I've lost my blogging mojo...

…do you know where I left it? Heh. I wish I did, it's been such a long time since I felt good about my blog, although there's nothing particularly wrong with taking a little break. I guess I've just been avoiding the inevitable; I posted last month that I was feeling re-invigorated about my store, when in all reality I was just trying to convince myself of that. It wasn't true, and I feel pretty terrible admitting it. I was obssessing over all of the success I see in the crafty world these days, and psyching myself up to try and put myself in the midst of that competition; when in all reality it's sort of the last thing I want to do right now.

What I really want to do is close up my Etsy store and regroup. I've never found the kind of success I really wanted there, and I just don't have the energy to try and keep up with the pack. Etsy's an interesting place, because you can get swallowed up so easily. 17,000 pages of jewelry?!?!! That's freaking nuts, especially to try and manage while I'm feeling so conflicted these days. I knew the listings for my tree branch earrings weren't perfect, but I'd hoped that I'd sell at least one pair to someone, somewhere. Ugh, and don't even get me started on the tsumami kanzashi flowers.

Add to that, this time of year is absolutely impossible to photograph anything, because the sun sets at 4PM. It still bugs me, the terrible quality of photos I posted last year with the tree branch earrings tutorial. And my birthday falls on the day after the winter solstice, so it's the day after the day with the least amount of light all year… lucky me, eh? Plus, I'm stressing about Christmas stuff, which always happens on my birthday, which always sucks. I hate that my birthday is 3 days before Christmas, it ends up sucking a lot of the fun out of a day that should be fun-filled.

I wish I had something good to finish this post with. Some small, but healing truth to comfort my soul… but I don't. I'm just so tired of feeling this way, and I wonder when or whether I'll ever feel good about it again. (I hate spilling all of this here, I'd rather share the happier parts of my life. I just don't know how else to satiate the part of my brain that needs to get this out… my husband is a good sounding board, but I don't ever feel comfortable dumping it all on him. Oy!)


Whiplash November - Yarn Ball Earrings

I wasn't quite sure what to make for Whiplash this round, I'd had a few thoughts - but most of them required more time than I'd allowed myself. What can I say? I like complicated projects, hehe. Anyhoo, when this idea struck, I knew it was magic. How simple, just embroidery floss as "yarn," wound into balls, as earrings.

Yarn Ball Earrings - Ravelry

Well, it proved a little more difficult in practice; but I think the effort was well worth it for the finished effect. All I did was wind the floss around an eyepin, being careful to conceal the end. Making two the same size and shape was the hardest part, it just took a bit of patience. A dot of fabric glue secured the end; then I bent the wire into a loop at the top of the ball and snipped the excess off. A little bit more bending to make it all perfect, and that was really all it took. Easy peasy!

Yarn Ball Earrings

I based the color palette for these on Ravelry's colors, (have I mentioned I got my limited edition Beta t-shirt the other day? I bet I forgot… squeeeeee!) I have the color numbers of the embroidery floss, if anyone is interested - just let me know!


Happy B-day, Coco!


Happy Birthday to my cocker spaniel, Cody! He's 8 today! Can you tell what his favorite activity is? Hehehe.


Tree Branch Earrings - For Sale!!!

I'm very proud to finally offer for sale my Tree Branch earrings! It's taken me much longer to get my act together and build a little inventory than I'd hoped; but I'm happy to finally be ready!

Tree Branch Earrings - Rose SwarovskiTree Branch earrings are offered in two sizes, small and large (less than 2" long, and longer.) They can be customized with any color beads and wire desired, although I'm still trying to find copper colored ear wires that won't discolor skin. Want multiple bead colors? I can do that, too - as well as multiple bead sizes or styles.

Right now I'm using hypoallergenic and sterling silver ear wires, but other metal findings are available upon request. If you have a question I haven't answered here, feel free to contact me via Etsy, or email (Crafty |NOSPACE| Ginger |AT| Gmail |DOT| com.) Custom orders are always welcome, and I really like working on them!

Eventually I'll also get around to using the tree branch wire concept to include more products, but I don't want to give too much away now and spoil the surprise! LOL I have a bunch of ideas, and even a few prototypes in the works already; so keep an eye out for new products!

Lastly, an apology - I've probably mentioned a little bit too much by now, that I was feeling a bit burned out about my store lately. My tsumami kanzashi snaps weren't selling like I wanted, and no matter what I tried, I couldn't seem to pump up sales. So, I took a little break. A few weeks off
(okaaay... maybe a few more than a few!) to clear my head of all that negative thinking. I think I made the right choice, because I'm feeling much better about my store, and where I want to go with it.

What do you do to clear your head when you're feeling stressed? I like bath bombs, but I've been too busy to make any lately! I finally had to hop on the Lush bandwagon, and order some bath bombs. They're certainly more colorful than mine, but I hate having to scrub the tub afterwards!


"Faux" Rhinebeck Loot

I really liked Karrie's sentiment about those of us who didn't get to go to Rhinebeck this year, she's made a contest just for us, and I've offered to donate a prize! So what should I send her, a pair of Tree Branch earrings, tsumami kanzashi flower set w/cashmere ribbon wristlet - or something else entirely? I was thinking it should be fiber-related, and I do have some very nice yarn that I can't ever see myself using… maybe I'll do that. (I should decide & send it out soon, as I was almost late for this without even realizing it! Uh oh!)

