Bag Passion and Fabric

I haven’t had the opportunity to purchase a cover for my laptop, and thought it would be better to just to make one.  I picked up a copy of the current issue of Sews News and it happened to have a project for a laptop cover last week, and finally made it to Purl Soho today to get some fabric and wool felt to make the cover.  I making a couple of adjustments to the pattern.  I decided not to use snaps and use Velcro, and not add a strap because the laptop does not leave the apartment.

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According to the instructions, the project should take under an hour to make.  However, I am not sure about the instructions suggesting a yard of fabric to make the cover because I think the fabric is enough to create two laptop covers.  I will see this weekend when I get to work on it.

I wanted to post my first bag purchase I have made in a five years.  Since animal print is the trend for the fall, I decided to get this bag.  I am bringing out my wild side.  Ciao for now.

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Sunday Musings

It’s a cloudy Sunday afternoon, and I spent some time looking through magazine to do an inspirational board.  There are a few things that jump out at me, and I have a Glamour magazine on my desk at work to bring home for the board.  As I was looking through the Marie Claire magazine, I realize how simplistic a like my fashion style and couldn’t agree with Coco Chanel’s sentiment of looking in the mirror before working out the door to take off one accessory as it probably one too many.

I also agree with Chanel that fashion is everywhere.  One of the definition of fashion is the make or form of something, and in that sense fashion can indeed by everywhere.   Inspiration is at the art of fashion, one can be inspired by a shape of a cloud, rain, sun, etc. to create something different.  I get inspiration from many things, looking at a Georgia O’Keefe’s art exhibit, the shape of a leaf, color of a butterfly and think of a way to transform that inspiration into something different.  That translation could be in knitting a leaf inspired scarf or bag.  The interruption of a the leaf does have to be literal, but could be an abstract or essence of the original.

I got a few things a few days ago to further my inspiration.  I picked up copy of Amy Butler’s new knitting pattern booklet from Rowan.  The book is a companion to the new Amy Butler yarn line.  There are some interesting projects to knit and most of the project are easy to knit, and the patterns are in line with the Butler Midwest Modern theme



While picking up the Amy Butler at Purl Soho, I picked up a copy of Octtobre design woman pattern book.  The pattern book is Finland and prints children and women books for the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.  I picked up the book because there are a few things I like to sew particularly the maxi dress and trouser.  Well a version of the maxi dress because I am not feeling the straps.

My last book purchase is Debbie Bliss’ Design It, Knit.  It’s not necessarily a how to guide to knitwear design, but her discusses her process of designing knitting patterns from the construction, color, texture, and shape of the garment.  The book also contains 15 original designer patterns to knit, design workbook with templates and knitters’ graph paper, and a bonus stitch gauge.  It’s a great companion book to Shirley Paden’s “Knitwear Design Workshop” for a comprehensive guide to handknits.  I only wish that I had Debbie Bliss studio because I love the windows in her studio.

I brought some beads a couple of weeks ago and still thinking about what to make from them.  I know I making necklaces, but what to find a focus piece to add to them.  For now, I am going find something else to do until the idea of what to do comes to me.  I am going to say ciao for now.


Some Vintage Inspiration

As I went through my Google Reader list the other day, I read a blog entry from Burda Style and saw a dress that one of the members posted  onto the site.  It was a Butterick pattern 9029 from the 1950s, and it is a classic yet so modern.  The blogger made this dress from linen fabric and it has a long sash that drapes around and ties in the back.   This pattern is not available, but a sewer could make adjustments to an existing pattern with a similar style, and sew a fantastic sash to wrap around the waist.  This dress is also can create a waist and de-emphasized a belly.  In additional, I imagine myself wearing such a dress.  The author choose linen has her fabric, but I can imagine this dress made in a knit, wool gabardine and perhaps silk/linen blend.  I would have to make a necklace and think about more of a scoop neck.  I think the inspiration will can a person many places including making the sleeves three-quarter length.

