FOs: Granny Square dress, Smooshy scarf

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Greetings dear readers. I see that I have not been here for a week (is it just me or is time speeding up)?! I have been battling…erm…crocheting with some more Scheepjes Linen Soft this week, this time in hot pink (colourway is called Hummingbird).

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It’s a beautiful colour but I have been using a 3.5mm hook to make this dress and whilst the initial small squares were easy peasy the single crochets that are worked into the squares top and bottom have been brutal, especially where I had to work into a chain rather than a proper stitch. My poor hands!

At least the yarn, being a linen/cotton/acrylic blend, was willing to be blocked into submission because my little finished bodice looked pretty sad.

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I snuck some decreases in above and below the squares because it just looked like there were way too many stitches there. Another modification to the pattern was to add small shoulder straps (borrowed an idea from a fellow Raveler’s project page).

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Take that, yarn!

The heat in the upstairs half of the house drove me downstairs to my sewing room tonight, which was a good thing as the skirt portion of the dress got done. I made the fabric part shorter than the pattern suggested, and if I made it again I would prefer it to be wider for more wiggle room.

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This is such cute fabric – another remnant from work. I now have a nice pile of goodies to send off to my sister’s grand-daughter, including the cat hat and a few burp cloths and a bib which I just whipped up tonight without a pattern.

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Rather a lot of pink in that picture, eh. I must be making up for having three boys myself!

Another FO is this Smooshy Scarf made with two strands of Loops & Threads Facets. I love the colours in this yarn, though it’s very underspun and will probably pill like heck from the get go.

Two strands gives you the equivalent of a super bulky, plus 12mm needles makes for fast progress. I started this in the morning while waiting for ds2 to have his cavities filled at the dentist, added more during my afternoon break at work, and finished it in the evening on the sofa. It’s already rolled up in a little gift bag and tucked into a co-worker’s cubby for her to find next time she’s at work.

I mentioned last week that I’d ordered some yarn from Herrschner’s but it’s not here yet. I am confident it will arrive just in time for my birthday, which is on Thursday.  It has to, right? (Speaking of which, I have planned for banana splits – I stopped at the health food store today and stocked up on organic bananas, chocolate chips and cashew-based ice cream. Nom nom!)

Tomorrow I should probably spend my day back in my sewing room, making curtains. I have a bunch of clearance panels from work for the basement windows, but they need new headings and hemming.

Have a great day!

FOs: Top This! hat, Kanata Kerchief Tank

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I realised after I posted t’other day that I totally forgot to tell you…

I bought yarn!

Yes, I had SEX (Stash Enhancement Expedition) though it was virtual SEX because I bought the yarn online from Herrschner’s. It’s my first time ordering from them, though I’ve been getting their catalogues for years. Even though the website address is a dot-ca and I can browse and order in Canadian dollars, the paper catalogue is rather annoyingly in US dollars. It can be a bit misleading if you forget to do the conversion in your head when looking at the prices.

Anyway, I have been thinking of trying out one or more of the colour change yarns for a long time. Caron Cakes came out but they weren’t an option because of the wool. However there are lots of others. Scheepjes Whirl is a lightweight yarn with excellent yardage and  gradual rather than sudden colour change, but if I were to order it from Wool Warehouse it would be over $30. For one ball. Not gonna happen.

Other options are Premier Sweet Roll, Bernat Pop, Lion Brand Mandala, Stylecraft Candy Swirl, none of which I seem to be able to buy locally. The funny thing is, I went to the Herrschner’s site and put a bunch of the Premier and Bernat in my cart, left the tab open, and then decided to sleep on it. For a few days. Which meant that Herrschner’s sent me a couple of automatically generated emails prodding me to see if I was still interested in what was in my shopping cart. Then I saw the Lion Brand Mandala and took a look at that too. After a LOT of messing about, clicking back and forth, adding and deleting things from my cart, I decided to order five colourways of the Mandala. What swung me was the yardage. Lots more yardage for the same weight of ball because it’s DK and the others are worsted. I even paid for shipping, something I usually avoid like the plague.

