Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

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

Weekend WIP: Daisy Garden Blanket

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This time last week, I showed you the progress on the blanket. I had 29 squares made. Now I have 36. And I am DONE with making squares. I wove in the ends on the last one yesterday and this morning, in the quiet and coolness of the very early morning, I laid a sheet on my deck and played with my squares.

The first rule was to make sure that the edges didn’t touch another of the same colour. The second was to try to keep matching petals away from each other. And the third was a less important attempt to keep matching backgrounds away from each other. AND of course to have the colours and values distributed as best as possible.

I took a few photos from all angles and finally came up with this. I’m sure it’s not perfect but then the finished blanket is unlikely to be viewed like this when in use.

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It’s crocheted with Red Heart With Love and a 6mm hook. I’m using a hook from my Denise2Go kit, which is a small kit of interchangeable hooks with different length cables. It has been very comfortable to use.

I have been enjoying posting photos of each square to Instagram as I go. If you want to take a look, I’m Nicolaknits_crochets on Instagram. Or you can peek at my Ravelry project page which is here.  Uploading photos to my project page has been quicker than ever since I realised I could link my Instagram account to Ravelry. As soon as I open the “photos” tab, I am instantly shown my Instagram photo, I can click on it, and it uploads. Then I caption it and that’s it. Before I was always hunting through my huge photo file on my laptop, looking for the right picture. (Now that I’ve deleted a lot of older photos, that shouldn’t take so long now. Plus I am finally getting savvy – when I save the photo, I give it an actual searchable name.)

We’ve had a cooler than usual June, with more rain than I expected, and a good thunderstorm the other day. It’s very pleasant, actually. Considering that some places in Europe have been having a heatwave, with France getting to 46 degrees Celsius, and Kuwait reached a high of 52.2, I am grateful. We have experienced 40 degrees here in our little corner of Canada, but I just can’t imagine 52.

Work is good, with things ramping up for inventory in a week. Next weekend we’ll be counting all the notions, in other words the packages of everything that we sell at the fabric store, whether it’s needles, pins, thread, whatever. Then after that, all the fabric bolts will be laid down and stacked carefully according to their density code in time for weighing day. It’s a huge undertaking but with all the preparation that’s done ahead of the big day it normally goes pretty smoothly. The main battle is keeping it organised, when customers like to rummage and move stuff and put things down where they don’t belong, AND the store is open for most of the time that we are counting/weighing. We start at 7 and the store opens at 10. So there are inventory teams and a customer service team.

I just remembered that I have a photo of my new table display. We now have a beaver welcoming people as they walk into the store! Made from a faux fur throw, I had a bit of fun with that yesterday. He only has to stay together for the Canada Day weekend, eh!

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The “logs” are storage boxes. I really like them but they are a bit pricey for me otherwise I’d totally turn my craft room into a virtual pine forest!

 

Weekend WIP (and an FO)

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Weekend WIP (and an FO)

I will show you the finished cowl in a moment, but first, the blanket.

The daisy blanket is moving forward again with a few more squares completed in the last couple of days. I laid out the 29 squares on the floor of my living room, making sure that same-coloured edges weren’t matching and that same-coloured petals were not side by side.

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Twenty nine squares in, I have not made the same one twice. I have the colours lined up for the 30th, which will be different again.

It’s still not as large as I’d like, and I have plenty of yarn left, so I’ll go to 36 and see how it looks. I am reserving a full skein each of turquoise and pink for the border.

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The Knit Mandala Cowl is finished. Here, Sally is modelling it so nicely! I didn’t wash it, just steamed it lightly. The Mandala yarn is very pretty and soft and projects always look good made from it.

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The textured stitches kept things interesting, as did the changing colours.

So, what are you doing this weekend? Our cabin escape was postponed thanks to the weather, so instead we are having the potluck at our friend’s home in town. Tai Chi Man and I called our parents this morning, then went to yoga, and this afternoon I have to do a bit of food prep and baking for tonight.

