Category Archives: health

In which I prove my blog name

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I coined the name Nicolaknits when I started this blog and it was an apt name. I was mostly knitting back then. However  I then went through a phase of almost 100% crochet and I was wondering if I’d ever get my knitting mojo back.

Seems I have!

The two projects I’ve been working on the last couple of weeks have been knitted. The Pebble Beach Baktus was put aside for a week or so to get some mittens made for a co-worker, but today I picked it back up again and made good progress (of course I’m on the “downhill” side now, so it will go faster as the decreases make my rows shorter and shorter).

It will need blocking at the end but I do love the look of squishy yarn in garter and cables. I cut off the last bit of brown at the end of cake #1 and also had to remove the blue at the centre of cake #2 to get to the brown section, but I allowed for that by turning the corner (starting the decreases) well before cake #1 ran out.

The mitten pattern I chose was Minky Mittens. These were made with yarn that my co-worker bought (at my recommendation – I thought the Deborah Norville Wool Naturals yarn would be really warm, especially in the slipstitch pattern).

I knitted the adult medium size and they came out perfectly. The yarn is brown though it looks rather grey in these nighttime shots.

They would look more exciting in more contrasting colours but they will do the job, which is to keep her hands warm when shovelling snow this winter.

What else is new? I took a new class at the gym today. It’s called SST which is a mixture of cardio and weights and gets your whole body sweating. Often, on a Tuesday evening, I’ve been going into yoga and have seen the people leaving the SST class looking like they had a really good workout. So rather than just do my usual solo treadmill/weights workout today, I joined the class and had a really good time. Definitely an experience to repeat.

Then I headed over to a friend’s house to fix a knitting emergency. Wouldn’t it be great to have a decal and some flashing lights to attach to my car so I could go over there with sirens blasting to help her with her scarf!? Anyway, she was stuck. There was a knot in the yarn which she’d knitted past and on the next row it was causing problems. So all that was needed was a bit of tinking (unknitting) a stitch at a time to get to the root of the problem on the previous row. Luckily it was an easy fix and my reputation as a knitting goddess is intact!

Well, I may have done a fitness class this morning but I wouldn’t want to cancel out the benefits by spending the entire rest of the day on the couch. I’ll sign off for now and wish you all happy crafting.

 

 

Knitting and snow

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Knitting and snow

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Two weeks! Haven’t I been a naughty blogger! Time to update you on my WIP. Last time I had a couple of FOs to show you and was stuck as to what to make next. Well, I made a decision, and I’m using my two cakes of Bernat Pop! in Birch Bark and Blue to make a shawlette/scarf type thing.

The pattern is here. It’s called the Pebble Beach Baktus and it’s an easy knit, mostly garter stitch but with a lace and bobble border that adds just a little interest while still being something I can knit while watching Netflix! It’s funny how technology has taken over our lives (well, sad too, in a way) but I can have my laptop open playing a movie or TV series and my iPad open in iBooks with a knitting or crochet pattern at the same time.

I’m just over half way through this. I decided to start on the decreasing half before I ran out of the first cake of yarn, as I am going to have to wind off a little bit of colour at the end of the first cake and the beginning of the next to get the correct colour transition.

It doesn’t look like a lot of progress for two weeks, does it!? But other stuff gets in the way (you know, annoying things like work, and cooking, and housework) plus I decided to knit a quick dishcloth during my Monday night social evening rather than try to keep track of rows and yarnovers and skp’s.

What else is new? Well, I have three tradesmen here today. They are all subcontracted by the same plumbing, heating and air conditioning company. One is replacing taps next to my washer and dryer, and also the outside tap on the other side of the wall to those. One is servicing our furnace. One has been crawling through the insulation in the roof space and is replacing the old, pathetic fan in the en suite bathroom ceiling. I don’t envy these guys. Mostly they are working in a tight space, in our case in an old 1970s house, trying to fix new stuff to old stuff. I know they get paid well, but still, I wouldn’t want their jobs.

