Studio Inspiration Wall

Previously, I’ve talked about how the Inner Hebridean islands of Scotland, particularly Iona, have inspired me.

This time I though I would show you some of my studio wall, which is covered in things that inspire me, pieces I like, some past work that I’m really proud of, and generally a lot of blue! It’s not a mood board- I don’t change the inspiration on my wall for every new piece. These are pieces that just help create a workspace that I love to be in.

A mix of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Bakst, and my own work and photos from trips abroad.

A mix of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Bakst, and my own work and photos from trips abroad.

Artists Inspire

The largest image is a painting by Van Gogh. Not only is it in a really lovely shade of blue, it has blossom in it, and I love being reminded of Spring.

Below the Van Gogh, you can see some Monet. I have always loved impressionist paintings, and I’ve been to see Monet’s Water Lilies at Musée de L’Orangerie in Paris a couple of times- they’re incredible! They also have a lot of blues in them!

Monet, and colour!

Monet, and colour!

To the left of the Monets, and under the Van Gogh, are some photos I took in Takijistan. I was visiting Dushanbe for work, and these beautiful buildings were in the botanic gardens there. I’ve always loved the Islamic art style, and the scale of the decoration between those pillars was really inspiring. I see it as large lace.

On the far right, at the top you can just see a bit of a photo of a scarf I programmed on a digital knitting machine in my third year of university. It took me the whole term to get it to work, so I’m particularly proud of it! Underneath that is a bit of Degas- one of his ballerinas. I love dance, and one of my first jobs was making costumes and being wardrobe mistress for a dance company when I was still at school. It was so much fun, and I like the idea of capturing movement. Degas captures the fabric transparencies particularly well I think. Below that is a tiny faded Flower Fairy picture by Cicely Mary Barker. I love all her flower fairies, and this one of the gorse fairies is particularly sweet. It is said that no matter what the season, there is a bit of gorse flowering somewhere, so I always look out for flashes of yellow!

To the right of the Van Gogh, at the top and bottom, are two crochet pieces I did as part of a project a few years ago. They were huge, and in yarns that I wouldn’t normally use, and I still really like them!

Then moving left at the bottom is another slightly faded picture by Leon Bakst. Leon Bakst was a Russian painter who turned his skill to theatre and costume design, particularly famed for his costumes for the Diaghilev Ballet Russes. He clearly loved pattern and colour, and I find his illustrations very inspiring, and for a while I wanted to design costumes too.

Above Bakst is a postcard that I found and liked- there are quite a few of these! These postcards have something I like about them- the colours, patterns, architecture, and I often find them when I’m at museums.

Cezanne and Jenny Martin

Cezanne and Jenny Martin

A mix of blues and patterns I love, Previous work, and shetland lace.

A mix of blues and patterns I love, Previous work, and shetland lace.

People who Inspire

There is also a postcard of a print by Jenny Martin, who was my tutor at Leith School of Art. The colours have changed over the years, but she has a great sense of colour and pattern, and having a little bit of her work on my wall, reminds me of some of her advice when I was a student, and helps keep me inspired. Beside This print to the left is a Cezanne- initially I didn’t like Cezanne much, but after spending time really looking and learning about his work, I now really appreciate it, and rather enjoy the angular lines.

Design inspiration images.jpg

This last photo at the bottom right is one of my favourites, from a trip to Nepal when I worked for People Tree. These fantastic women are all amazing knitters, and it was such fun working with them. They had their tea breaks on the roof of the building, sitting on bits of hand tufted carpet- tester squares for the carpet making part of the fair trade business they were part of.

All these images make up the wall of colour in the studio. It makes it a much more cheerful place to create!

Buy Handmade and Support Independent Businesses this Winter

It’s getting to that time of year, where makers are thinking about Christmas (and working long hours in preparation)! So here are some reasons why you should buy handmade and support small independent businesses this season:

Each piece is made with love and the utmost care.

Each piece is made with love and the utmost care.

1: Made with love.

Buying one of our handmade scarves or hats means you know that it has been made with care, love and attention to detail. Running a handmade business is not easy, and those of us who do, do it because we are passionate about our craft. That passion is put into every single stitch, every pom-pom, and makes each piece a little bit unique. When you buy a hand made scarf, you have a direct connection with the designer/maker and the care put into it.

Each order is carefully wrapped up.

Each order is carefully wrapped up.

2. Limited and unique.

All handmade items are limited edition. Even if a design is repeated, even made regularly, there will never be hundreds or thousands of them out there.  One day the maker will stop, or change design, retire etc, so they are limited to the span of our careers. Our Jura, Islay, Oronsay, Mull and Yarrow scarves are all now limited edition (even though you will not find them in that section of the website) as some of the colours of yarn are no longer available.  I’ll continue to make them until I run out, so be quick if you’ve had your eye on any of them!

Yarrow Scarf- available while colours last.

Yarrow Scarf- available while colours last.

Jura Blanket Scarf- available while colours last.

Jura Blanket Scarf- available while colours last.

Mull Scarf- Much as I love it, this is also only available while colours last.

Mull Scarf- Much as I love it, this is also only available while colours last.

3. You’re supporting actual people and Local businesses.

When you buy from a small business, you are supporting real people. Each purchase makes a difference. Our profits don’t go to shareholders, they support us and help us to pay rent, buy food, and live (and most importantly to buy more materials to keep making)! That little saying “when you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance”? That’s true!

Handmade businesses can be based anywhere these days, thanks to the joys of online selling. This means that by shopping with us, we can then support our local area.  If you can shop independent and local where you can, you’ll keep a wider and more interesting variety of small businesses going. To find out more, do support Just A Card campaign. Every purchase, however small, really does make a difference!

The face behind the knitwear (with the best knitting machine ever!)

The face behind the knitwear (with the best knitting machine ever!)

4. You know exactly who made it.

When you buy something handmade, you know exactly who made it, where it has come from, and probably how it was made. You may well have met the maker. For me, from the designer/maker side, there is nothing nicer than having that direct contact with my customers, whether in person at events, or via email and social media. We have direct contact via social media and newsletters too, and I’m able to show where I work, and how each piece is made. You’ll also find the name of the maker on the label.

If you’d like t see how some of our pieces are made, check out our blogs about making jumpers, hats, and blanket scarves.

