Crazy wonky hippie scooby log cabin quilt

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It’s done! I have never been so glad to see a quilt finished. I really hope you have a better screen than I do. The photo was taken outside on my deck last night as the light was waning, and it looked pretty clear on my iPad, but now I’m looking at it on my laptop screen it’s a bit fuzzy.

To recap a little, the piecing went swimmingly. I collected up my fabrics, decided which ones I wanted to feature in the centre of the blocks, loosely decided which ones were “lights” and which ones were “darks” and got started. I used a white broadcloth (poly cotton blend) as the foundation for the blocks and used the stitch and flip method to add pieces from the centre out, sewing through both the cotton on top and the broadcloth behind. You end up with a messy looking block that miraculously looks neat and tidy once you trim the overflowing bits to the size of the broadcloth.

The quilt grew organically. I didn’t have much of a plan, didn’t know how big I was going to make it, or how I would arrange the blocks when they were done. In the end, I stopped at 25, bought some black cotton fabric for the sashing and binding, and arranged them so that the similar ones created a diagonal line. The Pink Panther ones were my main feature, I felt, so once I’d laid them down to form the main diagonal I added the camper vans, the Scooby Doo blocks, the crazy cats etc.

Separating the wildly coloured blocks with black sashing calms it all down a bit and makes the colours pop. After I had sewn the centre part of the top together, I noticed I had been careless and not lined things up very well in places. Hence the appliques using one of the fabrics that had cool cars, camper vans and scooters on it.

The border was easy as I had just the right amount of one of the coordinating fabrics to cut strips along the lines of the print. And then it was time to sandwich and quilt. I used a thin polyester batting. I’ve always used cotton before, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. And the backing is pieced from large chunks of the fabrics left over from the top.

All (mostly) well so far, right!

It’s been a long time since I made a quilt. I made a big swatch to practise my free motion quilting. I was rusty but I thought it would be ok. I started right in the centre of the quilt, and used the prints on the fabrics to lead my quilting. In one 1.5 hour session, I heavily quilted five of the blocks and used an entire bobbin of thread. I hated it. It was messy. SO messy. I mentally kicked myself. And then I unpicked every damn stitch. It took a couple of weeks, on and off. It wasn’t so bad where the black stitching was on a light background, but black on black just doesn’t agree with my eyes any more.

Finally, I was done and came up with a simpler quilting idea. Use the walking foot, NOT the darning foot, and quilt it with a straight line design. I worked out that a five pointed star would be ideal, as I could quilt it in an unbroken line and then stitch in the ditch around the edge of the block. I did that 25 times. It took a couple of sessions and looked much better than my original effort. Of course there was a lot of turning of the quilt which has its challenges when using a basic sewing machine with only a small area to work in. But it worked. I added a line of stitching on the outside edge of the black border strip and decided that would do.

I had JUST the right amount of black fabric left to cut strips for the binding (my math was good) but by this time my walking foot was driving me nuts. The screw holding it onto the shaft kept loosening, so it didn’t want to stay in place for long. The foot components themselves seemed to be too loose so I tightened the little screws either side of it and that caused it to shorten my stitch length and not feed the fabric layers through properly. So I had to unpick more stitches as I started to sew on the binding.

Eventually it was attached, and I decided to hand sew the binding on the back. But I didn’t make my life easier then, did I! What I SHOULD have done is trim the seam allowances a bit so that when I folded the binding over it was easy to sew it down. But my seam allowances were just a little wide and I struggled with it instead. Good grief!

So yeah, it’s finished. And the result is something I can live with, even though it’s not perfect. Let me tell you, it has not encouraged me to make another quilt any time soon.

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FOs, a WIP and prizes!

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The two crochet projects I showed you last time are done. The pompom hat counts as an OUT from the stash:

IMG_20190831_124901Yarn was Caron Cupcakes and in fact I only used about half a cake. I was surprised. Not sure what I will do with the rest of it.

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The unicorn lovey is now on display at the fabric store where I work (I forgot to take a photo at home, so this is it on it’s little pole – we try to pin things down so they don’t go walkabout with customers). This yarn is our own brand, Spindle Yarns Cuddle Buddy Crochet Kit. The pattern is on the ball band.