DSC_3646_largeAnother dress that gives me a couple of ideas came from the online store Mod Cloth.  The dress is no longer on the website, but thought about the interesting cowl neck.  Again, you probably could take a pattern that is similarly close to this dress and create this dress.  The dress could be more tapper at the knees, not add the faux belt, one could add sleeves are leave dress sleeveless, and thinking that perhaps knit is a good fabric choose for the dress.  The buttons can be changed, and could create a brooch.

021809_21_LI just thought I would share these dresses and think out loud how I would make these dresses my own.  Ciao for now as I feel my head nodding.  Time for some slumber.

Mid-Week Musings

I was thinking about my blog post on jewelry making, and certainly will write the post before the week is over.  However, I wanted to post a photo of a necklace made tonight.  This is not my photo of the necklace, but it is a creation from Fusion Beads.  I actually purchased the supplies for this necklace several weeks ago, but I forgot what to do with the materials because I had it in my head that there was something missing.  That was not not the case.  It did take my while to bead this necklace because it called for using 11 and 15 seed beads which are teeny tiny tiny.  I suspect I will need a stronger prescription lenses next year.  The colors are copper findings with brown and purple beads.  It is an easy necklace to make, but it will require some patience due the size of the beads.

Forgotten Necklace 004I picked up a copy of fall issue of Sew Stylish, and found some of the projects in the magazine very interesting.  Designing your handbag caught my eye, and would be open to make that project.  I know faux fur is one of the trends for fall, but I have a thing for handbags.  I really like this bag and made a copy of the pattern supplied in the magazine to make it.  The bag will be cheaper than buying out any store in Soho (New York, NY).

Forgotten Necklace 006 This is a short post tonight because it is late, so I am going to say 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!

Sunday Morning, A Spider, and Jewelry Making/Ideas

While sitting at my computer and finding the words to write this blog, I am little friend just literally drop in between the laptop and me.  A spider.  That’s a right, a little black spider.  I have a spider problem in my apartment and I do know if had anything to do with living around so many trees, but it is bothersome.  I have to make a trip the hardware store and get something for this problem.  What a great way to get your Sunday going with having unwanted guests dropping in on you. 

I am not writing the entire blog about a spider, but wanted to discuss my jewelry project.  There are times when I do my own original creations and times when I see a project from Fusion Beads that are good to make as well.

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I brought the materials to make this necklace weeks ago, but forgot to order the toggle to finish the piece until a couple of weeks ago when I finally purchased one when getting materials for another project.  And you can guess along with the second project, I once again forgot to order another component to the necklace to complete it.  I am having too many senior moments.  Getting back this necklace, it is an easy necklace to make and my first making simple loops for the dangling pieces.  My loops are not perfect because I think I made them too big, but managed to adjust them to make them a little smaller because I did not want the beads to go through the loops.  I am getting requests to make men’s jewelry as one guy said to me men like jewelry as well.  I have to think about using leather cords and more masculine stone beads.

I received the August/September issue of Beadstyle Magazine in the mail a couple of days ago, and became inspired by the cover.

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I like the concept the flower bib, but not everything metal and think it needs some softening.  I am thinking about ribbons and a perhaps some small pearls.  I may not use the open metal flower component and move the bigger flower focal piece more to the other side, but not placing it to the center.  I like the fact that the huge flower is not in the center.  I just see the necklace a little differently than the designer of the piece.  It needs balance and there is too much metal, but cannot deny that her piece has given inspiration to make something of my own.

There are a couple of pieces that inspire me.

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I love the concept, but not feeling the color choices.  I like the bracelet and love the flower focus piece on the necklace.  I am thinking about briolette beads, and may some orange beads, but making a trip to the bead store will help me figure it out.  Now I am going to write my next blog post about more yarn. 

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.


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.


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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What a stupid commercial

I do not know if you are going with me

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!