5. Handmade can be more sustainable than mass produced.

Handmade items don’t use so much machinery, using less power.

Materials are carefully sourced ( in our case, the lambswool is from a renowned Scottish Mill, and the silk is spun in Italy) , and each piece is carefully made. If you look after your woollen knitwear pieces well, they will last you for years, and you will hopefully want to keep it longer because you know it’s handmade, and know who made it.

Our super fine lambswool and silk yarns, on cones ready for knitting.

Our super fine lambswool and silk yarns, on cones ready for knitting.

6. Avoid unpleasant shopping experiences.

Collingwood-Norris knitwear isn’t stocked in many shops, so you won’t have to navigate crowds on your high street to get it. Why not come to one of the events I’ll be at this year, have a chat and try things on, without the same stressful shopping experience? You’ll also get to meet a range of other designer-makers and see their beautiful work and chat to them too. Or if you’d like to avoid people all together, you can shop online!

GLOW at Dovecot Studios on December the 8th in Edinburgh.

GLOW at Dovecot Studios on December the 8th in Edinburgh.

ACCESSORY at Coburg House, Edinburgh.

ACCESSORY at Coburg House, Edinburgh.

 

 

A Small Business Milestone

This year I reached the exciting stage of not being able to do all the knitting and making at Collingwood-Norris myself. As you hopefully know by now, each piece is knitted individually here in the Galashiels studio, and then hand finished, so they’re all labour intensive. It’s a small business that requires a lot of making work, as well as all the admin side of things to keep it going. It’s difficult as a one-woman enterprise to give every aspect of the business the time it needs. It was quite hard for me to admit I needed help, because I’ve become very used to doing everything, and doing it exactly how I want it!

 
Meet Cara, the new studio assistant/ knitter here at Collingwood-Norris!

Meet Cara, the new studio assistant/ knitter here at Collingwood-Norris!

 

Introducing Cara- who now makes your clothes too!

So, in August, Cara started coming to work for me part time. Cara is a 4th year student at Herriot Watt University studying textiles and specialising in knitwear, as I did. She’s coming to the studio half a day a week to help me, fitting me in around her uni work. For now, she’s knitting when she’s here: making the river hats and scarves. This means we can both be knitting at the same time, using both my machines, which is great!

 
Cara busy knitting an Ettrick hat.

Cara busy knitting an Ettrick hat.

 

Transparency in Manufacturing

Transparency is really important to me, so I like to be able to share who makes your clothes, where they’re made and how. I still do the sewing up, washing and pressing, but you’ll find some “Made by Cara” labels on hats and scarves now, which is we think is pretty exciting! Being able to put Cara’s name onto the products she knits keeps it personal and transparent.

Cara is really interested in colour, and her own work is colourful and playful, so she’s a good fit here at Collingwood-Norris.

If you’re coming to St Abbs Wool Fair on the 3rd of November, or 3D/2D Art and Design Fair on 8th December in Edinburgh, you’ll meet Cara, as she’ll be helping out!

On of the  Ettrick Hats  that you may find Cara’s name on!

On of the Ettrick Hats that you may find Cara’s name on!

Washing your Lambswool Knitwear

Here are some more in depth tips for washing your lambswool knitwear.

I generally recommend that you hand wash your woollen scarves, hats or jumpers, rather than machine wash. However, it is possible to machine wash your woollens too, so I’ll make sure to give you tips for both here!

General Tips for Washing Wool

Wash sparingly. I know I’ve said it before- unless it’s actually dirty, give you wool a good airing, and avoid washing it unnecessarily! It’s one of the great benefits of wool!

To hand wash or machine wash your lambswool knitwear, use a delicate detergent suitable for wool. There are a variety of makes out there, in a range of prices, but I think anything that’s suitable for delicates (silk and wool) is fine.

If washing a wool jumper, put it inside out. This way any pilling that may happen should happen on the inside of the garment as it rubs with other items in the wash.

How yo hand wash and machine wash your lambswool knitwear.jpg

Hand washing your lambswool knitwear

  • Use lukewarm water with the detergent.

  • Very gently move the item in the water- do not rub or agitate. Over agitation and rubbing can cause the wool to felt and pill, so be gently with it.

  • Rinse it a couple of times. Try to keep all rinses the same temperature, as changing it may shock the wool and cause it to felt and shrink.

  • Once it is rinsed, very gently squeeze out the excess water. Do not wring. Place flat on a towel, in the right shape, and roll it up like a swiss roll. This will help get rid of excess water.

  • Unroll it and place on a dry towel and leave to dry flat, away from direct heat.

Machine washing wool

I have to admit that I wash all my knitwear in a machine. I was very hesitant at first, but I trust it. If you’re not sure about your machine and how your knitwear will come out, I suggest you try it with something that is not your favourite jumper, or stick to hand washing!

  • Choose the woollens cycle. This bit is very important- it is not the same as the delicate cycle, so do not treat them as interchangeable!

  • 30 degrees is fine for wool.

  • Turn the rpm down. I adjust the rpm on my machine to 900 for wool. It could probably be a bit higher, but I don’t like to risk it. It basically means I’m agitating the knitwear less.

  • Dry it flat, away from direct heat. Do NOT tumble dry!

General tips for when your knitwear is dry

Once your woollens are dry, press with an iron (only if need be- you might not need to) on a low heat suitable for wool, with the steam on. Steam and only gently press down with the iron.

When you’re knitwear is dried and pressed, this is a great time to pick off any pills. You can pick them off with your hands. It is perfectly normal for lambswool to pill slightly.

When storing, fold your knitwear, as hanging it up may result in stretching.

Make sure your knitwear is clean before you put it away, to help avoid moths and if storing for a while, keep in a sealable bag.

If you do get any small holes in your knitwear, why not try some visibly mending them!

 

5 Ways to Tie a Scarf

Varying the Ways of Wearing a Scarf

I sometimes get asked about ways to wear a scarf- generally I think people have one way that they wear theirs, and sometimes want to try something different.

Changing how your scarf is tied can change a look quite a lot, especially with Collingwood-Norris Island scarves- you can alter where the blocks of colour end up, which can change which colour is next to the face, or which colours are seen more.

