Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

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

Saturday shopping spree

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OK, it’s Monday now, but I did mean to blog at the weekend to talk about  my SEX (Stash Enhancement eXpedition) at Michaels. I went in there to look for beading supplies actually. I am signed up with a group on Ravelry to do a Christmas swap, which entails filling a toilet paper roll with fun stuff to make a cracker. You have to put in something that you knitted or crocheted, a handwritten joke, and any other little gift-type things that will fit. Then you wrap it up beautifully and send it to your swap partner. Beads are tiny, right? So if I make some earrings or stitch markers they will fit inside easily.

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I did buy some beads – black ones, clear ones, turquoise ones – and some ear wires, pins and bracelet attachments. But I also had to check out the yarn while I was there. And even though my self-discipline has been very good this year, I found clearance yarn that I have seen at Michaels a few times before. I was able to resist while it was regular price, but on clearance? I fell off that darned wagon!

Six little bundles of Loops & Threads Meandering Minis in three colourways. These skeins are 25 grams each. AND…

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Three bundles of Caron X Pantone Bamboo as well.

Now, in theory, the Caron yarn is acceptable as I allowed myself, when making my New Year’s Resolution, to buy yarn that has some plant fibre content. So I wasn’t really being BAD! However, the Meandering Minis are totally synthetic, which goes against my ‘rule’ of stashing down the 100% man-made stuff and not acquiring more. Oh dear! But they are just so pretty!

I feel a bit zombified tonight. Maybe it has something to do with the clocks changing yesterday. You wouldn’t think one hour would make that much difference. But I was working today too, and eight hours on my feet is tiring. What a great feeling it is to come home, change out of my work clothes into my Hello Kitty onesie, eat a big bowl of risotto with kabocha squash (I had the forethought to make dinner this morning before work) and enjoy a large cup of tea. I was watching Ross’s podcast (Smells Like Yarn) and I could feel myself sinking into the couch and feeling so brain dead that I don’t even feel like picking up a crochet hook this evening (though I seem to have found the energy to write a blog post).

So I shall love you and leave you, as they say, before my eyes droop.

 

 

Throwback Thursday

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Today I’m looking back at 2008 in my Ravelry notebook. And a couple of things stand out.

One is that there is no crochet. I was firmly in the knitting groove after a lifetime of On again/Off again, but hadn’t yet picked up the crochet bug.

Another thing I notice is that I was experimenting more with my Bond knitting machine. Eleven projects were made by machine and some of them were published on my blog as free patterns.

This striped vest was inspired, according to my Ravelry notes, by a pattern in a book. Rather than hand knit it, I machine knit it.

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It actually came out rather well, though I don’t recall wearing it much.

And that year I was really into the James C Brett Marble DK again. I had knitted two sweaters in it the year before. Well, 2008 saw the same brown colourway used in these three projects:

Marble Wrap Vest which I designed myself

Button scarf

and Quick Hat

and there were three other projects using the Marble DK but in other colours.

It’s fascinating to look back at what I made thanks to the invention of Ravelry all those years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WIP Wednesday

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It’s 9pm and I thought I wouldn’t have anything to talk about today as there hadn’t been much visible progress. However I added a few rounds to my Moe of Change tonight so here’s a quickie pic to give you an idea – it’s now 13.5″ in diameter.

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My phone didn’t want to focus properly! The other two blankets have had a few rounds added too, but the cardigan is still languishing.

Ooh, I just remembered, I did finish a hat. Tai Chi Man’s god-daughter had a baby recently, so I am packaging up the rainbow blanket (FO blog post here) along with a little pompom beanie made from Caron Cupcakes in Tutti Frutti. pompomhat

I confess to cutting out parts of the stripes to keep it to 9 rounds per colour. It’s only about 14″ in circumference and took about 20 grams of the cake. I ended up using US#4 needles which is skinnier than I would normally use for DK yarn but I was aiming for a certain tension.