Summer Eats

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It’s Saturday and I finally had a chance to cook the chicken I purchased last week on sale at Whole Foods.  i cut the chicken into 10 pieces.  I got the 10 pieces by cutting the breasts in half, and have the back in the freezer for stock.  I took the cooking technique from Christopher Kimble of Cooks Illustrated by making a brine for the chicken and allowing it soak over night.  You can also brine the chicken in the salt solution for an hour, and for overnight use less salt.  The brine solution will make the chicken more tender and also adds flavor.  I also added some cornmeal to the flour to make crust crisper along with some thyme, Spanish paprika, cayenne pepper and salt.  I fried the chicken in batches so that pan is not overcrowded because you will not get a crispy crust if the pan is crowded as the chicken will steam and not fry.  I also put a cover over the pan for five minutes so that the inside of the chicken can cook.   I liked the end result, and here is another tip, you can also soak your chicken in buttermilk for a couple hours for a tangy and tender fried chicken.  Fried chicken should take 15 to 18 minutes to cook and remember that your internal temperature should be 165 degrees.  Off I go to enjoy this chicken and some corn on the cob.  Ciao for now!

A Night at the Learning Annex

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We had another day of temperatures over 102 degrees, and the current temperature is 93 degrees at 11:18p.  I got home about 30 minutes ago after attending a learning seminar at the Learning Annex in New York City.  The Learning Annex is an organization that produces classes, lectures, seminars, and workshops for adults.  They are generally two-hour classes or lectures with professionals in his or her field.  I signed up for a class on how to be an event planner with David Tutura of My Fair Wedding on The We Channel.  I have to say that he is just a personable live as on the show.  I have to say that I really liked him.  He did have a Power Point presentation, but the conversation was lively and interesting that he did not get to it.  He answered a lot of questions from people in the audience which consisted of more than 500 hundred.  David also autographed his new book “The Big White Book of Weddings – A How – to Guide for the Savvy, Stylish Bride, and stayed to sign the book until the last person in line.  It also posed for photographs.  This was taken on my camera phone, and my hair is a mess as it was curly this morning but the humidity had other plans.  I can be grateful that my hair did not get to frizzy, but tomorrow I will be carrying my Garnier curl sculpting spray. 

David had great stories about Joan Rivers and the brides from the show and how he is really grateful for the opportunity of helping these women with having their dream weddings because they deserve it.  I could have listen him to talk all night, but we only had two hours.  This is probably the highlight of my week and I am going to ride this wave with new energy and inspiration that I can do anything want want as long as I have passion and doing it for the right reasons.  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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Another Hobby and is Nesting a Bad Thing

I mentioned in my previous post entertaining the idea of canning some produce from this summer after reading the Whole Living article gave me the inspiration to can and preserve. It goes to the idea of being green by not wasting food, becoming more self-sufficient (a more powerful word to me than independent), and having control over what goes into my food. The idea of canning and preserving really entered into my mind after reading another article in the August issue of Eating Well with recipes two brines and eleven pickles to try. The pickle from the Eating Well is for refrigeration for up to a month, but canning would the process to use for pickled foods that can last up to a year without refrigeration. So today after coming home from work, I walked to Ace Hardware store (it is about three blocks from where I live) and purchased a dozen one-pint Ball canning jars. Upon asking the sales associates about the canning jars, she asked me if I was from the South and I told her no, but my parents are from there. She mentioned not many people up north (technically, New Jersey is a border state and there are parts of South Jersey that painfully remains of scenes from the movie Deliverance, but I digress). However, I think with the DIY movement in the country brought on the resurgence of knitting and sewing, the idea of conserving by canning and preserving, and baking bread (which is cheaper than buying a loaf from the store); this recession has gotten people re-prioritizing their values about what is important, and the reality is saving money is a part of that value.

I went to the bookstore a couple of days ago and finally picked up a copy of "How to Sew a Button" by Erin Bried. The book has a chock full of information for being a more self-sufficient like our grandmothers and mothers were before technology came along. The book covers everything from how to make blueberry pancakes to shining shoes to entertaining. She has a section in the book of how to make your own beer explaining that the process of beer making is simple to do and a kit should cost around $65.00. I am interested in how to make a good vodka martini (I hate gin). The book has good information and a joy to read because there are some funny moments along with the instructions. More importantly, the book is about having more control over your life and who does not want that.