A Simple Way to Tie a Lambswool Scarf

Simplicity is always good- this method involves looping the scarf around the neck once, and then tucking the end you have wound round over the top and through the loop. It keeps both ends of the scarf in place a bit more than if you just loop the scarf round and leave it.

This works particularly well with our thicker River scarves, and blanket scarves. 

Step 1: Loop the scarf around once.

Step 1: Loop the scarf around once.

Step 2: Tuck one end of the the scarf over and through the loop.

Step 2: Tuck one end of the the scarf over and through the loop.

Done! This is the  Eden Scarf.

Done! This is the Eden Scarf.

How to Wear a Wool Scarf with a Twist

A Variation of the first method, this is a lovely way to make your scarf look a bit different without much effort. Just tuck both ends into the loop from the top. It's also a nice way to show off glimpses of the different colours in the scarf. 

Step 1: Get the scarf ready!

Step 1: Get the scarf ready!

Step 2: Loop the scarf round.

Step 2: Loop the scarf round.

Step 3: Tuck the first end through the loop.

Step 3: Tuck the first end through the loop.

Step 4: Tuck the second end through the loop.

Step 4: Tuck the second end through the loop.

Show Off the Colours of Your Lambswool Scarf

This way of tying a scarf really shows off all the colours. I call it “The Weavey One” because the end result is a woven look.

Double up the scarf and fold it round the neck- pull one end of the scarf through the middle of the loop from top to bottom, and then pull the other end through from bottom to top. Adjust the tightness to suit- it will look better if it’s not too tight and the scarf can hang a little bit.

Step 1: Double the scarf and fold it round.

Step 1: Double the scarf and fold it round.

Step 3: Pull the other end of the scarf through the loop the other way. Weave it!

Step 3: Pull the other end of the scarf through the loop the other way. Weave it!

Step 2: Pull one end of the scarf through the middle of the loop.

Step 2: Pull one end of the scarf through the middle of the loop.

The finished look is woven blocks of colour. This is the Tiree Scarf.

The finished look is woven blocks of colour. This is the Tiree Scarf.

A Woven Knot- a Neat Way to Tie Your Scarf

I’ve started to really like this way to tie scarves- it can look really different depending on the scarf- it actually works really well with our Eden and Yarrow scarves, as the plain and patterned areas mix, although it also works well with the colour block scarves as shown here.  This knot keeps the scarf ends in place, so they won’t flap about when you walk.

  1. Loop the scarf once around the neck, leaving a big loop at the front.

  2. Twist the loop and then

  3. Feed both ends of the scarf through the new loop from the top. I don’t like both the end of my scarves to be the same length, so I always make sure that they hang at different heights!

You can vary this knot by feeding one end of the scarf through the loop from the top, and one from the bottom- a bit like “the weavy one” this will create more of a woven look, but it will mean the ends of the scar don’t like quite as flat.

Step 1: Get your scarf!!

Step 1: Get your scarf!!

Step 2: Loop the scarf round loosely.

Step 2: Loop the scarf round loosely.

Step 3: Twist the loop at the front.

Step 3: Twist the loop at the front.

Step 4: Feed both ends through the new loop.

Step 4: Feed both ends through the new loop.

The finished look. Try varying the lengths of the ends, and the tightness for different effects. This is the  Erraid Scarf.

The finished look. Try varying the lengths of the ends, and the tightness for different effects. This is the Erraid Scarf.

The Knot- Another Simple Way to Tie a Scarf!

Very easy, but it can look great. Loop the scarf around once keeping it close to the neck, making sure you leave one end much longer then the other. Using the long end, pass it over the short end, under and up, then over.

Step 1: loop the scarf around once, keeping it close to the neck.

Step 1: loop the scarf around once, keeping it close to the neck.

Pass the long end over, under and up, and over again.

Pass the long end over, under and up, and over again.

The finished knot. Super cosy!

The finished knot. Super cosy!

The finished knot with the  Erraid Scarf  lambswool scarf- still cosy, but more elegant.

The finished knot with the Erraid Scarf lambswool scarf- still cosy, but more elegant.

I hope you have fun wearing your scarves- I'd love to see how you wear them! 

All photographs by Julien Borghino. 

Three New Lambswool Scarves

Introducing Three New Lambswool Scarves

This season we’re introducing some new scarves to our existing range. To start with, let me introduce these three:

Esk Scarf

Talla Scarf

Tweed Scarf

All of them are made with the usual super soft, quality lambswool that we prefer to use. It’s spun and dyed in Scotland using GOTS approved dyes, and then each scarf is individually knitted in the studio, and hand finished to ensure the best quality and softness. The scarves are all 30x 192cm approximately, with a jacquard pattern all over them and they're luxuriously soft. 

The new Talla scarf is in a bold bright blue and light grey- great for making more of a statement, and brightening up your outfit on grey days. Again, it is suitable for men and women, and the length allows for some good scarf draping and tying!

Tweed Scarf

Tweed Scarf

The new Tweed Scarf is knitted in two shades of grey- so it’s easy to wear and goes with everything. The perfect unisex scarf, it can be smart or casual, and is really soft and cosy. There is also a new matching hat to go with it if you like to match your accessories.

Tweed Scarf

Tweed Scarf

The Esk Scarf, is a new version of the Ettrick Scarf, still a favourite. The Esk Scarf is a great unisex style, with three shades of blue that are easy to wear and will go with most coats!

Esk Scarf

Esk Scarf

All these scarves are named after rivers in the Scottish Borders, rivers I spend time walking beside, or have grown up near. Their names are part of my daily life, particularly the Tweed, which Stitch and I often walk beside and flows past Galashiels, and joins up all the towns I have personal connections with in the Borders.

Esk Scarf

Esk Scarf

As Collingwood-Norris grows, it’s difficult for me to make everything myself. So I’m excited to now have a bit of help from Cara, a textile student at Heriot Watt here is Galashiels, who is helping me around her studies. You can now look out for labels with “made by Cara” on them, as she will be knitting some of these new scarves. Cara is specialising in knitwear at university, and has a strong interest in colour, so she’s a great fit here.