Malabrigo Laceweight - Lavanda

Anyhoo, here's my "faux Rhinebeck haul" -
  • 2 skeins of Knit Picks Shimmer in Turquoise Splendor
  • 2 skeins of Malabrigo Laceweight in Lavanda
  • 1 skein of Handmaiden Big Seacell in Glacier
  • 1 skein of Handmaiden 4-Ply Cashmere in Glacier

Knit Picks Shimmer - Turquoise Splendor

I really like the thought of going through one's stash to find "new" gems to get excited about, rather than buying new every time. I know, I know NOT buy new yarn for each project…. Gasp! LOL It's fun to buy the newest yarns on the market, I've totally fallen in love with both bamboo and Seacell this year; but I think there's something really satisfying about using materials that haven't had a purpose previously. The yarn I'm using on My So Called Scarf was bought more than 5 years ago, and it's just been in a bin, moved around from time to time since then.

Ack! I'll try and get the third photo up tomorrow, I lost the light already!


My Hawaii Cruise - Part II

Volcano Caldera - Wide
The volcano caldera was incredibly beautiful (and remember, it's toxic gas!)

The second half of my Hawaii vacation was just as great as the first! Our third port was Hilo - and we took a helicopter tour out to the lava fields. Not less than 3 people working for the tour company told us how much they'd rather be surfing, swimming or just out that day the weather was so nice. Normally that side of the island gets a lot of rain, but we were lucky enough to get sunny most days, and only partially cloudy the rest - no rain (except for the last couple days at sea, on the way back.)

Volcano Caldera over Macadamia Nut FieldsSo, here's the caldera, the opening that the sulfuric gas seeps out of. Boy, it was hard to photograph because it was such a bright white. I wish I knew more about my camera settings, so that I could've compensated for that more. I got more good shots of the smoke than I thought, though. This one (to the left) is my favorite; we were pretty far out yet, and I got the macadamia nut fields in the foreground with the caldera in the back. They line the nut fields with those taller trees to help break the wind, so they get better crops. I thought they were cool, all square & perfect compared to the rest of nature's organic shapes.

Lake of Lava
Lake of lava, shaded by a very convienent cloud.

River of LavaHere's the lava, and boy was it flowing that day! (We took the tour Sat. Oct 13th.) We got to see lots of red lava, and I even got some good pictures of it! The movement of the helicopter made it difficult, and a few came out blurry - but overall I'm happy with the pictures. We also bought the dvd of our tour, and when we were re-watching it I caught some vulcanologists walking along the active fronts! Talk about scary! (The quality wasn't super great, but I can try and get a screencap if anybody's interested!)

Later that day, we also went to a tropical botanical garden. It had this horrible ramp down into the park, and then back up out (at the beginning and end,) that really did a number on my knees; but I enjoyed the walk around anyway. Thank goodness our tour guide recommended the insect repellent - only my husband got bitten, and it was only once. Mosquitoes love the taste of me, so I was pleasantly surprised to come out unscathed. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous... they came in all sorts of tropical variations, and all colors. The orchids were by far my favorites, although I didn't see any cymbidiums that I recognized.

Botanical Garden - Orchid
Aren't they amazing? I love the confetti spots!

The next day we went to Honolulu, and my wonderful husband found me a fabric store! I just couldn't leave Hawaii without Hawaiian fabric, (and a pattern for my own Hawaiian quilt!) and even though I got a lot, it was so cheap! After that we walked along Waikiki Beach, and it was so nice to walk along the water. The sun was very bright and the tide felt so nice. I'm glad I picked up a new pair of aquatic sandals before we left, I wouldn't have been able to walk so far barefoot - it was fairly rocky with only broken shells and coral.

Waikiki Beach - Diamond Head
Diamond Head over Waikiki Beach.

After that we went to June's Gelato, which tickled me pink since I thought gelato was a mostly European treat. Vanilla bean might sound plain, but it hit the spot after a fairly long walk along the beach. We were in Honolulu until 1AM, but we didn't bother trying to do anything else, I was pretty tired after 5 port days in a row. Normally I like a couple days at sea to recharge a little.

Honolulu Pier
The gelato place was towards the left, and the ship is on the right.

About a day out the sea from Honolulu, we found out there was a medical emergency on the ship, and that we'd have to turn around and go back. Fortunately, the passenger made it to the hospital in Honolulu, and was doing well; but it put us a whole day behind schedule. We charged back over the Pacific, at over 24kts (which is really fast for a giant cruise ship!)

If you're interested, check out my flickr collection for more of my vacation photos! Thanks for looking!


My Hawaii Cruise - Part I

The vacation started out a bit rocky, as we found out at the airport that there was technical problems with the plane we had tickets on, and were put on standby (along with 50 other people.) Then the lady at United's customer service found us flights through Los Angeles to San Diego, so I was relatively relieved. But later, when we got into LAX, we found out that American Eagle's terminal was not connected to the rest, and we'd have to take a shuttle… oy. So we did that, but then my husband realized he'd left his phone at security; so he had to take the shuttle back to the main terminal, pick up his phone, and catch the next shuttle back to me. By then, I was seriously worried that we'd miss the 2:05 flight; but we ended up making it, and got on the ship about 4pm. (Just fyi, if we'd missed that flight there was a good chance we'd miss the ship and have to take the 6+ hour flight to Hawaii to catch up with it.)

