knitting shetland

deep breath

IMG_4027So I have survived another Shetland Craft Fair! I have had a very busy weekend, and I’m very happy with how it went. This year they had the stalls spread out over two parts of Clickimin, the Main hall and the Bowls hall. (Clickimin is a Leisure Centre, hence the use of a indoor Bowls Hall, the Food Fair was also in the Squash Court!) Initially I was a bit worried that people wouldnt know there was another hall full of stalls but they seemed to find us. That is my Dads stall behind mine, he is a local cartoonist and has been doing Craft Fairs for years!

IMG_4025 IMG_4032I didn’t change my stall layout much from last year, Its one of those things that I should really spend a lot more time thinking about, but when it comes down to it I went with what worked last year. Of course it could be improved and I will try and do that for next year.

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I had a few smaller Crofthoose cushions and I sold all of them, I nearly didn’t take them because I thought they were maybe too small.. (and a bit pointless) And I sold lots of my usual size. It is always a bit scary putting out what you make to the general public. I run in very ‘knitterly’ circles so most of the people I know, through my work at J&S, blogging, instgram etc.. sort of understand the amount of work that goes into these cushions. They are a bit of fun of course and not exactly a necessity to have in life.. but I will say they are fully functional cushions so they do serve some purpose (particularity are a travel pillow, those lums will fit perfectly around your neck!!) but as always I was pleasantly surprised that people seem to like my little cushions.. and I really liked that now i’ve been doing this for a few years I had repeat customers and people buying ones because ‘so and so have one on their couch’ haha!

Photo 16-11-2014 05 06 58 pm (1)

This is all the stock I was left with at closing time tonight, which is great! I have a few orders but all very manageable so I don’t feel too stressed about it. The first year I did the Craft Fair I totally overdid it on the custom orders, so I have learnt from then.. I’m not very good at saying no, but you must be brave sometimes!

thanks Vivian for the photo :)
thanks Vivian for the photo :)

I was asked lots and lots of times if my items were hand knitted and I tried to not feel a bit disheartened when I said, no they are machine knitted and watched the persons face change a little (not everyone of course but it is an reaction I get a lot) My things may be machine knitted, but they are machine knitted by me! I hope my last few blogs about how much work I have put in shows that it is not ‘cheating’. Machine knitting is a skill in itself, it is not hand knitting no.. but I am proud that I knit each row myself on my machine. Apart from help stuffing the cushions from Mam and Peter I do it all myself. My mam and my sister helped me out on the stall and of course I had Dad behind me (literally) so I am supported but I’ll tell ya, It can be lonely knitting cushions! That would make a good country song title…

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This machine knitting talk is quite apt as yesterday morning, Kate released more information about Cockatoo Brae, the cardigan which I knitted the body and sleeves for her on my machine for her new book which comes out very soon. That is the way hundreds upon thousands of Shetland Yokes have been made, with a hand knit yoke and machine knit body. I have made four yokes for myself in this way so later this week, (hopefully) I will put together a post explaining a bit more about how one goes about doing that.. disclaimer.. the way I do it might not be the way it is has always been done but I have noone to show me these things so I have taught myself in a way that gets the job done, which after all is the most important thing.

Back to work tomorrow so I better get to bed! Speak soon,

Ella xx

29 comments on “deep breath

  1. Lincolncookie

    Don’t ever get disheartened your work looks fantastic! The design and skill are apparent to anyone with soul. I apologise on behalf of any shortsighted hand knitters, although I bet the gainsayers don’t even knit! I’ve never had access to a machine but your posts have brought about a few speculative web browses. If only the craft fair I attended today had had anything half as nice!

  2. The colours are WONDERFUL!!! wish I was there. Lincolncookie is correct when she says : The design and skill are apparent to anyone with soul. Glad you had a good sale and as a hand knitter I for one am looking foreward to your post on the machine knitting. Cheers!!

  3. Glad you had a successful craft fair Ella, do fly the flag for machine knitting. It is a skill in or rather range of skills and just as demanding as hand knitting. You can probably tell I machine knit too and am very much looking forward to your next post on knitting the base suitable for a yoke. My machine is a very simple punchcard model but still going strong after more than 30 years – a real treasure.

  4. lizmusgrove

    I love them as well! Wish I could have just nipped up to shetland for the fair. Maybe next year…
    Perhaps a few photos on your stall, of you using your machine, would help people understand that the hooses are very much handmade, although not with the sticks and string method they might at first think of.

  5. Well done! Your stall looks great. Have you considered doing a video of you machine knitting a cushion to show those of us who’ve never been near a knitting machine what is involved?

  6. So many people hear the word machine and can’t get past the thought of a noisy factory. Using a knitting machine is an art in itself. Perhaps pictures in the booth would be helpful. They would be a conversation starter at the very least. Your work is beautiful!

