Today we are talking about….Pisa and socks! I have a huge blog post about my adventures at Wonderwool Wales to go up, but I’m keeping that to myself for now. Have you ever discovered that by making something public, it loses some of the shine on it? The day out was one of the best days of my adult life, and I’m holding the memories close to me before making them public so that I can cherish them for a little longer.
So, Pisa! Last September, our very lovely friends Patrick and Elly had a wedding of sorts. Although they’d already been married for a year, they got all of their friends together in Tuscany and we spent a weekend together. I took a few extra days off work, and John and I spent a couple of days braving terrifying mountain roads, eating glorious gelato, and traipsing through the delightful city of Pisa. The tradition of buying sock yarn as a souvenir continued, and when we got back I cast on a new pair of socks.
I get an hour for lunch in my job, which still feels new after a couple of years of self-employment, even though I’ve now been here for nearly a year! I like to spend half of this time knitting, and the simplest thing to knit are socks! They were a bit of a trial to be honest. I cast on sixty stitches at the toe, knitted to my heel, did a fish lips kiss heel, and then all the trouble started.
The first time I knitted the cuff stockinette with a small ribbed section at the end. Didn’t like it, frogged back to the toe(!). Then I knitted a ribbed top of the foot, and fully ribbed cuff. Tried them on, didn’t like them. Frogged back to the toe(!). The third time was the charm, as I knitted to just about the heel, then did a 2×2 rib from there. Simple!
Of course, it wasn’t simple. Working on them for half an hour a day meant that it took me months to get an FO. I started them on the 11th of October 2016, and finished on the 15th of April 2017. Now that they’re finished, however, they’ve joined the ever growing ranks of my sock drawer, and will make me think of my friends with fondness whenever I wear them!
The story of the yarn is itself rather wonderful. Patrick used to buy yarn from this place as a teenager, and recommended it to me. We tried to go there around midday, but Pisa is very continental in that everywhere closes for like four hours around lunch. We hung out at the Leaning Tower for a while until it reopened.
Once successfully in, I realised they spoke exactly no English, and my Italian was limited to what I’d quickly learned on Duolingo before the trip. AKA, not much. Through pointing at my feet, miming knitting and holding out indiscriminate amounts of Euros, I managed to escape with a ball of sock yarn. I even, somehow, managed to match the yarn to my outfit, thoroughly unintentionally. We celebrated my success with yet more ice cream!
*Elly runs a rather wonderful blog from Sydney, which you can find over here.
It’s craft show tip time! It’s been almost two years since I last went to a craft show, and I’m beyond excited to be heading to Wonderwool Walestomorrow. Because of living in relative isolation in Devon from September 2015, then moving to Bristol and getting back into the world of full time work, I haven’t been able to attend any for ages. I’ve missed my regular forays into the fibre world. This post may come a little late, but here are my top ten tips for visiting Wonderwool Wales. They do require a bit of preparation beforehand, hence why the post may be slightly late!
Ten Tips for Wonderwool Wales
Tip One: Research the vendors a little before you go
There are loads of them (219 this year!), and some are super popular. If you don’t know who is going, check out the exhibitor list and read up on those that you like the sound of. Once you’ve done this, don’t exclude the others. Part of the joy of craft shows is discovering new people you’ve never heard of before, or thought you had no interest in! I only started needle-felting because I discovered someone new at a craft show…
Tip Two: Print a floor plan and get acquainted with the rough layout of the show
You can get a printed plan when you get your ticket, but a bit of preparation goes a long way. I’d recommend downloading and printing these before you go and acquainting yourself with them! The show is spread out over three halls and there’s a lot to see and do. There will be loads of people, plenty of fibre and even some animals to coo over. Making sure you know where you’re going is a great way to ensure you’ve taken everything in.
Tip Three: Do a first sweep
If there’s a vendor who has something in particular you’re desperate to get your hands on, head over to them first, buy whatever it is you’re absolutely dying to get your hands on. Once you’ve bought whatever you are burning to purchase, walk around the halls. If you’ve got your most desired purchase out the way, you won’t be distracted by looking for that. You’ll be able to absorb the atmosphere, figure out what is out there, and make a note of what you want to go back to. This helps prevent a lot of spur of the moment purchases as well. I have in the past bought a sack of fibre, then walked two stalls down and seen a better sack for a better price in a better colour that I would have preferred.
