Category Archives: crochet

So excited!

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Guess what! I have a new sewing machine!

It’s a Janome 4120QDC and I bought it after a fair amount of research of brands and prices based on the features I wanted in a new machine. My basic machine that I’ve had for over 20 years is a Janome, and I’ve been thinking of upgrading for a couple of years. Of course, with most stores closed, I didn’t get to play with different machines before I bought one. I ordered this from a local quilt shop, e-transferred the money, and they called me a week later.

I have read the manual, watched the DVD (how old-fashioned!) and tomorrow I will test it out.

One of the things people are finding out right now is how high maintenance they are! Do you usually go to the hair salon every 6 weeks, do you get your nails done every month, get waxed, tanned, massaged, whatever? Well, with all this social distancing, we are having to be more self-sufficient. Luckily I have been cutting my own hair since Christmas. We have clippers, scissors and combs, and that’s all I need to give myself a short back and sides, a bit longer on top. In fact, after I’d done the 23mm job the other day, I went back over it with the 15mm. It’s SO tempting to just keep going and do the lot but I didn’t!

My nails are natural – they grow really well when I’m not working, though I still break one now and then, so they aren’t all even lengths.

And my hair, well, that hasn’t been a natural colour for a long time! When I cut it, the old colour was gone. And I actually quite liked it brown with a bit of grey. So I left it for a few days. But I had bought some more Manic Panic Flash Lightning and some Atomic Turquoise and Hot Hot Pink (thank you, Sally Beauty, for doing curbside pickup) so today I took the plunge and did my whole head!

It’s kind of a tie dye look, isn’t it!?

Yesterday I had a big sewing jag. I was going to make a bag, but instead got sidetracked looking through bits and pieces in my stash. And I’ve had these thin knits for years, bought when I was quite new to working at the fabric store and this stuff was $3 a metre and I bought far too much of it in three or four colours.

I finally feel like I made something worthwhile out of it.

The skirts are simple rectangles with elasticated waists, with a half lining inside in the same fabric. I didn’t even neaten the hems. And the PJs are from a self-made pattern from an old pair.

The tie dye skirt is a rayon fabric that I recently brought home.

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I used the fabric sideways because I needed the extra length to fit around me with enough to spare, and that also meant I could use the selvage as the hem without sewing. (Can you tell I’m a lazy ass sewist?)

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This is my batik stash. I had them all in one drawer. The small messy pile is made up of leftover scraps but the other pieces are good sizes. The turtle ones, second from left, are half-yard cuts from a quilt shop in Maui. After I laid them out, I washed them on cold, hung them to get mostly dry and ironed them. They are now neatly folded and back in the drawer. Yes, the untouchable part of my stash! You know that feeling, saving it for ‘best’, like precious yarn, or the good china!!

And finally (at last, I hear you say) here’s my finished Cakes Two to Tango shawl. It took almost two complete cakes of Lion Brand Mandala.

I love it and want to make another someday.

WIP: Cakes shawl

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I am loving the way these two cakes of Lion Brand Mandala are playing off against each other.

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I have a teeny regret that in the first part I used three small balls of yarn that were separated from the original cake and I feel I should have put them in a different order, starting with lighter pink then going darker (at the top there, against the green). I prefer the stripes that visibly segue into the next colour rather than a hard colour change. But I can see myself making another of these.

I am almost finished with the cakes, but have to remember to leave enough for a picot edging.

I have also made another bag, what I call my Quadrant bag. This is the third one, and it’s 3″ taller than the first two. Did I say how much I really dislike sewing circles and cylinders together? Oh yes, multiple times!!

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And I wasn’t going to make any more masks, but the people at my favourite tea shop think that they may only be able to stay open if they wear masks to work, and commissioned me to make them some. They paid me in tea!

This bamboo flannelette print is just perfect for them.

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It’s been an absolutely beautiful day. Sunny but still with a hint of coolness. Mr Fixit and I went on a totally essential trip to a plant nursery to buy new plants for the garden!

