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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas is Almost Here!

Hard to believe it's almost Christmas! The time is getting away from me, and I feel like I'm on a treadmill going nowhere (but of course, not a real treadmill where I'd be getting some exercise ;-). Anyway, just finished up some Christmas ornaments to crochet and have published them on Lulu as well.
Now, if I can just finish my own shopping for the season!
Today's Thought: If you've never checked out Brad's Deals (, it's a really great site to find the best bargains on electronics, clothing, just about anything.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Hopefully Pretty!

So, yes, I've fallen off the blogging bandwagon yet again, but I've been such a busy bee! As you'll see to your left, there's been some self-publishing going on!! Two pattern brochures, one for boy babies and another for classic accessories for either girls or boys, are now available on (don't fret, the girl baby accessories are coming!). Here are some pix of the finished products.

Why the flurry of activity? Because I'm going to be teaching crochet starting in January! There's a great company that has recently expanded into Washington DC called Knit-a-Gogo (, where personalized knitting and crocheting instruction is available. I'll be teaching classes on Introduction to Crochet, Amigurumi Crochet, and Tunisian Crochet.
I figured it would be good if I have some easy-to-complete patterns available for my beginner crochet students, but these patterns should appeal to anyone who wants to whip up some cute baby gifts quickly. Another appealing aspect is that all of the pieces in each booklet can be made with just one skein of yarn! I've been using Lion Brand's Cotton Ease for these projects because it's 50% cotton, 50% acrylic, which is just perfect for baby items since it's soft, easy to wash, and economical. The color selection is nice too and still baby-appropriate without being the typical pastels.

So, watch for more updates soon!
Today's Thought: Another shameless plug for!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So Much To Do!

I can't believe how the time is flying, and I still don't seem to be getting done everything I'm supposed to get done! And, next week, I have to go up to NYC for a work conference...

Obviously, one of the things I need to catch up on is the blogging, and I hope to have lots of pictures posted before long.

In the mean time...

Today's Thought: If you're near Bethesda, Maryland, you should stop by this great yarn store, right on Wisconsin Avenue, called Knit and Stitch = Bliss. Their website has been improved as well!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Last Pool Day

Alas, summer really is over :-( Today is the last day that the pool in our apartment complex is open. I baked myself out there for about 3 1/2 hours today and finally made myself come inside. We here in D.C. really were fortunate this year -- the weather has been very nice for the summer, and hopefully, the fall will be nice as well. I can't say that I'm ready for it yet, but ...

So, the upside should be more projects and more posts in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Today's Thought: The Nu-Wave Oven is fabulous! It does everything that they claim in the infomercial. See my article on Associated Content for more details!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Back!!

Ok, I was away longer than I had planned, but I'm back and raring to get going on some new crochet projects! Thought I'd post this little guy to show that I haven't totally been slacking :-) Too many things going through my mind right now to get it all down in this post, but suffice to say, you'll be reading a lot more in the next few weeks about what I'm up to.

In the mean time, let's just all enjoy what's left of the summer!

Today's Thought: If you're visiting Atlanta, you've got to stop by Knitch yarn shop. It's in the funky Virginia Highlands section of town, so there's lots to see, and it's just a fabulous shop with very nice, helpful people (store folks and visitors!) They've got a fun website as well

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Good News

Well, at least, that's how I'm trying to look at it! I've been too busy to blog! The axolotl got finished and is winging his way to Canada, and I'm still busy working up some more sea creatures. I've gotten a few more custom orders, and of course, work on writing articles, researching Web 2.0 concepts, and just general living have been taking place as well.

I promise I'll be back again soon to tell more of my goings on, but in the mean time, take a look at these hysterical "don'ts" from a nifty little blog I came across!

Today's Thought: Having stomach issues? Mix a little yogurt and water, add a dash of ground cumin and black pepper, and drink up!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Crafty Bastards Seminar

So, last night, I went to the second in a series of seminars that the folks from Crafty Bastards of the City Paper are putting on to help those trying to break into the world of selling their crafts. Last night's focus was on selling crafts online. The presenter, Caitlin Phillips, was fabulous! She had a great sense of humor and really told it like it was. I really appreciated the fact that she didn't pretend to know all the answers or to have tried everything that one is "supposed" to do. Her site and craft are pretty cool too -- She makes purses out of books! How neat is that?!

Anyway, I will write more about the seminars as they happen and as I try out some of the tips (I'm still not ready to get on Facebook, but I know it's just going to have to happen!)

