Category Archives: daily life

Back to crochet

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We had a slight digression there, while I reblogged Boats of Oats’ vegan posts, and even had a bit of a crochet hiatus. I think there was a three-day chunk of time when I didn’t pick up a hook! Incredible!!

However, we are now back to your regular scheduled programming, and here is the pile of little hats. All twenty of them.

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I used some yarns that were languishing in the craft room, miscellaneous ones that weren’t bringing me joy. (Maybe it’s time to clear out à la Marie Kondo?) Various yarns, various hook sizes, various methods. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s nearing the time when my friend needs them so she can pass them on to her friend with the Swaziland connections.

And now to move on…

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This bag full of beach-inspired colours is the Coast Colour Pack, originally put together by Lucy of Attic24. (That link will take you to her home page – there is a link to her ‘store’ at Wool Warehouse, and also in the right sidebar if you scroll down you will find a link to her Ripple blanket [Coast].)

Fifteen skeins of Stylecraft Special DK, which I bought probably a couple of years ago now with no specific plans in mind. But I’m a bit blanketed out, if you know what I mean, and I really want to crochet myself a sweater. I’ve never done that before. There has been quite a bit of mulling, agonising, swatching and pattern-browsing, trying to find that perfect design that will work with multiple colours without me looking like a circus clown. (Oh, wait, I already made the granny square coat, so what am I worrying about?!)

I did find a lovely design at DROPS, though their patterns can be quite challenging to follow, or so I’ve heard. However I am stealing their construction idea. Make two large squares for front and back, add bits at the top for shoulder shaping, and add sleeves. With that in mind, I found this – the Big Gypsy Flower Square – which has been in my Ravelry queue for some time. I love the look of this square and decided to use it as the centre of my sweater front/back. Using doubled yarn and a 6mm hook, because I’m impatient and don’t want to fiddle with one strand and a skinny hook, I made this progress last night…

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It’s pretty, huh? Round 5 caused me grief, as I think the designer may have added an extra stitch in when typing up the instructions. I wasn’t getting the right stitch count and my corners were ending up in the wrong place, so I ended up removing one of the scs from the middle of the straight edges.

That last (sixth) round is khaki green, though it looks browner in the photo.

Anyway, there will be 14 rounds total, but I think I’m going to have to do a lot of extra rounds to achieve a sweater width, but this is a ‘design-it-on-the-hook’ sort of sweater and we shall see.

In other news, I had a haircut this week and I bit the bullet and went with an idea that’s been in my head for ages – an asymmetric style that scared me a little but I did it anyway. Hair grows, right?! I gave the hairstylist free rein, after a brief explanation, and I love it. It’s not a drastic difference – my hair is really curly when short, and so now the left side comes to just below my ear and the right is at chin level. No, I don’t have a good photo.

I also treated myself to a Fitbit Flex 2, which is one of the less expensive gadgets that one can wear on the wrist to track activity. It is waterproof, so you can actually swim in it. Time will tell if I actually pay attention and up my step count. I’m not sure how accurate it is – the first night, it got my sleep time right, but the second two it was way off. But anything that gets me more aware of my sedentary habits and getting more exercise has to be good. I’m thinking of bringing the small rebounder upstairs and getting more steps in that way. Plus the weather is getting milder and walking when there’s less ice on the ground is more enjoyable!

Better run – Tai Chi Man and I are planning to go out this morning and I’m still in my PJs. Enjoy your Sunday. 🙂

 

 

A hatty sort of week

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The little stack of hats for Swaziland has now grown from four to fourteen.

I think I should just stick to the regular hat shape if I make more of these, because the square ones are sort of naff!

Since the BIG project was finished, it’s been a relaxing time of churning out these little hats each time I picked up a hook.

And there’s been another hat – an adult-sized one for a co-worker’s husband.

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This is a very manly hat using James C Brett Marble Chunky in MC59. Shades of brown and grey. The pattern is my Adjustable Crochet Hat (crochet hat recipe) pattern without any embellishments, and with an sc round at the end, and a 6mm hook.

We’ve had quite the snow build-up this week. Today it’s milder so we’ve had some melting, but for a few days it was shovel, slither and slide.

