Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

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

Sweater surgery

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Remember the swoncho? I finished it a couple of weeks ago but I wasn’t 100% happy with the collar.

I didn’t incorporate the optional short rows when knitting the pattern. The collar was a little too tight for optimum comfort and a little too long. Because of the funnel neck style, the sweater didn’t lie smoothly at the upper chest.

So I did surgery today.

I took a cable from my interchangeables and some skinny tips and picked up one leg of each stitch around, four rows below the ribbing. Then I snipped the yarn in the round above (I had to unravel upwards as it was top-down construction.) There was much faffing to get all the stitches from one round neatly onto the cable and in the process I ended up losing a couple more rounds.

I knitted a round or two to make sure it was all ok, then tried it on. The front neckline was still a teeny bit higher than I wanted, but the circumference was wider and I decided to go ahead and add the new ribbing. My first attempt at short rows at the back neck was too drastic and it would have looked odd, so I unknitted (tinked) that effort and redid it. By the time I was happy with it, the collar was 12 rows deep at the back and 6 at the front. Then I bound off and called it done. Really done, this time!

This is going to be so much more wearable now and I’m really glad I faffed about with it, because I don’t know if I’d have worn it otherwise.

It’s been a pleasant ‘at home’ day today. Did the vacuuming, plant watering, bathroom and kitchen cleaning, and enjoyed a bit of Outlander on Netflix while I was dealing with my sweater. Then I baked chocolate chip muffins and a dish that’s kind of like lasagna but I stuff the tofu mixture into giant pasta shells, smother it all in tomato sauce, and sprinkle a little vegan cheese (Violife) on top and throw it in the oven for 30 minutes. Add a big green salad and dinner is done.

Tomorrow is all about the errands across the lake.

FO: Wishing Well Wrap

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Ta dah! A finished Wishing Well Wrap, though it has not yet been washed so it’s a bit ruffly-looking at the edges. Instead of slipstitching along the edge as per the pattern, I just crocheted three rows of dcs. The second cake of Lion Brand Mandala had a lot of blotches in it which I’ve not seen before in this yarn. I prefer the solid look of the first cake.

My Ravelry project page is here and the pattern, should you wish to bypass Ravelry, is here.

And that leaves me without a current work in progress, though I think that before I start a brand new project I should tackle the neckline of the swoncho. I think if I put in a lifeline about an inch below the ribbing, and unravel the collar, I can reknit it looser and it’ll sit better at the upper chest. Worth a try, anyway!

Yes, I’m a Wool Warehouse fan!

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Welcome to Wednesday! Yeah, a very unappreciated day. For many, it’s too far from the weekend! With my shifts, that doesn’t mean a lot. My work days this week are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, then Saturday and Sunday. It was a very low-stress day at work today. Not too busy, time to put out new quilt fabrics on the shelves, nice customers.

I took photos of a couple of finished objects tonight and realised there’s a lot of Wool Warehouse product being used. The New Delhi quilt cottons in the cuff (top) are from there, as is the tortoise fabric by Lewis and Irene. And when I put the ribbon in the casing for the drawstring I used a bodkin that I also bought from Wool Warehouse. This kind of bodkin (pinch or pincer) is one I saw a lot of YouTubers using for tutorial videos and it makes putting in drawstrings so effortless.

Do you like the Bollywood Elephant button on the cuff? I originally used a silver button but when I saw those elephants at work I knew that one of them belonged on that cuff!

The Wishing Well shawl has grown fast. I zoomed through the first yarn cake and since taking that photo I’ve started on the second. I won’t use all of the second cake because the shawl is quite large already but I’ll see how it goes.

It’s going to be an early night for me tonight. No Netflix to drag me in for multiple episodes. I. Can, Resist.

Joy!

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Joy!

Hello all. I hope you’re enjoying a relaxing weekend doing the things you love.

It’s my turn for a weekend off and Mr Fixit and I have had a good day so far. Just errands around town and grabbing some awesome tea from our favourite place, but so much nicer than being at work!

My featured photo today (above) is the view from my kitchen early yesterday morning. It looked like the trees were on fire! And today when I opened my curtains, I had a treat. Two deer were standing on the vegetable garden, barely moving, looking watchful and alert (probably because of the dog in the neighbour’s yard). I quickly grabbed my phone. They hung around for some time, then bounded effortlessly over the fence and went on their way.

I am always honoured to have a visit from them. I hope they know that they are safe on my property.

Onto yarny pursuits, and I finished some fingerless mitts for Mr Fixit. I used the Cygnet Chunky again. They only took two evenings. Once I had finished the first one, he did say he would have liked longer cuffs like his old pair, but I’m afraid I’m a bad wifey and told him I don’t have much patience for things made in pairs any more and I just wanted them done fast!

