Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

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

Everyone needs a little tie dye

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Everyone needs a little tie dye

I love this fabric. When it came in at the store where I work, we all loved it. Tie dye on one side, stripes on the other. Basically a double knit jersey. Not too thick or warm, just right for when you need more than a T shirt but not quite a woolly sweater.

There were some flaws in the bolts, though. So they ended up as “damaged goods” and I got to bring some home.

I decided to turn this red/orange colourway into a top based on a commercial sweater I already own.

It has a pretty wide neck (too wide, really), set in sleeves, and a ruched section at the front.

When I folded it in half and drew around it on paper, I planned for the front and back to incorporate the sleeves so I didn’t have to cut them separately or sew them in. I curved the underarm to make a dolman shape instead.

I laid the paper on the fold of the fabric, and cut around it, adding seam and hem allowances.

Sewing the seams and hems was super easy. And the ruching was achieved by adding a long rectangle of fabric behind the left front, sewing along the sides and centre, threading the ties through, then sewing across the top of the casing to hold it all together.

I finished the neckline with a folded binding, but using it wrong side out, so it’s stripey rather than tie dye.

I wore it to work the next day, and I’m wearing it again today, accessorized with the shawlette I made with the stripes of pink, orange, lime and turquoise. Eye-popping combo!

Sunshine, sweaters and slapdashery

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Sunshine, sweaters and slapdashery

October has looked like this every day. Sunshine and blue sky. Nights are getting down to single digits but days are warm and we haven’t needed to turn the heat on yet.

This crocheted basket full of yarn is slowly being transformed into a sweater. I had 10 balls. The beanie took part of one. And I’ve just finished the yoke of the sweater and started the third ball.

The sweater, Sporto from knitty.com (link in previous post), is knitted from the hood down. The above photo was taken after the hood was finished and the stitches picked up for the yoke.

This is an in-progress photo from yesterday. Tonight I reached 292 stitches and a length of 9 inches from the neck. Time to try it on and see if I can divide for the sleeves next.

I’ve been watching The Coroner on Netflix which helped get me through those loooooong rounds.

The slapdashery part comes with these placemats. No fancy binding or careful stitching here. Slap them together with some batting, stitch around, turn right side out and topstitch. They are reversible for fall – orange gingham on one side, black on the other. And the free-form pumpkins are black thread on the orange side and orange thread on the black side.

I made 8 square placemats and had enough from a metre of each fabric to make a rectangular hotpad for the centre of the table as well. I used cotton batting and doubled it up for the larger one. My machine had a hissy fit when I tried to topstitch the first one so I had to fuss with the needle and the tension to get it to work happily and stop skipping stitches.

I think they coordinate well with my white harvest truck print fabric.

These Christmas-themed placemats went a lot quicker. I used a poly batting which was easier to sew, and didn’t add any extra quilting. The nine designs are all from a quilt cotton panel (last year’s stock so it was marked down) and the backing is a coordinate from the same range.

They would have looked a lot more professional with a contrast binding but I didn’t want to bother with that. More slapdashery!

I’m just happy to have spent some time communing with my sewing machine this weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m grateful that we are all over the worst of the covid and life is getting back to normal. I was back to work Friday, worked yesterday, will be there again today, and then I have three days off.

I don’t think it’s worth cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow because some of us are still tasting things weirdly, if at all. But I will sit down with pen and paper tonight and make a meal plan for the coming week in case I need to shop for ingredients.

This is what I made with the T shirt yarn that I showed you last time. I saved the prettier colours for the walls of the basket because that navy and tan is kind of ugly.

The handle is braided from the T shirt hems.

I will definitely cut the strips thinner next time for easier crocheting and a less chunky result.

And the swatch cap is finished and I’m happy with the gauge so I can cast on the sweater.

The sweater is Sporto https://knitty.com/ISSUEwbis11/KSPATTsporto.php and is a free pattern from knitty.com. It’s a top down seamless design, interestingly started from the top of the hood. It’s written for lots of options, either homespun or commercial yarn, a specific gauge or a recipe into which you plug your own gauge.

If you’re in Canada, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, appreciating all the joys of fall, family and food.

The plague has hit!

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The family was taken down this week. Oldest son was spared, maybe because he has his bedroom and bathroom downstairs. But Mr Fixit and the two younger sons and I all succumbed to covid so there has been a lot of sleeping, nose-blowing, coughing, etc happening.

