It’s a bit late, but I thought I would put up a diary of the events I’ve bookmarked for the rest of this year. I’m not necessarily going to all of them, but I’m interested to know what I’ve missed off.
They’re not limited to knitting, spinning or fibre – I’m a lover of general craft, so if you see anything glaringly obvious that I’ve missed off, please let me know! It is by no means fully comprehensive – but I’m really sick of missing events, or finding out about them a couple of days before, or worse, after. I do try keep up-to-date on what is going on, but it’s quite tough. Time to do something about that.
Events for 2015
I haven’t got a lot of time at the moment, so I haven’t linked to all of these websites. I hope you’ll forgive me. They are easily searchable in your favourite search engine.
The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show – 5th to 8th March
The Muse Connection Volume 1 – 8th March
Edinburgh Yarn Festival – 14th and 15th March
p-Lush – 27th and 28th March
Wonderwool Wales – 25th and 26th April
Wharfe Wool Fair – 9th May
I Knit Fandango – 15th and 16th May
Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week – 11th to 17th May
John Arbon Open Mill Weekend – 16th and 17th May
Highland Woolfest – 23rd May
Proper Woolly – 30th and 31st May
Woolfest – 26th and 27th June
Fibre East – 25th and 26th July
British Wool Show – 7th and 8th August
Popup Wool Show – 15th August
Great London Yarn Crawl – 5th September
Yarndale – 26th and 27th September
Shetland Wool Week – 26th September to 4th October
The Knitting & Stitching Show Alexandra Palace – 7th to 11th October
Bakewell Wool Gathering – 17th and 18th October
The Knitting & Stitching Show Dublin – 12th to 15th November
The Knitting & Stitching Show Harrogate – 26th to 29th November
I’ll be at the Spring K&S Show this weekend, and I’m also going to the Muse Connection as I was lucky enough to bag a ticket before they sold out! I’ll keep you updated on what happens…
I thought I’d show you all the patterns that have really caught my eye on “Hot Right Now’ on Ravelry this week. I visit that page about fifteen times a day…at least…so I thought I’d best put my visits to good use! Let me know if I missed anything good please.
Kate seems to have been in my life a lot recently, with mentions on a number of podcasts, as well as her patterns following me around! The British Breeds sampler pack that I bought from Hilltop Cloud at Unravel provides fleece to spin into the colours and yarns required for the Sheep Heid; and then I checked out Rams and Yowes, which has some of the motifs in the hat. I love it – but looks like I’d have to do a lot of spinning to get enough yarn! The pattern is £3.95 and knitted in a fingering weight yarn.
Because, you know, who doesn’t need a pair of mittens with pugs on them?! Another fingering weight yarn, the pattern is available in English and Swedish, and is EUR3.00 (about £2.24). I’m not sure this would be something that I would ever make…but they’re certainly unusual.
I adore the way the stitches seem to spiral around this cowl. It puts me in mind of icicles or lilies. Knitted up in a worsted weight yarn, it looks super cosy, particular with the squishy garter stitch. Bristol Ivy has just been interviewed on the pompom quarterly podcast – Episode 10, and it made me super excited to see this pattern pop up in the Hot Right Now box! This is £4.66 on Ravelry with loveknitting.
There’s no other way to describe my reaction to the Damask Cowl by Nancy Marchant other than flabbergasted. This is so incredibly intricate, beautiful, colourful – a real show-stopper. People’s mouths would literally fall open if they saw you wearing this…it looks like it can possibly be a handmade pattern. The pattern is US$5 on Ravelry – and utilises the extremely popular and topical brioche stitch.
This is a lace pattern suitable only for those comfortable with knitting from charts. Featuring Estonian stitches and nupps, it caught my eye the moment the page loaded. I don’t like the colour the sample is knitted in – I would probably do it in a teal/blue/purple yarn. The pattern is free.
I really love those spiral motifs on the edge. Can you tell I’m feeling a bit cold and on a shawl kick at the moment? Free on Ravelry, there is currently a knit along for this shawl, which you can find information on here. This ends on the 1st of May 2015, so you’ve got a whole month if you fancy joining it.