Tip Four: Prepare to do a lot of walking
With your first sweep, walking back to stalls to buy what you’ve spotted, visiting the loo and getting food, you won’t find it hard to hit your 10,000 steps. Comfy shoes are a must.
Tip Five: Dress warm
The show takes place at the Royal Welsh Showground, and the halls Wonderwool is held in are usually used for livestock at agricultural shows. They are ‘inside’ but they’re really outbuildings. There’s no artificial heating, and even with all the walking, if you stop for a spot of lunch it can get quite chilly. With all the hand knits you’re going to want to show off, this shouldn’t be a problem!
Tip Six: Take lots of water
There’s limited access to drinking water and you don’t want to keep wandering back to the food vendors to buy a beverage. You’ll need to make sure you stay hydrated, especially with all that heavy fibre to weigh you down after spending a few pounds! If you bring your own water bottle you will be able to refill it.
Tip Seven: Take cash, and plenty of it. But, set a budget!
There are two parts to this – the first being that this is an agricultural setting and I’m not sure if there’s an ATM available. If there is, the chances of it having enough money to last the weekend are slim. Some vendors do accept card, but don’t bank on it!
The second part relates to budgeting. If you say you’re only going to take cash and you take £100, you will only be able to spend £100. Likewise with £20 – or £200! Even if you do plan to spend on your card, it’s useful to set a budget. I once walked away with an unbudgeted Ashford Knitter’s Loom that set me back £300. It affected my savings goals for months! Was it worth it? Probably not.
Tip Eight: Make sure you’ve got a small crafty project with you
With all the walking, you’re going to want to make sure you sit down and rest your feet for a little while. You’ll feel inspired by all the fibre, and the people crafting around you – there’s no better time to work on something.
Tip Nine: Decide what you’re going to eat
The food at the show can be expensive and you may want to bring a packed lunch or snacks. Even if you buy your main meal there, you may want to graze throughout the day, and it can take away from your precious yarn budget. I take plenty of packed lunch, and normally buy a scotch egg (or three). The packed lunch can be eaten as a packed dinner on the way home if you don’t get to it otherwise!
Tip Ten: Take a shopping list
If you’re just going to browse and don’t have any fixed idea of what you want to buy, you’re in the best place! If you have a list of things you want, however, it’s better to write them down and make it accessible. It’s very easy to forget what you’re there for in the heat of the moment. You don’t want to leave and halfway home realise you’ve forgotten to buy that skein of yarn for your next shawl project.
That’s it for my top tips. Most importantly of all, enjoy yourself! Look at as much as you can, especially some of the exhibitions the vendors and the show put on. I’ve seen some incredible things, especially some of the more incredible felt pieces!
Official exhibitions this year include a knitted map of Llandysul, a Llareggub Village in felt, and displays and period costumes brought together to mark the centenary of the First World War.
I’m going to leave it at that – I hope everyone has a wonderful time, and see you there!
Travel and craft are two elements of my life that are inseparable – we are currently in the car so I thought I’d write about it! Realistically all parts of my life are inseparable from craft, but travel basically means craft to me… Let me explain!
Every time we go somewhere, one of the main questions I ask is “what craft should I take”. It used to be “what knitting should I take” (usually with a # because social media) and then I discovered the delights of travelling with cross stitch. I’ve done a video about this, which you can find here.
I usually over-pack, because I’ve got a fear that I’ll suddenly experience a fit of productivity and finish all the things. Even, or particularly, if something has been languishing on the needles for months (years)! For example, we are currently going to spend Easter weekend with some friends. I’ve packed two pairs of socks (one of which is literally just the cast on edge) and my Australia map, which I reckon has at least twelve hours of work left in it. Projects way beyond time availability!
This tendency actually worked in my favour on holiday in February. I sprained my knee, and I suddenly had a lot of alone time while people were skiing! Also, I was on pain killers, and my ability to work on complex projects was limited. I was able to switch between more or less appropriate projects depend on requirements, and congratulated my genius!
