Saturday, April 30, 2011

No news is good news.

No knitting yesterday, because we finally had a warm, sunny day!  Hurray!  I took advantage of it and did some clean up in my garden (OK, patio) and storage shed, and then decided to take a trip out to Ikea and pick up some new chairs and a coffee table for our balcony.  I was so busy all day that I never knit even one stitch, let alone sew Jewel together.  And I was so tired at the end of the day, I stumbled into bed at 8:30!

During all my work, I was very careful not to ruin my mani or break a nail.  I was so proud of myself.  Then around 5:00 p.m.  I realized I needed to run to the store for bread and bananas.  When I got back home, I discovered I had broken a big chunk out of my right thumb nail!  Doh!!  So they all had to get taken down.  It's OK though, they were getting a little too long for me to type efficiently!  It was quick and easy to file them all down with my new leopard print nail file:

Isn't that cute?  I picked a bunch of them up at Walgreen's the other day when I was there stalking the new Essie summer collection, Braziliant.  They were on sale for 50 cents each!  I also got cheetah print, but passed on the zebra.  The reverse sides are matching faux fur!  So girly!

Then I got out one of my new Zoya polishes from the Summertime collection, Areej:

Zoya Areej, along with Adore, now 75% finished!

This is one coat!  Unbelievable!  Makes me think it might be a good candidate for stamping.  I'm loving this color.  It reminds me of an old OPI, Outback Aphrodisiac, which was one of my favorites.  I was really disappointed when I couldn't wear it any more.  This one is a little lighter and a little more pink, but close enough to make me happy.

I decided to use the Zoya Armor topcoat along with the Hurry Up drops instead of my normal fast-dry topcoat (China Glaze Fast Forward or Essie Good to Go) to avoid shrinkage.  I have to say, I'm really not in love with this system.  It doesn't give a very high-gloss finish, and even after a day, my nails still feel slightly tacky. So I think I pretty much have to stamp over this, so I can cover it with one of my fave topcoats, right?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Some knitting. Sort of.

I've finished all the pieces for Jewel, and have steamed them.  I even bought some buttons.  Now they are sitting on my ironing board waiting for me to sew the whole thing together.

Sad, lonely knitting.

But I just can't get myself motivated to do it.  I blame it on the weather.  I'm probably exaggerating, but it seems as if it's been two solid weeks of rain, grey skies and cool temperatures.  All I want to do is curl up in bed.

In wishing for spring, I was thinking about how much I like the color combination of navy blue and pink, a la this Vera scarf:

Vintage Vera Neumann scarf
silk, 1960s

 . . . and the ladybug.  Isn't she cute?

So I dug out one of the two OPI polishes I own (if you don't count all the "black labels" I'm slowly getting rid of):  Dating a Royal.

OPI Dating a Royal

I bought this several months ago, when I was dying for the China Glaze Anchors Away collection to be released so I could have First Mate.  But when I got it home I decided it was a poor substitute and never tried it out.  The other day, I saw mention of it on some website or other (honestly, I look at dozens every day and can't keep track!) saying it was a jelly.  What??!!  I love jellies!!  And sure enough, it's gorgeous!  Perhaps I ought to mention that I still haven't gotten around to trying First Mate, so I'm not sure how they compare.

After basecoat, two coats of Dating a Royal, a coat of Seche Vite and ten minutes, I broke out another new Bundle Monster plate, BM224, and China Glaze Admire:

Admire is a pink metallic, but I couldn't get it to photograph as pink.  I blame the murky Chicago light.  And by the way, isn't that little candle adorable?  My BFF gave me a set of five, each with a different flower.  I put them in our guest room because they look cute with the duvet in there!

Kristen commented yesterday wondering how the stamps work.  There are lots of great tutorials to be found on YouTube - just search Konad.  There is also a non-video demo here that shows the technique very simply (scroll about halfway down the page to see it).

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Here is the stamped version of Turquoise and Caicos:

As you can see, I've got some tip wear.  Not sure why, I haven't actually done anything.  Sinus pressure is slowing me down the last few days.

I stamped this with one of my new Bundle Monster plates, BM208, and China Glaze Magical from the Romantique collection.  It came out just the way I wanted - very subtle, looking like shattered glass.

Here's a picture of the plate:

The image I used is at the top.  I think it would be fun to do a mani like this, but with one or two nails stamped in the reverse image (at left).  I'm really digging these new plates!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fabric Fun

I wandered into one of my local fabric shops the other day (I'm lucky to have 3 very near by) looking for buttons for my Jewel sweater, and saw an adorable silk panel hanging as a display, along with a sign advertising each panel for $2.99.  Well, how could I resist?  This is a super cute floral print on silk, designed by Anna Sui.

