Category Archives: daily life

Oooh pretty!

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Oooh pretty!

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I braved the heat to get outside in the garden and take a few photos of the Mimic shawl progress. I love it so far. There are usually soft colour changes in this yarn, but there was a hard change from the pink to the green so I pulled a few stitches out, back to the beginning of the row, and cut a little yarn out so that there wouldn’t be a partial row of the pink. Where the blues appeared, I left it as it was.

There is something odd about the cake. If you look closely, you’ll see a bit of turquoise and white in the section  of purple. I’m pretty sure that’s not supposed to be there and I will be cutting that out.

The lawn is looking incredibly green for this time of year. We do have underground sprinklers, though we are careful not to overdo it, but we have had a goodly amount of rain recently. The other day at work, it was like a monsoon. Awesome!

Inventory day at work yesterday went well. The teams started at 7 and finished at 3, though management had to stay longer to finish up the paperwork and check for anything that may have been missed. The manager had a 12.5 hour day! As she would say, that’s what she’s paid the big bucks for (with a rueful smile on her face and a hint of sarcasm in her voice)!!! (By the way, I gave her the Jayma shawl that I just completed, and she loved it.)

It’s so good to have that annual event behind us. The store needs to be put back to rights now, with all the fabrics set up properly so that customers can browse. That’ll take a few days probably.

For now, I have three days off in a row, and need to toddle off to the kitchen to get food ready for a potluck with friends. Take care, everyone, and have a great weekend.

 

 

WIP: Knit Mandala Cowl – almost there

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The cowl is nearly finished. I have been enjoying knitting this project. It’s been a nice change of pace from the crochet blanket. I have only a few rounds of K2P2 ribbing to do. As you can see, I have reached the white in the cake. It would have been interesting to have some more grey at the top edge, and I could keep going longer, but on the other hand the transition from darker colour/denser stitch pattern to lighter colour/lacier stitch pattern works rather well. I’m glad the aqua falls in the centre as it’s the colour that one notices the most.

You may recall my efforts to get up earlier in the morning, and my alarm clock was set 5 minutes earlier every day until I was waking at 5am. The last few mornings I have woken up just before the alarm, but when the alarm actually goes off I hit snooze once or twice. Often, Tai Chi Man is already in the en suite and there’s no point getting out of bed until he’s moved off to the kitchen. Our en suite is tiny!

One of the bonuses of getting up early is the coolness, as it’s getting hot most days. Another thing I enjoy is looking out at the garden to see if I can spot any deer (though I’d probably have to be up before dawn for that) and the sky is often very pretty too.

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The forecast is for a much cooler day today (18 degrees Celsius) and rain and possibly a thunderstorm. There is quite a wind – I can see our big maple from where I sit, and the branches are being tossed about – and I managed to get an OK shot of the sky with the clouds moving in, the moon, and an interesting bank of clouds sitting right on top of the mountains in the distance.

More often than not, I work on a Wednesday, but this week my shifts were scheduled the same as last week – Sunday, Monday, Friday – so today is going to be a home day. The To Do list includes a little cleaning and decluttering (aaagh, need to start on the utility room shelves, which is a huge job) but also some sewing and knitting.

I haven’t shown you the pink top that I sewed last week, but a turquoise one is now in progress using the same Burda pattern so I will get photos soon. I have been watching a podcaster/vlogger recently called Rachael at SewRayMeUK. She lives in Scotland, has an Etsy shop selling sewn bags and things, and has been vlogging every day during June. She is a keen gardener and has a beautiful garden. I am feeling inspired to sew more things, but I really must finish the current project before I move on to something else. The cut pieces are laid out on my cutting table and I have started the assembly. I could have kept on going last night, but at 9.45 I had to call it a day. Getting up at 5am means going to bed before 10pm.

It’s gone dark in my living room. The sky is mostly cloud now and I feel like a big dump of rain is imminent. That’s great! Even with our sprinklers, the lawn is looking dry and crispy already. Happy Hump Day, everyone. Talk to you again soon 🙂

FO: Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket

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FO: Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket

I am pleased to say that this mystery crochet-along is finished and I have a VERY colourful blanket to show for it.

