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The latest episode of my podcast is now live.

The podcasts will also be available on iTunesPlayerFM and other podcast catchers within the next 24 hours.

As always, I can be found on Instagram and Ravelry. There is also a Ravelry Group for the Mrs M’s Curiosity Cabinet podcast.

Natural shades

I recently took part in the second Nature’s Shades Along organised by Louise Scollay of the Knit British podcast and blog.

I participated in the first Nature’s Shades Along in 2016 as well and it certainly galvanised my love of natural shades. Like other participants in the original KAL I also realised how effective, striking, beautiful… it can be to add a single colour to natural shades. Maylin (aka Blithespirit on Ravelry and @blithespirit4 on Instagram) uses this approach with wondrous effect, e.g. in her interpretation of the Coinneach and Bressay sweaters.

Maylin, looking amazing in natural shades with a hint of colour! *

For this KAL I knit the simple but stylish Hap Cowl, by Shetland designer Ella Gordon to use up some remnants of Jamieson & Smith’s Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight wool, but the KAL also got me thinking about natural shades more generally. The environmental and ethical aspects of embracing natural shades, the scope (if any) for using fabrics in natural shades (like tweeds from Cambrian Wool or Ardalanish or undyed linen or cotton) in my sewing and the psychological reasons for embracing natural shades in a world of colour.

Adventures in trousers

After some pondering about the gaps in my wardrobe during #MeMadeMay, I decided to tackle trousers again. I used the Jenny Overalls and Trousers pattern by Closet Case file as the starting point as well as this blog post on fitting on the pattern company’s website.

I talk about how I went about fitting and making a pair of trousers that fits me and why I don’t, or rather can’t, by-pass the toile process. Prompted by a discussion I had with Leigh of the Louleigh podcast, I also suggest joining me for a Toile-along if you want to tackle a trickier garment that involves some fitting but are feeling daunted. If you find toile making a bit of a slog, disheartening, frustrating…, join in for some fun and encouragement, either in the podcast Ravelry group or on Instagram under #trickytoilealong.

Foraging delights

As autumn has well and truly arrived in England, I have spent a lot of my free time foraging, both for preserves and the dye pot. I share some of the delights of this pastime and some resources I used to get started with foraging, including: Richard Mabey’s classic Food for Free, Alys Fowler’s The Thrifty Forager and the website British Local Food.

My general advice though would be to check for local publications (if possible) as they are likely to provide better coverage of local species, growing patterns and laws and by-laws. Any good resource will however include guidelines for good foraging practice to ensure the ongoing health wellbeing of the forager, the local habitat and the wildlife it supports.

Inspiring gems

I have been enjoying @engagedweaving‘s Instagram feed, not just for his simple, elegant weaving projects but for his mindful musings on slow making and making as an embodiment of our history, social values, cultural traditions and human evolution.

A materials podcast hosted by Anna Ploszaski has also caught my attention. In ‘Rial Talk Anna, a material scientist and engineer, talks materials with practitioners specialised in hands on work with the material in question. The podcast covers materials as diverse as cotton, clay, steel but also wood, lime and, would you believe it, chocolate!


Music: As I figure by Kevin MacLeod on FreeMusicArchive and licensed under Creative Commons By Attribution 3.0 License.

* Photo of Maylin in her interpretation of the Coinneach cardigan: property of Maylin and used with her kind permission.

  • Isa September 24, 2018, 5:41 pm

    Unfortunately I can’t recommend an European supplier for natural colored cotton, other than try to find some thinner calico or toile fabric, they often look undyed but alas I can’t guarantee it is. What prompted me to comment was that the other day I was browsing one of my past suppliers of linen yarn to add the link to my blog and I notice they now stock very enticing naturally colored linen fabric!! The shop is called yarnstories and is housed on Etsy

    • Mrs M September 25, 2018, 4:54 pm

      Yes, I think natural shades of cotton is a tricky one. Thank you for the suggestion of a linen supplier though. Much appreciated!

  • Carrie September 25, 2018, 3:21 pm

    All I want is the podcast name you mentioned , I don’t see it on notes . Episode 14

    • Mrs M September 25, 2018, 4:59 pm

      I wasn’t sure which podcast you meant as I referred to three in the episode. The link to the KnitBritish podcast is in the first paragraph of the section on Natural Shades, the link to Louleigh’s one is in the second paragraph of the Adventures in trousers section and the ‘Rial Talk podcast is linked in the second paragraph of Inspiring Gems. In each case I’ve linked to the host’s website so you can click through to the video or sound file there. I hope that helps.

  • Mary Gordon October 18, 2018, 1:47 pm

    Im indulging in very slow podcast catching up as I’ve been unwell today. Intellectually I understand the appeal of natural shades the ecological footprint etc. Unfortuantly coming from an African childhood the absense of colour much of the year here is something I fight against with all my might. Scotland has these days of skies so gray the colour is just drained out. However I knitted a cat using traditional Shetland patterns from Mary Jane Mucklestones book to make a present for someone in my crafty group and was pleasantly drawn in by the play of light and dark (it was to make a tabby cat!) and I used New Lanark yarn in 4 very natural shades. I think the idea of using natural and a pop colour a good one. Also wondering if there is a place of a dyer to use this coloured natural yarn for over dying?

    • Mrs M November 1, 2018, 10:16 am

      Thank you for your kind comment and sorry to hear you’ve been unwell. I totally understand the roll of colour as balm in these dark grey months. I feel an almost constant pull between the soothing calm of natural shades and deep berry, rust and ochre shades. Regarding dyeing natural shades, yes! I love taking madder and using it on various shades of Shetland wool. It produces the most amazing gradients. And I generally favour wools that have dyed on a grey, fawn or brown base, e.g. dyed Gotland, dyed Norwegian pelsau or even De Rerum Natura’s merino where all the non-blue colours are dyed on a mix shade fleece. The colours achieved this way aren’t as overwhelmingly bright but also, to me at least, seem to have a more depth and interest.


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