Saturday, December 19, 2009

Inky Again!

More fun times in the ol' stamping room today! If this card looks very similar to another I've made recently, it is. I got some excellent advice on how to improve my earlier effort, from someone who knows! So I wisely followed his suggestions, and here is the result. I love all the color, and the sentiment.

I used the same sentiment here, but went for a totally different look. The images are from the same Face Flowers set I was sent in my design team kit (so many great images to play with there), but this time I made the green background by applying alcohol inks to glossy cardstock, then stamping with pigment ink and embossing the images, so they would show up nice and dark. Easy! Layered on black, then shiny gold cardstock (too bad you can't see it in person - the green background also has some gold in it. Shimmery!)

I have more stamps to play with, but I also need to clean up in my room; it doubles as a classroom (some of you may remember that), and as it happens, I will start tutoring a lovely young man (tenth grade) in English starting this Monday. I have known this kid since he was in sixth grade, and a sweeter kid you've never met! I just hope I can give him some help. He's very smart, and long on charm, but perhaps just a wee bit unmotivated when it comes to his studies. I want to help motivate him, because after all, it's his future at stake! We'll see how it goes. So while I'm excited to help him, I'm a bit unnerved at the prospect of giving my stamping/class room a thorough cleaning. It's been...awhile, shall we say?

I was a good girl though, finished translating this month's section of the Holocaust memoir before going to play. I still need to double check some spelling of towns and such, and polish it up a bit before sending it off to the client. But the main work is done, thank goodness! I hate to be late.

I've also done some knitting (of course), which also keeps me happy. Will likely get more done tonight while watching a basketball game on television. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Gifts

These are the fingerless mitts I made for my niece in California. She and I agreed on the pattern and colors this past summer, and I think she will look great in them! Only wish I could have given them to her personally. I included the balls of left over yarn so you could see that you actually can manage to make the smaller size with just one 50 gram skein of each color (though I was sweating a bit over the green, I can tell you!). They are called Transition Gloves, and I got the pattern from Simply Sock Yarns, one of my very favorite places to buy yarn.

These of course are Avi's Chanukah socks, made with Austermann Step yarn, which has some kind of softener in it that feels marvelous on the hands while you knit, and probably feels even better on the feet. Of course, Avi said, "But I already have a pair of your socks!" when I gave them to him. Sigh. Needs just a bit more training, but I think I'll keep him anyway.

After these finishes, I still have another nine (yes, 9!) projects on the needles. I am going to try very hard to finish up as many as I can starting now and continuing through the Winter Olympics. Then I need to get started on gifts for Liat's homeroom teacher of the last two and a half years and the principal of the school. I'm thinking maybe Swallowtail scarves for both of them (don't worry, if you have no idea what that means, I'll be sure and bore you with photos and details when the time comes).

I ordered some more Marvy brush art markers and glossy cardstock today, for more cardmaking fun! I'm hoping to spend part of tomorrow making some more cards, too. I feel very lucky.

I hope you are all having fun this weekend, too!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Catching Up

How can I catch you up when I keep moving forward? Anyway, here is the bunny I made for Meital for Chanukah. I imagine by next year she won't want stuffed toys, so this may be the last one I make for her, at least for awhile. I didn't make the dress according to the pattern (called The Well-Dressed Bunny - it's on Ravelry for those of you who are members there). In fact, I knit and ripped out the dress several times before coming up with something I was reasonably happy with.

And this is another card, made today, with my new Posh stamps. I used a stipple brush and a multi-colored ink pad called Blending Blox to make the speckled background, then stamped the ivy stamp and the phrase on the card. The sunflowers I stamped on sticker paper and added. Fun and easy! And since I've been watching all of my Dee Gruenig DVDs (and viewing her videos on You Tube) I have a whole lot more ideas spinning around in my head, waiting for a chance to come out!

However, my deadline for sending in the third installment of the Holocaust memoir is drawing near, and I am spending most of my time on that lately. It's very interesting learning about life in the camp of the Bielski partisans.