San Diego - Sail Away
Sailing out of San Diego.

After all that, it was a pretty great vacation. The seas outside California were particularly rough, but overall I think the Pacific ocean was much calmer than the Atlantic, (I did a transatlantic cruise a couple years back, and it was really rough.) It took 5 days at sea to get to Hawaii, but I'd much rather do it that way than on a plane. Can you tell how I feel about commercial air traffic yet? Heh. I got a new haircut, and my first hot stones massage on the first couple at sea days; and they were awesome. I can't tell you how amazing it was to stare out at the sea while I was stressing about my hair, another story for another day, but sufficed to say my new 'do rocks! (Think Dr. Reed from Scrubs, lots of long layers and long swoopy bangs to the right. I'm a strawberry blonde, though.)

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm
My fingers were so-so "coral," this seahorse left me after a minute or so.

We visited Kailua Kona, Hawaii first and went on a tour of a seahorse farm. It was super hot, and I got super sweaty, but it was a really fun experience. The little suckers are so amazing. They sort of fly through the water, like little submarines surfacing and diving with little fins on their back for forward propulsion, they move them really fast, though. I must admit, I've never wanted an aquarium before… but having a seahorse wrapped around my finger made me want one of my own. Both soft and strong, it felt a little strange but cool too! I've heard saltwater tanks are hard to keep up, though. I'll just have to buy Hansi's pattern, I guess!!! (Aren't her patterns incredible!?!?!?!)

Serenade of the Seas, at Sunset
Isn't this a great picture? My husband shot this one of our ship, the Serenade of the Seas.

Later that day we went on an evening cocktail cruise, which was really beautiful. We went up & down the Kona coast at sunset; although my husband and I kept joking about how we'd never get back to the ship in time for departure, it seemed like we were going so slowly on the way back. We were about 20 minutes late getting back, but didn't miss the ship - thank goodness! I should've known better, though - they don't serve very good liquors on those boats, and I really like the top shelf stuff (Chambord, vanilla Absolut, Grey Goose or Ketel One vodkas.)

Lahaina, Maui - Morning
The scenery of Maui was breath-taking!

Next up was Lahaina, Maui and I must admit that I was most taken with the scenery of Maui. Spectacular valleys, slicing through the tallest island I think I've seen… it was simply amazing. We did another tour there, and went to the Iao Needle park, a tropical plantation and the Maui Ocean Center. I have to sadly report that my camera battery died before the Ocean Center, so I don't have any pictures of it; but it was amazing. So many salt water species, we saw tons of different fish, enormous manta rays and a tiger shark, jellyfish, sea turtles, eels and so much more.

Iao Needle Cinder Cone
Iao Needle (on the left,) is a 1,200ft cinder cone, and really stunning if I do say so myself.

Tropical Plantation, MauiI did get a few pictures from the tropical plantation, we took a tram tour there and I got the most amazing plumeria lei. It was so fresh, it really cooled the back of my neck off from the heat of the sun. I'm so glad I got it because I'm really not into the plastic ones. Too cheesy for my taste! Here's a scenic view from the plantation. At the state park we saw kids jumping off from a bridge into a pool below, about 20 feet or so. (I'll try and get that pic in my Flickr set.) The water was so cool & refreshing though, I stuck my feet in at a shallow spot. The path loops around the park, and it's a great mixture of scenic heights and shady paths. It all smelled so incredible, hibiscus and plumeria (and more, I'm sure!)

Lahaina, Maui - Afternoon
Maui in the afternoon, and our killer balcony!

Next up, I'll share the second two ports, Hilo and Honolulu, and the last few San Diego pics. Stay tuned, because we took a helicopter tour over the lava fields, went to a botanical garden and walked along Waikiki beach. (Oh yes, and then there's all that fabric I teased you about, I'll share that, too! :D )

Thanks so much everyone who's been reading & commenting lately, I know I haven't been very crafty (except for knitting,) and I feel rather bad for it. I was so blown away with the amount of quality content in the 2 weeks I was gone; and I must also apologize for not being able to comment on as many as I'd like. After going through almost 500 posts, I just didn't have the energy to hit "post comment" a hundred times. I'm really trying to work on that, and I look forward to stopping by all of your pages to leave you sweet thoughts and kind words. Thanks again!


WIPwed - Nightshade MSCS

I had really high hopes of posting about my vacation today, but I haven't gotten all of the pictures organized yet; and I think it's going to be so long it'll need to be broken up into two posts. Sorry to go all Tarantino after the first Kill Bill on you!

Nightshade My So Called Scarf WIP

So I thought I'd snap a few quickie pics of the progress I've made on My So Called Scarf. I didn't work on it a lot on vacation, but I managed to get it to over a foot. And the colors, oh my… they're working up beautifully. I keep wondering how I let this yarn languish in my stash so long, and the only thing I can come up with it that it was meant for this pattern. Hehehe.

Nightshade My So Called Scarf WIP - DetailJudging from the look of it, I originally thought it would be a fairly complex stitch pattern; but as it turns out - it's actually pretty easy! I just have to be careful not to knit too tightly. The different colors are just interesting enough to keep me going on this one, it's funny how the Knitting Daily emails have started covering "Why UFO's stay UFO's?" It's a very interesting concept, to examine why something I was so excited to start lays languishing on the needles for such a long time. Maybe I should save those thoughts for another day! (This one isn't languishing, but I have several other that are.)


