YARNS of Tavistock: Local Yarn Shops

I unexpectedly came across YARNS of Tavistock on Monday morning, and absolutely loved it. I sometimes go in to yarn shops thinking I might do a review of them, and then realise there is nothing to distinguish them from the myriads of others…well, I spent all of a minute in YoT before realising that this was a definite yes when it came to a review!

YARNS of Tavistock
YARNS of Tavistock

YARNS of Tavistock

This weekend marks the 18 month anniversary of YARNS of Tavistock. Run by Sue, the shop came about after an injury gave her plenty of time to do some knitting and crochet, and dream up her ideal local yarn shop. Within just a few months of having the idea, the doors to YoT opened to the public, and it’s gone from strength to strength!

Special offer yarns!
Special offer yarns!
The window display - samples of the local produce available in the shop.
The window display – samples of the local produce available in the shop.
Walking in to the shop off the street.
Walking in to the shop off the street.
Loads and loads and loads of yarn.
Loads and loads and loads of yarn.
More beautiful yarns - a large quantity of which has a significant pure wool content.
More beautiful yarns – a large quantity of which has a significant pure wool content.
Love the colours of this corner!
Love the colours of this corner!
More yarns to choose from.
More yarns to choose from.
The yarns on the right of the till are handspun and speciality yarns from the Natural Fibre Company.
The yarns on the right of the till are handspun and speciality yarns from the Natural Fibre Company.
This is below the till - loving it.
This is below the till – loving it.
All of the yarns on special this week.
All of the yarns on special this week.
Spinning fibre to play with.
Spinning fibre to play with.
I know it's a small thing to adore, but look! Orifice hooks!
I know it’s a small thing to adore, but look! Orifice hooks!
Huge list of workshops available!
Huge list of workshops available!
Samples of what one can make during a workshop.
Samples of what one can make during a workshop.
More examples of what you can make in a workshop.
More examples of what you can make in a workshop.
Looking from the back room towards the till.
Looking from the back room towards the till.
Local produce on those shelves in the corner.
Local produce on those shelves in the corner.
Artwork for sale...and some casual spinning wheels.
Artwork for sale…and some casual spinning wheels.
A Debbie Bliss display, loving the teddy bear!
A Debbie Bliss display, loving the teddy bear!
A basket filled to the brim with luxurious yarn.
A basket filled to the brim with luxurious yarn.
Beautiful little baby clothes.
Beautiful little baby clothes.
Books, DMC kits, knitting accessories.
Books, DMC kits, knitting accessories.
The spinning wheels on sale are gorgeous, OOAK specimens.
The spinning wheels on sale are gorgeous, OOAK specimens.
Where workshops take place - note the added fish tank!
Where workshops take place – note the added fish tank!
My new requirement for all yarn shops: a colourful fish tank for John to watch.
My new requirement for all yarn shops: a colourful fish tank for John to watch.

Hopefully the pictures give you a great idea of what the shop is like, but I’ll add my two pence in here. You walk into space, something that is unusual in a yarn shop, and really lovely. Sue maintains enough room for someone with a pram to bring their child in and turn it around easily – nobody leaves their kid outside, after all! There’s a lovely sofa to sit at for a quick knit (or for hubby to relax while you shop), and the back room has a large table for workshops. The number of workshops held here are immense, and they’re not just for knitting, but range from using polymer clay to dyeing fibre!

The shop also has plenty of spinning equipment on sale, and the fibre is to die for. There are a few spinning wheels, drop spindles, even things like handmade orifice hooks – something I’ve only ever seen on Etsy! The selection of yarn is amazing, with many of the good quality ‘regular’ brands such as Debbie Bliss, James Brett and Opal, as well as more specialist yarns such as Manos del Uruguay, Juniper Moon and the Natural Fibre Company.

Sue prides herself on stocking local products, and has a number of shelves in the back of the store where local souvenirs, supplies and artwork can be picked up. From tea cosies to baby clothes, cushions to painting, these shelves alone kept me absorbed for ages.

