Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

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

We have a winner!

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Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay 

 

I drew the name of the winner of the giveaway today. I did it the old-fashioned way. I wrote down the names of the 16 people who commented on the post, cut them into individual pieces and folded them, and asked my middle son to randomly pick one out of the yarn bowl.

The winner is Esther from the Netherlands (purpledream on Ravelry). Congratulations, Esther! I have emailed you and PM’d you on Ravelry to get your address so hopefully it will be heading your way soon.

Thank you to all who participated. I learned something new. That the Norwegians do, of course, have a name for the period between Christmas and New Year – Romjul! We have the Danish Hygge and the Norwegian Romjul: what other Scandinavian delights can we embrace (vegan ones, of course)?

I hope you’re enjoying some cosiness today.

 

Last chance!

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This is the last day for entering my giveaway for the Alpaca Lunch Bag, as I will be drawing a name at random tomorrow and will announce the winner. Good luck!

Above is a photo from my happy place, my favourite tea shop (yesterday I chose a raspberry matcha latte) where of course I took my crochet. (I wish there was a crochet-themed fabric at work, but the knitting one will have to suffice for now.)

I did finish up the skein of jumbo pink yarn and made another cowl, this time knitted, and whilst I only had to cast on 6 stitches for this monster I could probably have gone with 4 or 5.

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It washed up well (there were some dirty streaks on it from the store which is why I was able to bring it home for free).

The current WIP, pictured with the tea, is another cabled headband, this time with only one strand of the Bernat Pop. Gotta run, work today!

Snow days!

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Snow days!

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When it’s well below freezing outside (our minimum one night was -24 or so, felt like -31  with the windchill) and the snow is building up to your knees and the roads are icy despite the efforts of the city to keep them ploughed and salted and gritted…well, you just gotta hunker down in a warm house and get crafty.

I was supposed to have Monday and Tuesday off, work Wednesday, then have today off, and work tomorrow. However the boss called Wednesday morning, expecting a quiet day at the store, and said I could stay home. YAY!

The bag adventures continue. I made another project bag (see above), still playing with proportions for using up those animal squares mentioned a couple of posts ago. This is the most accurate, compared to the squares I intend to use, and while it is still a teensy bit tall for its width I may just go with it. I do need to get a couple of metres of lining fabric before I actually starting sewing them though.

I also played with more triangle or pyramid bags. I used this tutorial here.

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This one used a zipper I had lying around and some stash fabric (left from a project a long time ago) and I was a bit slapdash with it, not bothering with Wonder tape on the zipper so it was far from perfect. The interfacing was a grey iron on piece I found in the scrap pile.

Later, I made a second, this time taking care to sew in the zipper perfectly and instead of interfacing I used a thin poly batting. The last step was sewing closed the gap in the lining, which was a bit messy, unfortunately. Still, I was just playing.

During my four days off, I also gave the house a good clean. Well, you can’t sew ALL the time. That felt good. And I also crocheted a couple of cowls.

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This is Bernat Pop from the yarn stash in the Blue Streak colourway. I held two strands double, one from each end of the cake and used a 9mm hook. The cable pattern is from the Complete Photo Guide to Crochet, which I own. This is for me, because sometimes I need an earwarmer rather than a whole hat, and anyway hats squish my hair flat and then I can’t take them off all day!

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This one was super quick because it’s a jumbo yarn. The brand is Spindle Yarns Snug-as-a-Bug which came from the store where I work. It used half the ball and a 19mm crochet hook. A 25 mm would have been better but I don’t have one. I just did slipstitch in the round for about five rounds and it was done in the time I drank a cup of tea at the coffeeshop today.

Seeing as I have half the ball left, I have whipped out some size 35 knitting needles (again, 25mm would be better but I only have one of those, probably from a thrift store purchase) and am making another cowl in garter stitches on SIX STITCHES. Yes, only six stitches makes a piece about 7″ wide. Crazy, eh!

I have done a fair bit of snow shovelling this week but thankfully because it’s so cold the snow has been very light. I have to be careful, as my right wrist tires easily since I broke it, and my left shoulder has a rotator cuff strain that has been painful for a really long time. I’ve decided to give it some serious TLC for two weeks to see if that helps. Rest (no yoga or upper body weights), turmeric for inflammation, ice pack, cold water in the shower (the water coming out of the tap right now is extremely cold, but I only direct it on my shoulder at the end of a warm shower). I really need to get this pain gone, because it hurts to do just about anything on that side, especially taking off clothing where you cross your arms over your body and pull upwards.

Oooh, I nearly forgot. It was a beautiful sunset as I was making dinner and as I looked out of my kitchen window I saw movement in the back garden. Four deer came through to nibble on our trees and generally hang out. They were there for some time. I am always excited to see them. (Sunset photo courtesy of my youngest son.)