I'm Back!

Whew! After a ridiculously long travel day yesterday, I'm back home from Hawaii. Actually, both travel days were pretty bad, as there was problems both getting to San Diego from Chicago, and back home. I thought getting there was worse, but on the way back we had a medical emergency on the cruise ship, and had to turn back for Honolulu a day after we'd left; and it made appx. 2250 passengers 6 hours late debarking the ship. Truth be told - it was ok, normally they kick us off at some ungodly hour of the morning, but this time we got to stay in our balcony cabin until it was almost time to leave the ship.

Now, I just have to do something about those 465 posts in my rss reader, and about 130 emails. Heh. Oh, and over 800 pictures. I think they definitely call for a larger Flickr account, right now mine will only display the most recent 200. I can't wait to share all of the fun I had on vacation!

ETA: Oops! I almost forgot... I also picked up 15 yds of hawaiian print fabric! And, it was dirt cheap at 2.99$ p/yd. My poor husband carried it all along Waikiki beach for me, isn't that so sweet?!?! I can't wait to start making skirts! LOL


FO - Lilac Everlasting Bagstopper

When I decided that Stargazer wasn't the project to bring with on my vacation, I thought that finishing something that had lain languishing might make me feel good. Boy, I had no idea how good! Even though I'd only let it sit about a month, it was great to get back to work on a reusable shopping bag, especially since I'm sure to do some shopping in Hawaii! (This is the Everlasting Bagstopper from this summer's Knitty.)

FO - Everlasting Bagstopper - Handle Detail

I worked the lace pattern to 12" unstretched instead of 10", and only did 7 rows of garter in the round at the top before binding off. I decided to use an I-cord handle, but wanted it to hold the bag a bit more balanced - in case I want to carry anything larger - so I split it for the 3" closest to the bag. The total strap length is 20" - long enough to put over my shoulder, but short enough so it won't drag on the ground if I carry it in hand.

FO - Everlasting Bagstopper

FO - Everlasting Bagstopper - FoldedIt folds up neatly, and the handle is the perfect length to keep it that way. I'm pretty happy with the finished look, but I hope I don't have any problems with yarn tails poking out. Splicing the second ball of hemp in was the toughest join ever; normally I like to use a Russian join, but it didn't come out looking nearly as neat & clean here as it normally does. Oh, well… I'm off to Hawaii tomorrow! :D


WIPwed - Nightshade My So Called Scarf

After I saw Alice's My So Called Scarf, I knew I had to make one for myself. I had originally thought I'd use a bit of leftover Malabrigo worsted merino; but I had less than one skein and it just didn't feel right for this project.

WIP Nightshade - My So Called Scarf

Then, earlier this week I realized I had the perfect yarn for it in my stash already - Colinette Mezzotint in this awesome nightshade colorway. It's not as soft as the Malabrigo would have been, but I doubt I could ever find a pattern better suited to showing off this yarn's spectacular colors.

Colinette MezzotintSimply put, they're gorgeous! Teals, blues and purples swirl with bits of green and a fair bit of grey mixed in - the finished object will look stunning with my new grey wool peacoat. (I'll try and get a pic of that soon, too - but no promises, I'm gone on Friday!)

Now, I'm flaking on my needle size choice, and wondering if I should frog it and restart with larger needles. I started with 10.5's and now I'm thinking I need to go up to 13's. Hhmmmph.


Yakuza Moon - Review

Between the title and the cover photo, I knew I wanted to read Yakuza Moon when I first read about it on Reuters. The article was brief, but the author's tattoo instantly intrigued me - I had to know more. I picked it up for my upcoming Hawaii vacation, but alas, I couldn't resist it; and ended up finishing it in two days. It's about 190 pages, but it was so compelling I just could not put it down. It was written in Japanese and translated, which makes me wonder if there was contextual or cultural references that might not be apparent; but it didn't make it any less enjoyable. In fact, if anything I'm more intrigued about the author after having read it, in that I want to know more about her present life (as the book is more about her past.)

I'll give one caveat though, it's a fairly graphic representation of her life as the daughter of a yakuza boss. She spares little details about her abusive boyfriends and teenage drug usage, and if that bothers you - this might not be the book for you. For me though, it was a window to a world I had no previous knowledge of. I've never experienced the violence Tendo went through, but I've certainly felt isolated and alone; I've certainly been bullied, and manipulated (though again, not to the same extent.)

No matter who you are, it can be so tough to find who you are and where your happiness is. This book is about Shoko Tendo's search for herself, within the midst of the circumstances she was born into. I'm so glad I read it, and I highly recommend it. I think everybody struggles with their identity, the real tricky part is never letting go of who you are, no matter what that is - and especially no matter what people might say about you.


I'm going to Hawaii...

...next week! I can hardly believe it! But, I really had such high hopes for posting more regularly this week. See, I have a lot of it already written, I've just been procrastinating the photo shoots. I know I need to set up some lighting, I rely on the sun right now (and I'm sure I've said it before,) but Chicago isn't that sunny - even in summer. Actually, this summer was much sunnier than last; but it was so overcast and rainy. Plus, I'm not that good at balancing priorities - especially when there's more than one important thing to juggle.

