Time

I’ve been in a reflective mood recently, and have spent a lot of time drafting blog posts trying to put that feeling into words. As I was taking a walk around Bristol Harbour this morning, I realised that my feelings about time itself were one of the things I was most reflecting on. The long and short of it has been that the space between my daily milestones – the alarm going off, breakfast, the lunch break, dinner time, back to bed again – has come to mean a different thing to me in a relatively short space of…well, time.

Reflections - Bristol, March 2018
Reflections – Bristol, March 2018

Time is the wisest counsellor of all

Throughout my life I’ve had moments, sometimes daily and other times spaced months apart, where I’ve sat back with a bit of a start as I’ve realised that the moment I’m experiencing is utterly unique and will never again exist. I can remember sitting back on countless occasions and thinking to myself ‘remember this moment’. Of course, I don’t remember the moment itself – where I was, what I was doing, who I was with – but instead the actual act of sitting back and thinking to myself “remember this moment, you’ll never have it again”.

Remember this moment, you'll never have it again.
Remember this moment, you’ll never have it again.

This had become a source of anxiety for me; if I wasn’t using and remembering my moments to 100% of the best of my ability, did I deserve the time I was wasting? I expressed that thought to one of my therapists once, and her response has stuck with me to this day. (I’ve since discovered it wasn’t one of her original thoughts, but I’ll let her take credit for introducing it to me.) The original quote is:

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
– Marthe Troly-Curtin, Phrynette Married

It was one of the only useful things a therapist ever said to me. The way I experience the thought of ‘wasting time’ has since been subtly changing. Taking craft as an example, I used to be a goal oriented knitter, with the finish object being king and the time spent knitting it ‘wasted’ as I was so keen to reach my destination. Cranking out object after object, often with imperfections that I knew about but ‘didn’t have the time’ to go back and fix, I was perfectly happy with that style of creating.

Sunrise over the River Avon.
Sunrise over the River Avon, a view I get to appreciate every day in all weather, light and circumstance.

More recently, I’ve started to enjoy that ‘wasted time’ more. The Pixie Slipper Boots that I recently completed felt almost unreal because they were so quick to work up; I’d barely begun to appreciate them before they were finished. The chance to sit down and enjoy the act of throwing the yarn over the needles, forming stitch upon stitch upon row and row, cherished. I’ve become focussed on drop spindling again, the slowest form of crafting that I do, and in this moment, the most desireable.

I’ve even started to unravel one of my biggest ever projects because the imperfections I forced into it through my impatience have driven me to never want to wear it, and instead of seeing the time spent on it as wasted, I’m loving the opportunity to breath new life into it – that yarn has triple the mileage of any other project I’ve ever done!

Drop spindling fibre that I rediscovered when I moved - this has gone from place to place with me recently, pulled out when I've felt I needed it and enhancing my reflections on time.
Drop spindling fibre that I rediscovered when I moved – this has gone from place to place with me recently, pulled out when I’ve felt I needed it and enhancing my reflections on time.

Time is the most valuable thing you spend

One of the most significant changes has been how I approach the time I’m not crafting – which to me, used to be the biggest waste of time in my daily life. I wouldn’t allow myself to watch TV without a project in my hand, and the thought of going to a cafe or pub and not taking something to occupy my hands with me was almost unbearable. I don’t always pack knitting in my bag anymore – and sometimes when I do, I don’t take it out as soon as I sit still. My walk to work is often meandering, and I take the time to appreciate the view, observe the swans that live in the harbour, enjoy the great British weather in whatever form it takes. I stop at a cafe on my way home from work, just because I can.

I've spent a lot of time in this cafe recently - Mokoko on Wapping Wharf, Bristol.
I’ve spent a lot of time in this cafe recently – Mokoko on Wapping Wharf, Bristol.

My runs are getting longer and longer because the act of just being out and about is no longer about running between A and B as quickly as possible, but exploring my area and experiencing the ways my body works. I’ve started allowing myself to sit and do nothing – and when I get freaked out about that, I’ve been reminding myself that it’s actually OK to just be, and if I have a problem with it I can just pick up the needles again.

I’ve even found myself appreciating my relationships more. Instead of wishing I could spend more time with people and being sad that they can’t dedicate as much of their time to me as I would like, I’ve found greater appreciation in the time they do spend with me. It has taken the pressure off the relationships a little bit, and also made me cherish them that much more – something that is incredibly important to me as I get older and (theoretically!) wiser.

Swan in Bristol Harbour - I've nicknamed him Frank and see him almost every day.
Swan in Bristol Harbour – I’ve nicknamed him Frank and see him almost every day.