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View from my deck today – two trucks out front. And looking in the other directions…

Lots of snow! A few days ago, it snowed solidly for about 24 hours. Then the temperature dropped to well below freezing so it stuck! This is the earliest snowfall we’ve had here since 2001, I believe. And it was a huge dump. We have a few more days of sub-zero to look forward to, and then it’s rising, so it’ll all be melted by the weekend probably.

Tai Chi Man and ds1 fitted both cars with the winter tires on Friday (a day after the snow arrived but he’d mentally scheduled the job for the weekend and the snow caught us out)!

It’s lovely and crisp out there. The sun is doing its best to come out and the light is beautiful.

Thinking of Netflix again, I watched Season 2 of Stranger Things. Definitely enjoyed that. If you haven’t watched it, I recommend it (starting with Season 1 of course).

I worked three days straight, Friday to Sunday, and the weekend was busy busy busy with a flash sale. I’m very glad to have the day at home today. Knowing these guys were going to show up today, but not knowing what time, I was awake at 6.50 (thanks to the time change) and quickly washed and dressed and started cleaning around. My man-boys have not been keeping up with their chore lists. It’s pretty disappointing really. So before I even had a glass of water and a cup of tea I cleaned three bathrooms, cleaned up the kitchen including mopping the floor and scrubbing the stovetop, took out the recycling, put away the laundry etc etc. Not worth vacuuming until the workmen have left.

My body will be pleased to have a rest day from work and workouts. I had a lot of aches and pains over the weekend. A muscle in the top of my right leg keeps giving me a stabbing pain, my right shoulder has been painful again, and my friend, who I went to for some healing touch the other night, has told me I should cut back on heavy lifting that strains the lower back as I have some compression happening in there. Also my neck is always ‘crunchy’ and is not as mobile as I would like. So I will have to be careful not to overdo things at the gym and the store.

Well, that’s probably enough waffling for now. As my bathroom fan guy clatters along in the roof space above my head, I should probably eat a late breakfast!!  Happy Monday to you all!

Catching up

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Catching up

Hello bloggy friends

I hope you had a wonderful week and that your weekend will be full of fun things. I have a few things to show you because it’s been over a week since my last post.

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The crazy C2C laptop bag is all done, buttons ‘n all.

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My fall wreath is adorning my kitchen wall, completed with pumpkins, sunflower and various leaves. Four of the leaves were made with random patterns available on Ravelry, though I didn’t note down which ones, and the rest I just made up as I went along.

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I had a nice surprise in the yarn aisle at Wal-mart t’other day. I don’t often see much worth buying there, but they actually had a bunch of cakes of Bernat Pop! in various colourways. This time, I narrowed down the colours and bought two of each, thinking it might be good if I wanted to make a pair of something.

These are Foggy Notion, Birch Bark and Blue, and Full Spectrum, going from left to right. One of the Foggy Notions has already been converted into an infinity scarf using this pattern. An easy two row pattern, it used one whole cake of the Pop!

It’s not the softest acrylic out there so I intend to give this a machine wash and dry before giving it away.

I have been a good girl, going to the gym regularly since I joined at the beginning of September. On my days off, my plan is to go and work out with the treadmill/weights, and also to attend yoga and Zumba classes when I can. I have yet to try a Spin class. There is one tomorrow morning at 7, before the yoga. Not sure if I will do that one or not, yet, as I have to work afterwards. If Tai Chi Man is up for it, I will do it!

I spent a pleasant afternoon at my friend’s today, catching up on the last three episodes of Outlander. Awesome!

Happy crafting!

 

 

Scrappy fun

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I followed through on that idea I mentioned in my last post about using up some stash to make cat mats.

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Five strands of random acrylic plus a 19mm hook makes for fast finishes. Once I’d made five, I thought I’d make a nicer version for myself. The floor in my cold room (an unheated cupboard in my basement where we keep our food stores) is freezing in the winter so to save our feet I thought we needed a rug. So I made one.

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I rather like the way the colours worked in this one, except maybe for the yellow at the beginning. Still, it feels good to use up random balls and odds and ends of yarn and edit my Ravelry stash to show “all used up.”

Zumba on Sunday morning was as fun as I remember it. Shame I don’t have every Sunday off (working all this weekend) but I will go when I can.

