Monday, December 26, 2011

Hope You Had a Happy Merry

I hope everyone had/is having a happy, merry holiday season.  I finished almost all of my holiday presents on time.  I'm lounging now in my new Christmas sheep pjs so here's a quick look at what's been keeping me away from the blog:

Working at the shop, Santa and Mrs. Claus needed a little help finding the insurance guy who is in our building.  I geeked out a bit when they cut through the shop to escape the rain :o)

I somehow finished the Umaro blanket.  This was my stepfather's Christmas gift.  He loved it.

The Brooklyn Fiber Arts Guild had an author panel for 60 More Quick Knits and I was surprised to see Lily Chin was part of the panel.  I loved these ladies...they were great!

I promised everyone I wouldn't go as crazy for the shop's holiday party as I did for Halloween.  So I baked eggnog cake and cupcakes, iced with eggnog frosting.  The cake was modeled after the Christmas Balls class we had earlier in the month.

Mom got me sheepy pjs for Christmas.  Sheep seemed to be the theme of her gifts for me this year.  I'll torture you with that another time though.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween Wrap Up: The Ones That Didn't Make It

Only 361 days until Halloween!

This is the last Halloween post, I swear.  And it's reserved for the tutorials that I just didn't get to...this year.

Photo from

First, the Hula Hoop Spider Web.  Ugh!  So sad this one didn't work out.  It would've been a good use for the hula hoop I never use.  For mine, I wanted to cover my pink and blue hula hoop with black electrical tape since it's removeable and then use some old black acrylic yarn for the web.  Unfortunately, every store I went to had assorted electrical tape colors, except black.  Seriously!  I couldn't find it anywhere.  Time ran out and I just never made the web.  Next year!

Photo from

This one was one of my favorites!  This was the pillowcase tutorial I mentioned a couple days ago that I also wanted to make but didn't have a stock of pillowcases for.  It would have been great for the chairs at the shop.  If I find pillowcases at garage sales (meaning, if I actually go to any garage sales this summer), I'll make them for next year.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Halloween Wrap Up: The Party!

362 days until Halloween!

Not much to say here.  Other than we had a great time, as usual!

Candy corn martinis and a Christmas Ball!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween Wrap Up: The Costume(s)

Only 363 days until Halloween!

So my first costume.  Yes, I said first.  I had two for this year.  One was the cute decent one.  The other was the more, um, revealing one.

But the first one.  I wore this one to the shop's party and on Halloween.  I found yet another tutorial I just had to make this year.  Yes, the girl in the tutorial is about 8 years old.  Yes, it's made out of a pillowcase.  Yes, I thought I could squeeze myself into this same costume.

Photo from

And I did.  But it was tight.  My butt and hips are a little too big for it, but it was fun to wear anyway.

For my costume, I bought white pillowcases at Target.  I might have to take the designer's advice and scour some garage sale next summer for pillowcases so I can make a different tutorial (to be seen another day).

For the bottom border I used some fabric I loved at Joann's.  I used the same fabric for the straps.

The eyes and mouth were made out of the wrong side of Dad's jeans.  He had me cut some black pants into shorts for him this summer and I saved the denim.  Good thing cause it came in handy when I realized I had no black fabric for my costume!  The wrong side was a bit darker than the right side so I reversed it.  Otherwise I would have used a Sharpie to draw it all on.
Another eye option from

I wore my tunic with some leggings and a black sweater- way too cold this year for sleeveless.  I also made some Halloween legwarmers.  Mom had bough me some toe socks that I couldn't stand to wear anymore (passed that phase in high school...) so I cut the toes off, serged the edges and wore them as legwarmers :o)

The final product!  Sorry for the crappy cell phone picture.  Must find a new place to take self-photos...

