Mr Sheep — A cross stitch finish!

Mr Sheep is finished! I introduced him to you in this post, and bought him in Cumbria Embroidery (link takes you to my review of that shop). He has been a ‘handbag’ project, which is why it has taken longer than strictly necessary to stitch something this small! I’m not sure what to do with him yet, but there we go.

A finished sheep cross stitch!
A finished sheep cross stitch!

Mr Sheep

I bought this kit when I was going through my ‘obsessed with anything to do with sheep’ phase (did I ever really leave that particular one behind?) It has travelled everywhere with me since, being dragged around in my handbag from Australia to the supermarket. I’ve put single stitches in on the bus, and even had a go at doing it while on a picnic on Dartmoor (that attempt failed). It has taken me a year to do, and I think he’s super cute!

The start of Mr Sheep, in 'cloud' form.
The start of Mr Sheep, in ‘cloud’ form.

The kit is a Lanarte Lifestyle Collection kit, and although I’ve done a fairly good search for it online, I haven’t actually found it anywhere. I bought it in November 2014, and I think it may have been something that was in the back shelves of the shop for many years! It was even dusty when I picked it up.

Mr Sheep in a more complete form.
Mr Sheep in a more complete form.

The pattern was lovely and simple – no fractionals, a bit of back stitching and just two French knots. The hardest part was when I was trying to count the stitches where there was a lot of white, as it tended to blend in with the background. The fabric is lovely and soft, very pliable and a delight to stitch on. I wish I had more of that particular one!

The sheep as shown on the cover of the cross-stitch kit.
The sheep as shown on the cover of the cross-stitch kit.

 Now that I have finished stitching Mr Sheep, I am trying to decide who to fully finish him. I had originally planned to frame him, but someone suggested making a pillow, and the other option that I have is making a ‘flock’ of Mr and Mrs Sheep and doing a wall hanging or something. If you have any suggestions, I welcome them!

Mr Sheep on his way to being done.
Mr Sheep on his way to being done.

I have a lot of plans for my cross stitch, but apart from blogging about a few WIPs and FOs, I am keeping most of the stitching online stuff over on YouTube – the channel is here if you’re interested in keeping more up to date with what is going on! Have you tried stitching at all? There are some fabulous patterns around!

Much love,

Corrie xx

I shared with Five on Friday because I have five pictures of Mr Sheep. Tenuous, but hopefully you don’t mind if you’ve come here from there, hehe.

Also shared with: iKnead2knit, Oh My Heartsie Girl, Wrap Up Friday, Crochet Addict

Posted in Cross Stitch | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars – free pattern!

I briefly mentioned “Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars” in a blog post last week, but I thought I’d do a post dedicated specifically to this galaxy scarf, with the added bonus of the written out pattern! I called the personal project “The Force Awakens”, but the pattern is going to be “Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars” because I don’t want to get involved in any copyright issues. So without further ado!

Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars

My gran gave me a ball of unidentified acrylic yarn last year, with an exciting range of colours – a black base and a load of colour additions that reminded me of nebulae, galaxies and space. I decided I wanted to knit a scarf with it, and on the way to the cinema with my family to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, I cast on and got going!

I love the scarf – it was worked on in the cinema, on top of an ancient Iron Age hill fort and whilst bowling with John’s family. The colours are fab, and it’s nice and warm. You want to knit one for yourself? Here’s the free knitting pattern!

I decided to call it “Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars” because the yarn so reminded me of those fabulous pictures of galaxies that you see coming out of the Hubble telescope. Am I crazy??

Free Knitting Pattern

My "Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars" laid out on my messy bed.
My “Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars” laid out on my messy bed.

Equipment

Yarn: 100g double knitting yarn (I used an unidentified ball)
Needles: 5.5mm
Crochet Hook: 5mm

This list is just what I used, feel free to find your own. I used 5.5 mm needles with my double knitting yarn because I really liked the drapey feel of the fabric it gave. This uses up the yarn more quickly than it would be otherwise, which is why my scarf was a bit narrower than I would usually make it.

Gauge is not necessary for this project.

Skills required

Cast on, knit stitch, dropped stitch*, chain stitch** (crochet), cast off.

The Pattern

Cast on 39 stitches (or a multiple of five stitches minus one, i.e. (8×5)-1 = 39).

Knit every row until your scarf is long enough, or you have just enough yarn left for a cast off. Every time the urge takes you***, put in a dropped stitch section.

Dropped Stitch Section

Row One: Double wrap every stitch

Row Two: Knit every stitch, slipping the second loop from each double wrapped stitch off the needle

Cast Off Row

*Bind off four stitches, chain 2 and drop the fifth stitch.* Repeat from * to * until you have four stitches left, BO these four stitches.

Each of those dropped stitches can then be manipulated so that you create a run of dropped stitches throughout the whole scarf.

Weave in your ends, give your scarf a gentle blocking and enjoy!

Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars
Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars

You can also find the pattern on Ravelry, where you can download a PDF of it.

Much love,

Corrie xx

* My simple way of explaining a dropped stitch is that every time you wrap your yarn around your needle to create the next stitch during your knit stitch, simply wrap it around once more before slipping the stitch from the left needle on to the right one. On the way back, knit just one of these strands, dropping the second strand off to create a dropped stitch effect.

** A chain stitch is the most simple crochet stitch, created by inserting your crochet hook through your previous stitch, hooking the working yarn and bringing it through the hole.

*** Sometimes the need to triple or quadruple wrap my stitches took me. A few times I did the dropped stitch section several times in a row. Sometimes I double wrapped half the stitches in a row and continued simply knitting the other half to create an asymmetric area of dropped stitches. Have a play and enjoy yourself!

The Carina Nebula - aren't the colours gorgeous?
The Carina Nebula – aren’t the colours gorgeous?

Shared with: iKnead2Knit, Crochet Addict, Gracey’s Goodies, Yarn Fanatic Party, Oombawka Design Crochet, Yarn Along, Frontier Dreams, The Winthrop Chronicles

Posted in Blog, FOs, Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

February 2016 Resolutions, with a January recap

Oooh I can’t believe it is nearly February 2016 already! Where are the years going? The first time I realised that years had ‘names’, was in 1995. It was the first time I wrote the full date (at the age of six) and it terrifies me that it was 21 years ago.

With that bit of adrenaline out of the way, I’ll start off with a recap!

Monthly Resolutions were started in March 2013 here on Plutonium Muffins, and after a few months of doing them, a group was started on Ravelry. We are an active bunch who each set resolutions on a monthly basis, cheer each other on, keep track of what we are doing, and enjoy a bit of chatter. Come join us!

January 2016 Recap

I thought I was doing really well, but I’ve had some issues.

    • Finish the ridiculous welly socks for my dad – done! Blog is here.
    • Finish up some mittens I’m knitting for a friend – done! I still need to blog about them.
Memory Mittens - the most triumphant of my January 2016 FOs!
Memory Mittens – the most triumphant of my January 2016 FOs!
  • Start John’s Dr Who scarf – I ordered the yarn, but there was a problem with some of the dye-lots and I had to send some of it back. You can imagine how pleased I was. I ended up sending it all back, and I will go and choose the yarn in person so that I am absolutely happy with my colours.
  • Knit commission scarf and hat set – I finished the hat, the yarn has arrived for the scarf and I will carry on with this next month.
  • Spin some of my beautiful Australian fibre – I brought down a big braid of pink cheviot and started spinning it. I think I’ve done about 20g out of 100g, so this carries over the February 2016 Resolutions too.
  • Knit a present for a Big Birthday – I completely failed – then planned to make the person a card instead and failed on that as well! Really need to sort this out.
  • Knit a Christmas present – Finished a hat! It goes into the box.
  • Finish the next section of my cross stitch sampler – I did indeed finish, and now need to look at what the ‘next’ section will be. I split the chart into 24 sections when I initially cut it all up, but I have to get it finished by May, so a section may have to become three cut sections. Too complicated to get my head around right now!
Bunnymoon cross stitch sampler at the end of January 2016.
Bunnymoon cross stitch sampler at the end of January 2016.

February 2016 Resolutions

As you will see, some of these are follow-ons from last month.

    • Start John’s Dr Who scarf
    • Knit commission scarf
    • Spin some of my beautiful Australian fibre
    • Knit a Christmas present
    • Start mum’s Birthday present
    • Finish next section of bunnymoon cross stitch
    • Finish a section of leopard cross stitch
    • Get fibre onto Etsy

That last one is EXCITING! I have some blends that people will enjoy, I think, as well as some naturally dyed fibre that would be perfect for spinning or felting. Let’s just say that dyeing with dandelions is brilliant.

Some dandelion spun from my natural dyed fibre. Look out for this fibre on Etsy in February 2016.
Some dandelion spun from my natural dyed fibre. Look out for this fibre on Etsy in February 2016.

I think that’s a good enough start to February 2016 at the moment. I may just add a few but I’ll let you know, no doubt.

January 2016 was a tough one. I’d just like to say screw you cancer. We lost some amazing people this month.

Much love,

Corrie xx


PS Ever wondered what a day on the farm looked like?

Shared with: Merry Monday

Posted in Cross Stitch, Knitting, Resolutions, Spinning | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Captain Chaos: an update on Chase Dog

I thought you would all appreciate an update on how Chase (often known as Captain Chaos) is getting on, so here it is! He is now a few days over four months old, and has slotted straight into the household with a maximum of mess, noise and puppy bluster. At least he’s finally house-trained…

Captain Chaos at Four Months

Just a quick reminder (your introduction to him is here) – Chase is a collie-kelpie cross and intended to be a working dog in the future. We got him at 9 weeks, and in the two months since, he has become one of the most joyful parts of everyday life!