Have a great day!

WIP: Knit Mandala Cowl – almost there

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The cowl is nearly finished. I have been enjoying knitting this project. It’s been a nice change of pace from the crochet blanket. I have only a few rounds of K2P2 ribbing to do. As you can see, I have reached the white in the cake. It would have been interesting to have some more grey at the top edge, and I could keep going longer, but on the other hand the transition from darker colour/denser stitch pattern to lighter colour/lacier stitch pattern works rather well. I’m glad the aqua falls in the centre as it’s the colour that one notices the most.

You may recall my efforts to get up earlier in the morning, and my alarm clock was set 5 minutes earlier every day until I was waking at 5am. The last few mornings I have woken up just before the alarm, but when the alarm actually goes off I hit snooze once or twice. Often, Tai Chi Man is already in the en suite and there’s no point getting out of bed until he’s moved off to the kitchen. Our en suite is tiny!

One of the bonuses of getting up early is the coolness, as it’s getting hot most days. Another thing I enjoy is looking out at the garden to see if I can spot any deer (though I’d probably have to be up before dawn for that) and the sky is often very pretty too.

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The forecast is for a much cooler day today (18 degrees Celsius) and rain and possibly a thunderstorm. There is quite a wind – I can see our big maple from where I sit, and the branches are being tossed about – and I managed to get an OK shot of the sky with the clouds moving in, the moon, and an interesting bank of clouds sitting right on top of the mountains in the distance.

More often than not, I work on a Wednesday, but this week my shifts were scheduled the same as last week – Sunday, Monday, Friday – so today is going to be a home day. The To Do list includes a little cleaning and decluttering (aaagh, need to start on the utility room shelves, which is a huge job) but also some sewing and knitting.

I haven’t shown you the pink top that I sewed last week, but a turquoise one is now in progress using the same Burda pattern so I will get photos soon. I have been watching a podcaster/vlogger recently called Rachael at SewRayMeUK. She lives in Scotland, has an Etsy shop selling sewn bags and things, and has been vlogging every day during June. She is a keen gardener and has a beautiful garden. I am feeling inspired to sew more things, but I really must finish the current project before I move on to something else. The cut pieces are laid out on my cutting table and I have started the assembly. I could have kept on going last night, but at 9.45 I had to call it a day. Getting up at 5am means going to bed before 10pm.

It’s gone dark in my living room. The sky is mostly cloud now and I feel like a big dump of rain is imminent. That’s great! Even with our sprinklers, the lawn is looking dry and crispy already. Happy Hump Day, everyone. Talk to you again soon 🙂

WIP: Knit Mandala Cowl

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Being a relatively new user of Instagram with a not-so-smart phone (I can do texts, calls, and wifi, but no data) I rarely remember to use it or look at the feed from the handful of people I follow. However I recently discovered how quick and easy it is to post to Instagram from the phone and then upload the photo(s) to Ravelry now that my accounts are linked.

But (and there is usually a But) I still have to plug my phone into my laptop to upload the photos to that and get them into a blog post. I only have WordPress on my Windows laptop now, as my old iPad Mini can’t handle the app.

As I type this, the photos should magically be appearing in the window behind this one, so all should be well!

The daisy blanket is taking a little breather right now. I hit a little bump in the road, possibly because I couldn’t decide how many squares to make for the ideal size/colour distribution, but also because I was going on a one-night road trip with Tai Chi Man and fancied a change.

The pattern I chose was the Knit Mandala Cowl and rather than pay for a pdf I just went to the free version on the blog and took some screenshots. I picked out some Lion Brand Mandala in the stash, colourway Genie, packed it and my Knit Picks Rainbow Wood interchangeables in a project bag along with my Hello Kitty notions tin, and was ready to roll.

