Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

So here I am once more in beautiful Arva, Ontario. My sister is visiting from Saskatoon, so I came down for the weekend to see her and help my poor broken-ankled mother out.

While I was here she asked me to knit her something to go over the toes of the foot that’s in a cast, because they’re getting cold. So as a public service, I hereby present the world with a knitting pattern for:

The Toe Toque

– Much less than a ball of worsted weight yarn, any colour
– 5 mm knitting needles (US size 8 )
– Yarn needle

Gauge: 5 sts and 6 rows = 1″

Cast on 44 sts. Knit approximately 12 rows in 4×4 rib (knit 4, purl 4 until the end of the row; next row purl 4, knit 4; alternate rows) or until the work measures 2″ or however long you want the body to be. Then begin decreases:

Row 13 (or whatever): *Knit 2 together, knit 2, purl 4*, repeat to end of row.
Row 14: Purl.
Row 15: *Knit 2 together, knit 1, purl 4*, repeat to end of row.
Row 16: Purl.
Row 17: *Knit 2 together, purl 4*, repeat to end of row.
Row 18: *Knit 2 together, knit 3*, repeat to end of row.
Row 19: *Purl 2 together, purl t2o*, repeat to last 5 sts, purl 2 together, purl 1, purl 2 together.
Row 20: *Knit 2 together, knit 1*, repeat to end of row.

Cast off. For some reason I began the decreases on the knits, so this knits up wrong side out. Fold together and sew the cast off sts together with the yarn end. Then sew up the side seam, weaving in ends.


ETA: My mother requested that I add a pompom (to make it more toque-like) and a drawstring along the bottom (to stop it falling off). If you want to do that:

– make a pompom (easy instructions here)
– sew the pompom to the top of the toe toque
– cut a piece of yarn about 5 inches longer than the circumference of the toque. Using a running stich, sew around the bottom, leaving a 2-inch tail on the right side of either end. Adjust as desired and tie a cute little bow.

New and improved!


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On the “things you have to decide about when you have a baby” list, after “Home birth?” “Circumcision?” “Keep it or allow it to be raised by wolves?” is “Diapers: disposable or cloth?”

We decided to use cloth diapers, because if we’re going to bring another human into the world it might as well not spend the first 3 years of its life filling up a landfill. So rather than pay $20-30/week for a diaper service, I decided to make cloth diapers and wash them at home. I know, the baby is still 6 1/2-ish months away, but I have free time now, so I did a little research (cloth diaper websites, UPDATE YOUR LAYOUTS) and following the instructions here (scroll down to “Stuffable Prefolds) with some variations (more edge finishing and no backing fabric, because why?), I made 25 diapers and 10 diaper inserts out of a double-sized flannel sheet set, which I got from Goodwill for $10.

25 diapers and 10 diaper inserts. Not pictured: the original flannel sheet set.

Note: These are not real prefolds. Real prefolds are, apparently, a single large piece of fabric folded many times and sewn down. This is a more fabric-efficient, easier home alternative.

To begin!

If you’re using old sheets, wash and dry them thoroughly before you begin. Cut the folded-over top bit off the flat sheet (you can use this to make diaper inserts later) and the elastic off the fitted sheet. Figure out the most efficient way to get 18″ X 18″ squares out of your sheets. If the numbers work out better if they’re 17″ or 17.5″ x 18, that’s OK too, just make sure you use the same sized squares together. How you cut will depend on what size sheets you’re starting with.

If you have any left over, cut it into strips ranging anywhere from 2.5″-4.5″ in width and 14″-17″ in lenth. These will also make diaper inserts.

To make the diapers, take two of your 18″ x 18″ (or whatever) squares:

Fold each in half, wrong sides together, and overlap the folded sides by about 5″.

If the fabric you’re using has stripes or a pattern, line them up if you can, but don’t worry if they don’t match. Remember, they’ll be covered by a waterproof diaper cover or bum sweater (yes, there is such an object as a “bum sweater” and YOU CAN KNIT THEM), so we’re going function over fashion here. Pin the two layers together along the folds, leaving about an inch below the top. This is so you can finish the edge without sewing the top together.

Folding the other layer down, overlock stitch/serge across the right side top. Repeat with the left side top. (You can omit this step if your pieces are taken from the finished edges of the top sheet. Just use that edge as the top and skip to the next step.)

These pictures are terrible, but you'll figure it out.

Straight stitch along the right side fold as close to the edge as you can.

Flip the diaper over and repeat on the other fold. When you get to the bottom, turn and stitch along the bottom to meet your other line of stitching.

You’ve just made the insert pocket. Now all that’s really left is to finish the edges. Insert the needle on the top right side of the insert pocket and straight stitch across the top. Turn and overlock stitch around the right side, bottom, and left side of the diaper. At the top left corner, turn and straight stitch to the left side of the insert pocket. I didn’t successfully take any pictures of this, so I can’t illustrate it, but I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you want to reinforce it further, you can straight stitch all the way around (leaving the insert pocket open, of course), but I didn’t think this was necessary. I figure the only part that will be under any pressure will be the top, by the insert being inserted in the pocket. If after much use and washing, the edges start to come apart, I will repost this with a correction.

The finished product:

To make the diaper inserts, take the strips you’ve cut, put two or three of them together, and overlock around the raw edges.