One of the most adorable…and frustrating…things about puppies is their boundless energy. Playing with them is really nice and fun and lovely…until they decide your arm is nothing more than a massive bone and it must be eaten now! With teething still in full swing, Captain Chaos has been chewing everything he can get his teeth into – the worst victim so far has been mum’s bin, although he is particularly fond of bringing in sticks from the outside and shredding them in mums office. In fact, scenes like the one below greet us on an alarmingly regular basis.

One of his nicknames is "Pacman" - how do you think he got his nickname?!
One of his nicknames is “Pacman” – how do you think he got his nickname?!
Captain Chaos saw a problem and neutralised it.
Captain Chaos saw a problem and neutralised it.

Chase absolutely loves his walks and we are lucky to live in the beautiful countryside in which we do! He is getting about an hour of walking a day, which includes exploring Dartmoor, trips to the pub in the village and back, traipsing down muddy bridle paths, and doing his chores on the farm. He helps us to get the birds in and out in the morning, and is getting the hang of sheep herding, although he still thinks they are playthings rather than creatures to be told what to do. So much of what he does is pure instinct (we are still not really sure what we are doing) and it’s remarkable how he knows what to do without even having a trained sheepdog role model to help him along.

Chase on the moor, ears standing to attention!
Chase on the moor, ears standing to attention!
Captain Chaos - a massive poser!
Captain Chaos – a massive poser!

Of course, you can’t walk puppies too much, as a lot of exercise and still-growing bones can cause problems. One of our previous dogs was very big-boned (not fat) and he got over-exercised as a result, having to have surgery at eight months old to correct a problem with his knees. Thousands of pounds and a lot of heartache later, we have learned our lesson…unfortunately. We have had just the one day when Chase had a long walk and then was outside for several hours running around the farm. He lay in his crate for a while, and obviously as the muscles cooled they started to hurt, causing a fairly dramatic limp and very sad eyes. Cue lots of extra cuddling, which must be done on the floor, preferably with all parts of Chase off the ground. He’s definitely the largest lap dog I’ve ever seen!

Chase is definitely a lapdog.
Chase is definitely a lapdog.
Having a sleep on mum - even though he barely fits anymore!
Having a sleep on mum – even though he barely fits anymore!
Celebrating Christmas with the brother.
Celebrating Christmas with the brother.

His training is going well! We take him to a class once a week, where he is learning the Kennel Club Code of Conduct. Captain Chaos has so far proven that he can socialise with other dogs, sit, stand, lie down, wait, not snatch food, and walk through doors in a controlled way. We are not so hot on loose-lead walking, and he does have a tendency to get a bit overwhelmed by the number of dogs and people, and get a bit growly. He loves people, and jumps up at everyone trying to get attention. We are working on that…

Enjoying John cuddles in the pub.
Enjoying John cuddles in the pub.
Crate training - quite a jaundiced look right here!
Crate training – quite a jaundiced look right here!
Saying hello to one of my friends.
Saying hello to one of my friends.

Actual sheepdog training won’t start until he is about six months old. We have received some good advice and are doing what we can to ensure he will be a good sheepdog. One thing is for sure: you cannot get a dog of his calibre and not give them a job. He would be a rubbish pet – he has to know what his jobs are, and go out and do them, otherwise all hell breaks lose. I refer you to the Captain Chaos shredded bin photo above…

He has his bad sides. With an entire box of toys that he knows are his, he would still rather chew our feet, slippers, carpets and pieces of inappropriate rubbish that he finds in the garden. Tonks, the cat, is an incredible ratter, and she leaves her kills lying around in the yard and barns. If Chase finds them before we do, he picks them up and rushes around with them, proudly showing off ‘his’ kill. If we can’t get it away from him in time, he crunches them up and swallows them. It is enough to put you off your next meal!

Sleeping on his back on a bench in the kitchen.
Sleeping on his back on a bench in the kitchen.
Cuddles with mum in the pub.
Cuddles with mum in the pub.

His herding instinct is also a little out of hand. We can’t walk anywhere without him trying to herd us, and if there is anything woolly around, he makes a beeline for it. Mum has had to give him a sheepskin rug for his bed, as he made it unsuitable for use in the rest of the house with his chewing, and she has some shoes that he just cannot leave alone. Taking him into my studio presents its own set of problems – I have about thirty fleeces in boxes, waiting to be processed. I turned my back for ten minutes the other day, and when I turned around there was an unholy mix of Hebridean Black, Jacob and Alpaca mixed in with a shredded pompom and bits of wood on the floor. Also, as I say, he jumps up a lot, and his paws are normally muddy! We don’t wear white very often anymore.

Still sleeping on his back! MUDDY.
Still sleeping on his back! MUDDY.

