Playing with fabric and paper

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Playing with fabric and paper

I’ve been watching quite a few YouTube videos this week from various channels and getting so inspired. I just had to try journal-making using some of the ideas that I learned.

I made a small journal with a denim cover and a fabric inner, and added pages using a variety of different kinds of paper that I had lying around the house. I used cast-off half zippers, buttons, fabric, greetings cards and envelopes to embellish the pages. As this was my first attempt, I didn’t go overboard, but I want to make more of these with a better plan in place.

I managed to fit this project in today between the stages of making our Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, it’s late. I was working all weekend and decided that today would do. Out of five of us, only one was working, so it was the most convenient.

This morning, I made the vegan double-layered pumpkin cheesecake (from fatfreevegan), cut up the root vegetables and sprouts, and prepped the stuffing and chestnut lentil loaf. I then had some time to spare to go and play in my sewing room. Later on, I baked the food, made salad and gravy, and we stuffed our faces!

Mr Fixit was busy outside while I was cooking. He was patching the driveway and unblocking gutters! We went for a walk after dinner, which was much needed, despite the wind and rain.

You may have noticed a new FO on the dinner table – a pumpkin crocheted with the other skein of Berroco Espresso that I had in the stash. It’s a medium-sized one, and nice and squishy.

I hope you are enjoying some temperate weather, whether it is spring or fall where you are. We went to Costco yesterday and they had cosy warm coats with faux fur-lined hoods and micro fleece-lined pants/trousers. Yes, I did buy both! Once I tried that coat on, I just had to have one. I feel like whatever the weather throws at me this winter, I will be toasty!

Back from being pampered, and some FOs

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Well, what a week! Mr Fixit and I enjoyed a lovely break away from it all in rural British Columbia. We were served gourmet vegan meals three times a day, took twice-daily walks in the woods, had three spa treatments each (mine included a pedicure, a facial and an all-over seasalt scrub), sunbathed (because the weather was amazingly warm for the time of year, and windless), and took a complete break from social media. We even swam in the nearby lake, which was cold enough to make you gasp and even go a little numb when you submerged yourself.

No photos for you, I’m afraid, as I only switched on my phone or iPad to check for messages from the boys at home. But if you want to check out the place, go to silverhills.ca and you can see for yourself.

I took the Habitat Cardigan project with me (link goes to my Ravelry project page) and finished it partway through the week.

It’s soft and drapey in the Loops & Threads Serpentine/Meandering Minis. Perfect for this time of year.

The construction is easy – just a rectangle, to which you add an extension to make it cover your bum and then a collar and cuffs. Pattern is by Jess at Make & Do Crew.

With that finished, I picked up a skein of the other yarn I took with me on my retreat, Berroco Espresso, which is a chainette yarn in acrylic/cotton. I whipped out a quick basket with an 8mm hook in a couple of days.

I have a second skein of this yarn and am in the process of making a pumpkin with it. It should be finished quite soon.

I’m excited about my birthday present to myself. My birthday was back in August, but I waited until Labour Day as I thought that there would be no lake swimming after that (I was wrong)! Then I got the massive toothache and waited until I had that dealt with, and by the time those aches and pains had gone I was out of town. No more excuses left, I went to the piercing place today and now have a new titanium helix stud.

My plan is to wait for it to heal and then get a cuff to put in, in place of the stud. And buy three extra pairs of studs to go in the old piercings.

Gosh, look at all that natural grey/brown hair! For the first time in ages, I don’t have any colour in my hair.

The fall weather hit properly yesterday, with the temperature dropping below 20 and the rain starting. I do love this time of year, though I’m glad the rain held off until this week.

Scrap adventures continue

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Scrap adventures continue

I’ve been having so much fun with my scraps this month. Following on from the hot pink pumpkin bag and the tote bag made from scrap fabric squares, I continued to experiment.

