Category Archives: daily life

And the heat continues…

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Regardless of the high temperatures and stuffy house, the crochet continues, because we crafters are always planning for winter!

The Habitat Cardigan is growing. The back section is about 14″ long now, so I’m over halfway done with the initial rectangle. I have one more colour to incorporate and then I’ll start repeating them.

When the back is 26″ long, I have to add a “tush extension”, a large collar, and cuffs, so I have a long way to go yet. It would be great if this cardigan could be finished by the end of August.

I was so overheated yesterday I went for a swim in the lake. It’s been a few years, I think, since I did that, and it was very pleasant. I think I shall have to do the same today. The housework is done (the vacuuming had to be done this morning before it was too hot), I need to make bread, and Mr Fixit and I plan to go to the gym later, but I’m sure I can fit in a quick swim too.

How’s your weekend going?

Summer heat

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Summer has hit with a vengeance and we are currently having a week of temperatures over 30 degrees (that’s 90 to you old-fashioned types). Today the analog thermometer outside hit 39, my car thermometer hit 36, and it made our house pretty darned uncomfortable. We don’t have AC, just fans, and we keep the windows closed during the day and open them up in the evening and leave them open until the next morning.

Me outside the tea shop with an unsexy sunhat, trying not to cook!

Luckily I had a small project to do in my sewing room this evening, and the basement is always a lot cooler than the main floor upstairs. We have…wait for it…BABY YODA fabric at work. I didn’t realise we had a range of the Mandalorian fabric until I was working the till yesterday and saw someone had bought some. I just had to buy a small amount to make a mask.

And while I was at it, I made a second mask out of some long-held stash fabric. Neither of the masks has interfacing, just two layers of cotton. I’m hoping they won’t be as hot as my other ones.

Isn’t it CUTE?!

I FINALLY learned that if I trim a little fabric off the top and bottom edges of the lining it sits better inside the outer layer. This is the Craft Passion pattern, cut men’s size, but shortened at the sides of the face. And with longer elastic this time, and cord stoppers for the back of the neck.

So what else have I been doing?

Loops & Threads Meandering Minis
Loops & Threads Meandering Serpentine

Pretty yarn! The bag is full of the Meandering Minis that I bought mid-2019 on a whim – a ‘clearance-yarn-fumes’ induced purchase from Michaels. I wound all the little skeins into balls and put them in a bag and browsed patterns trying to find the right project. Then one day recently I dragged Mr Fixit back into Michaels just for the heck of it and found the larger skeins of the Serpentine yarn – it’s exactly the same yarn/fibre content, but doesn’t match any of my minis.

However I bought 500 grams of it (yes, on clearance again) so then I had more options for what to make. I really wanted to make a garment – I don’t need more blankets or accessories – and I finally plumped for the Habitat Cardigan by Jess of Make & Do Crew (link to my Ravelry project page – do not click if you have problems with migraines or seizures as some people have reported such things since the roll-out of the new updated look).

It has grown a few stripes since this photo.

And I had forgotten that I sewed a little vinyl zippered pouch until I started picking photos to add to this post. This was a tutorial by Erica Arndt on YouTube.

Dodgy stitching – don’t look too closely.

I think that’s it for now. It’s almost bedtime and I can guarantee the ceiling fan is staying on again tonight. Have a great week, stay healthy, stay calm, stay comfortable!

The end of June already…

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The end of June already…

Hi, bloggy friends!

Wow, summer is one-third over and so far it’s been very comfortable, temperature-wise. In fact, we’ve had quite a few rainy days, including thunderstorms. I do prefer it when the thermometer reads less than 30 Celsius.

After I finished the baby blanket that I showed you last time, I had a bit of a slump, when I WANTED to be making something but couldn’t figure out WHAT I wanted to make. I have some nice yarns in the stash, fabrics too, but nothing was calling to me.

There’s been the extra stress at work – what with enforcing the customer limit and mask policy, and the volume of sales, and on top of all that trying to get everything ready for inventory, there have been extra hours worked and extra pressure on the staff.

This has made my days off even more precious and even though I have had an outwardly relaxing day today (baking bread and zucchini cake, crocheting while watching YouTube videos, prepping dinner) I can feel the tightness in my stomach and I am hoping a visit to the gym later will help burn off some of that feeling.

I did whip up a quick shawl. It’s a pattern I’ve used before – the Me Shawl from Clare at bobwilson123. Last time I made it, I did the popcorn/bobble border and it looked awesome but this time I wanted it to be quick and easy. So I ended up doing just row 1 of Clare’s Jessica shawl edging, which is just a simple shell.

