Category Archives: sewing

Two steps forward and one step back

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The backing for the wonky log cabin quilt came together quickly, as I used chunks of the fabrics left over from the top. I bought a polyester batting from work – the cheapest thinnest stuff you ever did see – and pinned the layers together.

And then I quilted some of it…and hated it…and am now unpicking the stitches from the back with a seam ripper. It was too much quilting, too messily done, and it ruined it. I had quilted five squares out of the 25, used a full bobbin of thread on it over 1.5 hours, and it will take ages to pull out. However I will be happier with it in the long run if I suck it up and just do it.

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More happily, I have an FO! A pompom beanie crocheted with a cake of Caron Chunky Cupcakes in Jelly Bean. The pattern was on the ballband but it’s also available for free on the Yarnspirations website. Details on my Ravelry project page. It’s constructed using a sideways ‘ribbed’ brim, then you join into a loop and work along the side for the body of the hat. The main part is moss stitch, which in crochet is (sc, ch1) around, working into the chain spaces on the next round. It makes a nice fabric, and alternating both ends of the yarn cake gives you a variation in colour as you go. The pompom comes attached to the yarn, which is why it coordinates so well.

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a cosy Cowboy Fog

 

I’ve been mostly staying off Facebook lately, preferring just to post an occasional photo to Instagram. I spend at most a few minutes a day on Instagram so have more time to do better things! The above photo is from one of my visits to my favourite local tea shop. This book is from the library and I’m really enjoying the read, and identifying what is cosy for me. Certainly, one of my cosiest things to do is sit in Chai Baba and drink their awesome teas and either crochet, read or talk to the friends we bump into there.

Another cosy thing I like to do is take my breakfast outside to the deck. It’s cool and quiet and I can look at the sky, enjoy my breakfast, maybe wrap myself in a blanket or quilt if I feel a little chilly, and look out for birds and squirrels in the trees.

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It’s my birthday tomorrow and I feel like the celebrations are happening not just for one day but for half a week! Last night I went out to dinner with friends and we had a lot of fun. We’re all Brits so have the same sense of humour. Tomorrow I am working, but there is a potluck at my house in the evening with a different set of friends who we always have a laugh with. We usually play Mexican Train Dominoes, and there is lots of digressing and wordplay and puns. And Sunday morning we are off to brunch at another vegan cafe with a couple of our sons. I am totally making the most of turning 57!

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So while I was procrastinating on the quilt unpicking, I made these tote bags with some old stash fabrics. I made 12 in all but took the photo before I made the last one. I decided that as I have to work on my birthday, I will practice Random Acts of Kindness and give a bag out now and then throughout the day to customers who need one. It will save them taking a plastic bag and hopefully it will remind them to always carry a cloth bag with them when they shop in future.

And then I spotted the stash of old jeans on the top shelf of the sewing room closet, and this came together.

It’s a fun little bag made from upcycled denim. I sewed a little flower where there was a hole at the corner of the pocket, which inspired me to make the strap out of the same fabric and also applique another patch on the back. I loved it so much that I immediately started another, but it got to 4pm and I had to start cooking dinner. I could have carried on for hours!

Have you seen this nifty gadget? It was very useful today, for sewing over bulky seams and the parts where the tote bag straps joined to the top of the bags. It basically helps the machine to handle the thick seams without skipping stitches or getting stuck. Definitely a good investment.

Well, I really must get to bed. It’s been a busy day (including a 9am Cardio Barre class and a half hour weights session tonight) and I have to be up early in the morning, Have a great weekend!

A change of pace

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I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks because after my productive July I felt like I needed a little break from crochet. Whaaaaat?!

There has been a teensy bit of knitting, but nothing worth showing, as it was a gauge swatch for a sweater that I have changed my mind about, at least for now. The gauge on the pattern is 21 sts/4 inches with DK yarn, and I tried three different needle sizes and still was getting too many and I liked the tightest gauge the best. Rather than do the math, I shelved the project.

I have the seed of an idea germinating in my head right now, but I haven’t done anything about it yet because I have been sewing instead.

I’ve had a couple of days off and I was motivated to get down to my sewing room and dedicate some hours to a couple of projects. This one was an impulse make, after a customer at the fabric store where I work told me about the cartwheel skirts she makes for her granddaughters. Basically it’s a skort, where the shorts or leggings and skirt are joined at the top. You can do cartwheels in them without flashing your knickers! (I need some for ME!)

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(Before adding the elastic, while waiting for my sister to confirm waist measurement.)

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(After adding elastic. This fabric is really cute, but you can’t iron it or the dots come off.)

