Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

Long-time vegan, whole-food plant-based enthusiast and educator.

CAL progress

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Hmmm, that was interesting. I just had to log in to WordPress for the first time in forever and needless to say I had forgotten my password! All sorted now, thankfully.

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This morning, between going to the gym and going to work, I had a chance to photograph my Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL progress, part 6. This week was my slowest as my interest waned when I hit those crossed dc stitch sections. However I really want to finish this blanket this month so I can log it as an OUT for May, as far as stash is concerned, and because I haven’t had a finished object in what feels like ages.

So once I settled on the couch for the evening, I diligently wove in ends and finished the second rectangle.

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Part 7 is the joining part, and I will get to that soon. I should probably steam block my motifs first but knowing me I probably won’t. It’ll all get tossed in the washer and dryer when it’s done anyway. After that, I believe there is a border, though I’ve already run out of a couple of the colours.

My Swedish death-cleaning has continued, with the kitchen getting some decluttering and tidying treatments. I updated the grapevine wreath on the wall and the cork board with some crocheted oddments that I had hanging around from previous UFOs.

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I’m sure you know how hard it is to keep a horizontal surface clear in the kitchen. It’s an ongoing battle! The cupboard which holds all the mugs, glasses and tea also had a makeover, but I have plenty of cupboards yet to tackle.

There are now five Daisy blanket squares – these two are the newest ones –

and as they are crocheted with thicker yarn and grow quickly I have been finding it hard to resist picking up this WIP instead of the other one. In fact, for a few days, I wasn’t really getting much crochet done at all, what with work, gym, decluttering etc. I’d also like to be doing some sewing, and am seriously considering teaching myself to get up earlier in the morning so that I get more crafty stuff done. It’s hard to get into that mindset though, as I tend to feel like crochet is for the end of the day when I can veg on the couch with Netflix. Maybe I should just suck it up and give it a go!

Blanket WIPs

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Two, yes, two blankets are under construction!

Part 5 of the Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL is now complete, and Part 6 came out today. Here are my rectangles and blocks (the 3″ squares joined into fours) for Part 5.

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I foresee some fudging in my future, because the rectangles are 18 x 6 inches and are supposed to start with 84 chains. However my first one was 4 inches too long, so I reduced the chain by 16, and now the size is perfect. Surprisingly my row gauge was spot on. So whilst the size is right, the stitch count is off.

I decided to mix up my small squares a bit when joining them into larger blocks. So that’s done, and now I need to get on with Part 6.

My other active WIP is a new one, just started a couple of days ago. I love the Daisy Charity Square (available for purchase – see this Ravelry link) so much, since I incorporated it into my Groovyghan last year, and have been thinking of making a blanket with just daisy squares. It is now a reality.  I’m using Red Heart With Love in various colours, along with a 6mm hook, and the squares are coming out around 8.5″. I have three finished so far.

I’m using three colours per square, repeating the centre colour for the border. These are really thick squares, as the colours travel behind each other for the flower petals. And it’s a little tricky too. The pattern is VERY wordy, and even though I’ve made some of these before, I still messed up and had to frog more than once. I definitely recommend the accompanying video. I will see how far my yarn lasts – there are no definite plans for a finished size.

We won’t talk about the socks, once again languishing in their project bag. The ones I recently finished have been worn, but it made me realise I did make them too big. Maybe it’s the yarn that is missing some spring and stretch, because my gauge was right. So I may frog and restart the new pair with even fewer stitches.

It’s been an active week for me, with an hour and a half elliptical/weights workout on Monday, a treadmill/weights workout on Tuesday, yoga Tuesday evening, work on Wednesday, and 45 minutes on the stationary bike tonight. Work tomorrow, but I shall plan to do the gym Saturday and Sunday too. I am mixing things up because I still have to be careful not to overstress my right wrist/forearm, even though it’s been 15 months since the fracture and surgery. I like to focus on upper body/lower body on separate days if I don’t have a rest day in between.