You just can’t help but love him, though! He is an incredibly loving puppy, and it is impossible not to be taken in by his beautiful eyes, ears that can’t decide if they are up or down, and, unfortunately, those sharp teeth. There is nothing more special than coming home or downstairs in the morning, and being greeted by a tail that is wagging so furiously that he can’t stay on his feet. Captain Chaos has managed to earn himself a number of other nicknames, including “Wigglebottom”, “Pacman” and “Ratbag”.

Captain Chaos behaving well for a treat.
Captain Chaos behaving well for a treat.
Making ridiculous faces at me!
Making ridiculous faces at me!

If you have any questions about life with Chase, please feel free to let me know! He has been in a few of my videos, all of which can be found on YouTube here, and he features regularly on my Instagram, here.

I can’t wait to start proper sheepdog training. Watch this space…we’ll be doing trials soon, mark my words!

Much love,

Corrie xx

Shared with: Sunlit Sunday, Oh My Heartsie Girl, Life with Lorelai

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

January 2016 FOs: accessorise to the max!

Following on from Wednesday’s post, here is a January 2016 FOs one! I feel like I’ve been really productive this month – whether or not this is actually the case, I’m not sure. At least I have a lot of knitting to show off today!

January 2016 FOs

The Force Awakens

This is one of those projects that I’ve mentioned in passing but never actually shown off. My lovely gran gave me some yarn last year, and when we went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December, I cast on a scarf! The yarn is a double knitting weight, and I used 5mm needles to get a loose, drapey fabric.

It was super duper simple, and I’ve written the pattern up for you – check it out here, or it is on Ravelry as “Gas, Dust and Billions of Stars”.

Sneak preview of "The Force Awakens".
Sneak preview of “The Force Awakens”.

I love the scarf, but all those holes make it quite ‘catchy’, and I’ve already had to do quite a lot of repair work. Loved the concept, but maybe next time I’ll do slightly fewer double-wraps! This was the first of my January 2016 FOs.

Those Ridiculous Welly Socks

Next came the ridiculous welly socks! I blogged about these here. Basically, these were for my dad, who spends a lot of his time out and about in his boots. The project was a free pattern from Blacker Yarns, and an enjoyable knit, although a little saggy around the ankles. He has been wearing them a lot, and I call this a triumph.

Dad's ridiculous welly socks with a knitted garter to keep them up when not in boots.
Dad’s ridiculous welly socks with a knitted garter to keep them up when not in boots.
Close up of the welly socks in repose. The colours are totally wrong.
Close up of the welly socks in repose. The colours are totally wrong.

Memory Mittens

The most triumphant of my January 2016 FOs were the memory mittens that I knitted for a friend. Using the leftover yarn from a jumper his mother had knitted for him, I took some of my finest Exmoor Blueface wool from John Arbon, turned it into thrums, and made him some cuddly mittens! The pattern was a free one from Tanis Fiber Arts, and most excellent – I recommend it.

Memory Mittens - the most triumphant of my January 2016 FOs!
Memory Mittens – the most triumphant of my January 2016 FOs!
Memory mittens, one inside out to show off the gorgeous thrums!
Memory mittens, one inside out to show off the gorgeous thrums!

Dam Hat

Another hat for a friend! I’m getting really good at knitting “Keep Your Head to the Sky” – I can get one done in about four hours start to finish, drying after blocking. This was done in Designer Yarns Choice Chunky with Wool, a yarn that Ravelry doesn’t seem to recognise!? It was 25% wool, which is the lowest limit of wool content for me. I’ve become such a yarn snob, but I really do prefer working with natural fibres.

The latest slouchy hat off the needles.
The latest slouchy hat off the needles.

I’ve got yet another hat on the needles, and that will be finished before the end of January, but I’ll show that to you next month…

However, I do need to go cast on some stuff as I’m dangerously low on knitting WIPs! Have a great weekend.

Much love,

Corrie xx

Shared with: Love Made My Home, Gracey’s Goodies, Crochet Addict, Eye Love Knots, Oh My Heartsie Girl

Posted in Blog, FOs, Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

January 2016 WIPs – a lot of cross stitch!

Today I’m here to show you my January 2016 WIPs! This will largely focus on cross stitch, as my knitting WIPs have either ‘converted’ to FOs recently, or are in a state in which I can’t actually take a photograph of them! Read on for an explanation of this ambiguous statement…

Before I get started, I just want to let you all know that there is no Internet at Plutonium Muffins HQ. I have the option of going to my parents office or the local library to get online – both of which options are ideal, apart from the fact that there is so much to do on the farm. If you’ve tried to get in touch with me and have failed, that’s why. We have an Engineer coming round at 8am tomorrow to try sort us out, so hopefully things will be sorted soon

January 2016 WIPs

If I’d done this post last week, my list of January 2016 WIPs would have been longer when looking at knitting. I was powering on this weekend, however, and loads have been finished!

