Category Archives: hand knitting

FO: Wayfarer Wrap

Standard
FO: Wayfarer Wrap

Way to go, Nicola! I’m feeling excited to be able to wear my wrap after three and a half months on the needles/hook but in an odd way almost sad that it’s over. How silly, when you think about it – I am very much a product knitter/crocheter and am positively irritated by long term WIPs that sit at the top of my Ravelry project overview page, taunting me with their not-done-ness!

The end of this project came together in the last week, inspired (as I mentioned in my last post) by the CAL in the crochet party group on Ravelry. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of finishing a project, taking photos and uploading said photos to my Ravelry project page and clicking that “finished” button. And of course seeing the project thumbnail lose that WIP status and move into the realms of Finished Objects.

So that’s 600 grams of random DK weight yarn out of the stash. Most of it is Stylecraft Special DK with some Deramores Studio DK mixed in. I have all my DK mixed together in bags, sorted (or at least it was) by colour. I need to do a tidy up now that this project is off the needles. There are over 20 colours in this wrap, with the plan being to include soft colours that also had some contrast.

I had a little photoshoot out on my deck this morning.

It’s hard to get the whole thing visible in one photo, but you get the idea.

You may also be able to tell that we still have a lot of snow on the garden. We had fresh snow the last two days, though it is getting above freezing during the day now and the end is in sight. I love snow, though prefer it when it’s not on the roads when I need to drive somewhere. This is the scene from my back deck.

IMG_8013

Blue sky, sunshine, snow. Gorgeous!

I have two Works in Progress left. A pair of socks on skinny needles and a wrap on a skinny hook. The socks have been languishing for many a month, maybe because I feel like they may not fit well, but I think I need to start taking them out with me as my portable project (and there’s nothing more portable than a sock project, is there). The wrap is one that I started in Switzerland last summer, and I love the stitch pattern (I bought the pattern so definitely want to crochet it up). I think I will frog the few inches that are done and restart with a thicker yarn and bigger hook. The stitches are just so fiddly and my middle-aged eyes were struggling.

Interestingly, I am not desperate to start another bulky instant-gratification crochet project, which is usually my downfall. So I think these two WIPs might just be getting the attention they deserve for the rest of this month.

International Crochet Month

Standard
International Crochet Month

There is a party going on in Ravelry. It’s in a group called, most appropriately, Party! International Crochet Month, and you can find the group here.

There is lots going on, with games and challenges and stuff, and I am participating in a few of the threads in the group. There’s a word game, a pattern finding game, a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt gives you points for completing different challenges. The Everyday WIP challenge gets you working on a current project, which has been a boon to me because I pledged to knit at least one garter stripe on my Wayfarer Wrap every day, before allowing myself to knit or crochet on anything else. And there is an Inner Beast crochet-along (my Rav pattern page here with link to pattern) which is a fun toy where you deliberately make him/her as wild and shaggy as you like, with multiple colours, ends sticking out, wonky eyes, horns and funny feet.

The result of all this motivation is this…

My wrap has grown by a few inches in just a few days.

All those tails along the long edge have been overhand-knotted in bundles of ten.

IMG_7997

And the grannies have been seamed in two strips, with one being sewn to the cast on end. I still have to knit a few more inches on the other end. I will also be trimming the fringe to make it look a bit tidier.

IMG_8004

And this is the result of the Inner-Beast-a-thon. The idea is that you make a magic ball with lots of short pieces of yarn, and carry it along with another yarn. I used a multicoloured cake that I had wound up from scraps some time ago, and wound up a second cake with other teeny balls of DK. As you reach a knot, you just let the tails hang; the more texture the better. The sections of colour were a bit long really. I don’t have that many bits sticking out. But the fun part was not being too picky when sewing on the head and arms and horns, because wonky is good, and the tails from the seaming were brought to the outside to add more interest. The eyes are just two mismatched buttons, and what a great way to use those up!

I can definitely see myself making another of these. They are quick and ultimately customisable.

I am on the last day of a stretch of five days off, because that’s just the way my shift scheduling worked, which has given me lots of time to knit, crochet, have a potluck with friends on Saturday night, and cook decent dinners.

My series of five acupuncture appointments are now done. Yesterday’s was the most uncomfortable of the lot, with many of the needles hurting going in and coming out, but also causing some aching in my legs while I lay there on the massage table in the darkened room. It’s very relaxing though, as it forces you to just be alone with your thoughts without distractions, and by the time the acupuncturist returns to remove the needles I am thoroughly chilled out.