So now I am awaiting a parcel in the mail – always fun!

Moving on – yes, I finished two projects today. The Kanata Kerchief Tank took me three weeks, but it felt longer. I wish now that I’d made it in a brighter colour, but I can wear a more colourful tank or T shirt underneath. Tonight I just threw it on over my white tank and tiered skirt (that I made) and asked ds3 to photograph me for the blog and my Ravelry project page. It’s voluminous so would be best worn with something closer-fitting on the bottom, or I could just look pregnant. (At nearly 55, that’s not gonna happen either.)

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The other FO is this hat. It’s a kit from DMC which I knitted up a couple of nights ago in the small size (60 stitches cast on) but it looked like a newborn size to me. I need it to fit my great-niece, either this winter or at some future point in time, so I unravelled it and reknitted it in the large (72 stitches cast on). My gauge was a bit tighter than the pattern indicated but the circumference is about right at 16″ so I’m happy with that.

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I have to work tomorrow, so I’d better get off to bed. Hope your week is going well.

 

 

Has it really been that long?

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Usually when I plan to write a blog post, I take a quick look at my previous post to see what I talked about so that I don’t repeat myself. Well, holy yarn, Batman, it’s been nearly two weeks! You must have thought I’d died. If you even noticed, that is 😀

So, what have I been up to. Firstly, this…

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This is the beautiful Winter Sun Square by Pam at Hooks and Hills. She was asking for testers a while back so I quickly volunteered. I made it with the Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK and I happened to have similar colours to the ones she used in hers. I whipped it up in an evening and gave her a little feedback on her pattern along with my photos. She has published the pattern now, and that’s where the link above will take you.

Secondly, I brought home the cutest 100% cotton fabric remnant from work. It’s a full metre and of course being a remnant from the end of the bolt I got it at 75% off.

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Yes, even skunks are sometimes cute.

Thirdly, I have AT LAST finished the four squares for the Kanata Kerchief Tank. I need to block them now. These used a teensy bit over six 50 gram balls of the Scheepjes Linen Soft – I have one ball left for the shoulder straps which had better be enough.

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I had to rip back in a few places where my stitch count was off, but by the last square I was just desperate to finish and I did fudge a corner rather than rip out a whole round.

As for my plans to keep on top of all the things I want to do, the meditation has fallen by the wayside. I think a better plan would be to schedule an hour of crochet a day, but WITHOUT Netflix or other distractions. This would work like a moving meditation in which I could calm my thoughts while doing something with my hands at the same time.

French and German….well, Duolingo has been a bit neglected but I have watched a lot of German With Jenny’s You Tube Channel and also checked some children’s books out of the library in German to practise reading and comprehension.

My other blog, Grains Greens Berries & Beans, has a short new post inspired by a video I saw online  yesterday. I think what tends to make me procrastinate is that I want that blog to have long educational posts with lots of links and a pretty picture, AND I want to share on Facebook and Twitter, which all needs a solid chunk of time. If I lower my expectations a bit, I will probably blog more.

Exercise….I did make it to the gym last week, and had a long flat cycle ride with a friend this week. A Monday afternoon walk with Tai Chi Man was very pleasant followed by a cup of tea at our favourite little independent tea shop. When it’s this hot, the thought of getting even more sweaty is not appealing, though, and I am hoping that tomorrow’s forecast for a cooler day with RAIN actually pans out. Today is the 44th day without rain, which matches 2003 for drought. That year, we had the biggest baddest wildfire ever which burned for weeks,  across the mountains on the other side of the lake from us, and then started in on the houses at the south end of the city. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. This year, there have been hundreds of fires around the province, but thankfully the ones around here were relatively small and dealt with quickly.

