Cowl Madness and Busy Season


I hope everything one had a good Thanksgiving.  Now we are into one of the busiest times of year, the advent season.  Yes, we are busy with holiday parties, shopping, and working.  I have an event and a sales retreat next week, and attend a couple of holiday parties before Christmas.  I had tickets to be in the audience at the Martha Stewart Show, but due to high attendance, I rescheduled for another date in January.

I finally brought a couple of books to add to my ever growing library and yet still thinking about getting the Nook, but haven’t made a decision because I love the idea of having a book in my hand and reading.  I don’t like reading from a computer screen and causes eye strain which probably one reason I am wearing reading glasses, but I digress.  I brought Cowlgirls by Cathy Carron the other day and received it today.  The book has 41 patterns of cowl to knit that another from the beginner to advance knitter can knit.  I posted some photos of cowls from the books, but I have to say that I could knit at least 20 projects from this book and I do not feel that way about every knitting pattern book I buy.  I love knitting cowls because it’s a great alternative to scarves, and you can place around your neck without worrying of losing it.

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Just is eye candy

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I also purchased the book “Keys to Good Cooking – A Guide to making the Best of Foods and Recipes” by Harold McGee.   McGee is the NY Times columnist who writes the column “The Curious Cook” and author the classic book “On Food and Cooking”.  I recommend this book to all home cooks beginners and experienced.  The book details everything from how to pick asparagus to storing leftovers.  It is best refrigerate leftover quickly than slowing cooling can stimulate growth of harmful microbes.  Actually that does make sense, but I am not alone in saying that I have broken that rule and few others I probably didn’t know exist, and that’s the reason for getting reference book about cooking.  I have to say that they are no recipes in this book along with no photographs and illustrations, and I’ve learned a lot from watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS.   Since I want to improve my cooking skills, this book will be useful for me in this goal.  Also, in an interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, McGee stated that the two tools that cooks should have in their homes in is a thermometer and a scale.  I thought about it and realized that it does make sense in determining proper cooking time and knowing the weight also plays a factor in cooking.

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I think I am going to call it day as tomorrow is Friday and that’s a good thing because I am a little tired.  Ciao for now.

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Some Decision-Making


I had off today and must admit that it feels good just to be around the apartment drinking coffee and catching up reading some of the books I purchased over the past couple of weeks.  I am still waiting for my yarn order from Knit Picks to get started on the cowl sweater I blogged about earlier in the week.  The order doesn’t arrive until the weekend which means I have to wait until Monday because the order is being delivered at my office.  I am not home during the week to receive the package, so having packages shipped to the office is the best way.

Last night before coming from work, I made a stop at Whole Foods to pick up some groceries and start shopping for Thanksgiving.  I brought some butter, flour, pie crust, and spices as a start.  I still have to plan a menu for turkey day, and thinking about making Brussels Sprouts with bacon and garlic.  My dad wants Collard Greens, but probably will make them next weekend and freeze them.  I have some decision-making to do.

I brought another book yesterday, “Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit – Using the Rub-Off Technique to Re-create and redesign your Favorite Fashions”, I think the title is longer than the actual writing.  I am kidding, but why are titles so long these days?  I am will be reading this book over the weekend because along with knitting the cowl sweater, I would like to make a pair tweed trousers.  I love tweed, and was also thinking about a dress and skirt.

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I found this wool tweed on Trim Fabric’s website, and tweed seems to be the trend for the fall.  I think this tweed will coordinate well with the purple I chose the knit the cowl sweater. I also love knit and it’s probably the reason for me learning how to knit so that I can make something like this Jonny Rotten jacket from “Brave New Knits”.  Blue is my favorite, this is another reason why I like this jacket and buttons are just great.  With my luck, I probably will not find these buttons, but fabric covered buttons could work as well.

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I purchased the Interweave Crochet Accessories issue, and the crochet jewelry pique my interest.  I especially like the crochet belt because it would coordinate great with a tweed or charcoal dress.  The crochet wired bracelet is lovely as well.

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That’s all I have for the moment, ciao for now.

A Sunny Tuesday–Inspiration


I had a bad experience at Purl Soho today.  Yesterday, I purchased a pair of 6 double point needles and realized this morning that I already had a pair.  So I decided to return to the store and exchange them for a size 7, and purchase some yarn for another hat project I had on my to knit list.  The employee at the store told me that they did not except exchanges, and I told him that the needles were still in package unopened and just purchased them yesterday.  I believe that this is bad customer service and it’s one of the reason why larger companies push out smaller for this reason, but larger companies aren’t fairing well in the customer service department either as the comedian Lewis Black artfully talks about in his monologues. Needless to say, I will not be returning to Purl Soho for my knitting needs.  I will go to Lion Brand, Knit Picks, and Yarn.com for yarn as I probably find better deals.  I think Purl Soho overestimates that customers are yarn snobs, but everyone eventually looks for the best deal possible.  The store is convenient, but I am willing wait a few days for knitting needles and yarn.  I also suggested that people go to Purl Soho, but not longer, I am not recommending them anymore.  Enough of my ranting, moving on to other things.

I went an interesting textile store named Habu Textiles.  It’s in the garment district on 29th Street that sells yarn (mostly lace weight) using all kinds of fibers including yarn spun from paper.  I am nerd because I find that fascinating and wanted to ask how is paper spun into yarn, but didn’t.  What was also interesting about store is the salespeople go into back and allow you to look around the store.  I have to mention that this a Japanese company, customer service is very different and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The company sells wholesale as well.  I wanted three balls of a particular and when she brought out the balls, it didn’t have the same dye lot, so she winded the yarn onto a cone.  I stop typing for a minute because that simply made my day.  I am going to knit a scarf with cone of yarn.