Today's Thought: Sleep is just so critical, I highly recommend it!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The duckie came out pretty good if I do say so myself! I think I might try to make a rabbit and a fish also (my attempt at a frog didn't work out so well :-(

The axolotl is almost done as well. Who knew it would be so hard to find doll eyes?! I could order from the internet, but I figured with postage and handling, I'd be better off trying to find locally. Not so easy.

Ok, so today's assignment is to work on my Ravelry account. It's a really cool site for just knitters and crocheters -- all the ins and outs, I have not figured out, so that's all I can tell you for right now!

Today's Thought: Remember that great orange gel suntan lotion by Bain de Soleil that we all loved years ago?! Well, has it! Just got it in the mail and slathered it on today to bake in the sun, whoo hoooooooo!

Monday, July 7, 2008


Now, this isn't one of my paid blogs, but I did get an email today from, who will give both you and me $10 if you sign up and make use of their services. I've been a member for probably about 5 years now, and it's been great. Basically, before you shop online, you go to the ebates site. You either search for the product you're looking for, or you can go to a particular retail website through the ebates site. If you purchase something, ebates keeps track and every three months, they send you a rebate of a percentage of your purchases (the percentages vary depending on the stores). They've got some great retailers (Bloomingdale's, BestBuy, for example), so check it out through this link:

Today's Thought: Did you know that you are supposed to eat at least 2 cups of fruit a day (roughly, about 2 pieces) and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables?!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


My four-day weekend has come to an end :-( Well, at least I got a lot done (I can actually see the top of my desk now, and the bill collectors will be kept at bay another month ;-)

The duck is now looking like a duckie (pictures soon!), and the axolotl has gills! Oh, and I haven't even told you about the squid yet...

Oh, and then there's the aromatherapy course I've been taking for a while (did I say it's a correspondence course through a school in England?! I know, I know, there's no smell-o-vision yet, but somehow, it's worked). Anyway, it's time for the final exam, so signing out for a couple of days!

Today's Thought: If you're in the DC area, G Street Fabrics is having a huge sale -- 30% off until July 13th!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Go Green

Well, of course, it's good to reduce your carbon footprint, but in this case, I'm really talking about plants. We went to the home and garden store last weekend and bought some great stuff. It took us an hour and a half to get everything repotted on the balcony, but I think it was worth it. We got parsley, mint, green peppers, jalapenos, and some flowers too. Did you know that the jalapeno plant is known to keep away the bugs, especially those tiny white flies that infest tomato plants?! Last year I discovered that by accident, but then read it in the newspaper. This time, we got perennials so that hopefully, they'll come back again next year.

Oh, and I got an article published by Triond! Like Associated Content, it allows you to submit articles for publication, but Triond will place it on a topic-related website. My article's about "How Yarn is Made" here.

Today's Thought: Happy 4th of July!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pay Per Post

Now, don't call me a sell-out, but I did decide to sign up with
payperpost is a website where you register your blog and then you can sign up for opportunities to write reviews in your blog and get paid! I also signed up for PPP Direct, which allows advertisers to contact me directly and offer me opportunities through my blog. So far, the PPP folks have been very nice and responsive to contacts that I've made. It took a while to get the blog approved, but that was partially due to my misunderstanding some of the requirements. Also, I discovered that certain functions on the site don’t really work when you log on through Internet Explorer, but if you use Firefox, it works like a charm! I still working my way around the website, getting familiar with all of the different things it has to offer. I still don't quite understand what an "RSS feed" is, but I'm sure learning a lot about the blogosphere! I guess a lot of people are trying it out these days, but I think it's really important to try to stick to a consistent rate of posting.

Please check back to see what I'm up to! I hope you know by now that I only tell you about products and services that I think are worthwhile, so we'll see what opportunities become available for me to pass along to you!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Another Project Almost Done!

Whoo, hoooo! I'm being very productive these days. I've had a few custom orders that I'm working on, plus I think I'm near to having found a great website designer for a reasonable amount.

Here's the bear square, but the duck is not yet ready to be unveiled. It's been a fun project, and it's making me realize that baby blankets do not have to be that hard (remember the twin's blankets -- so many squares! In fact, I confess, the girl's blanket still sits ...) Anyway, you really need only 20 squares to make a good sized blanket (the square is about 10 inches). And I used Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, which has really nice colors and is so soft. I haven't tried washing it yet, but I have the feeling it'll be fine. Ok, now, back to the duck!

Today's Thought: Check out my tea recipes on Associated Content to quench your thirst during your 4th of July festivities!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I know, I said I was done with the animals of yarn, but I discovered I hadn't covered the Alpaca, and that's a glaring omission because Alpaca fiber is the warmest out there and so great to crochet or knit with. These animals used to live just in the highest elevations of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, and northern Chile. They are related to llamas, but unlike llamas, they are not work animals or raised for their meat, it's all about the fiber. Their fiber was once considered a luxury, but now that alpaca farms can be found worldwide, alpaca is becoming more affordable and more available.

