Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Fabric Shopping in Dalston

This post may not be of much interest to those who don't live in London, but there are some pretty pictures at the end, so stick with it.

I've lived in Dalston 17 years - I'm quite attached to it! I've seen it go from an undiscovered, slightly neglected little corner of East London, to the so-called 'New Notting Hill', with a new coffee bar/art gallery/cool pub opening every week. Where previously when you told someone you lived in Dalston, the reaction was usually 'Where?' or 'Ooh, it's a bit rough there'. Now it's 'I wish I could live there, but I can't afford it now that it's so cool.'

But I sort of miss the scruffy old Dalston that was here when I moved into the area in 1994. (Don't get me wrong - its got a long way to go before it's considered posh...) It worries me that all of this 'improvement' will drive out all of the things which made Dalston unique. The cheap and cheerful Turkish restaurants, the £1 jewellery stalls and cheap housewares on Ridley Rd market, and all the afro hair stores. And my favourites - the fabric shops and stalls. Normally, I like to keep all of my secret places to myself, but I'm going to share a few with you, in the hope that a few people will check them out and support them.

First, the stalls of Ridley Rd Market:

Fabric stall, Ridley Rd.
On any given day, there are at least 4 fabric stalls on the market, as well as several permanent shops, selling a variety of goods, mostly viscose and rayon, some cottons, sometimes even a bit of wool. And they're all cheap as chips! I love the 50p stall:

50p stall
 This is where I bought the fabric for my leopard dress from last Halloween. 

I also love this stall, just for it's craziness. I always find intersting buttons and trims here:

Haberdashery explosion!
A few more stalls:

But the store I seem to use the most is Dalston Mill Fabrics, which is a permanent shop at the end of the market.

Dalston Mill Fabrics, trading for over 30 years

This relatively small entrance hides an Aladdin's cave of fabrics and haberdashery. There isn't really anything they don't have, from everyday fabrics to fancy evening silks and beautiful woollens. It's not the cheapest, but the selection is brilliant. This is just 1 room:

A sneaky picture I took of the suitings room...
There's also an extensive range of haberdshery, as well as a small selection of knitting wool, beading, and embroidery supplies. They even have huge feather boas and fox furs hanging from the ceiling. Every time I visit, I go in with one idea and come out with something completely different. And they have a great selection of oil cloth's, of which this is one:

How insane is that?!

Next, another long established Dalston business - William Gee:

If you want a truly vintage experience, visit William Gee for linings, interfacing, buttons, zips, and all the paraphenalia you need for dressmaking. Established in 1906, this still has the feel of a shop from Edwardian times - you enter a somewhat bleak room with 2 long wooden counters, where you have to wait in line to be served by the next available member of staff. Everything you would ever need is stacked in neatly labelled boxes behind the counters, and unlike some stores which also sell wholesale, no request is too small. And they have some fab window displays:

A recent bias tape themed display
 That's it for my round up of Dalston's best fabric shops. if you're ever in the area to attend a Japanese Jazz workshop, or check out the latest in artistic, sustainable roof gardens, don't forget about all of these businesses that have been here through thick and thin to make Dalston what it is today.

And here are the pretty pictures I promised - rainbows over Ridley Rd Market, taken last week:

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Making of a Knitted Rock God

Watching 'Lemmy the Movie'
Can you guess who it is yet?

It's Slash! When I joined Lakota's blog swap project, I was pleased to get Liza at The Vintage Knitter. Brilliant! I was already a follower, and knew she liked heavy metal, vintage Twinkle annuals, and knitting (of course!) She sent me a great bunch of gifts, so I had a lot to live up to. I hit upon the idea of combining knitting and rock by creating the woolly guitarist you see above. I took a Joey Ramone dolly pattern from Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller and improvised the rest. And I was able to make it out of oddments, so kept it under the maximum spend.

Go check out The Vintage Knitter to see what she thought of it!