It Would Look Awesome on Your Wall

Check out Shepard Fairey’s new print for the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is still under house arrest in Burma. ALL of the proceeds go to the Human Rights Action Centre and the US Campaign for Burma. There is a limited print run of 450 copies and the each print is only $35 dollars each.

Buy a print and help fight for democracy.

Slick Lips

I am what you might call a lip balm addict. Like when I don’t have lip balm in my pocket or bag I get PANICKY. The times I’ve actually forgotten to pack one of the lil’ suckers I’ve had to go to the drug store to buy a jar or a tube of the stuff. Like my lips feel cracked and shriveled when I don’t have lip balm on. The slippery film, the greasy slide of rubbing lips together, that makes my day. I go through them like nobody’s business. My addiction is one thing, but another thing is that I’m allergic to most lip balms. My lips gets bumpy and swells to a red blimpy mess. Tragic, right? I can’t do the Chapstick or Lobello, and I even react to Carmex if I use it too often (sad, since I like that sweet, mediciney Carmex smell).

But I consider myself lucky because I’ve found my best friend lip balms. First, the ubiquitous classic Burt’s Bees.

This lip balm is beeswax based, and contains peppermint oil and rosemary extract, which give it a bracing tingly minty sensation to the lips (a lot of people find it too harsh, but not me!). I have about 6 or 7 of these lying around in my desk at the office, my bag, apartment, and various random jacket pockets. Why so many? Well, like with earrings, I have a habit of losing my lip balms. They appear and disappear, like stray cats. Burt’s comes in the jar or the stick. I prefer the jar, even though I’ve heard it said that it’s unhygienic. But I’ve had sticks that twist up on its own, smooshing itself to the lid of the balm. It’s unpleasant. Plus, weirdly, I like rubbing my index finger in the jar, them vigorously rubbing my lips. Burt’s Bees also come in Honey and Pomegranate types, but I’m not so fond of those. I am so happy Burt’s is so widely available here in Canada. It used to be that only organic stores have it, but now you can get it everywhere. Hurrah!

My other best friend is a bit pricer, posher and luxurious: RĂªve de Miel, which means ‘Dream of Honey’ in French. How romantic, right?

The company that makes it is called Nuxe and it was founded in 1957 in Paris. I purchased this at Shopper’s Drug Mart , for about $16 for 15 grams. It’s comes in a frosted glass jar with a white lid, and it’s rather heavy so it’s not too portable(but it has a good heft to the hand, feels like a cool stone in your palm). The smell is fantastic, faint honey mixed with grapefruit, and it goes on really thick. Sometimes you might find beeswax granules, but with a little rubbing it melts rather quickly. It feels very ‘present’ on your lips, if you know what I mean, but it’s a good feeling because you feel like your lips are protected somehow. It’s especially good used at night because it stays on a while and absorbs and makes your lips feel soft in the middle of the night so you don’t have obsessively reach out to your bedside table. I only have two of these jars, one at work and one next to my bed.
Lip Balm Love! I know I’m not alone out there.

Waffle Dishcloths

Sometimes there's nothing better than sitting at home and knitting, while you're watching 30 Rock or something. One the weekend I bought some Bernat Cotton yarn (5 balls @ around $1.50 each), and knitted 4 dish cloths. The first one was a slow-go, but by the 3rd one I could knit these with my eyes closed. The pattern makes a deliciously squishy and textured cloth (good for scrubbing). I don’t know whether to keep ‘em and use them myself or give them as gifts. Hmmm. Better make some more….stripeys? [Update: I've now made eight of the lil' suckers.]

Pattern: Waffle Dishcloth by Deb from Homespun Living (you can buy these from her too, if you’re too lazy or knitting incapable). What a great, easy pattern! All knits and purls, no complicated stuff. I added the crochet loop on mine for practical purposes.

Yarn : Bernat Handicrafter Cotton (I know, Lion Brand is better but sometimes it's just a matter of convenience...and price. One dishcloth takes about 2/3 a 50g ball. I used 4.00mm needles.

Result: Wonderful, practical dishcloths. Actually makes you want to wash dishes. Plus, it’s a very addictive and fast knit.

The only problem: I'm afraid of using them now!

It Makes Cleaning Fun!

Ok, I exaggerate. But it definitely makes it a pleasant experience. What is it? Why, Sapadilla cleaners, of course. They are all natural 'eco-cleaners' that are made from plant-based sources. If you live in BC like I do, these are readily available at Whole Foods/Capers, and Cookworks stores. They are made in BC to boot, and come in 2 delicous scents (I almost typed flavors here--it is VERY delicious smelling): Grapefruit+Bergamot, and Rosemary+Peppermint. My favorite is the one below, Rosemary+Peppermint All Purpose Cleaner. This stuff is very concentrated. I mix a tablespoon or two up in a spray bottle with water, and I'm ready to go. I use it for everything. But my favorite thing to use with this is to clean my laminate floors. I dilute with lots of water, and mop to my heart's content. Then I sit back on the couch and inhale. It leaves the whole apartment smelling clean, fresh and minty!