I’ve been a member of the gym for about a year and a half now and I’m noticing the difference in my muscles. I sometimes get annoyed that I had that setback last year with the broken wrist, and the limitations that it places on me now, but it’s better to focus on what I CAN do, rather than what I can’t.

How do you keep active/fit/healthy? Let me know in the comments.

 

Life update

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Well, hello. I hope you’re all enjoying Spring (or Autumn if you are in the southern hemisphere).

The time is whizzing by, which is a bit of a shame as I do like the shoulder seasons. The temperature is comfortable, you’re not freezing or sweating all the time, everything looks nice and green (it’ll be dry, brown and crispy in another couple of months) and the cherry blossom is gorgeous. The apricot will be next.

I have to be quick here as I have to be at work soon. So just a quick post to show you the CAL progress.

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This is Part 4 of the Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL run by Creative Crochet Workshop (I have since woven in my ends). Part 5 is out but I haven’t started it yet. These are my squares so far…

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At the end of April I felt like I needed a Finished Object to add to my stashbusting for the month, so I made this cowl – no pattern.

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The yarn is Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable Waves and whilst the yarn is pretty (the colours are actually more intense in real life) it is pilly and I wouldn’t buy it again.

I have been tracking my yarn ins and outs in the British Banter group on Ravelry – there is a Bash the Stash challenge – and apart from a splurge in January I am doing well with a net stashdown for the first few months of the year.

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Some friends and I had a fun mini road trip yesterday, heading north an hour to the next nearest city. We stopped in at a little quilt shop, then at a vegan cafe for lunch, and then at a store that I’ve been meaning to visit for months – Sweet Legs! I finally own two pairs of their lovely leggings. Of course that means I now need new tops to go with them!!

I just did my seasonal closet clearout and my dear husband doesn’t understand why I need new clothes! Ah well, nobody’s perfect!

Free pattern: Frond

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Frond is a simple knitted cellphone cosy that can be adjusted for size or gussied up with fancier yarn and maybe even some duplicate stitch or embroidery. It uses stockinette and seed stitch worked flat and seamed.

You will need:

Medium/worsted/#4 weight  yarn, approx 30g/50m (a little over 1oz/54yds)

1 button approx ¾ – 1 inch diameter, preferably with large holes for sewing

5mm/US#8 needles

Gauge is not critical. My gauge was 4 sts to 1” in stockinette. Finished size at this gauge is 3.75” x 6”.

Abbreviations:

CO – cast on

K/P – knit/purl

BO – bind off

K2tog – knit 2 together

P2tog – purl 2 together

St – stitch

St st – stockinette (stocking) stitch

RS/WS – right side, wrong side

Foll – following

Patt – pattern

Rep – repeat

Can easily be made bigger or smaller by varying the number cast on by multiples of 2, and working fewer or more rows of stockinette.

How to:

CO 17. Any method will do. I prefer long tail cast on for a neat edge. 

Work stockinette (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) until work measures 12” ending with a WS row.

Next row: K1, *P1, K1, rep from * to end of row.

Rep this row (seed st) until seed st section is 3” long, ending on a WS row.

Next row: work seed st for 7 sts, BO 3 sts, work to end, maintaining seed st patt (ie knitting the purls, purling the knits)

Next row: seed st to gap, backwards loop CO 3 sts firmly and closely, work to end.

Next row: work first 7 sts, K the 3 CO sts through the back loop, twisting them, work to end.

Next row: seed st across.

Next row: K1, K2tog, work to last 3 sts (maintaining seed st patt), P2tog, K1

Next row: K1, P2tog, work to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1

BO.

Fold st st part of cosy in half. Seam sides from RS using mattress st, taking half a stitch into seam from each side, starting at open end and working towards fold.

Weave in ends. Sew on button.

This pattern has not been tested by anyone but me. If you find a mistake, please leave a comment below and I will fix it. Thank you.

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(This pattern will print on two sheets of paper with just the first photo and text. Click Share below, then Print, and instruct your printer to print pages 1 – 2.)

