Monday, 11 January 2016

Make It Monday: Needle Felt A Mini Unicorn!

Have you ever wanted a tiny unicorn? Needle felt one for yourself! 
Needle Felted Unicorn
Last week my lovely friend Yvette from 1000Crows.com came over to my house (This was not an unusual occurrence- we regally meet up to craft together in the evenings and chat about life over a far too sugary hot chocolate in a handmade mug) and she brought with her a tinie tiny little unicorn, made out of felt!
She had made it with some fibers as part of a felting kit that I gave her for Christmas, and had merrily stabbed away over the festive period to create the furball of joy that you see above. I begged her to take some pictures for me to write a tutorial for you all -  enjoy!
Felting Kit

What you will need: 

* Spin City Felting Kit (availible from spincityshop.com) , or stashed merino and wool fibres. 
* A standard felting needle
* A felting mat ( or thick piece of foam) 
* Small scissors 
* Love in your heart - you can't create tinie tiny Unicorns with an angry soul. It's just not possible. 

Ready, Steady, Go!

1. Select your colours. My unicorn was made with classic white for the body and hot pink for the tail, horn and mane, with a little black for the eyes. Why not go crazy and make yourself a rainbow'corn? She could look truly beautiful in stripes or spots.
 2. Start stabbing! Using your mat and needle, gentle smoosh and sculpt the basic shape. The more you stab, the easier it will be to define the contours. The body of my Unicorn is about 7cm long. Aim for a rough "n" shape (legs and back) with a little nobble on the side (neck).

3. Create the head. Take a smaller puff of fibre and stab at it until you form a small, oval ball. Add a little more fluff to create nubs for ears. 


4.  Define the two body parts. Continue to shape and stab, adding little bits of fiber to accentuate the different areas of your Unicorn. Use scissors to cut away parts that need more definition, such as between the legs and around the ears, until you have a shape that you like. 

5. Join together the head and body, buy placing the head ontop of the neck nub and stabbing your needle around and into the two shapes. You can choose how your 'corn will look by placing the head at different angles. Mine is fairly proud with her head angled upwards in a sort of "I'm watching the stars" pose.
6.  Now make your horn! First, rub together a length of fibre into a small tube, then stab away at it until you have the classic tapered shape. My unicorn's horn is as tall as her body. Join it onto the head with stabbing motions on and around the horn. 

7. Add some long, unicorn hair. My Unicorn has the same colour mane and horn - but you could mix things up a little bit. This might be a golden opportunity to use up some hand dyed wool locks or some shorter lengths of hand spun yarn. The hair was created buy pulling off a little bit of fibre and gently laying it in a sweet, slightly curved style around the head, ears and neck on one side only. 

8. Add some detail! Needle felt in a pretty swirl on your Unicorn's horn. This really brings her to life! Don't forget to add little black dots for eyes and a mouth. 

9. Et voila! You have just made yourself a tiny unicorn. Now, giver her to a friend to lighten up the dark days of January, or thread her onto a necklace or into some hand spun yarn for an instant good luck charm.  Why not keep her in your coat pocket as a secret magical pet to take with you on walks or on your commute? I keep mine with me on my desk or posed around my house - she makes me smile every time I see her, especially because she was made for me by my lovely friend Yvette. 
Pretty needle felted Unicorn
I Heart Unicorns
So there you go- how to make a little Unicorn in nine simple steps. If you make one, I'd love to see! tag me on @SpinCityUK on instagram or twitter. I'd like to say THANKYOU to Yvette for making me this Unicorn and for sending me over these pictures so that I could make a tutorial for you all. 

If you would like to check out Yvette's blog, here is the link! Yvette is a vintage and antiques treasure hunter and photographer - she has impeccable taste and I always oooh over the things she finds. See her collection of curiosities in her shop! 