As for the second costume, well, it never happened.  If you haven't heard, New York was hit with SNOW that Halloween Saturday.  Seriously.  It never snows in downstate NY until after Halloween.  Upstate is a different story, but down here no no no.  I was sooooo not putting on a mildly skimpy outfit and taking the train to a bar that night.  And I'm very happy with that decision.  Kyle and I went to his friend's house to watch the UFC fights instead.  Read- Steph knit all night in a room full of macho guys (and a macho girl who's awesome though).  Gotta say though, they're a great group of guys.  And they like my baking.  They were the recipients of the shop's leftovers from the Halloween party.

My costume was going to be a Greek goddess.  I even bought jewelry and accessories for it this year.  I've had this dress for a couple years now.  It was $18 on a clearance rack at Macy's and I thought it would be great for Halloween.  A drapey halter top dress with a gold empire band detail could be the goddess, an angel or Marilyn Monroe (if I take the band off).  I haven't used it yet!  But I have a costume for next year!

And for those of you who do wear skimpy costumes on Halloween I have some advice- find a local dance supply store and purchase yourself a pair of appropriately nude colored dancer's tights.  Best thing to wear for those bare legs when it's a chilly Halloween.  Someone should've told those super skimpy (refraining from saying a different word) younger teen trick-or-treaters who claimed they weren't cold.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween Wrap Up: The Decorations

364 days until Halloween!

I stared decorating the shop well ahead of time.  Most of the decorations really were just cobwebs around the shop.

The challenge is to get spooky without blocking any merchandise.  Not the easiest to do in this shop!

Notions Graveyard

No cash register is safe from me!

Madeline Tosh Display

I also hung some spooky curtains on the door and windows.  And my knitting witch plaque <3.  I got this when I was in college at Joann's.  So perfect for me :o)

Stitching Witch

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Wrap Up: The Food

Only 365 days until Halloween!

What's a party without some fun food?  As usual, I went overboard but it was totally worth it.

This year we have to thank Betty Crocker for most of the food.  I knew I wasn't going to have time to make everything from scratch, plus was being lazy in trying to avoid too much hand mixing.  I already had a lot planned for the week and wasn't sure if I'd be subbing at all (I did on Tuesday!) so I played it safe and used the handy dandy boxed mixes.

First, I made cupcakes.  There was a fun holiday mix that had orange sprinkles in it, and I bought the Halloween version of the Rainbow Chip frosting (my favorite).  I also made chocolates to decorate with.

The chocolates were both white and black (white chocolate flavored).  I had a mold already for spiderweb lollipops that had little spiders molds too.  I made white webs (without the lollipop stick) and painted the spider on and made little black spiders.  I used the spiders to top the cupcakes.

The new mold I bought this year was a skeleton in pieces.  The display was to make brownies and "dirt" and make it look like the skeleton was coming out of the grave.  No time for that so I just made a box of brownies and messily cut/broke them up and put the chocolate bones into my cauldron bowl together.  I also used some limbs to decorate the cupcakes.

My last bit of food was sugar cookies.  These I was disappointed in, but it wasn't Betty's fault.  I decided to forego using cookie cutters* this year and found 2 new cookie pans to use.  I bought the Wilson Creepy Finger Cookie Pan.  I had high hopes for this pan but was disappointed.  Not the pan's fault, I just have to finagle cooking times on this and I only had 2 trays to try it on.  They all came out overcooked.  They were also a pain to ice with confectioner's sugar+water icing.  The pan was SO easy to clean though.

I also made some cookies (and a couple cupcakes) in a Wilson Silicone Mini Pumpkin Mold.  I figured I'd try it out for the cookies and it wasn't too bad- I, again, just have to figure out the amount of dough to put in and how long to cook for.  They got good reviews though.  I tried to use this with my other silicone mold tray, but apparently Kitchen Aid and Wilson don't work together to make their trays compatible.  All well.  I put it on an old cookie tray to get it in and out of the oven.

And time for another tutorial!  I found this one and had to make it.  Instead of using cake circles, I bought some cheap festive plates (orange, brown and green) at Michael's and used mini paint cans instead of a vase.  I "glued" my candy corn on with plain frosting and filled my paint cans with Reese's Pieces and Halloween Dots.  I "glued" it all together with the frosting too.   You bet this will make a reappearance around Thanksgiving!

