Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

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

WIP Wednesday

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Well, I do have some WIPs to show you, but first I have a TA DA!

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The Granny blanket is done! This is made with rather a lot of Loops & Threads Impeccable in various colours (from stash), plus some vintage acrylic, plus some new kelly green Impeccable. The kelly green is there because this blanket is for my friend and she and her husband support the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team.

I gave it to her today and I think she is pleased! She put it over her legs while we were visiting.

Another smaller FO is this hat…

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Rather ugly, I think, in brown and gold, but it used up a lot of vintage acrylic! And I was happy to practise on some yarn without using the “good stuff!” This hat was made on my Bond knitting machine. It was just a long rectangle, half brown, half gold, which was seamed into a tube and cinched at each end, then you push one half of the hat inside the other and TA DA, a reversible hat that has a quadruple thick layer over the ears.

Now onto the prettier stuff.

I found this Christmas-inspired Bernat Pop! at Walmart recently and was itching to knit with it. So I started a fair isle hat using a chart out of my Alice Starmore Charts for Color Knitting book. I’m using two cakes, pulling one strand from the outside of one cake, and the second strand from the inside of the other.

I don’t claim to be particularly good at stranded knitting, though I have the technique down. One yarn in each hand, plus the catching of the floats, no problem. My tension, well, that remains to be seen.

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I just love the colours. So much more appealing to me than the standard red, green and white. The colourway is called Candy Cane. One pattern repeat done. The background will be changing to aqua in the next repeat.

I started another project today too. I am not usually such a prolific starter (I still have two other WIPs which have been neglected and I don’t like having too many on the go) but I wanted to take something out with me to work on that was restful and didn’t need much attention while I visited with my friends. So I started this…

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I made a scarf just like this last year so I looked up my Ravelry project page to see what hook size I used. One skein and a 6.5mm hook gave me a scarf 9 squares wide by about 60″ long.  This bulky yarn (Loops & Threads Barcelona) is pretty and soft and makes a lovely texture in the C2C stitch pattern. I think I may make a coordinating hat like I did with the other colourway last year. And perhaps pompoms at each end…?

Gotta run – dinner is nearly ready. Happy crafting, y’all!

 

 

 

FO update

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The granny blanket that I showed you last time has grown quite a lot but I don’t have an up to date photo. It’s just more of the same! The rounds get longer and looooonger and one starts to crave some immediate gratification from a smaller project – or three.

Also, a blanket project gets more unwieldy as it  gets bigger, which means it’s less portable.

The yarn I used for the fingerless mitts in the picture above is Red Heart Unforgettable Waves. I picked some up on clearance a long time ago and it’s been sitting patiently in the stash ever since. The colourway is Bazaar. It’s thick and thin (very much so in some places) but even though the really thick bits can present a challenge I was a little disappointed that the second mitt didn’t have as many of the bumpy bits as the first.

I didn’t use a pattern. I just chained 28, double crocheted 13 rows, joined leaving a hole for the thumb, then single crocheted around the thumbhole, adding some decreases where I felt they were needed.

I used another skein of the same yarn to make these gift card holders too.

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These buttons were perfect for the little cosies, and I’ve had them in the stash since I picked them up on clearance at work.

The final Finished Object for this week is this slouchy beanie, which on Ravelry I have called the Blah hat! That link will take you to my Ravelry project page for more info on how I made it.

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It’s Blah because of the colour, which is a bland beige vintage acrylic that I didn’t mind wasting in case my experiment didn’t work out. This is knitted on my Bond knitting machine, which I’ve had packed away in my craft room for a long time. I decided to set it up and have a play. The one thing the Bond does well is acres of stockinette. The ribbing is slow going as you have to latch up the purl stitches by hand. And decreasing for the crown of a hat is not the same as hand knitting one, unless you want to spend ages manually moving stitches over to different needles, so I followed a tip on a You Tube video to decrease across one row and cinch it up. It actually worked out well! The ribbing is stretchy, the top closed up nicely, it fits me (I had no idea what size it would turn out) though it is not a colour I would wear.