Today's Thought: For all you budding writers out there, there's another site on which you can post your work -- It's easy to use and accepts a variety of topics.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Googly Eyes

There's this great new-ish craft store on Barracks Row here in DC called Ipso Crafto (gotta love that name!). I ran in tonight just before they closed (at 7) to pick up some of those eyes that you stick on dolls, etc. They have the black discs that shake around in the plastic covering with white background -- you know, "googly eyes"! Why might I need googly eyes you might ask? Well, because I've come up with the cutest crocheted squid, and he needs some eyes :-) Pictures to come (yes, the B-in-L still has the camera, dah).

Today's Thought: "She" magazine from England is just so cool -- it's a woman's magazine with fashion, make-up, recipes, home tips, etc., but with less ads and fluff and much more substance than the mags we have here. Subscriptions are not cheap ($69 a year), but you can sometimes find single copies in Barnes & Noble or Borders.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Well, at least the kitchen! I played hooky from work today (I took the leave, it's legit :-), and I'm planning to go sit out by the pool for a little while, but at least I got up and cleaned the kitchen. I'm hoping to get more done this afternoon, but we'll see...

An axolotl update: so, the body is done, but I'm having a little problem with the head. I had hoped to do the whole thing all in one piece, but I think I might have to do the head separately, then attach to the rest of the body. Back to the drawing board.

Today's Thought: George Carlin was a comedic genius, it's a real loss to the entertainment world, but thankfully, he's left behind so much great material. Of course, a lot of it is available on YouTube, but his two-CD set is so worth checking out -- George Carlin Classic Gold.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mmmm, Turkish Food

I have been in the cooking mood, go figure! I usually avoid the kitchen if I can, but once in a while, I'm having the urge for certain foods and end up making them myself. And, for some reason, I've been really wanting "borek" lately -- it's a cheese-filled Turkish pastry (savory not sweet), and so, off to the Turkish grocery store I went! Here in the DC area, there are a number of Middle Eastern groceries, and a Turkish one opened up not long ago in Rockville, MD (N. Nelson Street, right off of 270). It's called Lezzet, and their stock is pretty good.

I also found a great website,, on which a Turkish woman has posted a number of recipes. Next I want to try Turkish ice cream (dondurma) because it's really custard-y in texture (kind of like gelato), but the store was out of mastic gum, and I'm discovering that that is an ingredient that is not easy to find! Well, I'm sure Lezzet will restock soon, and dondurma will be mine!

Today's Thought: On the same theme, Turkey's national soccer team takes on Germany today at 2:30 EDT on ESPN as part of Euro2008!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I've got nothing to report on the projects -- Sunday and yesterday were just so busy, so I got nothing done, ugh. Things are getting out of hand around the house too, the layers of dust, yes layers I think ;-) But, I'm really hoping this coming weekend is going to be quiet and uneventful, allowing me to finish my current projects and get this house cleaned! I dream of having a team of people come through, cleaning, dusting, and taking care of everything, while I lounge on the couch directing them and working on whatever I want to do, ahhhhhhhh. Yeah, well, I'd better snap out of it and get back to figuring out where I left that pile of bills that need paying!

Today's Thought: The Crafty Bastards' Arts and Crafts Fair is coming up this Saturday the 28th. It's from 10 to 5 at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, 8230 Georgia Ave in Silver Spring Maryland. It's a huge, good time (they had over 20,000 attendees last year at the Adams Morgan fair), with unusual vendors and music and other performances throughout the day!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Well, I am learning so much about the Axolotl. It's a Mexican salamander basically, not to be confused with a lizard or reptile because they are amphibians. And, they come in all sorts of cool and different colors. The one I'm making is going to mimic the "white albino" with red gills! (if you'd like to learn more, check out I found a great 100% natural bamboo yarn that's so great for creating this plush amigarumi.

Not much else going on -- I'm still waiting for my brother-in-law to return my camera, but here's the owl I made for the baby shower earlier this month ;-)

Today's Thought: Williams-Sonoma has these great microfiber dusting mitts that pick up everything, and they come in cool colors too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


So, went to visit my friend who had the twins. They're about 3 1/2 weeks old! Sooooo cute. And I managed pretty well if I do say so myself :-) It's a little scary though, they're just so small, and two of them. Man, and when they both get going at the same time.... Anyway, no child endangerment laws were broken, so it was a success!

I'm having such a great time with the Wii Fit! It's pretty cool I must say -- it's really not hard core exercise, but the evaluative tools are pretty good and accurate. For example, it can tell if you're maintaining proper posture and balance and gives you tips on how to make corrections.

