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Friday, 31 October 2014

DESIGNER PROFILE - Sue Stratford

You will probably best know the incredibly talented Sue Stratford for her knitted meerkats, dogs, puppies, cats and kittens! She often refers to herself, with a rueful smile, as 'the meerkat lady' - it is after all the book that first catapulted her to the heady heights of the Top Ten best selling craft books on Amazon, and earned her a loyal fan base eager to knit and collect her menagerie of cute creature characters.


Sue's talents don't end at conjuring up knitted animals though. She owns The Knitting Hut yarn shop (which does stock MillaMia!), has presented on Create and Craft TV and as well as writing her knitted characters books, has published a book of Mini Christmas Knits and a book of Merry Christmas Sweaters.


With the launch of a brand new FREE Sue Stratford Christmas Sweater pattern in conjunction with Deramores and to support Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 12th December for Save the Children AND knitted entirely in our lovely new Naturally Soft Aran yarn, we thought it was high time we asked Sue for an interview. Luckily for us, she agreed!


http://www.deramores.com/christmas-tree-dog-jumper-pattern
The FREE Christmas sweater pattern designed by Sue for Deramores


1) Can you introduce yourself, the shop and tell us a bit about how you came to start designing.
Well my name is Sue Stratford and I have owned and run The Knitting Hut since December 2005 when I started work on getting the shop ready to open. I have stocked unusual and interesting yarns over the years, always trying to find something a bit different whether expensive or at the cheaper end of the market. I started designing or 'making patterns up' as I called it to use up yarn which had not sold. This is where the Fluffy Mousies came from. Originally they were knitted in a boucle yarn which just had not sold, however once I made the mousies out of it, it flew off the shelves and I had to look for an alternative yarn. A good friend of mine gave me a little mousie knitted using angora yarn and that was it, I had found my new yarn!



 2) You are most well known for your knitted collectables – how did you find yourself designing a Christmas Sweater?
The idea for a Christmas Sweater book came about from a conversation I had with Caroline, one of the directors of Search Press. At first it was going to be a much smaller project which then took on a life of it's own and twelve sweaters later the book was born! I have been lucky enough to be involved with the Save The Children Christmas Jumper Day campaign for the last two years as a result of the book which is a fantastic charity and one I have been proud to support.

3) I am always interested in the design process – where did the idea for the sweater come from and how did you go about bringing your idea to life?
I love the idea of having something extra and the design for the Christmas Tree and Dog was one that I originally did for the book but didn't make it in. I had great fun making the dog and tree 'wrap' around the jumper, I think it is great with a novelty knit like this to have something to see on the back too. The Reindeer design which is in the book also wraps around, the Reindeers' bottoms are on the back of the sweater.

 
Deramores are also generously donating £2.50 from the sale of every copy of Merry Christmas Sweaters to Save The Children 

4) We loved that you chose to use the new MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran – what is it about MillaMia yarn that so attracts you?
I have always loved MillaMia yarn and I have used the Naturally Soft Merino sportweight in a number of my designs. I love the feel of the yarn and the stitch definition is lovely although I would be hard pressed to decide whether those are the things I love most or the colours! Putty Grey has to be my all time favourite colour and I used the Limited Edition Cobalt and Lime to make Danger Dog in my last book. I also used Petal for a pink French Poodle - of course! The addition of the Naturally Soft Aran range has just increased the possibilities of what I can do with the yarn and it was just perfect for this project! I used the lovely new Cherry Red for the main body of the sweater, Emerald for the tree, Latte for the sausage dog and Ochre for the garland and star.

http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=brights&id=37

http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=brights&id=36
MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran was perfect for the Christmas Sweater

5) What else have you got on the needles at the moment? Is there a new Sue Stratford book on the horizon?
At the moment I am trying to finish the next book which is 'More Mini Christmas Knits'. This is a result of people saying they have knitted everything from Mini Christmas Knits and want more! I am also working on a design I made in the summer for a yoked cardigan, initially knitted in a cotton but now also in wool which is nearly ready to be published. I have promised myself the reward of a new project for me when I've finished the book - the project is Unicorn Stripes by Antonia Shankland.



6) Lastly, where can we find the pattern?
Deramores and Search Press have been very generous in publishing the pattern for free in all four adult sizes which is great! The pattern can be downloaded direct from Deramores . . .  http://www.deramores.com/christmas-tree-dog-jumper-pattern

http://www.deramores.com/christmas-tree-dog-jumper-pattern
 
(posted by Max)

Friday, 24 October 2014

FREE PATTERN - It's a treat!

With a week to go, there is still plenty of time to knit up a few terrifyingly good Halloween treats for the kids (big and small!) And what better excuse to conjure up some dastardly decorations and creepy critters than a FREE-KY pattern??