In case you can’t tell, I was so excited about the shop, and if you’re ever in Tavistock, I urge you to go find it. YARNS of Tavistock is located on the high street, but far up one end, so keep walking! The address is as below:

69 West Street
Tavistock
Devon
Pl19 8AJ

The shop website is here, and Sue maintains a very active Facebook presence on the page here. Go check it out, and let me know what you think!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Lighthouses! Design Inspirations

I’ve been doing a lot of designing recently, and one of my current obsessions is lighthouses. There’s a very specific reason why this has become a thing that I’m interested in, which will all be revealed later – but I just thought it was time to share this little story with you as it’s been the theme to my week.

This week has been sponsored by lighthouses!
This week has been sponsored by lighthouses!

Lighthouses

I’ve always thought there was something romantic about lighthouses. The first time I ever really encountered the structure was in “Five Go To Demon’s Rocks” by Enid Blyton – one of the Famous Five books. Living in a landlocked country in the middle of dry Africa, I couldn’t really imagine what a lighthouse was, and how it manifested itself.

Moving to South Devon at the age of 10, I encountered my first one. We spent a lot of time on the beach, and this became a more late-night occurrence through my later teen years. Beach parties were usually punctuated by that pinprick of light, while trips to Plymouth, the local city, normally involved a climb up this big ole landmark.

The lighthouse in Plymouth
The lighthouse in Plymouth (photo by Herbythyme, click for original image)

I think part of the charm for me is the history of the thing. Long, long, long before there was GPS, sailors needed to navigate tricky passages through water channels around the globe, and the lighthouse was the structure that made this slightly safer. The Wikipedia article on the history of the lighthouse is quite interesting – if you fancy a read, it’s here.

Handily, the Wiki article brings me to the lighthouses that are of immediate interest to me! The Eddystone Rocks are in Plymouth Sound, which is just down the road. These are a major hazard to boats in the English Channel, and are particularly tricky to build on because of the sea conditions in the area. As a result, the Eddystone Lighthouse designed by John Smeaton had to be super creative, and his development of the structure brought the design of lighthouses forward by leaps and bounds. (He also essentially invented modern lime cement by rediscovering the Roman method of using lime to set things. What a dude.)

The lighthouse that Smeaton designed stood in place until 1877, when the rock it stood on started to erode and it started to look like the whole thing would vanish into the sea. Dismantled* and reassembled on Plymouth Hoe, it is now a landmark of Plymouth…bringing us back to a teenaged Corrie, climbing the lighthouse and dreamily staring out across the Westcountry and the English Channel. Smeaton’s Tower is now John Smeaton’s memorial, and is also a Grade I listed building. Visitors can climb the 93 steps for under £5…come to Plymouth, we have the best attractions!

Smeaton's Tower - photo by Stuart Brampton, click to purchase a print from him!
Smeaton’s Tower – photo by Stuart Brampton, click to purchase a print from him!
The Douglas Lighthouse stands next to the base of the original Smeaton's Tower.
The Douglas Lighthouse stands next to the base of the original Smeaton’s Tower.
John Smeaton, with his Eddystone Lighthouse in his portrait!
John Smeaton, with his Eddystone Lighthouse in his portrait!

When I was given the opportunity to design a sea themed cross stitch, I immediately thought of lighthouses. What better way to honour the romance than spending hours staring at my needlework?? You’ll see the finish piece next week…

What do you think of lighthouses? Romantic piece of history, or something else? I now have plans to make John trek up the steps with me the next time he’s in Devon. We do the best things!

Much love,

Corrie xx

*In case you’re worried for the sailors around the Eddystone Rocks, Douglas’s Tower was built and replaced Smeaton’s Tower in 1879. The base of Smeaton’s Tower stands next to the modern lighthouse as it was cemented so strongly to the rocks that the Victorian Engineers couldn’t lift it. Go Smeaton!

The internal design of Smeaton's Tower.
The internal design of Smeaton’s Tower (click to find source of image)

SOURCES

Primarily Wikipedia.

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Twelve Days of Christmas – Plum Street Samplers

The Twelve Days of Christmas…in APRIL?! I started a new cross stitch piece last week, and yes it is Christmas themed, and yes it is indeed only April…

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Progress on the Twelve Days of Christmas after two days.
Progress on the Twelve Days of Christmas after two days.
Progress on a train - A Partri-idge in a Pear Tree!
Progress on a train – A Partri-idge in a Pear Tree!

