Author Archives: Corrie Berry

Interactions and Community

I missed the first of the “Love Your Blog” posts, in the series being hosted by Kate of A Playful Day. It has been really weighing on me – not because I feel any sort of obligation to talk about it, having posted blogs on Beginnings and Ugly, but because I have so much to say on this subject.

Aside from the huge amount of time I’ve spent over the past few months, engaging in the fibre community at shows and events, the blog sees a fair amount of interaction, and touches a lot of people with whom I share common interests. As a result, I’m going to chat about this – a few weeks late, but what is lost time between friends!

A Playful Day

Interactions and Community

I try to post a few times a week, and at the moment I’m really working on making sure I engage with the rest of the blogging community. I have been reading knitting blogs for a really long time, and have a few who I read religiously. Often, however, I find myself spending hours lost in a maze of new-to-met blogs, coming to without really being able to recall how I have got to that point.

I've Made Friday with Crochet Addict

Aside from chatting to people on Twitter, Ravelry, and in person, one of the ways I expand my blogging network is through link parties. You will fairly regularly see badges at the bottom of one of my blog-posts, and clicking on these badges will take you through to a directory of people with blogs of a similar topic, coming together on a weekly basis to share their work.

planet-penny-happy-friday

The first I discovered was WIP Wednesday by Tamis Amis, and the moment I started participating in that, I also found FO Friday, which she also ran. From there, I fell down the rabbit hole, and ended up with a formidable list of link parties that I now regularly take part in and find other bloggers through. This is an important part of my blogging life. Before I got very involved with link parties, I used to feel that I was a bit of a lone ship in a huge ocean.

Finding a network of like-minded people, who all keep blogs and have interests that are more or less in line with my own has really enhanced my feeling of belonging to a community. I find out about patterns that I may not have otherwise found out about. I get to follow projects that I’m not doing myself and feel a similar sense of achievement when they are finished, even though I technically had nothing to do with them. I find ways to find a bit of simplicity and joy in what I’m doing (the Friday roundup that I’ve done the last month or so has been a result of that, and is really making me appreciate my progression through whatever happens each week).

Freshly Finished Friday by hardknitlife

So, that is why you will see badges at the bottom of most posts, directing you to various places. It’s my way of sharing my community with y0u – and increasing my interactions with the wonderful crafters of the world. Try one out – you never know who you might discover!

Much love,

Corrie xx

PS no link to Tamis Amis as she no longer runs the link party. She was struggling with it a little before she stopped, and having tried to run one many years ago myself, I can vouch for how much effort goes into these weekly posts. The hosts deserve many thanks for the work they put in. Thank you!

The Philosopher's Wife
Oombawka Design
Tuesday Pin-spiration Link Party

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Tonks found the alpaca fluff

I have to try remember to be careful about Tonks and plastic bags – she finds them, sits in them and loves them to death. I am well aware of the dangers of suffocation, and she normally has no opportunity to cuddle up in a bag while I’m out.

Tonks - "didn' choo know kitteh iz recyclehbal?"
Tonks – “didn’ choo know kitteh iz recyclehbal?”

I haven’t taken advantage of the term “Caturday” nearly enough since we got Tonks, so here’s a Caturday post for you!

Alpaca Fluff

I’m busily sorting the fleece for Follow Me Down Cousin Jack (the spinning project’s name is inspired by the song in the video at the bottom of this post) and the picked fluff goes into a bag, ready for carding. I had just finished picking my clump for the day, and put it down for a second to go get myself a cuppa. When I turned around, this is what I saw.

Tonks in a bag - phone filter still on mono thanks to colour theory!
Tonks in a bag – phone filter still on mono thanks to colour theory!
Alpaca fluff makes the best beds, om nom nom.
Alpaca fluff makes the best beds, om nom nom.

I think Tonks is very unsubtly asking me to make her a bed out of alpaca fleece. She has already commandeered my sheepskin rug and my patchwork blanket…this is one battle she won’t win!

Tonks has been very involved in the process since she arrived, and we have a nice rhythm going at the moment. I get up in the morning, eat my breakfast and answer some emails. Then, we go out into the garden and while I’m drinking my second cup of tea of the day, I catch up on blogs and sort through the fleece.

This is working amazingly while the weather is good – sorting the fibre is quite a messy process, it’s very dusty and good to do outside as it means I don’t have to clean the flat after each session. Let’s hope the weather holds, at least until I finish.

