Featured Seller: Alexandra Mackenzie

Hailing from the lovely Hawke’s Bay, Ellen Hamlin grew up crafting and will try her hand at most things, but harbours a particular passion for crochet. Her love of vintage, handmade and retro styles (“all smooshed together”) inspired her to pick up a crochet hook upon discovering that she was not alone in her tastes and “granny chic” was officially on the rise. And so emerged Alexandra Mackenzie.

Granny square cushion covers by Alexandra Mackenzie

What do you make?
Granny squares!! I love love love granny squares and I use them to create all kinds of crocheted goodness, from hot water bottle and cushion covers to takeout coffee and tea pot cosies. My one rule for the things I create – it must be colourful…

How did you get into your craft?
It all started about two years ago when I spied a very ugly jersey in the 50c bin at my favourite oppy. As a jersey it was ugly, but I bought it because the colours were so vibrant. I unravelled the jersey and made my first granny squares with it; I hunted down another jersey to match and made my first blanket. From there I was hooked (pun intended!).

Colour Me Happy granny square cushion cover by Alexandra Mackenzie

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Not a one – after a few false starts trying to learn from a book I tried a YouTube tutorial – success! I am very definitely a product of being self taught, I can’t read a pattern and would be lost in the terminology. Because of this, everything I make is completely my own, all my patterns are original and stashed safely in my head.

How did you choose the name of your business?
Alexandra Mackenzie are my middle names – I have always thought they sounded just a tad bit posh and they have a strong family connection as Mackenzie is my grandmother’s maiden name.

"I love gathering nasty jerseys and blankets with holes to unravel and create wonderfully colourful items – it is amazing the colours you come across..." – Ellen Hamlin, Alexandra Mackenzie

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
A 4.5mm hook and a basket of thrifted yarns. I love gathering nasty jerseys and blankets with holes to unravel and create wonderfully colourful items – it is amazing the colours you come across; what might have been the most awful puce coloured jersey looks great in a granny square. This also adds to the uniqueness of my items as many colours can’t be sourced again – once they have gone, they have gone.

What inspires you?
The recycling aspect is quite inspiring – a large portion of the yarn I use is recycled and I enjoy making something beautiful from the ugly and unloved. When I am making up granny squares I try to be pretty random, the colour combos are not overly thought out and this creates some wonderful combinations (okay and a few completely hideous monsters) – it’s these random combinations that often inspire new ideas.

Ellen's workspace for her Alexandra Mackenzie creations

Describe your workspace:
Chaotic and widespread, I would love to say that I keep my crafting contained to a set space but in truth it always ends up spread from one end of the house to another – even the car. I love being the passenger now – you can get a lot of crochet done in the passenger seat.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I always want to produce something that I would want in my home, especially when given specific requests for custom orders. I trust that my customers choose to use me to create their items because they like my aesthetic. I have had some tricky custom orders that I have thought “oh my god how am I going to make those colours work together?” It might take a wee bit longer playing around with the colour combos but in the end I always love what I produce.

Wintery cream and grey granny square hottie cover by Alexandra Mackenzie

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
This is the feedback from my very first sale – it was so encouraging: “I couldn’t be happier dealing with this seller, and will definitely purchase again. The cushion cover is absolutely gorgeous – beautifully made with excellent craftsmanship and of extremely good quality. I’m very particular and faults, if there are any, usually hit me in the eye, but this purchase is just perfect. I can’t stop looking at it and it looks great on my couch. Thank you! I absolutely love it.”

 What are you reading now?
Not much, I love reading but I have a one year old (today actually) and an almost-three year old, so if I have a spare moment these days I’m usually doing crochet.

What was the last handmade item you bought? A stripy pair of fingerless gloves, soft and wintery warm.

Win a custom coloured granny square cup cosy from Alexandra Mackenzie!

More colourful creations by Ellen are available in her Felt shop, Alexandra Mackenzie. Comment below to go into the draw to win one of her custom made coffee cup cosies – in your choice of colours! The draw is open to New Zealand residents only until Friday 31 August.

41 thoughts on “Featured Seller: Alexandra Mackenzie

  1. Wow I just love your work, and your story of how you’re self taught has inspired me to give it a go too -why oh why didn’t I learn all those times when my Gran tried to teach me?!

  2. Oh I would LOVE to win one of your coffee cosies in bright retro colours. My daughter bought me a keep cup for mothers day and it is completely black and boring do I would love to jazz it up. 🙂

  3. Ellen, I have an op-shopping passion for crochets peggy square things. My kids rooms, my lounge, my dining room are all filled with throws, pillows, cushions and other bits and bobs that are mostly peggy-squared crocheted. Can you ever get too much? No, probably not. Not in my retro life anyway! Keep up the great recycling work, I LOVE it!!

  4. Love Love Love your creativity! Makes you feel cosy both inside and out. I love winter woolys, especially retro. Go kiwiana!
    Good luck on your creative journey.

  5. We travel about in our 75 Bedford motor home and in the front we have stuck two cup holders with our cups in them. We are planning a trip around the South Island in October and I think two happy little cup holders would go down a treat. They are ever so cute and would match the crochet rugs I have on my seat!!

  6. You are amazing. I have always thought about learning to crochet, but I tend to stick with what I already know how to do. You are extremely talented. I make jewellery and buy a lot of pieces from op-shops and give them new life. Glad to see you doing the same, but with wool.

  7. I love your beautiful work and often have a look when I am on felt. I also love to make granny squares, also out of op shop wool and jumpers. I learned to knit as a child but taught myself to crochet as an adult using a childs ‘lucky book club’ book I had kept from when I was little. I must have known it would come in handy one day!! Lovely work, I’m so glad you have been featured!

  8. So good to see this old skill making a reappearance in our time of plastic this and plastic that. If I won the coffee cup holder, I’d give it to my daughter-in-law, who works in quake ravaged Christchurch 5 days a week, and it would brighten up her day.

  9. Stunning work! I love that the colour combos aren’t necessarily planned and they just turn out that way! Might have to look up some Youtube vids myself and get the creative juices flowing! Well done!

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