Category Archives: waffling

I love fall!

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I love fall!

Reasons to love autumn/fall:

Not so bloody hot.

Nights are cool.

Evenings are drawing in.

Socks and sweaters.

Friends can come over and not die of heat exhaustion.

Rain (hopefully).

Long walks outdoors without burning up.

Fleece pajamas.

I could go on. I think September might be my favourite month.

I’ve made a few things in the last week. Some have been for work. I brought home a preprinted cotton  panel and sewed up these trick or treat bags. After I hung them up at work, the fabric sold in a flash.

Today I sewed these stockings from another panel and will take them to the store tomorrow for display.

The sewing pattern I mentioned last time has now been transformed into this:

It looks a bit disproportionate because it’s on a decorative mannequin which is way smaller than I am. But this one will return to me for keepsies once it’s hung at the store for a month.

From the pile of yarn I showed you in my last post, I made these:

A beanie of my own design and a teeny elephant  https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/amigurumi-elephant-25

To accompany these little gifts all the way over the Atlantic I cross-stitched another elephant and glued it to a card.

And from a <ahem> yarn purchase at work because it went on clearance, I have started crocheting dishcloths with a scrubby centre like the ones I made a while back. They are great in the kitchen.

I hope you too are enjoying the season you’re in and finding ways to get out of your head and into your hands, as Kate from The Last Homely House says!

Hats!

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Since getting back from holiday, there hasn’t been a huge amount of crafty activity. I did enjoy a day of blitzing my sewing room which I love to do periodically. It reminds me of what I have in the way of fabric and yarn. It makes me look critically at things I’ve hung on to for months or even years and so by the end of the day I had tossed a lot of stuff in the recycling or trash or thrift store pile.

I went through the fabric and yarn, rearranged things more logically, vacuumed into the corners, and now the room is ready for a new project.

The beanie above was made with a 10mm hook and three strands of the same Lion Brand Mandala Ombre that I used for the shawl. I made it up as I went along. I’ve made a tonne of hats in my time and the bill/peak was just a case of experimenting with what looked right.

When I was at work yesterday, business was a little slow in the pm, and my brain turned to things that could go on display. I checked with the boss and she was OK with me crocheting a beanie with store yarn.

Today being a day off, I had some quality sofa time and I had this made in an hour and a half.

It’s crocheted with a bulky chenille yarn and an 8mm hook and the pattern off the ball band.

Next up will be a sewing project. I have the pattern and flannelette fabric ready to make a knee length robe. The fabric is so cute.

The contrast is a solid blue. It’s still drying at the moment.

I just pulled out my Knit Picks Brava oddments from last year.

I’m wondering about some sort of scrap project or perhaps some amigurumi. You may notice my new knitting mug – it says “If I can’t take my knitting, I’m not going!” And the black blocky thing is my new Anker Bluetooth speaker. I wanted one for my phone but had no idea which one to get so took the recommendation of my eldest son who also has one.

I’m currently playing some awesome 80s music via YouTube music (free, so I have to put up with the ads)!

So that, plus work, is the last two weeks. Oh yeah, and I had a very fun meal out with friends for a belated birthday celebration.

Bag Sewing Tutorial: the Caroline bag

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Bag Sewing Tutorial: the Caroline bag

This bag, which I have named for my sister, is a cute sewing project which can be used for many purposes. Being a knitter/crocheter, of course I think of small yarny projects, but it could hold all sorts of things. The finished dimensions are 11″ wide by 7″ tall, and the base is about 2″ deep. It’s closed with two snaps (no zippers or Velcro to catch your yarn) and the inside pocket is also closed with a snap to keep small bits safe, like stitch markers.

I used my walking foot to sew this bag, which gives me a neat 3/8″ seam when I line it up along the edge of the fabric. This is the fourth version I’ve made. I’ll put a photo at the end of the other three. You can use a solid piece of fabric for your exterior, or piece together scraps to get the size required. Just allow for seams so that you can trim it to size. Don’t do what I did and mix up the width and height!

