I know that this isn’t strictly speaking knitting, spinning or any form of fibre art…but my creative heartstrings are being pulled with my “Wreck This Journal” by Keri Smith. I wanted to share my most recent two pages with you because they are super colourful, and I currently need that for my Sunday evening!
First up were the instructions “Place sticky things here. (honey, gum, syrup, glue, sucker, marshmallow). I wanted to do something crazy complicated and beautiful…until I had an afternoon where I was sitting making up cards (the shop has been updated by the way…) and I needed some light relief. This was the result.
The stickers all came from the pound shop up the road, and they certainly warmed the cockles of my tired heart at the time – there’s something therapeutic about carelessly sticking hundreds of stickers onto a page.
Sew This Page
I thought I would really love doing this page, and as my inspiration I used a piece of test felt that I made up when I designed my dad’s Rainbow Trout for Christmas a few years ago. The initial plan was to make the right hand side of the spread entirely embroidered – but after the first thread went in, I quickly realised this was not going to be possible because the paper was simply too weak.
Instead, I did a few sewn strands and then soaked a mixture of blue and red watercolour paint into them. I blotted the threads with a piece of tissue paper and the colour spread onto the blank page beneath – then I completed his little tail, and off we went!
So, that’s what has been keeping me sane the last few days.
Normal knitting will resume shortly…I have a HFO for you!
I missed the resolution update nearer the actual middle of the month – oops. Here it comes…but first! Have you ever heard of “Wreck This Journal” by Keri Smith? I bought myself one at the beginning of the month and I’ve been getting really into it. It’s basically like an art journal that fosters creativity.
I found this great quote by Scott Adams, which really resonated with me.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
The WTJ gives prompts on each page – it has a huge following on the interwebs and you can see tons of examples of it on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter…you name it. It has really been unleashing my inner creative, which has been great while I’ve been in a bit of a slump…I really recommend it!
I’ve been doing quite well, although I’m a bit concerned I’ve lost track over the last few days as I’m getting really into the card making again. (The shop is here, with plenty of Valentines Day cards for literature aficionados if you’re interested.)
Finish Solomon’s Temple – Complete! There is a blog post about it here.
Ten minutes of spinning every day – I’ve finished the Dragon Yarn and have two good plies for Follow Me Down Cousin Jack. If you’d like to hear the song I’ve named the yarn after, there’s a snippet of it in the Plutonium Muffins Podcast Episode Eight!
Complete four weeks of C25K – I’m on track, I completed week two and am currently halfway through week three. I’m training for a half marathon! The Great North Run on the 13th of September, which I will be doing to support the mental health charity Mind. You’ll hear more about this in due course!
Finish Monkey – I’ve almost finished…one sock! Just a couple centimetres on the toe and then back up to the next cuff.
Crochet two snowflakes – eek, nothing yet – I’ll get on this next week!
So, that’s that for mid-January! I’m off to foster some more creativity and…start figuring out how I’m going to raise money for this run in September.
I’m sure if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I recently worked on Icon Dress in John Arbon “Knit by Numbers” double-knitting wool. I seriously love this yarn – and here’s more about the company behind it!
John Arbon Textiles
Have you happened to listen to Episode One of the podcast? At one point I went off on one about John Arbon Textiles, and their display at Unravel 2014, which was beautiful and graded and just super stunning. The display prompted me to buy the yarn for the Icon Dress.
John Arbon’s Mill is based in Devon, which is where I spent my teenage years, so rather close to home for me. The actual location of the mill is North Devon (I was south) in South Molton on an industrial estate. The yarn shop is based in Lynton at 19 Queen Street, Lynton, Devon EX35 6AA – it is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4:30 pm; for more information, check out their website.
Excitingly, you can visit the spinning mill! This is simply amazing, and the next time I go home I am intending to stop off on the way. Especially as this is all around Exmoor and the North Devon coast – exciting places to visit. In case you never get the chance to do this, they have produced the best video I have seen of a spinning mill so far. Isn’t the music incredible??
Obviously, there is a lot of spinning and production that goes on with all of this, and not only do John Arbon Textiles spin their yarn and sell it to us fibre-hungry knitters, but they also knit socks for those who cannot so they can have the feel of lovely homespun, handmade socks without having to learn a new skill. (I know what I would prefer, but each to their own!)
Not only this, but some of the yarn they spin comes from the fleece of their own flock of Exmoor Blue-Face Sheep, a breed which combines the strength and durability of the Exmoor Sheep with the softness and handling of the Blue-Faced Leicester fleece. I cannot find a high resolution photo of the flock, but here’s one from an article in the Western Morning News about the fact that the mill provides this wool to Saville Row.
I have met the team behind the wool a number of times, and you still have the chance to do so in 2014. They will exhibit at Yarndale, Selvedge Winter Fair and Country Living Christmas Fair – more information here. I will not make it to any of these, unfortunately, but am looking forward to my next encounter with this fantastic British wool company.
