Monday, 15 February 2016

My comfort cardi

This is the first project of 2016 that I have tackled and it is a stash buster. I had lots of pinks left over from making baby things for friends and mum had quite a lot of red so I thought 'why not'. I made my first adult cardigan at the end of last year and I was very surprised at how easy it was to make which just inspired me to design my own.

I started with working out what sizes I wanted my cardigan to be which basically meant that I measured myself and added a couple of inches for the width.

I then had to decide on what stitch I was going to use. To be honest I didn't think about this for very long as I was of the mindset that the stitch should be really simple because I was planning on doing decreases on the sleeves and thought either dc, tr or htr would be the best idea rather than doing anything too fancy. Also with all the colours I was planning on using I didn't think I should do anything to over the top or it could end up being marvelously hideous. I finalized on half trebles as they are pretty stitches and would make the cardigan thick and warm but still give it a nice drape. As I used all double crochet wool I used a 3.5m hook this gives me a good tension as I am quite a loose crocheter. As I went along I just made a note of how many stitches I used rather than doing this in advance. I don't know if this is the normal way to design something in crochet but it worked for me.

Back showing colour repeat.

Then I just got started and began crocheting. I decided to try to stick to a colour repeat as I thought that this would make my cardigan less random looking and more cohesive. this seemed to work and I have to say this is probably the thing that took me the longest to work out as I really wanted the bright read around where you would have cuffs (even though I didn't add these).

I worked:
7 Rows in bright red
3 Rows in lilac
5 Rows in pale pink
7 Rows in dark red
3 Rows in multi pinks
5 Rows in salmon pink

Once I had finished creating all of the pieces for my cardigan I then just needed to join it. I opted for a slip stitch as this just made it look nice and neat from the front. I had already decided finish off using crab stitch (reverse double crochet) all around the front as I really liked this on the other cardigan I did, as it was a simple way to finish it off and also looked really pretty. I used the bright red again as it just again helped it all come together.

pocket attached to the cardigan
Once that was done I tried it on and it fit! Whoop I was super impressed I have to say as I didn't think it would really (even though I had measured). I then decided it needed some pockets as what is a comfort cardigan without pockets? I went wild and used a large square from 200 crochet blocks for blankets, throws and afghans by Jan Eaton (Pg 51)  just using all of the colours I had used in my cardigan and I did a crab stitch around the outside edge.

I joined using a surface crochet stitch which just catches the wool from the inside as I wasn't sure how else to do it but I thought it worked really well and looked surprisingly neat from the inside. I like it when I can make things neat!

So here is my finished cardigan:

I am unsure whether I think it is beautiful or hideous or just an amalgamation of the two. What do you think? I am very impressed with the neckline as I think I did the decreases well. I have also only taken it off to wash it, so for me it is the perfect comfort cardi. I will write up the pattern when I have some time for those of you that want it.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Art for healing, food and crochet

Since being diagnosed with Crohn's disease I have found I have a lot more time on my hands (Mainly because I lost my job in October!) and I always feel it is important to keep myself busy. I absolutely hate being bored, it is almost a bit of a phobia. Normally under these circumstances I would read as I can normally wile away many an hour by reading however, I have been really struggling to concentrate on any book, including my go to classic trashy novels that I have read and re-read numerous times.  

So "how are you filling your time" I hear you ask? Well I have been spending my time profitably (which for some reason seems very important), by firstly joining the Creative everyday challenge. This is where I came up with the idea for the name of my blog post this time 'Art for healing' was January's theme and it got me thinking. Do I create art to help me heal?  I suppose it could depend on your idea of art. What do you think? Do you use art to heal you or others?
Image result for the encyclopedia of healing plants chrissie wildwood
Chrissie Wildwood

One thing I have done for years if I am ill is to look up healing herbs and spices as I am a believer of the idea that whatever ailment you have there is a cure and like with nettles the cause of the ailment and the cure are usually close together. Over the years I have turned to the book: The encyclopedia of healing plants by Chrissie Wildwood and I have found it fascinating how often it has helped me. Easy things like if you have a cold use ginger and turmeric in your cooking (I would usually do a curry or chilli for tea). It is the foundation for modern medicine really though so I guess it shouldn't be that surprising when it works. Do any of you do this too, do you have any of your own 'natural' remedies for when your ill? 

Which brings me to cooking and food.  For years I have struggled with Crohn's symptoms but not knowing what they were made it quite difficult and I just assumed I had a mild intolerance (and sometimes not so mild!) to some things. So over time I have restricted my diet to things that don't cause me problems (which is good as that is what they suggest that you do when you have Crohn's disease) and this has resulted in me having a bit of a love of cooking and I think cooking is a form of art too as it is the act of creating something beautiful. What do you think? Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy food and spend many an hour looking up new recipes to try (vegan of course), and amending them, so at the moment when I can't eat because of my stricture I am finding it a little difficult. However don't think that this has stopped me! Oh no! After all this is part of my ingrained response to illness "what can I eat to make me feel better?". Below are two simple and easy recipes for vegan soups that were suitable for me and did not cause me any problems on my new liquid only diet! Remember if you are a Crohn-ie that everyone is different and these may not work for you.