Alright, back to the projects. Yes, that's right, plural! -- am making an Axolotl and duck and bear squares pattern. I know I keep promising pictures and not delivering, but I swear they'll be a whole bunch soon!

Today's Thought: The Daily Crocheter is a great site to find free and for purchase patterns and all sorts of crocheting info, and you can sign up for their newsletter!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


So, last night, I finally took my new Wii Fit out of the box and set it up (quite easy actually), and on it I went! Suffice to say, my Wii Fit Age is quite good I must say :-) and I can tell, this is going to be a lot of fun! Then, my husband says, "hey, that looks cool, let me give it a try." So, his Mii gets imported, and he types in his height. So far, so good. Then, he steps on the board, and we hear an audible gasp (never mind that it does that each time anyone steps on, that's the first time we heard it :-), then his Mii starts getting wider, and his BMI is not pretty! He then does the balance/fitness test, which comes out fine, but the Wii tells him his Wii Fit Age is 4 years OLDER than me!! Heee, heee, heeeeeeeee! Anyway, I’m loving it and am so glad I didn't ebay it! I'll keep you posted on our progress!

Today's Thought: For those of you in the Washington DC area, the Crafty Bastards Silver Spring Crafts Fair is coming up on Saturday, June 28th, from 10 to 5. Admission is free, and you can find out more information, vendors' list, etc. at !

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Well, the baby shower yesterday was so nice (as nice as it can be in an office!), and I think the mom-to-be really liked the stuffed owl. I found the pattern in Crochet Today magazine (Sept/Oct '07, p 75) and just changed the color scheme to match her color choices. Of course, I forgot my camera, but hope to get some shots from others.

Ok, so back to the girl baby blanket, especially now that the babies are home with their mom, who really went through a lot (eclampsia and the whole ICU bit). We're hoping to get over there soon to visit, when she's ready, and I've got to have that blanket done to take with me!

Oh, and here's an interesting tidbit: Chenille is made by lining up the fibers horizontally on a machine, stitching down the center, then trimming, apparently like a pipe cleaner. That's part of the reason chenille has no elasticity and also why it can shed.

Today's Thought: Artomatic is coming to an end this Sunday here in DC, so if you're in the area, try to stop by and support the local art community!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Ok, I think I'm running out of animals from whose down yarn can be made! Yaks are endangered animals from Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan region in Southeast Asia. Considering how unstable that region is and to help keep them from extinction, yaks are being sent to cold-weather regions for reproduction. Yaks produce two types of hair: a coarse outer coat, which is used for rugs and ropes, and a soft inner coat (the “down”), which has been compared to cashmere. Yak hair is extremely warm because yaks are used to subzero temperatures. It's quite laborious to produce yak yarn because the coarser hairs must be removed from the down to get usable yarn. Thankfully, there seem to be enough people around willing to put in the time!

Today's Thought: Next time you're in the mood for a home-made hamburger, try using ground buffalo meat instead -- it's much lower in cholesterol and fat than ground beef!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

More Babies!

Well, more babies on the way! I know, I know, I still haven't finished the girl blanket (so close, I swear!), but now I find out there's a baby shower for a co-worker on June 11th! I'm sure I can whip up something between trying to create more patterns and finishing up the girl blanket. I'll of course keep you posted :-)

I don't know why I'm so fascinated by the different animals involved with yarn production, but the latest thing I've learned is that really thin wool used for making lace comes from Shetland sheep that trace back at least 5,000 years in Shetland, an archipelago off mainland Scotland. These sheep have a naturally colorful fleece that yields a really light wool. Because Norse settlements sprang up on the Shetland Islands around 800 C.E., you can see their influence on the knitting styles that come from that area: detailed lace patterns as well as intricate colorwork.

Today's Thought: Check out my recently published content on The Five Financial Mistakes Never to Make.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Sale!

I'm so excited, I just sold one of my crochet patterns yesterday! It's for a crocheted yoga mat bag and can be found here at I have to say, it's really a rewarding feeling to have someone pick out your design and want to make it for herself. As much as I love making custom orders for people, I'm thinking I might concentrate on designing items and making patterns for a while. Well, we'll see what happens...

Other than that, here's an update on the twins. They're scheduled to arrive on June 4th. The girl blanket is almost finished (talk about getting down to the wire!) and, of course, pictures will be posted.