There you have it – John Arbon Textiles. Check them out if you’re interested in knitting British, and definitely watch the video if you want to gain some insight into how a traditional worsted wool mill works.
The long awaited eighth episode of the Plutonium Muffins podcast is full of my joy at being back behind the microphone, and includes discussion about Christmas presents, New Year’s Resolutions, a plethora of socks, a giveaway, some cat noises….enjoy!
I started Capucine, a delightful bonnet-style hat, just after Hallowe’en when I had decided to knit an obnoxiously orange accessory. I cast on and was steaming away with it, when I headed off home for a weekend. This is a free pattern which you can download from Ravelry, and very easy and well-written if you want to try it out!
We went down for a wedding, so I took only simple projects with me in case of over-indulgence by mouth (of which there was plenty, it was a wonderful wedding). Beautiful bride Sal of Sal’s Kitchen wore the most awesome wedding shoes I have ever seen – bright red Converse to go with her shrug!
I finished Capucine in a halo of hangover (are you surprised?) and just as I was getting ready to pack it away and take it back to London, I tried it on. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this pattern; I was inspired to knit it after Christine did it maybe a couple of years ago. We had great fun at Loop one Knit Night, with Linda of Kettle Yarn Co doing a wonderful job of modelling that hat!
It turns out that John didn’t like the style, at all. This was a bit disappointing to me – I wear my hair in a clip which means that wearing traditional hats are a bit hard to wear when I have my hair up. I have to make a choice between having my hair down and wearing a hat usually, and I thought this would provide the perfect solution.
At the same time, my gorgeous grandmother was visiting. This is the one who saw my Towersey Shawl and admired it aloud, prompting me to give it to her…she didn’t really admire the hat aloud, as such, but just asked for it. A bit shocked, I agreed, on the proviso that this was to be her Christmas present – the hat never made it back to London with me!
For Christmas, then, I printed out a photo of Gran wearing the hat and gave that to her. She assured me she loved the hat, but has found the back of her neck getting very cold when she has been trying to wear it. I now have it back in my possession and am thinking up ways to pick up stitches along the back to give it a flap so it will make her neck warm.
I think I’ll probably do that sometime this weekend when I want some mindless garter stitch to get on with. I’m looking forward to it!
The yarn was King Cole Magnum lightweight chunky. It was very good value, but full acrylic and not a yarn I would choose to buy for myself again. I am falling ever deeper in love with natural fibres. I used about 1 and a half balls, so I expect by the time I’ve added a flap at the back, the yarn will be gone! That’ll be about 240 yards.
It was a quick knit, and I’ll definitely be doing another one! Unfortunately for John, I like it too much not to wear one myself. I’m looking forward to having tidy hair and a hat I can wear too…
It’s KFYAL time! (Try saying that as a single word…Kfyaaal.) I don’t have a lot of progress to report myself, as I have a story of woe for you, but the thread on Ravelry is going crazy and everyone is getting on really well. First, the woe – then the joy of people doing amazing things.
Corrie’s KFYAL – delayed
In my previous post about the Knit for Yourself Along, I had said I might knit Naloa by Renee Callaghan. I have the yarn, I have the pattern, I have the needles; but I decided this was a very large project for one month, so I decided not to go for it this time. Instead, I frogged about an inch of cuff of Monkey by Cookie A, then started again. I wanted to make sure my tension was still the same as I cast that on ages ago.
Then, my amazing grandmother came to stay and I spent the day after New Year desperately tidying. My stash trunk was opened – no mean feat as it involves moving a printer, my sewing box, my spinning basket, my knitting basket and the N64 – and miscellaneous projects shoved back in. Gran left and now, two days later, I still couldn’t find the project.
I was pretty certain I wouldn’t have stuck it in the stash trunk, but I had looked everywhere and it was nowhere to be seen, so there was only one thing for it. Tonks had a great time as I dived head-first into the trunk. I discovered loads of yarn that I had forgotten I own, and got very excited about all the projects I want to make (I actually removed about four projects worth of yarn from the stash, not the point in the exercise at all). However, no Monkey.
I put everything back, preparing to tell the Resolutions Monthly people that I could not find the project and I would have to do another one. Just as I placed the printer back, I picked up a project bag that was on the floor and full of my quilting sewing. Or so I thought – there were the blooming socks!
What’s that saying? They’re always in the last place you think to look? Darn it! So, no progress on my side to report, but plenty from everyone else.
The Resolutions Monthly KFYAL Progress
I will only post photos as I have none of my own – for more of the news, the KAL starts here.
I’m thrilled to say I’ve spun the singles of the Dragon Yarn and it’s ready for my first attempt at Navajo Plying! This is a bit of a new project which has been on Instagram and Twitter before, but I don’t believe I’ve talked about it on the blog yet, so bear with me if you know some of this stuff already. It has been mentioned in passing on the podcast.
