10 Things This Week

I’ve felt pretty rough this week and yet, I’ve been my most productive in a while.

Here’s a random list of things I’ve done/ come across/ watched this week.

1. Medium

I’ve been writing like mad over there and basically figuring out the platform. One thing I can’t seem to get my head around is the publications part. I’ve created my own, but I’m struggling to format it in an aesthetically pleasing way.

But I’ve been writing more and my few recent articles have been much better than the first ones!

Here’s my latest about selling printable/ digital downloads online:

10 Digital Items To Sell That Aren’t Wall Art!

https://woollyorbit.medium.com/10-digital-items-to-sell-that-arent-wall-art-aaa1ab9ee33

2. Knitted Baby Cardigan

I made a post about the trouble I was having with the raglan back part of a tiny knitted baby cardigan (thank you to the many suggestions in the comments on that post!). I’ve finished the left front and am now ready to cast on the right front.

I managed to do that in an hour or so when I really wasn’t feeling very well on Monday, so I actually feel like I did something crafty this week!

Front left of baby cardigan

3. Girl in Calico Youtube Channel

If you want to watch or listen to a relaxing video, this is for you! Crafts, gardening, making jam, homesteading, food.

I mean, look at the sunflowers in this video -my favourite flower. They’re gorgeous!

I think a lot of you who follow my blog would like this Youtube channel, so take a look and be inspired!

4. Cross-Stitch

I’m using up the last few threads I have. It’s a random ‘picture’ where I stitched a black frame and am just stitching random lines in different colours.

I was thinking maybe a placemat or trivet type of thing? Maybe put some wadding in between and sew it to some backing fabric. It looks pretty cool regardless of what I do with the finished product!

5. I managed to get to 150 designs on RedBubble! Yay!

I did a few simple geometric designs, a few stripes and a few random text based ones.

I’m still finding my way with the design process, and I know not all of them work. But I’m having fun and learning all the time.

Here are a few crafty ones that went up this week…they’re simple and I might take some down/ tweak them. They need a picture I think or a different font.

WoollyOrbit2000.redbubble.com

6. The Blackberries are coming along nicely!

These bushes are on a walkway between 2 streets in my village…so I don’t know if I’ll get any blackberries from these bushes, although I did see some large rosehips which I’m eyeing for reship jam/ jelly.

But on the country lanes where I go for walks, I’ve seen a few berry bushes with their little white flowers. Just a couple more weeks I think and they’ll be nearly ready.

Definitely going foraging this year!

I love at the end of a village and there is a path by the road to walk to the next smaller one, it takes about 10 minutes. On the old red brick wall between the two, are some fruit trees that are on the wrong side of the wall for foragers, but nevertheless the fruit hangs over and I’ve always been too slow to get it, or it’s rained at harvest time or I just plain couldn’t be bothered to go out in the cold and pick it!

But this year will be different, no really! There’s a pear tree, an apple tree, possibly a plum/damson tree, maybe something else. There’s also a plum tree across the road on the path by a farmer’s field, but last year the farmer trimmed it when he did the hedges, so now there’s only really the top fruit which is too high for me to reach!

It’s a goal for this year!

I’m thinking an apple and blackberry crumble!

7. Blog re-design

If you’re reading this on the WordPress Reader (as I think most of you are!), then you won’t notice anything different. For everyone else, the look of the blog has changed a bit.

I’m still experimenting a bit, the header will get changed…the logo, icons, fonts, colours, widgets in the sidebar will get moved around a bit soon.

But it was in need of an overhaul.

Hopefully it doesn’t look too much like an early 2000’s blog now!! 🙂

Header in progress!

8. Pinterest Pins

For a few of my posts on Medium, I’ve been creating Pinterest Pins to go with them and uploading them to Pinterest.

It’s not something I’ve ever done for this blog, maybe because I don’t write the kind of content here that would be suitable for a pin.

I’m going to start thinking about pins…but I’m not the best at designing them!

These are two I made for the latest post on Medium (the link is above in point 1).

Which one do you prefer?

I prefer the one on the right…but that is the real secret to Pinterest…

You create MULTIPLE PINS for the SAME BLOG POST!

That way, you reach a wider audience. If someone doesn’t like one pin, they might be tempted to click on a different looking one!

9. Granny Square day 2021

I remembered about a thing before the thing was done and gone!

And that thing was Granny Square Day 2021!

Make some crocheted Granny Squares and take a picture and post to your Instagram account with the hashtag #grannysquareday2021 so that all the pictures create one huge Granny Square Blanket.

The charity is Woolly Hugs this year, which I’ve heard of, but never got the timing right for posting blankets etc. as the timing for submissions always falls at awkward places in my makes (I start knitting and crocheting Christmas things around September but their deadlines for submissions are around September/ October if I remember correctly).

They make handmade blankets to give to babies, children and teenagers in UK hospitals.

You can read more about Granny Square Day here:

https://www.gathered.how/knitting-and-crochet/crochet/granny-square-day/

10. Planning and Pondering

I’ve been looking at various ways to make money from writing and related things for a while now. To be honest, I tend to start one project, then see something else and start that and so the cycle continues. I guess you call it MAGPIE BRAIN?! Always distracted by the shiny object…

At the moment I only write on this blog and on Medium. Medium is new to me and I’ve only been on there a few months.