My desire to craft while travelling, whether we are away from home or actually in transit, makes it something I can’t resent. Delays are even better. When we were stuck at Lyon airport for a few hours, John was champing at the bit. I sat working on some stitching, safe in the knowledge that it was the only thing I could (or should) be doing at the time. Utter bliss.
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I’m hoping this is something about myself that will never change, as it makes me a better travel companion! I have quite a lot of travel anxiety and it helps with that. John definitely prefers me stitching, not bitching!
Travelling for Craft
This ties in today, because I’ve finally got to a place where I can start going to fibre festivals again. I’ve got a lot of wonderful friends and contacts who I’ve met through my involvement with these events. Fibre vendors from Brighton to Bakewell to Edinburgh, and everywhere in between, have delighted me with their wares. I’ve really missed being seeing everyone for the past couple of years, and now is the time to start again!
People wonder why I would put myself through this. I have to admit, when I went to Edinburgh I left London at 5am, I wondered what the heck I was doing this for. However, these events are wonderful because I get to meet up with lovely people, find out what’s new in the fibre world, and of course supplement my stash! It’s also incredibly inspiring seeing what people are getting up to. There are also often excellent chances for travel crafting!
The next fibre festival I’ll be going to will be Wonderwool Wales on the 22nd and 23rd of April. Last time I went, we lived in London and stayed for the weekend. This time I’ll be driving from Bristol (two hours of luxurious travel crafting time) for a day. Along with all the fab exhibitors and retail opportunities, exhibitions that will be on show include a knitted map of Llandysul, a felted Llareggub Village (tribute to Dylan Thomas), and a Curtain of Poppies to commemorate the Great War. I can’t wait!
I’m so excited to share the trip with you. I’ll be posting photos on the day on Instagram, and I’ll catch you all up later too!
Hurrah, a new resolutions post! Back when I started doing my monthly resolutions, I used to be super ambitious. The more successful I was at completing all the things I set out to do, the more I judged myself against the things I didn’t quite finish. My plan for resolutions from now on is to pick just three. Even if there are things I want to add, I need to try accomplish my three, instead of half-heartedly completing a dozen. No more ‘failure’ should mean no more judgement!
Without further ado…
April 2017 Resolutions
I never set any 2017 resolutions, as I got to the end of 2016 in such a maelstrom of thoughts, feelings and activities. One of the big things I wanted to do this year was fix my spinning wheel. I know, you never even knew it was broken – I’ll tell you all about that another time. However, I finally finished fixing it this morning, and so two of my three resolutions are spinning related.
Spin fibre for a shawl
I used to just spin for the sheer joy of the spinning process. This last winter I found myself longing for an alpaca shawl knitted from a fibre I got from the lovey John Arbon textiles in 2015, then never actually spun anything from. It’s a chocolate brown alpaca with white highlights, and so soft it’s almost like trying to touch air. I’ve never started a handspun project with a knitted project in mind for the yarn, so this is totally new to me.
I’m going to aim for about 300g of yarn in a 4 ply weight, which if I am successful will give me loads of choice on a knitting project. At this stage I’m considering a hap construction, because garter stitch is the best, but I’m open to suggestions!
Spin an art yarn
My spinning to this point has been focussed on getting an even single, therefore an even ply and a balanced, even yarn. I think it’s time to start experimenting, so I’m going to pick a fibre and go nuts with texture. I’m not going to say anymore than that as I don’t want to restrict myself – watch this space!
Start a ‘peach blossom’ shawl
OK, this is less weird than it sounds! John went to Texas for work in March and he brought back two beautiful skeins of yarn for me to play with. He got it from Gauge, a yarn shop in Austin, and the yarn is by Black Trillium Fibres. It’s a fingering weight merino and silk blend, hand-dyed in the colourway “Peach Blossom” (I told you it wasn’t that weird).
I’ve realised shawls are my favourite thing to knit, and I’ve been itching to cast one on but not had the perfect yarn. This is it. I haven’t found a pattern yet, but I want to knit a swatch so I can figure out what the fibre looks like – i.e. does it self-stripe, and if so how big are they. Even if I just knit the swatch and choose a pattern, that’ll be a success in my books!
