Cables Cause I can

This year my sister had a milestone birthday. Years ago we agreed on a rule of no birthday or Christmas presents for adults. Given this was her 50th birthday I decided to ignore that rule.

The planning for this gift started in June last year when I went to the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair. I purchased 2 skeins of Luxury Merino Silk yarn from Nundle Woollen Mills. The yarn was 50% merino wool and 50% silk so it was so lush and squishy. It was perfect for a special occasion gift.

I hung on to the wool for months not knowing what I would make with it. In total I only had about 340m which limited what projects I could do. It was too much wool for a cowl but not enough for a shawl. Every month or so I would log into Ravelry and look for ideas. From the start I kind of thought of something with cables. I have mentioned it before in my head I have a list of things “real knitters” do and cables are on that list. In 2021 I learnt how to knit cables. Cables look fancy but I found them easy to do on narrow projects like scarves or headbands.

If you are not familiar with Ravelry, it is a database for all things yarn related. You can find patterns, designers, yarns. You can set different search parameters to narrow down patterns to the style or yarn weight you have. On Ravelry I found a pattern the Caswell Scarf by Janet Harvey. It is a free simple scarf pattern that has 3 cables on the front of it and 2 cables on the back. It isn’t a very big scarf but it was in 8ply yarn which is the thickness of the yarn I had. I would look at other patterns but I kept going back to the Caswell as I was really drawn to it. It was the perfect pattern but at the same time it wasn’t. It looked too small and it was only one colour. One feature of Ravelry is that you can see the makes of others who have made the item. I looked through the projects of others who made the scarf and saw that one person had made a two tone version of the Caswell. It gave me an idea.

I decided to use the Caswell pattern as a base but put my own spin on it. I would knit my own version of an infinity scarf. I had never attempted anything like this before so I was pushing myself outside my comfort zone but it was only yarn. If it failed I could just unravel it and start something else.

The Caswell pattern has a garter stitch border at either end and a garter stitch border that runs up either side. To make my infinity scarf I omitted the end borders. I did a provisional cast on with 28 stitches so that at the end I could join the two ends together to form the infinity loop. Using Microsoft Word I made myself up a colour code chart of a 12 row repeat of the cable pattern. The cable pattern is only a 6 row repeat but I decided to do 12 rows as it was easier for me to follow with a double repeat.

To make knitting easier I put stitch markers in to indicate the garter stitch borders. Knitting wise this was a really easy pattern. You were only really working with 4 stitches at a time. Between the 2 stitch markers you only had 20 stitches so you really couldn’t go wrong. I started this in January, I had the stress of surgery in the back of my mind but I was still able to concentrate and knit this. It gave me something else to focus on so in a way it was very therapeutic.

I had no idea how long the finished scarf would be. I knitted until I ran out of the first skein of yarn and then started on the second. I used 4mm needles as it was 8ply weight yarn. I thought I had a 4mm cable needle but I couldn’t find it so I use a 5mm cable needle instead. I don’t think that made much difference. The yarn was lovely and soft but it was prone to splitting so I did have to watch my stitches a little.

To join the ends I had a couple of options. I could do a 3 needle bind off but that would leave an obvious seam or I could graft the ends together. I have mentioned on here before I don’t like doing seams or grafting in yarn projects. I can do the kitchener stitch on socks to finish them but that is about the only grafting I do. I really wanted the join to look seamless so it would look professional. I’ll be honest part of this project was me showing off that I can do fancy knitting stuff. I searched Youtube and found a tutorial on how to graft in stitch pattern. It looked complicated but when you broke things you were only really looking at a couple of stitches at time. In different yarn I knitted up a mini version of my scarf so that I could practice the grafting first before I tried it on my precious scarf. The mini version sat there for weeks. Finally after my surgery and with time running out before I needed to gift the scarf I was in a better headspace and I attempted the graft on the mini. I got about halfway through it and was reasonably comfortable enough to try it on the “real” one. To be picky the seam isn’t entirely seamless (it wouldn’t win awards in a show) but for a first attempt on “real” project and with yarn that split easily it wasn’t too bad. It certainly looks neater than a 3 needle bind off. A personal reminder for next time pull the grafting thread yarn all the way through from the start leaving only a tail at the end. I had to adjust the graft through a lot of the stitches to even out the yarn once it was done.