I’m also writing a book, at the time of writing it’s about half done. I want to get it published in August. I think I’ll manage it.

But I want to do more writing and not just any old, write whatever happens to spew out of my crazy mind. I want to write more with purpose and write with value for the reader in mind and to have streams of income, not just from places like print on demand sites and affiliate links, but streams of writing income.

So, I’m looking at Substack which is a free or paid e-mail newsletter subscription service. And Fiverr. There are a lot of places like Fiverr, like Upwork, People Per Hour etc. But Fiverr is probably the most well known and where a lot of beginners start.

The one thing I’m not really interested in are the content mills. Places like Textbroker etc. where you get paid very little for a lot of work.

I’ve seen requests on content mills in the past for ethically dubious articles e.g. one thing sticks in my mind quite clearly. Someone wanted a writer to write 3 essays for them…on clinical psychology for children! So, someone was studying at university on a clinical psychology course and was going to pay someone else peanuts to write their essays for them (also, would you want your child seen by someone who didn’t write their own essays/ do their own research at university?!)

That’s just one example that I remember, and not every request for writers is like that, but I’m not interested.

This article by The Write Life has more information about content mills if you’re interested:

I’m quite a fast typer and so joining something like Substack isn’t going to take up a HUGE amount of extra time, especially if I started with one newsletter a week.

I’m going back and forth with the options I have listed in front of me (I’ve scribbled down more than the ones I listed above…this post is getting long enough as it is!) and so, that’s something else I’ve been working on this week. Not really something to ‘show’, but thinking time is still time well spent.

To be perfectly honest, I need to sort out the Woolly Orbit branding first, before I go subscribing to things left, right and centre!


Phew! That was a post and a half!

Well done if you stuck around till the end…you’ve earned yourself 10 points and a pat on the back!

For a week where I didn’t feel very well, I think I did alright!

Today I’m going to finish another Medium article (just need to edit it, hopefully won’t take too long!). Then, look at some affiliate programmes and try and get back into the Etsy shop prep and more work on the book.

What did Bilbo Baggins say about feeling like too much better spread over not enough bread?!!

Hope you had a good week and have a crafty weekend!

Deramores Christmas Wool Sale

Deramores is an online shop that sells wool, patterns and knitting and crochet notions like needles and toy eyes etc.

It was the first place I ever bought any wool online and I remember that pointless fact because I bought a bundle of their own brand yarn when I was teaching myself to knit in 2016. Such a long time ago!!

I’ve just seen they have a Christmas Sale going until 29/07/21 – tomorrow!

50% off Christmas Kits, Cals and Kals

20% off Christmas Yarns

See the homepage for the voucher codes.

I have a Christmas crochet blanket that I started last year to use up what festive yarn I still had leftover. I wanted to buy some more to finish it off but alas the colour way from King Cole was sold out. Sad face! 😦

The only picture I have of it is below.

The multicoloured yarn from King Cole was from a jumper I made last year. Which fits better now I’ve lost a bit of weight, haha!

I was thinking if I get it finished in time for Christmas, I might have a look on either Woolly Hugs or Knit For Peace and donate it to one of those charities. But I know Woolly Hugs have really early collection dates from what I remember (they donate blankets to babies, children and teenagers in UK hospitals).

But anyway…

I did see some sock yarn in a festive colour way by West Yorkshire Spinners. This is currently in my basket right now. Nope. That’s a lie…I just bought it! It’s in the Candy Cane colour way (989).

Xmas socks here I come!

Oh so many things I could buy!

I did buy a few Christmas knitting pattern booklets last year which I did a few designs from. I’m definitely doing more baubles this year, and maybe some other tiny decorations such as mini stockings. But nowhere near the amount I did last year…I was a machine churning out Christmas makes!

Argh Deramores! Why are you making me look at Christmas stuff now?!

Have a look this evening if you want to get some Christmas deals…not everything is still in stock, but that’s how it goes with all of us knitters scrambling for a Christmas bargain in the middle of summer!


[This post contains affiliate links which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small commission of that purchase at no extra cost to you!]

Designing Again

It has been so hot here to think about the big stuff…so I thought I’d think about the little stuff!

I haven’t uploaded any new designs to RedBubble for awhile and lately I’ve been loving the geometric designs with bright colours and simple shapes.

I created these 4 designs on Canva where it is surprisingly easy to create a repeat pattern – much easier than Photoshop!

I’m never sure when it comes to repeating patterns though – do people prefer larger patterns or smaller repeating patterns (on things like pillows and bags etc.)?

When it comes to designing for RedBubble I try to make sure that the floor and throw pillows, for example, have the same pattern but in different sizes, so it’s a matching set kind of thing. And then you get a choice – big or small pattern!

I find it quite hard to place the pattern perfectly on things sometimes! There are some limitations with the software as it has to be accessible and usable by everyone, not just people who are professional designers. RedBubble is still my favourite Print On Demand platform for usability and the aesthetics of it. The others look a bit naff in comparison. Haha, oh well…it’s fun anyways!

