Category Archives: sewing

Sock Sacks

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I’ve been having fun this afternoon. A friend of mine was sending me Etsy links last night and we were gasping at the price of ready-made knitter’s project bags (ahem$70ahem). I suppose when you take into account the time it takes to make one, plus fabric and other notions, then the price isn’t totally overboard, but when you have the skillz you say to yourself, “I could totally make that!”

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As it happens, one of the Etsy stores mentioned the pattern they were using to make their bags, so I did a quick Google and found the source. It’s Ramona Rose at localredvine and the pattern is for sale here for about $13 Cdn.

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This is a drawstring bag with a divider. The divider can be plain or it can be a zippered pouch. Built in. So cool! Designed for knitting socks two at a time (which I don’t do) it holds the two balls of yarn separately and has two little tabs inside that snap shut to keep your yarn behaving as you pull it from the skein. (As I said to Mr Fixit, it’s always important to keep your balls separate!!!)

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I possibly could have reverse-engineered it, but with the last week being so frugal, with no purchases except for food, I’ve saved more than $13 on gas, lattes and the like. So I thought, to heck with it, and bought it.

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And I’ve already made two. The mushroom/turquoise flower fabric, which I am in LOVE with, was my first. It stands about seven inches tall.

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And the pink camper van bag is about 9.5 inches tall. Here they are side by side. I just realised that this design has everything – a drawstring, a zipper AND snaps.

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There is a larger size yet, but considering the depth (back to front) of these guys, I don’t think you need to go bigger! But of course it depends on what you want to carry in it.

Just to prove I really am in love with that floral fabric, here’s a photo to show you that I now have a total of four coordinated items that I can’t bear to give away! The wallet at the top is in daily use. So glad I bought some of that fabric before it sold out at work.

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Counting my blessings

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I’m feeling grateful today. I choose to be happy about this time off. How many of us complain about ‘having’ to go to work when we’d rather be doing something else? Now we have all this time – Google Calendar says I have no events, or it tells me about a shift I would be working, IF the store wasn’t closed! I am sleeping in late in the mornings. In the evenings, I think, what am I doing tomorrow? And I remember, oh yes, I have zero commitments. It’s very freeing, though I do understand that most of us do benefit from a little structure to our days and weeks to keep us on track.

I baked bread today. I don’t have a meal plan. I have the time every afternoon to decide what’s for dinner, based on the fresh food we need to use up, or what I have on hand. I have the time to pop down to my sewing room and spend some time creating something. I can take a walk or do yoga.

Today I clicked the video icon on a group chat on Facebook and got to talk to three friends, all at once, while we were all in our own homes. How brilliant is that?!

The two little purse/pouches above were made from two of Lizzy Curtis’s YouTube tutorials. Have you heard of her? She’s a Brit who sews, obviously, and she has some  nifty designs. These were both free tutorials. The fabric is from the pile I showed you on the 21st, some of my more recent acquisitions. And I got to use my new snaps and pliers set.

This is what they look like inside:

Quick and easy!

Today I made a less exciting, less pretty item. I was sitting outside with my cup of tea, a little chilly because the sun was barely out, so the sweater and socks stayed firmly on this time. I was looking across at the neighbour’s deck and a lightbulb went on in my head. I had this fugly fabric that Mr Fixit brought home not long ago, thinking I might be able to use it for something. In my recent clearout of my sewing room, I had decided to dispose of it. But wait! It is strong and durable and I can use it!

I measured the space at the top of the deck steps. It was about 36″ square. I cut a 40″ square, turned a two-inch hem, reinforced the corners, and cut a slit inside the stitching. Cut strips from the remaining fabric. Tied it to the deck railings and Voilà! A privacy shield and a little bit of a windbreak too.

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I do have a lovely view from my deck though this iPad photo came out really dark.

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Mr Fixit and I went for another walk this evening. Even though we’ve had some lovely sunny days, the air has been cool, and we still have to wrap up to walk in the evenings. Tonight I had my winter jacket on and a beanie, and for the first part (until I warmed up from the uphill striding) I was zipped up to the chin!

Looks like it’s time for a hot drink and another episode of Hinterland on Netflix. Keep calm and crochet on (or knit, or sew, or…)

 

Craftivity

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Craftivity

Titles are challenging, sometimes, but this word, Craftivity, popped into my mind as my fingers were poised over the keyboard.  Not an original word, probably, but it describes the way I am making the most of the extra time at home. A little knitting, a little sewing, a little crochet.

