Just an old bag lady

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Just an old bag lady

Well, we’ve had a lovely run of sunny weather…until today. This morning was grey and wet, with solid rain falling vertically for quite some time. I love it. Good for the garden! Now it’s dry, but windy. Weird!

So yeah, I’m definitely a bag lady this week. Four new bags made.

Ali of Little Drops of Wonderful, in partnership with Claudia of Crochet Luna, is running a Dodgy Bag Make-along #dodgybagmal2020 which is inspiring me to make even more bags! Here’s another of the project bags from Erica Arndt’s tutorial – I’ve made a lot of these now – and I used some of my dwindling peace sign fabric in conjunction with some solid cottons and denim. I used my new machine to embroider “handmade” on the front and I added a couple of pockets inside.

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This small crocheted bag was an “I need something to crochet while I walk” project. Yesterday I decided it was going to be a long walk, so I grabbed a bag and some yarn and a hook and set out. It’s two partial cakes of Caron Cupcakes, different colourways, held together and single crocheted with a 5.5mm hook. I made most of it while walking for well over an hour. When I got home, I decided to line it. Well, the first attempt to make a lining failed because I made it too narrow so that became a separate little bag.

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Then I cut some solid purple and used that to line the crocheted bag, extending the lining above the level of the crochet to make a drawstring casing.

Seeing my work in progress sitting on top of its denim project bag got me all excited about combining crochet and denim in one project. So today, after breakfast and noodling around on the computer, I went down to my sewing room and rummaged in my denim offcuts. I have lots of old jeans, most of which have now been cut up for bags, but I found a good-sized chunk which I cut and trimmed to make an asymmetrical project bag.

It’s basically the back pocket and top part of the leg, and one belt loop was attached at the top. I removed three more belt loops from what was left of the waistband and sewed them to the top of my new bag. Before sewing the side seams, I attached the crocheted mandala to the non-pocket side, anchoring the centre with a button. I discovered a new stitch on my sewing machine which looks like overlocking, so I used that for the side seams, and then I added part of the jeans seam as a drawstring, plus a large button.

To give you an idea of size, the bag is 13″ tall when lying flat, and the crochet mandala is 7.5″ across.

There has been some yarny progress on my only WIP, however I seem to have a repetitive strain injury at the base of my left thumb which makes knitting a little uncomfortable. However, here it is in all its scrappy glory.

Last time I measured it, it was about 18″ deep, and I’m probably aiming for 60″. Also, I think the measurement across (when the tube is laid flat, double thickness) is about 48″, though it’s hard to tell for sure. It’s 370 stitches around (and around, and around) but it’s great Netflix knitting. I had to do some minor repairs on the bottom edge the other day, as the vacuum cleaner sucked in a couple of tails and I realised afterwards that one row had been pulled really tight for a few inches either side and there was a live loop randomly hanging out. Oops!

We had an enjoyable dinner of homemade sushi, coconut rice and baked spicy tofu and once that has had a chance to digest Mr Fixit and I are going to do some yoga. Happy crafting!

 

 

 

FOs: sewn and crocheted

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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…

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…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.

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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!

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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!

 

 

Prayer flags

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After I finished decorating my back railing with pompoms, I had an idea for another way to brighten up my deck. Prayer flags!

Obviously these are not “official” prayer flags but they have the same intention: to send blessings out into the world. And I had fun embroidering the words on them with my new sewing machine.

They are made from 6″ squares of solid cotton; two layers stitched around and edged with pinking shears; embroidered with a meaningful word, and then sewn to a length of black ribbon.

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That was fun!

And I started a new crochet project yesterday. When I went out for my walk, I took a skein of Loops & Threads Barcelona and a 6.5mm hook, and started crocheting around and around. The circumference is about 29″ which is wider than my usual cowls but the plan is to make it deep enough to pull it up like a hood. So this is more of a snood.

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This is where my multiple project bags come in handy. I can slip the yarn in, put the drawstrings over my wrist, and hook away while walking. And using such a basic stitch (this is double crochet – or UK treble) means it requires no mental effort.

Hope you have a great day!

