Tag Archives: Wonder-Mum

Dandelion Dyeing Disasters(?)

I’ve been experimenting with natural dyeing and the various dye-stuffs I find around the farm while I’m at home. What makes this all so much more exciting is the fact that the Royal Parents have an Aga, so I can pop my dyes in the simmering oven overnight and forget about them, waking up to perfect dye solution to pop my perfectly mordanted yarns into. If most of that is gibberish to you, fear not, I will talk you through the natural dyeing process…at some other point.

I've got my eyes on these for my next dyeing experiment...
I’ve got my eyes on these for my next dyeing experiment…

For now, suffice to say that I’ve encountered a dyeing disaster I never expected.

Dyeing Disasters with Dandelion

There are a number of ways in which dyeing can be a disaster. The dye doesn’t set, or it’s not colourfast. Your hands, kitchen, dog and favourite wooden spoon get coloured too. You use a mordant that is not very good for you, forget to take the proper safety precautions, and cause problems that your family weren’t expecting.

(Never fear: to mitigate problems, I have my own set of dyeing equipment, I use white vinegar as my mordant, and I have not dyed with anything toxic. I don’t take the safety of those around me or myself lightly.)

One of my first memorable Incidents can be experienced if you check out this post from the Plutonium Muffins archives. My dyeing has been relatively successful since, and today I decided I was going to try dandelions.

Corrie trivia...dandelions are my absolute favourite flower.
Corrie trivia…dandelions are my absolute favourite flower. (Click image for source.)

I spent a while this afternoon shouting with glee every time I spotted a dandelion flower to pick, amusing my parents while walking the dog around the stable yard. After making dinner and blackberry jam to try placate them as I started my latest round of dyeing adventures, this being the first I have attempted in this house when they have been around, I got around to boiling up my dandelion heads.

Mother did not take much interest in the procedure until right at the very end, as I showed her the beautiful pale golden colour my water had gone (and hence forgot to take a photo). At this point, she asks “you’re not going to poison us all with this little experiment are you?”

To which I foolishly replied “Of course not, Mother, people drink dandelion tea!”

Cheerfully carrying on with my procedure (strain dandelions, put mordanted fibre into the dye pot), I listened with amusement as mum searched the Internet, and found an article extolling the virtues of dandelion tea.

Your flowers are a thousand rays of golden light.

To my horror – I had, after all, experienced the smell of the well-cooked flowers as I transferred everything into my dye bath – ten minutes later we had brewed up a cup of dandelion tea each, and I am now sitting blogging about the episode with said brew next to me. John has sternly told me not to die (but to keep dyeing) while we have put dad on Ambulance Alert in case one of us breaks out in hives (as one of the readers of the forum on which we got our recipe feared).

Dandelion tea for pre-bed drinks.
Dandelion tea for pre-bed drinks.

I suppose it could be worse…it doesn’t taste too bad, despite mum stating upon first sip “it tastes like weeds!” I’m going to watch my mouth the next time we do our little colour experiments…I don’t suppose a blackberry tea would be too bad, but I’ll draw the line at drinking anything brewed from onion skins.

What about you? Ever tried to drink the ‘dyes’ into which you put your yarn? (We did brew our tea separately to the dyeing mixture…)

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Friday Round-up: sewing, sewing, spinning

This week has disappeared in a spiral of sewing and spinning – I’m so surprised it is already Friday! (I actually don’t think I know what day it really is? Monday?!)Anyway, with instant gratification something that I’ve been needing, as well as a craft fair in Kent to prepare for, I have been busy.

I didn’t post last Friday because I was at iKnit Fandango. Find out more about that in the Plutonium Muffins podcast, here.


It was my lovely Wonder-Mum’s birthday on Tuesday, and I sent her some blank canvases. I couldn’t think of anything else – until I figured that as a painter she would probably appreciate materials, in the same way that I love receiving yarn. She was tickled pink, and I can’t wait to see what comes from it.

Happy Birthday Mum

Sewing for me

Since leaving my job last year for medical reasons, I have spent much of the past eight months lounging around at home in my pyjamas or my dungarees. Following on from a previous Friday Round-Up in which I talked about how I’m trying to take myself more seriously, I realised I need some new clothes. With a huge stash of fabric, a small stash of money, and a subscription to Simply Sewing*, a new magazine, I decided to take this into my own hands.

