Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Updates on the Afghan

In addition to making a few chemo caps this week in-between repeats on the afghan, I also managed to make significant progress on this! Isn't it looking lovely? That's about 20 repeats of the pattern, measuring around a foot in length unstretched. Adorable. Maybe not quite as wide as I'd calculated (I think I'm about 75" instead of 90") but it looked so nice I couldn't bear unraveling it. VERY time consuming; about 45 min - 1 hour per repeat, depending on how interested I am in the TV program I have running at the time. :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Strings & things

Well have I got a post of epic proportions for you! Let me start with this gem, one of the new Holiday 2013 Essie shades, "Parka Perfect." 
This lovely shade is a nice blue-green, when I was expecting more of a baby blue. It really reminds me of a slightly darker version of my beloved 'Turqoise and Caicos,' so of course I adore this one. There was a lot of shimmer in the bottle that didn't really translate to the nail, unfortunately. It DID wear like iron, with two coats, a base and a top and after a week it is barely worn. Really pretty shade, looks blue against a blue background and green against green. Will wear this lovely all year round. I also got the red glitter from this collection - can't wait to wear that one! :) 

Lovely Parka Perfect
This lovely yarn is from a sweater I tried to knit years ago. :) I found it wrapped around a Christmas decoration I had put away long long ago. It was two mis-shapen sleeves, and a too-short back panel. Yikes. Still, this yarn is gorgeous so my SO and I unraveled it and repurposed it into four LARGE yarn balls, which I am now using to make my roll-brim chemo caps. The colors are amazing. I can't remember what this yarn is called, but I think the color is called River Stones or something to that effect. Lovely muted tones.

Speaking of chemo caps, my little fingers took a short break for Thanksgiving but are now back at work! Here are a few of the striped lovelies I've constructed this week!


This baby-blue darling is knitted from a BIG ball of my favorite baby yarn - literally, I could probably make 1,000 hats from this and still have some left over. But the color is adorable and it is so soft, I almost don't mind.

This lovely cap was made using a basic eyelet pattern in place of the stockinette stitch for the bottom. I started with about 10 rows of stockinette, then one repeat of a 16-row eyelet pattern, and then continued in basic roll-brim style. Voila!

These beauties are what I'm most excited about. I was home last weekend admiring my great-grandmother's afghan in the spare room, and I started thinking about how she'd made it for her bed all those years ago. Then I thought, why shouldn't I make a giant knitted afghan too?? Definitely the most ambitious project I have thus-far undertaken, at least in size. The pattern is really simple. I found a pattern on Ravelry, here, that is EXACTLY the same as my great-grandmother's afghan. So perfect. I picked out a few colors of Red Heart Soft and got some long circular needles. I really do like Red Heart for blankets, and it actually is pretty soft after washing. And economical. And the soft stuff was like 50% off at my local craft store. Score.

I'll let you know how it goes with the afghan. I plan to get started tonight as soon as I finish this hat! :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dior "Rouge Red 999"

So I normally don't buy into the "pay $28 for a nail polish" thing, but this little gem came as a part of a gift set from Nordstrom for a steal, with the matching lip stick, lip gloss, and lip balm! Of COURSE I had to get it! This is just the most perfect red. There is no hint of any other color it applies like a dream, a gorgeous red cream that is opaque in one coat but I used two just in case. I wore it for a week, and you can tell that it is actually growing out with no hint of wear. Only a few tips are minorly injured, a major feat when you use your hands as harshly as I do. Overall, this is a wonderful product. If they ever release another shade I just "have to have," the wonderful formula of this one has convinced me that is may be worth the price. This is a true red, no hint of any other color. Amazing. A++. 

The little gift case! Ignore the water marks... 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Roll-brim mania and spiral hats

So I was super inspired by a Spiral Hat by Darn. Knit. , and I just had to see if I could change it into a pattern for straight needles. It looked a lot like the Turkish Rib II (right slant) from my big book of stitches (see here for Amazon link). As this pattern is widely published on the internet, I don't feel bad about publishing my interpretation of this hat here! For an AMAZING video tutorial of this stitch, see New Stitch A Day.