Cutting guide:

Exterior: two pieces of quilt cotton, 12″ wide by 9″ tall (or pieced work to equal the same size)

Interior: two pieces of quilt cotton, 12″ wide by 9.5″ tall (this is deliberate, you’ll see why later)

Thermolam (fusible fleece) or other interfacing of your choice, or batting: two pieces 12″ wide by 9″ tall, and two pieces about an inch square

Pocket: one piece of quilt cotton, 6.5″ wide by 8.5″ tall

Handle: one piece of quilt cotton, 12″ by 3″

3 KAM snaps

For this bag I decided to make the exterior with two fabrics, the paisley floral and the solid. In the photo above, I have already seamed them together. The next photo shows the Thermolam fused to the back and a line of topstitching across to secure the seam allowances. I used a stitch length of 2.2 for seaming and 3.0 for topstitching. If you use batting, you may want to add some quilting.

Pocket: fold the 6.5″ by 8.5″ square in half, right sides together (so that it’s now 6.5 by 4.25). Sew around the three open sides, leaving a couple of inches in the long side open for turning. Trim the corners. Turn right side out, using some sort of pokey tool to push the corners out. Press.

Insert a small square of Thermolam or interfacing inside the pocket, up near the fold and in the centre. Press again and topstitch across the folded edge, securing the interfacing.

Place pocket on one of the lining pieces, centred, about 2.5″ – 3″ from the top edge. Pin and sew around the sides and bottom. Fuse a small square of Thermolam to the back of the lining where the snap will go.

Install a snap near the top of the pocket.

Handle: take the 12″ by 3″ rectangle, fold in half lengthwise and press. Open out, fold raw edges to centre crease and press, refold and press again. Topstitch down both long edges.

Place one exterior piece and one lining piece right sides together, matching top edges. Repeat with the other two pieces. (If the front of your bag is different from the back, take care to attach the pocket/lining piece to the back exterior.) Sew. (Lining will extend half an inch beyond the bottom of the exterior. This is intentional.) Press seams, pressing lining and seam allowances in the same direction.

Fold handle in half and baste to front exterior, close to top, matching raw edges.

Place the two pieces right sides together, matching exterior to exterior and lining to lining. Pin or clip, being careful to line up centre seams. Sew around, starting at the lining bottom, and leave a few inches open for turning.

Box bottoms: Draw a 3/4″ square at all four corners, measuring from the seamline, not the edge of the fabric. Cut along the drawn lines. Squash the corners so that seamlines meet, pin or clip, and sew across each corner.

Press seams open (I used to skip this step but it’s especially important for the seam allowances to be flat for a neat finish around the top of the bag). Caution! Don’t iron your snap!

Turn right side out and press, avoiding snap. Allow lining to do what it wants to do naturally, which is extend about half an inch above the top of the bag. (A thinner interfacing may be more malleable, but the Thermolam wanted to do its thing and I liked how it looked. If you would prefer the lining not to show, cut it the same size as the exterior.) Topstitch “in the ditch” around the top of the bag.

Install snaps: mark centre top of bag, measure out 2.5″ from centre, half an inch down from seamline. Insert snap on front and back (I used my awl to just poke a hole straight through both layers at once), then repeat 2.5″ from centre on the other side.

Sew up gap in lining. And you’re done!

The black/scrappy bag was my first one. The scrap strip was built up on adding machine paper and had been sitting around my sewing room for months. Because I didn’t know at the time that the lining was going to want to stick out, it’s not quite deep enough. The toucan bag came second, and I figured out the better-fitting lining. And then I wanted to make another one. And another one. They are quite addictive! Hope you enjoy making one. Let me know if you do, and whether you made any modifications.

The year in review – looking back at 2021

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It’s been a good year!

Looking back at my blog posts month by month, it’s obvious that I’ve spent a lot of time at my sewing machine. This may explain why my knitting and crochet output is lower than it used to be. According to my Ravelry notebook, I created 33 project pages this year. In some cases, there are multiple items in one project, like the 20 dishcloths that share a page, so the number of finished items is more like 59.