I’m trying to sort through the remaining bag of fibre at a rate of a big handful per day so that I actually finish it by the time the year is up. A very scientific method, you see! You’ll have to stay tuned to see how successful I am…

Cat Crafts

While we’re cat it (hur, get it?!) – John sent me a link for this book the other day. He thought I would absolutely love it, but I have to admit that I’m on the fence. What do you think? (The picture is an affiliate link that will take you to Amazon.)

You won’t find me buying it anytime soon…though I probably wouldn’t return it if I got given it, hehe.

Have a great Caturday.

Much love,

Corrie xx

PS if you’re wondering what I’m on about w.r.t. phone filter and colour theory, read this post.

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Galaxies, Freebies, Trains

Gosh, I can’t believe it’s Friday already! I’m off to Wonderwool Wales when John gets back from work today, and really looking forward to it. We are going to see our friend Vix of Vittoria Segreta, and I can’t wait to see all my knitting buddies out and about!

It’s been a fab week in London though – here goes my Friday round-up!

Painted Converse Galaxies

These are my accomplishment of the week! I’ve been working on these for what feels like forever, and finally got them done on Wednesday. I painted them to look like galaxies, and I’m so pleased with them. I’m still waiting for appropriate laces to arrive, but I’m absolutely in love with them. I wrote up the tutorial, so if you want to make them yourself, you can! That is over here.

Anti-gravity Converse.
Anti-gravity Converse.

I got Facebooked, Tweeted and Pinterested by the official Converse people as a result of this. Hello if you’ve come from over there! Welcome to my world of making up verbs and craft!

Comparison picture - Converse and the Rosette Nebula.
Comparison picture – Converse and the Rosette Nebula.

Purl Alpaca Designs

I announced my latest giveaway! I was lucky enough to be offered a free pattern for one of my readers by Kari-Helene of Purl Alpaca designs. Check the giveaway page out here and make sure you go have a look at the available patterns. They are absolutely stunning – I have my eye on more than one, I can assure you!

Purl Alpaca Designs patterns in a giveaway.
Purl Alpaca Designs patterns in a giveaway.

Progress on Naloa

I’ve been knitting like a demon, and if I had been following the pattern to the letter, I would be done by now. I’ve decided to extend the shawl, though, so I’ll have a longer section of my Electric Aramanth border to make sure all the yarn is utilised. While I was at it, I had a revelation on colour theory – can you see the difference in the striping when looking at the shawl in monochrome?

The shawl photos side by side.
The shawl photos side by side.

This is all related to the chroma of my yarns, and I’ve explained it all here.

The Railway Children

John and I went to see the Railway Children in Kings Cross yesterday. It was a production in a theatre built on one of the (disused) railway lines, and the audience was seated on both sides of the ‘stage’, which the train track with platforms on either side. We were on Platform One.

The show was fantastic, aimed at younger kids than us, but amazingly produced. There was even a steam train (a real one) that chugged up twice during the evening. Neither of us had ever seen it or read the book, so it was really quite fun – and I knitted on my socks all the way through. It didn’t feel bad to do this – the theatre was so unusual that it seemed almost welcomed.

We weren’t allowed to take any photos! But I do recommend it, especially if you have smaller kids. This is a press photo, although it is very true to life – this does happen in the production.

The Railway Children in King's Cross.
The Railway Children in King’s Cross.

Business Dealings

I’m pleased to say my Plutonium Muffins Ltd. stuff is going well! I’m officially the Social Media Person for Sincerely Louise, which is rather exciting – mainly because it means I have an excuse to hang out with Louise every week, which is fun! (Check out her latest competition…) As well as helping out Louise, I’ve been doing some copywriting which involved researching various aspects of tourism* in Canada. I’ve been dreaming of going away as a result of it – I will go to Canada one day.

Niagara Falls frozen - one of the hot topics of research for this week (from LuckyPenny.com).
Niagara Falls frozen – one of the hot topics of research for this week (from LuckyPenny.com).

I’m really, really excited about this weekend, and I’m off to decide how many projects I’m going to take. At the moment I think there will be three in my bag…although I need to turn the heel on my socks before I decide to take them, or we will have a repeat of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival incident where I spent all weekend moaning about having to turn the heel!

Have a wonderful weekend and see you next week for Five on Friday!

Much love,

Corrie xx


* My other speciality subjects apart from crafting are tourism and Materials Engineering!

planet-penny-happy-friday


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Freshly Finished Friday by hardknitlife

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[BLOGJACKING] A Converse Tutorial

Like many people, I love the Converse brand. I’ve only ever actually owned one pair myself, but the fact that you can design your own shoes and get them sent to you by the website just speaks volumes to me. As if that wasn’t enough, my gorgeous friend Sally (who writes the amazing “Sal’s Kitchen” blog) got married in customised shoes and the men in the wedding party all wore a pair, which was a stroke of genius if you ask me. Also, David Tennant as Doctor Who. That is all.