*Good thing because apparently they've all be ruined in the screen house.  I had bout that big box of Halloween/Autumn cookie cutters at Michael's a couple years ago.  Either they got rained on (possibly during Irene) or just the summer humidity got to them.  They're all rusty.  I don't think they're useable anymore :o(.  Must get a job and find a place to live that my stuff isn't constantly getting rained on.  Or find a Sugar Daddy but I don't think Kyle would appreciate that one...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Only 366 days until Halloween!  Yes, I know I'm crazy.  But now that it's over (and I'll hopefully have time for blogging again), here's what I've been up to the past week.

This website could be the death of me.  One Pretty Thing is a site that does a little roundup of craft tutorials online.  And I had a blast with a couple of the Halloween ones this year.  Thank you to everyone who made tutorials- I had a blast bonding with my sewing machine and serger again.

Ann and Kathleen (wonderful Village Knitter owners) gave me permission to throw a party at the shop during our Thursday night group.  So I finally had the opportunity to use some of those great tutorials.

I spent a lot of time and frustration working on my table runner.  Such a simple project (except when your sewing machine is mine).    Because my machine was in storage in the backyard shed for a couple years after college, it doesn't exactly function all that well these days.*  It works good enough for me for now though.  My frustrations though working on it really had nothing to do with the functioning of my machine.  More several little things going wrong.  

But first, let's talk about the runner itself.  The one in the tutorial used ribbon and burlap but I was a bit limited.  I got a ride from Dad to Michael's so I could get the ribbon and everything else I needed for the Halloween party, but Joann's is not exactly down the block.  I figured I'd be able to find something to use at Michael's though for the burlap.  Sure, it just happened to be $7 felt.  I mean, it's felt.  Not real wool felt.  Typical craft polyester felt.  But it was big enough.  But it was $7.  I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much on something that wasn't exactly what I wanted.  The felt is thick (don't want any drinks spilling near our projects!) and it was super white- not exactly a "Halloween" color.  So I didn't buy it (though it felt like I bought everything else in the store....but that's coming).

I eventually found the perfect material at Target- a shower curtain!  Ok, so it was perfect because I found it for $2.17 in the clearance section.  But that works for me!  The shower curtain is a dark gray with lines of circles/dots that are formed with a different texture.  They were helpful in keeping my sewing ::sorta:: straight.  As straight as I can get it.  There's a reason Crooked Knits is the title for this blog...

So the frustrations- There were 3.  1- You try pinning 9 feet of ribbon to a plastic curtain.  Oy!  I didn't have enough pins to pin everything at once.  Not sure where all my pins went.  But the pinning was just the beginning.  2- Sewing with all that length of ribbon was quite a pain.  There's a lot of, um, un-straight parts and parts where my zigzag stitch starts to run away from the ribbon.  But also the vinyl shower curtain puckered a lot.  I wasn't anticipating that.  3- UGH I hate my bobbin.  This machine has always given me bobbin troubles.  The thread tangles.  And then the bobbin thread breaks.  All the time.  Halfway through a length of ribbon I would realize it.  Except it broke 3 inches in.  Oy.  Ann told me my needle might not be sharp enough and could be cutting it by accident.  Or on purpose.  I bet that machine enjoys seeing me get frustrated.

But overall I love the project!  And of course it can be adapted for any holiday.

I swear I won't blather so much about the rest of my projects :o)  That was the only one that gave me any problems or had much of a story to go with it.  Ok maybe that's not so true.  The costume story will probably be a bit long.  But you'll have to wait to read about that one :o)

*My poor little Janome must've gotten some water damage in the shed.  When I push the pedal, nothing happens.  To make it work, one must push the pedal and hand turn the Hand Wheel (uh, duh on the name) and only then will it run.  This really isn't such a big deal except when:  winding a bobbin, doing a short backstitch, working in tight corners.  But really, it's manageable.  It's really tempting that a nice basic Singer is on sale at Costco right now.  Must hold out/save for an industrial machine though.  And a spinning wheel.   