For this hat I used Impeccable yarn in Folklore and Cherry.

Size 9 straight needles

Cast on 80
Work in K2, P2 rib for 6 rows
Knit 1 row
Work in following pattern until hat measures ~7 inches:
Row 1: P1, *p2tog, yo, repeat to last stitch, p1
Row 2: K1, *yo, k2tog, repeat to last stitch k1.

Repeat ad infinitum.

To decrease:
k2 tog for a row
purl a row
k2 tog
repeat, until 10 stitches remain. Cut an 18" tail, thread onto a big needle, and run it through the loops on the needles. Pull tight, sew down the seam being careful to keep the edges matched as the slant makes it tricky.


I've also been knitting my silly little hands off with the following roll-brim hats for my local Chemo Caps society - how adorable are these?!

This is just so bright and cheery! Love!! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baby foxes!

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, ALL of my girlfriends are pregnant. One of my very best friends is having a little boy, and the theme of the nursery (and baby's middle name!) is Fox! How stinkin' adorable. Anyway, I've been knitting up hats and blankets for him like a crazy person, and I came across this baby fox hat pattern. OMG. I can't event describe how cute. I needed to make this, stat! 

The front! 
I combined two different patterns, sort of. I started with size 8 needles and Red Heart Soft yarn in Black and Tangerine, and Impeccable yarn in Aran. I didn't even know Red Heart made super-soft yarn! I'm a big fan of Red Heart, mostly because it's cheap and when I screw things up I don't feel bad about tossing it, but for baby hats and chemo caps I really want something super duper soft, which traditional Red Heart is not. 

Size 8 needles
Cast on 56 stitches
Work in *K2,P2 for 6 rows, then stockinette until it reaches ~5 inches in length. Decrease as follows (and as written in the previous baby hat post):
1. *K6, k2tog, repeat
2. Purl
3. *K5, k2tog, repeat
4. Purl
5. *K4, k2tog, repeat
6. Purl
7. *K3, k2tog, repeat
8. Purl
9. *K2, k2tog, repeat
10. Purl
11. *K1, k2tog, repeat
12. Purl
13. *K1, k2tog, repeat

Cut a long (~18") tail, put a big needle on the end and slip it back through the stitches on your knitting needle, draw tight, sew down the seam, and you're done!
The back!
Now the fun part - the EARS! 

You have two options here. You can use this link for your ears, or this one. I used the second, which was sized-down by another Ravelry user for babies here -> Check THIS one out! I used his pattern exactly for the ears, so I won't repost the pattern here. But seriously, you should check it out. 

Modeled by a baby pumpkin :)

Foray into crochet!

Cute little yellow flower! 

So I am NOT a crochet-er by nature. I like knitting - nice straight lines (mostly), predictable rows. Crocheting is just so ... free. I think it was made for people more artsy than me. :) Regardless, it comes in really handy sometimes, like adding a border to a baby blanket - or adding a flower decoration to a new roll-brim hat! I'm really making like a hat a day at this point. So quick and so rewarding, and using up my stash so nicely!
Naked hat! Eek!

This was a basic roll-brim hat, see back a few posts for a pattern. This was actually made on size 8 needles as the yarn was a bit finer - Bernat Baby Coordinates. It may be a little hard to tell on the photo but it is this nice light gray with a strand of white. And it's super soft! 

For the flower, I used this tutorial from Scrapbooks and Cards Today. It is SUPER basic. I will probably branch out to more exotic flowers and things eventually, but for my level of crochet skill it was perfect. I highly recommend this site! It took maybe 15 minutes, start to finish. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Baby roll-brim knit hat

Alternate 2 rows blue with 2 rows white

Here is the pattern for the baby version of the classic roll-brim hat. It's pretty much the same as the adult, but smaller. :) Takes about 3 hours start to finish - not bad!