Although the above are what I’ve resolved to do, I’ll keep doing some other crafting. I realised that I feel guilty sometimes when I do things I didn’t say I would. I don’t know why I’ve felt this way – nobody has ever told me off for cross stitching when I didn’t resolve to do something cross-stitchy, for example! The things I currently have on my radar are candle-making, cross stitch and possibly some sewing, so you might see some of those as well.
I can’t promise I’m going to blog particularly well going forward – but I can promise that I will try my best to do my best on the blog!
It’s been a record breaking period of silence at Plutonium Muffins. I’ve been doing a lot of really exciting things, few of which relate to craft, and many of which have left me so exhausted that I got home from work last night and was asleep by 7:30pm. It’s been a very long, very crazy few months. I thought I’d give you all a brief update, then maybe by breaking the “oh God my first post back has to be really good” silence, I won’t be intimidated by the thought of posting anymore!
Reasons for Silence
Without going into too much detail, here is the low-down!
John and I moved all of our stuff to Bristol, finally. For the last five years we’ve had things strewn over Devon, Kent and London – it took two huge van loads and flooring the attic, but it’s finally done! I’ve managed to sort out my craft room/our guest room, and we finally have furniture!
I completed Nanowrimo! I’ve wanted to write a novel since the age of 9 and can safely say achievement unlocked! Whether or not anyone will ever read it is another matter, as it was more an outpouring of ideas onto paper (figuratively speaking) than any great feat of literary genius. It was a hard slog though – I only decided to do it about four days in, then had a couple of weekends where I was too busy to do anything. A couple of days of silence locked away at home while John was away and I hit the mark!
Obviously, Christmas happened! There wasn’t a lot of crafting as I made a conscious decision not to stress myself out getting ready for it, but we spent a lot of time visiting with friends and family. I got some lovely pressies, including Anna Maltz’s “Penguin: A knit collection” from John. I’ve been wanting it for ages and clever boy that he is, John went and perused my craft bookcase to see if I already had it.
All the things happened in January. Someone at work retired (which was a bit of a personal loss to me as she was a friend and I don’t get to see her every week anymore) and I had to take over parts of that job, which has been quite tough. On top of that, I started a beginners course in accounting, with a view to eventually becoming a fully fledged bean counter. I had to suspend it due to other work activities that you’ll find out about….but I start again on Monday and I can’t wait.
I also hit 1,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel, which was super exciting and the result of a lot of hard work learning to edit videos. The support has been unreal, and I don’t intend to give that up (although it has suffered the same silence that the blog has).
More excitingly, I started running again, after a year and a half hiatus due to a knee injury and then laziness. I’d been doing pretty well, although running at 6am in midwinter in the UK was quite hard work. There was thick ice on the roads, although the silence in the middle of Bristol was lovely at that time on dark cold mornings. We do live on a hill though, and walking to the bottom of it was sometimes more of an exercise in skating than anything else! This is all past tense because…
We went skiing! I’d not been before and it was utterly lovely. I had a wonderful time and was starting to feel quite confident on these ridiculously long poles when I had an accident….
It wasn’t anything too bad – I just fell awkwardly, twice, and sprained my knee. It’s not completely healed yet, and I’m still not managing to get back into running, or walk around a lot. As a result I spent quite a lot of my free time cross stitching and making videos for my YouTube channel, which still sit on my laptop waiting to be edited because I didn’t have a suitable chair for my craft room and it was too sore to sit at my desk.
I’ve actually tried to break the blogging silence a few times, and the first time was while I was trying to recover from the knee injury. I discovered that trying to blog while medicated and on a poor wifi signal was ridiculously frustrating.
I worked on my garden and produced something quite lovely (if I do say so myself, and I must credit my mum for doing most of the work), and started working 13 hour days at work to complete the goal for…
…a new office! My company moved its head office six minutes down the road to a more modern, bigger, better location with beautiful furniture, plenty of co-working space, and a real emphasis on trying to give us, the employees, a great place to feel comfortable at work. What I didn’t anticipate about this project (which I found out about on my very first day at the company) was that I would become the spearhead for the moving process. From helping everyone at the old office to become paperless, to physically packing crates on the last Friday we were at the old place after everyone else had come home, I put the rest of my life on hold to bring it over the line on time.
