from Valentino, to Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, Francis Montesinos to name but a few.

I know the designs below will inspire you to create your own yarn magic!  Have fun while exploring…

Frances Montesino

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Looking forward to sharing our really interesting crochet designs that will be published in our book early in 2017.

For more inspiration follow me on Instagram!

Have a fabulous week

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on-the-go in handmade style

On a recent vintage shopping spree at Provance Vintage fair, I found this lovely basket….. perfect for my on-the-go crochet and knitting projects.

FullSizeRender (6)I love the wooden beaded handles, but I had some plans for the boring grey lining and knew that I will find something in my fabric stash that I can use to take the inside from boring to fab!.

This floral fabric is also from a secondhand shop and I really like how this very busy floral fabric blends in with the natural  basket colour.

The crochet butterfly pin cushion on the fabric was my first attempt at making a butterfly brooch. I crocheted a bit too loose so the butterfly is really far too big for a brooch, but makes a lovely pin cushion. Here is my butterfly brooch if you are curious.

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The fabric was cut to follow the shape of the basket. After sewing it together I stitched it into the basket and voila….

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A little fabric pocket for scissors and notions make it very practical.

The first project to enjoy this cosy new basket is the Maddermade Cardigan.

I am busy knitting one for my husband in the most glorious Alpaca yarn from Quenti Alpacas. I highly recommend this pattern if you want to knit a cardigan. The best part is that you can decide how long, fitted or straight the cardigan should be, so you design the pattern with the help of Carrie’s clear instructions. I am not an experienced knitter by the way, so trust me on this!

 

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I am so please with this little project.

Wishing you a creative weekend full of possibilities

love from Elsbeth

 

Bell Sleeve Revival

I loved wearing vintage clothing in my teens. I used to scour the local vintage stores and visit Rocky Street in Johannesburg to find the most beautiful vintage items. My favorite was any item that had either bell bottoms or bell sleeves. So it was to my absolute delight that I discovered that the bell sleeve is experiencing a revival. From Victoria Beckham to Rosetta Getty – two of the worlds renowned designers have included the bell sleeve in their collections.

Victoria Beckham always a trend setter, launched her version of the bell sleeve jersey in 2015.

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Take a look at Rosetta Getty’s  fall 2016 collection where she showcases her beautiful knitted bell sleeve jersey.

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And just because I could not resist, take a look at some of Rosetta Getty’s beautiful crochet items

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Gigi Hadid looks super chic in one of Rosetta’s designs

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Here are a few Emma Bell designs to inspire you

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There are some interesting bell sleeve knitting and crochet patterns to be found on etsy.com.

 Have a fabulous weekend creating something spectacular!

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Life is like a Patchwork

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Patchwork is defined as something composed of many different elements so as to appear variegated. A great analogy for the journey of life don’t you think.

I love patchwork in all forms; as upholstery, in the traditional needlework form and of course the every beautiful granny square blanket. Patchwork reminds me of our life journey, each patch representing an event in one’s life – á journey filled with spectacular turns and experiences. And when you look at a patchwork creation once its complete it holds many hours of magic – representing a point in time in the artist’s life journey.

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I’ve been extremely busy of late and have not had time to really crochet or knit. I’ve missed it so much. It was Friday last week I was sitting in my garden looking at how the blossoms on a jacaranda tree were unfolding. It was a patchwork of mauve hues and texture. Immediately I was inspired to do something that represents both the colour and patchwork of my blessed life. I was inspired by this beautiful flowing jersey by Daniela Gregis.

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It’s simple, has texture and depth yet it’s all about getting back to basics. I’m using the gorgeous Malabrigo yarn I bought at I love Yarn. It drapes beautifully. I’m only a week into the project and it’s “a learn as you go” experience for me. No pattern, winging it as one would say. Loving it, the freedom to just experiment. Ill share the finished product with you soon!

Take a look at some of these really gorgeous pictures of patchwork in all its forms.

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I found this beautiful poem and thought you would love to read it.

Beautiful handmade, Patchwork Quilts… Made over time, and precisely built.

Made with pieces of cloth, various patterns or lines. Reminds me of people’s lives, representing periods of time.

Some pieces are pretty black, with various sizes or shapes. Remind me of times in my life, when I just wanted to escape.

Other pieces are dark blue like a dark, rainy sky. Remind me of times in my life, when I would just cry and cry.

Other pieces are very red, like a big sign of danger. Reminds me of times in my life, when my ex was like a stranger.

Then some are beautiful white, very shiny and bright. Remind me of when I was saved, and finally saw the Light.