At MillaMia Towers we've been busy concocting a bevy of ghoulish delights that will set a spine-tingling tone for any Halloween party. From cataclysmic candle holders to spooktacular spiders and bewitching bats there is a quick and easy knit to wickedly entice even the most frightful knitter!


Head(less) on over to www.millamia.com to download your free patterns or click on the portal pics and lunar links . . .


Those of you with eyes like a hovering hawk will notice that a couple of captivating new colours have crept into the pictures below . . . our Limited Edition colours for 2014 are levitating onto yarn shop shelves near you now! Choose trick or treat Teal or pick perfectly ripe Pumpkin and knit up a few terrific treasures this Halloween . . . mwaaaa-ha-HA!!!!!


Create a ghastly glow . . .

http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Cat Candle Holder&sort=&type=
 
Drive the kids batty . . .
 
http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Bat Toy&sort=&type=
 
Creepy crawly up on unsuspecting guests . . .
 
http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Spider Toy&sort=&type=

 
Have a monstrously good time - Happy Halloween!!!!!!
(posted by Max)

Friday, 17 October 2014

WOOL WEEK - Southwark Cathedral

Milly the Sheep had pride of place
We have long been supports of the Campaign For Wool - not surprisingly you might say, as wool is at the very core of our brand. Working and designing with wool on a daily basis is one of the great pleasures of being in the yarn industry - and we are conscious of the many wonderful properties that wool has, specifically for us in the handknitting arena.

It was such an enormous privilege therefore to be invited to exhibit at this years Campaign For Wool Installation at Southwark Cathedral. Milly the MillaMia Sheep was proud to be featured as one of only 2 handknitted items in the beautifully curated collection of just 50 pieces, the other a piece by Rowan so we counted ourselves in very good company!

Every one of the 50 pieces in the collection was created with enormous skill and imagination. From beautiful rugs, cushions and throws to tapestries and crochet all curated by Bridgette Kelly and Arabella McNie, there was truly an impressive array of woollen, artisan products.

 
And as if being included in such a highly regarded event wasn't enough, Helena and I were invited to the VIP evening to browse the stunning collection at our leisure. It was an entirely perfect setting - the soft wool in all its guises juxtaposed with the ancient stone walls of the cathedral brought its own magic and quiet beauty to the evening. We delighted, of course, in seeing our lovely Milly in pride of place at the very entrance, on the ipads and peering out from the first pages of the brochure, but we also thoroughly enjoyed seeing the variety of all the woollen objects - created with skill and an obvious love of the fibre.



The pictures don't at all do justice to this lovely evening. You can't hear the oohs and aahs as people wandered around touching, looking and delightedly smiling at our Milly. It's impossible to convey the atmosphere or the quiet awe we felt just being in the stunning surroundings of the cathedral but I hope you can see that we loved every moment.

 
 

 
(posted by Katarina)

Friday, 3 October 2014

MILLAMIA TEAM - Knitting Part 2

As soon as there is a tangible nip in the air, and the colours outside drift from lush greens into the golden hues of Autumn, I begin to feel a pressing need to cast on all manner of knits. A new wave of patterns and yarn herald the beginning of 'Knitting Season' and I am suddenly conscious that Christmas (sorry!) is just around the corner. So begins the exciting prospect of 'knitting all the things' as gifts for loved ones, and to cosset myself in the latest delectably warm and cosy knits.

Annette Scarf in Cinder

The arrival of our lovely new Aran in a myriad of tempting shades and 2 collections to choose from comes at an optimal time in my knitting calendar. I confess that I am a little sad there are no new babies or toddlers in my immediate life to make small, instantly gratifying knits for, BUT, only a little sad as it means that I can focus entirely on Finishing Touch. And I have a lengthy list of cool accessories that I am eager to knit from this particular collection.

My first choice is the fabulous Annette Scarf - an oversized accessory knitted with an amount of yarn that could easily make a substantial cardigan! Nothing shouts luxury for me like an accessory of this magnitude - warm and dramatic in Damson or Cherry Red in our Naturally Soft Aran for a bold statement against a neutral winter coat.

http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=brights&id=38 http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=brights&id=38
 
My second favourite is the Gullan Snood. This would definitely be a go-to accessory that is easy to wear while still looking stylish - I imagine pulling it on with a casual winter jacket to add an extra layer of warmth around my neck. I am stuck on choosing a colour for this one though! Unusually for me, I love it in the Marine Blue as shown in the book, but I'm tempted also by Slate, Cinder or Stone. Maybe there are multiple Gullan Snoods in my knitting future . . . !

Gullan Snood in Marine Blue
 
 


Naturally Soft Merino in Slate, Cinder and Stone
 
Our wonderful office manager Maja has been much less selfish than I, and is imagining knitting a special gift for a dear friend.