I bought the roving for this yarn from Hulu in September. I was drawn by the way the purples, pinks and blues blended into each other, and knew it had to be mine when I saw it! The fibre company is Manos del Uruguay, and the colourway I purchased was 8931 Wildflowers. You get 100 grams, and it is pure, fine, 100% gorgeous merino that has been handpainted.
It reminded me of a dragon I painted as a teenager, which I unfortunately no longer have – hence the name. I started spinning it on a Lacis drop spindle at Knit and Stitch, which I also bought from Hulu for £11.95. Unfortunately, this spindle and I did not get on very well – the whorl was far too heavy for the weight of yarn I wanted to spin, and I undid it all as soon as I got home and back to my wheel!
I have kept the spindle and am sure it will find a home with some other project soon.
Fast forward to this January and my resolution to do ten minutes of spinning every day. It took me just three days to finish all of the roving – and I’m incredibly thrilled with it! I’m going to be navajo plying to ensure the gradient comes out as it is dyed. I don’t know what yardage I will end up with, but hopefully enough for a cowl.
Navajo plying is a new technique to me, and I’m using the below video to learn how to do it. She recommends waiting at least a week after you have spun the single to let the twist relax a bit – so I’m impatiently waiting, and continuing on with Follow Me Down Cousin Jack in the meantime. Just in case you don’t know what navajo plying is, and don’t want to watch the video, it’s a method of plying a single together so that you end up with a three-ply yarn which follows any gradients that your single may have.
I should end up with a yarn that has the colour changes of my single, so the ‘dragon’ effect that I like so much is not lost.
I’ve been documenting some of my spinning on YouTube via the medium of time-lapse photography. You can find those on my channel here.
I’ll let you know how the plying goes!
I have posted links to products on the Hulu Crafts online store – I have not been asked to do this, but am merely friends with the owner and believe in supporting smaller companies! No gain is made from the sharing of this information.
I’ve had a few days to think about my resolutions for 2015, and I am fairly confident that the list that I have made is achievable, will help me with some de-cluttering, and will help me towards crafting greatness! My theme for this year is rather important.
The overall goal is moderation in all things, financial, emotional and material. Basically, spend less money, try to control my mental health a bit better, and have less stuff by the end of the year!
Resolutions for 2015
I reviewed my resolutions for 2014 in the thread on the Resolutions Monthly group. I was not particularly successful, so I’ve tried to do my best to make this year’s manageable.
Go cold sheep – no more yarn, roving or fabric until 1st January 2016. Caveat: if I travel to new places I am allowed one sock’s worth of souvenir yarn.
Improve crochet – I will be making two crochet snowflakes per month from “100 Snowflakes to crochet”, and will end up with 24 at the end of 2015!
Run a half marathon – scary stuff. I will sign up to one when I’ve researched which ones there are.
Finish hexipuff quilt – this has been going for more years than I care to remember.
Sew at least 50 quilt hexagons together – again, I’ve had this project on the go for many years and I want to finish it.
Knit 12 in 12 – a pair of socks for each month, using “Knitted Socks: Over 25 Designs for Fab Feet and Cozy Toes for the Whole Family”.
I’ve been inspired by a number of people through the latter end of last year, going through to this year.
The crochet stems from me wanting to learn to handle my hooks a bit better. It will also help me with getting rid of the stash! Martine from iMake ran a crochet-along using this book last year, where they crocheted 3 per month. I did not go along with the CAL at the time as I was not very organised this time last year – but she says it really helped her skills with a hook, and I am inspired! She is doing another CAL this year: find out more here. Here are Martine’s thoughts on the snowflake CAL:
I started the SnowflakeCAL because I knew it would challenge me – I only had basic crochet skills and I was keen to learn more. Participating in a CAL is the ideal way to develop crochet skills as you have the support of far more experienced crocheters if you get stuck. It’s also a good confidence builder when you realise that you are able to help people too! The SnowflakeCAL not only helped me develop my crochet skills, but it has really made me fall in love with crochet. Previously, I’d been 90% knitter 10% crocheter. Now I’d say I am about 50/50.
- Martine Ellis, iMake
John and I also did a lot of listening to Commander Chris Hadfield a few days ago. We enjoyed listening to his thoughts on setting goals and going for it. This is from his book:
“Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.”
– Commander Chris Hadfield
I’m planning to do a transcript of the talk he did with the Guardian – it can be found on the Science Weekly podcast here. Some incredibly inspiring stuff – especially when one considers the possibility of running a half marathon.
