A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Author Archives: The Crafty Crusader

I started out thinking that this post would be a review of 2018. Perhaps I will write that post elsewhere, but as I thought about what I have sewn this year, I found myself reflecting more on what I hadn’t sewn.

I would like to make 2019 my first official year of mindful making. I have loads of projects that I would love to make (and, importantly, I have all the resources) but they continually get bumped down the queue when something shiny catches my eye. One of my intentions for next year is to unsubscribe from all fabric shop mailing lists because I am a weak human being and when I see beautiful fabric I can’t resist buying it.

1. Kelly anorak

2. Pencil skirt wearable toile

3. Day dress

4. Monstera shirt

These are all garments that would fill very real gaps in my wardrobe if I would only sit down and actually make them.

While I have enjoyed taking part in the ‘make nine’ challenge for the past two years (2017, 2018), I will certainly be letting go of the aspiration to make an arbitrary number of items.

Something else I will be reflecting upon is the idea of ‘using up’ stash, i.e. king things with the primary aim of ‘getting rid of’ fabric or yarn I already own. While I think it’s important to use what you have before buying more, it is also important to use the right equipment for the job. I know all too well that a poor fabric choice is often the reason for a garment going unloved. Therefore my focus will be on using materials that will give the best chance of a great final product. Where I have stash (which fortunately has always been something I have generally avoided), I will simply accept that the item is in my life and wait for the right time to use it.

As examples, I have been planning to make a shirt with some of my Liberty fabric for a while. This would ‘get rid of’ some of the tana lawn I bought a few years ago in one of their sales. However, most of the shirts I love wearing are made from drapey fabrics like silk or viscose. If I make a cotton shirt, I’m not sure I will wear it as much as I would like. So I will now take some more time before deciding what kind of shirt I would like to make.

Materials for my teal waxed cotton Kelly Anorak

Similarly, I had planned to ‘use up’ the sweetie-print fabric I bought in that same sale as the lining for my Kelly anorak. The two fabrics don’t go that well together but it’s a way to ‘get rid of’ something I don’t have an immediate use for. After a re-think, I have decided to use whichever cotton I like best as the lining. The RTW raincoat that they Kelly will replace has been in my wardrobe for well over seven years. I want to look fondly on my Kelly each time I wear it rather than thinking that the lining isn’t quite right.

I’ll write a separate post about my knitting since this one is rather long already!


Getting to try the sweater on for the first time was a huge relief. I’d pinned it together a few times during the making process to assess fit, but you can never be sure how something will look until it is all sewn up.

For some reason I’ve been hesitant about criticising Wool and the Gang- perhaps because I slightly know the founders. However, I strongly feel that this pattern was not designed for hand-knitters. Even the most basic fact of knitting fair isle flat is not typical. I can’t find any evidence to suggest that anyone test-knitted this pattern and you can tell.

My gripes are mainly small things, such as the way the decreases are done on the raglan seams that means they are a little untidy when sewn up.

I really wasn’t happy with how the raglan seams looked so I played around with ways to make them neater.

Annoyingly you can see the stitches against the other colour. I think it looks better but I’ve left the ends loose so I have the option of undoing it.

Perhaps I have been spoiled by knitting a lot of projects from Brooklyn Tweed, where every detail of the design is painstakingly thought out. I also feel the sizing is quite off. I know that WatG patterns tend to have a very relaxed fit but still. I managed to get a good fit due to careful swatching and knitting maths.

Try to ignore my facial expression

I sewed up the whole sweater and then picked up the neckline stitches in the round. I think this is a superior method to knitting flat and then seaming the neckline.

I picked up way fewer stitches than indicated in the pattern. I ended up with 120. I basically just picked up one neckline stitch per stitch on the front, back and sleeves. Since I wanted a tight neckline, it worked for me. I also made a folded neckband for a more professional finish.

As a note, I ended up using up nearly all of the black yarn (and I’m fairly sure I ordered an extra ball). I did omit the contrast hem and cuffs (knitting them in black rather than white), which increased the yardage a bit. However I am a little surprised I got through it all because I made my sleeves and body quite a bit shorter than indicated in the pattern.

I had more than two balls of white left.

Previous posts in this series 1 2 3 4

The cooking hasn’t been as interesting this week, due in part to my broken finger.  A lot of my OddBox haul (including the pineapple) was pressed into service in smoothies. I’ve read that you should get lots of vitamins and minerals to support the healing process so I’ve been going hard on the old fruit and veg.

One thing I did make was cauliflower gnocchi based on the recipe in the box. Having done the pasta class helped me to try something outside my comfort zone.

I have to say that the gnocchi tasted suspiciously like dumplings. Not sure if this is my Jamaican heritage meaning I can’t make gnocchi properly or if that’s normal. I think I will have to try making some potato gnocchi to test.

I also made an amazing satay-style noodle soup dish. I found the recipe on Pinterest and knew right away that I would have to try it. I supplemented the remaining OddBox veg with some Asian produce from Chinatown.

I will definitely be coming back to this dish in Veganuary.

Weekly tilt

A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.

Having an injury generates quite a lot of waste- I have to clean my finger at least once a day, which means replacing the tape. I’m quite glad I’m not attempting to put my rubbish in a mason jar. That would be quite disgusting!

I had a day off the other week and spotted a ravioli-making workshop online. Making pasta has always been one my list of things to try but always seemed like too much effort. I remember my uncle, who used to be a chef, made a big batch and promptly dropped it all in the cat litter tray, which somehow put me off even though I don’t have a cat. Funnily enough, this was the last thing I did before discovering I had a broken finger. You can see my blissful ignorance (and swollen and bent finger) in the picture below.

