Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Girl Time, part 2

The next day, Girlfriend and I decided to go to a yarn shop we'd never been to before.  We ended up at Three Bags Full in Northbrook, IL.  What an amazing shop! So many lovely yarns and books, all so well organized!  It was heaven!  We spent well over two hours there!

Here's what I  came away with:

Four pattern books by Rowan, two of which I'd been
wanting, and two of which I didn't know I wanted!

"Oh, wait!  I wasn't ready!"

"Is that some Kidsilk Haze way over there?"

"Touch my yarn and I'll knock your block off."

"I'm bored.  Can I knit now?"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Girl Time

Girlfriend came and loved the leopard, so after a yummy dinner in Chinatown with her stepdaughter, we reconvened at my house and did leopard manis while watching YouTube and drinking wine!  Fun!!

Essie Little Brown Dress with China Glaze 2030
Konad plate m57

Essie Sand Tropez with Zoya Pinta and China Glaze Millenium
Konad plate m57

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Two for One

Knitting and Nails, on the same day!

Knitting and nail polish - my
favorite things!

Aren't they pretty?  What we have here is Nubar Pink Lily and Adore, by Kim Hargreaves, a wide scarf knit in Kidsilk Haze.

Pink Lily is the sixth polish I've tried from this collection.  Maybe this one applied differently, or maybe I've just resigned myself to the fact that these take 3 coats to be opaque.  But I really love this.  I had a hard time capturing the true color; it's quite a bit darker and more Pepto-esque in real life.    In the bottle it looks like it would have a more pronounced shimmer (like Blue Hydrangea), but I can't see it on the nail.

It makes me feel pretty.  Isn't it funny how pink can do that?

Nubar Pink Lily
Spring Garden Collection, 2011

The Adore scarf is a project I started to take with me to California last month.  I didn't work on it a whole lot because I was busy taking long walks on the beach  . . . I get it out every once in a while and do a few rows.  It's the kind of thing I like to keep going, for when I get bored with whatever else I'm working on.

Adore, by Kim Hargreaves

It's done in a very easy but very effective stitch.  The yarn is a shade of Kidsilk Haze called Majestic.  It's a hard color to describe.  Is it grey?  Is it lavender?  Is it taupe? Whatever it is, it's very pretty.  And it goes great with pink nails.  I think I'll do a few rows now . . .

Saturday, March 26, 2011

So In Love

I am so in love with this Konadicure I just did.  It's nothing too fancy, but I love it nonetheless:

Lavender Leopard

Less reflective version

I haven't been having a whole lot of luck with my Konads lately.  BUT I really wanted to do this one today for two reasons.  One is that we're going to a party tonight, and the second is that my BFF is coming to visit me tomorrow (yay!!) and she LOVES anything leopard.  So this is in her honor!

I started with Zoya Caitlin, from the Spring  collection called Intimate.  Zoya describes this color thusly:

Smoky purple-tinged medium gray with smooth, opaque creme finish. Sultry, mysterious and impossibly chic, a shade that will have everyone intrigued.

I really love this color.  I wore it on my birthday - it goes perfectly with my Anthropologie Sugar and Cream Dress.  Then I stamped the leopard design from Konad plate m57 using China Glaze Devotion.  This is one of the chrome colors from the Romantique collection.  I mainly used this because the color coordinates so well with Caitlin - it's a very pale lavender.  But also, chrome colors just stamp so much better than other polishes for me.  So it felt good to redeem myself after the few failed Konad attempts I've had lately using black and white.

I don't believe I own leopard-print anything.  Somehow, I've never felt like it's me.  I love it on other people though.  I like this because it's leopard print, but subtle. Baby steps . . . 

Granola Girl's Beauty Tip

Obviously, given all the nail polish, I don't lead a chemical-free life.  But I do consider myself to be a granola girl.  I've been a vegetarian for almost 30 years, buy organic, prepare most of our food from scratch, do yoga daily, meditate, recycle, and most of the time you'll find me in jeans (or yoga togs) and Birks or Danskos. And of course, I knit my own sweaters and spin my own yarn.

So here's one of my favorite all-natural beauty tricks.  I make my own facial scrub out of equal parts honey and cornmeal.  That's it.  I tend to do 2 tablespoons of each, mix them up and put them in a container to keep in the bathroom.  This time of year, near the end of winter when my skin just seems to really need some brightening, I remix it thoroughly and scoop out about a teaspoon, rub it first between my hands, and then rub it all over my damp face.  Then I rinse it off and follow by washing my face.  Once I dry it, my skin looks a lot brighter and smoother.  The honey is said to draw out impurities from the skin, and of course the cornmeal sloughs away dead skin cells.

Honey and cornmeal facial scrub

Friday, March 25, 2011

A blast from the past

Here I am in my guest bathroom, showing you a sweater I made ages ago.  No fancy photo-styling today.  In fact, my hair's not even brushed!