Today's Thought: There's a website,, on which original content is published. You can find all sorts of articles on there and even take a crack at publishing something yourself!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

So, I'm back from NYC. Wish I could give you an update on the yarn shop scene there, but the weather was awful and I was there for only 3 days, so no chance to go yarn shopping :-(

Instead, I'll tell you about angora goats. In addition to angora from rabbits, it turns out that angora goats produce mohair that is known for its sheen, durability, and warmth. It is thought that Angora goats data back to biblical times when goats were raised in the Angora district of Asia Minor. In the 19th century, goat exportation became common and goat farms sprang up all around Europe and South Africa, so mohair became quite a valuable commodity. When goats are clipped, twice a year, their light inner hair is separated from coarse guard hairs.

Today's Thought: It is so important to use a good soap on your skin. Skin, like another other organ, is susceptible to chemicals and other toxins, which unfortunately seem to be prevalent in most commercial soaps (come on, can you pronounce half the ingredients listed on the wrapper?!) I recently attended a class on soap making given by the Soap Fairy, and believe me, the almond oatmeal soap I ended up buying is probably the best stuff I've ever tried! Take a look at all the offerings at

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Yarn Label Reading

I came across a great guide to reading yarn labels in one of those Page-A-Day calendars for knitters ( Yarn labels really do reveal a lot about the fiber, how it will act while we work it up, and how we should treat it once our item is done. This guide helps you figure out if you should wash and/or dry the yarn:

This little water icon means that your yarn is machine washable up to the temperature in the middle of the symbol. In this example, do not go above lukewarm water.

This yarn, however, is not machine washable.

Your item made with this yarn can go into the dryer when you see this symbol.

But when you see this symbol, you must lay your item flat to dry.
Pretty cool, huh?! Sometimes looking at some of those labels is like trying to decipher hieroglyphics!
Today's Thought: Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Dah, why is it that weeks can go by with no fun activities, etc., then all of a sudden, everything you want to do happens at the same time?! This weekend was the 34th annual Maryland fiber festival. It is the largest in the United States, held during the first weekend of May, at the Howard County Fairgrounds. I hear they have more than 30 breeds of sheep and other fleece-producing animals and over 300 venders selling hand-crafted yarns and products. Competitions in everything from “sheep to shawl” take place, as well as workshops in spinning, weaving, knitting, sheepshearing, and even sheepherding. And I've missed it yet once again :-( Well, hopefully next year!

For more information about the festival, go to

Today's Thought: FilmfestDC is about to come to a close. Each year, there are 11 days of award-winning foreign and U.S. independent films showcased in different venues across the city. Please support the independent arts!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Who knew?! Rayon is actually a natural fiber! In the 1920s, Rayon, or “artificial silk,” was used to make those swing dresses that you associate with that period. Rayon fibers are actually made from the cellulose of trees, so although it’s a man-made fiber, it’s also natural!

Today's Thought: Only 10 days til Mother's Day, so get that card now before you forget!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Boys Rule!

Well, I managed to get the boy baby blanket done on time for the shower! I'm still working on the girl blanket, but I think I've got about 5-6 weeks left before they get here, so it should all work out ok. Ugh, things always take longer than you think they're going to!

And, I also learned that when people say that a yarn is “plied,” they mean that strands of the yarn are twisted together to make the yarn stronger and softer. Individual plies can be very thin, so saying something is four-ply just means that it's composed of four strands of yarn and doesn't really say anything about its thickness.

Today's Tip: Happy Spring! Take the time to stop and really smell the flowers :-)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Just a few more blocks!

So, the baby blanket crunch time is serious now, hence no blogging! The baby shower is next Saturday, and the baby blankets are proceeding, but ... Though it is amazing what you can accomplish when the pressure is on. I hope to figure out how to do pictures on this blog soon so you can see the final products! Ah, so much to doooooooooo.

Anyway, I sort of knew that "mercerized" cotton involved doing something special to the cotton, but I just learned that it was a John Mercer who invented a process in the early 20th century that uses a solution to break down the cotton fibers to make them softer and more receptive to dye. Really interesting the info that you can pick up these days.

Ok, I gotta go back to the blankets! I promise, a better post coming soon...

Today's Thought: Soaking eggplant in cold, salted water for about a half hour makes it much easier to cook and less bitter.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Running Out

Argh, I've been experiencing running out of yarn too much lately. You know the feeling, "I can eke out 5 more stitches, come on!" But, of course, you can't. I found this tip, though, that has really helped: If you have a length of yarn at least three times the length of your knit or crochet row, you should have enough to get across to the other side. Otherwise, cut your losses and just go ahead and join a new ball before beginning the next row.

Today's Thought: Happy Easter!

Monday, March 17, 2008

On the Mend

Ah, can't believe I got felled by the cold/flu that's been making the rounds at work! Really knocked me for a loop.

