Saturday, September 25, 2010


Over the years, my friends and family have given me gifts to help feed my craft habit.  Craft gifts seem like they would be impersonal, but au contraire, you need to know someone and their craft pretty well to get the perfect item.  Appreciated gifts can range from a ball of luxury yarn to how-to books on the latest craft fad.  I even think that a gift card, the epitome of impersonality, can be very personal, if from the perfect little shop that you love and thought no one knew existed.  My sister just sent me a package that I was not expecting.  This package came from Patternworks and I knew it was from her.  She never mentioned that she sent it, but I just knew.  When I picked-up the package, it was chiming.  I was thinking, why is there a bell inside this package?  Anyway, when I opened it, it made me smile and I could not stop from laughing.  Everyone, I would like you to meet Purl:
Purl, a String Doll
Purl is a String Doll that can be a key chain or a charm that you hook to your bag or purse.  It cracked me up, seeing the knitting needles she wielded above her head and the jean skirt.  She has a bell and a tag that states "Purl makes sure that you never drop a stitch."  Isn't she so cute?

Another gift that has been so nice to use was a pair of Gingher dressmaking shears that cut through fabric like butter.  I got these as a Christmas present from my boyfriend.
Best scissors ev-a!
He also gave me two pairs of thread scissors.  The pair I have shown has a gold handle, but what is cool about this brand is that they have a designer series where they have colored the handles with designs such as plaid, polka-dots and animal print.  Tres chic.

Another noteworthy gift came in the form of a box via an eBay seller.  My friend had seen these knitting needles online and thought of me:
Frisky needles
These needles have a white cat wrapped up in a ball of red yarn at the ends.  They are a size 8 or 9.  You can click on the image to enlarge to see more detail.  They are a riot as well.  I have an eclectic mix of needles that range from Boyle aluminum ones that are older than me to plastic ones that are also older than me that are bowed from so much use to ones with fancy ends like the cat above.  I don't have many wooden or bamboo ones.  I hear they are nice to work with, but when I start a project, I normally have the metal ones in the size I need, so I can't justify spending the money, even if I have a 40% off coupon for Joann's or Michaels.  My mother once went to a yarn sale and got an enormous bin full of knitting needles for under $5.  That was a great score.  That bin was split among my sister, me and one of my friends.  There were several triplicate pairs, so there was no fighting :-)

This brings me to my last featured gift which is a plasitc yarn container (yarn-tainer) with a hole in the top.  This is great for the thin yarn that likes to curl as you knit or the small ball of yarn that likes to go rolling off the couch when you pull for more yarn.
Fab yarn-tainer
This yarn-tainer was bought for me as a Christmas or birthday present from a friend.  We saw them at a local store in Providence, RI and we fell in love.  We thought it was the cutest thing.  The brand is Snapware and they have since come out with other crafty containers for use with items other than yarn.  This yarn-tainer is a must-have; check them out.

So, with these items, I am a happier crafter!  I have officially made Purl my project mascot.  She has been hooked to my current knit bag and will "watch over me" so I don't make any mistakes.
Mascot Purl
Purl will have to be a miracle worker to prevent me from making mistakes, but I have faith in her; anyone with needles that big is bound to be an enforcer!  Bon tricot!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baby's First 1.0

This summer has been my season for baby blankets.  I found this easy V-pattern stitch blanket on the Lion Brand website that I am crocheting like it's going out of style.  It is made with Baby's First (55% acrylic & 45% cotton).  I have made two of these blankets so far and I have three more to go.  I'm a beginner when it comes to crochet, so doing two complete projects in a matter of months is huge for me.  The first one went to one of my cousins, he and his wife just had a boy, so I crocheted it in one solid color of turquoise blue (aka Sea Sprite) and stumbled through it with YouTube instruction when I thought I was doing the double crochet wrong.  Let's just say that my stitch was not looking exactly like the photo.  It was not incorrect, it just was not pronounced like in the photo with the young tot with the blanket wrapped around her.  Mine looked like I crocheted it too tight.  I guess I could go up a hook size.  The pattern calls for a K, so since this was a baby blanket, I did not bother to do a gauge swatch.  Eeh, swatch, smarch.  I finished it and it looked just fine.  I sent it off and have not heard anything back, so no news is good news?  Maybe he thanked me via Facebook which we are friends.  (It has been awhile since I've been on there).