I started a new crochet project yesterday. I felt it was time to start using some of the “good stuff” AKA Universal Yarn’s Cotton Supreme in the most spring-y Eastery colours you can imagine. After a bit of Ravelry browsing, I decided on the Spring Blossom Cowl (Rav link to pattern page). It looked perfect with its four colour-blocked sections, though my plan is to make it a bit longer so it’ll double up around the neck. I am using my Addi Swing hook, size 5.5mm, and started out with fewer chains because I thought it’d be too wide. Well, after a few inches, I noticed it had shrunk somewhat widthwise. Oh well, I’m not frogging it now. My plan is to do about 12 inches of each colour, then join the ends together. It’s a pretty stitch, and the yarn is nice and soft.

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I have also made myself a sweatshirt-type top using a McCall’s pattern that I bought from work. It’s probably intended for pyjamas, as the pattern includes instructions for leggings, a top with two different length options, two different shaped hem options, and either a hood or cowl neck. The leggings can be made with long legs or as shorts. And there are some cosy slippers in there too. I chose the option with the shorter length, curved hem and cowl collar and left off the kangaroo pocket. (This fabric is quite thin and I didn’t want to drag it down with a pocket. If I make this again in a thicker fleece, I will probably add the pocket.)

The fabric is cool – it’s tie dyed and because it’s double knit it has stripes on the reverse.

I didn’t make any effort to place the colours in a certain position, though I would have liked the deep pinks/blues to have been more prominent. Still, it came together easily, I took my time, and best of all IT FITS!

I have spent a little time each day sitting on my back deck with a cup of tea to absorb some spring warmth. The laundry is up to date, my bathrooms were cleaned yesterday, my half of the built-in closet in our bedroom has been sorted to accommodate the warmer weather, and I am rather enjoying the relaxed schedule. Though, as we all know, there is an underlying tension to everything we do as we wonder how long this odd state of affairs will continue.

I had a couple of video chats via Facebook Messenger yesterday – one with a friend in Germany and a second with a couple of friends who just live down the road. So glad we have ways of keeping in touch. FB, Google Hangouts, Zoom … lots of options for video conferencing.

I even had a Zoom chat with Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats on Sunday, along with some of her other Patreons. She has been recording a daily vlog to chat about how things are developing in the UK along with her daily activities like yarn dyeing, home cooking and crochet.

I hope that you are finding ways to keep calm, stay healthy and relieve stress.

Temporarily unemployed

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Like so many people, I am experiencing what it’s like to be temporarily at leisure due to the measures being taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The fabric store I work at reduced its operating hours a week or so ago, then it reduced them again, and a day later I was told they would be closing altogether at the end of today.

Who could have predicted how 2020 was going to go and how fast things would change?

Of course, we crafty types with yarn and fabric and sewing machines and hooks and needles are happy as clams, mostly, with all the extra time to make stuff. Where I live, we can still go out, the supermarkets are open and well-stocked with produce, though not toilet paper of course, or pasta, beans, flour, rice or sugar. We can walk around the neighbourhood and enjoy the spring sunshine, we can exercise or do yoga at home, and I can cook and bake. My only peeve is that I didn’t make it to the flour mill for my usual 20kg bag of organic wholewheat flour before they closed, because I would really like to be baking tonnes of bread right now, rather than dreading having to go to Costco for our usual brand. (I will be avoiding Costco for a while – they are limiting the amount of people who can enter the store at one time, so there have been long lineups outside.)

I am thankful that we are all safe and well, and grateful that as we are all under the one roof I don’t have to worry about any of my sons becoming homeless as  result of losing their job. The youngest works with me, so he’s also temporarily laid off, and the oldest works at the same company as his dad, and their jobs are continuing, at least for now.

Mr Fixit can work from home if need be, but of course if the installers stop working there won’t be much for him to manage. Two sales people and two admin staff in his office have been working from home all this week already. We just have to take this thing one day at a time.

I did a bit of “panic-buying” of fabric yesterday when I realised the store was going to be closed. I bought some interfacing and some sew-in Pellon fleece for bags, and 11 fat quarters in solid colours, and 12 half-metres of clearance quilting fabric.

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The colours are very bright and spring-like. I have already used some of the pink butterfly fabric and the yellow solid.

This was made from a video tutorial. Photos were taken in the evening in artificial light, the most accurate one being the close up of the ‘handmade’ label.

I also made this one from a different YouTube channel:

It has three sections which create five pockets when assembled. There were some awkward bits in the construction of this, and at one point I was replaying the same bit of the video over and over to work out what to do. I won’t be making another! And my topstitching is definitely not good enough for this bag to be a gift, so I will keep it for my own use.