I have a large bust and good child-bearing hips(!), with a slim waist. And I’m short, I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about that? 5’3″ or 161.5 cm, to be exact. So normal sewing patterns don’t really fit. As a result, I’ve been making muslins to try tailoring some garments to my shape. The normal thing to do would be concentrate on one garment at a time, right?

Cleaning my iron before I could use it.
Cleaning my iron before I could use it.
African and Indian fabrics to sew into clothes for me. If I think I can deal with the colours and designs!
African and Indian fabrics to sew into clothes for me. If I think I can deal with the colours and designs!

That’s not how I roll. I have three fabrics, three patterns and three muslins in various stages of completeness lying around the lounge, which looks like a fabric bomb hit it. I anticipate getting some of this done this weekend, and hopefully next week I’ll be in some new handmade clothes!

Tonks getting involved in the sewing.
Tonks getting involved in the sewing.
Simply Sewing Magazine.
Simply Sewing Magazine.

Sewing for you

I’m selling at a craft fair in Kent on the 30th of May. As well as aprons, sock monsters and sarongs, I will be selling my cards, a new range of baby accessories and other sewed goods that I have been busy creating in my fabric-bombed workspace. I will also have a donation bucket full of ‘failed’ projects. Read: projects that had something go wrong with them and I don’t think I can sell. These will be up for free, although I will be accepting donations to Mind if anybody takes anything and wants to give some dollar to a good cause.

Sewing bomb hits the lounge.
Sewing bomb hits the lounge.
Bibs for babies.
Bibs for babies.


I’ve finished plying the first half of Follow Me Down Cousin Jack! I have just 80g of alpaca fibre left, and will be finishing that this week. I’ve been spinning like a fiend, and loving it. I do need to think about my posture, which is currently terrible. My back is rather sore because of the strain this is putting on it. Need to sort that out! But loving the spinning.

Follow Me Down Cousin Jack - half done!
Follow Me Down Cousin Jack – half done!

Needle Felting

I’ve been playing with needle felting again. I’ve been making sheep and a little seal! I donated one of the sheep to Tonks, who can not keep her paws off them. I think she loves the wool! Anyway, her behaviour has been so instinctive and raw, which has been really interesting to see. I couldn’t help myself, I had to give it to her. There’s something strange about seeing around 8 hours of work get shredded by your over-zealous feline…the sheep was going to go to the donation bucket as I wasn’t happy with it, and that felt a bit liberating. She has me wrapped around her little finger.

A needle-felted seal!
A needle-felted seal!
Tonks with her new toy sheep.
Tonks with her new toy sheep.

Because I’m spending so much time on the sewing machine and making cards, I haven’t really had time to blog as much as normal. The problem is, if you don’t make, you have nothing to blog about! My knitting projects are all proceeding apace, and I’m loving my hap at the moment. I’ll give you an update next week!

Much love,

Corrie xx

* Eagle-eyed Twitter followers will have noticed I had a rant about this the other day. I said some terrible things. I will explain next week, but for now I will say that I’m on the fence about my subscription and am wondering whether or not I should continue with it.


I've Made Friday with Crochet Addict

Freshly Finished Friday by hardknitlife


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A weekend of Granny Squares

I went home to Devon this weekend and spent the time in a very pleasant manner, working on my projects, drawing, visiting my grandmothers, eating good food and drinking too much good Devon ale. It was lovely being home – especially as I got the train to and from the county, giving me lots of crafting time!

I did manage to find some GORGEOUS green yarn which is perfect for my joins – remember this photo for the colours?

Gorgeous green and purples.
Gorgeous green and purples.

Granny Squares Progress

I have made tonnes of progress with my granny squares, with the first 24 complete and nearly crocheted together. The joining process took a lot of research on my part, and was a bit mind-boggling as I discovered there are about a hundred different ways to join them.

Laying out my Granny Squares while finishing the last two off.
Laying out my Granny Squares while finishing the last two off.

I went for the granny join, using this tutorial to choose. There were a number of reasons for choosing this one – first and foremost, I am concerned that the blanket will not be big enough and I wanted a join that will give me as much of an increase in space as possible!

Other factors leading to this decision – I liked the idea of making the join ‘part’ of the squares rather than A Border, the tutorial was fairly easy to follow considering I was on a train and had limited space and only my phone to read for the instructions – and it meant I didn’t have to learn any fancy new crochet techniques!

The first two rows joined with my perfect green!
The first two rows joined with my perfect green!

The blanket is working up quickly and I am pleased with it so far. I love the colours, and I am so happy I didn’t shy away from doing a radically different colour border as I absolutely adore the way it looks.