I did sneak in some knitting today, too, though. Shh! Still trying to finish Avi's second sock, and I'm nearly ready to start the toe decreases, which means I just might finish by Friday night, the last night of Chanukah. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I got my first designer's kit yesterday from Stamp A Mania, and it's a lovely one! It's called Face Flowers, and some of the images are smaller versions of stamps already in my collection, which makes me think of all kinds of fun possibilties. Meanwhile, I made these two cards today, and had a blast getting inky after so much time away from my stamping table.

It's going to be lots of fun thinking of ways to use these pretty stamps. They are even a great size for ATCs, so I may have to get back into those, too. The Posh Rubber Stamps website is partially operational but the big reveal will be coming soon. I can't wait to see all of the accessories they are going to carry; I am in desperate need of Marvy markers and more glossy cardstock!

I've been away from blogging for a while and I've missed it. We've had a fair amount of work come in, which is always good. Plus, I'm still working on my biggest project, the memoir of a man who survived the Holocaust. I have just gotten to the part where he joins the Bielski partisans (did anyone see "Defiance"?).

Natually, there has also been a lot of knitting. I will share those photos in a future post. Some items have been given to their recipients, but I am still stealth knitting the socks for Avi. Nearly done, thank goodness! Of course, there is no shortage of other projects I want to start as soon as I finish the ones already on the needles.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Finish

Not to be confused with a Finn. I met some lovely Swedish members of my distant family over a year ago, but have yet to discover any Finnish leaves on my family tree. But I did finally complete this Marsan Watchcap for my nephew Michael in Jerusalem. I hope he likes it!

This is the third black hat I have made for a young man in recent weeks. Two of the three will be entering the army some time in the next year to year and a half, so hopefully the hats will come in handy then as well as now.

But I'd really rather not have to knit another hat with black yarn any time soon. And aren't photos of items knitted with black yarn just so thrilling?

Instead of casting on for the scarf for my niece in Jerusalem, I decided to see if I could finish at least one other something first. I finished the leg, knit the heel flap and turned the heel on the second in a pair of baby socks made from leftover Koigu, and I hope those will be finished by Saturday night. Meanwhile, I am going to work on Meital's first tipless glove tonight.

It's so much fun to knit with the sound of the rain as my background music!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Blame Ravelry

For those who may not know, Ravelry is an online community for knitters and crocheters. There are discussion forums, interest groups, and places to share your finished projects and works-in-progress, your yarn stash, your knitting/crochet book collection and more. The place I hang out most is the Patterns section. There are thousands and thousands of patterns on Ravelry; many are free, and others can be downloaded for a reasonable fee. The Patterns database is searchable, so if my niece in Jerusalem wants a scarf in black and pale turquoise (which she does), I can search scarf patterns for designs using two colors, and so on.

The guilty secret alluded to yesterday isn't that I ate all the Swiss chocolate stashed in the fridge, or that I splurged on new stamps, ink pads and the like. No, the truth is, the yarn you see in the photo above was calling to me, and I spent many enjoyable minutes browsing through the patterns at Ravelry, until I happened upon the one that shouted: "I'm the one you've been looking for!" Of course I got started right away. Couldn't make myself wait until I had finished one of the eight (8) projects already on my needles (one of which is a sweater for me, for Pete's sake).

I love the way this very simple design (it's the mara shawl from Madeline Tosh, for those who are interested) showcases the gorgeous yarn, which is Fiesta Boomerang in the Rain Forest colorway, purchased two years ago while we were in Oklahoma City. Another fun thing about Ravelry is that you can view the knitting of others who have made your project, read their raves and/or complaints about a pattern and any problems or innovations they had along the way. More than a couple complained that this was a boring knit, but I don't think that will bother me. So far, I am finding it fun and yet soothing to work on. The color changes in the yarn amuse me, and it's fun to watch the shawl gradually grow on my needles.

So there you have it; my guilty secret. I'll bet at least some of you were expecting something like this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Knitting Content!

I'm finally getting around to showing you the tipless gloves I am making for my girls. If you've been visiting Bag Of Chocolates for awhile, you might recognize this pattern. Basically, I took Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns glove pattern, did 2x2 ribbing for the wrist & hand, and stockinette for the thumb gusset and fingers. I've made gloves like these for my sister and both of her daughters. Liat's yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Apple Hill colorway, on size 2.5mm needles. This photo was taken a couple of days ago; I finished this glove today and cast on for the second one.

