Warm lambswool Scarves for Cold Weather

Once again it's the start of a new year, and once again I aim to do some more blogging... 

After what has felt like weeks of grey, wet weather, I finally had a chance to take some of the newer scarves out in the freezing cold (-8). Some of the many benefits of wool are it's breathability and temperature regulating properties, so wool scarves for cold hill walks are perfect, and these scarves did not disappoint!

Teviot Hat and Scarf

Teviot Hat and Scarf

Ways to Wear a Scarf

When I do events I often hear people worry about only knowing one way to wear a scarf, and until recently I was the same- I would throw on my scarf in the same way each time, so on this walk I tried a few different ideas. Above is the Teviot Scarf, which I'm wearing in the way I would normally wear a scarf- wound round once, and the left alone (although generally I would tuck it into my coat for extra warmth!). 

Below is the Tiree scarf- on the left it is just draped round and left open. This works particularly well if you're planning to leave your coat open and want some colour showing. On the right I have wound the scarf round once, and then tucked one end in- it keeps it in place! The Island scarves are great to play with when it comes to experimenting with how to wear them- the blocks of colour can be shown in different ways, with very little effort (more to come on this soon). 

The Ettrick Scarf is bright and cosy- all the River Scarves are wider than the Island scarves, and twice the thickness (so much soft lambswool I never want to take them off!), so you can really use them to wrap up in! Double up the scarf and thread the end through the loop- quick and easy! 

Styling Soft Lambswool Scarves

What I've really enjoyed is playing with the Yarrow and Eden scarves. They have areas of plain colour, and areas of pattern, so make really interesting knots where you can see flashes of colour and pattern- again, more coming soon. 

Yarrow scarf

Yarrow scarf

The Scottish Borders really is a beautiful area- on walks like this I'm constantly reminded how lucky I am to have such beautiful countryside just minutes away from me. 

The Making of a Jumper

It might surprise you how many processes go into making one of our fully fashioned lambswool jumpers. 

After all the initial designing and colour trails are finished and sizing worked out, it starts (as you can probably guess) with knitting! Each panel is knitted separately and is fully fashioned- this means that it is knitted to shape, and you can see the shaping marks on the finished jumper around the armholes, shoulders and neck. One of the benefits of fully fashioned knitwear, is that it is zero waste. 

The Jumper Knitting Process

Materials and tools ready to knit!

Materials and tools ready to knit!

Knitting a jumper panel.

Knitting a jumper panel.

Knitting coming off the knitting machine, still being worked on.

Knitting coming off the knitting machine, still being worked on.

Making Up the Jumper

Then I join the panels together on a machine especially for this  part- this is called linking. 

The hole for the neck is then cut out, and the neck trim attached. 

Jumper panels being joined on the linker.

Jumper panels being joined on the linker.

Neck trim added to the body on the linker.

Neck trim added to the body on the linker.

Sewing in threads by hand before washing.

Sewing in threads by hand before washing.

Jumper Finishing Processes

Each time I change colour, or link something, a thread is left hanging off the knitting- these all have to be sewn in by hand. 

Then I give the jumper a check, and if everything is OK then wash it. This brings out the softness in the wool. 

Next is pressing- the jumper gets pressed and steamed, then checked again. 

Lastly, the jumper gets labelled. This is the final touch, and always leaves me feeling satisfied! 

Ready to label. The final detail.

Ready to label. The final detail.

Finished Erraid Jumper.

Finished Erraid Jumper.

Staffa Jumper, made in Scotland.

Staffa Jumper, made in Scotland.

All of our products go though these processes (although without the processes for the neck). If you'd like to see more pictures of work in progress, then you can follow us on Instagram @collingwoodnorris

Visible Mending

As part of my new resolution to keep my knitwear going for longer and reduce waste (although most of it has been going for many years already and was second hand to start with!), I've decided to try my hand at some visible mending. 

It's not something I've tried before, and I thought I'd share my first attempt with an old cardigan, in stages! 

Creative Mending using Swiss Darning

A hole at the elbow- big enough to need a sizeable mend.

