Thursday, December 31, 2009

A year in review

As 2009 comes to a close, I thought I should look back over the goals that I'd set for myself in January and see what I've accomplished.

- Try dying yarn with Kool-aid (perhaps move on to roving if that works out ok) Check!
- Do the cross stitch pattern that I bought (see picture) Psuedo check (I started it but it's got a long way to go for sure)
- Figure out if I really do want to buy that darn weaving loom! Check!
- Finish the sweater that I've been working on for a year now that's been hiding...crazy cable patterns lead to long time knitting! Total fail on this one. It hasn't come out of the bag all year.
- Sew the curtains for our bedroom Check!
- Learn to sew zippers properly Admittedly, I haven't done as much sewing this year as I was planning. Going to have to push this one to 2010.
- Go on a couple of field trips with my camera (definitely need some new portfolio shots) Also a fail. Will need to work on this one too.
- Thrift more yarn (I had fun with my first sweater so will try to find more!) Check!
- Attempt to felt something in the washer Fail. I've got a couple things knit up to do this to at least.
- Write down a couple more of my knitting/crochet patterns. I have them in my head but not yet on paper. Well, I managed the Harpa socks on this and have 2 sweater patterns in the works for next year.

My plan for 2010 is basically one gigantic stash bust - yarn, fiber, jewelry supplies, etc. It occurs to me that if I ever plan on putting a child in our second bedroom, I should probably make some room. :)

2009 was a difficult year in various ways, especially with my husband being laid off and then losing mine (although I was instantly rehired so more fortunate than I can truly express). Having said that, I feel that I also accomplished a lot. I would say my biggest accomplishment this year is probably my health. I wasn't an unhealthy person before but on my 30th birthday in May, I decided to kick my own ass into shape and end this year having lost about 5% body fat, around 7 inches in total measurement and one pant size smaller. I still have a way to go with that but I'm in fighting shape so to speak and I foresee a lot of time in the swimming pool for next year as well.

So, whatever dreams you may have for the upcoming year, I wish you all the best in achieving your goals. It's a wonderful thing to wish, but remember you're the only one that can make your wishes come true.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sample knits are up!

I was just sent pictures from the sample knitting that I've been working on diligently, with designer Vanessa Ewing for Plymouth Yarns, and I'm excited to share them! There are several other knits that I've done but the patterns aren't finalized and in production yet, so no go with sharing those yet. However, I'll be sure to provide all the info once I have it so that you can buy the patterns if you want too.

This one is the very first sample knit that I did for Plymouth - a hat/mitten set in Trabajos del Peru yarn. The yarn is yummy and reminds me a little bit of Manos for those that are interested. The colors are great too and I would put this on my suggested yarn list for sure.

This other pattern is a mother/daughter sweater set that just looks so cute together! The yarn is Jeannee DK (cotton/acrylic blend) and also very nice to work with - super soft. The biggest problem I had with this pattern was time! I had both sweaters knit in a month, which was tough going considering the yarn weight. It just might be my biggest achievement in the world of serious speed knitting...the kind that gives you small callouses on your pinky fingers!

I've got 3 more things in the works right now so there'll be lots coming too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kitteh obsessed

Adopting Deuce might have made me realize my potential as a future parent to an actual child. I might become one of those "cat people" who talks about what accomplishments their cat managed that day. In a strange way, it's not dissimilar to the parents I know that don't blink an eye when discussing how many times their baby has pooped that day. (I should like to let you all know that my kitten has been successfully litter trained in less than 72 hours and even covers up his business ok?)

The last couple of days, we've had a very quick introduction to Deuce's personality. Even funnier is the new side of my husband that seems to have popped out - starting with the post it note stuck to the bathroom mirror with instructions on how much kitty medicine to put in his food, and how long to stick the food in the microwave. The kitten on the other hand has stopped hiding behind toilets/books/vases/boxes and is now happily sleeping/playing/running in the upstairs hallway.

Last night we were both playing with him and left the room for a moment when he started up the little squeaking that he does. I pretended like I wasn't hearing it and went to the computer while my husband continued making his famous teriyaki bowls for dinner. Next thing you know, the squeaking has stopped and I turn to wonder why when suddenly a little ball of fur is seen jumping the hallway barricade and landing (rather ungracefully because he hasn't quite figured out hardwood flooring yet) in the living room. Little smart ass. Having said that, when I put him back in his designated area, there was no attempt to replicate his escape. As a reward, husband dutifully let him into the living room today so he could explore space #2 of his new home where he promptly discovered his reflection in a mirror and has apparently been engaged in ninja kitteh activity, pouncing at his own reflection, ever since.

Since he tried to lick me to death this morning before I left for work (the cat, not the husband), I've actually been sitting here wondering what the cat's been doing today and looking forward to going home just those few minutes quicker so we can play with the balled up paper and I can trim his claws. I've fallen madly in love with the ball of fluff and I get it - this just might be my first foray into motherhood!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What the Deuce?

December/January is always a crazy time in our household. In the space of 3 weeks we have Hanukkah, wedding anniversary, Christmas, New Year's, then my husband's birthday. It gets a little whacky and the hunt for the perfect gifts for the husband in particular can get a little stressful. This year, in that he's unemployed, we decided not to go crazy on the gift exchanges and when contemplating anniversary gifts for each other, we decided that we should add to our family and adopt a kitteh!

Being the prepared parents that we are, we did a trip to Target last weekend and bought food, litter, bowls etc. Then Tuesday on my lunch break, took a trip over to the local shelter where they had lots of little kittens as well as older cats. Husband always claimed to not be much of a cat person (something to do with cats lacking personality....ha!) Having said that, when we walked into the cattery at the shelter, he spotted one in the litter who was later to come home with us. He had an identical twin brother in there with him but his brother was a little too much to handle - lots of tail chasing, hopping around on his hind legs and smacking the other kittens to try and get them to react. Our little guy just sat there looking at him with the contemptuous "what the hell are you doing dude?" look on his face. We tried looking for markings to distinguish them from each other and found none - it was all in the personality with these two. As much as I would have loved to take both, there was also some concern that we'd come home to find the more boisterous one swinging from a ceiling fan or 5 feet up the bedroom drapes.

His name is Deuce in honor of being our second anniversary cat. He's about 3 months old and the sweetest little bundle of joy. Husband picked him up from the vet yesterday and brought him home where he cowered in the corner of his crate for several hours before coming out and cowering behind the toilet (which is where he was when I came home). I can't blame him after what must have been an incredibly traumatizing 24 hours - being separated from the litter, traveling to the vet, losing his manhood, then waking up and not knowing where he (or his balls) are. A little love and cuddles helped though and by later last night he was exploring the staircase and finding new spots to hide in the bookcase.

Husband seems to be adapting well, leaving me a post-it note on the bathroom mirror this morning with instructions on how to heat up his food with his post-op antibiotics into it. I have a feeling his "I'm not really a cat person" days have come to an end after catching him late last night playing with the cat and a balled-up piece of paper. I had a very proud parent moment this morning when I discovered he used the litter tray last night while we were asleep and I caught him cleaning his paws too.The one thing we do need to teach Deuce is how to retract his claws. He's got a tendency to get stuck on clothing/carpeting because he can't figure out how to pull his claws out! He also doesn't know why he can't pick up his toy when he's standing on the other side of it with his back paws. He's a smart one though and I'm quite sure he'll figure it out! ;)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside

The fact is that people in Southern California are total weaklings when it comes to cold weather.

