Sunday comforts

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Saturday was a work day, with an incredible amount of rain. It was so dark outside the store, it felt like a really long day, because it felt later than it actually was.

Today it looked like it was going to be another wet and windy day, but the sun came out and it ended up being bright most of the day, which was lovely. I had a bit of a lie in, and called my mum and sister on Facetime. Tai Chi Man and I went out for a cuppa at our favourite tea shop, and of course I took some knitting.

This afternoon, we did some shopping at our favourite health food store (oops, some special Christmassy chocolate jumped into my basket, Zazubean’s Dasher (white vegan chocolate with cranberries and cocoa nibs OMG) and also I found an essential oil diffuser on clearance. I’ve been wanting one of those for ages so I snatched it up. I have it going right now with orange and lemon oils in it. Smells divine!

Before the sun set and we got too relaxed, we went off to the gym for a 45 minute workout. I did treadmill and legs today. I’m being careful  not to overdo things with the left shoulder, for which I’m getting physio, and for which I have special daily exercises.

Once we’d had dinner, it was time to make mincemeat. Mince pies, aaaaah, one of my favourite things about December. Whether we’re celebrating the Solstice, Christmas or whatever, it’s just not the same without mince pies. I like to make my own, which means it’s vegan and fat-free. No need for suet. I can’t remember where I found this recipe, but I’ve been using it for years.

I’ll give you the recipe too in case you want to try it out. It’s supposed to sit in airtight jars in the fridge for 4 – 6 weeks. When you fancy a nice mince pie, you can whip up a batch of pastry (or buy it frozen if that’s what you prefer) and make little tarts, with or without lids, or large ones.

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I like to use a mixture of dried fruit. This is a combination of raisins, golden raisins, cranberries and currants.

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Then you add in your sugar and spices (I used a combination of organic sugar and coconut sugar, plus cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice).

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And then you add your wet ingredients – lemon juice, apples and apple juice. If you have organic lemons with no icky coating, you can put in the zest as well. Give it a good stir, leave it covered in the fridge overnight, stir it up again, and then put it into airtight jars. I use mason jars with the two part lids, but you don’t can it, you just put the jars into the fridge and forget about them until Christmas.

This quantity makes about four medium mason jars full. But this year I doubled the quantity as I may give some away to friends.

Let me know if you try it out.

Vegan Mincemeat Recipe

6 cups mixed dried fruit (eg currants, raisins, golden raisins, sultanas, cranberries)

1lb (about 4, depending on size) chopped apples

2.5 cups sugar (ideally not bleached white sugar)

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

juice of 2 lemons

¾ cup fruit juice

Mix all in large bowl, leave covered overnight in fridge. The next day, mix it again, pack into sterilised jars with airtight lids. Leave in fridge 4 – 6 weeks.

 

Throwback Thursday

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A bittersweet memory from July 2010.

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This prayer shawl was made from James C Brett Marble Chunky in a lovely raspberry shade. My project page on Ravelry is here from which you will see that the reason for that particular stitch pattern is explained.

This is inspired by the Original Prayer Shawl which uses a K3P3 repeat to make a textured pattern. My LYS owner has been making one. However mine will have a 4 st repeat so that I can use as my mantra,
“I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you” which is the Ho’oponopono blessing.

On July 10th, I wrote this blog post in which I explained further the meaning of the blessing.

My view of the meaning of this blessing is as follows:

  • myself to myself (I am healing hurts against myself)
  • myself to others (I am healing my relationships with other people)
  • myself to the Earth and the Universe (I am healing any transgressions against nature)
  • on behalf of all humans to the Earth and the Universe

In this way, good karma is being created, which will benefit us all. My belief is that we are all connected. Anything that affects one person affects us all. Anything that harms Mother Earth affects us all. We are all part of one organism.

And the finished shawl appeared in this blog post at the end of July.

I’m going to give this to my friend Anne, who has had inflammatory breast cancer for two and a half years. Her health has gone up and down since her diagnosis, she’s tried various cures from allopathic to alternative, and she’s currently on morphine and steroids which are helping with the inflammation and pain. We’ve been friends for 11 years, having met through the homeschool support group. Despite the heat, I hope she will get some use from the shawl.

