A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Author Archives: The Crafty Crusader

Bonus picture of a roasted vegetable and quinoa salad with the last of my fourth OddBox vegetables last week. I mixed red quinoa with some amaranth I’ve had hanging around the house for a while (both from the Source) and it was a very nice combination.

I managed to pay a visit to a local shop with a few zero waste options- Eat17 in Hammersmith. I bought some suspiciously cheap coffee beans and discovered that they have plastic-free cheese!

I don’t think I’ve tasted this variety of cheese before but it was very nice. I will definitely go back because they are closer to my house than the Source and I’m pretty sure cheaper too- I think because most of their options are not organic.

I also followed through with my pledge after watching Cowspiracy and picked up some barista-style oat milk.

I have had a vegan flat white in a cafe in Folkestone made with this brand, otherwise I would have been very upset that they had run out of barista-style Oatly. I’m happy to say that even I (an espresso noob) am able to make a serviceable flat white with it. The milk has a mild oat flavour but produces a very similar result texture-wise to dairy milk- unlike other plant-based milks that are frankly disgusting in tea and coffee.

I think my tummy has been feeling better in the last week without milk (I drink 3-4 flat whites a day, with 100ml of milk in each). I’m not intolerant to dairy but having too much makes me feel sick. I’ve heard anecdotally that a lot of people with Afro-Caribbean heritage can be sensitive to dairy. I also have a phobia of rotten milk and the whole concept of cow’s milk freaks me out a bit.

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I’ve been working on a dish cloth using the hemp yarn I picked up in Kangasniemi.

I saved a few dishcloth patterns on Ravelry. My favourite was this one, which cost $2.50.

Deb Buckingham Designs

Although I believe in supporting designers, I also felt that it would be pretty easy to improvise my own similar pattern, so I did.

I think the dish cloth is too wide and I’m not sure about the gauge (might be better on 3.5mm needles). But then I’m planning to use this cloth to scrub my dirty plates so does it matter? I genuinely can’t decide and so I vacillate between starting again and continuing.

I’ll probably write up a pattern at some point. It’s been a very long time since I published a knitting pattern. My last one was this cute baby hat. I check Ravelry intermittently and there are 37 projects on there! It blows my mind that at least 37 people (not everyone maintains their Rav as religiously as me) have made hats based on my pattern.

Yarn: Java

Ravelry project page


I got my fourth OddBox delivery last week.

I made ‘crack broccoli’ following this recipe that I found on Pinterest.

The broccoli tasted fine but, unlike crack, not that moreish. My fault for believing the hype I guess.

I also tried a couple of different salads. This is rainbow salad with halloumi. It was decent.

My favourite was this griddled peach and goats cheese salad. I didn’t even add the dressing and it was delicious.

I also watched Cowspiracy with my friend Anna. I first heard about this documentary at a talk by Bosh, two middle class guys who set up what they call ‘the vegan Tasty’ (that channel that makes birds-eye views of someone cooking recipes). Apparently everyone that watches Cowspiracy immediately goes vegan. I was genuinely a bit scared.

One thing the documentary did make me think was that I have been approaching zero waste slightly sideways. For example, dairy milk is much more resource-intensive to produce than plant-based milk alternatives. It is probably ‘better’ to consume plant-based milk in recyclable packaging than milk in a glass bottle. I’m going to try switching to barista-style Oatley rather than getting my milk delivered.

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.

This week’s tilt is brought to you courtesy of Transport for London. Since I changed jobs, I needed to purchase a new annual travel card. This was an opportunity to finally sort out the six Oyster cards I had in a drawer.

I checked my TfL account. Three cards were registered and three unregistered. Annoyingly it was not possible to register the cards since I technically did not buy them- my old workplace did on my behalf. There was a total of nearly £40 on the registered cards, and getting a refund meant the cards get deactivated.

I phone TfL and it transpires that I cannot register any of the three cards I have. I have to go out and buy a seventh card, register it, and then add the annual travel card. In the end, I also couldn’t register this card because I hadn’t used it for a journey. So I had to go to a ‘travel centre’ and buy an eighth Oyster card. I understand that it’s important to protect customers’ data and money, but this this is ludicrous.

We are at a stage where we don’t actually need stupid pieces of plastic to store passes. I have a phone with near-field technology that comes with me everywhere. Why can’t I just have the pass stored on an app?


I’ve been away a few times over the summer and mostly on holiday from blogging. It was a broken-up European tour encompassing France, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland and Spain.