How our Blanket Scarves are Made

Why you should want to know how your clothes are made

I love knowing how things are made. It makes me appreciate the piece I’m wearing even more when I understand how much work goes into it. I think an understanding of how our clothes are made can make us more likely to keep them for longer, and reduce the amount of clothing that ends up in landfill. So I thought I’d share the making processes of our Blanket Scarves, because you might be surprised to know that there are at least 8 processes, and this is just for a blanket scarf:

  • Knitting

  • Linking

  • Sewing

  • Checking

  • Washing

  • Pressing

  • More checking

  • Labelling

Knitting a blanket scarf. This process takes hours of concentration.

Knitting a blanket scarf. This process takes hours of concentration.

And this doesn't include the design process! 

The Best Quality Materials

Each scarf is made with a very fine, high quality lambswool. The fine yarn makes a very lightweight knit, but it’s still incredibly warm. All the lambswool we use is spun and dyed in Scotland.

Craftsmanship

Once I have chosen the colours I want to work with, the first thing is to knit the blanket scarf. As the scarves are so wide (I like having generous proportions!) I can only knit one at a time. The needles on my old industrial knitting machine (from the 60s) are really small, and I have to keep a close eye on it all the time while I knit.

Knitting.

Knitting.

Transferring stitches requires precision.

Transferring stitches requires precision.

The knitting is wound onto a comb that I attach weights to keep puling the fabric down as I work. Once I take the scarf off the machine, it’s always fun to unwind it from the comb- this is the first time I see the full length of the blanket scarf.

Taking the scarf off the comb.

Taking the scarf off the comb.

Detatching the scarf from the comb.

Detatching the scarf from the comb.

Winding the scarf onto the comb.

Winding the scarf onto the comb.

Taking the scarf off the knitting machine.

Taking the scarf off the knitting machine.

Making a blanket scarf requires precision

Precision is needed at all stages of the making process, particularly this next one: linking. The final edge of the scarf has to be linked stitch by stitch, which is a process of putting each stitch onto a small point, and then the machines puts a small chain stitch across the edge, so that that the knitting doesn’t unravel.

Linking the edge of the blanket scarf.

Linking the edge of the blanket scarf.

Then I sew in all the ends of each colour, by hand. I sew them in so that they match the pattern, don’t show, and won’t come undone.

Sewing in ends by hand.

Sewing in ends by hand.

Before I wash it, I check it over, to make sure there are no dropped stitches, and if there are, I pick them up!

Finishing details make all the difference

Finishing makes all the difference to these scarves. The next stage is washing the scarf. Each piece I make has to be washed to remove excess oil and dye from the yarn (which are there to help with the spinning and knitting processes), and to “fluff up” the fabric. I hand wash each piece at the moment, to ensure I get the best possible feel, and the soft Scottish water helps make the product that little bit softer than it would otherwise be.

Once the scarf is dry, I press it, and this is when the fabric finally looks as it does when it gets to you. 

Then I check it over once more, just to be sure.  

Checking the blanket scarf to ensure there are no faults.

Checking the blanket scarf to ensure there are no faults.

The final detail is labelling, again done by hand because I like details like that and think it gives the scarf a really nice finish, add a tag, and fold it up so that it’s ready to go!

Blanket Scarves are big and versatile

The final blanket scarves are large, lightweight and very soft, and they’re very pliable, so you can wear them pretty much any way you want. Each time you wear it, you can be confident that it has been made with the finest materials, made by hand in Galashiels by me,  to the highest standards. 

 

 

Stylish Ways to Tie a Silk Scarf

How to Style a Long Silk Scarf

To celebrate the launch of our NEW mini collection of Silk Scarves, I had fun with photographer Julien Borghino and model Aglaé Zebrowski styling them in different ways. There are so many options, and I'm sure there are more! 

  • Drape the scarf- silk scarves have a beautiful drape, so simple styling works really well.

  • Knot the scarf- low down or high up, play about with different knots in your scarf to change the look.

  • Have fun with your scarf- the are more playful styling options for theses silk scarves, like pussy cat bows.

  • Get creative with your scarf- these silk scarves are narrow, so there are lots of styling options to try!

The simplest of ways to wear a scarf- just let it hang! This is our Shiel Scarf.

The simplest of ways to wear a scarf- just let it hang! This is our Shiel Scarf.

Tie your scarf in a knot, as high or as low as you like to accessorise an outfit. I used two half hitch knots for this one! This is the Katrine Scarf.

Tie your scarf in a knot, as high or as low as you like to accessorise an outfit. I used two half hitch knots for this one! This is the Katrine Scarf.

This knot really shows off the different blocks of colour in the Maree scarf.

This knot really shows off the different blocks of colour in the Maree scarf.

Simple and Elegant Styling

Here a few ideas of simple, yet elegant ways to wear these silk scarves. Use the scarves to accessories an outfit- Silk scarves can be a great way to dress up a casual look.

Simple, and always works! This Morar Scarf has been wound once round the neck.

Simple, and always works! This Morar Scarf has been wound once round the neck.

A great way to keep off any chill and look smart. A close once round the neck, and tie the scarf at the top.

A great way to keep off any chill and look smart. A close once round the neck, and tie the scarf at the top.

A knot that sits really well in the silk scarves, allowing the ends to drape beautifully.

A knot that sits really well in the silk scarves, allowing the ends to drape beautifully.

Playful Styling 

Why not try something a little more playful? These silk scarves are quite narrow, so they can work well when worn as headbands, or be tied in bows! The scarves are also double sided, with a different pattern on each side, so if you're careful, you can create different effects by working with this. 

Use your silk scarf as a headband, great for summery looks!

Use your silk scarf as a headband, great for summery looks!

Why not try a bow? Silk has a wonderful drape that's great for this.

Why not try a bow? Silk has a wonderful drape that's great for this.

There are so many ways to wear these scarves, there's no need to worry about your friends having one too!!

There are so many ways to wear these scarves, there's no need to worry about your friends having one too!!

How to Wear a Silk Scarf

Would you like to see some "how to" videos of how to tie some of these knots? Or if you have other ways of wearing your scarves, we'd love to see them! 

Island Inspired Scarves on Iona

Scarves inspired by the colours of sea

I couldn't go back to Iona without taking a few of my lambswool scarves with me! So here they are, back where it all began, in some of the beautiful island scenery that inspired them. 