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I purchased the new Knitting Today Dec/Jan issue and there is a cape that caught my eye.  I do not know if am going to knit this project, but it’s a good one for someone to knit.  The photo is a little blurry.

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I brought the new book “Brave New Knits” today and fell in love with these projects.  The cardigan is versatile because it can worn at the office and Sunday brunch with the girls.  I love the sweater because it is very feminine with hint of sexiness.

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I just had to share this photo of a houndstooth coat done in crochet.  This coat is crochet and in the issue 10 of Inside Crochet magazine.  I do not know if I am going to stitch this, but I love it.

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I picked up a copy of for “Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf”.  I have not seen the movie and think I am going to wait for it come out on DVD.  I was not old enough to see the play, but it is worth mentioning that Tyler Perry on used 16 of 20 poems and it’s a good thing to read them before seeing the movie.

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This is shocker that I am writing blog entry twice in a row, but this is good because I had a chance to rant a little about the dwindling of customer service.  Ciao for now.

A Nice Fall Friday – First Fall Knitting Project


The days are getting cooler and shorter, and the time has come to get out those knitting and crochet needles for some projects.  I decided to make a cowl because it’s a great alternative to a scarf.  It’s has been a while since my last post since August 27.  That’s almost two months, I really need to improve on writing a blog entry more often.

I have Photobucket on my phone, and found out that you can add thought bubbles and other nice things.  Unfortunately, it isn’t very readable what’s inside of the bubble, but in essence I will be making more cowls than scarves this season.  My next project is knitting a hat and fingerless gloves or wristlets.

I almost forget to describe this cowl.  I used Cascade Eco-wool on size 9 24-in circular needles.  I knitted the ends in a 2×2 rib stitch and stockinette.  I knitted the cowl in 12in in length and 12 1/2in  in width.  It was really an easy project.  This all I have for the moment.  Ciao for now!

More About Yarn and No Unwanted Visitors


I am back!  Earlier today, I wrote a blog post about my experience with a spider and jewelry making project.  Trinilove asked me almost a couple of weeks ago about jewelry making, and with that in mind, I am going to write a post about it this week with some books on the subject and online jewelry supplies resources.  However, I promised to write about more yarn.  Some I have used and some new yarns on the scene.  Upon the last blog post, Lion Brand came out with a couple of new yarns and colors to its line.  Pam Allen, knitter, author, and former editor of Interweave Knits Magazine has a new line of yarn, and Berroco has a new yarn along with a pattern book in its expansive line of yarns.  I am going to talk about the dreaded arylic yarn that I use with some home decor projects.  Debbie Stoller partnership with Red Hearts and created the Stitch Nation yarn line.  I am going to attempt brevity when writing this post, but give you as much information as possible.

Quince and Co. – A new yarn company created by Pam Allen, Carrie Bostick, and Bob Rice.  Pam and Carrie are knitwear designers and an owner of a spinning mill with a bias toward natural fibers decided to create a company where create a line “thoughtfully conceived yarns spun from American wool or sourced from overseas suppliers who grow plants, raise animals, or manufacture a yarn in as earth- and labor-friendly a way as possible. We think we can have our yarn and knit it, too.”  The currently has three yarns and 37 colors.  The yarns are all named after birds, Chickadee is the dk weight yarn with 181 yards for $5.75 a skein, Lark is worsted weight with 134 yards for $5.50 a skein, and Osprey is an aran weight yard with 170 yards for $10.75 a skein.  Three three yarns are 100% wool.  I have not worked with this yarn because I only heard about it only a couple of weeks ago while reading Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Review newsletter.

Red Heart – This yarn company has been around longer than I have been alive, and the yarn I used when I learned how to crochet when I was a kid.  Yes many of the yarns in the line is arylic, but it’s great for making afghans because although I love wool, it’s not economical or practical for knitting or crocheting a blanket or afghan or caring for it as washing either by hand is not idea either.  Red Heart has put on some new yarns in its line in the past couple of years such as its eco yarn line including the bamboo wool blend yarn that sells for $3.99 a skein, a 87 yard worsted weight yarn.  There is not a yarn in that line that cost over $6.00 a skein making it very affordable for creating afghans, pillows, potholders, and stuffed animals.  The newest line for the company is Stitch Nation, a collaboration with Debbie Stoller to create natural fiber yarns at an affordable price.  There are three yarns in the line, Full O’ Sheep 100% wool, and 155 yards, Bamboo Ewe, bamboo/wool blend, 177 yards, and Alpaca Love with a 80/20 mix of alpaca and wool, 132 yards.  All three yarns are worsted weight at a price of $4.99 a skein.  It is my hope that Red Heart will create fine and dk weight yarns to the line.

Berroco – I love this company more for its pattern books.  Norah Gaughan is the design director for Berroco, and has done a great job at creating designs for the company’s yarns.  The company was once known for its novelty yarn, but has spent several years with creating yarns with natural fibers.  Not to many yarn stores in my area sell Berroco, but it is a good thing that Webs exists for to purchase the yarn at reasonable prices.  When the company creates a new yarn, a pattern booklet is created showcasing the yarn.  I believe Ultra Alpaca is one of the more popular yarns with good yardage at $9.00 a skein for 215 yards worsted weight.

