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Author: Leonor

Textile artist, indie dyer, conjurer of fluff.
Getting brave with knitting (and a little bit of spinning)

Getting brave with knitting (and a little bit of spinning)

The knitting

I’m very glad to have finally regained my knitting mojo after such a long hiatus. Once the days started lengthening and getting slightly warmer, my brain seems to have understood it was time for my hands to get busy making again.

However, my attention span might have been left behind somewhere, for I ended up making a few mistakes that I missed until much later! I’m glad I did catch them though.

I was knitting a Poet jumper and the pattern has sections with seed stitch. Seed stitch is created by overlapping a purl stitch over a knit stitch in alternating rows/rounds, so that you get a sort of dotted pattern resembling… seeds (the name says it all, really).
Without noticing at the time, I repeated two exact rows and ended up with something… wrong that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Once I spotted the issue however, there was no un-seeing it.

A section of my Poet jumper, showing a knitting mistake somewhere

Can you spot the mistake? I can see it from a distance… It’s a little below the middle.

A finger points at a knitting mistake on a Poet jumper
Putting my finger on it. See the two yarn-overs on top of each other on the right? One of them is the extra row I knit by mistake.

This put me in a conundrum: do I ignore the mistake and keep going, or do I frog the thing and correct it? I put it to social media, and the vast majority told me to leave it and continue. Naturally, this made me decide to frog it.

For the non-knitters: the term “frogging” is used because when you remove the needles from your work and pull the yarn back into the ball, you “rip it, rip it,” which sounds like “ribbit,” the sound frogs make.
(Don’t worry, I too was baffled when learning this.)

Completely removing the knitting needles from a project and effectively ridding the thing of its unravelling potential is daunting to me. When one does this, one also loses all useful markers set by the pattern creator, and I always fear I’ll forever miss my place and be unable to proceed… I took a deep breath, chose to trust myself and off the needles came. I stopped a couple of rounds before the offending mistake and opted to “tink” (that’s “knit” backwards – I know, I know…) until I’d corrected it. Phew.

Here’s the jumper, all finished, after I was set back two whole days of knitting.

A knitted Poet jumper is blocking on wires and a blocking mat on the floor
Here is my Poet, blocking

You’d think my knitting snafus were over, but it seems I wasn’t done frogging… I started on my Ripple Halter and, a couple of inches before being finished, noticed I was one stitch off. Normally not a big problem, but this is a 2×2 ribbing which only remains correct if the right number of stitches are maintained, so I definitely had a problem.

I’d done it once, I’d do it again! Frog, frog.

Marshmallow the cat looks at my hand as my knitting project is frogged
Marshmallow offers her support…

This was also a scary one, because I had 8 markers I needed to put back in the correct place to be able to follow the pattern. I managed… somehow. Three more days of knitting, gone. It’s all part of the handmade process though, right?

The spinning

My spinning mojo has also returned. I wanted some textured art yarn and set about preparing the fibres to make it happen.

Once my Leicester Longwool locks were dry, it was time to spin.

Now I need to decide how to ply this. I think I might dye some wool top neon green, spin it  thin and use it to create a textured, thick and thin art yarn. What do you think? Also: am I mad for frogging days’ worth of knitting for what a lot of people deem “small mistakes”?

Ever wondered what the difference is between wool top and wool roving? I wrote a blog post on it on my own website and would love it if you’d read it. Thanks so much!

Bad “art”

Bad “art”

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it very hard to stick to one hobby alone. After all, there are too many temptations out there, and each creative endeavour fuels the brain differently – it’s fun to discover new materials to play and interact with, and see what comes out of the experimentations.

I rediscovered the love of journaling last October, and have since then filled two notebooks of ramblings, ideas, memories and opinions. As I progressed in my writing however, I noticed I was also very attracted by the notion of doing something visually creative with paper and stationery.

Now, I must add a disclaimer here: I don’t think the pages I filled are special. They’re not particularly beautiful or unusual, and that’s definitely not a negative thing – I started doing collages simply for the joy of playing with images and colours, and these were the space for me to have some non-commercial, creative fun. It was my way of relaxing and letting go of expectations, of “what will others think of this,” of any idea that one’s creative endeavours must always be amazing. I just wanted to get messy with glue and glitter.