This would be my shawl of choice if I weren’t currently on the point of casting on another one.
Having had a look at the sample, I love the look of this. The groups of eyelets/lace motif really appeals to me. The colours are fabulous as well – this is one for the queue when Cold Sheep 2015 has ended! The pattern is £3.89 on Ravelry (for some reason, my Rav is no longer showing me prices in USD) and in a light fingering weight yarn.
I hope you enjoyed this small summary – I certainly had fun doing it, so I might do it again!
I’m pleased to have a finished object for today – a cowl/hat which was derived from the pattern for the Rikke Hat! I originally started knitting this for a friend, but I was playing yarn chicken and I lost…badly. Instead of frogging and doing something else, I decided I could work with it and the project became one for me, as it’s a bit of a strange item.
The Rikke Cowl/Hat
When I finished the Icon Dress, I had 70% of a skein of John Arbon Knit by Numbers left, in a glorious orange colour. I also had some red leftovers from the turtles I made for John’s sister for her 30th birthday, so I threw that in as well. I striped the garter stitch brim with the red and orange, and when the red ran out, just continued with the orange.
The hat is meant to be super slouchy, and as a result it has a huge amount of yarn in it, relative to other hats…I discovered to my dismay that this was the reason for my yarn running out. Should have checked the yardage before I cast on!
By this point, I was so in love with the fabric I had produced that I decided to keep it. I don’t really like scarves because they get in my way, so I’m slowly building up my collection of cowls. After trying the item on before casting off, I decided it would definitely fit, and it was going to be part of my wardrobe.
The brim of what was meant to be the hat was knit on smaller needles, so it’s a bit tighter than the rest. I’ve found that if I wear it with the brim on top, the more drapey fabric covers my…collarbone area (what is that called? Breast? Chest?) and the tighter brim prevents drafts getting in.
I’ve also realised that I can wear it as a hat. No, really. I wear my hair up in clips the majority of the time, and it is extremely thick. The only hat I have that is slouchy enough to fit when I’m wearing the clip is the Romney Hat – but it does look a bit strange, as if I am a conehead. I refer you to the below photo.
However, if I wear the cowl/hat as it was originally intended, it covers my whole head, stopping just at the point where my hairclip becomes a problem. It’s the perfect solution – and when I get too hot, which is a common occurrence, I can just pull it down so it becomes a cowl. I can also fold it in half and wear it as a headband to keep my hair out of my face when I’m doing things that require good visibility.
I am so pleased that I decided to just go with it and keep the project. It has become such a versatile and loved part of my wardrobe – and it makes me think of the wonderful dress I made with the yarn too, which is a bonus as that’s one of my better knitting achievements.
The Rikke Hat itself is an extremely popular project – at the time of writing, it has 6,273 projects on Ravelry. The only downside to the pattern is that it’s knit in the round and intended to be garter stitch, so if you don’t like purling, it’s probably not for you – or you can convert it to a flat pattern. I have been determined to improve my purling, so it was one of the draws of the project for me and was no real problem!
I’d love to know if you’ve ever repurposed a pattern into something it wasn’t really meant to be…let me know!
How is it the 1st of March already?! I’m sure I say that every month…time sure does seem to be flying these days, and I don’t like it!
February was a month of success for me. One of the best months I’ve had with my knitting for a very long time, in fact. Here’s the recap for you.
I was accomplished! Here’s the list.
Finish crocheting my sheep – hmm no, he’s still in my WIP basket, feeling neglected. Must pick him up again.
Finish Monkey (oops, was supposed to do this last month) – yes, and they are gorgeous! I have an FO post queued, it was supposed to self-publish while I was away at Halsway Manor. Oops! I’ll publish it tomorrow.
Knit a cowl from handspun – yes! The Dragon Cowl is gorgeous and smooshy and has barely left my neck since I finished it.
Cast on a big project – And finished it! A fox scarf with 348 rows of plain stockinette in it. Photos and more details to come soon.
Complete Week 8 of half-marathon training – yes, hurrah. You can sponsor me to do the Great North Run here. The challenge is in September, so I’ve got tons of time.
