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Jessica Joy

Knitwear designer, teacher and author

For about a year now I’ve been quietly purging my wardrobe. Around the 8th charity shop trip, I started to fall in love with the idea of having fewer clothes and creating a really cute capsule wardrobe, *cue incessant googling and Pinterest searches*. I wanted to curate a set of classic, practical pieces which, I hoped, would force a bit of creativity into my morning routine. Ever been faced with a bulging wardrobe and the feeling of having nothing to wear?

So far, it’s been a liberating experience, mostly to my bank balance, and i’ve started taking the time to actually notice my own personal style, and how it’s changed over the years. To stay inspired I challenged myself to wear a different combination of items every day, and photograph them to see how I’m doing. This has been great to capture the successful, and the not so successful outcomes – let alone forcing me to make an effort each morning. It’s far too easy to wear pyjamas all day when you’re self employed and working from home!

I didn’t think I could talk about this without showing you a few, so eek, while I hide, here they are:

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Mustard cardigan: H&M / Bird dress: H&M / Striped scarf: Muji / Cable knit jumper: White Stuff / Camel Jeggings: Warehouse / Striped cotton tank: H&M / Skinny jeans: ASOS / Boots: Cara c.2004

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Denim shirt: H&M / Navy duffle coat: Topshop / Knitted owl jumper: Handmade / Belt: Warehouse / Brogues: New Look

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Striped blazer: H&M / Velvet mustard skirt: H&M / Bobble knit cardigan: H! by Henry Holland

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Knit tunic: White Stuff / Sleeveless shirt: H&M / Denim shirt: H&M

If you’re thinking of culling your wardrobe, or just refreshing it a little bit, here are the best tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.

Be ruthless: If any of your clothes have holes, stains, don’t fit or aren’t looking in brilliant condition, just chuck ’em. It’s nice to replace those well loved staples every few years and make room for new things. After this initial cull, you can then start looking at your tastes, what haven’t you worn in the last year, is there anything you just don’t like, or was an unwanted gift. And don’t forget about accessories. Apply the same rules to shoes, handbags, old belts, unmentionables, and jewellery.

Three month box: Create a designated box that’s bound for the charity shop. If you’re just not sure if you can part with something, put it in the box and store it away for three months – if you don’t go to retrieve it in that time, let it go.

Visual overview: Now that you’ve got rid of the clutter you can start to look at what’s left and how it all works together. Lay out all your clothes in groups, do you have too many skirts and only one pair of casual trousers (for example). Play around with what fabrics look nice together and take photos so that you can refer back to them. My ‘morning selfie’ has been really helpful for building outfits, and figuring out what staples I need to buy. If you don’t already have a style board on Pinterest, make one. Sifting back through those images can really help to get a feel for what you’re drawn to, but might not have considered for yourself.

Invest: When it comes to adding new pieces to a capsule wardrobe, really take the time to consider if it will mix in with what you have (here’s where those group photos come in handy). If you can, try to invest in the best quality you can afford. Chances are if you’re maintaining a smaller wardrobe, and being smarter about your choices, you’ll buy less often and have extra pennies for something that will last. Investing time in making your own clothes is also hugely rewarding. I’ve been living in my owls jumper (above) this Winter.

Colours, textures and patterns: The one thing I’ve found with a mix-and-match wardrobe, is that there needs to be some cohesion, and longevity. While clashing patterns can be fun, I tend to get bored with the colour, or design, after a while. Try to stick with neutral solid colours that flatter your skin tone and a few brighter pops of colour/pattern that compliment this base. This way you increase the range of your mixing and matching. No prizes for guessing stripes and mustard yellow were my accents of choice. Also be very aware of the colours that just don’t suit you either, boo hiss orangey-red!

Overall, this has been (and continues to be) a really cathartic journey for me, and I hope it inspires others to have a go, too. For someone who’s never been very aware of style, I feel like I’m finally finding my groove. Have you ever tried this and have some awesome tips to share? Or is a capsule wardrobe your worst nightmare? I’m all ears!

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The temperature is really starting to drop in this little corner of the world, I hope you’re keeping warm, wherever you are. Today, I thought I’d spread a little warmth by sharing this easy, and super practical cup cosy pattern.

In this weather I never want to be far from a hot cup of tea or a festive flavoured latte. These little cosy’s are great for keeping in your handbag, or permanently attached to your favourite mug. Although you can wash it occasionally, if you want! The length is customisable, so can fit around any width cup. Why not start a few now as gifts this Christmas, or stocking stuffers?

If you’d rather a PDF download of the pattern, you can download one in my shop.

Jessica Joy | Free Cup Cosy Knitting Pattern

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I absolutely love Hannah Fetig’s new collection of yoked cardigans and jumpers. I mean, just look!

