A sock in progress

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My basic sock from the Ann Budd Handy Book of Patterns has grown a little since my last post. I’m still decreasing for the gusset and there’s a few decrease rounds yet to complete. This Perfect Pair yarn from Loops & Threads is pretty, but at 9st/inch the knitting doesn’t grow very fast.

The Frank Mandala that I was testing for Pam at Hooks and Hills is finished and blocked, but the only place I have a photo is on my Ravelry project page and I am having trouble getting a copy saved, so I shall send you to this link instead if you want to see it.

I did finish another project this week. It took three days to make some fingerless mitts from a pattern in a magazine that I bought. I don’t usually buy magazines, as I tend to flick through them in the store and then decide that they’re not worth the money. However this issue of Colorful Crochet (Fall 2018) was all about self-striping and cake yarns and has 40 patterns in it, some of which I like the look of.

So I crocheted up the Favori Mitts, which you can see here (another link to my Ravelry project page – my laptop isn’t playing nice today). I used Lion Brand Mandala, two cakes, so that I could get the mitts to look somewhat alike. I cut a little blue out so that the turquoise would appear for a reasonable part of the project. I learned how to do esc (elongated or extended single crochet).

Two of my WIPs have been relegated to the “Hibernating” pile, because they have not been worked on for ages and I don’t like having too many WIPs at the top of my Ravelry project summary. The March sweater that was put on hold when I broke my wrist will have to get finished, because I wove in a tonne of ends, though I don’t really love it.

I am leaving for a vacation in Switzerland today with Tai Chi Man. The three young men at home will be free of parental supervision for a couple of weeks but they are all capable intelligent adults and as long as the house is relatively clean when I get back they can do whatever they like. (No, there won’t be any parties!)

The remainder of the LB Mandala yarn is coming with me so that I can make a hat and possibly also a cowl to match the fingerless mitts, as is a cake of Red Heart It’s a Wrap with a printed pattern that I bought recently from Hannah at the Cozy Cottage Crochet podcast, Key Largo Lace Wrap. I love her podcast and even though I rarely buy patterns I felt like I wanted to support her a little bit. It’s a fingering/light fingering weight wrap and the cake of yarn has 1000 metres in it, which is a LOT of vacation crochet in a small space!

We always travel light, with cabin-sized backpacks and NO check-in luggage, so we have to be picky about what we take.

If I am absent for a couple of weeks, then, don’t be surprised, though if the old WordPress app on my old iPad Mini lets me I might be able to do some short blog posts. I am really looking forward to some cool clean Swiss mountain air. We have been under a pall of smoke for too long now and it’s been so hot. There have been a couple of rumbles of thunder today and some big fat raindrops, but not enough to make a difference.

Well, time to sign off and switch off. Have a great weekend, everyone.

 

 

 

Friday frolics

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G’day crafty people! How are you? I have had a nice day off, during which I spent some time at a coffee shop, crocheting up a new test mandala design for a designer I have worked for before, and looking around for new runners and jeans. The runners were urgent – the cheap Wal-mart jobbies that I’ve been wearing at the gym were ones I’ve had for years but because they have been my dedicated indoor workout shoes they really didn’t get a lot of use until last September when I joined World Gym. This week, the sole of the right shoe split!

I decided that I’d be willing to spend more on a good quality pair this time. I set a mental budget of $100 maximum, which is more than I have ever spent on shoes before, and looked for some that had the right features (no leather, a bit of colour but not tacky, a good fit, and a good look). Sportchek didn’t have anything that fitted my specs in my size, so I ended up looking around Shoe Warehouse, found three possible options, and narrowed it down to these.

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Of course, as turquoise is my favourite colour, they were very appealing to me!

I can show you this square now. This was my test crochet square from last month that I didn’t want to talk too much about until it was published. Now that Pam has released it (Ravelry pattern page here) I can show off my square.

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It’s a pretty design, but I would use different colours if I made it again.

Today I was working on this test mandala, also by Pam, and I did all the crocheting on it (it’s only eight rounds) while drinking my London Fog at the coffee shop.

