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Ipsew Facto
Knittin' Kitten

Meet the Author

Hey there, can you introduce yourself?

Medium jemima schlee2 lo res

I trained as a graphic designer a lifetime ago, and worked in the West End for ten years – as a designer I was determined, but also lucky, spanning the 80's and 90's. I then retrained to teach art, specialising in graphics and textiles. I teach profoundly deaf teenagers, but only a couple of days a week. My work for Making Magazine and my books could take up all the hours I have!

Tell us a bit about the book?

Take a Tea Towel started with my embroidering kitchen utensils along the edge of Irish cloths purely to jolly up the washing up for myself. I then made a knitting needle roll, and then the purchase of a bundle of cloths set my creative instincts to work... All the projects are made from Irish linen tea towels and are simple, clean and above all, useful projects for the home.

What was the inspiration behind it?

I have always enjoyed problem solving, be it in a work environment or at home in using up scraps of threads and fabrics and cooking with random ingredients! And the skills learned in the design industry are completely transferable to what I am doing now. A blank sheet of paper can be a daunting thing, so mentally drawing yourself up a "brief" of boundaries and restrictions can really help to get a project off the ground - and you can always change your self-inflicted rules once you start working and pick up speed.

Which is your favourite project?

The first aid bathroom chair – it still makes me smile.

What is your craft space like?

Three years after my son moved to London (and with his permission) I have guiltily taken over his attic room – it has a lovely large window looking over the roofs of Kemp Town in Brighton and down to the sea (if you crane your neck!). The seagulls skitter scatter on the roof, clumsily landing and taking off – it used to annoy me, now it’s so familiar its rather comforting. I have jam jars and shoe boxes and chests of drawers full of threads and ribbons and fabric – bulldog clips screwed to the walls stuffed with receipts and sketches and scraps of fabric and inspiration…

I try to tidy my desk – a large kitchen table – at the end of every day, as it makes it much easier to get going in the mornings.

Have you always been creative?

Yes! I’ve had gaps – particularly when I was working in the design industry – when I did very little. But I grew up drawing and knitting and making and was surrounded by parents and sibling who did the same.

When did you first start crafting?

To be honest, I can’t. Apparently I started to sew and knit at 3 – this seems ridiculously young – but I’m assured by my elder sister that it’s true. There are some very amusing samplers and appliqué pictures in dusty frames at my parents’ house.

Who are your crafty heroes?

The work of the Shakers and the Bauhaus, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden. Romantically, an aunt who is a weaver in NYC… My family: my sisters stitch and knit and book-bind and print – my brother makes his own clothes and – just to prove a point to his three sisters perhaps – made the most intricate and beautiful patchwork quilt many moons ago which beat us all hands-down …

Where do you find inspiration?

Nature, fabric and yarn shops, books and magazines.

What's next for you?

I’m working on a book about embroidery and linen at the moment – maybe it’s just an excuse to buy loads of it!

Publisher's Description

Clean, crisp and practical. That sums up the classic linen tea towel, and also this innovative new title. Take a Tea Towel contains 16 projects, four for each of main four areas in the home: bathroom, kitchen, laundry and workroom, all using hardwearing Irish linen tea towels. The book will appear to people who want to learn to sew, those who want to develop their sewing skills, for those with a love of simple, clean design and an appreciate of the utilitarian simplicity of Shaker design. This multi-craft project book teaches machine- and hand=sewing techniques and also includes different ways of adorning fabrics: dying, embroidery, fabric painting, photo transfers, Dorset button making and many more.