My growing bag of tricks

A list of things I think it’s important to know how to make or do

It would be great if I could say that I grow almost all of my vegetables, I can and preserve them to last through the winter and that I have thrifted or made most of my furniture from scrap woods (I drool over well made barn door tables), but we’re slowly learning how to choose the right veggies for our area and our house is small. Still, I try to cut down on consumption in any way I can: to save money, save resources, or just stretch my skills to prove I can make something!

The local library is great because if we want a book we can just request that they buy it and they usually do! I actually think of the library up the road as an extension of my bookshelf- most books only get read two times at most and if I really want it, I can just wait for it to be checked back in. I also take full advantage of the library’s access to e-books, even ‘checking out’ new books from the train or elsewhere on the go.

Here are the skills and projects that I have been working to achieve:

Sewing – I would like to be able to make everything I wear. I can find some great things at the charity shops but want the skills of creating from scratch as well.

Pants/Trousers -Especially for dress-casual or office wear. Black and grey suiting and corduroy! I’d also like to figure out how to alter a pair of ill-fitting ones (like the sometimes gorgeous pairs I find at the charity shop).

Skirts and dresses, in the form of the infinity dress pattern. I even made the dress as my wedding dress!

Button shirt with collar. Long or short sleeves, preferably both.

Camera-, computer-, gadget protecting bags.

Things for around the house, usually improvised. Like cloth napkins (just hem the edges of a fabric rectangle!), remote control holders, patchwork blankets, coasters, and pot-holders/oven mitts.

Food

Eventually, I would like to be able to make all the ‘basics’ and all the convenience foods that don’t taste exactly right (or exist) where I’m living.

Bread – A sourdough starter fed me weekly for years until Honey and I discovered fridge dough to be even easier. Now that I’m gluten free, I’m looking for the perfect quick mix bread that still has that yeasty flavour.

Yogurt & Kefir were made regularly until I went dairy free. I now make my own nut milks and am thinking of dabbling in nut milk yogurt.

Kimchi and Lime Pickle are my current ferment achievements.

To satisfy cravings: spicy brown mustard, kosher dill pickles, cheez-its, wheat thins, hard pretzels (I’ve got the soft pretzels all covered!), and the list goes on!

I used to have a three week menu rotation which reminds me when to soak beans for the following day, etcetera, which saved money on impulse purchases of tinned beans. Honey and I updated this based on newer food shopping patterns but we have yet to print and follow it

Snacks: A great recipe for using up leftover fruit, oats or other ingredients, is (gluten) muffins! Chex mix is another good use for leftovers such as nuts and cereals. Popcorn is always my favourite but I occasionally purchase junk food (in horrible packaging!).

Crochet, where I’m most versatile

Round-neck cardigans/sweaters. I’ve already got the hang of v-necks, but think the rounds make a good addition.

Socks- these would be a pure luxury!

Things for the house, like wash-cloths, soap scrubbies, blankets, hand towels, and rugs. Rugs are great to use up old rags and add floor insulation (and colour!). Here are two (jean and other materials) rugs my ex and I made together.

Accessories to keep warm. I’m pretty good at hats and scarves and mittens. Still, since I used a very thick yarn for the mittens, I had to write down what I did at each move. I need to figure out the perfect size, fit, etc for more standardized yarn, like DK and Arran weights.

Like fabric, my yarn stash is out of control and should form the basis of gift giving for a while.

Knitting

Sweater vest- I worked on this (simple) pattern for several years but knit so slowly that I got bored. I’ve started and completed countless knitting projects since this one began and I realise that I don’t like working a flat piece in stockinette stitch.I frogged it.

Socks- (see above note under crochet) I want to knit socks in order to make pure wool ones like Eddie Bauer used to sell before they started adding cotton to their “rag wool” hiking socks. My first pair were for regular use and are here.

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7 thoughts on “My growing bag of tricks

  1. If the crochet things are still on your list (as I know it’s been a few years since you posted), I’d be very happy to share my patterns with you.

  2. Hi, I am a staff from a Japanese TV programme. We are urgently looking for a picture of dried white clover flowers as shown on your website, and wondered whether we could have your permission to use your picture for broadcasting purpose. Also, would you wish to display any copyright notifications? If so how would you want it to be displayed as? If you could contact me at your earliest that would be much appreciated. Many Thanks, Mikako

    • Hi Mikako,

      Sure, you can use the photo. Please attribute it to Riotflower’s Realm blog and link back to me please, particularly to the clover post. Thank you. I would be interested in seeing the link to your online broadcast if you publish online.

    • Awesome! I’ve made yogurt (guess I should update this) but have always used a batch of yogurt to start off the strain and have never frozen it. Thanks!

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