So that is what my crafting looks like for this week, and I am definitely motivated to finish this knitted wrap this month. I started it in November, I think. A little competition, with myself or others, tends to spur me into action, and I want to (a) wear it, and (b) log the yarn I have used as an OUT for stash for March, which will look great on the Bash your Stash thread in the British Banter group. Whilst I am not on a yarn diet, I do have a goal of “more out than in” – so far, so good.

 

Ever diminishing stash

Standard

In the spirit of stashbusting, I have continued to make projects from stash yarn, inspired by some of the podcasters I’ve been watching, and groups on Ravelry.

The total number of FOs for February so far (and we do have four days left still) is 12, with an approximate OUTage of stash standing at 695 grams. Even better, I have not bought yarn this month. There has also been associated binge-watching of Netflix, with shows called Collateral and Travelers.

First up, dishcloths!

I’m sure I saw this idea floating around Ravelry before: scrubby type yarn in the middle with dishcloth cotton around the outside.  For each cloth, I made two circles from the scrubby and then worked around them, single crocheting them together with the cotton, and then added a few more rows of cotton to make a dual purpose cleaning cloth. I have to say, I love these. They are really useful.

This bag is sort of an FO, in that the knitting is finished and the lining is sewn in. It does need some kind of handle or strap, but I haven’t decided what yet. I started it Thursday at a new knitting group that my friend has organised. The pattern is here, though I didn’t keep track of the knit and purl rows so mine looks a little different. And I used medium weight yarn instead of bulky so I cast on extra stitches. Yarn is Bernat Pop in the colourway Foggy  Notion.

And finally, this hat pattern is called I’m Lichen This Hat! It uses about 100 grams of bulky weight yarn, so is quick, and it’s also quite easy, with just one cable running up the back of the head. If you look at the designer’s version, you can see the detail more clearly as she has used a solid colour. The cable scrunches up the back of the hat as some of the rows of the cable section are slipped rather than knitted. I made this in one evening, except for the grafting of the stitches at the crown (it’s been a while since I’ve done Kitchener stitch so I had to search for a tutorial). My grafting is not perfect! Yarn is Stylecraft Harlequin Chunky.

In other news, I did acquire a new cookbook this week. It’s this one…

IMG_7958

I follow Gaz on YouTube (avantgardevegan) and he cooks the most amazing recipes. So when I saw his cookbook in my local health food store, I decided to buy it.

I’ve had a bit of a rest week, skipping the gym on a couple of days when I could have found the time. My plantar fasciitis is still giving me a bit of trouble, despite the insoles, and I have a lot of tension in my left shoulder which doesn’t seem to want to let go. I’m in the middle of a course of acupuncture, so hopefully that will help.

Work was good today, though in a way I would rather not work Sundays. We had a lot more quilting fabric in with some really cute patterns. A lot of customers tell me they couldn’t work there as they’d spend their entire paycheque on tempting fabric! Luckily, I (mostly) maintain self-discipline around it.

Feeling thankful for my family who rallied around and communally made pizza for everyone tonight. It’s nice to have someone else do the cooking and cleanup.

I hope you have a wonderful week.

WIP and health update

Standard
WIP and health update

Hey everybody, how’s it going? I’m enjoying a day off with very few commitments. I’ve been to the gym, put on some laundry, loaded the dishwasher. Not very onerous.

I have been having some heel pain lately. I will be sitting on the couch, get up, and get a nasty pain in the bottom of my right heel making me limp to the kitchen or wherever. Now, I know that Googling one’s symptoms often results in a lot of false hits, but this time I think I found the cause. It fits with plantar fasciitis. I assume it’s caused by my longer times on the gym treadmill including the running segments in addition to walking. Of course, I am also on my feet all day at work, on a concrete floor.

Apparently the best treatment for this is a combination of stretching, arch-supporting footwear and ice. I bought some insoles yesterday especially for this condition, and have taken to wearing my indoor gym shoes in the house as well. Friends say I should keep shoes on any time I am not in bed! Felt kind of odd at first, but now I’m finding it very comfortable.

Last night, Tai Chi Man and I went to the gym and I just did weights, but I went again this morning for some cardio and decided on the low-impact option – a stationary bike which is a recumbent style and has a very comfortable seat, unlike the ones with a standard saddle.