When I lived in England, I would walk from the train station to my school (about a mile) every morning in frosty weather, skidding around on mulchy leaves and potentially getting drenched by a soccer mom's Land Rover after a badly timed puddle splash. All of this in a thin button down shirt and my blazer. More than once I ended up on my ass having slid on black ice somewhere on the paving - one time in particular coming to memory because my walkman fell out of my pocket and busted into about 4 different pieces which flew all over the street.

Now, that obviously still isn't anywhere near as bad as being in Cleveland or somewhere similarly freezing. I had a 2 hour layover in Cleveland during January several years ago and recall everything being covered in at least a foot of snow.

In Los Angeles, people are liable to freak out about the weather when it ducks below 60 degrees but even at 40 degrees outside, it's quite likely you will spot one sorry person wearing flip flops. I will admit that I have somewhat become a person that doesn't know how to handle the cold weather on account of having left all of my big fuzzy sweaters in England after I moved. My limited amounts of cold weather clothing have been leaving me somewhat stumped over the last few days as we've hit temperatures of freezing.

Yesterday, I was standing outside with some co-workers complaining about having a cold neck. It then occurred to me that I am an idiot. I KNIT! Why on earth would I not have anything around to wrap myself in?! It seems that I am extremely good at knitting for others and assuming that living in Los Angeles means that I will never really have a need for big warm wooly accessories to heat up my freezing bones. So, last night I whipped up a rather simplistic cowl to throw around my neck. It's now my mission to make 3 or 4 more in different colors over the next 2 weeks so that I can wear them before the weather warms up again!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving fun

I'm finally getting back into the swing of things post Thanksgiving. We took a little trip out to Las Vegas to visit with the in-laws and got to see my nephew, who is growing ridiculously quickly. He's getting chatty and while a lot of it sounds like a foreign language, the occasional word or phrase makes it through very clearly. I loved it when he was putting away his toys before bed and said "I'm a big boy". All four of us in the room heard it and agreed wholeheartedly!

I wish I could see him more often and the beauty of the holiday season being that I will get to over the next month. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


One of my favorite lunch time activities when I'm bored is to go wander around the local thrift shop. I've found some decent deals there - the occasional cone of mystery yarn, a nice sweater to unravel, and of course lots of books! Today, I made the ultimate score though.

As I walked over to the section where they tend to put bags of assorted things, I spotted yarn...then I got closer...and then I realized that there were about 8 or 9 huge bags of yarn. I must have looked like a crazy person because I started pulling down all the bags and looking at each bag to figure out what kinds of yarn were in there and in what colors. Some had rug yarn, not great for my uses, but I narrowed it down to 5 bags that I just HAD to have (so much for destashing). Usually I expect to score some vintage looking acrylic at the thrift store but these bags had yarn marked as 100% wool, 100% cotton, and one has yarn that's 80/20 wool/nylon already wound into balls. Did somebody say socks? Lots of them? There's also a ton of hanks in natural colors - white, cream, grey and light beige - that are perfect for dyeing. :)

I estimate that I ended up with probably 100 balls or yarn in some form or another, for the ridiculously bargain price of $30! I cannot wait to get them out of my car and sort through them. In the meantime, I took some fuzzy pics with my camera phone because I was too excited to actually wait until I had my camera in my possession! Here are the bags taking up the majority of the back seat in my car. I really hope my husband doesn't kill me for this one!
What was your greatest thrift store find?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hybernating projects

When it comes to knitting and crochet (ok, maybe just crafts in general), I have a certain attention deficit problem. So called WIPs (works in progress) tend to become strewn about the house. Then there's the things that I've already made that I tuck away in need of photography to sell, donation, swapping etc. that I forget about. That is exactly what happened to some freeform crochet collar/scarflet things that I made last year. So, while I'm rummaging around in my craft room yesterday, I came upon some of these and actually did something about photographing and posting in the appropriate places.

For sale in my Etsy shop - Victorian Rose Collar.
A green and cream crochet collar with scallop detail and 2 different kinds of yarn for texture.
There's other things hidden in that room, I know it! More pictures to come as I find them I'm sure. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

A little weekend home decor fun

This past weekend, husband and I finally had some time to play around with the house. We went on a field trip Saturday to downtown L.A. where you can buy just about anything on the cheap. We're talking $1/yard fabric stores, discount apparel, shoes, bedding, and...the reason for our visit...rugs! We have been getting tired of the relentless collection of dust under the dining room table and decided that a new rug was totally the way to go.

The trip was very successful, but also very entertaining. Firstly we found a $5 parking structure where we handed the attendant a fresh $20 from the ATM. Turns out, as we were paying for the rug a little later on, he had actually handed us back 2 $5 bills and 10 $1 bills as change. Free parking? OK. Taking a walk through to find a rug shop, husband kept giving me a "no, we cannot stop for (socks/tank tops/shoes/buttons/trims/fabric)" look and hustled my easily distracted self onward. We get to a rug shop and find 4 or 5 designs that we like and want to pick between. The prices were already fantastic, but then husband starts with the "ok, we're going to check another shop and come back" game, where the guy promptly gives us an additional 20% discount. We got a 5"x8" rug for $80 out the door - although husband now had to carry the rug 3 blocks BACK through the melee of shops while trying to keep me from wandering off in an "ooh, shiny" kind of way.

So, new rug in place, we also got started with putting up some artwork around the house. I know we've been there for a year already and have very little hung on the walls, but we've also been very particular about putting things in the "perfect" place given that we're going to be living here for a while (it's a renting not owning thing I guess). The advantages of being a photographer I suppose is the never-ending supply of prints to put up around the place...the disadvantages being choosing which ones to frame and hang. A couple of the larger wedding photo prints are now hanging in the corridor just outside our bedroom, a fantastic photo of the Santa Barbara courthouse in our bedroom, and a set of 4 abstract foliage prints in the downstairs bathroom.

It's amazing how happy these few additions make me as they've given a little more personality to those areas and makes me realize that the simple things are the best.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween costume recap

While it's somewhat unbelievable that Halloween has already come and gone, I will say it was a fun one. We had a couple of different parties to attend and outside of attempting to navigate crazy traffic through Hollyweird Hollywood, it was smooth sailing!

I was determined to get the husband into a costume again this year, especially after last year's success dressing him up as a moose. Really, the secret is to make him wear something as comfortable and close to his every day clothing as posssible - so that rules out silly hats, masks, anything that may cause overheating or involves facepaint. You get the idea. While we were trying a new and rather yummy pizza place (thank you!) a week ago, we had jokingly suggested that swine flu would be a rather appropriate costume and went about our plans to be "team pig".
Saturday daytime, I had assigned husband the task of coming up with our team names while I disappeared off to get iron-on supplies for the letters I had been cutting out of felt. In the meantime, he dutifully turned down an offer from his friend to watch college football so he could stay home and help me prepare the costumes. I was somewhat in shock - was he actually getting into this?! A few hours of cutting and ironing later though, we were all ready to go, dubbed "Porkchop" (me) and "Wilbur" (him). Our pig emblems even had googly eyes...which I think should be a requirement for team emblems in general (I mean, imagine your favorite sports team with them on display!).All in all, the costume was a big hit and we even got a chuckle from a passing cop on a bicycle. Who knows what we'll come up with next year but I can't be happier that I've converted my non-costume-wearing husband and he's not going to be getting out of it again!