Since I'm going to be on a cruise to Hawaii for 2 weeks, I needed to pick up some fancy clothing. It's really been preoccupying my brain lately, because I don't generally get dressed up that much anymore. I can't believe how much work shopping is, especially when it's not the season you're shopping for (I was looking for spring/summer tops & skirts, and it's all fall stuff - darker colors and much heavier textures.) Oy! I did find some really great stuff, but all of the mall-hopping and walking really did me in. I'm glad my vacation's in a week, I need it! Hehehe.

I'm glad to report that I also got a fair bit of Christmas shopping done, and I'm so glad! Since my birthday is so close (3 days before,) I always end up stressed out - and who wants that for their birthday? I started a few months ago with what's turning out to be one of the only handmade gifts I'll be giving this year. It was a big project, and it's been tough not to spill the beans here, but the recipient is watching! LOL


Science Fiction Favorites

I've been reading science fiction books for over a decade, but it recently occurred to me that I haven't shared that many of my favorites on my blog. It's always been one of my greatest interests, the realm of sci-fi and the future.

Although I'm not certain, I believe it all started with Yevgeny Zamyatin's WE. I had to write a report on it in high school, and it really sparked my imagination for all things forward thinking. In it, the protagonist takes a journey from conforming citizen of the republic, to free thinking individual, despite the fact that he doesn't fully understand his new self. There were many lessons in it, but the one I appreciated most was to not let society tell you who you are. Only you can define that for yourself. Don't be just a number, D-503!

One of the next highlights that sticks out in my memory is Dreaming Metal, by Melissa Scott. It absolutely captured my imagination with it's thoughtful insights into how a society might deal with the personal rights of an emerging artificial intelligence, as well as it's detailed description of that society. I love in-depth details because they help me paint a virtual world in my mind's eye. And, I really enjoy "seeing" the plot unfold inside the world I've created. Call me weird, but it's why I mostly prefer books to tv or movies, although I do watch a fair bit of both.

Next up on my tour of scifi is Alfred Bester, although I have so many favorites of his it's hard to point to just one. I started with Psychoshop, and then read Virtual Unrealities (a series of short stories.) I absolutely loved them both. Even though Bester's work is half a century old, I found it to be so brilliantly funny and bold, it reads much better than a lot of more recent work (IMHO.) I fly through his books, and am dying to get my hands on older printing of any of them! Hahaha! I should also mention that Bester's The Demolished Man won the very first Hugo award for exceptional science fiction in 1953. No other way to say it, this man's work is classic!

Another great one is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It's a chilling portrait of what Huxely though the future might be, and it's a little scary how close to home this dystopia strikes now. People on drugs to keep them happy, caste-like class systems and a society totally devoted to their own distraction, Huxley says it all -
Remember, brute force is not the only method an oligarchy can use to influence, manage, and finally control our hard-won freedoms and liberties; it can be done with over-indulgence and the deliberate fertilization and promulgation of apathy through self-absorption, as well.
I can't finish this post without mentioning a few others I really enjoy (in no particular order) -
What's your favorite genre? What books do you love? What can you reread a hundred times and not be sick of? Or am I just a nutty whackadoo? Hehehe. I know I am, and I suspect some of you reading this might be too - although, you know... in a good way! ;)


Life's a Beach!

For a while, I've wanted to add more easy project tutorials here - but I've really fallen short of that goal this year. Life gets in the way of our best laid plans, but it's easier to go with the flow than to try and swim against the current, right? With that in mind, I designed these beach candlescapes. They can be used for special occasions, everyday home décor - or just to get a slice of the beach in a busy, busy world. (I'm sure you could do even more with them, and I'd love to see what you guys come up with!)

  • Glass container(s)
  • Sand, any desired color
  • Seashells
  • Candle(s)
Start by cleaning your glass container(s,) inside and out. Fill with sand, between 1/5 and 1/3 of the container's height. This is just a guideline, feel free to play around with what makes you happy about your beach! Use as little or as much as pleases you with your container & sand combination.

I knew that I wouldn't have very much extra space around my votive candle, so I used the smallest seashells I had, and placed them around the edge of the container - sort of rocking them into the sand a bit. Once again, play around with the shell sizes and colors that you like most; and don't feel bad if you change your mind later, the materials (except the candle if you've used it up,) can all be reused!

Once you're happy with the placement of the shells, add the candle. I needed to clean my container up at this point, I got fingerprints all over it! LOL If you don't use glass cleaner, a bit of rubbing alcohol on a rag will do the trick, too. Light your candle, being careful not to burn your fingers, and enjoy!

The sand and tall container would also be great as an incense holder. Although, I'm sure you crafty lads & lasses will come up with even more uses, and I'd love to see them!!!


WIP Wednesday - Glacier Geometric Scarf

Ever since I picked up this cashmere yarn at Knitche, I've been really trying to come up with what I wanted to make with it. I kept hoping it'd be something other than a scarf, but when I was flipping through my knit inspiration binder, I came across the pattern for this Geometric scarf. I spent another few days trying to fool myself into thinking it would not be; but I was wrong, and I just couldn't get it out of my brain.

Glacier Geometric Scarf - WIP

So, start-itis set in and I cast on for it. At first, I started with 40 sts; the yarn I'm using is significantly heavier weight than the Koigu Merino the pattern calls for, so I guessed. Well, once I got to the termination of the purl to knit rib transitions I realized I needed another 2 sts to make the pattern work. It was painful to rip cashmere back, but I think it was worth it, because I'm really pleased with how it's knitting up. Well, except for one of the edges - my tension seems to be really wonky and I can't seem to get it right. The color play is what really distracts me form any flaws, though! It's gorgeous, and I'm really enjoying working on it!