I guess all of this might mean I’ve learned the art of mindfulness, and am slowly becoming successful in my quest to rediscover who I am. All of this time spent on not focussing on finished objects has meant that I’ve actually been quite productive on a crafting front, but I haven’t necessarily wanted to sit down and write about it. For now, I’ve started using my Instagram story to share more moments of my day – the fleeting, 24 hours the photos stay and the snapshots they capture are really calling to me at the moment, and you can see them here!

Much love,

Corrie xx

Reflections on mirror calm water at 6am.
Reflections on mirror calm water at 6am.
And the same view a couple of weeks later in bright sunshine.
And the same view a couple of weeks later in bright sunshine.
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Pixie Slipper Boots from the Wool Shop Leeds

Last week I finished the pixie slipper boots, the first knitting project I’ve completed for myself in, wait for it….well over a year. Every year for the last few I’ve made the resolution “make more stuff for myself”, and every year I seem to just get worse at this. Never mind, the dry spell is over and I now have my very own fancy elf-like slippers to pad around the house in.

Pixie Slipper Boots

I bought the Pixie Slipper Boots kit from the Wool Shop Leeds when they were exhibiting at the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycrafts Show last summer. Ricky also bought the kit, and with the pattern has made not one, but two pairs of slippers. Meanwhile, it’s been languishing in my “someday, maybe” pile ever since.

I moved house a couple of weeks ago, and in the move discovered a basket full of my ‘someday, maybe’ kits. I’d been desperate to get some simple knitting going for a quite a while, so the timing was perfect. I cast on, and while I was visiting a friend on maternity leave I knitted at least half of the first boot.

Why only half?

One of the things most new knitters ask me is “how do you make sure it’s the size you want it to be”, and most are upset when I say gauge is king. While sizing wasn’t too much of a problem with these slippers because you just knit until they’re big enough, the other issue with needle sizes came up. When you’re knitting, you’re making yourself a fabric – and if you don’t like the fabric you’re making, you will always find it a little harder to love your finished object.

I started out knitting with 5.5mm needles, rather than the recommended 6mm as specified in the pattern. Because I was knitting slippers, which would have to be hard wearing, I thought I wanted the fabric to be more dense. This plan was quickly revealed to be a bad one – the fabric was so dense it was actually hurting to knit, and it was so stiff that I decided it would actually be pretty uncomfortable.

The start, with knitting far too dense, didn't last long before I undid it.
The start, with knitting far too dense, didn’t last long before I undid it.

I undid the first half of my slipper and started again with 6.5mm needles, because I couldn’t find my 6mm ones. Much happier, I carried on. Let the lesson here be that even if it’s a faff, it’s better than finishing something you’re not happy with because you’ll probably wear it less and thus the time was wasted anyway!

The Slipper Boots

I started these on Thursday, and by the following Tuesday they were done. The pattern uses a super bulky yarn, which is held double and as a result simply flies off the needles! It’s nice and simple, and a great way to practice mattress stitch as well – each slipper starts out as a flat piece that you sew up.

A Pixie Slipper Boot before assembly.
A Pixie Slipper Boot before assembly.
Finished slippers, sans the bells I bought to put on the ends because I got too annoyed with them.
Finished slippers, sans the bells I bought to put on the ends because I got too annoyed with them.

Yarn: James C Brett Marble Chunky in Shade MC8

I got the point better on the first one than the other, which was a nice departure from tradition as I’m normally better at finishing the second item in any pair! They’re super comfy and the only problem I’ve so far experienced has been that I got my laptop charger wrapped around the point of one of them and nearly went flying…user error rather than an issue with the knitting!

My main gripe is that I like slippers to have a hard sole, so I might actually cut the top off my old slippers, which are about two years old and nasty, then sew the old sole onto the base of these. I’m not too sure about this plan yet, so watch this space! The project was super simple, really quick, and a great way to get me back into knitting after a long hiatus.

Next up is some spinning I also rediscovered while I was moving – watch this space!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Frozen Sunday and the tiniest amount of knitting

The “Beast from the East: Mach 2” hit the UK this weekend and everything got literally frozen. For those of you who don’t live here and are under the illusion that the picturesque postcard image you have in your head of thatch cottages covered in thick snow, rolling white hills and annual blizzards is the norm, don’t be fooled. The last time we experienced snow like this was in 2011/2012, and I can only think of a few other times from the age I moved to the country (at 11) that we actually got the experience the snow. For many it was a novelty and a joy – for me it’s been something of an irritant, but has had the bonus effect of getting my knitting mojo truly fired up for the first time in quite a while.

Queen Square in the snow.
Queen Square in the snow.

I took the opportunity to take a walk around the harbour yesterday morning when I should have been driving down to a snowed-in Devon, and took a few photos. Now that I live about a minute away from the riverside, I realise how much I’ve missed being by the water the last few years. Expect a lot more watery inspiration posts and photos in the future!