Knitbot: Yoked

Knitbot: Yoked

Knitbot: Yoked

At first I couldn’t decide which one to make, the birdie cardigan is amazing, but I just love the colour combos and chevrons on the Willard pullover (cover photo). I can picture a few cute outfits with this one, so it won in the end. What I can’t decide on thou, do I make it as a jumper, or alter the pattern a little and make it a cardigan. What do you think?

Knitbot: Yoked Birdie Cardigan

The collection is made using Quince and Co’s Owl yarn – it’s gorgeous, but sadly not easy to find in the UK. I did a bit of hunting around and have decided to substitute it for Artesano Aran (Pine and Sunrise). It’s the same fiber content and weight as owl: 50% wool, 50% alpaca, which gives that lovely fuzzy halo in the photos. It also comes in 100g hanks at a similar price, so is a little easier on the pocket. I’m so excited to start this I might burst! Which is your favourite?

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I was researching a few options for knitted pockets recently (as you do) and have become more than a little obsessed. I had a sudden urge to add pockets to everything. My favourite old jumper, which has been worn to death, was the first willing subject and I thought i’d share how I did it:

Jessica Joy | Add-on Pockets

You’ll need: a knitted jumper, yarn weight to suit your jumper (I used Sirdar Flirt DK. The jumper is a finer weight but it’s pretty close), darning needle, needles appropriate for your yarn (I used 2.5mm and 3.75mm), a small scrap of yarn and scissors. Pretty liberty fabric, just for show.

Jessica Joy | Jumper Makeover Knitted PocketsStart by picking up and knitting 26 stitches (or as many as you need) where the base of your pocket will sit. My jumper is backwards (literally) and has the wrong side stockinette stitch facing out, so I picked up the bottom loops as you would with garter stitch. You might want to use a smaller or sharper needle for this if your jumper is a fine knit. This is where I used the 2.5mm.

Jessica Joy | Picking up garter stitches for pockets

If your jumper is stockinette stitch you will need to pick up the little horizontal bar between each V stitch. Pull the V stitch apart gently to see it. If you pick up either leg of the V itself your pocket will appear twisted.

Jessica Joy | Picking up stockinette stitches for pockets

Once you’re all picked up knit alternating knit and purl rows (stockinette stitch) until the pocket flap is a long as you want it.

Jessica Joy | Knitted Pockets

And finish with a few rows of 1×1 ribbing, *K1, P1* to the end of each row and cast-off when you’re happy with the length. Cut the working yarn leaving a long enough tail to stitch each side.

Jessica Joy | Knitted Pockets

Before you begin stitching, particularly if your jumper is a fine knit, you will need to mark out a guide so that you’re sewing the side flap to the same vertical column of stitches. Thread the scrap yarn onto the darning needle and pass it up and under the column next to where you will be stitching.

Jessica Joy | Sewing knitted pockets guide

Now thread the tail yarn onto your needle and begin sewing down the side as follows. You probably won’t be able to sew together like-for-like stitches, so try to sew two stitches for every three vertical stitches. If your jumper is stockinette stitch, like your pocket, you can use mattress stitch to sew the sides invisibly.

Jessica Joy | Sewing knitted pockets

Repeat the same on the other side and weave in your ends to finish. Et voila! How cool is that?

Jessica Joy | Add-on Knitted Pockets

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Printed copies of my slipper sock pattern are now available in the knitting and sewing haven, Social Fabric on Totnes high street. Caroline sells all the tools you’ll need to make them and even runs a sock knitting workshop.

Jessica Joy | Printed Slipper Sock Patterns

Jessica Joy | Knit Bow Necklaces

And up until Christmas eve you can find my knitted jewellery and clay earrings in Objets di Desir in Cabot Circus, Bristol. The shop is located on the top floor of the glass house, nr. Starbucks, so do pop in if you’re on a mission for a festive beverage.

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Picture this: a quaint little haberdashery shop set over three stories of wooden floorboards, steep spiral staircases and feature fireplaces, accessed only on foot via a narrow cobblestone alleyway in the ancient city of Bath – it can only be, The Makery. My love affair with this sweet little crafty corner began in the Winter of 2011 when Kate, The Makery’s owner, invited me to have a stall at her Christmas market. It was magical, as you’d expect, and no craft fair has ever matched it.

Jessica Joy | The Makery Book

So, imagine my delight when I learnt that Kate was busy beavering away writing her first book of craft projects.

Judging by the shop and the workshops that she arranges, the book wasn’t going to disappoint. I was even more thrilled to be asked to contribute a pattern to the book – a cozy pair of knitted wrist warmers. I wrote the pattern that following summer so have been full to bursting all this time, waiting to see the finished article, and share it with you.

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Back in August I had the pleasure of taking a little trip ‘up North’ to the Folksy Summer School. When I’m not knitting and designing I work part-time for Folksy, so was very excited to be going along to man the reception desk, and do other useful things in a cabin in the woods. It was a hugely successful event, which you may have heard about in the twitter-sphere at the time. Folksy released a little video of the weekend recently and it brought back lots of lovely memories.

Folksy Summer School

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