Monday, February 24, 2014

Meet the Maker Monday - TheFeminineTouch

Some of the handcrafted woollen accessories available from TheFeminineTouch

Welcome to the first in my new occasional feature, Meet The Maker, introducing the cream of British artisans and crafters! My very first Maker is TheFeminineTouch, aka Sandra (or Fem), a full time handcrafter of beautiful handknitted woollen fashion accessories, who lives in Yorkshire, England, just a few minutes walk from the beautiful moors of Haworth and Bronte Country. Sandra and I first got to know each other a few years ago through Craft Britannia, an online community that provides mutual support to otherwise isolated home-based artisans across the UK

High quality hand knitted & felted accessories

As I've always admired people who can knit and crochet (I can't), and also have a soft spot for lacy shawls, Sandra was a perfect choice to tell me more about her craft. A talented and prolific knitter, she handmakes stunning accessories from quality wool and mohair yarn. As with so many home-based artisans, Sandra does everything herself - including designing, handcrafting, photographing and packaging. She also gets a great sense of achievement out of finding woollen items at car boot sales and charity shops, then upcycling them into beautiful felted bags and cushions

This Spring Lace Shawl demonstrates Sandra's superb workmanship & attention to detail

Sandra's usual method of working is to research and plan each new design before finally choosing the yarns. She admits, however, that every now and again she comes across some yarn that she simply HAS to have! (I know all about this, as my stash of "must have" beads & findings has grown big enough to last me several lifetimes!) One of my favourite TheFeminineTouch designs is a spring lace shawl that incorporates two different yarns, both of which were sourced from other British hand crafters

"I had these two beautiful yarns in my yarn stash"

The main yarn in the shawl is a luxury merino and silk blend DK, consisting of loose fibres wrapped round a core thread, giving the appearance of a single ply yarn. It has been dip dyed to a deep cherry red-pink, and the silk gives it a beautiful soft semi-sheen. The other yarn is hand dyed merino wool, hand spun into a single yarn. "I had these two beautiful yarns in my yarn stash, waiting to be knit into something wonderful", Sandra explained, when I asked her to tell me more about the process of designing and producing this stunning garment

Left above, Hand Dyed merino silk yarn: WharfedaleWoolworks; Left below, detail of lace stitch
Right above, detail of tassels; Right below, Handspun Yarn: HookLineAndStitches

"In February 2013 we went on holiday. I couldn't imagine spending a week without my knitting needles, so the day before we were due to fly I delved in to my stash of yarn & picked out the most delicious yarns I could find", says Sandra. Having decided to knit a shawl, she looked for a stitch pattern that would show off the merino yarn to best advantage. "I’d also got in my head that the gorgeous claret and mistletoe yarn would make lovely tassels, just to bring a touch of colour."

"I couldn't imagine spending a week without my knitting needles"

"Finally, I chose an intricate lace stitch, a 12 row pattern repeat with lots of yarn overs and passing stitches over others." This all sounds rather technical to me, a non-knitter! "It's not one of those patterns you can easily remember, definitely not the kind of knitting to contemplate whilst having a quick drink of wine!" she admits. Her week's holiday passed, and the shawl was completed. And if you are wondering who the gorgeous model is, it's Sandra's daughter Michelle, of whom she is justifiably proud: "normally you get just to see her hands", she says, because Michelle usually models TheFeminineTouch gloves (modelling is perhaps the only thing Sandra doesn't actually do herself!)

Dress: KatherineLKerrison, Sandals: Cholesburys, Shawl: TheFeminineTouch, Earrings: ErikaPrice

You can wear this beautiful shawl a myriad ways, with a pretty skirt and blouse, as a fabulous accessory for a smart night out, or perhaps with a gorgeous flowery maxi dress! It would also be perfect for a spring or summer wedding, either for a bridesmaid or the bride herself. Sandra has put two quite different outfits together to give you an idea, selecting some beautiful items all handmade by artisans here in the UK

"I love to work with customers to create something truly unique"

TheFeminineTouch offers a full customisation service, whereby the customer can be involved in the design process. If you see a design you like and its not quite the right colour or yarn type, Sandra loves to work with you to create something truly unique for you

Black Dress: GinAndSinEtsy, Earrings: ErikaPrice, Shawl: TheFeminineTouch, Gothic Choker: TataniaRosa

Exclusive 10% Discount Offer

TheFeminineTouch products are available online from Etsy and TheFeminineTouch.org.uk, as well as from UniquelyUK, a collection of talented UK based artisans who aim to bring high quality originality into the lives of their customers. You can also follow TheFeminineTouch on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news & makes

Sandra is offering readers an exclusive 10% discount off any purchase from her Etsy shop. To claim your discount, visit TheFeminineTouch now, and simply apply coupon code ERIKASBLOG before checkout. Enjoy!

© Erika Price . All rights reserved.