It was nice to get out of the house and a little further afield than I have been in weeks.

And we had a wonderfully simple but tasty dinner of bannock, vegan cheese (Daiya Smoked Gouda, mmmmm), olive tapenade and a huge salad. Feeling blessed and replete!

 

 

What happens when you….

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….cross a Gnome and a Troll?

You get this:

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This pattern is called Cakes Two to Tango and I found it on Ravelry. It’s a free Ravelry download and it uses two cakes of colour-changing yarn. Of course I still had some Lion Brand Mandala in the stash, and I put two together that I wouldn’t normally have combined – but I’m loving the result.

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Gnome left, Troll right

The stitch pattern is easy peasy – just sc1, ch1 – which I think may be called granite stitch or something like that. Of course the rows get longer and longer as you go, but with the colour combinations changing all the time as you crochet through the cakes it keeps things interesting.

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I did some yardwork today. Mr Fixit was outside planting potatoes and I did some pruning of roses and pyracantha, and pulled out some dead stuff from one of the beds. Afterwards, I sat on the deck in the sunshine, and ds1, who just turned 28, was building this:

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You’re never too old for Lego!

 

Full moon, face masks and a finished object

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I don’t know whether it was the full moon or not, but I was wide awake at 4.30 this morning. So was Mr Fixit. He is frequently wide awake at odd hours but usually I sleep like a log. However this morning we were both up before the dawn.

I was in my sewing room by around 8am and back to sewing face masks. A friend had requests to supply some and she didn’t have time to make enough so she sub-contracted a couple of us to help out. These ones took me two days to finish. Yesterday I did all the cutting out and fusing of interfacing, which was made more enjoyable by the fact that five of us had a video chat while we were sewing in our respective homes. I went back after dinner to do more, but had the hardest time getting the construction right because, whilst it was the same pattern as the previous batch, I was including the wire for the nose shaping and it wasn’t going well. I was headachey and frustrated and gave up in disgust.

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I even dreamed I was sewing masks!

Today, thankfully, it all went a lot more smoothly. I found that my regular sewing machine foot worked best to zigzag over the wire to hold it in place, and to topstitch sufficiently close to the wire once everything was turned right side out.

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Someone’s coming over to my house (well, the front door step anyway) tomorrow to buy some of these. I have to say, I have no plans to make more. Whilst there are some people who are making hundreds of masks at the moment (and making hundreds of dollars too) I just don’t have the stamina.

I finished the beanie too…

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I’m really pleased with the fit of this, and wrote down how I made it in the notes on my Ravelry project page so I can recreate it later. Worked top down, it’s just double crochet with a 5.5mm hook, and then some rounds of front post/back post double crochet with a 4.5mm hook to make a snug brim. Hopefully my friend will like it.

Today was our warmest day of the year so far. I did manage to squeeze in a bit of sunshine toward the end of the afternoon and even ate my (home made) pizza sitting outside on the deck. I would have expected my neighbourhood to be pretty quiet but no, there were lots of vehicles around, motorbikes roaring up the main road, neighbours talking loudly, music, and honestly you wouldn’t have thought that this Easter weekend was any different from usual.

As Easter = chocolate to me, I shall have to walk up to the store for some essential supplies tomorrow!

 

Sewing with a purpose

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Sewing with a purpose

As you know, recently I have been sewing up a storm because, well, you know, the disease-that-shall-not-be-named has created a temporary cessation of my day job. And I’ve never been so grateful for a stash in all my years of knitting, crocheting and sewing!

So what have I been doing since we last met? I made a second one of these:

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While I constructed this I took progress photos, optimistic that I had the math worked out and I could quickly get to the job of publishing the tutorial. Well….no. At least, not yet. I was about to sally forth and make Mark III but was sidetracked by a request from a friend. One of our mutual friends has recently had major surgery and so a group quilt is underway, as is a crocheted beanie and some face masks for the times that said friend has to go into the hospital for follow-up visits.

