I’m excited to say I have updated my Etsy Shop! There’s nothing knitted on there at the moment, but plenty of Christmas cards and cross stitch kits/patterns, and small things to enjoy which would make great stocking fillers for the festive season.
Please check it out here and let me know what you think.
You can use the promo code MUFFINS14 to get 20% off.
In Episode Seven of the Plutonium Muffins podcast I introduce you to the newest member of the family (it may be temporary!), teach you about the difference between woollen and worsted spinning, and discuss the Ouessant sheep. There’s a small update on resolutions, and an announcement about my latest crafting venture.
Episode Seven: Kiti
“kitten” in Shona
New podcast schedule announced: expect an episode every first and third Monday of the month.
Today I’d like to talk about Liberty London, which I visited with Melanie a couple of weeks ago! I’m supposed to have been recording the podcast today, but the microphone has had issues (as in, it’s gone AWOL) and I will have to wait until tomorrow!
So, moving on.
Anyone with any sort of interest in fibre arts/fashion/sewing/high quality fabrics will know about Liberty. A department store in Central London, just off Regent’s Street in fact, the shop was opened in 1875, and has been at the cutting edge of design ever since.
As a store itself, this place is a gem which could keep someone occupied for hours, but make sure you either have been saving your birthday money for the last twenty years, you are very strong of will and set yourself a budget, or you are simply mindful of how much stuff you can cram into your suitcase/apartment/bedroom. I’m not going to go on about it too much, but I did take some photos of the various wonders that can be found in the shop – head to the bottom of this post for those.
You’re probably here for yarn, though. This is a knitting blog, and boy is there yarn to talk about in Liberty! The store is exclusively a Rowan stockist, and fittingly, has an enormous selection of the brand, from Kidsilk Haze to Creative Worsted, Big Wool to Truesilk. Pictures will tell the story better than I can in words, but I honestly think this is a fantastic place to browse a large range of Rowan yarn. The display samples were really inspiring – I particularly liked the blanket, and I had to physically restrain myself from buying some of the books which I have been coveting.
I found yarns which, once upon a time, I would have bought at the drop of a hat – a three year search for the yarn to make a Penguin Hat was ended here, and I will be making a return trip when I have saved up for that particular little project*. Stock aside, I enjoyed my browsing experience immensely.
The yarn section is near a skylight, which makes it nice and easy to see the range and appreciate the colours. I do not see well in low light, and artificial light will strain anybody’s eyes, so I really appreciated this. There is plenty of space for the yarn to be displayed, and wide corridors so that yarn connoisseurs do not have to shuffle past each other on their search for the perfect colour.
The display is neatly kept, which makes it easy to see everything and does not cause distraction. There was someone walking around making sure that all the balls were in their cubbies straight, with ball-bands on, which although a small thing, is something I always look for – who doesn’t know the frustration of finding what you think is the perfect yarn, without any information to go with it as the ball band has been lost somewhere in the ether.
All in all, I had a great two and a half hour bout of shopping. I bought buttons for the Icon Dress (the button display hypnotised me for about half an hour) and a little cross stitch of the front facade of the building which is sitting on my desk taunting me as I itch to try it out.
You can’t browse the yarn on the Liberty website, so the full range can only be appreciated in person. It’s worth a trip if you are in London anyway, if not for the world of wonder that will open to you when you see the other products in close proximity to the sticks and string! It took me seven years of living in the city to venture in – and boy do I wish I had done so before.
* If you follow the link and see I started that project before, I had to stop and rip because the yarn was inappropriate for the project. It became the Romney Hat instead.
I know we are already on the 5th of November, I’ve been busy. John and I went to a Halloween party in Barrow-in-Furness this weekend, hence the radio silence. I dressed up as a pumpkin in Icon Dress, with some SUPER SCARY make-up. It was fun! I intend to take advantage of not having a pet affected by fireworks this year, by going to some fireworks. I’m looking forward to it!
Anyway, enough pontificating. I’m currently sitting at the dining room table in my running gear, waiting for my cuppa to get to a drinkable temperature, so I thought I’d catch you up on Resolutions while I wait. As always, you can check out more information on the Resolutions Monthly group.