Well, Nancy's sweater was finished in time for our annual lunch together, and she seemed really happy. Hopefully, it will be warm enough for her to wear it soon.

Now, it's on to the baby blankets that need to be finished by April 12th. I think I've got enough time, I've tried to plan out my strategy, but the best laid plans...

Anyway, I learned the most interesting thing today: There is sometimes a reference in history or literature to someone being from the “distaff side of the family” (meaning the maternal side). A distaff is a device constructed to hold unspun fiber as it’s fed onto the spindle or into the spinning wheel. The term originated during the Middle Ages. It comes from a reference in the Bible, which said that a virtuous woman is one who seeks wool and works willingly with her hands on the spindle and distaff.

Today's Thought: Just one or two cups of coffee causes your cortisol (the stress hormone) level to be elevated for 12 to 14 hours, which can have adverse consequences to your blood sugar level and immune system. Switching from coffee to tea has helped people lose weight and feel much better in just six weeks.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Happy Leap Year!

Ok, so I'm two days late! I can't believe how fast February has come and gone, and now we're already into the second day of March. The day job has been keeping me very busy as have a number of crochet projects. Remember? My vow to finish or abandon old projects before starting anything new? So far, so good. I finished the dog sweater but haven't yet gotten any pictures to post (my luck, it starts warming up around here in D.C. just about when the sweater is finished, but sometimes we have our craziest weather in March, so there's hope :-)

My other project has been to finish my friend Nancy's bolero jacket. The pattern is in Stitch 'n Bitch's The Happy Hooker, page 168. She started this project herself last spring, and we'd meet periodically for me to help her. Well, while reading the pattern to her and chatting between rows, I led her astray! Hence, I offered to correct and finish up the project for her. Her birthday's coming up, so I'm hoping to have it done by then (I ended up having to start over because I find it so hard to pick up something that I didn't start myself.)

After the bolero, it's on to the baby blankets! Turns out my friend who is having twins is having a boy and a girl! Very exciting (plus, for me, I know what colors to use!). The shower's in April, so you know you'll be hearing more about this project in coming posts.

Today's Thought: A nifty site I heard about on a commercial -- it's called You type in your zip code, and they show you all of the coupons available for your area. You can choose whick ones you want and then print them out!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Know Your Hooks

There are many types of hooks out there -- does it matter which one you choose for your project? Yes it does. For slippery yarns, like silk and bamboo, you are going to want to use a wooden or bamboo hook because it's less slick than steel or aluminum hooks and will allow you to have more control over the yarn as you work. For a cotton chenille or another bumpy, prone-to-snagging yarn, then you'll want the aluminum hook to help the stitches slide along.

Today's Thought: Yokan, or red bean cake, is a delicious Japanese dessert made mainly with red beans, sugar, and gelatin. It's got lots of protein, it's not too sweet, and it's a bit different!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy V-Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody! These are hectic times, but we hope you'll take time today to tell all the folks in your life how much you love them. Enjoy the day :-)

Today's Thought: Yoga Toes. If your feet are aching and cramping, you need these! They look like those toe separators used for pedicures, only larger and of rubber. They take some getting used to, but stick with it, your toes will thank you! They're available through and (you might want to price shop, there is a range of prices for basically the same product).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bunny Wear

So, today I learned that Angora yarn comes from the fine, downy hair of the Angora rabbit, and apparently, there are several types of Angora rabbits. They usually shed about three to four times a year, and the fiber literally could be spun right off the rabbit because the fur needs no washing or carding. Unfortunately, Angora remains expensive because, even though rabbits are plentiful, they are small and don’t yield much fiber. But, it is just so soft! I've really been enjoying learning about all these different fibers and passing along the information. I'm hoping I'll get to work with all these different types so that I can figure out what works best with different kinds of projects. I'll keep you posted!

Today's Thought: There's a crochet book, Get Hooked by Kim Werker, that's really intended for teens learning to crochet, but the author does an amazing job of pulling together so much interesting and useful information about crochet, the tools and yarns, etc., that it's worth checking out no matter your age or skill level!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dog Gone Days

Well, the doggie sweater is done! Hopefully, I will be able to post pictures of it soon, as modeled by the pooch who'll be receiving it.

Now, onto the next project -- getting the baby blankets done for the twins coming in June (I'm actually going to be aiming for the baby shower in April -- whew, that's not really that far away!). I'm debating about whether I wait til the sex(es) are determined by mid-month or just barrel on ahead with my colorful, unisex plan. Since the blankets will be made up of crocheted squares, I think I'll just go ahead and come up with a bunch of squares in each possible color, then put them together at the end of March. I can always make yet another blanket with the "leftovers."

