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Friday, 31 January 2014


Monica Jacket in claret and putty

I am all too often a knitter who falls in love with a garment pattern, dedicates many, many hours of patient work on knitting the garment and then . . . just never wears it. In view of this, I have only recently come to the conclusion that I am a 'process' knitter - someone who loves the actual knitting of a thing, rather than the wearing of it. My wardrobe is testament to my passion for knitting 'all of the things', though you are unlikely to find photographic evidence of my wearing much or any of it.

I blame this in part, on my body shape - the classic pear silhouette that is small in the shoulders and 'broad about the beam' - persuading myself it is a difficult shape to accommodate in knitwear even though I am more than capable of adapting a pattern to make it fit my bartlett bottom, so, in truth that really isn't the whole story. I think it also has something to do with my choice of pattern, which is more often than not dictated by some interesting technique, an intriguing stitch pattern or construction method - or by a yarn that is new or wildly variegated and exciting (though probably not remotely practical). I know that I am drawn in by the idea of interesting knitting rather than achieving a wearable garment that actually suits me, at the end of my lengthy endeavours.

Apart from shawls too numerous to mention and a sock drawer filled with handknit delights which I happily wear, I confess there is only one cardigan in my entire wardrobe of hand crafted garments that I will actually put on.
And leave the house in.

And that is my Monica Jacket from High Society. I love this cardigan because it fits me, and is stylish with small elegant details without being fussy. It is a solid black, sensible colour, warm and incredibly comfortable to wear. That is not to take anything at all away from the beauty and sophistication of this design - it is the genius of simplicity in the design that makes it so wearable.

I admit that the process of knitting this garment was easy - there was no intriguing construction, unusual cast on method or intricate stitch pattern to master but that meant that I could knit it in front of the TV or on the train, and so the pieces grew from my needles at a super-charged rate. Before two weeks were up, I had all five pieces on my blocking boards, and the very next day I seamed it, added the edging and collar and it was finished!

It is testament to the beauty and versatility of this cardigan to suit so many different body shapes that my Mum is currently knitting herself a Monica in rich claret (as shown in the pictures above) and our very own Maja has also got one in storm. We are almost polar opposites in shape and in our personal style but this smart and stylish garment seems to effortlessly flatter us all.

I've had many comments on my Monica Jacket, but not for the reasons you might think. I wear it to all the knitting shows and more often than not, people don't really notice it. I know that this is due in some respects to it being a black cardigan - something we all have as a staple in our wardrobe, but it is also because it doesn't stand out as homemade. When I turn to show the lovely detail on the back of my cardigan and tell the ladies crowding around the MillaMia stand that I'm wearing a Monica from High Society, they nearly always gasp and say 'but it doesn't look handknitted - it looks like you bought it from a shop!!'

As a dedicated and passionate knitter of very many years, you may think that I would take offence at this - but I don't. My simply stylish, wearable cardigan fits me and suits my awkward shape and so I smile inwardly and remind myself that this is high praise indeed.
(posted by Max)

Monday, 27 January 2014


The MillaMia team is thrilled to welcome another incredibly talented intern to assist Helena with exciting new designs for 2014. Tanya graduated from Kingston University in 2013 with a degree in Fashion Design, she lives in Northwest London and apart from an obvious obsession with knitwear she likes to go to the gym. Tanya kindly agreed to do this interview for us to give us an insight into her passion for knitwear.

How did you decide on a career in fashion (specialising in knitwear)?
I was working in an estate agents and hated it so much! My family had urged me to get a stable job, and I was working purely for the money - but I’d done an art foundation course and I’d always loved just making things. I did a lot of sewing and knitting in my spare time. So I decided one day that I wanted to make it into a career - the thought of doing something I really didn't like for the rest of my life was awful! I got myself motivated and while I was still working at the estate agents - I spent my days researching alternative careers and courses. I found a short course at the London College of Fashion (Access to HE diploma in Fashion, Media and Communication Course) which I signed up for. I got full marks in every module, resulting in a distinction and was really encouraged by one of my tutors to pursue a career in fashion design. She also taught at Kingston University and so I applied there and got a place.

You were inspired by an unusual source of old photographs for you final collection. Tell us a bit about this.