I didn’t block this scarf partly because I ran out of time but also as it was joined as in a loop it would make blocking really hard to do. It still looks really good. The finished measurements when it is laid flat are 41.5″ x 3.5″

I am really pleased at how this turned out. I challenged myself with something outside my comfort zone. I enjoyed making this scarf. Not just the knitting side (I’m still not over cables yet) but also the design and planning side. I manipulated a knitting pattern and created a chart. I grafted in pattern. I did some fancy knitting and I am proud of that.



Sewing Fears

Daily writing prompt
What fears have you overcome and how?

Today writing prompt immediately made me think of sewing fears. Some people have fears in sewing. A fear of zippers, a fear of using an overlocker (serger) a fear of using the “Good” fabric. Sewing can be very relaxing but at the same time very terrifying.

Over the years I think I have had a few sewing fears. When I first got my overlocker I certainly was fearful or intimidated by it. That machine has blades and if your fingers slip than you’re in trouble. It cuts your fabric so there is no going back if you make a mistake on it. Once I started using it I realised it isn’t that scary. You learn that you can control the speed therefore you have control of your work. There are ways to hold the fabric so that your fingers are not in harms way. I love using my overlocker now.

I’ve mentioned before I have never sewn an invisible zipper. I’m not fearful of them I’ve just never had the need to install one in a make. Zippers can be intimidating to work but again they are one of those things the more you use them the better you get at sewing with them. I actually like using zippers. On some projects they can be a bit tricky so I might need to do extra steps like had baste them into place before taking it the sewing machine but it is worth it and takes away some of the fear of zipper sewing and getting it wrong. If you do get it wrong you can always unpick it and start again.

I don’t think I have a fear of fabric. I do have a lot of “Good” fabric that I haven’t used yet. The Liberty fabric in the picture above is a prime example. If you are not familiar with the fabric world Liberty fabrics are expensive and kind of a luxury. Liberty fabrics can live in a sewer’s stash for years before they finally sew it. For years this fabric has been in my stash waiting for the perfect project to use it in. Recently I decided I would just use it and started thinking it may be pants, not sure if it will be pj’s or maybe even a pair of Robbie’s. This fabric is on my shelf to be used soon.

I guess with sewing or crafting in general any fears you have can be overcome just by trying out a project with said fear. Try an easy pattern, play with some scrap fabric on the overlocker, just cut into the “Good” fabric. If items are in your stash/collection/possession than just use them. Don’t be fearful or intimidated just relax, have fun and give it a try.


Knitted Gloves

Previously I mentioned that in winter my hands get very dry often to the point of bleeding. Previously I attempted to sew cotton gloves. They were functional but to be honest I wasn’t really happy with them as they were a bit tight. Last winter I decided I was going to learn how to knit gloves.

There are 2 methods of knitting gloves. The first method is by knitting the glove flat in 2 pieces and joining (stitching) them together with a seam. The second method is knitting them in the round on either double pointed needles or a circular needle. I decided on the second method using a circular needle as I will do anything to avoid seaming a knitted item. There are many videos on Youtube on how to knit them but I followed this one. It really goes into detail for and is easy to follow. You can also download the printed pattern which has 5 sizes to choose from.

I was expecting glove knitting to be really hard. I’ve mentioned on here that in my mind I have a list of things “real knitters” knit and knitted gloves are on that list. They are more complex than socks as you are knitting each individual finger but really they are pretty easy to knit. It took me only 10 days to knit them, that’s like 5 days a glove or 1 finger a day plus the cuff on each one and weaving in all my ends. I was a little bit shocked at how quick I knit them but they flew off my needles.

The yarn I used was 4ply cotton from Bendigo Woollen Mills. To be honest I don’t remember buying this yarn but as it was 4ply and in a cream colour but I’m thinking I actually brought it to knit these gloves years ago, glove knitting had been something I’d been wanting to try for some time. I made the largest size as I didn’t want them to be snug. These were gloves to be worn at night for when I have cream on my hands and not to be worn out and about.

I had enough yarn left so I thought I would wait until the following winter and knit a second pair so that I could have a spare pair for when I wanted to wash them. Whilst the pattern was fresh in my head and the yarn was still out I decided to knit the second pair. It is funny how you think the second time around making something you will do better at it. I think sometimes on the second occasion you miss steps or don’t double check as you think ‘oh yeah I know what I’m doing’ On my second pair the fingers on one hand are a little short. The pattern tells you the measurement of each finger before you start the fingertip decreases but it suggests you try it on to be certain. I forgot to try them on. It isn’t uncomfortable and for the purpose I’ll be wearing them it is fine but if I was to make them to wear out they would be a little short.

