Julie Arkell

Hello, I am back!! Have you missed me…maybe just a little?

I am sorry I haven’t posted for almost two weeks, but it has been a manic time with work. Lots of commissions to finish and deadlines for magazines to adhere to, but that’s all done and as you will see in this post, it hasn’t all been about work…oh no!

Last weekend I had the great pleasure meeting an artist who’s work I have long admired. Julie Arkell and her wonderful creatures have long been on my “I want to meet and make” list, and finally I was fortunate enough to land myself a place on one of Julie’s three day workshops, right here in my home town. Coinciding with her latest exhibition called ‘Away’ at Ruthin Craft Centre, Julie is also the Artist in Residence this month and is running a series of workshops in schools and at the centre.

I was one of thirteen keen and eager ladies ready and waiting last Friday morning to spend a weekend making our very own creatures.

Away Collage


Starting the day, Julie took as around the ‘Away’ exhibition, telling us about the stories behind some of the creatures on display. We were able to soak up the atmosphere and get plenty of inspiration for our own creatures.

Back in the workshop room we started making our very own creations under the guidance of Julie who was a fountain of ideas and encouragement, and freely shared many tips and tricks with us. Yes, there was cake too…made by one of the participants…delicious!


By the end of day one we had an assortment of creatures leaning on walls, clad in soggy newspaper, hoping to dry overnight.


Day two started with some of us (me included) realising that we had been a little over-indulgent with the wallpaper paste. Quite a few of the creatures were still pretty wet, but after quick assembly of some drying contraptions and putting heaters on at full blast, we soon freed the creatures from their soggy bottoms.

This second day was spent ripping up old books and with a thin layer of wallpaper paste smoothing them over our creatures. It was quite amazing how long that process took, probably not helped by us all reading in the books and trying to find suitable and meaningful passages to stick on.


That night the ‘Away’ creatures came alive in my dreams and joined the naked unfinished creatures in the workshop room. Waking up on day three I couldn’t stop thinking about what attire mine should wear.

There was a lot of laughter accompanied by frantic knitting, stitching, painting and gluing in the room during day three, and by the end we had a fabulously amazing selection of our creatures waiting for their moment in the limelight…

Last Day Collage

…meet “Little Loops” and “Little Dog”


They have moved into my studio to keep me company and feeling quite at home already.

Finished Collage

What an amazing and inspiring weekend it was. I had the best of times and meeting Julie was truly magical, something I will remember forever.


Dear diary,

On Saturday at lunchtime I got on a train and travelled to Newcastle upon Tyne to teach a workshop on Continental Knitting at my dear friend Anne’s yarn shop.

The Knit Studio

I don’t think that the term Yarn shop is quite right for this amazing Alladin’s cave of yarns, fabrics, books, notions, fibre and a whole lot more. This has got to be one of the most invitingly comfortable yarn shops there are. I don’t know of any others where the ceilings are so high you could abseil from them, or the sofas are so squishily soft that you don’t ever want to get up again…actually I don’t know of any other place that has huge sofas like this at all. It is enormously hard to leave again and I really want to have a sleepover upstairs (only to be reached by climbing a ladder) in the midst of all those yummy yarns that are stored there. But I digress…

I was there to teach 12 eager ladies how to knit continental style, and eager they were indeed.

Doing the Continental

more doing the Continental

Everyone was incredibly quick in learning the knit and purl stitch and before long needles were flying at quite some speed. Normally the day’s project doesn’t get started until after lunch, but not with this group. Oh no…they were on their way speedily and progressing well.

The Project

By the end of the day we had a few over half finished and beautifully knit cotton facecloths on the table. It is always a pleasure to teach but even more so when the group is so keen and doing so well. Keep practising girls, remember what we said:”A little continental a day keeps the boredom away!”.

Thank you all for making my day so enjoyable and thank you Anne for extending such a warm welcome and looking after us so well. I can’t wait to come back in October. 🙂

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