A hole at the elbow- big enough to need a sizeable mend.

Step 1: Threads across the hole to build my stitches around, and the start of Swiss darning over existing stitches to start it off.

Step 1: Threads across the hole to build my stitches around, and the start of Swiss darning over existing stitches to start it off.

Building up the mend, stitching around the vertical threads to keep newly formed stitches in place. I started changing colours, just for fun.

Building up the mend, stitching around the vertical threads to keep newly formed stitches in place. I started changing colours, just for fun.

I decided to add blocks of colour outside the original area for mending using more Swiss darning, The surrounding area was thinner than the rest of the cardigan, so the extra colour blocks will help to strengthen it.

I decided to add blocks of colour outside the original area for mending using more Swiss darning, The surrounding area was thinner than the rest of the cardigan, so the extra colour blocks will help to strengthen it.

The final mended area, with the original vertical threads picked out.

The final mended area, with the original vertical threads picked out.

The other elbow, which was in a similar state. As holes are rarely the same, I though the mends should reflect their unique nature and be different!

The other elbow, which was in a similar state. As holes are rarely the same, I though the mends should reflect their unique nature and be different!

Replacing Fraying Cuffs

One of the cuffs, which was fraying at the edge, and had a hole.

One of the cuffs, which was fraying at the edge, and had a hole.

I decided to re-knit the cuffs in colours to match the mends on the elbows.

I decided to re-knit the cuffs in colours to match the mends on the elbows.

The other sleeve... knitting some bright stripes!

The other sleeve... knitting some bright stripes!

Done!

Done!

The front, complete with buttons I added a while ago. When I first got this cardigan, it had clearly been well loved, and had odd buttons!

The front, complete with buttons I added a while ago. When I first got this cardigan, it had clearly been well loved, and had odd buttons!

The back, showing my first areas of visible mending!

The back, showing my first areas of visible mending!

If you'd like to see some other examples of visible repairs, I've started a Pinterest board with some examples I particularly like. 

How do you feel about your clothing changing over time, and would you want to see repairs on your clothes ? 

Make Do and Mend- A Fashion Resolution

In the spirit of consuming less, (in order to avoid overflowing wardrobes and throwing things out that are still wearable, when they might then end up in landfill), I have decided to start extending the life of clothes I already have. My aim over the next year is to not buy any new clothing, and to mend pieces I have that might need it. 

When Stitch (my dog) was a puppy, she ripped through quite a few of my jumpers, so I have lots of suitable holes to hone my mending skills with! The cuffs of my jumpers seem to suffer the most in daily life- they rub against things, and get caught on my linker (all spikes, perfect for shredding clothing on), so the first thing to try is fixing the holes and re-knitting or mending cuffs. 

 
Re-knitting cuffs by hand, with bright stripes.

Re-knitting cuffs by hand, with bright stripes.

 

While I can mend things pretty much invisibly, I generally don't have exactly the right colour of yarn (even though my stash is enormous!). So rather than try to create an almost invisible mend which in my eyes would stand out and really frustrate me, I have decided to try visible mending. Much more fun! Visible mending will give me the opportunity to create mini artworks of my jumpers... or more realistically, allow me to be creative and have my knitwear collection evolve. I have to admit, that I rather like the idea of my knitwear and I changing over time together. Visible mending will also make my garments totally unique, something I always enjoy, which will give me yet another reason to keep them even longer. Loved clothes last. 

 
Finished cuffs- I decided to make them both different, just for fun. I have also changed the buttons, although ow I'm not sure I like these ones any more and I might have a look through my button stash....

Finished cuffs- I decided to make them both different, just for fun. I have also changed the buttons, although ow I'm not sure I like these ones any more and I might have a look through my button stash....

 

Over the next little while I'll show you more images of mending in progress, and some how to steps. 

Fashion Revolution Week, Part 2

My interest in fashion industry issues started while studying textiles at university. I became aware of the enormous impact the industry has the environment- whether through pesticides used on cotton crops, water usage, chemicals used in dying processes, or the tons and tons of clothing that goes to landfill each year. The list is huge.

