I’ve had such a crazy few weeks with preparations for a craft fair, but things are back to normal now that it is June. I will sort out my Resolutions for last month and the coming month tomorrow – for now I just wanted to announce the winner of the Owl Print Panda Giveaway!
And the winner is…
Lise! Not only did Lise enter via Plutonium Muffins and her social media, but she also blogged about the giveaway and was very nice to share this with me. Her favourite stitch marker was the bobbin, and her favourite pattern designed by Amanda was the Felted Fox bag. Congratulations, Lise, check your email for instructions!
Amanda’s generosity has extended beyond the giveaway, with an offer to anyone who didn’t win. To get a 10% discount on a purchase from the Owl Print Panda Etsy shop, simply enter the code ‘SUNSHINE’ at checkout.
The next giveaway is for the spinners and/or budding spinners out there, so keep an eye out…this one will last slightly longer as I am off to Australia for a month shortly, and won’t want to have the giveaway end to deal with while I’m there.
Before I head off Down Under, though, there is plenty to come. Just in case you are looking for a hint of what will be coming in the next month on Plutonium Muffins, think spinning, dyeing and a bit of knitting!
I met Amanda of Owl Print Panda for the second time when I was at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Don’t ask me when the first time was, I can’t remember – I just know I did! Amanda is an amazing knitter who lives in Glasgow, and makes the most incredible stitch markers. She has also just had a pattern published in the latest issue of Pompom Quarterly – she is the designer behind Talavera, a glorious lacy number.
I have a small thing for stitch markers, as I have found they are the ideal way to have a few jewellery type bits and pieces around when you’re just lying around in the house chilling with your knitting. My collection of broken childhood pendants have all been turned into stitch markers, and I’ve spent a little bit of time browsing the web looking for interesting charms with which to adorn my knitting.
Owl Print Panda – Stitch Markers
This is where Amanda comes in: the woman has a skill. She has the most amazing collection of stitch markers that I’ve ever found, in the charm/pendant style. I almost had a meltdown when I was at the EYF and saw her selection laid out. I bought a few, although I was watching the pennies. I ended up with these guys.
Now that I’ve had a couple of months to calm down, I decided I wanted to order a few more from Amanda. Although I adored all of them, I decided to go for the cupcake/muffin – this is the most ‘muffinish’ charm I’ve seen, and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of them so I can have my cake and knit with it too. In the process of talking through how many of the pieces she could get her hands on, Amanda offered up a set of her beautiful stitch markers for a Plutonium Muffins giveaway!
As well as ten new muffins to adorn my work, Amanda included an adorable dinosaur, and a lion that reminds me of the drawing that Rafiki does of Simba in “The Lion King”. I love my new stitch markers, and am happily planning a new lace project to make sure I have them in my hands a lot in the next few weeks!
So, here’s the method of entry. Head over to Amanda’s Etsy Shop here and have a look at what she’s got in there! It’s updated regularly, but if it’s empty when you look or you just want to admire more of Amanda’s work, you can check her design catalogue on Ravelry here. Leave a comment on this blog post saying what your favourite thing is – anybody who shares the giveaway on social media can get an extra entry provided you let me know you’ve shared it!
The winner of the stitch markers will get the set of stitch markers shown below, which Amanda picked especially for you. Included is a dinosaur, a Russian doll, a Scottie dog, an owl, a fox and a little bird – the rings are snag-free in my experience, and I’ve used them with up to 4 mm needles.
The giveaway will run until the 31st of May. Entries made after 5pm GMT on this date will not be included in the draw. The giveaway is open to all entrants, provided a valid email address or Ravelry username is left with the entry so I can contact the winner. If the prize is not claimed one week after the initial email is sent, I will re-draw. There is a maximum of two entries per entrant.
Good luck everyone, and many thanks to Amanda of Owl Print Panda for her generosity!
PS If you’re interested in the tin I keep my stitch markers in, I bought it from a Pound Shop. It’s actually part of a smoking kit – I had had a couple of glasses of wine when I saw the tin, and decided to buy the kit for the sake of the golden retriever. The smoking paraphernalia made its way to the recycling bin, and I have a great container for my stitch markers!