It’s fun messing around with shapes and colours and seeing what you can come up with, I’m not an artist, not by a long stretch but I am starting to wish I’d done something more visual and creative at university than a foreign language!

I’m back in the mood for more creative stuff now!

WoollyOrbit2000.redbubble.com

I wrote a design post on Medium about how I decide whether to use a tiny or a larger pattern on products. You can find the link here:

https://woollyorbit.medium.com/print-on-demand-tiny-pattern-repeats-or-big-ones-eee11e53849a

The coolest handmade buttons on the internet!

For a long time I have followed an Instagram account called The Magpie’s Eye. This account has an Etsy shop called TheMagpiesEyeCo and they make the most sparkly and amazing resin buttons as well as the odd tray or spoon rest I believe.

I ordered some tiny buttons a couple of weeks ago, some neon rainbow sparkly ones and some blue sparkly ones.

I had a go myself at making some resin items last year in the summer. I had some resin I bought the year before that and wanted to make some jewellery mostly. I was pleasantly surprised that the dish I made and the few earrings I made actually worked – they set perfectly and everything!. Except for the fact that the glitter sank a bit on the dish when I made mine. (Maybe I need to do it in layers but I’m so impatient lol).

Anyway, the amount of glitter in these buttons appeals to me a lot!

Here they are…I don’t have a specific project in mind for them yet.

I can’t get the light right to get them to sparkle…but they are a LOT sparklier in real life!

Link to the shop below:

https://tidd.ly/3hPOLbf

[This post contains affiliate links which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small commission of that purchase at no extra cost to you!]

Knitted Baby Cardigan…What Did I Do Wrong?!

I’m trying out a pattern for a knitted baby cardigan. The baby isn’t due until December so I have time to trial a few things before deciding on a ‘final’ pattern.

I want to try it first because I haven’t knitted that many jumpers or cardigans, even though I would consider myself an intermediate knitter. I’ve knitted a baby jumper and cardigan last year, and I did learn a lot from those to things, but this time I want it to be perfect!

What I struggle with in patterns like these is when it says decrease at the beginning and end of each row. And it doesn’t specifically tell you what decreases to do…that really annoys me!

This is what I had figured out last year…

BUT

When I did this, the right side looked a different angle to the left as you can see on the photo below.

It’s not an optical illusion!

I was knitting the back piece first. And that is all I have done so far. It’s a raglan pattern if that makes any difference? Honestly, I stay away from raglans because I hate them! I tried knitting a raglan jumper a couple of years ago and it failed miserably (but I did the pattern wrong for that one haha!).

I just did some research and I was right with what I did! K2TOG and SSK are decreases usually used for raglans. Hmmm…

I’ll do the rest of it and maybe it will all fit together better once it’s all sewn up! I’m doing the bottom one in the picture – a newborn cardigan.

But for the life of me, I can’t figure out what I did wrong!

The pattern and yarn I’m using I bought from an online shop called Deramores and it’s by James C. Brett, Pattern Number JB 012.


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Find my latest post on Medium below. This one is my Progress Report for this week which is a new series I’m starting. At the end of every week I’m going to write about what I have done to work towards creating Passive Income Streams.

https://woollyorbit.medium.com/progress-report-1-july-476e32e5c1ee

The fastest sewn headband in the World!

Last week was the week I sewed up all my outstanding sewing projects. I even managed to sneak a few small extra ones in too!

I had some fabric scraps leftover from a previous project and thought I’d make a headband. The fabric is quite stretchy, I’m not sure exactly what it is. But I love the colour!

I basically kept wrapping the fabric around my head and trimming a little bit off until, including seam allowance, I thought it was the right size to stay on without sliding off or giving me a headache. Not an exact science, to be sure.

I sewed up the long side, right sides together and turned inside out. I then tucked the end of the tube into the other end, folded the edges neatly over each other and then sewed it up. It took 15 mins if that.

And it’s my favourite make on the sewing machine yet! It’s practical, it FITS perfectly and it’s not too hot to wear in this heat!

If you look on Pinterest you can see lots of ways to make much more interesting ones, like a turban or knotted headband. I just made this off the top of my head (which is where it is currently!). And it used up scraps which would otherwise have been thrown away. I’m really happy with it!

Deep Work

I got a new book in the post yesterday and I read it yesterday too!

The weather has been in the 30s (Celsius) here in Yorkshire, and it has been too hot to even THINK about doing any Deep Work!

The book I got was called Deep Work by Cal Newport and is basically about cutting out all of the time wasting activities like answering e-mails etc. and focussing on spending a few hours a day on concentrated and productive work (Deep Work).

It’s a good read, he gives a lot of examples and the idea is pretty simple. I don’t think there is anything groundbreaking in the book, it all seems pretty obvious to me. Although, as in so many of these cases, what we know we should do or how to work, we never actually do, do we?! (I mean, we KNOW we should do more exercise and eat healthier food but do we actually?).

