Street Style Wales

Knitting, stitching, thrifting, crocheting


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Wonderwool Wales 2015: A review

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Wonderwool Wales, an annual wool and crafts festival held in the picturesque mid Wales countryside, is somewhere I’ve never been before, despite (shamefully) only living just over an hour away from it.

The festival is now in its tenth year. I finally got a chance to visit it last month and I wasn’t disappointed by the stalls and demos that I saw. Although there were plenty of wool stalls, different types of yarns and even some actual sheep and alpaca, it wasn’t all about the wool. There were also spinning demonstrations, fabric stalls, clothing, buttons and accessories, a ‘sheepwalk’ catwalk and lots of atmosphere, spread across three halls of the Royal Welsh showground.

A cardigan for Cardigan, knitted in celebration of the Welsh town's 900th birthday

A cardigan for Cardigan, knitted in celebration of the Welsh town’s 900th birthday

Members of the town came together to knit the five metre wide cardigan

Members of the town came together to knit the five metre wide cardigan

There was also ‘A cardigan for Cardigan’, a giant knitted cardigan made for Cardigan in west Wales by people from the town and organised by community artist Lisa Hellier, as well as Alison Murray‘s gingerbread house, a life-size knitted house complete with interior, exterior and even a garden.

Alison Murray's giant knitted gingerbread house

Alison Murray’s giant knitted gingerbread house

There were plenty of yarn related names that I recognised too, including BaaRamEwe, Toft and Coop Knits and some that I didn’t, including Jenny Barnett‘s needlefelted sculptures and The Lost Sheep Company, who had two live spinning demonstrations outside their stall. I love discovering new crafters and there was definitely enough at Wonderwool Wales to keep all ages entertained.

The festival itself was started in 2006 to promote the Welsh wool market and covers everything from the start of the creative process to the end. For more information and news on future events, visit their website.

I really enjoyed myself at Wonderwool Wales and I’d very much like to go again next year. There really was something for every kind of crafter there, not just the knitters!

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New craft magazine to launch

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A new magazine for crafters will launch at the end of this month, it has been announced.

Crafty magazine, a new publication from Knit Now makers, Practical Publishing, will be available to buy in shops from March 28th.

The magazine will celebrate all things craft-related by including features on upcycling, thrifting and customising clothes, as well as having craft news and creative projects for readers to fawn over.

More information on Crafty’s launch and a sneak peek of the magazine can be found here.


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Review of The Knitting Book

IMG_1307I received this book for Christmas and it has literally changed my life. I would describe it as a knitting bible for both beginners and experienced knitters as it teaches things from different stitches to embellishing your knitting. It even has a section dedicated purely to patterns, some of which are quite easy to do.

I don’t usually post reviews of craft books, as I tend to make up my own rules about crafting (I’m more of a visual learner rather than someone who learns from a book and thus I don’t follow patterns very easily), but even I can follow this book. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s up there with the only other craft book I own, Eithne Farry’s Yeah, I made it myself (aka the book that got me really interested in sewing in 2007).

The Knitting Book includes visual examples of knitting techniques

The Knitting Book includes visual examples of knitting techniques

The book, edited by Vikki Haffenden and Frederica Patmore, is divided into sections which range from ‘tools and materials’ to ‘techniques’. The crafter in me loved the visual gallery of different stitches, as this allowed me to decide on a stitch without having to knit it first to see what it looked like.

The book also includes patterns to follow once you have mastered knitting, such as this one above

The book also includes patterns to follow once you have mastered knitting, such as this one above

It includes many pictures to compare with your own knitting and explains the basic and more advanced techniques of knitting in an easy to understand way. I’ve already been recommending it to all my crafty friends and can’t wait to learn some new stitches.

The Knitting Book is available here for £16.00.


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New projects

Since moving home at the end of June, I’ve had a long list of things that I’m planning to make. This is what I do when I have no other plans. I form lists of things to make and store them in my head.

Right now I’m dreaming of summer dresses, elastic skirts, book bags and bunting. So I thought I’d change this blog’s direction a bit. Although I want it to keep its fashion and vintage elements, it’ll now focus on craft a bit more and making things yourself. Hopefully, I’ll be able to include some easy DIYs to get you, the readers, started on your crafty journeys.

Street Style Wales has always been a slightly crafty blog- remember this, this and this– though I didn’t intend it to be when I started it. But I suppose that’s what happens when a little part of you seeps into your blog and, to be honest, I like it this way. It feels more like me.

So, here’s to new beginnings and the first of many DIYs starting tomorrow- the easy to make book bag.


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Get crafting in the recession

Has the recession seen an increase in people taking up crafting?

The weather is cold outside, but a warm welcome awaits inside the Oxfam boutique in Cardiff, where a selection of knitting needles are lined up, on a glass table, awaiting eager knitters to pick them up.

The Oxfam Boutique, Cardiff, home of 'Stitch 'n Bitch'

This is the ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’ knitting event, held at the shop every Thursday night. It represents the growing number of people in the UK who make their own clothes.

With a sharp increase in crafting in the current economic climate, people are more likely than ever to pick up a new skill. The Oxfam Boutique is one of the many places to have opened in the last few years, offering crafting opportunities for people in the recession.

Becky Mann, manager of the shop, says that attendance at the event fluctuates quite a lot. She says that ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’, which has been running for the past two years, has had as many as 20 people turn up.

‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’ was originally set up by Debbie Stoller in New York, but the phrase has been used for knitting groups since World War Two. The craze grew so popular that the rest of the world soon joined in.

Knitting needles and wool lined up for the eager crafters at 'Stitch 'n Bitch'

The events teach people the basics of knitting, sewing and crocheting, all good skills to have in the recession. The Oxfam Boutique ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’ is currently knitting mug cosies in the run-up to Christmas and they aim to teach people crafting in the hope that participants can feel they have accomplished something new.

Brooches, created at the 'Stitch 'n Bitch' event, are then sold to raise money for Oxfam

Becky says, “The participants take their newly-learnt skills home with them and we sell the items for the shop.”

On the other side of Cardiff is the Calon Yarns Craft Studios. Lynne Seymour, owner of the Canton-based studio, says they run a variety of courses, such as their dressmaking course, aimed at people who want to know the basics of sewing. It has proven to be so popular that Calon Yarns have had to add a second course.

The interior of Calon Yarns Craft Studios, in Canton, Cardiff

Lynne Seymour, owner of the Calon Yarns Craft Studios, in Canton, Cardiff

The age ranges vary from students to older people who have come back to the craft and even people who remember their parents having sewed.

Lynne agrees that the recession is the reason for people taking up crafting, but says that it isn’t necessarily cheaper to make your own clothes, as fabric can be expensive. Instead, she thinks, it’s more to do with reasons of sustainability.

She says, “I think people are interested in where their clothes come from and being more economically sensible.”

Calling this the ‘Make do and Mend’ thought process, this relates back to the beliefs of the Second World War, when money was scarce and people were fixing things, rather than buying new. Lynne believes that people today have just the same values and those who attend the course are equally as interested in learning how to make things.
Lynne adds that people, in the recession, are also going to evening classes rather than going to the pub, spending money on crafting as they believe it is money better spent.

Balls of wool on show at the Calon Yarns Craft Studios, ready for the crafting workshops.

Lynne Seymour, owner of the Calon Yarns Craft Studios in Canton, Cardiff, talks about the dressmaking course they run:

Lynne talks about the people who attend the courses:

Eager sewer Rhyannan Hall, from Cardiff, agrees with Lynne’s view that making your own clothes isn’t the cheaper option, but she argues that it is better for the environment.

Rhyannan found that all the clothes she used to buy from the high street were badly or cheaply made. That made her want to make her own and her strong ethical values about where her clothes come from made her want to boycott the high street.

She says, “I don’t think clothes should be regarded as disposable commodities.”

Hanna Leimio, one of the crafters at the 'Stitch 'n Bitch' event, often makes her own clothes

Crafter Hanna Leimio, from Cardiff, also holds this belief. A weekly attendee at ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’, she is a sewing enthusiast and often makes and customises her own clothes. She does this, she says, because she doesn’t always want to buy new things, due to the throwaway culture of this and the contribution it causes to the wasteland.

She says, “Quite often I buy old clothes from flea markets and add something.”

What is clear though, at ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’, is the effort that crafters put into what they make. Hanna’s creations are well-made and sewing certainly gives both her and Rhyannan great satisfaction in a period when times are hard. This seems to reflect the thoughts of the country as a whole and it goes to show that crafting is more important than ever.

However, whatever the reasons for people coming back to sewing and crafting, they are picking up skills that are transferable and longstanding.

As a new batch of crafters are embarking on a crafting journey at ‘Stitch ‘n Bitch’, Hanna excitedly shows off her creations, adorning her wonderfully knitted mug cosy with ribbons and a button, in order to sell it for the shop, whilst helping the other crafters to cast off.

The locations of Oxfam Boutique and Calon Yarns Craft Studios:


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Crafty books: A good place to start

Having been to Stitch and Bitch for the past two weeks now, I am continuing to learn the new skill of knitting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much a beginner, but over Christmas, I hope that I am able to build my skills so that I am capable of making more than this:

Knitting has, however, reignited my love of crafting in general and one important part of street style fashion (i.e. creating your own style) is the concept of crafting as a whole.  Giving crafters the chance to create something so unique and the opportunity to then wear it and have it complimented upon is a wonderful way to boost someone’s confidence. There are so many crafty people out there, on lookbook and in fashion blogs, that the average person can’t help but feel left out. However, all crafters started somewhere and there are ways to give you that much needed starting point.

When I first became interested in machine sewing, this book helped me out a lot. I think I found it via an article in a newspaper and it sits at home lovingly on my shelf. I remember where I was when I bought it, that’s how big a part of my sewing it once was. Though it pains me to say (and it is still a good book), it’s probably just that slight bit dated now.

However, not to worry, because Eithne Farry has another book out. I checked it out (in Boots no less!) and it seems to contain plenty of new sewing inspiration. In fact, I’ll be going back to buy it in the next few days.

When I was on an adventure to Bath in September, I discovered this beauty. This is a book for a niche group of people. But it looks like a very interesting book, one I’d like to read.

For fabric fiends like me, Liberty has got to be one of my favourite shops for selling fabric. It’s just too bad that I can’t afford it. This book, however, is just a guilty pleasure!

And finally, once you develop a crafting addiction, then Mollie Makes magazine is going to be one you’ll love. Trust me! Three issues in and I already want a subscription for Christmas.