My Knitting Story

When I was little my mom knitted a lot; in particular she made my brother and I sweaters. My brother still remembers his favorite sweater from when he was 10 years old, a navy blue zipped up sweater with red and white zigzag patterns (he still reminisces about it now, 25+ years later!). My favorite sweater was a dark pink long coat with a hoodie and pom poms. I remember hating the colour pink when I was a little girl, but oh, did I love that sweater.

Over the years my mom tried to teach me knitting, but I wasn’t an enthusiastic learner, so did things half-heartedly. When I wanted to knit something my mom would cast on for me, show me the stitch, I’d knit, she’d do the difficult bits and fix my mistakes, and cast off for me. It worked out pretty well on my end. However, I got the impression that knitting was hard. But the good thing about that is that I was always amazed when I met anyone who knitted.

A few months ago (inspired by wonderful, talented bloggers) I thought to myself: I want to learn knitting, really, really. So I bought Stitch n' Bitch: A Knitters Handbook, and looked up you tube tutorials. Knitted a few washcloths. Heck, I even joined Revelry!

So I discovered a few truths about knitting: 1) Knitting is not hard, it takes effort and persistence 2) Real wool is really expensive! 3) The Noro Scarf is legendary 4) Elizabeth Zimmermann is even more legendary 5) Knitting makes TV watching ‘productive time’ not ‘wasteful, brain-dead time’!

Let me just say that I’m not a talented knitter. I get confused by patterns and I’m REALLY bad at counting stitches. Plus, I’m the kind of knitter who when she notices a mistake a few rows down WON’T undo and re-knit. Just too lazy!

My first project was a baby blanket made by Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton, fat garter knit stripes in 5 colours. I’ve already given it to my pregnant friend, so no pictures. Maybe I’ll get a shot of it with the little one down the road.

Now, on to scarves:

The legendary Noro scarf, made famous by Jared of Brooklyn Tweed:

I bought some Noro Silk Garden (sold in 50g balls) from Three Bags Full on Main St., and at around $11/ball, it was quite an investment. I loved Jared’s scarf colours, I wanted to unoriginally recreate it, but I couldn’t find the exact colours, so I chose one colour that was darker, in the green/blue/grey/black range and another that was quite a bit brighter with all sorts of colours.

Yarn impressions: I wasn’t too impressed initially with Noro Silk Garden. I one ball I had a few knots (some knots tied together two entirely different colours (i.e. black…lime green!). The balls were dispersed with plant fibres, that to be honest, felt more like thorns than anything else. It was tedious pulling out every rough bit of plant matter. It wasn’t soft as I’d expected (however, I hear I softens very prettily after a first wash). That all being said, the colours are spectacular—I love especially the reds and blues—the yarn has such a concentrated, vivid colour that it’s hard to believe anything can be such a shade.

Pattern: a very easy and basic knit one, purl one pattern. I only screwed this up once. I was confused about slipping of each end on Jared’s site (my fault, not his), so I just slipped the first stitch of each row. I used a total that amounted to 3 balls of yarn, unlike the 4 that Jared used. That means I have the beginnings of another Noro scarf!

Result: Love it. It’s at times subtle, with lots of bright bits. The 1x1 rib makes it look like stockinette stitch, and it’s thick and squishy. It will make someone very warm!

Suddenly I was obsessed with stripes. I had these 4 balls of Cascade 220 that I’d bought for these baby booties, but I’d made the baby blanket instead so what to do with these yarns? Another stripey scarf, of course.

Yarn: Cascade 220: 1 hank of white(100 grams / 220 yards), and half a hank of turquoise and red yarns each (50 grams / 110 yards).

Pattern: As with the Noro scarf, a 1x1 rib pattern of knit 1, purl 1. The white had 2 row stripes and the blue and red have only 1 row-stripes. I slipped the first stitch.

Result: I didn’t love it just looking at it (and my husband called it a ‘Christmas Scarf’ even though there is no green to speak of), but when he or I tried it on, suddenly our faces got brighter and our skins became vibrant. It’s a picker-upper, a transforming scarf! I was genuinely surprised and delighted.

Zero or One

The blog will talk about sewing projects, knitting projects, and general crafty stuff. Plus food, because I love cooking and eating. I'm a beginner in all fields, except of course the food portion. I'm decidedly expert in that.

Let's not go on for too long.

Cheers to always beginning.