The new piece is a Plum Street Samplers freebie by Paulette Stewart, which was released over ten weeks starting in November 2015 as a Sunday Mystery Sampler project. The original motif was released in Just Cross Stitch in 2011, the second in 2012, and then Paulette had an realisation about the time scale she was working with and decided to just finish them all in time for Christmas 2015. I’ve paraphrased all of that – there is loads more information on her blog here.

Fast forward to December 2015, and I was feeling the frustration of the RSI getting worse, my existing cross stitch projects stagnating, and the joy of watching a ton of FlossTube videos. Everybody was suddenly talking about the Twelve Days of Christmas, and I decided to get involved! I followed along with great interest, fully intending to start one day…and then just didn’t.

So back to last week – I was in London with John, having stayed for a few days longer than originally planned and hence without any stitching to do. He packed me off to John Lewis with instructions to find something to occupy myself, and after half an hour of browsing their kits and options, I decided to just get some fabric and floss. I couldn’t access Paulette’s website because my Internet was too bad, so I just got red, green and black, and a large piece of 16 count Aida. I would have liked to have gone for evenweave, but they didn’t have any, so that made that an easy decision!

I got home and excitedly started stitching. I worked on it pretty much non-stop for about three days, and have nearly finished the first motif.

I’ve not done a two colour piece like this before, and I am really, really enjoying it. As good as shading and realistic colours are in many of the patterns I’ve done in the past, this is allowing me to just go back to basics and enjoy the process of forming cross stitches. The colours I picked go well together, and it has certainly kept me well occupied!

The sampler is free, but it can also be quite hard to find in Paulette’s website, so here are some handy links for you.

If you decide to stitch it, let me know and show off your progress! I’d love to see it.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Election Shawl – the finished pictures!

I last blogged about the Election Shawl in September – I started it in May last year, and finished it in November 2015, but for some reason it managed to escape the list of projects to talk about! So here it is in all of its glory, adding to my gradually growing collection of shawls.

Election Shawl

My favourite photo of the Election Shawl, wearing it on Dartmoor with Chase.
My favourite photo of the Election Shawl, wearing it on Dartmoor with Chase.
Looking straight into the sun! Great idea of the colours though.
Looking straight into the sun! Great idea of the colours though.
We were trying to get artistic photos of the shawl, but the wind and the sun were at funny angles!
We were trying to get artistic photos of the shawl, but the wind and the sun were at funny angles!
Blocking the shawl.
Blocking the shawl.

The Election Shawl is so called because I started knitting it on the night of the UK General Election in 2015. The pattern is Pretty Basic by Janina Kallio, although I didn’t follow it exactly as I randomly chose when to add the rows of eyelets.

When John was in New York in 2014, he bought me two skeins of sock yarn from Knitty City, and the yarn I used for the Election Shawl was Nooch Fibre. Hand-painted, this was inspired by Jasper John’s painting “Flag”, and in gorgeous red, blue and white colours as a result. I thought it handy that the British flag has the same colours as the American (perhaps this isn’t a coincidence??) and it seemed the right choice for a shawl started on the night where the results of our democratic rights were counted.

There were roughly 463 yards in the yarn, so the shawl is rather small and I haven’t worn it much as I’ve been favouring my larger shawls during the winter. It’s coming into its own now that the weather is warming up, and I wore it on a recent walk up to Dartmoor with John.

The yarn was really lovely to work with. Because it is a sock blend, it has nylon in it, but I didn’t want to wear it too heavily as I wasn’t sure how well it would stand up to the rigours of being a sock. When I blocked it there was absolutely no bleeding, and I think I’ll probably knit a pair of socks out of the other skein that John gave me as I am happy with the quality of the fibre and the dye to risk a pair of socks out of the other one.

I am having a love affair with shawls, and wish I had been more prolific in the past so I had more to wear now! This is why I’m currently working on the rainbow shawl I talked about last week – although I’m only allowing myself around 10 minutes of knitting per day because my hands are still suffering from RSI.

