Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I figured out how to crochet a spiral with two colors the other day shortly before falling asleep. I thought it would make a cool potholder. After a few false starts, I managed this yesterday.

I didn't quite work out my increases very well at the beginning, so it had a little ripple to it instead of laying flat. I was hopeful that felting might fix the issue or at least make it less noticeable.

I think the felting worked things out pretty well. I ended up handfelting when I couldn't keep myself from pulling it out of the washer every three seconds. I guess there should be a pair of potholders...


... I wasn't having the greatest day yesterday. But then dh made me dinner and found some Office episodes for us to watch together. And then the animals came over to empathise. Who would be able to stay sad for very long with these faces around?!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good things about Kansas...

...Come on, let's have a positive attitude! ;)

-Gas is actually $1.77 a gallon right now-this picture is 2 weeks old..

-People will call you Ma'am even if you are 30 years younger than they are.

-Cicadas start buzzing in all the trees when mid-summer rolls around. They also make a crunchy snack for dogs.

-Lightning bugs show up in June

-The first heavy snow covers up everything ugly and makes the world quiet. And dogs love it.

-A 'real' thunderstorm makes the house shake every time a clap of thunder breaks.

-The prairie glows in the fall when the goldenrod is blooming and the grass is golden dry.

-No traffic. Ever. Truly.

-People you met 3 weeks ago will help you move.

-You will see deer, rabbits, turkeys, and lots of different birds on most hikes you take. Hmm..turkeys are a kind of bird actually.

-Cardinals. In your backyard.

-Other drivers will come to a complete stop and let you merge.

-The Anthropologie sales rack doesn't get too picked over since the population is low.

-You can show up less than one hour before an airline flight and still have time to use the restroom and buy a cinnamon role.

-The best baked potatoes in the continental US.

-When the sun comes up after an ice storm it looks like every blade of grass is dipped in crystal.

-Real fireworks are legal and easily purchased at roadside tents before the fourth of July.

-The trees are big enough that they form a green tunnel you can drive through in the deep summer. (I think this is also because the roads are narrow.)

-If you skid off the biggest highway in the state because of heavy snow, complete strangers driving behind you will slide your car back onto the road for you.

-During the winter your cats want to sleep under the covers with you at night to stay warm. Adorable.

-The city pool is open for dogs to have a swim on the last day of summer.

-People will be intrigued that you are actually from California because you seem pretty normal.... :)

-oh, yeah, and Kansas is the state that decided to take a chance on a Drama major and made her a veterinarian. Thanks Kansas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vegetarian/Vegan Shoes, Belts, etc.

When I initially became a vegetarian, I didn't have a problem with wearing leather. I've now been a vegetarian for 11 years and I don't buy leather or silk, and only specific kinds of wool. I don't have a problem with people who do, or even with non-vegetarians. It's just not for me. I don't claim to be the best vegetarian in the world either, just trying to do the best I can within what works for me.

I had all kinds of trouble finding vegetarian shoes for a long time, and even more trouble finding vegetarian shoes that didn't look like a garbage scow . I particularly mourned my Dr. Martens which I was unable to find in a synthetic leather.

Here is a collection of brands and links that are either vegetarian/vegan, or consistently use synthetic materials. I cruise these sites fairly often but it took me a long time to find these brands so hopefully this will shorten someone else's search.

Home of the "Utility Boot" pictured above, which will hopefully find its way to me as my birthday present... My absolute favorite vegan store-their products are very high quality and well priced. My boss asked me why I was carrying a leather handbag one time. It wasn't leather, it was from this store, and it has lasted a year of rough daily use and still looks good.

I use zappos fairly often since their customer service is fantastic and my small town location severely limits shopping options. Some brands that are almost always vegan are Madden Girl (Steve Madden) and Unlisted (Kenneth Cole). The Madden Girl shoes are consistently comfortable though they run a half size small. A number of Keen styles are also vegan and last forever. All three of these brands are an excellent quality in my opinion.

Wow, this store is over the top in a lot of ways.. However, I searched for a LONG time for a feminine leather-look belt and found it here. So there you go. They also have quite a few bag and shoe options. Not certain about the quality, but the price is right!

Much of the Xhilaration line is animal friendly. They have lots of fun shoes, but they can be a little stiff/uncomfortable. Prices are good though. Be careful with this line, it is usually synthetic, but in my belt quest I found their belts were actually bonded leather. Which sucked because they were awesome. Hooray for sentence fragments!