This was designed by Joanita Theron of Creative Crochet Workshop and was a 7 week MCAL. As the word “rainbow” was in the title, I just had to pick some appropriate colours of DK yarn (mostly Stylecraft Special DK) to which I added grey and white. By the end I had run out of the pink, red and orange, which is a shame as a full rainbow spectrum border would have been awesome.

I used my own border idea – one round of single crochet and three rounds of granny clusters. I also fudged the numbers on the rectangular strips to make them the correct size for my squares. Even after machine washing and drying, there is some bumpiness and rippling happening, but I’m not going to fret about it. It’s about 38″ square and used 540 grams of yarn. My only FO for May!

So it’s back to the daisy-making. I finished two more squares on Thursday:

I still haven’t completely memorised the pattern. It’s a tricky one.

In other news, my kitchen cupboards have now been fully decluttered, but I haven’t moved on to the next room yet.

My experiment in getting up earlier is going well. Each day I set my alarm clock 5 minutes earlier and I am finding it quite easy, as long as I go to bed reasonably early (around 10pm).

I bought rayon fabric in vibrant shades of fuschia and turquoise to make two tops to go with  my new leggings and yesterday I had time to cut out all the pieces. Next time I have a good block of time, I will go and start on the sewing, probably Tuesday.

This weekend, I did a lot of volunteering for Vegfest, the annual vegan festival in my town. Last night, Tai Chi Man and I helped set up, getting the gym and some of the classrooms converted for use by vendors and speakers. This involved a lot of furniture moving and sticking green masking tape on the gym floor to mark it out for vendors’ tables.

Today I was back at lunchtime to be an entrance greeter for the afternoon, taking people’s donations and giving them information. I was outside but thankfully it was cloudy – if it had been full sunshine, I’d have had to find some shade. At 5, the festivities were over, but then the cleanup began. A team of us put the school back to rights, cleaning, tidying, mopping, taking out the garbage. We were done by about 7.15.

It’s good to get a little couch time at the end of the day. It’s been a very physical weekend and I need to recharge.

 

Life update

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Well, hello. I hope you’re all enjoying Spring (or Autumn if you are in the southern hemisphere).

The time is whizzing by, which is a bit of a shame as I do like the shoulder seasons. The temperature is comfortable, you’re not freezing or sweating all the time, everything looks nice and green (it’ll be dry, brown and crispy in another couple of months) and the cherry blossom is gorgeous. The apricot will be next.

I have to be quick here as I have to be at work soon. So just a quick post to show you the CAL progress.

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This is Part 4 of the Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL run by Creative Crochet Workshop (I have since woven in my ends). Part 5 is out but I haven’t started it yet. These are my squares so far…

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At the end of April I felt like I needed a Finished Object to add to my stashbusting for the month, so I made this cowl – no pattern.

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The yarn is Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable Waves and whilst the yarn is pretty (the colours are actually more intense in real life) it is pilly and I wouldn’t buy it again.

I have been tracking my yarn ins and outs in the British Banter group on Ravelry – there is a Bash the Stash challenge – and apart from a splurge in January I am doing well with a net stashdown for the first few months of the year.

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Some friends and I had a fun mini road trip yesterday, heading north an hour to the next nearest city. We stopped in at a little quilt shop, then at a vegan cafe for lunch, and then at a store that I’ve been meaning to visit for months – Sweet Legs! I finally own two pairs of their lovely leggings. Of course that means I now need new tops to go with them!!

I just did my seasonal closet clearout and my dear husband doesn’t understand why I need new clothes! Ah well, nobody’s perfect!

Scrappy Sunday

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I have been having a very colourful time, working on Part 2 of the Creative Crochet Workshop’s Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL. The above motif will be a 12″ square. The last two rounds were added this week. I have realised that doing a crochet-along like this is very good for the discipline of weaving in your ends. You can’t proceed any further until Part 3 comes out, so often there’s a waiting period between finishing one part and the release of the next part.