They didn’t just get used in winter, we had a few days in summer when it was cold and wet which dried my hands out so I put on cream at night. As they aren’t snug the cream stays on my hands and not so much on the gloves. The cotton my hands don’t itch in them. I will say they do get a bit warm even in 4ply cotton. Generally I don’t sleep with them on all night, after about 30 mins or so the cream is absorbed into my skin and I take them off.


Do You Have Any Collections?

Of course I was drawn to this writing prompt. As a crafter we have stashes but are they considered collections? Recently (in the last 6 months) I remember reading somewhere someone had written something along the line of “A stash is a negative word as it relates to drugs or something prohibited and instead we should think of our craft supplies as a collection” If you read this and it was you please let me know and I’ll link your post. When I read it I did have an “aha moment” which got me thinking.

Reading Google now craft stashes do fall under a hobby so yes they are a collection. I can say that unfortunately my collections aren’t very organised, catalogued or on display. One of my firsts posts from April 2013 “My Stash” was all about my craft stashes (now collections) It is interesting to see how it has changed

  • Fabric Stash – The fabrics in my original stash were all quilting cottons and I call them my craft fabrics as I use them in toys, bags, and wildlife rescue pouches. Last year I did culled a lot but I still have heaps. My collection has expanded now to include dressmaking fabrics. The craft fabrics are organised by colour in tubs. The dressmaking fabrics are split between wovens and knits on shelves in my craft cave. I have one shelf which is a mixture of both which are fabrics I’ve washed ready to be used in projects or leftover from projects. If I want a quick project I will look through those first .
  • Scrap Stash – This has grown. I have some on my shelf in the craft cave mentioned above. I have a box of knit fabric scraps which I need to use more of. I then have many boxes and tubs of scraps of craft fabrics. Some containers are strips, some are squares, some are usable larger size pieces. I try and use up scraps before getting new fabrics from either area out.
  • Thread Stash – I still have the boxes of embroidery threads which are organised by colour. I am pretty good at keeping those organised now. I also have boxes of sewing threads now. I’m switching to using Rasant threads for mostly dressing making so they are in a box of their own. The other boxes of threads I use in bags and wild life rescue pouches.
  • Button Stash – I only have just a small jar of buttons now. I just don’t use them in projects so there is no point keeping them
  • Self Covered Button / Hairclips Stash – I haven’t made any for a long time. I will have a few younger girls that I can make items for so I should use them up. I won’t be replacing them once they are used up
  • Clothing Stash – I no longer have mum’s clothes. I did make a couple of projects with them for my nieces. I do have some items of clothing of my own that I want to remake into other things.
  • Yarn Stash – My stash is still sorted into the 3 categories wool, acrylic and cotton. It is in boxes everywhere including under the bed. I do use it as I am always knitting. My taste in yarn has changed. At one point I was buying all these really nice indi brand yarn which were wool based. I can’t wear them so I’m trying to use them up in gifts and charity knits. This year I’m monitoring how much yarn I go through for wildlife rescue pouches so I know the number I should have on hand and stock up when they go on sale
  • Ribbon Stash – I only have a few these days as I don’t use them much. I’d forgotten that I wanted crochet with them, I don’t think I have enough in my stash to do that now but I’m curious to try it.
  • Magazine/Book Stash – My collection is on the small side now as I only have 4 shelves
  • Zipper Stash – This is a new collection. As I make a lots of bags and pouches I like to have on hand zippers in various colours and lengths. Sometimes my projects are planned out but others are spur of the moment. It is useful to have a well stocked supply that I can go to when I want.
  • Pattern Stash – This is a new stash or collection. I have them sorted between yarn and sewing patterns. I have a small box of yarn patterns which are mostly printed from online. The sewing boxes are split between two. One small box which is mostly craft patterns which I have printed out and a large box of commercial patterns. I try and keep my dressmaking patterns separate to my bag and toy making patterns so I can find things easily
  • Wadding/Interfacing/Trace and Toile Stash – This is another new collection. The trace and toile I use to trace out patterns. I have a couple of rolls of it. I keep all the leftover scraps too which I again try to use up first before going to the rolls. Interfacing is mostly for bags and toys. Again I keep all the leftover pieces and try to use them up first. One day I will make a quilt and I will use the wadding I already have.