Glacier Geometric Scarf - Detail

Ginger Ginger just couldn't resist joining the photoshoot fun, but I'm glad I finally got a good picture of her gorgeous brown eyes! They're hard to capture, and most of the time I end up having to photoshop the red eyed pupils out, too!

Good Girl!


The New & Improved Modern Home

It used to be, when you described a home's décor as being "modern" you might have also inferred some more negative connotations, like sparse, cold or impersonal. Stark spaces, with minimal amounts of furniture and dressings, even though the rooms might be very large.

Modern Home

Nowadays, modern home décor is taking a turn for the diverse, and I absolutely love the trend. Modern doesn't have to be anything you don't want it to be. This kind of thinking might be different for some people, but for your personal style - you should be able to take the attributes you like about different kinds of style, and incorporate them into a design that satisfies you completely. For some that might just be French country, with no other influences. But for more and more people, and the commercial market is picking up on this trend, modern means what they want it to, and not anything they don't. Warm colors are being mixed with cool metals, and modern spaces are filled with useful accessories and pops of color - a collection of vases grouped together, instead of just one.

Modern can be so many things, even cozy! It doesn't have to be spare and completely geometric with only clean, straight lines. I love adding organic elements to modern design, to me, they make it even more fresh. Undulating lines work beautifully with clean straight ones; they contrast in such a way that makes them both more interesting to look at. And, they don't compete with each other the way some modern design can, they're supposed to be different!

Color palettes are getting more complex each season, home dec designers are trying bold new colors together in exciting ways, and many different textures are popping up in unexpected ways. Monochromatic rooms are even gaining more popularity, and the tones and textures that are so crucial to actually pulling off such a bold design choice are becoming more available everywhere.

I like to chalk this brave new world of home décor up to curiosity. It might have killed the cat, but how can you ever know for sure what you think or feel about design until you start experimenting with what works for you? You can't! And, lots of designers and retailers catering to wildly varied design appetites means lots of options to choose from. How awesome, right?

What does modern mean to you? How would you describe your home décor style as? And, would or do you incorporate modern elements? What makes it your style? (Sorry for the barrage, I've had home design on the brain for a few weeks, and I'm really interested in other people's perspectives!)


Hidden Treasure!

I just found the greatest show on the Travel channel yesterday, called Hidden Markets with Marisa Tomei. She travels to different cities, and visits local markets finding all sorts of wonderful treasures. I must confess, this show speaks to my greatest loves - travel and shopping! I wish I had found more souvenirs to pick up on my honeymoon in Europe, we went through several markets in Barcelona, Marbella and Nice. We also went to this wonderful medieval village in southern France, called Èze; but the shop owners were so frigid! I tried to give my best Bon Jour, but was barely greeted most places. Eh, the other market people were very friendly and forgiving of my lack of French and Spanish.

I'm really looking forward to shopping some local markets on my upcoming trip to Hawaii. I'll be hitting Maui, Kailua Kona, Hilo and Honolulu and although I am interested in doing some of the standard tourist stuff, I would love to get a chance to see the local crafts in person - like quilting! As well as local markets, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be really grateful! I'm also hoping to find some local yarn or fabric - anything crafty, really!



This is another rant, I'm sorry it's not timed a little better!

I just needed to vent a little about the contests in Blog-land… See, I enter them every time I see one, and keep hoping I'm going to win something. Even just to win would be great, I don't ever win anything, except maybe an occasional Ebay auction.

So when there seemed to be about a dozen contests for the new book, Craft, Inc. - I thought for sure I'd snag a copy. After all, most people holding drawings for it had multiple copies; my chances had to be better than zero, right?

Nope, nah, and forgettaboutit jump to mind, because even though I've lost count of how many contests I've entered, I haven't won a single one. Not a pat on the back even, and I'm sure I can't be the only one. There are so many contests out there, and there ends up being so many entries; that I basically think I don't have a shot in Hell. It's a little frustrating, to see so much giveaway love around, and not feel a part of it. I know that means I should try harder; but it's tough to bother entering sometimes, when I think I have no chance at winning.

This seems like such a childish rant, but I can't be the only one who feels left out sometimes. That's universal, or at least I'd like to believe it is...


FO - Prime Stripes Crocheted Scarf

Prime Stripes Crochet Scarf - Twisty!I've wanted to pick up crochet for quite some time now. I actually used to know how when I was younger, but had lost the knowledge somewhere along the way. I can remember chaining red and green garlands for Christmas trees, but don't really know if I ever did more with it. (I had really wanted to snap pics of this yesterday, and completely forgot. I figure if the post is up but missing pictures, I may have enough motivation to get them snapped and posted before the end of the week. Have I mentioned lately what a terrible blogger I am?!? LOL)

Anyhoo, one of my very best blog-buddies, June has released some seriously awesome amigurumi patterns this year; and I knew I had to learn to crochet so I could make them. She makes such cuties, and is so creative with each new pattern - I really admire your consistency, June - you ROCK! LOL

Prime Stripes Crochet Scarf - DetailI knew I'd need to start with something simple, and I've had grey and purple on my brain for a few weeks now. I had some oddballs of yarn that I thought might be perfect for this, and I'm really pleased with the combination. The purple yarn is Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK, and I'm not sure what the other two are. I'm guessing the cream is a merino wool, and the grey might be a wool & cotton blend; but I don't really know for sure. I think my sister gave them to me when I first moved into my house - about 4 1/2 years ago! (No ball bands for these mystery yarns, unfortunately.)

