• Yinka Shonibare- FABRIC–ATION at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

2 March – 1 September 2013

    Where: Underground Gallery, Chapel, YSP Centre and open air


    Yinka Shonibare - REVOLUTION KID (FOX)

    REVOLUTION KID (FOX) Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton, fibreglass, leather, taxidermy calf head, blackberry and 24 carat gold gilded gun. 119 x 66 x 120cm ©2012, Yinka Shonibare MBE


    I’ve always been intrigued by the work of Yinka Shonibare though I am yet to see it in person. If you are in the Yorkshire area you can get to see for yourself (and tell me all about it).

    There is an ongoing showing of his works at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park until September, 2013. FABRIC-ATION is billed to feature over 30 works by the artist, including sculpture, film, photography and painting, many of which are shown in the UK for the first time. It gets more interesting! The works are said to include flying machines, aliens, toy paintings, food fairiesrevolutionary children, spacemen and ballerinas.

    If that combination doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will!

    By in Knowledge
  • Happy Independence Day to Ghana

    Wishing all our Ghanaian friends and fans a Happy Independence Day!

    It so happens that one of our favourite customers has just received her custom order of a Kente Supersnap Clutch. Kente is a gorgeous handwoven cloth from Ghana, similar to Aso-oke. We will definitely be experimenting with more very soon.

    Thanks Ivy for a very interesting project.



  • Introducing Aso-Oke fabric

    One of my favourite fabrics to work with here at Urbanknit is the wonderful Aso-oke fabric. The history, the colours and even the ‘format’ it comes in are all very interesting. Most of all I love the story and this is my own way of capturing some of it. My aim is to look at the history, manufacturing techniques, fabric care etc of Aso-oke and I will update this post with any additional information as it is found. Please join in the discussion by asking questions, offering your own insights and opinions about it. Here goes!


    Aso-Oke (pronounced ah-SHOW-kay) is short for Aso Ilu Oke which means clothes from the up-country. It is also sometimes refereed to as Aso-Ofi. It is a hand woven cloth made mostly by the Yoruba tribe of south west Nigeria. The woven strips are sewn together to make clothing.


    A Yoruba woman’s complete outfit would consist of the following;

    • Iro– a large piece tied like a wrap-around skirt
    • Buba– a loose fit blouse
    • Gele– a headtie
    • Pele– a shawl that goes around the waist
    • Iborun– a scarf

    A Yoruba man’s complete outfit would consist of the following;

    • Buba– a loose fit top/shirt
    • Shokoto– trousers
    • Agbada– a large robe worn over the Buba


    Men's Agbada

    Men’s Agbada- Photo courtesy of ZODML


    Aso-oke is usually worn on special occasions like coronations, festivals, weddings, funerals, engagement parties, naming ceremonies and other important events. It serves traditionally as formal wear. Aso-Oke is often also worn as Aso-Ebi (ebi meaning friends, and/or family) where similar colours are worn by all to a particular event to symbolise unity.

    There are several fabrics that are similar in nature to Aso-oke, i.e. fabrics that are handwoven in strips. There is Kente from Ghana, Akwete also from Nigeria just to name a few.



    The cloth is produced mainly in Iseyin (Oyo state), Ede (Osun state) and Okene (Kogi state) all in Southern Nigeria.



    Originally there were three main types of traditional Aso-oke based on their colours. The original versions of these cloths are now quite rare and are fast becoming vintage finds.


    Etu is a deep blue, almost black, indigo dyed cloth often with very thin light blue stripes. Etu means guinea fowl, and the cloth is said to resemble the bird’s plumage.

    Etu Aso Oke


    Sanyan is woven from the beige silk obtained locally from the cocoons of the Anaphe moth, forming a pale brown/beige cloth. This was commonly worn during weddings and funerals.

    Sanyan Aso Oke


    Alaari is woven from magenta waste silk.

    Alaari Aso Oke


    Aso-oke garments can be carefully handwashed or drycleaned. We would recommend that you spot-clean your Aso-oke accessories from Urbanknit. This will elongate the life of the fabric and your accessory.

    Below are a few of our accessories which have been made out of this versatile, beautiful textile.


    Dark Magenta Aso Oke Pico Pouch

    Dark Magenta Aso Oke Pico Pouch

    Olympics Tote Bag in Aso Oke

    Olympics Tote Bag in Aso Oke

    Radiant Orchid iPad Sleeve in Aso Oke

    Radiant Orchid iPad Sleeve in Aso Oke

    Navy Blue and Turquoise Aso-Oke Cushion- Pair

    Navy Blue and Turquoise Aso-Oke Cushion

    Etu and Pink Aso-Oke Listra Clutch

    Etu and Pink Aso-Oke Listra Clutch

    Vintage Aso Oke clutch

    Vintage Aso Oke clutch


    If you are looking to purchase Aso-oke fabric for your own creations then have a great selection.

    By in Knowledge
  • Bino and Fino

    Bino and Fino


    Bino and Fino is the wonderful educational Nigerian cartoon show about a brother and sister who live in a modern day city in sub- Saharan Africa. In each episode Bino and Fino, with the help of their friend Zeena the Magic Butterfly and their family, discover and learn things about the world.The show is for children mainly between the ages of 3 and 6.

    It was created to provide more animated children’s content for the kids around the world to enjoy. As a parent, wherever you are in the world it is hard to find genuine, quality African made educational media that show wonderful aspects of African culture to your children. This is especially so when it comes to cartoons which kids are captivated by. Africa is telling its story. Bino and fino will help tell that story to children.