The other squares for Part 2 are four 6″ squares. I made the two flowery ones different colours, but the rainbow ones are the same. I like the fact that the rainbow squares incorporate all ten colours in the blanket.

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What’s your weekend been like? Yesterday I was working, and we had another sale where the discounts were a bit bigger than usual, and we were reeeeeeally busy. It made the day go faster, at least, and customers were mostly happy because of the savings (except for a couple of grumblers who thought that the 53% should have been off literally everything – they obviously didn’t read the small print in the mailer)!

Today Tai Chi Man loaded up the prunings from the last couple of days yardwork. He had to cut some dead wood out of the cherry and apricot trees (much to the chagrin of the ants who were inhabiting the hollow branch of the cherry) and so today he took another 260kg of yard waste to the landfill. That’s nearly 700kg of stuff that’s been cleared off our property (of nearly half an acre) in the last couple of weeks.

The grass is greening up, there are more violets in the lawn every year, which is wonderful, we have daffodils and forsythia flowering, and even one of my Christmas cacti is pink and pretty, obviously deciding to be an Easter cactus instead.

The purple dishcloths have been flowing off my hook. I am on my fourth now. I think that may be the last one. When that’s done, I’d like to start another scrappy colourful project which I can work on when I have done my CAL pieces for the week. I have so much DK yarn, mostly Stylecraft Special DK, which would look lovely actually made into something useful. Do you have a favourite scrappy project? If so, comment and let me know what it is.

It’s been a good day of housework, tea at our favourite tea shop, stocking up at Costco, and going to the gym. I set up vegan mac ‘n cheese to bake while we were at the gym (can you believe my 20 year old son still complains when I put broccoli in it?!) so we’ve had a satisfying dinner too. All feels right with the world!

Out of the slump

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Out of the slump

From a crochet slump with one knitting WIP to a flurry of activity!

The socks are DONE!

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The first sock took about 8.5 months, the second one only a week or two. This is Loops & Threads Perfect Pair yarn, knitted magic loop, one at a time, with a 2.25mm/100cm long circ. They are not identical, and I didn’t even try to make them so, but the bands of colour coincidentally fell in similar places. They could be a little snugger, so when I make another pair with this yarn I will knit a smaller size.

So, on to crochet WIPs. This bag-in-progress is called the Easy Breezy Bag and the pattern is here. I managed to mess up my stitch count when starting the base, so ripped back and started again. After that, it was plain sailing. The open stitch pattern for the sides of the bag is very easy and I can do it while watching Netflix. The yarn is from the store where I work. It’s our store brand, Spindle Yarns, and the type is Essential Basics (worsted weight acrylic) in the colourway Oasis Multi. I didn’t like the feel of it in the ball but it is nice to crochet with, though there are few fuzzy spots in the first ball.

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My other WIP is the Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket from Creative Crochet Workshop. I was browsing Ravelry last week, looking for inspiration, and found this mystery Crochet-along so decided to join in. I also joined the Ravelry group and the Facebook group. I chose ten colours from my Stylecraft Special DK stash that said “Rainbow!” to me, along with white and grey, and am using a 4.5mm hook.

There are 16 small squares in the first week, plus the first couple of rounds of a larger square. So far I have completed eight.

I don’t think this is going to be a very large blanket. The CAL is only six weeks. But it will be interesting to see how it develops.

There’s been lots of outdoor activity around my house this week. Ds1 had a few days off and I suggested he might like to take down three trees that were overgrown and snow-damaged out front. Ds2 and ds3 have also been out in the yard, raking and tidying. Amazing!

Job in progress…

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Middle tree almost gone.

After…

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The house is so much brighter, inside and out. I love it.

This is the heap of branches that needed to go to the dump…all 420 kilos of it.

