Today we welcome Helen Gladman, a new reviewer to the whipup team.

Helen is knitter from Canberra with a reasonably sized stash and a love of knitting shawls, cardigans and socks. She is learning to quilt, sews mainly little girl clothes and blogs at Bells Knits where you will find stories and photos of her creative output and dreams.


The Finer Edge: Crocheted Trims, Motifs & Borders by Kristin Omdahl is a book with wide ranging patterns that will spruce up all manner of items. The author has taken the notion of the standard framing use for edges and applies the techniques to a broader range of items.

While the book contains a stitch dictionary and basic introduction to the use of crochet borders and trims, it is not really a book for beginners. It is assumed you already know how to crochet and how to read crochet charts.

I really liked the way the motifs and borders are set out – one to each page with the chart and written out instructions provided in case you are more comfortable with one form of pattern reading than another.


The designs are varied and attractive and the possibilities greater than my previous crochet experience led me to believe. I could add a lot of stitches to my repertoire with this book and learn ways to do more than just trim a tea towel or piece of fabric. There are designs for hats and scarves which I think is a great way to show the way these stitches can be used.

The book makes me want to dig out a crochet hook and start adding borders to anything I can lay my hands on. You can’t recommend a book with higher praise than that, I think.




Kathreen put this post together on her travels. I thought it was a wonderful thing to share. – Kate


During most of 2013, will be hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

The theme for this month is Make It Local :: with Alexandra Smith of Lola Nova. Today, Alexandra shares her last post for the month. Thank you so much Alexandra for sharing your inspiration, taking us on a tour of your local farmers market and for sharing your great tutorial for making market bags. Also, for introducing us to Annie and her local woollen mill, Nancy and her Macrame and to Lindsay and her pesto recipe (yum!).


Last year when Kathreen invited me to be a guest editor for a month on WhipUp, I was deeply honored and jumped at the chance. Though I never met her in person, I considered Kathreen a friend, a kindred spirit and a supporter of the utmost kind. Through her hard work and gorgeous spirit, she brought together a community; fostered art and craft, endlessly inspired and encouraged so many wonderful people.  She made such a tremendous impact on me and I know so many others. She created an amazing legacy and I truly believe she made this world a better place. She reminds us to live life with passion and intent; to live deliberately with love and to continue to follow our hearts.


I cannot ever repay Kathreen’s kindness to me, though I would like to contribute to her legacy in some small way. The 3 Origami Market Bags from my previous tutorial are up for sale in my Etsy shop 50 percent of proceeds from each of these bags will be donated to the trust fund for Kathreen and Rob’s beautiful children, daughter Otilija and son Orlando.

If you would like to donate in another way, please follow the link HERE.

Thank you and much love,

Alexandra Smith


During most of 2013, will be hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

The theme for this month is Make It Local :: with Alexandra Smith of Lola Nova.

I feel incredibly fortunate to love where I live. There is so much here that inspires me and influences what and how I make.  Part of that process comes from being a blogger and taking pictures.  I am by no means a “Photographer,” I am just a woman with a camera who enjoys taking photos. When I started blogging and reading more blogs, I was truly in awe of some of the beautiful photos I found on the internet. It rekindled an old flame, photography. I set about improving my skills, which meant taking a whole heck of a lot of pictures. There is no shortage of subject matter out there. I started by taking walks in my neighborhood and capturing things that caught my eye. Then, every outing meant bringing my camera along and noting my environment; shapes, textures, colors and patterns sprung up everywhere I looked.


I started to see things differently. Everyday ordinary objects took on new beauty and interest. As I would go through my photographs, I would see them again in yet another light.  After a while I started to see a connection between my pictures and the projects I was working on. The colors and patterns of seasons would make their way into my making.



Winter Barberry some gray and red stitching




A riot of spring flowers and some colorful quilting

Small moments, little vignettes, places just down the street were captured by my camera and somehow made their way into my making. Even my backyard became full of inspiration.

4 4a

A gorgeous little caravan and some fabric printing

5 5a

My little red hen Fran and her cohorts have played muse to me many times

Often when I find myself stuck, when I feel I have run out of ideas, I grab my camera and take a walk. It allows me to get out in the fresh air, clear my head and have a good look around. I always, always come back with a number of pictures that get me pondering. Sometimes I do not even realize until much later how much my environment really affects me and what I’m working on.



This picture has me thinking about making something right now- love those colors!


And of course going hyper-local, my favorite subject is a constant source of inspiration.