Meital's tipless gloves are also in Lorna's Laces, in the Flamingo Stripe colorway. Since her hands are a little smaller, I am using 2.25mm needles; not sure how much of a difference it will make, but it should be fine. That's what I love about doing these in 2x2 ribbing; they can stretch to fit, but are also fairly snug to the hand. I just don't love floppy gloves/mitts/wristwarmers! This photo is from today, but I have since worked on this and am nearly done with the thumb gusset.

I've also been working on the Marsan watchcap for my nephew in Jerusalem, but since it's black I just can't get enthusiastic about progress photos. I've even worked a little on the second baby sock in leftover Koigu. I started this pair months ago, thinking they would be the first in a bunch of summer knitting. But I ended up making other things and the socks have been neglected. Now I really want to free up th needles so I can get started on Avi's Chanukah socks, not to mention socks for some other lovely people...

No stamping for the last few days, but I think the ideas have been simmering just about long enough and will be ready to appear on paper soon. And next time, I will confess a guilty secret.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Still Wishing

Here's another card I made recently. I'm still wishing for cooler temperatures, as you can see. So far, it's not helping. The stamps for this card are, as usual, Posh designs - this is the Snowman set. This set will soon be available from Stamp A Mania. The blue colors on the right hand side were done by dragging a Blending Blox ink pad down the side of a piece of glossy cardstock. I then stamped the saying on top of that. The snowy background was stamped directly on the cardstock, while the snowman and all of the other pieces were stamped on glossy paper, cut out and glued down. I hope to have time tomorrow to do another card using other stamps from this set. I won't give up until the temps go down! ;-)

In knitting news, today I couldn't resist casting on for yet another project, for two reasons. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (go get checked! I can't urge this strongly enough) and in the knitting world, people are casting on pink projects. Second, the project I started is a pair of tipless gloves for Meital, who was very excited when she saw I had started on her gloves, even before I had finished Liat's. It was fun to see her smile.

I took a photo of Liat's glove to show you, but didn't get a chance to upload it to my computer (an unexpected translation project came in late this afternoon). Next time, I promise!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another Card

Here is another card I made recently, once again using the Posh Southwestern set. Soon that set and a lot more will be available at that link; the website is up but not all sections are active yet. They will be soon, I'm told! If you browse around, you'll see lots of beautiful card samples, and maybe one of these days you'll see a card or two that looks familiar! ;-)

I was organized last night, and made the sweet dough for cinnamon rolls before I went to bed. The dough rises in the fridge overnight, and then I can make the rolls in the morning. I got up bright and early and did just that, and let the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls and brewed coffee wake up my sweeties. I like to spoil them with something fresh-baked on the Saturdays that we don't go to Jerusalem (we go every other week), especially when the temperatures cool off. It's still not cool enough for my liking or for October, but it's a typical Israeli autumn.

I spent part of today working on Liat's tipless glove and it's coming along nicely. I can't find the ball band to tell you the colorway, but it's a pretty Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in pinks, periwinkle, blue and lavender. I'll try to take a progress photo so you can see the yarn. The pattern (my own) is a very dull 2x2 ribbed tipless glove (the thumb and fingers are in stockinette), but with a pretty yarn it looks good. The best thing is that they fit snugly to the hand without being tight. I just don't like the look or feel of a loose, floppy wristwarmer/glove.

I also made another card (this time not with a southwestern theme!) which I will share next time. I love the kinds of days where I do lots of different things.

Friday, October 23, 2009

This, that and the other thing

This is another card I made recently. The cactus, pot and lizard (gecko?) are from the Posh Southwestern set, and the saying is from the Greetings set. I made the background by drawing on a foam brayer with markers, then spritzing it with water before rolling it over the glossy paper. A fun, quick and easy way to make a pretty background. I have another card done, which I will show to you next time.

That is the Asherton Scarf I am making for Liat. The pattern yields a scarf about 7.5" wide, but Liat wanted a narrower one, so I eliminated one of the pattern repeats and added one stitch on either side. The scarf is now the width Liat wants. I forgot to knit the first four rows in garter stitch, but I don't think it will be a big problem.