No inspiration for the Lion Brand Mandala yet, but I am keeping my antennae up for mentions of likely patterns online.

Pizza time! Off to eat.

 

Better photo and another FO

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Edited to add: I just spent all of five minutes adding all my free pattern links back in the sidebar. They were all still there, in the background. If I’d realised how quick and easy it would be, I would have done it 9 months ago when I changed the theme! Doh!

 

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Daytime shot of the Polaris scarf, taken outside this morning. We have another day of orange sun, the sky being totally obscured by smoke again.

And I finished off this coaster, which is about 5 inches in diameter. I felt like my experiment was a success and I’m itching to move on to something new.

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If you look carefully, you can see a little bit of the Phil Techno rubber yarn peeking out at the bottom of the photo. I didn’t want to trim it too close. The yarn is Red Heart with Love, and I think the colourway is Boysenberry.

Yay for finishing things!

So my day looks like this…keep nagging young men to get up and get ready for the bus, drop them at bus stop, go to gym (which I joined on Tuesday and I am all gung ho for getting fit again), come home, shower and change, vacuum the house, and make dinner. Sounds like a plan!

And tonight I can pull out a cake of Lion Brand Mandala (totally non-fattening) and crochet on the couch, guilt-free!

 

 

FO: Classique Cotton bag, and other stuff

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I had a little play with some of my Stylecraft Classique Cotton colours. I thought this would make a nice bag – sometimes you just need room for a phone and a key, and maybe a driver’s licence and a credit card.

I used the plum colour to seam it and I’m not 100% happy with how it looks, so rather than go with my original plan, which was to give it to a co-worker, I may just keep it for myself.

See that magazine there? It’s not often that I find a magazine worth buying, but I happened to be in London Drugs today and as usual I browsed through the available knitting magazines (there weren’t any crochet ones). Vogue Knitting has had some, shall we say, Interesting designs in the past that maybe a stick-thin model can get away with but on me, an average height, average weight, rather plain middle-aged girl, they would have looked just plain dumb! However I saw interesting articles, Canadian content and patterns I would actually knit, including a Cowichan-style sweater. Even though I don’t knit with wool, being vegan, I have long wished to make such a garment. I’m sure the knitting police won’t arrest me for using acrylic!!!

I actually bought two magazines.

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Whilst I already have adopted the whole-food, plant-based lifestyle and am now pretty adept at cooking vegan meals without oil, I do like to experiment with new recipes. Not only that, but I am currently preparing an educational presentation on the diet which needs to be ready by  next weekend for its first airing, and having this magazine to hand will, I think, be useful.

If you haven’t yet watched the Forks Over Knives documentary or checked out their website, I heartily recommend them.

I will shortly be retiring to bed with my new magazines, and the only reason I can get away with that tonight is that Tai Chi Man is working out of town so is not here to object to me reading in bed. He always goes to bed earlier than I do, because he works full-time and wakes early and is pretty knackered by about 10pm. Whereas I tend to stay up late (Netflix has a lot to answer for) and get up later in the morning.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. Happy crafting!

New venture

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I do apologise if this blog gets a little quieter in future. However I have been working on setting up a brand new website/blog all about the benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based diet.

Having been vegan for thirty years, and getting more and more interested and informed on the plethora of scientific evidence that this is the way of the future, I wanted to start putting my money where my mouth was, as it were. Actually, I have, for now, set up a free WordPress blog, so no financial investment at this time. However since graduating from the Centre for Nutrition Studies Plant-based nutrition course at eCornell, and even before that, I have wanted to do something concrete to help get the word out.

I know there are many resources out there, but each website, book or documentary adds a little more to the mix, and different approaches appeal to different people. Even if only a handful of people get the message via my new blog, and it makes a difference in their lives, then it is worth doing.

The yarn has been lying dormant for a couple of days while I played with Squarespace (professional but even though it is supposedly user-friendly I found it frustrating to set up), considered my options (do I want to commit to a monthly fee for a site which won’t be generating income, at least initially), investigated the WordPress options (from free up to $30 a month, depending) and just dived in to a regular basic blog because I just wanted to get started already!