I used Caron X Pantone Bamboo which I bought last summer. I bought very little yarn last year but this was from a trip to Michaels where I fell hard for three braids of this yarn plus some cute Loops & Threads Meandering Minis because they were on clearance. Each braid comes with 20 grams each of five colours and I had wound them into cakes some time ago. This shawl used ten of the small balls, so 200 grams in all.

It was nice to have yarn running through my hands again, but it was a super-quick project and now I need to find another one!

I am feeling a little discombobulated about something else in my life too. Ravelry has been a big part of my interwebs time for 12 years. I have over 700 projects recorded, my pattern library (admittedly quite small), my queue of things I’d like to make some day, my favourites, my stash and over 13000 forum posts on record.

I have invested a lot into Ravelry over the years, added to the database, linked my free patterns through the site, given tonnes of advice to people asking for help in the forums. It’s been part of my everyday.

But suddenly, Ravelry had a facelift. A couple of weeks ago, the look totally changed. It was all right, I suppose, though there were some things that were a bit annoying, like text not fitting into boxes properly, and other bugs. I thought, hmmm, ok, learning curve, I can get used to this. Then people started to talk about the problems they were having with the new version. Eye strain, headaches, migraines and even a few seizures triggered by something within the new design. Reluctantly, it seemed, the site owners gave us the option to click back into “classic” Ravelry, with a warning that it was temporary.

Now, I’ve never ever had a problem with any website before, but something about the new site bothered me. The turquoise boxes with the hard black drop shadows were glaring. I found that I was wanting to spend less time browsing the forums. I started to get headaches. Going back into “classic” didn’t get rid of the headaches. So while I’ve wanted to follow the discussions in the forums about the whole situation, I’ve had to pop in and out as quickly as I can. I have a lot of sympathy for those who are susceptible to migraines because some have had to stop using Ravelry altogether.

Yes, I know the site is free to use.

Yes, it’s up to the owners how their site looks.

Yes, I know I have a choice whether to use the site or not.

BUT Ravelry has prided itself on being inclusive in so many ways. Rainbow flags, Pride month threads, Black Lives Matter threads and donations. So why have they just taken a backwards step to make themselves LESS inclusive of people with visual/neurological issues?

There are many people online who are saying, “What’s the problem? I like the new look!” But those people are obviously not experiencing any new symptoms and have no empathy for those who are.

I am sad and annoyed and missing my usual dose of Rav. No doubt there is a reason for this new look and I don’t think it is just cosmetic. Some of it is to do with setting up the design for future development, but maybe there are other, as yet unannounced, plans in the pipeline which preclude going back to the old look.

Just in case, I have downloaded all my data from Ravelry – it’s all in raw form, and I hope not to ever need the contents of that file, but it’s my insurance!

Back to work!

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Back to work!

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Coordinating mask and hair!

I was called back to work last week. Almost all of our staff came in for two solid days and we hung plastic barriers around the till and the cutting tables, taped arrows on the floor, cleaned, tidied and organised our buns off. Sunday was a day of rest and reopening day was Monday (yesterday).

We don’t have to wear masks but I made myself an extra-special one anyway!

The first day back went well, with customers happy to see us open, and OK with waiting if there was already the maximum allowed in the store.

Since my last blog post, I have making, yes you guessed it, more bags. I’m afraid there has been no crochet or knitting. I had a bit of a repetitive strain pain in the base of my left thumb which was irritated by the blanket knitting. Instead I upcycled a couple of jeans pockets and some extra bits and pieces I had lying around.

After I took the photos, I added some turquoise stitching around the seamline, though I don’t think my machine is meant to be embroidering on multiple layers of denim. It doesn’t look as good as it does on thinner fabric.

I am in love with this bag that I made today. I sized it based on what I had of the fabric, bearing in mind the floral and pink fabrics were both left over from sewing garments.

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I added extra features like the detachable wrist strap and the keyring on the side of the inner pocket. It’s a big bag – about 12.5″ tall.

So that’s two more bags for the #dodgybagmal2020 that Ali of Little Drops of Wonderful is running this month.

FOs: sewn and crocheted

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FOs: sewn and crocheted

G’day all! I hope I find you well.

My 4S program is really helping to keep me moving. The Strength part has been a circuit that I’ve set up downstairs, with some music, and various exercises with dumbbells and bands and things. The Stamina is mostly walking, with some gardening thrown in. The Stretch is yoga, and the weather has co-operated so that I could enjoy some Sunbathing, in my swimsuit no less!