 

Free pattern: Bract

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Bract is a simple cellphone cosy that can be adjusted for size or gussied up with fancier yarn. It uses single and half double crochet stitches (US terms) and is crocheted in the round, so there’s no seaming. 

You will need:

Medium/worsted/#4 weight  yarn, approx 30g/50m (a little over 1oz/54yds)

1 button approx ¾ inch diameter, preferably with large holes for sewing

5mm/H/8 crochet hook

Gauge is not critical. My gauge was 7 hdc to 2”. Finished size at this gauge was 4.25” x 6”.

Abbreviations:

Ch – chain

Sc – single crochet

Hdc – half double crochet

Hdc2tog – half double crochet two together (decrease)

St – stitch

Foll – following

Can easily be made bigger or smaller by varying the starting chain by multiples of 2, and working fewer or more rounds of hdc.

How to:

Make slipknot and place on hook, chain 15.

Rnd 1: Work  1sc into the second chain from hook, place locking stitch marker in st just worked,  sc in each stitch to end (14 sts). Do not turn work.

Instead of turning and working back across your new stitches,  you’re going to work in the opposite side of the chain to form the closed bottom of bag. Work another sc in same stitch as before then rotate work clockwise so that you can sc into the unused loops on the other side of the chain. Work 12 sc, then 2sc into last stitch.  (29 sts total)

Rnd 2 and all foll rounds:: hdc into first st of next round (remove marker and place in new st just worked), hdc to end of round.

Work in a spiral (no joining at end of each round) until cosy is about 6“ tall, ending at a side edge. (This will mean crocheting a partial round, as your end of round marker travels diagonally up your work. This is a natural feature of crocheted sts.)

Sc in the next st that lies right on the fold. Turn.

Row 1 of flap: ch2 (does not count as a st),  hdc in same st and foll 12 sts, turn

Row 2: ch2, hdc in same st, hdc2tog, hdc in next 7 sts, hdc2tog, hdc in last st, turn

Row 3: ch2, hdc across, turn (11 sts)

Row 4: ch2, hdc in same st, hdc2tog, hdc in next 5 sts, hdc2tog, hdc in last st, turn

Row 5: ch2, hdc across, turn (9 sts)

Row 6: ch2, hdc in same st, hdc2tog, hdc 3, hdc2tog, hdc in last st

Row 7: ch2, hdc in same st, hdc in next 2 sts, ch1, skip next st, hdc in last 3 sts, turn (buttonhole formed)

Row 8:  ch2, hdc in same st, hdc2tog, hdc into ch from previous row, hdc2tog, hdc in last st.

Fasten off, weave in ends. Sew on button.

This pattern has not been tested by anyone but me. If you find a mistake, please leave a comment below and I will fix it. Thank you.

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(This pattern will print on two sheets of paper with just the first photo and text. Click Share below, then Print, and instruct your printer to print pages 1 – 2.)

Crocheting along, fa la la la la

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The CAL continues…

The Creative Crochet Workshop Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL (OMG, that is a lot to type) is in week 3. I have added two rounds to the above motif which will eventually be a 12″ square.

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These four 6″ squares are also in part 3. Obviously I will, at some point, have to pin my squares out and steam them to make it easier to join them, as currently they are wonky!

I have also completed a quick bulky beanie. It’s called the Spin Cycle Hat, which is a very compact, one page pdf, clearly written, in three sizes. I made the medium without swatching for gauge (ooh, er) and the hat fits my Sally Styro head perfectly but is too small for me. Not that it was for me anyway, but I shall have to find someone with a small head to give it to.

Whilst I am happy with the pattern, the yarn is another story. This is Loops & Threads Facets, a bulky, underspun, very soft yarn. Let me tell you, all those YO, K2togs were a nightmare with such a splitty yarn. Yes, it’s pretty, but don’t be fooled, it’s not worth the hassle. It’ll pill quickly too. I’m using up what I have in the stash but I won’t be buying this or anything like it in future.