With that in mind, I’m going to try be as ambitious for March as I was for February.
March 2015 Resolutions
I’m scaling back on the amount of time I have to knit this month. This means I will almost certainly get more knitting done. As I start to feel better and take on more things, I am giving myself the rule that I am not allowed to do knitting for pleasure until the evening. It has worked for the last days of February – so I’m setting up March with that in mind.
Spin for ten minutes a day – lots of new fibre to play with!
Follow my new schedule every week day – I’ve set up a ‘school’ timetable that I hope will allow me to structure my days a bit better.
Playing with my new knitting machine every week – I persuaded John to get me a new knitting machine as my old one was broken a year ago, and I haven’t been able to explore that side of the craft for a while. The new one is a Brother KH-710, and I love it.
If you don’t know yet, I’m one of the biggest Harry Potter nerds to walk the streets of North London circa 2007. I’ve been doing some pattern searching on Ravelry, as I’m supposed to be knitting 12 pairs of socks this year and have not yet started my second pair, let alone third…and inspiration struck when I debated knitting Hermione’s Everyday Socks again.
The designer of these socks, Erica Lueder, has got the best range of Harry Potter inspired socks that I have found so far. Get ready for some amazing designs…
Harry Potter Inspired Socks
Hermione’s Everyday Socks
The first set of HP socks that springs to mind when you mention Harry Potter are Hermione’s Everyday Socks. I’m pretty sure most sock knitters have at least cast these on the past, even if they haven’t necessarily finished them. My dad was the recipient of my pair, in a lovely navy blue Fyberspates skein. The pattern is available in French and German, as well as English, and is a solid knit for anyone looking for a project to just wizz around.
The pattern is very basic, alternating between knit rows, then K1, P1 rows to create a sort of edited moss stitch pattern. They’re fabulous, a good, rugged pair of socks. At the time of writing, they are a free design on Ravelry.
Devil’s Snare Socks
Next up is a lacy pair of socks where the panel of lace has been inspired by Devil’s Snare. The pattern is available in English and French, and is currently free on Ravelry. I can’t make any other comment, as I haven’t knitted them…yet.
They’re for a fingering weight yarn on US 2/2.75 mm needles.
Dumbledore’s Christmas Stockings
One of the most notable lines for knitters in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is “one can never have enough socks”. Erica has taken this as her inspiration, and created a gorgeous design, which looks to me almost like a chessboard. They’re open to interpretation – I’ve mainly included them because of their inspiration! This is another free pattern on Ravelry, available in English.
The Weasley Homestead
Erica states that these socks were inspired by the colourway, which is a Weasley inspired yarn, Flesh from the Cauldron Sock SW. I love the patchwork effect, and the colour really puts me in mind of the lounge in the Burrow (in the films). The pattern is free on Ravelry and available in French and English.
The last of the Erica patterns that I wanted to showcase is Hidden Stairways, a whimsical pair of socks which I love the look of. The stairways at Hogwarts are something I have spent hours thinking about (I lived in a small town, OK?!) and I think she’s captured the spirit fairly well in the stitch pattern. Guess what? It’s free on Ravelry!
From Erica, my Harry Potter eye naturally led me on a journey to find other inspired designs…here’s a list of some of my favourites, found by searching “Harry Potter Socks”.
So, there you have it! A very Harry Potter-ey Saturday treat for you. I’m off to unpack my (new) knitting machine, and immerse myself in learning how to use it for the next two days. Have a great weekend!
There’s a new link party happening that I’ve just discovered via The Soaring Sheep! This is hosted on Love Made My Home, and the premise is that you talk about five things. I’m going to find it hard to pick just five! But I thought I’d give it a go, because it’s fun to review stuff.
Top of my list for this week – and probably the rest of the month – is how great Unravel was. I had so much fun, loved the experience, adore my new stash…I can’t wait to go back next year.
2. Sincerely Louise
I made myself a Sincerely Louise bear, who is currently hanging on our wall and has been named Björn. He makes me smile every time I walk past him! Louise donated a kit to me to give to one of my lucky readers…you can enter here!