My contribution to the quilt (with materials partly my own and partly my friend’s) is this:

The beanie, after false starts with different yarn, different hooks, pattern or no pattern, is in progress:

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This is one of my souvenir balls of yarn from Yarndale – Louisa Harding Giardino in the colourway Lily del Valle. It’s a DK weight cotton/acrylic blend. It doesn’t need a fancy stitch.

And then my thoughts turned to masks and synchronistically a link on my Facebook feed provided the perfect pattern. I started making them and then suddenly I was getting requests. So far I have made 13 – I am saving one of the snowboard ones for Mr Fixit, but the other 12 have been claimed by a friend who works in the hospital (admin, not front line). I now need to make a few more,

though once my bias binding and elastic run out I shall have to be inventive about ties. I am also using a medium weight fusible interfacing on the outer layer for more structure and filtration properties.

This period of extended home time will be remembered for the hours of sewing and pounds of bread baked!

 

Ups and downs

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Yesterday was a lazy day – yes, even lazier than most during this time of social distancing. I didn’t really get much done. I sat outside for a while but, even though the sun was out, the wind was cold, so I had a knitted blanket wrapped around me. Mr Fixit was busy tidying in the garden, and making a noise with the wood chipper for part of the time. I didn’t feel like joining in!

I did finish this crochet cowl over the weekend though.

And another small SockSack, this time with some sew-in fleece incorporated for extra squishiness. I do prefer the softer result, compared to the crispness of the fusible interfacing.

Today, I was much more motivated. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Mr Fixit was at work, and I tend to get more done around the house on a weekday. I made a list. Vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, watered plants, made bread, did laundry. That felt good. I do love crossing things off my To Do list!

This evening I went downstairs and made a simple drawstring bag. I used a tutorial from sewingtimes’ YouTube channel which was really easy and a slightly different construction from ones I’ve seen before. I like it!

I had to adapt it slightly as my fabrics were both one-way prints. It would have been even quicker to make otherwise.

And this little bucket/box/container whatchamacallit is cute! It’s from a Lizzy Curtis tutorial – she calls it a gift box and suggests filling it with edible treats.

I had to unpick the first attempt at topstitching but the second time seemed to go well…until I looked at the bobbin thread side and realised it had gone all loose and horrible. Pro – the loose stitches are on the denim side which can’t be seen if I fold it as above. Cons – if I want to have the butterflies on the outside and the denim on the inside you’ll see the crappy stitches, and it’s not good enough for gift-giving. Darnit!

What creative things are you doing to save your sanity right now?

Craftivity

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Craftivity

Titles are challenging, sometimes, but this word, Craftivity, popped into my mind as my fingers were poised over the keyboard.  Not an original word, probably, but it describes the way I am making the most of the extra time at home. A little knitting, a little sewing, a little crochet.

I started a new crochet project yesterday. I felt it was time to start using some of the “good stuff” AKA Universal Yarn’s Cotton Supreme in the most spring-y Eastery colours you can imagine. After a bit of Ravelry browsing, I decided on the Spring Blossom Cowl (Rav link to pattern page). It looked perfect with its four colour-blocked sections, though my plan is to make it a bit longer so it’ll double up around the neck. I am using my Addi Swing hook, size 5.5mm, and started out with fewer chains because I thought it’d be too wide. Well, after a few inches, I noticed it had shrunk somewhat widthwise. Oh well, I’m not frogging it now. My plan is to do about 12 inches of each colour, then join the ends together. It’s a pretty stitch, and the yarn is nice and soft.

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I have also made myself a sweatshirt-type top using a McCall’s pattern that I bought from work. It’s probably intended for pyjamas, as the pattern includes instructions for leggings, a top with two different length options, two different shaped hem options, and either a hood or cowl neck. The leggings can be made with long legs or as shorts. And there are some cosy slippers in there too. I chose the option with the shorter length, curved hem and cowl collar and left off the kangaroo pocket. (This fabric is quite thin and I didn’t want to drag it down with a pocket. If I make this again in a thicker fleece, I will probably add the pocket.)