Onto yarny matters, my Wayfarer Wrap is growing at last. Picking it up when I watch Netflix certainly helps, and it is now 33″ long. “Only” 17″ to go.

img_7898

The billion ends along the edge are being left as a fringe, perhaps in bundles tied with overhand knots. I haven’t finalised that part of it yet.

Yesterday I met a friend for tea in the morning, then hit Costco for a bunch of food. I had plenty of time before I had to be back at home so I stopped in at my favourite tea shop on the way home for another cuppa and some crochet time. I like to make sure I have something portable with me when I go out. You never know when you might need some emergency crochet!

fullsizerender (54)

This is what I worked on while I was there. I added a little last night. I think it’s deep enough, but I’d like to add some sort of edging. This is a moebius cowl similar to one I made last year, where I start with a row of foundation stitches rather than chains (I used half double crochet this time), give it a half twist, then join and start working in the round. You end up with a true moebius which makes for a really comfortable cowl as the place where it twists is lower and fits perfectly under your chin.

It is also using up some stash yarn that’s been hanging around for some time.

After my last post in which I showed you more hats, I had quite the stack, so I filled a bag with about a dozen beanies and took it to the local Food Bank. Hopefully they will give them out to whomever wants them and someone will be warmer as a result.

img_7897

Finally, I found some lovely soft flannelette at work that’s a bamboo/cotton blend. It has a fun tea/coffee cup print so I bought some. I figured I could make something nice for the tea shop owner as well as for myself.

And with that, it’s time to say Goodbye for now. Hope you have a great weekend.

 

 

 

2018 – a review

Standard
2018 – a review

One of the things I love to do at the end of the year is to look back through my Ravelry project pages and count how many Finished Objects there were. It is such a good way to record everything you make, what yarn you used, how much yarn, which patterns, and so on. I do sometimes make something more than once and it’s helpful to have a record of the hook or needle size I used with a particular project or yarn.

I just made a list of everything and here’s the final rundown:

  • Hats 20
  • Cowls/scarves/shawls 8
  • Dishcloths 8
  • Yarn ball holders 5
  • Phone/giftcard cosies 4
  • Blankets 3
  • Sweaters 3
  • Mini Christmas stockings 3
  • Mittens/fingerless mitts 3 prs
  • Cup cosies 3
  • Mini keychain backpacks 3
  • Earrings 2 prs
  • Afghan blocks 2
  • Rat sweaters 2
  • Doll and clothes 1
  • iPad stand 1
  • Mini cup and saucer 1
  • Crystal cosy 1
  • Nosewarmer 1

That makes 74 FOs for 2018 which means it was one of my more productive years. Amazing, considering I was out of action for part of the year after my snowboarding accident.

My favourite project of the year has to be my Groovyghan (pictured at the top of this post). 

My favourite hat? The one I just finished in two days flat and gave to one of my co-workers. Not only am I happy with the FO but I also had the satisfaction of giving it to her and seeing her reaction!

This was made with Red Heart With Love in Daffodil with extra touches of Holly Berry, Black and Eggshell. For more info, see my project page here.

I also finished the crocheted Candy Cane hat that I showed you as a WIP last time, and a brown slouchy beanie with some old stash yarn – James C Brett Marble Chunky.

FullSizeRender (48)IMG_7823

One of my current goals is to make beanies with the older acrylic in my stash and donate them.

Looking back on 2018, there have been some definite highs and lows. 

January: I set a goal to make 12 sweaters and sew 12 garments in 12 months. Well, the sewing was a bust. But I was going great guns on the knitting and crochet until…

February: Any and all plans were called off as I broke my wrist while snowboarding on Family Day, February 12th. I had a fetching pink cast applied to my right arm. img_7227

February 28th I had surgery for my distal radius fracture which involved acquiring a piece of titanium screwed to the bone, which will stay in indefinitely. I traded in my pink cast for a huge splinted dressing. Life was interesting, to say the least, with some pain and discomfort, and learning how to wash and dress with one hand.

March:  I was off work for nine weeks in all, so this month was all about recovery and not being able to drive, as my car is a manual/stick shift. I was so desperate to knit or crochet that I learned how to crochet left-handed with an adapted style. Knitting was too painful.