The next blanket I made I was a bit more adventurous where I striped it with two colors.  Whoo-hoo, color change!  This blanket was for my boyfriend's close friend who lives in CA.  He and his wife are expecting a boy as well.  So I chose the same turquoise blue, but the alternating stripe was a sage green (aka Beanstalk).  Now, I call it striping, but it constituted 4 large stripes of about 8 rows to each color.  That's a stripe in my book.  My sister happen to be visiting and she helped me with the edge.  I thought I was doing it wrong because it was not a very exciting edge, but I was doing it right.  It was a picot edge and the picot looked different each time I did it.  My sis assured me that it was fine.  Below is the completed project with the blue and green stripes.
Second Blanket
The third and fourth blankets will go my close friend's sister that is expecting twin girls.  I was invited to the baby shower but could not make it, so I commited to making the blankets and then mailing them to her.  Below is the start of the blanket.  I chained and then could not even finish the first row that night because I was so sleepy.  I literally fell asleep in my crochet!  
The Riveting First Row
My goal is to have them completed by the end of October, but honestly, I thought I would have them done by now.  My progress is a bit slow, but I have been trying to get to them on the weekends.  This one is going to be pink (aka Fairy Tale) and yellow (Honey Bee) striped. 
I love starting projects but sometimes figuring out a pattern you have not done before or getting to the gauge swatch, can be a drag.  When you get new yarn, you just want to start either knitting or crocheting, you don't want the due diligence of reading through the pattern to make sure you understand or want to take the time to check gauge.  I know, it is for your own good, but I hate that part of starting a project.  I love the start because you are finally doing something with that yarn.  You have this feeling of promise in the project that you often lose when you misread a step or you have to go through two or three gauge swatches to finally get the right size needle or hook.  I find that I usually do not start the real project the night I do the gauge swatch because I am a tight knitter and end up trying out two, sometimes three sets of needles trying to get it right.  All the while telling myself that it is for my own good in the end.  But with this baby blanket pattern, I don't care about gauge, so I can just start!  So, falling asleep during the start of a project is a first for me.  The excitment has faded for me with this blanket, but I am determined to do what I say I will do, which is five blankets.  Below is where I am right now.  I have almost finished the first stripe of pink.
First Stripe
The feel of this yarn is so soft, so I don't mind using it at all.  The pattern is easy enough that I can crochet while I watch tv, so it really is a great project for the person who has over 20 hours of recorded tv shows on their DVR.  My fav shows right now is The Glades that show on A&E on Sundays at 10pm and Rizzoli & Isles on TNT on Mondays at 10pm.  I can say 99% of the time I do not watch a show when it actually shows so the DVR is the best thing since the timer on the VCR!

I will post my progress on the baby blankets in installments.  What projects are in your closet that you need some motivation on?  C'mon, get to one of them!  Let me know if I can help....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ten Big Ones

I have been hooked on this book series for years now.  It is Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels.  It is a numbered series starting got it....One.  Stephanie Plum came on the scene in One for the Money, which was first published in June 1998 and her most recent publication was Sizzling Sixteen in June 2010.  To sum it up, Stephanie is a bounty hunter in Trenton, New Jersey.  She falls into this line of work because she lost her job as a lingerie buyer for a local store and her cousin is a bail bondman.  This is a crime novel series that will make you laugh out loud because Stephanie is the worst bounty hunter ever and it gets her into more trouble than one would think possible.  She gets shot at, hand-cuffed, and wrestled to the ground by naked skips (people who do not show-up for the court dates and hence, she has to go looking for them), in addition, getting her cars riddled with bullet holes and blown-up.  But you think, it's New Jersey, it probably could happen.  Her fashion sense and wacked-out priorities are things that I have come to look forward to reading in each book.

I am currently reading Ten Big Ones and the story gets better with each book.  As you read this series you come to love the characters such as Grandma Mazur, Lula, Rex and then the men in Stephanie's life, Joe Morelli and Ranger.  I have a mental picture of who these people look like, although you may not agree, I will tell you what I think, starting with Grandma Mazur:

Estelle Getty, but with a gun
I know it is a bit cliche because she is the perfect spunky old lady, but that is how Grandma Mazur is - spunky as all get out!  Okay, that now brings me to Lula.  Now Lula is an unforgettable person, who, shall we say, has "reached her full potential" on the bathroom scale.  I picture:

Mo'nique, but with a gun

But Lula only wears either animal print spandex or neon-colored spandex.  I could not locate a picture of Mo'nique with leopard print...hmmm, not looking hard enough, I guess.  Next is Rex and I don't have to go through and find a picture, because Rex is Stephanie's hamster.  He sounds really cute, but I'm not all that into hamsters, so no pic, sorry Rex!

This leaves the last three main charaters: Morelli, Ranger and Stephanie herself.  For Morelli, I envision:

Richard Grieco, but with a gun

Now, I say this because I used to watch Booker on tv in the 80's and thought he was so fine!  Yes, I said "fine" because that is how I would have said it back then!  I am reading on the internet vine that he had some plastic surgery done since those days and I am not talking about current Richard Grieco, but 1989 Richard Grieco.  Next, I go to Ranger.  Unfortunately, in my mind's eye, I never see Ranger's face.  He is always in black, he doesn't often come out in the day, and he is always shrouded by this black veil of mystery.  So, I really only have a hunky latino body image that comes to mind. 

