Scrappy Sunday

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I have been having a very colourful time, working on Part 2 of the Creative Crochet Workshop’s Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL. The above motif will be a 12″ square. The last two rounds were added this week. I have realised that doing a crochet-along like this is very good for the discipline of weaving in your ends. You can’t proceed any further until Part 3 comes out, so often there’s a waiting period between finishing one part and the release of the next part.

The other squares for Part 2 are four 6″ squares. I made the two flowery ones different colours, but the rainbow ones are the same. I like the fact that the rainbow squares incorporate all ten colours in the blanket.

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What’s your weekend been like? Yesterday I was working, and we had another sale where the discounts were a bit bigger than usual, and we were reeeeeeally busy. It made the day go faster, at least, and customers were mostly happy because of the savings (except for a couple of grumblers who thought that the 53% should have been off literally everything – they obviously didn’t read the small print in the mailer)!

Today Tai Chi Man loaded up the prunings from the last couple of days yardwork. He had to cut some dead wood out of the cherry and apricot trees (much to the chagrin of the ants who were inhabiting the hollow branch of the cherry) and so today he took another 260kg of yard waste to the landfill. That’s nearly 700kg of stuff that’s been cleared off our property (of nearly half an acre) in the last couple of weeks.

The grass is greening up, there are more violets in the lawn every year, which is wonderful, we have daffodils and forsythia flowering, and even one of my Christmas cacti is pink and pretty, obviously deciding to be an Easter cactus instead.

The purple dishcloths have been flowing off my hook. I am on my fourth now. I think that may be the last one. When that’s done, I’d like to start another scrappy colourful project which I can work on when I have done my CAL pieces for the week. I have so much DK yarn, mostly Stylecraft Special DK, which would look lovely actually made into something useful. Do you have a favourite scrappy project? If so, comment and let me know what it is.

It’s been a good day of housework, tea at our favourite tea shop, stocking up at Costco, and going to the gym. I set up vegan mac ‘n cheese to bake while we were at the gym (can you believe my 20 year old son still complains when I put broccoli in it?!) so we’ve had a satisfying dinner too. All feels right with the world!

Whipping those WIPs

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Whipping those WIPs

The flurry of crochet (and knitting) activity continues. The purple yarn I showed you last time has so far given birth to two dishcloth/scrubbie combos, one of which I photographed at my favourite tea shop on Tuesday. I am hoping to get four out of the two skeins. I find this combination of scrubbie yarn in the middle and cotton on the outside really useful.

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I love the coordinating mug and dishcloth!

The Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL Part 1 is now complete. I finished the crocheting last night and wove in ends today at our weekly knitting group meetup, ready for Part 2 which has been released today.

I already showed you the first eight squares. Here are the remaining eight, plus the start of a 12″ square.

And I was feeling brave last night, so cast on for two-at-a-time (TAAT) socks. I watched a couple of video tutorials which demonstrated different methods, and ended up winging it without a safety net! It worked!!

Not much progress yet, but those stitches are so darned tiny!

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I knitted most of that ribbing at the coffee shop today, and when I got fed up with the teeny stitches I moved on to dishcloth #3. I had made sure to wind the ball of sock yarn into two cakes and the pink mesh bag is keeping them corralled.

After the coffee shop, my friend and I went to a local yarn store (LYS) so she could get another needle for her fancy fingering-weight stranded-colourwork bag. I had a good look around but didn’t buy anything. (Still mindful of not letting the stash grow. And saving myself for Yarndale!)

A nice relaxing morning. Take it easy, and talk to you again soon.

 

 

Hikrochet!

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Hikrochet!

Hikrochet (Hi-cro-shay): to crochet while walking or hiking

OK, I made that up, but I had a good walk today and even went further than usual because I wanted to see how much progress I could make while on the hoof!

This…

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…is how much I did while walking. I had the yellow crocheted yarn-holder over my left wrist, fed the yarn from the centre of the cake out the top of the bag, and just started crocheting. A beanie seemed like a good idea, and I used double crochet in a spiral. The yarn is a partial ball of James C Brett Marble Chunky, a lovely soft acrylic, and the hook is a 6mm.

After I got home, I continued on, finishing the hat with a round of hdc and some embroidery that is supposed to look like cherry blossom.

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More stash busted, yay!

Another project which I worked on for the last three days is this market bag. I showed you a progress photo last time, but it is now done, steamed and ready to go.