Bristol Harbourside: Frozen

The walk I decided to do was the route I normally run, although the chances of me actually running this time were zero to none. I wrapped up in a bit of homegrown fashion to make sure I was toasty warm, and set out in my walking boots.

Wearing all the knits to stop my ears and fingers from getting frozen.
Wearing all the knits to stop my ears and fingers from getting frozen.

Hat: “Quick to Knit Earflap Hat” by Melody Griffiths, knitted in my very first ever handspun, Oxford Downs shearling wool hand-prepared and spun on my Ashford Traditional

Cowl: “Bank Holiday Cowl“, my own design and my own handspun in merino from woolyknit

Mittens: “Rayna” by Rita Taylor, knitted in Artesano Superwash Merino

I got really excited by the science of water, and the geometry of the shapes the snow created, so there’s a bit of a commentary to each of these photos. I hope you enjoy them!

Bridges

Walking out of the house and turning left, there’s a bridge that when I lived the other side of Bristol, I’d often run past but never crossed. It reminded me massively of Narnia and Georgie meeting Mr Tumnus as I turned onto it and saw an old style lamp in the snow. The snow was also falling really heavily and visibility was really bad. It was pretty magical!

A bridge with a Narnia style lamp on the top, heavy snow falling.
A bridge with a Narnia style lamp on the top, heavy snow falling.
Heavy blizzard hiding the rest of Bristol from view.
Heavy blizzard hiding the rest of Bristol from view.

There’s another bridge that you have to cross to get to the north side of the harbour, and it’s really narrow. I’ve only ever crossed it at a run before, so it was nice to amble along and really look at the lock that I was crossing. It was half open – I’m not sure why, because when I ran here just a day later the gates were completely open (bonus photos of that at the end of this post). This was the most bleak moment in the walk. It was freezing cold and it felt like there was absolutely no colour in the world at this point.

Lock at half mast, looking towards the whole of Bristol harbour.
Lock at half mast, looking towards the whole of Bristol harbour.

Next up was yet another bridge. The geometry of this one always fascinates me – I think it would make a fab stitch pattern either in cross stitching or knitting, and I think I could design a really cool fairisle pattern in these shades. Watch this space!

Walking towards Central Bristol, green bridge geometry.
Walking towards Central Bristol, green bridge geometry.

SS Great Britain and geometry

One of the big landmarks in Bristol, and a huge tourist attraction (although I’ve not been to it yet…) is the SS Great Britain, a Brunel-designed steam ship that used to travel the world. It is always majestic, and was particularly so in the frozen city.

Looking towards the SS Great Britain from Hotwells. Love the trees here.
Looking towards the SS Great Britain from Hotwells. Love the trees here.
The SS Great Britain looking back the way I'd come. The coloured houses of Clifton are on the hill.
The SS Great Britain looking back the way I’d come. The coloured houses of Clifton are on the hill.

The Harbourside walk here is a lovely walkway that got the materials scientist in me all excited. It’s constructed of a combination of cement, cemented gravel, and old bricks. Half of it is suspended over the water while the rest is built on solid land. The areas suspended above the water were completely solidly frozen because of the cold air circulating underneath the walkways.

The bricks were the most fascinating however – the stone of the bricks retained more heat than the cement keeping them in placed, so the snow on the bricks melted while the cement stayed white. I could have taken a dozen more photos like these two.

Frozen (or not so much) bricks on Hannover Quay.
Frozen (or not so much) bricks on Hannover Quay.
More disgustingly inspiring geometric patterns.
More disgustingly inspiring geometric patterns.

While we are on science, how is the snow on the below railing? I cannot figure out why it’s gone all curvy like this.

Curvy snow doesn't play by the rules.
Curvy snow doesn’t play by the rules.

Walking past some of the boats docked at Hannover Quay, I loved the shapes this bike was pulling in the snow.

A frozen bike in the snow.
A frozen bike in the snow.

I crossed yet another bridge, this time Pero’s Bridge, which is adorned with love locks. Mostly I love the sticker that you possibly can’t even read in this photo, which reads “You are nice”, a delightful little tickle to the ego as you go about your day.

Love locks on Pero's Bridge - don't forget, you are nice!
Love locks on Pero’s Bridge – don’t forget, you are nice!

Churches and parks

Once I’d got myself around the harbour it was into Central Bristol just in time for the bells of St Mary Redcliffe church to start ringing for Sunday service. I stood on this bridge and listened to them toll for a good five minutes.

St Mary Redcliffe Church across the water.
St Mary Redcliffe Church across the water.