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This is the sports bra that I made from the pattern I showed you last time. I had about a metre of swimsuit-type fabric in the stash. I had also found a remnant of stretchy cotton fabric at work that worked perfectly for the lining. The only part of this that actually gave me any satisfaction was the straps. The rest was a bit of a battle with the slippery stretchy fabric, and the design rather disappointingly has you leave seam allowances exposed on the inside of the band under the bust, as well as the raw ends of the straps, so it’s messy.

I could have forgiven that IF the bra had actually turned out wearable, but it’s uncomfortable. So yes, I learned a lot in making this, and I’m glad I wasn’t using $40/metre fabric expecting something fabulous. Because I didn’t get it!

I hope that everyone who’s reading this is staying well and finding fun and creative things to do to reduce stress. Everywhere you look at the moment, it’s COVID this and coronavirus that, and it’s hard not to worry. Wash your hands, stay home if you can, maybe organise group video chats through Google Hangouts or Zoom if you’re missing your friends. As with everything, this too shall pass.

All about sewing

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No yarny pursuits to report this week. I had four shifts, so less crafty time, and at my knit night I only did a little bit of knitting on the scrap blanket and then put it down as my friends wanted to play Cards Against Humanity instead!

I haven’t shown you these sets I made up as gifts. I added to a couple of things I made a while back to make sets – a continuous zipper pouch with a flat wallet with snap in the maple leaf fabric, and an itty bitty bag and flat wallet to match the drawstring bag in the Pink Panther fabric. Now that my pliers and snaps have arrived from Ali Express I foresee many more bags in my future calling for snaps (or, as we used to call them in Blighty, poppers).

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And then there’s this…

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…can you guess what it is?

Think about something that’s been in the news a lot recently, something that people are panic-buying, hoarding and even selling for lots of money on the black market! Yes, it’s a kind of toilet paper, but it’s made from diaper flannelette.

On my last trip to Costco, I of course did not find any TP as the hordes had already hoarded it 😛 I am pretty confident that we have enough to see us through the temporary shortage, however I thought I’d do my bit to help stretch the paper stuff by making some flannelette pads. These are only going to be for me, as the only female in our house, and only for pee. (I haven’t got to the stage that I am ready to go full-on cloth as far as TP is concerned.)

I bought 3 metres of diaper flannelette from work – my co-workers probably think I’m nuts, but hey, this is certainly not as messy as cloth menstrual pads, and I’ve tried those before. And I cloth-diapered three babies, so I’m definitely not that squeamish.

Three metres folded into layers and cut with a rotary cutter into 4″ squares made 86 wipes, double thick. I zigzagged all the edges, chain piecing just like you do with quilting, and before I start using them I’ll wash them to get any sizing out and make them more absorbent.

A stack of clean ones on one side of the loo and a small lidded bucket on the other side should do it. And I’ll throw the used ones in with my towel laundry.

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I was excited to find this pattern in the discontinued basket at work. I’ve been wanting to sew my own sports bras so that I can make them in a style I like, and so this came at the perfect time. I’ll make the first one in whatever I can find in my stash – I’m sure there’s some jersey knit fabric in there to give me a practice run as to size and construction. The top and leggings are cute too, though the leggings have a lot of seams and even a ruching detail on the ankle length ones. I have a busy week ahead again so not sure when I’ll get to this, and I also have a couple of metres of fabric for a top that I want to sew up very soon, but it probably won’t be until at least Thursday, unless I can optimise my home time and avoid vegging in front of my laptop. Trouble is, after 8 hours of being on my feet at work, on a concrete floor, on the go and constantly interacting with people, I am usually wiped out by the time I get home.

Hope you have a great week. Stay healthy and optimistic. I intend to!

Another happy Sunday

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I feel very lucky to have had two weekends off in a row. This is unheard of! Not sure what happened with the shift scheduling, but I’m not complaining.

The narcissi that I bought last week are looking beautiful. Seven yellow flowers have appeared since I bought some plants last week. The hyacinth is growing but not showing any colour yet, and the violas have one more teeny tiny flower. Meanwhile, outside it’s been SNOWING!

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Both yesterday morning AND this morning we had snow. And fog. And sun. A bit of everything, really. Interesting weekend! Suffice it to say, it’s not spring yet.