Last Wednesday, I showed you my kitty ears. Well, here I am modelling them.

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The Hello Kitty outfit finally came together – I finished sewing the dress, bought the white turtleneck online from Old Navy, wore my Sweet Legs leggings, wore the ears and a pink bow, and went a bit heavier on the makeup.

I wore the ensemble on Monday and again on Tuesday, when I showed up for work with the added armwarmers that I made last year.

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So there you go. All caught up!

Throwback Thursday

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This week I thought I’d feature my Sunrise Circle Jacket.

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Gosh, I look so young in that photo! I would have been 45 in early 2008. Looks like I was having a bad hair day though, which is kinda the story of my life!

I didn’t make a lot of notes on my Ravelry project page, but this project was quite the adventure. The construction was unique – the back was knitted bottom to top, if I recall correctly, and the fronts and sleeves started at the side/armpit and grew out from there. The curved front edges have hems knitted in. I mail-ordered some Tatamy Tweed (worsted weight cotton/acrylic) from Kraemer Yarns in the US. I absolutely loved knitting with that yarn and if they had had a decent ordering system on their website I would probably have continued to buy from them. However one had to phone, or find a Local Yarn Store to buy from, and so it never happened.

I still have this cardigan and have worn it many times.  The yarn still looks like new. It’s warm too.

Apparently I started knitting this in January 2008 and finished it in March. Not bad!

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WIP Wednesday

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WIP Wednesday

Hi peeps, how’s it going? Time for another WIP Wednesday. Seems like no time at all since last Wednesday, and it feels like I haven’t made a whole lot of progress.

The Party Cardi hasn’t been touched so I won’t bother with another photo of that. However I’ve started my Moe of Change…

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This is going to be a pretty blanket. It will be baby blanket size as it only uses two cakes of Lion Brand Mandala but it’s good to have at least one project where I have to concentrate on stitches and counting.

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The granny blanket with the Red Heart With Love has grown quite well though the colours are going to be a bit predictable from now on. The centre used up small balls of leftovers and now I’m on to the big balls, of which I have only a limited number. The plan is to repeat the white/black rows after each set of colours, and I hope it’s going to look ok with the different colours in the middle.

The knitted blanket has grown a tiny bit. I have added a few rows but they are so long that it’s going to be a slow project.

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That cake is one I wound up with my ball-winder when I first bought it and wanted to wind every scrap into a cake!

I also have a Finished Object – a very small one!

I needed ears for my Hello Kitty outfit for Halloween and found this hairband at the dollar store. It’s perfect because I crocheted the ears and slipped them over the plastic ear-shaped bits on top, sewed them on, and they won’t flop.

So I’ve been a good girl this week and got back to the gym. I had two weeks of holiday followed by two weeks of sloth (except for one yoga class). On Sunday, Tai Chi Man and I went to the gym in the morning and I did a 40 minute workout (20 mins treadmill, 20 mins weights machine circuit) to get me back into things. On Monday, I was back for 30 mins of treadmill plus a 30 minute upper body workout. And Tuesday, we had a challenging yoga class with lots of downward facing dogs and OMG my shoulders today are SO painful. But it’s a good kind of pain, I suppose, because it means I did some work! Couldn’t face another workout tonight after work, but I shall see what I can fit in tomorrow around my social commitments. Maybe a ‘leg day’ in the afternoon so that the shoulders get a break.

I have Maui in December to keep me motivated!

Throwback Thursday

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Deltora Quest sweater – my Ravelry project page

This week I’m featuring a sweater I made for my youngest son who, according to my project notes, was 9 at the time (he’s 21 now). He was mad about the Deltora Quest books so for Christmas I thought I’d knit him a sweater with a Deltora theme.

Featured in the books is the Belt of Deltora, a steel belt which holds seven gems, the first initials of which spell the word Deltora. I made the front, back and sleeves on my Bond machine and hand knitted the ribbing and duplicate stitched the gems across the front.

