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Wednesday, 18 December 2013


It hardly seems possible that I'm writing about our Christmas lunch, as I can so clearly remember going to Maze last year with a heavily pregnant Katarina and new team members Maja and Yumiko. Of course 2013 has seen some changes to the team, as our beloved Yumiko went home to Japan and we have gained a new model in baby Johan as well as a brand new intern, Tanya. I guess it's a sign of getting old when the years race by so quickly, or maybe it's just that my year at MillaMia has been so packed full I haven't had time to notice the months speeding by!

We have decided that our annual Christmas lunch should be held at a different restaurant each year, and why not? With the entirety of London's many restaurants and eateries at our fingertips, we think that sampling a good variety is definitely the best way to go. This year we lunched at The Admiral Codrington in Chelsea, or the 'Ad Cod' as I'm told it is affectionately called. Though tucked away down a side road, the pub has an excellent reputation for great food, has recently been refurbished to sit happily in it's suave Chelsea setting and is renowned for it's gourmet burgers.

Tanya and Helena pre-lunch and Katarina and Helena modelling their MillaMia knitwear - a Vanessa Cardigan and a Monica Jacket

We all enjoyed delicious lunches including onglet, triple cooked chips, rare-breed beef burger in a cream bun and pork belly with the most delectable looking crackling! Of course, great food is important at any Christmas lunch, but spending time with colleagues who are genuinely good friends and exchanging presents also make these times extra special.

I had knitted up some Christmas gifts for the girls - the 'Take Heart' hat by Fiona Alice from the latest Pom Pom Quarterly magazine. Knitted in BC Garn Semilla Grosso and topped with an exquisitely soft alpaca pompom from Toft Alpaca (all purchased at Loop), these hats are right on the 'bobble hat' trend but with the added luxury of a 'fur' bobble rather than a woolly one. Each hat took 2 balls of the aran weight yarn, and were incredibly quick to knit up, making them a very reasonably priced gift. The girls all looked so warm and cosseted in their hats that I HAD to knit up one for myself over the weekend! You might just have time to speed knit one of these gorgeous hats for yourself or a loved one too.

Katarina and Helena gifted us all some pampering treats - Korres shower gel and Ren body cream - so nice to receive early Christmas presents! It was lovely too, to meet Tanya, the new MillaMia intern - a knitwear designer, hand knitter and newbie to Ravelry - I think we'll all have plenty in common to chat about in 2014!

 Maja, Tanya and I on our way home with serously full bellies!
(posted by Max)

Friday, 13 December 2013

POM POM MAGAZINE Christmas Party

Laura 'Purl Princess' Parkinson and Meghan Fernades
At the very same time that Max and her Knitting Group were enjoying their Christmas Swap Party, my husband Andy and I were making our way to Spitalfields for the first ever Pom Pom Quarterly Magazine Christmas Party. We were thrilled to have been invited along, and as Andy works in the City, literally just over the other side of Spitalfields Market, we managed to drop in for an hour or so after work.

My lasting impression from this lovely event is that Meghan and Lydia had excelled themselves in adding the extra special details that made the party so enjoyable. As we walked through the Christ Church grounds and down to the Crypt where the party was taking place, our way was lit by candles, I could smell the scent of incense in the air and hear live music. It was beautifully atmospheric, and set the mood perfectly.

Once inside, we were delighted to find the same attention to detail in the Washi Tape Christmas tree - so fun! - the popcorn table, Christmas G & T's crammed with cranberries and of course the tables offering lots of lovely yarn from indie dyers such as Lioness Arts, Skein Queen, Kettle Yarn Co and Uncommon Thread. I noted that they all seemed to be doing brisk business!

There was a good crowd of people from early on in the evening, all enjoying the live bands, gin and yarn - a combination that I know Max would have thoroughly enjoyed. It was lovely to see a break away group find a corner to go and knit in, and also such a thrill to see so many of the party goers wearing their beautifully knitted garments - the Pom Pom audience are very obviously proud to wear their handcrafted items - and not surprising as many of them were patterns from the magazine itself.