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I was scoping out a charity shop the other day and I came across a pair of Converse in my size. They were really scuffed and dirty, and really cheap as a result. I walked out with my £5 pair of shoes, and many ideas blooming. Here’s a tutorial so that you can do what I did and end up with beautiful shoes too!

Tutorial: Painting Converse

I painted my shoes to look like galaxies, and that is what this tutorial is for. The method for painting them any other way is essentially the same, except I would use brushes and follow a sketch if you want them to be more specifically decorated! This was my inspiration picture (taken from the NASA website, hopefully they won’t mind that I’ve borrowed it).

The Rosette Nebula in 2011.
The Rosette Nebula in 2011.

You will need the following materials:

  • A pair of Converse shoes
  • Bleach
  • Masking Tape
  • Acrylic paints (you can use fabric paints but it’s harder to achieve a good paint consistency)
    • For galaxy shoes, black, red, blue and white
  • Sponges (important for a galaxy type effect)
  • Water
  • An old toothbrush
  • A bicarbonate and vinegar paste: two parts bicarb to three vinegar (roughly) so you end up with a thick paste that you can spread easily. Don’t forget, when you add the vinegar, the solution will fizz violently.
  • New laces if the old ones are stained

    An old pair of Converse before treatment.
    An old pair of Converse before treatment.

The Method

Step 1: Remove the laces and discard if they are stained, or put to one side if they are OK to use. Pop the shoes in a bleach solution. I did this because they were bright red, and I wanted to over-paint them without the red being too overpowering, so the idea was to reduce the colour. If you don’t have a problem with the base colour, I would still recommend washing them well so that you have a clean canvas to go with.

Soaking the Converse in bleach. Make sure you wear gloves to protect your hands!
Soaking the Converse in bleach. Make sure you wear gloves to protect your hands!
The shoes sitting in the bleach.
The shoes sitting in the bleach.

Tip – don’t leave the shoes in a strong bleach solution for a long time as the canvas can degrade. Mine were in a weak solution (5 litres of water to one capful of bleach) for 24 hours. Then I took them out and rinsed well.

Step 2: Leave the shoes to dry thoroughly, then mask off the rubber soles if you don’t want them to get covered in paint. If the intention is to make these a different colour too, all bets are off. I used layers of masking tape, and was careful to follow the contours of the rubber so I didn’t end up accidentally masking the canvas and creating strange patches in the paint.

The shoes getting more and more pink as they dry.
The shoes getting more and more pink as they dry.

Step 3: Get artistic with the paint! I used a very watery black first, and sponged it all over the shoes. With the pink underlayer, it came out kind of purple. I then left this to dry. In the meantime, I mixed my paints. Although a certain amount of mixing happens during application, I wanted purples, different shades of blue, and pinks on the actual shoe, so I made sure I had these colours on my palette before application.

The masked shoes with an underlayer of paint, drying and ready to have stars put on them.
The masked shoes with an under-layer of paint, drying and ready to have stars put on them.

Using the sponge creates the sort of texture I was looking for – ‘clouds’ of paint that intermixed but were separate. I put on all the colours, then used a sponge with white paint on it to do some blending and lightening up. Then I left them to dry for another 12 hours.

Step 4: Use your toothbrush to make ‘stars’. I did this by dipping the brush in the white paint, then tapping it to get as much of the excess off as I could. Then I used my finger to flick the paint over the shoes so that it ended up in random splatters across the shoe.

Paint splatter to look like stars, showing on the tongue of the shoe.
Paint splatter to look like stars, showing on the tongue of the shoe.

Step 5: Once this has thoroughly dried, removed the masking tape. You’ll then want to clean the rubber of the shoes. The watery black paint I used first seeped under the tape and stained the rubber, but this is sorted out in Step 6. The video below was me using the app “Periscope” to unveil the shoes.

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Step 6: Using your paintbrush and your bicarbonate soda and vinegar paste, scrub the rubber. Keep going until it is as bright and shiny as you can get it. You can see the difference in the colour of my rubber in the comparison photos below. When you’re satisfied, rinse thoroughly and leave to dry again.

Successfully taken from dirty white to SO SHINY white.
Successfully taken from dirty white to SO SHINY white.
The super shiny rubber glowing in the sun.
The super shiny rubber glowing in the sun.

Step 7: Lace up, use and enjoy! The photos below show mine laced with the only laces I had available – I’ve ordered new ones and they’ll look slightly less crazy soon…

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I think I was pretty successful…what do you think?