So why not give it a try? Take your camera out and capture whatever interests you. Your photos don’t have to be perfect; it’s all about seeing things differently, noticing the colors, shapes, and patterns of your surroundings. Make it Local in pictures! I bet that wherever you live, there is no end to what can inspire you.


During most of 2013, will be hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

The theme for this month is Make It Local :: with Alexandra Smith of Lola Nova.

Today, Alexandra introduces Annie of knitsofactoAnnie is a blogger, photographer, knitter, natural dyer, and country girl who lives with her husband, four children, and six dogs in rural north Wales, UK.  She spends her days wrangling yarn and whippets, and dreaming of owning a wool shop and a proper dye house.

Old Woollen Mill #1

There are ancient cottages here, slate roofed and built of local stone, that look to have grown from the soil. That they were once scaffolding and whistling workmen is almost beyond comprehension. They belong to this land, this place, and it is impossible to imagine them existing elsewhere. Much the same might be said of the old fulling mill at Trefriw.

The woollen industry has been economically significant here since Hywel the Good ruled Wales and included in the annual ‘tribute’ paid to the English “one hundred pounds of wool”. But woollen cloth, before it truly has value, must be scoured and fulled to wash away grease and dirt and to close the weave. This was the first part of the woollen production process to be mechanised and is the part that requires the most water.

In Trefriw that water comes from the fast flowing river Crafnant, which also powered the waterwheel that powered the mill’s fulling hammers, and which today powers its turbines. Crafnant, or ‘the valley of the wild garlic’ … even now, when the wild garlic flowers, Trefriw is suffused with its scent. And I can’t help but wonder if, centuries ago, the same pungent fragrance that I smelt while there to take these photographs tickled the nostrils of the village’s weavers as they carried their cloth from cottage to mill to be fulled.

Old Woollen Mill #2

Wild garlic, or ramsoms, and the ubiquitous yellow gorse both proliferate here, the first a food plant the juices of which act as a natural moth repellent, the second a coconut smelling godsend to the dyer (and the maker of country wines!). But where once the dye house at Trefriw might have been heaped with bundles of gorse, today the dyeing process is all about chemistry. The almost-alchemy of the past is consigned to the archived dyer’s ‘receipt’ books, yet the old stone sinks remain beside the modern stainless steel dye vats. And waiting to be coloured, the knitting yarn they still spin here. To knit with yarn from Trefriw, now that’s making it local!

The women of Wales have long been knitters. An 18th century traveller once remarked of them: “I cannot speak too highly of [their] industry … always knitting as they walk along even with heavy loads upon their heads, they must make a number of stockings which I suppose they sell, for they will go bar foot and bar skin as they themselves term it.” He was right, they were knitting stockings for the ‘stocking men’, who travelled from door to door buying the finished goods for a pitiful three pennies a pair and stringing them onto poles which they carried on their shoulders.

This was piece work and these women were poor, so of necessity they knitted as they went about the business of their day, often with a baby or a toddler slung in a nursing shawl at their waist. They knitted – our traveller again – “during the whole business” of taking a beast to market, “though many of them held a horse or a cow” throughout. They knitted without benefit of a pattern, having learnt all the design skills and stitch combinations they needed at their mothers’ knees. And they knitted at knitting evenings held in each other’s cottage homes, nosweithiau gwau, where they would gather together to be sociable and to save on fuel, to knit by firelight and to gossip. Clearly stitch ‘n’ bitch is nothing new!

Old Woollen Mill #3

Trefriw’s principal product in recent years has been woven Welsh blankets not so very different to the traditional wedding coverlets, orcarthenni, that were made hereabouts in the past. Visit when the mill is working and you can see and hear – you’ll need to shout to be heard above them – the carding engines, spinning mules, and looms in action. My paternal grandfather worked in just such a mill, his days measured by the clackety-clack, clackety-clack, clackety-clack, clackety-clack, of the machines at the mill’s heart. He belonged in that mill just as the mill in turn belonged in the valley that supplied the stone from which it had been constructed, the water that powered it, and the generations of skilled craftsmen that kept it working.

If my grandfather had been born and raised in a different Welsh valley he might have quarried roofing slate or mined silver. But he was born where he was and so he did what men raised there did. It was in his bones. And that connection he had to place is something I fear we are losing and something I do not want to lose. The old woollen mill at Trefriw connects me to those who came before me. Men and women who made things local, and with wool, just as I do. Folk who knew where the wild garlic grows.

Old Woollen Mill #4