What did I make?

1 pair fingerless mitts for Mr Fixit

shawl for co-worker who was leaving

3 Among Us amigurumis (which I turned into keyrings for my boys for Christmas)

frame purse

hedgehog ami

granny hat and cowl which I gave to a friend

slipper socks

20 dishcloths

2 phone cosies

5 baskets

1 cardigan

3 cowls

3 key covers

a shawl

a scarf

a teacosy

an Easter bunny for a co-worker

4 earsavers for masks

double thick ponytail hat for co-worker who was leaving

mandala

Purrmaid ami

2 drawstring bags

Little Drop ami

embroidered beanie

I wish it were as easy to summarise my sewing projects, but sadly I don’t have a Ravelry-esque record of them.

My highlights for each month:

January – I was really happy with my Love is in the Air quilt that I made for display at work. I have it folded up in my sewing room now; perhaps it’s time to find a bit of wall space and hang it. Perhaps when February rolls around I can take down the snowman quilt in the dining room (though there’s a good chance that the Love quilt won’t fit in the space).

February – I played around with frame purses, both sewn and crocheted. I made a cute one for my sister’s granddaughter and mailed it to her – as far as I know, she liked it.

March – A couple of favourites from this month. My March Winds wall quilt, in which I used zippers as tree trunks. And my Spring gnomes, which wore little skirts and stood in terra cotta flower pots and charmed lots of people at work.

April – The highlight of this month has to be the flower power bag. Made from a Yoan Sewing Studio (on YouTube) design, I used some gorgeous fabric from work with “camper vans on the beach” vibes. I was so in love with this when it was done.

May – Another Yoan design is my highlight for May. It’s the nine-patch bag and I used some really fun fabric with toucans and the coordinates from the same range. So bright! This is currently my daily handbag.

June – One of my blog post themes was rainbows as I made a PJ set (dress, pants and slippers) in some eye-searing rainbow fleece. The set went on display at work for a month and now I am really appreciating the cosiness of the outfit on these cold nights. And believe me, these nights are super-cold (I think we hit minus 30).

July – Experiments with sashiko dominated my July posts. I upcycled some denim and other fabrics and played with sashiko stitching and boro, making two tote bags and a small Japanese rice bag. I enjoyed the stitching so much that I even bought special thread online, but haven’t yet used it. However I now have the perfect vest pattern in my possession so my plan is to get started on a long vest using denim and linen very soon. July was the time of our heatwave, when we had 45 degree weather which drove me to swim in the lake. We’ve certainly “enjoyed” quite the range this year.

August – I made myself a new lunch tote for, obviously, carrying my lunches to work. I sewed it out of a pretty canvas and added a fair amount of insulation and some inside pockets. I use it every time I go to work and I love that it holds my containers without them tipping sideways. The pockets are handy for cutlery, teabags and napkins.

September – Dominated by the Festival Cardigan, I knitted through a chunk of this month, juggling up to 20 balls of yarn at a time to make this super bulky cardigan. It’s a fun garment, though I do wish I’d made the sleeves just a bit shorter.

October – Two more garments were added to my wardrobe this month. I sewed a plaid shirt which was a challenge but I was so pleased with it and have worn it several times since then. I also made a swoncho-type garment, which is over-sized and incredibly easy to make.

November – Lots of sewing in November too. No single post stands out but this one sums things up – Makers gonna make!

December – With 25 posts in December, I’m not going to pick just one. But the best things about December were our anniversary retreat and my yarn Advent calendar. And now that my Purrmaid is finished (photo at top) I am officially WIPless and can start 2022 with a clean slate.

I hope I typed in all those links correctly. I’ll do a quick check of them after I’ve published this. If there are any typos and the link doesn’t work, I’ll update.

And so the year draws to a close. Two more days and we can say goodbye to 2021. I hope this year has been kind to you, and I wish you a happy, healthy New Year.