Fern, by Kim Hargreaves, Rowan 24

My love for all things Kim Hargreaves goes back a long way.  I probably made this sweater around 1998 or so.  Possibly 1999.  I know I was still teaching Montessori elementary, because I can remember sitting on the futon in my classroom and knitting this during my lunch breaks, and I quit that job in 1999.   

When I made this, it was a little too big, so I didn't really wear it that often.  Now, it fits perfectly, tee hee!  Sometimes a little extra weight isn't that bad a thing!

I knit this with Cynthia Helene Merino DK, which was my very first experience with merino wool.  At that time I thought it was the softest thing I'd ever felt!  Now it feels the tiniest bit coarse to me.  I still love the sweater though.  And that yarn did have a lot of bounce, and great stitch definition.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Again with the Nubar

Today I'm bringing you Baby Sprout and Honeysuckle.

I did Honeysuckle first, on my toes:

Nubar Honeysuckle
Spring Garden Collection, 2011

I LOVE this.  This one applied like a dream, covered completely in two coats and is just all-around gorgeous.  I can't wait to try this one out on my fingers too.

Then I used Baby Sprout on my fingers.  This is one of the colors I had to have when I ordered the set.  I have to admit, it's not exactly what I was expecting:

Nubar Baby Sprout
Spring Garden Collection, 2011

I thought it would be a tiny bit greener.  To my eyes, it looks almost white.  I photographed it here against an off-white chair, to show how little contrast there is.  In low light, it reminds me of the green of glow-in-the-dark paint.  I find it rather stark.  I do like it, but it's not the go-to color I was thinking it would be for me.  Also, I had a really hard time applying this one.  Pictured above is my normal two coats, and you can still see bald spots.  I was just too tired to add another coat. I had a hard time manipulating the brush too, to get even edges.  The whole process just felt kind of sloppy.

I decided to snazz it up a little with some Konad.  I stamped my fingers with Honeysuckle and my two big toes with Baby sprout, all in the same pattern:

Konad plate m8

These both worked pretty well for stamping.  

Anyone reading this for the polish may have noticed I never address wear.  That's because, on fingers at least, it's usually not an issue for me.  I usually change my polish every day or two, mostly because I just get bored with a color after that amount of time!  But on my toes, I do like a polish with good wear time.  For me, China Glaze never lets me down, and Essie is a close second.  I haven't had as much luck with Zoya, but still, it will last me at least a week.  But compare that to a pedicure I did once with China Glaze 'For Audrey' that lasted an entire month while I was in Turkey, and still looked great when I got home!  So, I'll be interested to see how the Nubars wear on toes.  I'll let you know.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Earthen + Dewdrop

The second New-bar I tried was Earthen (see how I did that?), which I then topped with Dewdrop.

Nubar Earthen + Dewdrop, Spring Garden Collection

I also liked Earthen a lot more than I expected to.  It's a pretty greige, again with a subtle shimmer.  I'm wondering how close it is to Essie's Playa del Platinum.  I suspect it's a little darker.  I really liked it on its own.

Dewdrop . . . not so much.  It was kind of a disappointment, I have to admit.  It reminded me of glitter nail polishes that were popular when I was in high school (we're talking the '70s here, kids).  It was also really difficult for my amateur photography skills to capture:

All of these photos were taken in "natural" light (or what passes for it
in Chicago in March) with no flash.

I purposely tried to unfocus this to show how the glitter reflects.
Sadly, I haven't fully learned to use my camera yet.

I would call this a medium glitter.  I can feel its texture even under a heavy coat of Seche Vite.  It's kind of driving me nuts.  I really like my nails to be perfectly smooth.  Just one of my many idiosyncrasies.

Anyhoo . . . this polish is quite thick, and loaded with glitter, so you really don't have the option to apply it lightly or layer it more heavily.  The glitter particles look silvery-gold, and mostly reflect green and blue and maybe just a smidge of pink. Just not super-unique, IMHO.

I like it OK - it's pretty -  but I guess you can tell I'm not a huge fan.  And I've got two bottles . . .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ahhhh . . . that's better

Now that Evie is finished, I've gone back to my denim sweater.

Vintage, by Kim Hargreaves

After spending so long with fine yarn and tiny needles (which I love, don't get me wrong), it's nice to work on something that goes quickly, just for a change of pace. I'm already about half way done with this one.  When I first posted about it, I had finished about half of the back, and then put it aside to work on Evie.  I picked it up again over the weekend.  I did one of the fronts in one day!  Ah, the joy of 4mm needles and DK weight yarn!

