Category Archives: waffling

The year in review – looking back at 2021

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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!

FOs: sewn and crocheted

Standard
FOs: sewn and crocheted

G’day all! I hope I find you well.

My 4S program is really helping to keep me moving. The Strength part has been a circuit that I’ve set up downstairs, with some music, and various exercises with dumbbells and bands and things. The Stamina is mostly walking, with some gardening thrown in. The Stretch is yoga, and the weather has co-operated so that I could enjoy some Sunbathing, in my swimsuit no less!

Some days, I’ve managed three out of four, though my goal is two.

I just realised Sewing is another S that I enjoy, and I did finish a couple more things today. These shorts…

IMG_8540

…are not something that I would be seen dead in in public! However I had this remnant and thought I’d try the “make a pair of leggings from a pair you already own” as per the Crafty Gemini tutorial. I made them as shorts because (a) it was just an experiment and (b) I only had a small piece of fabric. I must say, I was surprised with how well they worked out. My new sewing machine has a bunch of stitch options and I used a couple of the stretch stitches to put these shorts together. If this fabric was a lot sturdier and held in the <ahem> wobbly bits a bit better they would work as swimshorts and I could make a bikini top to go with them.

At least my old fear of sewing knit fabric is waning!

An old interest has been sparked again recently. I pulled out my quilting books, some of which are full of templates for foundation piecing. What this involves is tracing the outlines onto a sheer fabric, interfacing or tracing paper, or you can photocopy them from the book and use that instead. Then you place small pieces of fabric behind the paper outlines and sew them together, through the paper, in the order of the numbers on the paper. The paper is torn off at the end.

I thought I’d have a play with this rat block, to which I added fabric top and bottom and then turned it into a zippered pouch.

IMG_8538

This is a pretty sloppy effort! I’m not proud of it. The zipper seams are not perfect, the quilting lines didn’t stay in the ditch, and the part on the top of the head where it meets the ear doesn’t match up. I could blame getting used to the new sewing machine but I should probably just suck it up and take responsibility!

IMG_8537

I am happier with this result – the Loops & Threads Barcelona cowl/snood. The colourway is Lapis. It’s very muted but I do like the variations. The circumference is 29″ and the length top to bottom is 21″, which is long enough to be able to wear it as a hood.

And my other crochet FO:

Four little nesting pots or bowls, for which I have no plans at the moment. They could be used as mini yarn bowls, plant pot covers or just catch-alls for random bits and pieces. These used up some of my miscellaneous DK yarn that I’d wound into cakes using odds and ends of different colours. By using two cakes at a time and holding two strands together, the colours seem to work! And I like leaving the ends hanging, trimmed to a uniform length, for added quirkiness.

Well, I think that’s us up to date. I need to get a daylight photo of my knitted blanket to show the progress. Tomorrow, if I remember. Take care!

 

 

So excited!

Standard

Guess what! I have a new sewing machine!

It’s a Janome 4120QDC and I bought it after a fair amount of research of brands and prices based on the features I wanted in a new machine. My basic machine that I’ve had for over 20 years is a Janome, and I’ve been thinking of upgrading for a couple of years. Of course, with most stores closed, I didn’t get to play with different machines before I bought one. I ordered this from a local quilt shop, e-transferred the money, and they called me a week later.

I have read the manual, watched the DVD (how old-fashioned!) and tomorrow I will test it out.

One of the things people are finding out right now is how high maintenance they are! Do you usually go to the hair salon every 6 weeks, do you get your nails done every month, get waxed, tanned, massaged, whatever? Well, with all this social distancing, we are having to be more self-sufficient. Luckily I have been cutting my own hair since Christmas. We have clippers, scissors and combs, and that’s all I need to give myself a short back and sides, a bit longer on top. In fact, after I’d done the 23mm job the other day, I went back over it with the 15mm. It’s SO tempting to just keep going and do the lot but I didn’t!

My nails are natural – they grow really well when I’m not working, though I still break one now and then, so they aren’t all even lengths.

And my hair, well, that hasn’t been a natural colour for a long time! When I cut it, the old colour was gone. And I actually quite liked it brown with a bit of grey. So I left it for a few days. But I had bought some more Manic Panic Flash Lightning and some Atomic Turquoise and Hot Hot Pink (thank you, Sally Beauty, for doing curbside pickup) so today I took the plunge and did my whole head!

It’s kind of a tie dye look, isn’t it!?

Yesterday I had a big sewing jag. I was going to make a bag, but instead got sidetracked looking through bits and pieces in my stash. And I’ve had these thin knits for years, bought when I was quite new to working at the fabric store and this stuff was $3 a metre and I bought far too much of it in three or four colours.

I finally feel like I made something worthwhile out of it.

The skirts are simple rectangles with elasticated waists, with a half lining inside in the same fabric. I didn’t even neaten the hems. And the PJs are from a self-made pattern from an old pair.

The tie dye skirt is a rayon fabric that I recently brought home.

FullSizeRender (26)

I used the fabric sideways because I needed the extra length to fit around me with enough to spare, and that also meant I could use the selvage as the hem without sewing. (Can you tell I’m a lazy ass sewist?)

IMG_8483

This is my batik stash. I had them all in one drawer. The small messy pile is made up of leftover scraps but the other pieces are good sizes. The turtle ones, second from left, are half-yard cuts from a quilt shop in Maui. After I laid them out, I washed them on cold, hung them to get mostly dry and ironed them. They are now neatly folded and back in the drawer. Yes, the untouchable part of my stash! You know that feeling, saving it for ‘best’, like precious yarn, or the good china!!

And finally (at last, I hear you say) here’s my finished Cakes Two to Tango shawl. It took almost two complete cakes of Lion Brand Mandala.

I love it and want to make another someday.

More sanity-saving stash sewing

Standard

I’m rather pleased with this bag. It isn’t interfaced with anything, so there are just two layers of quilting cotton. However, I challenged myself to design a bag with multiple compartments (inspired by the divided SockSacks) AND make it a round bottomed bag.

As I said on Facebook just now, I faced my nemesis and WON! I dislike sewing a circle into a cylinder because it usually takes a couple of attempts to get it right. In the case of the external fabric, I had to cut a whole new piece as my first one was too short. The lining, however, was a bit too big, so I just made a new seam inside the first one and did a bit of trimming to fit.

The partitions worked out just right, and even the seam around the top edge, which started to look weird and made me think I’d have to take in some fabric on one of the seams, worked out fine. All in all, a success!

Other items completed this week:

More little boxes from Lizzy Curtis (without the interfacing and with a slightly different construction to make the top edge neater). An experimental mask from an Erica Arndt tutorial. And a little coin purse from a JSDaily tutorial. (All YouTube.)

I ventured out this morning to see whether I could do a shop at Costco. I left it a little late though, as by the time I got there, there was already a massive queue, in the shade, and it was only 2 degrees Celsius, so I told my son (who was driving) to forget it. We have enough food to see us through into next week.

I hope you are managing okay, whether you are working or not, and that you are staying healthy. Remember, fear and stress lower the immune system so keep calm and carry on!