Yesterday I had a plan to go to a friend’s house for some energy healing, and I wanted to do some errands, like Costco, that I plan for when I go across the lake, but I did wonder whether I should just stay home. However I did venture out, and as long as I was careful not to accelerate or brake too sharply I mostly maintained my traction!

I’m having a blissful day at home today – a friend came over and we drank scads of Yorkshire tea and got out our knitting and crochet and put the world to rights (well, at least our corner of it). Now I should probably get off my arse and go and bake a pineapple upside-down cake, because it’s on the meal plan, and leaving it until the last minute is not a good idea if we want to eat it for dinner. Probably should prep the shepherd’s pie too.

I hope you’re staying cosy in your part of the world. Happy crafting!

FO: Facets cowl

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Good morning! This is an expected morning at home. I missed a call from my manager and showed up at work at about 9.15 expecting to start at 9.30 and she asked if I could do a 1 – 9pm shift instead. Someone who’s due to work this evening is sick and they need an extra body for the evening. So as I only live 5 minutes away, I readily agreed. In fact, I took the opportunity to try out the car wash that opened not long ago, just across the highway from the store, and I now have a white car again! It was fun. The car’s wheels get pulled onto a track that takes you through at just the right speed, so all you do is sit there and enjoy the ride. They also have vacuums you can use so that your mats get the treatment too. It was minus 11 Celsius while I was out there, so I had to keep my two pairs of knitted mittens on, and also be really careful not to slip on the ice underfoot.

The cowl that was a mere WIP last time I posted is now an FO. I didn’t actually finish the two skeins of the Loops & Threads Facets after all. The person at work who is sick is a great lover of turquoise and lime, just like me, and I know she will love this cowl. So I measured it and it was 27″ long and just right for a single loop cowl. All it needed was a single crochet seam across to join the two ends, and voilà!

 

The photo on the mannequin head shows the colours well, but the whiteness of the styrofoam is a rather glaring. This Agnes Lace Cowl used 130 grams of the yarn and an 8mm hook, the circumference is 27″ and the depth is 10″.

I could easily make a bunch of these. The stitch pattern is so easy and with the bulky yarn it grows fast. Maybe this would be a good stashbuster project with multiple strands of yarn (brain is ticking away here but at the same time telling me I should keep going on the baby blanket). Speaking of the blanket, I have now finished row 4. I decided last night that my studies could wait and that I would focus on the blanket while watching Netflix. Have you seen No Tomorrow? A fun series with an important underlying message – seize the day!

Time to go and have some soup. Have an awesome weekend with lots of warmth and crafting.

 

 

The aftermath…

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Well hello folks. I hope you have had an enjoyable few days. If you celebrate Christmas, I trust your day was awesome, filled with family fun, good food and warmth.

Christmas Eve was a quiet one, with my commitments including bread-making (so that I had wholewheat and white bread for the Brazil Nut Roast the next day) and pastry making (again for the nut roast). I did a quick search online for rough puff pastry as the commercial frozen pastry has crappy ingredients, and I found this one which turned out brilliantly. Making it a day early and refrigerating overnight probably helped it to be flaky and delicious.

Christmas Eve dinner for the five of us was a very basic nut roast made from almonds, cashews and pecans, plus scalloped potatoes from a recipe from the very wonderful Silver Hills vegetarian guest house recipe book, and salad. I got a bit carried away and made two desserts from the same book – a pear coconut pie and chocolatey pecan squares.

Day 1 – stuffed!

Entertainment involved watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (creepy, Jack Skellington reminds me of the pin men on an old British TV show that gave me nightmares) and Cards Against Humanity, played in front of a real fire for a change.

Christmas Day morning was relaxed as we decided to have dinner rather than lunch as we planned to go to the movies to see Rogue One in the evening. I crocheted most of these slippers that day, which I am very pleased with…

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They have non-slip fabric on the bottom which I bought from work. These took most of a skein of Red Heart With Love in Mallard, two strands held together, and a 7mm hook. The pattern is Slipper Boots by Erika Knight. It is an ingenious design, easy to understand and execute. I think it will be simple to adjust it for bigger feet too and I’m thinking of making another pair for Tai Chi Man’s uncle (he visited last year and absolutely loved and appreciated the slippers I made him).

