Monday, July 28, 2008

Use a coaster, please

Yesterday I was at my friend Ellen's house. After she poured me a cool glass of lemonade she gave me the perfect crocheted coaster to put my glass on. Since she is the crochet queen, she gave me a quick break down of the coaster before I left. I got home and got to work before all the double crochet goodness left my mind completely. This is what I remember.

coasters 1

I am a novice crocheter so my instruction are not up to crochet standards, but this is what I did.

I chained 8, slipped stitched to join the circle.
Chained 3, and double crocheted 11 times into the center, slip st to join circle
Chained 3 and double crocheted 2x's in between each double crochet all the way around, slipped st to join round.
Chained three and double crocheted 3x's into space between the two double crochets, all the way around, slip st to join round.
Chained 3 and slip stitched into each space between the 3 double crochets and then joined round with a slip stitch.

Ta-dah! That's it.

Ellen's had a fancy picot edge but I could not really figure that out and watch the Next Foodnetwork Star at the same time. They turned out well just the same.

Today she sent me a link for another coaster.
This one to be exact.
coaster 3
I left off the 4th round because it was getting too floofy and big for a coaster. This is a reworked 1893 circle motif pattern. Isn't that cool? The old gal works up and looks great.

Gold medal coasters! Really it's Hot Orange and Creamsicle in Sugar & Cream. This is fast, fun, and functional.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Crafting Odyssey: Part III

The continuation of Alberta Street: the craftiest street in Portland.

After my foray at Artfibers I needed some new needles in anticipation of casting on my mystery cardy. Plus I am working on the FLS and after doing my yoke increases was ready for some longer circulars. The 24-inchers were not cutting it. I had planned on visiting Knit-Purl later in the day after my trip to Bolt. But, to my great surprise as I walked up to Bolt, there was a yarn store right next door. So after making my fabulous purchases at Bolt I knew where I was headed.

Second stop: Close Knit
2140 NE Alberta St. @22nd
Close Knit
This is a fully stocked with delicious yarn place to shop. You can find all your favorites here. They even had the Dream in Color, hand dyed yarn that some people are using for their FLS's. I had a great conversation with the owner, a lovely woman, whose name has completely escaped me and I thought I had her card too. Well, poo. So much for my memory.

There were lots of tempting yarns, which I managed to resist since I had 1100 yds of dreaminess in my suitcase. I did pick up 3 pairs of needles and two books.
knit books
One book is Sublime (611). Sublime is the organic cotton dk line from Sridar. The other is Enchanted Gardens by Louisa Harding.
There are lots of great patterns in these books. These two are my favorites.

Now, my choices were to go to the bus stop or wander down the street and explore. I chose to wander and see what other little gems the street had to offer.

Third stop: Tumbleweed
1812 NE Alberta St. @ 18th
Pretty, pretty dresses in the window caught my eye. My curiosity dragged me inside. A lovely, lovely shop filled with dresses of the owner's design called Kara-line. The shop carried other labels mixed in with her beautiful dresses. Beautiful summer dresses are hard to resist. I really couldn't resist this one.

floral frock

kara line dress
This dress is so lightweight it hardly took any room in my suitcase. Kara also owns the children's boutique next door called Grasshopper. I didn't know this at the time, but I will definitely make a stop there next time I am in town. While I was in the shop there was a conversation about the amazing pie at the corner café. It was getting late and I was due to meet the hubby soon so I skipped pie. I know, what the heck was I thinking! This time I was determined to get to the bus stop. I crossed the street. Stood at the bus stop. Looked up the street, no bus yet. Looked down the street into uncharted territory and saw a sign. I had to take a closer look.

Fourth stop: Collage
1639 NE Alberta St. @ 17th
This store has everything from canvas to papers, to stamps & paint. They even have a diy lounge in the back of the store for classes in craftiness. This was an awesome store. I just spent a few precious minutes perusing although I did manage to find a couple of things. I'm a girl that loves a good stamp or two. The hubby sent word that he was back at the hotel, which was my big incentive to finally get on the bus.

