Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What a card

Here's a card I made the other day, using the Southwest set from Posh Impressions. The thing that was different for me was that I layered the stamped images on paper (in this case, a blue sky with clouds background paper and a strip of tan cardstock) instead of stamping directly on a glossy card. And you know how much I love it when I can sneak in some recycling: I stamped the images on the back of a glossy insert that came with one of my orders of Posh stamps! As one of the pirates in my favorite movie would say, "Now that's what you call ironic."

I have at least two more card ideas I am itching to get on paper, but first I need to finish polishing up the first installment of the Holocaust memoir I am translating. I need to send it to the client tomorrow, then get started on the next installment. Also on Thursday, I need to take Liat shopping for some things she needs for her trip to Poland (I can't believe she's leaving in less than a week!) and bake honey cakes for the Sukkot holiday. It's not exactly traditional, but for many years now I have baked two honey cakes for Rosh Hashanah, and two for Sukkot. One stays here, the other goes to my in-laws in Jerusalem.

I finished up the black London Beanie (did I already tell you that?) and have started an earflap hat. So far, so good on that one. I am curious to see how it turns out. Nothing too exciting about a black knitted hat, so unless I can get a photo of Kfir wearing it, don't expect to see it here. Just not worth the computer memory.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do You Like My Hat?

As promised, here is the hat I knit for Liat's friend Maayan. If it looks familiar, it's because it's the same pattern and yarn I used to make Liat a hat! I tied a little bow of purple yarn inside of Maayan's, so the girls can tell their hats apart.

I'm nearly done with the black London Beanie for another friend of Liat's. I'm afraid it is too small (I know they are supposed to be quite snug) and too short, so I added about three more rounds but I think I will go ahead and start the decreases soon.

And I suddenly got another wild hair (anyone remember the Altered Barbie?) and decided that yet another of Liat's friends really needs an earflap hat for the trip to Poland (I seem to be single-handedly equipping the entire group with hats!), so I started a Swell hat today. I read many criticisms and complaints about this pattern on Ravelry, but I am making adjustments that I think (hope) will help it turn out alright. Instead of worrying about the hat turning out too small, I am concentrating on worrying whether Ilana will actually like the hat and wear it. Liat and I both think it is perfect for her, but Liat says it could all depend on her mood on the day she receives the hat.

Isn't life just so mysterious and fascinating?!

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm so excited!

This little box was inspired by something Meital brought home from school a few months ago. I opened up her box and traced the outlines to make a template. After some tweaking, I have made one of my own! I love Halloween and thought the open box would be perfect for holding candy (M&Ms, I'm thinking). All stamps by Posh Impressions.

And speaking of one of my very favorite stamp companies, I have been given a very exciting opportunity: to be on a design team that features Posh Impressions stamps! If you've visited Bag of Chocolates more than once or twice, most likely you have seen some of the cards and things I have made using these terrific stamps. This whole thing is really getting my creative juices flowing, and I think there just might be a chance that I will actually get around to making some holiday cards this year! Every year I say I want to, but I don't often make the time. So if I don't have your address, be sure and e-mail me with it!

I have found that making cards, like many other creative processes, needs inspiration that doesn't come along if you don't flex those artistic muscles and use them daily. It's been a long time since I devoted part of every day to stamping, and I think it will be not only fun, but good for me. When I went through my health problems earlier this year, it turned out to be paper arts, and stamping, that helped me the most. It didn't strike me as odd at the time, though normally I find my knitting to be quite soothing. I guess the process of creating with stamps and ink, paints and paper, answered my need better. Maybe I didn't need soothing as much as I needed an outlet for my emotions. Now that things are going well (tfoo, tfoo as we say here in Israel to prevent the "evil eye", LOL) I am eager to use those media to express positive emotions.

Never fear, though, I will not stop knitting! I have finished the hat I was making for a friend of Liat's, and I will share that photo next time. Often lately Blogger doesn't let me position photos throughout my blog post. Instead, it just leaves them stuck at the top. So I'd rather only share one at a time, rather than have them all stacked up like cars in a traffic jam at the start of the post. And I have started another hat, this time a London Beanie in black (for a male friend of Liat's).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tipless Gloves

Just a quick post to share with you the tipless gloves I made for my oldest niece (wow, can't believe she's going to be 20! I remember rushing to see her when she was born and holding her when she was just a few hours old...).

