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???


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