Archives For Londontown

An Interview With Emily Quinton

I have a bit of a special treat for you today. In tomorrow’s podcast I’ll be reviewing the book Maker Spaces, by Emily Quinton. Emily is the very talented photographer who runs Makelight Studios here in London (that’s one of her gorgeous photos above) and I’ve been lucky enough to attend one of her workshops, where she teaches photography to anyone who wants to learn to make beautiful images, using whatever camera or smartphone they already have.

Emily recently brought out her first book, which is focused on the studios and creative spaces of makers. As soon as I got my hands on it I knew I wanted to hear more about how it came into being, and Emily graciously agreed to talk to me about creating Maker Spaces, and the inspiration she found in the process. I’ve put my questions into italics to make it easy to follow along.

Emily Quinton Makelight Studios

Makelight Studios, from Maker Spaces
Photo credit: Emily Quinton

Where did the idea for the book come from?

Since becoming a mother 8 years ago I have paid a lot more attention to creativity at home. I have always made things and so has my husband, so when we came parents we wanted to share our love of making and creativity with our children, and create a home environment that could enable them to enjoy art as much as possible. Becoming a mother also made me realise just how much I am affected by the space around me. I have had to put a lot of work into not getting too upset by all the chaos of my four children every single day.

I was really intrigued to find out whether other creatives were so emotionally connected to their spaces. In addition to this I am fascinated by the modern maker movement and the combination of a return to traditional crafts alongside modern techniques like 3D printing and laser cutting.

How did you choose the makers to feature in the book?

This was the hardest task throughout the whole process. There are so many amazing makers out there and there were so many that I wanted to feature. I found most of them through social media, blogs and my online network. They all had to make amazing things and have wonderful homes and studios. They couldn’t be too similar to any of the others in my list and needed to live and work in one of the places on my locations list.

Did you do all the photography for the book?

Sadly not. My publishers decided I couldn’t write and photograph the book by myself. I will argue otherwise for future books!

What inspiration did you take from the makers you featured?

They all inspired me with their incredibly attention to detail in their spaces and their understanding of the importance of letting a space grow, develop and change as you and your work do. All the spaces had a great feeling of flow and positive energy.

Kimberly Austin Maker Spaces

Kimberly Austin’s studio, from Maker Spaces
Photo credit: Emily Quinton

Did visiting these amazing makers’ spacers make you want to set up your own Makelight studio?

Definitely! My studio has been a dream for a couple of years now and seeing other makers’ spaces really encouraged me to make it happen. It also made me determined to create a space that other makers can come to help them with their own work.

Any tips to share for setting up a really inspiring maker space that you’ve picked up from doing this project?

Create the space you want and need for your work. Create a space from your heart and not just from a Pinterest board! Make a space that is beautiful and reflects your work. Create a space that feels like an extension of your work and consciously realise how closely connected the two things are.

How long did it take for you to write and photograph the book?

The whole process from signing the contract to delivering the final manuscript was 7 months.

What is next for you? Any more book ideas in the pipeline?

I have a few more book ideas, which I hope to start exploring next year but for the rest of 2015 I am focusing on the Makelight Studio and to my online photography courses.


Teresa Robinson's Studio, from Maker Spaces

Teresa Robinson’s Studio, from Maker Spaces
Photo credit: Emily Quinton

I’d like to thank Emily so much for coming on the blog and sharing her journey to Maker Spaces with us.

Be sure to tune in for tomorrow’s podcasts for more about the book and info about how you can win a copy for yourself!


Curious Handmade Podcast Ep 43

What’s in the WIP?, an update on the Curious Collective knit along and a recap about the Great London Yarn Crawl I went on last weekend.

Thank you for all your lovely comments and feedback about my interview with Jemilla Robertson founder of Fellow Dreamers last week.

Please have a look at her Fellow Dreamers Kickstarter page – even if its just to have a look at the lovely video she put together for the campaign.

What’s in the WIP?

Cloud Wrap from the Dream Big Collection – just launched.

Cloud Wrap by Helen Stewart

Socks with “Mind the Gap” yarn from Trailing Clouds

Trailing Clouds Mind the Gap Yarn

Curious Collective DKAL

The Curious Collective DKAL is in Week 3 and we are aiming for 60% completion mark by this Sunday 28 September.

There are some gorgeous finished shawls already posted in the FO thread on the Curious Handmade Rav Board. All the Tribes are represented!

Don’t forget to post on social media with the #CCDKAL to be in the running for the Social Media Maven prize.

The Great London Yarn Crawl

The Great London Yarn Crawl

A Playful Day – post about Refuge and video of Patrick Stewart talking passionately about his support for the charity


Great London Yarn Crawl Nest

Prick Your Finger

Great London Yarn Crawl Prick Your Finger

Wild and Woolly

Great London Yarn Crawl Wild and WoollyPom Pom Quarterly Party

Great London Yarn Crawl Pom Pom Party

Thank you so much to the organisers, sponsors, volunteers and my lovely BFL team mates for a wonderful day out.

