We are thrilled to share this stockist profile with you as Nancy's Embroidery Shop in Wellington were our first stockist in New Zealand, and as such, are very special to us!
Nancy’s Embroidery Shop started life 46 years and ago, and has added patchwork, knitting and Bernina sewing machines to the embroidery and tapestry supplies that they started with. They teach over 60 classes a year including City and Guilds. Mary Self is the fourth owner.
What are you currently knitting?
Lots of things and samples…. I like to have simple stocking stitch and garter stitch on the go so I can read at the same time. At the moment I am in love with stripes, inspired by Paul Smith (of the striped shirts fame) and am knitting striped scarves and handwarmers in our Strand Super fine yarn, that like the Millamia is in lots of great colours. I am looking forward to knitting the Bella Jacket from the new Colour Coded book, I played with bows on handwarmers last year.
When did your love of knitting start and why?
I have been knitting since I was about 6 or 7, mostly very oddly shaped dolls clothes. I was always inspired by the projects in the English Woman’s Weekly (and the romantic serials of course) and spent my childhood making things with felt and glue, but it was the knitting patterns that stayed with me. In my first year at secondary school (boarding) I started a blue and white twinset that I couldn’t put down and so got caught knitting under my desk in French.
I knit in the car to and from the shop, I am not driving of course. I also love TV on demand so that I can watch what I like later in the evening. I need to do some form of handwork every day for my own wellbeing.
Who is your favorite knitwear designer and do you have a favorite garment of all time that you have knitted?
That is a hard one…. I have very catholic tastes, Kaffe Fassett colour work but I can’t see myself wearing a garment in the patterns but was very pleased with a cushion based on one of his patterns knitted with 2 balls of Noro yarn rather than the 100s he uses. I also love the clean lines of Scandinavian design which is why Nancys was first in New Zealand with the MillaMia pattern books. I am looking forward to trying some of spot patterns from “popknitting” by Britt-Marie Christofferson.
For garments for myself they have to be classic and simple and as a bigger person finer yarns that drape are much more flattering, so anything in a 3 ply to a 5 ply is best. My favorites would be the cardigan of the blue and white twin set, a lacy jersey knitted in a tweedy wool in the 1970s and a jersey from my hand spun wool with fair isle round the yoke knitted in the 1980s. I have worn out 2 cardigans knitted in Noro Silk Garden. I will be knitting the Bella Jacket for myself. My real problem is that as a textile designer I always have to adapt and change patterns and get the most pleasure from the design process. I get a real buzz when people enjoying using my patterns.
What are New Zealanders knitting with and are there any particular trends in pattern choices at the moment? Are they very patriotic in the yarns and designers they choose or do they like international offerings too?
The first priority here is knitting for babies…we do like to wrap our little ones in wool (cotton and bamboo blends have not really taken off.) I get a lot of very excited first time Grandmothers rushing in to start knitting.
While we have a lot of sheep, most of our fine merino wool is exported to China and Italy (MillaMia yarn is probably Australian or New Zealand merino), and runs of yarn produced here are small and more expensive and we have to then market overseas as we only have a small population of 4 million people. A large quantity of wool produced here is carpet wool nd we are having trouble selling that. New Zealanders have an attitude that good design can only come from overseas so do buy international brands of wool and patterns. It is the available patterns and the quality of the yarn that determines what people buy. Of course, the internet and Ravelry mean that there is now a very international marketplace.
Do you have a favorite MillaMia pattern and yarn colour? And if you could add another colour to our palette, what would it be?
My favorite colour has to be the Fuchsia, and because I adore the pink and yellow combination I loved knitting the Niklas Cardigan in the Fuchsia/ Putty/ Daisy colour way. I would like to see a lovely clear cobalt blue, but black would be useful to define some of the bright colours in colour blocking, think Mondrian.
Can you share something unusual about youself, your store or Wellington that we might not know?
While I have always loved making things my first career was as a Systems Engineer with IBM, before I went back and got my Textile Design Degree after I had children. Wellington has wonderful weather (the days the wind doesn’t blow are usually really lovely.)
What is your number one tip for knitters out there – the most important “purl of wisdom you could share from your experience?
When you are finishing off your ends, thread them through for about 3cm then go back for 1.5cm, this stops the ends bouncing out when the garment is stretched.
(posted by Max)