A closed notebook on a white wooden surface

This is the cover of my A5 size notebook. It’s decorated with some leftover fabric (featuring cats, obviously) and the artwork from a tin of… Sardines? Cod? I might add more stuff to it as I go along, since I don’t consider any of the pages here “finished.”

Side view of my notebook, with all the wavy and textured pages

This notebook came with different types of paper, so I play with it depending on the “canvas” I want. As you can see, the middle pages have been used the most, and apparently I’ve not much love for plain white paper.

Open notebook, showing two pages of a collage

I tend to go by colour and texture, more than whether the things make sense together. My brain seems to enjoy adding stuff to paper until it looks filled enough and has things to make the eye wander.

Another two pages of my collage notebook, on a white wooden surface

Fabric scraps and teabags are game. See the eye on the lower left corner? I stole that from my husband’s studio, he’d removed it from one of his paintings – does this count as artistic appropriation?

Two unrelated pages of my collage notebook open

Collages made using medical information leaflets and other bits and bobs

If you can’t read the weird Balzac quote above, it is as follows: “No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.” What a weird fellow he was (and I hope no one followed his advice!)

Collage using glitter, ink and paper

Collage in oranges, yellows and reds

I say this again proudly: none of these collages are groundbreaking or particularly good. What they are, is FUN. I loved making them with no end game in mind, no agenda and, until I decided to share them here, I was perfectly convinced none would ever see the light of day. It’s very liberating to create with full freedom from our inner critic and, if you’ve never tried, I urge you to give it a go. It might even fuel your creativity for the more “serious” stuff you make.

How many hobbies do you have? Are they all fibre- or textile-related? Let me know what’s tickling your crafty mojo lately in the comments section.



Hand sewing some rabbits

Hand sewing some rabbits

Recently, the Chinese celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit. How very fortunate of me, then, to have a couple of rabbits to hand stitch!

I had initially bough this Briar Bunnies kit for my mum, to keep her entertained during her Christmas stay with us… in 2021. My mother started making them, but lost steam somewhere along us all catching Covid and being flabbergasted by how messy our place was (if only she knew we had tidied up before she arrived!) After she left, the poor duo was stashed somewhere in my studio and completely forgotten, until recently.

Unfinished hand sewn Briar Bunnies, a kit by Cool Crafting

This is how my mother left her bunnies. The blue pen markings were done by me with a heat-erasable Frixion pen. The ink would guide the stitches and would disappear once I ironed the fabric after sewing.

You’ll notice there are two pairs of ears and arms. I had suggested mum make two bunnies at a time to avoid what in the knitting world is called “second sock syndrome” – when you’ve knitted one sock and don’t feel at all motivated to start all over again and repeating the same steps to make another… Once I took over the project, I followed my own advise.

The pattern expects you to machine sew the bunnies, but in my mind that would completely defeat my notion of enjoying the making process to the full. Machine sewing these bunnies would mean I’d be done in a couple of hours, not nearly enough time to be mindful of even having held them! Hand stitching was much better for that.

Two hand stitched bunnies, with striped leggings

My hand stitching skills are mediocre at best, but slowly I saw the rabbits shaping up. One of them has wonky ears and her leggings don’t quite match in the front, and I love that about her. It adds personality!

Two finished hand sewn linen rabbits with coordinating red and floral garments

Here they are all finished. Those dresses took me ages to make! I can’t tell you how long exactly, but a good amount of an audiobook kept me company whilst I slowly stabbed the fabric and, once or twice, my fingers. The bunny on the left was supposed to have a bow made with the same burgundy fabric as her dress, but after almost losing my mind turning the other bow inside out, I decided to go for a red ribbon instead. It’s not cutting corners, it’s being creative…

Have you hand sewn anything lately? Do you love or hate the notion of slow stitching? Let me know your thoughts.


November challenge: knitting for charity

November challenge: knitting for charity

As I was scrolling through Instagram one day, I saw this advert by Dementia UK asking people to join their November challenge: to knit every day for that month and raise money for their charity.