P.S. If you have been affected by swine flu, my heart truly does go out to you and no offense was meant by this costume. I hope our googly eyed pigs could bring a smile to your face.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well, now that all of that is done!

It's been one rough ride the last couple of weeks. Let me preface all this by backing up a month to the black Thursday in my office where in one foul swoop, 40 employees were laid off (approx 25-30% of the division's workforce). With hubby being presently unemployed, I spent that entire day with a pained, barfy expression on my face because I couldn't even imagine what the hell I'd do if both of us were unemployed. When I didn't get the dreaded "come to M's office" phone call that day, I mourned the loss of my friends and dealt a little bit with "survivor guilt" before breathing a sigh of relief and thanking whomever it was that saved my job.

So, scooting forward to a week ago, my boss walks into my office and sits down. This in itself starts ringing the alarm bells because he just never comes into my office. Then he says "I'm just going to say everything so let me finish before you respond". (Which is one of those strange relationship break-up phrases that I somehow associate with "It's not you, it's me..."We've grown apart..."Stop cyber stalking me or I have to get a restraining order...") He then proceeds to inform me that my position has been eliminated, but they have found me a job at one of the other divisions of the company - effective immediately but with a short period for transition. He then suggests that I go speak with HR and all I can think to say to him is "OK, when I'm done eating my sandwich". Ok. Yeah.

Anyway, I am now the proud holder of some kind of world record for getting laid off and rehired again. I'm contemplating writing a little letter to Mr. Guinness to ask him if that world record has already been set and whether my time is competitive.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back on the design train!

I've been itching to design my first non-accessory knit wearable for a while and life just hasn't given me much of a chance recently. This week, I was wandering around the shops looking for a birthday gift for my mother - a notoriously impossible feat - and noticed that there were some super cute knitwear cardis out there this season. So, there's me standing in the middle of the store rifling through racks of awesome knits and next thing you know I'm completely distracted and instead of shopping for my mom, I'm standing there with my camera phone taking photographs of the sweaters. Talk about a sudden rush of inspiration!

So, yesterday on my lunch break, I sat here and thought about what yarn I have that I can get started with and drawing out potential cable designs, checking sizing and writing down notes for construction. It was irritating me that I'd actually have to wait and get home to cast on my design. I know there are some designers that can sketch a design and write out full instructions without knitting the item itself, but I'm not one of them. I have to knit it up myself - which means I'm simultaneously test knitting, sample knitting, tweaking and get something to wear at the end of it!

Well, the project is well underway and all I can tell you is that it's a cardi...with a cable design. You'll have to wait and see for the rest!

Monday, October 5, 2009

My first woven

Finally, I am proud to present my very first woven! I haven't had as much time to play with my new craft as I'd like, but I've got one scarf-type-thing done and another warp on the loom ready to go.

The hardest part of weaving for me so far has definitely been warping the loom. I chose to use some recycled yarn that I dyed with Kool Aid for both the warp and the weft. I decided to try the direct warping method and, seeing as I don't yet have a warping clamp, I used my husband's gargoyle piggy bank (named Leroy) to wind the yarn around. I will say that it was hard work and I broke out in a nice sweat from crawling around on the floor! I've concluded that some clamps from Home Depot will make the entire process much easier - including the fact that the heddle has a habit of falling off the heddle block when I move the yarn through it too quickly.

The actual weaving itself went pretty smoothly, outside of the handful of tension issues and having slightly messy selvedges. I'm very proud of my first attempt though. The end result is a little stiff for a scarf but I'm thinking that it can be made into a nice bag instead.
I should note that for the second attempt at warping, I got smart and brought the loom downstairs to the kitchen where I used the kitchen table and a chair to wind the yarn around. Having it all at a regular height and not having to wrangle yarn to stay behind the ears of a gargoyle definitely helped! I also scored a cone of fingering weight yarn at the local thrift store for $1 to use. I haven't decided what to use for the weft that, but that will be shared later.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

From way back when!

While I was going through some things on my computer today, I found some photos of the first few things that I made when I first learned to crochet. These were all crocheted for our charity group at work.

From Stitch' N' Bitch

From the Lion Brand website, I think!
I got this pattern from somewhere and added my own color flair.
My first attempt at treble crochet.
It's amazing how far I've come with my fiber crafts in the last few years....crochet being my gateway drug so to speak!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

OK, so it's a little crafty

I have been absolutely horrible about posting my crafty endeavors recently so I am making a promise that I will take pictures of the work in progress on my loom this evening! I'm making what is a mostly straight scarf-type-thing using some of the yarn I recycled and dyed with Kool Aid a while back. I'm quite happy with it so far although been playing with tension and neat edges etc. I also spent an hour in the library yesterday reading through some books on rigid heddle weaving to make sure I was on the right track. My husband was very patient as I explained to him how it all worked and what the difference was between the warp and the weft. I'm convinced he secretly wants to try it. ;)

As a bit of fun this morning, I found a website where you can squirrelize your photos. Now, what on earth is that about? Here is the original article, and here is my wedding photo - complete with squirrel.
Ridiculous I know, but it's still making me giggle. You too can add a squirrel on this site. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I am a big nerd

It has to be said that one of the reasons I enjoy Facebook is on account of some of the silly games that can be played on their interface. The most recent one to catch my attention is "Restaurant City", which has apparently become quite the popular game. The basic theme being that you build a restaurant (very Sims style) and you can hire your friends to work for you, collect ingredients to make dishes, even grow ingredients in the little plot just outside the restaurant. Here's my little restaurant right now. The most intriguing thing about this game to me is the fact that there's a nice open bathroom for the little visiting avatars to pee in (left side of the picture). My husband has been harrassing me to put a sink in there for days, not that it's a game requirement, but definitely makes me feel better about the situation. I think I'm planning on changing the flooring soon, but haven't decided what to do yet.

So, if you're on Facebook and want to befriend me within this game, leave a comment here telling me how to find you. You each get a free ingredient for visiting each other, plus it's an extra person to trade ingredients with!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Looming on the horizon

Literally! Since I got my little potholder loom, the concept of weaving beautiful scarves, dishtowels, bags etc. has been at the forefront of my crafting brain. Hubby still hasn't found a job yet so funds are limited but I took a look at my PayPal account and decided that I do have a little bit of money to spend on a used loom. Today, I finally knuckled down and found a 20" vintage rigid heddle loom for $35 that with any luck will be here in the middle of next week! I took a trip to the library on my lunch break and flipped through the basics of all 3 weaving books they had on the shelves. I'm really anxious to get started on this - can you tell?

