Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

Long-time vegan, whole-food plant-based enthusiast and educator. Crazy about crochet and knitting.

And the heat continues…

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Regardless of the high temperatures and stuffy house, the crochet continues, because we crafters are always planning for winter!

The Habitat Cardigan is growing. The back section is about 14″ long now, so I’m over halfway done with the initial rectangle. I have one more colour to incorporate and then I’ll start repeating them.

When the back is 26″ long, I have to add a “tush extension”, a large collar, and cuffs, so I have a long way to go yet. It would be great if this cardigan could be finished by the end of August.

I was so overheated yesterday I went for a swim in the lake. It’s been a few years, I think, since I did that, and it was very pleasant. I think I shall have to do the same today. The housework is done (the vacuuming had to be done this morning before it was too hot), I need to make bread, and Mr Fixit and I plan to go to the gym later, but I’m sure I can fit in a quick swim too.

How’s your weekend going?

Summer heat

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Summer has hit with a vengeance and we are currently having a week of temperatures over 30 degrees (that’s 90 to you old-fashioned types). Today the analog thermometer outside hit 39, my car thermometer hit 36, and it made our house pretty darned uncomfortable. We don’t have AC, just fans, and we keep the windows closed during the day and open them up in the evening and leave them open until the next morning.

Me outside the tea shop with an unsexy sunhat, trying not to cook!

Luckily I had a small project to do in my sewing room this evening, and the basement is always a lot cooler than the main floor upstairs. We have…wait for it…BABY YODA fabric at work. I didn’t realise we had a range of the Mandalorian fabric until I was working the till yesterday and saw someone had bought some. I just had to buy a small amount to make a mask.

And while I was at it, I made a second mask out of some long-held stash fabric. Neither of the masks has interfacing, just two layers of cotton. I’m hoping they won’t be as hot as my other ones.

Isn’t it CUTE?!

I FINALLY learned that if I trim a little fabric off the top and bottom edges of the lining it sits better inside the outer layer. This is the Craft Passion pattern, cut men’s size, but shortened at the sides of the face. And with longer elastic this time, and cord stoppers for the back of the neck.

So what else have I been doing?

Loops & Threads Meandering Minis
Loops & Threads Meandering Serpentine

Pretty yarn! The bag is full of the Meandering Minis that I bought mid-2019 on a whim – a ‘clearance-yarn-fumes’ induced purchase from Michaels. I wound all the little skeins into balls and put them in a bag and browsed patterns trying to find the right project. Then one day recently I dragged Mr Fixit back into Michaels just for the heck of it and found the larger skeins of the Serpentine yarn – it’s exactly the same yarn/fibre content, but doesn’t match any of my minis.

However I bought 500 grams of it (yes, on clearance again) so then I had more options for what to make. I really wanted to make a garment – I don’t need more blankets or accessories – and I finally plumped for the Habitat Cardigan by Jess of Make & Do Crew (link to my Ravelry project page – do not click if you have problems with migraines or seizures as some people have reported such things since the roll-out of the new updated look).

It has grown a few stripes since this photo.

And I had forgotten that I sewed a little vinyl zippered pouch until I started picking photos to add to this post. This was a tutorial by Erica Arndt on YouTube.

Dodgy stitching – don’t look too closely.

I think that’s it for now. It’s almost bedtime and I can guarantee the ceiling fan is staying on again tonight. Have a great week, stay healthy, stay calm, stay comfortable!

FO: River bag

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FO: River bag

I named this bag for the River Washed XL yarn from Scheepjes. Yet another project from the kit of minis, this scrappy bag was easy peasy. Just a foundation chain, around which I crocheted a small oval, and then straight up to the top, and then some rows worked flat on one side for the flap. A few decreases shaped the outer edge of the flap and then I single-crocheted around the top edge.

I still had some bits and pieces left, so added a little embroidery and a leaf-shaped applique to cover the ugly back of the magnetic snap. The cotton fabric for the strap and D rings was in my stash. It’s not lined, but that’s ok. (Hmmm, I did just have a bright idea – make a small bag that will fit inside out of the same fabric as the strap…if I have enough.)