I can’t recall him wearing the sweater very much. He wasn’t a very cold-blooded kid, and even now he rarely wears a sweater, and doesn’t bother with a coat much either, unless he’s snowboarding.

I see I bought the yarn at Zellers – that’s a throwback right there – all the Zellers stores closed down years ago. I did like having that store in town, as it was a handy Canadian alternative to the dreaded Wally-world Wal-mart!

WIP Wednesday

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It’s blanket season!

I decided when I got back from my holiday that I needed to have something warm to work on so here are my Winter Works in Progress.

The Mindless Use up my Leftovers blanket, using random worsted weight yarn in my stash:

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As you can see, so far I have only cast on 370 stitches and knitted a few rounds. Not much warmth there yet!

The Giant Granny:

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Getting to be big enough to at least keep my knees warm, this is going to be a snuggly one quite quickly.

And a non-blanket project, the Party Cardi from The Secret Yarnery:

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Hexagons complete, backs and fronts extended, pieces joined. The dyelots on these two cakes of Mandala Baby are quite different, and the next sections will probably be different again. I really hope this is a wearable garment when done, as so far it’s reminding me of a bed jacket! And there’s a lot of $$$ in five cakes of yarn, assuming I use it all, so if I hate it I will be frogging, not giving it away.

Those are this week’s WIPs. I have another one planned but I need to start it when I have time to focus, which actually could be right now but I have already made it to lunchtime today without getting any housework done or groceries bought so I really should do that first. I have been fighting off a cold for a few days now so have been practising some self-care (which means I have been making excuses for not exercising) but it is a beautiful day out there and we really need to eat and shopping needs to be done and at the very least I should clean the bathrooms and mop the kitchen floor. Hmmm, how quickly could I get those done?!

Throwback Thursday

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My usual morning routine is to glug down a big glass of lemon water and make myself a huge cup of Yorkshire tea, then head to the couch with my laptop to catch up on emails, Facebook and Ravelry. Emails and Facebook can just be a few minutes each; Ravelry can take longer, depending on what interesting topics have appeared overnight and whether I want to contribute.

I replied to a thread this morning which had me looking back at an old project, so I had this idea for Throwback Thursdays. Pick an old project to talk about that stands out for me.

The oldest projects I have listed are from 2006, but the photos are dull and there is not much detail on them as they were made pre-Ravelry. Things start getting more interesting in 2007. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes Ravelry had been around for 50 years so we could have kept good notes on everything we’ve made.

Today’s is this one with the uninspiring name Top Down Raglan. (Link to my Ravelry project page.)

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I don’t have a photo of me wearing it, but it did fit me well. It was my own design, constructed top down, seamlessly, and I added in a cable design from somewhere, and did folded hems. The yarn used to be a favourite of mine – James C Brett Marble DK. I actually made two sweaters from this yarn, which amazes me now because I am not a patient person when it comes to yarn, and prefer the thicker end of the spectrum. According to my Ravelry notes, it only took a couple of months to knit.

My project page says I bought the yarn at Fun Knits on Quadra Island (which is in BC, Canada) which immediately takes me back to the time I bought it. We were on holiday, Tai Chi Man, the three boys, and my in-laws, and the comment my MIL made at the time was that the colour was “dull.” (She spoke her mind, that one!) Admittedly, I do tend to wear brighter or stronger colours than this now, and it ended up going to a thrift store one year, after a seasonal closet clear-out. I wonder where it is now. Hopefully keeping someone warm.

 

 

Yarndale and other holiday fun

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Yarndale and other holiday fun

I have been on holiday! I only had my old iPad Mini with me, and no phone, so I was only spending minimal amounts of time on t’internet, hence the gap between blog posts.