I used the basic mitten pattern from Ann Budd’s book, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns.

Once those were done, I started a new crochet project. A co-worker is scheduled for major back surgery in February and I wanted to make her something. After a browse around Ravelry I decided on the Wishing Well Wrap (link to pattern on her blog here) (link to my project page on Ravelry here)

I’m using Lion Brand Mandala Baby in Echo Caves which is a tasteful combination of blues, greens and cream. It’ll probably take two cakes, though I have five in stash, so could make it bigger if I have time. It’s an easy two-row pattern. Perfectly good for working on while watching The Crown on Netflix!!

Anyone who loves books will appreciate this stack that I brought home from the library today. A few of them were ones I had requested – the rest were ones I found that caught my eye. Three novels, some knitting and other crafts, and a lot of quilt and applique books.

Twenty three to be exact (the maximum number we can borrow at once is 100, and yes, when the boys were small we did manage to hit that amount sometimes). What a warm fuzzy feeling, to be home on the couch on a winter’s afternoon, with yarn to hand, and a pile of books to enjoy, while it’s getting dark outside. Joy!!

FO: Turtle Dove

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It is done! (Link to Ravelry project page.) First FO of 2021.

I haven’t washed this yet, so the stitches are still somewhat uneven in places. It took just over six weeks to complete though if I had been a little more focused it could have taken way less.

I did try it on and I have to say I’m not 100% happy with it. It fits ok but I was anticipating it being more roomy. Guess I should have made the larger size. Could have been a little longer too, and the neck doesn’t sit smoothly probably because it’s a funnel-type neck with no neckline shaping. If I made it again, I would make it bigger and wider, add length below the armholes, work the ribbing without changing to smaller needles and do the short rows at the back neck. Hmmm, that’s a lot of changes!

Ah well, live and learn!!

2020 knitting and crochet – a review

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2020 knitting and crochet – a review

Good morning, Monday! Thanks to the fact I worked Friday/Saturday/Sunday, today is a day off and it feels like my weekend!

I stayed up late last night reading a library book. It was compelling enough that I wanted to finish it, and by the time I crawled into bed it was 1am. That meant that this morning it was nearly 9am when I got up. I really shouldn’t go to bed after 11. My face doesn’t like it 😀

I have a bonus Window on the Weather for you. We have fog today and wet snow and our view has all but disappeared. (I made it the featured photo at the top of this post – I’m sure you can click on it to see it bigger.)

So, what did I knit or crochet in 2020? You’d think that with the seven-week covid closure of my workplace back in the spring and fewer outside activities I would have made more stuff, not less. However that’s not the case. When I looked at my Ravelry project pages for things finished in 2020 there were only 32. Some years I have achieved twice that. I know it’s not a competition, and quality is better than quantity, but I feel a good deal of satisfaction from looking at my Ravelry notebook!

Of course there was a huge amount of sewing in 2020, which took up a lot of the time I could have been playing with yarn, so it’s not that I wasn’t making stuff, it’s just that I was absorbed in a different craft. I sewed masks and bags and journals and cuffs and was really enjoying delving into something bordering on textile art, not just utilitarian sewing. The new Janome sewing machine contributed to that too.

Here are the screenshots from my Ravelry notebook. If you are interested in more info, you can go check out my project pages here.

Even though there are 32 project pages, I actually made more than 32 things, as some projects include multiples of the same thing.

There are 3 shawls, 2 sweaters, 5 pairs mitts, 6 cowls, 1 pumpkin, 1 pompom garland, 1 blanket, 6 hats, 3 bags, 3 earsavers, 5 baskets, 3 hearts.

My one WIP is seeing me into the new year and then I have plans for some knitted fingerless mitts for Mr Fixit as his are wearing out. He is happy to have purple ones so I’ll use the same yarn as the current sweater, but probably at a tighter gauge. I’ll just use the Ann Budd pattern out of the Handy Book of Patterns. It’s easy and written for multiple gauges.

Since tidying up the stash, I am feeling an urge to do some stashbusting crochet projects. The desire to crochet has been a little weak in 2020 but I have that beautiful set of KnitPro Waves hooks just waiting for some attention.

The snowflakes just got bigger out there and I am appreciating the fact I can enjoy them from inside a warm house! Take care, everyone 🙂

Oops, I missed some yarn

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I was feeling pretty accomplished after last night’s stash organisation and today I was reading a thread on Ravelry which someone started called Flash Your Stash 2021. There is a thread like that every year and while I didn’t post my photos in there I did have a realisation that I hadn’t included my WIPs in yesterday’s blog post.