Going away has made me much more aware of what being zero waste would mean giving up. It hit me when I was in a petrol station and wanted a pre-made chilled latte. The ZW option would have been to get a coffee in my keep cup and wait for it to cool down. When I’m at home, I’m happy to make an espresso frappe thing. But the idea of drinking a cold filter coffee was just too depressing to contemplate.

Apparently coffee is my main trigger because I had a similar dilemma later in the summer. ZW option: Nescafe. Preferred option: single-serve iced latte drink. I was too much of a snob to drink the instant. So many of my favourite tasty treats- crunchy Cheetos, Bugles, different kinds of chocolate and cheese- are packaged in plastic. I’m glad that my eyes were opened a bit more, even if I’m not sure how I will approach this dilemma.

I got my third OddBox the week I returned home properly. I didn’t use it for anything glamorous enough to photograph but all of it has been used a little under a week later.

Just before the summer I started having terrible sugar cravings in the afternoons. I realised it was because I had got into the habit of having a protein bar every day. Although the ones I have are ‘low sugar’ (AKA filled with horrifying chemicals that I almost certainly should not be consuming), they taste like a chocolate bar. Clearly my body had become accustomed to having its daily sugar hit. To be fair, I have always had a sweet tooth. I just don’t remember having such strong sugar cravings.

I picked up some more dates to make up some more caramel bite things to snack on instead. I bought the dates on impulse at the supermarket so they were inevitably packaged in plastic. Next time, I will get them at the Source. I added a ‘no single-use plastics’ item to my habit tracker and I haven’t been able to tick it off once. I’m quite strict and include everything like milk cartons and yoghurt tubs. Still a long, long way to go.

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.

  • I can’t seem to find a plastic-free moisturiser. Neither of the shops near me with bulk options stock one. I guess one idea would be to try something from Lush because they at least reuse their tubs in a closed-loop economy.

I managed to see another inspirational exhibition in Helsinki. My flatmate and I were visiting our Finish friend and I read that we were just in time to catch the Grayson Perry show at the Kiasma gallery. I went to see his exhibition when I was in Bristol for a conference less than a year ago but was still keen to see more.

Kiasma in Helsinki

Folk Wisdom contained some different pieces to the last Perry exhibition I visited. Again, I was impressed by how prolific he is as an artist and how he brings methods that might be traditionally regarded as craft into the realm of high art.

I love Perry as a cultural commentator. The image below is just part of one of his huge tapestries, itself part of a series. However, it really captures an issue that comes up a lot in my work as a psychologist.

I’ve been noticing how artists that inspire me have included my current interests in their work. For example, the textiles on show at the Frida Kahlo exhibition I visited. Similarly, I was taken by the garments Perry had made.

I have been getting more interested in beading since doing some work on the vintage jacket I picked up. I’m hoping to do an embroidery and/or beading class at the Royal School of Needlework soon. I noticed that part of one of Perry’s tapestries was beaded.

While in Helsinki we were staying near an adorable LYS called Snurre. Of course I coudn’t resist possing in and my flatmate was very patient while I looked at every single skein in the shop. I had hoped to get yarn that was linked to Finland in some way but they were a little low on stock. I ended up getting this, which I plan to use for some new fingerless gloves/mittens to match my planned Kelly anorak, if I ever get around to making it. I impulse-bought the buttons, which are made from coconut husk and would be perfect for a cardigan.

I also picked up this hemp yarn at the local craft store in my friend’s hometown. I’m planning to use it to make some plastic-free kitchen scourers.

Finally, we managed a visit to the national craft museum in Jyvaskyla. I highly recommend it. It’s got lots of interactive exhibits, which are always a plus for me. I resent not being allowed to touch stuff in museums. I tried my hand at the loom pictured and I’m even more sure that I want to have a proper go at weaving.


After serving several weeks as my inspiration project, I hit a speedbump in knitting my Mermaid Humboldt sweater. I had a few flights coming up and needed a relatively easy project that I could work on while travelling. I returned to my hibernating She Loves Wool sweater. It’s been a good few months since I ground to a halt with the incredible monotony of knitting long row after long row of black stocking stitch. However, this was exactly what I needed to ease my anxiety on the plane- and simple enough that I could start the new season of Orange is the New Black at the same time.

After a long weekend spent in France with my dad, I had nearly finished the black section of the front.