Now that the headache has gone, and the cold-like symptoms mostly gone, the things I’m having the hardest time with are the sore mouth (a dry mouth and braces do not mix – I hate waking up to find my braces sticking to the inside of my mouth) and the loss of smell and taste. Sweet stuff started to taste bitter a couple of days ago, but now I really can’t taste anything. That’s a kick in the teeth!

We have all been doing what we can to rest and recuperate and after a couple of days of doing nothing I did manage to put some meals together, do some laundry, and knit a bit.

This is what Elizabeth Zimmermann would have called a swatch cap. I have a sweater in mind that I want to knit so I checked how many stitches were in the body for the 42″ finished size and it was 160. So I cast on 80 and am knitting a beanie which will turn out exactly half the circumference of the sweater. A useful and accurate way to check gauge! That EZ was a genius!

Please note I did not pay full price for that yarn. It was vastly overpriced until it went on clearance at 70% off.

The cowl I was crocheting in the last blog post has been finished for a while. I used up every scrap and it is the perfect length to double up around the neck. I think I may have to get more of this yarn (Lion Brand Mandala Ombre).

So far, three scrubby dishcloths have been made with the other clearance yarn I picked up recently. These are going to be made in between other projects, or if I need something portable.

I have made notes, and will write up the pattern one of these days.

Today I dug out some T shirts I was saving for T shirt yarn. I cut off the bottom hems and cut from bottom to armpits in a spiral to make long strips. I was pretty slapdash as usual and made the strips wider than intended but I think my crochet hook is big enough to accommodate the thickness.

I intend to make a crocheted basket and possibly braid the hems for handles. Not sure how to use up the rest of the pieces but I’d like to keep most of it out of the landfill.

I will show you the result later.

Happy pumpkin season!

I love fall!

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I love fall!

Reasons to love autumn/fall:

Not so bloody hot.

Nights are cool.

Evenings are drawing in.

Socks and sweaters.

Friends can come over and not die of heat exhaustion.

Rain (hopefully).

Long walks outdoors without burning up.

Fleece pajamas.

I could go on. I think September might be my favourite month.

I’ve made a few things in the last week. Some have been for work. I brought home a preprinted cotton  panel and sewed up these trick or treat bags. After I hung them up at work, the fabric sold in a flash.

Today I sewed these stockings from another panel and will take them to the store tomorrow for display.

The sewing pattern I mentioned last time has now been transformed into this:

It looks a bit disproportionate because it’s on a decorative mannequin which is way smaller than I am. But this one will return to me for keepsies once it’s hung at the store for a month.

From the pile of yarn I showed you in my last post, I made these:

A beanie of my own design and a teeny elephant  https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/amigurumi-elephant-25

To accompany these little gifts all the way over the Atlantic I cross-stitched another elephant and glued it to a card.

And from a <ahem> yarn purchase at work because it went on clearance, I have started crocheting dishcloths with a scrubby centre like the ones I made a while back. They are great in the kitchen.

I hope you too are enjoying the season you’re in and finding ways to get out of your head and into your hands, as Kate from The Last Homely House says!

Hats!

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Since getting back from holiday, there hasn’t been a huge amount of crafty activity. I did enjoy a day of blitzing my sewing room which I love to do periodically. It reminds me of what I have in the way of fabric and yarn. It makes me look critically at things I’ve hung on to for months or even years and so by the end of the day I had tossed a lot of stuff in the recycling or trash or thrift store pile.

I went through the fabric and yarn, rearranged things more logically, vacuumed into the corners, and now the room is ready for a new project.

The beanie above was made with a 10mm hook and three strands of the same Lion Brand Mandala Ombre that I used for the shawl. I made it up as I went along. I’ve made a tonne of hats in my time and the bill/peak was just a case of experimenting with what looked right.

When I was at work yesterday, business was a little slow in the pm, and my brain turned to things that could go on display. I checked with the boss and she was OK with me crocheting a beanie with store yarn.

Today being a day off, I had some quality sofa time and I had this made in an hour and a half.

It’s crocheted with a bulky chenille yarn and an 8mm hook and the pattern off the ball band.

Next up will be a sewing project. I have the pattern and flannelette fabric ready to make a knee length robe. The fabric is so cute.

The contrast is a solid blue. It’s still drying at the moment.

I just pulled out my Knit Picks Brava oddments from last year.