RSI is also the reason I’ve been quieter on social media and the blog recently. It hurts to type, and by spending time on the computer I’m too tempted to spend all my time on Ravelry, Twitter and the blog, which all involve loads of typing! I’m hoping that things will ease up, but I’ve also got plans to go back to the doctor. I’ll update you on how things are, but if you missed my discussion on treating it, you can find that post here.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Knitting a rainbow! – Fibre to yarn to shawl

I’ve been looking for some rainbow yarn I spun up last year, and I apparently never blogged about it. The first yarn was here, and I documented that really well, but the second lot escaped somehow. I have just started knitting with the yarn, looked for my post on it, and discovered the absence. Bad Corrie!

Rainbow Yarn

Raw materials ready to be spun into my yarn.
Raw materials ready to be spun into my yarn.
Close up of the rainbow yarn
Close up of the rainbow yarn
The yarn close up from a different angle.
The yarn close up from a different angle.
A completed skein of rainbow yarn, ready to be knitted into something nice.
A completed skein of rainbow yarn, ready to be knitted into something nice.

I took far fewer photos of the process than the last time, but they should give you a good idea of what went on. Just as in the previous yarn, I used coloured merino fibre to spin up a single that ranged from red to violet, following the popular rhyme for the colours of the rainbow “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain”. The second single is a trilobal nylon in rainbow colours that I bought pre-blended from The Handweavers Studio in London.

The third single was the most complex. When Melanie was here in 2014 she bought a load of rainbow coloured glass beads from Hobbycraft, which we then strung onto blue metallic sewing thread. This was used for the first load of rainbow yarn – I used the same method using the leftover thread from that first spinning, but ran out halfway through and switched to a gold metallic thread that I happened to have in my sewing kit (oh the joys of loving shiny things!) You can barely see the thread anyway, and it doesn’t make any difference to the finished product.

The end result was a three ply yarn with one wool, one nylon and the third nylon with beads. The yarn was worsted weight, and I have 198 yards of it.

I’m having a huge love affair with shawls, and I decided that I wanted to try making a shawl. With a small yardage, I decided to go for something simple, and cast on a Simple Shawl by Janina Kallio. It’s really exciting working through the colours – I’ve made it through red, and am currently in the orange section. I’m starting to think that perhaps I don’t have enough, and I may have to spin some more up – I’ll keep you updated!

Much love,

Corrie xx

Drying after a bath.
Drying after a bath.
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Flower Power for every season!

Living in London, you forget the power of a simple flower growing on the verge, in your lawn, or dotted through woodlands as you go for a summer stroll. I’ve been so overjoyed recently to have the chance to enjoy these little miracles of stored sunshine – nine years in London definitely made me appreciate the countryside a little more when I got back here in September!

My mum and gran worked together to produce some of my most favourite pieces of art of all time – all at the mercy of the humble wild flower.

Wild Flower Pictures

Mum's beautiful flower pictures hanging in her office.
Mum’s beautiful flower pictures hanging in her office.
There's always so much to see in these.
There’s always so much to see in these.
Wool, wire, flowers and leaves make up mum's flower pictures.
Wool, wire, flowers and leaves make up mum’s flower pictures.
I wish I knew what all the flower species in this are.
I wish I knew what all the flower species in this are.
Do you have a favourite?
Do you have a favourite?

Last summer my Gran walked around the farm collecting pretty flowers, unopened buds from plants, interesting pieces of fern, and a variety of leaves from our local landscape. They all came from our own garden, orchard or fields, and caused a bit of a stir when we opened up some books and discovered them lying in wait for us!

The joy of the flower pressing for her was the process, and the flowers then went to mum to undergo the next process in their transformation. We sat around the TV as the evenings grew darker and longer, and mum gradually built up some absolutely beautiful pictures using these blooms, some of my own wool, acrylic paint and thin wire. The result was some canvases that shone with the splendour of each flower, grouped with a few others to create a scene that awoke memories of those beautiful sunny days while we were huddling int he dark!

Mum is a prolific artist (if you’ve seen any of the videos that have been filmed in her office, you’ll have seen her tools of the trade in the background – I’m thinking of the RSI one) and we are running out of wall space! So, the flowers are starting the next stage of their journey, and are now up for sale.

I’m super glad to have the pictures and the memories, and I can’t wait till the flowers we are picking now are done drying so that we can preserve more memories of spring, summer and beyond.