At this point I've finished the back, both fronts, and half of the first sleeve.  As I knit, I've been pondering the finishing.  The pattern calls for embroidered flowers around the neckline in red, pink, yellow and orange, with leaves in a couple shades of green.  I've been trying to imagine how it would look with all ecru flowers, or silk ribbon embroidery.  Not very many of my fellow Ravelers have done this sweater - there are only 6 other projects besides mine, and not one of them did the embroidery.  To me, that is the whole charm of the sweater!

I did discover a mistake I'd made on the back, once I started the first front piece.  I began my side shaping 4 rows too soon!  But I decided that a little extra room in the waist probably isn't a bad thing . . . And there was no way I was going to rip out the entire back, all of which is done in 2-row alternating stripes!

Onward and upward!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm definitely too old for this . . .

Nubar Blue Hydrangea
Konad plate m79 (clouds)
Bundle Monster plate bm05 (butterflies)

But obviously, I don't care.

Blue Hydrangea

I kind of surprised myself by trying this one out first.  But it's what I was in the mood for this morning!

Nubar Blue Hydrangea
Spring Garden Collection, 2011

See the subtle shimmer?

This one is just what the color looks like in natural light,
at least on my monitor.

This is my very first experience with Nubar.  I liked the formula - neither too thick nor too thin.  The brush was really nice, very soft but not so soft that it made application difficult.  I felt like this color went on a little streaky.  This is two coats, and I really should have done three - it didn't totally cover the ridges on my nails.  (Yes, I am too lazy for ridge filler.)  It will be interesting to see how the other colors are.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

At long last

I have been waiting for this for what seems like forever!

Nubar Spring Garden Collection, spring 2011
along with Dewdrop and Belize Coral

Ever since I first saw the promotional material on this collection a little over a month ago, I've been stalking the Nubar website waiting for it to come out.  When it finally appeared on Sunday, it kind of took my breath away!  Needless to say, I ordered Sunday evening, and these goodies arrived Friday morning.

I don't really think of myself as a pastel lover, and yet, it seems that every pastel collection that comes out ends up in my cupboard!  This collection made me realize why I'm drawn to them.  Call the colors what you will:  women's names, French allusions, balloon-related piffle.  These colors, while for the most part not particularly unique, have names which hit the nail on the head.  These are the colors of the spring flowers I love so much.

Actually, there are a few colors in this collection that fill in a void in my polish cupboard.  I'm most excited by White Peony (off-white), Yellow Primrose (very pale yellow), Baby Sprout (very pale yellow-green) and Color of the Year:  Honeysuckle (coral pink).  Yes, I ended up with yet another lavender polish (and another greige as well), but it actually cost less to order the whole set than to just order the five I wanted.  The eight 'colors' come in the case you see above, but the set also includes Dewdrop, which I was intrigued by.  It ended up being a pretty straightforward rainbow-like fine glitter in a transparent white base.  I misunderstood when ordering - I thought the set didn't include Dewdrop, so I ordered it as well and ended up with two.  I ordered the Belize Coral to put me over the minimum for free shipping.  And because I've been looking for a salmon-coral to replace the old OPI I can't use any more.  I would really recommend ordering more to get the free shipping, as the shipping cost  seemed high to me (at least to Chicago).  All told, these ended up costing me about $5.49 each, rather than the normal price of $7.49.

I've never tried Nubar before, and am really looking forward to trying these out over the coming days.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


 Here she is, at long last.

Evie, by Kim Hargreaves.

In my Ravelry projects, I called her New Year's Evie, because I started the project the day before New Year's Eve, 2010.  I worked on this off and on over two and a half months.  During that time I also made another cardigan, a fair isle vest, a couple of hats and a big fluffy shawl.  It's hard to be monogamous to 1576 yards of mainly stockinette knit on size 2 needles.

When I bought the Thrown Together book, this sweater was at the very top of my to-knit list.  As I mentioned before, this is the second time I've made this sweater.  I love its vintage look, the long slouchy line, the pockets.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Kim Hargreaves is a genius.

The sleeves on this one came out longer than my first one, but I don't mind because I generally push them up anyway.  Actually the whole sweater feels slightly larger than the first one I made, which may have to do with the fact that I steam blocked this one and wet-blocked the first one.  (Wet blocking is on hold for me until I find some new pins that won't rust.)

I love this yarn:  Rowan Classic Cashsoft 4 Ply.  I had bought four bags of discontinued colors a few years ago, and am slowly working my way through them. It is a real joy to knit with, and the finished fabric is so soft and silky.  The pattern called for 8 balls in my size, and I used exactly 8 - I think I had about 2 yards left over.

Sewing together took me 6 Ugly Betties - three episodes the first day and three the second.  Well, really just two and a half episodes, but I had to finish watching!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Valerie, dressed up.

Zoya Valerie, China Glaze 2030, Bundle Monster plate 21 

Valerie is going out to dinner tonight, and then to a jazz club, so she got dressed up a little.  Evie is going with her.