  7. Your croft cushions are gorgeous. Your use of colour is fantastic. I wish I could visit the Shetlands and you!

  8. Hello Ella..love your little croft hoose cushions, and will buy one soon , so hard to choose..they are special and unique..I was one of those doubting people , not giving credit to machine knitting..have really done some thinking, as you and Kate wrote about her sweater , and you about yours and what has been done in the past in Shetland..you are doing something unique and special
    You must be tired out..would not let my friends lean on one of your cushions LOL, LOL…they are too special…cheers and best wishes pat

  9. I am, or at least was a machine knitter so I am fully aware of what is involved and just how much work it is. People don’t realize that while you are knitting lots of stitches with one pass of the carriage there is still a lot of moving stitches around by hand. The machine can’t do everything for you, plus it’s your hand that’s pushing the carriage back and forth. In my book that still counts as hand knitting.
    I haven’t used my machine for a while now and have been on the lookout for a project that would get me started again. That’s why I was so thrilled to read about Cockatoo Brae. I can’t wait for my copy of Kate’s new book, dust off my machine and get knitting.

  10. Your set up looks nice and the houses look so charming. I agree that knitting with a machine is quite a skill. I tip my hat to you!

  11. Jacqueline

    Ella, I bought one of your cushions yesterday. I just love the detail, when I got it home, I saw things I hadn’t noticed when I bought it. It’s beautiful. My son bought one of your dad’s prints, as well.

  12. Gaele atkinson

    Hi Ella

    I absolutely love your croft houses, I would love to buy a large and small croft house, please let me know how I can purchase them.

    Thanks alot
    Gaele

  13. I agree with the commentors who suggest adding a couple of photographs of the process to help your visitors understand a bit of the process. Bet it will help, and generate some pleasant conversations, too. (Disclaimer: I am a photographer, so I think photographs are a powerful tool in most circumstances!)
    That said, maybe some of the reaction you see is just a quick mental adjustment from “oooh, what lovely cushions, and maybe I could try to make something like this!” to “these are created by a process beyond my knowledge and abilities.”

  14. Your cushions are still handmade, even if knitted on a machine. Would those people’s faces drop at the thought of machine stitching? I think not.

  15. Beautiful stall, it is not easy to fill the space and certainly not as well as you did. Lovely, lovely cushions. Please do not worry about the machine knitting thing, they know not…. It is important to keep doing it and doing it your way is just fine. I learnt all my knitting this way, and it is just fine!!

  16. I love your cushions. And hope to come to Shetland wool week next year and will come with an empty suitcase of yarn and your cushions. if you gave a class on machine knitting I would come cause I can’t figure it out but would like to do it.

  17. I certainly wouldn’t have the skill it takes to make such beautiful creations with a knitting machine! Well done Ella!

  18. The cottages area a creation of beauty,

  19. Your cushions are amazing.

  20. thecrazysheeplady

    These are just darling and your booth looks wonderful!

  21. I’m so happy for you that the show went well! I love the look of your booth, and the garland with the name of your studio draped across the front. I think the look you saw on peoples’ faces when you explained the cushions are machine knit was them processing the information. It probably just took them a minute to move from hand knit to machine knit in their brains. And congrats on being a part of Kate’s new book!

  22. Your work is remarkable, a lovely design and a great sense of colour.
    Someday I will manage to visit Shetland and bring one house cushion to remind me of the time I’ll spend there!

  23. I had no idea how much work goes into these Ella…..you should be very very proud lassie!!

  24. What a lovely stall! So colourful!
    And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise, but your cushions are still hand made, wether that be with the help of a knitting machine or needles. They are only tools to get the job done!
    love, Ineke

  25. Machine knitting is still work. You could always have a mini photo album to show so. Your wares are wonderful and unique. Kudos to you and ho’omaka’i.

  26. Hi Ella! I so agree with you on machine knitting. I do both machine and hand knitting, and I can say for sure that these are two different kinds of crafts. Each of them is unique and requires a lot of skill and determination. I’ve also met some people who consider machine knitting as “cheating”. Some really think that if it’s machine knitting, it is machine that knits, not you. But for me it’s like saying that in hand knitting the needles knit, and not the knitter. Machine knitting is not easy to master, and your work is very intricate. So, just keep doing what you really love and truly enjoy! I really love your work. You’ve done a great job on Kate’s yoke.

  27. Pingback: 2014 round up | ella gordon

  28. So glad to have discovered your blog! My mother does quilting and uses a machine. It’s all free-hand; it’s all her own ideas (not set up by a computer or a pattern company or anything) but still, some people sniff that she didn’t do each of the thousands of little stitches by hand by the dim light of a candle.

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