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I don’t think I showed you this – it was a crochet pattern test for Hannah of The Cozy Cottage Crochet podcast. It’s a very comfy beanie that has a bit of texture and she has written it in four sizes and in three levels of slouch. This is the second pattern of hers that I have made and she makes sure that her patterns, which are paid for, are very clear and comprehensive. This is the November  Sky Beanie, but it’s not released quite yet.

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Another FO in the last week is this C2C crochet cowl. It’s long enough to loop around twice and used up a satisfying amount of Bernat Pop yarn. There was a little left which I have put in the bag with the knitted stashbusting blanket (which I haven’t worked on in ages).

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We had a potluck to go to today, a regular date with the same group of friends, and we take turns hosting. We always have fun, eat too much, and usually either play games afterwards or go for a walk. Unfortunately our host today felt like he was getting a migraine after lunch, so we left him to get some rest and headed home. I had some quality time with my sewing machine during which I ran up a quick little backpack for a certain little girl in my family. It’s hard to know how long to make the straps when the girl in question lives a long way away, so hopefully it’ll fit okay.

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I also made this very slapdash zippered pouch with a clear vinyl window in the front. This was probably my least stressful experiment with vinyl so far! Yesterday I watched a WhitneySews video on YouTube for making an I Spy bag. It’s very similar to this, but it’s sewn up instead of having a zipper. You fill it with rice and small trinkets for kids to find through the clear window. Nice idea but a bit heavy to mail. I considered sending one without the rice and getting them to add it at the other end, but then it could be too easy for the zipper to open and let the rice fall out. I shall have to think on that.

I’ve had a couple of very early nights and this is probably going to be another one! And tomorrow I really need to go to the gym and start making a concerted effort to burn off what I have been calling my “winter tires” – and I’m not talking about the ones on my car!!!

 

 

 

Oops!

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I have been neglecting you, dear blog. That’s what happens when my yarn activities are slow. I don’t have many FOs to show off. Except I have been sewing, so I really have no excuse.

The above photo is my mindless WIP, a C2C scarf/cowl, depending on how long the yarn lasts. I’m finishing up a couple of colourways of Bernat Pop! I added to it this morning while enjoying Assam tea at my favourite tea shop.

It was a lovely day, and we prefaced our tea drinking with a walk around the downtown area. Afterwards we popped over to a local plant nursery which is already open, and I bought some narcissi, a hyacinth and some violas (Johnny Jump-ups, my favourite). Obviously it’s not warm enough yet for plants to be outside, so I watered them and placed them slap-bang in the middle of my dining room table, and every day I will be enjoying the anticipation of their blooms.

So, the sewing. Yes! My Espe vegan leather backpack and wallet were wearing out. I had used them constantly for, perhaps, a year and a half. I decided that rather than buy a new commercial handbag and wallet I would make my own. I spent some quality time with a notebook and pencil and then dove in.

Even though I had made a design plan, it was still evolving as I worked with the fabric.

I am pretty pleased with this, though now that I have started using it I am finding it could do with a couple of tweaks. I am waiting for some snaps and pliers to arrive from an online order, so I’ll definitely add some snaps when they get here. My plastic cards could use something to keep them from sliding about in there, so I may add another snapped tab somehow for those. There are three zipper pockets in the wallet, the smallest of which is perfect for my gym pass and padlock. (I am getting quite good at inset zippers now.)

And this is my new handbag, made from crane/cherry blossom quilting cotton (and a coordinate) and denim from an old pair of jeans. This has an inset zipper pocket and a patch pocket too. The latter is great for my cellphone as it slips in and out easily. It is roomy enough to carry the essentials plus a small yarn project. I checked the maximum size that Air Canada allows for a personal item (vs a carry-on bag) and made sure it wasn’t bigger.

I’ve been using it for a few days now and I’m glad I added a couple of loops in the inner side seams, because I can attach my keys to the loops for ease of finding. I also added a dangly beaded zipper pull for easy grabbing.

I’m still spending far too much time watching bag tutorials on YouTube! Even the Japanese ones. They actually are easy to follow, with their measurements and minimal English words on-screen, despite the language barrier.

I hope you have been enjoying some crafty time too.

 

Sewing party

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Sewing party

Yesterday was a great day! Three of my friends came over and brought their sewing machines, tools and fabric so we could make bags. We had decided to make the Continuous Zipper bag from the tutorial by Lorrie Nunemaker and the Easy One-piece purse with popper by Lizzy Curtis.

There was a lot of chat, a lot of sharing of tips and techniques, lots of good food, and fun was had by all.