    Here are articles on Bino and Fino and creator Adamu Waziri :VoiceCNN Venture Capital For AfricaMTVAfrica is a CountryI am the Nu blackAfrican Screens 

    The 1st Bino and Fino TV feature has been broadcast in the UK, South Africa, online for free and screened at festivals to kids and parents. See what some had to say here , here and here. These are some quotes from fans on the show’s Facebook Page.

    The show focuses on:

    • African History, languages and culture
    • Personal, social and emotional development
    • Respect, fairness, family
    • Communication, language and literacy
    • Problem solving and reasoning
    • Health and hygiene
    • And FUN of course!!

    This amazing venture needs your help. They are trying to raise $50,000 on Indiegogo and I urge you to check out their page right here. The wonderful think about contributing to this great scheme is you also get something in return (other than the sheer joy of giving).



    Indiegogo Crowdfunder:


    Twitter: @binoandfino

  • We Love Merino Wool

    What is Merino Wool anyway?

    We are supposed to be in Autumn yet its starting to look and feel quite wintry  Since we like to look on the bright side of things, lets welcome the chance to enjoy the layering and accessorising that only cold weather can offer. So out come the lovely soft scarves and cowls.

    As most of our winter warmers are made from 100% merino wool, we thought we might give you a few pointers on what it is, why it is so great and how to take care of your pieces.

    Wool is considered to be textile fiber obtained from sheep. Other fibers like cashmere and mohair from goats, alpaca from the camel family, and angora from rabbits are also considered to be wool. Merino wool is the material from Merino sheep and these sheep are said to have some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep.  Here are some of the reasons why we love merino wool so much:

    • Merino wool is one of the softest types of wool available, so feels great against the skin.
    • It has numerous fibers which trap small pockets of air and lock in body heat, keeping you warm without overheating so it acts as an excellent regulator for body temperature. This is why it is so cosy!
    • Its fibers are hydrophilic meaning they absorb water yet they retain warmth even when wet.
    • Merino wool has uniquely thin fibers and prevents bacteria from finding a surface to grow on, making it anti-microbial. Its is also hypoallergenic.

    Berry Wool Button ScarfletteBerry Mix Neckwarmer



    • Clean using a mild detergent in lukewarm water. Never use hot water as this shrinks wool. Also do not wring the piece as this will distort its shape.
    • To dry, lay the piece flat and reshape if necessary allowing it to dry away from direct sunlight and heat. Do not hang as wool can adsorb a lot of water this will cause the item to stretch from the weight of the water.
    • Do not dry in a tumble dryer as the heat will cause the wool to shrink.
    • Wool should be stored in an airtight environment which is cool and dry.

    It is LOVE WOOL WEEK 15th to 21st October. So have a look at the Love Wool UK Map for events around you.


    By in Knowledge
  • The A to Z Initiative- Recylce for charity

    The A to Z initiative started just over a year ago and we are pushing for even more support this year.

    In Nigeria, the tradition for special occasions is that friends and family often wear attire that is of the same fabric as the celebrant’s. This is called ‘Aso-ebi‘. It is a way of showing solidarity, support, oneness. It used to be that people would say ‘Please wear Alaari to my daughter’s wedding’ for example. (Alaari is a type of Aso-oke, a hand-woven fabric which often ranges between deep red and magenta in colour). So if you had one like it, which you probably would, you’d just wear it.

    In more recent times people often buy brand new fabric or have a large quantity custom-made and sent out to friends and family to have made into their own individual outfits. So on the day, there is an array of dresses, tops, blouses, shirts and what not all in the same fabric. It makes for very interesting viewing!

    After my long ramble I get to the point! A lot of people end up with a lot of Aso-ebi that they no longer wear and as a way of doing a little bit to help, I have taken donations of such fabric. These will be used to make part of or an entire new accessory.



    The A to Z is an Urbanknit initiative which will donate proceeds from sales of bags, totes, clutches made from these upcycled, repurposed, recycled fabrics to assist orphanages and local schools in Lagos State, Nigeria.  Our own way of making a (creative) contribution. Every product that is part of the initiative will have the orange label. The full range available can be found with the A to Z Initiative tag.

    We will have periodic updates as to what we are able to accomplish with our contributions. We would love to know what you think!


    By in Knowledge, Our Products
  • Speak Yoruba App

    Yorùbá is the native language of Yoruba people and is spoken in West Africa by an estimated 20 million speakers. It is spoken in Southern Nigeria, Benin and Togo as well as many Africans in diaspora.

    SpeakYoruba is a new and clever mobile application for use on an iPhone, iPod and iPad. SpeakYoruba features animated flashcards, pronunciation guides and games that provide a gentle introduction to Yoruba. Additional puzzles and games in SpeakYoruba for iPad provide a fun and easy way to learn to SpeakYoruba! The app designed and produced by AJA.LA available for download in Apple app store.



    The app was For more information check out

    I think this is such a brilliant idea. Especially when I see just how adept my four year old nephew is with gadgets like iPads and iPhones. He’ll be having fun learning a language and not even realise it. As I speak Yoruba fairly fluently I am really looking forward to trying out this application as I am sure I too would learn a thing or too. I am also hoping to see SpeakIbo and SpeakHausa soon. How cool would that be!

    By in Knowledge