The fabric is cool – it’s tie dyed and because it’s double knit it has stripes on the reverse.

I didn’t make any effort to place the colours in a certain position, though I would have liked the deep pinks/blues to have been more prominent. Still, it came together easily, I took my time, and best of all IT FITS!

I have spent a little time each day sitting on my back deck with a cup of tea to absorb some spring warmth. The laundry is up to date, my bathrooms were cleaned yesterday, my half of the built-in closet in our bedroom has been sorted to accommodate the warmer weather, and I am rather enjoying the relaxed schedule. Though, as we all know, there is an underlying tension to everything we do as we wonder how long this odd state of affairs will continue.

I had a couple of video chats via Facebook Messenger yesterday – one with a friend in Germany and a second with a couple of friends who just live down the road. So glad we have ways of keeping in touch. FB, Google Hangouts, Zoom … lots of options for video conferencing.

I even had a Zoom chat with Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats on Sunday, along with some of her other Patreons. She has been recording a daily vlog to chat about how things are developing in the UK along with her daily activities like yarn dyeing, home cooking and crochet.

I hope that you are finding ways to keep calm, stay healthy and relieve stress.

Another happy Sunday

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I feel very lucky to have had two weekends off in a row. This is unheard of! Not sure what happened with the shift scheduling, but I’m not complaining.

The narcissi that I bought last week are looking beautiful. Seven yellow flowers have appeared since I bought some plants last week. The hyacinth is growing but not showing any colour yet, and the violas have one more teeny tiny flower. Meanwhile, outside it’s been SNOWING!

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Both yesterday morning AND this morning we had snow. And fog. And sun. A bit of everything, really. Interesting weekend! Suffice it to say, it’s not spring yet.

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I don’t think I showed you this – it was a crochet pattern test for Hannah of The Cozy Cottage Crochet podcast. It’s a very comfy beanie that has a bit of texture and she has written it in four sizes and in three levels of slouch. This is the second pattern of hers that I have made and she makes sure that her patterns, which are paid for, are very clear and comprehensive. This is the November¬† Sky Beanie, but it’s not released quite yet.

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Another FO in the last week is this C2C crochet cowl. It’s long enough to loop around twice and used up a satisfying amount of Bernat Pop yarn. There was a little left which I have put in the bag with the knitted stashbusting blanket (which I haven’t worked on in ages).

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We had a potluck to go to today, a regular date with the same group of friends, and we take turns hosting. We always have fun, eat too much, and usually either play games afterwards or go for a walk. Unfortunately our host today felt like he was getting a migraine after lunch, so we left him to get some rest and headed home. I had some quality time with my sewing machine during which I ran up a quick little backpack for a certain little girl in my family. It’s hard to know how long to make the straps when the girl in question lives a long way away, so hopefully it’ll fit okay.

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I also made this very slapdash zippered pouch with a clear vinyl window in the front. This was probably my least stressful experiment with vinyl so far! Yesterday I watched a WhitneySews video on YouTube for making an I Spy bag. It’s very similar to this, but it’s sewn up instead of having a zipper. You fill it with rice and small trinkets for kids to find through the clear window. Nice idea but a bit heavy to mail. I considered sending one without the rice and getting them to add it at the other end, but then it could be too easy for the zipper to open and let the rice fall out. I shall have to think on that.

I’ve had a couple of very early nights and this is probably going to be another one! And tomorrow I really need to go to the gym and start making a concerted effort to burn off what I have been calling my “winter tires” – and I’m not talking about the ones on my car!!!

 

 

 

Oops!

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I have been neglecting you, dear blog. That’s what happens when my yarn activities are slow. I don’t have many FOs to show off. Except I have been sewing, so I really have no excuse.

