Shop Interview: binkee

We recently introduced gorgeous crochet goods by binkee to The Knit Club. You can find pieces including lampshades, cushions and jewellery, all handmade by Belinda, in our shop – ranging from £2.50 to £32.50.

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We spoke to Belinda to find out a little more about the lady behind binkee.

1. Tell us a bit about who you are.

I’m a mum of three, one teenage girl and two boy’s and we all live in a village in Hertfordshire with our many pet’s. I can’t remember exactly how old I was but my creative side definitely showed itself at a young age, mostly with sewing. I remember making a small cushion, using my dog’s hair as stuffing!! Needless to say it wasn’t a keeper.

2. When & how did you learn to crochet?

I only learnt to crochet about 4 years ago when my youngest son was a baby. I had some yarn so I bought a hook and borrowed a book from the library and watched lot’s of You Tube video’s and managed to pick it up very quickly. Since then I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I haven’t had something on the go.

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3. Where do your ideas come from?

I might see a colour combination that catches my eye from Pinterest or what someones wearing or even in nature then put some yarn together based on those colours and decide what type of cushion it will be, as in size and shape and then which stitch to use. I only ever make things that I would buy myself and have in my own home.

4. Do you have a favourite piece?

Nearly every newly finished piece is my favorite piece until the next new piece comes along! Unless I have a hunch half way through that it’s not going to be quite as good as expected. I’m usually right and the finished piece goes in the ‘not such a great idea’ box!

5. Where did the name binkee come from?

About 7 year’s ago, my very good friend, Keeley and I were discussing starting our own business together. Everyone calls me Bin, so she came up with the name bin-kee! Thereafter binkee was born, unfortunately for me, Keeley became very successful in her ‘proper’ job so I carried on the name with my handmade business. She is of course still my very good friend and I love having her name in such an important part of my little business.

6. Describe binkee in 3 words.

Sunny, sweet and handmade

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7. Where do you do most of your designing and making? (describe your workspace!)

My workspace is in my home which really work’s well for me. It has great light in there and I have everything I need all in one place. I usually work in there all day until the children come home, doing machine sewing and smaller fiddly work, always with either music or a radio 4 play and save any crochet work until the evening where I’ll sit and watch a movie. I always feel a bit guilty and frivolous sitting and crocheting in the day!

8. Who/what is your biggest inspiration?

Blogs are probably my biggest inspiration. I read way too many. They range from craft and design to fashion and lifestyle. I especially like Danish blogs (thank goodness for google translator) I love their style.

9. Have you ever tried knitting?

My Mum tried teaching me to knit several times as a child and I would love the rhythm of it but then I would get so far and drop a few stitches and ruin the whole thing. I think that’s why I like crochet so much because it’s less delicate and a bit more hardy. I will definitely give it another go at some point and hopefully crack it.

10. What’s the next thing on your design list?

I’ve just bought some lovely new fabrics which I’ll be making various shapes and sizes of cushions with and finishing with a crochet edge. I’m also working on a collection of modern style crochet cushions using two colours with bold stripes and a plain simple dc stitch.

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Knitterview: Erika Knight

This month, we invite you to peek into the life of Erika Knight – the brilliant and renowned knitwear designer, author and yarn designer.

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We have been lucky enough to meet Erika at the shop, when she came in to do a book signing and talk last October. And we cannot say, for someone so beyond talented and clever, just how nice she is! With many strings to her bow, she is fascinating to listen to – and we were riveted by her talk about colours and shapes, the stories behind her yarn names (Steve is named after Steve McQueen’s beautiful blue eyes) and the reasoning behind her colour choices (you always have to have a “pop” colour in your palette!).

So we proudly present to you, our second knitterview. Enjoy!

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learnt at art school during my punk years, when holes and ladders didn’t matter and safety pins were de rigeur.

How did your career in knitting begin?

After art school I worked for a textile printing company, but unfortunately I couldn’t afford to carry on doing this job that I loved, so I had to fall back on my hobby. I did half a dozen sketches, trawled them round to local and London boutiques and got an order for one or two, then three and four and so it began…

Who / what is your biggest inspiration?

Anything and everything, I am always inspired by things and people around me.

Do you have a favourite design / pattern of all time?

Yes, a sweater called ‘Antarctic’, named after a collection designed for my label Molto! many years ago to celebrate the life of our British hero, Captain Scott. It was like a hit record for us at the time. It was so simple, and I am considering re-releasing it again for this Autumn…watch this space.

Molto - Erika Knight | The Knit Club

What is the best thing about creating your own yarn range?

Being in control of the fibre quality, colours and knowing the whole process is natural, ethical, sustainable and supporting British sheep and manufacturing.

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Erika Knight British Blue Wool in Pretty

Who do you design for?

I design for myself, things I like and value. I believe there are lots of people like me who want classic, timeless pieces, but with a bit of style.

What do you hope people gain from knitting/ crocheting your patterns?

The end result is a timeless, quality garment, but I hope that they too enjoy the process of working with beautiful and natural fibres and simple designs that work.

If you could be someone else (past or present) for one day, who would you be?

I think it would have to be Coco Chanel – because she was a strong woman, a bit of a rebel, a perfectionist, and a true innovator who really conceived and created ready to wear comfortable clothes for modern stylish women.

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(Coco Chanel)

What song/s are you listening to at the moment?

I love the British jazz saxophonist Simon Spillett, who I recently saw at a basement gig in Soho.

If you could give one piece of advice/wisdom to knitters and crocheters the world over, what would it be?

Experiment, and don’t be frightened to have a go!