We have a GIVEAWAY!!

To win the two Silver Screen Knits books by Kathleen Lawton-Trask just leave a comment below telling us what your favourite local yarn store (LYS) is.

ETA: I’ve now drawn a winner ….listen to Episode 44 of the podcast to see if you won!

Thank you so much to Kathleen and to the lovely Sadie who is Whitehart on Ravelry for donating her door prize to the give away.

Debbie Bliss British wool

Calling all Brits to get your knit on – Wool Week week kicks of today.

In London and Edinburgh, John Lewis is getting into the knitting spirit in a big way with Knit Nation events all week.

There are events and free classes happening all week with Erika Knight, Rowan, Milla Mia among others so go check it out if you’re in the area.

And next weekend, up north, is another knitterly event The Glasgow School of Yarn and I’m very excited as I’m heading up there to attend! There are classes with Amy Singer and Liz Lovick as well as talks with Deb Ronson. Not to mention lots of tempting vendors in the market place. If you see me please say hello. I’ll be the one muttering “yarn diet, yarn diet” over and over to myself.


If anyone has any more Wool Week events or pictures do let us know in the comments. We love all things sheepy around here.

sheep wool


That was my favourite week so far! It was a pretty close result between narrow stripes and colour block and there were so many fantastic comments! Thank you everyone who took the time to vote and especially comment. I read all the comments with great interest. Colour block was the winner with 51% of the votes.

A few people considered that for textured stitches to really shine the colour block option would be better, and I think this is true. I do love narrow stripes but it would be a lot going on at the same time.

Now that there have been quite a few decisions made about the shawl I can really start to focus on the design. My shawl designs usually start with a spark of inspiration which can be from a variety of things. Sometimes it is a particular skien of beautiful yarn (Radiance was like that) or a stitch pattern (e.g. for Câlin I really wanted to incorporate chevrons).

In the case of Elemental Things which is a new pattern I’ll be releasing very soon, it was my desire to capture a mood that led to the design. I was at a cafe in London on a really gloomy February day so it ended up being quite dark and gritty. It was also photographed on a freezing day in November last year which adds to this mood (this one has been in the pipeline for a loooong time!).  It ended up being my go to neck warmer throughout last winter and I wore it to work nearly every day.

For the Curious Collective shawl, now that I have some constraints to work with (positive ones) I will be flipping through stitch dictionaries and magazines, letting ideas float in and out, turning them over and upside down and see what takes shape.

I’m not sure what the final poll is going to be yet! I know that is cutting it fine but as it’s the last one I want it to be a goodie. Stay tuned and I will have it up by Monday at the latest.

Elemental Things Shawl

Elemental Things is a semicircular, lace weight shawl. This sample is knit in MadeleineTosh Prairie.

It is very exciting that after months of keeping a secret I can finally share Glitz at the Ritz just out in Knitty, First Fall issue.

It is a great issue with a fantastic pattern by Amy Hertzog called Jackaroo that I really want to make.

I also love the Solidago socks by Mary Jane Mucklestone and the Sugar Stick Scarf by Kristine Byrnes. And Sinnesfrid by Madeleine Nilsson. Lots more goodies, go check it out.


The location for the photos is the Horniman Museum in South East London. Its claim to fame is an absolutely enormous stuffed walrus. There is also a cool aquarium. As you can see from the pics the gardens are stunning too.





Its a little bit “Gatsby” don’t you think? I think it’s enough of a nod to wear to a Great Gatsby themed party this weekend anyway!

Glitz at the Ritz Knitty

Now, normally on a nice day this area would be packed full with families. The fact that not a single other person is there on a Saturday morning gives you a clue how cold it was. I tried not to include the shots where the goosebumps were too obvious.

As you can see from this last pic, it was actually snowing. I really love this shot, but it does look a bit grim doesn’t it?!


I’m knitting another one in variegated Posh Yarn to see how it looks and have started a knit along going on the Curious Handmade board on Rav if you’d like to join me.

Today I went back to Wool House for a talk by Debbie Bliss about “Design to Flatter the Body”. I didn’t realise this was the topic before I went along but as I am now starting to plan my first garment designs it was hugely helpful and very timely! I think Debbie and her team were somewhat bemused by me sitting in the front row taking furious notes!

I feel strongly that one of the most important aspects of a garment design is a flattering fit. If you don’t like the way a garment looks on you after all that effort of knitting it then it can be quite heartbreaking. Obviously there are a lot of other aspects that make a great design such as fashion trends, yarn choice and of course knitting techniques used. It was a real treat to get some tips from a designer that has obviously been thinking about this aspect for a long time.

