health

Pinky swear

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As the pandemic quarantine continues, I’ve been knitting a lot more recently, actually more than I’ve ever done in the past few years. Which is great, because I feel like I’ve been neglecting my hobbies recently, and by doing so also neglecting myself a little bit.

So far in 2020 (and we’re only 4 months in!), I’ve already knitted 4598 yards in 6 projects, which is more than what I did the entire 2019 year (3473 yards in 6 projects) and already very close to 2018, where I knit 4715 yards in 9 projects. Given that we’re only at the beginning of May and that there’s still no sign of the end of the work from home situation yet, I will more than likely surpass my 2017 stats (which came up to 5481 yards in 7 projects) and may potentially even reach my 2016 numbers by the end of the year, which came up to a wonderfully impressive 10 928 yards in 17 projects. 2015 and 2014 are also very close behind, with 9314 yards in 16 projects and 10 292 yards in 15 projects respectively.

Now numbers don’t tell the whole story though, as I’ve been picking up more hobbies in the past 4 years (namely here spinning, pottery and I’ve also been much more phyisically active and cooking at home more) so it’s totally normal that my knitting numbers now are lower than the ones I had 4 or 5 years ago (and for very good and healthy reasons). But I think it’s also safe to say that I may potentially have not been putting aside as much time for myself as I should have, leading me to experience more stress, anxiety and affecting my overall mental health. I think this time “on pause” as led me to realize this, and hopefully, I will learn from this moving forward. I will try very hard in the future not to neglect myself and my mental health, pinky swear!!!

So without further ado, I would like to show you today a couple of the projects I’ve completed recently, namely here this cute pair of mesh market bags. I used the Ilene Bag pattern from Hannah Mason and knitted them out of 4 skeins of Fibra Natura’s Sea Song cotton yarn in pink and a few grams of plain white unnamed cotton yarn I had in stash.

I worked the bottom of the bag and the mesh section in the pink, then switched a contrasting color for the ribbing and the handle. Each bag used about 1.9 skein of sea song (just about 207 yards) and 100 yards of white for the ribbing and handle, for a grand total of about 307 yards per bag.

I did make a few small changes to the pattern, namely here adding some plain rows before the mesh pattern and some ribbing rows at the end; all the details are on my project page as usual so feel free to check it out there.

So how’s your quarantine going guys? How are you taking care of your mental health? Any tips to share?

The things we love most

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After spending so much time home recently, I came to realize that it’s very easy to establish our own little routines, and get comfort from the small things. One of the things I noticed the past few weeks is that I truly love the handmade pottery pieces I have, and that I keep using them all the time. I even see it on my instagram feed, as most food pictures I post on there also happen to feature some hand made items.

Seeing that, I thought I could present you guys the last pieces I finished in 2019, talk a little bit more about the process and show you the full collections I’ve been using constantly since then.

First off, I think the last time we talked pottery, I told you my favorite part of it was actually applying the glaze, because it was always kind of a surprise how things were really going to turn out. Here’s a very good example of what I mean by that. Left picture is just after applying the glaze, right is the same pieces once out of the kiln.

You can tell it’s the same pieces, but man do they look different! Sometimes you can try to imagine as much as you want, but it’ll turn into something you never expected, especially if it’s a glaze you’ve never used before. Now since I’ve been using the same colour combos for a while now I sort of know what to expect, but I still do get surprises every now and then nonetheless.

The two main “collections” if you will, that I’ve been working on are this classic black and white (my Moody set) and the wavy white and teal (my Ocean set).

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This black set basically starts with an even black base, then the pieces are dipped in white glaze on one side as an overlay. Except for the onces with the interesting texture, they’re pretty much all the same. The two small plates have specks on them, something I tried here (but didn’t quite like in this palette) but exploited a lot more in the second set I made, that I affectionately call my Ocean set.

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Half of those pieces (mostly the bowls) have a gradient-ish exterior and a plain white interior. The other ones (mostly the plates) have a basic white glaze with a bold teal brush stroke and a few specks here and there, reminiscent (to me) of the waves of the ocean.

I love those two sets so much I’ve just been using and washing and reusing them non stop since the holidays, and I really don’t think I will ever stop. They are very close to my heart, and although I do (and will probably continue to) experiment with other colours, just like the yellow ones in the first picture, I think I will definitely keep making pieces to add to these two collections as I go.

Talking about experiments, I tried something fun and different with these 3 pieces right there, as they were meant as a gift. There is some texture to them as I added some stripes on the side, then used a dark blue and green scheme with a lot of splashes of colour.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the result, and I hope the intended recipient will be too!

That’s it for today folks, new post knitting post coming soon 🙂

Cheers!

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!!