One of the nicest things about these gloves is that Christine and I were together when she picked out this yarn (Wisdom Yarns San Diego) this past summer. While we were in the yarn shop, I also helped (cough:enabled:cough) her pick out some grey Lamb's Pride and needles, and then I helped her knit a hat (London Beanie, for those who know the pattern) for her boyfriend. She did a beautiful job!

Anyway, these tipless gloves will be on their way to Christine in another week or so. Nice for a change to be finished with something a little before deadline. Right now, I'm working on a hat for a friend of Liat's.

Oh, and the pattern for these gloves is just a slightly modified version of the gloves from Ann Budd's book, The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns.

I have some exciting news (well, it is to me, anyway!) that I am looking forward to sharing with you very soon. Stay tuned....

Saturday, September 26, 2009

And then there were two...

You knew this was going to happen, didn't you? (If not, hello my name is Amy. Welcome to Bag of Chocolates).

I am a sucker, what can I say? By the way, I may or may not have mentioned before that the slang word for "sucker" in Hebrew is פרייר. It is pronounced "fryer" just like the chicken.

That's me.

But after all, these little Hamsterbeans are a quick knit that uses up those balls of leftover yarn that are so small you can't even imagine any possible way you can use them (but, like me, you can't bear to throw them away).

I actually made this Hamsterbean on Thursday, sort of following in the tradition of my Papa Max, who used to celebrate his own birthday by giving his family gifts. Meital was, of course, thrilled. Not completely satisfied, but thrilled. After all, if I made a second one, could numbers 3, 4, and 5 be far behind?

I'm getting that "The Trouble with Tribbles" feeling....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Scraplings Challenge

Over on Club Posh, the weekly challenge is to make scraplings with an ethnic/cultural theme. I had never heard of them before, but now I know that they are scraps of paper generally about 1.5" x 4". I think some people trim them off of a folded card so that the scrapling has a fold at the top, but I didn't do that.

I dabbed two colors of pigment ink onto a plastic plate (don't yet have one of those handy-dandy craft sheets), then spritzed it with glittery stuff (Perfect Pearls mixed with water). I put my scraplings into the resultant puddle until the cardstock soaked in some color. After it was dry, I stamped the African mask from the Posh African set (in black) and some grasses also by Posh (in pale green). I layered it on dark brown cardstock also spritzed with glittery stuff, then layered it onto some super-textured cardstock. I punched holes down the side and threaded in some cord that I had saved from the tag on a pair of jeans.

Feels good to get inky again! And this card is just in time for possible use as a birthday card. We've got a lot of those coming up in the next couple of months.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Big Five Oh

So far, it's been a pretty darn good birthday. The first thing I saw in my e-mail inbox were lots of birthday greetings, including one from my brother. Then, I woke up the girls for school and got beautiful earrings from Liat (she made them herself) and a fabulous booklet full of original poems, lots of compliments and a comic strip (also an original) from Meital. Later I opened the wonderful cards from my parents and my sister. I have been getting birthday greetings on Facebook and Ravelry, and e-cards from my friends at Club Posh. In a few hours my brother-in-law will be joining us for the fabulous dinner Avi is going to prepare (I got to choose the menu, of course!) And the fun doesn't stop there. On Saturday, Liat is going to make a fantastic chocolate cake (she doesn't have time to do it today). There's nothing better than a birthday that keeps on stretching out!

Many of my friends have been very encouraging about this new chapter I am starting. I saw a tv program the other day where someone said, the last birthday worth celebrating is 21. I don't think I agree with that. First of all, every birthday is a victory. And my life is so much sweeter, richer, and more satisfying now than it was 29 years ago (hmmm, makes it sound rather like chocolate, doesn't it? Coincidence? You decide.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


It is a well-documented fact that a knitter who views knitting patterns online when her loved ones are at home runs a serious risk. Thus it came to be that I wasted, er...spent several hours today (among the last of my time as a 49 year old, I might add) trying (and failing, and then by golly trying again) to knit a cute little critter known as a hamsterbean. Found the free pattern on Ravelry, for those who know what that is. There is a link on my page (user name: amysamin).