Other Weekend Antics

Wonder-Mum and I spent a while at home drawing and watching the Grand National on Saturday. I was feeling a bit distracted, and alternated between crocheting my granny squares and drawing – resulting in a drawing I’m not extremely happy with, but not totally unhappy either.

Wonder-Mum drawing with my pile of Granny Squares in front of her.
Wonder-Mum drawing with my pile of Granny Squares in front of her.
My finished drawing.
My finished drawing.

It was a wonderful way to spend the weekend, and I’m INTO drawing again. It’s been a while!

In other news – did you watch the Great British Sewing Bee Finale last night? What do you think? I was rooting for someone else, but I think the winner deserved her success too. Congratulations to all of them!

Much love,

Corrie xx

Another photo of purple and green flowers...can you tell I'm inspired?!
Another photo of purple and green flowers…can you tell I’m inspired?!
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April Resolutions are here!

It’s the time of the year again – the beginning of a new month and time to set my resolutions for April 2014. Before I start on that though, I thought I would look back at last year and how things went in April 2013.

April 2013 Resolutions

My resolutions were:

  1. Knit three different sock patterns.
  2. Knit something with beads in it.
  3. Find a suitable pattern for Wonder-Mum‘s Big Birthday.
  4. Make a wool hackle.

It’s really interesting looking at these because it is a mark of how far I have come in the last year. I failed on all four of these – I knitted one sock pattern (Cadence), and have still not knitted anything with beads in it. Nor do I own a wool hackle. I did find a suitable pattern for Wonder-Mum’s birthday, but it was one I’d picked out years ago and I only decided on it a few weeks ago and now don’t have time to make it.

Cadence socks off the feet.
Cadence socks off the feet.

I think it’s a really good reminder to myself to go back and have a look at this – because I have been worrying I’m not giving myself enough goals (I’m very much a ‘get home and have a nap…ALL NIGHT’ kind of person) but it’s important to remember I’m setting myself achievable goals. With that in mind, I can think back to March 2014….

March 2014 Resolutions

So my resolutions last month were:

  1. Get to lace section on Erquy
  2. Get to sleeves on Garland
  3. Work on some long-term projects

I did fairly well – I didn’t get to the lace section on Erquy, but I did get 2/3rds of the way there. I got to the sleeves on Garland and I certainly worked on some long-term projects, with two FO’s and some substantial progress on the Gigantic Blankie. I also learned to crochet – so March was busy and successful!

My five little granny squares!
My five little granny squares!

I’ve now decided on my April 2014 Resolutions…

April 2014 Resolutions

With achievable at the helm, we have the following.

  1. Complete 17th stripe in Erquy
  2. Finish Granny Squares Galore (crochet)
  3. Work on existing projects but DO NOT CAST ON ANY NEW PROJECTS.

The third one is particularly important – I don’t know if I could even complete a single sleeve of Garland, so I don’t want to set anything specific for that, and the same for Gigantic Blankie. Given that I cast on Hitchhiker and Granny Squares Galore in March, I want to give myself that restriction so that I can start MAY with a clear conscience that any lingering bits have been worked on.

Garland - who knows where it will be next month!
Garland – who knows where it will be next month!

And yes, I have an FO to reveal on Friday!

So that’s it for now. Don’t forget to check out the Resolutions Group on Ravelry to make your own and have a productive month!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Six years in making a patchwork blanket!

My gran and I started making a patchwork blanket long, long ago – I was enamoured by the idea of having loads of squares to sew together, and she enjoyed having easy garter stitch things to knit in front of the TV. All was going swimmingly.

Until I received a delivery of a bag full of squares. Fifty-five squares, to be exact.

Patchwork Blanket

This delivery made its appearance on the first of March in 2008. I only know this because of my Ravelry page, where I recorded the information. I had eight squares of my own, and decided that a 9 x 7 square blanket would do, and that I did not have to make any more.

I had never sewn garter stitch squares together before, and I started using a method I used when I was about 8 and hand-sewing things. This went: needle up and through, space of about 5 mm, needle down and through, space of about 5 mm – repeat. I now use the same stitch for basting things together when I’m sewing…

The squares spent several years on my wall.
The squares spent several years on my wall.

This was, to be polite, incredibly frustrating, and the project got put away for a while. I then made a pillow for my gran, and learned about the wonders of mattress stitch. Determined to apply the same principles to the patchwork blanket, I unpicked everything and started again.