Now, I had a lovely draft all ready to Publish with a simple pattern for this…

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…but left it in an open tab on my laptop for a few days. I am also knitting one, and wanted to publish both at the same time. Well, something went wrong, and it’s gone. Can’t find a saved draft anywhere. At least I do still have my text document in Google Docs to fall back on, so I don’t have to start from scratch. So that will probably be finalised mid-week, as I have a run of three days off starting tomorrow.

I hope you all enjoyed a lovely Easter weekend. We had a mini road trip  Saturday to visit a plant nursery and buy plants for our garden. We ended up with a Chi Chi Gingko tree (max height 16 feet), two mock oranges (native plants so should do well) and some  hostas and other ground cover for the patch by the front door where we recently took out the messy evergreens. We meant to get some kinnikinnick but forgot, so we may have to try and find it locally, or drive south again for it.

I am off to work shortly, so will sign off for today. Have a great day!

 

Scrappy Sunday

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I have been having a very colourful time, working on Part 2 of the Creative Crochet Workshop’s Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL. The above motif will be a 12″ square. The last two rounds were added this week. I have realised that doing a crochet-along like this is very good for the discipline of weaving in your ends. You can’t proceed any further until Part 3 comes out, so often there’s a waiting period between finishing one part and the release of the next part.

The other squares for Part 2 are four 6″ squares. I made the two flowery ones different colours, but the rainbow ones are the same. I like the fact that the rainbow squares incorporate all ten colours in the blanket.

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What’s your weekend been like? Yesterday I was working, and we had another sale where the discounts were a bit bigger than usual, and we were reeeeeeally busy. It made the day go faster, at least, and customers were mostly happy because of the savings (except for a couple of grumblers who thought that the 53% should have been off literally everything – they obviously didn’t read the small print in the mailer)!

Today Tai Chi Man loaded up the prunings from the last couple of days yardwork. He had to cut some dead wood out of the cherry and apricot trees (much to the chagrin of the ants who were inhabiting the hollow branch of the cherry) and so today he took another 260kg of yard waste to the landfill. That’s nearly 700kg of stuff that’s been cleared off our property (of nearly half an acre) in the last couple of weeks.

The grass is greening up, there are more violets in the lawn every year, which is wonderful, we have daffodils and forsythia flowering, and even one of my Christmas cacti is pink and pretty, obviously deciding to be an Easter cactus instead.

The purple dishcloths have been flowing off my hook. I am on my fourth now. I think that may be the last one. When that’s done, I’d like to start another scrappy colourful project which I can work on when I have done my CAL pieces for the week. I have so much DK yarn, mostly Stylecraft Special DK, which would look lovely actually made into something useful. Do you have a favourite scrappy project? If so, comment and let me know what it is.

It’s been a good day of housework, tea at our favourite tea shop, stocking up at Costco, and going to the gym. I set up vegan mac ‘n cheese to bake while we were at the gym (can you believe my 20 year old son still complains when I put broccoli in it?!) so we’ve had a satisfying dinner too. All feels right with the world!

Whipping those WIPs

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Whipping those WIPs

The flurry of crochet (and knitting) activity continues. The purple yarn I showed you last time has so far given birth to two dishcloth/scrubbie combos, one of which I photographed at my favourite tea shop on Tuesday. I am hoping to get four out of the two skeins. I find this combination of scrubbie yarn in the middle and cotton on the outside really useful.

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I love the coordinating mug and dishcloth!

The Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL Part 1 is now complete. I finished the crocheting last night and wove in ends today at our weekly knitting group meetup, ready for Part 2 which has been released today.

I already showed you the first eight squares. Here are the remaining eight, plus the start of a 12″ square.

And I was feeling brave last night, so cast on for two-at-a-time (TAAT) socks. I watched a couple of video tutorials which demonstrated different methods, and ended up winging it without a safety net! It worked!!

Not much progress yet, but those stitches are so darned tiny!

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I knitted most of that ribbing at the coffee shop today, and when I got fed up with the teeny stitches I moved on to dishcloth #3. I had made sure to wind the ball of sock yarn into two cakes and the pink mesh bag is keeping them corralled.