If you love fabric, fiber, or paper this street has got you covered. The businesses are independently owned and operated. All the stores I stopped in were owned by women. There is not a chain store in sight. There were lots of other interesting storefronts that I passed on my wanderings. Next time I will spend more time wandering down NE Alberta Street. Maybe I will try the little Italian place across the street from Close Knit & Bolt. I know two things for sure will definitely return to NE Alberta St. and stop for pie!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Crafting Odyssey: Part II

The craftiest street in Portland is Alberta Street in NE Portland also known as the Alberta Arts District. You can spend lots of time in a few short blocks and address all your crafting needs.

My first stop was Bolt Neighborhood Fabric Boutique.
2136 NE Alberta St. @ 22nd
This small store packs a powerful punch for the modern day sewer. Here you can find all your favorite fabric designers from Amy Butler to Westminster. The owner is Sally and she has a great eye for color and design. She is super duper nice and has really created a fun place to shop.

Here are the fun fabrics I picked up.
Afternoon Play

Afternoon Play close up
This is from the Chloe's Imagination Collection by Tina Givens for Westminster.
If you love this fabric you have to check out her other flights of fancy. Warning: you will want to buy it all!!!


trefle close up
Whoa that one photo is blurry but you can see the pattern. This is a Japanese fabric called Trefle (HA3930) by Kokka. This one will be part of an apron. Makes sense right?

Drums of Afrika
This deep indigo blue really captivated me. This is Drums of Afrika by Sonie Ruffin for Andover Fabrics. With this lovely fabric I plan on making the Anna Tunic by Amy Butler

This is Pine from Joel Dewberry's Ginseng Collection. Sally informed me that he considers this faux bois pattern his stripe. Very clever that Joel. Every crafter needs some wood, I mean stripes in the stash so I added this to the pile. He is also the designer behind the sparrow fabric I used for the place mats in the BTRSswap. I obviously have a little thing for his fabrics.

japanese bunnies

This Japanese bunny fabric was too much for me. I had to have it. Who & what & where this fabric comes from I know not but will you look at them cute bunnies.

Bolt is a destination fabric store. It is a must see while in Portland. While I was shopping there were two women from Berkeley, CA and two other women from some hinterland in Oregon came in to shop. In addition to the fabric, I picked up the Anna Tunic pattern by Amy Butler, 2 apron patterns by the Threaded Pear Studio, 2 quilt patterns by Barbara Brandeburg, and one by Denyse Schmidt. I had a good old time as you can see but this was just the beginning of my morning adventure.

Tune in tomorrow for more on the Craftiest Street in Portland.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Crafting Odyssey: Part I

Let me tell you the adventures I have had visiting two crafty lands. On the map they are known as San Francisco & Portland. It all started as a tag-along to hubby's business trip. We got up at 4am on Thursday to catch our flight to San Fran. Normally I would be very grouchy at this hour but I had big plans and I was clapping *Hercules! Hercules!* excited.

Upon arrival we went to Chinatown to get some dim sum, but we were way too early to get our dim sum on. The people of Chinatown sleep in late and you can't get dim sum until around 11am. We had to go to a café across the street from Chinatown instead.



la forchette

If you happen on this café just opt for a café au lait and a pain au chocolate. We both had comme si, comme sa omelets. Too bad.

However, now that I was adequately fortified I was off to
Yes Artfibers!

Cookie & Kiss those two adorable rascals I call my god children...
CK W/ mom & dad
(here they are with Mom & Dad) got me a gift certificate to Artfibers for coming to take care of Mom & Dad after they were born. Those kids are so thoughtful. I took them to their first yarn store, you know.

Artfibers has beautifully special yarn with gorgeous colors and fantastic mixes of fiber.

After a couple of hours I settled on a beautiful blue yarn called Kyoto (69% silk/25% super kid mohair/6% extrafine wool).
kyoto 2
I love the color. One of the services that Artfibers provides is that they will customize a pattern to your measurements and your swatch gauge. Genius. My wardrobe lacks an all purpose cardigan so I had them magically put together a cardy to my specifications, which they printed out for me. How the pattern will really turn out is a mystery because there is no picture just imaginings on printed paper.


I cast on yesterday. This is the bottom moss stitch band of the sweater. I will keep you posted on the mystery silk cardy.