Meital might not want a sweater this year, but she was very happy to have her hamsterbean (his name is Snuggle). She claims he wants siblings, but I am immune to her hints.

I hope.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Feeling Crafty

About a week ago, Liat asked if I could make her something that would help her organize her earrings (the kind with the sheperd's crook, not the post kind). A recently purchased jewelry box had successfully corraled most of her earrings, just not the kind with the hook.

I immediately thought of this pink mesh that I saved (Avi was given a bunch of flowers that had the mesh wrapped around the outside of the florist's paper wrapper). But how to mount it so that she could hang her earrings? Liat mentioned that a friend had something that looked like a frame made of craft sticks, so I spent a desultory few minutes today trying to figure out how I could make that work. I quickly decided to see what I could find on the Internet.

I found this! Not only was it the perfect solution, but I loved the fact that she also used a recycled item. Not only did I already have a plain wooden frame (from IKEA) which I painted with acrylic paint, but I found the perfect thing to add as decoration. The colorful tag you see inside the frame is a piece of cloth that came with a pair of jeans Liat bought months ago. Maybe more. I saved it (of course I did), and one afternoon while watching me do art-type stuff in my crafts room, Liat pulled out the scrap of fabric from a drawer and asked if she could paint it with my Radiant Pearls (yes, I still have some, but they have started going bad, so I am gradually throwing them all away).

Over a few such afternoons, she had fun painting the tag, then gave it back to me when she had finished. I knew I would use it for something eventually, and luckily I found it today. She was delighted when she realized I had included it in her earring holder.

It felt great to do something crafty again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happiness is...

...a finished sweater!

It took me just under a month to knit this cabled pullover for Liat. I got the pattern as a bonus inside the summer 2009 issue of Simply Knitting (a British magazine), which I bought at Borders.

The pattern was a disaster, full of mistakes and very unclear. If you are on Ravelry, you can find my detailed notes on the knitting of this sweater in my Projects (my name there is amysamin).

In spite of my frustration with the pattern, I love the finished product. I changed the pattern in a couple of ways, including using a thicker yarn (Cotton Ease) than called for, and making both the body and sleeves longer. Those belly-baring sweaters are SO last year, know what I mean?

Now, I wonder how far I can get on the next sweater Liat has requested before she leaves for Poland next month?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hello in There

Does anyone remember this old John Prine song? The lyrics always make me cry. Anyway, for the last year and several months, my father and I have been on a mission to try and discover the identities of a group people whose pictures we have. My dad found them years ago in his aunt's apartment, when he cleared it out after she died. He had no idea who the people were, and it has haunted both of us. Those eyes just seemed to plead: "Don't forget us. Don't let us be lost forever."

Today, thanks to Facebook and the marvels of the Internet, I have learned the identities of the two people shown here. They are my great great grandparents, Ida and Joseph Joseph. Learning that has been like a gift for me, and I am eagerly awaiting my father's response to the e-mail I sent telling him what I learned, and how I learned it.

I had always felt that the only way we would ever discover the identities of the people in the pictures was if someone had seen the pictures before. As it turns out, the woman who contacted me yesterday has paintings of these exact pictures (ours look like drawings to me), and she knew who they were! I am more grateful than I can say that she took the time to write to me after reading something I had posted on a Facebook group.

Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day.
Old people, they just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is the year over yet?

It's been a crazy year, and I'm looking forward to seeing the last of this one and the first of the new year. Around here, that will happen on September 18, Rosh Hashanah. Although my bad year officially began on 31 December 2008, I am hoping the start of the Jewish new year will signal the start of a year of good health and happiness for all of us.

Of course, some good things happened this year, especially in July and August when we went to the States to see family. We had a fantastic time, seeing people and spending time together. Of course I tried to use the time to further my genealogy research, too. The photo above is one I had never seen before, that my father found in a photo album. Pictured are four siblings: Uncle Phil, Aunt Hannah, Uncle Hal and my grandfather (dad's father). This photo was taken in 1965. A year and a half ago I didn't even know my father had had an Aunt Hannah; this is the first photo of her I've ever seen.

So yes, lots of good stuff happened this year, too. It's good to remember that.