Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

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

FO: VW Campervan bag

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This baby is DONE!

The pattern is my own design, though I relied heavily on cushion and bag pattern pictures on Ravelry and photos on Pinterest. The yarn is Loops & Threads Impeccable (except for the black) and I used a 5mm hook. It resulted in a fairly stiff fabric, which is fine for a bag, but if it was a wearable item I’d definitely use a 5.5mm.

The lining fabric is from the store where I work, and is a very appropriate peace sign print. I added a pocket in the lining, and a magnetic button for the top closure.

This was quite fun to design on the hook, and even the unravelling and redoing of the front windows (the stranded look was crappy so I changed it for intarsia) didn’t take long and wasn’t onerous. I’m glad I did it as I wouldn’t have been 100% happy with the finished object otherwise.

The project took about 16 days from start to finish and now the big question is, “What next?”

 

A day at the sewing machine

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These shots, taken by my son, are somewhat bleached out as the sun was bright in the background. However I think you can see the beach cover-up that I made. The pink lacy fabric was the last of a bolt of clearance fabric at work. I bought a string of pink pompoms to go along the bottom edges which adds a nice bit of weight to it.

I actually screwed up part of the construction. My plan was to cut a neck hole and bind it with satin bias binding. Well, it was late, I was tired, and I accidentally cut a hole that was twice as big as I wanted. Hmmm, measure twice, think three times, cut once!

After a lot of swearing that Tai Chi Man could hear upstairs, I ended up cutting right across and sewing up again, and rather than use the bias binding, which just didn’t look right, I hemmed the neck edge with two rows of stitches. Do you know how tricky it is to sew fabric that is more holes than anything!?

Once that project was out of the way, I started on the next project. Thanks to my friend cancelling our gym date yesterday, I ended up having a whole day at home. I did a bit of yoga in the morning and, apart from making and eating dinner, spent the rest of my time sewing or crocheting.

The results are these:

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An apron, oven gloves and towel hanging loops. I used an older apron that I made a few years ago as a template, with a modification. I narrowed the top part as the last one I made tends to gape because it’s a bit wide. This apron is just one thickness, not lined, but I did add a pocket. The oven gloves were a “wing-it” thing as I didn’t use a pattern. If I’d had some purchased wide bias binding I would have used that, but I didn’t. The method I used was to layer fabric with regular cotton batting and Insul-Brite (batting with a reflective metal component) for the main piece, and then make the hand pockets with two layers of fabric. All raw ends were enclosed before stitching the hand pockets to the main piece. Thank the sewing gods for a walking foot.

It’s a somewhat amateurish result but usable!!

The towel loops, designed for hanging tea towels on an oven door, are made with Stylecraft Special DK in Duck Egg, which just happens to match one of the colours in the fabric. Brown buttons completed the look.

I’m glad I took advantage of a couple of nice mornings last week to go kayaking, as I was working all weekend. You could say that Monday and Tuesday were my ‘weekend’ though Monday entailed going to the dentist (fillings where my gums have receded a bit and also some chipped teeth at the front, lots of numbing which took hours to wear off) and grocery shopping. We have a number of places we like to buy our food – there’s Superstore for the usual weekly shop, Costco for certain other items like avocados, tomatoes and big stuff, bulk food store for raisins, oats, flour etc. Then there are the smaller places like Mediterranean Market for olives, artichokes and sundried tomatoes, and the health food store for certain specialty items and supplements. Also I buy instant coffee at London Drugs these days as I am avoiding Nestle as much as possible and we like their own “Brazilian” brand. So all in all I spent five hours on Monday, visiting the dentist and six stores, spending oodles of money on stocking up the fridge, pantry and cold room.

The fact that Tuesday was an at-home day was a wonderful gift!

Well, today I have to work, though I don’t start until 11am. So I’d better sort myself out and think about what’s for dinner in case I need to prep anything.

Enjoy your day and talk to you again soon.

WIP: VW Camper Van bag

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I learned something new today. I can take reasonable photos with my phone (which is just an inexpensive Android) and upload them to my Windows laptop easily. Why has it taken me so long to actually use the phone for more than texting?