It comes in these other variations:

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Did I tell you about my new Counter Ring from CritSuccess? I saw some people talking about these on Ravelry and I just loved the rainbow one. My co-worker wanted one too so I ordered two to save shipping. The funny thing is that I ordered a size 11 and she ordered a 10, but I felt like mine was too big and she found hers a bit small so we swapped and everyone was happy! It fits well on my left index finger and I can track things while crocheting or knitting. Rows, increases, decreases, whatever. It’s meant to be for gamers, dice players, D&D types, but it works perfectly for anything you want to keep a count of.

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We are having a bit of a CAL/KAL in the Vegan Knitters and Crocheters group on Ravelry. The vegan groups tend to be a bit quiet, but one of the other members has been livening things up lately and suggested a #vegancraftalong for September. It took me a while to figure out what to make. Finally I decided on Christa’s design, the Party Cardi: her YouTube channel is The Secret Yarnery.

It’s a cardigan which is started by making two granny hexagons, and when the folded hexagons are large enough for your arms you start to add length on certain sections, back and forth, for the back and chest. There are a few designs out there that are constructed similarly. The Campfire Cardigan is a larger version. But I wanted a fairly fitted cardigan that wasn’t too kitschy, I wanted to use stash yarn, and I couldn’t be bothered to knit it. I have three cakes of Lion Brand Mandala Baby in the Echo Caves colourway, which has lovely shades of blues and greens in it, and I’m using my 5.5mm Addi Swing crochet hook. I’m hoping those three cakes will be sufficient, but if not I am willing to buy an extra cake or two online. Christa’s cardigan is made with wildly coloured yarn and an eyelash edging – mine will be considerably more sedate!

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And finally, I won a prize in a Makealong (MAL) ages ago, and I missed hearing the announcement of my name. Ali of the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast had a cosy makealong, where people were making cosies for all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff. One of my entries into the Ravelry thread was drawn but I didn’t see that podcast and missed it, and Ali kindly got hold of me to let me know. I gave her my address and she mailed it and it arrived today, all the way from England.

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The Merry Christmas bag is gorgeous and squishy and will fit a medium sized project-in-progress, and she also sent a postcard (which I can colour), a Reese’s peanut butter cup (gave that to my non-vegan son), a mini skein of yarn and a teabag (which I have just brewed up to drink now).

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I think Ali was the person who coined the phrase “dodgy bags” because she was sewing bags and they weren’t perfect. Well, this little skein of yarn has the cutest little tag on it that says, “Dodgy Yarn, All pooling, bleeding and splodges included free of charge, Dyed Inexpertly in Kent, UK.” Fun!

As my friend Jeanette would say, I think we’re all caught up now. I think that tonight I shall have to watch another episode or two of the series I started watching on Netflix last night. Sex Education! It’s hilarious.

 

Friday fun

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I felt bad for Tai Chi Man yesterday. He’s on the verge of leaving for work and says, “Thank goodness it’s Friday!” and I had to break it to him that, actually, it was Thursday. Poor guy! At least he has a long weekend to look forward to – it’s Labour Day weekend.

So what’s been happening Chez Nicolaknits this week? Unpicking quilting stitches – yes, lots of ’em, and the job is not done yet. I haven’t done some every day, but I have amazingly had the patience for some long sessions with the seam ripper so hopefully the job will be finished soon.

There has been other sewing:

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This top is made from a pattern that a friend bought and sewed up, and she lent me the pattern a very long time ago to make one for myself. I finally got around to it. I started it yesterday morning before work, and finished it this afternoon. There are only a few seams, but the hemline is horrendously long and it took ages to do because I wanted to make sure it was done properly with no tucks or twists.

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I made View A, the easiest one!

Can I remember what the fabric is? No I can’t. I bought it recently from work, but didn’t keep the receipt. I think it’s a rayon. And it’s in the perfect colour to go with jeans. It has a very wide neckline so I’ll have to wear it with a tank top underneath.