Playing with my new sewing machine

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Playing with my new sewing machine

I have to say, there are some really handy features on my new Janome 4120QDC. The thread cutter is awesome! The needle threader is good, though I’m still finding I have to squint to make sure that the thread is in the right place to be pulled through the needle, but I’m sure with practice it’ll get easier. I love that I can move the needle over when doing a straight stitch, which was useful yesterday when I made a couple more masks for my oldest son and wanted to topstitch a little closer to the wire. And I also love the zipper foot for its notches on BOTH sides – my old one only had one on one side which limited the way I could sew in zippers.

My first project was this one which was published by Fabricland. They are little pattern weights, and I filled mine with wheat berries because I had a huge bag from years ago. They aren’t very heavy though, so maybe something with a bit more density would have been better.

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I made ten – it felt like a good number!

And then I made this…

…which is an infinity scarf with zippered pocket. I had to go with stash fabric, and it turned out I had about a metre of this soft knit jersey. In order to get the length I needed, I had to cut it lengthwise and seam the two pieces together end to end. With hindsight, I should have made it a bit shorter because it isn’t as snug to the neck as I’d like. The pocket lining fabric is another knit that I made a top out of a couple of  years ago. The tutorial I linked to isn’t the only one online for something similar. I made mine by leaving the turning gap in the bottom of the pocket rather than in the seam at the end of the tube. It  makes for a neater finish.

As soon as I’d finished that, my son brought me an old bandanna that I’d made him about 5 years ago. I made two face masks out of it for him for work. The ones they’d provided him with were crap – thin fabric, useless wire, badly shaped, and elastic that was the wrong length. So now he has some better ones.

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This morning, I joined in with a Zoom meeting for Crafternoon Treats (podcast) Patreons, and I wanted something to do with my hands while I was doing that. So I pulled out a bag that has been sitting around for probably a year! I think I started making these pompoms out of Stylecraft Special DK some time around last Easter to make a garland or window hanging. I had made a bunch of them (they aren’t very plump, as the pompom maker I have is not great, but at least they were quick) and had started crocheting them together with chains. Today I finished joining them and decided to decorate my deck railing. I rather love that the yellow ones, which coincidentally seem to be mostly along the top of the railing, look like dandelions.

After a month of being off work, I could feel the pounds creeping on. No work, no gym, just an occasional bit of yoga or a walk, and not every day either. So on the day I did my tie-dye hair I made a plan. Each day I would do at least two out of four S’s. The S’s are Sun, Stretch (yoga), Stamina (walk) and Strength. I am checking them off on a piece of paper as I do them. Because self-discipline isn’t always easy! It’s surprising how just doing something makes you instantly feel better. It can just be a half hour of yoga, or a walk around the neighbourhood, or playing some loud music while you do some push ups, squats, and dumbbell lifts.

By going for a walk in the sunshine, I can check off two at a time!!

 

So excited!

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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.

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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?)

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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.

WIP: Cakes shawl

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I am loving the way these two cakes of Lion Brand Mandala are playing off against each other.

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I have a teeny regret that in the first part I used three small balls of yarn that were separated from the original cake and I feel I should have put them in a different order, starting with lighter pink then going darker (at the top there, against the green). I prefer the stripes that visibly segue into the next colour rather than a hard colour change. But I can see myself making another of these.

I am almost finished with the cakes, but have to remember to leave enough for a picot edging.

I have also made another bag, what I call my Quadrant bag. This is the third one, and it’s 3″ taller than the first two. Did I say how much I really dislike sewing circles and cylinders together? Oh yes, multiple times!!

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And I wasn’t going to make any more masks, but the people at my favourite tea shop think that they may only be able to stay open if they wear masks to work, and commissioned me to make them some. They paid me in tea!

This bamboo flannelette print is just perfect for them.

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It’s been an absolutely beautiful day. Sunny but still with a hint of coolness. Mr Fixit and I went on a totally essential trip to a plant nursery to buy new plants for the garden!

It was nice to get out of the house and a little further afield than I have been in weeks.

And we had a wonderfully simple but tasty dinner of bannock, vegan cheese (Daiya Smoked Gouda, mmmmm), olive tapenade and a huge salad. Feeling blessed and replete!

 

 

What happens when you….

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….cross a Gnome and a Troll?

You get this:

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This pattern is called Cakes Two to Tango and I found it on Ravelry. It’s a free Ravelry download and it uses two cakes of colour-changing yarn. Of course I still had some Lion Brand Mandala in the stash, and I put two together that I wouldn’t normally have combined – but I’m loving the result.