These scraps were pulled from the “black” bag, and arranged on an 8″ square of batting and free motion quilted. It wasn’t particularly successful as the pieces wanted to move around so there were some little gaps where I could see through to the batting.

Then I moved on to 8″ squares of fusible interfacing.

These worked out a little better, because I arranged the scraps so that every one was at least partly touching the fusible, ironed it, then quilted it. I had an oopsie where I melted something and realised I had used a piece of polypropylene instead of cotton! I have now invested in a snazzy pair of Fons and Porter machine quilting gloves from work, which have little non-slip dots all over the palms and underside of the fingers. I think this will help a lot. My quilting on these is embarrassing to say the least!

Also, nighttime shots in artificial light are not the greatest!

So, after watching quite a few You Tube videos on creative ways to use up scraps, I tried this.

I cut 12.5″ squares of white broadcloth and white tulle. I put them together, sewed around three sides, and stuffed a bunch of scraps into the resulting pocket. I thought I’d gone overboard, but once I sewed the fourth side and then added wavy lines across the whole square it flattened down quite nicely. I didn’t even use my walking foot, just the everyday one.

The scraps didn’t reach the edge in a couple of places so I trimmed it down to about 10″ square and then added a binding. I will actually use this – it would be good mat for a hot teapot. And I used up SO many scraps, some of which I even rescued from the waste paper basket in my sewing room.

I also finished a project bag made from fabric created from thin strips of quilt cottons.

Instead of multiple squares, this time I cut some batting 12 by 30″ and applied the strips directly to it on the diagonal, leaving the edges raw.

At this point, I had sorted the heap on my sewing room floor by colour, so it was easier to follow the colour wheel. It was such a pretty effect! This rectangle became this….

The lining isn’t my favourite fabric but I had a big enough chunk of it to make it in one piece.

How has your week been? Mine has been somewhat overshadowed by the toothache that started last Saturday, continued through Sunday and made my work day very tough, and a dentist appointment on Monday morning when I had a tooth pulled. Since then I’ve had various aches and pains and sore bits in my mouth, and I’m ready for it all to just be over!

The good news is that Mr Fixit and I are going away for a week to a guest house that’s a couple of hours drive away – far enough to feel like a complete break, but still within the province. We’ve been once before and we know the food is great, there are good hiking trails, and we will get a few spa treatments thrown in as well. We don’t plan to check social media while we’re gone. My phone will be for emergency contact with our sons at home, if necessary. I’m taking a book, some crochet, some pens and a notebook.

I’ll ‘see’ you when I get back!

Smoked out

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Smoked out

Our valley has been full of smoke the last few days. We haven’t had many local fires this year, but we have been experiencing very poor air quality from smoke coming up from Washington/Oregon. Whilst I’m grateful we are not directly threatened by the fires, I am disappointed that the cool, clear, possibly even damp days of fall have not so far materialised.

For about three days we kept the windows closed and it was too warm and very stuffy inside. I tried running the furnace fan one day to see if it helped, but it didn’t. As soon as I could see a slight thinning of the smoke layer, I threw open the windows again.

So let’s see, what crafty progress have I made? The Habitat Cardigan hasn’t changed much from the progress photo at the end of August. The collar has been added to, but then it languished again as I went into manic sewing mode.

I am very pleased with the bags I made this week.

This is my Pumpkin Bag. The materials are a pink wool-like fabric, that’s actually wool-free – it may be a poly/rayon blend, I don’t remember – curtain grommets from the place where I work, and lots and lots of scraps. The pumpkin applique is made from lots of strips of quilting cotton, overlapped and zigzagged down to a base of fusible interfacing. I made a rectangle of this “new fabric” then just trimmed it to a pumpkin shape and used one of the offcuts to make the stem.

The lining is also made from scraps, again with the edges un-neatened, overlapped and zigzagged on a base of broadcloth.

This was all done in a single 6-hour sewing session. Lunch was late that day!