Then of course there is the human impact that fast fashion has. The collapse of Rana Plaza killed 1138 people, and injured 2500 more. Rana Plaza housed factories making clothes for big global brands, and the people working there were underpaid, and working in very unsafe conditions. This is not unusual in the fashion industry, as demand for cheap clothing means that somebody, somewhere, is being exploited.

Rather than writing a huge essay on it all, I thought I would share a few books and programmes that I have found really interesting, although of course there are SO many more out there! 

Make do and Mend
Books

“To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?” By Lucy Seigle. I realise it’s a very gloomy title, but it covers pretty much everything!

The True Cost. A documentary film, looking at the true cost of cheap fashion.

Unreported World: The Worlds Dirtiest River. A channel 4 documentary looking at the effects of textile waste. 

“Cradle to Cradle”, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. This is not a fashion book, but talks about the principles of cradle to cradle design, with the aim of becoming waste free.

“Make Do and Mend”, forward by Jill Norman. This is a little book with reproductions of official second world war instruction leaflets. If you are interested in keeping your clothes longer, this has some very practical tips! 

Refinity: a blog by Fioen Van Balgooi on eco-effective designing. It has all sorts of interesting information. 

 

Fashion Revolution Week, Part 1

Fashion Revolution week is about making the fashion industry a more ethical, sustainable industry. Set up after the collapse of Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in 2013, Fashion Revolution aims to change the way the fashion industry works, how it impacts people and the environment, and how we think about fashion, as no clothing should cost human lives.

I thought I would use this week to look at some of my own wardrobe, and some of the companies I admire when it comes to making a difference.  According to Carbon Trust, if you can double the life of a garment from one year to two, you reduce emissions over the year by 24%, so I'm very proud to have items in my wardrobe that have been there for many years. 

Hand woven dress, from People Tree

Hand woven dress, from People Tree

Styled with  Erraid Wrap

Styled with Erraid Wrap

One of my favourite dresses is from People Tree, from about 6 years ago. Made with hand woven cotton, it is fair trade. People Tree design their clothing range to include a variety of traditional skills such as weaving, embroidery and knitting, to ensure that the artisans they use continue to have employment. Safia Minney, founder of People Tree is an inspiration herself, as she constantly works to raise awareness of issues in the fashion industry. Her passion for improving peoples lives is infectious! 

Knowing that this dress is hand made makes it more valuable to me- I can imagine someone making it and appreciate the time and skill that it took to make the fabric. The colours are great, and to top it all off, the dress has pockets! I love it so much I have it in two colourways, and pretty much live in this dress all summer! All I need now is some good weather…  

There are many reasons why I love this dress, and I will make sure it stays in my wardrobe for as long as possible! 

 
Rebecca dress from Phannatiq

Rebecca dress from Phannatiq

 

The second item I’ve picked is from Phannatiq. Phannatiq are an ethical fashion label based in London, founded by designer Anna Skodbo. All the pieces are made in Europe, and the fabrics are as sustainable as possible. This Rebecca dress is a mix of organic cotton, bamboo and elasthane- it feels amazing. Loving colour, I bought a white dress and dyed it, so now it is unique to me, and I’ll never want to throw it out.

 
Vintage, hand embroidered top, over my Phannatiq dress- the blues match perfectly!

Vintage, hand embroidered top, over my Phannatiq dress- the blues match perfectly!

 

The last piece I've picked from my wardrobe is this vintage top. It's clearly handmade- the seems are hand stitched, and the embroidery has been done by hand. My mum bought this in a charity shop before I was born, and she gave it to me when  was in my late teens. It's stunning- I love all the details, and it's unique shape. It has a past- some of which I know about, some I don't, and I love that too. It has needed a little bit of mending here and there, but I think that now adds to it's charm- I'm going to do my best to keep this piece an active part of my wardrobe. 