Iona Scarf,  on Iona

Iona Scarf, on Iona

Tiree Scarf , with Islay Scoop Neck Jumper

Tiree Scarf, with Islay Scoop Neck Jumper

All the colours of the Sea

I just love all the colours of the sea- light turquoise waters and deep blues, sometimes greens, sometimes greys... As you might have guessed they're also colours I love wearing, and I hope you do too! These blues and greens in the Tiree Scarf work well for men and women, so it's a great unisex scarf. 

Tiree Scarf, with blues ranging from dark deep waters to light clear seas.

Tiree Scarf, with blues ranging from dark deep waters to light clear seas.

Summer in Scotland can be wonderful, but it's always cool in the evenings, and the Iona Blanket scarf was perfect for an evening on the beach when I was here. It's soft and cosy and so big that it makes a great shawl or wrap. 

Iona Scarf

Iona Scarf

Iona Blanket Scarf

Iona Blanket Scarf

The beautiful turquoise waters with white sands that I love, on the Isle of Mull, looking towards Erraid.

The beautiful turquoise waters with white sands that I love, on the Isle of Mull, looking towards Erraid.

Inspiration: Isle of Iona

Iona, an island of Inspiration

One of my favourite places, Iona, is full of colour. These colours have inspired my work, and the sense of calm I always feel there inspires the simplicity of it. 

Isle of Iona, Scotland.jpg

Knitwear Inspired by Island Colours

As the colours of my knitwear started with sea blues, white sands, and carpets of yellow flowers, I couldn't go back to Iona without taking some of it with me. So here are some photos of fun on beaches wearing jumpers and scarves (because it's Scotland, and you always need something cosy to wear!), and of Stitch and I having a moment! 

Islay Scoop Neck Jumper, on Iona at dusk.

Islay Scoop Neck Jumper, on Iona at dusk.

Islay Scoop Neck Jumper with  Tiree Scarf.

Islay Scoop Neck Jumper with Tiree Scarf.

Cartwheels- I'm fairly sure that this jumper is up to any movement!!

Cartwheels- I'm fairly sure that this jumper is up to any movement!!

Islay Scoop Neck Jumper with  Tiree Scarf.

Islay Scoop Neck Jumper with Tiree Scarf.

Breathtaking Colour

I was so lucky with the weather this trip- it didn't rain once, although it was a bit misty at times, and so I was able to enjoy these stunning colours! Misty days in Scotland did inspire my Mist colourway, and sunsets like this play their part in the Oronsay Scarf. 

Carpets of buttercups and Bird's-foot Trefoil on Iona, looking towards Mull.

Carpets of buttercups and Bird's-foot Trefoil on Iona, looking towards Mull.

Sunset over Iona.

Sunset over Iona.

The beach by the pier on Iona.

The beach by the pier on Iona.

Re-Introducing the Oronsay Scarf

A pretty lambswool scarf in pastel pinks and greens. 

I'm re-introducing the Oronsay scarf as it was rather neglected when I first designed it- I didn't have photographs of it being worn, and I didn't give it any show space at events. But now with the help of photographer Julien Borghino and model Aglaé Zebrowski I have some great new photos of this lambswool scarf to share!  

 
Collingwood- Norris Oronsay scarf_£85_Lambswool.jpg
 

Fine, Soft Lambswool

Like all our scarves, this Oronsay scarf is made with fine, soft lambswool- it's lightweight but warm, and perfect for transitioning between the seasons. All the lambswool used is spun and dyed in Kinross, Scotland, and of course, knitted in our studio in Galashiels. 

 
Collingwood- Norris Oronsay scarf for women. A luxury lambswool scarf made in Scotland. Contemporary knitwear design.jpg
 

Brighten up your outfit

These pretty shades are perfect for adding colour to an outfit! Drape it round your shoulders, tie it in a knot, however you wear this scarf it will brighten up your outfit. 

 
Collingwood- Norris Oronsay scarf.jpg
 

Visible Mending Workshops

Learn to Creatively Mend Your Old Jumper

I'm very excited to announce that as part of the Craft Scotland Summer Show I will be taking two workshops on visible mending. 

Three different techniques you can use to mend your knitwear.

Three different techniques you can use to mend your knitwear.

Loved Clothes Last

Visible Mending is a great way to keep your favourite pieces of knitwear lasting longer, while giving them a slightly new look. I love that mended pieces can be fun, and they change as time goes on, much as we do ourselves. My aim for this workshop is to give you the tools to repair your knitwear and make it last longer- so I think of it as a zero waste workshop in a way! 

Bring your favourite jumper back to life with creative Visible Mending

Bring your favourite jumper (or other knitwear) back to life with creative visible mending. With the aim of reducing waste and throwaway clothes, I will teach you how to mend your old knitwear in a creative way. I will guide you through the basics of darning, Swiss darning and decorative embroidery stitches to enable you to creatively mend your piece of knitwear. Materials and refreshments provided (but do please bring your holey jumper or hat or gloves with you!). 

Visible Mending Workshop Information

Workshops will be on Tuesday 7th August and Monday 20th August at 1.30pm. To book your space, please click here. 

Visible mending workshop by Collingwood-Norris.jpg

You will also be able to see my work as part of the Craft Scotland Summer Show itself, on from the 3-16th August in White Stuff, George Street, Edinburgh. 

I Made Your Clothes

Fashion Revolution Week

As it’s Fashion Revolution Week, a week encouraging people to find out who made their clothes and ask brands to provide good, safe working conditions, fair pay and transparency, to avoid any more disasters like the Rana Plaza collapse of 2013. So I thought I would tell you a bit more about myself, so you can really know who made your Collingwood-Norris knitwear.

At work in my small studio, finishing scarves by hand. Wearing one of my  jumpers , of course!

At work in my small studio, finishing scarves by hand. Wearing one of my jumpers, of course!

Who I Am and What I Do

I’m Flora, the designer, maker, marketing manager, social media expert, saleswoman, finance director, stock controller, quality checker, head of customer service, administrator, tea maker, and tea drinker at Collingwood-Norris. I’ve probably forgotten a few things there, but you get the idea- it’s a one woman business, for now at least!

My Creative Background

I started hand knitting age 6- taught initially by my mum. My childhood was spent learning a variety of craft skills, such as bobbin lace making, embroidery, sewing and crochet, and I spent a lot of time teaching myself new techniques and making or customising my own clothes. I was very lucky to have creative parents and grandparents who encouraged me! 