I’d never done this sort of thing before, and felt compelled to join and see how I’d do. It’s a worthwhile cause, and charities are always in need of money.
It has to be said that, in the past, I’d probably shy away from such a challenge because I’d fear “not reaching my goal,” which Present Me finds silly – I’m not doing this for brownie points, it’s not a measure of my self-worth and, more importantly, if I only raise £10, it’s ten pounds more that Dementia UK will have to help those in need.
Present Me is wiser than Past Me, don’t you think?

A dark grey hand knit jumper on a mannequin

Here is my first make, which I finished in, I think, 5 days. It’s knit with super bulky wool, so it goes along super quickly.
This is a free pattern by Drops Yarn – very fitting, because the yarn is also by Drops – and it has to be said, the instructions could be better. There were a couple of techniques I had to look up in video format because the written instructions just didn’t make any sense (to me, anyway). I also made a few changes here and there, one of them being some waist shaping. I also changed the sleeves a little to adapt them to my small frame.

A closeup of my hand knitted grey jumper, where I show the shoulder detail.

It’s a very warm jumper and I’ve worn it several times to help with having lowered my thermostat at home.
On a side note, I might add a few more rows to the sleeves just to make them extra, extra cosy.

A hand knit grey beanie hat on top of a mannequin.

I had a lot of wool left after finishing the jumper, so I decided to knit a beanie hat. This was knit in an evening and I can attest it’s kept my noggin’ warm when venturing outdoors.

Finally, a bit of a cheat…

Remember my Dead of Night jumper, that I showed you in my previous post? (Apologies for the lack of link to said post, I can’t find it at the moment of writing!)

Dead of Night jumper, pattern by Dear Ingenue, on a mannequin

I had “finished” it a few weeks ago, but hadn’t woven in the ends. I took the opportunity to do so and therefore count it as another November make – hey, it’s not done until all the tiny details are finished, correct?
It did turn out to be too large for me as had previously mentioned, but in a lovely twist of fate, my mother loved the pattern and wants it. That’s one Christmas present sorted!
It’s not blocked yet, as I want Mum to try it on and see if I need to coax its shape in any particular way. This is why you can still see yarn sticking out on the sleeve, I only cut the woven-in ends after I’ve blocked the garment.

So, that’s my November knits. The more observant of you will notice I probably didn’t knit every day for 30 days. Sadly, you’re right! Life got in the way and I was unable to keep up, but I did share what I was doing on my social media and managed to raise around £70 total for Dementia UK!

Not bad for a first, and not very persistent, try.

Have you ever knit for charity? Share your experience with me. If you have any fundraising advise, I’d love to read about it.

Finally, happy holidays, everyone! I hope you have a nice season whether you celebrate or not. See you next year.

A little bit of knitting here and there

A little bit of knitting here and there

There’s been a bit of knitting going on lately around here. After months of no mojo, I was suddenly struck by the need to make all the things.

In my last blog post, I shared a link to my own blog (thank you to all those who went and left me a comment!) There was a photo of my cat Marshmallow sat on top of a yellow knitted work-in-progress in that post. I’m happy to say I’ve finished that jumper well before the colder weather hit! I finished it, in fact, in July.

I’m a weirdo who enjoys knitting things out of season, it seems.

Mohair Gallant Sweater, a yellow mohair and silk jumper on a mannequin.
Mohair Gallant Sweater

Next, I was smitten by a very goth-y jumper. It had little bird skulls all around it, and that was enough motivation for me to tackle stranded knit work.

I didn’t make a good start, though. I’m not used to reading charts and left a lot of stitches behind. It was too small, something I found out soon after taking this photo below. And look, the poor birds look like pineapples with eyes.

Dead of Night jumper beginning knitting on Eleanor's neck

My second attempt was much more successful… but it’s too big! There is no way I’ll be frogging this and starting over, so I’ll either be able to shrink it in the dryer after blocking, or I’ll have to gift it to a friend and knit another one for myself (gasp!)

Eleanor wears her unfinished Dead of Night jumper and shows how large it is in the body for her.
Dead of Night

Lastly, I knit something I had never tried before – a child sized garment! A friend of mine commented she had so much knitting to get done before Christmas and was a little worried she might not finish in time, so I offered to help. This is the First Leaf Jacket and it was an easy enough pattern to follow, albeit a little annoying in the purl rows.