The hubby collected me from the yarn store and we flew off to Portland. We arrived just in time to shower and go to dinner with a client at Three Doors Down Café This neighborhood cafe is located in the Hawthorne district. GO to this Italian restaurant. You will not be disappointed. The food is sooooo good and so are the drinks. I ordered a Ginger Rum Swizzle. This is the perfect refreshing summer drink. My dinner started with arancini di riso. This is one of my favorite Italian things to eat. They can go terribly wrong but these were all things good with a crispy crust outside filled with creamy risotto inside. My entrée was prosciutto wrapped halibut on fresh succotash. Perfectly cooked fish on top of the sweetest succotash with each corn kernel bursting with flavor. YUM! Dessert was a full on tasting with Banana Cream Pie (raving mad delish), bocca negra (chocolate heaven), and the cannoli (very good with a hint of orange). There was a great local pinot (can't remember what it was) and an incredible Kracher Sauterne with dessert.

What an incredible Thursday, but just wait until I tell you about Friday!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

BTRSswap Part II

Whew...another sewing project completed.
Here are the place mats and napkins I made for my swap partner.

My napkins & placemats

reversible napkin

time to eat

The napkins are reversible because it seemed an easier solution to me than turning over tiny edges and sewing them down. Plus they have a little more heft this way. I love the sparrow fabric. This was a stash busting project. Both the sparrows and the stripes came from my stash. I love the cherry red twill tape against the dark chocolate background fabric. I did have to purchase these from Michael Levine's (my happy place).

This project was harder than I thought it would be. I thought these mats would whip up rather quickly but it was not the case for me. Plus I had the added pressure of being late on the deadline due to my didge work. Sewing the mitered tape was some kind of personal hell. Any amount of day dreaming or blinking or trying to watch the telly resulted in going off the rails. It was madness, although after the first two it did get better. I actually made five sets but four photographed better.

As I was doing my happy dance for finishing the project the mail came and so did my new placemats.

BTRSswap 2

7 layer  taco dip


I LOVE THEM! The fabric is fabulous. I love turquoise and orange together. It is one of my favorite combinations! The peacock print is gorgeous and is right up my India loving alley. The background is a beautiful rust linen. My swap partner is awesome. She really hit the nail on the head. She shoots! She scores! I scored! Really I did. Plus she sent the recipe for 9 Layer Taco Dip. Yum! This recipe screams summer BBQ. Invite me over and see what I bring.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Where have I been? What have I been doing?

Sewing like a mad fiend all week and weekend. A mad fiend, I say. Whew... I have finally finished the didgeridoo bag. YAY! This was the hardest project I have ever done. I had to make the whole pattern up by my little ole self. It turned out well and I am happy with it.

didge bag
(I don't know why this picture is turned on it's side. It was right side up before I posted it and no amount of deleting and reposting the picture is making it come out right. So cock your head to the left to get a better sense.)

The didgeridoo bag required some embellishment which you have to figure out before you sew the whole thing together. This required massive amounts of thought. The bag is for Isis (the didge) and I wanted to put her name on the bag. I toyed with the idea Ommmighty Isis. Yeah I know, I am product of television with a little yoga thrown in. I nixed it after I wrote it down on a piece of paper a few times and didn't like the way it looked. In the end I embroidered "Isis" down the length of the bag. I knew in the end it would just look like an embroidered embellishment rather than a name.

For the hood I appliqued an Om symbol. Om is the universal and primordial sound.

" Om (AUM) is such a sound , the basis of all sounds.The first letter A is the root sound, key, pronounced without touching any part of the toungue or palate; M represents the last sound in the series being produced with closed lips, and U rolls from the very root to the end of the sounding-board of the mouth . Thus Om represents the whole phenomenon of sound production", according to Swami Vivekananda.

The Om is a natural fit with the didgeridoo whose sound reverberates to the depths of your soul and taps into long forgotten places. I find the sound very centering, just as I do when chanting Om. Yeah, I'm an Om-er and I like granola, but I draw the line at Birkenstocks. HA! They just don't fall into the cute category for me.

This was my first time doing appliqué. The whole reverse image thing threw me for a loop but in a MacGyver moment I used my TV as a light box to outline my image onto my Lite Steam-A-Seam 2. I love the way the appliqué turned out

didge hood

top o' the bag
The Om hood provides extra protection for the bowl of the didge. It is insulated with batting while the bag has a core of polar fleece for padding. A very snuggly place for a didge to rest in.

The beads provide extra kick-i-ness and color!


I dropped off the bag this morning.
Guess what?
He likes it!
That smile tells me I did a good job.

Isis has a new home!