I started with the Stripes Forever pattern from the Happy Hooker book, and heavily modified it. See, I have this utter obsession with prime numbers… they're universal, constant and yet infinite. Something about a number that's not dividable really fascinates me, and I knew I wanted to incorporate prime numbers in this design.

Prime Stripes Crochet Scarf - Curly EndsI changed the number of foundation chain stitches from 300 to 317, and altered the stripe variation to only use primes, and end with a prime total of rows (19 instead of 18.) The fringe was supposed to be 7" long, but I might trim it up to 5" since it's so uneven. I was a little suprised by how much the finished fabric curls. From what I read, it's the nature of the single crochet stitch; but I'm really hoping I can remedy the curling with a good blocking. Since I'm not sure what the yarn content is, I think I need to wet-block first and steam-block as a last resort; so we'll just have to wait & see how that goes.

Now, I think I'm ready to tackle some of June's fuzzy friends, it's just a matter of choosing which one?!?!?! Fuzzy penguin, monkey, kitty or lamb - I'm leaning towards the lamb since I probably wouldn't have to buy yarn for it. I've got 2 balls of black fizzy eyelash, as well as a few extra balls of black Microspun hanging around (although it's splitty as hell, so who knows whether or not it would crochet well.) I can't wait to make my first amigurumi, they're so adorable!!!


How I spent my Labor Day weekend*...

*Also Known As - I HATE dhl and bluefly! (Angry rant w/ no craftiness!)

Someone had a much better day than me on Friday. Someone got a gorgeous cyan silk jersey convertible dress from bluefly. Someone got MY dress from bluefly, and I had the worst day ever.

See, I ordered said dress the weekend before last, and was tracking the package though dhl's website. They said it would be here on Friday, Aug 31. So, the day finally comes, and I check the tracking page again. It said delivered, and I was ecstatic to check my doorstep. And then my heart dropped, because it wasn't there. The delivery driver had marked it, "Left at front door" to my address, and it wasn't there. I started to freak out….

So I called bluefly, and they asked if it was behind a bush. I thought that was hilarious, because the delivery drivers around here don't bother hiding packages. If it wasn't on my step, it wasn't here. That's it, not hiding on my property, not anywhere up or down my street in fact (my sweet husband checked.) Then, the girl told me that they had one left, and I could purchase it, while they figured out what happened to the first one. That's right folks, she recommended I purchase ANOTHER dress, even though the first had failed to be delivered properly.

Meanwhile, I called dhl, and they paged the driver. Of course, his reaction was that he left it on the front door step. Obviously not - I was home all fricken day! So they tried to page him again, after he was supposed to return to my address; and the asshole had gone home for the day. Of course, it was Labor day, and everyone and their brother just wanted to get home for the long weekend.

Whoever you are who got my dress, I bet you had the best day of your life on Friday… a free 200$ silk jersey dress out of nowhere - but you cost me the worst day I can remember, as well as the cutest dress I could've found before my Hawaii trip. I still can't believe how badly bluefly's treated me, and I'm shocked at dhl's performance, too. Caveat Emptor I guess… but it gives me little comfort right now. Oy.

ETA: Bluefly has now promised to ship another dress via dhl at no cost to me. Can you guess how much faith I have in them actually getting it here???


WIP Wednesday - Stargazer Kimono Sweater

I really liked this sweater when I first saw the pattern, but I was not feeling the Red Heart 100% acrylic yarn that it called for. Plus the author made her own ribbon yarn for the sash; and while I can admire her clout - just couldn't be bothered to make my own yarn for this, especially when I found a suitable bamboo tape yarn to substitute. (Sirdar Just Bamboo, in Lotus white - I bought an extra ball so I could lengthen the sash slightly, to 3".)

Stargazer WIP - Sleeve

I'm planning on avoiding as much of the seaming as possible, as it's my least favorite knitting related activity. I knit as much of the sleeve as I could in the round, and I'll pick up along the split edge for the bodice; first the "sash" in white bamboo (seed st,) then the ribbed lower body in the main color again. If I can manage it so I only have ends to weave in to finish, I'll be a happy camper!!!

This is Sirdar Snuggly DK in 398 Soft Mint, on size 6 needles. Surprisingly, I only went up one needle size to get the pattern's reccomended gauge; so I was pleased. Normally it's 2, and sometimes it's 3 or more!

Stargazer WIP - Detail

I sorta have a beef with this yarn though… so far, each ball has a very strange defect. Between 1/8th and 1/5th of the way into winding center pull balls (from the outside,) the strand was cut. It just ended, but it was a clean break - not like the yarn had been pulled apart. I was so baffled for the first and second balls, that I could barely believe my strand wasn't knotted to the adjoining end, or had obviously split from it. Now, I'm keeping track of it, and will have another update once I wind the rest of it. Ugh. I may write Sirdar about it, splicing in all of those extra ends (if I end up needing to, cross my fingers I don't!) is going to be a bitch.



Since I missed Stitches this year, I decided I wanted to go to Knitche to check out their selection of Handmaiden Sea Silk yarn. I haven't been able to find it near me, so I met my sister there, and we did lunch afterwards. I was hoping to find the Capri colorway, light aquas with lilacs & some deeper purples; but they didn't have it.