You'll need: 
Size 8 needles, preferably long ones
Baby yarn (I'm currently using Bernat Baby and I've used the Caron Super Soft and they are awesome!) 

Cast on 56 stitches
Work in stockinette (knit a row, purl a row) until piece measures about 4 1/2 to 5 inches, depending on size of baby. 
Decrease as follows:

Modeled by a pumpkin :)
1. *K6, k2tog, repeat to end
2. Purl
3. *K5, k2tog, repeat
4. Purl
5. *K4, k2tog, repeat
6. Purl
7. *K3, k2tog, repeat
8. Purl
9. *K2, k2tog, repeat
10. Purl
11. *K1, k2tog, repeat
12. Purl
13. *K1, k2tog, repeat

Cut your yarn long (~18 inches) and thread it through a needle. Then slip the needle back through the loops still on your knitting needle, draw tight, sew down your seam, and voila! Baby hat! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Maybelline "Downtown Brown"

So after blogging about my "Shades of Charleston," I HAD to get this shade. A lovely medium muddy brown with blue/teal duochrome properties, this color reminds me SO much of the harbor. In real life the blue is only appreciated on close inspection; otherwise it looks like a nice shimmery brown. The formula is very watery and I needed two coats for decent color coverage. I've gotten spoiled by Essie and OPI lately; this drug store brand was much less pleasant to work with, but not impossible. I'd give it an A-.

You can really see the blue duochrome here

Apology and new beginnings!

So I've been absent for a while for many reasons- life changes being the most important. However, I've also become pretty happy with the 50+ nail shades that I own and will probably not be adding to the nail blog as much as before. Besides, I'm currently wearing Essie 'Chinchilly' and I doubt I'll wear anything else all winter. So fun!

I've decided to make this blog more of a hobbies blog, whatever strikes my mood at the time. Whether it be cooking, baking (especially now that it's near the holidays!!) or knitting. I'm going to start with knitting!

I taught myself to knit in college. Not sure why, but I did. Since then I've literally made dozen of blankets, scarves, hats, etc. I don't like the pieces that require lots of attention - like socks, sweaters, anything shaped. I like big block things that I can work on while watching TV and not worry about mis-counting my stitches.

Recently I was cleaning the house and came across my (not-insignificant) yarn stash. Since I've got some more free time on my hands these days, and because it's chilly!!, I decided to start making hats. I plan on giving them to the local society for chemotherapy patients, and use up my yarn stash at the same time. Its a win-win scenario!

Also, I hate knitting in the round. And dpns. They are the devil. I'll post pictures of the hats I've made PLUS instructions for making them on STRAIGHT needles, if you like.

I'm starting with a simple roll-brim hat. Each one takes me a few hours, maybe 5-6. One seam, easy-peasy!

Use any yarn you like that's a light to medium, based on this website (or a '3' to '4', something like worsted weight or DK weight). Here is the pattern I quasi-made up, and quasi-borrowed from the million standard rolled-brim patterns online. Here is mine. :)

Size 9 needles, cast on 81 stitches

Work in stockinette pattern (knit a row, purl a row) until piece measures approximately 7 inches in length. Decrease as follows to obtain stellate crown:

1. *K8, k2tog, repeat to end
2. Purl
3. *K7, k2tog, repeat to end
4. Purl
5. *K6, k2tog, repeat to end
6. Purl
7. *K5, k2tog, repeat to end
8. Purl
9. *K4, k2tog, repeat to end
10. Purl
11. *K3, k2tog, repeat to end
12. Purl
13. *K2, k2tog, repeat to end
14. Purl
15. *K1, k2tog, repeat to end
16. Purl
17. *K1, k2tog, repeat to end
18. You should have ~10 stitches left (I forget exactly how many) - cut the end of your yarn leaving ~18 inches. Using a needle, threat remaining stitches onto the tail and draw tight. Sew seam with hat inverted to leave a neater seam. Tie tail to the cast-on yarn, snip the ends, and you're all done!