Knitting

I only have two projects currently on the needles – one is a hat for my market stall, the other is another Fox Stole from Faux Taxidermy Knits*. This will be a gift for a friend who recently bought me the most awesome shoes, and is in 100% acrylic yarn as she cannot wear wool. I’m hating working on it. After years of working with yarn that has a majority wool content, I’m finding the reversion to acrylic tough. (Yes, I could have used cotton or some other non-wool yarn, but we couldn’t find the right colour in anything but acrylic.)

New #shoes! THANKS JANET! #aliexpress #discoshoes #cantwaittogoout #newshoes #discoshoes

A video posted by Corrie Berry (@plutoniummuffins) on

My other knitting efforts are currently involved in designing a hat, scarf and mitten set that takes inspiration from the absolutely gorgeous Dartmoor. I walk here everyday, love every minute of it, and am finding it so inspiring! Watch this space, I’m in the ‘sketching’ phase at the moment!

Close up of Dartmoor terrain - this photo taken just outside the gate of the farm.
Close up of Dartmoor terrain – this photo taken just outside the gate of the farm.

Cross Stitch

With knitting taking up my afternoons, I’m forcing myself to do some cross stitch every day to make sure I have a break. This is important for RSI, and also keeps me motivated. I have loads of cross stitch on the go at the moment, but two big ones are occupying most of my attention.

Bunnymoon (as I’ve called it) is a baby sampler. This is a Janlynn kit featuring a bunny sitting on a moon, and I’m doing it for a relative who will be turning ONE this year. I’m finding it a frustrating piece of work. The colours are a lot more pastel than I’m used to working with, there’s a lot of white space, and I’m really not sure how much I like stitching on it. I have made good progress, however, and have reached my January 2016 WIPs goal for where I wanted to be in the pattern. I’ll like it once it’s finished, it is cute…it’s just getting there that’s the problem!

You can see the nose of a little bunny in this cross stitch sampler.
You can see the nose of a little bunny in this cross stitch sampler.

This leopard is something I’ve been working on for three years. I’m not even a quarter of the way through. I’ve devised a new way of working through cross stitch patterns (more info here) and am hoping more progress will be made. I’m going to work out my deadline once I’ve done a few more sections, and I’ll either decide to finish it for September or December. This is a Dimensions Leopard’s Gaze Gold Collection kit, and I love it – the main reason it is taking so long is because I keep packing it away to move! This will be the last time.

A very frustrating leopard WIP!
A very frustrating leopard WIP!

I’d better shoot before I use up all the Internet at the office! I can’t wait to review my January 2016 WIPs in my next Resolutions post…I’m doing well this month!

Much love,

Corrie xx

*Amazon Affiliate link

Shared with: iknead2knit, Crochet Addict, Super Mum No Cape

Posted in Blog, Cross Stitch, Knitting | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

May I take a photo?

As a blogger, one of the most important things to me whenever I am doing something that I would like to blog about later is taking a photo. It is great to be able to share things visually – after all, a picture is worth a thousand words (history). This is also one of the most controversial things that can be done, particularly when considering creative rights, content, design, and simple good ethics. Not to mention Personal Security!

One of my most common phrases in this line of work, therefore, is “May I take a photo?”

A dinosaur wall-hanging; original designs copyright Coranda Berry 2016.
A dinosaur wall-hanging; original designs copyright Coranda Berry 2016.

Taking a photo – the tip of the iceberg

Situations in which I find myself taking photos for Plutonium Muffins most regularly include in yarn shops, craft shops, at knit night, and of course, at fibre events. It’s very easy to do. Walk up to somebody, hand them a business card and say “Is it OK if I take some photos of [x] for my blog?”

Native Yarns: photo taken with permission in September 2015
Native Yarns: photo taken with permission in September 2015

Very often people are more than happy for bloggers to take photographs of their work, particularly if you explain why, give them a link that shows where the image will be used, and assure them you will give them the relevant credit. It is, after all, free advertising! However, particularly when thinking about designers and copyright, it can also be incredibly damaging.

One example I can think of is from the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, which I visited a couple of years ago. Walking up and down the aisles, I came upon the most incredible cross stitch designs. Based on art work that the designer had painted, they were intricate, complex and beautiful – and there was a sign specifically saying “do not take photographs”. Although I would have loved to have shared this work with everybody, I can only respect this wish. You should not, after all, go to a book shop and start copying down a book word for word, nor go to a gallery and take photographs of paintings or even other photographs that someone has put hard work into producing. This is no different.

Debonnaire by Erica Danes - the first person who ever thanked me for asking for permission to take a photo.
Debonnaire by Erica Danes – the first person who ever thanked me for asking for permission to take a photo.

A particularly memorable occasion for me was when I asked a vendor at Unravel whether I could take a photo of her stand. She looked as me as if I were an alien, and I obviously showed some degree of surprise at her reaction, because she hastily stated “In ten years of doing this, you’re the first person who has ever asked”.