The above photo is my mindless WIP, a C2C scarf/cowl, depending on how long the yarn lasts. I’m finishing up a couple of colourways of Bernat Pop! I added to it this morning while enjoying Assam tea at my favourite tea shop.

It was a lovely day, and we prefaced our tea drinking with a walk around the downtown area. Afterwards we popped over to a local plant nursery which is already open, and I bought some narcissi, a hyacinth and some violas (Johnny Jump-ups, my favourite). Obviously it’s not warm enough yet for plants to be outside, so I watered them and placed them slap-bang in the middle of my dining room table, and every day I will be enjoying the anticipation of their blooms.

So, the sewing. Yes! My Espe vegan leather backpack and wallet were wearing out. I had used them constantly for, perhaps, a year and a half. I decided that rather than buy a new commercial handbag and wallet I would make my own. I spent some quality time with a notebook and pencil and then dove in.

Even though I had made a design plan, it was still evolving as I worked with the fabric.

I am pretty pleased with this, though now that I have started using it I am finding it could do with a couple of tweaks. I am waiting for some snaps and pliers to arrive from an online order, so I’ll definitely add some snaps when they get here. My plastic cards could use something to keep them from sliding about in there, so I may add another snapped tab somehow for those. There are three zipper pockets in the wallet, the smallest of which is perfect for my gym pass and padlock. (I am getting quite good at inset zippers now.)

And this is my new handbag, made from crane/cherry blossom quilting cotton (and a coordinate) and denim from an old pair of jeans. This has an inset zipper pocket and a patch pocket too. The latter is great for my cellphone as it slips in and out easily. It is roomy enough to carry the essentials plus a small yarn project. I checked the maximum size that Air Canada allows for a personal item (vs a carry-on bag) and made sure it wasn’t bigger.

I’ve been using it for a few days now and I’m glad I added a couple of loops in the inner side seams, because I can attach my keys to the loops for ease of finding. I also added a dangly beaded zipper pull for easy grabbing.

I’m still spending far too much time watching bag tutorials on YouTube! Even the Japanese ones. They actually are easy to follow, with their measurements and minimal English words on-screen, despite the language barrier.

I hope you have been enjoying some crafty time too.

 

Sewing party

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Sewing party

Yesterday was a great day! Three of my friends came over and brought their sewing machines, tools and fabric so we could make bags. We had decided to make the Continuous Zipper bag from the tutorial by Lorrie Nunemaker and the Easy One-piece purse with popper by Lizzy Curtis.

There was a lot of chat, a lot of sharing of tips and techniques, lots of good food, and fun was had by all.

My makes:

I just love the fabrics I used from my stash. The first purse was the maple leaf one and started out with a 6.5 inch wide piece of fabric. The second one used an 8 inch wide piece and I think it is more practical as you can fit bank notes into it. I am sold on the snaps and now want to get myself a kit so I can make more purses.

Today is a public holiday – Family Day – and is a quiet day Chez Nicolaknits. All five of us are home and are going out for supper later. My sewing machine called to me again so I made another continuous zipper bag using some batting inside instead of interfacing.

I’ve had this fabric for years. It’s cute!

Another idea I wanted to play with, because it was keeping me awake last night when I should have been falling asleep, is a bag with a front made up entirely of zippers. I had a few lying around, so I seamed them together, cut a piece of jeans leg to add to the top, bottom, and back, and added belt loops.

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The front bows out because of the zippers, but that’s not a bad thing. You can access the bag using any of the zippers. I was thinking that if I used a long zipper, I could use any trimmed lengths as well, even if they didn’t have a pull. But in this case they were all short.

In yarny news, I finished the mindless crochet project, which is a yarn cake holder for a friend who just bought a ballwinder. Having the cake corralled makes things much easier.

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And the double knitting project has grown a little. It’s slow going, and there are many mistakes because I’m still learning, but when I manage to get in the flow I enjoy it.

As you can see, the back is a mirror image of the front. It’s double thick. Ampersand Dragon

Hopefully your Monday was a good one. Talk to you again soon.