A couple of weeks ago, in this post, I showed you some quilt blocks that I had made. Well, I have been adding to them bit by bit, and at this point (below) I had 25.

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I have five of each – Pink Panther, Scooby Doo, crazy cats, camper vans, and VW bugs. All wonky log cabin blocks starting either with a 4.5″ or 5.5″ cut square, depending on the pattern I was fussy-cutting.

Today I started cutting into and sewing on my sashing fabric, which is just a solid black, and it makes so much difference to how things look. I will get some photos of the quilt top when it’s ready. I have a feeling I will need to add some sort of colourful border outside the black, so will have to see what I have left from making the blocks. And then I’ll need to layer it up with some batting and backing and figure out the quilting part.

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I have more projects lined up already. The top on the left will be made with a blue rayon and the dress on the right is going to be bright pink (it’s going to be part of my Hello Kitty outfit for Halloween which I’ve only been planning for, like, 5 years)! The fabrics were washed today, so next time I have a sewing day there’s nothing standing in my way.

Signing off now – going to put food on the table for the troops, but I won’t be eating any yet – I have signed up for a Booty Burn class at 5.30 followed by yoga, so I have to be careful to go with a relatively empty stomach. Ta ta for now!

More crochet and sewing fun

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It’s getting to the point that I can’t fit my Mimic Shawl into the shot. I am still enjoying this project, especially as I do love the pink section in this yarn, which will soon become another lime green one. Actually, very soon, as I don’t think there’s enough pink left to complete the next row, so I am going to do a little splicing, like I did the last time I hit this juncture.

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My evening project yesterday was to sew a book bag for my great-niece. I picked up a panel of quilting cotton from work a while back with The Very Hungry Caterpillar on it because when she was born two years ago I made her a Very Hungry Caterpillar blanket, cocoon and hat. I thought that maybe I’d make a quilt but then I had other ideas. Two parts of the panel became a bag, along with two contrast fabrics, one for the lining and one for the pocket. (The pocket is divided into sections for pencils and other stuff.)

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The widest section with the butterfly was made into a pillowcase. It’s not very big, but she’s only two! I won’t be filling it with stuffing ahead of time, because it has to go in the mail. The contrast fabrics were ones I had already.

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I’ll be seeing her in October, along with the rest of my family, when we drop in for a few days after Yorkshire and Yarndale (whoop whoop!) and so I am going to mail it to my mum ahead of time so that I don’t have to carry it in my luggage.

I’m itching to sew some more with my stash of quilting cottons but haven’t yet decided what to make.

We had a lovely weekend with Yin Yoga, weight training, shopping, and tea at our favourite tea shop (OK, Tai Chi Man probably would rather not have had to mow the lawn and today I cleaned bathrooms and vacuumed but, you know, these things have to be done). I couldn’t leave the cleaning ’til tomorrow as I’m working. Once it’s cooled down a bit, I want to have a walk around the neighbourhood and that will be the ideal end to the weekend.

 

WIP: Mimic shawl

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The shawl has grown some more. The initial triangle complete, you start working out from one side to form an extension and end up with a trapezoid. That dark purple was a bit of a struggle with the single crochets because it was so dark but now the pink is returning right near the end of the first cake. I have done three sections out from the side of the triangle (alternating V stitches and moss stitch) and need to do a total of 11, so I will be using quite a bit of the second cake.

The stitch patterns themselves are easy enough, but I do have to pay attention at the row ends as there is decreasing going on at the bottom edge and increasing at the top. I think this is going to be a gorgeous shawl and I will be keeping this one for myself. (I will check the weather forecast before flying to England for Yarndale in September and if it looks like it’ll be cool enough I will take this with me. I feel like one should have something handmade to wear at a yarn festival!)

An FO for me this week was the second rayon top that I finally finished. I was spurred on by (a) a UFO thread in the British Banter group on Ravelry in which I pledged to finish it this month, and (b) the fact that I wanted to do other sewing but my cutting table was covered in pieces of this top and I was not going to put it away half done.

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Not a great photo. The pink one with the turquoise band was done some time ago and I’ve worn it a couple of times. The turquoise one with the pink band was finished this week and I wore it the next day for work. Because of the lack of stretch and the rather low cut V neck, it’s not really ideal for work, as I need room to move in the shoulders and a top that doesn’t gape when cutting and lifting fabrics. But for wearing with my colourful Sweet Legs leggings, they are perfect.

The second iteration has no back neck opening. The first one was made per the pattern, and I find the opening gapes a bit, so I just sewed right up the back seam on the second.