Over the last few months I have been trying to get rid of ‘stuff’ and it has felt very, very good. I figure that if I do the same with my stash, I will rejuvenate my crafting. That’s what inspires the cold sheep bit – I do not want to be at al greedy, and am trying to become less focused on material goods! I know a lot of crafters who take a big stash as a point of pride, and I was one of them. I have reached a point where I want to appreciate what I have, instead of never thinking I have enough. So that’s that!
I also wanted to say a quick something about the podcast: I had decided that I was going to do bimonthly episodes, and even announced this. Having considered some advice from some great people who know who they are, as well as realising how much my mental state affects my ability to sit in front of a microphone and then edit for half an hour, I realise this is too much. I will continue podcasting, but the episodes will just fit in with my schedule so that the other things that have to happen first can be as stress-free as possible.
That’s all for now, I think I’ve talked enough! Have you set yourself New Year’s Resolutions?
Remember when Solomon’s Temple was visited by myself and John in the midst of a thunderstorm? No? You can read all about that here.
I am extremely happy to say I have finished knitting a pair of socks using the yarn from the West Yorkshire Spinners in the Pheasant colourway. The pattern was Zigzag Socks from Anna Tillman’s “Knitted Socks: Over 25 Designs for Fab Feet and Cozy Toes for the Whole Family”. You can enter a giveaway to win a copy of the book here – closes on the 12th of January 2015.
Solomon’s Temple complete
I called the socks “Solomon’s Temple” in honour of our trip to that place, and cast them on October 12th at a folk music session that I visited with John and his dad. As said, the colourway is pheasant, and I think they’ve captured the colours perfectly! Isn’t it gorgeous? In real life, they are a lot more vibrant – as always, colour is hard to capture.
I tried out colour management for the first time ever, and played with my yarn and stripes until I managed to get the stripe pattern to be uninterrupted on the top. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough that John hasn’t noticed! I have learned a few things about managing stripes – but equally, I don’t think I’ll bother with it again.
You just know that I totally will, but hush.
Anyway, these socks are for me, and they fit almost perfectly as it is. I plan to block them after they’ve had a small bath in some Soak, and I’m sure that will even things out. I plan to do 12 in 12 this year – so basically a pair of socks every month of 2015. Although these don’t count towards that, they certainly help! The Master Plan is for each sock to come from the same book as this pair, which I have enjoyed a lot.
I’m going to enjoy wearing these, especially with my strappy shoes, which I bought for the sole purpose of showing off handknits. Expect to see lots of them on Twitter!
Happy New Year! I hope you had a good celebration to ring in 2015? We had a fabulous party, which included a session in Southwark, seeing my old friends from uni near the Royal Albert Hall and watching the London fireworks from an observatory!
This is not a post about my resolutions for 2015 – that will come later in the month when I have decided exactly what they are going to be! I do have some plans for January; as always, a recap of December first.
December 2014 Resolutions
I kept it simple in December; as you may have noticed from my total absence from the blog throughout the month, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and overworked! So this was the plan, and how I did with it:
Do at least half an hour of knitting around breakfast time on weekdays – I did not do this every day, but I did spend time knitting and enjoyed it immensely.
Complete the next four weeks of Couch to 5K – nope…I’ll start from the beginning again this month. Sigh.
Enjoy Christmas with my family – yes! Christmas was glorious, the best yet.
Sort out some blog admin – Yes, I did my planning for 2015 and I’ve got some exciting stuff in the works!
I’m still trying to figure out what is a resolution and what is a…’like’, I suppose. We’ve been doing this for nearly a year and a half, and I still haven’t quite got the definition of resolution down. Fairly often, I ‘resolve’ to complete tasks on my to-do list. I’m working on that.
January 2015 Resolutions
With the above thought in mind, I will try to make these resolutions rather than a task list! With the new year, I’m feeling very resolute…as I’m sure many people are! So I’ll be a bit ambitious.
Finish Solomon’s Temple – I have finished the knitting, but need to weave in ends and block.
Ten minutes of spinning every day – I would like to finish the piles of roving in my stash!
Complete four weeks of C25K – this is essential.
A clear distinction is often made between ‘mind’ and ‘body’. But when considering mental health and physical health, the two should not be thought of as separate. - www.mentalhealth.org.uk
Finish Monkey – the socks by Cookie A. I have to restart them as they’ve been languishing for too long and I need to make sure the tension is still correct.
Crochet two snowflakes – this ties in with my 2015 resolutions – I am intending to improve my crochet using “100 Snowflakes to crochet”, inspired by Martine of iMake, who ‘became a crocheter’ as a result of a CAL she ran last year!
That’s about it for now! As always, check out the resolutions everyone else is making over on Resolutions Monthly.
I’ll be back soon with more wittering away. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway if you would like to win a copy of Anna Tillman’s book with fabulous sock designs!
Welcome to Plutonium Muffins; a blog about knitting, spinning, some general craft, and life as a twenty-something year old trying to figure out how vintage and traditional pursuits fit into the twenty-first century.
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