3. Being reunited with this girl
Tonks spent ten days with my brother, destroyed all of his bedding, alienated all of his flatmates and stank the place out. Isn’t she charming?! But I have been so happy to have been reunited with her, you never realise how much you miss your kitty until you are back together. Even if she did destroy a ball of yarn last night.
I bought a Jenny Barnett kit at Unravel, and I’m loving this new form of fibre craft. I’ve tried it before, but never like this. It’s fantastic, I’m addicted!
5. New spinning equipment
I have some new equipment that I’m using joyfully! A smaller niddy-noddy for the samples I’m spinning up, a book on new techniques, a smaller set of hand-carders. It’s lovely to feel like I’m being a bit delicate, instead of attacking everything with gigantic paddles for hands.
If you’d like to see what other people are choosing as their five things, head over here. I have several finished objects to show you, I’m feeling super productive at the moment and big things are happening at Plutonium Muffins HQ, which you’ll find out about soon!
I have talked about Shooting Roots before, a folk organisation that John and I are involved in, alternately as tutors and participants at various folk events around the UK. If you’re looking for a better description, here is one in the words of the organisation:
Shooting Roots is an organisation run by and for young people, offering creative and participatory folk workshops at festivals and other events. In a nutshell it’s all about generating opportunities for young people to perform, develop friendships and access the folk arts.
We aim to do this through a three pronged attack –
Grass roots projects and an online community
We are run entirely by volunteers, who think Shooting Roots is so great they’re prepared to give up their free time to make it happen. Also it’s fun, and there’s nothing quite as good as making something amazing.
John and I spent the week before Unravel at Halsway Manor in Somerset, and I thought I’d share the experience with you.
Please note: I have not included any group photos as I do not have permission to post photos of the underage participants.
Halsway Manor with Shooting Roots
This is a programme held in the February half-term, at Halsway Manor. The manor itself is a national centre for the folk arts, and there are a huge number of programmes that are run, from violin-making courses to hurdy-gurdy workshops. Shooting Roots is aimed at 12 to 25 year olds, and gives them the chance to explore the folk arts. The youngest two participants were 12, and I was on the cusp of the older ‘kids’ at 25 – but it didn’t feel like it, as the atmosphere was extremely inclusive and we all enjoyed each others company in equal measure.
Five different disciplines were explored – music, dance, song, craft and theatre. I have, in the past, been a tutor for craft at folk festivals; but as a participant this time, I simply got to enjoy the whole experience. Throughout the four days, the group is working towards a showcase for the families so that mums and dads can see what their little cherubs have been up to on the course, which is fully residential; no parents allowed!
The showcase this year focused on four villages in traditional England, with four different tribes living in them and battling with each other through the medium of dance. A Great Evil occurred, and one person from each tribe had to go on a Quest to prevent dance being taken forever. The four heroes went on a journey while the rest of the cast provided props and additional characters using their bodies, voices, some costume elements and their crafted objects (more on that in a moment). At the end, dance was saved, and the tribes came out as a harmonious community.
With four slots each day to participate in each workshop (music and song were combined), the days started with a cooked breakfast at 9 am, and went on till 9 pm, when an informal session started. The first day was full-on with introductions to each other, playing ball games, then a start on each workshop. I did not do the theatre workshop, as I discovered within three minutes of the start of it that my anxiety would not let me deal with this without a large dose of medication…so I decided to give it a miss.
However, the wonderfully talented tutor, Lizzy, gave everyone a wonderful time as they split into groups and headed off around the grounds of the manor to explore and get to know each other, and work on their traditional theatre skills. Although it was similar to ‘drama’ as I knew it in school, the focus was on a traditional story line, and there was an element of folk story-telling in this workshop.
We were then split into groups, and my half went on to a Border Morris workshop. Our tutor, Grace, was the person who recites the poem ending “…will dance for you!” in the below video. Border Morris is a type of dance performed with sticks, reminiscent of sword fighting, using big heavy sticks to create interesting rhythms and a rather dangerous environment. I was reluctant to join in…but it was so much fun. I really enjoyed myself, and it felt wildly exciting to throw sticks around (literally) in the name of art. The dances we worked on were featured in the showcase as part of the fighting between the tribes.