I had a lovely time. It was quite the whirlwind – the itinerary involved flying from Canada to London, England, driving down to see my cousins on the south coast, driving up to Yorkshire to spend a few days enjoying the area, including Yarndale, driving back to London, flying over to Jersey, a few days with the close family, then flying back to London, then flying home.

Kudos to Tai Chi Man who drove about 750 miles while we were in England. And motorway driving is NOT fun.

Highlights of the trip:

Yarndale, of course…

I was excited to meet Kathryn from CrafternoonTreats. We had been in touch prior to the day, because I have been helping to moderate her Ravelry group for a long time now and I just had to make sure we met up. She was a vendor, so she couldn’t avoid me, LOL. All of the yarn she dyes is wool, but knowing I am vegan she and her friend Helen had dyed up some natural coloured Stylecraft Classique Cotton with Procion dyes as a gift. So lovely!

Sorry, my photos aren’t great. iPad in poor light.

A few other souvenirs…

Being vegan helps me be disciplined in my yarn buying! Most of the yarn on sale at Yarndale is wool. So all I bought was this Louisa Harding Giardino (though it was pretty expensive)! And of course I had to get a Yarndale bag.

I was fan-girly about Lucy from Attic24, whose blog I have been reading for years. She is one of the organisers. I saw her, but didn’t talk to her, in the Knit ‘n Natter room. And I also spotted Tatsiana from Lilla Bjorn in the Scheepjes booth.

My travel knitting was a simple pattern from DROPS called Rascal. A two-row pattern repeat, it was just knitting back and forth until I felt the shawl was big enough. And I wanted to give it to my sister when it was done, so I had to finish it before I came home.

I forgot to get daylight shots before giving it away.

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It’s made with Lion Brand Mandala in Phoenix.

Other notable mentions…

Met up with my English cousins (one I haven’t seen since 1988) for a lovely day of hiking and lunching and catching up.

Took the tube around London, including Camden Market, Regent’s Park and Tower Bridge. Went up inside the bridge and got a funny feeling in my tummy looking down through the glass floor.

Seven hour drive north to Ilkley in Yorkshire where we had a lovely cosy Airbnb. Hiked around Bolton Abbey, saw some of the cycling world championships, got absolutely soaked on a three hour hike up on Ilkley  Moor. After Yarndale, a 5.75 hour drive back south to Gatwick airport.

The island of Jersey in the Channel Islands (close to France) is where most of our family lives and I stayed with my mum and Tai Chi Man stayed with his dad. That gave us the most time with our respective parents. And one day was spent almost entirely with my sister, including lunch at a vegan restaurant and a walk on the beach with her dog.

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A successful trip, all went to plan, with the only travel hiccup being a three hour delay getting out of Jersey. But as we had split up the three flights home with a stay at a Heathrow hotel this time it wasn’t a problem.

We were happy to see so many vegan options in many places. Supermarkets and restaurants are now offering so much more than they used to, so finding food is easier than it ever was. We still mostly self-cater when travelling, but it’s good to know we won’t starve if we have to rely on outside sources. There was a lovely cafe in Ilkley called The Veggie, the Sinful Vegan in Jersey, tons of vegan places in Camden Market, and I can’t forget Ransom’s Garden Centre in Jersey which has so many vegan mains and desserts that it’s hard to choose. (I had the coffee walnut cake, which was so rich I couldn’t finish it all in one go and had to save some for the evening.)

So we’re back to our regular scheduled programming. We arrived home Saturday evening, and Tai Chi Man had Sunday in which to recover somewhat from the jetlag and was back to work Monday. Thankfully my schedule meant that I am not back to work until tomorrow, Wednesday, so I’ve had time to blitz the house and do some grocery shopping. I haven’t quite had the energy to get to the gym yet though.

I’m back to crocheting the Party Cardi (a video tutorial on The Secret Yarnery’s YouTube channel) now that I have had a delivery of two more cakes of yarn. My stashbusting for September was pathetic, with the only outage being some tiny pumpkins, and then of course the incoming yarn from Yarndale. However I have blanket plans, because there’s nothing better than a blanket project when the weather gets cold. What are your favourite blanket patterns? I have some Red Heart With Love (which will probably become a giant granny square) but also a tonne of random worsted and DK to use up. I need ideas!

