fun

Orange Crush

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Guys, I’m so excited to show you the shawl I’ve been working on for almost 5 months now, it’s finally complete! Although it’s been a bit of a challenge, I’m so happy with the result!

Orange crush

Let me share a bit of a story to go along with this knit, because I think it deserves it. I’ve always been a huge fan of Melanie Berg, I love all of her designs and I’ve been eyeing Rheinlust since it first came out more than 2 years ago. To showcase the beautiful texture going on there, I wanted to use a solid or kettle dyed yarn to avoid any unnecessary visual distractions, so I opted for a couple skeins of the soft and beautiful (single-ply) Airy yarn from The Woolen Rabbit that I got at the Squam Art Fair in New Hampshire some 4 years back. It is a beautiful deep orange color, and mixed with the wavyness of the Rheinlust pattern, this shawl (to me!) looks like yummy gorgeous waves in a sea of orange crush pop! Don’t you guys feel the same?

Anyways, I started this shawl back in May as an airplane knit for my trip to Japan, but I quickly realized it wasn’t the smartest choice, as the pattern turned out to be a bit more challenging than I expected. I love lace patterns, but the way the waves kind of move along the knit got me really confused at first, and it took me a lot longer than usual to memorize the 22 row pattern repeat. Don’t get me wrong, the pattern is very clear and beautifully written,  but my drowsy Dramamine brain had a lot of trouble juggling the yarn, the needle and the chart on the tiny plane tray intermittently taken over by food & drinks and a lot of other junk. Bottom line here, I frogged and started over this shawl 2 or 3 times before I got it somewhat right, and I made quite a few mistakes in the the first third of the shawl, but fortunately they seem to blend in quite well in the wavy pattern. The delicate single-ply yarn, however, didn’t appreciate all the frogging, confusion and messiness and broke in quite a few places in the first half.

Together, these two challenges made me realize that I probably should’ve thought things through a bit more, and chosen a more appropriate knit for the plane ride. An easier design with a simpler pattern repeat and a sturdier two or three ply yarn would certainly have been a wiser choice, but regardless of the knitting challenges faced during the trip, I am so happy that I made this shawl!! It is beautiful, soft and drapey, and every bit as amazing as I imagined it would be. I followed the pattern exactly, but repeated the main body 8 times instead of 9 to accommodate the smaller amount yarn I had available, all the details can be found on my project page as usual. And it worked out perfectly! I mean… Would you look at that beauty?

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Either way, I shall learn from my mistakes and choose a more appropriate travel project the next time I go on a trip, which may come sooner rather than later.

See you again soon folks!

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Health & Fitness summer update

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Yes, yes, I know. Long time no blog. It’s true that I haven’t spent as much time on my blog as I should have in the last few months, and the same can be said about my knitting needles that have been collecting dust for a little while. While I did sew a few bags in a variety of models and did work on my living room curtains, I must say that crafting (and blogging!) has been on the back burner for a little while, and there is a very good reason for that.

Since January, I have started a weight loss journey that has been keeping me very, very busy every day. I have always been on the bigger side, but last winter I hit a point where my weight and my fitness level (or the lack thereof) were becoming a problem in my every day life, and I wanted to do something about it. So today’s blog is not going to be about pretty yarn, fabric or anything remotely crafty, but about me and my relationship with my body.

Let’s start with true hard facts: not only was I overweight with a BMI of over 30, but I was also dangerously unfit. I’d get out of breath after climbing one small flight of stairs, and I was so sedentary that I started to develop sleep problems as well as various pains in my back, hips & knees. I would start panting after only 30 seconds of running.

Now that that’s done and out of the way, let’s talk about what I’ve been doing since then.

As there is no magic solution to weight loss, I focused my efforts on the two basic fronts : food and exercise.

On the “food” front:

  • I started calculating my calorie intake using an app on my phone to set a target and keep track of my progress. For those interested, I’m using MyFitnessPal. What I like about this app is that most foods you can find at the grocery are already in the database and can simply be scanned and added for convenience, but what I also like is the option to enter all my homemade recipes & easily calculate the calories and macros per serving. I also like that you can customize your macro proportions, and set other personalized goals.
  • As for macros, while most people get 40% to 60% of their energy from carbs, the sweet spot for me seems to be more around 30% to 35%, consequently I upped my protein & fat intake to about 20% & 50% respectively. Those proportions don’t follow any specific diet like Atkins, keto or whatever but after much trial and error, it seems to be the perfect balance where I FEEL great (no sugar craving, more constant level of energy, etc.) with minimal effort/changes to my regular diet or daily life. Since I’m vegetarian, going full out keto would be a more drastic challenge (although I’m sure it can be done!) but it was just too much work for me, so I simply cut out breads, rice, pasta and processed sugar and started opting for naturally low in sugar fruits & veggies.
  • I also cook more, and pre-portion my food. I eat out less, and make lunches for myself every day. I also make it a point to eat as much veggies as I possibly can, and try to sneak them into anything I make. Food has suddenly become more colorful and more fun!

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On the “exercise” front:

  • As a naturally muscular person, I don’t really need too much weight training but I DO do some basic exercises like squats, push ups, crunches and things like that whenever I feel like it. More than anything though, cardio is what I need to work on, so…
  • From January to May I used the treadmill almost every day, trying to build my cardio back from square one.
  • From June to now, I’ve been walking and/or running at least 5k every day. Although at first I couldn’t run much more that 1-2k without stopping, I still signed up to a series of six 5k races downtown and showed up at every single one, now matter how hot & muggy it got. Although I still need to stop & walk sometimes, I was able to cut down my time from 37 to 33.5 minutes since June, and I am so excited about it!

