All sorts of people get to be Freemen of the City. There are those like Jane, who are made Freemen because they’re being admitted into Guilds and then there are Honorary Freeman who have the Freedom conferred upon them because they have done something special, or are someone special. These Freemen sign a different register to the other Freemen. It was out on the table in the courtroom and you could leaf through it. And take pictures! I didn’t get a lot of time to take pics, so these are fairly recent Freedoms:


So there we have Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill. It was explained why Chamberlain didn’t sign the register, but for the life of me I can’t remember why now. I was AMAZED that you’re allowed to just leaf through this book.


Montgomery and Mountbatten signing there – after and before their war efforts.


HRH HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother got her own double page spread – no sharing going on there.


Unlike her daughter, who shared a page with a chap called Philip… Then Desmond Tutu got his own page (and slightly posher writing, too).


And now for the earworm – George and the original supers, including Linda, always my favourite:

(sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Posted: April 16th, 2014
Categories: London Life
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I was very lucky last week to go to one of the oldest ceremonies in the world – the granting of the Freedom of the City of London to a great pal (and old boss), Jane Gottelier. Jane, along with husband Patrick, ran Artwork – the iconic hand-knit company from the late 70s, early 80s through to the mid 90s when they gave up selling fashion knitwear and set up a fashion and knitwear design degree course down in lovely, sunny Falmouth.

Here is Jane with the Declaration of a Freeman:


Basically (and you can read more here), you have / had to be a freeman in order to join one of the London Guilds, and you had to be a Guild member in order to trade within the Square Mile, the City of London (as opposed to the City of Westminster, which most of London is. Are you following that?) The City is the really ancient bit of London, settled by the Romans 2000 years ago but a settlement before that and now one of the world centres of banking and commerce. (The first time I typed that it came out as ‘baking and commerce’, and although there is a Worshipful Company of Bakers I doubt that they are a huge player in the commerce stakes these days.) If you were a member of a Guild your work had to be a certain standard, so the great and the good could be sure that if they employed you for anything they got a good job done.

Jane was there to become a Freeman so that she could then be admitted into the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters for services to the knitwear industry, as you have to be a Freeman before you can be admitted to a Guild. And yes, EVERYONE is a Freeman. They used to have Freewomen but really, it sounds clumsy, no? Well I think so.

There are many myths and legends about Freemen, one of which is that you have the right to drive sheep over London Bridge whenever you like. This used to be vaguely true, as in you could drive your sheep over the bridge and not pay a toll for doing so, thereby increasing your profits when you sold them at Smithfield market but what with the traffic and all these days it is frowned upon by the police and authorities and so there are few opportunities these days and only in very organised circumstances, generally with a charitable cause. Still, it being the most famous attribute of a Freeman, they have a sheep around for you to be photographed with:


I was amazed, actually, at how wonderful and friendly it all was and how nobody batted an eyelid at excited fashiony types taking photos and being over-excited. The only bit you can’t take photos of is the actual swearing-in. The courtroom it happens in is used for all the Freeman swearing-in ceremonies and as such has examples of each Guild’s work, but more on that later. First, Jane after being sworn in with Ernie the Beadle and the chap who did the swearing in (I am very sad to say here that I have completely forgotten his name). Ernie the Beadle is in the top hat, and you can read all about what being a Beadle means here. He was lovely.

Here’s Jane with husband Patrick and sons Will and Tom:


And here’s Jane again with some important people involved in Artwork over the years:


There we have Lucille Lewin, Patrick, Mrs. Yates, Jane, me (!), Rick Lewin and Mrs. Yates’ daughter, Kim. Some of us are wearing Artwork sweaters… Rick and Lucille were Artwork’s very first customers buying up an entire collection for their shop, Whistles. Mrs. Yates, the legendary Mrs. Yates (always introduced by Patrick as Mrs. Yates for respect reasons, even 20-odd years on I find it hard to call her Audrey) was the receptionist, sample knitter, confidante and judge of character. If prospective employees weren’t pleasant to her whilst they were waiting ‘in reception’ (the warehouse) or made her feel funny then quite frequently they didn’t get the job. In olden times she would no doubt have been condemned as a witch, as she ‘knows’ things about people. She is amazing, and one of the very best knitters EVER. Then there’s me, I just turned up one day, passed the Mrs. Yates test by smiling and have been around doing various jobs ever since. Then we have Kim, there as her Mum’s date for the day and modelling one of the fabulous beaded jackets Artwork used to produce.