There's only one person I know that used to weave, and she happens to be in my office. When she told her loom (one of the crazy professional $3000 ones), she put a ton of weaving yarns in a box for the knitting group at work in the hope that somebody may be able to use it in the future. Well, as soon as the loom arrives, that box of weaving yarn will be mine to play with, practice and become a weaving master! :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fire season once again

Until I moved up to Los Angeles nearly a decade ago, I didn't really understand that there was such thing as a "fire season" in Southern Cali. I remember searching for renter's insurance circa 2002 and scoffing at the fact we couldn't get it in the area we were living in as it's a brush fire zone. It wasn't until the Barham/Griffith Park fires in 2007 that it became a reality to me as I watched it unfold in close-up. I never thought I would be one to chase down a brush fire with my camera in hand, looking to document the sheer awe that it inspires, but if I were able to do it safely, I realize that I would.

Once again, this year in California, there are several fires burning right now. Smog and ash, mixed with record temperatures, are all making the L.A. basin look like (what some of us have started referring to as) the "armpit of hell". I snapped a quick shot outside my building on the way into work @ 8:30 this morning and you can see how that nickname makes sense, despite being several miles away from the nearest fire.Here's hoping everybody stays safe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Knitting for hire

One of the reasons that I've been so quiet on here recently is my recent second-career is a knitter for hire. When I started creating my own knit designs, I would knit up the samples for photos myself and try to come up with creative ways of taking pictures of my own feet (although my husband did an excellent job with my last sock pics). It didn't really occur to me until I saw a posting for somebody needing a sample knitter that designers didn't always knit up their own stuff.

In the last few months, I've become involved in a couple of sample knitting projects - one for an independent publication, and also for a larger yarn company. They send me the yarn and the pattern, I knit it up and send it back. While that sounds ridiculously easy, I've discovered that there's a lot more to it. If you happen across an opportunity to knit for hire, here's a few things to keep in mind.

- You are providing the final image. Generally, when you're working from a pattern you have a photo to give you a general idea of what the item is supposed to look like. My first sample knitting project, I kept on looking for that photo to give me guidelines...and then I'd realize that I was knitting the photo. The whole knitting "blind" thing is a total trip and leads to nerves that you will accidentally create a knitwear Quasimodo of sorts.
- You have to pay a lot of attention to what the designer may have missed or miscalculated. They haven't necessarily knit up the piece, or it may not have been tech edited yet. Sometimes the math doesn't add up, or they forgot to put in a step. If you're not sure, ask! I'd rather stop knitting for a couple hours and wait for confirmation than have to rip back something later. The designer is relying on you to help them release the best pattern possible.
- You're on a deadline. I'm a serious offender when it comes to half knit items hanging around the house in a variety of bags. Sometimes I lose interest, sometimes I forget about it completely. Either way, there is no "I'll get to that later" when it comes to sample knitting. If they need it for a photo shoot on whatever date, you have to get it there on time!
- You don't get to keep it. You may have to put aside personal projects for a while (see aforementioned point, I'm good at that anyway) to get the samples done and no matter how much you love whatever it is you just made, you have to send it away never to be seen again. OK, well I should say that it will be seen again when the pattern is released, and then there will be the pride and excitement that accompanies that.
- You may develop callouses on your pinkie finger. That's just a fact that I had to share seeing as my right hand is currently sporting one.

I realize that doesn't all sound super fun but I have had several knitters say to me since I started doing this "that sounds like a blast" and don't get me wrong, I'm really enjoying it. There's always the other side of the coin though and sample knitting is a serious business that does take a good amount of dedication. On the upside, it's a great opportunity to try out and discover new yarns that you may not have come across before! Of the 3 things I've knit up, there's 2 yarns that I would definitely use again (will post more once the patterns are released) and one that I loved in the hank but really didn't enjoy knitting with. If nothing else, I'm getting the aspirations to be a designer that can have others knit up my visions when I grow up!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One snip and it's gone...Round II

Way back in the day, I blogged about my mentee, Jeanette, chopping off her exceedingly long tresses and donating them to Locks Of Love. My own hair has been getting really long recently. Not as long as Jeanette's was prior to getting the chop, but the consistent comments from people to the effect of "wow, your hair is getting really long" were becoming more and more frequent. So, I went online to check out my options for where to possibly donate my hair. I found that Pantene Beautiful Lengths works with the American Cancer Society to make wigs for cancer victims, then there's Locks Of Love who assist kids with alopecia in getting wigs, and also Wigs For Kids (although they needed 12" of hair minimum, which was just a little too much for me). I actually really wanted to donate to the Beautiful Lengths program, but they cannot take hair that's had permanent dye in it - and although I've only dyed my hair the once, in a somewhat successful attempt to dye the grey, it was a permanent dye and hence put me out of the running for that one.

Anyway, research - check. Time to measure my hair. I had my handy husband take the tape measure to it and assure me that there was indeed 10" of hair to spare, although that would take it to my chin which is a place my hair hasn't been since I was about 5 years old. Originally, the decision was to wait another month or so and let it grow an inch, then lop it off. The problem is that once the decision was in my head to do it, there wasn't any waiting! I'm a pretty patient person, but sometimes you just gotta run with it...and off I ran to the salon, ponytail appropriately marking the spot and ready to go.
After she evened out my rather lop-sided "post-ponytail-chopping" do, it was probably an inch or so shorter than I was expecting and I was sitting there, staring at the length of hair sitting at her station but no longer attached to my head. It's now been 2 weeks and I'm still not 100% used to the lack of hair covering the back of my neck, the fact I don't need to tie it back to get into the shower, or the fact I need to put a little product in it to get it to behave (rather than the quick brushing that it used to get). I've had some people tell me that I look older and more sophisticated, while others have informed me that I look even younger - as if I didn't already get carded for everything. Either way, I'm enjoying playing with my new hair and even if I decide I want it long again, it will grow back! That's an opportunity not granted to the kids with alopecia that need these wigs.

Friday, August 7, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance?

I am a not so secret lover of the show "So You Think You Can Dance". I've been watching since about half way through Season 1 and I'm totally addicted. This has way surpassed my addiction to Top Model, but probably because the dancers on this show have TALENT.

I was a ballet dancer for 12 years through the Royal Academy Of Dance in the UK, and also did tap dancing for a few years in among that as well. My claim to fame being presented a silver tap dancing certificate by Errol "I Believe In Miracles" Brown of Hot Chocolate. I've done the excruciatingly painful ballet en pointe, had my picture taken for the local paper in my leotard (which still haunts me to this day), and found out that it takes approximately 230 bobby pins and 2 cans of hairspray to get my hair sufficiently up in a bun for examinations. Essentially, I understand the dedication that it takes to dance. Even with all that though, I can't get close to the standard of brilliant that I see with the dancers on this show.

Last night, I was honored to go to the finale taping for Season 5. My office is responsible for a lot of the music licensing that ends up on that show (including the song for my favorite dance of the season above) so my co-worker pulled a few strings and managed to get me tickets. I was giddy all week at the prospect of seeing the action live and I certainly wasn't disappointed. What's even better is that given it was the finale, they performed some of the best dances from the entire season and the top 20 finalists did group numbers together. It was like buying a best-of compilation CD!
I manage to snap this pic with my little Blackberry camera right after the winner was announced and they released the confetti (which also prompted me to feel really sorry for the cleaning crew)! I'm really happy that the win went to Jeanine last night. She's an amazing dancer - fiery, fun and classy all at the same time. Rock on girl!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ugly...but oh so cute!