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It’s a bit wavy at the moment, and all the ends need to be woven in, but a good steam blocking should do the trick.

The cat backpack got an outing, as it was holding a dozen colours of DK yarn, and the pocket held my hook, darning needles, tape measure and snippers.

I have enough sock to make it worth showing too. This was taken before the heel turn, which I have also done. I’m using one of my sewn triangle zipper bags for this project, but am finding it hard to motivate myself to knit on this every day so it’s slow going.

The yarn is Loops & Threads Perfect Pair, and the needles are Chiao Goo stainless steel, size US#1. So skinny! (Oh, and the pattern is the basic cuff-down sock pattern from Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Patterns.)

These two projects were tiny, crocheted items that I made using dollar store cotton.

The mini backpack was the third in a row for this pattern, and the smallest of all at about 3″ tall. The cup and saucer were created on the hook (2.5mm) while sitting outside my favourite tea shop, just so I had something to do with my hands. I gave it to the owner when it was done and she was delighted.

Well, quite the roundup, eh! I expect things will be pretty quiet around here this month as I will be on holiday with Tai Chi Man for a couple of weeks, but I have lots of options for holiday knitting/crocheting so will have stuff to share with you later. Ta ta for now.

 

 

Beating the heat

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New haircut, hair colour, and specs

After my weekend, I still had two full days of time at home to enjoy. The downside to being at home is…no AC! However it is way cooler downstairs and that encourages me to go down to my craft room and actually get some sewing done.

Daytime maximums have been over 30, so both days I prepped a bunch of food in the morning when the kitchen was more bearable and then went downstairs in the afternoon. This is super-satisfying as I can then sew to my heart’s content, knowing that the work of dinner prep is behind me and I can focus on what I’m doing.

Yesterday I spent some time sorting through my knitting and crochet pattern folder. I found the pattern from the Groovyghan that I’ve made twice (this one and this one) and pulled it out, as I am thinking of making another. There is a CAL running in the Vanna’s Choice Fan Club group on Ravelry for the Groovyghan blanket and the designer, Tracy St John, has said that she will make the pattern free for a short time for members of the Crochet-Along. I must have downloaded and printed the pattern when it was free before as I don’t recall paying for it. If you go and visit that group, click on the Interest Thread that’s stickied at the top of the discussion threads. (I have only ever made one blanket with Vanna’s Choice – I joined the group only for this CAL and intend to use mostly stash yarn for it.)

After I’d dug out that pattern, I tidied up my yarn a bit and made sure that the Mandala was being shown off properly! And then I decided to cut out all the pieces for a sewn backpack for which I had a pattern from work, Butterick B6335. I used three coordinating fabrics. I made a large tote and a small drawstring bag from the cat fabric a while back (a quick search shows me that was January 2016) and this time I wanted to use all three fabrics together.

Monday afternoon, all the cutting was done, and today I went downstairs ready to start sewing but remembered I needed something to reinforce the base of the backpack, like plastic canvas. So I popped down to the nearest dollar store, but they had nothing, so I went over to Walmart, got my new glasses tightened up a bit, found some plastic canvas and also some Red Heart It’s a Wrap which was strangely drawn to my hand and begged to come home with me. There were only two colourways to choose from and I didn’t like the pinky-orangey one, so this one in shades of blue (called Documentary) was what I bought. I have seen this a lot online recently – it’s a fingering weight yarn with 1100 yards (about 1000 metres) in a cake. Wouldn’t that make an awesome vacation yarn! A whole kilometre of yarn to crochet or knit up. And it wouldn’t take up much space in your luggage.

And finally, the sewing could commence. There was a couple of fiddly bits, the most memorable being the sewing of the backpack straps into the bottom band without catching the lining. But I was pleased that sewing the oval base into the cylinder of the main bag went smoothly and I seem to have finally figured out how to do it properly (a big part of that being that I realised that when the instructions say to snip into the seam allowance to get around the curves you are to snip into the bottom of the cylinder, NOT the oval or circular base)! A big AHA moment there!!

And…TA DA!

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That black and white striped fabric made it easier to get my hems straight, as did the pattern on the pocket. There are four cakes of Mandala in there for photography purposes so it is very roomy – way bigger than I expected, actually, going by the photo on the pattern envelope.