Blogmas Day 24

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I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…oh wait, no need to dream…I’m in it!

It snowed most of the day. I worked til 3.15 and had to clear a lot of snow off my car so I could drive home. The store was predictably quiet but we still had a couple of people who came in at the last minute.

When I arrived home, I was happy to see that the potatoes and Brussels sprouts were prepped and the apple crumble was almost ready to go in the oven. The recipe for our main dish was new to me – Seitan stuffed with walnuts, mushrooms and cranberries from fatfreevegan’s blog.

After we’d stuffed our faces with roast seitan, potatoes, sprouts and cauliflower followed by apple crumble and ice cream, we did our gift exchange.

I think I can say that there seemed to be a couple of themes running – snacks and Lego!  Oh, and tea.

Mr Fixit and I received a kettle, Christmas mugs and tea gift cards from oldest son. We had various calorific edibles from all the boys. I was surprised to receive two Lego kits but I love them – one is an RV and the other is The Mandalorian with baby Yoda. All three boys have new Lego sets and it is so weird to see – like we’ve gone back in time 20 years.

I had one of those memories pop up on Facebook the other day where they show you a photo you posted on the same date X years ago. It was the five of us sitting in front of the Christmas tree so I got everyone to sit in the same positions tonight and we took some photos of us all looking 10 years older. That was fun.

Mr Fixit doesn’t look much different (one of the benefits of being bald), I have short hair now (and more pounds), middle son has a lot more facial hair now, oldest had long curly hair but he now has short hair and is slimmer, and the youngest was 13 and looking cute with long blond hair, where he now has short hair and a goatee.

They are all men now and it warmed my heart to spend this evening together and see them give gifts to each other and help with dinner and dishes.

And so we come to the last little bag of yarn for Day 24. A lovely set of purple beads along with the yarn today. And tomorrow, one more bag to open that’s not yarn. I’m looking forward to that!

I hope that you had a wonderful day today, whether you celebrate anything at this time of the year or not.

Blogmas Day 10

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Our last full day at the cabin was pretty uneventful. A short outing, time in the hot tub, a couple of board games, some knitting and crochet and a movie.

See that little squirrel? He/she has been our constant companion. We’ve been  putting seed in the birdfeeder every day and I think the squirrel thinks it’s his/hers. It runs around at high speed, up and down the trees, along the railings, and brings leaves and berries into the feeder.

The highest ledge that screens the hot tub is one of its favourite perches. And in that photo it’s enjoying some of our walnuts.

I made a little progress on the scarf. As you can see I’m using an appropriate project bag for the time of year.

And of course I opened bag #10 of my Advent calendar.  We’ll be home tomorrow and I’ll get to see the over-the-top light display that the boys strung up in our absence. (I was sent a short video!)

Blogmas Day 4

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We woke up to snow this morning. That was a surprise for me as I rarely look at the forecast.

It snowed most of the day. I was at work today and it wasn’t crazy busy so maybe the snow put some people off the drive.

Today’s Advent yarn is a soft pink. Not as bright as the photo makes it look. Plus another seahorse bead and a round blue one.

Mr Fixit and ds3 just went out and bought a Christmas tree which will sit downstairs overnight to acclimatise to the indoors. Then tomorrow it can be set up and decorated. I may not have a hand in that because I’ll be at work until 5 or so then I’ll go straight to the restaurant where we are having our staff party.

We didn’t have one last year because of the plague (!) so this will be my first meal out since early 2020. I need to wrap my Secret Santa gift tonight.

Talk to you again tomorrow.

Advent calendar prep

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I now have 25 little drawstring bags to hold the yarn and knitting needles that I bought for myself with my birthday gift certificate.

Here they are, with a ball of yarn in each, with the one larger bag buried at the bottom with the needles in it.

I used a random assortment of fabrics. There are some Christmas-themed ones in there but mostly they are just pretty colours and they look bright and cheerful stuffed inside this box.