Works in Progress are kinda sorta part of the stash. After all, they aren’t FOs, and there may well be some yarn left over when they are finished that will end up in the stash. So tonight I pulled my two WIPs (yes, only two) out of their bags in the living room next to my end of the sofa and laid them out.

The Turtle Dove sweater is almost done. I bought 10 balls of the Cygnet Chunky from Wool Warehouse especially for this project and I will have over 4 balls left when I’m done.

This colour doesn’t photograph well in artificial light. I have a little bit of ribbing to finish on one cuff and then a second sleeve to knit.

The other WIP is one that has been hibernating for a really long time. Thanks to my Ravelry project page, I can see that I cast on this blanket on October 14th 2019. Yes, you read that right. It’s been hanging around for 15 months. I have a strong suspicion I should unravel it and maybe start a crochet one instead. I’m not loving the colour combination so far.

All of these worsted weight acrylics were intended to go into the blanket but I became less inspired by them as the blanket grew! Maybe one evening I will enjoy some mindless frogging and plan something new.

Happy New Year

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By the time you read this, it will be 2021. I spent a lovely couple of hours in my sewing room tonight in the company of Kate from The Last Homely House YouTube channel.

She did a two hour livestream today between 10pm and 12 midnight her time (UK) but I didn’t find it until it was finished. Because of the time difference I was able to watch it all before the new year arrived here.

My thread collection was the first job! I love those jewel tones. Unfortunately the threads on the metal bobbins have been neglected since the spring because they were for my old Janome and I use plastic bobbins in the new one.

After that came the yarn. These kits have been sitting around for a really long time. I did start the monster one, but it’s thin yarn (and not very good quality at that) and therefore a skinny crochet hook. They came in as a one-off product at work a few years ago and they were only about $3 each!

These are the natural fibres, from the green hemp at the top of the photo to the cottons at the bottom. The white yarn is for dyeing. My goal for the last couple of years has been to focus more on mindful purchasing including some natural plant content, rather than 100% synthetic, and the stash reflects that.

These are the worsted weight yarns, mostly acrylic with a teeny bit of leftover cotton blend from Scheepjes.

This is the DK acrylic, mostly Stylecraft Special DK, some Lion Brand Mandala, and a few other miscellaneous yarns.

And this is the stuff that didn’t fit into the other categories – mason line, sock yarn, bulky fluffy stuff and some gold crochet thread.

That was a lot of fun and now it’s all packed away neatly. I have to confess to giving my fabric more attention lately, but once I have the Turtle Dove sweater finished (not far to go) I do have another knitting project in mind. It was a valuable thing to flash my stash and remind myself what’s there for projects in 2021.

Do you have a New Year’s Eve ritual that you do every year? I can’t say I do, but maybe this sewing room clean-up is a good way to end the old year and start 2021 with an organised stash!

Window on the Weather – Day 10

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I caught the light just right yesterday, about 4.20pm on Wednesday, as it was getting dark. I had switched on the fairy lights around the deck and there was a golden glow coming from the houses across the way.

This morning, yes, more snow!

(The walnut tree dwarfing the apricot tree on the left, and our massive maple in the front yard on the right.)

It took quite an effort to clear the driveway yesterday but it felt good to have the exercise, and I went to the gym for a half hour on the elliptical too.

Writing this in the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, the sun is shining and everything is looking very sparkly and pretty. I went and had a look in a couple of shops, as my favourite jeans wore out on Monday – suddenly, there were holes when the previous day there hadn’t been any – and I found some nice-fitting Levis at Mark’s. Of course I couldn’t just buy jeans, and I ended up with T shirts and sweaters too! But the last time I bought new clothes was back in May and I do need to look reasonably well turned out for work, even though we can wear jeans. It’s not like I’ve been spending much money on anything else in 2020!

The plan for dinner is a lentil chestnut loaf, potatoes oreganata (sliced, layered and baked with oregano and olive oil), broccoli, and salad, followed by mince pies, but fancier ones with phyllo/filo pastry. I bought a pack the other day so that I can recreate something I made years ago. It won’t be a late night as I’m working tomorrow, and anyway I can’t keep my eyes open past 11pm these days.

I wish you all a Happy New Year. Let’s wish for covid to be crushed, masks to be tossed in the bin, and a time when we can again meet up in cafes and tea shops and chat for hours with our friends, preferably with a yarny project in hand.

Window on the Weather – Day 9

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Wednesday, and we had more snow overnight. I would have taken a photo of the driveway but it was such a white-out it was hard to tell where one thing finished and another started. Mr Fixit cleared part of the drive when he went to work, but more snow has fallen since, and I do plan on getting out there and doing some shovelling, especially as my plan is to buy groceries today.