Comparison picture - Converse and the Rosette Nebula.
Comparison picture – Converse and the Rosette Nebula.

Much love,

Corrie xx

Tips for using acrylic paints

These are water soluble, but once they dry they are no longer removable. Make sure you cover surfaces, and clean brushes and other equipment as soon as you’re done using them so that they don’t stain. If you do get the paint on anything you don’t want it on, wipe it up before it dries. If it dries before you notice it, you can try use the same bicarbonate soda and vinegar paste to clean, but it may not be successful. Ask me how I know.

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[GIVEAWAY] Purl Alpaca Designs

Remember the Icon Dress? Designed by Kari-Helene of Purl Alpaca Designs, it was my big project of 2014, and one of the most rewarding pieces of knitting I’ve ever undertaken. I wear it infrequently, as it feels quite indulgent lounging around at home in a luxurious garment…but when I do, I feel like a million bucks.

The Icon Dress.
The Icon Dress.

As makers, many of us would be stranded without patterns (ha, another knitting pun..?). I’ve had my moments of designing my own knitting and creating finished pieces from my creativity and knowledge of the craft; but sometimes all you want is to sit down and follow a pattern. I know that there are a lot of pattern designers out there who feel the same way.

Focusing on that need for great patterns, Kari-Helene has generously offered a giveaway of one of her patterns!

Purl Alpaca Designs

This amazing company is a partnership between Kari-Helene Rane and Tracy Birch; Kari is the primary designer, Tracy the alpaca keeper who adds her own designs from time-to-time! They supplement their alpaca stocks with fibre from Devon (pretty sure I met some of these alpacas when I was at p-LUSH!) You can find out more about them here – and scroll down to the bottom of this post to see a video of Tracy making candles in a former life…

One of the best things about PAD is the kits they sell. With the amazing patterns designed by Kari-Helene, and the fibre from Tracy’s alpacas, you can kit yourself out from head to toe, not forgetting toys if you fancy them. The range is fantastic, and doesn’t forget the men either. If you don’t want to buy a kit, you can purchase the patterns individually – and you can also get the yarn without a pattern if you just want to play with squishy alpaca fibre.

The beautiful Purl Alpaca ladies, with the Icon Dress that inspired me behind them. The Knitting and Stitching Show, March 2015.
The beautiful Purl Alpaca ladies, with the Icon Dress that inspired me behind them. The Knitting and Stitching Show, March 2015.

The patterns are beautifully written, the photography is stunning and pattern support is great. The paper patterns are printed on super robust paper, which is actually almost card, and last through a variety of tortures. They’re also not exclusively for alpaca yarn, although that is what they are designed in; if you swatch and get gauge and a fabric you love in another fibre, no problem.

If you can’t knit but want one of these designs for fashion, you can also get them knitted up for you. It’s not cheap, and nor should it be – find out more here.

When I was knitting Icon Dress (in 100% merino), I couldn’t figure out how to do the picot hem; after about an hour of chatting to Kari-Helene on Twitter and trying to describe the problem, I eventually uploaded a YouTube video which she watched, then replied telling me what I was doing wrong. It didn’t occur to me that this was going a bit above and beyond the call of duty until later, and I’ll remain forever grateful to her for it.

Visiting the Purl Alpaca stand at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in my Icon Dress.
Visiting the Purl Alpaca stand at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in my Icon Dress.

As for the yarn, it is all spun up by the Natural Fibre Co and available in a load of beautiful natural shades. You can’t beat a bit of alpaca, in my opinion! All yarns are spun in two weights, fine and medium and all the yardage information is included on the yarn pages.

Have I sold you yet? Here’s how can you enter to get your hands on a Purl Alpaca Designs pattern for free.

The Giveaway

Please head over to the pattern pages on the Purl Alpaca Designs website (or the designer page on Ravelry is here) and let me know in a comment on this post what pattern you would most like to knit. If you win, you will get a copy of that pattern (single patterns only, no collections) so make sure it’s a good’un!

I think the next one I’m going to do is the Maddie Leaf Dress – I admire it everytime I see Kari-Helene and Tracy at shows, they have a mannequin with the sample on most of the time, and it’s glorious.

The beautiful Maddie Leaf Dress with a black petticoat underneath.
The beautiful Maddie Leaf Dress with a black petticoat underneath.

The giveaway is open to everyone, anywhere, and will run until 5pm GMT on the 6th of May 2015. The winner will be notified by email – please ensure you leave an email address, otherwise the prize will be redrawn.

Prizes are drawn by random number generator.