Thursday, October 20, 2011


In my frantic rush Monday to go see the Yarn Harlot (read about that adventure here), I could have sworn I packed my Grass Green hat and newly finished Mock Cable Wristers for the chilly evening.  Well, when I got on my last train, they weren't in my purse.

Ok, breathe.  It's going to be ok.  I must have left them on the couch while I was rushing around to get out the door.  No big deal.

They weren't on the couch.  They weren't in the basket I keep my shawls, hats and gloves in.  They weren't on the floor or the rocking chair.  They weren't anywhere in the house.

:o( Sad moment.

I called Subway, Starbucks, Barnes and Noble and TD Bank.  None of them had my hat.  LIRR, on the other hand, makes you fill out this ridiculous form for lost items.  I called them while I was filling it out and the lady said to call back after I filed it.  I did.  She was super sweet and helpful but said that they hadn't come in yet.  She said if I didn't get a call Wednesday to call back on Thursday.  Guess we'll find out today if my hat and mitts showed up.  Cross your fingers for me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How the Yarn Harlot Saved My Life

*Ok, so she didn't really.  But she totally could have.

Rewind to the beginning.

Monday, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was doing a book signing for All Wound Up in Park Slope.  Sweet!  Julia had told me about the event but could not make it.  So I had to go for the both of us!

I was pretty lazy that day and left the house in such a rush.  I had to walk to the train station (still no car) which is about a half hour walk except that I had about 25 minutes before the train was due into the station.  So I speed walked and actually made it there with enough time to get my ticket and take a breath.  Except I was pretty sweaty and gross.  All I could think was oh man please don't let me smell bad when I meet the Yarn Harlot!

I spent the train ride working on my Bluerose socks and Traveling Woman shawl.  It was overall uneventful.  When I got to Brooklyn I grabbed a quick bite to eat at Subway before walking towards Barnes and Noble.  Yes, I decided to save the $2.25 on a subway ride and walk the half hour to the store.  It worked out well though because I needed to deposit a check at the bank on the way and thought I knew where a branch was located.  I was rushing though because it was quite the walk and I wanted to be sure to get to the bookstore and have time to find a seat.
Reading an excerpt

After all that rushing, I made it there with plenty of time and went straight to the customer service desk to ask where the talk was going to be.  Right after the employee told me where to go, I turned around and headed to the escalators.  Just then she walked in.  I didn't know what to do.  I just, well, froze.  I whipped out my cell, pretending to look busy and then hurried off down the escalator.

I found a seat and waited.  I was really shocked how few people were there at that point.  The store had set up about 35 seats set up, 5 of which were facing the wrong way.  Ridiculously, they were zip tied together and the store employee would not let us cut them apart** but would let us turn the entire row of chairs around.  Cause you know, zip ties are so darn expensive these days...

After a while it really filled up.  I mean, standing room only.  I was glad to have a seat and a decent view***.  When SPM took the podium, she was much different than what I was expecting.  I was expecting her to be bigger.  Or maybe taller.  Somehow more intimidating and less down-to-earth.  I guess that's just a result of seeing her big personality online.  But she's actually close to my height (5'3"****) and size.  She was also so much nicer than I expected.  Not that I expected her to be mean or anything.  But she just jumped right into talking to everyone.  I guess, though, when this is your career it's more like second nature for you.  I was a bit in awe.

She talked a little, then read 3 excerpts from the book, answered questions and chatted with us, and then started the book signing.  I was in no rush so I sat with some other ladies for a while knitting and chatting.  I don't actually want to give anything away from the book in case you're waiting to purchase it or see her in person.  But we found it funny that one of her stories involved her looking something up in a medical reference book at the library and that was the section of the store we were squished into.  She took a picture of the wall behind her once it was pointed out.  She also took a picture of the crowd and you can see me way in the back of it on her blog post of the event.