We moved last week and it’s even better than I thought it would be! I officially stood down as a ‘change agent’ last night, and am now living in a post-move world where I’m not entirely sure what I should be doing on my weekend now that I’m not looking at charts of equipment and floor-plans. We celebrated with doughnuts and a party, which was lovely.
I got a chair for my office as a result of the office move – I donated money to the companies charity of the year, and they let me take a chair home. Tonks loved it (excuse the mess, I need to do some tidying) and its much more comfortable. So, plans for this month are many – but I’m going to go back to my monthly resolutions, so hold your horses and you’ll find out all about my plans for April soon.
I feel guilty that I’ve not been around as much as I would have liked – but not too much, as I couldn’t have managed the last few months if I’d been putting pressure on myself to document my crafting. It’s the first time in years that I’ve got through such a period of intense activity without a mental health ‘incident’ – and I think that’s absolutely the greatest thing about it all.
Here’s to being around and never a silence to break again!
A few weeks ago the team at Turtle Mat asked if I’d like to take part in a Christmas Stocking challenge. They’ve done blogger craft campaigns for a couple of years, and I was keen to get involved. A few days later, a box arrived filled with some of the loveliest craft supplies. I was good to go!
I left the box in my craft room for the last couple of weeks while I’ve considered what to do. I’ve found it a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit, but on Thursday at work I was challenged to decorate a gingerbread house. While sitting in the kitchen decorating it, inspiration struck. I was going to do something with the essence of gingerbread.
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As all ideas do, it evolved into something I wasn’t really expecting. I started out with the gingerbread house idea, which turned into something akin to the old woman who lived in a shoe, which then morphed into what I ended up with, a festive little house on a stocking that we will be able to hang for years to come.
The hessian that I was provided became the base, and I sewed it to some blue fabric to give myself something solid to work on. I then sewed the two halves together so that it is actually a working stocking that I might even use to gift John some things next weekend! With embroidery thread, glue gun in hand and all the bits I was provided by Turtle Mat (as well as some of my own), I created something that I think is really rather cute.
The Finished Stocking
The edible bits, two candy canes and three chocolate coins, are removable. Who says gifts can only go on the inside of the stocking?! I was more restrained than normal and only put one bell on it in the form of the little Santa peeking out of the window… Believe it or not, there’s actually a whole face under that red felt that makes up the window. I didn’t like the look of the edge of the window the first time I did it, so it had to get covered. I think it makes it slightly cuter!
My favourite bits are the two robins and the pine cones, which I just had to cover in glitter. I had great fun, especially as I free styled and let things come to me as I played. I’m usually a ‘plan it all out in minute detail’ kind of person. It’s been a refreshing day just messing around with some crafty bits! I covered up all of my stitching with glitter glue and then regretted it straightaway. You win some you lose some!
I can’t emphasise how much I loved this stocking, both from a ‘grab some craft bits and go nuts’ point of view, and for the finished product! If you find yourself with several hours free next December, grab some scraps of fabric and some spare decorations, and go nuts! You might be surprised by what you produce.
Five years ago, I sat down in the lounge in a shared flat in Brixton, South London. There were things literally everywhere – a small trunk of yarn, a house rabbit in a cage, very poorly constructed sofas. John and I were in the beginning phases of our relationship, and one night he heard me moaning about my Blogger blog.
Five years of Plutonium Muffins
It was really important to me to have a blog. I was a student blogger for Imperial College for two years, I had a website as a teenager, and I’d always found writing a huge release. “Well,” said John, “lets make a blog for you on your own website so you’re in control of everything.”
I had literally no idea how to do that. My dad and brother had run my website when I was younger, Imperial College ran the blog there and blogger was, well, blogger. With encouragement from John (who in those days was known as JS), I brainstormed 100 names and put it to Facebook to vote on the most popular. Plutonium Muffins tied with another, and as it was my own first choice, I went with it! (Just as an aside – the other name that ‘won’ was “hatsnhugs”. I’m glad I went with my choice…)
Five years ago today we went live with this announcement!