Best of luck!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Colour Theory in Practice

The Muse Connection Volume 1 involved a talk on Colour Theory, given by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. I made a few notes and have had a chance to think about it since. What I’ve realised over the past few days has surprised me.

Colour Theory

If you’ve been around here the last two or three weeks, you’ll know I cast on Naloa by Renée Callahan using Kettle Yarn Co. yarns in Electric Aramanth (Beyul) and Dark Media (Westminster). I’ve been knitting away on it quite happily, and this weekend I started knitting the contrast colour onto the edge. I love the knitting. I love the yarn. I love the pattern. But, I was feeling strangely uncomfortable.

I wasn’t entirely sure why, but looking at the project made me feel strange. You can probably guess what the reason was, given the title of this post. I decided to take a photo of the project using the ‘Mono’ filter on my iPhone – this is what Helen recommended to use, to see if the yarns went together in greyscale. What I discovered fair blew me away. Before carrying on, here’s a definition you’ll need to know.

Chroma refers to the purity of a color. A hue with high chroma has no black, white or gray in it. Adding white, black or gray reduces its chroma. It’s similar to saturation but not quite the same. Chroma can be thought of as the brightness of a color in comparison to white.

In design, avoid using hues that have a very similar chroma. Opt instead for hues with chromas that are the same or a few steps away from each other.

Smashing Magazine online

To test the theory, I gathered a few other striped projects together, in which I really like the way the colours play together. One is my beloved Zigzag Jumper, the other my Saguaro Cowl from a few weeks ago. The tea cosy was sent to me by Alice of The Sequinned Sheep, and the sock is a self-striping Biscotte and Cie yarn. I took photos of all of these projects in full colour, then using the mono filter. I also took a few close-ups, which my handy slideshow will scroll through for you. Do take a look at these before reading on – I’d be interested to know what you think before you read my thoughts.

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Can you see how all of the projects except Naloa have a striped effect that looks just as good in monochromatic as in full colour? Side-by-side comparisons will help.

The four projects side by side.
The four projects side by side.
The shawl photos side by side.
The shawl photos side by side.
And the side-by-side sock photo.
And the side-by-side sock photo.

I am fascinated to see this theory in action like this. Will I be ripping Naloa out? No, not likely – but it really says a lot for buying yarn on the Internet (I hadn’t seen Electric Aramanth before it arrived) as well as how to think about your projects before you start them. I suppose this would also work with a fairisle pattern – if the pattern doesn’t show up with a mono filter applied, you know the colours may not be the best.

All of that said, this is all still theory, and relates back to the idea of ‘ugly‘ I was talking about the other day – it’s all about perspective, and if you like it, great.

I hope this has been understandable – if I can clarify anything, please let me know!

Much love,

Corrie xx

The Philosopher's Wife
Oombawka Design
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Ugly

“Ugly” is the prompt in the Love Your Blog Challenge from A Playful Day this week. I’ve been trying to think about what to write about. Kate talked about how identifying with your blog, other bloggers, and yourself as the author of a blog, can sometimes be tough. She wrote a great post on how to deal with it, which deserves a read if you want to check it out.

A Playful Day

I wanted to make all these posts about how the prompts related to my blogging. This is where I ran into trouble, went off at a bit of a tangent, and ended up with the thoughts you see below. Enjoy!

The Beautiful Ugly

For me, ugly is not a word I associate with blogging, really. Through my degree and the turmoil that is figuring out what to do with my life, blogging has been the activity I have kept to most loyally, has given me the most joy. Sure, there have been a few months where I haven’t felt able to keep up with a blog, but over the past decade I have become well acquainted with the idea that if I want to enjoy the blog I keep, I have to do things and therefore write about things that I enjoy doing, or enjoy thinking about.

It’s essentially a public diary; yes, I want it to be useful to other people, but I have to be motivated to do it because I enjoy it, and I do. I don’t often feel that my blogging isn’t good enough – I’m good at comparing it to my own wishes, and deciding it comes out OK. I’m even shocked with how my blog posts make me feel good, to be honest. I’m always a little surprised that coherent words can come out of my often messy brain in a way that other people understand and – gasp – seem to enjoy.

I wish I could say I feel the same confidence about how I see crafting, and even more than this, the world that I create around me. There have been so many occasions where I have crafted something with the perfect image of what I want it to look like, to be, to feel like, in my head. At this very moment I’ve got some Converse shoes drying in the sun, which I have spent the last week revamping (a tutorial will come shortly). They don’t look, feel or even come close to what I imagined, and in my mind this makes them ugly, makes me an awful crafter, and I judge myself against that impossible pedestal of imperfection.