I then walked around the quay and past one of my favourite pubs in Bristol, the Ostrich. We’ve spent more than a couple of evenings enjoying the sunset over the water with a pint in hand – this time I was more interested in these absolutely freezing ducks huddling on a slipway. They probably thought spring had well and truly set in last week, so this must have been a rude surprise.

Frozen ducks with Thekla in the background.
Frozen ducks with Thekla in the background.

It was then time to go through a couple of parks – Temple Gardens and Queen Square. The blackness of the trees against the white had my geometry sense tingling (I don’t care how nerdy that sounds, I was mostly wishing I’d brought a sketchbook and some charcoal with me!)

Trees in Temple Gardens.
Trees in Temple Gardens.
Trees in Queen Square.
Trees in Queen Square.
Walkway up to the centre of Queen Square.
Walkway up to the centre of Queen Square.

Cafe time

I ended the walk with four hours in one of my favourite coffee shops, Society, working on a writing project I recently started followed by an hour of knitting. Then it was up to a bakery coffee shop, Mokoko, for one of the best hot chocolates I’ve had in years and a chat with John. Note the Dr Who scarf in the background – he finally found a day cold enough to wear it!

Hot chocolate and coffee in Mokoko, with the Doctor Who scarf chilling in the background.
Hot chocolate and coffee in Mokoko, with the Doctor Who scarf chilling in the background.

It was a lovely day, and a good way to distract myself from missing being with my family. I’m sure you’ll be seeing these views in other weather – if you’d like to keep up to date with my wanderings, I update my Instagram story most days. You can find it here!

I’ll leave you with views of some of the same places just one day later. I can’t believe the difference!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Fuss Free Baby Boom – a cardigan and some booties

The baby boom is (almost) over! The last one of my friends to leave work on maternity leave has gone, and with her all my requirements for baby knitting. I haven’t blogged about this for a little while because I’ve moved house again (how many times is that in the life of this blog…? Eight by my count in the last six years…) so here is all the knitting I’ve done since finishing the crochet blanket I wrote about here.

Bunny bootees for two babies side by side
Bunny bootees for two babies side by side

Rabbit Bootees

I spent some time over Christmas knitting some booties for two of the pregnancies, one of whom was my line manager and expecting a little girl, and the other expecting a baby of unidentified gender, who is going to be living in a grellow nursery. This pattern was extremely easy to knit up, and very quick indeed, and from a book that, if you are expecting any sort of baby boom in any part of your life, I thoroughly recommend.

The pattern is from “Knitted Animal Nursery*” by Fiona Goble, and I genuinely love it so much that I bought it on my Kindle as well as the physical copy so that I could have it with me when I was brainstorming ideas even if I hadn’t taken the actual book with me. Find the pattern on page 60 – “rabbit bootees”.

Bunny bootees as shown in the book.
Bunny bootees as shown in the book.

The recommended yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, but I used Sirdar Snuggly DK, and the first pair in green was for the little girl, because I don’t conform to colour/gender stereotypes haha. The grey was for the other, and the second pair I knitted – each one took me about half an hour, and are so ridiculously cute that I’ve had requests for adult sized ones after I took them into work!

Bootees for a little girl, no gender stereotypes here.
Bootees for a little girl, no gender stereotypes here.
Grey bootees, second pair and a bit better put together!
Grey bootees, second pair and a bit better put together!

They were well received, and I can’t wait to see them on the babies when they are eventually in the world.

Fuss Free Baby Cardigan

The Fuss Free Baby Cardigan was the second project I knitted for the grellow baby. I went for this because I wanted something that was quick and could tie in with the bootees. We’d also bought a lot of yarn for the crochet blanket, and as the mother of this baby was the person who crocheted half the squares for the blanket with me, I thought it was a great homage to that work.

The pattern is “Fuss Free Baby Cardigan” and it’s by one of my favourite ever designers, Louise Tilbrook. No nonsense, quick to knit up, and endlessly customisable, it took me about a month of knitting for five or ten minutes here and there while rushing between climbing lessons, house viewings and board game nights. Again, this was using the Sirdar Snuggly, and despite having plenty of warning, I only finished it the morning I gave it to the expectant mum, so it was unblocked to my absolute horror…

I put a row of full buttonholes in, but when I sewed the top button on, loved the look with just that one, so I left it without any of the others. I think this might become my go-to pattern, especially because I have so many scraps of yarn that would be perfect for making lots of stripes. Plenty of sewing in of ends coming for me!

Grellow cardigan for a baby with a grellow nursery
Grellow cardigan for a baby with a grellow nursery

What is your go to knitting pattern for fuss free baby stuff? I’d love to know!

Much love,

Corrie

Year of Giveaways update

I’ve fallen a bit behind on my year of giveaways, so these were the winners, doubled up to make up for my missed weeks.