So many times in our lives, represented by a different hue. But all these times of our lives, make up a beautiful you.

For each moment in our lives, adds up like a house built. Step by step we are made, like a homemade patchwork quilt.

Though individual pieces of cloth, may not be beautiful one by one. It’s beautiful when put together, and its purpose in life has just begun.

Esther 4:14

Have a happy weekend everyone!

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top fashion designers use knitting, crochet and embroidery for Spring/Summer 2016

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I’m always on the look out for the latest fashion with a touch of handcrafted goodness. Fashion week in London, New York and Paris (about 3-5 weeks ago) did not disappoint me! There were MANY outfits with knitted detail, crocheted touches and free style embroidery to drool over. Here are a few of my favourite outfits (with some notes on what caught my eye) by some pretty famous designers for Spring/Summer 2016.calvin klein october 2015 hellohart_com

norma kamali october 2015 hellohart_com

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gucci 1 october 2015 hellohart_com

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Have a fantastic weekend!

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PS To explore more of the latest fashion click HERE

pretty paelas

One of my new friends are about to move back to Germany. She is expecting her first little baby, due end of January.

I feel so excited to have the opportunity to make something for the new little girl that will join their family next year (as if we need an excuse to make special little things- hehehehe).

I discovered Paelas on my Instagram feed and here are my favorite designs.

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I love the sweet simple designs and from looking through all their patterns one can see they use beautiful high quality yarns, lovely modern colours that are not too boy/girl orientated and designs that are classical.

Paelas was established in spring 2014 by three women sharing the same dream for creating beautiful knitted baby and children clothing.

The patterns are for newborns and children both female and male, aged 0-6 years old.

You can find more about them here:

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Now I just need to decide which one of the cuties I will make!

Have a lovely week…

love from Elsbeth

Wool or Synthetic? that’s the question

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When I first learned to crochet and knit I used acrylic yarn and as I progressed with my craft I started sourcing what some would call the “luxury” yarns, such as pure wool etc.  Recently we celebrated granny square day and the Hellohart team decided to replicate a granny square blanket that my Grandmother Wally made.  In doing so we all three had to go back to using acrylic yarn.  It has been a very interesting and humbling experience for all of us.

Below are a few photos of Cornel’s beautiful acrylic granny square blanket

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Yarn is made from many different fibers – animal, plant and vegetable. Animal fibers include wool, mohair, angora, silk, cashmere, llama, alpaca and qiviut (musk ox) and are made of mostly protein. Cotton, linen and ramie are vegetable fibers.  Synthetic (man-made) fibers include acrylic, nylon, polyester, metallic’s and microfibers.

Each fiber has its own qualities, and they are often blended to take advantage of the best properties of each.

And so that’s how I got thinking about the whole concept of wool versus synthetic yarns.   Immediately Dalena White came to mind.  Dalena works for Cape Wools SA and understands the finer nuances of wool and all that is luxury about yarn.

Dalena then referred me to Odette Wright who is Operations Manager at the Wool Testing Bureau of South Africa.  So that’s how I got to learn about some fascinating differences between the real deal and the synthetic yarn option, polyester.  Odette shared the following fascinating information with me.

Lets start by exploring the difference between Polyester and Acrylic yarns

both are synthetic fibers, but acrylic is more frequently spun instead of extruded, so would produce a softer “hand” or how it feels.  The material type listed on the tag really doesn’t tell you how the yarn or fiber if constructed so the most accurate answer without knowing about a specific type of yarn to compare to another specific yarn is: it depends.  Acrylics are synthetic fibers made from cellulose, and polyester is a synthetic made from petrochemicals, and if you need something to last a very long time in rough conditions, polyesters are going to hold up longer than acrylics.

Wool versus Polyester

It is difficult to make a comparison between the two fibres as wool is an animal fibre and polyester is petrochemical fibre or plastic.

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Wool

All animal fibres such as wool, mohair and cashmere, to name a couple, have unique properties that cannot be replicated by man.  There are many different sheep breeds and the wool from these different sheep are used for different purposes.  The coarser types of wool are used for furnishing and carpets whereas the finer types such as Merino are used for clothing.

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(photos courtesy of Cape Wools SA)

Merino has evolved across millions of years to provide natural protection. Created by nature to protect against harsh environments and extremes of weather, Merino is the natural choice for clothing babies and young children.  It is soft, fine and smooth on sensitive skin, and is safe to wear too. And because Merino is both renewable and biodegradable, it is also gentle on the environment.