Now, I know I've never mentioned SPM around here before.  That's probably because I'm not the typical Yarn Harlot fan.  When I read a blog, I like to start at the beginning.  Sometimes I don't and just jump in, but I do the same with podcasts and TV shows.  Which is why I'm about 3 years behind in listening to CraftLit at the moment.  I've tried to go back and read SPM's blog from the beginning.  And I've made it through quite a bit.  But she's been blogging for a while now, and she blogs often.

Working on my Traveling Mermaid Shawl

And the other problem?  Sometimes her blog rambles a bit too much for my attention span.  I admit, I scan a lot of blogs rather than reading every bit, especially when people are writing about their projects and the mods made and yadda yadda.  But with her blog it's different.  Maybe it's because she's a writer by profession.  Trust me, I've even tried to read her books.  They just don't hold my attention.  But Monday night, I was eating it up!  SPM needs to make audiobooks of her publications.  And if I had my way, she'd be the one to be reading them aloud.  Let's make it better, we'll make it a video- she had the best facial expressions while reading to us!  It made it so much better.  It made the stories come alive in a way that her blog and books never had for me.  I mean, I know she was standing right there actually alive in front of me, but the stories were just so much more intriguing to me.  Now how do I convince her on my plan??  Any ideas out there?

At the end of the night, she was super sweet and signed two books for me so that Julia could have one even though she couldn't make it.  We chatted with her a bit and she did not try to rush us at all even though we lingered a bit.  But eventually we left her to sign copies for the store and head upstairs to pay for our books. The girl I had been standing with checked out fast but there was a problem with the guy in front of me and it took forever.  And then SPM and her friend were 2 people behind me in line.  With the book.  SPM was standing in line to buy her own book.  Apparently she left her copy of it home and needed another for her readings.  I was much amused by this.

Now, onto the saving part of the story.  I checked the train schedule and realized once again, I had less than a half hour to get to the train station to make the train on time.  And yes, the walk takes about a half hour.  I booked it down 7th Ave towards Flatbush and then decided I could probably make faster time going down 5th Ave (it would take me closer to the station) so I cut down 4th St.  And then I remembered.  All the stories I've been hearing on the news and warning my Park Slope friends about.  Over the past few months there have been far too many sexual assualts on women at night in that general area.  Ugh of course I remember this walking down a dark not very busy street.  I walked faster than I think I ever have.  I reached 5th Ave and was disappointed to see it was less busy than I was expecting.  But it was lit and there were people.  I avoided the men on the street, especially those who fit the suspect descriptions.

Addicted to knitting?  Maybe that's me...
I started walking a little more at ease, swinging my arms as I speed walked to the station.  And then I remembered- I have two hardcover Yarn Harlot books in a shopping bag.  Well, that could make a good weapon.  Obviously I have my sharp pointy knitting needles but they're buried in my purse.  But this bag.  Well, it could make a good defense against an attacker.  I could imagine it- someone coming to bother me and I would just turn around swinging that bag.  And then when I knocked him down, I could quickly grab my knitting needles just in case.

The girls with the best name EVER!  (She agreed)

Thankfully, I did not need to worry so much about it.  I made it to the station just fine though very parched.  But she totally could have saved me had I needed a defense.

We have the same name.  You would think they would look the same in her handwriting.

Now that I'm safely at home, I'm looking forward to reading this book.  Maybe now that I've seen her in person, I'll just hear her voice as I read them and my attention will stay with the stories she tells.  Oh, and yes she says "aboot" and "eh" and other cute Canadian things :o)

**At least 5 people turned around and offered their scissors.  I love knitters.  We always come prepared.

***I had a great view when I offered the seat next to me (I was saving for a friend who couldn't show last minute) to a lady when her birdfaced baby mommy friend snottily asked can't I move down.  Ugh.  If SPM hadn't already speaking I would have said something but I didn't want to be rude unlike some people.  Birdface had to sit next to her friend, even though she had to keep getting up to soothe her cute baby and wound up giving up her seat anyway.  I hate people.  Her baby was really cute though.

****and a quarter but people don't usually count that.  But that was all the height I gained from 8th grade to high school.  So I was very proud of it at one time.  And I'll take what I can get in the height department.


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