I just have to take a moment to share one of the most intriguing shows on TV. If you have never had the opportunity to catch it, keep an eye out for the World's Ugliest Dog Competition - aired on Animal Planet. (You can actually use that link to go vote on your favorite ugly dog.)

The first time I caught wind of this contest while flipping through the channels a couple of years ago, I was compelled to watch and my then boyfriend (now husband) walked into the room to see a Chinese Crested with no fur and a tongue hanging sideways out of a very toothless mouth displayed proudly on his new 50" flat screen TV. The first thing to come to mind when seeing such a sight is to exclaim "that is NOT a dog!" However, the bizarrely ugly animals that are included in this show are also bizarrely cute and quite inspiring in their fugliness (not a word I'm sure, but it should be). Outside of their looks though, it's really quite heartwarming to hear the stories of how many of these dogs were rescued and are now so dearly loved by their owners - I believe one of the stories involved the animal shelter actually paying the guy to take the dog home with him.

Any competition where the animal can actually receive additional "personality" points for peeing on a judge is my kind of show. It proves that you don't have to be gorgeous to be a champion!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Free Knit Pattern - Harpa Socks

by Natalie Jacobs

The Harpa sea shell is a natural beauty, with gentle lines and curves. The shell's ornamental ribbing is suggestive of the strings on a harp, hence it's name. Capture it's essence with these lace ankle socks. These are a cuff down sock pattern incorporating a pretty lace pattern for the instep, with some added ribbing interest on the heel. The yarn for this pattern is from indie yarnie Squoosh Fiberarts, in the "Shell" colorway - a perfect fit for this design.

Yarn: Sublime: Fingering by Squoosh Fiberarts (
[420 yards (384 m); Superwash Merino Wool]
Other Materials: Set of 5 DPNs (2.5mm/1.5 US), Stitch marker (if desired), Tapestry needle
Gauge: 8 stitches / 10 rows = 1 inch in stockinette

Note: The lace pattern will make the sock seem narrow until it is placed on the foot, which will open up the lace and expand the sock!

Zig Zag Lace (instep):
Row 1 and all odd rows: p2, *k2, p2* repeat
Rows 2, 4, and 6: p2, *yo, k2tog, p2* repeat
Rows 8, 10, and 12: p2, *sl1, k1, psso, yo, p2* repeat


Cast on 60 stitches and divide evenly between 4 needles (15 stitches on each needle). Join in the round being careful not to twist. Place stitch marker to indicate the beginning of the round, if desired.

1. Work k2, p2 ribbing for 6 rows

Note: This design is for an ankle sock. If you wish to make a longer sock, do additional rows of ribbing until the cuff is the desired length.

Heel Flap:
Work next 30 stitches all onto one needle for the heel flap in Braided Rib. The remaining 30 stitches are not used and will later become the instep of the sock.

2. With RS facing - Sl1, k1, p2, *skip first stitch, second stitch ktbl keeping stitch on left needle, k skipped stitch, slide both stitches off left needle, p2*, [repeat from * to * 6 times] k2
3. With WS facing - Sl1, p1, k2, *skip first stitch, second stitch p keeping stitch on left needle, then p skipped stitch, slide both stitches off left needle, k2*, [repeat from * to * 6 times] p2
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 until heel flap is 20 rows (or is approx 2 inches long), then repeat step 2 once more to end with a RS row

Note: If you wish to accomodate a larger instep, do additional repeats to create a longer heel flap. You will then need to pick up additional stitches for the gusset and add more decrease rounds later.

Turn Heel:
With WS facing - Sl1, P16, P2tog, P1 turn
6. Sl1, K5, K2tog, K1 turn
7. Sl1, P6, P2tog, P1 turn
8. Sl1, K7, K2tog, K1 turn
9. Sl1, P8, P2tog, P1 turn
10. Sl1, K9, K2tog, K1 turn
11. Sl1, P10, P2tog, P1 turn
12. Sl1, K11, K2tog, K1 turn
13. Sl1, P12, P2tog, P1 turn
14. Sl1, K13, K2tog, K1 turn
15. Sl1, P14, P2tog, P1 turn
16. Sl1, K15, K2tog, K1

There should be 18 stitches left on the heel needle.

Needles 1, 2, 3 & 4 will now be designated.

17. Needle 1 - Using needle holding the heel stitches, pick up and knit one stitch in each loop along the heel flap, and an extra stitch in the space between the heel flap and the instep (11 stitches picked up total)
18. Needles 2 & 3 - Work across instep (30 stitches) with Row 1 of Zig Zag Lace pattern
19. Needle 4 - Using spare needle, pick up and knit an extra stitch in the space between the heel and the rest of the sock, and one stitch in each loop along the other side of the heel flap (11 stitches total). Knit across first 9 stitches of the heel flap

The center of the heel will now be the beginning of the round. Place stitch marker if desired.

Knit to last 3 stitches of Needle 1, K2tog, K1; Needles 2 & 3, continue with Zig Zag Lace pattern stitch across instep; Needle 4, K1, SSK, knit to end (2 stitches decreased)
Knit one round with no decreases, continuing with pattern stitch across instep

Repeat steps 20 & 21 until there are 60 stitches total (30 across bottom of sock, 30 across instep).

Body Of Sock:
Continue knitting all stitches for the bottom of sock each round (stockinette), but using the Zig Zag Lace stitch for the 30 stitches on the top of the sock until sock is about 2 inches shorter than desired length. End on row 6 or 12 of the pattern stitch

Toe Decreases:
Knit to last 3 stitches of Needle 1, K2tog, K1; Needle 2, K1, SSK, work across by knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches to create 2x2 ribbing until the last 3 stitches of Needle 3, K2tog, K1; Needle 4, K1, SSK, knit to end (4 stitches decreased)
Knit one round with no decreases maintaining the ribbing across the instep stitches

Repeat steps 23 & 24 until there are 20 stitches remaining. Move the stitches from the top of the sock onto one needle (10 stitches) and from the bottom onto one needle (10 stitches). Weave in with kitchener stitch or other preferred method for finishing sock toe. Weave in all ends.

© 2009 Natalie Jacobs
Pattern is for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not make items originating from this pattern for profit without prior consent from the designer. For any questions regarding the terms of use, please contact the designer at

Thanks to my test knitters who helped me make sure that the pattern is clear and easy to read!

Jenn (
Christine (Christine07 on Ravelry)
Michele (maprice on Ravelry)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Behold the belly!

It still stuns me to realize that I am at the age where my friends are actively discussing pro-creating. Indeed, what would have been considered sordid TMI details a couple of years ago are now discussed no differently from talking about which new recipe we want to try for dinner.

