making my own napkins and loving it

a big crafting step for me
November 17, 2008, 12:02 am
Filed under: crafts | Tags:

those of you paying any attention to this blog (i.e. alli, and possibly one or two others), might have noticed that most of my craft projects that i’ve posted about have been sewing related.  in fact, other than the beautiful scarf i decided to knit in august (which i still haven’t even gotten the chance to wear, in this crazy global-wamring-inspired warm weather), i’ve only really been sewing since i moved back home.  but all that has changed now!  i found an awesome sweater pattern on ravelry, and saturday i bit the bullet and accompanied my mom to a yarn store, where i bought five skeins of beautiful forest green worsted weight yarn.  now i’m working on my very first sweater!  i’m a little nervous, because this is the first non-scarf item i’ve ever knitted, other than the pumpkin hat i made for my friend’s little daughter (see adorable picture below).  essentially this means that at every step of the way i have to look up what the abbreviations mean, or how to do a certain stitch (by the way, is great for this – they have TONS of really clear, really simple videos that teach you how to do any technique you can imagine).  but i’ve found that if i don’t worry about the pages and pages of confusing instructions, and just take it one step at a time, it’s not that bad.  as exciting and inspiring as this discovery is, it could mean danger.  i mean, once i can knit a sweater, what’s to stop me from knitting hundreds of them?  will i ever finish the quilted dog bed that i started working on last week, or even start my second quilt, that i bought fabric for two months ago? what if i start knitting sweaters for the dog like some crazy woman?

pray for me, people.






November 12, 2008, 9:43 pm
Filed under: miscellany | Tags:

one of the real downsides to living in nicaragua is the (almost) total absence of libraries.  outside of private schools, i believe there are two libraries in the entire country.  at least, two that i know of.  the first school i taught at, which sucked in almost every way imaginable, had a tiny tiny little room with 3 computers and just as many shelves of books.  as a literature teacher, i almost couldn’t assign book reports or independent reading projects, because there was no selection!  the american school had a much much much better library (just one way in which it was infintely better than my first school).  during the two years that i worked there, i checked out at least 60 books, especially over summer vacations.  in fact, i got special permission from the librarian to check books out this past summer, even though my contract had ended and technically i had no rights whatsoever.  so i was able to read some books during my 3 years in nica, although nowhere near what i would have liked.  so i dreamed, of public libraries!  way up high on my list of “reasons i will be happy to return to the united states” was the existence of libraries and book stores to feed my heart and soul.

now that i’m home, i’m once again sort of disappointed by the selection at my local library, but it’s light years beyond nicaragua, so i shall keep my criticisms to myself, and share with you instead my recent project: to read as many pulitzer and national book circle award winning books as i can make it through.  i have a little list that i keep in my purse, and once every week or so i stop by the library and check out the ones i can find most readily.  every week there’s at least one that they don’t have, or that isn’t on the shelves, hence my disappointment ( i mean, shouldn’t every library have all the pulitzer prize winning pieces of fiction?).  but in the two months that i’ve had my library card, i’ve made it through nine of the books on my list, and at least as many books that weren’t even on my list but that i picked up in the meantime for one reason or another.

several people, upon hearing of my plan, have sort of scoffed at me, or called me a dork (not necessarily meaning it in a very negative way, but still).  the thing is, what the hell is wrong with my plan?  don’t we all wish we were a little better read?  and these are award-winning books!!!  plus, normally i just walk into libraries or book stores and stare blankly at the shelves, not knowing what books might be good or bad, staring at the covers for some sort of guidance (and we ALL know what they say about that!).  so i figure that at least this way, i can be pretty sure that i’m getting a halfway decent book.  so far, my plan has not let me down.

and so, i leave you a partial list of the books i’ve managed to read since i got back.  these are the ones that i most enjoyed, and would recommend myself:

The March, by E.L. Doctorow

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz  (this is definitely one of my favorites!)

Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Letham

Rabbit is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest, by John Updike (numbers 3 & 4 in a series)

A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley

so far i’m almost halfway through my list (some i still can’t find at the freakin’ library!).  soon i’ll have to go back to the original lists and add some more of the books that didn’t attract my attention so much the first time around.  so yes, mock me if you must, but i feel accomplished now, and inspired to complete my goal.

read on!!!

quilt retrospective
November 6, 2008, 9:01 pm
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a new post is long overdue, but i am ashamed to admit that i haven’t been crafting much in the past week.  the halloween costume was a creative success, if not such a popular one.  the closest i got to any sort of recognition was an amy winehouse waitress who said she wanted to squeeze my chicken hat.  but i had fun, both crafting the costume and wearing it off, so that’s all that really matters in the end.

since there are no new crafting projects happening at the moment, this post will be devoted to my first quilt, which i finished about three weeks ago.  it’s relatively small, about 52″x64″, so it’s not quite big enough to cover my rockin’ twin bed, but it works fairly well as a throw, and it’s cute as hell, so who cares if it’s too small.

i was surprised at how easy the whole process was.  i bought myself a rotary cutter and self-healing mat before i started, which wasn’t exactly cheap, but was so totally worth it that i would tell every potential quilter to get one.  i can’t even imagine if i’d had to cut out each of the god-only-knows-how-many squares with scissors, and they probably would have all ended up with crooked edges that would have made sewing  a nightmare.  anyway, the whole thing only took me a week, working usually a few hours a day (with even a day or two off in there), and the quilt actually turned out really well.  there are a couple of slightly wonky areas, especially where i tried to line up heavier and lighter weight fabrics, but what’s a quilt without a little wonkiness?

so here it is – apples and pears!



if you’re wondering, the quilt has no batting, but is lined with polar fleece.  elaine gave me the idea, and i love it – so easy, and it makes the quilt super soft and cozy!

all in all, i’m quite pleased with myself.  the quilt is beautiful, and it means a lot to me that i made it myself and can enjoy it for a long long time.  i have a bunch of fabric lying around for quilt #2, but i’m not quite ready to rip that one out yet.  maybe once it gets a little colder here.