This is all fairly straightforward, I think I will be able to accomplish some of them, but others (i.e. finish spinning FMDCJ) will be a challenge! Anyway, here we go:
Finish spinning Follow Me Down Cousin Jack
Knit two more pairs of Cadeautje
Cast on my scarf
Go to Knit Night at least twice
Clear out my WIP basket of bits and pieces that I ‘may one day’ use (i.e. old petals and bits of teddy bear)
Work on My Favourite Things
I’m really looking forward to clearing out the WIP basket. I have bits of old knitting projects that have been sitting in there for nearly a decade. It will feel really cathartic getting them out!
I want to make some decorations for Christmas too – I will be looking for felt and using up some old clothes, and making it a handmade Christmas. This is the first year I have my own flat to decorate how I like without caring what someone else thinks (John and I have similar taste, so I do not think we will have problems, and if we do we will fight it out over some mulled wine). There’s going to be a lot of time spent on Pinterest over the coming weekends and evenings!
I am also doing Nanowrimo this year. It is going well. You can find my profile under the name “thesledgehamster” – buddy up and let me know if you’re around!
Resolutions for 2015
I’m starting to look ahead to 2015 and projects I intend to complete next year. I’m going cold sheep in 2015 – I will not be able to buy any yarn or fibre (although I will be accepting gifts of such). That’s going to be a big one – and I intend to get through my stash completely. This may mean going beyond 2015 with the cold sheep thing…but I don’t want to get ahead of myself here!
Do you have any thoughts on this? Have you gone cold sheep? Any chance you have any tips for me?
Melanie taught me how to use a niddy-noddy properly after we recorded Episode Six of the podcast yesterday – listen to this here (did you know you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes?). Now, you would be forgiven for thinking the operation of a niddy-noddy is fairly simple, right?
Oh wait, if you don’t know what a niddy-noddy is…it’s a tool used to make skeins from yarn, and is used when spinning to measure your yardage, as well as get the yarn off the bobbins into the skein. There is more information on Wikipedia.
I had the whole ‘wrap the yarn around the prongs’ thing down to pat. It’s quite a nice rhythm when you get into wrapping a skein on the device – and the reason it is called a niddy-noddy is because it looks like it’s nodding away to itself as it rocks back and forth while yarn is wrapped onto it.
When I first got it, and spun my first yarns, I diligently wrapped it around and counted the number of wraps. I also measured the dimensions of my niddy-noddy so that I knew the yardage of each wrap. I decided that it was one yard.
Bear in mind that this was three years ago. I was enamoured with my new toy (and in the throes of the tail-end of a depression slump). OK, remembering that?
Melanie put a skein of freshly spun merino and silk singles onto the niddy-noddy – and quietly questioned my assertion that one wrap was one yard. It was at this point that I learned that a yard is in fact much less than 192 cm – which is the actual length of one wrap on my niddy-noddy. After explaining (very kindly) the error that I had made, Melanie probably went off laughing at me. Eek!
It took me a few hours to come to terms with this (in my brain, one yard was a completely unknown quantity!) and I then sat down to count my yardages of all my previously spun yarns. The new totals are below.
I can’t yet decide how I feel about this. Probably more accomplished – I had been feeling fairly low about my spinning output, and it turns out I have nearly double what I thought – but it also serves as a reminder that sometimes I can be a little proud, and next time should just ask about three years sooner!
Have you ever been in a similar situation to this?
Episode Six: Pamwe of the Plutonium Muffins Podcast is co-hosted by the now infamous Melanie! We talk about our current projects both knitting and spinning, recently finished items, give an extensive review of the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, recap on my resolutions for October and 2014, and finally a brief history of spinning.
There was a lot of laughter and some bits where we talked about cats, sheep that look like teddy bears and rambling in areas, so a fair amount has been edited out and it’s a bit clunky. I’m getting better at editing, but still working on it! Enjoy.
I thought I would let you all know how I personally use Bloglovin’. Ever since Google removed it’s Reader function, I’ve been struggling to figure out what to use instead for reading my favourite craft and lifestyle blogs. Yes, I know that it has been a very long time since Reader was taken away – but it has taken me a very long time to figure this out!
I tried a number of services and imported my RSS feeds from Google into all of the services I signed myself up to. I couldn’t figure out how to enjoy reading the blogs, though – I had loved Google Reader, and was very upset I couldn’t use it anymore! What I ended up doing was abandoning feed readers altogether, and simply bookmarking my favourite blogs in my browser.
I missed a lot of posts from my favourite bloggers, and lost out on the hours of pleasure I used to get from my blogging catchup.