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I have work today, but I’m looking forward to another massage tomorrow morning. I am still having various aches and pains which are due, I think, to me not being balanced symmetrically, rather than ordinary muscle soreness from the gym and other activities. Tightness in the neck, niggles in the wrist/forearm from the break last year, plantar fasciitis in the right heel which I really thought would be gone by now. I am trying some self-care strategies so that it doesn’t get to the point where I have to get signed off work. Minor issues, though, compared to some.

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. Happy crafting!

FO: Key Largo scarf

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FO: Key Largo scarf

So much fun colour in this week’s projects!

The Key Largo scarf is finished! It turned out about 70″ x 12″ and here it is in all its blocked rainbowy glory.

I used up almost all of one cake of Lion Brand Mandala so there were only two ends to weave in.  The start date was March 9th and the finish date was the 19th, so it didn’t take long. It helps that I worked on it monogamously (surprisingly for me). The pattern was easily memorisable,  and portable, which meant I could work on it anywhere.

What else have I done? Oh yes, the float experience went well. I mentioned last time that I was a little concerned about the green hair dye leaching out into the Epsom salts tank at the float place, but it was ok. And I had a very relaxing hour inside the pod, in the dark, with the music playing. So I would probably do that again.

Yesterday there was a mini challenge in the Party! International Crochet Month group on Ravelry. One of the mods suggested that we might like to make an item of clothing for our Inner Beasts using freeform crochet, and that the first person to post a photo of their beast wearing his/her new garment would win a tutorial on freeform crochet from Prudence Mapstone. Well, Prudence is the guru of freeform and I do like a challenge, so I quickly crocheted up a vest for Brian. I was sure someone would pip me at the post as it was ten hours since the challenge had been set, but I managed to be the first and therefore the winner! Yay! It was a perfect little project for an evening where I was feeling tired from work and not even feeling like picking up a hook.

I even found time for sewing this week and used some fleece remnants to make these cute armwarmers. They are so cosy and comfortable that I almost wish it was still winter…almost! I used a tutorial and downloadable pattern that I printed out. The only modification I made was to trim about an inch off the thumb, as I didn’t hem the ends so the thumbs turned out too long.

The photo on the website shows a curved seam between the hand the thumb, but I sewed it with a V-shaped seam, pivoting the needle at the base of the V. A little snip into the seam allowance meant it turned right side out just fine and I think my version looks great! This is the sort of pattern you could make lots of, as it is quick and fun.

We’ve had a very Spring-like week with temps into the double digits. In fact, on Tuesday, I went out on the back deck which faces south and took a thermometer with me and in the sun, on the deck chair next to me, it hit 36 degrees Celsius! Officially it was probably half that. So that’s two days when I have enjoyed the deck, with my new swimsuit on, getting some rays and making some vitamin D. IMG_8059

This was my spot this afternoon, where I planned the week’s meals. Shame about the shady bits, but it was certainly plenty warm enough to sit out for an hour.

Wednesday I took my car in to the Toyota dealership. There was a passenger side airbag recall, and the car was due for a maintenance check and oil change. Turns out (doesn’t it always) that there was more to do, like a new battery and removing a screw from one of the tires, so in the end they had the car for more than five hours. During that time, I walked the mall a couple of times, visited a few other shops, stopped briefly for some lunch, and later some crochet at a local park, but for at least four of those five hours I was walking. Phew! Didn’t need to go to the gym THAT day.

I’m expecting a busy weekend – work both days with extra sale deals to bring in the customers, so I will really appreciate the massage that I have booked for Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

I’m all about the green

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I have never paid much attention to St Patrick’s Day, and that’s not why I dyed  my hair green today, however I’m sure lots of people will assume that’s why I did it! From the above angle, it looks like I dyed the lot, but the hair around the sides and back of my neck is actually my natural colour, as are the roots. It’s just a bit of fun, though tonight I booked myself in for my very first float tank experience in a couple of days time, which means I am going to have to shampoo my hair a couple of times this weekend so that I don’t “bleed” green into their Epsom salts!