I also used the Bond to knit up a small cast-on hem, just to try it out, and next I need to make a longer one. The weighted hem that comes with the machine is as long as the needle bed, which is fine if you’re using a lot of stitches but if you just want to make something small then a shorter cast-on hem and smaller weights are helpful.

I have the next couple of days off and hopefully will see the granny blanket grow from its current size (about 48″ square) to 60″ though if I have enough yarn to go bigger I’d really like it to be 72″. Can you imagine how long it could take to crochet one round that’s 24 feet long? No, I can’t either.

FO: Dennis the Menace slouchy beanie

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FO: Dennis the Menace slouchy beanie

 

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This red and black striped slouchy beanie reminds me of Dennis the Menace in the Beano. When my sister and I were kids, we used to read the Beano and Dandy comics and when my co-worker asked if I’d make her a hat like this I was instantly reminded of Dennis’s sweater! She sent me a photo of what she wanted and I was able to recreate it easily as it’s just a basic hat, worked top down, in double crochet, alternating two rounds of each colour. There are a few rounds of sc at the brim, where I decreased and snugged it in so it would stay on.

The photo above was taken while the beanie was in progress. I was sitting in my favourite tea shop, on my own, with a Cowboy Fog (a latte made with a lovely tea blend which includes black tea, espresso beans and coconut flakes), my crochet project and my iPad. Pretty much my personal heaven!

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The rainbow slouchy hat in my previous post was the precursor to this hat. The second iteration is wider and longer and my friend at work is very pleased with it. We made a deal that she would buy the yarn, I’d keep the leftovers, and then she’d “pay” me with more yarn. Win Win!

I don’t often take commissions, and there are many many discussions online about how much one should charge for handmade stuff. I take each case on its merits. It depends on who’s asking (friend or random stranger), how they are asking (demandy-pants or not), whether I really want to make the item (a simple hat, sure, a blanket that’ll take up 100 hours of my time, no way) and whether we agree on what’s a reasonable deal.

So with that out of the way, I had an idea for another project, so I pulled out a bunch of worsted weight yarn and laid it out on the living room floor. I go through phases of yarn acquisition and stashbusting, and I am feeling the need for a stashbusting period. I tend to attract yarn donations from random people and it’s usually vintage acrylic. Time to use some up.

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The self-striping cakes at bottom right are two Caron Big Cakes, which I thought might be good to throw in to the mix. (Changed my mind on that.) My first idea was to quadruple-strand with a massive hook, and do a granite stitch (1sc, 1ch, sk1) but I didn’t like it. So now I am working up a simple giant granny square.

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I am using the kelly green every fourth round as I have quite a bit of that, with a dark green, brown, orange, rust, yellow, purple, blue and red. Of course my centre is skewing somewhat, which is typical of large grannies crocheted around and around, but I don’t mind. However I may try turning the work every other round on my next granny, because that’s supposed to maintain a perfect square. Of course it also make it reversible, though I’m not sure if my end-weaving is perfect enough to be invisible on both sides.

I have so much black and grey that my brain is working on the next blanket already. I’d like to make one in white, grey and black with small pops of colour. I will need to browse Ravelry for some pattern inspiration.

I just came off four days of work in a row. I worked  Friday to Monday, which was rather sad because it was Thanksgiving weekend and my husband was off work for three of those days and I barely saw him. Whilst I like my job at the fabric store and my co-workers, and now that I’ve been there four years I (finally) feel confident in my abilities there, I sometimes wonder whether it would be worth looking around for something I could do that didn’t involve evenings and weekends. Or is the grass just looking greener from the other side?

Talking of grass, my lawn has greened up beautifully with the fall weather. The cooler temperatures and rain have been very welcome. The squirrels have been busy collecting up my walnuts, though Tai Chi Man found three paint buckets-worth on the ground when he was doing yardwork over the weekend and brought them inside. For the first time in a few years we will actually get to eat some of our own walnuts! He dug the last of the potatoes and also rented this awesome gadget from the sprinkler store which meant that for the first time since we bought this house in 1995 we actually know where ALL the solenoid boxes are for the irrigation system. Some of them have been buried for a very long time, which makes it hard to fix problems.