Andy was pleasantly surprised that a wonderful event like this could be going on so close to the City and his place of work. Although he necessarily felt like a visitor (he isn't a knitter!), he found the venue very cool and the people incredibly welcoming. It was great to be able to introduce him to Meghan, who looked just stunning and so very happy, although I missed the chance to chat with Lydia. Thanks for a great evening girls - we look forward to another year as friends of Pom Pom!

(posted by Katarina)

Saturday, 7 December 2013


I confess that I probably start thinking about my Christmas knitting around August, which may seem crazily early in the year to even contemplate picking up your needles for gift knitting -  does it sound scary and a little obsessive? Even I think that it does, but if I am to manage a knitted gift or two for all of my friends and family whom have grown accustomed to something handmade at Christmas then I have to start early.

It goes without saying that my list this year is as lengthy as ever, with a selection of increasingly complex and barely achievable projects which, at this point in December, I'm beginning to feel mildly anxious about finishing. What can I say? I love to knit for my dear ones, and they are mostly so appreciative that I can't resist creating an almost impossible list of projects in the first place and then adding a few last minute accessories just to mix it up!

This year though, I recognised early on that I would need to enlist some help in order to complete everything, and who better to ask than my Mum? I have often thought that I get the crafting gene from my Mother as she has been the constant crafter in my life, an excellent seamstress as well as an incredible knitter who always likes a challenge (she occasionally also test knits for MillaMia). I had a plan in mind this year for some knitted gifts for all of our Knitting group and as there would be 10 items to make I thought I'd put it to Mum to see if she was up for some speed knitting, and lots of it!

These are the end result of much dedicated knitting over the past month, and a very sore finger! The pattern is Emilee Dee Mitts by Paula Mckeever - a simple fingerless mitten pattern, knitted in the round with the 'turtle tracks' lace pattern meandering up the hand. It's a free pattern available to download from Ravelry, and uses just over 1 ball of MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino. Mum is a relatively fast knitter, and has a fondness for knitting fingerless gloves too, but she assures me that these are a very quick knit, taking just over a day to complete a pair. I guess the only thing you'd need to decide on is the colour! Luckily, Mum managed to knit all 10 pairs, each in a different colour so you can see how they look in a good selection of our shades. Colours from top, going clockwise are: lime, grass, peacock, cobalt, midnight, claret, berry, scarlet, storm and putty. Mum is modelling the scarlet as these are her personal favourites, but I would be hard pushed to pick a pair - they would all add a pop of perfect contrast to my winter coat.

As you can see from the pics below, the mitts were a huge success! The ladies were so touched that Mum had knitted a pair for everyone and there really was a colour to suit every taste.

Louise chose grass, Sue in lime, Kirsty and Helen (behind) in peacock and storm, Mel in midnight, Mandy chose claret, Jo went for the
festive scarlet and Mum is at the back in berry.
(posted by Max)

Friday, 29 November 2013

EVENTS - Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show

Katarina and Helena have a deep fondness for the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, even though for us southerners it is a long drive up North with a car packed to the brim with yarn, books, display shelving and samples - and a seemingly even longer drive home on sunday night after an exhausting 4 days on your feet. Having never been myself, I was eager to see why the girls enjoy this particular Show so much and after a VERY interesting few days beset by more than our fair share of trials and tribulations, I am as enamored of Harrogate K&S as they are!

We drove up on Wednesday afternoon through an unending torrent of rain and arrived rather late as the traffic slowed almost to a standstill just outside of Harrogate. Although we didn't have enough time to set up the stand completely, we were confident that we'd be able to get everything ready in time for the Show opening the following morning. It very quickly became apparent that setting up the stand in time was going to be the least of our worries, as Katarina's voice became fainter and huskier until by the following morning, she had no voice at all! I joked that my endless stream of chatter during our four hour drive had 'broken' her voice (and I'm still not entirely certain that it didn't!), but the cause was unimportant compared to the impact that it would have. With just Kat and I manning the stand on Thursday (Helena joined us late on Thursday evening) which was also late night shopping, we had only one voice between us and a seriously busy day ahead.