Then that evening I started making scrappy squares, sewn onto a backing of quilt batting. I made eight, with each one having a different colour scheme. They became this bag:

For this one, I popped out and bought some new batik fabric for the lining and handles. These photos were taken in my sewing room in artificial light, so they’re not as good as they could be!

That was an intense couple of days!

I’ve also, as usual for this time of year, got the pumpkin bug, and have made a number of fabric pumpkins.

upcycled jeans
quilt cotton and fleece

I made two of those orange fleece ones. The second looked a lot less wonky than the first.

All of the items in this blog post are currently on display at work, just to brighten the place up for a while. And then I’ll bring them home and they can brighten up my place!

Hello September

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I’m currently enjoying a beautiful long weekend. It’s Labour Day here tomorrow and I booked four days off from work to coincide with Mr Fixit’s time off.

Thursday was an insanely busy day at work, moving tonnes of fabric around, shifting tables, reconfiguring parts of the store, and so having this weekend off feels more precious than ever. (Also I am going to a four day week instead of three soon, so definitely appreciating this leisure time.)

Friday was a restful day. I was letting my body recover from all of the strenuous activity of the day before. Saturday we enjoyed a mini road trip south, repeating one of our favourite traditions for this time of year. We stopped to pick up lunch from our friends’ food truck at a farmers market, sat in a park to eat it, continued on to a fruit stand in a little town, bought lots of peaches, plums, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, peppers and beets, then turned around and stopped for a cup of tea. Further up the valley we parked by the side of the road at a small beach and enjoyed a swim and a sunbathe.

Today we were out early again and hiked up to the top of a local mountain, which we followed up with tea and baked goods at our favourite tea shop. This afternoon, after a fruit salad made with lots of local fruit, we hit the gym.

After dinner tonight, I finished a couple of things that I started yesterday. This crochet beanie was made from a cake of Caron Cupcakes grabbed out of the stash yesterday morning to keep my hands busy while Mr Fixit drove. (I used one of my new KnitPro Waves hooks and it was very comfortable.)

And the other finished project is this bag. I have seen some people on a Ravelry sewing group making Japanese rice bags (good tutorial here). They looked pretty simple. Just four squares for the sides, another square for the base, same for the lining, and sew them together incorporating tabs or loops for a drawstring.

Of course this bag would look a lot classier with fewer fabrics but I decided to do this…

Yes, I tipped all my quilting cotton scraps onto the floor and dug down to the bottom and grabbed pieces at random to make crazy quilt blocks. So the five outer panels are all different, all clashing, and once I’d sewn them last night I started to doubt myself!! (I started with 11″ squares of sew-in fleece and pieced the fabric right onto the fleece. They needed trimming a bit afterwards so ended up 10.75″ square.)

Tonight I thought, “To heck with it, I’m going to do it anyway,” cut some squares for the lining (all different, of course) and put it all together. It’s really easy to make, the trick being that when you sew the seams you leave the last little bit unsewn so that the corners come together neatly. (Watch the video I linked above.)

Seen from another angle…

And the inside (with my hand-dyed yarn inside)…

Oh yes, I haven’t told you about the yarn yet. These were four balls of white Drops Paris (worsted weight cotton). I dyed them with turquoise and yellow, overlapping the colours in the middle to make green.

This was only my second attempt at dyeing yarn. I think I am going to take four balls at a time and use different colours and methods on each batch and see how they turn out. I have no plans for the yarn once it’s dyed.

If you live in North America, happy Labour Day! How will you be spending it?

Goodbye August

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And where DID the time go? The end of summer already.

I can feel the changes in the air – the daytime temps have still been warm, but the nights are cooler and damper. The sun is lower in the sky and the nights are drawing in. Love that “on the cusp” feeling, actually.

I have picked up the Habitat cardigan again, and am in the middle of adding the collar.

The rows are pretty long, running as they do from the bottom of one side, up and around and down to the bottom of the other side. It’s an easy stitch – half double crochet in the third loop – but the collar is a wide one so I have a lot of rows still to go.