One company I’ve recently come to admire is Wråd, a company working to design clothing that reduces environmental impact. They seem very transparent in the details of their clothing, something which is becoming an increasingly important- and it’s very interesting. I’m lusting after their Anorak Jacket, made with beeswaxed organic cotton.

Loved clothes last. My rule when buying new items, is that I have to be thinking about the piece I want for at least a week before I buy it- that way I know I really like it, and will wear it for years. Otherwise it’s an impulse buy, which ends up at the bottom of a draw, which I never wear, only to be thrown out in a few years.

Do you have pieces in your wardrobe that you love year after year? 

Craft Scotland Summer Show

We're delighted to have been selected to take part in the Craft Scotland Summer Show this August in Edinburgh. 

Running from the 4th -27th August, on the 2nd floor of White Stuff , on George Street, there will be a variety of craft disciplines on show, workshops and the opportunity to meet the makers. 

You can find out more about it and the other makers taking part on the Craft Scotland website, and stay up to date with announcements by following #EdSummerShow on Twitter and Instagram

Island Scarf collection

Starting a New Year

I'm sure I'm not alone in aiming to do all sorts of things at the start of the year, and not quite getting there. One of my resolutions is to blog more. I'm a bit late in starting, but it is still January... 

Collingwood-Norris is based in the Scottish Borders, so I thought I would start by showing you some more of this beautiful area. Every day we go walking, so this scenery plays a big part in inspiring, reviving and energising us! 

Resolutions for this year include sharing more information about our materials, processes, and inspirations. As the ethics and environmental impact of the fashion industry is something that we care passionately about, the aim is to also talk about other companies we admire, and share any interesting information we find. 

Of course, we're also aiming to bring out new products, and have started with our new wraps. Large, lightweight and super soft- perfect for snuggling up in on cold days, they can be used as an over sized scarf, as a wrap, or a small blanket!  Other new designs will be coming soon...  

 
Iona wrap made with finest soft wool, and made in the Scottish Borders

Iona Wrap, made with finest soft lambswool. 

 

 

 

Reflective Pom Poms

Smart Textiles are an exciting area. As the nights are getting darker, I've been thinking about night time walks with the dog, and how best to stay visible. Reflective clothing seemed like the best way, and after trying out a few different yarns, our reflective pom pom is now ready! 

Reflective pom pom hat, made with finest wool

All our pom pom hats now come with the option of a reflective pom pom- perfect for walks in the dark, or night time runs! 

Eildon Hand Knits

Inspiration often comes from the landscapes around me. For my new hand knitted accessories, it's the Eildon Hills that have provided it. 

The Eildon Hills are my local landmark in the Scottish Borders- I see them every day from my walks with my dog Stitch, and walk up them on others for the fantastic views. They're visible for miles around, so often on my journey home from trips I can see them all the way, welcoming me back. So I feel very attached to these hills- the way they change through the seasons, and their distinctive peaks and the little discoveries I make there. 

Eildon Hills

Theses landmark peaks and the small lake half way them up are the inspiration behind my latest hat design. The points in the pattern are as distinctive as the hills. I've used thick, soft wool, so that these accessories will be perfect for hills walks and exploring in winter. 

Making the Eildon Hand Knit Hat
Eildon hand knitted hats in luxurious soft wool

Hats!

I'm delighted to announce that the online shop went live today! It feels like I've been working on it for ages, as well as working on developing the new products for it. 

Not everything is up yet, some things still need a bit more work, but finally the hats have their official launch! 

Fine lambswool hats, made to order in our small studio. Perfect for all those outdoor adventures you're bound to have as the weather gets colder! 

Fine lambswool hats, made to order in our small studio. Perfect for all those outdoor adventures you're bound to have as the weather gets colder! 

Finishing Details

There has been a bit of sampling for a new menswear design that I've been developing in fine soft wool going on in the studio recently. Finishing pieces off is always exciting and satisfying, and beautifully made tools help make it all go faster. 

Mens Luxury Wool Jumper Made in Scotland

It isn't quite ready yet, but will be launching soon. These knitted jumpers will be made to order in a range of colour ways, and we're considering adding some individual sizing options in too.