April: I was visiting rehab regularly to get my healing progress checked and finally returned to work. I also managed to get the Paper Bag Princess finished after a long hiatus for my grand-niece.

img_7283-1

May: I was back at the gym and doing all my usual activities. I was back into knitting – this hat was for my father-in-law and was my first knitting project after the break – and I was also sewing up project bags for fun.

IMG_7326

June: More project bag sewing, and some yarn stash organisation with my new yarn ball winder.

July: This was the peak of forest fire season, and we had multiple fires burning at once in our valley. fire

August: Tai Chi Man and I had an awesome vacation in Switzerland, spending time in the mountains near the Italian border and in the Bernese Oberland. We had a wonderful time, visiting his cousins and meeting up with other family members, and having some couple time for the last few days.

September: This was the month of the Groovyghan. It took almost exactly a month to make. It was a very addictive project.

October: In full swing, churning out lots of FOs.

November: Back to the hospital, this time to have a stapedectomy (replacement of the stapes with a prosthesis) in my right ear. This fixed the hearing loss that I had as a result of otosclerosis, a hereditary calcification and fusing of the bones in the inner ear. Now I am the proud owner of not one, not two, but THREE pieces of titanium (one in each ear and one in my wrist). Recovery from this surgery was painless and, thanks to a different drug, easy, without the insane vertigo that I experienced in 2015 when I had my left ear done.

December: We had a beautiful few days at one of our favourite retreats for our 31st wedding anniversary. There was a little scare with one of our sons suddenly having a partially collapsed lung. Chest pain led him to call 911 and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance (we were away at the time) and sent home in the morning with a pump in his side to draw out air and fluid from around the lung. Thankfully it was only needed for three days at which time they removed it and he seems to be fine now.

The lead-up to Christmas was pleasant, and we enjoyed lots of good eating including mountains of home-made fruit cake. I still have a fruit cake in the freezer. I ended up making four, two with wheat flour and two gluten-free. Cake #1 was scoffed by Tai Chi Man and me over about three days before Christmas. Cake #2 went with us to our friends on Christmas Day, where we had a lovely time playing games, exchanging gifts, eating too many calories and having a singalong around the piano. The remains came back and were demolished. Cake #3 went to work with me on Boxing Day and everyone seemed to enjoy that. Cake #4 will be defrosted later this week when I hope to get some of my friends together in one place for a belated Christmas cuppa.

I just remembered that, of the four jars of mincemeat I made, I still have one in the fridge, so there will have to be some more mince pies in the near future. The store where I work has a big sale every New Year’s so I had work today and will be going in tomorrow, but then I have five days off in a row. That will give me time to actually clean my house (rather overdue) and do some more baking. I hopped on the scale at the gym the other day and it wasn’t showing an upward trend so I think I’m OK!! We did go gymming every day for four days up until Christmas, and dragged the boys out for a long walk on Christmas Day, so the exercise has not been neglected.

What a year! I am looking forward to seeing what 2019 has in store. I hope you all have a wonderful year – you know it’s going to speed by and before we know it it’ll be Christmas again! Make the most of it!

 

Deep dark December

Standard
Deep dark December

I love December. I love that we have the Solstice, with its shortest day (8 hours and 5 minutes here on the 21st), and the long dark nights, and gloomy days, and sunny days, and cold weather that makes you want to wear all your winter knitted/crocheted accessories.

I love that it’s our wedding anniversary on the 10th (31 years so far) and we get to go on a retreat most years to just be the two of us, without anyone else around. This year it was a cabin we’ve visited a few times before, about 1.5 hours drive away, with a woodstove and a private hot tub. It also has underfloor heating in the bathroom and baseboard heating, so not TOO rustic, and it gets warm enough that we can actually open the window, regardless of how cold it is outside. It is close to some cross country (Nordic) ski trails with snowshoe trails marked out, and we tromped through deep snow for nearly 2.5 hours one day. Seeing moose tracks was my favourite part of that!

As usual, the month has whizzed by with leisure activities and work commitments and our three night retreat. While we were away, ds2 gave us a scare. Messaged us to say he had spent the night in the emergency room with chest pains. He was in enough pain that he called 911 and an ambulance came and took him in. Turns out it was a partially collapsed lung, the treatment of which involved having a tube inserted between his ribs into his chest cavity to drain fluid into a plastic container, which he had to manually empty every day. He was sent home in the morning, and in his message to us said he was fine and we didn’t need to come home early. Thankfully after three days and follow up X rays he had the tube removed and now seems back to normal, but that was a worrying experience.