I know that everyone is absolutely agog to know who was the winner of the Purl Alpaca Designs giveaway – the winner, drawn by random number generator, was Cassandra! Congratulations to you, I have been in touch by email if you could check and get back to me.
I thought it would be interesting for everyone to see the patterns that were most loved by the entrants to the giveaway.
A note for anyone planning to knit these garments – bear in mind that they are designed using alpaca yarn, and drape is one of the key ingredients to success. That’s not to say you have to use an alpaca yarn – I knitted my Icon Dress in John Arbon Knit by Numbers, which is pure merino – but you should consider this when choosing the yarn.
Purl Alpaca Designs: the chosen few
I think we all know that I love this one. Not only is it the most popular on Ravelry, but it came out tops in the giveaway. I had a range of really lovely comments from different people – one of you was planning to knit her wedding dress from this pattern, another felt that it would help her continue to love her body post breast-cancer. It’s on Ravelry here and the Purl Alpaca Designs website here.
There are currently 56 projects on Ravelry, and shocker – mine is not the brightest! Check out emerald787‘s dress! Here’s a little boast – mine was recently voted number two in the Let’s Knit project picks…find out more here.
The Isis Tailcoat came a close second to the Icon Dress – find it on Ravelry here and the Purl Alpaca Designs website here.
The construction looks really interesting, with the knitting going in different directions depending on which part of the Isis Tailcoat you are on. This is shown in the ‘back’ photo below…I haven’t actually seen the pattern so can’t tell you if there are a lot of picked up stitches in this – but it does look like it.
A recently finished project in the most stunning blue was knitted by charmofit. It is such a glorious colour!
Esme Jumper and Venus Coat
The next most popular were the Esme Jumper and Venus Tailcoat. The Esme Jumper has a similar patterning to the Icon Dress, but with variations in sleeves, collar and below the bodice, while the Venus Tailcoat is a gorgeous airy garment, and the thing you will most often see Tracy wearing when Purl Alpaca are at shows. Note the one that Tracy wears is sleeveless. The Esme Jumper is on Ravelry here and the PA website here.
The Venus Coat is on Ravelry here and the PA website here.
Other patterns that got a shout out from the giveaway included the Maddie Leaf Dress (my personal favourite), Niobe Jumper, and a couple of jumpers and cardigans. I had so much fun browsing through the patterns, and I think the designs are effortlessly stylish, comfortable, and extremely achievable as a large garment to knit, in most cases.
I will be keeping an eye on what comes next – and I hope I have opened your eyes to a lovely new set of designs! You can browse the full catalogue on the Purl Alpaca website here, or Ravelry here if you are that way inclined.
Thank you so much to Kari-Helene and Tracy for their generosity!
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
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!
* My other speciality subjects apart from crafting are tourism and Materials Engineering!
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
If you’ve been following the blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I love John Arbon Textiles. I did a nice big feature on them on the blog in January, I knitted the Icon Dress in Knit by Numbers yarn, and I have made a point of heading over to see them at as many of the festivals as I’ve been to in recent years. I’ve got to know John and his lovely wife Juliet as people to have a chat with and say hi to when we cross paths, and I’m so excited to be able to continue this association in the future!
John Arbon Goodies
I won’t talk too much more about the company, but I do urge you to find out a little about them – either through my blog or their website. I will mention that there is a Mill Open Weekend on the 16th and 17th of May. I intend to head down and spend some time getting to know the mill and the John Arbon family a little better, and would love to know if you are going too so I can meet up with you and have a chat!
I have just watched John Arbon Textiles: The Movie again, and I cannot explain how excited I am about all of this!
So, on to the goodies. I asked on the off-chance that there was a spare skein of something kicking around, and was thoroughly spoiled by the package that Juliet sent me. With four skeins of yarn and two pairs of socks, there is some truly amazing wooly goodness to get your hands on!