The section about switching off from Social Media I had to laugh at, because if anyone knows me, they’ll know that isn’t a huge area of my life, and I just don’t understand anyone who CAN’T turn off their mobile phone (the generation below me I guess!). So, I admit I skimmed through that chapter.

But finding a space for yourself, making it a productive space, focussing on what you’re doing and not all the time-sucks and tiny life admins…that I can get behind.

The examples are mostly academic ones, but the author is a Professor I believe. I would be an eternal student if I could, racking up the degrees in different universities if I had the money! I love the academic lifestyle – the library, the lessons, the lectures, note-taking, handing in assignments a month early (that’s not a random example, I actually did that twice at uni!).

I love the idea of writing a book in your own time and not running yourself into the ground doing it. I am about halfway through a book myself and I’ve been struggling to get back into it…so I might try the Deep Work approach and see if I can publish it in August.

I have to add though, that setting aside a few hours a day to do some really focussed and concentrated work is a good idea but only if you’re organised beforehand. So, with that in mind, I’m going to go through my planners and diaries, and all my odd bits of paper and sort them out and plan a couple of hours a day to work on my book.

It got to a point a few months ago when I was doing 15 pages a day at my fastest. I want to get back to that!

Below is a link to the book if you want to have a look yourself…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Work-Focused-Success-Distracted/dp/0349411905/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1626871997&sr=8-5

The idea of Deep Work is good, I felt it kind of stretched to fill the book, maybe that’s just me. I like the idea of working solidly without distractions.

I think I need to read this book again. And I will, in a little while.

As of late I have been struggling with productivity (and I don’t mean the last 4 or 5 days of this heatwave, because no-one wants to work hard in such high temperatures) and maybe with motivation too. After being unwell for a few weeks about 6 weeks ago, I sort of lost the plot a bit and have been finding it really difficult to get back into the swing of things.

Which is why I bought this book! To give me a push into thinking about what I’m doing and when. I have a few books like this on my shelf and now I’m inspired to re-read some of them again.

But I need to beware! Too much reading about being productive isn’t very productive is it?!

Happy 6 Months!

I started this little blog 6 months ago this week and thought I’d share a few things with you.

The stats and boring stuff

Projects

This year I’ve done a variety of crafts, mostly knitting or sewing. I’ve had periods of not doing anything at all, I’ve been ill, I’ve lost my mojo, or just got fed up with a particular project and put it down for a month or two.

So far I have finished:

Knitting
  • A Neon Fair Isle Bag
  • Bauble, 3 mini stockings and a toy mouse, using up scraps of free yarn from knitting magazines
  • Knitted headband
  • Hand knitted woolly hat
  • Loom knitted woolly hat
  • Loom knitted cowl
  • Finished a Christmas jumper (my first one EVER!) I started late 2020
  • Done more on my orange jumper, I’m about a quarter of the way finished with the front.

Crochet
  • Granny Square Shawl
  • Started Baby Blanket for a friend
  • Started Christmas Granny Square blanket…will finish nearer December this year as I was only using up yarn

Sewing
  • 2 x zipper bags
  • Denim Rucksack
  • Denim Tote Bag
  • Yellow headband
  • Yellow skirt
  • Yellow pj bottoms (still need to redo the waistline)
  • I cut out the pieces for a practice baby dress, I’ll sew that up in a few weeks – I’m all sewn out for a bit!

Books
  • Prelude to Foundation
  • Robots and Empire
  • The Complete Robot
  • The Naked Sun
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich [spoiler alert: the book did not!]
  • War and Peace
Cross- stitch
  • Started a rectangle placemat to use up old threads
  • Fortune Favours the Bold sampler
  • Make the Days Count sampler
  • Birthday card

Miscellaneous
  • Tall candle and candles in jars to use up wax
  • Tried out new techniques – Entrelac knitting, changed sewing machine needle, Sewed with Denim, Made pockets – both inner and outer, sewed webbing, used belt buckles, created repeating patterns and had a large sample of a pattern made up on fabric, made my own Procreate brushes
  • Digital ‘Art’ – figured out Procreate, Photoshop and Canva properly
  • Joined RedBubble, Medium, Spoonflower, Patreon and all the sites
  • Joined Etsy as a seller and my digital download shop is coming soon
  • Joined Amazon as an author and my first book will be coming soon

A Random Waffly Roundup

I had a similar blog a few years ago which I closed down and I realised this year how much I missed writing and posting. I don’t think I follow trends or whatever, I just generally tend to post what I’m doing. Mostly, it’s crafty stuff like knitting, crochet or sewing, with the odd life post.

I try to post a couple of times a week, but if a month goes by with nothing, I won’t apologise for it! Sometimes life happens and that’s that.

Photography is always going to be my downfall, but I’m actually OK with that! I’ll try and take a nice picture, but if I can’t I’m not going to beat myself up about it!

I love to write. I might not be the best writer in the world, but hopefully I can communicate my thoughts in an easy to read way! This blog is mostly about my crafting and my life to a certain extent. Although, since it’s my blog, I reserve the right to talk about whatever I want. That being said, I did start to write on Medium about a different topic as I thought it wasn’t a great fit here (although some people might find it interesting and relevant if they have a small crafty business).