I did not realise at the time I started this shawl that it would end up going to my best friend, Anne, who had been suffering from inflammatory breast cancer for over two years. But she was sleeping on the couch because lying down was too painful and I was moved to give it to her, to help her keep warm and hopefully offer comfort. She died five weeks later. I still miss her.

Quilting for a change!

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No yarn WIP photos this week. They are boring me, and are not progressing much. Instead, TA DA!

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I made a small quilt. I was given the choice of some Christmas panels at work and of course I chose the non-traditional one with my favourite colours in it. It comes with a range of coordinating fabrics which I love, so I kept it simple by cutting out the centre design and surrounding it with squares. I did have to trim some to make them fit. There is a thin line of pink around the centre, which is just a folded strip of fabric that’s incorporated into the seam.

I didn’t do any quilting on this, just tied the layers together using some pink yarn, and added a few snowflake buttons.

The back is two other sections of the panel plus another fabric from the same range.

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I then had two pieces of panel left, which went into a project bag along with some of the other fabrics left over from the quilt. The spotty buttons from my stash fit well with the colour scheme.

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And the second side…

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I sort of followed a video tutorial though I had to change the measurements a bit as my pre-printed squares were a little narrower than the instructions said to cut, and as they were also deeper than her patchwork section I shortened the top and bottom pieces. It would look better wider, but I had to go with what I had. I added batting in between the layers, so a bit of stitching and button sewing hold it in place. I managed to fit 6 hanks of yarn in there for the photo, so it’s quite roomy.

These items will have to go on display at the store, probably right up til Christmas.

I have been creating other small items as part of the Christmas cracker swap that I’m in. I think I have everything ready to pack up now. A few small crocheted things, some beading, tea, and of course a cheesy joke. The sooner I send it the better as my swap partner is in the UK. I have taken photos but probably shouldn’t show anything yet just in case.

Happy Hump Day! Hope your week is awesome.

Throwback Thursday

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Today I’m looking back at 2009. There are finally some crochet projects in my Ravelry notebook, and also quite a few pairs of socks and fingerless mittens.

These two projects, though, are two of my favourites for the year. I don’t think I have the beanie any more, but I do have the mittens as they are warm. I even mended the end of one once when a stitch came loose from catching it on a keyring.

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My Ravelry project page is here. The pattern for this beanie is called the Fake Isle Hat and by using a variegated or self-striping yarn for the background it looks more complicated than it really is. It only took me two days to knit. This was, again, James C Brett Marble DK (the blue/pink) along with some Marks & Kattens Carolina (now discontinued).

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This pair of mittens took 10 days. Same yarns as the hat, but no pattern this time. I made up the Fair Isle patterns based on the way they divided into the number of stitches around the hand. I really like this sort of thumb. It’s easy, because when you’re knitting the tube for the hand you just place some waste yarn in the spot for the thumb (within the palm stitches) and then go back and pick up the stitches and knit the thumb later. I prefer the look and the fit better than a thumb gusset.

OK, that’s enough for this Thursday. Talk to you again soon.

 

Tuesday Tea

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I don’t often make it to my favourite tea shop on a weekday. Usually I’ll go on the weekend with Tai Chi Man, when I’m not working. But today I did, and I enjoyed this lovely green Raspberry Matcha Latte which just happens to coordinate beautifully with my Espe (vegan leather) wallet.

It was a day off for me, and I was awake early, even without the alarm. So I was out walking after breakfast around my neighbourhood. These pics are from a few days ago but the weather was the same – cool and sunny.

After lunch I was feeling antsy and ready  for another walk. Very unlike me! I didn’t want to go to the gym today because my shoulder has been more sore than usual, plus I have yoga tonight. So I went to a local mountain which gives one a good workout on the steep trails and walked up for about 25 minutes, and then down again, so that made two walks of around 40 – 45 minutes today. Then I met Tai Chi Man for tea. And of course I had my crochet blanket with me.