I met up with the lovely Renee of East London Knits for a bite to eat at Tom’s Deli before we joined the talk. There was a little confusion at the beginning where we found ourselves in a room that was already full, but not with the usual knitting crowd. Lots of young hipsters with slouchy hats (confusingly not the hand knitted kind). It turned out that those of us with slightly less trendy clothes all wanted to be in the next room where we found Debbie patiently waiting for some people to talk to! (the other talk turned out to be by fashion designer Mark Fast).

Debbie gave us a couple of balls of her new yarns, the Blue Faced Leicester Aran which comes in a range of really rich lovely colours including a gorgeous hot pink. I can’t wait to swatch it. BFL is a British breed that seems to be gaining a lot of popularity lately.


There are also some wonderful interiors rooms set up at Wool House. This is an absolutely charming nursery by Donna Wilson. Its really adorable! I especially love the raindrops and clouds mobile.







I had the chance to attend a free event at Wool House today – the Shetland Lace Masterclass with Sandra Manson from Jamieson & Smith.


We were generously given some 2ply laceweight yarn and a pattern. I think the early birds even scored a cute little project bag too.


Sandra showed us some of her gorgeous samples. She said she took three weeks to knit this! Its an interesting construction – first the border is knitted then over 900 stitches are picked up from the border and knitted from the outside in. Wow!


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And my results after about an hour of knitting! I have to admit I was distracted by talking to the lovely women around me.

I was already interested in the J & S yarn after devouring Kate Gilbert’s amazing book Colours of Shetland. Seeing one of the people near me wearing my favourite pattern from the book, the Northmavine Hap shawl made me want to make it even more.


Below is nothing to do with the Masterclass – just some colourful eye candy from the weaving room next door.


There is yet another wonderful event happening at Somerset House this week and its called Wool House for The Campaign for Wool.

There aren’t many places in central London where you are greeted by a friendly flock of British sheep!


It was a very relaxing moment in my day when I popped out of the office at lunch to visit these girls.


The exhibition itself is full of gorgeous tributes to wool – rugs, fashion, interiors and of course……yarn!! Wheeee!

Pixelated floor runner by Cristian Zuzunaga.


My lovely colleague enjoying the slick iPad slideshow. She graciously agreed to being dragged out of the office to “come and look at wool.” “OK!”.


Wool in jars.


Woolly bundles.


Colourful swatches.


Some interesting new yarn from Debbie Bliss.


Pretty Rowan yarn and mood board.


Lovely combination of colours. I can feel the pull of colourwork getting stronger.

IMG_2147 IMG_2150 IMG_2154


Ladies wearing fab hats.

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More pics tomorrow.

If you are in London, get ye to Somerset House and check it out.

There are also lots of free events.

And if you like the sheep here is a much better pic of the ladies than I managed!

Scandinavia Showcase

Helen —  February 21, 2013 — 1 Comment

Continuing on from my last post, as part of my LFW visit to Somerset House, I also visited the International Scandinavia Showcase after nabbing a free ticket on Twitter (a first!).

It was an exhibition of designers from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It was interesting to read about the Scandinavian fashion movement and its ties to Scandinavian design generally.

There were lots of nice things there but the designer I found really exciting was the Faroese design duo Gudrun & Gudrun.  You may know of them from the famous Sara Lund jumper of the TV show the Killing (Forbrydelsen in Danish). In knitting circles the jumper is probably more famous than the show. It was inspiring to see some hand knit designer garments as part of the show.

For some reason I didn’t take a picture of the most famous pullover but I was struck by the quality of the Faroese sirri wool it was made of. I was expecting quite a heavy, chunky garment from the photos I’d seen, but its really quite lightweight and I imagine very comfortable to wear. BTW if you fancy having a go at making it, the official pattern is licensed and available exclusively in Emma Kennedy’s book The Killing Handbook: Forbrydelsen Forever! (which is quite hilarious by the way).

I loved everything, especially the use of different textures and weights of yarn both within a single garment and throughout the whole collection.




And if the lovely garments weren’t enough, these knitted rollerskates were so cute!


London Fashion Week

Helen —  February 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

London Fashion Week has passed me by with barely a blip on my radar for years now. But completely out of the blue I’m strangely interested in the spectacle this year.

I think its to do with spending a little too much time on Pinterest lately and discovering a flock of interesting fashion bloggers and street photographers. I know. I have been under a rock. There is no way I aspire to wear any of that stuff but its fun to look at the pictures (sacriledge!) and I like the way Susie Bubble writes. I have reignited my girl crush on Garance Doré. She is a standout artist in her niche (I think) and besides has a name made for fashion.

LFW is based at Somerset House just around the corner from where I work. I popped along to see what all the fuss was about and it was really quite entertaining. The runway shows and the FROW (front row doncha know) is where all the action is. But there is a whole other drama happening in the court yard of Somerset House that anyone can go along and watch. Apparently this spectacle has caused a bit of a ruckus and some reflection on the nature of blogging which is interesting. I did find it fascinating that Bloggers had their own marked reception desk alongside Press, Buyers and Visitors (clearly an influential group).