I have some numbered Christmas stickers coming from Etsy so that I can  number the bags. I did a quick search and the first hit turned out to be perfect: a Canadian supplier called ArkyFranky, 24 colourful Christmas-themed stickers for only $2.84, free postage.

I still need to hunt for other tiny things to add to the bags. My boss thought it was hilarious that I was making my own yarny Advent calendar but if I don’t do it who will?! And the only ones I’ve seen before have been animal-fibre based.

I’m having fun and that’s what counts, right?

Elemental armwarmers

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ELEMENTAL  ARMWARMERS 

A new pattern based on an old design of mine (Elements armwarmers), these fingerless mitts have been re-knitted and updated almost ten years after I published the pattern. 

I have used Scheepjes Stone Washed XL which is 70% cotton, 30% acrylic. I bought a box of 50 mini skeins, along with five 50g balls of the cream, and after I finished crocheting a sweater I had lots left over. The original mitts were made with a colour-changing yarn, so there were way fewer tails to weave in. Of course you can use whatever aran weight yarn you like. 

The weight of these when finished is 80 grams so you could just use one 100g skein of yarn. Or you can go nuts with colour, like I did!

What you’ll need:

100g aran weight yarn, either all one colour or a combination

5mm/US8 needles, either a long circular for magic loop or dpns

Sizing:

Designed to fit a 7.75” hand, measured around the palm above the thumb, a 6” wrist and 10.5” forearm. 

Finished dimensions 6.5” around hand, 7” at wrist, 9” at forearm. Total length 11”.

The first rendition of the pattern stretched out considerably around my hand, so I’ve remade it with less ease. Once you know your gauge, it’s a simple case of adjusting the numbers to fit your own arms.

Gauge:

13sts/3” (4.33sts/inch) and 7 rows/inch. 

No need to knit a gauge swatch – this project is small enough that you can start knitting and measure your stitch gauge after the first inch of stockinette/stocking stitch. Row gauge is not crucial as you are knitting to measurements. And you can try on as you go.

Abbreviations:

K knit

P purl

St/sts stitch/stitches

CO cast on

BO bind off

Rnd round

K2tog knit 2 together (decrease)

Dec decrease

Beg beginning

dpns double pointed needles

How to:

Cast on 42 stitches and either divide them between your dpns or set up your circular needle for magic loop. (Pro tip – make sure each needle starts with a knit stitch, not a purl stitch.) Join in the round. Work K1, P1 ribbing for 5 rounds. (42 sts)

Change to stockinette (knit all stitches) and work 7 rounds. (42 sts)

Next round: dec by K2tog in two places while working this round (I positioned my decs randomly, just trying to make sure they weren’t stacking above each other in subsequent rounds. If you’d rather do all decs at beg and end of round, then feel free to do so.) (40 sts)

**K 7 rounds, work dec round; repeat from ** four times. (32 sts)

K straight until your work measures 10”, or desired length to base of thumb, from cast on edge. 

Thumb:

(My original design made two identical mitts – this time I positioned the thumbholes differently so that the colour jogs were not running along the top of my hand – it’s your choice as to what you do here.)

Left mitt: BO 8 sts, K to end of round. (24 sts)

Right mitt: K to 8 sts from end of round, BO 8 sts (24 sts)

Next round: K around, use knitted cast on method to CO 6 or 7 sts over the gap created by the BO in the last round. (I did 6, it was pretty snug, again it depends on the fit you want.)

The thumbhole rounds may need some finagling on your needles. You may need to shift stitches around on your dpns/circs to make it easier to BO and CO these stitches. 

K 5 rounds, or more for more coverage. (The original design had ribbing at the hand – I ended up ripping and redoing three times because it looked messy and went with continuing the stockinette instead.)

Bind off. Weave in ends (or knot and trim if you’re lazy like me).

Notes on colour: I chose to work the initial ribbing in one colour, then do 3 row stripes of each colour, and then the thumbhole and last 5 rows in one colour. I couldn’t tell you what the names of these colours are as the labels came off when I made the sweater. And  my mitts are fraternal rather than identical twins!