I knitted a baby jumper last week which I hate the look of, and if I had time I would rip it out. I have knitted hats which I have hated because the colour has not come out as I have wanted it to. My drawings get consigned to cupboards for months at a time because I can’t stand the sight of them. I have dabbled in needle felting, wet felting, card making, sewing, soap making…and all of them have fallen short of my expectations.

I really hated the way this hat came out.
I really hated the way this hat came out.

Yet, it is important to remember that this is all about perception. The same baby jumper shown to a number of people – including family of the intended wearer – think it is absolutely stunning. The hats I have hated no longer live with me – because other people who think they are beautiful have been presented with them to take home. I always come back to drawing eventually because the people around me ask to see what I’ve done, think they’re great. I have never given up on a craft completely because of the ugliness I have seen in the results.

Meanwhile, I have items that I adore that other people would describe as ugly. I wear my favourite pair of dungarees, which are pretty much perfect aside from a massive hole in the thigh, all the time. Every time I wear them, I get told they are awful, that the hole makes them rubbish, that they need getting rid of, but I think they are beautiful.

The Zigzag Jumper which I knitted last year is done in garish green, pink and cream, and some people joke that they need sunglasses to see me in it. The zigzags don’t suit my body shape and the yarn is not a luxury brand; a lot of people have issues with it. It’s one of my favourite items of clothing.

The Zigzag Jumper from the front!
The Zigzag Jumper from the front!

My cat, which a judge at a cat show would call ugly, has got white hairs all over her body in places where she should ‘just’ be black, as a tuxedo cat (I mean, technically she’s a moggy so all bets are off, but still). If you’ve been following me for any length of time (i.e. about a day), you’ll know how big a part this smelly, loud, furry and badly behaved creature plays in my day-to-day life, and how much joy I get out of her.

We have a mask in our flat that John made, which I think looks less than beautiful – but the love and affection that I have for that object, which a ‘non-crafter’ crafted means that I cannot look on it as anything other than a precious object.

Does this mean that these are ugly things that I just happen to like? That someone is ‘wrong’ for liking a colour combination that I don’t? That the physical appearance of, for example, a child’s first drawing, makes it worthless?

What is ugly? Is it really a thing, or is it just about how expectations measure up to impossible standards? I’ll be thinking about that a bit more, and hopefully these thoughts will help me to feel more positive about my crafting and the world I live in. After all, who says ‘perfection’ isn’t ‘ugly’?

Much love,

Corrie xx

“If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it could be a really ugly swan.” – Timmothy Radman

The Ugly Duckling, more than a morality tale?
The Ugly Duckling, more than a morality tale?
Tuesday Pin-spiration Link Party
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[Blogjacking] Minty Feet

I’m going to put it out there – I love most things minty. Mint is the plant I’ve most often tried to grow (and hence, killed). Give me a mojito with loads of mint, I’m happy. Pulverise some mint leaves in a pestle and mortar with sugar, sprinkle it over sliced pineapple, the perfect dessert. I won’t go so far as to say I love toothpaste…but you get the idea!

Be still my beating heart...Costa Iced Mint Mocha.
Be still my beating heart…Costa Iced Mint Mocha.

Mint has become the beauty product I most often use, too. I don’t wear a lot of make-up (I’d be surprised if you meet me with anything more than mascara and eye-liner on, if that) but I do treat myself to little beauty treatments. Read on…

Minty Feet

I’m going to encourage you to take out half an hour this weekend and try some TLC on your feet.

When is the last time you had a pedicure? I don’t mean a £1 a minute full-on foot treatment in a salon, I just mean a simple sit down and taking care of your nails and everything in the comfort of your home?

I started doing this when I was at university as a way to wind down when walking huge distances on student finances, unable to afford the bus, and getting sore feet as a result. Just soaking your feet in warm water is wonderfully relaxing. Just a few added ingredients and tools can make the experience feel like a real treat.

“If you have feet, walk! If you have wings, fly! Whatever you have, use them! Don’t let them to rust!” – Mehmet Murat ildan

I’ve researched the most cost-effective ways to go about this, the ‘best’ ways to make your feet look pretty, the easiest way to get rid of dead skin (yuck) and how to best apply nail-polish. I’ve looked up all the methods – some included a lot of mouthwash (really!), others required purchase of equipment costing hundreds, some needed you to have millions of types of nail polish for just one application. I’ve honed my technique over the last eight years with emphasis on simplicity, and it’s so quick and easy that if I don’t do it every few weeks, I feel as if I am not taking care of myself properly.

Equipment Required

The most basic things you need are a basin that both feet fit into comfortably (which is water-tight) and a towel. In a pinch, all you need is the basin, if you don’t mind getting your floor wet!