I am now coming up to what I think will be the most challenging aspect of this knit- the neckline. There are no modelled pictures of anyone wearing a She Loves Wool sweater online. From the few photos of unmodelled sweaters, the neckline looks far too open for my liking. I am going to have to make some significant alterations to get it the way I want, which will mean lots of lifelines and I will also attempt to take detailed notes.

With that in mind, this project was becoming a little unwieldy for travel knitting. I decided to cast on one of the sleeves to take on my various summer holidays. I finished the second ball of black yarn and put the body on hold until I have some time to start working on the fair isle section, which I think I will enjoy.

The first sleeve- I had used up one ball of wool at this point. The sleeves were quite funny to knit. At first, they seemed to be going really quickly compared to the body sections. A couple of inches into the plain black stocking part, they seemed interminable. Then, all of a sudden they seemed super long and the first ball was nearly complete.

I hadn’t mentioned in my previous blog posts but I made one of my standard alterations to patterns and used a tubular cast-on for all of the pattern pieces. I just love the neat edge that it produces. I used the Ysolda method for the sleeve- can’t remember if I did the same for the body but it doesn’t really matter. A tubular cast on is one of those things I prefer to do at home rather than on the move as it’s quite fiddly.

The current status is that the back is complete aside from alterations, the first sleeve is  nearly ready to start the fair isle work and the second sleeve is my current travel knitting project. Since taking the photo, I have managed to start the fair isle on the front section too.

Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit by Wool and the Gang

Ravelry project page


Before going on a recent holiday, I sat down and had a proper look at my zebra shorts. These might actually be my favourite garment that I have made. Buying shorts ready-to-wear is a complete nightmare. It’s almost impossible to get anything in between booty shorts and knee-length. I have a couple of pairs of short shorts and I really don’t feel comfortable in them. My zebra shorts are perfect for me; short but with absolutely no risk of my arse being unexpectedly exposed.

Because I love these shorts so much, I have worn them loads over the past eighteen months. I wear my clothes HARD and they have stood up remarkably well.

Since I made them from a fabric that is not really fit for purpose, they are starting to show signs of wear. The fabric is fading, which doesn’t really bother me. But something weird was going on with the turned-up hems. Since I didn’t really have time to repair the shorts before I left, I just re-pressed the hems as best I could and made a note to work on them upon my return.

The first thing I did was take out the little stitches tacking down the turn-ups and then put them in the wash. I pressed the shorts and you can really see how the fabric has worn in different areas.

I added some fusible interfacing to try and reinforce the turn-ups. I think the cotton wasn’t really strong enough to hold them so hopefully they will stay looking tidy for a bit longer now.

I simply cut 2″ strips (enough to cover the whole turn-up and then some) and ironed on. I had a few weights of iron-on interfacing in my stash and went for the heaviest woven one.

It probably would have been better to unpick the side seams before adding the interfacing but I was constrained by time for this mend.

Although I did it by hand before, I made the hem on my machine this time. Since the shorts have turn-ups, it will be hidden anyway. I also have a funny feeling that the tiny hand stitches were causing more wear in this high-stress area of the shorts, where the hem had come loose on the backs of both legs. My mum taught me that when making an invisible hem you should try to catch only one thread of the fabric with each stitch. This looks great but can create pulls in the fabric over time.

I have come to realise that I loathe a bar as a trouser closure. I think people use it because it is considered neater than a button. Because I have narrow hips, I need my waistband to be tight to prevent my trousers from falling down, which means it is easy for the bar to come out or make a hole in the facing fabric. On my Cigarette Pants that are actually pants and not shorts, I have already had to patch the waistband and add a buttonhole because the bar destroyed the delicate facing fabric.

An easy repair was replacing the bar with a button. If I had had time, I would have gone out and bought a shiny new button but I just used one I already had in the house.

All in all, these repairs took around 2-3 hours.

Enjoying the shorts with my three friends

Because of the inappropriate fabric choice, I am not sure how long of a lifespan these shorts will have. These repairs should at least keep them in rotation for another summer. I find myself keeping an eye out for some snazzy denim for a second iteration. I do have some denim in my stash left over from my denim day dress. I know I should really use this up rather than buying new fabric. I have plenty of patches I could use to jazz the shorts up. Or- heaven forfend- I could have something plain in my wardrobe.

I hope people don’t find these mend posts boring. I am partly writing them because I want to view mending as a creative process in the same way as making. I’m still trying to create a smallish wardrobe of thoughtfully made items rather than ending up with the handmade equivalent of fast fashion. And perhaps someone else has some tatty shorts out there and might get some ideas on how to spruce them up.