Exmoor sock yarn
A skein of delicious 85% Exmoor Blueface / 15% Nylon in the smoke colourway is on offer. This is a light 4 ply yarn, and with 400 metres to the skein, you’ll get a good pair of socks out of this. In case the colours are different on your screen to mine, it’s a purple-brown-grey colour, and would make a sturdy pair of comfortable walking socks! The yarn is on the John Arbon Textiles website here.
Organically Farmed Merino Laceweight
This is a skein of 100% merino wool. With 650 m of gorgeous lace-weight yarn to get the most out of, this is in the “Dove Grey” shade. It would make a beautiful delicate lace item, and I’ve found it quite hard to accept that I have to part with this! More info on the yarn specifics here.
Another 100% merino wool, this is a relatively new range of yarns which are dyed by Emily Foden, using a dry-dyeing technique to create the most incredible depth of colour in the spun yarn. I have one skein of a limited edition colourway, Ginger Nut, available for you. This is the most stunning skein with tones of browns, reds, greens and greys to get lost in. You can’t get this on the John Arbon website…just saying! There is 250 metres of double knit yarn in a 100 g skein – perfect for a cosy hat.
Knit by Numbers
As I am the world’s biggest fan of this yarn, it would be a travesty if I didn’t have any to offer to you. With over 85 shades available (let me refer you back to the photo of their display at Unravel, which just makes my heart sing), I have one skein in shade KBN 22. I would describe it as a candy pink, almost. You can see the range of colours here – there are no colour names because the range is so enormous, hence the name “Knit by Numbers”. This is also pure merino, and you get 250 metres in your 100 g skein – I have made a hat from one of these skeins, and it is super comfy.
John Arbon Textiles are also well-known for their socks; I have two pairs of “The Exmoor Stroller” for you, in 75% Exmoor Blueface and 25% Nylon. The blue pair is a medium, or UK size 8 to 10, while the green pair is for small feet, at UK size 4 to 7. Find out more about the socks here.
Entering the Giveaway
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
So, how do you enter!? Please head over to the John Arbon website and let me know what your favourite product of theirs is – whether it’s a specific colour and blend of roving, or a darning mushroom. Do this by commenting on this blog post – each of the six items constitutes ONE prize, and if you have any preference for what you would like, make sure you say what you would like if you win (ensure you include sock sizes if you go for those). Prizes are drawn randomly and I cannot guarantee that you will get what you would like, but I will correspond with the winners at the relevant time.
For an additional entry, watch the below video and let me know what your favourite part of it is via a comment on my blog (and not on YouTube as I have no way of getting notifications for that).
I’ll give you a hand – at 0:52, brown and white roving is squished down into a barrel, and if I were given half the chance, I would love to do something like that. It looks like the most incredible, tactile experience – and I adore the way the colours blend together too, they look like icing on a cake or something.
For up to three additional entries, you can share this post on three different social media platforms of your preference and let me know about it, making sure to link to the shared item. So that’s five possible entries for six possible prizes.
Anyone can enter, and the giveaway will close on the 15th of April 2015. Good luck!
I’m here to give you the great news that you could win a Sincerely Louise kit to make a bear cushion! It’s really very simple – for more context, you can check out Episode 9 of the podcast, which is all about Unravel 2015 and the fun I had there. For details of the giveaway, read on!
This giveaway is now closed.
Workshop with Sincerely Louise
I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Louise Walker of Sincerely Louise at Unravel 2015, in which she taught myself and nine other lovely knitters, how to make a bear head! The pattern was for a cushion, but with some slight tweaking, it was possible to mount the bear head on the wall as faux taxidermy – which I did!
The materials were provided at the workshop, and included:
9mm knitting needles
plastic safety eyes
a knitters darning needle
My bear (who is now called Björn and is mounted in our hallway) took me just over 4 hours to complete – two hours in the workshop, and two at home. Worked in just seven pieces (of which four make up the ears), the only techniques required are: knit stitch, purl stitch, increasing (Louise uses kfb) and the ability to sew the head up. It is so simple that this would be an ideal first ‘increasing’ project for a totally new knitter. It’s also so quick that an experienced knitter can whip one up in an evening.