And now that I have waffled on, it’s 11pm and time I went to bed. Work tomorrow. TTYL.

 

 

 

 

Fire update and FOs

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The valley is less smoky today, but the fires are still burning. The two fires that are burning just south of us on the west side of the lake were merged into one, deliberately, in a controlled burn today. The news article I just read said that this would make it easier to tackle. The one directly across from that, on the east side, is still smouldering, but when we were out walking this evening it didn’t look very active and doesn’t seem to have spread any closer to the southern end of the city.

Two of my sons and I drove down the other evening to a beach where we could see the flames on both sides of the lake. It looks very impressive after dark, with the orange glow, and even more so when you get the binoculars out and can see details of trees and flames even from many kilometres away.

I am currently enjoying a block of days off – my schedule happens to include four days in a row between shifts. It probably had something to do with the mild complaint I made to my boss about working five Sundays in a row. So it’s been a lovely weekend, enjoying a potluck with friends, and visiting a vegan market, and having tea at our favourite tea shop, and going out for a walk around the neighbourhood this evening after the sun hid behind the mountain and it wasn’t too hot.

And there’s been crochet. Just a couple of very small, fun projects which I was inspired to make when I spotted this video tutorial.  It’s for a mini backpack that is really small, keychain sized really, but it still has little shoulder straps to make it look like a real backpack. I made the first one with Red Heart Supersaver Ombre in the colour Scuba  (about 30 grams) and a 5mm hook and it came out about 4.5″ tall. The second one uses Scheepjes Linen Soft in the colour Hummingbird (about 20 grams) and a 3.5mm hook and it is about 3.5″ tall.

 

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The pattern tells you to braid a little cord from three strands of yarn, which I did for the turquoise one, but it was fiddly and annoying so for the pink one I just worked a chain with my hook.

And I almost forgot, but I found Lion Brand Mandala at my local Walmart. I have been enviously seeing other people’s posts in the Canadian Crocheters group on Facebook, where they say they found a display of the Mandala yarn at their local Walmart. The few cakes of this yarn that I have bought were from Herrschner’s online. Well, I bought some this week from Walmart for less money, AND no shipping fees of course. They don’t have the whole range, but I found some I liked. One of them is actually a Mandala Baby cake, but it has the same yardage etc as the Mandala.

So pretty. A couple are new to me, and the rest are ones I’ve bought before. But when I ordered from Herrschner’s I only bought one cake of each colour and then realised I wanted to have at least two so that I could have more options as to patterns.

It’s just as well my birthday is coming up and I have money from my mum! I shall choose my projects carefully for these babies!!

 

Fire!

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Hello, my dear blogreaders, how are you all? A week has whizzed by yet again and I’m afraid I don’t have much crafty stuff to show for it. I think I managed a few rounds on a sock in skinny yarn and skinny needles, but not much else. Oh, and a scrappy dishcloth. Not even worth photographing.

But I’ve been busy at work, as we had inventory prep to do. We’ve been working towards a deadline, with management tagging practically every bolt in the fabric store with a number, and the rest of us laying down the bolts in piles according to their number. Yesterday was the big day and we started at 7am. Sixteen people in four teams (with eight extra people drafted in from outside to do the heavy lifting) worked their way through the store with industrial scales to get everything weighed and recorded. We took nine hours total. The store was open from 9.30am so there was other staff working just to look after customers and make sure that they behaved themselves, not walking into the areas we were working in and making off with pre-counted rolls or bolts.

We had two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute one over the course of the day, and the manager had made sure there was plenty of good food available so that we were kept recharged. We were all knackered by the end of it (my youngest son works there too, and my middle son came along just for the day, for the third year in a row, plus I drafted in a couple of friends’ sons too). So glad it’s over for another year. I was totally brain dead after dinner last night, with just a brief period of animation when my family told me to go outside on the deck and look at the view.