My massive maple in the front yard is showing red this year for the first time. Previously it’s always turned yellow. Weird! And normally I like to see how long we can hold out on turning up the thermostat. I like to aim for the end of October. Well, forget that! This year we had the heat on at the beginning of October, just to get a bit more comfy in the evenings. I am really appreciating having a blanket project to crochet to keep my legs warm – it makes a big difference when you’re enjoying couch and Netflix time!

Guess I should get off this computer now. I have a little housework to do and a couple of errands, so I’ll wish you happy crafting and a wonderful week.

 

FOs: Rainbow slouch and marvellously fluffy cowl

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A common habit of mine is, after finishing a large project, to complete a few small projects for instant gratification. This hat is a typical example, though I had a reason for making it. One of my co-workers asked me if I’d make her a red and black stripey slouchy hat, and I wanted to give one a trial run.

I used this pattern (Ravelry link) and it was a quick and easy project. It’s somewhat snugger than my friend wants, though – she tried this one on so now I know to add some more width and slouch to make hers just right.

I used some of the leftover yarn from making the Groovyghan so I now have a hat that coordinates with my blanket. Perhaps I should keep it in my bedroom, next to the bed, for those nights when I just can’t get warm!!!

Another project that’s hot off my needles is this one:

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This cowl is made with one ball of Spindle Yarns Buttersoft, a faux fur yarn that’s new in at the store where I work. It’s our own brand and, OH MY, when my boss showed me the cowl she had knitted up I was motivated to make one myself. This yarn is so soft and the best of its type I have ever felt.

This cowl is just 42 stitches in the round on 10mm needles, stockinette (not that you can tell) and I turned it inside out when I finished it because I think the reverse side is even fluffier than the knit side. Cast it on yesterday, bound it off after work tonight. Gorgeous!

Next, the red and black slouchy beanie.

 

 

Ze Groovyghan! Eet eez done!!

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Ze Groovyghan! Eet eez done!!

I am so excited to announce that the Groovyghan, she is finished. Happy dance!

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I absolutely love it. Even though I was following a pattern I, like many others who have crocheted this beauty, made many customisations and ended up with a unique Finished Object.

The plain dot squares had appliques added, the 3D flowers were switched out for daisies, the vertical shell strip was replaced with a diagonal C2C strip, and the border! Oh, the border! I found a You Tube tutorial for a popcorn stitch border which I extended to include all 12 colours and I think it is my favourite part of the whole blanket.

That final popcorn round took two hours and twenty minutes! And the whole caboodle took me exactly a month from start to finish, with a lot of manic crocheting in between all my regular life commitments and a huge amount of weaving in of ends.

It was all worth it and now my bed is adorned with this colourful blanket. This is 1600 grams of yarn, approximately, and one day maybe I will make an even bigger version that covers my bed even better.

These are the best pics I could get because my hopes of taking it outside and getting some full daylight shots were scuppered by the rain.

Here’s a close-up of the border…

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Check out my previous post for a link to the pattern and my Ravelry project page for all relevant notes and links to the extra patterns I used and the You Tube tutorial for the border.

Groovyghan: finally looking like a blanket

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I’m a little disappointed that the above photo doesn’t seem very in focus – it looked a lot better on my iPad! I have more below which were taken outside on my deck which hopefully will be sharper.

Anyway, my wrist (that I broke in February) is feeling a little sore after a few days of manic end-weaving and seaming. I was just so excited to see it come together. Of course I still have to add a border, which I have been mulling over in my head every night as I go to sleep. And then it will get a wash and dry cycle to relax the yarn and smooth the bumps.

I made quite a few adaptations to the original Groovyghan pattern, including changing out the 3D flowers for daisies, adding appliques to the dot squares and doing a C2C strip instead of a shell strip.

I used turquoise to join all the parts together, using a crochet hook to slipstitch back and forth to make a kind of zigzaggy flat join that I really like. There was a bit of fudging here and there, but it wouldn’t be crochet without some fudging, eh!