A warning: This is not a particularly exciting sewing project. It is extremely easy but, once you’ve gotten the hang of it (about the 4th one), kind of dull. And while sewing each diaper takes 10 minutes max, the cutting out and folding takes about an hour for each sheet. BUT if you have the free time and you want to diaper your baby for around $10, it is a simple and environmentally friendly way to do so. I have a third flat sheet which I will also make into diapers…later, because I am totally bored with making diapers, but I plan to end up with around 35 and an equal number of inserts. I’m hoping that will be enough even accounting for air-drying.

If you really, really, really want me to, I will make you 12 recycled prefold diapers/inserts for…let’s say $35 CDN, but trust me, even if you’ve never sewn anything more complicated than a throw pillow, you can make these yourself. And it’ll be one extra thing to guilt-trip your child about when they’re 12 and starting to talk back. Priceless!

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I’m in Ottawa right now for an independent touring workshop. So far: really helpful for what I want to do (i.e., get Fallen Voices on the road) and I’m really glad I came. I’m typing up today’s notes right now, because I know from experience that if I don’t do it know I will entirely forget what everything I wrote refers to. To illustrate, some of the things I wrote today:

– “Yr a Canadian product! Lk wheat, nuclear reactors!”
– “Be persistent, don’t harrass (diff is hrd to tell)”
– “pure genre pffft”
– “Why 8 PM?”
– “Health Arts __ __”
– “guess ↑ expenses, ↓ income – ASSM SMTHNG WILL GO WRONG”

All excellent advice, no doubt, but if I wait for a week to transcribe my notes I won’t be able to translate them at all. (“Health Arts __ __” refers “The Health Arts Society of Ontario”, an organization that puts on concerts in hospitals and nursing homes. No one could remember the full name.)

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If you listened to my last podcast, you will remember that I talked about posting an improvised recipe that I had thrown together that night using only sweet potatoes, millet, peanut butter, and various spices.  Well, it was alright when I ate it, but after a few hours the millet solidified into a sort of goop and it became inedible, so I will not be posting that recipe.

Instead I will be posting a pizza recipe that I came up with last night.  Trust me, it’s much better.  Though I have to say, I don’t know if this qualifies as a recipe, since I didn’t make the pizza dough or either of the sauces.


– some kind of prepared white or whole wheat pizza dough, or make your own

Knead and roll it into the desired shape.  Brush with:

– a little olive oil.

Spread with:

– the tomato sauce of your choice (I used the Marinara sauce from The Veganomicon)

and top with

– a thick vegan white sauce – I used the Pine Nut Cream from the Veganomicon.  I had about a third of a recipe left over from something else.  You could also use a vegan ricotta or something.

Try to spread the white sauce gently so you don’t disturb the red layer.  Top with whatever you like. I used sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and slices of fried tofu (to keep with the red-and-white theme).  I imagine spinach or red peppers would also be good.

Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown and the Pine Nut Cream or whatever you’re using is lightly browned.

I swear I took a picture of this in its complete state.  I don’t know what happened to it!  So here is a picture of what is left over this morning.

Two pieces – SMALL pieces – out of a whole pizza.  So it must have been good.


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Back in…January? November?…Sometime before now, I posted my basic bagel recipe. To my surprise, Wendy Matheson of Herding Cats in Hammond River made them and liked them!

So for Wendy and other vegan bagel enthusiasts, I give you another bagel recipe: Hound Rounds.


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Inspired by this ninja cat, I made a ninja squid doll for some friends for Christmas.

If your sewing skills are a bit lacking, email me and I’ll make you one for $20 CAD + shipping and handling.

If your sewing skills are just dandy, here are the pattern and instructions for making your very own Cute-thulhu.


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Today was super-productive – I did yoga and practiced (I took about 10 days off because we were doing some renovations, plus I was just being kinda lazy), finished a libretto that I’ve been working on, did some errands, and…

…made some delicious filled buns.

In the style of those little buns you can buy in Chinatown that are filled with barbecue pork or curry beef.  Only vegan.

So because I don’t have much else to write about, the recipe!

Awesome filled buns


– 2 1/4 tsp yeast in
– 2 C water, heated to 110F, adding
– 2 tbsp sugar of some kind.

Wait 10-15 minutes until it’s pretty foamy.  Stir in:

– 1 tbsp salt.

Mix in:

– 4-5 C flour, enough to make a soft-ish dough
– 2 tbsp flax seeds (yes, I put flax seeds in just about all baked goods – they add lots of vitamins and a nice nutty flavour)

Knead well.  Let rise 40-45 minutes.  Punch down and let rest while you fry

– 1 small onion, very finely chopped
– 3 cloves garlic, minced, and
– about 1/2 C finely sliced Napa cabbage, or bok choy, or even spinach would work.

When these are cooked, add:

– 1/2 C or so imitation ground beef
– 1 tbsp or so chili garlic paste with peanuts
– a bit of soy sauce.

Mix until just heated.  Remove from heat.  Divide the dough into 24 pieces.  Flatten each piece, put about 1/2 tbsp of the filling mixture in the centre, then shape into a ball.  Let rise 15 minutes or so, then bake at 350F for 20 minutes, turning once, or twice if your oven is as wildly uneven as mine is.  Put on racks to cool. If you have basset hounds, construct obstacles around the cooling buns to keep your dogs off them.

I think that’s all the baked goods recipes I’ll be posting for the next little while…anyway, happy National Vegan Month!

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