Deadlines wooshing by: A Stitch Too Far and Asteride

One year late is better than never: Janine and CathieJ

This post also sits in the Year of Giveaways – for more information, click here, and if you’d like to enter please leave a comment on this post!

This post forms part of the year of giveaways. Comment down below with your thoughts on the topic to win!
This post forms part of the year of giveaways. Comment down below with your thoughts on the topic to win!

*This post contains affiliate links

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A deadline: One year late is better than never?

It’s pertinent that the next thing I wanted to blog about was deadlines, deadline knitting, missing deadlines, being late for deadlines….because here I am a month later having missed all my self-imposed deadlines after a good start to the year. I’m most annoyed about this, but has been the consequence of some personal stuff that I won’t be talking about here. Suffice to say the year hasn’t taken the direction I really expected it to, and my focus has been taken from the blog somewhat. I’m going to keep trying – you’ll just have to be patient with me!

I did already talk about this topic over on my YouTube channel, in a live stream I was totally unprepared for and also completely blind-sided by as my friend from work discovered I was doing it and sent me some very off-putting text messages before. If you want to have a watch of that, it’s over here.

Deadline crafting

Over the years I’ve made a lot of gifts for people, most of which have been on time, but many of which haven’t. Luckily with gift crafting, the people haven’t always known I’ve not met the deadline – the leopard that I cross stitched for my brother and presented to him for his 30th was actually supposed to be his 25th birthday present! That’s only five years out…

Pleased as punch! A deadline missed by a mere five years.
Pleased as punch! A deadline missed by a mere five years.

I experience a weird phenomenon when it comes to working to a deadline. I either freeze up and miss it entirely, or it becomes my entire focus until it’s done, with the consequence that the item is ready so long in advance that I almost forget it exists. I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out why this is, and even longer trying to thwart it. I’ve prepared gift lists and diary items, put reminders in my phone “cast on mum’s birthday present” and even told people what I was making them in order to force myself to finish on time.

That has been the worst tactic so far, and my poor mum has been the one to suffer from it the most. I finished knitting her birthday socks on her actual birthday sitting at the table for her dinner one year, graduating to presenting her with one completed leg-warmer one Christmas with the second following a year later (in a different colour), finally getting as far as taking her yarn shopping on her birthday, then not presenting her with the present until 18 months later. Bad Corrie, bad tactic, very patient mum still wears the things I’ve made for her and doesn’t call me out on this tardiness!

I’m sure this is something that I’m going to keep working on for the rest of my life, especially as I find it really hard to allow myself to just buy presents rather than making them. I’m sure, knowing my family, they prefer the homemade stuff and it doesn’t bother them…spending money on unwanted stuff rather than time on things made with love is definitely the preference. It just means that I’ll have to put up with comments like “do you remember the time you gave me a pair of leg warmers a year apart” for the rest of my life!

Two very odd leg-warmers indeed.
Two very odd leg-warmers indeed.

How do you cope with deadlines? Have you found anything that really helps you with them? I’d love to know some new things I can try to improve my timeliness with meeting a deadline.

Much love,

Corrie xx

Year of Giveaways

This post has been part of the year of giveaways. To be in with a chance of winning a digital craft pattern of your choice, leave a comment below on your attitude to deadlines. For full terms and conditions, check out this post here.

This post forms part of the year of giveaways. Comment down below with your thoughts on the topic to win!
This post forms part of the year of giveaways. Comment down below with your thoughts on the topic to win!
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Craft appreciation

This year, my lovely gran has been showing appreciation for the makes I’ve gifted her over the years by sending me WhatsApp messages and pictures talking about them. In the past she quite regularly sent me photos of the items in use as well. It’s absolutely blooming lovely!

Craft appreciation

In this blog post, I made reference to the fact that once you hand items you’ve made over to their intended user you can sometimes never see them again. It can be quite demotivating not knowing if they’re being appreciated, or if you should have just gone for a shop-bought thing instead. Ever since writing that post I’ve been really paying attention to what I see others doing with the bits I make them, and I can say with confidence that the apparent lack of appreciation that I perceived last November is without a doubt a figment of my imagination.

Bits and pieces made over the years for my lovely gran.
Bits and pieces made over the years for my lovely gran.

I know that I’m going to keep crafting for others regardless of how errant thoughts try to make me feel about it. I think part of the reason is that glowing feeling I get when I go home and my mum is wearing the Zion hat I made for her, or I get a photo and the baby I crocheted a blanket for is warmly swaddled. For all of those things I’ve made that I don’t see again, those that I do more than make up for it. I even think sitting around moping about it makes seeing the objects all the sweeter.

