WIPs, workouts and weather

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I burned myself out on five-stranded super-bulky crochet last week and have put away the old crappy yarn for now. I actually  made a decision on what to make for the first ball of Lion Brand Mandala – colour Sphinx.

I started from the centre of the cake. It goes from teal, to turquoise, to a medium blue, to a darker blue, and then brown.  (Later I’ll get to green, mustard and grey.) If you look carefully, you will see the tail on the inside curve. This is the starting point. The short rows mean the shawl grows asymmetrically, but rather magically if I fold it in half it is still symmetrical, even though the starting point is not in the middle. This is giving me hope that, even though I have less yardage than the pattern calls for, I may end up with an acceptable result anyway. Or I can rummage through my Stylecraft Special DK and see if I can coordinate something to finish it off properly.

Pattern is Spill, a free Ravelry download. I think I first spotted it when the designer was getting it test-crocheted in one of the groups I belonged to. I’m happy that she published it for free!

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“Spill” requires some counting on the dc rows where some are short rows and some involve increasing. Odd rows are just sc. However seeing as I need to refer to the pattern every other row, it’s not ideal for tonight as I have a friend (or possibly friends) coming over to knit and chat. I needed an even easier pattern that I could do with only half a brain.

Therefore, this skein of Loops & Threads Barcelona was pulled out along with a 6.5mm hook, and after revisiting this Crochet Crowd tutorial I got started on a C2C (corner to corner). This is bulky yarn, and I have two 7oz skeins, so I think I will just play with making a scarf with it. I’ve never made a project with the C2C method before and a scarf will give me some good practice at increasing and decreasing.

My mind is sort of made up about the old yarn that I’ve acquired from various sources. I’d like to take it to the thrift store, get it out of my space, and just keep those skeins that I bought for myself that I really like. What do they say? Life’s too short to crochet with yarn that you hate? Maybe hate is too strong a word, but I feel that someone else will put it to better use.

This morning, I realised that I goofed. On Friday I went to the gym and of course peeled off everything when I got home, tossed it into the laundry basket, and headed for the shower. Well, I worked Saturday and Sunday – busy days at work, it’s a popular sale, lots of good deals, and also with the season changing there’s lots to do in reorganising tables of fabric. This morning, eating my breakfast and mentally making plans to go to the gym, I realise that my workout clothes aren’t clean. I have plenty of tops to wear but only one pair of yoga pants to work out in. Definitely time to go shopping, I’d say. It was a beautiful morning, sunny with a cool breeze, so it was an easy choice to put on a T shirt and skirt and go out for a walk around the neighbourhood instead. Over an hour, lots of hillwork, a pretty good workout with the bonus of making some Vitamin D!

This afternoon I blitzed the kitchen and bathrooms, did some vacuuming, brought the plants in off the deck for the winter and gave them some much needed water, and did two loads of laundry, washed, dried and put away. At dinner we had one of those awesome rain showers where it’s fairly heavy, and the wind is blowing it at an angle, but the sun is still shining.  The forecast for the next three days is rain (woohoo) and only mid-teens for the temperature. Gonna have to pull out a sweater. It’s time for my fall closet switcharoo anyway. Bring the wintery stuff down off the top shelf, put the summer things up there.

So yeah, the house got clean (this Monday night plan of having people come to my house is great motivation) and now I just need to hit Publish and pick up my hook and wait for 7.30!

Scrappy fun

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I followed through on that idea I mentioned in my last post about using up some stash to make cat mats.

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Five strands of random acrylic plus a 19mm hook makes for fast finishes. Once I’d made five, I thought I’d make a nicer version for myself. The floor in my cold room (an unheated cupboard in my basement where we keep our food stores) is freezing in the winter so to save our feet I thought we needed a rug. So I made one.

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I rather like the way the colours worked in this one, except maybe for the yellow at the beginning. Still, it feels good to use up random balls and odds and ends of yarn and edit my Ravelry stash to show “all used up.”

Zumba on Sunday morning was as fun as I remember it. Shame I don’t have every Sunday off (working all this weekend) but I will go when I can.

No inspiration for the Lion Brand Mandala yet, but I am keeping my antennae up for mentions of likely patterns online.

Pizza time! Off to eat.

 

Mandala mojo

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Two days ago, I was looking forward to starting a new project with some of my Lion Brand Mandala. But I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be to find JUST the right project to make. Forty eight hours later, I still haven’t cracked a cake!

I have browsed Ravelry multiple times with different advanced searches, looked at Pinterest, gone through my own pattern file, and I’m still not sure what to start. Having only one cake of each colourway limits me and now I’m wondering whether I should have bought fewer colours but more of each. It looks like it’ll be a shawl or cowl project, and I added some to my Ravelry queue to revisit later.