So, back to the title and photo at the top of this post. Yes, once again the Okanagan Valley is smothered in heavy smoke from forest fires. It’s a standard situation for us. We had a skookum thunderstorm on Tuesday night (I love that word) in which there was impressive thunder and lightning and monsoon-like rain. Unfortunately, whilst we enjoy watching a good storm, it is immediately followed by reports of how many hits it made and how many fires it started. There were many, but the two main ones in our immediate area are (a) close to a little town about 15 minutes drive south of us, in which many people have been evacuated, and (b) across the lake in a huge wild area which burnt for a whole month in 2003. At that time, the fire caused thousands of people to be evacuated and burned over 200 homes. So obviously, memories of that year are being stirred up now, as we watched the flames last night. We could see them with the naked eye but with a camera or binoculars it was easy to see the activity of the flames.

The photo above is my husband’s, taken with a long lens. Those trees are close to my house – thankfully the fire is way away across the lake. With the wind, heat and dry conditions, people at the southern end of the city across the lake are looking nervously towards the fire, hoping that they will not see a repeat of 2003.

I am glad that today I have a day off to recover from yesterday and get a few things done around the house. I really need a gym workout too. I will undoubtedly be checking in with local news sources over the course of the day to see what’s developing. I am grateful  that my family and home are safe and away from the danger zones.

Take care, y’all!

 

 

Startitis

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My poor WIPs. I had good intentions, I really did. I posted pictures of them to the Finishalong2018 thread in the Crafternoon Treats podcast group on Ravelry (which I help moderate) with a plan to get ’em done. But I’m just not feeling the love.

So Startitis has hit me bad. After I crocheted those two small drawstring bags that I showed you last time, I made another ‘cake holding bag’ with Red Heart With Love. It started with a circle, which I just made up as I went along, doing however many granny clusters I needed to do to keep it flat, then it was granny stitch all the way up the sides. A small loop at the top finished it off.

By the time I finished it last night, sitting outside on the deck, it was getting dark.

I’ve already put it to good use, as I crocheted a hat today and put the cake of Bernat Pop inside it. This hat pattern is fast. I think it took around 2.5 hours total, and I got most of it done while waiting for the two boys at the dentist. It’s called the Newsboy Slouch and the Ravelry pattern page is here.

Very easy, very quick. I’m not 100% sold on how it suits me, but I’ll keep it for now. It’s not washed yet.

I also did some stealth crochet this week for a crochet designer. She asked me to be one of her testers, as I’ve tested for her before. It’s an afghan block with popcorns and overlay crochet, but I am waiting for her to publish her design before showing anyone my finished square.

So lots of hooking this week, and a teeny tiny bit of knitting. I have done four rounds of ribbing on a sock on US#1 needles. OMG, talk about fiddly. I’ll show you that project another time. In the meantime, have a great week!

FOs of the knit, crochet and sewing kind

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Oooh, I do feel productive. A finished hat from the cake of Lion Brand Mandala (the third from that cake, and there’s still some left). Cast on 94 sts with US#4, worked some K2P2 ribbing, changed to #5 tips and increased to 100 sts. When hat was 4.75″ deep, I did the same crown decreasing as in the Vanilla hat, but with hindsight reducing the straight part by a whole inch may have been a little too much as I find it a bit small now. It fits Sally perfectly (see below).

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A finished cosy from a German crochet book that I found at my local library. I learned some new words in German!

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And some finished project/notions bags. First, an unlined drawstring bag with a boxed bottom to which I added a special pocket with a slanted zipper opening. I messed up a little there as I was going to make the bag quite a bit bigger, but then my rotary cutter had other ideas and it ended up being the same size as the last one I made. The pocket dwarfs it a bit, but you get the idea.

This little guy is a tiny version of the triangle bag I made first (as talked about here) with the yarn ball print. I made it to go with the other bag as a gift for a podcaster I listen to a lot. They are now both in the mail. (Tutorial Crafty Gemini)

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And lastly this one from a McCall’s pattern (# M6256) which I bought on sale this week at work.

Oh man, this presented some challenges. Sewing a circle to a tube for the base – eeek! Handsewing the lining inside – grrr! Heat ‘n Bond that didn’t stick when it was supposed to – aaagh! Glad it’s done, and it does do the job – there’s a partial cake of yarn in there and the end is threaded through the top of the “lid” – though it wouldn’t hold a full cake. Maybe it’d work best for a commercial skein of acrylic set inside on its end.