We were very excited. There are loads more pics of things around the courtroom that we got a bit silly about, and here is me (probably totally illegally, I’m sure you’re not supposed to do this but who could refuse?) with the exhibit from the Worshipful Company of Bowyers:


Well, what else is girl from Nottingham supposed to do? More pics tomorrow…

Posted: April 15th, 2014
Categories: knitting, London Life
Comments: 2 Comments.

Monday Mood – Yokes…

As it’s Easter time we are having a yoke series – sorry that is a really tenuous link (really bad joke says Belinda) but heyho! It follows on nicely from the Friday Favourite we featured last week. So our next few boards have an Alpine Swiss kind of feel and feature some great sweaters too. I have been collecting these images for weeks and this is the look that’s emerged when I pulled the pics out of my file…

Switzerland 1

The key knit image is the pic on the right which is such a lovely image from Celine. We have added some very old Swiss stamps and a strange illustration I found in an old magazine of mine of a collage and model Alpine landscape. I resisted the urge to feature Swiss Choc Easter eggs!!! (No idea why after the joke up top, says Belinda.)

Two more Yoke boards to follow.

Posted: April 14th, 2014
Categories: moods
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Friday Favourite 8

Thought we should go for a bit of colour and pattern this week as we have been on the sombre side over the last couple of weeks… now we think this is by the American designers Prozena Schouler, but we are happy for someone to correct us on that one as we are not 100% sure. Anyway it’s a lovely sweater that we wanted to feature, a really interesting modern interpretation of a Scandi Yoke Sweater. Not radically different from an original, it’s just that the pattern has been made more graphic than usual and colour combination is modern and unexpected. It’s also a great boxy shape which updates the whole piece… nice.

Prozena Schoular Yoke

Posted: April 11th, 2014
Categories: Uncategorized
Comments: 3 Comments.

Monday Mood – Super Chunky 3

This is the last board for the moment in our Super Chunky Series although we may revisit the theme another time. It features another swatch in the fabulous Rowan Big Wool – this is a simple fabric in Woven Stitch, these simple textures work so well in Super Chunky yarn, the stitches really stand out. We have featured one of our previous Friday Favourite sweaters on this week’s board … the charcoal aran sweater by Derek Lam (couldn’t resist another showing!) along with a great oversized women’s cardi and a superb giant textured check man’s sweater. (I bet it’s as soft as butter – another cashmere blend?.. Maybe with a touch of nylon to keep in shape.)

And the jug ?… I just like the photograph and thought it sat well with the other images on the page!!

Super Chunky 3

Posted: April 7th, 2014
Categories: knitting, moods, yarn
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Knitter’s Notebook…

We like paper and pencils and notebooks and such stuff, you may have noticed. Belinda in particular has quite a collection of notebooks, although there’s nothing like adding to that. So we did.


Our notebook has a nice, sturdy brown card cover with shiny red foil knitting needles on it. Inside it has lovely 100gms pages (that’s a bit heavier than in a lot of notebooks) – the left hand page of each spread is plain and the right hand page of each spread is printed with a 4:3 ratio grid, making it ideal for charting out colourwork designs or cable / lace charts. Some of the pages at the back of the book are perforated (like Moleskines) so that you can rip them out easily should you need to.

As you can see, on the inside front cover there’s also a crib sheet of increases, decreases and the odd classic cable symbol.


The paper is nice and white so that if you’re using coloured pencils when doodling for a chart the colours show true (even cream paper can make your colours look a bit odd sometimes).

There’s a 0 – 20cm ruler printed on the inside back cover, too. Which might give you a clue as to the size – A5 – not too big to bulk out your project bag, not too small to make doodles too small to see later.


Obviously, you don’t need to be knitting or designing to use one, they make perfect sketchbooks. You can pop over here if you’d like to buy one. Or two, or even just find out a few more details. And why wouldn’t you?

Posted: April 1st, 2014
Categories: accessories, designs, ephemera, knitting, sketchbooks
Comments: 2 Comments.

Monday Mood – Super Chunky 2

This week is the second in the Super Chunky Monday Mood series and we couldn’t really not mention Rowan’s Big Wool – the mother of all chunky yarn. I love it, it comes in great colours, knits up in a flash and is as light as a feather. I have knitted it for this weeks board in a Corded Rib, Box Stitch, Garter Stitch and Stocking Stitch combination. It does work in simple textures beautifully.