On Medium I write about making Passive Income online, and to be honest I have struggled writing there somewhat. I feel like I have to up my game and the articles, whilst OK, aren’t the best. So, I’m trying to improve my longer form writing over there. The difficulty is trying to write without every article sounding like it’s a listicle – you know, the clickbait sounding ones…3 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed (and they’re not what you expect them to be) or 5 Ways To Make A Living Online With This 1 Thing

I hate that kind of content…it’s so Buzzfeed-ish (if that doesn’t sound TOO snobbish!). I prefer to just write whatever is in my head and I find it quite hard to organise my thoughts sometimes. Maybe it’s the adding value part of writing for money?

Speaking of money…my best month ever on Medium this month – 6 cents! I’m rich! [Although I haven’t posted much at all over there with being sick for most of June]

And the post that made most of that was this one where I talked about Low/ No Content Books on Amazon:

https://woollyorbit.medium.com/lowlow-content-books-on-amazon-kdp-low-quality-books-acec85abf1aa

I’m using Canva to make Pinterest pins and I’m adding a pins to each article on Medium, which is something I haven’t been doing here. BUT, I’ve started to try and start using affiliate links on this blog, but not all the time as I don’t want to spam everyone. Incidentally, you CAN use affiliate links on a free WordPress site, as long as the site doesn’t exist solely for that purpose and you’re creating content around the links.

Am I getting off topic now? Feel like I am…

So, what’s to come?

The projects I want to finish or at least make a lot of headway with in the next few months are:

  • Knitted orange jumper
  • Knitted sock yarn shawl
  • Crochet Baby blanket
  • Cast on knitted baby cardigan and entrelac heirloom blanket
  • cast on pair of knitted socks
  • Sew together baby dress that I have already cut out the pieces for
  • Read The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (then ALL of the books on my bookshelf will have been read!)

I want to make some bread as I did a bit in the last couple of years, but I’ve got out of the habit lately. And I want to try more vegetarian recipes…I’m NOT a vegetarian not at all. But I think eating one or two veggie meals a week is not only better for my dodgy digestive system but the planet too, so I’m going to try and start cutting out fat and sugar (she says drinking a full fat Coke on the hottest day of the year). So, I want to post a few more recipes on here too.

I also want to use my stashes of, well, everything. I have lots of wool to use, some fabric (although with the week of sewing last week, the drawers are looking a little bit emptier) and other random things like shea butter and ingredients for homemade beauty products, paints, things like that.

I have a leather handbag that is all ready to be saddle stitched together.

I also want to write more often on Medium, have 200 designs on Redbubble, and open my Etsy shop in the next few weeks.

So, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, a lot of plans and most of all dreams. It does seem like I post on here something I want to do and a week later I’m like, Nah! Forget that! I’m doing this instead!

Well, that was the last 6 months, here’s to the next!

Veggie Curry

Last week I was home alone and what better excuse to try out a homemade veggie curry?!

I made this up from scratch with whatever ingredients I had on hand or in the cupboards. The only things I got specifically for this was some coconut cream and some coriander leaves. And naan bread…it’s not a curry without naan bread, right?!

I just guessed amounts, don’t ask me for exact measurements because I just eyeballed it!

This made enough for me for dinner and the same again leftover.

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • Crushed garlic clove
  • Small knob of grated ginger
  • Red lentils
  • Cauliflower
  • Spring greens
  • Diced butternut squash
  • Coconut cream (or milk if you prefer)
  • Herbs and spices of your choice:
  • I used 1 teaspoon each of: turmeric, cumin, hot chilli powder and smoked paprika
  • Coriander leaves

Method

Dice the onion, grate the ginger and garlic and fry together in a bit of oil. Add the spices and stir. (I used 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, cumin, hot chilli powder and smoked paprika but feel free to add spices of your choice…maybe some chilli flakes if you like it a bit hotter?). You can add a splash of water here if stuff starts to stick to the pan.

Add the diced butternut squash (If you buy the pre-cut stuff from a supermarket then all you have to do is chop it a bit smaller – much quicker!) and stir in. I used most of a pack of the pre-cut stuff coz I’m lazy!

Whilst that is cooking, chop and add the cauliflower. I used about half a cauliflower and kept the rest for cauliflower cheese the next night. I used medium sized pieces of cauliflower as it cooks quite quickly compared to the butternut squash.

I added the carton of coconut cream here. You could use coconut milk if you wanted something a bit lighter.

Then I added a couple of handfuls of red lentils, some salt and pepper and another splash of water as the liquid didn’t cover all the veg in the pot!

I left that to cook for awhile and at the end I added some spring greens, a handful of frozen peas and some coriander leaves and stirred in.

I can’t remember how long I cooked it for, I kept checking until the cauliflower and butternut squash were cooked through and until the lentils looked done.

I had made some yellow rice (rice with a spoonful of turmeric added in) and I heated up a naan bread. Once I put it on the plate I added more coriander on top – it’s my favourite herb!

Yum!