Today's Thought: If you live in Washington DC and haven't been down to Barracks Row, you really need to go check out this up-and-coming neighborhood! In addition to Cafe 8, Ipso-Crafto opened last August next door to Stitch DC (great yarn shop!). They've got supplies for all sorts of crafts, along with classes and special kids events (their site needs a little updating, but it's got all their info on it

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Process v. Project

I think I'm discovering with each passing day that I am a "process" crocheter. If any of you have heard Stephanie Pearl-McPhee talk or read any of her books, you know what I mean. Even though she's a knitter, Pearl-McPhee nails so many aspects of what it's like to be a crocheter. I find that I just love the process of starting a project -- gathering just the right yarns and hook, figuring out the stitches of the pattern, and jumping right in. Trouble is, the excitement and newness wear off, yet the project isn't finished! Into a bag it goes while the next "fix" is sought, dah.

Well, I've finally made myself stop -- there's now a moratorium on new projects while the old ones get assessed and either finished or ultimately abandoned (sometimes, it's just for the best). Though with the number of babies in the horizon (I've got at least 3 friends expecting over the next 6 months, one with twins!), I know I'm not going to be able to keep this vow for long. Stay tuned for updates!

Today's Thought: Tazo Teas are just delicious and come in a large assortment of flavors and types of teas. With Starbucks so ubiquitous, it's not hard to pick up a variety pack to give a try!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Got Your Goat?

Ever wonder where "cashmere" comes from?! Goats! The fleece used to spin yarn and fibers consists of the very fine, crimpy down of the goat and the usually longer, outside, coarse, straight guard hairs. Cashmere goats are a type, not a breed. Most goat breeds, except Angora, can produce this down in varied quantities and may be called cashmere goats. There is no such thing as a "purebred" cashmere goat. The majority of the world supply of cashmere has come from Afghanistan, Iran, Outer Mongolia, India, and China. In recent years, when these countries' political disarray disrupted cashmere supplies, manufacturers began looking to New Zealand and Australia for more stable sources.

Today's Thought: has great audio books at great prices. I really feel like I'm multi-tasking when I crochet and listen to a book at the same time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hearts Aplenty

Ah, how the days are passing! Since my last posting, I've been quite busy finishing the dog sweater and figuring out whether I'm going to come up with specialty items for Valentine's Day. I do have this great heart pattern that I'm using to make a baby blanket, but I could make some sachets with it as well. I really haven't concentrated on making special holiday-oriented products, but I'm starting to think that I'm missing a boat somehow by not doing so. Well, maybe I'd better get out my pink and red yarns!

Today's Thought: The Wii. Never did I think I'd become so obsessed with a video game system, but this one is great. There are many games available for the small white console that are all about skills and eye-hand coordination, not just war games or shoot-em-ups. The "cross-bow training" game that comes with the Zapper, a device that turns the remote and numchuk into a machine gun, lets you practice shooting at bull's eye targets, pottery, scarecrows, and gorgons for points and more complicated levels of play!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Merino Wool

I had no idea that "merino" as in "merino wool" actually refers to a type of sheep! Merino sheep are characterized by their tight, springy coats and their softness. The term "merino" was once used exclusively to describe sheep that came from Spain. But now that sheep breeds have been exported all over the world, merino sheep can be found everywhere, with concentrations in Western Europe, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. Unlike most wool, merino doesn’t scratch when worn right next to the skin. Once considered a luxury yarn, it’s becoming more common and affordable.

Why choose wool for garments? Well, it has the following properties: it’s strong, durable, elastic, water-resistant, and flame-resistant. It takes up dye wonderfully, and with all the blends available these days, it feels great and not so scratchy anymore. Wool can be quite lightweight and will keep you as warm as down. Hey, it seems to work well for the sheep!

Today's Thought: It's really important to be able to recognize the signs of a stroke because, if the patient can get help within 3 hours, the effects of a stroke can be almost totally reversed. But, it's hard to know for sure, but ask these 3 simple questions:

S ask the person to SMILE
T ask the person to TALK or SAY A SIMPLE LINE (coherently, like "it is sunny out today")
R ask the person to RAISE BOTH ARMS

You might also want to ask the person to stick out his or her tongue. If the tongue is "crooked," if it goes to one side or the other, that is also an indication of stroke. If there's trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Crochet for Healing

Ah, the doggie sweater is coming along very nicely, and we're still concentrating on baby hats. But, what's really got me excited today is my donation to I had received a gift certificate from Crate & Barrel during the holidays, giving me a $25 credit with the organization. I admit it, at first I had hoped it was a coupon for C&B, but once I checked out the DonorsChoose website, I realized this really was the better gift. Teachers, usually in economically-challenged areas, post their proposed projects and their monetary needs to fulfill them. You pick a project, decide how much you want to donate, sign up as a donor, and that's it. You can get acknowledgement for your donation or make it anonymously, and you can also get updates on the project(s) you've chosen.