Summer has truly hit here in BC. It felt like we had a cooler wetter start to the summer than usual, which was a blessing, but now the days are getting hot and, without AC, we often have to pull the blinds and close the windows during the day to try and keep the house cooler.

My geraniums are looking lovely.

Difficult to get a good photo with it being so bright behind

Mr Fixit and I both have a love for geraniums. His mum was Swiss and there’s nothing so beautiful as a traditional Swiss chalet smothered in red geraniums. Also my grandparents, who lived in England, had a verandah full of geraniums every summer from which they took cuttings every fall.

I am feeling very thankful that inventory time is over for another year at work. And having yesterday and today off was a bit like a “weekend” for me after the crazy time, so I have really appreciated it.

I hope your week is going well. Talk soon!

What am I making/reading?

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My current reading is this. As a white woman, I figured that I had a lot to learn about systemic racism, so here I am, getting some education. I have other books on hold at the library but I am in longer queues for those.

And this is what I’m making. This is going to use up almost all of what I have left of the Scheepjes Stonewashed and Riverwashed XL mini skeins. It’s just a really simple bag that’s going to end up about 9″ square, in single crochet, and I’ve just switched from in-the-round to working flat for the flap. Not far to go now.

I will be adding a strap, which may well be fabric with swivel hooks attached, and the bits that hold the D rings on may also be the same fabric. This has been a great mindless project for this week, where I can just crochet around and around and enjoy the colours, because I’ve been tired out from all the extra hours at work. Three of my workdays have been 11 hours or more, thanks to inventory time. I have Saturday off, and then Sunday is another major day where we count all the packaged notions and estimate the yardage (meterage?) on the cut notions – basically anything that we haven’t already weighed on bolts this week gets logged on Sunday.

I’m thankful this only happens once a year. We even got audited this year but after a few hours at the store the auditor left happy, our supervisor left happy, and we now have the fun job of putting all the fabric upright and draped again, so customers can actually see it properly.

What are you making/reading at the moment?

Dying to Dye

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Dying to Dye

I was in the mood for a new challenge, something fun, and I had been meaning to try yarn dyeing for some time. I was inspired by some videos by Spellbound Weaving and Dyeing on YouTube – she’s Australian, and even though she’s only published a small number of videos I felt like she’d provided enough information to get me started.

I did a bit of research on dyes and bare yarn, but for my first dip into dyeing (ha) I drove into town and bought a starter pack of Procion MX dye from Opus (turquoise, pink, yellow and black plus a packet of soda ash), some white cotton yarn from my LYS, and some measuring spoons and cups, squirty bottles, a plastic bowl and foam paintbrushes from the dollar store.

Impatient to start, I set up an old folding table next to my laundry tub, with a plastic tablecloth draped over it, and a mask and gloves handy (ha again). It was 9pm by the time I got started on the actual process. Washed the yarn using some dish soap (the handwashing kind, not dishwasher detergent), soaked it in the soda ash solution, squeezed it out, laid it on plastic wrap on my table. Mixed up some dye powder with water in the squeezy bottles and dove in.

I guess a newbie always goes all out! With hindsight, I probably should have just used two colours – maybe turquoise and yellow (because I love the way they made green where they overlapped) however I used the three brights in wide stripes on the yarn and then dripped the black in places with the baster.

I wrapped the yarn up in the plastic wrap and left it overnight – about 12 hours. Then there was LOTS of rinsing and another wash before hanging it out to dry. There was some colour transfer onto my airing rack which means I was slapdash about the rinsing (why am I not surprised?!) but I will just have to remember to expect some colour bleeding when I wash whatever I make with it.

It looks like I made circus yarn, AKA clown barf, AKA rainbow yarn, but it looks really pretty in the cake!

I have 400 grams of this bulky rainbow yarn now, so the question is….what shall I make with it?!

The end of June already…

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The end of June already…

Hi, bloggy friends!