On the non crafting side of my life I have a collection of books.

Harry Potters – I hardly ever re-read but I have kept my collection of Harry Potter books as for years I have wanted to go back and re-read them. I have made a start on the first book. I have it out as my grab book for when I need to sit and wait anywhere and I don’t want to take knitting.

Memoirs – I have a few I can’t bring myself to pass on. Again I have a few I want to go back and re-read as it has been years since I first read them. A couple I have lent out with the instructions of return them back please. I like reading about people even if I didn’t know anything about them prior to picking up the book.

Simple living / Sustainability / Savings – This is my largest collection of books. Some books are newish some I’ve had for years. The information they contain has helped me over the years. In recent times I have borrowed books from the library and have forgotten that I have my own mini library of books which I should sit and re-read as different parts of them are more relevant at times than others or you forget tidbits of information your read and think I must remember that one day when I need it.

I will be honest and say even though I had a “aha moment” over calling a stash a collection I still can’t get past calling craft supplies a stash. I don’t think of it as a negative term. I think of a collection as something you have on display that you add too but don’t ever decrease (unless you have too) Craft supplies to me are temporary things, they aren’t static the amounts are always increasing and decreasing as you use them. Before writing this post I never thought of books as a collection either but I guess they are, I’ve always just thought of them as items that I owned.

I guess a collection is up to the individual.


I Want It All

Daily writing prompt
What does “having it all” mean to you? Is it attainable?

Today’s daily writing prompt is What does “having it all” mean to you? Is it attainable? Naturally in my head I instantly started singing “I want it all” by Queen when I read this.

In 1996 I just turned 16 and my bestie and I decided to have a photo taken with Santa. When Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas? I replied “Santa I want it all” I can’t remember what Santa’s reply was. I don’t even know what I meant when I said that. I guess at 16 you’re starting to look at the adult world but you’re not really there yet. You see the adult world through big eyes, it looks all shinny and exciting.

Moving forward to today I see the world through different eyes. Thinking about it now to me “having it all” is just having a roof over my head with my soul mate and our creatures. Keeping us feed, keeping us safe. I want to do the things that I enjoy whether it be craft, exercising, even working. I love my job. There is an ad that is on the tv at the moment which has the song Bills by Lunch Money Lewis. I actually I really like, it just makes me feel proud and content for some random reason. I don’t want anything fancy. I just want us to be comfortable, healthy and happy. Living a simple life is all I want. Is it attainable? Absolutely, it might not be so easy but with a bit of hard work and planning, thoughtful actions I can have it all.


Worm Farm Update

Time for a worm update. With the arrival of our birds we haven’t forgotten our worms. We just leave the worms alone to do their thing.

After setting up our worm farm at the start of December our worms have finally settled in. It took about 3 months so end of February/early March before they started processing larger amounts of food. After my last post about them I joined an Australian based worm farm Facebook group. I also attended a free worm farm workshop with the Veggie Lady at my local library which happened to be on whilst I was on holidays from work. Through both the group and workshop I’ve learnt a lot of useful information. Like all thing some of the information was contradictory to what you are told elsewhere but I think sometimes you just need to try things and figure out what is best for your worm farm.

In the fridge I have a sealed container which I put fruit and veggies scraps in. Storing the food in the fridge stopped it going moldy which is what happened when we had it in a container on the bench. From memory when I was a kid our storage bucket would go moldy at times if we didn’t empty it into the compost. We are keeping everything other than onion and garlic skins. If I take a banana to work I’ll bring the peel home. If we eat fruit or veggies the peelings and ends all go in the container. Once a week I’ll chop up all the contents of the container as small as I can and mix it up and freeze handful size portions in old plastic bread bags separated by plastic bread ties. The worms get fed twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday so the night before I’ll take out a portion of food and let it defrost in the fridge in a small bowl.