An efficient temperature regulator

Merino wool is naturally breathable making it a very efficient temperature regulator.  In particularly hot or cold situations, babies can struggle to regulate their own body temperature. Merino helps overcome this problem, making it an ideal choice for sleep and bed wear.  It works by absorbing moisture vapour next to the skin, keeping babies dry and less clammy. The vapour then moves away and evaporates, helping maintain a constant, comfortable temperature.

Healthier and safer

Parents can rest assured that Merino is one of the safest fibres for children. Merino is naturally fire resistant, won’t melt and stick to the skin, and even puts itself out when the source of the flame is removed. This makes it a safer choice for both clothing and bedding. And being a natural fibre evolved to protect against the elements, Merino provides better protection from UV radiation than most synthetics and cotton, so your whole family will be safer wearing it on sunny days.

Watch this fascinating video illustrating the natural fire resistant characteristics of wool.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKuAl_HzCjs

Synthetic bedding often prevents your baby’s skin from breathing naturally, making them feel uncomfortable.  However, thanks to wool’s natural miracle properties, wool cot bed duvets, mattress enhancers and wool pillows can all manage your baby’s personal micro-climate in bed.  This keeps your baby cosy and warm, but also ensures he or she does not overheat. It also helps give them 25% more stage 4 regenerative sleep, recharging their energy for the day ahead.

Merino has the capacity to remove large amounts (up to 35% of its own weight) of moisture from the skin surface before the fibre even begins to feel wet.  The ability to absorb moisture is an important function and attribute of Merino fibre. Equally important is its ability to release moisture. In contrast to most synthetic fibres.

Cape Wools has recently approved a sponsorship  of Cobus Oosthuizen.  Cobus is an extreme athlete and will be running in the desert in pure wool – a testament to wool

Easy to care for

Raising children can be a messy business, but keeping their Merino wool clothing clean is surprisingly easy. Every Merino fibre has a natural protective outer layer that resists dirt and prevents stains being absorbed, so clothing and bed wear is easy to clean. Merino is naturally odour resistant too, keeping your children’s clothes fresher for longer and requiring less frequent washing. And when they do need washing, many Merino clothes can be safely machine washed and tumble-dried for even more easy-care convenience.

Dalena shared some really interesting insights and reading with me.  The following links are a fascinating read:

http://wwhttp://www.coremerino.co.za/w.campaignforwool.org/about-wool/

http://nz.icebreaker.com/en/why-icebreaker-merino/what-is-icebreaker-merino.html

Some amazing studies have been done on wool and the quality of your sleep.  The facts are fascinating.  http://www.woolmark.com/globalassets/inspiration/interiors/sleep-on-wool/sleep_better_with_wool_flyer.pdf/

Cape Wools are investing in some amazing sustainability projects.  One such project is the work that they are doing with the Olive Leaf Foundation  where they are looking at rectifying the problem of over grazing in the Western Cape.  Watch this amazing Ted Talks video of Allan Savory.  He’s a grassland ecosystem pioneer who has devoted his life to stopping desertification.

Read this insightful blog post on synthetic fibres.  A gentle warning though, you may find yourself a little appalled at its content.  https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/category/fibers/synthetic/polymer-chemistry/

Some of my very first crochet and knitted blankets were made from acrylic. I love them as much today as I did when I made them some years ago!

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I’m of the opinion that whether you use pure wool or synthetic yarns it’s a personal preference.  I do believe each product has its place and at the end of the day it very much depends on what you are trying to achieve with the end product.  I must confess though when I am making something that I will be wearing I do prefer the luxury yarns that are so readily available to us today.  But then again my granny square blanket is truly special and beautiful in all its acrylic glory.

At the end of the day the choice remains yours!

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A Granny is a Treasure

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In our previous blog post we celebrated “Granny Square Day”. This got me thinking about my two very special grandmothers and how both of them played a significant role in influencing my love for all things “Yarn”

My Granny Wally on my mother’s side of the family loved to crochet and knit. She was born in Port Elizabeth 24 October 1918 (she passed away at the age of 94). She started work as a nurse in the isolation hospital in Bloemfontein nursing polio patients for many years during the polio epidemic.   That is where she learned to sleep standing up! And never falling over (this is a fact). After her nursing job she started working in my great grandmothers very smart dress shop where my mom tells me she learnt the gentle art of invisible darning. Granny Wally just loved art and years later worked in an art gallery.

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I was five years old when my granny made me a beautiful pink coat with all the little girl trimmings on it.

I have two very precious crochet items that Granny Wally made – the gorgeous yet fragile granny square blanket below and I have recently been given a fabulous crochet bedspread by my mother which granny Wally also crochet (so fine and so gentle). These are two of my most treasured items.