This morning I made a pumpkin. For some reason, pumpkins are the only seasonal things I tend to make. I didn’t get a photo as I did it just before work and took it with me. It was just a circle of orange fabric, cinched up with a running stitch around the edge, stuffed, and then I added shape using embroidery floss and a button on top. I may have to make more of those!

Other things I have made this week:

Crochet hook roll

This crochet hook roll was something I wanted to make to house my new KnitPro Waves hooks. I had this cute cat and mouse fabric in the stash so used the pawprint fabric for the outside, the mice to create the secondary row of pockets, and the cat fabric for the inside. I didn’t use a tutorial directly but it was inspired by an Erica Arndt video and a Melanie Ham one. I combined features from them both.

These gnomes were made for display at work. The materials for the taller blue one were provided by the store, but I couldn’t resist making a second one. The blue one has a styrofoam cone inside, but it’s very light and tippy, whereas the red one’s base is an old sock filled with wheat so it’s much more stable. I couldn’t believe how much hot glue I used, though!

Summer Face Mask – Keiko Olssen

Then there were these masks, which were really quick and easy. What I like about this style is that the fabric design runs uninterrupted across the front. No seams or odd shapes to cut. And they have since been thoroughly tested and found to be very comfortable.

Ring pincushion – SewVeryEasy

And I spent an evening before a staff meeting sewing up 22 of these little cuties. They are teeny pincushions which fit on your finger. Everyone seemed to enjoy being able to take one home. I didn’t get a photo of the mason jar pincushion which I also made at the last minute. I put a bunch of pins inside the jar and the person who guessed closest to the right number won the jar (and the pins).

As you can see, it’s been a creative week. And I’m sure there will be lots more crafty stuff going on later this week as I have the long weekend booked off (four days in a row for Labour Day).

See you in September!

New goodies

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Before I show you what came in the mail today, I need to show you this:

I made this from some old black jeans of mine, and a black T shirt that my son grew out of. It was one of the first things he bought for himself online years ago. I used the part with the words for the bag front and the lower body for the lining.

Another sewing project was this free pattern from Sew Sweetness called the Persimmon Dumpling Pouch. I used quilting cottons and some upcycled denim.

(Yes, that’s my birthday cake behind.)

I felt I did a really good job on the zipper, but unfortunately when you look at the ends of the bag it is painfully obvious that I didn’t match up my denim seams (where it meets the colourful cotton, either side of the zipper) very well and it looks wonky. Apart from that, it’s a really nice bag!!

And now, to my Wool Warehouse order. As soon as they opened up to international orders again, I was there, filling up my cart. I bought two kinds of white cotton yarn, Drops Safran and Drops Paris. I will do some dye experiments with those. And I was tempted by some lovely India-inspired fabric – I think the range was called New Delhi – of which I bought six fat quarters. And then there are the hooks – 17 of them altogether – all the sizes that Wool Warehouse carries in the Knit Pro Waves. Very exciting! In fact, I may have to sew a brand new hook roll to keep them in. I have wanted a set of hooks for a long time, rather than a mismatched bunch of miscellany!

How apropos that they arrived on my birthday!

I am now sitting here, absolutely stuffed after a takeout meal from one of our favourite places and a huge slice of vanilla/chocolate marble cake. It’s been an awesome weekend!

Birthday weekend!

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I am in the middle of three days off, tomorrow being Monday and my birthday.

We didn’t manage an overnight camping/cabin trip, sadly, as it was too late to book anything and I didn’t want to just show up somewhere and hope to get a campsite. So instead we went out for the day, Mr Fixit and I, and were tourists in our own town. Well, our own province, rather. We drove to a good hiking spot that we’d been to before, separately. I had been there with my youngest son and some homeschool friends years ago, and Mr Fixit had taken ds1 and ds3 up there when they all had new fancy cameras to test out.