I was having so much fun with the upcycled jeans ideas, that I made two more bags:

There has been a little crochet:

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This is a pompom hat I’m making with some stash, a cake of Caron Cupcakes in the colourway Strawberry Kiwi Pop. The cool thing about this is that I grabbed the cake of yarn in the morning and stuffed it into a project page with hooks etc, and later in the day after my errands were done I stopped at the tea shop and decided on the spur of the moment to have a strawberry kiwi iced tea (with no idea that that was the colour of the yarn that was in my bag)!

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Another project that I couldn’t wait to start was this one:

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New yarns came in at work and I was filling the shelves and deciding how to display these new little crochet kits for loveys (mini baby security blankets). Well, I couldn’t resist this unicorn one and I offered to crochet one for display and got the okay!

This is a pretty, soft, worsted weight yarn and the brand, Spindle Yarns, is Fabricland’s (Canada) own. They’ve added quite a few new yarns to the range including a cotton blend and a 100% bamboo, over which I shall have to practice my self control!

The rest of my day looks like this: decide what’s for dinner, get some prep done, sit and unpick quilt, eat dinner, go to gym!

 

 

 

Two steps forward and one step back

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The backing for the wonky log cabin quilt came together quickly, as I used chunks of the fabrics left over from the top. I bought a polyester batting from work – the cheapest thinnest stuff you ever did see – and pinned the layers together.

And then I quilted some of it…and hated it…and am now unpicking the stitches from the back with a seam ripper. It was too much quilting, too messily done, and it ruined it. I had quilted five squares out of the 25, used a full bobbin of thread on it over 1.5 hours, and it will take ages to pull out. However I will be happier with it in the long run if I suck it up and just do it.

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More happily, I have an FO! A pompom beanie crocheted with a cake of Caron Chunky Cupcakes in Jelly Bean. The pattern was on the ballband but it’s also available for free on the Yarnspirations website. Details on my Ravelry project page. It’s constructed using a sideways ‘ribbed’ brim, then you join into a loop and work along the side for the body of the hat. The main part is moss stitch, which in crochet is (sc, ch1) around, working into the chain spaces on the next round. It makes a nice fabric, and alternating both ends of the yarn cake gives you a variation in colour as you go. The pompom comes attached to the yarn, which is why it coordinates so well.

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a cosy Cowboy Fog

 

I’ve been mostly staying off Facebook lately, preferring just to post an occasional photo to Instagram. I spend at most a few minutes a day on Instagram so have more time to do better things! The above photo is from one of my visits to my favourite local tea shop. This book is from the library and I’m really enjoying the read, and identifying what is cosy for me. Certainly, one of my cosiest things to do is sit in Chai Baba and drink their awesome teas and either crochet, read or talk to the friends we bump into there.

Another cosy thing I like to do is take my breakfast outside to the deck. It’s cool and quiet and I can look at the sky, enjoy my breakfast, maybe wrap myself in a blanket or quilt if I feel a little chilly, and look out for birds and squirrels in the trees.

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morning muesli

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I feel like the celebrations are happening not just for one day but for half a week! Last night I went out to dinner with friends and we had a lot of fun. We’re all Brits so have the same sense of humour. Tomorrow I am working, but there is a potluck at my house in the evening with a different set of friends who we always have a laugh with. We usually play Mexican Train Dominoes, and there is lots of digressing and wordplay and puns. And Sunday morning we are off to brunch at another vegan cafe with a couple of our sons. I am totally making the most of turning 57!

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So while I was procrastinating on the quilt unpicking, I made these tote bags with some old stash fabrics. I made 12 in all but took the photo before I made the last one. I decided that as I have to work on my birthday, I will practice Random Acts of Kindness and give a bag out now and then throughout the day to customers who need one. It will save them taking a plastic bag and hopefully it will remind them to always carry a cloth bag with them when they shop in future.

And then I spotted the stash of old jeans on the top shelf of the sewing room closet, and this came together.

It’s a fun little bag made from upcycled denim. I sewed a little flower where there was a hole at the corner of the pocket, which inspired me to make the strap out of the same fabric and also applique another patch on the back. I loved it so much that I immediately started another, but it got to 4pm and I had to start cooking dinner. I could have carried on for hours!