One of my closest friends is due to give birth next month and I am thrilled to be a pseudo-auntie to her unborn. From the moment she said she and her husband were considering getting started with increasing their family size, I just knew she was going to be one of those happy pregnant women who just make it look so damn easy. None of that throwing up, hot flash, pickle craving business. Sure enough, she's 6 weeks out and is still happily tottering along in her heels, albeit more tired than usual, while proudly announcing that her baby is "the size of a pineapple". Of the pregnant women I've known, few have shared her perpetual pregnant glee...and I can only hope that I make it look that easy when I'm in the same position!Anyway, I was thrilled when she asked me to take her belly pics. I've never done maternity shots before, but was excited to oblige. In addition to the required B&W shots, I suggested we take pictures in the park seeing as she grew up in the Northern California wine country and it seemed fitting that she should be frolicking outside.

They're supposed to be a surprise for her husband's birthday this month so I went to her house fully prepared to be ninja-like. Camera bag was hidden in the car, his offer to drive us over to the coffee shop (where we were supposedly going to spend the next hour or so yapping incessantly about female stuff) politely declined, and we were in the process of devising a plan to get him out of the house later in the day to do nude photos in the baby's room (figuring that a naked pregnant lady at the park might raise a few eyebrows). His announcement that he was going to Best Buy to get a DVD player was like a gift from above as we left the house, waited until he had turned the corner in his car, and then ran back to the house to get the indoor photos done in the short window of opportunity offered to us!

We then scurried off to the park and an hour or so later, innocently returned to admire his choice of electronics. I can't wait to see his face when he realizes what we were up to, but for now I have her permission to share these with you.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I actually did it! Meet the website.

Several years ago I purchased the domain and had some seriously gung-ho ideas about getting my photography portfolio online. With my rather rudimentary html skills, I put up something that vaguely resembled a rather simplistic portfolio web design...and then it sat there for a year or so...and then it ground to a resounding halt. A halt that was costing me an annual domain/hosting fee that I wasn't doing anything with.

For a while, I had a fantastic idea to make my own ecommerce portion of the site to sell my wares - photography, crafts, yarns, and whatnot. I spent a few days getting all active with positioning the paypal "buy now" button all over the place and realized that I basically had no content management for my items at all and that was just not going to work.

A few months ago, my friend Charlie (a college student that we bribed with a home cooked meal) came over to help me with some web programming for my husband's music site. He introduced me to the CMS (Content Management System) powered by Wordpress. "But Wordpress is a blog", I told him. "We don't want something that looks like a blog". He gave me the basic rundown on PHP, SQL, and a bunch of other three letter concepts that really meant WTF to me at the time. Then said "you're smart so I know you'll figure it out" and left me to my own devices. After days of crying, banging my head against a wall, and staring blankly at the computer screen; I ended up with this. I can't even describe how proud I was to launch that site, but with all my new found web design powers, my attention turned back to mine.

Yes, I want my website to be so many things but after working on my husband's site for so long, I realized I just had to focus on what I wanted my own website to be in this moment. I decided on a photography portfolio, found the template, found the photos and off I went.
So, I have a ton of content to still be added, but it's a damn fine start and boy am I proud! One day yes, you'll be able to shop on it, and who knows what else. For now though, Organic Stills finally has a big girl website that I am happy to share with you all!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July already?

Looking at my calendar on my office wall today, I'm realizing that it's already July. When the hell did that happen I wonder? This year has been somewhat of a whirlwind so far and doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. The irony is that it's 100 degrees outside and I've spent most of the day so far working on Christmas albums.

The fact is that in order to get Christmas albums into stores at the appropriate time we have to start working on them as early as March. Yes, March. By the time Christmas actually rolls around, I'm ready to tell Rudolph where he can stick his White Christmas. Indeed, come December, I'm hunched over and Grinch-like and ready to kill at the first few bars of "Feliz Navidad" (which just may by my most hated Christmas song of all!) It's not that I hate Christmas songs. I just hate Christmas songs when I'm working on them in the middle of spring and through the summer when I would much rather be contemplating sticking my toes in the pool.

So, I shall lament the rest of my office day before the long weekend, surrounded by holiday cheer of the non-July 4th variety.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A sneak preview

Since moving from England to California 12 years ago, one thing I have discovered is that I do not like wearing shoes. Apart from anything my feet are a seriously peculiar shape. We're not talking a parallelogram or anything, but they're short, wide and have a high instep. To put it simply, shoe shopping is a nightmare for me and sometimes I think that wearing the shoe BOX might be easier than wearing the shoe that's in it.

Of course, in the last couple of years since knitting regularly, I have discovered the beauty of knitting socks. They're small, fun and perfect as a portable project. The thing is that I really don't feel like I'm getting enough benefit from many of the beautiful sock patterns out there because I just don't wear socks that much and when I do, they're generally ankle socks anyway. This meant I just had to design a sock pattern to fit my Golden State style!

This is only a preliminary photo as these are currently having some yarn dyed up for them by an indie yarnie, and also being test knit to make sure that my pattern makes sense. I'm really excited about this pattern though and based on the response I received on Ravelry, they're already generating some interest! So, meet Harpa...The pattern will be available for free on this blog in 2-3 weeks will hopefully grace the footsies of many ankle-sock-loving knitters among us!

My design mojo is strong right now and although I'm not 100% done with this one, I'm already itching to get started on something new. Any suggestions on what pattern you'd like to see from me next?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fiber Friday

A little yarny goodness to take you into the weekend!

This one was dyed up last weekend and is now listed in my Etsy shop. With all the June gloom that I've been seeing, when I was creating this yarn, I wanted something fun, fruity and ready for summer...the result was Mai Tai! It's a hand dyed yarn, recycled from a beige Gap sweater. The plies were respun on my spindle to bring out the best in this yarn. It's 130 yards of worsted weight delight!I also dyed up something a little more representative of June gloom, recycled from the same sweater, although I'm keeping this one for myself. ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

At the suggestion of Etsy!

I was contacted today by Etsy admin, Vanessa, who is doing a feature on weddings in the Storque tomorrow. Given that wedding season is about to hit us full force, why not?! Well, she was looking for photographers on Etsy that also shoot weddings to feature in this article and is planning on using one of my photos. She also asked me if I'd be willing to set up a wedding photography package in my Etsy store. A completely unique and different idea, but who am I to argue when given permission by admin! So, here it Etsy listing for a wedding photography package by yours truly. =)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

That went quickly...

...the last week, I mean. It's amazing how everything seems to go by so fast these days!

It's been a crazy week in general. Last Thursday, my husband became another victim of the economy and was laid off from his job. We were fortunate that we hadn't really felt the effects of the dwindling economy as much up until now and while he's not worried, it's a little unsettling for sure. On the upside, seeing as he's currently acting "house husband", he's promised to clean both the kitchen floor and the bathroom in the next couple of days. If I'm really lucky he'll be cooking dinner more too (which is always good because he's really a very good cook!)

Over the weekend, I was able to participate in the community yard sale that our building was having. I made a strangely satisfying $30, which was enough to buy us lunch on Sunday, and had the double advantage of clearing out some of the clutter that I am so good at collecting!
I also did my first maternity photo shoot with my friend, who is due in August. I'm working hard to build my portfolio right now and get it web-ready, and I've found that I really enjoy this type of shoot. I do wish the sun had come out for a little while, but overall was really happy with how the photos turns out. While we certainly did the semi-nude wistful shots, I've known Paige for a long time and we definitely needed to get out and take shots in a fun and playful space...after all, that's what she is about! So, we took a trip over to a local playground and captured some really goofy moments with the mom-to-be.