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I still need to work on some squares for the Scrapsrific MCAL, but also have two other projects waiting in the wings: a pair of knitted socks, and some dishcloth/scrubby doodads that I will be making with these…

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It’s funny how things wax and wane – this time last week I had one WIP and now I have tons of stuff in the pipeline. Crochet on!

Out of the slump

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Out of the slump

From a crochet slump with one knitting WIP to a flurry of activity!

The socks are DONE!

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The first sock took about 8.5 months, the second one only a week or two. This is Loops & Threads Perfect Pair yarn, knitted magic loop, one at a time, with a 2.25mm/100cm long circ. They are not identical, and I didn’t even try to make them so, but the bands of colour coincidentally fell in similar places. They could be a little snugger, so when I make another pair with this yarn I will knit a smaller size.

So, on to crochet WIPs. This bag-in-progress is called the Easy Breezy Bag and the pattern is here. I managed to mess up my stitch count when starting the base, so ripped back and started again. After that, it was plain sailing. The open stitch pattern for the sides of the bag is very easy and I can do it while watching Netflix. The yarn is from the store where I work. It’s our store brand, Spindle Yarns, and the type is Essential Basics (worsted weight acrylic) in the colourway Oasis Multi. I didn’t like the feel of it in the ball but it is nice to crochet with, though there are few fuzzy spots in the first ball.

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My other WIP is the Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket from Creative Crochet Workshop. I was browsing Ravelry last week, looking for inspiration, and found this mystery Crochet-along so decided to join in. I also joined the Ravelry group and the Facebook group. I chose ten colours from my Stylecraft Special DK stash that said “Rainbow!” to me, along with white and grey, and am using a 4.5mm hook.

There are 16 small squares in the first week, plus the first couple of rounds of a larger square. So far I have completed eight.

I don’t think this is going to be a very large blanket. The CAL is only six weeks. But it will be interesting to see how it develops.

There’s been lots of outdoor activity around my house this week. Ds1 had a few days off and I suggested he might like to take down three trees that were overgrown and snow-damaged out front. Ds2 and ds3 have also been out in the yard, raking and tidying. Amazing!

Job in progress…

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Middle tree almost gone.

After…

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The house is so much brighter, inside and out. I love it.

This is the heap of branches that needed to go to the dump…all 420 kilos of it.

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I have work today, but I’m looking forward to another massage tomorrow morning. I am still having various aches and pains which are due, I think, to me not being balanced symmetrically, rather than ordinary muscle soreness from the gym and other activities. Tightness in the neck, niggles in the wrist/forearm from the break last year, plantar fasciitis in the right heel which I really thought would be gone by now. I am trying some self-care strategies so that it doesn’t get to the point where I have to get signed off work. Minor issues, though, compared to some.

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. Happy crafting!

Miracles DO happen!

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Miracles DO happen!

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I am a little embarrassed to admit that I cast on this sock on July 3rd last year. Why did it take me so long to finish it? Probably the fact that it’s actual sock yarn, so it’s very thin, the needles are US#1/2.25mm, also very thin, and I was sure my gauge was working out looser than the intended 9sts/inch so didn’t expect it to fit.

However, all is well. I had no other works in progress so I picked up this project, which has been languishing in its very cute project bag for months, and actually finished the darned foot and toe in very little time. And it fits!

To avoid Second Sock Syndrome, I immediately cast on the second sock.

The yarn is Loops & Threads Perfect Pair in the colourway Glory Days. Love the colours in this so much. I also have two other colourways of this in the stash, and I shall have to decide whether to knit another pair or perhaps try a crocheted pair next.

The pattern is the basic sock pattern from Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, following the numbers for the women’s large at 9sts/inch.

I also had a bit of fun while I had the chance this afternoon and made another pair of the fleece armwarmers with some pawprint fleece left over from a blanket project at Christmas. They really are quick and easy.

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I love moving stash, whether it’s yarn or fabric. I also have a tote bag which is partially sewn but which I had to abandon earlier to get dinner on the table. And I didn’t get back to it after dinner as we went to a yoga class. But that’s OK, I will finish it soon and show you pics.

FO: Key Largo scarf

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FO: Key Largo scarf

So much fun colour in this week’s projects!

The Key Largo scarf is finished! It turned out about 70″ x 12″ and here it is in all its blocked rainbowy glory.