Have you seen this nifty gadget? It was very useful today, for sewing over bulky seams and the parts where the tote bag straps joined to the top of the bags. It basically helps the machine to handle the thick seams without skipping stitches or getting stuck. Definitely a good investment.

Well, I really must get to bed. It’s been a busy day (including a 9am Cardio Barre class and a half hour weights session tonight) and I have to be up early in the morning, Have a great weekend!

WIP: Wonky groovy hippie 60’s inspired log cabin quilt

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I had to enlist the help of one of my tall boys tonight to get a photo of the finished quilt top. I dragged him out to the deck and got a few shots, but it was pretty windy and my phone isn’t great. However, I think you get the picture. The appliqued vehicles at the intersections of the sashing are (I hope) disguising the fact that some of my blocks are not particularly well lined up vertically. I used Heat ‘n Bond Light on them and will anchor them down properly when I do the quilting.

This project is huge – about 65 inches square – and I am currently in the process of piecing the backing from the leftover fabrics. I’m nearly there, but there’s no rush (although I always feel like I want to get my projects done fast) and I can do more tomorrow.

Getting up early is great, because I can get completely ready for work and then have time to sew as well.

I may have to buy batting. I think I only have a small number of bits and pieces in my stash, so I’ll have to check out prices when I go to work on Monday. I still don’t know how much quilting I’ll actually do on this.  It’s been so long since I did any quilting and I may even try out a spray basting method this time, rather than safety pins. Then perhaps I’ll quilt large flower shapes on it using free motion quilting with my darning foot.

Quite the adventure!

A change of pace

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I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks because after my productive July I felt like I needed a little break from crochet. Whaaaaat?!

There has been a teensy bit of knitting, but nothing worth showing, as it was a gauge swatch for a sweater that I have changed my mind about, at least for now. The gauge on the pattern is 21 sts/4 inches with DK yarn, and I tried three different needle sizes and still was getting too many and I liked the tightest gauge the best. Rather than do the math, I shelved the project.

I have the seed of an idea germinating in my head right now, but I haven’t done anything about it yet because I have been sewing instead.

I’ve had a couple of days off and I was motivated to get down to my sewing room and dedicate some hours to a couple of projects. This one was an impulse make, after a customer at the fabric store where I work told me about the cartwheel skirts she makes for her granddaughters. Basically it’s a skort, where the shorts or leggings and skirt are joined at the top. You can do cartwheels in them without flashing your knickers! (I need some for ME!)

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(Before adding the elastic, while waiting for my sister to confirm waist measurement.)

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(After adding elastic. This fabric is really cute, but you can’t iron it or the dots come off.)

A couple of weeks ago, in this post, I showed you some quilt blocks that I had made. Well, I have been adding to them bit by bit, and at this point (below) I had 25.

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I have five of each – Pink Panther, Scooby Doo, crazy cats, camper vans, and VW bugs. All wonky log cabin blocks starting either with a 4.5″ or 5.5″ cut square, depending on the pattern I was fussy-cutting.

Today I started cutting into and sewing on my sashing fabric, which is just a solid black, and it makes so much difference to how things look. I will get some photos of the quilt top when it’s ready. I have a feeling I will need to add some sort of colourful border outside the black, so will have to see what I have left from making the blocks. And then I’ll need to layer it up with some batting and backing and figure out the quilting part.

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I have more projects lined up already. The top on the left will be made with a blue rayon and the dress on the right is going to be bright pink (it’s going to be part of my Hello Kitty outfit for Halloween which I’ve only been planning for, like, 5 years)! The fabrics were washed today, so next time I have a sewing day there’s nothing standing in my way.

Signing off now – going to put food on the table for the troops, but I won’t be eating any yet – I have signed up for a Booty Burn class at 5.30 followed by yoga, so I have to be careful to go with a relatively empty stomach. Ta ta for now!

FO: The Big Kahuna

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The latest stashbuster is finished. It took me all of five days and it’s about 100″ long!