It really is so lovely to have crisp sunny fall days. We had a heavy frost this morning, but even so it wasn’t that cold when walking, because you make your own warmth.

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This cheerful little snowperson is a side project (because when I am stuck in large projects I have to have little distractions) which I am going to take to work to keep on display for a while. I found the perfect little stick arms while out walking. I probably should have made the rainbow scarf longer but it was fiddly and I’m not making another one.

The thing with working in retail is that you can’t avoid all the “holidays” and any reason for having a “sale” – I changed out the front table on Friday for a Christmassy look. Of course, here in Canada we already had our Thanksgiving in October, and Halloween is now past, so it’s all systems go for Christmas!!!

Saturday shopping spree

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OK, it’s Monday now, but I did mean to blog at the weekend to talk about  my SEX (Stash Enhancement eXpedition) at Michaels. I went in there to look for beading supplies actually. I am signed up with a group on Ravelry to do a Christmas swap, which entails filling a toilet paper roll with fun stuff to make a cracker. You have to put in something that you knitted or crocheted, a handwritten joke, and any other little gift-type things that will fit. Then you wrap it up beautifully and send it to your swap partner. Beads are tiny, right? So if I make some earrings or stitch markers they will fit inside easily.

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I did buy some beads – black ones, clear ones, turquoise ones – and some ear wires, pins and bracelet attachments. But I also had to check out the yarn while I was there. And even though my self-discipline has been very good this year, I found clearance yarn that I have seen at Michaels a few times before. I was able to resist while it was regular price, but on clearance? I fell off that darned wagon!

Six little bundles of Loops & Threads Meandering Minis in three colourways. These skeins are 25 grams each. AND…

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Three bundles of Caron X Pantone Bamboo as well.

Now, in theory, the Caron yarn is acceptable as I allowed myself, when making my New Year’s Resolution, to buy yarn that has some plant fibre content. So I wasn’t really being BAD! However, the Meandering Minis are totally synthetic, which goes against my ‘rule’ of stashing down the 100% man-made stuff and not acquiring more. Oh dear! But they are just so pretty!

I feel a bit zombified tonight. Maybe it has something to do with the clocks changing yesterday. You wouldn’t think one hour would make that much difference. But I was working today too, and eight hours on my feet is tiring. What a great feeling it is to come home, change out of my work clothes into my Hello Kitty onesie, eat a big bowl of risotto with kabocha squash (I had the forethought to make dinner this morning before work) and enjoy a large cup of tea. I was watching Ross’s podcast (Smells Like Yarn) and I could feel myself sinking into the couch and feeling so brain dead that I don’t even feel like picking up a crochet hook this evening (though I seem to have found the energy to write a blog post).

So I shall love you and leave you, as they say, before my eyes droop.

 

 

Throwback Thursday

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Today I’m looking back at 2008 in my Ravelry notebook. And a couple of things stand out.

One is that there is no crochet. I was firmly in the knitting groove after a lifetime of On again/Off again, but hadn’t yet picked up the crochet bug.

Another thing I notice is that I was experimenting more with my Bond knitting machine. Eleven projects were made by machine and some of them were published on my blog as free patterns.

This striped vest was inspired, according to my Ravelry notes, by a pattern in a book. Rather than hand knit it, I machine knit it.

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It actually came out rather well, though I don’t recall wearing it much.

And that year I was really into the James C Brett Marble DK again. I had knitted two sweaters in it the year before. Well, 2008 saw the same brown colourway used in these three projects:

Marble Wrap Vest which I designed myself

Button scarf

and Quick Hat

and there were three other projects using the Marble DK but in other colours.

It’s fascinating to look back at what I made thanks to the invention of Ravelry all those years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WIP Wednesday

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It’s 9pm and I thought I wouldn’t have anything to talk about today as there hadn’t been much visible progress. However I added a few rounds to my Moe of Change tonight so here’s a quickie pic to give you an idea – it’s now 13.5″ in diameter.