When converting the pattern for the mount, we had to do some sewing up to get the knitting on the boards – I took a video of this which I will post for you very soon to allow you to get your hands on it if you should wish to do this.
The kit is not currently available online (as far as I can see) and although I am sure it will be soon, you will be getting the paper pattern with the rest of the goodies if you should win!
The winner will get what they need to complete one bear head pillow. So, how do you enter?
Entering the Giveaway
Go to THIS LINK and goggle over Louise’s offerings (I really, really recommend the book)
Return to this specific blog post on Plutonium Muffins and leave a comment saying which kit you would most like to buy from Louise
Up to 3 additional entries can be obtained by sharing this post on social media. In order to qualify for this you must notify me that you have shared the post and provide a link.
The giveaway is open to all, and will close on the 2nd of March at 5 pm GMT. The only restrictions will be governed by your countries posting laws – I am not currently sure, for example, if the wooden needles will be allowed in Australia.
Thank you so much to Louise for the generosity in offering this up for the giveaway!
Here comes a special, Unravel edition of the Plutonium Muffins podcast! If you would like to hear about how the weekend went for me, take a listen to this very selfish episode. I had a fantastic time, and am looking forward to next year already! Keep listening to the end for a cheeky opportunity to win a kit to knit your own bear head cushion, designed and provided by Sincerely Louise.
Merry Christmas! I’m super excited to be back to blogging – my holiday from it was a breath of fresh air, and I return with a Christmas gift for you all!
I had a super Christmas, with gifts a downplayed thing this year – I did give my mum a pair of Cadeautje, my dad some boot cuffs/wrist warmers, and my gran a bright orange Capucine. I was fortunate enough to receive some photography equipment and a lovely book on wire-working (as if I needed another craft to sink my teeth into). This guy also found his way into my pile – isn’t he gorgeous! I also got some photo-editing software for my iPad which is just fantastic, so now I have no excuse for poor photos around here…
The Giveaway: A Christmas Gift
As well as being a gift for ye olde festive season, this is also a small celebration of Plutonium Muffins third birthday! We actually celebrated this on the 5th of December, with a big glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. I can’t believe it’s been three years.
Anyway, moving on. I was out looking for some books for my Etsy cards just before Christmas and I popped into a charity shop to check out their classics. I always check out the craft books when I’m in charity shops (you know…just in case!) and I found a serviceable copy of Anna Tillman’s “Knitted Socks: Over 25 Designs for Fab Feet and Cozy Toes for the Whole Family”. I snapped it up as quickly as I could.
I have had so many queries about where I got the pattern for my Solomon’s Temple socks, and they come from this book. Found on Page 47 under the heading Zigzag Socks, they have been a great way to add some interest to a self-striping yarn which I didn’t want to knit as a pure vanilla sock. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give someone a copy! When I say serviceable, I mean to say that it is very good – certainly in better condition than my copy, which has been through the mill and back again as it’s gone in and out of my bag a number of times.
Apart from the zigzag socks, there are some brilliant patterns in the book – including pigs, penguins, teddy bear sock buddies and a plethora of lace and cables. My plan is to work my way through each pattern this year – more on that later. Check out the full list here.
Here’s how to enter, then. Leave a comment on this post by 5 pm GMT on the 12th of January 2015 and you will be entered into the draw via random number generator. If you share the link to this blog by Facebook, Twitter and/or on Ravelry, each unique post will earn you (up to three) extra entries.
The winner will be announced on the 13th of January. To qualify for the prize you must leave your contact information, and if I get in touch with the winner and they do not reply within 14 days, I will redraw the winner.
The latest episode of the Plutonium Muffins Podcast includes the #WIPCrackAway knitalong, some big news regarding fleeces, a resolutions update and a lesson on another breed of sheep. Enjoy – and don’t forget to enter the giveaway before the 5th of October!