Pasta ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 180g 00 flour

Filling ingredients

  • 100g mascarpone
  • 100g ricotta
  • 40g Parmesan
  • 40g rocket


Put the flour on a clean surface. Make a well in the middle and crack in the eggs.

Use a fork to combine the egg and flour. Once it starts to come together, knead until smooth adding more flour if needed. About 5 minutes.

Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

For the filling, combine the ingredients and season to taste. Leave and allow flavours to develop.

Once the dough has rested, transfer to a floured surface and roll out until you can see light coming through it.

Gently score down the centre of the pasta to mark where you will fold it.

Take walnut-sized balls of filling and place on one half of the dough.

Brush water all around each piece of filling to allow the dough to stick. Fold.

Working from the centre out, seal each raviolo being careful to get all the air out. You can pierce any bubbles with a toothpick. The dough can take rough handling.

Cut out your shapes.

Leftovers can be cut up and used in soups etc.

The only part of this workshop that I really didn’t like was the enormous amount of waste generated. We were not allowed (apparently because of license problems) to eat the pasta, which meant that loads of perfectly good food went straight in the bin. I asked if I could take the ravioli if I assumed the risk but I was told no.

The positive is that I now feel confident to try it on my own.

I have been using the same cheap(ish) watch for over four years now and last week the buckle broke. I don’t know if people are aware that Swatch offer free battery replacement for life on their products, but they also offer free replacement parts.

Having my watch fixed took me on a bit of trip down memory lane. I can see why watch manufacturers get celebrities to wear their products. In at least half of the pictures there are of me, you can see my watch. In fact, the watch must have the lowest price per wear of anything I own!

I couldn’t even remember the original of the thingy that holds the end of the watch strap down- you can just about see in the above pic that it was light blue.

I feel like the Swatch is a product that is at the same time disposable and sustainable. I think it’s wonderful that such a big company does something so simple yet revolutionary as offering free replacement parts.

At the same time, the man in the shop commented on the age of my watch when I took it in. I guess that reveals how few people take their watches back there. There is no inherent reason a plastic watch shouldn’t last for years. But I imagine that the relatively low price point encourages the idea of getting a new one quite often.

I myself look at the Swatches every time I am at the airport and have nearly replaced my model several times. In fact, I even bought a new Swatch two years ago only to have to return it.

Before I thought to ask if the Swatch shop had free parts, I had compared the models available online and chosen a replacement. It was quite hard to walk away from the watch I’d chosen to buy. While my current watch will eventually fall apart, I really don’t need a new one. But I would quite like one.

I commented in a previous post about how I naively used to deny the impact that capitalism and fast fashion have had on the way I think. I’m glad that I this is something I’m becoming more aware of.

Almost a year to the day after my thumb sprain, I have managed to break my left ring finger.

I broke it in the semi-final of Southern Cup and I have to say that I have very few regrets.

This injury has been a reminder of the importance of context. Had we lost the bronze medal match, I would probably be devastated and depressed about the finger. But since I broke it in the service of my beloved team finally achieving a podium finish (something we’ve been working towards for the whole three years I have been playing), it feels worth it.

That being said, I do have to accept some new limitations now that I only have eight fully functional fingers (the broken finger is buddy taped, which means I basically have one massive finger that I can’t bend). I haven’t been to the fracture clinic yet so I’m not sure how long my finger is likely to take to heal, but at the moment I’m estimating a month. I’m trying hard to eat well and rest to give my body the best chance to heal quickly.

I received my latest OddBox a couple of weeks ago. It also contained bananas but I had already cut them up and put them in the freezer before taking this picture.

I tried out a few different recipes. I used the mushrooms and spinach in a polenta dish. The polenta was absolutely delicious. I wasn’t that sold on having the mushroom and spinach mixture with it, but I will think about other dishes with which it would pair well.

I spent quite a bit of time on Sunday cooking again. I used some of the cauliflower to make these quinoa meatless balls. Because the recipe calls for cauliflower rice, I blitzed it up in the NutriBullet.

I used the cauliflower florets along with the purple kale in this frittata. The recipe came with the OddBox. I am quite fussy when it comes to egg dishes and think I added too much kale (of which I’m not especially fond), so this was a bit of a miss.

I also made a butterbean and carrot soup that I’ve had before. I have a LOT of dried butterbeans in my cupboard so it was good to use some of them up.

The recipe suggested using three 400g tins of beans but I used 300g of soaked and boiled beans instead. Aside from being less waste and less weight to carry from the supermarket, apparently dried beans produce less flatulence than canned. Good news for my flatmate! I replaced the milk with water + 30g of flaked almonds. I also added the cauliflower stem and leaves to save throwing them away.

I’m quite looking forward to Veganuary. I’ve mostly cut meat out of my diet but I’m finding eggs and dairy much harder to kick. Part of the issue is that it would take more effort for me to look up vegan recipes or convert recipes. I will be more motivated to try harder since Veganuary is only one month.

Since I haven’t yet found a decent nutrition tracking app aimed at vegans, I’ve just been using MyFitnessPal in the interim. So far the app indicates that I’m not doing too badly with protein, though I definitely need to supplement if I want to reach my aim of 100g per day. I have access to pea protein in bulk and I’m building up a bank of recipes that disguise the taste.

My diet is quite high in fat. I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem as long as I’m not eating too many calories, but it does surprise me.