WIP: Eyelet Cardigan & Beekeeper’s Quilt

Hello!  Welcome back for another instalment of Work in Progress!

This week, I finished up the tie.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures, because without the fabric insert it isn’t very impressive.  As soon as that’s in, I’ll post some photos.

I also started what (I suspect) will be a very long WIP.  Some of you may be familiar with Tiny Owl Knit’s The Beekeeper’s Quilt.  Well, I’ve started my own!  I’m only three hexipuffs in, but I plan to have this be my “on-the-go project”, so hopefully within about a year I’ll have enough to make throw.  The goal is to keep making hexipuffs until I have about a full-sized blanket.

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My three hexipuffs

I’ve been making the hexipuffs out of scrap yarn and stuffing them with the scraps that are too small to make into hexipuffs.  It’s certainly very economical, because I don’t have to buy stuffing!

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The other project I’ve been working on is a cardigan.  It’s going to be a gift for a dear friend, but it’s lovely so I need to stop coveting it.  There’s going to be an allover eyelet pattern and Celtic-inspired silver buttons.

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The start of a sleeve

I’ve only started a bit of a sleeve, but I have high hopes and I’m having so much fun with the eyelets!

Until next time, dears!

Love, Valentine

Pollinator Gardens

Hello lovelies!  I know for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s feeling very wintery, but today we’re going to talk about something with a little more sunshine.

You’ve probably heard of the Save the Bees campaign and, hopefully, are concerned and want to help stem the tide of pollinator disappearance.  One of the best ways you can help is by planting a pollinator gardens!

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Our friendly neighbourhood bumblebee!

A pollinator garden doesn’t have to be fancy, just a few potted plants on the deck will work just fine!  However, there are some basic ground rules:

  1. Plant native plants!  Native pollinators will be drawn to the plants they know and love to eat, a.k.a. native plants.  Take the time to find out what is native to your area.  Not only will these plants do well, but insects will love them.  You can find ecoregion planting guides here for Canada and the United States.
  2. Choose a wide variety of plants!  Ideally, you’ll have a range of plants so that something is always blooming from spring through fall.  This will attract more insects and also keep them fed longer.  For bees, you’ll also want plants with a “landing pad”, such as big petals or leaves.  Plants with lots of small flowers are also good and you may want to consider having plants with hollow stems.  One thing is to make sure you stay away from double petalled-plants, which block access to pollinators.
  3. Provide water!  While bees fulfill their water needs with nectar, other insects don’t.  For example, butterflies prefer a shallow pool from which they can sip.  For a low cost solution, you can set out a dish of water.  Just be sure to change the water frequently so that mosquitos don’t breed!
  4. Don’t use pesticides!  This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but it can be difficult to break habits.  Reducing pesticide use will radically increase the pollinators that visit your garden.  If you have a pest problem, try pesticide-free solutions like soapy water and planting marigold.
  5. Tell your friends and register your garden!  Once your garden is up and running (or even if it’s not quite there yet), tell your friends!  I give you permission to be annoying about it in order to convince them to create a pollinator garden.  You can also register your pollinator garden here and see pictures of other gardens around the world.
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A monarch butterfly enjoying a snack

That’s it!  I set you free to go forth and garden, taking in the sweet scent of summer and good deeds.

Love, Valentine

WIP: Tea Cozy & Tie

Hi all!  It’s been a little bit since the last WIP and quite a bit has happened since then!

I have a lovely tea pot, but I noticed that it wasn’t keeping my tea hot for quite as long as I wanted.  Therefore, I designed a little cable cozy to keep her toasty!

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The completed tea cozy on the tea pot!

I used a 4-strand braid cable and edged it in seed stitch.  There is a little seed stitch gusset for the spout and braided ties over the handle.

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Concept sketch for the tea cozy

The yarn is New Zealand wool I was given years ago.  It’s been collecting dust in my stash, waiting for the perfect project.

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The other thing I’ve been working on is a tie (not for me).  The pattern is Somerset, although I am using slightly larger needles.

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Close up of the lace pattern on the tie

Eventually, the tie will be backed with fabric in order to achieve a cool, window effect.  I’m going to use the same fabric from patching my sweater.  To reming yourself, click here.

I’ll try to remember to be better about posting WIPs!

Love, Valentine

The Ninilchik Cardigan

Hello friends!  I’d like to spend a little bit telling you about the project I’ve made of which I am most proud.

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Me, immediately after finishing the cardigan, as proud as a mama-hen.

My Ninilchik cardigan started out as a pattern by Caitlin Hunter.  The original pattern was significantly different in that it was not a cardigan, had no pockets, and was significantly shorter.  Having made a swoncho before, I knew I wanted something with a bit more mobility in the arms.  I also wanted to add a fun colourwork cardigan to my wardrobe.  Therefore, I decided to raise the armholes and steek the front.