I’m wondering about some sort of scrap project or perhaps some amigurumi. You may notice my new knitting mug – it says “If I can’t take my knitting, I’m not going!” And the black blocky thing is my new Anker Bluetooth speaker. I wanted one for my phone but had no idea which one to get so took the recommendation of my eldest son who also has one.

I’m currently playing some awesome 80s music via YouTube music (free, so I have to put up with the ads)!

So that, plus work, is the last two weeks. Oh yeah, and I had a very fun meal out with friends for a belated birthday celebration.

The rest of the holiday

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I realised when I returned from holiday that I had blogged on Day 1 of my vacation (Saturday) and then went silent for two weeks. The main reason is that my father-in-law, whose house we were staying in, doesn’t have wifi and I generally had to keep my wifi time to essentials only when I managed to connect somewhere.

After I published that last blog post, things went pear-shaped. Westjet decided to delay our flight by 2.5 hours which meant that we missed our connection with BA for our transatlantic crossing. What followed was a major hassle as our travel agent tried to rebook us on the next BA flight to Heathrow the following evening but Westjet tried to get us booked via Toronto and Gatwick.

We ended up staying in the super-expensive Fairmont hotel, right in Vancouver airport, which we weren’t really able to appreciate fully as we spent two hours on the phone to Westjet to attempt to get back on the Heathrow route. I’m glad our insurance will cover at least part of the cost of the $500 room. Breakfast was $70 which thankfully was also ameliorated by the meal vouchers that Westjet gave us.

We hung around Vancouver airport all Sunday afternoon and went to the check-in desk an hour and a half early to be at the front of the queue, as we weren’t convinced that things were ok. The BA check-in person referred us to their ticketing person as she didn’t think it looked right either and he sorted it out quickly and we finally felt happy that we were actually getting on the plane.

Because of all the schedule changes and hassles, we ended up having no special meals reserved for us and were really glad we’d stuffed our faces with large Subway sandwiches before getting on the plane. My plan to wear an eye mask and earplugs worked well and I did manage to sleep a lot of the 9 hour flight, which is a first for me. My Fixit did get some sleep too, just not as much.

So, we arrived in Jersey on Monday, after three flights and an extra 24 hour delay, comparatively well-rested.

As I mentioned, we stayed at my FIL’s and we were able to borrow his car or be driven around by him. I spent some quality time with my mum and sister, and on the middle Saturday they threw a family birthday party for me as I turned 60 while I was there.

I ate some nice meals out and caught up with some old friends.

I swam in the sea most days – we had lots of sunshine – and I really enjoyed it. When I lived there I didn’t appreciate it as much. My sister has become one of those people who love to swim nearly every day and in most weathers.

The flights home ran mostly to schedule and the connections were pretty tight. It was a bit of a rush in Vancouver, as we had to clear Customs before getting to the Westjet gate, and we hadn’t been able to check in ahead of time, so again we were concerned we wouldn’t make the flight.

I will have to forgive BA the lack of a vegan meal as we were allocated seats in business class for the long-haul flight. Holy travel pods, Batman! How many times have we walked enviously through business class with their cool little pods with all the amenities and seats that recline flat for a proper sleep, and a quilt and a pillow and real cutlery and ceramic mugs for their fancy coffee, proper headphones, a little zippered pouch of eye mask, socks and spa products?! I followed my husband towards the economy seats and then he turned around and said the row numbers were going the wrong way and where was row 56? When we realised we were in Club World we couldn’t believe our luck. It felt like we had won the lottery!

And now we’re back, and back to work, and pretty much over the jetlag. A couple of mornings of getting up at 4am, and then I was back to my 6am starts. Still going to bed early though, as I find myself dozing off on the couch well before 9pm.

This is getting pretty long, so I’ll publish this and then add a second post with photos.

Day 1

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Vacation time!

Waiting for our first flight (of three) so of course I cast on my travel knitting project! A two row repeat, garter stitch, super easy!!

The other day I made a couple of tote bags which are for my father-in-law. He likes bright colours. Guys are often hard to buy/make for, but I think he’ll use these.

I have custom ear plugs for sleeping, which I use every night, so I brought those for the 9.25 hour flight across the Atlantic, and I felt that adding an eye mask might help me get some sleep. Usually I find it really hard to sleep on planes unless I’m exhausted, because you just can’t get comfortable in the cramped seats. Blocking out sound and light gives me a fighting chance.

I can’t remember which YouTube channel this was on but it was really easy to make.