If I think of any other sources I will put them down here, and if you have any suggestions please give me a heads up!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A little quilting..

Last month I found this great fabric site. You can check it out here. I went a little crazy and got a half yard of each of these.

Here are my absolute favorites. If you click on the picture it will enlarge and you should be able to make out the little Japanese cats.

I just finished the first quilt block this morning and have most of the fabric cut for three more blocks. One block is about 2x2 feet. Too bad I need to be studying for finals... ;)

Sorry the picture's so yellow..

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Le Petite Scarf

I saw this scarf online at Anthropologie and really liked it. (please don't sue me for using your pictures, Anthropologie. If anyone doesn't want to make this, they should definitely order it immediately.) I don't like long scarves because the tails always seem useless to me. But this little scarf is so cute, and I thought, I think I can make that....

Well, It's not exactly the same by any means, but I think it captures the spirit of the design. Also, I don't enjoy knitting so this little guy is all crochet. Here's some help if you want to make it yourself. :)

I made it in six pieces and it took me two evenings. (I am a slow newbie crocheter.) I used one ball of Bernat alpaca natural blend in persimmon and a size J hook. The scarf is worked sideways.

The 3 small flat pieces which will overlap when the scarf is on are all the same, so make three of these. Chain 14, turn. Single crochet 13, chain one, turn. Repeat until you have 10 rows. This will be approximately 3 inches deep. Finish off and leave a long piece of yarn for weaving the pieces together later.

The long center piece is done with half double crochet in a ribbing pattern. You'll only make one of these. Chain 50, turn. HDC into stitch 2 stitches from the hook and continue down the chain in HDC. Chain 2, turn. Now the ribbing comes in! HDC into the next row, but ONLY into the back loop. Continue as previously described, always placing new stitch into back loop throughout all rows. Complete 13 rows not including initial chain. This should measure approximately 5 inches deep.

The end pieces gave me the most grief and if you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them. They didn't turn out as pointy as I wanted them, but I'm OK with that. You'll need two of these pieces.
Chain 14, turn. HDC into stitch 2 chains from the hook. Continue until the end, chain 2, turn. HDC into ONLY the back loops for the ribbing effect. At the end of the row, HDC twice into last stitch. This is the start of the "pointy" end. Chain 2, turn. HDC until the end, ch 2, turn. HDC until the last stitch, then HDC twice into last stitch, ch 2, turn. Keep this up until you have completed 7 rows. Remember to ONLY HDC into the back loop. Then you need to start reducing!
When you get to the 'pointy' end, do a HDC into the last two stitches, creating one stitch. Keep doing that on the pointy end for 6 more rows. Finish end and leave a long tail of yarn. You will need to make two of these and they should measure about 5 inches deep.

Assembly: You have six pieces. Lay two of the single crochet pieces on top of each other to form the little tunnel that the scarf will go through. Lay out all the pieces so you have (from left to right) one pointy piece, two single crochet pieces on top of each other, one long piece, one single crochet piece, and the last pointy piece.

Use the long tails you left on to sew the pieces together. You have to ease the wider pieces to fit against the smaller pieces by scrunching the big pieces a little as you sew them on. This gives more body to the scarf.

You're all done! The finished product will not be as lofty as a knitted piece, but I was happy with it. Let me know if you like it or have any suggestions. I am new at crochet, so often I have only a vague idea of what I'm doing. Here's my finished piece! It looks cute centered over one shoulder too.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


...because he believes in us.

image from designforobama

...and more good news....

Wind of Change

The ceaseless Kansas wind strips the fall foliage off the trees two or three days after they change color around here. Most of our trees are already the reaching, naked things we will watch all winter, straining for that first green mist of spring. Close by in Kansas city, great stands of placid multi-colored trees roll over the hills with breath taking masses of color. In Manhattan however, the wind whips over the flat prairie and the trees are swiftly scoured down to their bark.

The quality of daylight has changed too. Overbrilliant autumn sun fights with the grey tinge that passes over and blots everything out, a harbinger of swirling snow and cold stinging through the smallest gaps in clothing.

Here and there, though, you'll round a corner and find some stalwart tree blazing in a final farewell to warm weather. I had to stop my walk with Tea and admire the hectic play of sun through fluttering slips of gold leaves. Goodbye warm weather! We'll see you again in a few months...