Playing with proportions

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Happy Monday! Well, it is for me. I worked Saturday and Sunday, so now I have Monday and Tuesday off. It is super cold here in British Columbia (we’re talking about minimums in the minus 20s) and I decided that I didn’t need to go anywhere today and I would spent some quality time with my sewing machine.

This morning I made the Pink Panther bag. In my last post, I talked about the pink campervan bag, and how it looked too tall and skinny for my liking. I experimented by taking a couple of inches off the height of the printed sections above the denim. I really like this bag. It’s the perfect size for a sock or other small project, but looking at the animal squares in the fabric I want to use I really don’t know if it’s doable to trim an inch off the top and bottom of those squares.

After a quick coffee and some avocado on toast I returned to the sewing machine and made the caravan bag. I went back to the original height of the print pieces but made them a bit wider, thinking that I could add some contrast fabric to each side of the animal squares.

It does look good, I think. But I prefer the smaller bag. Also, did you notice that there is a jeans seam running vertically down the base of this bag? I accidentally cut the denim from the jeans leg the wrong way, but used it anyway. I might even prefer it this way as it becomes a feature instead of being hidden at the bottom.

I was binge watching You Tube last night, watching bag-making videos and upcycled jeans tutorials. I really should just go to bed early at the end of a work day – I am such a zombie past 10pm – I just wish it wasn’t so much effort to get off the couch and brush my teeth some nights!!

If you haven’t yet entered my giveaway, it’s here and you still have until the 21st to enter. 

 

 

Saying goodbye to an old friend

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(Have you entered my giveaway yet? It’s here and is open until January 21st, 2020.)

I had a call on Tuesday morning from a friend’s husband. She was in hospital, and knowing that she hadn’t been in good health or spirits for some time I called Mr Fixit and we arranged to go and see her in the afternoon. I almost waited until Thursday, my next day off, but I’m very glad I didn’t. We didn’t stay long – it was basically a Hello and an I Love You and a Goodbye – but I am grateful for the opportunity to have said Goodbye as she died that night.

We are, of course, sad to see her go. We will miss her terribly. But she was ready. She had made her plans, dictated her obituary, given her husband her computer password, etc. Much as we hated to lose our friend, an outspoken, encouraging, flamboyant artist and writer who was generous and grandparental with my boys, we knew it was time.

And life goes on. Specifically, the crafting goes on.

I finished this…

 

On my Ravelry project page, I called this Sunseeker on Maui. The yarn is Cascade Sunseeker, a cotton/acrylic with a teeny bit of sparkle (a multi, with pink and grey, and a solid). I made it up as I went along, using half doubles, singles and double crochets, and I ran out of yarn after single crocheting along the bottom edge. I did at least get to cover a few yarn carries where I striped the pink and grey for a few inches, but ideally I would have liked to have gone around the whole thing.

I’m now down to two WIPs, the knitted tube blanket (the colour options for which are boring me and I may let it languish for a while) and the Moe of Change crochet blanket, which I really need to persevere with as a friend is having a baby in the summer and it would make a great gift.

I have an idea for a good fundraiser for a local farm sanctuary and I bought a panel of fabric on Wednesday and some coordinating cotton so that I can make more project bags.

The plan is to use my collection of old jeans for the bag bases. With that in mind I made a trial bag today. I had to use a certain size square because the fabric has 9″ squares with pictures of cute animals on. I started out with two pieces of  camper van fabric from my stash, 9.5″ square, and the same size of denim for the bottom.

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I’m not particularly happy with how it turned out. It’s pretty and perfectly usable, but it’s disproportionate. It’s too tall, or too narrow, depending on your perspective. I boxed the bottom corners too deeply as well. I should have cut out a 1″ square instead of 1.5″.

I may have to see if I can make the animal squares rectangular (shorter vertically) without losing any of the words,  and boxing the denim corners more frugally should make the base look better.

Maybe I’ll make another tonight with different measurements. Glad I didn’t cut into the good stuff yet.

Mr Fixit had a nasty fall this morning when he went out to clear the snow off the driveway because of ice hidden under the new snow. Hurt his elbow and hip. The arm was numb for a while, then painful. So I cleared the drive this morning (in my Hello Kitty onesie for the amusement of any neighbours who may have seen me). Then I cleared the neighbour’s drive across the road. Thankfully it’s below freezing so the snow is light. It persevered most of the day, so after I returned from grocery shopping ds2 and I went out and cleared ours again. Then we cleared two more neighbours’ drives. So that’s five driveways, which are not small, and they are sloping, so I had a lot of exercise today. No need to go to the gym. My left rotator cuff hates me now. It was bad enough when I woke up this morning – I had probably been sleeping on it – and while I tried to remember to wield the shovel with my right hand in front it was still a challenge.