As for my website, I've spent a long time thinking about what direction to take it in. I've gone back and forth repeatedly, and also ended up sidetracked by needing to work on my husband's music site ( Anyway, I've concluded that it's portfolio first, shop second. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can handle the first part in getting my portfolio up online within the next month. The shop will eventually be active there, but will have to wait for now. In the meantime, I've dyed up some new recycled yarns that I will be putting in both Etsy and Artfire shops.

So, feeling like I'm already half way into this week already, onward I go...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

An il"loom"inating past time

As part of a swap I'm involved with on craftster - sort of an ongoing thing - I claimed a potholder loom to play with. You may remember these from when you were a kid - square with a bunch of pegs to weave between? I know I don't remember having them in England when I was a child, but I've been intrigued by weaving for a while so I figured this was a great way to play around and see how much I'd want to really get into it!

The loom came with a ton of nylon loops, which to me seem completely pointless because it's not like you can put hot things on top of nylon anyway (assuming of course you're going with the original intent of the loom for making potholders). I found a couple of videos on youtube, to get me started and spent the next 20 minutes of my lunch break weaving squares with some vintage wool tapestry yarn in my possession. The resulting woven piece is actually very pleasing and I'm happy with my first attempts at weaving! I don't think I'll be using these first couple of squares for potholders though - more likely to keep weaving a few more squares and then sew them together into something like a bag or pillow. I think that weaving in general has a slightly higher start-up cost than most of the other crafts that I do and I know eventually I would love to make beautiful scarves, pillows, afghans etc. but I may have to work my way up.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Friday Night Knitting Club

I was very excited to pick up a copy of "The Friday Night Knitting Club" by Kate Jacobs at a thrift store a while back. I'd heard about this book but knew very little about it and decided it was totally worth the dollar to read (but then I don't know what books aren't?!) I finally finished reading it last night - after all, there's no better cold remedy than a hot bath and a good book.

The story is based around Georgia Walker, a single mother who runs a successful yarn shop while raising her pre-teen daughter. A knitting club forms at her shop and the group of women become a support group for each other as they deal with what life has to throw at them.

As an avid yarn fanatic, I loved the concept of a solid story built around a yarn shop in the first place. I enjoyed the characters that are presented in this book - they all have their flaws and even the characters that weren't my favorite in the beginning had thoroughly grown on me by the end. The way the author integrates knitting techniques with representations of life is done very cleverly and the last few chapters of the book really did leave me crying in the bathtub! It may not be the best novel ever written but it was certainly an enjoyable read.

One of the things that this book really had me thinking about is the bond that can form between people who may hardly know each other but have a commonality due to something such as knitting. I think about the websites, or, where relative strangers from different sides of the world with a common interest learn so much about each other that a bond forms between them. I've seen many occasions when someone will come into the forums on one of those sites to ask for advice, or seek support, from these "strangers" and reading this book really reflected that for me.

I hear here's a movie in the works but no information released just yet. It'll be interesting to find out more! Has anybody else read this and what did you think?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A sickie's lament

I'm convinced that every year there is a 2 month period where life carries you away to a place where free time is a distant memory and every moment is filled with something that has to be done, as quickly and efficiently as possible. I've already gone through a round of birthdays (beginning with my own) and heading rapidly into the realm of weddings and baby showers. Somewhere in the midst of it all, I'm attempting to knit up a sample sock for a publication while finalizing the oattern designs of my own and have 2 potential photo shoots to schedule. Of course, what's the worst thing, but also the most likely thing, to happen at a time like this? I got sick.

The good news is that it's not swine flu. Instead, I have a rather irritating cold that is probably a result of being "run down" with things that I've been doing over the last week. I don't even have anybody to blame seeing as the only person I know that's sick is my sister-in-law who several hundred miles away in Vegas and I haven't seen her since our visit almost 3 weeks ago. That would just be a really long gestation period.

So, while I sit here typing, only being able to hear out of my left ear, from behind the confines of my mostly closed office door (for the purposes of letting people know that I am here, but not going to cough on them), I am wondering if I have the strength to make it through a full day at work. I am contemplating how long I can make these 4 cough drops last and whether it's possible to patent some kind of portable steam shower for the purposes of days like today. I'm thinking that the couch at home is sounding good, swaddled in a large blanket with a vat of chicken noodle soup, alternating between knitting and snoozing.

I'm looking forward to a few days from now when my head is no longer in a fog, breathing doesn't involve the accompanying raspy rattle from my chest, and I don't need 4 pillows to keep me at an appropriate angle in bed (so I don't wake up everybody in a 2 mile radius with my rather uncharacteristic snoring).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Been slacking!

I will admit that I have been slacking when it comes to my Etsy shops. I've been managing to pop in once and again to renew a listing, but even though I have a variety of vintage items at home waiting to be photographed, and a ton of yarns that just need to be washed and listed, it's been tough to find the time to get around to it. The new fitness regimen that I'm on has definitely been taking up a lot of my time, as well as assisting the husband with his new website. Learning PHP, SQL, CSS, and a variety of other three letter acronyms is quite time consuming!

This weekend, I managed to give a couple of the yarns a bath - one handspun and one recycled yarn that I re-plied - so I will definitely have to photograph them as soon as they're done drying. I renamed my yarn section in my shop Knitnats, which I think will be my yarn moniker.On the vintage side, I photographed some depression glass, this pretty pressed glass vase, and a gorgeous George Buckett lithograph ready for listing. I've actually had a hard time deciding if I want to keep the litho for my own kids...but I don't have any yet so I'm going to see if it sells first! I think it would be a pretty addition to any nursery.

It's good to feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things. After all, I wouldn't want my shops and my blog to feel neglected.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Confessions of an earring addict

I've really come to terms over the last few years with the fact that earrings really are my jewelry of choice. I enjoy necklaces but invariably strangle myself at some point during the day, which takes away from the whole appeal. I do wear the occasional bracelet but they're not an every day thing for me - not the most comfortable accessory while I'm clacking away on the keyboard at work - so I tend to reserve them for evenings out and weddings. Ever since getting married, I've also neglected most of the rings I own in favor of proudly displaying my wedding and engagement bands. The beauty of earrings are that they can be anything from ridiculously wild and playful to demure and understated...and once they're in your ears you can forget about them but know that they are keeping you well adorned in the simplest of ways.

I recently signed up for an earring swap on Craftster, seeing as my earring collection needed a little rejuvenation. Over the last year, I managed to lose one of each of the earrings from two of my favorite pairs. This was definitely a good time to replenish with some new favorites and maybe take the opportunity to dig around in my box of beads and findings for some new inspiration.

I'm still waiting on the rest of the earrings from my swap partners but I was really happy to get back into the swing of things with this pair made from shells and wooden beads. I made some for one of my partners but loved them so much I wanted a pair for myself.