The Knit Club stocks Erika Knight beautiful British yarns and patterns (also available online), and the lovely Erika will be visiting The Knit Club on the 27th April at 2pm to talk about her new baby poster pattern and knitting for babies and beyond.

All Rippled Out

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I have finished all the ripples on my rainbow blanket.  Woo hoo!  This project has been on and off my hook for a year, I think.  I started it for a friend’s baby but did my initial maths all wrong (never mind my maths degree!) so it ended up larger than intended and then Son1 decided that it was to be for him.

I have really enjoyed the project despite how long it’s taken (and it’s not done yet!).  It’s definitely an example of comforting crochet rather than counting.  It’s rhythmic and relaxing and a perfect evening activity after a frantic day with two small boys when your brain doesn’t want to do much thinking.  You can pick it up and immediately know where you are and what to do next.  It fits perfectly in to any amount of time – twenty minutes for a little sit down and a cup of tea or an hour or two on a rainy afternoon.  It grows quickly and looks great right from the start.  It keeps your lap warm while you’re working on it during winter evenings.  You can put it away for a time when you need a change, do other projects and then come back to it and love it all over again.

Most importantly, you can work on it while you’re nattering with your knitty friends and eating cake and biscuits without worrying about going massively wrong!  You can still go a bit wrong but it’s easily spotted and easily fixed.  I learnt that lesson the hard way when I had to pull back a couple of hours of crochet on a hat because I’d missed an increase right at the start of Knit Night!.  I always choose which project to take very carefully now!

Now I need to sew in all the ends.  I really should have done that in sections as I went but it’s a bit like how your mum always told you not to leave your homework until the last day of the holidays but you did it anyway.  Hmm.  I hate it when Mum’s right!  There will be a border too.  A first round in yellow, I think, and then something else – maybe red.  What do you think?

P.S. The yarn is Rico Design Lisa.

Aye Aye Capt’n!

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My first make of 2013!  A simple beanie pattern, some stripes to break up the black and a crocheted skull and crossbones.  It was quick and fun to make and Son1 loves it, thankfully.  He had asked for a Storm Trooper hat (Star Wars) but that was a bit beyond me (and, if I’m truthful, I didn’t want to make one!).  I did find a cool R2D2 crocheted hat when I was browsing though!

The yarn is Rico Design:Essentials Soft Merino Aran which is a firm favourite of mine.  It’s good value and really nice to work with.  I’ve used it recently for several projects including:

Baby blanket

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Penguin hat (modelled by a melon!)

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My “things to make in 2013” list is underway.  I think there’ll be a blanket, a scarf, a hat and, well, plenty more.  I MUST finish a gift that I started in the summer first though!  Oh, and remember to go to the Post Office to send it!

On The Road Again…

There’s nothing to kick start you back into action than a photograph of your work in active service.

A close friend of mine was due to have her second baby the week that we were moving to Belgium.  Not wanting to miss out on a squidge, I had stern words with the bump and instructed it not to hang around and be late.  Thankfully, the bump was obedient and arrived a little early!  I was able to have a little cuddle and to pass on a cardigan that I had made for her.

Shortly after my last blog post, this photo popped up on Facebook:

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The lovely Grace modelling my work!  It certainly made me dig out all my tools and get going again.

I made a Mandarin Baby Jacket (Ravelry link) using Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo.  The yarn is lovely and has a gorgeous sheen.  The pattern was really easy to follow and was seamless (my favourite!).  And, most importantly, it fitted!

Seeing Grace’s picture made me remember how proud I was when I finished my first ever proper project.  I made a small Granny Stripe blanket for Son2 and would pop it over him when he fell asleep playing under his baby gym doodah.

So, the good news is that I’m back in the saddle.  Current projects are: name bunting, a scarf, a jumper for Son2 and the ongoing rainbow ripple blanket for Son1.  I shan’t list what’s in my queue!

Lost: One Mojo

Since I started crocheting in May last year, I’ve been going pretty much none stop.  But now, I’ve lost my way a bit.

The reason is not a mystery. We have just left our cosy life in the UK with family, friends and knit clubs for a new one in Belgium where, at the moment, there’s not a lot happening.  With the move, the paperwork, the language change, the boxes that need unpacking, the children that need entertaining (and feeding) and the floor that need endless mopping, I don’t have much headspace for crochet.  How sad! Something that should help me relax is making me feel a bit stressed. Perhaps it a reminder of “home”?

Then there’s the added factor of not knowing entirely where everything is.  I know that the yarn stash is in the spare room and the sewing box is in the cupboard in the lounge but where are my hooks? Where’s my rainbow blanket that’s a work in progress? And where’s the felt I need to complete the baby bunting I’ve been working on?

Think I’d better go and rummage in some boxes!

Claire x

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Pledges

I visited The Knit Club today to take advantage of the fabulous Jubilee discount.  There may now be an extra 18 (eighteen!) balls of Rico Cotton Essentials, 1 ball of Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton and three buttons in my yarn cupboard.  Just don’t tell my husband.

I have also acquired a few new books recently so my project list has had a growth spurt.  A blanket idea here, a baby cardigan there and, oh, that snake looks fun!  I’m desperate to start new things.

There comes a time, however, where you have to discipline yourself and make sure you that you finish things off before you start more.  The time is now.

And so, before I start more projects, I solemnly pledge to complete the following:

  • Finish the sleeves of the baby cardigan, sew on the buttons and sew in the ends
  • Sew in the ends of the unfinished shawl
  • Sew in the ends of the unfinished scarf
  • Complete the sleeves of the jumper, sew in the ends and make it up

Maybe I should make myself a sticker reward chart like one for wayward toddlers!  I’ll let you know how I get on.