You can make this your own by using whatever veg you have on hand. Sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash. Or normal yellow/ white potatoes? Kale could be used instead of the spring greens. The lentils made it a thick curry, but you could leave them out if they’re not your thing. How about chickpeas instead?

And as for the spices, I didn’t want anything that would burn my mouth off! So, I could have made it a lot hotter, but it’s entirely up to you!

I admit the photo below doesn’t look the most appetising! And the naan looks weird because I cut it in half to fit on the plate…don’t worry, I still ate the whole thing! But it tasted yummy!

All you professional chefs just ignore the plating up of this meal, haha!

Sewing all the things! Denim Rucksack

The last week I have done more sewing than I have done in the past 6 months combined!

I now have space in my craft drawers as I’ve got rid of patterns that weren’t working/ that I will NEVER do again and I’ve used up lots of fabric too.

I had the pattern for a simple rucksack (simple…hahaha!) for a while and bought the denim fabric for it a couple of months ago. I already had the green lining fabric from a failed project years ago, as well as belt buckles, d-rings and other bits like webbing from other projects too. I had already cut out the outer pieces and the lining so I was all ready to sew last week.

What I thought would be an afternoon sewing the pieces together turned into Monday afternoon, Tuesday evening, Thursday evening and 2 hours on Friday.

I’m pretty much a beginner at sewing. I’ve done a few cushions, zip bags, a dress, a top, a pair of pj shorts, a skirt. That’s pretty much it apart from odd bits like hemming table cloths, Christmas makes like stockings, bunting, gift bags etc.

So, it really annoys me when patterns talk about bias binding without mentioning it on the list of things to buy! I haven’t bound the raw edges inside the bag, but apart from that, it’s done!

I had to add a red stripe on the front as my stitching on the zip fabric was atrocious! And I had to unpick the top zip as I went wonky. That’s why I didn’t do any more on Wednesday…I was DONE!

I also didn’t see I needed webbing non fray glue stuff…which I obviously don’t have! In fact, the sewing on the webbing for the handles and straps was the hardest part of the bag. I couldn’t get the cross in a square to look neat.

I had to unpick one of the handles as I didn’t realise it was ONE handle on each panel…I did so much unpicking for this project!

The bag as a whole doesn’t look too terrible from a distance…it looks like a bag! But I’m not so happy with the sewing up close. And some of the instructions could have been better too. I didn’t make a note of who it was by but it was a free pattern from a few months ago in the Simply Sewing Magazine.

I like the size and the shape and I love the denim fabric. This week when I made this and a denim tote bag is the first time I’ve worked with denim and I even changed the sewing machine needle to a denim one. The first time I’ve done that too!

I was pleasantly surprised that the denim needle managed to get through so many layers of thick fabric with little difficulty. Maybe I needed to change my needle anyway (I hadn’t done that ever since I got the machine oh…about 20 years ago! :O )

The eagle eyed among you will notice that the d-rings and belt buckles are silver and gold – I just used what I had on hand.

I didn’t topstitch once I’d sewn it together coz you know…I was so DONE with this project!

All in all it’s OK. Certainly better all sewn up than when I was preparing all the pieces.

It was hard to work out the pattern in places, but it was worth having a go. I’m still glad I had a try as now I have a better idea of how rucksacks are put together and I’ve learned a few new skills:

  • Changing the needle on my sewing machine
  • Adding webbing/ belt buckles/ d-rings
  • Making pockets
  • Making a zip casing (I can’t think of the proper term for the fabric around the zip!) and zipper tabs
  • Assembling a bag with a lining from a lot of pieces and using 2 zips in a project!

I still learned a lot from this project and it’s technically usable. It’ll go in a drawer or cupboard for now. I’m just glad it’s ticked off my list!

Back to Sewing

It’s been almost half a year since I last sewed anything and now, with the house to myself for a few days I’ve smashed through a few projects that have been on my to do list.

I’ve been working on a denim rucksack for a few days. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought it would be, especially the pockets, both inside and out. I wish I’d left them off but oh, well…it’s a learning experience, right?!

I gave up yesterday afternoon and I unpicked what I did wrong last night. So, I’m all set for today…I managed to get the front pocket done yesterday. I just need to actually start sewing it all together now.

Honestly, I don’t think the rucksack is going to work…but I’ve come this far and I’m going to stick with it!

I had the lining leftover from a previous project and it goes with the dark denim I think.

But what I made yesterday that I was really pleased with was a denim tote bag.

I used up the last of the denim fabric I had (apart from some little bits that I might use in patchwork) and used a bit more leftover fabric I had for the lining. In fact, all of the project was made from leftovers including the webbing!

I didn’t quite have enough denim in one piece for both the front and the back, so I added a front panel from the lining fabric and I think the tote looks better with this. The back part is just plain denim.

I had a bit of trouble stitching the webbing straight (and I should have used a lighter colour to match) and I wasn’t keen on the top part where I joined the lining and main body. But overall, I’m really pleased with the result. It was the first ever tote bag I’ve made and it looks alright!

I guess with anything you make, whether that is sewing, knitting, whatever, there is only one question you need to ask yourself to know if it’s any good. But is it usable?!! And, yes, I can use this in the way it is supposed to be used, so that’s a success!