Black, green and red tulips on a white ground, bordered in black with large white daisies, on a gingham-like plain weave.  Each panel is 45" square, so it makes a nice, large scarf.

It's so sheer, you can see the texture of my duvet through it!

I'd originally thought I would do a rolled hem, as demonstrated in this tutorial at Colette Patterns.  I've done this a couple times before (with silk from the same fabric shop!) and while it's rather tedious, it does give a very nice result.  But once I got it home, I decided that the print is so simple and informal, I ended up doing a frayed edge instead.

I'm so happy with this scarf, and am daydreaming about what to wear it with!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Turquoise and Caicos

The Yarn Poet told me I had to wear something aqua or turquoise, and I'm happy to oblige:

Essie Turquoise and Caicos
Resort 2010

I've been wanting a turquoise/jade/julep color for a while, and never thought to try this one out - in my memory it was a blue-leaning turquoise rather than the green I was looking for.  But I recently saw some swatches online that inspired me to try it out, and I have to say, I'm in love.  

This shade is quite sheer, but buildable - above is three coats.  It has a gorgeous jelly finish.  All the photos I took made the polish look much darker and bluer than it really is, so I had to play with the color levels, hence my spookily white skin!  I'm pale, but not that pale!!

One of the original photos - quite a difference!  You can also see
 the dent in my index finger from carrying yarn; I spent a couple
hours knitting today!

In other nail-related news, I received the new Bundle Monster stamping plates (thanks to Erika's announcement!) so this one will probably get stamped soon - there are lots of great patterns in the new set, and it seems on first glance that the full-nail patterns are wider than they were in the first set - more in line with Konad plates.

Crazy Hat Lady

I LOVE hats.  I'm talking about the fashiony kind, not the kind you wear to keep warm in the winter.  Well, OK, those too!  I always feel like kind of a dork when I wear fashion hats around in public, but I just can't help it - I really love them!

When my mom was here a couple weeks ago, we headed up to my LYS, and I fell in love with a sample I saw there for a crochet sun hat made of PAPER yarn!  So of course I ended up with some:

Natural Club 100% wood fiber yarn

I got the green for me and the cream to make as a gift for my aunt in Germany. And here's a pic of the pattern:

"Shade Me" by Taylor Tengelsen

I tried the sample on in the store, and it is really cute - much cuter than it looks in the picture.  And the band is woven in with bias tape!

I didn't have a chance to sit down with this until the weekend, and I managed to finish the crown shaping:

So far I'm really liking this pattern.  It uses a large-ish hook (H) and all single crochet.  I also really like that the construction is spiral - no slip stitch, chain one at the end of each round.  You just mark the last stitch of the round and keep on going.  I will admit though, the "raffia" is a little rough on the hands.  It didn't take me all that long to get this far - maybe an hour and a half - but then I had to stop because my hands were getting fatigued.

The paper yarn is surprisingly sturdy.  I was worried I'd have to crochet very gingerly, but that's not the case at all.  I started with my hat so I could work out any kinks in the pattern and sizing before starting my aunt's, but so far things have been pretty straightforward.

close up

Monday, April 25, 2011

Over the Moon

Thanks to the Yarn Poet's comment the other day, I can't get the cream and coral color combination out of my head!!

Here's my first real attempt at a half-moon mani using reinforcement stickers:

Half-moon mani with:
American Apparel California Trooper
Nubar Belize Coral

As of this writing, I've only done my left hand.  I did a basecoat, then one coat of the cream followed by a coat of Seche Vite.  I waited about 20 minutes and then applied the reinforcement circles one nail at a time, placing them directly on my nail from the backing paper (i.e. without softening the adhesive by pressing them against my skin first).  After placing a circle and pressing it down really well all along the curved edge, I applied one thick coat of the coral then immediately pulled off the sticker.  After doing all five nails, I topped it off with one more coat of Seche Vite.

I'm going to wait a few hours to do my second hand.  I found that on a few fingers, the adhesive pulled up some of the cream polish near the cuticle, so I think I'll have more luck after the first coat has cured well.

The coral polish is actually much more vibrant in real life!  I'm really liking this look, and I'm glad it's having a comeback!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oddly Intriguing

I've been dying to try the Behnaz Sarafpour Halo manicure since I first saw it in the CND Spring/Summer 2011 Lookbook about a month ago.  I finally found some natural sponges to my liking at Whole Foods Market, and did this on Friday night:

My take on the Halo manicure

China Glaze Peachy Keen
China Glaze Millennium

The original used a nude base, but when I saw it, I thought it might be a good way to use the Peachy Keen I bought last year and never really wore.  I really like the color, but I don't think it looks great with my skin tone, so the metallic halo creates a kind of buffer.  My sponging skills are sub-par, so my halo is a little on the large side!