Placed over a handy jar. :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Essie "Wicked"

OOoh my. Loving this shade. It reminds me of the shade Lily Collins wore in "Mortal Instruments: City of Bones." A lovely dark vampy shade that is definitely not black. It is a very dark red. Some reviews have said this looks brown, purple, or berry, but all I see is the smoothest darkest red you can imagine. A breeze to remove, super dramatic, super glossy, I can't say enough good things about this one. A++.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sinful Colors "Leather Loose"

So I've been on a dark polish kick. Recently I came across this post and was immediately intrigued by "Leather Loose." When I was at Walgreens I saw the display and, for $2, I HAD to have it. I am definitely a fan. This is an espresso-brown matte polish with copper colored micro shimmer. Gorgeous. I did add a topcoat, as I'm not really a fan of the matte finish. See the above link to see what it looks like without topcoat!

Did I mention this polish is amazing? Yes, it has an amazing color - but I've worn it for 3 days with barely any tip wear. And Chanel made it barely a day without major chippage, for 19x the cost. I daresay that this wins in my opinion. This polish really made a splash in the nail polish community, and it's easy to see why. This polish is an A++ in my book. Be sure to google it and see all of the gorgeous photos folks have taken to prove it to yourself, and then go out and buy it. It's well worth the $2.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Colors of Charleston

This is a type of post that has been rattling around my brain for a while.

Do you ever walk through your home town, or have a favorite place, and think about how beautiful it all is? All of the colors, working together? The thought struck my brain yesterday as I went out for a run through Charleston, SC. It was a gorgeous day, bright and warm but starting to cool off just a touch, maybe high 70's. There was a light breeze, the sun was shining, I just drank it all in.

And then I started thinking. If I could sum up this town in a series of colors, what would they be?

And of course, being the nerd that I am, I started to wonder if there were corresponding nail polishes. Like how OPI did a 'San Francisco' collection. I started doing some research, and here's what I came up with, with links to the lovely folks who did the swatches!

Firstly, I'd like to introduce Downtown Brown by Maybelline. A brown-blue duochrome, this lovely shade reminded me of the water in the harbor. With all of the rivers feeding into it, it always has a silty undertone with the blue sparkling along the top. I think this polish does a great job at imitating it! I will have to find this one for myself.

Swatch done by The PolishAholic

Next up is OPI Who the Shrek are you? I must admit I had no idea that OPI had a line of Shrek-inspired polishes, how fun!
This shade reminds me of the lime green that the marsh grass takes on when contrasted with the harbor. Almost always scented with salt water and pluff mud, marsh grass really reminds me of home. However, my complexion would not get along with this shade well, personally.

See this page for swatch credit!

This is awesome. What is more Charlestonian than pink and pearls? A lovely pearlescent pink shade, this is OPI Princesses Rule!

See this page for swatches!

This is Chanel's Riva. This is the color of the sky over the city, a lovely light blue. The sky in Charleston always seems to be lighter than anywhere else - perhaps it's the humidity? Anyway, this color is lovely. I may have to pick it up next time I'm near a Chanel display!

Credit here!

Lastly, Revlon's Rainforest. A deep green with lighter green flecks, this is supposed to remind one of jungles. However, it screams pine trees to me. I got this shade to wear at Christmas and I just can't wait!

Credit here

Has anyone else ever thought of how their hometown or favorite place might be described by polish, or am I the only one?

Chanel "Vamp"

Ah, Chanel Vamp. 

I was researching dark vampy reds (because that's what I do...) and came across this gem. An iconic color akin to Tiffany Blue, Chanel Vamp is so popular it even has it's own Wikipedia page! First introduced to the market on the Chanel runway in 1994, this beauty was apparently a true revolution. This website lists the seven most popular shades on Chanel polish ever - and what comes in at #1? Vamp. With over $1 million in sales, it is one of the most popular polishes of all time.
See where I'm going with this? It was super popular in the 90's, and Chanel has reformulated it several times. The most current manifestation has trace amounts of ruby red microglitter, which the original did not. I would call this a crelly formula, nice and opaque in 2 coats. Took longer to dry than Essie or Opi does. This was my first Chanel purchase - I don't live anywhere near anyplace that would sell this, so when I was traveling with the SO and saw a Chanel polish display in the mall, I HAD to snatch it up! 