So the prep for Christmas dinner was pushed back to the afternoon, and that involved assembling the Brazil nut roast (while watching Love Actually for the tenth time on my laptop), parboiling the potatoes for later roasting, cutting up the Brussels sprouts and carrots and broccoli. I roasted the sprouts along with the potatoes, steamed the carrots and broccoli, and made a simple gravy. Plus of course we had hot apple cider as always. Dessert was Bananas Foster without the rum, which basically means simmering them briefly in a sweet caramel sauce. The recipe is in my Betty Goes Vegan book, which is always over the top on sugar, and I cut the maple syrup quite drastically. We had it spooned over plain cashew So Delicious ice cream.

Day 2 – stuffed!

The movie, Rogue One (a Star Wars prequel to Episode 4)  was good, full of loud explosions and storm troopers and rebels of course.

We rounded off the day with hot chocolate and vegan marshmallows.

Tai Chi Man and I didn’t have to work today so it’s been another day of relaxed vegging on the couch, finishing off the slippers, checking out my new Twitter account (I am now on Twitter @nicolaknits) and eating leftovers. The kids are still in bed at 1.30 in the afternoon. We have horizontal snow blowing past the house which doesn’t exactly inspire me to get outside.

I am thankful.

 

A windy cold day

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(edited)

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Maybe my Seaside dishcloth is trying its best to be a panacea for the bitterly cold wind we’ve had today. All week, the temperatures have been well below freezing. I think -24 was the coldest night. Life has proceeded as usual.

This is Bernat Handicrafter in a colourway called By The Sea. The pooling is rather interesting. It’s crocheted in Tunisian Simple Stitch. I do find that method very relaxing and meditative.

I have been trying to fit in all my usual favourite things this week in addition to studying my plant-based nutrition course. Netflix has had to be abandoned – I just don’t have the time for it, what with work, household stuff, piano practice, my course and my crochet. Oh, and I was a good girl this week – I went to the pool THREE times and swam a whole lotta lengths.

Work was quiet on Thursday but today was busy. I have two more shifts before Christmas Eve and I will definitely be wearing my pink Santa hat. The Christmas buttons are going on sale tomorrow and I found some today that look like mini Christmas lights. Those are just screaming to be made into earrings!

Have to run – dinner needs to be made. Have a great week!

Edited to add: I forgot to mention some fun news. A while back I won a free pattern – it’s a paid pattern published by Kathryn at Crafternoon Treats (she has a blog and a podcast and a couple of Facebook pages). She asked people to guess how many rounds we thought were in her round granny stitch blanket which she called a Blandala. I guessed exactly right and she sent me a pattern pdf. Well, fast forward to last week, and she had a big shawl pattern giveaway on her podcast, and I won again! I now have a pdf of a pretty crocheted shawl pattern called Dragonfruit. I am feeling lucky. Next, the lottery!!

 

 

 

The big freeze

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Yes, Winter Solstice is nearly here and we have been enjoying some delightfully cold temperatures. Last night was predicted to hit minus 17C and tonight is -20C (-4F). I’m sure the furnace is getting a good workout, keeping the house at +15 overnight.

The snow that fell is now ice. We have to drive carefully on the side roads, but the highway is mostly dry now. It was beautifully sunny today, and I enjoyed my weekly piano lesson followed by 20 lengths of the local pool. I also stopped in at work and picked up some mesh wrap in silver and turquoise to add to our Christmas/Solstice/Pagan/whatever tree!

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There’s also a couple of metres of turquoise organza with silver snowflakes on around the base.  Seems like the bottom of the tree could do with a bit of pruning as a couple of branches are looking a little out of place.

I had an enjoyable weekend. Saturday Tai Chi Man and I took the boys out to a vegan restaurant downtown that we’ve never tried before. They are heavy on the faux meats but the food was good. The boys had “burgers” and we had pulled “pork” sandwiches, all with fries. And OMG, I had the BEST hot chocolate complete with whipped coconut cream and a vegan marshmallow on top.