I'm really loving this, for a lot of reasons.  Mostly because I find it to be rather quirky.  I love things that are just a little skewed or off-center, or rough around the edges.  It's a design element I used to use a lot when I made jewelry.  This mani also reminds me of bezel set cabochons, glass beads with silver inclusions, or gilt-edged paper - or even gilded calligraphy - all things I used to do.

glass beads with silver core
made by me circa 2008

sterling silver rings with bezel set glass cabochons
made by me circa 2008

In looking around for more info on the halo mani, I found two different techniques. The one shown in the Lookbook video starts with a nude painted nail, with the metallic color sponged around the edges afterward.  But I saw another promotional sheet from CND saying the mani started with one coat of metallic polish, followed by one coat of nude.  Then a Qtip dipped in remover was used to remove the edges of the nude polish, exposing the metallic underneath.  I used the first technique, and despite the large amount of cleanup required around my cuticles, I think for me there was less room for error than there would have been had I used the second technique.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Filmy. But in a good way.

I've been working on Adore off and on, and have finished the first of the two balls of Kidsilk Haze.  I love how filmy and diaphanous this is:

Adore, by Kim Hargreaves

I'd really like to finish this soon, but it just seems to take forever to knit my way through a ball of this stuff!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Some music for a rainy day

This has been my favorite song for a while now, and for me it really captures the mood of a rainy spring day (like today).  This whole album is great - Mehldau's best since Largo, in my opinion.

Mehldau + Joshua Redman = beautiful.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I'm really thrilled with this mani, but my photos don't do it justice:

Here's what I did:  I started with Essie First Base basecoat, then did one coat of Sinful Colors Snow Me White.  Then I added one thick coat of Essie Topless and Barefoot, followed by one coat of Seche Vite. The white polish under the nude made it nice and opaque - a trick I don't often take time for, but which is actually a time saver!  After letting all this set for about ten minutes, I stamped on the bamboo design from Konad plate m66 using Sinful Black on Black, the topped it with a coat of Essie Good to Go.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leopard and Lace

An unlikely, yet rather charming combination:

Essie Cute as a Button
Sinful Colors Snow Me White
Konad plate m57

I've been trying to decide if I need to buy the Konad Special Polish in black and white.  I read somewhere that Sinful Colors are good for stamping, and I've had varied success with the white, but the black seems to work pretty well.  This one looks just OK, as you can see in the close-up picture:

The color is slightly splotchy, but the overall design is readable.

Any thoughts on KSPs versus other polishes for stamping, especially in black and white?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Not much of a surprise

Well, I just couldn't hack it.  Knitting those socks on that tiny circular needle just about did me in, and after the first couple rows of the main pattern, I switched back to my trusty bamboo DPNs:

Primavera Socks

I'm really happy with the way these are turning out - the colors are giving the very subtle striped effect I was expecting.  In looking up the pattern in my projects on Ravelry, I got a little giggle.  The first time I made these, three years ago, was also the first time I ever used TOFUtsies, and I wasn't too crazy about it then.  But now it is one of my favorite sock yarns, and I'm a little dismayed that I'm having a hard time finding it.  It's easy enough to find online, but none of the LYSs I frequent seem to carry it.  For me, sock yarn is usually an impulse purchase in a yarn shop.  Like the other day, when I bought these:

Mmmmm . . . pink!

We had driven over to Oak Park with Mom, so she could visit the first apartment she ever lived in when she moved to the US in 1956; it's still there!  We ended up getting really hungry, and I found a little place for lunch that just happened to be opposite Knot Just Knits.  Of course, fifteen minutes later, I was walking out with these lovelies.  And Mom walked out with four balls of the same, two in pale blue and two in a lilac purple.

And what was I wearing on my nails as all this was taking place?

Essie Cute as a Button

I'm on day three of this mani - something of a record for me - and it still looks fresh.  I have one tiny little  nick on my right index finger, but it's probably not visible to anyone but me.  This is three coats, and it still isn't completely opaque, but I like it.  A bright, cheerful coral.  It's probably going to get Konaded today . . .