That’s the most simple – if you’re going to spoil yourself a littl, here are a few other things you can invest in:

  • Foot soak – I always buy mint foot soak, you can get it from most chemists super cheap. Alternatively, you can use a tablespoon of honey mixed with a cup of milk, or a handful of mint leaves and rock salt, or a big spoonful of bicarbonate soda. My fave DIY option is honey and milk – Cleopatra used it, why not me?
  • Foot scrub – a cream-based scrub with exfoliating particles to help get rid of imperfections. My favourite one is an own brand one with mint, calendula and apricot seed as the exfoliator. You can use a sugar or salt scrub too, there are tons of recipes out there for handmade exfoliating scrubs.
  • Pumice stone or other dead skin remover – I have a range, pumice stones, a couple of foot files and a ped-egg. I use whichever one comes to hand first, but if you don’t want to do the yucky skin removal bit, just leave these out. The pink set shown in the below photo came from the pound shop and included the polish spacer, file, a scrubbing brush and nail clippers.
  • Moisturising cream – I usually use foot specific cream, but anything that isn’t too oily is great.
  • Nail clippers (you may as well…)
  • Manicure sticks for pushing back cuticles.
  • Polish if you’re going to decorate!
The range of products I currently have in my foot-soaking tub. I typically look in the foot section everytime I go to a pharmacy and stockpile sale items (they don't really go off). Scholl is a great brand for soaks, scrubs and creams, but more pricey than own-brand.
The range of products I currently have in my foot-soaking tub. I typically look in the foot section everytime I go to a pharmacy and stockpile sale items (they don’t really go off). Scholl is a great brand for soaks, scrubs and creams, but more pricey than own-brand.

Method

Here are the handy steps then:

  1. Fill the basin with warm water – remember it may overflow when you put your feet into it. If you have a foot soak, mix it in while you’re filling the basin, otherwise just make sure it’s a good temperature. I recommend it being as hot as you can stand it – I’ve found this results in them being the most soft and relaxed. If they’re very uncomfortable, you could use iced water which is also good for relaxation, but more of a sports therapy than a beauty one!
  2. Put your basin somewhere you can be comfortable and soak your feet in it for as long as you like. I normally sit for about 20-30 minutes (knitting, in case you were wondering) until the water starts getting tepid. I find this uncomfortable, so move on at this point, but you could soak your feet all day and all night if you really wanted to…they wouldn’t come out look pretty for the first hour or so, but at least they’d be well softened!

    I just use a washing up basin which I bought in a pound shop about five years ago. I only use it for this purpose as I don't want my feet to soak in harsh chemicals, and don't want washing up to be done in foot water! I used to use a bath filled to foot-level with the relevant temp. water, but it cools much quicker and is much less comfortable.
    I just use a washing up basin which I bought in a pound shop about five years ago. I only use it for this purpose as I don’t want my feet to soak in harsh chemicals, and don’t want washing up to be done in foot water! I used to use a bath filled to foot-level with the relevant temp. water, but it cools much quicker and is much less comfortable. In case you’re wondering, I’m in the garden sitting in my rocking chair doing some knitting!
  3. Remove one foot and dry thoroughly. If that’s all you want, put some skin lotion on it and enjoy your relaxed foot. Repeat.
  4. Otherwise, attack the foot with your pumice stone. The warmer and softer your foot is (i.e. the longer you’ve soaked it), the easier it will be to remove unwanted bits. When you’re done, take your exfoliating scrub (a sugar scrub is also great for this) and rub it all over your foot, giving yourself a good massage. This will help smooth the skin out. Pop the foot back in the water and repeat with the other one.
  5. Soak for a few more minutes, then thoroughly rinse the scrub off. If you are wanting to paint your nails, this is the time to do it – make sure they are shaped to your liking and use a manicure stick to push back the cuticle. Paint using your preferred method and let it dry.
  6. Once your foot and/or nails are thoroughly dried, rub in some moisturising cream, repeat and enjoy!

It looks ridiculously short written down like that, but that really is all there is to it. The more you do it, the more you’ll figure out what you like and what you don’t. With summer coming, you can expose your feet knowing you’re caring for them appropriately – and if you don’t like baring your feet, at least you’ll know your handmade socks are being used by happy feet!

I'm not the best at painting nails, AND the (new!) nail polish was lumpy. But I love the colour, so I'll survive!
I’m not the best at painting nails, AND the (new!) nail polish was lumpy. But I love the colour, so I’ll survive!