The benefits of freezing portions are

  • The fibres in the food breakdown more when frozen making it easier for the worms to process or digest it
  • You are only feeding the worms the amount they can handle and not over feeding them
  • When you have a glut of food (for example in summer) you can keep it for when at times you might not be producing so much (for example winter)
  • Freezing kills any flies or bugs which may be present in the skins/peels so you aren’t introducing it into the worm farm

I generally get about 3 – 4 portions of food from the container I store it in. Once it is in the freezer I don’t pay attention to which one I grab to defrost. The worms don’t care about freezer burn on food or anything like that.

When feeding the worms a useful tip I learnt is “Pocket Feeding” Each time you place feed you in the farm you rotate or alternate where you place the food. If you have a large rectangle farm you could rotate around the corners. Ours in small so I alternate ends each week. I have a stick which I place on top of the hessian blanket at the end I’m feeding at each week, that end get the 2 feeds for that week and then doesn’t get any the next. It allows you to easily see how much they are eating. If you come back that end after a week of not feeding them there and food is still present you know not to feed them as just aren’t processing the food. The amount of food I’m now feeding them I find they are getting through.

Each feed time before placing the food in I put down a layer of brown paper first, place the food on top of that, place more brown paper over the top and scoop over some of the previous decaying matter. This kind of buries the food which will help it to breakdown. Decaying food can be very moist and we do have an issue with excess moisture in our worm farm. The brown paper helps absorb the moisture. I also try and squeeze out as much as the moisture from the food that I can, I hold it over our bbq plant box so any goodness goes on the plants. I often add in a scoop of crushed eggshells too. If we find too much moisture in the farm we leave the lid off for a few hours to help dry it out.

The worms are fully established now so I have started to add other items including in toilet rolls, our cut hair and nails, tissues and natural twine. I’m not putting anything that has been in the bird cage into the worms. Our birds were wormed so if we give them a new toilet roll to play with I won’t put the old one in with the worms just in case it kills them.

Sadly with all that has happened this year our balcony garden has taken a hit and not a lot has survived, something had to give and unfortunately it was the garden. Covid hit Womble hard and he is still slowly working his way back from it. We are hoping to get back to the garden and in a way start a lot of it from scratch. I think we may even be at the stage where we can start to process some of our worm castings then too. In the meantime we will just keep feeding our worms and leave them do their waste reduction magic.


Do I Have A Favourite Fruit?

It is 6am on a Sunday morning and as per usual I’m up early in the study / spare room. I stay in here so not to wake up the birds too early… Yes we know who rule our house! Normally I use this time to blog. Today I couldn’t think of anything off the top of my head so for the first time I clicked on WordPress’s Daily Prompt list which poses bloggers a list of topics to help spark a blog post. One prompt “List your top 5 favourite fruits” got me thinking. Do I have a favourite fruit?

Confession I am not a big fruit eater, I never have been. When I was a kid I only at fruit when I had too, mostly at my neighbour’s place who feed fruit to their grandchildren for morning tea. I played netball for 9 years so would eat orange segments at that during the half time break. I like vegetables over fruit.

These days I do eat fruit. Not a lot but it is in my diet more. My top 5 favourite fruits are

  1. Strawberries – I add them to my homemade yogurt, I eat them with ice cream. I even tried them on a sandwich once which was delicious
  2. Bananas – In recent months I have been trying to have them at least 3 times a week. I don’t like touching my food when I’m out but bananas are a fruit I can eat at work without touching the actual inside flesh. I bring the skins home for our worms which is why I starting eating them again.
  3. Raspberries – Again these are added to my yogurt or ice cream. Strangely I like eating them as a fruit but I don’t like them as a food flavouring in drink.
  4. Apricots – I love apricot chicken so we make that from time to time (last night actually) Again apricots are something I add to my yogurts and ice cream. I do love snacking on dried apricots.
  5. Coconut – I had google if coconut was a fruit. I love anything with coconut in it. Back when I ate chocolate my favourites were Cherry Ripes and Bounty Bars both because they contained coconut. I don’t eat a lot of coconut these days as it mostly in deserts. In the last month at times I have had it as part of my breakfast as I have been making overnight oats. Last night I was actually looking on Youtube how to cut open an actual coconut. I remember my parents doing it sometimes when I was a kid. Coconut shells are often used in bird toys. From memory I think my local supermarket sells whole coconuts at times so I thought we could get one, I would eat the inside flesh, the worms could have the skins that are peeled off the flesh and the birds could have the hard shell. A fruit that serves 3 purposes

So it turns out I do have 5 favourite fruit, who knew? It certainly was a surprise to me. I actually enjoyed this daily writing prompt. I don’t have the time to look at them every day but every so often I might look at them and see if a topic sparks my mind. Now I’m off to make a cup of tea, eat my overnight oats which are in the fridge and hopefully not wake the birds too early.