When I realise that I wanted to do knitwear full time after my foundation art course at Leith School of Art (picked because you can make your own fabric and garment all at once, and of course I just love knitting!), I went to Heriot Watt University to study Design for Textiles, specialising in knit.  That was where I learnt how to use knitting machines, and the more technical side of textiles. If you’d like to see some more of my work while I was there, see the Designs page here.

A cashmere and silk dress which was part of my degree show. It combines knitting, crochet and embroidery.

A cashmere and silk dress which was part of my degree show. It combines knitting, crochet and embroidery.

Work Experience and Freelancing

After university, I did an internship with People Tree, doing all things knitwear, which included working with their hand knitters in Nepal. I already had a keen interest in fair and sustainable fashion, so they were the perfect company to learn from!

I then ended up working freelance for years, doing a range of different jobs such as creating fabrics for trend areas at specialist trade shows, designing swatches, designing patterns for a local yarn company, and creating catwalk samples for the likes of Christopher Kane, Jasper Conran and House of Holland.  I’ve also taught part time at Heriot Watt University and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design as maternity cover for knit lecturers, as well as a spot of technician work at both!

The pieces of fine knit and crochet I made for Jasper Conrans SS13 collection.

The pieces of fine knit and crochet I made for Jasper Conrans SS13 collection.

Starting My Own Business

Freelance work is very stressful and changeable, so while I enjoyed it, and enjoyed the variety, I decided it was time to design under my own name! It all started with the Mist Scarf- I made the very first one as a gift, and then someone else wanted one, then wanted other colour options and a range was designed! It’s an exciting new challenge, and I really enjoy getting to grips with the different aspects of the business, although it's not easy! I love being able to make my own designs, and that makes all the difference.

My favourite thing- knitting up my designs on this beautiful old knitting machine!

My favourite thing- knitting up my designs on this beautiful old knitting machine!

The Benefits of Running a Small Business

Having my own business means that I can create a brand around my values- of treating people fairly (there will be no unpaid interns here for example), using high quality, sustainable and natural materials, creating a beautiful, well made product and providing a personal service. The Scottish Borders has such a rich textile history, and I enjoy being a small part of it.

Each scarf, hat or jumper from Collingwood-Norris has my name on the label, so you know that I made your clothes. If at some point I need help, there might be other names too, but each piece will always be traceable back to the maker. 

5 Tips on How to Care for your Lambswool Knitwear

I thought I would share some tips caring for your lambswool knitwear so you can make your knitwear and woollen items last longer. With good care, there is no reason why your scarf, hat or jumper shouldn’t last a lifetime.

Our  Staffa  Jumper   is made to order using the finest soft lambswool.

Our Staffa Jumper is made to order using the finest soft lambswool.

1. Wash your lambswool knitwear sparingly.

One of the benefits of wool is that it doesn’t need to be washed unless it’s actually dirty. Just air it to get rid of any odours!

2. Wash your lambswool jumper inside out.

Always wash your jumpers inside out- this means that the inside of the jumper is the surface that will rub against other items in the wash, and any pilling will occur on the inside.

3. Wash your lambswool jumper with care

Either hand-wash your jumper in lukewarm water (for tips on hand washing see our care instructions), or machine wash with care. Always use a wool detergent, and if machine washing make sure you pick a wool wash (yes, it is different form a delicate cycle), and reduce the rpm for a low spin cycle.

4. Storing your Woollens

When not in use, fold your jumper and store it in a drawer. Do not hand it up, as it will stretch over time and become misshapen.

Always fold your jumpers- do not hang!

Always fold your jumpers- do not hang!

Store in sealable bags to avoid moths

Store in sealable bags to avoid moths

5. Avoid Moths!

If storing your knitwear for a long time, there are several things you can do to avoid moths. Make sure your jumper or scarf is clean, as moths like to lay their eggs in the dirt. Ideally, store your knitwear in a sealable bag. You can also use cedar, lavender and a variety of other natural things in your drawers to deter moths.

More tips coming soon! 

When I'm not Knitting...

It's true, I have some time in my day when I'm not knitting! Thanks to Stitch (my little black dog) I have to go out each day, so I thought I'd share some of the scenery form my wintery walks around the Scottish Borders- it has been quite dramatic at times! 

Wonderful Old Trees

One of the things I really enjoy about the early months of the year is seeing the shapes of the bare trees- aren't they amazing?! 

Sunrise and snow really shows off the shape of these trees. Near Galashiels in the Scottish Borders.

Sunrise and snow really shows off the shape of these trees. Near Galashiels in the Scottish Borders.

Misty morning with snow- it looked so other-worldly.

Misty morning with snow- it looked so other-worldly.

This line of trees doesn't usually grab my attention, but it looks spectacular with snow covering it.

This line of trees doesn't usually grab my attention, but it looks spectacular with snow covering it.

Cosy Knitted Hats

All the recent wintery weather has provided lots of opportunities to wear my knitted accessories, and I've been trying to vary my hat choices a bit more! One of the trips was heading up to the Three Brethren in the snow- it's part of the Southern Upland Way, and there are amazing views from the top, although it was so cold and windy that I didn't spend long enjoying it that day. The Yarrow hat did keep my ears warm!

Stitch LOVES snow! She has spent many hours racing around in it! I'm keeping warm in the  Eden Hat.

Stitch LOVES snow! She has spent many hours racing around in it! I'm keeping warm in the Eden Hat.

Obviously the snow has provided great opportunities to wear knitwear! And I chose my jacket to match my  Lismore hat  and  Lismore Blanket scarf !

Obviously the snow has provided great opportunities to wear knitwear! And I chose my jacket to match my Lismore hat and Lismore Blanket scarf!

Sometimes Stitch forgets her manners when biscuits are involved... Wearing the  Yarrow hat  and  Teviot Scarf  at the Three Brethren, 16th century cairns marking land boundaries near Selkirk.

Sometimes Stitch forgets her manners when biscuits are involved... Wearing the Yarrow hat and Teviot Scarf at the Three Brethren, 16th century cairns marking land boundaries near Selkirk.