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My grandmother Margaret (or Peggy as she was fondly called) on my dad’s side of the family was extremely English in tradition. Her grandchildren all called her Nanna. She believed that children must be seen and not heard. So steeped was she in tradition that growing up my dad ate Fish every Friday night. I remember going to visit her each Saturday morning and we would bake loads of delicious English cakes – this became a firm favourite pastime of mine while growing up.

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Nanna used to spend hours reading and knitting, she also believed that there were spirits that would show themselves to one at times. She always claimed that an old man used to visit her on occasions in her old home in King Williamstown; he used to stand at the fireplace smoking a pipe.

I think this is where my love of metaphysics and reading came from. Nanna was a very understanding person and you could have long insightful conversations with her on any topic.

I miss them both but I’m grateful for the many blessings they shared with me through my life. One of them being the love for yarn.

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Always treasure your family they are the true gems of your life!

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First Born – Fabulous hand crafted clothing from Australia

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I learned to knit long before I could crochet. I was knitting by the age of 5 and had my own knitting business in high school.  Today I can truly say I love anything that has been knitted or crochet with great love and care.  I often scour the various social media platforms looking for great yarn artists.  And that’s how I came across First Born.   In an instant I emailed Karolina from First Born Clothing.   When you take a look at their products you will notice that all First Born pieces are hand-crafted, with a focus on luxurious comfort and directional style without compromise.

First Born was founded in 2006 … read all about this fabulous brand and their magical products.

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Focussing on fair trade, Karolina and the label, support the talented local weavers, artists and people in the pre-Andean and Andean mountains of Peru and Argentina.

Since all materials are sourced locally and all pieces are hand-made, the production is low in energy and high in human touch. Most pieces have a story behind them – an energy, experience and preciousness which comes from the history of creating something by hand and over a long period of time.

First Born creations are coveted by glamorous fashion-forward women around the world. Karolina’s designs feature prominently in top magazines and television programs, celebrity wardrobes and exclusive boutiques throughout Australia and New Zealand.

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What inspires you?

My inspiration comes from the fibres themselves. I love textures so touching an amazing wool or cotton and seeing its colour automatically gives me ideas about what kind of knit I would love to create.

There is also a soft bohemian inspiration in my knitwear, a modern day gypsy that inspires shapes and a relaxed and subtle dreamy feeling.

When did you start crafting / knitting / crochet / sewing and who taught you?

I started at the age of 10, when I was sick from school my aunty would teach me to crochet and knit to pass the time. In my family most women knitted and I was surrounded by it all my life always loving the art and the talent behind it. I had a special sweater knitted every year and I loved it.

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Tell me about your product / service / concept

First Born is about hand making luxurious knitwear that is sustainable and has an ethical conscience. Its about creating beautiful modern knits that hold a touch of the ancient. We are proud to support fair wages and working conditions and give back to the communities we work in.

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How did it all begin?

After doing volunteer work in Peru and seeing the misery and need for work and education I discovered that the art of knitting was still a great part of their lives and there were many talented Artisans. Therefore when I arrived in Argentina and saw the same thing happening it gave me to idea to start First Born. Doing something positive in fashion and not only making beautiful products but also giving back. It was an ideal mix.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft (especially your area of expertise)?

I think that super chunky knits are the big thing at the moment in clothing and especially home wares. But I think that Macrame – the art of knotting rather than knitting is becoming very popular amongst all ages and has amazing results in clothing and wall hangings.

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 Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

There are sooooo many! But right now I absolutely love the work of Nanna van Blaaderen.

 Where can our readers find you?

FIRSTBORNKNITS on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

My website www.firstborn.net.au also has my blog in it.

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 What is your favourite blog and magazine and why

I have so many that I like for different reasons but at the moment its www.oraclefox.com and petitepear.tumblr.com both sharing ideas about life art and fashion.

If you had more time on your hands what would you do?

Make more Knits, go to a beach house with my dogs and design and paint.

Have you bought something online and if so what?

I have not recently but the last thing I bought were Sunglasses.

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 What magazines do you buy?

Vogue – the European versions and I usually look at magazines online.

 Would you buy a pattern, or the whole kit online?

No I wouldn’t as I I’m lucky enough to create anything I would like with the talented knitters I have. 

What is your favourite yarn store / craft store and why?

I like weareknitters.es as it has great quality yarns, kits and ideas.

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 I’m really so inspired to design something beautiful for Spring!  Mind you I’m just as enthusiastic to order one of these magnificent creations from First Born.  What do you think?

Have a lovely week!

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