Setting up the blog took a bit of time, getting the first two posts published, creating a new Facebook page, opening up a new Twitter account, and I needed to get out for a walk in the evening to burn off some of the tension of all that laptop time.

I’d love it if you were to check out my new website, Grains, Greens, Berries & Beans. Long name but I like the alliteration and the other options I considered were already taken. My youngest son helped with the logo that appears on my Facebook and Twitter profiles. I gave him my idea on paper and he translated it into digital!

I have so much information to share that it will take a long time to publish just what I already have planned, and of course new things are appearing on the web all the time. I hope to create a comprehensive resource for all things related to the Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle. I’m excited to get on with it.

Thanks for visiting.

 

WIP: Gypsy Flower Square sweater

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Good morning, peeps! It’s such a beautiful day here. We’ve had lots of sun and blue sky this week. A few clouds threatened yesterday and even dropped about ten tiny snowflakes on me when I was walking for an hour, but it didn’t amount to anything.

Now that we have the new windows and doors, the house is so much brighter. No UV film to block out the much-desired winter sun. The extra window in the kitchen door is my favourite thing of the whole job – what was a dark corner is now filled with light. What a difference!

I took another photo of me with the new haircut that came out better. I sent it to my mum, but I will also share it here. I love the hair, but my face is definitely suffering the effects of my 54 year old hormones. It is reddened, partly spotty and partly flaky. Gah!

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You may have seen the first part of the Gypsy Flower Square in my last post. I reached the end of the instructions for the square…

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I absolutely love the stitch pattern in the last two rounds, especially as they are in my favourite colour.

After that, I had to decide what to do to make it bigger. This is what I did…

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Some V stitches, some puff stitches. I’ve now used all the colours in the pack except for the petrol. I need to save that for the edges as I would hate to run out of it when doing the neckline, etc. Rather than make another square like this, I think I will probably do the back in stripes, as well as the sleeves. That way I can use up the colours more evenly.

Stylecraft Special DK held double and crocheted with a 6mm hook is so nice and squishy. Of course, one could use chunky yarn to start with, but the DK comes in 82 colours and the Aran and Chunky weights only in, what, 30?

Well, the square still isn’t big enough, so I will have to be creative and continue on until it’s at least 22 inches across. Gotta have some positive ease, especially in a bulky sweater. I really hope this will look great with jeans this spring!

I spent an intense couple of hours yesterday, starting to type up my thoughts relating to a new venture. Since I acquired my Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate, my plans are to set up a new website/blog helping people who want to transition to a healthier lifestyle. It will need to be written, rewritten, and tested (just like a crochet pattern!) before releasing it to the general public. I am excited about it!

Have an awesome day!

 

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. 🙂

 

 

WIP: Peacock Tail Bag CAL

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Almost there!

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The bag’s front and back are now joined and the top band is finished. The bag is now blocking, hence the pins and wet spots where my iron dripped while steaming it.

I have two small crochet tabs to make for the D rings and I still don’t have a handle, but I did find some batik fabric in my modest stash which will be perfect for lining.

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It’s been a busy few days with work and errands. Yesterday in particular the store was really buzzing as we had one of our “ultimate sales” which continues throughout the weekend. I am grateful not to be working today – instead I am going to an intro session for piano lessons and this evening a potluck with dear friends.

For about the last month I’ve been feeling like an old crock as I have had a few aches and pains in my back, shoulders, neck and left hip. It has disturbed my sleep, stiffened me up so I have to roll out of bed slowly in the mornings, made me limp when I get up off the couch. I think it might be due to my overly enthusiastic efforts at getting back into weight training – I really wanted to feel fit and strong but it backfired and left me whinging and wincing like an old curmudgeon.

I’ve been to the chiropractor twice this week (she found a lot out of alignment) and had a massage last weekend. This week I have more therapeutic appointments to make because I really don’t like it when my body is not flexible and pain-free.

Anyway, enough of my whining. Things to do, people to see. Better get on with it. Have a wonderful weekend, peeps!