Let me explain before you think I’m crazy – I’ve built up in my head this expectation that these things aren’t appreciated because they’re always out of sight; so when I do see them they’re like glowing jewels that seem all the brighter for the dark background my expectations gave them. I know for a fact that many of the things I don’t see are appreciated more than I give them credit for because people tell me about this appreciation, and for this I’ll always be grateful. If it stops, will I stop making? Almost certainly not.

One of the first things I ever knitted! A patchwork pillow that has received a lot of appreciation over the years.
One of the first things I ever knitted! A patchwork pillow that has received a lot of appreciation over the years.

I’m interested to know who you make for, and if you know why you do it that way. Do you feel that things you’ve made for others have attracted the amount of recognition you feel they deserve? Does it inform your decisions?

Comment on this post before the 28th of January 2017 for a chance to get something in the Year of Giveaways! The winner of last week’s pattern was Jennifer Clucas, congratulations!

Much love,

Corrie xx

This post forms part of the year of giveaways. Comment down below with your thoughts on the topic to win!
This post forms part of the year of giveaways. Comment down below with your thoughts on the topic to win!
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BORIS

A few years ago a small black cocker spaniel puppy was brought into the family, and his charmingly foppish character and behaviour not dissimilar to a well-known British politician earned him the name of Boris. Fast forward a couple of years, and Boris was joined by Cara, the small I made the Spanish Dress for. Fast forward even more years (OK, only two) and I finally managed to finish Cara’s first birthday present, and my first ever quilt!

Baby Cara wearing the Spanish Dress, sitting on daddy's knee.
Baby Cara wearing the Spanish Dress, sitting on daddy’s knee.
Boris welcomes his new little sister to the world, moments after she is born.
Boris welcomes his new little sister to the world, moments after she is born.

And yes, I did give it her first birthday present to her for her second birthday. #craftlife, am I right?

Boris

I don’t know where my desire to make a quilt came from, and even less do I understand why I decided to make it in the shape of Boris, but nevertheless, out it came. Aside from the quilting, which was basic in the extreme, there are a few elements of it that I am super proud of.

Proud me with my first ever quilt!
Proud me with my first ever quilt!

It was entirely made up.

I drafted a cross-stitch-inspired pattern and blew it up thousands of times to get this beauty. The only guidance I had in putting it together came from watching a Kirstie Allsopp show and a quilting square I’d bought years ago for my dinosaur wall-hanging.

My pattern sketched out and ready to go.
My pattern sketched out and ready to go.

All but the purple fabric is entirely John’s old clothing.

I made John go through his wardrobe and choose some shirts he didn’t mind losing to the sewing machine. It was delightful cutting them up and using them, not least because it was going to his niece. I was also really happy knowing that no matter how much the quilt got washed, the fabric would never shrink. It’s the small things!

Boris in the middle of assembly. And no, John doesn't have any black shirts left.
Boris in the middle of assembly. And no, John doesn’t have any black shirts left.

When it goes wrong, go with it.

I made a few mistakes when I was putting the quilt together. I’d drafted my pattern and laid it all out fine, but when it came to sewing some of the diagonals together, I got them the wrong way around, so my seams were right side up rather than wrong side down. I went with it and just quilted the heck out of them. The perfectionist in me would probably have made me redo them if I hadn’t run out of fabric as the shirts John was willing to donate ran out. I think it adds a bit of charm to the finished object!

Full sewn together and only lacking a background.
Full sewn together and only lacking a background.

I found paw print fleece and decided to back the quilt with it.

My original plan had been to go with straight lines, quilting on a normal wadding and fabric sandwich, but when I went fabric shopping the fleece jumped out at me. I absolutely loved it, and used the paw prints to create the quilting pattern. This gives the front of the quilt paw prints, as well as the curly hair on Boris’ actual body. It was such a good idea and I was very pleased with it!

My incredible backing fleece showing the curly quilting from the fur the best way I can.
My incredible backing fleece showing the curly quilting from the fur the best way I can.

I didn’t break a single needle while quilting the thing.

I’ve tried quilting many times before and always had problems. These usually resulted in snapped needles, and once I even managed to get the entire mechanism in my sewing machine jammed and had to buy a new sewing machine. I somehow cracked it with this one, and was more proud of myself than I can say. Thank you, Kirstie Allsopp.

Quilting and breaking exactly no needles. Result!
Quilting and breaking exactly no needles. Result!

I’m really proud of this one. It’s not often I finish a project that I’ve started for somebody else that I don’t want to actually part with, but this was one of them. I hope it gives Cara many years of pleasure, and I’m looking forward to the next time I brave the sewing machine!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on… [CLOSED]

In the middle of last year I had a go at vlogging. I really enjoyed it, but very quickly realised my life is nowhere near interesting enough to document in that way, and the experiment got rapidly aborted. Along the way, however, I got myself into a bit rant about judgement, and discovered a few deep-seated feelings that I hadn’t really realised were in me. The subject of this weeks giveaway post is therefore judgement.