The first part of the road trip involved a long and winding road north up the west side of Okanagan Lake during which I sat and looked at the view. There was no way I was going to try and knit through that and risk getting carsick. When the going got easier, I cast on.

I had a fair amount of knitting time on the journey and in the hotel room. I also took advantage of the pool and fitness room while Tai Chi Man was out working/socialising with customers, and watched a heck of a lot of HGTV!

The photo above was taken in a coffee shop, obviously, on the second day. Two hundred stitches around, but as the texture changes every round (or two or three) it feels like it’s growing fast.

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I love the colour changes in the Mandala yarn. Not harsh changes like some of the cakes. As you can see, there’s ribbing, seed stitch, cables, slipstitches – a bit of everything.

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I will continue on and finish this, I think, before returning to the blanket. I have noticed, though, that my wrist aches more when I knit, so I have to be careful.

In other news, it’s Pride month at our fabric store (and elsewhere of course) and our manager set up an awesome display of a fabric rainbow with a pot of “gold” at the end, big foam letters that spell out PRIDE, and rainbowy products that are on sale this month. I just love the papier mache/fibrefill cloud that she made, complete with acrylic crystal raindrops.

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To complete the look, I cleared out my previous display from the table in front of the cash desk (a rather inspired plaid/denim/logs/campfire look if I may say so myself) and gussied it up with a rainbow theme.

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This is quite restrained for me. I usually load this table up way more than that. I seem to have become the default table decorator in this spot and I have a lot of fun trawling the store for bits and bobs to include in my chosen theme.

There’s a big sale starting today that runs through the weekend and I feel like it’s going to be super busy today. So off I go, as I need to leave the house soon.

 

Daisy Garden

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Daisy Garden

I think perhaps that my title for this blog post, Daisy Garden, should perhaps be the name of the blanket. (Thinks to self: go over to Ravelry and edit project page!)

I have now hit another milestone. Twenty daisy blocks finished, which means they look nice and even laid out on the floor for a photo. Of course my old iPad doesn’t seem to be able to get them all in focus.

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This is not the final layout, by any means. I just tried to keep the colours well distributed when placing them on the floor. The size of this, if I were to join them all together right now, is 34 x 42 inches approximately. My aim is to get as big a blanket as possible out of the yarn. It’s certainly going to be a cheerful blanket.

So, what else has been happening? I’ve just had a couple of days off. One of the things that was overdue was to wash down our covered deck. It was coated with a layer of pollen, and my eyes and nose have been reminding me lately that it’s pollen season. So out came the hose, then out came two of my sons, who felt that rather than a feeble hose what I really needed was a pressure washer. So ds1 went to the shed and pulled out his pressure washer and we got the deck so darned clean it looks almost new again! I have to say, it’s fun! The furniture also got a rinse, the kayaks (which have been languishing for over a year) were moved to clean underneath, I pinned the outdoor curtains across to shade the deck and patio doors from the evening sun, and now I feel we should be eating out there every day.

The Christmas cacti have been sent outside for the summer. They seem to flower so much better in the winter when they have spent some time outside. And we “cheated” on the hanging baskets and bought ready-made ones from Costco.

I have officially finished decluttering the upper level of our old bi-level house. I did another trip to the recycling depot and thrift store with a car-full of stuff, the latest being old linens from the hall closet, and repacked the two hall closets more efficiently. The living room mostly just needed to be dusted, though I did find some books that I didn’t want.

The biggest jobs await. Downstairs, I have a daunting task. I am considering vacating my craft room (ds1’s old bedroom) so he can have it back. The family room could become my craft room, along with the desk and iMac and piano that are already in there. The teeny bedroom that ds1 is currently using would become storage, one day to be reclaimed as our weights room when he finally moves out again! So much to be done, the first thing to get rid of two old sofa beds that we acquired via Freecycle many many years ago.

I am looking longingly at Ikea shelving for the family room (aren’t we all)!