I had a free day today. A rest day from exercise, because I have weight-trained, walked, yoga’ed and worked this week, enough to feel like a rest day was necessary. Tomorrow I am booked into a Zumba class (I used to do these years ago and they were a lot of fun – sweaty fun). Having all this free time today meant I had to crochet something. So I made this…

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…which is another DMC Top This! hat, but crocheted without a pattern this time. The odd shape is due to the fact it is over the top of a cylindrical stainless steel Ikea cutlery holder!

The variegated pink and grey is the nicest section to crochet, the pink fluffy section is thicker and not as smooth on the hook, and the peachy section is just horrible – I hate that colour, it doesn’t really fit with the rest, it’s very synthetic-feeling and in places has a dark strand in it that makes it look dirty. I’ve liked the other kits that I’ve bought – the lamb and the cat were okay – but I wouldn’t use this one again.

At least it’s something used up from stash. I will hold onto this hat for now and see if I can find a local recipient for it. If not, undoubtedly there will be another parcel heading off to the UK in a few months.

Sometimes, when my inspiration deserts me, I make big bulky items to destash cheap acrylic. Maybe that’s what I need to do next. Perhaps some cat blankets for the SPCA. Now that’s an idea I can get on board with.

Enjoy your weekend 🙂  I am – we actually had RAIN last night and today and it is freakin’ awesome! And it was around 21 degrees and I was comfortable. YAY!

Better photo and another FO

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Edited to add: I just spent all of five minutes adding all my free pattern links back in the sidebar. They were all still there, in the background. If I’d realised how quick and easy it would be, I would have done it 9 months ago when I changed the theme! Doh!

 

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Daytime shot of the Polaris scarf, taken outside this morning. We have another day of orange sun, the sky being totally obscured by smoke again.

And I finished off this coaster, which is about 5 inches in diameter. I felt like my experiment was a success and I’m itching to move on to something new.

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If you look carefully, you can see a little bit of the Phil Techno rubber yarn peeking out at the bottom of the photo. I didn’t want to trim it too close. The yarn is Red Heart with Love, and I think the colourway is Boysenberry.

Yay for finishing things!

So my day looks like this…keep nagging young men to get up and get ready for the bus, drop them at bus stop, go to gym (which I joined on Tuesday and I am all gung ho for getting fit again), come home, shower and change, vacuum the house, and make dinner. Sounds like a plan!

And tonight I can pull out a cake of Lion Brand Mandala (totally non-fattening) and crochet on the couch, guilt-free!

 

 

FO: Polaris scarf

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Just a quickie tonight to show you this scarf, hot off the hook. I only had one skein of Katia Polaris so I was limited by that, and the scarf turned out almost 36 inches long and about 15 inches wide at the top edge. I probably will have to wear it with some kind of pin.

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Nighttime shots again – they look way clearer and brighter on my iPad compared to my Windows laptop. BTW, I will never buy a non-Mac computer again. I was all for saving money at the time, but with hindsight it was a crappy idea.

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I love that the Tunisian Simple Stitch lies flat at the edges, but unfortunately it does curl somewhat top and bottom, so after slipstitching across the last row to close the gaps I turned the work and did a row of shells to finish off.

I have two WIPs in timeout now, a monster toy and a blanket. One active WIP, the coaster or hot pad that is an experiment with that strange rubber yarn. I’ll get that done and then reward myself by playing with some of the Lion Brand Mandala. I keep seeing lovely projects made with it on Facebook.

Good night all.

 

 

A week of WIPs

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Another week has whizzed by, though it didn’t feel like it at the time! In this heat, I am gasping for some cloudy, rainy, cool days, but we are still experiencing hot sun, 30 plus degrees (90+F), dry and smoky air.

A new wildfire started just a couple of days ago (photo above is from the day it started, viewed from our house). In the first day, it grew to 100 hectares, overnight it grew to 1000, and now I think it’s around 1500. It’s on the southern edge of a town south of us, and thankfully not heading towards the main residential area but into the forest. However the town south of that one is now threatened. Some people have been evacuated, others on notice to be ready just in case.

The crazy thing is that the vast majority of these fires are human caused. A discarded cigarette butt is often the reason and one moment’s carelessness is all it takes.

So what’s been going on in my crochet world? I did work on the Everything is Cool and Groovyghan a little bit. (I blogged about this on July 21st and showed you a photo of the progress.) Well, I’m just not enjoying the next part of the CAL. It requires a bunch of fiddling with little rectangular bits that stand up on their own and get filled in on the next row. Not feeling it!

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(A quick evening shot – the brown and green rows are the latest ones and I don’t like them.)