Do let me know if you have any other suggestions for me to try. This is taking a bit of a step out of my normal comfort zone (this is a knitting blog, not a beauty column) but something I truly enjoy, so I don’t mind sharing with you!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Socialising, a new badge and weather

There has been so much weather in London recently! Seriously, it’s been amazing. It was 24˚C the other day, and I’ve been enjoying myself by sitting outside and enjoying the warmth while I work. Tonks has been enjoying herself too, and we are both content girls at the moment.

Hanging out with Tonks in the garden.
Hanging out with Tonks in the garden.

Anyway, without further ado, I give you my Five on Friday and Happy Friday contribution.

Knaughty Knitters

I went to the London Knaughty Knitters on Tuesday evening at the Royal Festival Hall with Louise of Sincerely Louise. We had a ‘business meeting’ beforehand, then got down to some serious knitting. I managed to get to halfway up my current pair of socks, and between three of us drank two bottles of wine over the night. It was lovely! The weather was gorgeous and the Southbank was beautiful.

If you’re interested in this knitting group, it meets every Tuesday from about 6pm till late in the cafe of the Royal Festival Hall. The area is a public area, so you can bring your own food and drinks, or you can buy things from the cafe in the RFH. There is a good group of knitters meeting there regularly, and I’ve met some really interesting and pleasant people.

Me and Louise enjoying the sun at the Royal Festival Hall.
Me and Louise enjoying the sun at the Royal Festival Hall.

Wild and Woolly

On Thursday, Wild and Woolly celebrated one year of being open! The monthy knit night was held on Wednesday night, and I went along with a bottle of wine and some shawl knitting to share the love. I saw several familiar faces there, and had a fantastic time admiring some of the projects that were brought out. I’ll do a Wild and Woolly specific post some other time, but for now, here are some photos taken by Rosamund Platford and Summer Mughrabi*.

There was loads of cake (did someone say chocolate and courgette?), sangria, wine and coffee, and I interviewed Anna for Episode 13 of the Plutonium Muffins podcast at the end. It was a fab night.

Whole group with me right at the back. (Copyright Rosamund Platford)
Whole group with me right at the back. (Copyright Rosamund Platford)
The whole group through decorative bars on the Wild and Woolly window (photo copyright Summer Mughrabi)
The whole group through decorative bars on the Wild and Woolly window (photo copyright Summer Mughrabi)
An incredible willow pattern fairisle jumper (photo copyright Summer Mughrabi)
An incredible willow pattern fairisle jumper (photo copyright Summer Mughrabi)
More stunning fairisle knitting at Wild and Woolly (photo copyright Summer Mughrabi)
More stunning fairisle knitting at Wild and Woolly (photo copyright Summer Mughrabi)
A Karie Westermann "Byatt" making an appearance (photo copyright Summer Mughrabi)
A Karie Westermann “Byatt” making an appearance (photo copyright Summer Mughrabi)

Podcast!

Did I mention there’s a new episode of the podcast up? Find it here!

Plutonium Muffins podcast :)
Plutonium Muffins podcast :)

Finished Objects!

I finished two objects this week – one scarf and one baby sweater. The fox stole is a Sincerely Louise pattern, and the baby sweater is Foxy Loxy by Joeli Caparco. No photos of either; they are secret projects, but I’ll share them when I am allowed to.

“Knitter” Badge

True Brit Knits sell a ‘prefect’ badge which says “Knitter” and not “prefect”. I’ve wanted one for a couple of years at least, and last night I decided I needed one. Luckily, Anna sells them in Wild and Woolly – I initially wanted a red one, but when I found out this is the most popular colour, decided to break tradition and go yellow.

KNITTER.
KNITTER.

I love it. I don’t think I’m ever taking it off.

I’m joining in with the usual Friday link parties. I do recommend you check them all out – apart from being in line with the ‘community’ vibe that Kate of A Playful Day is giving out, it’s an interesting way to share what other people are doing.

Have a great weekend!

Much love,

Corrie xx

planet-penny-happy-friday


Photobucket

I've Made Friday

* Why are you not taking your own photos? I hear you cry! I did take photos, but with the latest Mac update, getting my phone, Photos and Photoshop to talk to each other is very difficult and I’m trying to figure out a fast way to do it! I don’t do much to my photos, just round the corners and add a watermark, so there may be a quick way to sort it out.

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Podcast Episode 13: Chirimo

In Episode 13 of the Plutonium Muffins podcast I talk about knitting and resolutions, and have an interview with Anna Feldman of Wild and Woolly, a relatively new yarn shop in London. There is the usual background noise and high-jinks, all tempered by an excited review of “The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook” by Felicity Ford.

Grab a cuppa and enjoy! (more…)

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