Lastly, this brings me to Stephanie.  I always think of a short gal with large brown curly hair:

Alyssa Milano, but with a stun gun

Alyssa Milano is the perfect take-no-attitude-only-give-it type of girl. But, she has to have big hair, no flat-ironed hair will do for Stephanie.

Good news for those of you that either are into this series already or would like to dive in, there is a movie deal out for One for the Money.  I am very excited about this because it has been a long time in the making, but the actors they have chose to play the key roles are not those that I have featured above.  Now I really can only say that they chose Katherine Heigl as Stephanie, Jason O'Mara as Morelli and Daniel Sunjata as Ranger.  Now, what comes to mind when these names are read?  A tall blonde with big boobs as Stephanie? An Irishman as Morelli?  Daniel who?  Yes, those are my thoughts as well.

I would love to know who your mind's eye views these favorite characters as.

Her complete book list and novel debut dates can be found at Janet's web site.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Necklace Revamp

For my first project, I have this necklace that my friend CLL gave me a few years back as a token to symbolize 'Freedom' and I love it. It is a silver dove pendant with rhinestone eyes. The clasp has a key, lock, and Fossil brand tag on it that hang like charms. Well, the chain has seen better days and the way it wears, the clasp with the charms ends up in the front next to the dove pendant and I don't bother fixing it to the back because it looks cute in the front. In addition to the charms in the front, the chain has developed a kink and a few tarnish spots that no longer go away with silver cleaner.  When I noticed that kink, it was the last straw.  It also has these nubs throughout the chain that drive me crazy.
Dove Pendant - Before

I took the lobster claw clasp that you see on the left side off and the large jumprings with charms on the right side off. The chain that has the nubs is going buh-bye and I will replace it with a plain chain that I had. I threaded the dove onto the new chain. I took one set of large jumpring and small links off the charms part so I could use them to hold the lobster claw on one side, threaded the left-over charms section onto the new chain next to the dove and then added another jumpring to the chain to make-up the other side/end.  Ok, blah, blah, I know....

Almost there....

The tools I am using to manipulate the jumprings are from this mini-sized set of pliers. It was a bargin for the set but they are a pain to use.  Cheaper ain't always better, ladies. It took me awhile to get the jumprings onto the tiny links of the new chain. You can sort of see the kink in the old chain in the pic above.

Viola! The revamp is complete and in my mind a success!


Now, I can keep the dove and finally jump on the skeleton key pendant banwagon.  I'm usually so far behind the banwagon that I cannot even run to catch it.  I love the Tiffany's key pendants, but since the cheapest one retails for over $125 (we are talking only silver, no diamonds), I will settle for my Fossil version!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

In the beginning....

In the beginning my sister and brother would go to my grandparents house practically everyday because they lived next door.  We loved going over there; there was always fun stuff to do and places to get into.  When I sit down and think about the things we did over there, we very well could have done them at our own house, but it was just different somehow, being at gramma's house.

One thing I do remember doing over there, when I was probably about 6 or so, was playing with an i-cord maker. This was pretty much a spool with hooks at the top. But, what made it great was the fact that the spool was a red clown with yellow yarn hair. My sister and I would made i-cords that were several inches long, but because it took our little, unskilled hands so long to see progress out the bottom of the spool, I believe we often gave up too soon. We had lots of 3-inch pieces of various colors, but really nothing to make a project out of.

KD, remember this?

I believe that because my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were all avid crafters, that has molded me into a crafter myself.  I am not an accomplished crafter in a sense that I make items for profit, but I do enjoy sewing a quilt for a baby or knitting a scarf for a friend.  My sister was also molded into a crafty gal, but it did not translate for my brother.  He never picked-up a needle or a hook, unless it was a fishing hook with my dad.  That is probably for the best....

I would like this blog to show, discuss, get advice and get motivated to complete my unfinished projects and my unread books.  EVERY crafter out there has unfinished projects that they would like to finish one day or would like to never see again.  I have both of those types of projects and they range from a knitted baby sweater, where the intended "baby" is now almost 5, to broken costume jewelry that I want to re-purpose but haven't yet. In addition, I have several shelves of books that I have been collecting over the years because I am dying to read them, but I can't get to them in a timely manner because I am always feeling too busy.  So, I am dedicating this blog to unfinished projects and unread books!!  I also hope to make you giggle a time or too, either because of my wit or because you sympathize with my plights.

I have been inspired lately from the other bloggers out there that are accomplishing some pretty cool feats.  Of course there is the Julie and Julia blogger that learned how to French cook and there is the dress blogger that transforms ugly house dresses into chic fitted dresses or tunics.  New Dress A Day  I am loving it and thought that I can do that too!  Well, not make my way through the Joy of Cooking or make a dress a day, I will tackle my projects, one at a time....and it all started at gramma's house.