Ep 121 – Holiday Knitting

How to decide what knitting to take when travelling?

How do you decide what holiday knitting to take with you when you travel? Do you spend more time choosing what yarn to take than which clothes to pack?

This week we tackle the thorny subject of holiday/travel knitting. A source of much anguish for the average knitter, choosing what to take with you, and what to leave behind, can be like picking a favourite child. Even a short getaway can lead to stash packing that would enable you to survive a zombie apocalypse.

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Episode 94: Global Hypercolour

Image Details: 'Fluorescent Ort Loom (Weaving Detail)' by Nic McPhee, via Flickr.

Image Details: ‘Fluorescent Ort Loom (Weaving Detail)’ by Nic McPhee, via Flickr.

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REVISED Yarn Crawl Passport FRONT

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Episode 90: Curious Handmade- An interview with Helen Stewart

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So first things first, my mental and yet fabulous (obviously) assistant LJ is running the London marathon this weekend. She has broken her arse as a result of yarn fumes, sort of, so listen in for the full comedy breakdown of the incident. If you should take pity on the poor maniac then you can sponsor her here. As promised here is a little snap of her and what she will look like on the day in case you happen to be around and want to cheer her on in her sorry state! Good luck LJ!

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I feel sorry for her already…


The lovely Helen had a very crafty upbringing in Queensland, complete with Macrame and all. How could she not grow up to be a creative soul? At the age of 25 she upped sticks after catching the travel bug and ended up here in the UK. She began knitting again as she was living in London (and it’s cold innit?) The growth of her hobby began as her friend asked her for a contribution to her pattern book, though it was after the publication of her Afternoon Tea Shawl pattern in Knitty magazine that she began to feel more recognition and believe that this may be something she would like to focus on. After having her second child she wasn’t loving corporate work the same way and wanted something flexible to fit around the children and having them gave her the push she needed to start her own business, something she never dreamt she would do. One of the least likely elements of her business is her podcast, given that she is quite shy. Her husband says it works for her as it creates a community and allows her to talk with people without actually having to meet them. Helen feels it is an excellent springboard into friendships and makes things easier when you do meet face to face. Clearly it is a good thing she took that leap – Helen’s career high is winning the UK Podcast Awards ‘Best Hobby Podcast’ last year.

Afternoon Tea Shawl c) Helen Stewart

Afternoon Tea Shawl c) Helen Stewart

There is no fixed pattern to Helen’s day, other than the drop off, work for 6 manic hours and then pick up – familiar to all us working mums. Given that her business is so varied, with many elements, her days are never the same, though having a podcast to do gives her some structure each week. Posh coffees also have a pivotal role. Another varies aspect of Helen’s life is her creative process. It will often begin with a colourful yarn she finds that sparks her interest and then she will look for a theme, however vague, that she can use to try and tie different pieces together. She likes a good swatch and some designs are quick and easy but some take an entire shawl’s worth of swatching. It can be a time consuming process but, thankfully, one that she greatly enjoys.

With the words ‘no journey is a smooth one’ ringing in her ears Helen gives a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t allow yourself the time you need. Early in her career she submitted an idea to a magazine with a very tight deadline. It didn’t work as she was inexperienced and ambitious but had a trip planned and due to unforeseen circumstances got held up on the other side of the world. She submitted work that she wasn’t happy with and ended up with it not being published. The message Helen hopes we all get from this is to be patient, respect yourself and your process and give yourself the time you need. An excellent learning experience for all of us, thank you for sharing Helen.

Pebble Beach Shawl c) Helen Stewart

Pebble Beach Shawl c) Helen Stewart

If Helen could go back and talk to her pre-yarny self she would stress the importance of unpicking and fixing your mistakes immediately. It won’t magically disappear by itself and it’s easier to only unpick one row. You also need to get straight back on it, don’t throw it to one side in a hissy fit like I do, basically. One big message from this interview is to be patient. That is the main bit of advice Helen would give someone looking to enter this business world as it takes years to become a success. Since we’re an impatient bunch (sorry, Helen) I asked what’s next for Curious Handmade and was thrilled to hear that there is a new shawl collection in the pipeline that may even become a club. You can find Helen at and all the wonderful links from there. The podcast is available at Stitcher and Itunes.

Wrap Up

That’s all from me this week. As always, thank you for listening. Feedback is always appreciated, and you can email me or message me via Ravelry or social media. If you enjoyed listening today, please consider leaving an iTunes review, to help others find the podcast too. Happy crafting!

Episode 73: The Three Little Pigs

Image Details: '42-365: When The Wolf's At The Door' by Rina Pitucci, via Flickr.

Image Details: ’42-365: When The Wolf’s At The Door’ by Rina Pitucci, via Flickr.