I usually have trouble with box bottoms…I can never get them to match 100%…but this was PERFECT! I’ve no idea how I did that!!!

I left off the clasp so I can use it as a shopping bag.

I also made a couple of zipper bags with the fat quarter I bought a few months ago. Mostly to use up some of the zips I had in my sewing box.

I did have a go at a linen top I had all ready to go, but alas it was not meant to be. My sewing machine didn’t like the linen, it kept chewing it up and I realised I’d cut the fabric too short anyway..I was following the pattern but I don’t wear fitted clothing generally. I like a bit of ease and a bit of length and the trouble with the free patterns in magazines, is that the tops are usually a bit on the short side.

All the patterns I’m using are from magazines.

The tote bag was from Simply Sewing Magazine and was called The Anna Tote designed by Anna Alicia.

I’ve even managed to clear out some things too, like my sewing box has been tidied, as have my fabric drawers (looking emptier now!).

Next on my list is a leather handbag to finish sewing up. I went on a workshop last year about 2 weeks before lockdown and made a handbag and then got some materials and tools to make my own at home.

So far I’ve cut the pieces, dyed them, bevelled and burnished the edges, added a buckle and now I just need to sew it all together. I might need to watch a few Youtube videos to refresh my saddle stitch skills. But I might as well spread out a bit in the evening if there’s just me in the house!

I bought the ingredients to make myself a veggie curry/dhal something tonight. I’m going to make it up as I go along – cauliflower, red lentils, butternut squash, use up some sweet potato or normal potato, some courgettes (zucchini) are nearly bad so I might add them. I bought both coconut milk and cream, I’m not sure what I’ll add. And just whatever herbs and spices I can get my hands on. I got some coriander to add, it’s my favourite herb and reminds me of living in Thailand!

And I got some cooking apples…might make a one (let’s face it a 2) person apple crumble tonight because I’ve been so good with my diet lately and I just want a treat!

So, I’ll be creating something tonight!

Entrelac is FINALLY happening!

Yes. I know you are, how could you not be? Excited as I am, that is!

Because after years of wanting to have a go at it and not understanding the process or having a good pattern for it…I HAVE STARTED AN ENTRELAC KNITTED SCARF PROJECT.

I know, you can barely contain your excitement about it either.

Entrelac knitting looks like it has a woven basketweave kind of effect. It looks a lot more complicated than it is.

I’m using up some of the leftover neon DK yarn from my Fair Isle Knitted Bag. And I thought I’d just do a small pattern to have a go and see if it’s something I could make into a baby blanket for a friend.

So far, it looks pretty good. And the idea of picking up stitches and creating triangles and rectangle isn’t a difficult one in the slightest once you wrap your head around the method.

I will add here that the pattern calls for aran weight yarn and I’m trying it out in Double Knitting so mine will be smaller than the pattern and maybe a little odd looking, but it’s just a test to see how easy this technique is and most of all, how long each row takes me to do!

I like the finished look of the fabric and the bumpy/ textured sort of feel to it. And it could look really effective if you used the right colour combination.

There is only one thing putting me off and it is the fact that is the speed – it’s slow going!

I have to use a crochet hook to help me pick up stitches and it takes me forever (literally just minutes but you know…FOREVER!). And this is only with a pattern that had 3 base triangles.

I imagine that doing this pattern but with more repeats could take me AGES. Although I have time until my friend’s baby gets here, but still! I’m an impatient knitter and this has caused a debate in my mind.

Do I cast on a large project and use it as my on the go project because I like the finished look?

Or do I do another pattern that I could finish quicker?

So, I’m not sure what to do! I think I might have to cast on the full length of the blanket and see how long it takes me to do the few rows of the pattern. And go from there.

I bought a book a few days ago with a baby blanket pattern in which I might alter.

The scarf pattern that I’m trying at the moment was a free one from Ravelry which you can find the pattern for here:

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/entrelac-scarf

So far, I’m finding the instructions for this pattern really easy to follow. I would definitely recommend it if you want to have a go at entrelac knitting.

Just ignore the terrible lighting…life is too short to spend hours on taking a picture!

Who knew yarn could be so bright?

Knitting Progress and a Freebie

Today (Sunday) has been a day of little progressions.

First, I cut out the lining fabric for a denim backpack which I’m going to start sewing tomorrow. Then, I cut out the paper patterns for a couple of other sewing projects I want to do so that they’re all ready to go.

Then, I finished the bottom rib for my knitted orange jumper, which has taken me months to do because the rib needles were a lot smaller than the main pattern needles. Also, I put it aside in October last year and pretty much left it alone, apart from doing the odd row here and there.

But recently I’ve been having a push to try and finish it, and today I FINALLY managed to change to the bigger needles and start on the main pattern. Yay!

It’s still going to take a while to finish but at least I can go a lot quicker with this part. The main pattern is stocking stitch and a couple of cable panels with a tiny bit of lace (k2tog and yfd) so it’s relatively straightforward.

I’m so happy I’ve made some progress!

I’ll post a picture the next time as the light just isn’t great at the moment…I think it’s going to rain again soon!