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It’s a combination of Loops & Threads Facets in various colourways and some Stylecraft Harlequin, all of which have been in the stash for too long and I just wanted them out.

I used an 8mm hook and a basic C2C, making it 11 blocks wide. There were lots of ends to weave in, but I tackled some half way through and the rest this morning. It’s lovely and squishy and warm, but it will pill like a bear, and I will only be handwashing it very occasionally.

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I am loving the coolness in the mornings and it’s the best feeling to be outside on my deck, with a quilt or blanket around me, drinking my tea or coffee or eating my breakfast and just enjoying the view and the breeze. Getting up early DOES have its advantages.

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I am going to take a couple of days off the crocheting, I think, because what with the manic crochet the last week to get this project done by the end of the month, plus that spin class (eek!) plus all the pricing gun action last Friday, my wrist hasn’t been too happy.

I am super happy with my stashbusting for the month though. My FOs are the daisy blanket, the Jayma shawl, the walking hat, the Mimic shawl and this Big Kahuna scarf. Plus I cleared a few extra bits and pieces out of the stash and into a bag for the thrift store. Total out for this month is 2990 grams and zero new acquisitions.

So the year to date, as far as bashing the stash is concerned, is 6770 grams used or destashed, 2100 grams in (no purchases since January, woo hoo!) with a net reduction in stash of 4670 grams. I’m delighted with my progress. The stash is now at the point where I have a good selection of basic acrylics that I enjoy using (very little novelty stuff) and a small collection of plant fibre yarns for which I currently have no specific plans. (If you want to be nosy and check out my stash on Ravelry, it’s here.)

In other news, I took my car to the body shop for an estimate yesterday. The total cost for a small dent and large scratch? $1900! I will have to pay $500 of that, but wow, considering it looks like a small amount of damage that is a big bill!

OK, I need to get dressed and get to the gym. I went yesterday and am a little sore from that workout but I will do something different today to work some different muscles. And tonight Tai Chi Man and I have yoga, so that’ll be good. I had to miss Saturday’s Yin Yoga because I was working, which is a shame because it feels like the perfect body reset for the week. Talk to you later 🙂

Crochet and fabric play

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She is done, my Mimic shawl. She had a bath and a lie-down on the blocking mats, and  a bit of steam, and she grew to 16.5 inches by 87.5 inches. Yup, pretty long, but lovely with it.

This used 260 grams of Lion Brand Mandala in the Troll colourway, so about one and two-thirds of the 150 gram cakes.

My stashbusting has been epic this month. Two shawls, a blanket and a hat completed and I also cleared out a bit of undesirable yarn from my stash. That’s a total of 2320 grams of yarn OUT! And none in.

The other small project I finished was this Walking Hat, so named because I crocheted it on my walks around the neighbourhood. I used up the last of my Caron Big Cakes in Shadowberry. I wouldn’t buy this yarn again. It’s not the nicest acrylic, in my opinion. It took three and a half walks to make. I probably got some second glances as I carried my yarn and hook around with me this week!

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In the grand scheme of checks and balances, I should be picking up  my paycheque today, which will include some extra hours and overtime. However, when I was at a coffee shop with a friend yesterday, my car was parked outside on the street, and during that time someone swiped it with their vehicle and took the paint off. Grrrr! I am claiming off my insurance, of course, but there is still a $500 deductible to pay. I had to spend some time on the phone to the insurers yesterday and book my poor car in for an estimate at the body shop.

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So what else is new? Ah yes, my quilting. I have been itching to make a quilt again. I started back in 1998, when I was expecting son #3, and took a class to learn how make a large quilt. It was definitely worth it and from then on I quilted like a crazy person for six years, until I got back into yarn crafts. I haven’t really felt the pull since, even though I now work in a fabric store, but that doesn’t stop me from bringing home pretty cotton fabric remnants now and then. If I really like something, I’ll buy a metre.

Anyway, I’ve recently been watching The Midnight Quilt Show on YouTube and have been enjoying watching Angela piece and machine quilt like the pro she is and it’s inspired me to get going again. I also have a pile of quilting books from the library. This week I pulled out a bunch of fabrics and decided on a theme. I am fussy-cutting squares from Pink Panther, Scooby Doo, camper vans, Vespas and colourful cats and using a backing of broadcloth to stitch-and-flip crazy log cabin blocks. I have six so far.