I hope you all have a busy, happy and craft filled January. 
Louise x

Saturday, 9 January 2016

2015: My Year In Review

2015 was an awesome year. It was the year I opened my own shop selling my spindles and fibres, I visited lots of wool shows and moved studio. I have so many things to celebrate from last year so I thought I would make my first "year in review" blogpost.

First - a few fun facts!
* I attended 10 wool and craft shows across the country
* I estimate that I taught and demonstrated spinning to at least 400 people at these shows!
* I opened my very own website  www.SpinCityShop.com
* I spun 63 balls of yarn

Super fine spinning on my Lendrum wheel
The year started off with one of my favourite spins - sat in the lounge with my family, spinning as super fine as I could. I carded a batt with merino, angelina and soya silk in pale shades of seaglass green and blues. I spun it on my lovely Lilly the Lendrum, with my superfast flyer. Sometimes I was spinning so fine I couldn't even see it! :-D 
Me and Bruce at Unravel


My first show of the year was Unravel at Farnham Maltings in Surrey. I had such a lovely time there, and met so many kindred spirits and teaching newbie how to spin.
Here's my blog post from the event with pics of me with the festival resident cat Bruce!

After the show on Saturday, I had a great time going out for dinner with Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch, Joanne from Not So GrannyCorrie from Plutonium Muffins and Wink from A creative Being. We talking about our crazy wooly plans. Sadly, Wink passed away later in the year. I loved energy of meeting so many like mined people, and Wink will be greatly missed.

As spring approached, I had happy news from my Sister-in-law, she was getting married! She asked could I knit her 20 ties for the Groom and all his merry men? Of course I accepted the challenge. I made them on my industrial fine gauge knitting machine in candy shades of blue, green, lemon, coral, lilac and pink.
It was really nice to get back on my machinery - While I was studying for my knitwear degrees my knitting machine was like a second limb. Check out my blog post to see what a beaut' she is!

 Later in the spring, I travelled to Wonderwool in Wales and the Iknit Fandango with my vintage dresser and colourful fibres and spindles, and met many familiar and new faces. I particularly loved seeing the projects people had made with fibre they bought the year before! :-D
Happy at the 'Fandango in my 50s dress.

In the summer, I moves studios! Here is a pic of my new space when I first arranged it - it's a little fuller now!
My Fiber Studio

Spinning yarn in my garden, with the fens as a backdrop



As the summer moved on I went to my beloved Fibre East wool festival and taught weaving workshops at the stunning Folk East music festival at Glemham hall in Suffolk. I loved mixing folk crafts with folk music! It felt so right - Also I got to weave and spin with some amazing acts playing just behind my stall like The Unthanks and Sam Kelly. Win!



My stall all set up for Yarndale

In the autumn I went to Yarndale in Skipton, which is always a treat. I find that at each show, people tend to like slightly different things. At Woolfest, I found for example that everyone loved my natural, botanical flower spindles. At Yarndale, everyone liked rainbow colours and sparkles! It's always exciting to see what creations people wear to the show too- often crocheted, often imaginative and ambitious! I had a lovely time in a pretty rented cottage with my darling Mum and we even had time to watch the lunar eclipse.

My Knitting and Stitching Show stall
I thought that was the last show for me for the year, and then I found out I had been accepted for The Knitting and Stitching show in London for a last minute stall with a last minute show stall deal! For those of you who don't know, The Knitting and Stitching show is one of the largest fiber shows in Europe. It's massive. As a visitor, it is an Aladdin's cave of temptation and inspiration. As a seller- it's pretty scary. Not only do the stalls cost quite a few pennies, there are hundreds and thousands of people coming through the doors! I had only a handful of days to prepare for what was surely to be my biggest ever show. I burnt the midnight oil and put together a pretty stall full of pretty things - spindles, batts, roving and kits. Here is my blog post about the show and all the fun things I saw there.
I opened my own shop!