Aussi Wool – This is one of the first yarns I learned how to knit.  It is a nice heavy worsted yarn that comes in the many colors with 126 yards and priced at $6.00 a skein.  It is a hand wash yarn, and it a great yarn to use for felting projects.  It does pill after a while, but it’s the reason why someone created lint removers.  It is a soft yarn to use.

I have more yarns to talk about like Spud and Chloe that is a part of Alpaca Blue Sky, but will save that for another time, and write about my adventures in jewelry making well mostly beading in the next post.  Ciao for now!

Affordable Yarns


I read blogs and E-newsletters, and listen to podcasts to get current information.  I am an information hound and it does not matter if is about news and politics, history, recipes, DIY, or getting a good deal.  I have been more interested in finding quality yarn at reasonable prices particularly with things I want to knit.  It is being strategic about when to use the luxury and reasonably price yarns.  I like using luxury yarns for knitting projects like hats, sock, or wrist warmers because do not need to use a lot of yarns especially you are using no more than two different color yarns.  Bigger knitting projects like afghans, skirts, or sweaters (cardigans), I choose more reasonably price yarns and even substitute the type of yarn for example choosing an alpaca yarn in place of cashmere.  Choosing a different brand could change the price point as well.  There are some affordable yarn brands I enjoy knitting that are of nice quality.  Here are a few brands of yarns that I enjoy using and satisfies my knitting enjoyment:

Cascade Yarns is one of my favorite workhorse yarns.  The company was founded by Bob and Jean Dunbabin in the 1980s.  “At that time, there were few options and many knitters used acrylic yarns as using expensive merino or coarse wool were the commonly available choice at the time.  The Dunbabin went on a quest to search for a soft yet affordable was it was their belief that given a chance, people would prefer to knit with wool  The search led Bob to Peru, and at the time, Peru was not known worldwide for its wool.  The Peruvian natives raised that were a blend of Merino and Corriedale in the mountains above 12,000 feet.  It was what Bob was looking for, a soft long stapled wool, plentiful, light in color and had a tremendous amount of loft.”  This story came from the new book “60 Quick Knits”, a book written with 60 patterns of hat, mittens, and scarves using Cascade 220 yarn.  I typically use Cascade 220, it’s a worsted weight yarn with a generous yardages of 220 yards and comes in over 250 colors at price of $7.00 a skein.  There is also Cascade 220 Tweed, Cascade 220 super wash, and Cascade 220 Paints.  This is a good price for a yarn that comes in a lot of colors and yardage.    Cascade 220 can be used for felted projects.  The other three yarns by Cascade I like is the new Ultra Prima which is cotton in a DK weight with 220 yards in 53 colors and has a beautiful sheen and $10.50 a skein Cascade ECO + and Ecological are bulky weight wools with 478 yards in a skein.  ECO in comes in 44 colors and Eco comes in neutral solid colors and tweed, both yarns are priced at $15.00 a skein which is a good price for a bulky weight.  There is also Cascade Alpaca which is a lace weight yarn with 437 yards, 36 solid colors and 5 paints, and cost $8.00 a skein.  These are just a few of the types of yarns offer at Cascade, there are over 60 types of yarns in its line.

Plymouth Yarns has more than 145 yarns in its line, but the two I am familiar with are Encore and Alpaca DK.  I use Encore for baby blankets and has a 75 acrylic and 25 wool, 180 yards, cost $6.00 a skein.  Alpaca DK has 125 yards and priced at $8.00 a skein.  These are reasonably price yarns and the quality is good.

Knit Picks has a great selection of yarns at affordable prices.  This is an online treasure and Knit Picks can be used to substitute for other yarns recommended in knitting patterns when you are unable to find them at your local yarn store and a more affordable option if you have a budget.  I have written about this yarn in previous posts.  I have purchased the Bare Merino lace weight yarn at $4.79 a skein which contains 880 yards.  Purchasing the bare merino, you have the option of dyeing it any color you wish or knitting it as is.  In additional to the yarns, they have great prices on knitting books, and patterns created by independent designers at the price of $1,99 a pattern  This is a great bargain and good for people who are beginning to knit as well as the experienced knitter on a budget.

Lion Brand is another affordable yarn with both natural and acrylic fibers.  The yarns have ample yardage and many colors.  The company has the LB collection studio yarn which is only sold at the store, but you can also purchase the yarns from the website.  I have purchased the LB cotton bamboo DK weight yarns and it has good stitch definition and soft.  It has 245 yards in a skein and comes in eight colors at the price of $5.00.  There is an affordable cashmere yarn DK weight/82 yards at $14.00 a skein, organic wool with 185 yards bulky weight for $10.00, super wash merino DK weight/306 yards at $8.00, and a few other yarns in the collection.  However, I think the Fisherman wool is a great bargain with 465 yards, medium worsted weight, and priced at $10.99.  It is a virgin wool with lanolin to make it soft and weatherproof.  This is a good felting yarn and great for making a big market or weekend bag.

I actually more reasonably affordable to mention, but think it is better to have affordable yarn post part II.  I am going to upload a photo of the Chelsea skirt from the new knitting book “New England Knits”, and you can find the pattern for the skirt on Knitting Daily, and this adorable crochet layette baby set as you never know if you have someone who is expecting and you need a gift to make.  Just think, you knit or crochet this projects in one yarns mentioned-above.  I am going research more yarns, so ciao for now.