I’ve since found out my friend has knitted the jumper version of this – she gave me jacket pattern because it was the one with the most purling, the rascal! I shall have to take revenge… maybe in the form of keeping the leftover yarn for myself.

First Leaf Jacket unfinished, as a flat lay, with the pattern and the gauge swatch next to it

First Leaf Jacket, pattern by Drops, not blocked, on mannequin

The ends still need weaving in, the buttons sewed on and it has to be blocked, but on my part it’s finished.

Finally, my favourite knit of last year. It needs to be shared because it’s too cute! I’ll confess I’m not 100% sure it hasn’t been shared by me already in the past, but Mason deserves the spotlight. Just look at that face.

My Dear Bear Mason, a knitted teddy bear, face detail

My Dear Bear Mason, a knitted bear, wearing yellow overalls and a neckerchief

That’s it from me in the realm of knitting. In the realm of blog posts however, I’m happy to tell you I’ve written a new one on dryer balls and why they are amazing. If you’d honour me with a read, I’d be deeply grateful.

Let me know in the comments what your favourite make of the year is so far, I’d love to know!

Let’s continue processing Muriel’s fleece

Let’s continue processing Muriel’s fleece

The last time I wrote, I had begun washing a lovely Leicester Longwool fleece from a sheep named Muriel. I’m done with the washing now, so it’s time to continue processing those luscious curls.

Some lovely washed wool curls still in fleece format, on a table

Since I mostly have these curls for selling, they need to be bunched into bundles. I like to do 1oz. (or around 30g) because it’s not too large, making it affordable, and it’s a great size for those who want to use these curls as doll hair.

Leicester Longwool sheep curls sectioned into bundles, on a table

Once I’ve created the bundles, some of them are sold in natural wool form, but others are hand dyed into funky colours. It’s so much fun playing with all the bright colour combos, because you can really let your imagination go wild – a lot of people who wouldn’t imagine having rainbow hair themselves love nothing more than to do that to their dolls.

How about using curls for long tail spinning? Felting? The choices are so many and each will yield their own beautiful results.

hand dyed teal Leicester Longwool locks

I for one hope I’ve done Muriel proud with processing her fleece, and love the idea that she grew the fibre, I processed it and then I’ll be passing it on to someone who will, yet again, change it into something else. The cycle of creativity at work!

Have you done anything with long wools lately? Let me know.

PS – I’ve finally started a blog in my own website! In my first post, I explain the 5 reasons why wool is the best fibre (preaching to the choir here, I know…) If you’d pop by to have a read, I’d really appreciate it 🙂

Wash a fleece with me

Wash a fleece with me

***This post should have been published yesterday but somehow the scheduling didn’t go through, apologies for the delay!***

The days are so much longer here in Scotland. When blessed with sunshine (which happens more than you’d think), this is the perfect time of year to wash fleeces.

I recently bought a Leicester Longwool fleece from a small farm that specialises in conservation of this rare breed. I’d bought from them before, so I knew I’d be happy with my purchase.

Now, for those of you who live in a house with a garden, washing raw fleeces might not be a somewhat mammoth task, but I currently live in a flat. Some creativity was in order.

I’m lucky enough to have a very generously sized kitchen, which is where the beginning of the processing begun.

part of a shower curtain is laid on the floor

I laid down this piece of shower curtain on the floor (it’s a leftover from my dyeing setup, I used the rest to protect the wall when working). I can already tell you I was naive and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

a bag with a fleece in it, with Muriel written on the outside

Here is the fleece, ready to come out and play. Muriel is the lovely sheep who grew the wool, she was so named because she mewed more than baah-ed 🙂
This fleece is around 6.5kg. You can already see where I was getting at when I said I was naive, don’t you?

Muriel's fleece is on the floor, ready to be unrolled

The owner of this flock was kind enough to send me some very good written instructions on how the fleece was rolled, and how best to unroll and wash it.

Leicester Longwool fleece on the floor, with human foot nearby for size comparison

If you’re laughing at my tiny plastic protection right now, I don’t blame you. I laughed too! I photographed my foot so you could have an idea of scale. Oh boy.