I used up almost all of one cake of Lion Brand Mandala so there were only two ends to weave in.  The start date was March 9th and the finish date was the 19th, so it didn’t take long. It helps that I worked on it monogamously (surprisingly for me). The pattern was easily memorisable,  and portable, which meant I could work on it anywhere.

What else have I done? Oh yes, the float experience went well. I mentioned last time that I was a little concerned about the green hair dye leaching out into the Epsom salts tank at the float place, but it was ok. And I had a very relaxing hour inside the pod, in the dark, with the music playing. So I would probably do that again.

Yesterday there was a mini challenge in the Party! International Crochet Month group on Ravelry. One of the mods suggested that we might like to make an item of clothing for our Inner Beasts using freeform crochet, and that the first person to post a photo of their beast wearing his/her new garment would win a tutorial on freeform crochet from Prudence Mapstone. Well, Prudence is the guru of freeform and I do like a challenge, so I quickly crocheted up a vest for Brian. I was sure someone would pip me at the post as it was ten hours since the challenge had been set, but I managed to be the first and therefore the winner! Yay! It was a perfect little project for an evening where I was feeling tired from work and not even feeling like picking up a hook.

I even found time for sewing this week and used some fleece remnants to make these cute armwarmers. They are so cosy and comfortable that I almost wish it was still winter…almost! I used a tutorial and downloadable pattern that I printed out. The only modification I made was to trim about an inch off the thumb, as I didn’t hem the ends so the thumbs turned out too long.

The photo on the website shows a curved seam between the hand the thumb, but I sewed it with a V-shaped seam, pivoting the needle at the base of the V. A little snip into the seam allowance meant it turned right side out just fine and I think my version looks great! This is the sort of pattern you could make lots of, as it is quick and fun.

We’ve had a very Spring-like week with temps into the double digits. In fact, on Tuesday, I went out on the back deck which faces south and took a thermometer with me and in the sun, on the deck chair next to me, it hit 36 degrees Celsius! Officially it was probably half that. So that’s two days when I have enjoyed the deck, with my new swimsuit on, getting some rays and making some vitamin D. IMG_8059

This was my spot this afternoon, where I planned the week’s meals. Shame about the shady bits, but it was certainly plenty warm enough to sit out for an hour.

Wednesday I took my car in to the Toyota dealership. There was a passenger side airbag recall, and the car was due for a maintenance check and oil change. Turns out (doesn’t it always) that there was more to do, like a new battery and removing a screw from one of the tires, so in the end they had the car for more than five hours. During that time, I walked the mall a couple of times, visited a few other shops, stopped briefly for some lunch, and later some crochet at a local park, but for at least four of those five hours I was walking. Phew! Didn’t need to go to the gym THAT day.

I’m expecting a busy weekend – work both days with extra sale deals to bring in the customers, so I will really appreciate the massage that I have booked for Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

I’m all about the green

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I have never paid much attention to St Patrick’s Day, and that’s not why I dyed  my hair green today, however I’m sure lots of people will assume that’s why I did it! From the above angle, it looks like I dyed the lot, but the hair around the sides and back of my neck is actually my natural colour, as are the roots. It’s just a bit of fun, though tonight I booked myself in for my very first float tank experience in a couple of days time, which means I am going to have to shampoo my hair a couple of times this weekend so that I don’t “bleed” green into their Epsom salts!

I have always been wary of this “floating” lark, though Tai Chi Man loves it. The thought of lying in a strong concentration of Epsom salts-filled water at blood heat, in the dark and possibly an enclosed space, and the fact that I can’t crochet while I’m in there (!) has combined to put me off. However I have been experiencing some really tense muscles in my neck, shoulders and back, and at a friend’s suggestion have decided to just go for it.

I shall report back afterwards.

Today was nigh on perfect. I had a good workout at the gym – 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by about 40 minutes of weight training. I was drenched by the end; the post-workout shower is one of the best feelings in the world. I made another shopping bag like the one I showed you last time, though this one used an all-purpose polyester thread that behaved itself and the result was much nicer, good enough to take to work to put on show. I also sewed up a set of 18 napkins for a friend. When I saw this fabric at work, it was the end of a bolt, and I just had to bring it home. I knew it had to be napkins and I knew who I wanted to make them for.

Cool, huh!

I cut 12.5″ squares with one of my quilting rulers and after hemming the napkins are around 11″ square. You can see why I thought this was perfect fabric for this project, eh.

