Button Love

I love buttons.

I’ve always loved buttons.

As a child, one of my favourite things to do was to play with my Mum’s button jar.  Her jar is like an old-fashioned sweet jar – glass with a cut glass lid with a seal.  And the buttons inside were little coloured jewels.  I loved playing with them.   I sorted them by size and colour.  I made patterns, snugging them as tightly together as I could.  I had favourite buttons in that jar: a set of quilted, leather buttons from an old 1960s coat, a little red shirt button and a blue pearlescent one.

There’s a wonderful generational connection between crafters when it comes to buttons – a continuity of materials that is a tangible manifestation of the inheritance of craft skills.  My mother-in-law very generously gave me one of her button boxes when she sold one of her houses, and I’ve added those buttons to my own collection.  Her tastes are different to mine – the colours are different (more blues and greens than reds, purples, gold and silver) and there are little non-button delights in there like soft toy eyes and teddy bear noses.  I feel proud and honoured that she wanted to give me a box of such personal treasures that are a part of her family history.

Rather than being taken and saved from old clothes at the end of their life to be re-used, most of the buttons I’ve acquired myself have been bought.  I’m like a magpie when it comes to buttons – I want all the pretty, shiny things.  In a moment of fevered madness I once spent over £100 in Liberty just on buttons and I spent a very happy afternoon in Duttons during a weekend in York a couple of years ago.

Finding the perfect buttons for a project is a real pleasure.  And I’ve now got to the point on my Chickadee where I’m close to starting the button bands and need to make some decisions.    The yarn is Skein Queen Voluptuous, which I bought at Unravel last year specifically to make this cardigan.  Voluptuous is a beautifully woolly, sheepy yarn with quite a rustic feel.  It’s a ‘sticky’ yarn, making it perfect for colourwork.

I’ve a few options for buttons.

Buttons 1

Chickadee will have a garter stitch edging with contrast colour finishing, so I’ve folded the cuff up to show you what it would look like.

The top two buttons are from Textile Garden.  They have an amazing selection of buttons in all colours, sizes and materials.  The ones in the top row I bought yesterday.  The etched brass is simple, but the details are lovely, particularly the little bird motif which echoes the colourwork.  I like the coppery undertone of the second button down, and the white echoes the background colour of the colourwork section very nicely.  I think the third one down is a bit too small and too delicate for this cardigan.  The colour of the bottom button is great, but I think the filigree isn’t quite right for this cardigan.

I normally go for quite neutral buttons, sticking to metallics, but Ysolda’s original cardigan has contrast buttons.  So I also looked in my stash for contrast buttons that might work.

Buttons 2The top two buttons here are porcelain.  I bought them at Dulwich Picture Gallery of all places.  The bottom one is Czech glass.  The flowers in the top button match the colourwork birds, but the green isn’t the best match and they are flowers rather than birds.  The second one is a bit too dark, I think, and the colours in the bottom one don’t work for this project (though one day I will find the perfect project for these beautiful buttons).

So, which would you choose?



Inhaling the yarn fumes – Unravel 2015

It feels strange to get up earlier on a Saturday than during the rest of the week,  but today I went to Unravel in Farnham with my friend Bronagh.  For those who don’t know, Unravel is a yarn show that specialises in small, independent dyers and designers.  Farnham Maltings itself is a warren of a building, with lots of little rooms tucked round hidden corners and filled with surprises.

Knitters often talk about getting giddy on the yarn fumes at events like this.  And while some of the yarn does retain a beautiful sheepy smell, for me the intoxication comes from being surrounded by so much colour.  Everything from subtle, plant-dyed shades to heathered tweeds to zingy brights across the whole spectrum.  There is a lot to stroke and squish and admire.  Being surrounded by so much colour is the perfect lift on a cold, dark February day.  And when that colour is coupled with beautiful design and the products of craft skills exercised with care and love it’s a wonderfully energising and inspiring thing.

So, I ended up bringing some of the loveliness home with me.

Unravel Swag

From top left, there are two skeins of Sweet Georgia yarn.  These were reduced, so are positively a bargain.  I’m not sure what they’ll become yet, but they demanded to come home with me.  You can’t see in the picture, but they’re a glowing pink/red with golden undertones.

Next to that is Rachel Coopey‘s new book.  I love her socks, and it’s always good to be able to buy direct from the author to maximise their income from the book.

Pretty In Pink
Vintage bed jacket

And at the end of the top row is a copy of the December 1952 Stitchcraft.  There’s a beautiful lace bed jacket in there with a pussycat bow neck that’s just asking to be updated.  I’m sure it would work beautifully in a bright, modern 4 ply yarn, but I’ll need to do the sums to see how that will work out.

At the left of the bottom row are four skeins of Skein Queen Flockly.  I love Debbie’s dyeing style, and this is very typical of her work.  This is a picky-mauve with very warm undertones that changes colour depending on the light.  Four skeins is a sweater.  Possibly an Elphaba.

Next up are two skeins from Easyknits.  The blue is Bigger On The Inside, a semi-solid blue, and the red is one of the Deeply Wicked shades called Lust.  Both will turn into socks at some point.

The wine and the gold are two shades of Meadow by The Fibre Company.  I first saw their stuff at Ally Pally last year.  It’s beautifully squishable, with lovely colours, but is a touch on the pricey side.  But there was an introductory offer on Meadow, which is a blend of Merino, Llama, Silk and Linen.  The two skeins together should make a beautifully drape-y and rustic shawl.  Suggestions please for a pattern!

The peacock shade is a laceweight from Midwinter Yarns.  It promises long colour runs and a rustic feel.  They’re a new company and have some lovely Gotland and other hard-wearing yarns in beautiful colours.  They’re apparently doing pretty much every show they can get to this year, so do check them out.

And on the end are two Skein Queen Exquisite, which might turn into a pair of knee high socks with leftovers for fingerless mitts.

I also bought (not shown) some buttons (I have a weakness for buttons …) and a wonderful “No Woman, No Ply” project bag from Baa Ram Ewe.