Finally, in the last part of the year, I decided to open my own shop, www.SpinCityShop.com. I had sold on Etsy for over six years- and over the last year or two alongside my store I had grown my business into a full time job. Moving to my own site gives me more freedom to design a layout that fits my needs, looks better and it enables me to make a little more profit. It's a bit scary making the jump- as I can only make sales now from my own promotion, rather than relying on a multi nation corporation. But, I love a challenge and I really enjoy all the "behind the scenes" work that comes with running my own site. I love analysing all my statistics for example - seeing where people have found me and what countries you all come from. It's really exciting to me when I see people looking at my site from Canada, Sweden or the US- and sometimes even further afield from places like Japan! Thank you for helping me live a life full of colour and for inspiring me to keep creating. 

2016 for me will be about making a real go of Spin City -  I've already booked into to do 11 shows! If you want to know where I will be this year, have a look at my events page on my website. I have dreams of creating a fibre and spindle club with new themes and fibres each month and of holding regular workshops and lessons in spinning, dyeing and weaving. I am also working away on making yarn bowls and new kits to add to my range. It is a very exciting time! 

Personally, I hope to have a creative, peaceful year ahead, full of family, friends, long nature walks and lots of spinning. 

I hope you all had a wonderful and happy new year! 

Louise x










Thursday, 26 November 2015

My Shop Launch, Visiting Farms, Spinning Yarn, Festiwool and Playing With Pottery

I have big news! I launched my very own website this month. :-)
Spin City Fibres and Spindles
 I bought a domain and spent a few weeks tweeting and adding products, and I am pleased to say that Www.SpinCityShop.com is now live! 
I will be selling all my pretty fibres, spindles and kits on my shop, as well as a few new products like felting kits and hand dyed roving. I'm really happy with the look of my new website, I love photography and my website has allowed me to put my pictures up as large as I like so they really made a big impact when you arrive on my home page. 
I've had a really unexpected good response in my first full month of trading, so thank you for helping to support my wooly career. :-) 

After the hectic run up and week of The Knitting And Stitching Show in London during October, and my shop launch, I took a few days off to recouperate and do a little spinning. 

Handspun art yarn

I visited a farm in Suffolk who had some Llanwenogg fleece for sale and gleefully picked up a couple to take back home, where I instantly and greedily started to dye some in big fluffy handfuls. Lanwenogg has a nice, long staple and good crimp, and took the dye really well. I spin the yarn above by simply holding the fleece to the wheel without carding and letting the twist grab up the fibre which ever way it wanted too, while I let a sewing thread auto wrap around it. 

Lanwenogg Sheep
It wasn't long before I started to make preparations for my next show, Festiwool in Hitchin. It's a one day show set in a very modern college, made from mostly glass! There were lots of great exhibitors and a nice, relaxed feel to the show. It's not as big as some of the other wool shows that I usually take part in, but I loved being able to spend more time with my customers and actually walk around without bumping into towers of yarn or other shoppers. I really can't wait to go back next year. 
Here are some batts that I made for the show- called Crushed Petals, made from merino, alpaca, Wensleydale and soya silk. 
hand carded batts
Here are my spindles on display in a new teapot! 
drop spindles
My stall all set up at Festiwool
Festiwool Spin City Stall
I had a really good day at Festiwool and it was a real success for me! Thank you to everyone who came to see me. :-) 
Drop Spindle Kit
This week I have been working on my new drop spindle kits, which my brother and his lovely girlfriend helped to make! 
My new kit contains 135g of luxury fibre, including hand carded batts, blended roving and pure merino and fin sheep roving, a hand made wooden spindle and a hand screen printed project bag- which my brother and girlfriend made for me on their impressive screen printing studio. Aren't I lucky to have such a talented sibling? 
The kits come in lots of different colours and have full instructions which I created myself. 

The Project bags being printed in my Brother's studio.
Finally, this month I have been totally bitten by the pottery bug. It first got me this time last year, and since then it has gradually wormed it's way into many aspects of my life. I decided to save up and I am now the proud owner of a potters wheel of my own!
She lives in my utility room and I love nothing more than to throw pots after my work had finished for the day- apart from watching The Great British Pottery Throwdown! 
Potters wheel
Here are my latest pots- Yarn bowls of course! 
It won't be long until Christmas and I have quite a few present ideas that I would like to make for my family in clay, we will see how I get on. I hope you all had a good month.