My makes:

I just love the fabrics I used from my stash. The first purse was the maple leaf one and started out with a 6.5 inch wide piece of fabric. The second one used an 8 inch wide piece and I think it is more practical as you can fit bank notes into it. I am sold on the snaps and now want to get myself a kit so I can make more purses.

Today is a public holiday – Family Day – and is a quiet day Chez Nicolaknits. All five of us are home and are going out for supper later. My sewing machine called to me again so I made another continuous zipper bag using some batting inside instead of interfacing.

I’ve had this fabric for years. It’s cute!

Another idea I wanted to play with, because it was keeping me awake last night when I should have been falling asleep, is a bag with a front made up entirely of zippers. I had a few lying around, so I seamed them together, cut a piece of jeans leg to add to the top, bottom, and back, and added belt loops.

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The front bows out because of the zippers, but that’s not a bad thing. You can access the bag using any of the zippers. I was thinking that if I used a long zipper, I could use any trimmed lengths as well, even if they didn’t have a pull. But in this case they were all short.

In yarny news, I finished the mindless crochet project, which is a yarn cake holder for a friend who just bought a ballwinder. Having the cake corralled makes things much easier.

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And the double knitting project has grown a little. It’s slow going, and there are many mistakes because I’m still learning, but when I manage to get in the flow I enjoy it.

As you can see, the back is a mirror image of the front. It’s double thick. Ampersand Dragon

Hopefully your Monday was a good one. Talk to you again soon.

Thankful

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I am grateful for my job. It’s only three days a week but it gives me a challenge and  money to go on vacation and interaction with lots of people who have similar interests. And having that job makes me more grateful for the days when I don’t have a shift and I can get other stuff done. Yes, that means housework, laundry, grocery shopping and other mundane things, but it also means I have time for my hobbies and my friends.

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The six remaining bags

The set of 12 animal bags is done <<cheers>> and not only that but six are sold already. I was hoping that when I cut up that panel from work and turned it into project bags that I wouldn’t be left with a lot of things I couldn’t sell. However, thanks to friends, they are disappearing out of the door. Each bag is $24 and I am going to donate 75% of that to a farm sanctuary here in the valley. They don’t know that yet, but I’ll be passing on the funds soon, I expect.

It took me a while to get the job done as I kept distracting myself with other fun things. In fact, after I had finished the Hey Ewe bag this afternoon, I went on to make another thing.

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This is made from a jeans leg, which I fused with Heat ‘n Bond to some quilting cotton, and then I constructed a simple zipper bag with a zipper and button from the stash. So easy to make. I’ve watched so darn many YouTube videos on bag construction I think I could make some of them in my sleep. Well, except for the zipper – I still need Wonder tape for that.

I mentioned in my last post that I was planning to play with double knitting and I have started on the dragon square. I have made a few mistakes but I am being gentle with myself and leaving them, because it is a learning process. I have discovered I prefer to do it while holding both yarns in my right hand, rather than in the left, or one in each hand, and it is something that you really have to  FOCUS on because you have to knit and purl the correct stitches in the correct colour and then just as you’re getting used to it you have to switch the colours to make the design. Yikes!

When my friends came over last night, I didn’t even bother to pick up the needles, choosing to start something simple in crochet instead.

It’s dinnertime, and I’m off to scoff chili and rice. Have a great day!

 

Nuts for bags

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Good morning! It’s a very foggy start to the day here. We still have snow on the garden, though most of the roads are clear as we haven’t seen any snowfall for a week now. Yesterday felt really warm – I think it reached double digits. My car’s thermometer said 10 degrees Celsius, parked in the carport.

Last time I posted, I had five project bags made. I now have five more.

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Still two to go to finish the set and then I’ll make more of a concerted effort to get them sold for CritterAid.

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In between making these bags, I made a denim one for a change of pace.

Same technique, no batting.

Much as I love my animal bags, I’ll be glad when they’re done. I did finish a child size beanie this week using Caron Cupcakes yarn…

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…which then led me to getting my swift and ball winder out and going through my yarns and tidying some up and turning some from hanks into cakes. I haven’t used any of my newest yarns, purchased last year. I suppose I’m thinking I should use up the older stuff first, but that could take a long time, especially at my current rate of production.

One technique I’d like to play with this year is double knitting, where you knit two layers at once using two colours and end up with a pattern on one side and the reverse pattern on the back. Like this Ampersand Dragon on Ravelry. I have printed the pattern and I think this will be my next knitting challenge. I have watched a few videos for cast ons and dealing with edges. Should be fun!

It’s a work day today so I’ll sign off here. Hope your day is wonderful, and happy crafting.