What are your favourite flowers, and have you ever tried pressing them? They make wonderful cards too, although sending them across customs boundaries can be a bit difficult!

Much love,

Corrie xx

PS I’ve been doing some lambing for the last two weeks, hence the radio silence! I’m drafting that post now, come back soon for the full story…

Black Whympstone Lamb.
Black Whympstone Lamb.
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It’s the end of the podcast as we know it

It’s time for the podcast announcement that everyone has sort of been expecting. I have talked about this previously, but not in great detail because I hadn’t made my mind up. However, having reviewed my finances, I’ve realised that I simply can’t afford to keep paying for the hosting that is necessary for the podcast to keep running as it is.

I’ve officially cancelled my podcast host, and there won’t be any more audio episodes. I continue to enjoy listening to other people’s outputs, but I just simply can’t manage as it was.

What’s next for the PM Podcast then?

The Plutonium Muffins podcast is evolving.
The Plutonium Muffins podcast is evolving.

I’ve been doing YouTube videos for my cross stitch and gluten free journey for a while, and I’m going to carry on with the YouTube thing. I find videos easier to edit, and best of all, I don’t have to pay for hosting! As a self-employed freelancer (at the moment), the fees were just too much – they’re not astronomical, but when you’re counting pennies, every one matters.

The PM blog will remain the anchor for all of my content, so if you’re ever in any doubt, head straight over here and you’ll find out what is going on! I have an exciting guest post lined up, and have been preparing a few tutorials that I know you’re going to love!

At the moment I run one channel under “Corrie Berry”, where I do my Flosstube, Farm Friday and gluten free videos. I think I am going to restructure everything to a ‘Flosstube, Farm Friday, knitting and other craft’ channel, and a home and lifestyle channel as well. Any thoughts on this? I’d love to know what you think, how you behave, or whether you’re even interested in seeing the videos at all! I haven’t quite decided yet, so any thoughts will help!

In the meantime, I have a super exciting guest post lined up with one of my favourite people, so if you want to make sure you never miss a blog post, don’t forget to subscribe to them.

Much love,

Corrie xx

My finished Galaxy Converse with Nebula laces.
My finished Galaxy Converse with Nebula laces.

Speaking of tutorials, did you know my Galaxy Converse tutorial was featured on STARtorialist, an incredible website run by two lady astronomers? These girls are amazing!

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Spin all the things!

I have taken the time while I’ve been on knit-rest to do some sorting out, and am now starting to spin all the things! I’ve been doing a lot of YouTube videos rather than blog posts recently has been because even typing has been enough to make my RSI flare up, and I’ve been trying to give myself a Proper Rest. If you want to catch up on all of the stuff on YouTube, my channel is over here.

Spin all the things!

Hand turned spindles by my lovely friend Matt.
Hand turned spindles by my lovely friend Matt.
Hand turned spindles by my lovely friend Matt.
Hand turned spindles by my lovely friend Matt.
Cheviot fluff to spin, and waiting to be added to!
Cheviot fluff to spin, and waiting to be added to!
Louise from Spin City's 'Dolly Mixture" spun up and plied with a natural Exmoor Blueface ply.
Louise from Spin City’s ‘Dolly Mixture” spun up and plied with a natural Exmoor Blueface ply.
Blazing Rainbows - before and after!
Blazing Rainbows – before and after!
A pile of fibre to spin.
A pile of fibre to spin.

Part of the urge to spin again was kick-started by my lovely friend, Matt. He is a wood-turner living in Bristol, and at my request he designed some drop spindles for me. They’re made of beautiful woods, all made in his garage, and are absolutely stunning. They’ll be available on Etsy soon – we are just fine-tuning the design – so head over to the shop if you’d like to follow me and find out when they arrive!

I started demonstrating how they work to him while I was in Bristol this weekend, and realised that drop-spindling used my left hand more than my right hand, and it didn’t hurt at all. So, although I’ve been gentle about it, I have been taking out lots of time to spin. I have also done some on my Ashford Traditional, which I’ve been enjoying a lot but it has been a bit cold as my wheel is in my studio!