Success followed! It wasn’t a hard project – it just took a lot of time when I worked on it, and spent even longer amounts of time in a basket sitting in plain sight and waiting for me to pick it up again. The last time I worked on this blanket, in fact, was April 2013

Patchwork Blanket about half done.
Patchwork Blanket about half done.

I am currently watching Breaking Bad, and determined to do something useful while I do so – I am so pleased to say that I have finally, after six years and one day, finished sewing it together.

Blanket dates

I think I may still sew a backing fabric on to it, but I have other WIPs that have been languishing for years, and I am going to finish them before I go back to what is essentially, finally, a completed blanket.

A completed patchwork blanket!
A completed patchwork blanket!

Do you have any projects like this? My mum has now asked me to make her a throw for a sofa in this style…argh! Think the knitting machine may make another appearance…

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Those blooming legwarmers…

This is a story about legwarmers that are going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

Just chillin'...with no body!
Just chillin’…with no body!

Those blooming legwarmers.

Two years ago, I asked Wonder-Mum what she wanted for Christmas and she asked for legwarmers. “No problem”, I thought, and I picked out Cabled Legwarmers from Stitch Style Socks: Twenty Fashion Knit and Crochet Styles. I went stash-diving and I found some Sirdar Big Softie that I’d had for years. I counted it up, had the right amount, and off I went.

I would like to say at this point that I had never done cabling and I’d never knitted in the round with dpns – I ordered some fat and stubby 10mm bamboo dpns off Amazon and learned how to cable to do this project, and I thought I was doing particularly well. They knitted up really quickly and all was going absolutely swimmingly…until I got to one cable repeat from the end on the second one.

I ran out of yarn. Saddened, I did a double-check on the pattern…and realised that it asked for four balls of Rowan Big Wool, which comes in 100g balls…and I had had six balls of Sirdar Big Softie in 50g balls. D’oh. I cannot explain the thought processes that went on while this happened. Undeterred, I wrapped the completed legwarmer up and gave it to mum for Christmas.

Single legwarmer - perfect Christmas present!
Single legwarmer – perfect Christmas present!

She thought this was very strange and I explained that I just needed to get another ball of the same yarn, and then the second would come.

No. The yarn had been in my stash for so long that the dye lot had changed and I could not find anyone who had a ball of the right dye lot for my usage. The new dyes they were using for this colourway were so different that it is now effectively different yarn – it’s gone from vibrant blue to pale pastel sickly blue. I couldn’t even alternate to introduce the new one slowly.

The difference between Big Softie dye-lots - bright on the left, puke on the right.
The difference between Big Softie dye-lots – bright on the left, puke on the right.

I unravelled what I had done on the second legwarmer and tried to forget about it.

Fast forward two years, and imagine a lot of ribbing (not of the stitch kind) from mother about the fact that I had once given her a single legwarmer. I tried to explain about the dye lots and the yarn, but you know what family is like, right? I said that if she wanted another, it would have to be pink. She said yes, thinking this would never happen (probably).

Two different coloured legwarmers. No problem!
Two different coloured legwarmers. No problem!

However, I was now so sick of being teased about the bloody legwarmer that this year, I did it. I knitted it up in bright pink, and ended up with a pair of legwarmers that were funkily different. I loved them, and I was pretty sure that Wonder-Mum would probably never wear them.

Nevertheless, I wrapped the pair up (I did steal back the original for the purposes of gifting them to her together) and gave them to her this year. There was a bit of confusion (“Is this the second blue one?” “No mum, it’s the original.”) and she seemed relatively pleased.

I think she likes them! Although one is patently shorter than the other.
I think she likes them! Although one is patently shorter than the other.
Mother now has oddly coloured leg-warmers.
Mother now has oddly coloured leg-warmers.
Given Wonder-mum's propensity for bright tights, you can see why I didn't want a puke coloured legwarmer.
Given Wonder-mum’s propensity for bright tights, you can see why I didn’t want a puke coloured legwarmer.

I will never get rid of the embarrassment of knittng a single legwarmer for mother. There will always be that little “do you remember the time when Corrie knitted me one legwarmer” anecdote at family gatherings. But I am pleased the damn things are out of my life! I love you mum, but this is one project I am not sad to see the back of!

Do you have any knitted items that have presented a similar issue for you?

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Luxury Gloves – hurrah!

One of my July Resolutions was to finish knitting my Luxury Gloves, and when I took them to knitting at Hulu on Wednesday, I am extremely pleased to say that I finished them!