Dinner tonight was one that always gets eaten with gusto. I made black bean and sweetcorn burgers, which we had with salsa and the home-made buns I made last Monday and froze. They were toasted to make them more interesting, and I also added in some chipotle “cheese” slices that I made from a recipe in Vegan 100 by Gaz Oakley. That spiced them up a lot. Even ds1, who seems to add hot sauce to everything, found them spicy, so that’s saying something! I did suffer “sticker-shock” at the price of the agar powder that I bought to make this recipe, however. The bulk store had it in 50 gram bags only and they were over $7! Ouch!!

Looking forward to a weekend with no work, just yoga on Saturday, and a birthday party to attend, gym on Sunday, and a float. What are you doing this weekend?

 

 

WIP: Key Largo Scarf

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How’s your week going? Mine has been quite full, and I haven’t been able to get to the gym or a yoga class, which is a little annoying (though my lazy side is okay with it). Today the temperature crept up above freezing to about 7 Celsius, which felt almost warm! We are supposed to have double digits soon – gosh, what a treat!!

There’s been a busy weekend of work, a ‘catching up with stuff at home’ day (while feeling overtired from a combination of the clocks going forward, an early morning, a late night, and a lack of caffeine), more work shifts, grocery shopping, cleaning, bread baking…

This is what my kitchen looked like Monday evening before I crashed out at 9.30.

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This is the product of three large bowls of bread dough, each batch containing 12 cups of flour. Three loaves, 16 hot dog buns, 16 hamburger buns, all rising while the oven heated up. I used to make bread all the time but these days I tend to buy the Silver Hills organic sprouted wheat bread from Costco (it’s about half the price there) and stock the freezer. It makes it easy to grab another sliced loaf when you need it, and it thaws quickly or you can toast it. However I needed the buns for a couple of specific meals this week, and we were on our last loaf of Silver Hills.

As promised, I frogged the progress on the Key Largo Lace Wrap and started again with a cake of Lion Brand Mandala in the colourway Gnome. It’s a lovely bright rainbow of a cake – I have no idea who this will be for when it’s done, but I am enjoying the colour progression.

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It started a little slowly as I reacquainted myself with the pattern…

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And it grew…

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And grew some more…

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With DK yarn, a 5mm hook, a scarf width rather than a wrap, and only 10 pattern repeats across the row, it’s growing quickly. Very satisfying! I took this photo at a coffee shop today where my friend and I will be meeting most Thursdays, since she started a knitting group there. I have the four-row pattern memorised now so I don’t even have to get the pattern out of the bag any more.

My plan was to have a gym and sewing day tomorrow, Friday, but I made a start on my intended projects tonight.

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It’s not very sexy but it is functional – a non-slip mat that goes underneath a sewing machine foot pedal. I have to confess, the one I made for myself is not working too well on the carpet, so I’m thinking it would be better on a hard floor. I used a Crafty Gemini tutorial. On this first attempt, I applied the bias binding as I would normally, by opening it out and sewing it on then flipping it to the other side and sewing again. A far-from-perfect result, which is irritating as my intention is to take this one to work to go on the DIY table for fabric shoppers to see. The second one, I attached the binding like Vanessa does in the video, but it was even messier so I am keeping the second one for myself.

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I also made this shopping bag from some decor fabric from work. It was on clearance at $5 a metre, and is a heavy cotton fabric. I wrote down the steps to make it as I went, as I’m thinking this will also make a good display item at the store, but I wasn’t too happy with the stitching. I used a strong thread that’s slightly thicker than the all-purpose stuff, and even though I adjusted the thread AND bobbin tension the bobbin thread was loosey-goosey! Still, it’s usable, and pretty, and I will make another with regular thread in the hope that it will be more presentable, should people look closely at my stitching.

Yes, embracing the imperfections of life here today, that’s me! My other plans include some napkins for a friend, and another apron.

Good night from my windy part of the world (the windchimes are going nuts again). Enjoy your Friday and your weekend.

FO: Wayfarer Wrap

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FO: Wayfarer Wrap

Way to go, Nicola! I’m feeling excited to be able to wear my wrap after three and a half months on the needles/hook but in an odd way almost sad that it’s over. How silly, when you think about it – I am very much a product knitter/crocheter and am positively irritated by long term WIPs that sit at the top of my Ravelry project overview page, taunting me with their not-done-ness!