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Gnome left, Troll right

The stitch pattern is easy peasy – just sc1, ch1 – which I think may be called granite stitch or something like that. Of course the rows get longer and longer as you go, but with the colour combinations changing all the time as you crochet through the cakes it keeps things interesting.

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I did some yardwork today. Mr Fixit was outside planting potatoes and I did some pruning of roses and pyracantha, and pulled out some dead stuff from one of the beds. Afterwards, I sat on the deck in the sunshine, and ds1, who just turned 28, was building this:

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You’re never too old for Lego!

 

Full moon, face masks and a finished object

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I don’t know whether it was the full moon or not, but I was wide awake at 4.30 this morning. So was Mr Fixit. He is frequently wide awake at odd hours but usually I sleep like a log. However this morning we were both up before the dawn.

I was in my sewing room by around 8am and back to sewing face masks. A friend had requests to supply some and she didn’t have time to make enough so she sub-contracted a couple of us to help out. These ones took me two days to finish. Yesterday I did all the cutting out and fusing of interfacing, which was made more enjoyable by the fact that five of us had a video chat while we were sewing in our respective homes. I went back after dinner to do more, but had the hardest time getting the construction right because, whilst it was the same pattern as the previous batch, I was including the wire for the nose shaping and it wasn’t going well. I was headachey and frustrated and gave up in disgust.

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I even dreamed I was sewing masks!

Today, thankfully, it all went a lot more smoothly. I found that my regular sewing machine foot worked best to zigzag over the wire to hold it in place, and to topstitch sufficiently close to the wire once everything was turned right side out.

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Someone’s coming over to my house (well, the front door step anyway) tomorrow to buy some of these. I have to say, I have no plans to make more. Whilst there are some people who are making hundreds of masks at the moment (and making hundreds of dollars too) I just don’t have the stamina.

I finished the beanie too…

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I’m really pleased with the fit of this, and wrote down how I made it in the notes on my Ravelry project page so I can recreate it later. Worked top down, it’s just double crochet with a 5.5mm hook, and then some rounds of front post/back post double crochet with a 4.5mm hook to make a snug brim. Hopefully my friend will like it.

Today was our warmest day of the year so far. I did manage to squeeze in a bit of sunshine toward the end of the afternoon and even ate my (home made) pizza sitting outside on the deck. I would have expected my neighbourhood to be pretty quiet but no, there were lots of vehicles around, motorbikes roaring up the main road, neighbours talking loudly, music, and honestly you wouldn’t have thought that this Easter weekend was any different from usual.

As Easter = chocolate to me, I shall have to walk up to the store for some essential supplies tomorrow!

 

Sewing with a purpose

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Sewing with a purpose

As you know, recently I have been sewing up a storm because, well, you know, the disease-that-shall-not-be-named has created a temporary cessation of my day job. And I’ve never been so grateful for a stash in all my years of knitting, crocheting and sewing!

So what have I been doing since we last met? I made a second one of these:

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While I constructed this I took progress photos, optimistic that I had the math worked out and I could quickly get to the job of publishing the tutorial. Well….no. At least, not yet. I was about to sally forth and make Mark III but was sidetracked by a request from a friend. One of our mutual friends has recently had major surgery and so a group quilt is underway, as is a crocheted beanie and some face masks for the times that said friend has to go into the hospital for follow-up visits.

My contribution to the quilt (with materials partly my own and partly my friend’s) is this:

The beanie, after false starts with different yarn, different hooks, pattern or no pattern, is in progress:

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This is one of my souvenir balls of yarn from Yarndale – Louisa Harding Giardino in the colourway Lily del Valle. It’s a DK weight cotton/acrylic blend. It doesn’t need a fancy stitch.

And then my thoughts turned to masks and synchronistically a link on my Facebook feed provided the perfect pattern. I started making them and then suddenly I was getting requests. So far I have made 13 – I am saving one of the snowboard ones for Mr Fixit, but the other 12 have been claimed by a friend who works in the hospital (admin, not front line). I now need to make a few more,

though once my bias binding and elastic run out I shall have to be inventive about ties. I am also using a medium weight fusible interfacing on the outer layer for more structure and filtration properties.

This period of extended home time will be remembered for the hours of sewing and pounds of bread baked!

 

More sanity-saving stash sewing

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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!