Those of you who came along to the stand on Thursday will no doubt remember seeing Katarina doing a weird mix of gesticulating and mouthing her words, and me doing a LOT of talking (nothing new there, I know!). Thanks to all of you who were excellent lip-readers and so incredibly patient.

Helena wearing a Monica Jacket from High Society

Friday morning saw another trial as Katarina, now joined by Helena were making their way to the Show after staying overnight with family in Leeds when the car broke down 3 miles from Harrogate. I, having stayed in an hotel just across the road from the Conference Centre, was waiting for them outside Betty's where we had arranged to meet for a treat of a breakfast. Helena called and explained that they were waiting for the AA and I should go for breakfast without them. The pictures here tell the story of my solitary (but intensely delicious) breakfast at Betty's - my first experience of this incredible Tea House, but most decidedly NOT my last!

I'm happy to report that the girls did make it to Betty's on the following day.

Helena in her Monica Jacket and Katarina sporting the Erika Cardigan from Colour Coded

Aside from a whole raft of difficulties, the Show itself was a joy. We met so many loyal, returning customers who had finished projects, and were excitedly looking for something from our new collections. This lovely lady was proudly wearing her Charlie Cardigan from Country Escape knitted in scarlet (a project she purchased a last years K&S) - it looked absolutely stunning, and she had done a great job as you can see! Jane from New Jersey Wools in Bedale is a stockist of MillaMia - she came along sporting her very own knitted moustache in support of Movember!

It's always interesting to see which of our designs will be the best selling item at a Show, and this year the Vanessa Cable Cardigan from Flight of Fancy was the hands down winner. We had a sample in the original Storm and Lime colourway hanging up which literally stopped people in their tracks, but Katarina's own version in Storm and Forget-me-not was the ultimate Show stealer. There are lots of you out there who purchased yarn and pattern to make this lovely cardigan - we'd love to see the finished garments next year!

On the train home, I took out my knitting and pondered my Harrogate experience. I was delighted by the sheer regal beauty of Harrogate itself, completely bewitched by the taste sensations in Betty's and aside from the 'issues' that hindered us, I enjoyed every minute of the Show. Of course, it's hugely important for the success of a Show like Knitting and Stitching to have friendly vendors and a fabulous venue, but it would be nothing without the incredible knitters, crocheters, stitchers, weavers and crafters who come along every year and make our time so worthwhile. Thanks to you all!!
(posted by Max)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

OUT AND ABOUT - The Knit Club, Caterham

Louise outside her lovely shop - The Knit Club
I might have mentioned this before, but us MillaMia girls love to get out and about among the knitting community and chat to our fabulous customers. We enjoy nothing more than to set up our stall at a crafty show or take a trip to one of our stockists with bags full of our lovely samples so that the real people who knit our patterns can see for themselves just how a garment looks knitted up, and try it on before they commit to a project purchase.

Katarina and I were delighted to visit The Knit Club in Caterham on Saturday to spend the afternoon sharing and showcasing some of our garment samples. Louise Dungate, owner of The Knit Club and all-round lovely lady made us feel incredibly welcome - even though we were a little late, having made a dash out of central London only to hit a wall of traffic all intent on doing the same thing!

It was such a thrill to arrive in a shop full of expectant knitters and we had soon unpacked the samples onto a big table in the centre of the shop so that eager hands could feel the lovely knitwear.

Katarina helped this customer to choose colours for a Vanessa Cowl. She choose Pitch Black and Forget-me-Not - great combination!