We set out early enough for it to still be cool enough to hike up a mountain without dying of heat, though in fact it only reached about 25 today, and there was quite a bit of cloud. Word from other hikers was that there were two bears about, but we didn’t see them. We hiked to the summit, enjoyed the view for a while, then hiked down.

Afterwards, it was off to a local vegan restaurant for lunch (they are allowing people to eat at their outside tables) and then to a park for some beach time. It was really windy and definitely not hot, surprisingly for August, but I swam and sunbathed, and Mr Fixit read his book. If it had been hotter, we would definitely have stayed longer. I didn’t feel like I was topping up the tan at all, though sitting here on my couch tonight I can see my shoulders are a bit red.

Avocado grilled “cheese” sandwich
Ginger snap and oatmeal choc chip!

And as if that wasn’t enough fresh air and exercise, I also spent a couple of hours cleaning the house this evening, which feels awesome as it was overdue.

Tomorrow I shall have to make myself a birthday cake! Not sure what kind yet – it will depend on ingredients on hand as I didn’t think of that when we went to the supermarket yesterday. I will leave you with this little sign that we found along the trail today.

Summertime, and the living is eeeeeeeasy!

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Did you sing that title? I did!

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks and I haven’t had much to say. I did get an up to date photo of the Habitat Cardigan just now, but indoors because it’s too damned hot outside. It’s around 30 degrees Celsius in here and I have ceiling fans on, the furnace fan to circulate the air between upstairs and downstairs, and a big floor-standing fan blasting directly at me. It’s about ten degrees hotter than that outside, so the curtains are still closed.

Dinner was a simple affair – potatoes and lettuce from the garden, and some tofu “steaks” which are the simplest thing ever. Slice up extra firm tofu, marinate it in Braggs, dip it in seasoned flour, and shallow fry.

However, I digress. The cardigan…

I am at the part where I’ve finished the basic rectangle and folded it and seamed to form armholes. I’ve also started adding to the bottom edge to make it longer, and next I have to add a collar and cuffs.

This yarn is Loops & Threads Meandering Serpentine for the main colour and Minis for the stripes. I haven’t touched it in three days though. I was working all weekend and haven’t had the urge to add more, but now that the second half of the pattern is printed out I’ll get on with it.

Today was a day off, and I planned it well. Did some laundry and kitchen tidying this morning, went to the gym for an hour (air conditioned but then of course I’m working out so super sweaty), then shower and lunch. And this afternoon I retreated to the basement for some sewing. The other day I made up a paper pattern from an existing tank top and used some cool tie dyed knit fabric to make a new one. However I didn’t add enough ease, it’s too close-fitting, and I was disappointed with it.

So I redrew the pattern, adding a bit extra at the bust, flaring it out way more and adding length. Sewed it up this afternoon and I’m much happier with it.

The reverse is cool too. This is the same fabric (but in a different colourway) that I made a sweatshirt with in the spring. I didn’t hem this version because I was concerned it would go wavy like the previous one.

I think that’s all I have to update you with for now. It’s my birthday next weekend so I have the day off. I am trying to think of something special to do within the parameters of the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named! Maybe a mini road trip with Mr Fixit!

And the heat continues…

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Regardless of the high temperatures and stuffy house, the crochet continues, because we crafters are always planning for winter!

The Habitat Cardigan is growing. The back section is about 14″ long now, so I’m over halfway done with the initial rectangle. I have one more colour to incorporate and then I’ll start repeating them.

When the back is 26″ long, I have to add a “tush extension”, a large collar, and cuffs, so I have a long way to go yet. It would be great if this cardigan could be finished by the end of August.

I was so overheated yesterday I went for a swim in the lake. It’s been a few years, I think, since I did that, and it was very pleasant. I think I shall have to do the same today. The housework is done (the vacuuming had to be done this morning before it was too hot), I need to make bread, and Mr Fixit and I plan to go to the gym later, but I’m sure I can fit in a quick swim too.

How’s your weekend going?