Time to sort the fleece according to body areas and discard the bits I didn’t want, which in the case of this particular fleece wasn’t much.
Sorting the fleece this way helps me know which parts will be more useful for different purposes. The wool on the back of the sheep (which you can see in the middle) will have better curl definition, and the bits near the rear end will be coarser and less curly. There’s a use for each part, but I want it separated so I can work quickly once it’s all washed.

I must give credit to the shearer, he did a stellar job. I had hardly any second cuts (tiny bits of wool you get from when the shearing machine goes through the sheep a second time, to even the “haircut” out). This person was definitely removing the fleece knowing it was to be used by a crafter, which I greatly appreciated.

closeup of the fleece with very dirty tips and extremely white cut ends

Have you ever wondered about how dramatic a Before and After can be in washing fleece? Here’s your answer. The end bits have been subjected to the elements, the part nearer the animal is pristine. Once I’m done, I hope it’ll look mostly like the white bits.

Next, I carefully roll up the fleece into sections to soak.

a rolled up section of fleece, ready to be soaked

What one does next with a fleece depends on personal preference. I like to soak it in cold water and change the water often, until most of the lanolin (the natural oils the sheep produces to protect its coat) is washed off. Once that’s done, I use very hot water a few times, and then add detergent to it. Once the water comes out mostly clear, I’m done. All that’s left is to rinse it, lay it flat to dry and then play with the lovely curls.

two fleeces soaking, one dirty and the other almost clean

Notice the huge difference! The one on the right already has some detergent in it, the left doesn’t as it still needs a few more cold water soaks.

I’m sure some readers will be worried about processing a fleece indoors. Allow me to share what I did to stay safe and clean:

  • Firstly, I purchased the fleece from a trusted high-welfare farm, which means the sheep are kept happy and are constantly monitored for health issues (thus ensuring the wool isn’t contaminated with pests or other nasties)
  • The fleece was always handled with gloved hands and I never touched other surfaces whilst doing so.
  • I never ate or drank whilst processing the fleece
  • Once I was done separating it into sections, they went into plastic bags and all surfaces were thoroughly washed, even the ones that the wool never touched, such as counters
  • The bathtub was thoroughly washed and sanitised before being used by humans
  • (Finally: if you have pets, make sure they stay away from raw wool! My cats are abnormalities and didn’t care one bit for it, so they stayed away on their own.)

On my next blog post, I’ll share how the fleece came out once dry and the locks separated.

Have you ever washed a fleece? How did your experience compare to mine? Let me know in the comments.

Crafting diary – organising your makes for the future

Crafting diary – organising your makes for the future

If you know me at all, you’ll very quickly realise I’m not a particularly tidy person. I seem to make my studio messy simply by looking at it, so for me to be writing about organisation is very funny.

After the holiday season, I normally feel a lack of energy and creativity; I just want to burrow in my duvet, forget the world exists, and survive on tea, books and naps (plus chocolate). I call it Wintering, and this year was no exception.

If the body is sluggish, the brain sometimes has ideas, however. I’d been wanting to keep track of my sewing projects for a while. A sort of diary, if you will, where I could look back and see what I’d made, how I made it and my thoughts of the process.

What do you know, I actually found the energy to start it and I’m here to share some pages with you. Maybe this will inspire you to do the same for your crafting of choice (or maybe you already do?)

An open page from a sewing diary on a desk, with some decorative items around it.

I’d been saving fabric samples for a diary, which I kept in a neat pile, edges pinked to avoid fraying. I’m surprised I never lost them or forgot what the fabrics had been turned into!

Each project has its own page entry. The one above is for my first Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated. I start out by writing down who I made the item for, what type of fabric I used, where I bought it, etc. As I progress with this I’m sure I’ll come up with more useful information to add.

Another page of the sewing diary, with fabric samples and a drawing of the project I created

Here is Metamorphic Dress number two. I just had to share this because the fabric is one of my favourites of all time. If you read the note in the lower right, you’ll notice a comment about my mother ruining the dress for me by pointing out it looked like a servant’s uniform. (It does. Don’t tell her I agree. I still like it!)