Yarn Bowls in the making

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Knitting and Stitching Show 2015 - My Spin City Stall and loveaffair with Ally Pally

So. Just over two weeks ago now I made the decision to take up a last minute stall the UK's biggest knitting show. This was both an exciting decision but also a very daft one, as at the time I was prepping for Yarndale and had no extra stock or contingency plan, but I just couldn't let an opportunity like this slip past me. *Spoiler alert* It was my best ever show!

Spinning on my Spin City stall at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2015, Photo by Its A Stitch Up


I first went to the Knitting and Stitching Show eight years ago, when I was a textiles student living and studying in London.  Just thinking back to arriving outside the palace on the W3 bus makes my heart leap just a little bit as I had literally been looking forward to going to the show for years. I was knitting and textile art obsessed, and the thought of meeting some of my heroes and being surrounded by yarn was too much to handle. I can still feel the excitement of walking through the grand doors into the glass atrium and being confronted by a giant knitted ship- I had docked at my sort of place.

The beautiful Ally Pally - worth visiting alone!

My 1920s inspired knitted dress with beads trapped in the fabric that I made as a student
Fast forward a few years to 2011 and I had graduated with a first class honours degree in Knitted Textiles from Chelsea College of Art, and applied to be part of the Knitted Textile Awards by UKHK which exhibits at Ally Pally- and I was accepted! I showed garments that I knitted and crocheted inspired by the 1920s, created on antique hand knitting machinery with sewing thread and embellished with macrame and beading. Ah, to be a student again! Here are a few pictures of the dresses I made and took with me all those years ago and took to the Palace...







So naturally, when a chance appeared to have my own stall at the show which had inspired me as a student and had accepted me as a graduate designer was one I couldn't miss for the world. 

My stall all set up at the show on the first day
I had precisely eight days between the wonderful Yarndale and the opening day of The Knitting and Stitching show. One of these days was taken up by travelling back from Yorkshire, and another would be taken up with setting up my stand in London - so that only left six days to get everything ready, for a five day show! I pulled out all the stops and with only a little bit of panicking and a lot less sleep  I managed to get enough stock together which I hoped would look nice on my stall (which was quite a bit smaller than my usual affair due to the prices, even at last minute rates!) 

Here is a little video of my space all set up and looking pretty:




My little stall with my handmade spindles, fibre and faux cashmere rovings


I was overwhelmed by the number of visitors to my stall and the enthusiasm people took to the idea of spinning your own yarn - it was something not many people at the show had really heard of before, and it was a pleasure to bring the word about my craft and teach people about it. 
Knitted and stitched fish by Kate's Plaice 
As usual the show was packed with eye candy and one of my favourite exhibits was the amazing "Kate's Plaice, The Stitch Mongers" which was a faux knitted fish market! The actual fabric of the individual pieces were exquisite - Kate had laminated her knitted textiles with plastic and then over printed with metallic foil and then stitched into them with a beautiful array of beads and sequins. It was quite something to see as all the facets of the sequins lined up so beautifully. I loved the fact that you could buy a couple of fish and Kate would arrange them on a knitted plate for you to hang up at home. I mean- who wouldn't want some knitted fish and chips on your wall?! 

It was constantly busy at the show, sometimes you could hardly move!
I wish I could have shown you more pictures of the week but I was rushed off my feet pretty much the entire time- quite unexpectedly! I sold out a few times and had to keep travelling back to Cambridge every night to pick up more stock. Thank you to everyone who came to see me and make my time at the Knitting and Stitching show such a success! I am genuinely touched by everyone's enthusiasm and support for what I do- so thank you once again!
I'm hoping to get a stall at the Harrogate show in November, so keep your eyes peeled.
Louise x