Handmaiden Great Big Seasilk

I settled for one skein of Great Big Sea Silk in the Glacier colorway, and fell in love with some super soft 4 ply cashmere (also by Handmaiden, and in Glacier as well.) I didn't know what I wanted to make with it though, so I picked up 3 skeins so it would work for a variety of knitted objects. Admittedly, I spent more than I was planning - but the cashmere is to-die-for amazing; and I just couldn't resist it! LOL

Handmaiden 4 Ply Cashmere

I also got a wonderful lace-weight from Prism, the colors are different for me but they're absolutely gorgeous! It reminded me of Padme's lake gown from the second Star Wars, dip-dyed chiffon that flowed from yellow to pink and then a light purple. This yarn has some peach in it as well, but the shades are so delicate and yummy! I didn't have a project in mind for this yarn either, but at 1460yds, I doubt I'll run into any problems with having too little yardage. (I wanted to picture this as well, but couldn't get the colors right after correcting.) Please excuse the poor lighting of these photos, I was waiting all weekend for the sun to come out, and it's just been rainy and grey. One of these days I'll get around to getting an Ott-lite to supplement the lack of Chicago sunlight. I was hoping to find a coupon to use, they can be expensive at full retail price.

What's your favorite yarn purchase - splurge or steal? I would've said SWTC Bamboo til this weekend, and now it's hands down this cashmere! I kept having to press it to my face, it's just sooooo soft!


Plum Squashy Leather Bag

Squashy Bag from Boden When I first saw this bag in the Boden's catalog, I really liked it. I wanted to get a project bag to go to Stitches with, and it was going to take 2 weeks to get here from the UK. So I went shopping, and didn't really find anything I liked. It's fall, and I didn't see any interesting colors. Only one turquoise bag, and I didn't care for the trim. (I did find a gorgeous t-shirt at J. crew though, violet with a velvet griffon on it - love it!)

Anyway, after the fruitless shopping trip I decided to look over the catalog again, and I just couldn't get over the Squashy bag. Vibrant colors, supple butter-soft leather and tons of room on the inside made this the perfect knitting project bag for me. I ordered it Friday, by Sunday it was backordered, and I had it by the following Saturday (with free shipping, to boot!) I'd highly recommend Boden's, I found them through Alicia's blog; and I know I'll be ordering more from them. It's UK sizing, so I'm a little scared of screwing up pants sizing; but they have the most gorgeous clothing. Elegant and classic, but trendy too, just not in an immature way - just what I'm looking for.

*Special thoughts go out to Alicia, who's dog unexpectedly passed away this week. Audrey was such a sweet girl, even though I never met her. We in blogland will miss her terribly, though not nearly as much as Alicia and Andy. My thoughts are with you two during these tough times.


WIP Wednesday - Everlasting Bagstopper

I started this last week so I'd have an easy project to work on while I was at Stitches with my Mom & sister. And then, I got sick Friday morning, the day I was supposed to go. Ugh, I had even reigned in the yarn spending when I hit Wool & co a few weeks ago (for the first time! Love it!) Oy, ok - so anyway, I had an easy project to work on while I wasn't feeling so good.

Everlasting Bagstopper

This is one of the suprises from the summer Knitty, and even though it's so similar to my Montego Bay scarf, (by the same author too!) I really like it. The yarn's not nearly as soft (hemp on this project, bamboo on the scarf,) but I think it might get softer after a wash. Even if it doesn't, I could always make the handles out of something softer; I haven't really thought about them, or the drawstring yet.

Bagstopper Detail

The color is probably better in the second picture than the first, but it seemed so dark that I lightened it up a bit. Normally, I'd want to go back and fix it, but I've got better things to do today! LOL


FO - Montego Bay Scarf

Montego Bay ScarfIt didn't take me very long to knit my Montego Bay Scarf; but I did take 5 days to cast it off and weave in the ends! LOL I finished it just in time to wear it to BogHer, and I'm glad I did. It was nice to wear something I made. It was a super easy peasy knit, and I love it in the bamboo - so incredibly soft! (I've been meaning to post this now for over a week, I didn't get the pics I wanted the fist time I photographed it. I think these turned out great, though!)

Specs -
Pattern: Montego Bay Scarf by Amy Singer (Interweave Knits, Summer 07)
Yarn: Southwest Trading Company Bamboo in Intensity, 1 1/3 balls (just over 300yds)
Needles: Knit Picks Options Interchangeable circulars, size 10
Started Monday July 16th, finished knitting July 23 (cast off & wove in ends 7/27)

Montego Bay Scarf

I opted to shorten my scarf up a bit, the pattern size was 7" wide by 80" long, and I thought that might be a bit too long. I also decided to leave the fringe off, I braided one piece with the tail ends and didn't think I'd like the look for how much work braiding the rest of the fringe would be. My finished measurements are about 6-8" wide by 72" long. The width is tricky, because the lace just keeps on stretching!

Montego Bay Scarf

Montego Bay DetailI absolutely love this FO, and plan to make more Montego Bay scarves (quick knit = great gift!) It was great tv knitting, and the results look so pretty, even though it was super easy! That's my favorite kind of project lately - big impact with minimal effort! Stay tuned for another Amy Singer pattern, I just cast on for the Everlasting Bagstopper from this summer's Knitty!


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