It was then on to craft. For obvious reasons, this was the workshop I was most looking forward to. My wonderful friend Lizzie (who has featured on the blog before) was the leader of the workshop in conjunction with Marcus and Hugo. They taught us how to do wood-working without power tools. I kid you not, I think this was one of the greatest few hours in my life – we were set loose on logs with axes, billhooks, draw knives, lathes, sandpaper, saws…even John got really into it, and discovered the state of crafty concentration that I go into when I’m spinning. It was really good fun, and allowed me to gain further appreciation of how things that were handmade in the past were really handmade. Wandering back to the manor that afternoon, I was looking around the wood-panelled rooms with stunning carvings and beams, and marvelling at the number of hours and effort that would have gone into it.
We were making our own morris sticks to use in the showcase, using a sycamore tree that had been cut down on one of the leader’s farms. It was seriously enthralling, and I spent many of my spare hours (when I was supposed to be knitting) in the craft workshop, either working on my stick or helping out where others were unable to complete theirs in the time allotted.
From the craft workshop, we did song and music. I love to sing, and I haven’t played my violin for a really long time – so I joined in with song, and we learned a couple of songs from tutor Nonny. Unfortunately, I had a terrible cold and consequently lost my voice, so I did not get a chance to continue this workshop through the week. Folk singing is one of the best forms of singing I know. Anyone and everyone can do it, and it sounds great whether you’re in a concert hall, or sitting round a table in a pub several pints down and slightly worse for wear.
The music workshop, with Matt, worked on a big tune for all the musicians to play, as well as splitting them into groups and learning tunes on a smaller scale. This is not classical music – they do not use ‘dots’ (or notated music) and all the learning is done entirely by ear. There is small emphasis on playing perfectly, and more focus on playing as a group, enjoying each other’s company and just having the confidence to explore your instrument with other people.
The week continued in this vein, and the showcase was held on the fourth night to great applause and many congratulations. John and I now have our sticks standing in the hallway with pride, and my appreciation of folk arts has magnified ten-fold. Talk about crafty roots, these were exploring the roots of the British culture and it was just amazing.
I’ll next be involved with Shooting Roots over the summer, and I can’t wait to see this incredibly inspiring team of tutors and ‘kids’, all of whom are such a joy to be with. If you’re interested in the organisation, either for yourself or for your kids, please check out their website HERE, or send me a message!
And yes, I did get some Somerset souvenir yarn…watch this space for more information!
I bought fibre at Unravel. I know that a lot of you may be referring me back to my New Years Resolutions…
Go cold sheep – no more yarn, roving or fabric until 1st January 2016.
I shamelessly broke this, in line with the caveat I made when I started the resolutions, which was that I was allowed to buy souvenir yarn. I couldn’t go to Unravel and not enhance my stash…could I? So here it is.
First up was Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 4. I used to have a subscription, but this unfortunately expired and I no longer receive my gorgeous tissue-wrapped magazine in the post every quarter! I’ve had a quick look through the magazine and it’s got some brilliant patterns, as well as the usual articles. I adore the cover project, which is Tambourine.
I then fell down at Hilltop Cloud. I’ve followed Katie for a really long time, but had never bought anything from her. However, the brilliant British Breeds sampler pack found its way into the bag in the nick of time – it was the last one on the shelves and there’s no way it was going to anybody else! The hat depicted on the label is the Sheep Heid, by Kate Davies – it’s on the wishlist.
Specific order of purchases now gets fuzzy – I briefly visited Purlescence UK and got myself a bottle of Soak. I have been using those small sachets of Soak that you get free at random events for special projects when blocking…but I decided it was time to just get over it and buy a bottle. This stuff will be well protected from flat mates, who have no idea of its worth!