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Book Reviews and Eye Candy


I finally had a chance to look at new sewing book I brought a couple weeks ago, “Sew Serendipity” by Kay Whitt.  As I wrote in a previous post, Kay is the owner of Sew Serendipity Studio.  She designs unique appliqué, sewing, needlecraft, and punchneedle patterns and has been in business since 2001.  I like the book as it great for the beginner sewing or someone returning, somehow by writing that statement is just like all the statements every said about some knitting and sewing books.  However, it’s a true statement, Katt even drew all the illustrations in the book.  She gives great detail about how to construct the clothes in the book, and stresses that the person who owns the book can customize pieces in the book to fit their style.  I think Kay’s style is country modern chic, but she has a modern vintage feel to her designs.  I would change some of the projects like picking a lightweight wool fabric for the tunic dress, and choose different fabric print to express my personality.  I think the book is worth having as part of your sewing book collection.

Yarn and Review 003 Yarn and Review 005 Yarn and Review 008 Yarn and Review 011 Yarn and Review 006 Yarn and Review 012I went to Purl Soho today get another knitting book.  There were two books I wanted in my collection, one is “60 Quick Knits – 20 Hats 20 Scarves 20 Mittens in Cascade 220”, and the second is the Rowan Midwest Modern Knits, a pattern book of Amy Bulter’s debut handknit collection for the Belle Organic DK and Aran yarn.  I choose the “60 Quick Knits” book, but I probably will end pick up a copy of Rowan Midwest Modern Knits.  Quick Knits does have projects for the beginner to experienced knitter, and the knits are specially for the Cascade 220 yarn.  There are nice projects in the book that are quick knit, or just having something for the weekend.

My last thing is the pair of new eyeglasses that enables me to see distance and read.  The folks at Lens crafters are really pushing for me to get contact lenses which I am going to have to think about because there is a price to consider.  It costs more to get contacts because I only change my frames whenever my prescription changes, but I could get just a couple of packs for whenever I do not wear glasses, however, I am wearing frames for the moment.  I decided on this frame by DKNY because I really thought the blue on the inside of the frame really adds interests to the glasses.

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It is that time when to end this post, shut down my computer, and go outside tomorrow, and allow some ideas to flow.  I am going to write a blog post about some finds both online and offline.  It’s ciao for now because I am literally falling sleep while writing.

A Little Set Back and Work Attire


Yesterday, I received my order to make the necklace I wrote about in a post last week.  I was happy and starting stringing when after getting home from work when I realized something.  I was stringing it wrong, and I only brought one 10 gram of Japanese seed beads.  The instructions called for 17.5 grams of seed beads, so that means placing another order.  I am going to order more of rectangle horn and Dalmatian jasper beads.  I want to coordinate some orange color beads with the rectangle horn beads, and some black or silver beads with the Dalmatian jasper beads.  I am going to have some jasper beads from the first string I ordered, I am thinking about a bracelet  I just came up with an idea for the seed beads, I nice knitted wool T with seed beads around the sleeves, an half inch border of the beads.  The creativity comes what to do with the leftover materials.  I also waiting for another order to make an icy necklaceCorrecting a Mistake 001

Seersucker Afghan 011I received the September/October issue of Crochet Today.  Of course it is only July, but details, details.  I love the cover as the theme’s issue is work it chic and polished looks for 9 to 5 in addition to its annual Halloween section.    This tailored blazer is a suit-inspired sweater to add to one’s work-wardrobe, and the positive is that it does not wrinkle.  The blazer is crocheted in Red Heart Eco-Ways bamboo wool with the suggested retail price of $3.99 a skein and comes in ten colors.

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It is my hope that I work on some my crafty projects this week and next.  I have not made a necklace since I went on vacation which is over a month ago.  I am due for a new one, also get my afghan and wrap projects going to finish my the fall.  I am going to end this blog post, and it’s ciao for now.

Thin vs Thick, Yarn That Is


Yesterday, I borrowed a couple of books from the library, “Knit So Fine – Designs with Skinny Yarn” by Lisa R. Myers, Laura Grutzek and Carol Sulcoski, “Power Cables” by Lily Chin, and “ Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts – An A – Z Guide with Detailed Instructions and Endless Inspiration”.  I wanted to read Knit So Fine because it is one of the few knitting pattern books that specifically focus on knitting with lightweight yarns.

When I was in the process of learning how to knit, the conventional wisdom was knit with bulky inexpensive yarn, and large needles.  The reasoning is to get your fingers adapted to using knitting needle, and thicker yarn knits quickly.  I learned how to knit with a pair size needles and a worsted weight yarn.  In fact, I worked with worsted weight or larger for quite a few scarves until I started knitting with sock weight yarn to make a pair of socks.  I discovered that a lighter weight yarn did not take much longer to knit than a thicker weight yarn.  There is a good argument to be made for using a lightweight yarn, one being a better fit which you so not get with a bulky weight yarn because let’s face when wearing a heavier fabric everyone will look bigger than they are.  The feel of a sweater done in a lightweight yarn is just softer to me and it always means that you will perspire less because with a heavier weight the hotter you will feel and more incline to perspire.  Do not get me wrong, I like to see bulky weight yarns with certain items such as a car coat and a rug, but lightweight yarn knitted into a cardigan is a better feel to me and makes look thinner. 

There is also a price consideration, lightweight yarns can be more economical than a bulky weight and it also depends on if you buy cashmere, alpaca, angora etc. will also affect the price.  Elizabeth Zimmerman also expressed her opinion in the “Knitting Without Tears” (which every person who knits should have in their craft library) about making a sweater with a very fine wool in order to economize if you love to knit.