And I'm holding on to a Vera Neumann scarf I acquired recently.  This one probably dates to the mid-1960s.  It has the most adorable border of hand-drawn fringe:

My newest Vera

I'm not quite sure how large my collection is now . . . maybe I should count.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Sunny Sunday

My mother has been visiting all week, and since she lived in Chicago for ten years from her late teens to late twenties, we've spent a lot of time visiting places she used to know.  But yesterday we drove up to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. This is probably my favorite place in Chicago; I love to go there any time of year, and hubby and I do visit frequently.  The weather was cool, but the sky was clear, and after the dreary weather we've been having for much of the week, a welcome respite.  Here are some views:

Persian Poppy (ranunculus)

On the way to the Japanese Garden

View of the Japanese Garden

Bridge in the Japanese Garden

View of the Japanese Garden

the waterfall

Sunday, April 17, 2011

You've got to be kidding . . .

So, I had 3 partial skeins of TOFUtsies in coordinating colors that I wanted to make into some stripey socks, and just to make it more interesting, I decided to do it on a 9" circular needle:

Sock on Hiya Hiya 9" circular


I have biggish hands for a lady, so this is pretty awkward for me.  It is getting a little easier as I go along, and I'm really happy with the colors:

In unrelated news. how do you like my nails?

China Glaze Below Deck (Spring 2011, Anchors Away collection)
China Glaze Admire (Romantique collection)
Bundle Monster plate BM20

We've had a difference of opinion around here regarding the design . . .  My mom (who is visiting this week!) thought it looked like balloons, and once I got it on my nails, I thought it looked like little circuit boards.  So when Hubby came home, we asked him what he thought it looked like.  His reply? . . .


Saturday, April 16, 2011

So subtle, you can't even see it.

A Konad fail:

China Glaze Jitterbug
China Glaze Matte Magic
China Glaze Cherish
Konad plate m69

Better luck next time, I hope.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A couple that didn't make the cut

Chanel is coming out with a new polish this summer that has me intrigued:  Mimosa. But not intrigued enough to shell out fifty smackeroos.  So I decided to try to dupe it myself:

Imitation Chanel

I think it is probably slightly darker than the real deal, but it's very unlikely I will ever be able to confirm this.  I was pretty happy with it though.  

I used two coats of an old China Glaze polish I had from several years ago, Yell-O-Neil, from the Surf collection.  The label sticker is gone from the bottle, but I'm pretty sure it was pre-3Free formula.  It was very thin and had that smell I just can't stand (but not as bad as the Black Label OPI polishes).  I got away with two coats because I was putting China Glaze White Cap over it; if I'd wanted to wear this alone, I would have needed 3.  I did two coats of the White Cap, topped with China Glaze Fast Forward top coat.

Of course, I was bored with it by the next day.  Also, I cleaned two bathrooms and destroyed it.  So I replaced it with this:

Zoya Melodie

I bought this polish last fall shortly after I first discovered Zoya, but then never wore it.  My mother-in-law did wear it though when she visited at Thanksgiving, and I wasn't too impressed.  In the bottle, you see tons of very fine silver glitter, suspended in a pink/brown nude polish.  The glitter is also very evident while the polish is wet.  But once it dries, it's only (disappointingly) visible under bright light. Still, I really loved this with my skin tone.  It gave me the coveted "mannequin hands" - a look I really like.  And of course, it applied like a dream. 

I have a similar Zoya color, Gigi, which is a very light, semi-sheer pink with the same fine silver glitter.  Also not very evident once the polish is dry.  I've found that layering on one coat of CND Sparkling Silver Effect gives them a little boost though.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Following Day

Konad on Nubar Purple Aster:

Nubar Purple Aster
China Glaze Harmony
Konad plate m77

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Penultimate Nubar

Here is Purple Aster:

Nubar Purple Aster
Spring Garden Collection, 2011

I actually really like this one.  It applied much easier than some of the other colors for me.  This is two coats; nice and opaque, no bald spots.  The brush was just right, not too floppy.  Win!

You're seeing it next to a ball of Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb in Morel.  This is a really lovely lace weight yarn, soft and springy.

I have a funny quirk . . .  sometimes, the nail color I'm wearing will influence what I want to knit.  Don't these two colors go together nicely?  I love to look down at my knitting and see beautifully polished nails in a color that goes well with it.  The pastel shades in this collection go so nicely with this shawl I started as a travel project in September, so I dug it out and started working on it again.  Here's another look:

Meandering Vines Shawl

It ended up not being a such great travel project.  For me, it requires constant counting, so that makes it alone-time knitting.  And these taupe shades that I keep choosing for this type of thing are difficult for me to see in anything but rather bright light (therefore excluding the airplane).  And the only needle I could find that gave me the gauge I wanted was an old Addi, so the whole thing is kind of a slippery mess.  But over the last few days, I've managed to do two lace repeats. Thanks to the nail polish.