I was so excited to meet up with the gorgeous and super stylish Paulina Popiolek whom I met some years ago in a queue outside the KnitNation marketplace!! You may already know some of Paulina's designs - her gorgeous shawl Cameo has been enormously successful on Ravelry. The other lovely lady in the picture below bought some yarn for Bo Wristwarmers to knit for Christmas gifts.

A lovely customer with a Tivoli, Paulina and I
This talented knitter had created a beautiful pram blanket using lots of MillaMia yarn in a great array of colours, and bought yarn to make a very pretty Lillian Jacket in Fuchsia and Seaside.

We'd like to thank Louise for hosting the trunk show at her amazing shop, but most of all we'd like to thank of all the lovely Knit Club customers for welcoming us and being so super enthusiastic! See you all in 2014 . . . !
(posted by Max)

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Uno Cowl
As an uncharacteristically for the UK warm October fades to a colder November my heart sinks as a new battle with my 5 year old looms. Freddie is the type of child who hates layers with a passion, claims he does not feel the cold and is happiest in a t-shirt. He presents a unique dilemma in the more general question of how best to dress my kids for winter. At the back of my mind I think it must surely be possible to combine practical considerations with some form of style -  luckily for me there is plenty to choose from this season. Of course MillaMia knitwear is high on my list – but much as I would like it to be hand knits, they are sometimes not enough!

With a Scandinavian background I feel well trained on the general rules of warmth. Layers, layers and more layers with the most important factor being a water proof, insulated outer layer when it is really cold out. In Sweden despite the weather being far chillier than here and for much more of the year, children are used to being outside for hours of the day at their daycare centres – hence the popularity of the PolarnO.Pyret snow layers. I find the POP jackets last forever and really do keep the children warm for prolonged outdoor spells. Both my older kids have used POP jackets for skiing and they never once complained about the cold (they complained about lots of other things of course though!). POP also have a good range of overalls for younger kids and accessories such as gloves and hats.

POP outerwear
Another great Scandinavian brand who have fabulous outerwear layers is Mini A Ture. I particularly like their Baby Wen jackets for older babies as they are an easy slip on design with a fun playful edge to them.

In London however,  we are lucky enough that waterproofing our kids is not always absolutely necessary, and this for me is an opportunity to dress the children in slightly more elegant outerwear.

It is also hard to resist Caramel’s selection – this on trend Orwell Bomber is awesome.  And for us at MillaMia we know how key an elegant coat can be to girl’s winter wardrobe – for party days, church visits, Christmas or even for a family lunch. The Cecilia Coat is our MillaMia showstopper, combining warmth and style.

The trick to layering is to also make sure you have some warmth underneath the outerlayer. This means knitwear for me! Key pieces from MillaMia that I think work well are the Alexander Jacket for boys, Nils Stripey Top for the younger ones and for girls the Hannah Cardigan is super versatile while the Charlotte Cardigan is useful. For someone like my jumper averse boy however I sometimes need to focus on super soft sweatshirts rather than knitted garments, and a playful edge sometimes helps to convince him. Tootsa McGinty are a super cool kids brand that totally ticks those boxes for us. The fox or bear jumpers seem to speak Freddie’s language and help him overcome his layering phobia.

Finally, at the risk of sounding like Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous (a reference here for our UK readers! Magazine episode in 1992 “accessories darling, accessories”) don’t forget hats, scarves and mittens. You can’t beat ski gloves when it is properly snowy and cold, but for the rest of the time I tend to go for knitted woolen pieces. One of our cutest knits at MillaMia is the Uno Cowl which is such an easy piece to just throw on the kids when we leave the house (and one that they are much less likely to lose than a hat or scarf!). At the same time the high street brands like Gap and Zara do a good range of fun accessories – with low prices where it matters less when things are likely to get lost. I LOVE this on trend hat from Gap in this season's key shade of lime green. Clearly I would prefer it hand knitted in MillaMia Lime and Putty though – maybe I will make my own version of the FREE Clementin Hat using precisely that combination!

 (posted by Katarina)