Book – Zero Waste: Simple Hacks To Drastically Reduce Your Trash!

Zero Waste: Simple Life Hacks To Drastically Reduce Your Trash by Shia Su was first published in 2018 and has been on my “to read” list for some time. When I saw that my library had it available I jumped at the chance to finally read it.

Prior to borrowing this book I didn’t know anything about Shia or follow her on Instagram, all I knew was apparently she fitted all her rubbish for one year in a jar and wrote a book. Looking at her website I think I had gone onto it once when I was researching worm farms in apartments. It was only writing this post that I discovered she has a lot of useful information on her website if you are interested in living a zero waste lifestyle.

As you would have gathered by now this book is on the topic of sustainability, zero waste is just living more sustainable. The reality is that you can’t live without producing waste products, it is impossible, however by being more thoughtful and changing some habits or practices that you do, you can reduce the amount of waste you produce. The book explains what a zero waste lifestyle is and the benefits of it to both your health and wallet. It has a chapter on “How To Get Started” which includes doing an audit of all your rubbish for a week, you don’t need to hold on to it all you can take photos on your phone the main thing is so you can see the type of waste you are producing. The book acknowledges that everyone is different so you need to get to know your own rubbish habits and from there you can start to work out the areas you can make changes to reduce waste. It suggests that you do an inventory of your pantry, wardrobe and any other areas you might have a stash of items so you can see what you already have and use it first before going out and buying more.

When it comes to sustainability most people would be familiar with the 3 R’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle but Shia introduces 2 more major R’s Rethink and Repair. Rethink the way you view and consume things, don’t be guided at all the is advertised constantly telling you that you need more. Repair things before just tossing them away. She also then mentions 10 other R’s to consider.

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Refuse
  • Reclaim
  • Repurpose
  • Rebuild
  • Recover
  • Reflect
  • Reinvent
  • Reevaluate

The different R’s remind you that zero waste living is more about simple living and not just trying to not toss out rubbish. It makes you look at the overall picture and not just the end waste product. Shia encourages you to add your own R’s to the list so I’m adding “Research” Look up articles online, read books, ask friends and collogues of things they do to reduce their waste. It might give you some ideas you hadn’t thought of or allow you to discover programs / places you didn’t know were available.

There are chapters in the book covering the different areas within your house and things you can change to reduce your waste. There are some recipes for homemade cleaners and beauty items. There is a simplified section at the end which lists products and their zero substitutes in an easy to read table if you like a snapshot of things.

Ignoring my silly pet hate of the phrase “life hack” I really enjoyed this book – I’ve always loved reading hints and tips on how to do things, I lap them up but just don’t call them “hacks” It is a good introduction book to the concept of zero waste living, what it is, things you can do. To get to the stage where you only produced enough waste over a year to fit in a jar, I think would take years of practice and dependent on other factors around you. It is possible for everyone to reduce their waste but the amount depends on what services or resources you had access too, not everyone has farmers markets, bulk store or even delicatessens around them. Everyone needs to start somewhere and this book is a good starting point, even if it is just changing the way you think about your waste. Take control of your waste, don’t let it control you.


No Spend Days

Last year I started doing no spend days randomly for a bit of fun. Can not spending be considered fun? If you think of it as a challenge then yes it can be. This year with interest rates going up nearly every month in Australia I decided that I would try for regular no spend days.

I’m classifying spending as anything that doesn’t get automatically debited from our bank account. Things like the mortgage, my mobile phone and insurances are all automatic payments which I have no control over when they are paid. All other bills such as transport, online shopping and adhoc purchases are considered “spending”

I have been marking each no spend day in my diary. At first I was just doing this on my own before I mentioned it to Womble. We usually manage at least a couple of days per week. For the most part you don’t even notice but I won’t lie some days it is hard. We don’t have any set days that we stick too but I do sometimes plan ahead. For example if I know I am going to the chemist on one day I might see what other bills or spending tasks I can do on the same day to free up another day as a no spend day.  I don’t know is that considered cheating or planning? Either way it makes you more conscious of your spending.