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My phone didn’t want to focus properly! The other two blankets have had a few rounds added too, but the cardigan is still languishing.

Ooh, I just remembered, I did finish a hat. Tai Chi Man’s god-daughter had a baby recently, so I am packaging up the rainbow blanket (FO blog post here) along with a little pompom beanie made from Caron Cupcakes in Tutti Frutti. pompomhat

I confess to cutting out parts of the stripes to keep it to 9 rounds per colour. It’s only about 14″ in circumference and took about 20 grams of the cake. I ended up using US#4 needles which is skinnier than I would normally use for DK yarn but I was aiming for a certain tension.

Last Wednesday, I showed you my kitty ears. Well, here I am modelling them.

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The Hello Kitty outfit finally came together – I finished sewing the dress, bought the white turtleneck online from Old Navy, wore my Sweet Legs leggings, wore the ears and a pink bow, and went a bit heavier on the makeup.

I wore the ensemble on Monday and again on Tuesday, when I showed up for work with the added armwarmers that I made last year.

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So there you go. All caught up!

Throwback Thursday

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This week I thought I’d feature my Sunrise Circle Jacket.

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Gosh, I look so young in that photo! I would have been 45 in early 2008. Looks like I was having a bad hair day though, which is kinda the story of my life!

I didn’t make a lot of notes on my Ravelry project page, but this project was quite the adventure. The construction was unique – the back was knitted bottom to top, if I recall correctly, and the fronts and sleeves started at the side/armpit and grew out from there. The curved front edges have hems knitted in. I mail-ordered some Tatamy Tweed (worsted weight cotton/acrylic) from Kraemer Yarns in the US. I absolutely loved knitting with that yarn and if they had had a decent ordering system on their website I would probably have continued to buy from them. However one had to phone, or find a Local Yarn Store to buy from, and so it never happened.

I still have this cardigan and have worn it many times.  The yarn still looks like new. It’s warm too.

Apparently I started knitting this in January 2008 and finished it in March. Not bad!

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WIP Wednesday

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WIP Wednesday

Hi peeps, how’s it going? Time for another WIP Wednesday. Seems like no time at all since last Wednesday, and it feels like I haven’t made a whole lot of progress.

The Party Cardi hasn’t been touched so I won’t bother with another photo of that. However I’ve started my Moe of Change…

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This is going to be a pretty blanket. It will be baby blanket size as it only uses two cakes of Lion Brand Mandala but it’s good to have at least one project where I have to concentrate on stitches and counting.

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The granny blanket with the Red Heart With Love has grown quite well though the colours are going to be a bit predictable from now on. The centre used up small balls of leftovers and now I’m on to the big balls, of which I have only a limited number. The plan is to repeat the white/black rows after each set of colours, and I hope it’s going to look ok with the different colours in the middle.

The knitted blanket has grown a tiny bit. I have added a few rows but they are so long that it’s going to be a slow project.

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That cake is one I wound up with my ball-winder when I first bought it and wanted to wind every scrap into a cake!

I also have a Finished Object – a very small one!

I needed ears for my Hello Kitty outfit for Halloween and found this hairband at the dollar store. It’s perfect because I crocheted the ears and slipped them over the plastic ear-shaped bits on top, sewed them on, and they won’t flop.

So I’ve been a good girl this week and got back to the gym. I had two weeks of holiday followed by two weeks of sloth (except for one yoga class). On Sunday, Tai Chi Man and I went to the gym in the morning and I did a 40 minute workout (20 mins treadmill, 20 mins weights machine circuit) to get me back into things. On Monday, I was back for 30 mins of treadmill plus a 30 minute upper body workout. And Tuesday, we had a challenging yoga class with lots of downward facing dogs and OMG my shoulders today are SO painful. But it’s a good kind of pain, I suppose, because it means I did some work! Couldn’t face another workout tonight after work, but I shall see what I can fit in tomorrow around my social commitments. Maybe a ‘leg day’ in the afternoon so that the shoulders get a break.

I have Maui in December to keep me motivated!