Some days, I’ve managed three out of four, though my goal is two.

I just realised Sewing is another S that I enjoy, and I did finish a couple more things today. These shorts…

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…are not something that I would be seen dead in in public! However I had this remnant and thought I’d try the “make a pair of leggings from a pair you already own” as per the Crafty Gemini tutorial. I made them as shorts because (a) it was just an experiment and (b) I only had a small piece of fabric. I must say, I was surprised with how well they worked out. My new sewing machine has a bunch of stitch options and I used a couple of the stretch stitches to put these shorts together. If this fabric was a lot sturdier and held in the <ahem> wobbly bits a bit better they would work as swimshorts and I could make a bikini top to go with them.

At least my old fear of sewing knit fabric is waning!

An old interest has been sparked again recently. I pulled out my quilting books, some of which are full of templates for foundation piecing. What this involves is tracing the outlines onto a sheer fabric, interfacing or tracing paper, or you can photocopy them from the book and use that instead. Then you place small pieces of fabric behind the paper outlines and sew them together, through the paper, in the order of the numbers on the paper. The paper is torn off at the end.

I thought I’d have a play with this rat block, to which I added fabric top and bottom and then turned it into a zippered pouch.

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This is a pretty sloppy effort! I’m not proud of it. The zipper seams are not perfect, the quilting lines didn’t stay in the ditch, and the part on the top of the head where it meets the ear doesn’t match up. I could blame getting used to the new sewing machine but I should probably just suck it up and take responsibility!

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I am happier with this result – the Loops & Threads Barcelona cowl/snood. The colourway is Lapis. It’s very muted but I do like the variations. The circumference is 29″ and the length top to bottom is 21″, which is long enough to be able to wear it as a hood.

And my other crochet FO:

Four little nesting pots or bowls, for which I have no plans at the moment. They could be used as mini yarn bowls, plant pot covers or just catch-alls for random bits and pieces. These used up some of my miscellaneous DK yarn that I’d wound into cakes using odds and ends of different colours. By using two cakes at a time and holding two strands together, the colours seem to work! And I like leaving the ends hanging, trimmed to a uniform length, for added quirkiness.

Well, I think that’s us up to date. I need to get a daylight photo of my knitted blanket to show the progress. Tomorrow, if I remember. Take care!

 

 

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.

Counting my blessings

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I’m feeling grateful today. I choose to be happy about this time off. How many of us complain about ‘having’ to go to work when we’d rather be doing something else? Now we have all this time – Google Calendar says I have no events, or it tells me about a shift I would be working, IF the store wasn’t closed! I am sleeping in late in the mornings. In the evenings, I think, what am I doing tomorrow? And I remember, oh yes, I have zero commitments. It’s very freeing, though I do understand that most of us do benefit from a little structure to our days and weeks to keep us on track.

I baked bread today. I don’t have a meal plan. I have the time every afternoon to decide what’s for dinner, based on the fresh food we need to use up, or what I have on hand. I have the time to pop down to my sewing room and spend some time creating something. I can take a walk or do yoga.

Today I clicked the video icon on a group chat on Facebook and got to talk to three friends, all at once, while we were all in our own homes. How brilliant is that?!

The two little purse/pouches above were made from two of Lizzy Curtis’s YouTube tutorials. Have you heard of her? She’s a Brit who sews, obviously, and she has some  nifty designs. These were both free tutorials. The fabric is from the pile I showed you on the 21st, some of my more recent acquisitions. And I got to use my new snaps and pliers set.

This is what they look like inside:

Quick and easy!

Today I made a less exciting, less pretty item. I was sitting outside with my cup of tea, a little chilly because the sun was barely out, so the sweater and socks stayed firmly on this time. I was looking across at the neighbour’s deck and a lightbulb went on in my head. I had this fugly fabric that Mr Fixit brought home not long ago, thinking I might be able to use it for something. In my recent clearout of my sewing room, I had decided to dispose of it. But wait! It is strong and durable and I can use it!

I measured the space at the top of the deck steps. It was about 36″ square. I cut a 40″ square, turned a two-inch hem, reinforced the corners, and cut a slit inside the stitching. Cut strips from the remaining fabric. Tied it to the deck railings and Voilà! A privacy shield and a little bit of a windbreak too.

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I do have a lovely view from my deck though this iPad photo came out really dark.

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Mr Fixit and I went for another walk this evening. Even though we’ve had some lovely sunny days, the air has been cool, and we still have to wrap up to walk in the evenings. Tonight I had my winter jacket on and a beanie, and for the first part (until I warmed up from the uphill striding) I was zipped up to the chin!