I have already started making a simple top from a grey knit fabric remnant, which I hope works out (no great investment of money or time if it doesn’t) and am planning another top from a McCall’s pattern if I can just find the right fabric for it.

And now, it’s off to do some shopping with ds3, who needs to buy himself some shoes, and we also need groceries.

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.

 

Miracles DO happen!

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Miracles DO happen!

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I am a little embarrassed to admit that I cast on this sock on July 3rd last year. Why did it take me so long to finish it? Probably the fact that it’s actual sock yarn, so it’s very thin, the needles are US#1/2.25mm, also very thin, and I was sure my gauge was working out looser than the intended 9sts/inch so didn’t expect it to fit.

However, all is well. I had no other works in progress so I picked up this project, which has been languishing in its very cute project bag for months, and actually finished the darned foot and toe in very little time. And it fits!

To avoid Second Sock Syndrome, I immediately cast on the second sock.

The yarn is Loops & Threads Perfect Pair in the colourway Glory Days. Love the colours in this so much. I also have two other colourways of this in the stash, and I shall have to decide whether to knit another pair or perhaps try a crocheted pair next.

The pattern is the basic sock pattern from Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, following the numbers for the women’s large at 9sts/inch.

I also had a bit of fun while I had the chance this afternoon and made another pair of the fleece armwarmers with some pawprint fleece left over from a blanket project at Christmas. They really are quick and easy.

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I love moving stash, whether it’s yarn or fabric. I also have a tote bag which is partially sewn but which I had to abandon earlier to get dinner on the table. And I didn’t get back to it after dinner as we went to a yoga class. But that’s OK, I will finish it soon and show you pics.

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.

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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.

More February finishes

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It’s been another crafty week, in between work shifts. I worked Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but still managed to get some crochet and sewing done.

Tuesday was a nutso day for snow. I went in at 9 that day and my boss said she had taken 40 minutes to drive to work when it usually takes her 15. So she decided to postpone that night’s staff meeting and rearrange the shifts so that we could run the store with the minimum amount of people. What was supposed to be a four hour shift, followed by two more hours in the evening, turned into an 8 hour one (though it was cut slightly short because the store closed early due to the snow that had been falling all day).

Continuing on with the “Bash the Stash” theme (Ravelry group ‘British Banter’ has a Bash the Stash 2019 thread, The Cozy Cottage Crochet podcast has a Love your Stash CAL, Smells Like Yarn podcast has a Stash from the Past thing going on with his own yarn and others are welcome to join in) I used some Caron Big Cakes yarn to make the granny bag pictured above. This is a pattern/tutorial from the bobwilson123 YouTube channel. Clare suggests two sizes – a small bag with a 16″ starting square, or a large one with a 24″ square. I made mine 18″ as I wasn’t sure how much yarn the top borders and handles would take. It’s a fun bag and very roomy.

And as I had yarn left over, I crocheted up a zippered pouch to match….and I still have some of that yarn left!

I made a few fabric items this week. One was a no-sew vest (waistcoat) of which I’ve just realised I don’t have a picture. Basically you take a metre of a lightweight knit fabric and fold it and cut two slits for armholes, and that’s it! I’ve had a lot of compliments on my old ones when at the store, so this week I made two more. One is now on display at the store and I wrote up an instruction sheet for it. The other is for me!

The other items are made from something called sueded knit. It really is soft.

It’s a pyjama set. I bought two metres of fabric with the intention of just making pyjama bottoms by copying an old and worn out pair. I cut them along the seams, laid them out on paper, and made a pattern for the new ones. They fit beautifully. There was enough fabric left over to copy a summer top that I own, though I should have added a bit more width when cutting out. It fits, but only just.

And there was yet more fabric left behind from that, so I made a quick drawstring bag too.

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And today I used some old stash yarn to make this headband, though I should have gone with my gut and used a bigger hook. Pattern called for bulky yarn and a 4mm hook! Normally I would use a 6mm with this James C Brett Marble Chunky. I ended up using a 4.25mm but had to do extra repeats of the cable pattern to get the length I needed. (My Ravelry project page is here.)

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Thanks Sally, for looking after my steamed headband while it dries!

It may be Family Day tomorrow, and a statutory holiday, but I’ll be working. Our tradition in previous years has been to go to one of the nearby ski resorts on Family Day, but with me being scheduled to work, ds3 working, and Tai Chi Man going in to the office for some paperwork-catching-up time, it’s not going to be a family day for us. (It was on Family Day last year, February 12th, that I broke my wrist snowboarding, and I have felt no urge to go this year anyway.)

If you’re in Canada, have a lovely long weekend.