I think using a lightweight yarn for your sweaters and skirts is a good idea for a better and more flattering fit.  I am a size DD in bra size and 45 in hips, so knitting my garments in a bulky weight does not work for me.  I prefer to look like woman than the Pillsbury dough boy which is not a good look.  I am going to enjoy reading the patterns in “Knit So Fine” and have a couple of projects in mental queue (making quite a few copies for my project notebook).

I cannot end this blog post without writing a little about “Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts”, and one project in the book stood out for me and that’s the glittered eggs.  I love the glittered eggs and so much better than dyeing and they are great as a decorative touch for a dinner party.  I also like the glittered snowflakes and think it would a great idea for a winter white wedding with white, silver and blue glittered snowflakes handing in the reception space and perhaps glittered candles within the space as well.  I have to stop before I have a 10,000 word blog post with ideas.  I am going to end on that note and write Ciao for now.

 

A Book Suggestion and New Yarn


I wanted to blog about an interesting book entitled “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.  It is an extraordinary story about Henrietta Lacks and her unwitting contribution to medical research.  Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950s and died at the age of 31, but the interesting story occurs after her death.  “While she was in Hopkins’ care, researchers took a fragment of Lacks’ tumor and sliced it into little cubes, which they bathed in nutrients and placed in an incubator. The cells, dubbed "HeLa" for Henrietta Lacks, multiplied as no other cells outside the human body had before, doubling their numbers daily. Their dogged growth spawned a breakthrough in cell research; never before could investigators reliably experiment on such cell cultures because they would weaken and die before meaningful results could be obtained.” This quote was taken from 2002 article written by Van Smith from the City Paper.  I found out about this story while listening to the radio program Radio Lab from the “Famous Tumors” show.   Lacks’ family was also contact years later by researchers to get blood samples from them, but researchers did not mention anything about their mother’s HeLa cells.  This is an incredible and compelling story and would recommend reading the book and listening to the story from Radio Lab.

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I stopped at Purl Soho today to pick up a couple of skeins of Cascade Alpaca lace weight yarn for the lace shawl pattern for the Vogue Knitting Early fall issue.  It’s a pretty garnet color and should look beautiful when the shawl is completed.  I think $16.00 for a shawl is a great bargain and it will be handmade.   Along with loving the shawl, I am also swooning over the necklace the model is wearing.  I need to figure out how to make it.    I am going to say ciao for now, and probably will write more about the Sew Serendipity book over the the weekend. 

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A Book and A Couple of Magazines


Today, it has been raining for most of the day and I decided to make a trip to Borders to pick up the new Knit Simple and Knit Scene magazine.  Actually, I did not know the magazines were at Borders, but I needed a trip to the bookstore.  I am inspired about some of the projects in both magazines.   It’s in my mind’s queue to knit, and I think the hat is nice for the fall.

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I also saw a new sewing pattern book, “Sew Serendipity” by Kay Whit.  She is the owner of Serendipity Studio with a line of patterns she created.  She has created 18 patterns for the new book consisting of dresses, jackets, skirts, and tunics.  The books gives great instruction of how to make the projects including techniques needed sewing a finished garment.  She also wanted the reader who decides to make any of the projects to customized the garments to her liking. 

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I am going to more reading of this book over the weekend, and make a do list of what I want to sew along with some ideas of my own to make the garments my own.  I do want to make the tunic dress as I like to wear it pants as well.  I am going to turn in for the night and get some rest for fresh start in the morning.  Ciao for now!

Afghan Sunday


It’s coming to the end of another weekend and I am thankful that we did not have extremely hot weather.  I made fried chicken yesterday and today I started on my seersucker afghan from “Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans – more than 50 beautiful, affordable designs featuring Berroco’s comfort yarn.  The pattern for this afghan is very easy, and I have to make eight sections of four squares in each.  I am in the process of knitting the three square in the section.  I was thinking about making a scarf using this pattern, but altering it by having rib stitch so the ends do not roll.  I know that there some yarn snobs out there, but using Red Heart for afghans is fine.

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I found another jewelry project from Fusion Beads to make.  It’s called the world traveler necklace and I placed an other for the beading materials Friday.  With any chance, I should receive the order for this sometime mid-week.

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I also stopped by Barnes and Noble and picked a copy of Mark Montaro’s “The Big Ass Book of Home Decor” to get some decor ideas to design my apartment.  Creativity comes from the need to solve a problem using limited resources.  I love the tapped-aluminum wall sconce in the book and wondering about turning it into wall art.

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Along with being a knitter, I love to crochet and buy Interweave Crochet for some inspiration and possible to make a project.  I have dozens of project I want to make from crochet projects along, not to mention the knitting projects in my to do list mind.  Now I have to make a inspiration board of knitting and crochet projects to motivate me to knit and crochet.  I like this two-piece crochet cardigan set, and the necklace gives me inspiration to make as well.  I also love the cool wave wrap and see ordering some fingering weight yarn from Knit Picks in my future.

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I am enjoying my summer from a creative perspective, but certainly not the humidity.  I am going to end this blog post to continue watching My Fair Wedding with David Tutera who is helping a bride who has a swamp theme for her wedding, but wearing a ball gown.  I still do not understand the idea of frogs, logs, and goldfish as the decor, but watching to see what David does with this wedding.  Ciao for now!