The end of this project came together in the last week, inspired (as I mentioned in my last post) by the CAL in the crochet party group on Ravelry. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of finishing a project, taking photos and uploading said photos to my Ravelry project page and clicking that “finished” button. And of course seeing the project thumbnail lose that WIP status and move into the realms of Finished Objects.

So that’s 600 grams of random DK weight yarn out of the stash. Most of it is Stylecraft Special DK with some Deramores Studio DK mixed in. I have all my DK mixed together in bags, sorted (or at least it was) by colour. I need to do a tidy up now that this project is off the needles. There are over 20 colours in this wrap, with the plan being to include soft colours that also had some contrast.

I had a little photoshoot out on my deck this morning.

It’s hard to get the whole thing visible in one photo, but you get the idea.

You may also be able to tell that we still have a lot of snow on the garden. We had fresh snow the last two days, though it is getting above freezing during the day now and the end is in sight. I love snow, though prefer it when it’s not on the roads when I need to drive somewhere. This is the scene from my back deck.

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Blue sky, sunshine, snow. Gorgeous!

I have two Works in Progress left. A pair of socks on skinny needles and a wrap on a skinny hook. The socks have been languishing for many a month, maybe because I feel like they may not fit well, but I think I need to start taking them out with me as my portable project (and there’s nothing more portable than a sock project, is there). The wrap is one that I started in Switzerland last summer, and I love the stitch pattern (I bought the pattern so definitely want to crochet it up). I think I will frog the few inches that are done and restart with a thicker yarn and bigger hook. The stitches are just so fiddly and my middle-aged eyes were struggling.

Interestingly, I am not desperate to start another bulky instant-gratification crochet project, which is usually my downfall. So I think these two WIPs might just be getting the attention they deserve for the rest of this month.

International Crochet Month

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International Crochet Month

There is a party going on in Ravelry. It’s in a group called, most appropriately, Party! International Crochet Month, and you can find the group here.

There is lots going on, with games and challenges and stuff, and I am participating in a few of the threads in the group. There’s a word game, a pattern finding game, a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt gives you points for completing different challenges. The Everyday WIP challenge gets you working on a current project, which has been a boon to me because I pledged to knit at least one garter stripe on my Wayfarer Wrap every day, before allowing myself to knit or crochet on anything else. And there is an Inner Beast crochet-along (my Rav pattern page here with link to pattern) which is a fun toy where you deliberately make him/her as wild and shaggy as you like, with multiple colours, ends sticking out, wonky eyes, horns and funny feet.

The result of all this motivation is this…

My wrap has grown by a few inches in just a few days.

All those tails along the long edge have been overhand-knotted in bundles of ten.

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And the grannies have been seamed in two strips, with one being sewn to the cast on end. I still have to knit a few more inches on the other end. I will also be trimming the fringe to make it look a bit tidier.

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And this is the result of the Inner-Beast-a-thon. The idea is that you make a magic ball with lots of short pieces of yarn, and carry it along with another yarn. I used a multicoloured cake that I had wound up from scraps some time ago, and wound up a second cake with other teeny balls of DK. As you reach a knot, you just let the tails hang; the more texture the better. The sections of colour were a bit long really. I don’t have that many bits sticking out. But the fun part was not being too picky when sewing on the head and arms and horns, because wonky is good, and the tails from the seaming were brought to the outside to add more interest. The eyes are just two mismatched buttons, and what a great way to use those up!

I can definitely see myself making another of these. They are quick and ultimately customisable.

I am on the last day of a stretch of five days off, because that’s just the way my shift scheduling worked, which has given me lots of time to knit, crochet, have a potluck with friends on Saturday night, and cook decent dinners.

My series of five acupuncture appointments are now done. Yesterday’s was the most uncomfortable of the lot, with many of the needles hurting going in and coming out, but also causing some aching in my legs while I lay there on the massage table in the darkened room. It’s very relaxing though, as it forces you to just be alone with your thoughts without distractions, and by the time the acupuncturist returns to remove the needles I am thoroughly chilled out.

So that is what my crafting looks like for this week, and I am definitely motivated to finish this knitted wrap this month. I started it in November, I think. A little competition, with myself or others, tends to spur me into action, and I want to (a) wear it, and (b) log the yarn I have used as an OUT for stash for March, which will look great on the Bash your Stash thread in the British Banter group. Whilst I am not on a yarn diet, I do have a goal of “more out than in” – so far, so good.