This type of diary is meant to jog your memory in the future, if you ever want to know when you made something, or what could be changed should you ever decide to revisit the same pattern. I actually have a little detail to add to this particular one to improve fit in the future…

Two photos of a yellow Kochi jacket on a sewing diary page

I also decided to print a few images so anyone else who looks at the diary can have an idea of what I’m talking about (I might also forget in the future so this is also for me). This page says I made a Kochi Jacket (now renamed Luna) by Papercut Patterns but that won’t help if you don’t know what it is, right?

A photo of two women wearing the same model of Arthur Pants, next to a printed drawing of Rupert Bear

Saved the best for last. For Christmas my mum wanted a pair of Arthur Pants. She bought the fabric in Portugal and what do you know? It was the same as mine! She thought it was hilarious.
We got told our outfit was reminiscent of Rupert Bear… I had no idea who Rupert was, but now I do, I want to make a scarf out of the remaining yellow fabric for an extra laugh.

Do you keep a crafting diary? What do you include in it? Any suggestions on how I can improve mine? Let me know in the comments section.

A bit of this and that

A bit of this and that

‘Tis the season to show off trees! I’m no exception, so here is my contribution.

A few years ago I had the idea of creating a portable Christmas decoration to sell in my shop. I wanted something small, cute and as eco-friendly as possible. The solution? Needle felted mini trees.

The trees

Needle felted miniature Christmas trees by Eleanor Shadow

I think they’re rather fun, even if I do say so myself. The colours are bright and who doesn’t like miniatures?

Each tree has a wire frame to ensure stability. I needle felt the the larger components (tree trunk, copse and base) around the wire and the rest is made separately and stitched onto the main part.

It’s quite fun to felt the baubles, I used to take small amounts of differently coloured wool with me to doctor appointments and such and, whilst waiting, I could get 4-5 balls created. It was also a great conversation starter.

To finish things off nicely, I glue the whole ensemble onto a sturdy piece of locally sourced wool disc and, as they say, Bob’s you uncle.

They’ve been quite the success this year, I’m down to the last one at the time of writing!


Another holiday idea was to create a wreath that could be used over and over again. Have I mentioned I like reusable, eco-friendly things? 🙂

I had some needle felting foam that I regretted buying. It wasn’t the best quality foam and I found out I hated using them, so they’d been languishing in my stash for a couple of years. I didn’t want to throw it away. One day it dawned on me: I could cut and use them for something else.

Needle felted Christmas wreath by Eleanor Shadow. It has a donut shape with felted balls and a red ribbon wrapped around it. It has a green ribbon bow at the top.

I love these wreathes and each year I look forward to hanging mine in my front door. They’re not huge because I had to take the foam’s original size into consideration but isn’t it cute?


It wouldn’t be a post written by me without some sewing fun. I felt brave and bought some jersey knit fabric to make a Stasia dress by Sew Liberated. You might know a lot of sewers avoid jersey due to its stretchy nature. My previous experience hadn’t been the best but this time I was determined to succeed.

Fun fact: despite my determination, for some reason I didn’t make a mock version of the dress beforehand. I just moved on ahead directly to cutting the good fabric!

The consequence of this is that my sleeves ended up a bit shorter than I’d wanted, so I think I’m going to cut them and create a ¾ sleeve instead.

Eleanor Shadow shows off her Stasia dress in yellow jersey fabric.

Can you tell I’m so happy with the result? The black dots and stripes on the fabric are just so cute to me. My poor mother still wonders how I ended up going from wearing just black to being obsessed with mustard yellow, but here we are.

Yellow Stasia dress. Pattern by Sew Liberated, made by Eleanor Shadow.

That’s it for today. Can you believe it’s already December? This is my last post for the year, so I wish you a great New Year, filled with fibre and other fun stuff. See you in 2022.

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!

Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.

Sound familiar?

Hand dyed yarn by Eleanor Shadow
This hand dyed yarn looks great at first glance, but in reality it’s “muddy” – the colours have somehow blended into each other in a not-so flattering way.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.

The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.

The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?

(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)



Silk cocoons


A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).

I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.

Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.

The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.

The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.

I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.

It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.



Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?

While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!

I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).

One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.

The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!

The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.

The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.

Detail of Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated as sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.

I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.

My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…



That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?


Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.

Enjoy your weekend!

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