I have always been wary of this “floating” lark, though Tai Chi Man loves it. The thought of lying in a strong concentration of Epsom salts-filled water at blood heat, in the dark and possibly an enclosed space, and the fact that I can’t crochet while I’m in there (!) has combined to put me off. However I have been experiencing some really tense muscles in my neck, shoulders and back, and at a friend’s suggestion have decided to just go for it.

I shall report back afterwards.

Today was nigh on perfect. I had a good workout at the gym – 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by about 40 minutes of weight training. I was drenched by the end; the post-workout shower is one of the best feelings in the world. I made another shopping bag like the one I showed you last time, though this one used an all-purpose polyester thread that behaved itself and the result was much nicer, good enough to take to work to put on show. I also sewed up a set of 18 napkins for a friend. When I saw this fabric at work, it was the end of a bolt, and I just had to bring it home. I knew it had to be napkins and I knew who I wanted to make them for.

Cool, huh!

I cut 12.5″ squares with one of my quilting rulers and after hemming the napkins are around 11″ square. You can see why I thought this was perfect fabric for this project, eh.

Dinner tonight was one that always gets eaten with gusto. I made black bean and sweetcorn burgers, which we had with salsa and the home-made buns I made last Monday and froze. They were toasted to make them more interesting, and I also added in some chipotle “cheese” slices that I made from a recipe in Vegan 100 by Gaz Oakley. That spiced them up a lot. Even ds1, who seems to add hot sauce to everything, found them spicy, so that’s saying something! I did suffer “sticker-shock” at the price of the agar powder that I bought to make this recipe, however. The bulk store had it in 50 gram bags only and they were over $7! Ouch!!

Looking forward to a weekend with no work, just yoga on Saturday, and a birthday party to attend, gym on Sunday, and a float. What are you doing this weekend?

 

 

WIP: Key Largo Scarf

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How’s your week going? Mine has been quite full, and I haven’t been able to get to the gym or a yoga class, which is a little annoying (though my lazy side is okay with it). Today the temperature crept up above freezing to about 7 Celsius, which felt almost warm! We are supposed to have double digits soon – gosh, what a treat!!

There’s been a busy weekend of work, a ‘catching up with stuff at home’ day (while feeling overtired from a combination of the clocks going forward, an early morning, a late night, and a lack of caffeine), more work shifts, grocery shopping, cleaning, bread baking…

This is what my kitchen looked like Monday evening before I crashed out at 9.30.

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This is the product of three large bowls of bread dough, each batch containing 12 cups of flour. Three loaves, 16 hot dog buns, 16 hamburger buns, all rising while the oven heated up. I used to make bread all the time but these days I tend to buy the Silver Hills organic sprouted wheat bread from Costco (it’s about half the price there) and stock the freezer. It makes it easy to grab another sliced loaf when you need it, and it thaws quickly or you can toast it. However I needed the buns for a couple of specific meals this week, and we were on our last loaf of Silver Hills.

As promised, I frogged the progress on the Key Largo Lace Wrap and started again with a cake of Lion Brand Mandala in the colourway Gnome. It’s a lovely bright rainbow of a cake – I have no idea who this will be for when it’s done, but I am enjoying the colour progression.

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It started a little slowly as I reacquainted myself with the pattern…

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And it grew…

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And grew some more…

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With DK yarn, a 5mm hook, a scarf width rather than a wrap, and only 10 pattern repeats across the row, it’s growing quickly. Very satisfying! I took this photo at a coffee shop today where my friend and I will be meeting most Thursdays, since she started a knitting group there. I have the four-row pattern memorised now so I don’t even have to get the pattern out of the bag any more.

My plan was to have a gym and sewing day tomorrow, Friday, but I made a start on my intended projects tonight.

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It’s not very sexy but it is functional – a non-slip mat that goes underneath a sewing machine foot pedal. I have to confess, the one I made for myself is not working too well on the carpet, so I’m thinking it would be better on a hard floor. I used a Crafty Gemini tutorial. On this first attempt, I applied the bias binding as I would normally, by opening it out and sewing it on then flipping it to the other side and sewing again. A far-from-perfect result, which is irritating as my intention is to take this one to work to go on the DIY table for fabric shoppers to see. The second one, I attached the binding like Vanessa does in the video, but it was even messier so I am keeping the second one for myself.