No spend days are an exercise in frugality. I don’t know how much it is saving us in the long term as I don’t tally up how much “I would have spent” that day if we hadn’t done it. I’m enjoying the challenge side of it. Doing them regularly this year has made me more conscious of my spending, particularly at work, it can be so easy to just go and buy a cup of coffee even though you have the means on hand to make one yourself with items you have. Don’t get me wrong I do have slip ups and buy the occasional coffee that I don’t need but for the most part by marking them on the calendar we can visually see how well we are doing and it is easier to stick to the challenge.

Every cent that remains in our bank account helps.


Dumpling Pouch

Dumpling pouches are a style of zipper pouch that I have seen over the years but I had never had the urge to make. I was in the mindset of I have a style of zipper pouch that I know how to make and adapt so why do I need to make another style? Over Easter I decided why not give them a try.

There are a lot of dumpling pouches free and for purchase if you do a Google search. I chose the free Persimmon Dumpling Pouch by Sew Sweetness patterns. I was familar with Sew Sweetness patterns as Sara designed the McCalls train case pattern which I had made numerous times before. Sara is also the person on Youtube I follow when making zipper pockets on bags. On her website she has loads of useful tutorials which mostly are related to bag making but there are some which are just sewing related in general such as how to clean your iron. The website is well worth checking out if you have the time.

The reason I chose this pattern ahead of the others was for 3 reasons

  • It was a free pattern
  • It came in 3 sizes
  • There is a Youtube tutorial to make it

Having no interest in sewing dumpling pouches prior to this one I had no idea how they were constructed. I am a visual learner so having a youtube clip allowed me to watch the process and understand in full easier than just a step by step pattern. The written tutorial that comes with the pattern download is pretty comprehensive, it is well written with step by step photo instructions, however, I found the pattern easier to understand after watching the video. After making this first one I don’t think I will need to refer back to the video again in future.

Construction wise this is a very easy pouch pattern to sew. The tutorial has you piece the outside fabrics of the bag and have plain fabric on the inside. The pattern pieces are the same for both the inside and outside so it super easy to just cut four of them for any fabrics you want for all your pieces. I used odd shaped offcuts leftover from previous projects for my fabrics. This was a spur of the moment project so I went to my fabric stash with my pattern piece and found 2 leftover fabrics that were just sitting there. The outside fabric came from a top in 2018 and the inside fabric was from a more recent make. The zipper came from my zipper stash, I searched my stash for one long enough. I made the small size.

For a new pattern I wasn’t familiar with I actually found this a really easy sew. Literally from tracing out my pattern piece onto trace and toile to hand sewing the turning gap closed only took me a few hours maximum (I think it was closer to 2 hours) That included unpicking one of the lining pieces after I accidentally caught the zipper teeth in it. The only section I found tricky was sewing the box corners on the end where the zipper was open. You had to try and hold the zipper ends together without twisting them. It wasn’t that hard. The tutorial also tells you to open up the zipper when sewing on the 2nd half of the pouch to make sewing it easier, I didn’t and had no issues.

Did I need to make a dumpling pouch? No.
Did I become obsessed with the pattern after coming across it? Yes.
Did I have fun making it? Absolutely!

Normally I sew for a purpose. This time I wasn’t sewing for a gift or for a need I was just sewing because I could. There was no pressure, I didn’t have a deadline. I was sewing because I wanted too, because I was in the mood. I really enjoyed making this project, even when I caught the zipper teeth I didn’t get stressed out or angry.

I had no idea what I would use this pouch for so it sat idle on my craft table for a week. I brought some plastic links that are mostly used to hang onto baby toys but you can use to hang items in bird cages. I hadn’t even thought of where I was going to store the spares once I took them out of the packet but the pouch was the perfect size.

Dumpling pouches look very cute, I couldn’t believe how cute it looked finished. For a zipper pouch they open up pretty wide. That makes access to contents easier but the drawback as it is so open without side structure the contents can fall out of them easily if they are fully opened. Having a double zipper on them might be a better option on them as it would allow you to open up the pouch on both ends to the point you can still access inside the pouch easily but things won’t fall out. I can see why a lot of people make these as cosmetic pouches. I initially had decided not to make Christmas gifts for my nieces this year but after the speed and ease of making this pouch I’ve changed my mind. I have all the supplies I need on hand I think I can mange 4 of these.