Craft Guerrilla + Debbie Bliss = Walthamstow Heaven

Last night was a soggy autumnal evening. I’d already cycled home in the rain so would have been perfectly justified in curling up on the sofa. But back out I went to Walthamstow Village for a Craft Guerrilla event with the knitting designer, Debbie Bliss. (I recently blogged about one of her projects here.)

Guess what? Debbie is a long-term resident of Walthamstow. Double guess what with knobs on? I have a vague connection with her as a friend of mine used to be her neighbour, information I enjoyed sharing with Debbie. Triple guess what with knobs on and a tassle? Next January, Debbie has a knitting pamphlet coming out called ‘The Village’ that was all photographed in … Walthamstow Village! You can surely imagine my excitement when I found THAT out. Oh yes, I will be buying that pamphlet. There’s the butcher’s shop! There’s the restaurant I have been going to for the past ten years! Oh, shut up, Karen.

Debbie Bliss

Debbie talked to us about her career as a knitting designer. It was a great presentation and covered a wide range of hot topics including pattern copyright, exactly what knitting pattern designers are paid (peanuts – that’s why we need to respect copyright), the craft industry in a recession (healthy), sizing issues, yarn sourcing, and why British sheep don’t make great wool (they’re bred for meat and, um, rug making).

Other random but fascinating facts from the talk:

  • Debbie Bliss made a knitted plant for Elton John.
  • She once worked in a steel spring factory in Walthamstow.
  • Liberty commissioned knitted fuschia from her.
  • Her daughter used to be embarrassed that her mum was a knitwear designer.
  • Some of her glamorous knitwear photography has taken place in Kilburn, North London and Tunbridge Wells!

Debbie definitely left me with renewed respect for anyone who designs knitwear. She talked really intelligently about colour palettes, how fabrics behave, grading sizes, themes for collections and design concepts. I really enjoyed hearing about how her designs work to platform and flatter the wearer, as well as performing in their own right. I was particularly interested in hearing how she designs baby wear. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about, having never had a baby, but it was very touching to hear how carefully she works to draw the eye to a baby’s face and also make an item practical for the parent. You can be sure high street chains don’t think in this way!

As well as listening to Debbie, I enjoyed meeting others at the evening. Now, I bet you’ve all been drooling over the mustard knit in the first photograph, haven’t you? So was I. Can you believe it – Theodora designed her beautiful cardigan herself. Yes, really!

I can’t imagine how you begin designing something like this. As Theo commented: ‘It nearly killed me.’

Also present was Robyn’s Nest. I watched enviously all evening as she crocheted away:

This was another great event organised by Craft Guerrilla. If you’re looking for an event to attend yourself, Leopard Anchor has just blogged about a Crafty Pint Event on 3 December. I am so tagging along on her trip to Tooting!

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9 Responses to Craft Guerrilla + Debbie Bliss = Walthamstow Heaven

  1. Felicity from Down Under says:

    that’s more than just a brush with fame. Sounds fantastic.

  2. Kerry says:

    That looks like a really fun and interesting evening – she seems like a cool lady too. I might be nervous to knit near her tho! 🙂

  3. too jealous! I love Debbie designs, everything I have made apart from my latest have been hers!! I recognise Theo from the stitch in time volume 2 that arrived today. Have been pawing over it intently – some beuts in there..

  4. rachel sew-n-sew says:

    What a lovely evening you had, I feel inspired to improve my (poor) knitting skills. I don’t use wool and I don’t know what I’d do without Debbie Bliss’s cotton range. I recognised Theodora too – thanks for linking to her blog!

  5. Liara says:

    How fun! I love the description about the baby sweaters. What a thoughtful designer!

  6. Michelle says:

    What fun! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall … with a beer in hand (do flies have hands?)

  7. Dilly says:

    This looks like such a fun evening! This is why I miss London – and the UK in general… I moved away just as I was getting into sewing and crafting (or rather I had more time to do it once I’d moved away), and I need to get something set up here, I just don’t know how one goes about that.

    (Also, I totally get your excitement about seeing a place you know in print – when I got to the bit about where Debbie Bliss’s photo shoots had taken place and it was, “Ooh, Kilburn, I lived there for a year! OOOH! Tunbridge Wells, I grew up there!!!! Woot!”)

    And I WANT that mustard cardie, or rather the skill and patience to make myself one…

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