 

 

Inspirational Eye Candy and Finding a Good Deal


The other day I purchased the Vogue Knitting early fall issue and think there are some really nice projects to knit.  There is one project in particularly I would like to knit.  The yarn recommended for this project is the new Rowan by Amy Butler/Westminster Fibers Belle Organic Aran (wool/cotton).  The problem is the price of the yarn, it cost $8.95 a skein and 16 skeins of yarn is needed to knit the smallest size.  That is a total cost of $143.20, and of course I need the largest size because I have a 44in bust size which means paying $232.70 for the project.  This means finding a substitute yarn that a lower cost to get the desired outcome.  My one choice is Knit Picks – Wool of the Andes worsted yarn that is 100% Peruvian wool at $1.99 a skein.  The total cost for the Knit Picks wool is $51.74 for the project and a difference of $180.96.  It is recession and finding yarn at a lower cost is a good thing, and the quality of Knit Picks is a good value. 

There is another project I would like to knit for Vogue Knitting.  It’s lace stole and the pattern is reversible.  The pattern recommends using Alpaca with a Twist Fino yarn that’s priced at 875 yards a skein priced at $21.00, and it’s not a bad price, but two skeins of Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud lace yarn for $5.49 a hank with 440 yard in each.  That means purchasing two hanks of the KP yarn at a total cost of $10.98 and that is still a great deal compared to $21,00 for the KP Alpaca.

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I borrowed the pattern book “Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans from the designers at Berroco from the library a couple of weeks ago.  The book has more than 50, affordable designs featuring Berroco’s comfort yarn.  You know the word affordable is relative because the project I wanted to knit is a seersucker afghan that requires 21 skeins for the project at a cost of $124.95/$5.95 a skein, but again that is still a little too much for me as I am on a budget.  So, I decided to purchase Red Heart super saver yarn at $4.29 a skein with 364 yards, in addition, the yarn was on sale at 25% and brought 12 skeins of yarn for $38.61 plus $8.95 for a total of 47.56.  I saved myself $86.34 and do not have a problem with using Red Heart because I need a afghan that is easy to clean and machine washable.

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I picked up a copy of Fresh Home magazine, and it gave me some inspiration of designing a space in my bedroom.  I am not into white or beige walls, but need to find the right shade of blue that is relaxing and beautiful.  Also, my room does not look like summer all year long, but that may not be such a bad thing doing through the winter months.  This photo inspires me to have a space that represents my personality.  I could paint my bedroom a nice serene green (I wonder if that is a name for paint?) with colors of blue and yellow for bed linens, curtains, pillows, and accessories.  It is going to be fun to sketch and write down ideas.  I am looking at a scarf I own that has a blue, green, and yellow color scheme. 

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The last photo that gives me inspiration is Prince with this funky hat.  I will just leave it at that and say ciao for now.

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Staycation and Some Creative Ideas


Reader beware!  This is a long post entry with quite a few photos!

It is that time of year for me again, staycation!  Every year in mid-June, I take a two-week vacation where staying at home is the thing to do when money is tight in this rough recession.  I also have a chance to make more blog entries during this time, and catch up some finishing and starting some knitting projects, reading, and visit a museum or two.  I also have the time to listen to some podcast and just relax during the two weeks.  The previous year came with me having the flu and lying in bed for almost two weeks, this year comes with a stiff lower back if sitting for too long.  However, I it will not prevent me from relaxing or going to see the King Tut exhibit (looking forward to seeing that).

Yesterday, while doing some web surfing and listening to a couple of knitting podcasts, I came around this vintage knitted “Blood Red Dress”.  This 1940s vintage dress was knitted by ChopChop of the My Spicy Yarn blog.  She purchased a Corticelli Hand-Knits Fashions no KP 27 that she purchased from E-Bay.  I tried to find this pattern book without success, but did asked if she wouldn’t mind selling me this pattern.  She also mentioned in her blog that this pattern was a quick knitting, but think she is a fast knitter.  I think it would take me a while to knit considering one would have to use lace weight yarn for the project.  However, I think she did a great job with knitting this dress and who would love to add a knitted dress to her wear closet.  The color and style of dress just screams out sexy kitten without having anything hang out.  I am amazed at that even though this dress is vintage, yet feels modern and stylish to wear now.  This dress is eye candy and may give me enough inspiration to create a knitting pattern with this style in mind since I am unable to find the pattern.

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Yesterday, I went to a jewelry-making class at my local library.  I typically go to the class to meet other crafty people than learning anything new.  The class is mostly bead stringing, and I would like to get more into bead weaving and some wire work.  I always to go for the more challenging and pushing my creative side.  I met a woman there who wanted to know if I have sold any of my jewelry.  I told her no, but I could end up with more bracelets and necklaces I could possibly wear.  Who I am kidding, one could never have enough pieces of jewelry, but I can still sell jewelry by making extra pieces.  It is a win/win situation.

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Friday, I could not leave for vacation without making a trip to the yarn store.  I went to the Lion Brand Studio in New York City with a co-worker of mine who needed to purchase yarn for cardigan she is making for a couple who just had little baby girl.  There is nothing like making a little baby pink cardi, well certainly nothing precious.  I decided to knit a shawl for the office while on vacation because my workplace is a like being a side of beef hanging in a meat locker.  It is freezing and you need to wrap yourself in a blanket, but a shawl is more practical.  I love this yarn with the copper highlights and could see making a fabulous shell to wear on a night out.  I was just thinking how great it would be to wear that vintage dress on a first date, I digress.  The yarn is Vanna Glamour and it comes in a few more colors including platinum and topaz.