My final collection is inspired by a book called City of Shadows by PeterDoyle.  It's essentially a book of 'mugshots'  taken by the New South Wales Police Department in Australia between 1912-1960. The pictures were rediscovered in the 80's and collated into a book. I was so taken with this collection of images - the subjects gaze defiantly and nonchalantly at the camera - reminding us of the harshness of reality, that fate can turn on the best of us, at the worst of times. Almost everyone photographed is dressed in what appears to be their Sunday Best - women wear gloves with beaded necklaces, fur coats and high heels clutching delicate Art Deco inspired bags. Their unfortunate circumstances and bleak surroundings don't seem to detract from the need to take a 'good picture'. There is an overwhelming fascination when one attempts to fathom the sense of a woman retaining an image of fashionable elegance whilst standing in a police cell charged with murder and it's this 'sense' that I wanted to explore in my collection.
Which designers and brands inspire you right now?

There are so many! I just love the way that Mark Fast uses yarn to really flatter the body rather than just cover it up. I like what Christopher Kane is doing with crepe wool lace dresses and the surprise elements of faces and flowers within the lace. I’ve always admired Craig Lawrence who I interned for, because I’m drawn to all things sparkly and metallic and he uses it totally to excess! Sandra Backlund is another favourite of mine – for the way she manipulates knit into sculptural forms is so exciting and interesting. It always ends up in an eye-catching garment – pieces that I will never forget. If I could afford to wear what I really like – I love Cos, Whistles and Reiss knitwear because they use high quality yarns in a simple and sophisticated way.
Images from Tanya's final collection
What particularly attracted you to intern for MM?
The MillaMia stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show really stood out from everything else. I felt that they were one of, if not the only brand offering truly modern, unique patterns that someone even in their 20’s would want to knit! Also Louisa Crompton (former MillaMia intern) and I got chatting at the Show as we were both finalists for the Knitted Textile Awards. She couldn't praise MillaMia enough and offered to introduce me.

What are your future career plans?
I would love to explore couture knitwear. I think my final collection leans more to the couture but at the moment, from a practical point of view I’d like to get a grounding in the commercial knitwear industry. It’s more likely that I’ll get a job that way! If I was aiming high I’d love to design for Celine or Givenchy because they never fail to inspire me.
(posted by Max)

Friday, 17 January 2014


I realised when reflecting on 2013 in my previous blog post that I only really recapped all the wonderful stuff that had happened in the UK in that year. Despite our worlds feeling more international and global all the time, it is fascinating how easy it is to sink back into the familiar local world isn’t it? And given how vital our international customers and teams are to the ongoing success of MillaMia I thought it would be interesting to dedicate this post to the big wide world outside of the UK where we are based!
One of the things we are most proud of here at MillaMia is just how popular and successful we have been in Australia almost from the day we launched. Helena needs to take some credit of course for designing a great product and yarn and colours, but the real key to our success in the southern hemisphere is down to one person – Kirsten. She has single-handedly identified and targeted the best yarn shops across Australia and New Zealand to introduce us to, building long-standing relationships with these yarn shop owners and achieving amazing press exposure for us (with no PR budget - instead using charm and great ideas).

2013 has been another bumper year for MillaMia in this region. The Limited Edition colours proved very successful as we suspected they would be. It is interesting how different regions have subtly different tastes meaning some of our books and colours are more popular in some regions and others in other countries. The most modern and bright of our books and colours have always done well in Australia and I think this was why the brights of Lime and Cobalt were such a hit. Many of our retailers in Australia are also leading the charge with forward thinking social media marketing and knit-a-longs and Ravelry use. I was thrilled to be interviewed by Suzy Hausfrau in Australia for her first ever podcast – have a listen here if you missed it. Equally the knit along organised by Alix of Threads & More using the Stephen West's Safety Scarf pattern and Lime was a great idea to introduce this new shade to their customers.

Our ongoing relationship with Classic Elite Yarns in the USA goes from strength to strength as MillaMia continues to become more and more widely available across the USA. The great sales reps at CEY have done an awesome job once more of introducing us to more and more yarn shops and we get lovely feedback direct from our US customers via Facebook, email and Ravelry. 2013 also saw the first full page MillaMia ad in one of the nicest US knitting magazines - knit.wear – we were so proud when we received our copy! The Classic Elite team have just come back from the winter TNNA show in San Diego, California – which we hope has gone well for them.