Looks like it’s time for a hot drink and another episode of Hinterland on Netflix. Keep calm and crochet on (or knit, or sew, or…)

 

Saying goodbye to an old friend

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(Have you entered my giveaway yet? It’s here and is open until January 21st, 2020.)

I had a call on Tuesday morning from a friend’s husband. She was in hospital, and knowing that she hadn’t been in good health or spirits for some time I called Mr Fixit and we arranged to go and see her in the afternoon. I almost waited until Thursday, my next day off, but I’m very glad I didn’t. We didn’t stay long – it was basically a Hello and an I Love You and a Goodbye – but I am grateful for the opportunity to have said Goodbye as she died that night.

We are, of course, sad to see her go. We will miss her terribly. But she was ready. She had made her plans, dictated her obituary, given her husband her computer password, etc. Much as we hated to lose our friend, an outspoken, encouraging, flamboyant artist and writer who was generous and grandparental with my boys, we knew it was time.

And life goes on. Specifically, the crafting goes on.

I finished this…

 

On my Ravelry project page, I called this Sunseeker on Maui. The yarn is Cascade Sunseeker, a cotton/acrylic with a teeny bit of sparkle (a multi, with pink and grey, and a solid). I made it up as I went along, using half doubles, singles and double crochets, and I ran out of yarn after single crocheting along the bottom edge. I did at least get to cover a few yarn carries where I striped the pink and grey for a few inches, but ideally I would have liked to have gone around the whole thing.

I’m now down to two WIPs, the knitted tube blanket (the colour options for which are boring me and I may let it languish for a while) and the Moe of Change crochet blanket, which I really need to persevere with as a friend is having a baby in the summer and it would make a great gift.

I have an idea for a good fundraiser for a local farm sanctuary and I bought a panel of fabric on Wednesday and some coordinating cotton so that I can make more project bags.

The plan is to use my collection of old jeans for the bag bases. With that in mind I made a trial bag today. I had to use a certain size square because the fabric has 9″ squares with pictures of cute animals on. I started out with two pieces of  camper van fabric from my stash, 9.5″ square, and the same size of denim for the bottom.

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I’m not particularly happy with how it turned out. It’s pretty and perfectly usable, but it’s disproportionate. It’s too tall, or too narrow, depending on your perspective. I boxed the bottom corners too deeply as well. I should have cut out a 1″ square instead of 1.5″.

I may have to see if I can make the animal squares rectangular (shorter vertically) without losing any of the words,  and boxing the denim corners more frugally should make the base look better.

Maybe I’ll make another tonight with different measurements. Glad I didn’t cut into the good stuff yet.

Mr Fixit had a nasty fall this morning when he went out to clear the snow off the driveway because of ice hidden under the new snow. Hurt his elbow and hip. The arm was numb for a while, then painful. So I cleared the drive this morning (in my Hello Kitty onesie for the amusement of any neighbours who may have seen me). Then I cleared the neighbour’s drive across the road. Thankfully it’s below freezing so the snow is light. It persevered most of the day, so after I returned from grocery shopping ds2 and I went out and cleared ours again. Then we cleared two more neighbours’ drives. So that’s five driveways, which are not small, and they are sloping, so I had a lot of exercise today. No need to go to the gym. My left rotator cuff hates me now. It was bad enough when I woke up this morning – I had probably been sleeping on it – and while I tried to remember to wield the shovel with my right hand in front it was still a challenge.

The Greek Potatoes have been baking for nearly two hours now so I need to go and throw together a Greek salad to go with it. This blog post got long, didn’t it!

Boxing Day

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And in the blink of an eye, Christmas is over!

After our big lunch out on Sunday, we had a very simple dinner on Monday. Tuesday was Christmas Eve and I had decided that that was going to be our main Christmas meal. So I cooked a lentil chestnut loaf, potatoes oreganata (sliced potatoes with oregano, sundried tomatoes and olives) and lots of roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower! We had apple crumble for dessert with vegan ice cream. And then the boys, Tai Chi Man and I played Cards Against Humanity. I know, very non-PC, but very funny, once you get over the fact you’re all mentioning body parts and unnatural acts in front of your parents/children. Our children ARE in their 20s now!!

Christmas Day was lovely and easy. I rustled up some blueberry pancakes around lunchtime, of which most of us partook. And Tai Chi Man and I went out for a neighbourhood walk in the afternoon. It’s been very mild around here, hovering around zero for some time, and there’s snow on the ground but no new precipitation for a few days. Dinner was equally simple, as I made a large fruit salad, which we ate with more vegan ice cream, and there was fruit cake for those who wanted it.