Earlier this year, I decided it was time to give Bloglovin’ a try again. I deleted my previous account and signed up with a different email address so I had a fresh slate.
I then manually signed up the blogs I had bookmarked into the feed, deleting them as I went so I didn’t end up with duplicates.
Bloglovin’ also recommends blogs to you based on your likes. When I had entered all of my bookmarked ones in, I added a few of the recommended ones to my feed, and was set to go!
Reading your blogs
Once you have signed up to the blogs you want to read, it is fairly simple to read your feed. I always read on my computer – there are apps for smart devices, but I cannot comment on how good they are because I don’t use them. I did download the iPhone one, but I found it hard to work and don’t want to comment because I’m obviously not used to it and can’t give a good idea of how it works.
You can either check bloglovin.com every day by manually going to your feed and checking it – or you can install a widget onto your browser which will come up with a notification whenever there is a new post/s.
Once you have a few blogs in your feed, you can choose whether to read from oldest or newest first – I always go oldest first in case a blogger has written several posts since I last read their feed and I read them in the wrong order. Click on the title of the top post in the feed to start reading.
As you read the posts, you can share it on social media, favourite it, or interact with it as you would if you were just on the website without the Bloglovin’ reader. For example, I am logged into WordPress within Bloglovin’, and comments on WordPress blogs come out under my account, without me having to go to WordPress and do this myself. The same is true for Blogger blogs, although note that if you comment on a Blogger post through Bloglovin’, the page will refresh and take you out of the Bloglovin’ reader – so you’ll have to go back to your homepage to start again.
Bloglovin’ Feed Management
Now, I follow a lot of blogs. If I forget to read my updates daily, I have two courses of action that I follow – I either save them all up and have a blog-reading marathon on a Friday night when John is out with his work people, or I simply click “Mark all as read”. It took me a long time to accept this as a course of action, as it felt like I was deliberately missing out on the news – but when you go to read blogs and it says you have 350 unread posts, that can be extremely overwhelming!
Last Friday, I did have a blog-reading marathon. It took me 5 hours to read through over 500 posts – I worked away on a new laptop cover for my computer and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. It was kind of useful having this huge backlog – I realised there are a few blogs which I skip past without fail, so I went to their pages and unfollowed. Brutal, but it goes a long way to making it more manageable for me.
I also regularly add new blogs to the feed. I am very active on Twitter and if I check out a link to a blog and I think I will like it, I add it. It’s much easier if the bloggers put a button on their blog to let me do this (you can see mine to the right of this post!)
If a few weeks later I realise I’m not enjoying the blog – I unfollow. I’m liberal with my follow, unfollow and mark all as read buttons. I never used to be – and then realised that it was becoming a chore. Now, I have a huge number of blogs which I follow, enjoy, and always look forward to reading, without feeling internal guilt if I don’t read every single post.
If you would like to follow Plutonium Muffins on Bloglovin’, simply click the below picture and you will be able to do so. If you would like to know how to do this, or want me to send you the code for the button, let me know on corrie[at]plutoniummuffins.com. You can change the picture (you may notice mine isn’t the standard Bloglovin’ image) very easily.
I hope this helps you get as much enjoyment out of blog-reading as I do!
One of my October Resolutions was to get started on the rainbow fibre. I described this in more detail on the podcast – you can find the episode here. I am so, so excited to say that we have completed round one of the fibre.
Wait, who is ‘we’? Read on…!
My friend Melanie, an Aussie and found through Ravelry, is currently in London and came to hang out when we had the PicKnit at the PM headquarters. I showed off all of my spinning fibre (protoyarn!) and told her my plans for some of it. I also expressed some concern at spinning the nylon sparkly unicorn tail fibre – I had never used this before.
Melanie was a superstar, and got started with the fibre – within a couple of days I had overcome my fear and spun it all into a single.
I also had some merino tops in the seven colours of the rainbow, which I wanted to spin into a single as a gradient. Excited by this, I laid out all of the fibre last week and spun it up – with the assistance of Melanie, who did at least half of it! When we were halfway through the first red top, we decided to split it in half as there was a lot of it – so we ended up spinning only half of these colours.