Carrot and Lentil soup (serves 2)

The lentils make the soup a little frothy
1/3 cup red lentils2 cups bullion stock made up
1 medium onion
2/3 cup carrot juice (I used Kabus juice drink which is very tasty)
1/2 tsb cumin
1/2 tsb turmeric
1/2 tsb ginger
1 tsb olive oil for frying

  1. Saute the onion in the oil then add all the other ingredients
  2. Simmer gently for 20-40 minutes until lentils are tender (the longer the better if making for a liquid only diet)
  3. Add to blender or using a stick blender ensure that there are no lumps, adding water if necessary (I use it straight from the kettle as keeps the soup warm)
  4. Serve with crusty bread (for me on liquid diet I had to strain and served it on its own)
I have made this when not on a liquid diet and I have to say it is very yummy and was just as nice even though it wasn't the right texture.

Vegetable stew soup (serves 2)

I made this as I really fancied my homemade vegan stew and obviously chunks of vegetables are definitely not liquid. As I don't know whether I am allowed to have potatoes I didn't add any to be on the safe side but I would normally. I used frozen veg which made it very quick and easy to do.


2 cups bullion stock made up
1 cup tomato juice (could use chopped tomatoes)1 medium white onion1/3 cup of each; cabbage, peas, broccoli3 Brussel sprouts1/2 tsb Thyme1/2 tsb Sage1/2 tsb marmite
  1. Saute the onion in the oil then add all the other ingredients
  2. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are cooked
  3. If making just as a vegetable soup you could serve here as a chunky soup otherwise add to blender or using a stick blender ensure that there are no lumps, adding water if necessary (I use it straight from the kettle as keeps the soup warm)
  4. Strain and serve

This leads me nicely on to the other thing that has been occupying much of my time recently and you probably already guessed that that is my crochet? The whole thing of crochet is a bit like cooking I guess. You need the right ingredients, there is special books on it, there is also specific sites just for other people like you. Excellent! Ravelry is the place to be and if you have never looked at it and are interested in crochet, knitting or sewing then this is the place you should head to! I love it, so many patterns and in the words of Willy Wonka "So much time so little to do, scratch that reverse it"

Multi-coloured, non-matching but still go

Blues and pinks
Easter gloves-they remind me of spring

I am a crocheter that likes to find a decent pattern and make it over and over again until I know it off by heart and can make it in my sleep, Why I hear you ask? I don't know but that is what seems to work for me. So when I found this fantastic Fingerless or not glove pattern on RavelryI was just super made up. It has everything I want in a glove pattern, it is simple and easy to follow and more importantly allows me to make each pair of gloves unique. I have made three pairs this year to use up my scrap yarn and I am sure that I will not be stopping there! I made them fingerless as it is starting to get a little warmer now! You will have to tell me which is your favorite of the three as I can't quite decide which colour way is best!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Day 8 of liquid only diet

It's day 8 of my liquid only diet and I have to say that in a way it is getting easier although I would probably eat anything that was put in front of me-if I was allowed to eat. I have found myself looking at recipes thinking "that would be nice" and drooling. So as a bit of a concession I made myself some sweetcorn soup this morning which was surprisingly tasty. I needed it to be nice (and savory) though because I am getting really bored of just drinking Fortijuice's and Cupa soups and other really sweet things. I've added it here although I'm not sure that it would be enjoyable if I wasn't on such a restricted diet, if any of you try it you will have to let me know what you think!


1/2 tin of creamed sweetcorn
1 cup of water
1 tsp of bullion powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp vegan pesto


1. Add creamed sweetcorn and water to a pan
2. Using a stick blender, blend together until there is no chunks (or as few chunks as you can get)
3. Put pan on heat and add the other ingredients. Heat until piping hot and bubbling ensuring you stir continuously so that you don't burn your pan.
4. Strain through colander into bowl and enjoy

It seems really wrong to strain things I have to say, it feels like I am taking all of the goodness out of things but it seems t be keeping my Crohn's symptoms in check a little and not in pain. I am supposed to be hearing from the hospital soon regarding whether they are going to be performing a gastric bypass but my specialist is on holiday so I am worrying that I am just going to be on this liquid diet until she is back. What a nightmare for a foodie like me! Well I need to go and get ready to pick up some more Fortijuices, what fun.

Wish me luck getting through the rest of today and for the next however long I will be on this horrid liquid only diet.