Wow, summer is one-third over and so far it’s been very comfortable, temperature-wise. In fact, we’ve had quite a few rainy days, including thunderstorms. I do prefer it when the thermometer reads less than 30 Celsius.

After I finished the baby blanket that I showed you last time, I had a bit of a slump, when I WANTED to be making something but couldn’t figure out WHAT I wanted to make. I have some nice yarns in the stash, fabrics too, but nothing was calling to me.

There’s been the extra stress at work – what with enforcing the customer limit and mask policy, and the volume of sales, and on top of all that trying to get everything ready for inventory, there have been extra hours worked and extra pressure on the staff.

This has made my days off even more precious and even though I have had an outwardly relaxing day today (baking bread and zucchini cake, crocheting while watching YouTube videos, prepping dinner) I can feel the tightness in my stomach and I am hoping a visit to the gym later will help burn off some of that feeling.

I did whip up a quick shawl. It’s a pattern I’ve used before – the Me Shawl from Clare at bobwilson123. Last time I made it, I did the popcorn/bobble border and it looked awesome but this time I wanted it to be quick and easy. So I ended up doing just row 1 of Clare’s Jessica shawl edging, which is just a simple shell.

I used Caron X Pantone Bamboo which I bought last summer. I bought very little yarn last year but this was from a trip to Michaels where I fell hard for three braids of this yarn plus some cute Loops & Threads Meandering Minis because they were on clearance. Each braid comes with 20 grams each of five colours and I had wound them into cakes some time ago. This shawl used ten of the small balls, so 200 grams in all.

It was nice to have yarn running through my hands again, but it was a super-quick project and now I need to find another one!

I am feeling a little discombobulated about something else in my life too. Ravelry has been a big part of my interwebs time for 12 years. I have over 700 projects recorded, my pattern library (admittedly quite small), my queue of things I’d like to make some day, my favourites, my stash and over 13000 forum posts on record.

I have invested a lot into Ravelry over the years, added to the database, linked my free patterns through the site, given tonnes of advice to people asking for help in the forums. It’s been part of my everyday.

But suddenly, Ravelry had a facelift. A couple of weeks ago, the look totally changed. It was all right, I suppose, though there were some things that were a bit annoying, like text not fitting into boxes properly, and other bugs. I thought, hmmm, ok, learning curve, I can get used to this. Then people started to talk about the problems they were having with the new version. Eye strain, headaches, migraines and even a few seizures triggered by something within the new design. Reluctantly, it seemed, the site owners gave us the option to click back into “classic” Ravelry, with a warning that it was temporary.

Now, I’ve never ever had a problem with any website before, but something about the new site bothered me. The turquoise boxes with the hard black drop shadows were glaring. I found that I was wanting to spend less time browsing the forums. I started to get headaches. Going back into “classic” didn’t get rid of the headaches. So while I’ve wanted to follow the discussions in the forums about the whole situation, I’ve had to pop in and out as quickly as I can. I have a lot of sympathy for those who are susceptible to migraines because some have had to stop using Ravelry altogether.

Yes, I know the site is free to use.

Yes, it’s up to the owners how their site looks.

Yes, I know I have a choice whether to use the site or not.

BUT Ravelry has prided itself on being inclusive in so many ways. Rainbow flags, Pride month threads, Black Lives Matter threads and donations. So why have they just taken a backwards step to make themselves LESS inclusive of people with visual/neurological issues?

There are many people online who are saying, “What’s the problem? I like the new look!” But those people are obviously not experiencing any new symptoms and have no empathy for those who are.

I am sad and annoyed and missing my usual dose of Rav. No doubt there is a reason for this new look and I don’t think it is just cosmetic. Some of it is to do with setting up the design for future development, but maybe there are other, as yet unannounced, plans in the pipeline which preclude going back to the old look.

Just in case, I have downloaded all my data from Ravelry – it’s all in raw form, and I hope not to ever need the contents of that file, but it’s my insurance!

FO update

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Hi all. I realised last night that it had been ten days since a post and I have stuff to show you.