Well, I think we are all caught up. I need to go out this afternoon to register for a class in the fall. I’ve decided not to go back to piano lessons for now, but I am going to join in with a class that some friends are presenting about Food and Health. They have asked me to do my presentation on one of the days, so I’m going to go for the whole six weeks. Plus I find it rather nice to have a predictable day off each week for getting things done.

Happy crafting and see you again soon.

WIP: Kanata Kerchief Tank

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The glass table on my deck is my favourite place to photograph WIPs and FOs right now because the light out there is good, especially in the mornings before the sun comes around and makes it too bright and hot.

The Kanata Kerchief Tank is made up of four squares of lacy crochet which are then joined and added to to make the shoulder straps. So far I have just crocheted up the balls of yarn until they are done and then started another one. The squares aren’t big enough yet – they need to be 20″ square after blocking. This linen blend yarn really will need a good blocking. It’s looking pretty crumpled, having been stuffed into my Wool Warehouse organza bag.

I had a lovely parcel from a fellow Ravelry member this week. I had admired her project in a group I moderate (Crafternoon Treats) and she said she didn’t like working with the yarn and was unlikely to use the last skein. When I said how much I loved the colours she offered to mail me the yarn all the way from England. How lovely of her! It came with a pretty card and a stitch/placemarker too.

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There was an extra little bit of yarn enclosed so I had a play with it last night, following a C2C (corner to corner) tutorial on You Tube.

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We had a beautiful visitor to our backyard this week.

He spent hours just sitting in the shade at the bottom of the garden, had a little walk around under the apricot tree and found some fallen fruit, then nibbled on some wild rose leaves and the juniper. Even though he headed right towards our potatoes he left them alone. After another rest, something spooked him and he trotted off around the side of the house and across the road. I hope he found his family safely.

It’s been mid-30s Celsius this week and there’s talk of it hitting 40. Eeek! There have been more fires – one on a small mountain in the north end of town (the official story is that it was started deliberately) and more right on the side of the highway through the city caused by a nutcase walking along with a blowtorch setting light to the landscaping in front of the stores. It’s bad enough when fires start accidentally, but when crazy people with blowtorches, illegal campfires and carelessly discarded cigarettes are added in, it’s even more worrying.

I’m having a home day today and have lots to keep me busy. I did start the day with a one hour meditation, and that is my goal for every day now. As usual, I found that after a bunch of brain activity, I was starting to settle into a quiet period and the timer went off! I had so much going on in my head the other night that I couldn’t go to sleep so I got up again and grabbed a notebook and pen and made lists of all the things that I wanted to pay attention to. This includes things like

  • blogging (two blogs)
  • friends who I want to meet up with regularly
  • sewing projects I want to make
  • yarny projects
  • working on my Wholistic Nutrition slideshow and presentation
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • learning French and German
  • checking in to Ravelry every day, not just for my own benefit but to moderate the Crafternoon Treats group and post Kathryn’s latest podcast info to the group
  • and an item added by my husband which I shall coyly refer to as “paying him more attention” 😀

Talking of my presentation, two friends of mine are leading a class for seniors in the fall all about food and health. They did the same course last year and this time have more sessions and I have been asked to fill one of those sessions by doing my slideshow and talk. I have decided to be more proactive in sharing the benefits of a whole-food plant-based diet so this is the perfect opportunity. I will also be open  to talking to other small groups. It should get easier the more I do it.

It’s time to get off this couch and hang out some towels to dry. Have an awesome week and talk to you again soon. Remember, I love to receive your comments and I appreciate all Likes and Shares too.

 

 

Day 9/100-Day Self-Connection Experiment

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The meditation continues. The last couple of days’ sessions have frankly been full of thoughts. I gave a presentation on Wholistic Nutrition on Saturday and since then I have been mentally rewriting or adding to it, but it would probably have been good to actually spend time updating the slideshow so that I can stop the ideas from running around in my head.

I am currently sticking with 45 minutes a day. Anything less was too short to get my mind clear.