The Greek Potatoes have been baking for nearly two hours now so I need to go and throw together a Greek salad to go with it. This blog post got long, didn’t it!

A giveaway!

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I promised you a giveaway a week or so ago, and here it is!

(Edited to add: make sure to leave me a way to contact you, like a Ravelry or Instagram name, or link it to some other online profile. And check back on the 21st for the winner announcement.)

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I sewed this Alpaca Lunchbag a few months ago. I have not used it, so it’s still new. It would be a great size for a crochet or knitting project. No one is going to arrest you for not packing your lunch in it!

It is lined with the same fabric inside. The fleece applique is fused on with Heat n Bond, and the facial features are embroidered. The pompom trim is sewn on either side of the neck. I wouldn’t toss this in the machine – rather, a handwash would be more appropriate. It’s about 12.5 x 11 inches, and also (thanks to my experimenting with a continuous zipper pouch tutorial) comes with a matching little bag for notions or dry snacks or whatever.

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This giveaway will be open worldwide and I will give you all a couple of weeks to comment on this post to enter. Closing date will be January 21st 2020.

What I’d like you to tell me is

(a) what do you think that the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day should be called? You know, that time when no one knows what day it is, nobody wants to go to work, and a lot of businesses are closed.

and (b) what fun thing would you do in 2020 if money were no object?

Good luck!

 

Bags and thread

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What a gorgeous morning! We had quite the dump of wet snow overnight, but the mild temperature this morning had the stuff dropping off the trees in clumps. The sun coming up through the trees is one of my favourite views from my back deck.

I considered going to the gym, but then rationalised that Mr Fixit (previously known as Tai Chi Man) would probably be wanting to go tonight anyway so I might as well wait. Instead, I retreated to my sewing room.

Five of the knitting project bags I made were given out to my friends last night at our Hygge gathering at my house. I realised I needed to make one more for one person who wasn’t there, so I did that today. Then I made another couple of snap bags.

I even added a tab to the last two, and a keyring. I think that flower one is my favourite.

Then I had a peaceful time sorting all my thread into colour groups and tucking in messy ends and putting it all back. I think I need another 50 spool storage box! The neutrals are lying in the lid of one of the other boxes.

The family is trickling back from their work days and I need to blend the butternut squash soup, so I’m off to do that now. Enjoy the day, wherever you are.

WIPing in the New Year!

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WIPing in the New Year!

Happy 2020!

I have three WIPs that I’m bringing with me into 2020. I frogged the Party Cardi (granny square type cardigan) because I couldn’t see myself wearing it, so that was one off the list. And I finished the granny square blanket just after Christmas, and that felt good. Three Works in Progress are manageable, and what I feel comfortable with. Any more than that and it bugs me.

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WIP #1: Moe of Change with Lion Brand Mandala

I added a teeny bit to this last night. I was bored. Didn’t want to look at my computer screen. Didn’t want to sew. So I pulled this out and just focused on the one thing. I had put it down mid-round 21, so I had to work out where I was. It’s going to be pretty. Must keep at it!

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WIP #2: stashbuster blanket with various worsted weight yarns

Not pretty, but useful and will be very warm. I knitted a bit on this yesterday. It was nice to reacquaint myself with my WIPs. It’s only about 12″ of work so far, but there’s no deadline. It would be good to have it done before the weather gets too warm to have it on my lap though.

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WIP #3: no-pattern shawl, using Cascade Sunseeker

I started out with just a few stitches, used half double crochet, and increased every other row. When there wasn’t much left of the pink, I striped in the grey using single crochet rows.  I didn’t want to do that for long because it meant stranding the yarn up the side which means I’ll have to add some sort of edge treatment later. Carried on with hdc and grey, until I figured I should start decreasing. Changed to double crochet and decreasing on every row. (The dcs are taller stitches, but I wanted the decreasing to happen faster than the first part of the shawl.)

I am hoping that the grey will last until I get back to 3 or 4 stitches and that I then have enough of the pink left to go around once with sc.

And now for some exciting news! I had posted a request on Ravelry for anyone who might have been willing to part with a swift, as I now have quite a few hanks of yarn which have not been wound into balls. My initial method was to place a hank over the back of a chair and wind by hand, because I only needed to do it occasionally. I do have a yarn cake winder, but tend to use it with commercial skeins. Someone sent me a link to an online photo tutorial, and I asked Tai Chi Man if he was willing to make me a swift. He seemed amenable, I sent him the link, and in his usual way (Mr Fixit, very handy) he decided he could do better.

Using some scrap wood he had, plus a lazy susan from Lee Valley (the metal spinning part) and a dowel from Home Depot, he created an Amish-style yarn swift for me.