And now it’s time for Christmas baking. We are not buying gifts for each other this year. We had our tree and lights set up in the living room on December 1st, and our celebrations will simply involve fancier family meals, and a visit with friends on Christmas Day. My work outfit this week included Christmas light earrings and leggings, and a string of battery-operated lights around my neck adorned with some Christmas ornaments!!

Today I baked two fruit cakes (I completely forgot I was going to make them gluten-free, and dumped regular wholewheat flour in with the dried fruit, apple juice and oil before I realised what I’d done). I also baked two dozen mince pies using my own  mincemeat, which I made four weeks ago and tucked away in the fridge.  I will have to bake more fruit cakes using the GF flour so I can share with friends and co-workers.

IMG_7818

The meals have been planned for the next few days, I have done my last Costco shop (amazing that I actually found a parking spot on my first try) and now I have lots of cooking and eating to look forward to. (Of course, we will be going to the gym now and then to try to burn off some of the extra calories. We had a great yoga class at 8.30 this morning; different teacher, different style.)

There has been some knitting and crochet. I took the garter stitch wrap with me to the cabin…

IMG_20181212_093423

I played around with a knitted rat sweater and a crochet version too…

 

I made a Secret Santa gift for work’s Christmas party (sadly I didn’t get a photo of the nosewarmer with its white pompom as it was an afterthought)…

 

I bought some clearance yarn at Michaels (whoops)…

FullSizeRender (46)

(Caron Cupcakes)

I sewed a quick tube skirt out of some sweater fleece in my stash so that I could show off my Christmas light leggings…

 

And I’ve been making a toque similar to the Joyful and Bright Slouch Hat that I made last year…

IMG_7817

(Using the Candy Cane colourway of Bernat Pop, left over from the knitted Fair Isle toque I made recently.)

What a picture-heavy post this is, but it has been a while since my last update. I didn’t think I’d done much, so hadn’t posted because I didn’t think I had anything to show you.

Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Solstice/Yule/Christmas/whatever.

 

Hello December

Standard

FullSizeRender (42)

There is a chill in the air but it still feels more like fall rather than winter. Heck, I even saw someone at the Christmas market this morning wearing flip-flops! It’s more damp and cloudy than cold, and around 3 degrees, and it won’t really feel like winter until it gets to the minus temperatures and maybe some of the white stuff.

Anyway we found a lovely Christmas tree at the market. It was the first one we saw, it was full and green and just the right size and price, and so it was an easy decision. I didn’t buy anything from the vendors but it was fun to look around. Crochet figured heavily on a lot of the tables. Whilst there was still one person selling what I would call tacky old-fashioned stuff there was also a tasteful table of beanies with faux fur pompoms, scarves, mittens and so on that were made in a controlled colour palette and presented with pretty tags in an attractive way.

I know that, as yarn crafters, we make a very wide range of items, and where they fall on the tacky/tasteful scale is quite subjective. I do not claim to always make tasteful items! I’m sure some people have looked sideways at some of my FOs and thought WTF! However when making things to sell I think it’s worth thinking about current trends, what colours people tend to wear, what fashions they are following.  While I like bright colours, I think that the woman selling the well-made neutral-coloured accessories will do well, whereas the woman selling the crazily-variegated blankets and pastel baby jackets will not. Maybe that’s just my judgment. As I say, the tasteful/tacky scale is subjective.

I do love granny squares and I know there are many who hate them. The garter stitch wrap I am knitting right  now, with its colour changes every two rows, would probably make some people cringe. My friend said she admired my bravery in changing colours so often. I know she didn’t mean it in a bad way – maybe she was even referring to all the ends I am creating along one edge (which I am definitely not going to be weaving in). But I love it, and that’s what matters because I am not making it to please anyone else.

FullSizeRender (43)

It’s 12.5″ long now. Only 37.5″ to go! And the granny squares which will be attached along each end are still only partially made. But there’s no deadline for this, and even though it seems like it will take a long time (DK yarn is pretty thin) if I add an inch or two every day it’ll be done by the end of the month. I know I am onto a good thing if I am picturing myself wearing the item and really looking forward to it.

I took these photos outside on my deck at about 3.30 in the afternoon. Surprisingly the light was still quite good. I got another photo of the  mittens too as the indoor shot was a bit dark.

