Pickle and Pongo: New homes required

Now that the Knitting and Stitching Shows are over for another year and the 2014 UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards have been announced, Pickle and Pongo’s jobs are done.  While I will be sorry to see them go, there are far too many dogs in my house already (apparently, according to the Husband though I can’t see it myself) so I have just listed them in my Etsy shop. Do have a look and feel free to share with anyone you think might be interested in purchasing a unique, hand crafted gift.

UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards: and the winner is……..

Me! (big grins and a little jig around the living room). Yep folks, the knitted dog heads did me proud and I was awarded the Gold in the Open category. I am particularly chuffed as I was up against some seriously talented knit and crochet artists/designers but those stern looking judges with clipboards who wandered around Ally Pally trying not to make eye contact with us have in their wisdom encouraged me to continue with my madness and unwittingly given me permission to make more. Yay!

I feel privileged to have once again been given the opportunity to be part of the Harrogate Knit and Stitch show by the UKHKA, this being a fantastic experience in a beautiful town. The regular exhibitors at the show tend to have the same location for their stands each year (probably so that return visitors can find them in the maze that is the Harrogate International Centre) and I was pleased to see that the Spellbound Bead Company were once again alongside and I had the opportunity to stock up on some new music courtesy of Kevin Powell, mild mannered bead seller by day and lead singer in playful punk band Skimmer by night. Anyway, I digress (there are just so many talented creative people out there it is difficult to stay focused!), now back to the awards….

The winner of the Graduate category was Camille Hardwick with her beautiful creations inspired by the concept of an “oxymoron”.

"Camille Hardwick"

Camille Hardwick, winner of the Gold in the graduate category of the UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards 2014

The Silver in the graduate category went to Elmina Fors with her fabulous colourwork.

Elmina Fors Silver winner

Elmina Fors Silver winner (graduate category)

And Bronze was awarded to Ainslie Mackie with these lovely wearable pieces.

Ainslie Mackie Bronze winner

Ainslie Mackie Bronze winner (graduate category)

All of the graduate finalists this year had managed to produce items of knitwear that were both worthy of the catwalk and wearable and I think the winners of the awards in particular did a great job of showing how innovative knitwear can also be functional.

In the Open category, Silver was awarded to Heather Drage for the wonderful Willoughby Brown.

Heather Drage and Willoughby Brown, Silver winners Open category

Heather Drage with Willoughby Brown, Silver winner Open category

And Bronze was awarded to Oksana Dymyd with her gorgeous cushions.

Oksana Dymyd

Oksana Dymyd, Bronze award winner in the Open category

So, back to reality now and I need to crack on with the Christmas commissions.  What an amazing experience it was to be part of these awards for a second year. I would encourage any of you hand knit and crochet artists and designers to consider entering this competition next year. Having your work viewed by tens of thousands of people and hearing their feedback is such a privilege and all of the finalists came away with a sense that their hard work and efforts had been validated both by the judges who selected the finalists and then again by the overwhelming response of the visitors to the stand.

“Caught on Calico”

Apologies to those of you who don’t “do” Christmas until December, but I couldn’t wait any longer to show you my 2014 Christmas card designs.  These three hand embroidered doggy doodles all show dogs (and cats in two of them) caught doing something naughty (hence the name of the series “Caught on Calico”) in a Christmas setting.  The names of the cards are: “The Christmas Party”, “Wreck the Halls” and “The Night before Christmas”. No prizes for guessing which title belongs to which doodle.

"embroidered Christmas doggy doodles"

Nicky Barfoot 2014 Christmas card designs: “Caught on Calico”

These embroideries have been transferred to printed cards for me by Moo on their lovely 340gsm paper.  They are for sale and are proving to be so popular I’m on my second print run.  If you have doggy mad friends or relatives who would appreciate a limited edition art card for Christmas, I’ll have them with me at the Harrogate Knit and Stitch show (20 to 23 November) so do come find me on stand A600 where I will once again be exhibiting my knitted dog heads as a finalist in the UK Hand Knitting Association’s Knitted Textile Awards.  Hope to see some of you next week.

“Upside Down and Back to Front” with Matthew Harris

Isn’t it wonderful when you look forward to something for ages and it turns out even better than expected?  That just about sums up the past few days spent at West Dean College with ten lovely stitchers and the super talented and charming Matthew Harris as tutor. Matthew has been a sell out at West Dean for every course he has done there so far, and with good reason.

In the brief we were advised to bring some images to work from, preferably abstract, but as you have probably gathered by now I don’t really do abstract being more inclined to figurative so I arrived armed with five monoprints from a recent life session.  I was hoping that with Matthew’s expert guidance I would learn a way of working which would enable me to move away from the literal and create an in between step when translating my drawings into textile work.  That was exactly what happened!  I think it is a sign of a good tutor when every person in the room takes on board a new working process but comes up with their own unique visual language and identity, and using Matthew’s tutorial style of teaching that is certainly what happened for us.

I came away with a number of images which I see as resolved pieces in themselves but which I am also itching to translate into textiles.  After a brief dabble with embroidery this morning, I am now thinking woven tapestry.  Hoping to keep the enthusiasm for this on the back burner over the next few weeks while I get on with a couple of commissions. These are probably my favourite images from the weekend (at the moment anyway, but this could change once I have put them away for a few weeks).  Watch this space for further development…..

"ink and graphite drawing on Khadi Paper"

Ink and graphite on Kahdi Paper, drawing by Nicky Barfoot 2014

"ink and graphite drawing on Khadi paper"

Ink and graphite on Khadi Paper, drawing by Nicky Barfoot 2014