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Of course, as soon as he said it was ready, I had to test it out. I wound up the two cakes you can see in the above photo, and then tried a small one from a 25 gram hank.

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Because the pegs are movable, it can fit just about any size of hank, though I probably wouldn’t bother trying to cake something smaller than 25g.

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And I have spare pegs in case any get lost. It works great, all for less than $10!

Thanks, Mr Fixit!

Adventures with snap bags

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Adventures with snap bags

I’ve been having a little play with small pieces of fabric and video tutorials again. I have had the notion in the back of my mind to try making snap bags. Do you know what I mean? They are little pouches with a top opening that pops open when you squeeze the sides, and snaps closed when you let go.

I had watched the Riley Blake Designs tutorial some time ago and managed to find it again. She makes it look so easy. Well, I struggled! However, it wasn’t that it was a bad tutorial, the fact is, I was using an industrial strength measuring tape that my oldest son had donated to my cause! (It was broken and I had asked him if he had any tapes of the metal kind, the ones that roll back into their case when you let go of them.)

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I had a few issues with this first bag. The wide tape measure barely fit into the casing. The triangles did not end up centred. And the side seams couldn’t be sewn too close to the ends of the tape or the sewing machine foot fought with them. Wait, actually this was my second attempt to make this bag, but the first one never made it this far. I realised that I needed to make my fabric pieces wider to allow for sewing past the metal tape ends.

Anyhoo, I ended up with a usable bag, but the industrial strength measuring tape snaps so well that it nearly takes your fingers off, and the ends of the tape don’t meet properly at the side seams. The triangular flaps are great for pulling the bag open though.

OK, second go.

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This time, I used a tutorial from Gourmet Quilter. She starts out similarly, but doesn’t use the triangle idea. For the casing, she folds the edges down right over the top of the outer fabric. (The Riley Blake video has you fold a quarter of an inch, and then fold it so it just covers the top edge of the outer fabric. The downside to that is you only have a single layer of fabric covering the tape.) With Gourmet Quilter, making the generous folds means you can insert the tape so that you have two layers of fabric on one side and a layer of fabric and batting on the other. And you also topstitch both sides of the casing creating a stronger channel.

She also boxes the bottoms which always seems to create a cuter bag!

I was happier with this bag, but without the triangle flaps to pull the bag open, I needed to be able to squeeze the sides of the bag to open it. Again, strong tape, too much play in the side seams, not ideal.

And now, introducing Mark III, the most successful attempt so far (despite me swearing at my machine because it started playing up towards the end – I didn’t realise the needle was bent and that’s why it was hitting the bobbin mechanism).

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Tai Chi Man gave me a narrower and weaker tape measure today that was broken at the beginning but still perfectly usable further in. I was able to slide it into the casing with no problem, and also sew the side seams right alongside the tape ends, so that when I turned it right side out and tested it out, it worked perfectly! It’s not as strong of a snap, but the bag holds closed fine.

This final version measures five inches square. I don’t think you’d want to go wider than that as you wouldn’t be able to use one hand to squeeze it open. Five inches is a comfortable distance for me to open my hand. However you could certainly make it deeper for items such as crochet hooks, spectacles, etc.

It would be fun to make more of these, now that I have ironed out the kinks. It would be a good way to use up quilt cotton scraps. And for really small scraps, you could make a patchwork outer piece rather than use one solid piece of fabric. Hmmmm…I feel a whole family of these coming on!

2019 – what else?

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Having just written the post about my knitting and crochet exploits this year, I then looked at the awesome round up of 2018 I did at the beginning of 2019, and thought I’d take a quick look through my blog posts of this year to see what the highlights were.

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Well, it was a good year for travelling. In September, Tai Chi Man and I travelled to the UK, where we stayed in London, Ilkley and Jersey. London was a brief whirlwind of catching up with cousins, and touring the city. Ilkley is in Yorkshire and was our base for visiting YARNDALE! And Jersey is where most of our family members live (in case you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a tiny island in the English Channel, closer to France than England). And of course in December we revisited Maui for a week of fun in the sun.

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It was also a good year for sewing. I made pyjamas, an apron, fleece neckwarmers, infinity scarves, fleece armwarmers, a snowman quilt, a crazy hippie wonky log cabin quilt, napkins, bags (totes, knitting project bags, upcycled denim bags), tops, a cartwheel skirt for my great-niece…altogether a very satisfying collection of creations.

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I was also approached by a yarn company to feature one of my free patterns on their website. It’s my Frond cellphone cosy and they created a pdf of it to include on their site. They sent me a link. However I can’t find the email they sent me so I shall have to hope they get in touch again so that I can let you know where to find the pdf.

I am going to have a giveaway very soon. I shall let you know what it is and how you can be in for a chance to win in the next few days. It will be open worldwide.

For now, Happy New Year to you all.