FullSizeRender (44)

I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody last night with a friend. I really enjoyed it. I love Queen’s music and we were singing along in places. I know there have been mixed reviews but I give it two thumbs up!

So what’s on your tasteful/tacky list?

 

In my happy place

Standard

img_7779

I love my couch. It’s one of my favourite places. It has blankets for pulling over the knees if we feel a little chilly,  a coffee table in front of it for holding giant Ikea mugs full of Yorkshire tea, a lapdesk on the middle cushion to hold my laptop for Ravelry-browsing, pattern-reading, email checking and Facebook scrolling. It has space next to it for baskets of yarn, needles and hooks. The two main lamps in the room stand either end of the couch so the light is good, and I allow Tai Chi Man one cushion’s worth of space at the opposite end for his own use. I think that’s fair!

Plopping down on the couch is so much more satisfying when I feel that I have made some order around me, so I cleaned the main floor of the house this morning, did laundry, mopped the kitchen, freshened up the bathrooms, vacuumed the living room and de-crumbed the dining room table.

I left the vacuuming of the stairs and downstairs utility room to ds2, who is the only one who doesn’t go out and earn his daily crust so he is the one who is allocated chores every day. I still need to take care not to over-exert myself with my healing ear, after all.

I even prepped a couple of dishes of enchiladas for dinner so that once I was installed on the couch I wouldn’t have to get up again for some time!

My garter stitch wrap has reached all of 7″ long, and my goal is eventually to get it to 50″. Then I want to add granny squares to each end, which I have already started making. You can see them in this photo.

IMG_7778

The beauty of this project is that if I feel like I’ve had enough of garter stitch I can move over to the crochet. The eight squares are 3.5″ at the moment, with an intended finished size of 6.5″.

I also have three very small FOs – these mini Christmas stockings.  I didn’t use a pattern. I wanted to take the smallest possible crochet project with me into hospital, so I picked a 3mm hook which was shorter than the rest, a few mini skeins of cotton from the dollar store, and some nail clippers and fitted them into one of my triangular bags that I sewed a few months ago.

IMG_7774

Two of these were finished on Thursday before I left the hospital, and the third was completed yesterday. They’re about 2″ tall.

Well, time to pay some attention to Tai Chi Man who just arrived home from work. TTFN.

 

Sunny Saturday

Standard
Sunny Saturday

What a beautiful day! I haven’t been out (at least not further than my deck) but I am enjoying the sunshine that’s pouring in through the window.

I unpinned the shawl from its blocking mat today and got a couple more photos of it looking more finished.

My new WIP is not, after all, the Wayfarer Ruana, but it is inspired by it. I cast on with big needles and two strands of DK yesterday and started knitting, but really didn’t like the look for something which I intend to wear. For a scrappy blanket, maybe, but not a garment.

What I finally decided to do was to knit a wrap in garter stitch, in DK with 4.5mm/US7 needles, for which I cast on an indeterminate amount of stitches for the width, just going by eye. I am leaving a long tail on the right side whenever I start and finish a colour (every two rows) which will probably remain as a fringe (unless I change my mind about that too). When I have made a large rectangle, I will crochet some granny squares to attach to each end.

It will be like a small version of the Wayfarer, so I am calling it the Wayfarer Wrap on my Ravelry project page.

This photo was the initial choice of yarns from my DK stash, aiming for a blend of soft colours.

IMG_7768

I think it’s working out well so far.

IMG_7770

A very different look to the brights/jewel tones I usually use, but I love it. And the garter stitch is perfect to accompany You Tube or Netflix!

Hat FOs: almost-instant-gratification

Standard
Hat FOs: almost-instant-gratification

Hats are relatively quick projects that are enjoyable and allow a lot of opportunity for creativity. Yes, you do have to make them to fit somebody, but there’s a lot of leeway there if you’re not attached to having them fit a particular person!

I finished two more hats, one crocheted, one knitted. The first is a free pattern from Yarnspirations called Cable Twist Hat. I haven’t done many crocheted cables, but they are pretty straightforward. However I can’t help feeling that the cable crossings would have been a lot simpler done right over left, rather than left over right. Also, I thought that the stitch count for the first round seemed way too big, so I took out a 12-stitch pattern repeat and worked on 60 stitches instead of 72. Bit of a mistake, really, as I failed to account for the “sucking-in effect” of the cable pattern, so ended up with a hat that would probably fit a ten year old rather than an adult woman.