Later on today I plan to use my yarn winder to cake up the messy yarn skeins, and then I will think about the border. My plan so far is to start with a round of single crochet in turquoise and after that, well, I’m not sure.

I have to say that for weaving in hundreds of ends you really need a good podcast to listen to, and for that I have to thank Rachel (who is EllieBeth, a “planner who hooks” and designs stickers for planners) for distracting me and making the whole task more pleasant!

My Ravelry project page is here.

The Ravelry pattern page is here, where you can buy this pattern.

I’m using a 6.5mm hook and 12 colours of Red Heart with Love.

 

Groovyghan: looking groovy!

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What a difference a few weeks make! I started this CAL on September 1st with all these lovely skeins of yarn. I had extra of three of the colours from a previous purchase. Now look at them, so depleted! Still a fair amount of pink and turquoise but the rest are starting to look skinny. 

This is what they have been turned into. A daisy strip, a granny square strip, a dot/applique strip, a stripe strip and a C2C (corner to corner) strip. The latter is not quite done. I have to make sure it is the right length before making the last corner. I worked both days this weekend so the evenings were perfect for watching podcasts and weaving in ends. Hundreds of the darned things! (No pun intended.) I still have about 150 left on the stripe section. 

Tomorrow I should be able to finish the C2C section and start crocheting the strips together. And then…the border!

Groovyghan: squares complete

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Last time, I showed you my dot squares and granny squares for the Groovyghan CAL. I also showed you four oddball squares that I thought I’d be including in the final blanket.

Well, things have changed. My brain has been going through various options but once I bought the pattern for the Charity Daisy square and crocheted one up, I was in love with it and wanted to make more. When you make your first daisy, you find it is difficult to figure out. I ripped back more than once. However there is a link to a video (which I didn’t use) if you need it. But when you figure out the unusual construction and see the finished result, it really is gorgeous.

My Ravelry project page is here if you want a close-up of all my individual squares. My final choice of squares is the seven grannies, seven daisies, and the seven dot squares BUT with appliques attached to each one to make them more interesting. There is a marijuana leaf, a mushroom, a tree of life, a peace sign, a heart (from one of the discarded blocks), a vintage camper, and a rainbow.

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Now I can move on to making the stripe strip which will be a welcome change from squares.

 

Groovyghan: great progress

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All of the home time has paid off. Yesterday I made all seven granny squares. I did all the round 1s first, then all the round 2s, and so on. I made sure that there were, for example, no round 5s the same colour. Each square is completely different.

Now that the dot blocks and grannies are done, I can focus on the remaining strip of seven blocks: the original pattern has flowers which are pretty but fiddly with their dimensional petals. And I have already experimented with these other squares.

I worked today but managed to get all my ends woven in (100 total for seven grannies) and tomorrow I can start playing with other squares.

Grooyghan: first blocks

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The cold that I caught on the plane home last weekend started out pretty mild, but on Friday I was at work and had to have a box of tissues and a bottle of hand sanitiser right next to my cutting station. I did my best  not to spread my germs! But on Saturday I woke up feeling way more congested – my head ached, my nose was running to win a marathon, and I let my manager know that I would not be making it into work on Sunday.

Thankfully I had the Groovyghan Crochet-along to keep me busy at least part of  the time. I completed seven blocks in the last two days, which depending on your personal output may sound a lot or it may sound like a little. Compared to some of the others doing the CAL, it is slow! But it’s not a race, and the first part of the CAL runs for three weeks and has you make the first seven dot blocks.

To make it a little more interesting, I am alternating my dot blocks and going off-piste with some ideas from YarnUtopia’s You Tube channel. Nadia has an amazing resource – a playlist of 365 Granny Squares that she published videos for back in 2016. For full details of the squares I have made from her site, I shall refer you to my Ravelry project page.

Four dot blocks done.

Three alternative blocks done.

My dot blocks are coming out at 8.25″ square so with the alternative blocks I am having to add extra rounds to make up the size.

As long as the yarn lasts, it would be great to make this Groovyghan larger than the pattern suggests. If I could make it big enough to fit my bed, that would be perfect. We shall see…