While down at John Arbon’s stall, after having a lovely chat with Juliet, John Arbon’s wife, I bought 100 g of 40% superfine alpaca, 40% organically farmed Falklands merino and 20% A1 Mulberry Silk. This is in shades of black and grey, and reminds me of mint humbugs. It’s so soft…I can’t wait to get started on it. Find out more about John Arbon here.
Having admired her stall for years, I finally broke down and bought Jenny Barnett’s book, as well as a starter kit to make myself a needle-felted sheep. The book is brilliant, the patterns are brilliant, my sheep is baaaarilliant. (Sorry). I also made myself a seahorse, who is called Champion…be prepared to see a lot more needle-felting in my future posts!
Next up are another two sampler packs. The red and curly mohair is from Hammond Mohair, and will form the basis of my first ever goat spinning! I have a pack of mohair from another source – more on that later – but I’m probably going to just spin up a sample skein of this and see what happens. The silk hankie came from SparkyKnitters.co.uk. I have no idea what to do with it…but it was decently priced, and I’m looking forward to exploring with it.
My favourite purchase came from Spin City. First up was a spindle, which I stupidly broke…Louise was extremely sweet and gave me another one to replace it, and I am so honoured. I also got some nebula fibre, an alpaca, Tencel, angelina and merino blend. Words can’t describe this, you have to have a look yourself.
You may notice…no yarn! So although I bought more than I was supposed to, it was all fibre, and all with the aim of exploring new techniques and fibres on my spinning wheel. I tried my best to stay British, but I don’t know where the silk in the hanky comes from, and the origin of fibres in the Nebula roving is also uncertain, unfortunately.
I am very pleased with my purchases, and can’t wait to see how my spinning education progresses with the exploration of all these fibres.
Did you go to Unravel? Manage to buy anything that makes your heart sing?
I’m here to give you the great news that you could win a Sincerely Louise kit to make a bear cushion! It’s really very simple – for more context, you can check out Episode 9 of the podcast, which is all about Unravel 2015 and the fun I had there. For details of the giveaway, read on!
This giveaway is now closed.
Workshop with Sincerely Louise
I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Louise Walker of Sincerely Louise at Unravel 2015, in which she taught myself and nine other lovely knitters, how to make a bear head! The pattern was for a cushion, but with some slight tweaking, it was possible to mount the bear head on the wall as faux taxidermy – which I did!
The materials were provided at the workshop, and included:
9mm knitting needles
plastic safety eyes
a knitters darning needle
My bear (who is now called Björn and is mounted in our hallway) took me just over 4 hours to complete – two hours in the workshop, and two at home. Worked in just seven pieces (of which four make up the ears), the only techniques required are: knit stitch, purl stitch, increasing (Louise uses kfb) and the ability to sew the head up. It is so simple that this would be an ideal first ‘increasing’ project for a totally new knitter. It’s also so quick that an experienced knitter can whip one up in an evening.
When converting the pattern for the mount, we had to do some sewing up to get the knitting on the boards – I took a video of this which I will post for you very soon to allow you to get your hands on it if you should wish to do this.
The kit is not currently available online (as far as I can see) and although I am sure it will be soon, you will be getting the paper pattern with the rest of the goodies if you should win!
The winner will get what they need to complete one bear head pillow. So, how do you enter?
Entering the Giveaway
Go to THIS LINK and goggle over Louise’s offerings (I really, really recommend the book)
Return to this specific blog post on Plutonium Muffins and leave a comment saying which kit you would most like to buy from Louise
Up to 3 additional entries can be obtained by sharing this post on social media. In order to qualify for this you must notify me that you have shared the post and provide a link.
The giveaway is open to all, and will close on the 2nd of March at 5 pm GMT. The only restrictions will be governed by your countries posting laws – I am not currently sure, for example, if the wooden needles will be allowed in Australia.
Thank you so much to Louise for the generosity in offering this up for the giveaway!
Here comes a special, Unravel edition of the Plutonium Muffins podcast! If you would like to hear about how the weekend went for me, take a listen to this very selfish episode. I had a fantastic time, and am looking forward to next year already! Keep listening to the end for a cheeky opportunity to win a kit to knit your own bear head cushion, designed and provided by Sincerely Louise.
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.