Look at these gorgeous glass buttons:

With shanks and glinty metallic highlights!

Purely gratuitous . . .

Can't get enough!

In situ . . .

Evie is finally finished!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hello, my name is: Valerie

Zoya Valerie
Flame Collection, Winter 2010

Slightly more red-leaning in real life.  Sunshine is spotty today.  Two coats with Seche Vite topcoat.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Big Finish

I've been working on Evie for almost 3 months.  This is the second time I've made this sweater.  The first time, I made it in navy.  It's one of my favorite sweaters.  I thought a beige one would be useful to have in the closet too.

But it's surprisingly tedious to knit (SO much stockinette).  And even more tedious to sew together.  I distinctly remember spending an entire day sewing the first one together.  So I decided to preempt that this time, by starting early and sewing a little bit here and a little bit there.

Pockets - check.

Shoulder seams - check.

Side seam #1 - check.

Sleeve #1 - next time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Last night I painted my nails with one of the new China Glaze polishes for spring, Pelican Gray.  It's a pretty color, but I was less than impressed with the formula. Now, China Glaze is my favorite brand, hands down.  I love the brush, the formula, the ease of application, and the wear.  But this one just wasn't up to par.  It was much thinner than other China Glazes, making it difficult to apply.  And the brush felt moppy.  I did my normal two coats, but for full opacity, I really should have added another.  When I got up this morning, I looked at my nails, and there was already some (slight) tip wear.  I hadn't even done anything with my hands yet! (OK, maybe I did knit a row or two or 40 last night after doing my nails, but still . . . )

So I had to fix it.  I got out my new Konad plate that my mom sent me for my birthday, M79 (thanks, Mom!).  I love this plate - it's my new favorite.  I used the fishnet pattern and China Glaze 2030, et voila:

I wish there were some Turkish coffee in this demitasse, but sadly, it's empty.
Goes nicely with the nails, though, doesn't it?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Work Out

Today I went to the gym.

Concept2 Model C and Power Block set

Actually I go every day!  This is our little home gym, in a small space just off our living room (with a door that closes for when company comes over!).  The previous owners used it as an office, and while I'd love to have a home office, a gym is something I use a lot more consistently.  It consists of a Concept2 rower, a Bowflex treadmill and a set of free weights.  These items are among the best purchases we ever made.

This month I've been really stepping up my workouts, and today, despite getting only 4 hours of sleep, I rowed 10K at the fastest pace I've ever done (in a rowing career spanning almost 7 years now).  Then I did some leg work with weights. Later on today I'll do a nice, long yoga practice.

Why all the exercise?  Well, I find that I feel better (physically and mentally) and sleep better when I work out daily.  But I'm also currently in training.  What for?  A few weeks ago, hubby took me here for my birthday:

Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA

And I decided I want to learn to do this:


So I'm going to need to be a lot stronger than I am now!

Chances are I'll lose my enthusiasm for it by the time we make it back there, but for now, it's keeping me motivated!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Today we went to brunch with some friends, so I used the occasion to finally wear a sweater I finished four months ago, but hadn't yet worn.  This is Livi, by Kim Hargreaves:

Livi and Cherry

I wore it along with Kim's pattern Cherry, which I knit using the leftover yarn from Livi.

The pattern called for about $250 worth of cashmere yarn (Rowan Pure Cashmere DK), but I substituted Elann's Peruvian Baby Cashmere, which gave me the same gauge.  This yarn has been in my stash for at least 5 years.  I originally bought it to make a cabled tube top, which I did make, and ripped out literally as soon as I had finished it and tried it on.  How could I have believed that a cabled cashmere-blend tube top was a good idea?

The yarn languished in my stash for a couple years, until I decided to try making a beaded edge bolero with it (Kim Hargreaves' Fleur - do we see a pattern here?  a step in the right direction).  But somehow, I didn't care for the fabric it made when knitted in stockinette.  Ripped again.

This fall I decided to try it out on Livi.  To be honest, I wasn't 100% sold on the pattern, but I really wanted to use that yarn.  But the more I worked on it, the more I fell in love with it.  The shell pattern on the bottom border was such fun to knit, and the texture stitch on the body kept things interesting.  And of course, working with this yarn was a dream.  I really hope to get more of it and use it again.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I finished the sweater and found it to be a little tighter than I'm comfortable with.  Back into the closet.  I never wore it, until today.  Hurray!  I've lost a few pounds recently and now it fits perfectly!

I wore it with this silver and marcasite dragonfly pin - his wings move!

Hello little dragonfly!
And American Apparel Nail Lacquer in MacArthur Park.

Brunch was at Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park, where they have lots of beautiful cheeses and wines:

lomo cheese

lomo wine

I ate some really yummy waffles and drank a mimosa . . .