It’s a lot of fun and deliberately cutting the pieces a little wonky with scissors means no need for precision.

I have no plan as to the number of blocks to make or how it’s all going to come together. I’ll scratch this itch and see where it takes me.

Have a great weekend! (I’ll be working, and I’ll still do my best to have a great weekend.)

More crochet and sewing fun

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It’s getting to the point that I can’t fit my Mimic Shawl into the shot. I am still enjoying this project, especially as I do love the pink section in this yarn, which will soon become another lime green one. Actually, very soon, as I don’t think there’s enough pink left to complete the next row, so I am going to do a little splicing, like I did the last time I hit this juncture.

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My evening project yesterday was to sew a book bag for my great-niece. I picked up a panel of quilting cotton from work a while back with The Very Hungry Caterpillar on it because when she was born two years ago I made her a Very Hungry Caterpillar blanket, cocoon and hat. I thought that maybe I’d make a quilt but then I had other ideas. Two parts of the panel became a bag, along with two contrast fabrics, one for the lining and one for the pocket. (The pocket is divided into sections for pencils and other stuff.)

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The widest section with the butterfly was made into a pillowcase. It’s not very big, but she’s only two! I won’t be filling it with stuffing ahead of time, because it has to go in the mail. The contrast fabrics were ones I had already.

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I’ll be seeing her in October, along with the rest of my family, when we drop in for a few days after Yorkshire and Yarndale (whoop whoop!) and so I am going to mail it to my mum ahead of time so that I don’t have to carry it in my luggage.

I’m itching to sew some more with my stash of quilting cottons but haven’t yet decided what to make.

We had a lovely weekend with Yin Yoga, weight training, shopping, and tea at our favourite tea shop (OK, Tai Chi Man probably would rather not have had to mow the lawn and today I cleaned bathrooms and vacuumed but, you know, these things have to be done). I couldn’t leave the cleaning ’til tomorrow as I’m working. Once it’s cooled down a bit, I want to have a walk around the neighbourhood and that will be the ideal end to the weekend.

 

WIP: Mimic shawl

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The shawl has grown some more. The initial triangle complete, you start working out from one side to form an extension and end up with a trapezoid. That dark purple was a bit of a struggle with the single crochets because it was so dark but now the pink is returning right near the end of the first cake. I have done three sections out from the side of the triangle (alternating V stitches and moss stitch) and need to do a total of 11, so I will be using quite a bit of the second cake.

The stitch patterns themselves are easy enough, but I do have to pay attention at the row ends as there is decreasing going on at the bottom edge and increasing at the top. I think this is going to be a gorgeous shawl and I will be keeping this one for myself. (I will check the weather forecast before flying to England for Yarndale in September and if it looks like it’ll be cool enough I will take this with me. I feel like one should have something handmade to wear at a yarn festival!)

An FO for me this week was the second rayon top that I finally finished. I was spurred on by (a) a UFO thread in the British Banter group on Ravelry in which I pledged to finish it this month, and (b) the fact that I wanted to do other sewing but my cutting table was covered in pieces of this top and I was not going to put it away half done.

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Not a great photo. The pink one with the turquoise band was done some time ago and I’ve worn it a couple of times. The turquoise one with the pink band was finished this week and I wore it the next day for work. Because of the lack of stretch and the rather low cut V neck, it’s not really ideal for work, as I need room to move in the shoulders and a top that doesn’t gape when cutting and lifting fabrics. But for wearing with my colourful Sweet Legs leggings, they are perfect.

The second iteration has no back neck opening. The first one was made per the pattern, and I find the opening gapes a bit, so I just sewed right up the back seam on the second.

I have already started making a simple top from a grey knit fabric remnant, which I hope works out (no great investment of money or time if it doesn’t) and am planning another top from a McCall’s pattern if I can just find the right fabric for it.

And now, it’s off to do some shopping with ds3, who needs to buy himself some shoes, and we also need groceries.