It would be easy for someone to photograph a design and reverse engineer it to produce ‘their own pattern’, profiting from another’s work unfairly. This is something that does unfortunately happen – this particularly high profile case shows that many people who should be honourable, simply are not. One puts the owner of ‘work’ in a tricky position when you walk up to the work and just take a photograph – they probably do not want to confront you about it if they are unhappy for you to do this, but in many cases their livelihood may rely on it.

Taken to show me working on a cross stitch project, I blurred out the parts of the photo that could give away a design's secret sauce.
Taken to show me working on a cross stitch project, I blurred out the parts of the photo that could give away a design’s secret sauce.

Quite aside from a monetary perspective, as artists and designers, our output turns from ‘objects’, ‘things’ and ‘material’ into parts of our soul, our innermost thoughts and feelings, our time and our lives. These are not things that we should be taking liberties with.

My respect for Wonderwool Wales as a show was hugely increased by these posters that were everywhere. It’s the only show that I have been to that acknowledges this is important to consider in our industry.

Alerting visitors at Wonderwool Wales to the courtesy of photo taking.
Alerting visitors at Wonderwool Wales to the courtesy of photo taking.

Why do people say no?

I’ve been denied the chance to take a photo only twice. The first time, I still don’t understand, as it was in a yarn shop that I wanted to write a review about, and I cannot figure out why the shop owner did not want me to capture the look of the place ‘on film’. Without naming any names, the place was a very popular LYS that appeared all over the web and printed media, and must have had hundreds of photos taken of it over the years it was in operation. The only answer I have come up with is that maybe the displays were being redone, or there was an item with an issue somewhere that I did not know about. The outcome was the same – I didn’t take any photos, and everything was fine.

People don't always want photos taken of their spaces...this windowsill in my room was one of the tidiest places the day I took this photo...
People don’t always want photos taken of their spaces…this windowsill in my room was one of the tidiest places the day I took this photo…

The second time was easier to understand. It was again a shop, but this time a cooperative where many different artists rented the space and sold their wares from that hub. The shop keeper at the time told me she was happy for me to photograph her work, but that I would not be able to take photos of any of the other work as she did not know what the policies of the other artists were. This was very understandable, and my respect for the shop increased at that point as the value of the work was clearly appreciated.

Regardless of the situation, it is just easier to ask. Unless, as in the previous cross stitch example, there are already written instructions, in which case things are more clear-cut.

Stealing One’s Soul with a Photo

With my African heritage, I am aware of the belief that many ancient tribes have that the taking of a photograph can steal a soul. My parents have been on many trips to various parts of Africa and come back with no photos to show us when we plead for them, having been unable to take them. It is considered the height of bad manners for a tourist to take a photo of a local without asking first – would you wish to be responsible for actually stealing someone’s soul? Even if you don’t believe it, they do, and this respect is something that is incredibly important.

With permission: definitely ask the parents of young children before taking a photo (and posting it online). Every single time!
With permission: definitely ask the parents of young children before taking a photo (and posting it online). Every single time!

While this is pretty extreme, the issue of personal security is an important one. I do not post photos of people on the blog unless they know I am intending to and have said I can. It can be extremely frustrating – sometimes I have had to delay posts by up to six months before I have managed to get the permission, other times I have had to post without the photos and go back to edit later.

However, if I were to find a photo of myself up that I did not know about, I would not be too pleased. There are usually only two reasons – one, it’s a terrible photo and I didn’t want it up(!), or two, I would have liked to know that photo of me existed and was out in the public domain.

Hmmm...I didn't ask Maximillian if he was happy for me to take his photo.
Hmmm…I didn’t ask Maximillian if he was happy for me to take his photo.

There is a level of common sense in here. If I took a photo of John wearing something I had knitted, I would not ask him if I could use it, as he would know to tell me not to publish it if he didn’t want me to. Equally, if a group photograph was taken when it was clear this was for social media, I wouldn’t bother. In other situations, I would ask every time – John’s nephew is just three months old, and I ask about every photo as the issue of infant privacy is an important one to me.

A carefully vetted photo of John.
A carefully vetted photo of John.

It’s a minefield, when you really get down to it. I have already written over 1,000 words, but I feel that there is so much more to be said. I’ll leave it at this for now – just something to think about the next time you are out and about!

Much love,

Corrie xx

Posted in Blog, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Finishes from 2015

I had planned to do a ‘finishes from 2015’ post that had all of my finishes in it, and not only knitting… It turns out was a lot more productive than I had realised last year, and that post got really long. So, I’m going to tie in with Amy from Love Made My Home and share five of my finishes from 2015 for Five on Friday instead!

Finishes from 2015 – the first five

Sometimes I find it difficult to keep track of what I’ve blogged about…well going through this has shown me that I haven’t actually blogged about all of my finishes! So there are a few without links, and my list of ‘things to blog about’ has grown massively.

