Sunday, 13 April 2014


If you follow my instagram you'll know that I've spent the last week with a severe case of the holiday blues after an amazing trip to Marrakech. Eight old friends, sunshine and copious amounts of gin made for a lovely, giggly few days away.

We spent a couple of days in the Medina and at the souk buying up some beautiful pieces of craft and watching folk making all sorts of things, from textiles to tea to sieves to jewellery to leather bags. Unfortunately the Moroccans are a bit camera shy (or maybe they're just fed up of tourists pestering them for pictures) or I would have had more photos of the artisans in their workshops.

We rode quad bikes through the desert and drank sweet mint tea with some locals in a village with a view of the Atlas Mountains. We enjoyed a special day at the luxurious Taj Palace (which houses the most beautiful library I've ever seen), followed by a night out involving an eclectic mix of belly dancers, clowns and French DJs at Le Comptoir. Our bellies were sore from laughing by the time we left.

These are just a few of my pictures but there are more to come. I want to go back already.

1&2 The Medina 3,4&5 fun at the souk 6 tiles, oh so many good tiles 6-12 the wonderful Taj Palace 13 no holiday is complete without a picture of a sheep 14 the carriage awaits outside Le Comptoir 15 more tiles 16 leaving with a view to getting back as soon as possible

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Wandering in London

I spent a couple of days in London last week. I was mainly there to see The Cheapside Hoard: London's Lost Jewels at the Museum of London which was, hands down, the best exhibition I've ever seen in the UK in terms of the curation and presentation. It was also spectacularly beautiful.

The rest of my time in the capital was spent wandering about. On Tuesday morning I popped in to a couple of fabric shops - Cloth House and The Silk Society - to pick up some samples and supplies and then set off from Soho to find Arlington Street, which has popped up a few times in some letters I've been looking at for my PhD research. I went via Jermyn Street, which seems really familiar because it punctuated the work I did on nineteenth-century Shetland lace knitting a few years back (Edward Standen's 'Shetland Warehouse' was located at number 112), and it continues to surface now and again in the research I'm doing at the moment.

After finding Arlington Street, much of which is directly above The Ritz, and hunting around some of the lanes and squares nearby, my little jaunt took me straight down St James Street where I came across the hatters, Lock & Co. I remembered the shop from a lovely guidebook called The Traditional Shops and Restaurants of London: A Guide to Century-Old Establishments and New Classics by Eugenia Bell. The book is published by one of my favourites, The Little Bookroom, and was responsible for some of the highlights of a previous London visit. The little book on Paris I mentioned in my last post was also published by The Little Bookroom, so I have a lot to thank them for. 

I recently wrote a little guide to Shetland for wool lovers that's due to be published in The Knitter shortly, so look out for that. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Paris in miniature

Ronan-Jim's Sevellec's miniature worlds bring together so many of the things that make give me butterflies: dolls houses, dioramas and artist studios. The grubby walls, sunken armchairs and pots of dirty paintbrushes are so perfectly executed that it wasn't until I saw the full pieces (images 4 and 7) that I understood I was looking at a tiny stage sets rather than old photographs. I think the contrast of sheer fantasy with the realism of the untidy, chaotic workshops and storerooms is what makes them so charming.

Sevellec grew up in a workshop environment - his father was a painter and sculptor - before going to work for the cinema in Paris in the 1960s. He's been crafting these beauties, which bring together his early influences with his background in stage design, since the 1980s. You can see his imagination and sense of humour in the details, like the illustration of a 19th century woman hanging on one side of the room, and what looks like an adidas trainer on the other (image 3). Sevellec explains that the decorative details and amusing little touches are part of what he loves about constructing his works in a short video here (the dialogue is in French but it's great for getting a closer look at some of these spaces).

For real life makers' studios in the 'City of Light', have a peep at Paris: Made by Hand by blogger and stylist Pia Jane Bijkerk. This isn't the first time I've mentioned the book here so my apologies for the repetition, but it really is so good. This has been a weekend filled with thoughts of Paris for me because we've just booked a week there in June to chill out after the wedding, so I'm off to indulge in my favourite travel guide myself for an hour or two.


Sources and images: Messy Nessy Chic and Ã€vivre

Friday, 24 January 2014


Woodcuts by Bryan Nash Gill. I have no words, at least none that do his work any justice. I want a giant print on the wall to stare at all day, but I might have to settle for the book instead. 

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Urge

I'm obsessed with Kate Keara Pelen's work. I just want to run my fingers over these beautifully textured little works of art. This is needlework at its best.

For months now, my mind has been consumed by reading and writing. The book took up most of the creative part of my brain for the best part of a year, and since I started the PhD I've not thought about much else. But the new year has brought a renewed urge to create. My hands are just itching to get back to work.

Tonight I decided that my (belated) resolution for 2014 is to spend more time making. So I'm off to raid the neglected boxes full of yarn and threads and beads that have been gathering dust for months now. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


Happy New Year! Shetland has treated us to plenty of moody seas and gorgeous skies over the past couple of weeks - a perfect end to a brilliant year. It's been good to catch up with friends and family and get lots of wedding stuff organised (with less than 6 months to go it's about time we started making proper plans). We're flying back to Edinburgh tomorrow so here are some highlights from a holiday back home. You can see how changeable the light and sky has been - watching it shifting from minute to minute is mesmerising.

1 and 2 post-storm swell 3 the hill was littered with feathers after a windy night 4 one of my favourite Christmas presents 5 and 6 sunsets at 2pm 7 in the byre while visiting family 8 the old byres 9 and 10 mirror lochs on a flat calm day 11 tiny island 12 and 13 Poor Ruby sulked for a while after she lost her ball in the waves.