The picture featured I have had for years and is one of my favourite photographs of a great piece of knit. It was designed by Betty Jackson for Debenhams, believe it or not. She is great at designing knit using simple but unusual shapes and this jacket is no exception. I love the way it’s styled in a slightly 1920s way with the long gloves and (as you know) we love a bit of sparkle. We have added a swatch of fabric that we have used on the yoke of our Highland Bling, the gun metal sequins are knitted in using a dark grey kid silk haze with double knit, if you know the Bling we combined it with a contrast colour Aran body (fabulous!) – see here.

Super Chunky 2

Posted: March 31st, 2014
Categories: moods, sequins
Comments: No Comments.

Friday Favourite 8

This is another plain stitch sweater – I promise pattern and colour next week! – but I love this sweater. I think a mohair version would be great and mad! You are probably all thinking ‘not another large dark sweater!’.

This is by Philip Lim (an amazing of-the-moment American designer) but I am not sure of the season. Yet again it’s the shape that is so fab and add the oversized frill into the mix and there is a piece with the real ‘wow’ factor.


Without seeing it in real life I couldn’t say how it’s been constructed, if the frill is inserted into a seam or applied on afterwards but I bet it feels gorgeous. I imagine there is a bit of partial knitting going on to get volume in the frill… I want one!

(Belinda thinks the frill is applied afterwards and does indeed have short rows to make the fullness.)

Posted: March 28th, 2014
Categories: Friday Favourite
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Sketches on a Wednesday…

As promised on Monday, here are a few very rough pencil sketches of ideas for chunky styles.

These are both taken from one of my sketchbooks where I jot down very quick ideas -these are shape ideas more than anything and are only about 8cm high in real life and take seconds to do. I keep my black sketchbooks going on a permanent basis, both to give me ideas and record information and thoughts… I love doing them but more than anything they are really useful when I come to design.

Chunky sketches

These are a bit more detailed but still very quick, a few minutes rather than seconds, this is a whole A4 sketchbook page.

Chunky sketches2.jpeg

We don’t use all these designs but may develop one or two out of 50 or so, then I will sketch in more detail and add colour. It’s all about the edit.

Posted: March 26th, 2014
Categories: designs, general wittering, knitting, sketchbooks, sketchbooks, yarn
Comments: 2 Comments.

The Highland Bling…

It’s taken a while to get this one written up and ready, but finally we’re here. The Highland Bling:


Cable-y. Sparkly. Glam, but wearable for everyday. We know this because Belinda has one and has worn it lots – if you came to Unravel you would have seen her in it.

Another punny name. But then it is a bit blingy. We get the sequins from Josy Rose – they have 66 or 67 colours to choose from depending on whether you want ‘cup’ sequins or flat sequins. We’ve used the cup sequins, but this does mean you have to be a bit more careful when you’re threading them onto the yarn.


So, details, details. The main yarn used (once again) is John Arbon’s Knit By Numbers. The sequins are threaded onto a similarly coloured Kidsilk Haze as the yarn you’ve chosen for your yoke, then the two yarns are held together. This just means that it’s a lot easier to thread the sequins on. The sequins are knitted into the stitches so that they lie flat, fish-scale-esq as opposed to sticking out (which they do if you just put the sequin in front of a slipped stitch as you can with beads). This is far easier to do than to explain, trust us on this. But if we get another nice day or so in the not-too-distant-future with good light we might make a video showing you how. The merino and the KSH make for a very warm jumper, so you don’t want this too fitted. Plus it just looks better worn slightly bigger – you’re aiming for slightly-slouchy, relaxed ‘oh I just threw this old thing on’ glamour here, not ‘it fits like a second skin’. We might have mentioned this before but many, many jumpers and cardigans are a lot more flattering if they skim your body or are slightly oversized rather than having the oh-so-fashionable-at-the-moment ‘negative ease’.

As ever, we have our favourite blackberry / bramble / trinity stitch, a very easy cable repeat and a little twisted 1-over-1 cable. No ‘complicated’ stitches at all. The crosses are a crocheted chain that you sew in afterwards. They just provide a nice bit of a break between the cables and the sequins. You don’t have to worry about where to put them as there a purl stitch bumps knitted into that section to show you where to sew. Here’s Belinda’s Bling:


A darker, stormier affair. Dark grey body, black yoke with black KSH and deep, very shiny, inky-navy-blue sequins. Looks fab with jeans. Looks fab dressed up over a black skirt or with black trousers and shiny patent brogues. Frankly, just looks fab.


All details and the pattern here on Ravelry. Soon to be available on TBk, but Belinda needs to stop writing a couple of exciting patterns and code the pages for it before that can happen…

Posted: March 25th, 2014
Categories: designs, general wittering, knitting, sequins, yarn
Comments: 6 Comments.