I haven’t watched more than a few of Kyle Cease’s own videos. Everyone is going to have a different experience, and he talks about his own, and I need to focus on my own without expectation or judgment.

So today, after 8 days of really getting nothing, I had a bit of a breakthrough. A question arose which I was able to sit with.

“Where am I?”

In other words, where is the “I” that is running the show? Am I in my brain, where I hear my daily narrative, my thoughts? Am I in my heart, where I feel love and compassion? Am I in my dan tien, the belly, where I feel honesty and integrity, or am I in some other place? My big toe? The air around my head? Some other “place” altogether?

Where does the life force come from that animates the cells after conception and the fetus’s heart starts beating?

Am I Nicola? Well, no, because that persona is a temporary me for this particular lifetime. This body is a temporary one. It is a vehicle. But where is the driver? There is no visible driving seat!

Who is behind the thoughts?

From “Where am I” to Who, How, What, Which, Why. Huge questions to which I have no answers but by keeping the mind curious and open maybe some answers will come.

I chose the image above because I spent part of my meditation time in outer space today! “I” went above the clouds, to the blue sky beyond, then it was nighttime and I could see stars, I looked at the earth which got smaller and smaller, I touched the Space Station and dodged a piece of space junk, and I held hands with millions of other consciousnesses who were out there too.

A good start to the day!

(Image from Pixabay. I am using this site all the time for my other blog. Creative Commons pictures, no attribution required.)

Fabulous Friday

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Let’s see, what do I have to share with you today? I probably should have got out of bed earlier this morning. I was up at about 7, and had to be at work by 9.15. So the first thing was to grab my lemon water and cup of tea, and then get on with making a pot of chili. It took about an hour to get everything going in the pressure cooker but it was a great way to use up the beans in the fridge and freezer, some spinach, Swiss chard, a couple of mushrooms, some grated carrot, a partial can of diced tomatoes and so on.

We used to have “refrigerator soup” most Fridays before I started working at Fabricland, because we always did our weekly shop on Saturdays and it was nice to clear out the wilting vegetables. Our routine is not so set in stone any more, because my shifts are all over the place. This week my only shifts were a five hour stretch last night plus an eight hour one today. I had a busy morning but because we are open until 9pm on Fridays we have more staff arriving at lunchtime to see us through to closing, and a couple of us were able to leave early today. So I’ve only actually earned ten hours worth of pay this week.

So to get back to the chili, and the fact that I put in a couple of loads of laundry and hung one load outside on the line, and had to eat breakfast and make a lunch, I didn’t have time to meditate this morning. And I actually missed it! It’s only Day 4 but I already feel it’s something I want to keep doing. So when I was told I could go home early if I wanted, I jumped at the chance (as usual) and fitted in my 35 minute session before dinner.

Awesome!

I also had time to review the slideshow that I have put together for a presentation I’m making tomorrow night. This presentation, which I’m calling Wholistic Nutrition, has been scheduled for months and I had started writing things down and mulling over how it was all going to come together back in May or June. With the deadline looming, I discovered Google Slides, which is a free Powerpoint type tool which is easy to use. Using the material I wrote weeks ago, plus some text from my blog posts on Grains, Greens, Berries and Beans (my whole-food plant-based blog), plus some nifty photos from Pixabay (free Creative Commons pictures), I found that doing a slideshow was a better way to get my thoughts in order and present everything attractively.

I sound like an advertisement, don’t I!

I ended up putting the whole thing together in a day, with a couple of tweaks since, and I even had to get a bit of advice from my techie sons about changing my display to incorporate two screens, as my laptop will hook up to a projector. I feel a bit nervous about relying heavily on technology, and just in case my speaker notes aren’t visible while the slideshow is playing I will be printing them out.