Monkey (Cookie A)

Knitted in Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball on 2.5mm needles. Started September 25th, 2014, finished February 8th, 2015. I can not find these socks anywhere! Original blog post here.

The first of my finishes from 2015. Monkey from the top, showing the gorgeous lace pattern.
The first of my finishes from 2015. Monkey from the top, showing the gorgeous lace pattern.

Dragon Cowl (Kris Basta)

Knitted in handspun from Manos del Uruguay dyed merino roving on . Started February 8th, 2015, finished February 9th, 2015. I lost this in Sydney in July…not a good start to the year, two projects missing already! Original blog post here.

The complete Dragon Cowl - I'm enjoying how well you can see the lace pattern.
The complete Dragon Cowl – I’m enjoying how well you can see the lace pattern.

Rikke Hat/Cowl (Sarah Young)

Knitted using scraps of John Arbon Knit by Numbers from my Icon Dress, started December 30th, 2104, finished February 13th, 2015. Needles were 5mm. This was given to my gran for her birthday. Original blog post here.

The Rikke Cowl in March 2015.
The Rikke Cowl in March 2015.

Björn the Bear (Louise Walker)

Knitted with Cygnet Seriously Chunky on 12mm needles during a workshop with Louise Walker at Unravel on February 22nd. Björn is currently hanging on my studio wall! Original blog post here.

Tonks the cat meets Björn.
Tonks the cat meets Björn.

Eric the Fox (Louise Walker)

This is the fox stole from “Faux Taxidermy Knits”, which I bought with a kit for the stole when it was first published. The yarn is Stylecraft Lite DK and I used 4mm needles.

A folded fox stole designed by Louise Walker and finished in 2015.
A folded fox stole designed by Louise Walker and finished in 2015.

I’m glad I went through this because it has made me feel less useless about what I achieved last year. The total count is so far 27 knitting projects, but I also had a load of sewing FOs, cross stitch, felting, cards…so watch this space!

Have a great weekend – I’m home alone this weekend and am enjoying spreading myself out around the house and doing some crafting. My next plan is to watch a load of videos on YouTube and finish a hat!

Much love,

Corrie xx

Posted in FOs, Knitting, Regular Features | 4 Comments

Flock time: plenty of sunrises, no lambs

I thought it was time to give you an update on our flock of sheep! You may remember the competition I ran a few months back, inviting you to name the unnamed members of our flock of six sheep. The unnamed mule was christened Yarn (although we still call her lambikins), while the two ouessant ewes are Miss Ewe and Kiss Ewe. I introduced them all to you here.

A panorama of the farm, the top field.
A panorama of the farm from the top field.

The Flock

Our flock has grown! We took delivery of two wethers, which are castrated male sheep, just before Christmas. These guys are also ouessants, and brothers to Miss Ewe and Kiss Ewe. Toby and John were given the task of naming them, and came up with two sets: “Hiphopopotamus” and “Rhyme-enoceros”, or “Rambo” and “Ramsay”. Mum went for the musical names, and Rambo and Ramsay have been reserved for when the flock contains actual rams.

Four ouessants and a mule. You can see the horns of the two wethers.
Four ouessants and a mule. You can see the horns of the two wethers.

The eight of them now live together peacefully in our two fields. They were separated from each other for a while, mules in one field and ouessants in the other, but we put them together before long as it was a pain in the backside having them in different fields.

We have quite the daily routine – whoever gets up first goes to feed the chickens and guinea fowls, and then to feed the sheep. Strictly speaking, sheep don’t need supplementary food, but with four of the flock potentially pregnant, and a need to control them, we have trained them to follow a yellow bucket. This makes moving them around a little easier, as they’re all so excited by the thought of the food in the bucket that they will follow whoever is holding it quite easily.

Two flocks - sheep and guinea fowl!
Two flocks – sheep and guinea fowl!
The flock of sheep being fed by mum. Guineas in the background.
The flock of sheep being fed by mum. Guineas in the background.

They then spend their days in the fields, either above the farm or below it. I prefer it when they are in the field below, as I can see them from my bedroom window and as I walk around the house and garden. Their very busy days involve either grazing, talking to the herd of deer who inhabit the bottom of the field, ruminating in the sun, or more likely huddled beneath the hedges hiding from the rain. In the evening they may get another handful of food, and will occasionally be ushered into the stables if the weather is predicted to be particularly bad.

View of the sheep from my window! There's a pheasant hanging out with them too.
View of the sheep from my window! There’s a pheasant hanging out with them too.
The mules crowded around a feed bucket.
The mules crowded around a feed bucket.
Dad feeding the sheep, with the wethers in the background not entirely sure what is going on.
Dad feeding the sheep, with the wethers in the background not entirely sure what is going on.

Spending time with the sheep is pleasant, particularly in the morning just as the sun is rising. The joy of nature, crofting and the passage of time is at the forefront of my mind whenever I do this! They are a friendly lot, and even get on quite well with Chase, who is obsessed with them (as he should be).