I’m heading out to London this afternoon to see my darling JS, and…for a job interview. I’m really excited about it, and I can’t wait to get there. This job could be a turning point for me so I’m really crossing my fingers for it. I don’t think I’ve wanted a job this much for years!

Luxury Gloves

I got some Rowan Kidsilk Haze for Christmas in 2010 (!!) and I cast on my Luxury Gloves immediately. They are from “Beautiful Knits for Heads, Hands and Toes” by Alison Dupernux, and one of the first projects I ever decided to knit for myself.


The yarn is absolutely gorgeous. You can have no idea how much I love it, and the feel of the gloves is definitely luxurious. Wonder-Mum and Super-Granny both went into raptures when they felt them, and my reaction hasn’t been much different since I started knitting!

I think they took so long because the yarn is very definitely lace-weight, and it was the first time I’d worked with something so thin. I made my fair share of mistakes, and there is a large amount of stitching that should definitely not be in there. I don’t care – I absolutely love them.

One pair of Luxury Gloves!

I think I’m going to head out and buy some more Kidsilk Haze NOW and get knitting another pair! These will be absolutely perfect for summer wear, as well as playing my violin, using my smart-phone…I’m just so happy with them.

An innocent luxury glove!

The next time I knit them, however, I will have to make sure my cast-on and cast-off is very much loser than they were for this pair. It’s actually rather hard to get the thumb through the hole – so, it’s a good thing to note for the next lot!

Much love,

Corrie xx FO Friday with Tami's Amis


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When I was at a folk festival a couple of weeks ago, one of JS’ family friends saw me knitting his birthday socks and asked if I could make some Susocks – socks for his wife Sue! The criteria was “Size Six, bright and warm”. After my trip to Spin a Yarn (see the giveaway post!) I had a new skein of bright aran yarn to turn into bed socks, and I took to my task with pleasure. (more…)

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FO – Cadence Socks for Wonder-Mum

I’m long overdue a blog-post about the Cadence Socks I knitted for Wonder-Mum! The last post about this was on her actual birthday – I promised a big reveal the next day, then life got in the way a bit, with my Daddy bringing home Super-Granny from South Africa, a new product made for Coranda.com, and JS having a Big Birthday.

Cadence Socks

So, the socks knitted for Wonder-Mum were a Mystery Knit on Ravelry, the Cadence Socks. I knitted them in Jarol Ltd Heritage 4 Ply, which I bought at the Creative Stitches and Hobbycrafts Show in London. It was the first pair of socks I’d knitted with a patterned cuff and instep, and I followed it all on a chart.

Cadence socks off the feet.

The socks were a fantastic knit – they were extremely engaging, with the pattern being nice and varied to keep the interest up. I love the look of them on Wonder-Mum. I adore the colour. These are probably the best thing I’ve ever knitted, and they are free on Ravelry, so go check out the pattern now!

Cadence socks on Wonder-Mum.

JS Big Birthday

My lovely JS had a big birthday yesterday – I made him a sock a few weeks ago, then decided that I hated the pattern and frogged the whole thing. I only cast on the new pair two days before his actual birthday…so of course, I wasn’t finished. I gave them to him in my project bag, and I have until Friday to finish – so guess what I’m going to be doing this week!

That’s all from me for now, although I want to encourage you to head over to Coranda.com and tell me what you think about the newest product!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Download the Garter Stitch Head-Band pattern!

This year has been the year of learning to design knitting patterns. My first one was rather more complex than this one, which is really just a formula intended for people who want to learn to knit, but don’t want to just make squares!

Garter Stitch Head-Band

I’ve just published the Garter Stitch Head-Band pattern! I designed it for the launch of Coranda.com. I’m really excited about how good such a simple piece of knitting can be, and I really think the button transforms it from just a fairly clumsy piece of knitting to something more beautiful! I’m hoping that loads of people will download it, print it and distribute it around their friends so they can teach the world to knit.

Garter Stitch Head-Band close up.

You can find the pattern on Ravelry, or click here to download it. Let me know if you try it or share it with anyone else, I’d love to see others! I also didn’t get anyone to test-knit this, so if you find any issues with it, please let me know.

Headband in orange

That’s all from me for now, I need to go to bed. I finished Wonder-Mum‘s socks today, as it’s her birthday! Happy Birthday to my loveliest, gloriousest mummy. I’ll show you all tomorrow, as it’s now 11:30 pm and way, way past my bedtime.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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