IMG_7744

It fits Sally the Styrofoam Head perfectly. Shaun the Sheep is rolling his eyes at my thoughtless pattern adaptation!

The tension on this was quite tight with the Red Heart Super Saver and 5mm hook. I think if I were to make this again, I would keep the same stitch count but perhaps use a 6mm hook.

My other hat wasn’t made from a pattern. I wanted to use a new colourway of Bernat Pop that I found at Walmart. It’s called Candy Cane and has two shades of red, aqua, grey and a pinkish-white. I had two cakes, so started knitting the hat, pulling the yarn from the outside of one cake, and when I got to the Fair Isle pattern (which is in Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting) I used the second cake, pulling from the inside.

FullSizeRender (39)

The hat is definitely slouchy, and with the big pompom on top Sally didn’t want to stay upright. I had to use a yoga block to stop her falling over.

Once I had completed the first full pattern repeat, I decided to cut out a bit of the white so that the aqua would come into play for the second repeat. And then did the same again with the grey. I used all the colours in the pompom, which is the best one ever because I made it the old-fashioned way, the way we learned at school back in the 60s.

You need two circles of cardboard, cut about 3″ in diameter, with a centre hole cut about 1″ in diameter. (I didn’t measure, I just drew around a couple of things in my sewing room that looked about right. I don’t know what the perfect cardboard proportions are to come out with a perfectly spherical pompom –  mine is a little elongated – but it’s easy to trim it down if necessary.) One wraps the yarn around and around the cardboard, holding the two pieces together, until one can’t get any more yarn through the middle (a darning needle is an essential piece of kit here), then one cuts the yarn by inserting scissors between the two pieces of cardboard around the outside edge. Tie a piece of yarn tightly around the middle, then remove the cardboard, and hey presto! One has a fabulous pompom, full and squishy and awesome, not limp and scraggly like some I’ve seen.

It was a very busy weekend at work. I worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I guess the sale got the people out, despite the huge (for us) amount of rain that’s fallen in the past week. Saturday was the busiest I’ve seen it in a long time. After three solid days of pounding the touch screen till at work, cutting fabric, and tidying up the store, my wrist is hurting, so today I decided to buy a basic support for it. I should probably have graduated to this after quitting my full wrist brace months ago, but have been managing without. However even eight months after the break/surgery I am not quite back to full, pain-free, use of my wrist. And I need to be careful not to overdo things and set myself back.

Today was errand day and I stopped in at a few places including Costco and a couple of bulk food stores. I was excited to find a Moo Free vegan chocolate advent calendar (made in Britain no  less) for December! I think that this year I will resurrect a tradition that has fallen by the wayside for a couple of years – that of making mincemeat ready for mince pies at Christmas. The recipe I have is vegan, and has no added fat, and you make it and put it into jars and let it sit in the fridge for six weeks. I love mince pies!

It looks like we will be having a low-budget Christmas this year. The boys are all young men now and are quite happy for us not to buy them stuff for the sake of it. Tai Chi Man and I buy what we want, when we want, throughout the year, so aren’t bothered about gifts under the tree. We will have to plan some great meals and some good fun entertainment. Maybe go to the movies, see a Christmas show, things like that.

I have ear surgery coming up in a couple of weeks time. I had the left ear “fixed” in 2015 due to a hereditary gradual deafness issue called otosclerosis. My mum had the surgery on one ear back in the 80s but never did have the other ear done. It involves a general anaesthetic; the eardrum is opened up, the calcification drilled away, and the stapes bone (one of the three teeny tiny bones in the ear that are supposed to vibrate together) is replaced with a titanium prosthesis. This surgery will be on my right ear, and my third piece of titanium (left ear, wrist and now right ear)! I am turning into the bionic woman. Just as well it doesn’t set off airport security scanners!

I have two weeks booked off work, which was an adequate amount of time in 2015 for me to feel sufficiently recovered to get back into the usual routine. I know what to expect (a mixed blessing: the vertigo is horrendous at first) and I am confident of a good result. I will be able to say goodbye to the remaining hearing aid, which will be wonderful. I will need to keep that ear dry for months afterwards, not to mention being very careful not to topple over at first, so Tai Chi Man will be back to helping me shower until I am steady again.

Hope you have a happy crafty week. Back soon!