This post forms part of the year of giveaways. Comment down below with your thoughts on the topic to win!
This post forms part of the year of giveaways. Comment down below with your thoughts on the topic to win!

(If you’d like to know more about my year of giveaways, head over to this post.)

Judgement and craft

I have a lot of anecdotes I could tell about being a crafter who is subject to the judgement of other people. It happens everywhere. On the tube (You’re too young to be knitting), at work (…cool…), on the Internet (The way you are doing that cross stitch is wrong), even in craft shops (Why are you using that yarn for that project, the colours are awful). Every time it happens, I feel a small stab of annoyance at how judgemental people can be – especially when they don’t even realise what they are doing.

This yarn got judged as well...I dared to use the wrong type of fibres in it, according to one person.
This yarn got judged as well…I dared to use the wrong type of fibres in it, according to one person.

Here is one of my examples, which happened well over three years ago, and stung so much that I still remember it with the same little jab I experienced at the time!

Watermelon Sweater

For my 25th birthday I decided to give myself a present of yarn for a jumper. I had only knitted two for myself that point, and I wanted to expand my wardrobe and my knitting repertoire. At the time, I was living in an expensive part of London, earning quite a low salary, and living for bright colours.

I found a pattern in magazine where they were offering the yarn at a reduced cost if you ordered a specific type with a certain coupon code, and I went for it. I got neon pink, neon green and cream, and I happily knitted away until I produced this beauty.

My "Watermelon Jumper", a brightly coloured acrylic and wool blend that saw me massively judged at a knit night by someone I respected greatly.
My “Watermelon Jumper”, a brightly coloured acrylic and wool blend that saw me massively judged at a knit night by someone I respected greatly.

I still wear it regularly, and it still gets comments every time I do. I absolutely love it, but I am always slightly worried about wearing it in the presence of knitters. I still remember the comment I got when I was working on it during knit night at a shop in London and got questioned within an inch of my life over my colour choice and material choice. You see, this jumper was knitted out of a blend of acrylic and wool yarn, and was also from a ‘mainstream’ brand. The pattern came from a ‘normal’ magazine and wasn’t from an indie designer known by the group.

With ten people listening in on the interrogation, I didn’t want to give the honest answer of “I couldn’t afford anything else”, but the humiliation I felt at the time has stuck. The woman who was asking me these questions was someone I had really liked, and that was almost the most hurtful part of the experience. If she absolutely had to comment, I would have preferred she’d done it behind my back! I didn’t go back to that knit night after that.

The worst thing is I’m sure she thought she was being helpful. I’m sure there was some logic of “if I give my opinion, this is going to come across as helpful and will be gratefully received”. We don’t always know where people are coming from or what their reasons for doing things are, and I always try to remember to tread carefully before speaking my opinions now that I’ve been on the receiving end of this ‘help’.

Luckily, I wasn’t put off. I carried on knitting and this experience, among with many others since, has helped me reach a place where I no longer care so much what other people think. When people start telling me what they think in a less than kind way, I try to remember that they probably don’t mean it the way it comes out, and if they do, it’s not a reflection on me, but rather them.

Judgement free zone

I’m here to say that Plutonium Muffins is a judgement free zone, and if someone ever passes comment on something and makes you feel bad about it, I’d like to to feel like you can pop over here for words of encouragement and some virtual cake. I’d like to know if there’s something more I can do to improve the situation as well. I said last year that I’d like to do something to try improve the situation, which is why I’ve chosen this as a topic for my first giveaway of 2018, and I’m also going to keep working on it throughout the year.

If you'd like to get a flood of judgement, start a YouTube channel and talk about the project that took you five years to complete! (Don't do that.)
If you’d like to get a flood of judgement, start a YouTube channel and talk about the project that took you five years to complete!

Is there something you’d really like to knit/cross stitch/make, but are too scared of what people will say if you do? I’m here to tell you to ignore them! Get yourself the materials in your fibre of choice and the colours that sing to your soul. Get your favourite drink and a really guilty pleasure audio book or TV programme, put on your slippers, stick your nose in the air, and go for it!

In the meantime (maybe while your yarn is arriving…!), leave a comment on this blog post to be in with a chance of winning a $5/£5 digital pattern of your choice. Full rules are here – the giveaway will close on Sunday the 14th of January 2018.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Happy New Year (of giveaways!)

Is the 6th of January too late to be wishing you all a Happy New Year? Mine has started with a bang and I’ve been at work all hours of the day, so this is actually the first chance I’ve had to blog. So, Happy New Year! I hope you all have an absolutely great 2018 and that it brings you everything you could possibly wish for!