This morning was productive in its own way too. An appointment with a new dentist, in which I had my teeth scaled and polished, and numerous other things they wanted to do as I am a new patient there. No cavities, thank goodness. Dropped bags of stuff at the recycling depot. Mailed a small package to the aforementioned podcaster in Wisconsin. And spent rather a lot of money on a new pair of spectacles. I hope to have them before I go on holiday in August as the ones I’ve been wearing are badly scratched.

What are you making this week?

 

 

Too much fun

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I had a 9.30am appointment with my hand therapist yesterday, and afterwards enjoyed a nice cup of tea at our favourite tea shop with Tai Chi Man. Then it was on to multiple errands to stock up on food for the ravening hordes…I mean, my family…but I diverted a little bit by having a stroll around Michaels. I found this new sock yarn – acrylic, viscose from bamboo, and polyester, so yay! No wool! Had to buy one with my coupon so after the discount it came to $5. Then of course I needed needles, because I don’t have circular needles for  magic looping socks in the required size. So I HAD to drop in at my local LYS and she has the Chiao Goo Red Lace in a 2.25mm. I am going to make socks in proper sock yarn! It’s been years since I knitted socks and I used to use a thicker yarn with 4mm dpns.

While I was looking around her new store, I remembered to ask if she had any ballwinders, and it turns out she did. So I came home with one of those too.

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I’ve been wanting one of these for ages. Considering I rarely buy yarn in hanks, and this will mostly be used for tidying up odds and ends, it wasn’t worth investing in an expensive  model.

I tried it out and, well, here are some of the fun results.

Don’t you just love those Before and After photos? And one more – four colours of dishcloth cotton in one…

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I have lots more DK yarn that is in slightly messy half used skeins, but I thought I’d better stop there as my wrist and arm have been sore since Tuesday’s workout and I shouldn’t be overdoing things.

I need to finish lunch and go out for a walk. I’m really enjoying the mild weather lately, but it’s set to heat up mid-week after some more rain. Have a great weekend, and if you’re in Canada HAPPY CANADA DAY, eh!

The sewing continues…

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The sewing continues…

This Japanese Knot Bag is so simple to make and yet it looks great when it’s finished. I used this You Tube tutorial by The Crafts Channel. The longer handle threads through the smaller one to form a wrist-carrying loop. It has two contrasting fabrics on the outside, and you could also do two different ones for the lining but I just used one. (I suppose you could even use eight different fabrics in all, which would be an awesome way to use up smaller pieces.)

Rather than download and print a pdf, I eyeballed the approximate sizes from the video and drew it out on some Burda gridded pattern paper. I started with a 25 x 25 cm square for the body of the bag, and added handles, making one twice as long as the other.

This is the sort of bag it’d be fun to make in different sizes, which I might just do!

I had a bit of a tidy round today, did the vacuuming, bathrooms, kitchen cleaning etc, and now my three crochet WIPs have been relegated to my sewing room, demoted from their living room spots. I’m not loving any of them so decided to pretend they didn’t exist! Of course my Ravelry project page has them sitting there at the top, where I can’t ignore them, but I shan’t worry about that.

The one yarny project that is active right now is a knitted beanie that I’m making with the last of the Lion Brand Mandala cake (colourway Chimera) with which I knitted/crocheted my FIL two hats. Pretty great yardage, really, to get three hats out of one cake. I started with ribbing this time, on US#4 needles, 94 stitches cast on, then increased to 100 for the stockinette part on #5 needles.

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I found that knitting to 5.75″ last time, then doing the crown decreases, made for a hat that was about an inch too long, so either I will stop at 4.75″ and then start decreasing or, if the yarn looks plentiful enough at that point, I may go even longer and make it a slouchy. Maybe even add a pompom. Anything to finish this yarn cake.

Well, I have friends coming over tonight so I’d better sign off for now. I just couldn’t wait to show you my latest bag! Happy crafting!