I was out with a girlfriend today, walking along the waterfront at a small town just south of my own, enjoying a London Fog and a large slice of vegan orange date walnut loaf, and sunbathing at the sheltered bay which is such a popular swimming spot in the summer. It was a comfortable temperature, mostly sunny, maybe around 25 Celsius. The lake is higher than it’s ever been in recorded history, thanks to a rainy spring and the melting of the snowpack at higher elevations, so flood barriers have been set up in many places to try to hold back the water from flooding backyards and basements.

Along one stretch of our walk, the road was closed to traffic and there were hoses stretched across the road where people were pumping excess water from their properties back into the lake. Or at least trying to. I’m not sure how successful that can be when it must surely cycle back in.

Ironically, the extra water has not resulted in more watery activities, as swimming and boating are not recommended because of the detritus in the water. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding seem to be the better options. The beaches have disappeared and the mosquitos are having a field day because of the increase in stagnant water.

This bag, which I probably shouldn’t claim to be a VW camper van for fear of trademark infractions, is for my niece. When I was on holiday visiting the family she nicely asked if I would make her one. There’s a couple of patterns on Ravelry that helped me come up my own plan for the bag, though I still don’t know what type of handles/strap it will have.

So far, I’ve made pretty good progress on the front. I’m not 100% happy with the edges of the colour blocks but I don’t think there’s a way to avoid the unevenness if you’re working back and forth. The edge stitches look different on the left and right of the V – the ones on the right are beautifully smooth. Also the two white stitches in between the windshield sections are a bit untidy. I used intarsia on the blue/white part and stranding on the grey/white, and I think it would have been better to have used intarsia throughout.

Ah well, it was a good day. Nice to be out in the sunshine instead of stuck inside, either at home cleaning or at work. Tai Chi Man has fixed the J brackets to my roof rack, so I am ready to load up a kayak or two at a moment’s notice. Hoping to actually get out on the lake for the first time in ages, sometime this week.

I hope your week is awesome!

 

 

FO: Travel cowl

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Ds1 and I arrived home yesterday from our holiday, tired, happy to have had lots of family time, but glad to be home.

We had had to drag ourselves out of bed really early, 4.30am early, which is just inhumane in my not-so-humble opinion, to get showered and dressed, pack the last few items in our bags, and get a ride to the airport for 6am.

The first flight out from the island was due to leave at 7.05 but we sat on the tarmac for a bit as Air Traffic Control was being extra careful because of the descending fog. Still, we made it out okay, which is more than I can say for my poor nephew who was supposed to be flying to the same airport on a different airline and then catch a connecting flight to Milan for a three-day getaway.

The fog worsened and he had to cancel his trip. One of the hazards of living on an island.

We were expecting heightened security at the London airports following the Manchester suicide bombing, plus possible extra issues following British Airways’ computer glitches which caused absolute chaos on Sunday. Many people had flights cancelled and/or were left standing around at Heathrow.

However, Gatwick was fine, with only a minor police presence as we left in our cab to drive to Heathrow. (I am really looking forward to Air Canada flying direct to Gatwick, which is rumoured to be happening later this year.)

Heathrow was fine – after having to deal with queues to get our boarding passes printed, security was no problem and the departures hall was only moderately busy. We found a place to have a coffee and before long it was time to walk to the gate. The flight to Calgary left on time and the time didn’t drag too badly, what with knitting, movies, eating and puzzles. There was another wait for the last flight home, but I watched another bit of the Crafternoon Treats podcast and then we were off. The last stripe on the cowl was added while flying over the Rockies at 20,000 feet.

Tai Chi Man picked us up and we came home to a meal cooked by ds3 who has apparently been rather good at getting meals made while I’ve been away. He did message me a fair bit with questions about how I made certain recipes, and last night’s dinner of nut roast, mashed potatoes and apple crumble was all very good. I unpacked, but I didn’t last long until I had to go to bed, as we’d been up for 24 hours.

I was wide awake at 5.30 this morning, and have had a quiet day at home, baking bread, doing laundry, making dinner and vegging on the couch. Oh, and finishing the cowl. The top two photos are after binding off, and I decided that I wanted the “wrong side” to be the “right side” as I preferred the colour transitions that way.