The pattern I’m doing is a 24 row repeat so I usually scribble down where I’m at on a piece of paper. I thought I’d whip up a quick printable and see if this helps me keep all of my notes and stuff all together.

The picture I filled in as an example, but the PDF is blank!

As usual this is for your personal use only – do not share, sell or redistribute this in any way!

Knitting with the freebie yarn – Christmas and Rude Mice!

In the previous post I talked about using up the stash of yarn I had saved up from free yarn kits that you get with knitting magazines. Here are some of the things I’ve made so far…

I’ve been knitting Christmas stockings in July. Yep, you read that correctly!

I’ve done 3 so far and I think that’s the lot for now!

I also made a knitted bauble and a crocheted one (which I don’t think I’m going to keep – I just can’t get the decreases in the round to look good when I’m crocheting). AND I also tried to make a knitted paper chain but the first link I made looked so rubbish that I changed my mind pretty quickly on that one!

I really like the knitted bauble. I made a Christmas one last year and placed a polystyrene ball inside. This time I used toy stuffing and the result looks just as good, maybe even better as the knitted fabric doesn’t have to stretch over the ball.

So…2 baubles and 4 mini stockings are done so far.

I did also make a knitted toy mouse, thinking if the pattern was any good then I could make a few more for an animal shelter (specifically for the cats to play with)…but NOOOOOOOOO!

All I can say was before I sewed on the ears and eyes it looked REALLY RUDE!!

I’m going to save the white fluffy wool and the bit of black I have leftover…that’s pretty much all I have left.

Not bad for a few evenings knitting. I even did a few rows on my jumper.

I also bought some more yarn at my local yarn shop today. It’s so funny because for so many posts I’ve been saying things like ‘I need to stop buying yarn and use up my stash’ or ‘it’s not environmentally friendly to keep buying acrylic or other manmade fibres’.

And what do I do?!

BUY MORE ACRYLIC YARN IN REALLY FUNKY SHADES WITH NO PROJECT IN MIND!

And I’ve bought some more possible baby blanket yarn. I have plans for that.

And some plain black toy eyes.

Oh and 2 books – 1 about using up sewing leftovers into mini projects and another for knitted baby blankets.

I am getting my creative mojo back! Yay!

I know I’ve been ill for a few weeks, but I’m feeling much more productive and motivated now. I’m getting back to crafting and writing and even spent a happy hour organising files and folders, cleaning, recycling bits and bobs…you know, the sort of productive pottering around that feels like you’re procrastinating but you actually get a lot of stiff done!

The next thing is sewing! I haven’t sewn anything since Christmas and the projects are slowing piling up!

What to do with all that free yarn from magazines…

One of my great weaknesses is knitting and sewing magazines. Overpriced with naff freebies and as the years go by, the adverts get more frequent and the number of pages in the magazines go down.

Seriously, soon it will be £9.99 for about 10 pages. It’s ridiculous.

And I don’t even like all the patterns in them if I’m honest, although yes, I do realise they have to try and cater for everyone. But have you noticed how so many of the patterns are disgusting blue and green jumpers that look like two different patterns have been Frankenstein stitched together? Yurgh….just give me a normal pattern in one colour anyway. OK, stop whinging now!

It’s the freebies I wanted to talk about.

I’ve stopped buying issues with cheap plastic freebies out of principle – they go straight in the recycling or in bags for the charity shop. I can’t even give some of the freebies away as none of friends really knit a lot.

And then we have the yarn. It’s not ‘good’ yarn that you get free with any magazine. You rarely get a branded ball of wool that you would want to buy in a wool shop!

It’s cheap acrylic made in a factory in China and not enough to do anything decent with in any case.

It’s OK for small things like the free toy patterns you get with the magazines, the freebie yarn does tend to knit up quite tightly when I’ve tried some of the patterns out. And it does seem to be hardwearing and in bright colours, I’ll give it that!

I’ve thought about donating yarn to local schools, but they’re closing for the summer soon and I’m sure they could do without having to sort random craft items at this time of year. It’s hard to give these yarn packs to charity shops as they are branded and probably say something like ‘not for resale’ on them, which would mean they, in all likelihood, would get thrown away.

So, I decided that instead of wasting these tiny balls of yarn, I would use them in something sort of productive. They aren’t the best mix of colours, but that’s OK.

I am going to make Christmas decorations out of them and use up the yarn that way.

I do have a small ball of a fluffy white, which could be good for the top of a mini stocking. I was thinking of doing mini stockings, knitted paper chains, maybe some baubles and then see what I have leftover from that.

I could donate them to charities accepting knitted items or find a way to sell them for charity. I’m not sure yet.

I have enough knitted and sewn Christmas decorations from last year…I don’t want anymore at this time. I’m just thinking of a fun way to use up the little stash.

I’ve already started a grey and pink mini stocking- last night I got the top part done, just need to do the heel and the foot and then sew it up.

I suppose there is always things like coasters or placemats to make…but I probably wouldn’t use them anyway!

What do you do with the freebie yarn if you buy these expensive magazines?! I’m desperate not to send it all to landfill!