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(big shoutout to Hélène Bassaraba for the awesome pictures)

  • I also recently got a fitbit, and try to be on my feet more throughout the day, too, not just going for a walk or run. I also try to incorporate other activities in my routine, and sometimes do yoga or play tennis with my cousin.

And that brings us to NOW, and the results I’ve seen. I am now 36 pounds lighter than I was on January 1st, and I now have a BMI below 25. I have gained muscle, lost fat and improved my cardio to the level of an average woman my age.

There’s obviously still a long way to go, but I am so proud of myself you guys!!

Long time coming.

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These past few days I feel like I’m finally starting to get my knitting mojo back, although  it’s been a very long journey and I guess for now I don’t really have much to show for it, but that’s okay! Today, I want to share with you the latest piece I completed, which is a redish/black version of Stephen West’s Askews Me Dickey cowl that I started back in January. Ain’t it just lovely?

Wonderland Cowl

Ravelry is telling me it took a bit over a month to complete this project, which really is somewhat laughable compared to the whopping two days it took me to complete this cowl the first time around in 2016, but I’m alright with that. Since work has been so busy lately and my personal schedule’s been a bit overloaded, I’ve barely been knitting at all these past few months, but I’m glad to report that more than half of this cowl has been knitted in the last 7 days, so I guess I’m starting to adjust and pick up some speed again. I basically made the same mods as the first time I knitted this pattern, which is to work less repeats of the pattern in the neck section and cast-on with color B only instead of a two color cast-on like the pattern calls for. As always, you can find all the details and yardage on my project page, so go check it out if you’re interested.

The timing works out quite right since there’s a few more weeks of winter coming and I’ll definitely get to wear it before spring comes around, but more than anything I’m just really happy to have finished this project since the yarn I used actually has a little bit of a backstory to it. The redish variegated yarn I used is actually the yarn I got from my husband when he proposed to me back in 2015. He had bought a knitting kit at the Stowe Fabric & Yarn store in VT as a “birthday present” and had stuffed the ring inside the skein before giving it to me. Too sweet for words, right? I can tell you now that I will definitely cherish this cowl for a very, very long time.

That’s all for now folks, until next time 🙂

Cheers!

Holiday countdown started!!

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Yep, it’s now officially started. I made a list, carefully chose the presents I was going to offer to the people I love and hashed out a plan for all the things that I have to make before the Holiday season arrives. As always, it’s going to be a busy few weeks, but oh-so-rewarding!

The first item I checked on my list this year is this cute shawlette version of the Sunwalker Shawl by the ever so nice Melanie Berg, knitted in Noro Taiyo Sock yarn on size 3.75mm needles. It’s the second time I’ve used this pattern and I still love it as much as I did before. It’s so easy but also so interesting to knit with both texture and lace, and the result is always so breathtakingly beautiful!

Noro Sunwalker Shawlette

As always, all the details can be found on my project page, so check it out if you’re interested 🙂

As for me, I shall now go back to my needles, my friends! See you again soon!

Entrelac, anyone?

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I’ve had a lot of fun this summer/fall working on my first ever entrelac project, it’s a Tunisian Crochet blanket made with (too many yards!) of Bernat Maker Home Dec & Fashion in 3 different colors, and I simply LOVE (!) the result.

Entrelac Tunisian Crochet blanket

The pattern I used is Bernat’s Tunisian Entrelac Baby Blanket and I think it’s a great pattern for both, first time Tunisian crocheters and first time entrelac knitters, and there’s also a tutorial available to help you visualize what you gotta do, too. I made a slightly larger version of the blanket, reaching about 45″X50″ with 16 pattern repeats instead of 11, but otherwise followed the pattern pretty closely. Although I’m familiar with Tunisian crochet this was the first time I’ve ever done entrelac, and I’m quite glad I chose this pattern because it was a simple, easy and very fun to make.

This blanket is just so cute it’s to die for, and with the yarn I used the blanket is amazingly soft and squishy I could literally snuggle to it all day long. Plus, both cats approve because (as shown in the pictures) it was their favorite blanket before it was even finished.

Well that’s all for now folks, cheers 🙂

Where has summer gone?

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Anyone else here feels like June was just yesterday? I swear, I really feel like summer just barely started, but it’s already the end of August, how exactly did that happen? Where was I? Where did summer go? I know, I know – it’s not technically over yet – the end of August and September usually bring some of the best summer has to offer, just before it all goes out with a bang in the fall, when the leaves change in October. And I know that I still have a lot of fun stuff coming in the next few weeks, but somehow I still feel lovelorn – summer felt so short, I want to start it all over again and rekindle the romance.

Oh well… at least, we had some good times. Less than a month ago, Honeybee and I spent a week with his family in Ohio, and we were fortunate enough to have some quality time with his parents, since Mom-in-law was on vacation. We took advantage of the great weather and planned all sorts of activities. We spent a day at Put-in-Bay, on Lake Eerie, also visited the beautiful Shedel Gardens in Elmore, OH, went antiquing and yarn shopping and so much more!

Put-in-Bay2017-08-01 13.03.11Shedel 22017-08-03 11.04.22Untitled collage (1)

Although it’s been fun, I guess I haven’t been making much progress when it comes to knitting, sewing and such but I guess I have made a few bags, started an afghan and a baby blanket. I’m not quite ready to share those yet since but I should have something craft related to share with you next time, I promise! 🙂

Thanks you all folks, and I’ll talk you again soon!