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This week we’re having a bit of a crafty catch up and a few laughs along with it. Come and be lightly enabled and hear a bit of knitted spud banter. It’s back to the usual tangential humour after a crazy couple of weeks at Casa Shiny.

Christmas Bauble with dates

Enablers’ Corner

Come and be enabled (after about 4 weeks of mohair chatter) to the sale at Whistlebare Yarns. In episode 72, we heard from Alice about life on the farm and this week, she’s kicking off a 20% off sale on Yeavering Bell Aran and DK.

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Episode 26: How to Write a Knitting Book Whilst Homeschooling 3 Children with Sally Cameron

Image Copyright Sally Cameron, reproduced here with kind permission.

Image Copyright Sally Cameron, reproduced here with kind permission.

Following on from Episode 25, where I reviewed Sally Cameron’s new knitting book, “Msanzi: South Africa on my Needles” and gave the breathtaking knitting and landscape photography a glowing report, we’re back and Sally has joined us! Also this week there is a quick rundown of WIPs in the Wippin Piccadilly section and a yarn shop review of the Nairn Wool Shop.

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On the Road: Stellenbosch

SA’s finest!

Following on from the SA Section in Episode 5 of the podcast, here are some photos from our trip to Stellenbosch.

Ageing the vino.

The above two photos and the one below are from Uva Mira, which was the first stop of the day.

View from the rear of the farm.

After that, we stopped in at Ernie Els, followed by lunch at Guardian Peak. Ernie Els had a very impressive estate, however we preferred the wines at Guardian Peak, which also had a great restaurant.

Ernie Els

Another farm we visited was Stark Condé, which has the tasting room on an island in the middle of a lake. We bought quite a lot of wine from here!

Stark Condé.

Tokara was a notable estate, not for the wine particularly, but for the interesting collection of art and installations in the tasting area. The clock is a favourite!

Installation based on vines outside the tasting room.

Close-up of the top of the vines, which has words telling a story.

Art piece with bobbins!

What time is it, Mr Wolf?

Justus’ Malva Pudding Recipe

Malva Pudding

Image Details: ‘Malva Pudding’ by Jon Mountjoy, via Flickr.

Here is the recipe from Episode 4 of the Podcast, where I was joined by Justus to make the South African staple that is Malva Pudding. This is definitely not a diet pudding. Calorie content is unknown, but I suspect it would be red across the board on the traffic light system. You do, however, only live once, so give it a try!


1 1/4 cups of plain flour (cake flour in SA)
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tbsp apricot jam
1/2 tsp finely grated orange rind (optional)
4 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp vinegar

For the sauce

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup cream (not specified but I would use single cream)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup water

Baking tray approximately 30cm x 25cm x 4cm.


1) Preheat the oven to 180 deg C/350 deg F.

2) Combine the cake flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Sift the whole mixture together through the sieve three times.

3) Beat the eggs together, whilst adding small amounts of the caster sugar at a time, until the all the caster sugar has been added and the mixture is light and fluffy. This step is essential to the success of the recipe.

4) Heat the butter, evaporated milk, jam, orange rind if added, orange juice and vinegar together in a pan. Stir vigorously throughout the heating process to avoid the mixture curdling.

5) Once the butter is just melted, beat the mixture together rapidly with an electric mixer.

6) Take the flour mixture and add 1/3 of it to the egg mixture and fold in gently. Repeat this step with the butter mixture. Repeat, alternating the flour and butter mixture until it is all added. Remember to fold, not stir, at this point.

7) Quickly beat the mixture for 20 seconds using the electric mixer.

8) Lightly grease the baking tray or spray it with fancy pants Cook ‘n’ Bake. Pour the mixture into the pan. This needs to be done fairly quickly after mixing, so that the mixture does not have time to cool down too much, as the butter will start to solidify again if it does.

9) Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes.


10) When there is about 10 minutes left to go with the baking of the sponge, put all of the sauce ingredients in the pan and heat it up, stirring continuously until all of the sugar is dissolved.

11) Remove sponge from oven after the 45 minutes of baking. Take a fork and prick the top of the sponge all over. Pour the butter sauce all over the cake.

12) Serve! Usual accompaniments are custard or ice cream in SA, although I think it would work very nicely with some creme fraiche and summer fruits to cut through the sweetness.


Episode 4: Close Encounters

Close Encounter in Zimbabwe

Image Details: ‘Close Encounter in Zimbabwe’ by hchalkley, via Flickr.

Hello and Welcome to Episode 4 of the Shinybees Podcast: Close Encounters. A warm welcome to all new and returning listeners! This week is mostly about rhinos and cake. In the words of Aerosmith, “Just Push Play.”

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