We have been on high alert for lambs since Christmas. The four mules used to live with a ram, and we are not sure when to expect little bundles of joy, or even how many. Lambing is a concept I am thinking of with some trepidation, and it seems scary right now. I’m sure once we’ve actually been through it, things will seem a lot easier!

Lavender in a beautiful sunrise.
Lavender in a beautiful sunrise.
Angelica in the sunrise.
Angelica in the sunrise.

I’ll let you know how we get on – I’m particularly looking forward to shearing!

Much love,

Corrie xx

Yarn AKA Lambikins figured out that this is the best way to hog all the food!
Yarn AKA Lambikins figured out that this is the best way to hog all the food!
This has its fair share of problems, however...
This has its fair share of problems, however…
Victory! Time to gorge on all that food.
Victory! Time to gorge on all that food.

Shared with: Crochet Addict, Gracey’s Goodies, EyeLoveKnots, Oombawka Design, iknead2knit, The Winthrop Chronicles, Yarn Along, Oh My Heartsie Girl, Wool on Sundays

Posted in Farmlife | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Biscotte & Cie Yarn – Review

Biscotte & Cie, a Canadian yarn company, sent me some yarn for review, and I am finally going to finish that! It has taken me a very long time to get this out there, because first off, it took me ages to actually knit it, then I moved house and lost my sample, then had to do a load of tests on it…well, the good news is I’m ready.

Note that the company now calls itself “Biscotte Yarns”, and the website can be found here. The yarn that I received is from when it was ‘Biscotte & Cie”.

Biscotte & Cie Yarn

The yarn I was sent was a skein of Felix yarn in the “Hope” colourway (now the Bis-sock yarn). In the skein, it looked gorgeous, although I cannot find a photo of it anywhere on my computer. The skein weighed 100g and was 435 yards (400m) in length. I split it in half and got started on a pair of socks, working two at a time.

My vanilla socks in Biscotte & Cie's Felix base, colourway "Hope"
My vanilla socks in Biscotte & Cie’s Felix base, colourway “Hope”

The yarn certainly travelled well! I took it everywhere with me in my bag, from tube journeys to fibre festivals, to trips around the farm in Devon. It flew to Australia, New Zealand and back, and never looked as if it had been as abused as it had. The colours were nice and bright, and John labelled it “female Nemo”. I finished my socks with delight, and got ready to do some serious testing of the yarn…what a difficult job, wearing handmade socks a lot!

I knew that there had been a problem with these yarns losing their colour, so I was careful when it came to washing. I very carefully blocked the finished socks after soaking in Soak the first time, and was ever so careful not to let them get anywhere near the washing machine. My typical wash using Soak is a bath in water that is hand-hot, leaving them for half an hour, then squeezing out excess water, rolling in a clean towel and on to the Aga to dry. There were no problems from the outset, no excess dye in the first bath, and nothing from then on.

My Hope socks in Biscotte & Cie yarn, washed and ready to wear.
My Hope socks in Biscotte & Cie yarn, washed and ready to wear.

In the meantime, I knitted up a triangle of the scrap for bunting, and that went through at 40°C with a load of other washing, before going on the Aga to dry. This is exactly how all of my clothes get washed, and I waited for the load to finish with some trepidation. The bunting came out fine. In fact, better than fine – the socks have somewhat faded over time (not that you would know to look at the photo) and looking at them in person, the bunting is a little brighter than the socks. I haven’t put it through a second time, but I did then decide to wash the socks in the washing machine (because who really has time to hand wash socks?) and they came out just as good as before.

The bunting before and after washing. There is no filter, but the colours are slightly affected by the daylight conditions in the 'after' photo. There is no appreciable difference in real life!
The bunting before and after washing. There is no filter, but the colours are slightly affected by the daylight conditions in the ‘after’ photo. There is no appreciable difference in real life!

I’ve been wearing these regularly since October 2015, and I’m pleased with them. The yarn is nice and soft, the socks are comfortable and any problems with them are fit and the knitting rather than the yarn, and I’m really happy with the way it washes up. I would never ever put them through the tumble dryer, although I am debating using my final piece of leftovers just to see…

The colours have faded a bit, but no more than I would have expected. They are still a vibrant pair of socks, and the photos don’t really do them justice as we have a lack of daylight at the moment for photography! I’m super pleased, and I’ve got my eye on my next pair of socks in Biscotte yarn…Tang Fish!

A comparison of the bunting, machine washed, and the socks, hand-washed.
A comparison of the bunting, machine washed, and the socks, hand-washed.

Do you have any experiences with this particular sock yarn? Do you have another brand that you really like for knitting socks with?

Much love,

Corrie xx

I was sent this yarn free to review, but all opinions are my entirely my own, and formed over nine months of testing the yarn, from cast on to present!

Posted in Blog, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment