Wednesday, March 25, 2015

10 Years Celebration

This past weekend we hosted a celebration in my Derbyshire home studio to commemorate ten years in business. We've held annual Open Studios for a number of years but this is definitely the most effort made.
The displays of colourful creations are full to the brim, we've been very busy bees, and spent a full day baking a delectable array of tasty treats. Funfetti cake batter popcorn; Salted caramel and chocolate covered pretzels; Fairy bites; Tiedye butterfly inside cake; and my personal favourite White chocolate rocky road Yum yum yum!
There have so many birthdays here that I've lost count how times I've had cake for breakfast in the last two weeks. (Sorry not sorry) Once again the kitchen was transformed into an adorable tea room for the weekend welcoming guests with a
sweet feast.
To really get in the birthday spirit we made gift
 bags from beautiful offcuts. Each one filled with home made pompom key chains, specially engraved pens and packets of sunflower seeds.

Its hard to believe its been 10 years since starting this colourful journey. So much has changed, especially in the last 2 years since working with Liberty Art Fabrics. We have beautiful new equipment, an impressive stockpile of materials, lovely new members of the team and just keep getting busier!
I often feel such warming gratitude but the flip side of growing success is overwhelming stress. Its not all rose tinted glasses, these ten years have been long and painful at times but I couldn't be more in love with what I do.
I had an epiphany while cleaning the bathroom for the Open Studio. Although only being able to hand knit when first setting up Crooked Knitwear my work has evolved exponentially and stands proudly amongst some of the best makers in the country. (But I'm still not above scrubbing the loo)
Here's to the next 10 years of building colourful dreams, accomplishing goals and loving life.
Stay BRIGHT!!! xxx

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Be Warm, Be Seen in NYC

What a whirlwind these last few months/years have been. It all rolls into one! Lots has changed inside the walls of the Crooked House but before we get to that I wanted to share some of my experiences from NYFW. 
I've been back just over a week and full of cold, very unlike me. Despite the weather I had a fabulous time in the Big Apple.
Here's a pic of me caught in the snow, stopped on a street corner by the beautiful Olive @pineappleO, keyboard player of  Late Cambrian, wearing the coat I made especially for the trip. I was impressed with how many comments I received while walking my 50+ blocks a day in negative degree weather. Glad to add some colour to the otherwise washed out streets! .
For a little over a year I've been working with the very talented designer Caterina Belluardo, producing the knits for her luxe shoe label. Her collection was spotted and led to sponsoring Malan Breton's AW15 catwalk show. At first I must admit with Caterina's accent I heard 'Vuitton' and freaked out, as did my nearest and dearest and thus my trip to New York was born. following week was nothing but hustle and bustle trying to prepare. My theme became 'BE WARM, BE SEEN' and was on a mission to make the perfect coat. Fabric for my original design hadn't arrived in time so on Friday I sketched a new design, drafted it on Saturday (after 7 hours in the salon stripping the old colour from my hair), made the test sample on Sunday, finished the final garment late Monday night, flew Tuesday and wore it NYFW on Wednesday. Pretty mental!
It was such a surreal experience waking up in the centre of Manhattan and walking to the Lincoln Centre. Inside there were flash cars by the sponsors Mercedes Benz, make up station, photo booth, press and VIP area. Caterina's business partner, Dale, quickly found me and ushered me past the final run-throughs to the organised chaos of backstage. Amongst the commotion of models in varying levels of undress Dale led me Caterina, who was sat lacing the shoes to perfection. We had a brief embrace and had to find a seats shortly after...front row of course! Here are two of my favourite shots but please check out the full show online.

The Lenny Kravitz lookalike sat next to me raved about the first pair of our shoes to come out. It was a pleasure to interrupt saying 'I helped make those!' We swapped cards and turns out he was the make up artist for the show. After the show we went backstage and collected all the shoes and headed to dinner for shakes, pancakes and coffee (cawwfee).
 Later we went to meet a contact at the men's shoe department of Bergdorf Goodman's. While Caterina and Dale did their thing I met a lovely shop assistant who has worked at Bergdorf's for over 32 years. He told me lovely stories about how he was a shirt maker, had a little shop and once made all the shirts for Paul Newman. Then across the street a shop assistant on the women's shoe department  commented on my boots of the day. I told him 'they're vintage Russell and Bromley!'
To which he replied 'Oh I know Mr. Bromley, he comes in here from time to time.'
We chatted briefly and he asked for my card to pass on to him.  (Only in New York)
After a lovely catch up with Caterina we parted and went on to have wonderful afternoon on 5th Avenue. I went to Saks and basked in the ambiance of luxury designer fashion. Gucci, Prada, Oscar de la Renta, Mui Mui, Balmain, Mary Katrantzou, Valentino... The inspiration was truly overwhelming! leaving I was accosted and had a lovely eye mask and facial and ended up chatting to the girlfriend of the head knitter for Jonathan Simkhai. We may even cross paths again at Pitti Filati in Florence this summer!
My next two days consisted of LOTS of walking. I walked the Highline, where I spotted this vibrant street art, down to Chelsea Market to thaw out a bit and defrost my hair. No joke! Off to Bleecker Street I went armed with leaflets and my radical new coat in search of independent boutiques. Twelve years ago when I came to Manhattan for a day wearing one of my shabby hand knits a buyer on Bleecker St asked to start stocking my wears. I can't even remember the shop's name now but sadly there aren't independent boutiques left in Manhattan. The rent is too high and only left room for the brands and bigger names. Regardless I was determined and walked all the way to Little Italy to buy a chocolate covered cannoli from Ferrara's.
 Now a good 50 blocks from my friends apartment I start heading back, make a pit stop for a hot spiced cidre (the American kind I remember from my childhood) and stumble upon Times Square. It was too cold to take many pictures but I loved this statue!
Friday, my last full day, I walked around central park for the first time. The sun was lovely but still bitter cold.
That night I ventured out in the Liberty Print Boiler Suit from my AW15 collection to meet up with another school friend. We met to see a gig in Brooklyn. First up was all girl punk band, Huff This, followed by John Cave solo show. I even met a model there who was also at the Malan Breton show and asked to order something for his sister. Funnily enough while sat at the airport catching up on the GIRLS sitcom I realised that I was watching an episode where the venue was the bar I went to just the night before. What a coincidence right?!
 This trip has helped me remember my love of New York City! I will be back....when it's warmer ;)
Off to write a pattern...commissions won't make themselves.
Be warm, be safe, be seen, but most of all be BRIGHT!