The last thing I am going to mention is that I signed up for a class that celebrity event/wedding planning David Tutura from "My Fair Wedding" is teaching "How to Become an Event Planner". I am looking forward to attending the class this coming Tuesday. I do not know if I want to become an event planner, but within my job responsibilities, I work three to four events a year and think improving on that skill will help me in the long run. I am going to stop blogging for the evening and enjoy this cool summer breeze coming through my window with a good night sleep. Ciao for now!

Sunday Afternoon and Learning about Canning

I wrote in my previous post that I was entertaining the idea of canning and preserving food after inspiration from Whole Living’s July/August issue. I was thinking something along the lines of peaches, plums, tomatoes, and maybe my own fruit jam. This idea also made dig up my copy of "Canning and Preserving for Dummies" for more detailed instruction of how to can and preserve. The article does give three different canning and preserving recipes, one of which is sour pickles. I am interested in canning tomatoes and making plum jam. The cost for the canning and preserving supplies is between $40 – $80 for a complete boiling-water canning set including the boiling-water canner or similarly deep pot in way of lobster size. You can get the supplies at hardware stores, supermarkets, or or It is good to note that jars can be reuse, but the flat lids are one-time use only. I think it is great that you can give your preserves as gifts. I am going to make a trip to Ace Hardware store that is about three blocks away for my apartment (love having stores within walking distance) to see if they the canning supplies I need. Of course, making a trip to the farmer’s market for tomatoes, and plums is forthcoming. It is good to keep in mind that before using the jars, you need to sterilize them in hot water even purchasing them for the first time. If you have a dishwasher with a sterilizer component, then you are good to go, if not, having a deep pot of boiling water will work just as well. This is my little lesson in canning, but have more to learn and finding how easy it is do. It is a bit time-consuming and does take up space on your counter, but it is worth doing because you have control of what you are eating and it is great to have tomatoes during the winter months to make sauces and soups.

There are other methods of canning and preserving, but I think the boiling-water method Is the one for me at the moment. There are the drying and freezing methods I probably will learn later on down the line, but I am going to start growing herb inside my apartment. I am going to start out with growing basil, thyme, and rosemary for starters, then branch out with growing parsley and sage if I am successful with growing the first three and if I have enough space on my windowsill. There are many things to do with so little time in which to do them. Ciao for now!

Vacation Season Almost Over

I am coming toward the end of my vacation, and have to say that I end enjoyed have this time off to relax, reflect, and relate. I had the opportunity to visit the King Tut exhibit, making jewelry, and managed to get in some knitting. I also managed to get some wedding shows and one of the shows I really enjoy watching is “My Fair Wedding” with David Tutura on the We Channel because he manages to take a bride’s wedding off the wall concept and it into a beautiful event. One my favorite episode is the woman who wanted to have candy as a theme for her wedding who was going to carry a lollipop boutique. My first thought was how in the world was going to toss that boutique because it had to weight anywhere from eight to ten pounds, she could actually hurt someone just by throwing it. I fear of getting a black eye from the lollipop boutique if were to stand in to catch it.

Another interesting show is “Battle of the Wedding Designers” on TLC. I have only seen a couple of episodes, but the concept of the show is a couple will see three different wedding themes from three different wedding designers. The designers have to plan a wedding with the couple’s budget that varies from couple to couple. I like seeing each designer’s conceptualization of the couple’s wedding, and the winning designer goes from conception to reality with the budget, and some have small budgets.

I had some inspiration over my vacation time. I received the July/August issue of Whole Living aka Body and Soul Magazine, and read the article about canning and preserving food. There is a great recipe for pickling pickles, and canning tomatoes (they are actually in a jar), and making plum preserves. I thought about the idea of making peach and plum preserves. I think that would be a good combination, but will make just a sample batch. I probably will do some more on-line research about preserving. I actually have a book “Canning and Preserving for Dummies” in the apartment that came with a book order, strangely, the company sent the wrong book and I just kept it. The magazine also has a very good article on” 50 Ways to Eat Sustainably”, and how it is important to eat food in season making it better for the environment and saving some money at the same time.

My next blog entry will be about a knitting book review, so it is ciao for now.