I also took this opportunity to bust out my wigjig and make some swirly wire bits. I'm still using the wire that came with it, which I'm finding to be very easy to bend but entirely too fragile for my liking. However, I was still very happy with my first attempt and have offered them up for another swap on Craftster. I'm going to have to pick up some heavier wire at the store and go to down with squiggly earring designs! The possibilities really are endless so what kind of designs would you like to see?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I was hacked

I woke up this morning to find out that the Organic Stills e-mail account had been hacked and somebody had sent an e-mail to everybody on my contact list asking for money. Thankfully, most people are pretty familiar with this type of cheap tactic that scammers are currently using and don't actually send money their way.

So, here's how it worked for me. At first I just couldn't log into my gmail account (which this blog is also attached to I should add). I went to hit the "reset password" button and was told that the link needed was sent to my yahoo account. The problem being that I don't have a yahoo account. Obviously when they hacked me, they had changed the alternate address provided. I had to fill out the Google form giving them all the information I could possible think of to verify that it's me. An hour later, Google sends me an e-mail telling me that they've looked into it and verify that I can now go back in and reset my settings, which I do. I find myself looking at the e-mails they sent in my sent mail folder, as well as the alternate e-mail address they registered so that I couldn't reset my password. I'm currently looking into notifying the appropriate authorities with all of this information.

My biggest concern of course was the impression that would be left upon the various people on my contacts list receiving an e-mail like that from me. I can only hope they are understanding. I've updated my security settings on every account I can think of right now and I am considering myself incredibly fortunate that they only had access to my account for a very short period of time and there appears to have been no intent other than trying the trust of my clients, friends and family members. I will of course be closely monitoring the situation until I can consider myself to be all clear.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I'd totally forgotten about this!

A while back, a certain Vickie Howell (who has hand-held me through much of the process of learning to knit courtesy of Knitty Gritty) was looking for crafters to send her information on themselves and their craft for a new project she was working on. I very randomly thought it sounded like fun and sent along my bio with a little picture of myself. Time went by and I somewhat forgot I'd even submitted my info...until this morning. I went to check out Vickie's new site - Craft Corps - and found someone very familiar staring back at me!Check out the comments of the post below this one and you'll see a little comment from Vickie letting me know that I am being featured. I'm truly excited and honored given that the site only just launched. Anyway, if you haven't already, I encourage you to send your info in to the site so that your story can also be told!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finally finished!

I have a small issue with my knitting projects. I seem to have a habit of getting 85-95% done with them, then they disappear into the "almost done" vortex. Usually it's a question of sewing up some seams, sewing on a button, weaving in the ends. Ok, there's theme here. Apparently I don't love the sewing part. I don't know if that's a great excuse for letting a project sit in my closet for 3 months before being "finalized" enough to wear!

Last night, while rummaging through my closet, I came across the minisweater (pattern by Stephanie Japel) that I started making sometime in December or early January. It was literally done except for some ends to weave and a button for the front...which took me about 90 seconds to take care of. I was proudly able to wear it into work today, seeing as the So Cal weather is bright, sunny, but not too hot.

Anyway, here it is. 3 weeks to knit, 3 months to finish, but I love it. I also understand now why everybody loves Malabrigo - it is buttery soft to work with and wonderful to wear. My husband was happy to take these photos (probably because I essentially asked him to photograph my chest) although his opinion on the cardi itself is "I like it, but where's the rest of it?" He cannot for the life of him understand the concept of a shrug/bolero/anything missing the bottom half. Good thing I'm not making him wear it. Personally, I'm really glad this knit piece got a happy ending!

Friday, April 24, 2009

That thing they call adulthood

A week from today I will be turning 30. In the lead up to this "milestone" birthday, it's definitely given me reason to reflect upon the last decade of my life - where I've come from, where I'm going to, and other random musings.

I was really inspired to share my thoughts after going to get my lunch yesterday. I'd been busy moving offices at work and after hauling boxes about for 4 hours I was starving and somewhat grouchy. I apparently picked the exact time that the local high school let out to go get my lunch and when I saw the dozens of teenagers milling about, crowding the space I was in and generally being teenagers, I found myself thinking "why the hell are you not still in school?"

I have been having this kind of thought a lot more recently as I am apparently being launched kicking and screaming into the realization that yes, I am what they call an adult. In my own head, I am still a juvenile in so many ways. I still think it would be funny to take someone's office chair and hide it in one of the elevators in our building. I still think it's funny to play pranks on my co-workers, laugh at fart jokes, whine when I can't have ice cream...and I can't imagine not doing these things. Perhaps that's the true definition of being "youthful" - a brat on the inside but masquerading as an adult?

I don't remember taking the test for this! There's no class or lecture telling you how to handle it and it still surprises me a little bit that I could be considered responsible, mature, ok to ride without training wheels. I am firmly entrenched in the world of FHA, 401K, IRA, HOAs and other things with strange acronyms. I willingly took on a mortgage, discovered that Home Depot is my friend (or perhaps I just spend way too much time there), and actually get excited enough about plumbing products that I blog about them. When I get together with my friends, we sit and talk extensively about things you're not supposed to - like politics and religion. My girlfriends and I share a common state of marital bliss and spend much of our time discussing ovulation and which baby names our former selves would have made fun of. When did I start sounding like a potential parent? How can I even be considering when would be a good time to start having kids when I am a kid myself?

It's only when I look back over my last decade that I realize how far I've come and how much I've learned. Sure, I've made a ton of mistakes along the way but that's how we learn isn't it? I have learned that even if you are technically an adult, your parents will always think of you as their little kid...but no matter how old you get, when you get yourself in trouble, your parents may well still be the first people you call for help. I learned that I really am capable of so much and living on my own taught me that. I've learned that when you've crashed cars and been in car crashes, AAA membership is a wonderful wonderful thing. I've learned that there will always be people that you leave behind or lose track of in each stage of your life. As sad as that may be, treasure those that you carry with you. There are also those that you feel that have wronged you. I've learned that it's possible to move on and forgive. I've learned that when the doctor tells you that your body will "change" after the age of about 28, she's not lying. I've learned there is nothing wrong with acting like a kid - I'd rather have smile wrinkles than frowny ones. I've learned that instinct is an incredibly powerful thing and you should listen to it. I've learned that some jokes are is some music (even if Salt'n Pepa's "Push It" is now 22 years old and you just can't figure out how the hell that happened). I've learned that the stranger that once told me "you're too young to die but never too young to rock" knew exactly what he was talking about.

I've learned.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Vintage Village

A little while after opening my vintage shop on Etsy, I found out about the Vintage Village website. This is a site set up for vintage artists to share their wares and make a group effort to promote vintage goods. It also has a sister site - Vintage Rising - which is designed to promote items created from reclaimed vintage items.

If you're looking for a place to find some really cool vintage pieces, or somewhere to promote your vintage shop, I definitely suggest you take a minute to check it out! Here's my little photo slideshow that I made this morning. You can just click on any picture to take it to the description page. I'm hoping to get some time soon to photograph more of my vintage stash to put up in my store.

Find more photos like this on The Vintage Village

My other plan right now is to upcycle some of the many many notecards, postcards and other paper ephemera that I've been finding. Most of it is vintage but there are some bits and bobs that I can't really date. Either way, there's lot of cute things can be made I'm sure. So, question is - what would you want to buy that's made from upcycled vintage cards (i.e. notepads, collage art etc.)? I would love your opinions.