I would like to knit the Annette Scarf in Pink Glaze for my best friend, whose name shall remain private but whom I love to call "Koukla" which is Greek for "beautiful doll", the phrase we picked up while attending Greek language classes together many years ago and which suits her beautifully. Koukla has recently gone through a profound and unimaginable loss in her life, yet she has shown the most admirable dignity, strength and courage throughout the anguished and harrowing time. I would like Koukla to imagine me giving her a hug every time she wraps this beautiful scarf around her. I miss her so much.

http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=lights&id=31
The Annette Scarf is proving to be the most popular pattern from Finishing Touch and would look beautiful in Pink Glaze

The Elika Wristwarmers in Cinder and Emerald - I like that they are fun, happy and slightly quirky. I would like to knit them for myself and for anyone who wants a pair!

Elika Wristwarmers in Cinder and Emerald

(posted by Max - with help from Maja!)

Friday, 26 September 2014

MILLAMIA TEAM - Knitting the New Aran

Plenty of inspiration for a stylish winter wardrobe
As the sample knits for our new Naturally Soft Aran collections began to drift into the office, they were inevitably met with admiring oohs and aahs and a great deal of trying on! Well, at least we all tried on the accessories from Finishing Touch, and cooed appreciatively over Tiny Treasures imagining sweet babies and cute toddlers wrapped in our cosy new designs.

It is testament I think, to the love we all have for beautiful knitwear, simply but stylishly designed, that the arrival of these knits created such an excited buzz among the team. It's also testament to the truly awesome work that Helena and Tanya have put into these new designs. We ALL, without exception, began to think ahead to chillier days imagining several key pieces from Finishing Touch, gracing our winter wardrobes. And we began to make exciting plans for knitting these lovely items - if not all for ourselves, then for loved ones and new babies.

I am thrilled that the MillaMia team have all agreed to share their winter knitting plans here on the blog - so that you can find out a bit more about what they are all coveting, or generously planning to knit for their friends and families. First up is the Dream Design Team - Helena and Tanya:


Helena
Sorry but I am simply not able to limit myself to 2 . . . it's got to be 3 projects for me! I want to knit the Gullan Snood for my grandmother as that is her name and the item is dedicated to her! At 98 years old she is an inspiration to both Katarina and I. My Mormor (Swedish name for grandmother on your mothers side) once knitted me the best 80's jumper with a symmetric intarsia motif on the front - it was cream, peach, coral and beige - the height of fashion at the time . . . I would totally wear it now if I was hanging out in the eastend but don't think it would fit me anymore! Therefore it's only fair that I make her something in return. I am tempted to make the Gullan in Powder Blue as that's her favourite colour but I also think she looks so great in Marine Blue (as shot in the book) and then it would match a variety of coats.


http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Gullan Snood&sort=&type=
Gullan Snood in Marine Blue
 
Secondly I would like to make the Freja Colour Block Blanket for my friend Suzy's little girl, Rose Grace. She is a true English Rose with a beautiful doll like complexion and so I think Powder Blue and Ivory would be a stunning combination for her. It's also good neutral colours if it gets passed down or across to some other friends.


Freja Blanket in Cinder and Ivory
 
http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=lights&id=30http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=lights&id=29
 Powder Blue and Ivory Naturally Soft Aran

Finally for myself I think I will just have to have a Corrine Clutch or a Patrizia Pouch . . . maybe the pouch first which I can use to keep my receipts and keys and things in inside my bag. I can never find my keys or purse when I wear a big tote bag so this is now an urgent project! Luckily for me, Tanya has already started one of these and I'm hoping that it has my name on it! I was torn between Teal - it's got that jewel tone which I love, but in the end it had to be Magenta. I really like the vibrancy and punch of this colour and it's quite unlike any shade we have done up until now. For a nice bright surprise inside, I will line it with a strong contrast of Jade green cotton drill which I have left over from the photo shoot.

http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Patrizia Pouch&sort=&type=http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Patrizia Pouch&sort=&type=
 
http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=intense&id=33http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=intense&id=34
Teal and Magenta Naturally Soft Aran

Tanya
Hello! I am going to knit some Elika Wristwarmers for myself because I love the texture, and the simple colour change, I feel, makes it very current. I favour wrist warmers over mittens and gloves because my fingers get too hot and I can't use my phone! I think they're a very versatile item and I know I will get a lot of use out of them but I'm not sure what colours to knit them in. I think either Cinder with an Emerald Green tip or Marine Blue with a Magenta contrast. Or maybe both!
 
http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Elika Wristwarmershttp://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Elika Wristwarmers
 
(posted by Max - with a little help from my friends! Thanks Helena and Tanya)