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I am fortunate to have a magazine store that carries Burda Style Magazine near my job, and managed to get the May and June Issues.  I wear plus size clothing, so finding clothes that are great looking is difficult to find (reason for making your own clothes).  May’s issue had Italian inspired dresses what are very sexy, especially the red dress.  The collection in the magazine is entitled “La Dolce Vita”, and think it is the perfect title for the dresses.  There were only a couple of things that caught my eye in June’s issue like the the tunic and pants.  There is a jumpsuit that I am going back and forth on liking it or not.  I think the problem is that the model is wearing a terrible hat and it makes her look like a cougar.  The jumpsuit has a 70s feel, perhaps too much so.

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My back is beginning to relax, and I am coming to the end of writing this entry.  I am going to start knitting my shawl and watch some TV on a Sunday with Drop Dead Diva, and My Fair Wedding with David Tutera.  I love that show and it is great to see a wedding show other than Bridellizas, and besides he does fabulousity with receptions.  I will able to write quite a few entries during my staycation, but Ciao for now!

A Little Shopping and Some Inspiration


I decided to make a trip to Payless to buy scandals and take advantage of the BOGO sale during my lunch break. I usually pay a decent amount for shoes except the summer wear, and only going to wear them for a few months. I have a confession, I only go to the Payless stores in New York City or online because the Payless where I live in New Jersey does not carry nice shoes. You can find some nice trendy shoes at Payless and its shoe seem to fit wear and can be comfortable. One of pair of scandals I brought gave me inspiration to create, but left my notebook at a restaurant the previous day and picked it up after work.

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I finally picked up the Spring/Summer 10 issue of Vogue Knitting today, and theme is all about lace. Some of the projects in the magazine are very romantic and sophisticated and the wrap gracing the cover really gives me inspiration. I have not done a lace-knitting project yet, but want to place on my list of things to do and should not be afraid with learning lace. While reading Vogue Knitting, I came across an article about Namaste. The company creates products for knitting making it easily portable to carry. There are carrying cases for knitting tools, and tote bags for knitting projects. The colors are great and you can use the bags for other things other than knitting projects, as they are very stylish. Another website for knitters is iKnit Happy that has some good products for knitters including coffee mugs and notebooks to take down your ideas and sketches.

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The highpoint of my day was receiving the current issue of Beadstyle Magazine, and saw the breathtaking necklace on the cover. Here is a photo of the cover and shot inside the magazine. On that note, I am going to call it a night. Ciao for now!

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Some Book Reviews and Photo Laden


Visiting the book is one of my favorite places.  I love books, a love affair that began from the first my mother brought me a book and a set of World Book Encyclopedias.  Those books are expensive even when my mother purchased a set over 35 years ago.  I also had a subscription to Highlights, Jack & Jill, Ebony Jr., and personal favorite National Geographic that gave me a great curiosity for the world and other cultures, but I digress.

I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and today, and purchased some magazines and three books that pique my interests.  I went there to buy the book “Tranquilista – Mastering the Art of Enlightened Work and Mindful Play” by Kimberly Wilson.  Wilson is a teacher, writer, do-gooder, entrepreneur, and eco-fashion designer.  She is the creative director and founder of Tranquil Space, yoga studio in Washington DC, and has a website Kimberly Wilson where you can read her blog, listen to her podcast, and shop online with her clothing line TranquiliT.

The book is about starting a business and living the life you want.  I am in the process of reading the book, but find it very informational thus far.  However, I love reading her blog and listening to her podcast, it’s about creativity and inspiration.

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Another little jewel, I picked up at the bookstore is a baking book by Erin McKenna entitled “Babycakes – Vegan, Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from new York’s Most Talked-About Bakery.  I first had a vegan cupcake while celebrating a co-worker’s birthday a few years ago, and thought it was one of the most sumptuous cupcakes I had in my life.  Who would have thought that a baked good without dairy could taste delicious.   One problem, the bakery is hard to get to.  I went the bakery one day after work because I wanted a cupcake, and it was a half-hour walk.  I thought was going to walk into the east river at one point.   It was worth the walk, but not something I would do frequently.  Now, I have the cookbook where I can bake those cupcakes and other baked goods from the book.  Who knew that you could make chocolate and velvet cupcakes, and sandwich cookies gluten and dairy-free.

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My next book is a knitting pattern book called “Knitting 24/7 – 30 Projects to Knit, Wear, and Enjoy, One the Go and Around the Clock by Veronik Avery.  I admit that I have a soft spot for purchasing knitting and crochet books as well, and the photography in this book is great along with some nice patterns to knit.

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I love this mitten pattern, but really the cape she is wearing.  I wonder if the cape can be translated into a knitting pattern?  I think the bookmark is beautiful and practical, who could have thought to knit one. 

It was way pass my bedtime due to an interruption of a telephone call earlier that cause to prolong the writing of this post a lot longer than anticipated.  I have more photos, but time is my enemy.  I hope to get another necklace done within the next two weeks.  Ciao for now!

It’s Thursday and What a Week


I had quite a week starting with getting sick over the weekend with a chest cold, and my allergies kicked in which caused more problems on the health front.  The arm of my reading glasses came off when the screw loosened (my glasses are two-years old), this means getting a new pair with this pair being the back-up.

There were so good notes this week with finally finishing this bracelet, and a little bit of a back story.  I had the supplies for this bracelet a couple of weeks ago, and ran into a problem by cutting the wire I needed too short.  I started over only to realized that I lost one of beads which probably is in some landfill by now after sweeping the floors.