A little disappointed with the wear on this. The color IS fabulous, but at $27 / bottle I expect no less. I am sure I will wear this anytime I want to feel extra-special, but this started chipping on Day 1 and the pictures below were taken on Day 3 - ew! WAY less durable than Essie or Opi shades. I will try to do a comparison with some of the other vampy colors I have! 

In short, if you want to buy a piece of history, and don't mind the price, this is perfect. The color is stunning, but takes awhile to dry even with a fast-dry top coat, and doesn't wear well. I'd give it an A. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Essie "Bordeaux"

Am seriously drooling over this color right now. A gorgeous dark wine red, not quite vampy, is Essie's "Bordeaux." A pure red without hints of berry or purple, this shade will be the perfect start to fall. I think it looks quite chic in person. It is a nice jelly red, opaque with minor pigment variations noted in two thin coats and some visible nail line, but only on camera. Can't see it in person. I am actually going to re-apply this color now - absolutely adore it, great formula, no staining. A++!

Natural light. My natural complexion is pasty. 

Artificial light. One week tip wear! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

OPI "Alcatraz.... ROCKS"

Top Coat on index and ring fingers
I was really excited to try this polish from the OPI Fall 2013 San Francisco collection. It's one of their 'Liquid Sand' textured polishes. I'd never tried a liquid sand polish before, but the swatches of this one were so pretty that I couldn't resist! 
"Alcatraz...ROCKS" is a medium navy jelly that is just FULL of sparkle - gold, purple, even a little green. It is almost hypnotic. You aren't supposed to add a top coat to this, but I did anyway. It wasn't really as 'matte' as advertised, the sparkle was SUPER prominent and the texture wasn't as gritty as anticipated (I guess I was expecting sand paper! This was very fine). I did use one coat of Seche Vite top coat, and the color became darker and deeper. There is literally TONS of sparkle on this color. It's unlike anything I've ever tried. Really a dizzying color. A+ : totally unique, gorgeous color, easy-peasy application. 

Close-up of the shimmer
Top coat on index and ring fingers. Ignore the messy application, it cleaned up easily, I swear! 

Essie "Allure" and ORLY "French Tip"

Oy vey. First attempt at doing French tips - I found these cute little stickers at one of the local beauty stores and decided to give it a try. Turned out to be WAY harder than anticipated. I started with a base coat and two coats of Essie "Allure" (the color that Kate Middleton supposedly wore on her wedding day - of COURSE I had to have it!) and used ORLY's "French Tip" for the tips...

So "Allure" is a very nice sheer pink/white that makes your nails look clean and well, polished. Nothing special, just sophisticated. I'd give it an 'A'. 

This dang polish though? Sticky, goopy, takes forever to dry, and once I removed the stickers managed to smudge all over EVERYTHING -- I removed this manicure after 24 hours, I couldn't stand the icky lines any more. Will probably try again with a different polish. Will likely NEVER use this ORLY polish again. YUCK. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Essie "Maximillian Strasse-her"

From Essie's Spring 2013 Madison Avenue collection comes this cool grey-green gem. I'm not sure why it was marketed as a spring shade, this seems much more appropriate for a summer-fall transition to me. They describe it as "Bavarian style savvy rules this regal boulevard. With nails of cool grey green, you're promenade queen, no tiara required." I don't know about all that. Named for one of the four royal avenues of Munich, Germany, according to Wikipedia, this shade is just awesome. A fairly watery jelly, it nonetheless applies beautifully in just two coats. It is like the somewhat-muted version of my beloved 'Turquoise and Caicos" - more fall appropriate. almost a neutral really, like a greened-out khaki. Love. Also has the dubious honor of having the LONGEST name of any polish that I own. 

Some bright sunlight, some shade. :)