MillaMia collaboration with Wolle Roedel
We have been thrilled that MillaMia has started to make inroads into Germany as well. It is a nation of avid knitters and we are building up a loyal following through our relationship with a few key shops including Wolle RoedelGarnwelt and Mein WollShop. Helena even designed a special collaboration project in 2013 with Wolle Roedel to help introduce the brand to their customers – which was a fun process working with new yarns and pattern writers. We cannot thank Ellen Jacoby and her team from Wolle Roedel enough for their support and look forward to more collaborations in the future. 2013 also saw us finalise the arrangement we have with Christophorus Verlag and we are thrilled to announce that they will be publishing our book Wonderland in German in 2014 as a result. 2013 also saw us continuing to supply the Slovenia, the Netherlands and Belgium and introducing sales channels in France too.

Finally we have started working with a fantastic distributor – Nordic Yarns - in Canada in the course of 2013. This arrangement is also thanks to Kirsten as she is the one who spent time researching the market, identifying the most suitable people for us to work with, travelling to Canada and getting to know Tina from Nordic Yarns and coming to an agreement with them. After a positive start in 2013 we look forward to reaching far more customers in Canada and making it easier for the shops stocking us to replenish and keep up to date with MillaMia products thanks to Tina and her team.

So many thanks again to Kirsten, the team from Classic Elite and Nordic Yarns and Maja and Max in the UK for their help with all our European customers.  Looking forward to 2014 together!
(posted by Katarina)

Friday, 10 January 2014

2013 UK - WHAT A YEAR!

Both personally and professionally, 2013 was a momentous year for me. The course of the year unfolded in a series of life affirming and highly significant events including having my third child, turning forty, growing the MillaMia team and moving into a new office - it really was quite a year!

We welcomed Johan into our lives at the beginning of 2013, and have made good use of his modelling skills ever since. It was rather fortuitous that he came along just as my other 2 children were beginning to outlive their usefulness as models for our kids books! He featured with the blanket we named for him as a free pattern on the Love Knitting blog which you can download here.

MillaMia provided a few milestones of which I'm particularly proud. The team is now 5 members strong, with Maja effortlessly arranging and managing everything in the office, Max managing our wholesale accounts and social media, Tanya replaces Yumiko as our newest intern (more about Tanya in a future blog), and Helena and I providing the design ethos, and sturdy backbone of our company. It's fair to say that we have been incredibly fortunate to have attracted such a high calibre of intern and staff and we are excited to move forward into 2014 with this super team.

Moving the business from my London home to a new office was a memorable milestone for me too. With MillaMia growing as it had we needed to accommodate our team and found ourselves able to spread out and enjoy the space the office afforded. I still marvel at how far we have come in such a short space of time.

Even more exciting later in the year was the overwhelming response and popularity that our new Limited Edition and core colours elicited. I'm incredibly proud of Helena and the team for getting these shades so right and so completely on trend. Of course, 2014 will see 2 new Limited Edition colours which we are all equally beside ourselves to share with you, as well as a collaboration with Anova Books, and a new collection featuring one of our new core shades - all due a bit later this year.

I think that working with established knitwear designers has also been an unforeseen, but very welcome development for MillaMia this year. In some ways it provides validation for the brand when other well-respected designers are excited to work with our yarn, and it also reaches out to a wider audience. Belesama by Michele Wang was stunning in our Limited Edition lime, and was hugely popular on Ravelry in particular. We look forward to seeing designs from other designers in 2014 including Louise Zass-Bangham.

And finally, the best way that I could hope to start 2014 is hearing that an independent review of our Naturally Soft Merino in Knit Now Magazine scored a fantastic 100%! The reviewers described our yarn as 'beautiful, delicious and smooth', and with the nearest comparison yarn coming in at only 85%, I would say that I'm 100% thrilled with that result.

If you are looking to start your New Year with a MillaMia project, why not take advantage of FREE shipping on all orders until 31st January? Head over to and enjoy a treat for the start of 2014.
(posted by Katarina)