One of the staff at work is leaving shortly and I wanted to make her a bag. I found the perfect Canadian wildlife fabric, and had my stash of denim at home, so all I needed to do was find the right design.

I watched this video (atelierRuth’s Partition Tote) a few times and wrote down all the measurements in my notebook. However, before I cut into the wildlife print, I decided to do a trial run with different fabrics in stash. That’s what the bag above is – the practice one. I used a different denim (with stretch, which wasn’t a great idea) and knit-themed fabrics and because I didn’t have webbing or belting I made the straps.

The final result looks great, mostly. I don’t like that the stitching along the straps doesn’t line up with the stitching holding the straps to the bag though. And inside…

…there are slip pockets and a zippered partition with extra denim pockets attached.

I’m so glad I made this version first. When I made the second bag, I knew what I was doing and changed a couple of things. Webbing straps, for one. And Thermolam fusible fleece to give it more squish and structure. And I left the denim off the internal partition, and used Thermolam on that too.

I didn’t spend too long on positioning the fabric but the animals seemed to land just right. The pocket with the Canada geese was fussy cut, though. For the lining, I cut two pieces and seamed along the bottom so that both sides were the right way up, but didn’t bother for the partition.

I much prefer the heavier interfacing for a bag like this, even on the partition – it doesn’t flop around. So that’s all ready to go.

There was also some crocheting this week.

Someone I know (we haven’t met very often, but she’s the friend of a friend) just had a baby girl, so I pulled out some Bernat Pop! from the stash and crocheted up a quick C2C blanket. It didn’t take long and I have bundled it up with a crocheted lovey and beanie which I made a while back and which have been sitting patiently in my sewing room, waiting for the perfect recipient.

On the work front, the store where I work is still busy, but the lineup disappeared more quickly on Thursday, so I feel like the crazy fabric and elastic buying may be calming down! Of course, that is balanced out by the extra work we have on right now thanks to inventory. My main job for my last three days of work has been going through the fashion fabrics, making sure they are grouped correctly, looking up the code on them, and physically tagging them with a yellow label.

Others are also working on fabrics in different parts of the store and we have to get everything ready for the big day on the 8th when it will all be weighed. The store will be closing for the day (that’s a first) so hopefully we’ll get it all done that day. Many of us are taking on extra shifts to get the prep done in time.

Well, better get on, I have to leave for work in an hour. Happy crafting!

The short version

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I have a friend who needs cheering up at the moment so after I finished the long armwarmers for myself I decided to knit some shorter ones for her. (I doubt she reads my blog.) These are all Scheepjes River Washed XL colours out of the pack of minis.

After the sweater and longer mitts were made, this is what I had left from the 50 x 15g mini skeins and 5 x 50g balls of Moonstone.

Rather than mix the Stone Washed and River Washed in such a small project, I went for the latter, and even though I didn’t think I liked this yarn as much as the Stone Washed I really like the look of these mitts.

Rather than start with 42 stitches and decrease down from forearm to wrist, I just started with 32 stitches, which is the number of stitches at the wrist in my pattern (posted a few days ago). Total length is about 7 inches, instead of 11.

Elemental armwarmers

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ELEMENTAL  ARMWARMERS 

A new pattern based on an old design of mine (Elements armwarmers), these fingerless mitts have been re-knitted and updated almost ten years after I published the pattern. 

I have used Scheepjes Stone Washed XL which is 70% cotton, 30% acrylic. I bought a box of 50 mini skeins, along with five 50g balls of the cream, and after I finished crocheting a sweater I had lots left over. The original mitts were made with a colour-changing yarn, so there were way fewer tails to weave in. Of course you can use whatever aran weight yarn you like. 

The weight of these when finished is 80 grams so you could just use one 100g skein of yarn. Or you can go nuts with colour, like I did!

What you’ll need:

100g aran weight yarn, either all one colour or a combination

5mm/US8 needles, either a long circular for magic loop or dpns

Sizing:

Designed to fit a 7.75” hand, measured around the palm above the thumb, a 6” wrist and 10.5” forearm. 