It doesn’t help that I seem to be on my own with this task because everyone else seems happy with the status quo, but I really feel the need to clean things out and only put back what we really love. Yes, Marie Kondo and the Swedish death cleaning book have really hit home!

Plenty of aches today from (a) weight training, (b) yoga, (c) slipping on a rocky trail while out walking and pulling my right quads to keep myself from falling, (d) plantar fasciitis flare up because I was dumb enough to think I could spend a lot of the last two days in bare feet. Oh yeah, and (e) blisters on the back of my heels from that trail walk without socks on. I’m going to work today for a rest 😛 Speaking of which, I must go and finish getting ready.

Have a great day!

 

 

Daisy Daisy, give me your answer, do!

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Daisy Daisy, give me your answer, do!

Do you know that song? I found a video of it here. It’s one I learned as a child.

So my one active WIP is the Daisy blanket. I am making multiples of this pattern, the Daisy Flower Charity Square, which I actually bought and printed out (I usually go for free ones, and read them off a screen)!

The square at the top of this post is my 13th. The others I have captured in a screenshot from my Ravelry project page to make it quicker and easier to see them all.

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So far, they are all different. Later, as my options narrow, there may be some duplicates. Now that I don’t have to refer to the pattern, they are crocheting up much quicker.

The yarn is Red Heart With Love in various colours, along with a 6mm hook from my Denise2Go set.

Summer has hit us here in the BC Interior, with temperatures having reached 30 degrees Celsius and smoke from forest fires in BC and Alberta creating a haze in the valley. I had a pleasant time yesterday, crocheting with friends outside a local coffee shop, followed by a swim in the pool at my friend’s condo, and picked up a bit of colour in my skin.

What is it like where you are?

 

FO: Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket

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FO: Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket

I am pleased to say that this mystery crochet-along is finished and I have a VERY colourful blanket to show for it.

This was designed by Joanita Theron of Creative Crochet Workshop and was a 7 week MCAL. As the word “rainbow” was in the title, I just had to pick some appropriate colours of DK yarn (mostly Stylecraft Special DK) to which I added grey and white. By the end I had run out of the pink, red and orange, which is a shame as a full rainbow spectrum border would have been awesome.

I used my own border idea – one round of single crochet and three rounds of granny clusters. I also fudged the numbers on the rectangular strips to make them the correct size for my squares. Even after machine washing and drying, there is some bumpiness and rippling happening, but I’m not going to fret about it. It’s about 38″ square and used 540 grams of yarn. My only FO for May!

So it’s back to the daisy-making. I finished two more squares on Thursday:

I still haven’t completely memorised the pattern. It’s a tricky one.

In other news, my kitchen cupboards have now been fully decluttered, but I haven’t moved on to the next room yet.

My experiment in getting up earlier is going well. Each day I set my alarm clock 5 minutes earlier and I am finding it quite easy, as long as I go to bed reasonably early (around 10pm).

I bought rayon fabric in vibrant shades of fuschia and turquoise to make two tops to go with  my new leggings and yesterday I had time to cut out all the pieces. Next time I have a good block of time, I will go and start on the sewing, probably Tuesday.

This weekend, I did a lot of volunteering for Vegfest, the annual vegan festival in my town. Last night, Tai Chi Man and I helped set up, getting the gym and some of the classrooms converted for use by vendors and speakers. This involved a lot of furniture moving and sticking green masking tape on the gym floor to mark it out for vendors’ tables.

Today I was back at lunchtime to be an entrance greeter for the afternoon, taking people’s donations and giving them information. I was outside but thankfully it was cloudy – if it had been full sunshine, I’d have had to find some shade. At 5, the festivities were over, but then the cleanup began. A team of us put the school back to rights, cleaning, tidying, mopping, taking out the garbage. We were done by about 7.15.

It’s good to get a little couch time at the end of the day. It’s been a very physical weekend and I need to recharge.

 

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!