 

Crazy wonky hippie scooby log cabin quilt

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It’s done! I have never been so glad to see a quilt finished. I really hope you have a better screen than I do. The photo was taken outside on my deck last night as the light was waning, and it looked pretty clear on my iPad, but now I’m looking at it on my laptop screen it’s a bit fuzzy.

To recap a little, the piecing went swimmingly. I collected up my fabrics, decided which ones I wanted to feature in the centre of the blocks, loosely decided which ones were “lights” and which ones were “darks” and got started. I used a white broadcloth (poly cotton blend) as the foundation for the blocks and used the stitch and flip method to add pieces from the centre out, sewing through both the cotton on top and the broadcloth behind. You end up with a messy looking block that miraculously looks neat and tidy once you trim the overflowing bits to the size of the broadcloth.

The quilt grew organically. I didn’t have much of a plan, didn’t know how big I was going to make it, or how I would arrange the blocks when they were done. In the end, I stopped at 25, bought some black cotton fabric for the sashing and binding, and arranged them so that the similar ones created a diagonal line. The Pink Panther ones were my main feature, I felt, so once I’d laid them down to form the main diagonal I added the camper vans, the Scooby Doo blocks, the crazy cats etc.

Separating the wildly coloured blocks with black sashing calms it all down a bit and makes the colours pop. After I had sewn the centre part of the top together, I noticed I had been careless and not lined things up very well in places. Hence the appliques using one of the fabrics that had cool cars, camper vans and scooters on it.

The border was easy as I had just the right amount of one of the coordinating fabrics to cut strips along the lines of the print. And then it was time to sandwich and quilt. I used a thin polyester batting. I’ve always used cotton before, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. And the backing is pieced from large chunks of the fabrics left over from the top.

All (mostly) well so far, right!

It’s been a long time since I made a quilt. I made a big swatch to practise my free motion quilting. I was rusty but I thought it would be ok. I started right in the centre of the quilt, and used the prints on the fabrics to lead my quilting. In one 1.5 hour session, I heavily quilted five of the blocks and used an entire bobbin of thread. I hated it. It was messy. SO messy. I mentally kicked myself. And then I unpicked every damn stitch. It took a couple of weeks, on and off. It wasn’t so bad where the black stitching was on a light background, but black on black just doesn’t agree with my eyes any more.

Finally, I was done and came up with a simpler quilting idea. Use the walking foot, NOT the darning foot, and quilt it with a straight line design. I worked out that a five pointed star would be ideal, as I could quilt it in an unbroken line and then stitch in the ditch around the edge of the block. I did that 25 times. It took a couple of sessions and looked much better than my original effort. Of course there was a lot of turning of the quilt which has its challenges when using a basic sewing machine with only a small area to work in. But it worked. I added a line of stitching on the outside edge of the black border strip and decided that would do.

I had JUST the right amount of black fabric left to cut strips for the binding (my math was good) but by this time my walking foot was driving me nuts. The screw holding it onto the shaft kept loosening, so it didn’t want to stay in place for long. The foot components themselves seemed to be too loose so I tightened the little screws either side of it and that caused it to shorten my stitch length and not feed the fabric layers through properly. So I had to unpick more stitches as I started to sew on the binding.

Eventually it was attached, and I decided to hand sew the binding on the back. But I didn’t make my life easier then, did I! What I SHOULD have done is trim the seam allowances a bit so that when I folded the binding over it was easy to sew it down. But my seam allowances were just a little wide and I struggled with it instead. Good grief!

So yeah, it’s finished. And the result is something I can live with, even though it’s not perfect. Let me tell you, it has not encouraged me to make another quilt any time soon.

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