I baked a gluten free mince tart in the evening as I had a friend coming over for tea the next day. It seemed to work out okay.

And Boxing Day…another day at home. My friend came over for a cuppa and a piece of aforesaid mince tart, which was nice. I did a bit of tidying up, and some sewing on another project bag (#11 in the series). Dinner was shepherd’s pie and salad.

With the end of the year approaching, I am aware of my need to review. And the big pile of WIPs in the living room was begging for attention. So today I picked up the crochet granny blanket and added a couple of rounds of black and called it done. I needed a Finished Object and this is about 700 grams out of the stash. YAY!

It’s about 41″ square, and a good size for a lap blanket.

The centre is mostly different colours from the outer rounds because they were small scraps of yarn which I had to use up early or they wouldn’t have been enough to complete a full round. For the first time, I switched direction each round to avoid the skewing that happens in the centre of large grannies, and it worked well.

Now I am at the end of a five day stretch of no shifts, and I have work tomorrow. New sale, so my brain will have to be on full alert! And then Saturday, lots more cooking, as we’re hosting a potluck. Whew!

Christmas is imminent

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The 22nd, eh! Nearly there. The lead up to Christmas is always so long and drawn out, and then BAM! it’s all over. What with going away for a week earlier in the month, I am not feeling very organised as far as Christmassy things are concerned.

I did sew more bags – a total of ten so far – and gave two of them away. The tenth one is for me (and I spent a little extra time on it and added internal pockets). I have also invested in a big pack of batting from work so I am well set for bag padding for a while.

Today was our first “big meal” of the season, rather appropriately right on the Solstice. I spent the morning cooking cashew nut roast, sweet potato casserole, roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts, gravy, a large mince tart and a jam tart (to please the kid who doesn’t eat dried fruit) with coconut cream. I packed it up and we drove to our friends’ house and had lunch with sparkling apple juice and soy nog (which I am now calling Neggnog because there’s no egg in it)!!

We got the tree set up yesterday (there are benefits to buying it late; it was half price). It is beautiful and I will leave it up probably until mid-January!

My plan is to go all out on Christmas Eve, and on the 28th when we have friends over for a potluck, but the other days will be kept simple, because I don’t want to spend my entire days off cooking. I do still need to bake fruit cakes though, so that will probably happen tomorrow, after I’ve been to the gym.

I recently participated in a secret Christmas cracker swap in a British group on Ravelry. There was lots of amusing chatter about the relative size of different brands of toilet roll tubes. The instructions were to stuff a loo roll tube with a knitted or crocheted item, some treats, and  a cheesy joke, decorate it, and send it to your swap partner. The person who sent me a cracker was not the same person to whom I sent one.

I had a lot of fun thinking about what I would stuff into the cracker, and because my swapee likes owls I made sure to include a crocheted owl in the package. The joke above was one I found online (you may have to click to make the pic bigger to read it).

You’ll see from the photo at the very top that I wrapped my cracker in a piece of sequinned fabric which can be reused. I crocheted a gingerbread heart and a mini stocking, made some stitch markers and a beaded bracelet, and added some other little things that I managed to squeeze into the tube.

Now that everyone has opened their crackers, I can show you these pics, which have been lurking on my phone for a few weeks. In return, I received a cracker with a little knitted beaded sweater inside which I now have hanging on my tree.

It came with a joke and some stitch markers. Apparently there were supposed to be chocolates inside but they wouldn’t fit in the tube so my sender ate them herself! I was a bit disappointed about that. When I sent my cracker, I included some chocolate but just put it in the padded envelope alongside the cracker. Ah well! It’s not like I need the extra calories.

Some more fun mail arrived this week. I won a prize from Hannah of The Cozy Cottage Crochet. She has giveaways on her podcast all the time and I received these lovely cotton pastels from Paintbox Yarns. They are 50 gram balls, DK/#3 weight.

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Not great light at this time of the year, even right in the window facing south!

The cracker thing has inspired me to make one for each of my immediate family – there are five of us – and yes, I know I have left it to the last minute yet again. I need jokes (easy to find online), cash for the boys, and some small gifts which will fit inside loo roll tubes. And maybe some nice pieces of Christmassy fabric to wrap them in.

Those are my festivities so far. I hope you are enjoying this time of year, whether you celebrate the Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah or nothing. Stay warm, stay safe.