In the time since we’ve had a lot of major exciting highs and also some pretty low lows. I’ve done a lot of travelling to wool shows and exhibitions and met some of the best people. I’ve given up full time work to pursue my crafty dream (twice!) and gone back to work realising it’s not as easy as it seems. I’ve branched out and now do ALL the crafts, not just knitting. I’ve started a YouTube channel, a Ravelry group and social media profiles galore. In all of it I’ve made some incredibly special friends, not least a friend for life in Australia and some cracking mates in the U.K. I’ve spoken to people in America, South Africa, Canada, the UAE, and most of my fans are actually in Russia! I’ve had two major mental health incidents. Through it all I’ve had Plutonium Muffins to dedicate myself to – some months more and some months not at all.
I’m thrilled with all we’ve achieved together, and I can’t wait to enjoy the next five years with all of you! Thank you all so much for coming along on this journey. I’ll be doing a birthday giveaway, to be announced after Christmas as at the moment I’m busy trying to keep things together in all the madness. In the meantime, enjoy the latest PM pet, doing what she does best.
For the rest of this month I’m challenging myself to blog using only my phone, so the format will probably change a bit. I hope you enjoy it!
I made a super easy needlecase for my lovely friend Nadine, and filmed the process to show you how I did it! I talked about the original project in a previous post. This is the step-by-step tutorial as shown on this video on my YouTube channel. For details of the giveaway, head on over the video to find out how to win the “sew” needlecase.
(This giveaway will close on the 30th of November, 2016.)
Easy Needlecase Tutorial
Before you start, choose the shape you would like your needlecase to be – I chose a hexagon. You are also going to do some very simple embroidery, stitching a word on the contrasting fabric. Choose that word now! I usually use names, but made this one a little more generic for the giveaway.
After you’ve assembled your equipment, you’re ready to go! I used a sewing machine as I had one – if you don’t, you can easily do these bits by hand.
From this point on, your sewing will be visible. Be as neat as you can!
I’ve been finding these needlecases really great, quick presents for friends who deserve a special something, and perhaps don’t have a basic sewing kit. Give it to them with some thread, pins and scissors, and you’ve set them up. Everytime they sew a button on they’ll think of you! WHAT a gift.
I really hope you find this useful – if you make one, I’d love to know! All my social media bits are linked on the right.
I got sent some Uniball pens a few weeks ago and have been absolutely dying to have a chance to sit down and use them. With all the weddings and moving out of the way (just about), I’ve managed it! It does also help that with half term, all of my after work activities were cancelled!
I was sent these pens for free, but I would never give a fake review. All views are my own!
Uniball Craft Pens
If you head on over to the Uniball website, the pens I was sent sit rather fittingly in the Craft range. I didn’t choose them – the options were a little overwhelming when I was given the choice, so this was what I said:
Perhaps you could send me a small selection of pens that write on ceramic, paper and fabric?
He made a (great) judgement, and sent me a set of eight Posca pens and three from the PIN range. You can check out ALL the Uniball products here. (Don’t blame me for any purchases that occur as a result of this link…)
The Posca markers come in loads of different colours. I was sent red, blue, yellow, green, white, black, gold and silver. They write on basically everything! Officially, this is: ceramic, glass, metal, mineral (i.e. gemstones), paper, plastic, textile and wood. When you first open them, the nib is completely white and you have to get the ink running. I was so excited about this, I filmed it.
The pens are really cool to write with when the ink is flowing really well. The first thing I did was label some kitchen stuff. It worked really well, although the drying time is quite long and YOU MUST WAIT FOR IT TO DRY. John and I were walking around with white smudges on us for a little while! It’s stood the test of time – a month later the writing is as good as new, and I now never get served builders tea. Win!
Having received the pens, I decided to refresh the decoration on my sewing machine. I had drawn on it in Sharpie years ago, and although that lasted well, I had been debating a change for a while. Nail polish remover got rid of the old decorations, and I went to town with new ones. (There are videos of this on my YouTube channel if you’re interested.)
The drying problem came up here again – me, the table and half my belongings got covered in ink when I was careless. However, I loved the result, and any bad result here was my poor drawing skills and not the pens. I’ve not yet used the sewing machine, but I left the actual working parts clear. You know, just in case.
To get the ink to stay to the plastic, I had to clean it all with rubbing alcohol first. Before then, it just seemed a bit like it didn’t want to stick. (If I say the word hydrophobic/like oil and water, does that make sense?) After the rubbing alcohol it was much easier.