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I also made this shopping bag from some decor fabric from work. It was on clearance at $5 a metre, and is a heavy cotton fabric. I wrote down the steps to make it as I went, as I’m thinking this will also make a good display item at the store, but I wasn’t too happy with the stitching. I used a strong thread that’s slightly thicker than the all-purpose stuff, and even though I adjusted the thread AND bobbin tension the bobbin thread was loosey-goosey! Still, it’s usable, and pretty, and I will make another with regular thread in the hope that it will be more presentable, should people look closely at my stitching.

Yes, embracing the imperfections of life here today, that’s me! My other plans include some napkins for a friend, and another apron.

Good night from my windy part of the world (the windchimes are going nuts again). Enjoy your Friday and your weekend.

Activities and acquisitions

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Activities and acquisitions

Hi all. Another Sunday has rolled around and I’m glad to say I didn’t have a shift today. It’s been a beautiful sunny day and Tai Chi Man and I were able to walk along the city waterfront with just sweaters, no coats required. My car’s thermometer read 12 degrees Celsius in the sunshine.

We followed up our walk with a long sit at our favourite tea shop. I brought crochet with me, of course, and before leaving home I picked out a pretty ball of Loops & Threads Facets in Light Azore to take with me. My plan worked out. While drinking two delicious Cowboy Fogs (tea lattes) I made a cowl and was able to give it to the owner of the tea shop before we left. She loved it and put it on immediately.

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It was just simple double crochet in the round, using a 9mm hook, with a row of shells along the edge before fastening off. The sewn bag in the photo is one I made last year. It’s designed to hold a ball of yarn and you thread the yarn through the hole in the top flap. It worked well! The only downside to something like this is that there are no extra pockets for hooks and things, or anywhere to put a project-in-progress. However the hanging loop was handy for attaching it to my handbag with a carabiner.

There was much excitement this week when my Wool Warehouse order arrived. Here it is!

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A box of gorgeousness! Scheepjes Stonewashed and Riverwashed XL (aran weight), 15 gram balls in all 50 shades. No specific plans for this yet. And…

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Five 50 gram balls of the Stonewashed in Moon Stone as a neutral, should I decide to use it with the colours in the box. It rounded my order nicely up to 1000 grams of yarn. And the bonus was, it only took 15 days to arrive.

My friend went to Vancouver Island last week and we met up for a cup of tea afterwards. She bought me this lovely stuff.

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Universal Yarn Bamboo Pop in the colour Ocean. She knows me so well! Fifty percent bamboo, 50% cotton, so it fits in with my 2019 goal of more natural plant fibres.

My heel is no better, though wearing the shoes all the time means it (mostly) doesn’t hurt. However last night we went to a friend’s house for a potluck and our hands were full with food going in, so I left my gym shoes with the special insoles in the car. By the time I had been sitting at the dining table for a while and got up to walk back to the kitchen, the pain was back and I was limping.

I did 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym yesterday morning, while Tai Chi Man did weights, and today we are going back for more weights. I am alternating weights/cardio as I have four days off and if I am good and go every day then I need to mix things up.

My weight loss program, started about nine days ago, involves pretty much eating half of what I usually do. It worked well the first week with a 4lb loss. Last night’s potluck meant a lot of calories going on so I’m being extra careful today and eating just fruit and vegetables.

Finally, we had a big dump of wet snow this week, which looked lovely but left our road axle deep in snow. We are third level (out of three) priority for the graders, but as long as we clear our driveway we only have about 100 metres to drive to get to the clearer road.

I am grateful that Tai Chi Man did the clearing because my right wrist would have complained bitterly at shifting all that wet snow.

It’s almost time to get changed for the gym so I’ll say Auf Wiedersehen for now. Talk to you again soon.