I’m actually here to talk about 2018 giveaways. I mentioned this in my birthday post, and it’s time to announce how it’s going to happen. Just to remind you, to thank everyone who has contributed to Plutonium Muffins in the last six years, I will be giving away one digital crafting pattern per week in 2018 to a value of $5/£5.

Happy New Year (of giveaways)

Firstly, one of the last things I did in 2017 was a livestream on my YouTube channel. It was nerve-wracking and terrifying, but I’ve had a great reception and this is something I’m planning to do more in 2018. Rather than keep all my planned giveaways on the blog, therefore, I’m going to alternate. The plan will be simple:

  1. Every other Sunday I’ll publish a blog post. On the alternate Sundays, I’ll be filming a livestream on YouTube (schedule to follow).
  2. For the rest of the week until the following Sunday, anyone who leaves a comment on the post, addressing the key theme of the blog post or livestream, will get one entry into the giveaway for that week.
  3. While I film or before I write the next week’s publication, I’ll randomly generate the name of the winner, who will then get an email/YT message from me saying they’ve won and asking what prize they would like.
  4. Rinse and repeat!

The prize I am offering each week is a $5/£5 voucher for any crafting pattern, from any website that will allow me to gift things.

As an example, I know that Ravelry will allow me to purchase a digital pattern and email it to another user of Ravelry – you would let me know which pattern you would like and your username, and I would get that sent to you.

Likewise with Craftsy, or any other site that allows digital gifting.

I’ll get a schedule for livestreams worked out and published beforehand, but the best way to find out anything about them would be on my Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feeds. In the meantime, I’m going to start figuring out what topics we are going to address – I already know my subject for the first one, but who knows where we will go from there! Suggestions appreciated.

I’m really looking forward to launching this, and I’ll be seeing you this Sunday for the first giveaway of the year!

Much love,

Corrie xx


Rules

  • Comments on blog posts/videos must address the topic of the post/video
  • Anyone can enter
  • One entry per person
  • Winners who do not respond to their message within two weeks will lose their chance to claim their prize
  • The patterns offered will be digital only
  • The rules may change throughout the year depending on my circumstances

Designers! If you would like to contribute a pattern to the year of giveaways, please email giveaway[at]plutoniummuffins.com.

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There’s something in the water

If I were to say to you that there’s something in the water, what would you think?

This year has seen a mega baby boom at my work! There are several great things about this and one sad one. I’ll break with tradition and start with the sad thing – it means that a lot of my favourite people at work are leaving for a year! Cue sad Corrie, slightly offset by the fact that there are going to be a lot of young’uns to craft for.

Reveal over the water

Sometime this summer I walked to get some lunch with one of my lovely friends (J) from work, and on the way we paused on the side of one of the canals. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but for some reason I said something about getting pregnant, and she revealed “well actually, I am!”

I was bowled away and after the initial shock had worn off, very excited. When we returned to work I snuck to one side and suggested to one of my other friends (M) that we should crochet a blanket for the baby. She was really keen on the idea, but there was one problem – M had never crocheted before. Undaunted, we bought the yarn and when it arrived, spent a few hours on a Friday after work going through the process.

Another flaw in the plan was that M’s sister was also pregnant, and due much more immediately than J. Full of enthusiasm for the new craft, M decided to first crochet a blanket for her new nibling, and then do her half of the blanket we were going to do together. It took an astonishingly short amount of time, and the results of her industry were this gorgeous blanket that looks slightly different to this colouring when you remove the brightly coloured blocking mats from behind it.

M's first blanket for her lucky sister!
M’s first blanket for her lucky sister!

We then had a few months to complete our squares and blanket, and in true “I’ve got loads time” style, left it until the night before J’s last day at work to finish the blanket with a good blocking. However, we did manage to finish it, and it looks absolutely brilliant if I do say so myself.

The granny square pattern is one that lives in my head following the Knitting and Stitching Show a few years ago, and the yarn we used was Sirdar Snuggly DK in Lemon (252), Whisper (313), Oatmeal (344), Eeyore (460) and Happy Hippo (469). There are about two balls of each colour overall, and the blanket came out a really good size for a newborn without absolutely swamping them. We are still waiting for the happy arrival (the due date is today!) and I’m looking forward to seeing the little one wrapped up in our efforts.

A happy evening at the pub crocheting with M
A happy evening at the pub crocheting with M
Half of the squares ready to be joined.
Half of the squares ready to be joined.
Joining the squares ready for gifting.
Joining the squares ready for gifting.

With four other pregnancies in my life, I’m definitely staying away from the office water, and picking up my needles!

Much love,

Corrie xx

The finished blanket on J's bed ready to spring into action.
The finished blanket on J’s bed ready to spring into action.
Close up of the finished article.
Close up of the finished article.
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