Meanwhile, Melanie had been scheming, and had gone to Hobbycraft to pick up some beads. She had also watched tutorials on YouTube on how to spin with beads – you can guess what happened, right?? With all of these strung onto sparkly blue rayon thread, I nominated Melanie for plying first, and I was in charge of the beads while she did so. We ran out of nylon towards the end of the yellow – so we had to run back to the shop and get more. Melanie spun this up, plyed it with the rest of the beads and merino, and we ended up with three skeins of glory that will make a rainbow when used together!
As Melanie is leaving for Australia soon, I made her take these skeins – we had originally thought we would split it in half, but gradually realised that we would each only have half of the rainbow if we did this, and chopping each colour into sections was not an option. Luckily, because we had split the merino, I still have half of the fibre left and I can spin up more of this glorious yarn!
It is soft, sparkly, absolutely beautiful and such a wonderful project. We crammed as many techniques in as we could (a common utterance being “it’s art yarn, it doesn’t matter”) and I can’t wait to start on the next lot. I’m also really looking forward to seeing what Melanie knits out of it – we are not yet sure of the yardage, and will measure it next week sometime.
My friend Melanie and I have spinning together recently. We are having to pack our hang out time into a very short space of time as she is moving back to Australia in less than a month. Sad times for me (although she is super excited)!
I have been super adventurous since Melanie came into my life, as she has encouraged me to spin all sorts of things I would never have dared try before! We’ve had a wonderful few days of spinning, and she has been doing some interesting things too.
Spinning the Dartmoor Mix
After a visit to Spin a Yarn in Devon (which I have talked about before), Melanie came away with a load of fibre to try spinning. This was a mix of fibres from animals living on or around Dartmoor, a beautiful area of England near the place I grew up. The label on the bag says there are four fibres in there: alpaca, Shetland, Gotland and Ryeland.
After spinning the first few bits on her drop spindle, she came round and got started on the wheel. There was Much Progress at the Plutonium Muffins PicKnit (which ended up just being Melanie, Corrie and another friend hanging out), and after two days of spinning on the wheel and plying on the spindle at home, a substantial amount of yarn was produced.
The first project that Melanie cast on was the Vortex Shawl – it looked amazing when she brought it round, and I was super excited about seeing how it turned out (and queued this project for myself). However, when she got home she decided that there was something else that this yarn wanted to be – and has almost finished!
The pattern is Window Cat by Sara Elizabeth Kellner. There is just a bit more spinning to be done, and she will finish the fibre. The cat still needs a face and his base so that his stuffing doesn’t pop out. He’ll be done soon, I reckon!
I never thought that spinning could be a social craft – as it turns out, it can, and I’m loving it. We are off to the Handweavers Studio again to ooh and ahh at fibre, and buy some more of the sparkly unicorn tale so we can finish our rainbow fibre!
It is that time of month…the mid-month resolutions update is due, although I can barely believe it! The biggest news is that Icon Dress is finished. I know, spoiler alert! You can read the full post on that here.
October Resolutions: Mid-Month
Finish Icon Dress – yes! I cannot believe it. The Icon Dress is finished, and it took less time to complete than my mum’s legwarmers…
Knit the only Christmas Present I’m doing this year – Eek, we’ve changed track and I’m now doing Christmas presents for EVERYONE. I’m swatching for the first at the moment.
Get started on rainbow fibre (spinning) – very excited about this! I’ve got started and finished the nylon. I need to move on to the wool. My friend Melanie is buying me seed beads so I can get involved with sticking beads into the yarn!
Sell more STUFF – many things have been sold – many more to go, but I’ve made a good start.
Learn a tune a day – I have learned one tune! Hurrah me.
So it has thus far been a successful month! And now, because I haven’t done this for a while, here are some of the achievements from the Resolutions Monthly wonderkids.
1. LakeLinda has completed her seedy afghan.
2. tsaria made a boob hat!
3. Stumpy01 completed a pair of socks.
4. sungardener finished a sweater for her son who goes to Brazil shortly
5. CKRidge reached a milestone on a Nina for her daughter.
6. tsaria wove in all the ends on her 49ers blanket.
7. SugarAngel whipstitched all of her afghan squares together.
There are tons more with photos, but I will save them for the next post. You can check them all out in the Achievements thread of the group – and if you aren’t a member of Ravelry, sign up now! It’s free, and you won’t regret it.
Welcome to Plutonium Muffins; a blog about knitting, spinning, some general craft, and life as a twenty-something year old trying to figure out how vintage and traditional pursuits fit into the twenty-first century.