Seventeen stripes in the end…I didn’t knit every day, but travel days I did more than one stripe as I changed for each leg of the journey.

The yarn is Deramores Studio DK, 8 shades from the 12-colour Gemstones pack, with 6mm needles. I think I cast on 130 stitches, purely because that was what the tail of the yarn allowed and it was a workable number to go around the cable. It’s a good circumference and height and it was a great choice for my travel knitting as I could pick it up and put it down easily (though there were multiple balls to carry for the different colour stripes). I could have left the rest of the needle set at home, as I didn’t use them, or any crochet hooks or other equipment at all. I just broke the yarn with my hands when it was time to change colour.

My new Stylecraft Special DK is now getting acquainted with the rest of the SSDK in the big bag in my craft room. It will probably languish there for a bit as my niece has asked me to make her a VW camper van bag, for which I probably don’t need a pattern. There’s a few VW patterns on Ravelry, from bags to cushion covers to stuffed vans, which I can use for inspiration, but for now I’m waiting to see what colour she’s thinking of.

It’s 7.20pm now, I have work tomorrow, and I’m hoping to stay awake for a bit longer before I go to bed. Crossing my fingers for another good night’s sleep. Ah, jetlag!

 

 

Souvenir yarn

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Because a holiday isn’t complete without new yarn!

Colours in the above photo, in order from left to right, are clematis, duck egg, parma  violet, lobelia and sage.


I bought these from Country Wools here in the island of Jersey.  They have a good range of yarns including, you guessed it, Stylecraft. I made sure to buy colours that I don’t already have and that I can add to my bag of Special DK when I get home. 

It was a hot sunny day today and ds1 and I enjoyed some shady valley walking, a picnic in the park, and some exploring of an old fort. If we’d have had swimsuits with us, we’d have gone in the sea too. Actually he did, later in the day, after I’d dropped him off back at his granddad’s and I returned to my mum’s to cook dinner. Bet that sea was cold!

We’re nearing the end of our holiday now and it’s been great to spend time with family and see more of the island where I grew up. 

Happy crafting!

The cowl grows

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The cowl is getting bigger. That red stripe was unexpectedly wide for a spot of evening knitting on the sofa. It’s nice to have some mindless knitting in the round to do. No pattern to juggle.
The room at my mum’s is very bright and attractive, upstairs with a sloping roof. Very modern too, as she bought the house only a few years ago, brand new, in a 55+ development.

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Yesterday was fun – I joined in with a fundraiser for Autism Jersey where we lined up with our hands in gloves glued to pipes that had metal scaffolding poles through them, and played human table football (foosball)! Some of the guys kicked the ball hard and high and I ended up with a few bruises but avoided a smashed in face so I suppose I should be grateful 🙂

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My hair and T shirt coordinate quite well.

I expect I will have to eat super clean when I get home because I’m eating a lot of things I don’t usually have these days. Decadent cakes, sweet potato fries, cookies…must keep walking.

iPad is playing up again so ta ta for now.

Travel knitting

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I packed my eight shades of Deramores Studio DK and my Knitpicks Interchangeables for my holiday. Waiting at airport #1 I cast on 130 stitches with the aubergine and knitted a few rounds. On the first flight to Calgary, I changed to the citrine and added some more. The jade was added during my Calgary-Heathrow flight (there was a long walk between flights and only a short wait before boarding, so no knitting at Calgary airport).

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The jade stripe is pretty narrow for an 8.5 hour flight because I did a little game-playing, movie-watching and dozing. Managing a little sleep was a miracle as it usually never happens.

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The pink stripe was added during the cab ride from Heathrow to Gatwick. I’m not counting rounds, just adding them in the time available.

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I changed to navy for the wait at Gatwick but I have to confess my eyes weren’t focussing too well by then due to tiredness. I slept for the whole of the third flight, which was thankfully short.

Well, this blog post took ages, interspersed with photo uploading problems and chatting to my mum. So I’m going to hit Publish and get it put to bed.