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On the yarn front, I went Purl Soho today to purchase at size an 2 24in circular needle, but the way my luck has been going this week I could not find one.  So I walked around the store and noticed Casade’s ultra prima cotton yarn and the colors were fabulous.   I picked up a couple of skeins of the forest green which is a very vibrant with a nice sheen.  Now I have figure out if I want to knit or crochet the yarn into something.  I am thinking about a cowl, but wondering if I should use a lace stitch.  I am going to my stitch dictionary and find a stitch to create a pattern.  This color spoke to me even if green is not my favorite color.

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I also picked up some groceries during my lunch hour as well as the yarn shopping.  I have to watch my blood pressure and cholesterol, so I made a recipe for the June issue of Body and Soul Magazine with healthy salad redos.  I made sardines with a boiled egg on romaine lettuce, croutons, and lemon and olive dressing.  I could not find any croutons, so I used cheese sticks with parmesan cheese.  I drank a glass of soy milk as I needed to get some calcium and other vitamins.

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Spring is in the Air, Tree Pollen, and other Things


Yes I do love Spring, but it does not love me much.  My allergies are in play this year with itchy and watery eyes, itchy and running nose, throat is itchy, and sneezing.  They peak in the mornings and nights, and it is time to make a visit to the doctor’s office because I have a feeling that they are going to be bad this year.

I finally made my spring necklace today.  I purchased some jump rings for the bail component so that the leaf pendent lay front on the necklace.  It does not look like the original project from the Bead Style March issue, but it does have the spirit of spring.

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I made a trip to the post office on Saturday to pick up a couple of packages of products I ordered.  I order a book on knitting design, and a couple of hanks of yarn to knit a pair of stockings.  My yarn stash consist of projects I have in the basket.  Knit Picks has some yarn at reasonable prices and patterns for $1.99 from independent knit and crochet designers.  This is my first ordering from Knit Picks, the yarn costs me around $14.00 and I think the yarn is a nice quality for the price.  It is a merino wool and find the yarn soft as I rubbed on my skin.  Now it is a matter of me getting to working on the project.

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I purchased lemongrass and sage soap and body scrub from Pampered by Adrienne.  I smelled the scent before opening the box and was excited because I found it refreshing.  I loved the packaging and will look forward to using these products.  Just in time for Spring.

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I picked up some mussels and white wine to make mussels in wine sauce and pasta.  I really enjoyed this dish after a day of running errands and my jewelry making class.  I have a couple of books to review, but will write about them in another post tomorrow.  However, Ciao for now!

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Saturday Musings and Some Photos


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We are having wonderful today in New Jersey, it is in the upper 40s and a sky blue sunny day.  I decided to take advantage of the sun and take some photos of my first jewelry project outside of my jewelry making class.  The classes are free at the library including the components to make jewelry, but thought I should get my own materials to make it at home.  I purchased the March issue of Bead Style as I wanted to make a necklace that had a spring feel.  The photo above is the project from the magazine.  I went to four bead store and did not get the materials recommended in the magazine because they were not available and needed to improvise while still keeping with the spring theme, so the photo below is what I purchased.

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I could not find the leaf beads or the focal component, so I got the jade tear drop beads, and this crystal leaf from Swarovski-Crystallized.  the pendant cost is equal to the rest of the necklace, but cost about under $25.00 to make.  The jade does cost $17.00, but I only eight out of the 45 beads on the strand.  I see a bracelet with the rest of the jade as a companion piece with the necklace.  The only component I am missing to make this necklace is a bail to attach to the pendant to help it lay flat.

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I purchased this magazines this week, and subscribed to Bead Style.  I like both magazines, but Stringing Magazine is my favorite with more projects and list the name of the company where you can purchase the materials if want to make the project in the magazine.  Bead Style is a great reference guide for the beginner

Saturday Coffee 026 I also have other photos that give me inspiration in what I can create.  I purchased Nick Epstein’s “Crochet Flowers and Knitted Flowers” as reference guides to create embellishments for accessories like bags and necklaces.

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Another Nick Epstein book “Knitting in Tuscany”, where there are some beautiful things to knit like the Tuscan sun shawl gracing the cover, and the Bella bride’s dress which is stunning, modern yet timeless.

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I got the latest issue of Inside Crochet because the project on the cover called a Floating Wrap designed by Robyn Chachula.  I read her Crochet by Faye blog and see her on the show Knit and Crochet Today.  Robyn has a sweepstakes of yarns, you can enter by purchasing one of her patterns from March 1 to 31.

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The last thing I am going to mention is Pampered by Adrienne by Adrienne Nixon.  She sells handcrafted soy candles, soaps, body scrubs, and embroidered hand towels.  She has great stuff, so go to her website and check it out and do not forget to sign up for her newsletter.  Well, that’s it for now.  Ciao!

Snowy Day


 

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Today, the area of the country was hit by a snowstorm that dump over 17 inches of snow between 6am yesterday until 1pm today, but we are still under a weather storm warning until 6p Saturday.  Buses were suspended and that prevented me from getting in New York City to work, so I stayed home.  However, I did not let that time go to waste as I slept until 11 am, and managed to start knitting this scarf.  I am using a bulky weight with size 15 needles, and decided to use a seed stitch. Using bulky weight provides a quick knit and I will have a nice scarf to wear coordinate with my charcoal gray coat using one skein.  While knitting, I came up with some ideas on a felted bag that I need to sketch before it leaves my mind forever.  I am going to say Ciao for now and continue with my knitting project and other creative ideas.