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I do actually have two WIPs to show you. I have finished and joined Parts 1 to 5 of the Everything is Cool and Groovyghan CAL 2016. Part 6 is a long strip that attaches to this piece, and I had to wonder why it was made separately when I could just work it straight onto the piece I already had. So what I did was crochet a row of sc along the edge of the joined blocks (after I took this photo) instead of making a row of foundation sc, and whilst I have a few extra stitches I think it will be okay (famous last words) as I think the pattern repeat for part 6 is a multiple of 5 plus 2, and I have 172 stitches. This is only five more than the pattern calls for so I think I’m good.

Good grief, that photo makes the blocks look so wonky. There’s going to have to be some serious blocking when all the parts are joined.

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This is my other WIP. It’s the Kanata Kerchief Tank, available as a free Ravelry download. It’s a pretty top, made quite simply with four large squares, partially joined and finished to make the shoulder straps. It calls for a DK yarn so I’m using a new yarn to me, Scheepjes Linen Soft, and a 6mm hook.

I figured that this top should be the priority, so that I can wear it this summer, and then I’ll probably follow that up with the toddler dress with the pink Linen Soft. I’m really looking forward to making that.

I also managed to binge watch Season Six of ‘Suits’ on Netflix this week. There are only 10 episodes and I’m 99% sure there won’t be another season, considering how it ended, but I could be wrong. (Who, me?)

Wishing you all a happy sunny weekend. Have fun, stay healthy, be happy!

 

 

100 days self-connection experiment

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Something a bit different today. I recently came across a video by Kyle Cease, who I’d never heard of before, that inspired me to make some changes in myself. I can’t remember which video it was – it was shared on Facebook by a friend – but he talked about being a people-pleaser and it really resonated with me.

I tend to only speak my mind with my close family, and even then I often feel I have to rein it in for fear of upsetting people. Yes, it’s good that I don’t want to go off on a rant and get all worked up, because that tends to alienate people, but even when I speak emphatically while keeping my cool I often feel guilty afterwards. Like when I was staying with my mum when I visited in June and a couple of times I ended up talking about veganism and how I felt vegans were misunderstood.

Going back to the video, Kyle mentioned an affirmation that we can use to help us move away from being people-pleasers. I was really struck by a comment he made about being inauthentic and bland when we are sitting there being passive, and I thought Yes, it’s true. I was six years in the Tao, studying religious teachings from many religions and while I found it very helpful in becoming a calmer, more accepting, person, I also found it dampened down my personality.

The affirmation is this:

I am independent of the good or the bad opinions of others.

Hoo-wee, that is a big one for me. I have spent my life seeking approval from others, being self-conscious because I was wondering how others saw me, having this image of myself that I have tried to maintain as a nice, caring person.

I am now trying to bust out of this shell of self-limitation. It might seem small, but I have worn a bikini at the beach and at my friend’s pool because I wanted to work on my tan despite not having a “perfect” body, by the standards of the media.

I have decided to speak up more instead of letting it slide when people say something that sparks a reaction in me. My friends seem to have no problems setting boundaries and saying what they think, so why don’t I?

Kyle Cease has a segment on his website called the 100 Day Self-Connection Experiment. Back in 2015, he decided to meditate for two hours a day for 100 days and make a short video about his discoveries about himself every day.

I have never been a meditator so I decided to start small. The last three mornings I have got out of bed, drunk my glass of lemon water and taken a cup of tea back to bed to do my sitting. He does not use any special techniques, and neither do I. I started with 20 minutes the first day, and have increased the time by five minutes each day. I just sit there with my eyes closed and when the thoughts come up I try not to attach to them or follow them down the rabbithole but come back into myself and the present moment. I find a good way to bring myself back is to focus on my breath, or the feeling of my hands touching each other, or the sounds coming in the window.

I have enjoyed these sessions though there haven’t been any breakthrough moments yet. It’s probably too early. And I am trying not to have any expectations or attachments. I have watched the first few of Kyle’s videos though I am not using them as a guide or something to compare myself to.

I’m sharing here because this is something I wanted to write about and this blog is not just about yarn, believe it or not! It’s about my life too. And I felt that talking about this might help someone else.