Running a Business is Hard Work

While I love having my own business and doing lots of knitting, it's a lot to focus on sometimes, so having to take Stitch out and watch her look this ridiculous on a daily basis always lightens the days stresses! I'm very lucky to have such great landscapes around me- I always feel inspired and refreshed afterwards, and ready to go back to the knitting machine. 

A sunny wintery hill top near Walkerburn in the Scottish Borders.

A sunny wintery hill top near Walkerburn in the Scottish Borders.

There has been the odd sunny day, so Stitch and I have had time out to play. She's pretty good at catch!

There has been the odd sunny day, so Stitch and I have had time out to play. She's pretty good at catch!

Waiting for Spring to really appear... the colour is slowly creeping back in.

Waiting for Spring to really appear... the colour is slowly creeping back in.

The top of Gala Hill, Galashiels.

The top of Gala Hill, Galashiels.

Preparing for St Abbs Wool Festival

I'm delighted to be taking part in St Abbs Wool Festival for the first time on April 7th 10am-4pm. 

Knitting Preparation

As it's my first sales show of the year, I have a lot to do and to knit to get ready for it. I thought I would share some behind the scenes pictures of the studio with all the work in progress! 

 
Knitting in progress.

Knitting in progress.

 

Lambswool Scarves in the Making

As I start preparing for shows, piles of scarves start to appear, which is very satisfying. I often do a weeks worth of knitting, and then do the finishing processes when I have a a few to do at once! When I'm in the knitting stage, there are cones of the fine lambswool yarn I use taking up every available space on my desk. Thankfully I love being surrounded by so much colour!

Design studio, with piles of scarves waiting to be labelled, a hat on the knitting machines, and little dog curled up in a corner!

Design studio, with piles of scarves waiting to be labelled, a hat on the knitting machines, and little dog curled up in a corner!

Lots of colourful lambswool, with  Tiree Scarves  just off the knitting machine.

Lots of colourful lambswool, with Tiree Scarves just off the knitting machine.

Handmade Pom Pom Hats

Making the hats is always an excuse to have a desk covered in multicolour pom poms! They are all unique, so it's always fun to have a play about with them before finishing off the hats. Work has to be fun... ! 

Handmade pompoms- each one is unique.

Handmade pompoms- each one is unique.

Hats and poms ready to be united!

Hats and poms ready to be united!

The Branding Bit

The last thing is adding labels and swing tags, and remembering to pack things like postcards! I'm so pleased that the woven labels that go onto each knitted piece are now made in Glasgow. 

 
Labels and branding for Collingwood-Norris. Luxury Scottish Knitwear.jpg
 

A Day at the Seaside, with Wool! 

St Abbs Wool Festival is on from 10am-4pm at Eyemouth Community Centre, Eyemouth, on the 7th April. There will be a variety of designer/makers, all focussing on wool in their work, as well as workshops (click here to find out more, as they have to be booked). The East coast of the Scottish Borders and Northumberland is stunning, so why not make a trip of it? 

I update the events page whenever something new is confirmed- keep an eye out for an event near you, or sign up to the newsletter! 

St Abbs Wool Festival, Collingwood-Norris

Visible Mending: Gloves

Extending the Life of Gloves

Does anyone else get through their gloves really quickly? I can go through a good 2 pairs in a winter, and so I have a collection of old holey pairs, and with the current amount of snow, I wasn't about to go outside with my fingers exposed! So this week I've been extending the life of my gloves by repairing my way through them. 

A pair of cashmere gloves with holes in both thumbs and a finger.

A pair of cashmere gloves with holes in both thumbs and a finger.

One of the thumbs was so worn down that I decided to crochet a new tip on.

One of the thumbs was so worn down that I decided to crochet a new tip on.

The finished gloves. I repaired the other fingers by darning them in fun colours.

The finished gloves. I repaired the other fingers by darning them in fun colours.

I wore the gloves a few more times this week and another hole appeared, and a worn area on another finger that I caught before it broke completely.

I wore the gloves a few more times this week and another hole appeared, and a worn area on another finger that I caught before it broke completely.

Visibly mended gloves with additional repairs. One was darned, and one was reinforced using swiss darning.

Visibly mended gloves with additional repairs. One was darned, and one was reinforced using swiss darning.

Creatively Mending Gloves

I had a lot of fun picking colours to make the mends playful and creative. The gloves below were found by my mum in a charity shop- they've been hand knitted, and fit me perfectly, so as soon as I spotted them wearing then at the fingertips I used swiss darning to reinforce the areas to avoid holes in the first place. I'm not a huge fan of beige, so much as I love these gloves and appreciate the skill that went into them, it was a nice excuse to add some bright colours. 

Hand knitted gloves that were wearing out on two fingers- so I have reinforced them with swiss darning to prevent bigger holes.

Hand knitted gloves that were wearing out on two fingers- so I have reinforced them with swiss darning to prevent bigger holes.

Detail of swiss darning on the fingers.

Detail of swiss darning on the fingers.

Combining Different Mending Techniques

The pair of fairisle gloves below were from Eribe, another knitwear company in Galashiels. As I left them a bit too long before relegating them to the "to mend" pile, both thumbs needed reconstructing, so I used crochet for that, then darning for the holes, and swiss darning on one thumb to reinforce a worn area. 

I wore these gloves for too long after the holes appeared, so they're missing half both thumbs!

I wore these gloves for too long after the holes appeared, so they're missing half both thumbs!

I used crochet for the thumbs, and darned the fingers in contrasting colours.

I used crochet for the thumbs, and darned the fingers in contrasting colours.

Detail of the mends- they're pretty sturdy, so should keep this pair in use for a lot longer now.

Detail of the mends- they're pretty sturdy, so should keep this pair in use for a lot longer now.

Loved Clothes Last

I have to admit I had no particular attachment to the gloves below- they were a present, and while very cosy, I don't really like the colour combination, and I find the length a bit impractical at times. However, mending them has meant I could add colours I like, and I'm going to start wearing them again. 

Another pair of cashmere gloves with a hole in the thumb. The other thumb turned out to be very worn and also needed mending.

Another pair of cashmere gloves with a hole in the thumb. The other thumb turned out to be very worn and also needed mending.

The finished gloves, one with a darned hole, and the other with swiss darning to reinforce worn area.