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The finished sweater!

For those of you not in the know, ‘steeking’ is when you cut open a piece of knitwear (usually a sweater) after you’ve already finished knit it.  If you don’t do it right, the whole thing can unravel.

I had never steeked anything before, so I was understandably nervous.  I practiced a few times on a swatch and held my breath when I did it on my sweater.  Unfortunately, I made a few mistakes, but nothing a button band and some strategic sewing couldn’t fix.

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Close up of the colourwork on the yoke

In the couple of months since I finished it, I’ve worn the sweater out a few times and received compliments every time.  The project took me four months to complete in all, and I’m so proud of myself for the skills and patience I learned along the way.

Have you ever drastically adjusted a pattern?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Love, Valentine

The Grain Sweater, Completed!

At long last, the Grain Sweater is completed!IMG_1255.jpeg

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  The fit is great for layering over other tops and is perfect for casual winter fashion.  I’m also really pleased with the way the corrugated rib and colourwork turned out.

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I apologize for my sub-par photography skills.

I used Kitchener stitch for the armpits (which you can sort of see above).  It was a little challenging to figure out at first but I love the finish it gives to the garment as a whole.  This is the tutorial I used.

To bind off, I used a straight-forward stretchy bind off that is quite elastic without flaring.  You can find a tutorial here.

This project was a lot of fun and so quick!  Stay tuned for the next WIP, coming in the next couple of days!

Love, Valentine

9 Air Cleansing Houseplants

It’s no secret that the world today has a whole bunch of chemicals in it.  There are synthetic chemicals in everything from our all-purpose cleaner to the filters in our air-conditioning vents.  With all this cycling through the air we breathe, sometimes you want a way to make your next breath a little cleaner.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to do that while also making your living space pretty and green!

I’ve compiled a list of nine plants that will filter chemicals out of your air and also look beautiful!  Most of this list is based on a study NASA did in 1989, which you can read here.

  1. Aloe Vera

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This plant is well known for the soothing gel inside, but it’s also very easy to take care of! Aloe vera will remove benzene and formaldehyde from the air, but it is toxic to cats and dogs.  It is a full sun plant that prefers sandy, well-draining soil and full sun.

2.  Peace Lily

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The Peace Lily is perfect if you don’t have a lot of light in your space.  I have one in my basement apartment with just a lamp on during the day and it’s thriving.  It filters benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air and is also toxic to dogs and cats.

3.  Boston Fern

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Boston (or Sword) Ferns are one of the most popular houseplants.  I’m sure you know someone who has one.  What you may not know is that this plant filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air.  It is also non-toxic and safe for dogs and cats.  It prefers a moist climate, so if you have it inside, be sure to mist it.

4.  Spider Plant

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This is another popular houseplant that is non-toxic.  It will filter out formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.  The Spider Plant can tolerate temperatures down to 2 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit) but prefers more moderate temperatures.

5.  English Ivy

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English Ivy is well known for outdoor use, but it can also be a lovely houseplant.  The plant grows quickly and will also climb.  It filters out benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene, however it is toxic.

6.  Snake Plant

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This plant is native to West Africa and therefore prefers warmer areas of the house.  It thrives well in low light — another one for my basement apartment!  It needs very little water, so be careful not to give it too much!  Unlike most plants, the Snake Plant release oxygen at night, making it ideal for a bedroom.  It removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene,xylene, and toluene from the air, however it is toxic.

7.  Bamboo Palm

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It should be noted that this is a palm tree and therefore will grow quite tall if you let it.  That being said, the bamboo palm is non-toxic and will remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene from your air.

8.  Golden Pothos

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This is another one that tolerates low light and requires little water.  It will filter benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air.

9.  Weeping Fig/Ficus

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The Ficus is another plant that will grow quite large if you let it.  It does not tolerate cold well and does best in full sun.  It is toxic, but will filter out formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.

Of course, there are many other houseplants that will filter your air, these are just the ones that I personally like the most.  Now go forth and garden!

Love, Valentine

WIP: Grain Sweater III

I’m back!  I apologize for the long wait since I last posted.  With midterms, a visit to a friend, and now illness, I have had a lot on my plate.

The Grain Sweater is coming along well and I’m almost done.  I’ve just reached the neck, where I’ve decided to decrease in a raglan style.

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The full sweater, so far.

I’m doing the raglan differently than I normally would and I think I like this better.  Instead of decreasing on both the sleeve and body side I am only decreasing on the body side.  It gives a better overall shape to the yoke and I think looks a little cleaner.

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The stitch pattern at the bottom of the sweater.

Now that the end is in sight, I absolutely cannot wait to wear it!  I’m already planning a slew of outfits to showcase the split hem feature.  Stay tuned!

Love, Valentine