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We followed this up with the movie Moana at the big theatre not far from our house. It was fun and when we came out it was snowing heavily.

Sunday Tai Chi Man and I went to the Holistic Market, a regular gathering of energy workers and vendors, and had some Tesla treatment done. This apparently heals at a cellular level. I certainly noticed some effects, and it took a while to ‘ground’ myself again afterwards.

In the evening, I had the work Christmas dinner to attend. Eating out at a non-vegan restaurant can be tough, not just for finding tasty vegan food  but also from the perspective that I’m surrounded by people eating meat and fish, which I can find disturbing. This time, I made a conscious decision not to let it get to me. I love my group of co-workers – there were 18 of us there Sunday, which is almost all the staff, except for a couple who couldn’t make it. We sat at a long wooden table and I plunked myself down right in the middle of one side. The food was okay – I’m sure this place prides itself on its food, but it’s very meat-centric and expensive. My plate of roasted vegetables was $21!

The managers handed out gift certificates for part of the meal, gift certificates for the store, and gift bags which were totally unexpected and welcome. Mine of course had yarn in it, plus a few other nifty things. My friend across the table received a ball of yarn and a pompom (same kit as the one I used to knit the hat I showed you last time) but she doesn’t knit so she gave them to me. Next day, they were already transformed into this…

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This is my Gio hat pattern, minus the peak, with a crab stitch edging (reverse single crochet).

There is a new WIP in my life and it is a girly Santa hat. The plan is to make it in hot pink Red Heart With Love (crocheted) with a knitted Astrakan brim. The brim is more than half done and then I shall see how easy (or not) it is to crochet along the edge and work the body of the hat up from there.

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Not using a pattern. Just winging it as usual. I can’t believe how much knitting I’ve done in the last couple of weeks. Maybe my knitting mojo is coming back. I did try crocheting the brim but the first row convinced me that knitting it would be easier. It really is impossible to see your stitches with this loopy stuff. But it’s perfect for a Santa hat.

Brrr, I’m feeling a little chilly. Must be the thought of that -20 temperature outside. Stay warm, people! Talk to you again soon.

 

 

Snow! And more yarny projects

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We woke up to snow this morning and it has continued all day. Tai Chi Man has cleared the drive a few times to make sure it doesn’t get icy when we take the car out. We were planning to go to a friend’s house this morning and were on the road by 8.30am for a potentially 40 minute drive, but the traffic on the highway was crawling along so slowly that we decided to turn back.

I took the opportunity to start studying my new course – it’s an online course with eCornell all about plant-based nutrition. I’m just on the first module but by the end of January I will have a certificate to say I’m up to date on all the science and the reasons why a whole-food plant-based diet is the way to go. Just confirms what I’ve already known for years, of course, but I’m still learning new stuff from this course and it gives me some extra ammo when sharing with people why this is the healthiest way to eat. It may even become a career for me later on.

I also frogged the partially completed toque (hat) that I started a week ago and restarted it on bigger needles and with two fewer stitches. The pattern tells you to knit for 7″ before decreasing, but at 6″ I put in a lifeline and then tried out the decreases. I had enough yarn that I decided to rip back again, knit two more rows, then decrease again. I actually could have done at least two more rows, looking at the amount of yarn I had left, but no way was I going to frog for a third time. This process also included un-knitting a row because I had all my knits and purls the wrong way round!

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The fisherman’s rib would look tidier in a less bulky yarn, but I’m just glad this one is done. I’ll take it to work and put it on a mannequin head for a bit, then I know exactly who I’m going to give it to. (Yarn is Dynasty hat yarn, Fabricland’s house brand.)

Another small project I finished yesterday is this Dumpling Kitty, who I have named Custard. This is a free pattern, only available as a Ravelry download, hence the Rav link.

This cute kitty is made with Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK and a 3.75mm hook. I happened to have the perfect colours and I know exactly who this one is for too.

I now only have one WIP and that is the caterpillar blanket. I have made a start on it and will give it a separate post of its own soon. Have a great day!