After the coffee shop, my friend and I went to a local yarn store (LYS) so she could get another needle for her fancy fingering-weight stranded-colourwork bag. I had a good look around but didn’t buy anything. (Still mindful of not letting the stash grow. And saving myself for Yarndale!)

A nice relaxing morning. Take it easy, and talk to you again soon.

 

 

Hikrochet!

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Hikrochet!

Hikrochet (Hi-cro-shay): to crochet while walking or hiking

OK, I made that up, but I had a good walk today and even went further than usual because I wanted to see how much progress I could make while on the hoof!

This…

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…is how much I did while walking. I had the yellow crocheted yarn-holder over my left wrist, fed the yarn from the centre of the cake out the top of the bag, and just started crocheting. A beanie seemed like a good idea, and I used double crochet in a spiral. The yarn is a partial ball of James C Brett Marble Chunky, a lovely soft acrylic, and the hook is a 6mm.

After I got home, I continued on, finishing the hat with a round of hdc and some embroidery that is supposed to look like cherry blossom.

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More stash busted, yay!

Another project which I worked on for the last three days is this market bag. I showed you a progress photo last time, but it is now done, steamed and ready to go.

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I still need to work on some squares for the Scrapsrific MCAL, but also have two other projects waiting in the wings: a pair of knitted socks, and some dishcloth/scrubby doodads that I will be making with these…

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It’s funny how things wax and wane – this time last week I had one WIP and now I have tons of stuff in the pipeline. Crochet on!

Out of the slump

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Out of the slump

From a crochet slump with one knitting WIP to a flurry of activity!

The socks are DONE!

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The first sock took about 8.5 months, the second one only a week or two. This is Loops & Threads Perfect Pair yarn, knitted magic loop, one at a time, with a 2.25mm/100cm long circ. They are not identical, and I didn’t even try to make them so, but the bands of colour coincidentally fell in similar places. They could be a little snugger, so when I make another pair with this yarn I will knit a smaller size.

So, on to crochet WIPs. This bag-in-progress is called the Easy Breezy Bag and the pattern is here. I managed to mess up my stitch count when starting the base, so ripped back and started again. After that, it was plain sailing. The open stitch pattern for the sides of the bag is very easy and I can do it while watching Netflix. The yarn is from the store where I work. It’s our store brand, Spindle Yarns, and the type is Essential Basics (worsted weight acrylic) in the colourway Oasis Multi. I didn’t like the feel of it in the ball but it is nice to crochet with, though there are few fuzzy spots in the first ball.

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My other WIP is the Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket from Creative Crochet Workshop. I was browsing Ravelry last week, looking for inspiration, and found this mystery Crochet-along so decided to join in. I also joined the Ravelry group and the Facebook group. I chose ten colours from my Stylecraft Special DK stash that said “Rainbow!” to me, along with white and grey, and am using a 4.5mm hook.

There are 16 small squares in the first week, plus the first couple of rounds of a larger square. So far I have completed eight.

I don’t think this is going to be a very large blanket. The CAL is only six weeks. But it will be interesting to see how it develops.

There’s been lots of outdoor activity around my house this week. Ds1 had a few days off and I suggested he might like to take down three trees that were overgrown and snow-damaged out front. Ds2 and ds3 have also been out in the yard, raking and tidying. Amazing!

Job in progress…

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Middle tree almost gone.

After…

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The house is so much brighter, inside and out. I love it.

This is the heap of branches that needed to go to the dump…all 420 kilos of it.

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I have work today, but I’m looking forward to another massage tomorrow morning. I am still having various aches and pains which are due, I think, to me not being balanced symmetrically, rather than ordinary muscle soreness from the gym and other activities. Tightness in the neck, niggles in the wrist/forearm from the break last year, plantar fasciitis in the right heel which I really thought would be gone by now. I am trying some self-care strategies so that it doesn’t get to the point where I have to get signed off work. Minor issues, though, compared to some.

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. Happy crafting!