I drew on fabric just to get an idea of how they go, but it’s not a good sample. I hate the writing, and I’m not sure how permanent the pens would be on anything exposed to water. The website shows an example of use with fabric using Converse – I MUST TRY THIS. (If you don’t know how much I love decorating Converse, I refer you to this post.) Watch this space.
On paper, the pen works well, but it tends to strip it. I don’t really know how to describe it – you know when you get paper a little wet and it sort of shreds? You can see a bit of the top layer in the below photo. I’m not sure how much I would draw on paper with them, to be honest. They do blend nicely though, and when you draw on top with the PIN fineliners the result is lovely. I withhold judgement for now.
The paper, for the sake of completeness, is from a Winsor & Newton sketchbook, and super thick.
All in all, I loved the Posca pens for slightly strange uses like in the kitchen and will be cracking them out a lot more in the future! I may not be keeping the sewing machine decorations on the top though – they’re a bit much, even for me.
The Uniball PIN pens (try saying that ten times fast) are old friends of mine. I’ve used them for years in whatever doodling I’ve done, although I’ve never had my own new set as I’ve always nicked my mum’s. (Sorry Mum!) They are just generally awesome pens for fine art work. I did a lot of doodling using the 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5mm nibs, which is what Uniball sent me, and the only complaint I have is that if you move the pen too fast on thick paper, the ink can be a bit patchy.
For normal A4 paper and general fine liner/art use, these pens are fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about them. My interest in art has also been rekindled by the package, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing more posts about art soon.
So there we go! My thoughts on the Uniball Posca and PIN pens. As I say there are a few action vids on YouTube – all that’s left for me to do now is go back to my craft room and start doodling…
Time for a break into some sewing, and a needlebook with a bit of freehand embroidery. With a big birthday coming up, my friend Nadine came over for a cuppa one evening and made a throwaway comment that got my grey matter going. “Could I borrow a sewing kit?” I dug out a pair of jeans I had cut into 4”x4” squares for a different project that never happened, and got researching.
Needlebook for Nadine
When I knitted the Tetris Scarf for John a couple of years ago, I had a problem with it curling. I bought a piece of blue fleece and backed it to stop the curling (which worked really well as an FYI). Of course, cutting a slim rectangle out of a large piece of fleece means I have literally tons of this fabric left, and I’m trying my best to use it up. This was the perfect excuse.
I changed the squares of denim into octagons. The octagons were meant to be hexagons, but I suffered some sort of brain fart and when I counted the edges, realised something had gone fundamentally wrong. Provided the shapes weren’t squares, I was happy, so I cracked on. The freehand embroidery bit was done using black thread on a piece of spare calico I had lying around.
I’m going to take a minute to talk about freehand embroidery, and how awful I am at it. I have literally broken a sewing machine trying to do it in the past. I’m normally pretty good at judging tension, which is fine as long as the feed dogs are working. To do freehand embroidery, you cover the feed dogs (which in case you don’t know, are the jagged teeth like things that pull your fabric under the needle during normal operation of a sewing machine). This means there’s nothing moving the fabric apart from your own hands, and you have to time it with the needle to make sure you’re not tugging the material while the needle is in it, hence snapping a needle.
I did a lot of practice runs on Nadine’s name, all of which I discarded. Eventually I put it in an embroidery hoop to hold it taut, and used the edges of the hoop to manipulate the fabric. I think it came out quite well (you can ignore the ‘e’, which went on a mad bid for freedom…in the wrong direction). Writing this one name with my machine took, with no exaggeration, an entire evening. At one point John came into the craft room, saw me sitting with my head in my hands, and reappeared slightly later with a chamomile and honey tea. What a man!
Finishing the needlebook
The rest was relatively easy. I attached my scrap of calico with the name on it to one of the pieces of denim. Then I cut out four fleece octagons, and sewed two of them onto the denim leaving a hole on one side of each. I turned these inside out, ironed them and did some top-stitching around the top of the octagons to seal them. Voila!
I’ve since made more of these – you’ll find out more soon. I loved doing something on the sewing machine that was super quick and super rewarding. It makes a great birthday present, and I’m going to make this a staple in future!
I’ve filmed a step-by-step video of this process so you can make your own needlebook. I think this post is long enough for now so I’ll share that with you another time!