Finished dimensions 6.5” around hand, 7” at wrist, 9” at forearm. Total length 11”.

The first rendition of the pattern stretched out considerably around my hand, so I’ve remade it with less ease. Once you know your gauge, it’s a simple case of adjusting the numbers to fit your own arms.

Gauge:

13sts/3” (4.33sts/inch) and 7 rows/inch. 

No need to knit a gauge swatch – this project is small enough that you can start knitting and measure your stitch gauge after the first inch of stockinette/stocking stitch. Row gauge is not crucial as you are knitting to measurements. And you can try on as you go.

Abbreviations:

K knit

P purl

St/sts stitch/stitches

CO cast on

BO bind off

Rnd round

K2tog knit 2 together (decrease)

Dec decrease

Beg beginning

dpns double pointed needles

How to:

Cast on 42 stitches and either divide them between your dpns or set up your circular needle for magic loop. (Pro tip – make sure each needle starts with a knit stitch, not a purl stitch.) Join in the round. Work K1, P1 ribbing for 5 rounds. (42 sts)

Change to stockinette (knit all stitches) and work 7 rounds. (42 sts)

Next round: dec by K2tog in two places while working this round (I positioned my decs randomly, just trying to make sure they weren’t stacking above each other in subsequent rounds. If you’d rather do all decs at beg and end of round, then feel free to do so.) (40 sts)

**K 7 rounds, work dec round; repeat from ** four times. (32 sts)

K straight until your work measures 10”, or desired length to base of thumb, from cast on edge. 

Thumb:

(My original design made two identical mitts – this time I positioned the thumbholes differently so that the colour jogs were not running along the top of my hand – it’s your choice as to what you do here.)

Left mitt: BO 8 sts, K to end of round. (24 sts)

Right mitt: K to 8 sts from end of round, BO 8 sts (24 sts)

Next round: K around, use knitted cast on method to CO 6 or 7 sts over the gap created by the BO in the last round. (I did 6, it was pretty snug, again it depends on the fit you want.)

The thumbhole rounds may need some finagling on your needles. You may need to shift stitches around on your dpns/circs to make it easier to BO and CO these stitches. 

K 5 rounds, or more for more coverage. (The original design had ribbing at the hand – I ended up ripping and redoing three times because it looked messy and went with continuing the stockinette instead.)

Bind off. Weave in ends (or knot and trim if you’re lazy like me).

Notes on colour: I chose to work the initial ribbing in one colour, then do 3 row stripes of each colour, and then the thumbhole and last 5 rows in one colour. I couldn’t tell you what the names of these colours are as the labels came off when I made the sweater. And  my mitts are fraternal rather than identical twins!

FO: Ocean Breeze Sweater

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My oh-so-colourful sweater is finished. Details on my Ravelry project page, but to sum up:

It took me 2 weeks and 2 days

The last 2 days were seaming and weaving in a bazillion ends

I followed the instructions for the medium to get a large, as my gauge was 13 sts/inch rather than 14

It took 625 grams of yarn. Around four 50 gram balls of the cream (Moonstone) and parts of nearly all the colours in my Scheepjes Stonewashed/Riverwashed XL minis pack

The only colour I didn’t use was the black

It was easy and fast and I’d consider making another, but maybe with only one colour!

Since I took those photos, I have machine-washed the sweater and it is currently drying on a rack in a corner of the living room.

I have also had a little fabric play. I made a small denim pouch and a bag with a snap, inspired by a Lizzy Curtis tutorial, that holds quilting clips on the outside pleats.

It’s not perfect but it’s just for holding something small in my handbag
I meant to make the pleats face up!
Lined with fleece, it holds all my clips

In addition to these, I have sewn a little ear saver from this tutorial for Mr Fixit, in case he needs to wear any disposable masks rather that the two cloth ones I made for him. I made it very manly in grey cotton with black snaps!

And when I ran out of things to sew, I started to play with the different stitches on my sewing machine, creating a kind of index of stitches on orange cotton with purple thread! All good fun.