I really hope you will give this organization a look and find something you want to support. I made my donation to "Crochet for Healing" because the teacher posting the project really seems committed to her students and is asking for so little when you think about it. Please take a look! Thanks so much.

Today's Thought: Sometimes you receive so much when you give to someone else :-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Last Loop

Today's topic is how do you finish off your crochet work? Specifically, what kind of knot do you use once you've gotten to the end of your project? I've always pulled the yarn through the last loop left on the hook, then weaved the strand through a few stitches and clipped off the excess. Then, recently, I've been trying to put an extra knot at the end and to closely clipp it without weaving in because I was finding that the weaved-in bit was eventually working itself out, leaving a longer "tail" sticking out. Now, I've just read that, when you get to your last loop, you should work an extra chain stitch, cut the end and pull it completely through the loop, then pull firmly on the end to create a knot. Has anyone tried this and found it successful? I've also read that you should dab a little Superglue on the knot for extra fortification, but does that really work? What happens after the item is washed? Looking forward to hearing comments on this frustrating part of project work!

Today's Thought: Hemp Milk. I know what you're thinking, but this delicious soy milk alternative is made from the non-psychedelic hemp seed, which is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, all nine of the essential amino acids, B vitamins, fiber, iron, and Vitamin E. Check out and for the milk as well as other snacks and cereals made from hemp seeds.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Style for Doggies

So, I find myself crocheting a sweater for a dog! Usually I wouldn't advocate dressing up a dog in any type of outfit, just doesn't seem right. But, I have come to learn that some dogs, especially the smaller ones with close-cropped fur (picture a small greyhound), get really cold in the wintertime. In an effort to come up with something ladylike and dignified for Misti, I chose Lion Brand's Jiffy yarn. It's a nice bulky, soft yarn that's machine washable and dryable. Now, I know, I just advocated for making use of more natural fibers, but for warmth, practicality, and cost effectiveness, I just had to go with this great quality 100% acrylic yarn. I got Blush (color #137) for the main part and Oat (color # 098) for accents (I figured these colors would look nice on Misti's light grey coat). I hope to post pictures once the project is done!

Today's Thought: Agave syrup is a great substitute for refined white sugar. It comes in light and dark varieties, and I find that I'm using less and less but still feeling satisfied with the sweetness in my tea.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


We've started to use all-bamboo and bamboo-blend yarns, especially for the baby wear, because it's so soft and easy to work with, plus we've learned that it wears well and has natural antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties. There's even ultra-violet protection in the yarn. Bamboo actually is a grass that is harvested and distilled into cellulose that is then spun into yarn. It's also a renewable resource because it can be harvested without killing the plant, and it only takes a few months before the plant is ready to be harvested again. I love working with it because it has a good luster, similar to mercerized cotton, and has a great drape. Even though it needs to be handwashed, which I haven't had to do yet, they say items made from Bamboo yarn are strong, flexible, and can be softer than silk. Even though it's more expensive ($10.50 in DC) than some of the other bamboo yarns out there, I really like Be Sweet 100% Bamboo yarn ( because it's beautiful yarn in a lot of color choices, and it's hand spun and dyed in South Africa by a disadvantaged women's empowerment group. I've also recently discovered a bamboo-wool blend yarn that's really nice too and has a bit more heft to it, Moda Dea Bamboo Wool.

Today's Thought: In an effort to start off the new year eating more healthfully, we found this great recipe site,, and have discovered Quinoa (keen-wah), a great alternative to rice or other grains as a side dish.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the Many Creative Gifts' "be thoughtful" blog!

I'm Phyllis, and Many Creative Gifts started out as a way for me to sell custom-designed crafts and handmade jewelry, some of which are featured on Etsy and our website Being based in Washington DC, we are always on the look out for new venues and inspirational designs. Though DC is not foremost known for its arts culture and community, the city has great aesthetics to offer.

So, we hope to be a part of enriching DC's crafts scene and to share bits of information on this blog that will enhance your life in some way and help you to "be thoughtful" day-to-day.

Today's Thought: If you live in DC or are planning to visit, please try "Cafe 8" in Eastern Market (! After a hard day of crafting and working up an appetite, we came across this fabulous new Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant in the burgeoning Barracks Row area of town. The food is delicious, the atmostphere is warm and comfortable, and supporting a new business has never been so fun! Really got our crafty little minds going...

We thank you for stopping by the blog. We hope to see you back soon.