The brown wool is some Exmoor Blueface that I dyed using red onion. I left it on the stove for over three weeks, so it became super dark. The other fibre has been a mixture that I’ve bought at fairs. The beautiful pink is a braid of Cheviot that I bought at Unravel in 2013, the pink and black mixture is Dolly Mixture from my lovely friend Louise of Spin City UK, and the rainbow is my own Blazing Rainbows.

On a non-crafty note, I will soon be on the move again. My time on the farm is drawing to a close, and by the end of May I will be living in Bristol with John, enjoying life in a new city! I can’t express just how excited I am about this. It will be the end of nine years living in London (with occasional stints in Devon) and the next big step in my journey. There’s a lot to do before then, that’s for sure!

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who visits, comments and interacts with me via my blog. I’ve met a lot of people recently who have talked about how much they enjoy Plutonium Muffins, and it feels amazing to know that there are so many people who can enjoy my crafting along with me. If you’re reading this, I’m talking to you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Much love,

A soppy Corrie xx

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Farm Friday – zombie invasion!

I’m just popping in to say I’ve just uploaded the latest Farm Friday video, and I think it’s a corker! Mainly because it has footage of a zombie invasion on the farm, but I also introduce the guinea fowl to you ‘properly’ for the first time.

Zombie Invasion

While I’m on the topic, I’d love to know what else people want to see from the farm! As it’s a relatively small farm, things tend to get a little repetitive, so I would love to start taking some requests from you. After all, zombie invasions don’t happen every weekend.

The zombie invasion was part of a stag do that my brother put on for one of his best mates, who is getting married next weekend. Bro has spent months and months and months making silicone masks, and with 11 to paint on Saturday, I was certainly kept busy!

An unpainted zombie mask in the middle, with two painted top and bottom. Zombie invasion of the farm: ready!
An unpainted zombie mask in the middle, with two painted top and bottom. Zombie invasion of the farm: ready!

I used acrylic paint to do this, which wasn’t the best choice. Trying to paint a hydrophobic material with a water-based paint was…not clever. I didn’t have any other option, however, and they lasted for the event itself, which was good enough! I think the plan is to take the masks that were not taken as souvenirs, clean the acrylic off them and use proper silicone paint to repaint them. You might see them on Etsy at some point…what do you reckon!?

The zombie face was modelled on my brother. Now you know who I share my looks with! Haha.

Absolutely BEAUTIFUL Corrie Zombie.
Absolutely BEAUTIFUL Corrie Zombie.

John is down for the weekend, so I’m just about to take him to meet the lambs for the first time (you know I’ll be filming…) and up on the moor with Chase. We also have some studio cleaning to do. Now that spring is here, I’m planning to go into the studio a lot more regularly. I am going to be learning to use my knitting machine properly this spring!

Have a lovely weekend! I’m hoping to be able to pick up my knitting needles again, depending on my wrists.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Above All, Try Something!

One of my favourite quotes, “Above all, try something” was written by Franklin D Roosevelt in a publication called “Looking Forward” in 1933. The full quote is:

“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.”

Above all, try something

The quote has since been shortened to “Above all, try something.” It’s something that JS and I use all the time, and when I got some new DMC Coloris to try out at CHSI Stitches, I knew what to use it in! I have a huge list of quotes that I want to immortalise in cross stitch, and this is just the first.

The stitched piece, with DMC Coloris on either side of the word "try".
The stitched piece, with DMC Coloris on either side of the word “try”.

I stitched the piece last week – in the middle of which time, Lavender unexpectedly gave us a new lamb! The full story of this is in the latest Farm Friday video, a new series over on my YouTube channel. Check it out at the bottom of this post.

Someone who saw a photo of the piece asked me to write down the pattern, so you can check that out on Etsy here.

Anyway, I have temporarily framed the piece in a leather frame, which makes it look super classy, if you ask me! I think I’d like to keep it for when I’ve put a few of my other planned quotes down onto fabric, then make a wall hanging or something similar so that I can have a nice big piece of inspiration hanging in my room.

Above All, try SOMETHING. - FD Roosevelt
Above All, try SOMETHING. – FD Roosevelt

I’m not able to knit at the moment, so I’m using up my time usefully. I’m in London unexpectedly, and hoping to go look at some of the old textiles centres, especially the museums. There’s nothing quite like leaving London to appreciate what you used to have.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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