The finished gloves, one with a darned hole, and the other with swiss darning to reinforce worn area.

Detail of mended gloves. The swiss darned thumb is the left one, and i used two colours for darning the thumb on the right.

Detail of mended gloves. The swiss darned thumb is the left one, and i used two colours for darning the thumb on the right.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Clothes

Mending clothes reduces their environmental impact, as they stay out of landfill longer. I also find that I enjoy wearing them more afterwards, as I have more attachment to them. Have you tried mending anything in your wardrobe? If it's something you're interested in, please sign up to the newsletter, as I'm planning to organise some workshops later this year! 

Details of gloves with mended fingers.

Details of gloves with mended fingers.

Details of Visible Mending on Gloves.

Details of Visible Mending on Gloves.

Introducing the NEW Jura Scarf

A New Lambswool Scarf

It has taken me over a year, but I'm very pleased to announce there is finally a Jura Scarf to go with the Jura Hat! As always, made with incredibly soft, fine lambswool, and knitted in house. 

Jura Fingerless Mitts to Match! 

That's right, I have made fingerless mitts to go with the scarf! They allow plenty of room for movement, and are long enough to make sure your wrists stay nice and cosy. 

Jura Fingerless Mitts

Jura Fingerless Mitts

Jura Hat and Scarf

Jura Hat and Scarf

Mix and Match Your Knitwear

If, like me, you don't always like wearing matching accessories, there are plenty of options for mixing and matching! The Mist and Storm colours go together particularly well. 

Mist Scarf with Jura hat and mitts

Mist Scarf with Jura hat and mitts

Jura Scarf with Mist hat and mitts

Jura Scarf with Mist hat and mitts

Jura Scarf with Storm hat and mitts

Jura Scarf with Storm hat and mitts

Lambswool Pom Pom Hat: in the Making

To continue sharing the processes that go into making Collingwood-Norris knitwear, I thought I would show you how one of our new patterned hats are made. 

The Finest Quality Lambswool

As you may know by now, I start by selecting the best materials. These hats use a heavier weight lambswool than our other products, but it is the same high quality wool that is spun and dyed in Kinross, and it's incredibly soft- ideal for a hat! I love picking the colour combinations- this Yarrow hat uses lots of rich warm colours which I always enjoy knitting with.

Lambswool on cones, ready for knitting

Lambswool on cones, ready for knitting

Tools used for knitting

Tools used for knitting

The knitting machine, ready to go!

The knitting machine, ready to go!

Hand Framed Knitwear, Knitted in our Scottish Borders Studio

For these hats, I use a domestic knitting machine. It's a bit different from my V-bed- it knits a heavier weight of fabric, and can knit different types of patterns. It's still a very hands on process- I cast on each stitch, move the knitting machine carriage across for each row, and have to transfer stitches using the transfer tools you see in the photos. It requires precision! 

Transferring stitches by hand.

Transferring stitches by hand.

Knitting in action- two colours at once to produce patterns

Knitting in action- two colours at once to produce patterns

Sewing up the hat by hand

Sewing up the hat by hand

Hand Finishing Lambswool Hats

Once it has been knitted, each hat is sewn up by hand. This ensures a very smooth finish, and it's often hard to see the seem.

The hats then need to be washed to remove any excess dye and allow the wool to mill up, which is also done by hand. The water is the Scottish Borders is very soft, which helps to make the knitwear feel amazing.

Once the hats are dry, they are pressed, and the labels are sewn on by hand. Then I get to start on the pom poms... 

Hand washing the hat to remove excess dye

Hand washing the hat to remove excess dye

Pressing the hat- this ensures a flat fabric

Pressing the hat- this ensures a flat fabric

Labels are sewn on by hand

Labels are sewn on by hand

Lambswool Pom Poms

Each pom pom is handmade. I use a pom pom maker, which makes life a lot easier than cutting out circles of cardboard (everyone has done that at some point though I hope)! Each pom has to be trimmed to neaten it up- I think I'm becoming an expert, and I can spend a surprisingly long time perfecting each one. 

Making a wool pom pom- step 1

Making a wool pom pom- step 1

Trimming the pom to perfection

Trimming the pom to perfection

The finished lambswool pom. It's always tempting to keep trimming!

The finished lambswool pom. It's always tempting to keep trimming!

Then the pom pom is sewn onto the hat- it's the final step, and very satisfying once finished! It provides an extra pop of colour, so they often end up being brighter than the rest of the hat. 

The finished  Yarrow Hat.

The finished Yarrow Hat.

A Luxuriously Soft Lambswool Bobble Hat

The finished hat has three layers of fabric over your ears to keep you snug and warm, and the combination of the lambswool and careful washing make it luxuriously soft- because being cosy is important!

You can see all our hats here.

Scotlands Trade Fair

Collingwood-Norris Attended our First Trade Fair!

This month I exhibited at my first ever trade show in Glasgow. As a one woman company (for now anyway!) that creates handmade products I was a bit worried that maybe I was taking on too much. It’s a lot of competition, and a risk that buyers will be expecting to place quite large orders (for me anyway), which just wouldn’t be possible at this stage. Not to mention being unsure of what’s expected in terms of information to give out, order forms etc.

Lambswool Scarves Made in Scotland by Collingwood-Norris

Small Independent Shops

One thing that was lovely about the show was meeting some of my existing stockists in person. I’m really pleased to be stocked in small independent shops- they are businesses that seem as personal as mine- so being able to put faces to names and have a good chat about my knitwear was great. I think I may need to plan a Scottish tour later in the year to go and visit them all!  

Luxury Lambswool scarves at Scotlands Trade Fair, by Collingwood-Norris

Planning to for Growth

I am well aware that Collingwood-Norris needs to grow over the next few years.  The question is how? Do I start to have my designs manufactured somewhere in the Borders and grow that way? Or I could stick to manufacturing everything here, and really focus on the things I can do as a small company that would be harder if my designs were manufactured elsewhere, like making one offs, or very limited runs. 

Luxurious lambswool scarves, made in Scotland by Collingwood-Norris.jpg

Building a Brand with Values

Growing the business in a way that sits comfortably with me and my values is important, so I’ll keep thinking about what is best… One thing I am keen to do, is to create a company with real values, that puts passion into everything we do.