The three bags/baskets of DK are going down to my craft room tonight along with this WIP so that I can put it in time out while I consider its fate.

I have been loving this WIP, however…

The yarn is Katia Polaris which a kind Raveler sent me a little while ago. I only have one skein and decided to start out with 3 stitches and work Tunisian Simple Stitch, increasing at the beginning of every alternate row, until the yarn runs out. The colours are very vibrant and I always find this stitch very meditative.

Today I started playing with some Phildar Phil Techno that a friend gave me ages ago. After experimenting with knitting needles and crochet hooks without success, and asking for ideas on a Facebook crochet group, I am using a 5mm crochet hook and some Red Heart with Love to actually crochet around the thick rubber ‘yarn’ to make a coaster or hot pad. So far it’s going well.

I am off to the kitchen now to help clean up. Tai Chi Man has been busy, taking out the old range hood (cooker hood) which is a dated colour, rusty and inefficient. Of course, with an old house, fitting a new appliance to an existing space is always going to be a challenge and this one is no different. He has been adding bits of wood to the opening and messing about with wires and has run out of time as far as fitting in the new hood.

I’m glad he is such a Mr Fixit and has oodles of experiences at DIY and installations. I’m sure it’s saved us thousands of dollars over the years.

If you’re in North America, I hope you enjoyed your Labour Day. Roll on fall/autumn!

 

Marvellous Monday

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It is most definitely a marvellous Monday! The mail carrier brought yarn!

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These beauties are Lion Brand Mandala which I ordered online from Herrschners.ca. I wish Canada Post wasn’t so darned slow but I suppose it makes for more excitement when something fun does come in the mail. They are BIG. One hundred and fifty grams each. I couldn’t tell you what the colourways are – I have already recycled the packing slip and filed the yarn away in my sewing room.  But they are pretty!

I blitzed the house today. Tai Chi Man is off work this week (I think they call it a staycation, though he has so many jobs to do around the house that it’s not much of a rest)! Ds1 was at work and the other two went off to catch the bus for their afternoon job skills course, so it was an exceedingly rare few hours when the husband and I were home alone…together. And he was doing exciting things like fixing toilets and I was vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms and overhauling my sewing room.

My sewing room was a mess. I’ve been sewing curtains this week. The bedrooms finally have curtains, as does the kitchen. I still have to customise some clearance panels I bought from work, as they need a different header to fit the Ikea tracks, but when those are done the rooms downstairs will all be curtained too.

I had a complete review of everything, pulled it all out, made a pile of craft books to donate, a huge bag of upholstery odds and ends to take to a thrift store for rags, a bag full of projects that I finished and don’t want to keep. A partially completed afghan had the tails woven in and will go to the SPCA.

This week, I do have an FO. A market bag for a friend. I like the stitch pattern but I underestimated the stretch!

The stitch pattern is called Marielle and is from a book that I own, The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet. Very easy one row repeat. Unfortunately when I put some local Glohaven peaches and Sunrise apples into the bag as part of the gift, it stretched WAAAAY too much. Lesson learned!

There was one tiny celebration this week too. My Birthday! Sort of a milestone – 55 years young. It was pretty low key. I considered organising a party for myself, but decided I’d rather be alone at home during the day with my sewing machine. I did attempt a bit of sunbathing in the back garden but it was just too hot. Dinner was simple – a pasta salad for the whole family followed by banana splits. Let me tell you, cake has nothing on banana splits. Bananas, fresh peaches, cashew-based ice cream, coconut whipped cream, walnuts, chocolate chips and berry sauce. Awesome!

Maybe the party would have been a good idea. I do like a BIT of fuss to be made. I still love having birthdays and it’s so low key in this household that if you blink, you miss it! A few Facebook friends sent messages, Tai Chi Man send me a Jacqui Lawson e-card, I got to add $50 to my birthday money fund (and another 100 pounds from my dear mum), and ds1 gave me a bar of chocolate and $20 to “fuel my yarn addiction.”

The Groovyghan WIP is still sitting across the living room from me, waiting patiently for me to give it some attention. If it didn’t take up three large bags, I could have taken it out with me this morning. Ds3 had a dentist appointment. Instead I took my colourful Katia yarn that a lovely Raveler in the UK sent me, and started a Tunisian Simple Stitch scarf. Haven’t taken any photos yet.

Have a great week, friends, and talk to you again soon.

 

FOs: Granny Square dress, Smooshy scarf

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

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

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

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

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Take that, yarn!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day!

FOs: Top This! hat, Kanata Kerchief Tank

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

I bought yarn!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Has it really been that long?

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

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

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

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

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Yes, even skunks are sometimes cute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy crafting and see you again soon.