As for the other thing, I've been starting to get to know the other stampers on the Stamp A Mania design team a little better. What a lovely group! We are going to have a lot of fun together, I can tell. I'm already inspired by the beautiful cards the team members have been making, and I can't wait to see more.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Busy, Busy!

Joansie mentioned she was interested in seeing my stamps. Well, above is a photo of one of them and below is a shot of my stamping table with the things I am currently using to create cards. I love my older, wood-mounted rubber stamps, but these new stamps are so much easier to use and to store.

These Posh stamps are mounted on a foam cushion that sticks onto an acrylic mount, then comes off when you give it a little tug. They stay stuck on the back of those plastic sheets with the colorful images on one side until you need them. Easy peasy! And they take up much less space than my wood mounted stamps. I can, of course, see through the acrylic mount and get a fair idea of where my image will end up on the paper. If I want precise placement, I use a tool called a stamp positioner, which helps me get the image exactly where I want it to be. But, mostly I don't need to be that precise, which is more relaxed and fun.

I use those Marvy markers to color directly onto the rubber, and I can easily blend more than one color as I go. When I use glossy paper instead of matte, the image comes out very bright. That's the look you usually see with my cards. Then once I stamp, the image is done! That's the fun of these solid stamp images. The other kind just have outlines, and usually need to be colored in with pencils, markers or something else. That's a lovely look, too, but I have become hooked on these wonderful bold stamps.

So that's a little peek into my stamping world. I have more cards to show you, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Knitting is lagging behind, but I am hoping to work some more on the Marsan cap for my nephew tonight. I wonder what's on tv?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Forgot to Show You

I completely forgot to show you the card I made for Liat that was given to her during her trip in Poland. Her English teacher had called and asked parents to write a letter that could be given to the student at some point during the trip. Well, of course I don't just write plain old letters!

You won't be surprised to know that my favorite thing about this card is that it all started with a used "color catcher" - those sheets you put in the laundry so your dark colors don't bleed into the lights. I used one of those foam craft stamps (you can find them just about anywhere) and some pigment ink to stamp the shell. I used my sewing machine to stitch some of the lines above and below the shell, then embroidered and added beads according to my whim. It was fun to just forge ahead with no set plan and see how the project developed. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't show you all the sparkly threads and pretty beads I used, but at least you get an idea.

I have started the hat for my other nephew in Jerusalem, and bought the yarn to make his sister's scarf. Now I just need to settle on a pattern to use. She wants black and turquoise, so at first I thought about double knitting, but with the scarf for another of my niece's being a double knitting project, I decided maybe that wouldn't be a good plan. Now I'm thinking about using a multidirectional pattern and alternating between the two colors. We'll see!

Mark at Stamp A Mania told me that he will soon be sending out the kits for the design team members. I'm more than a little excited! I made two more cards today and have started a third. What I really ought to do is make two of each, so that I have one I can send to a friend or family member. I think I'll do that with the next card I start.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Excitement is Building!

In a very short time, Stamp A Mania will be releasing their first Posh stamp sets. That means I should also soon be getting my first stamp kit from them. I am so looking forward to seeing what they send, and of course having the fun of playing! Meanwhile, I made the card above for a friend who hasn't been feeling well. I hope it perks her up. Both the saying and the crayon image are from the Posh Impressions Greetings set, which comes not only with a variety of sayings but fun things like a crayon (duh), a pencil, and a marker. Fun to use in cards.

For those lucky enough to live near Albuquerque, New Mexico, there is going to be a stamping convention there on October 31 - November 1. Sounds like a fun way to spend a weekend. I have only ever been to one stamping convention, two years ago in Los Angeles (actually, Carson, CA). I was lucky enough to meet Dee and Warren Gruenig there, and I have to say I basically haunted the booth until they shut the place down for the night! Luckily the friend I came with was very understanding.

In other news, two friends have reassured me that the over-large beret is actually a marvelously "in" slouch hat! Let's hope my niece is aware of this fashion trend... Meanwhile, I did a little yarn shopping today (most was for my mother-in-law, I swear!) and now have the yarn I need for the Marsan watchcap for my nephew, and a scarf for his sister. Time to cast on!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Love it or leaf it?

No joking, that was the title of the article this pattern came with. Love it, leaf it beret. Hrmph. I would leaf it, but it's too late. I am feeling grumpy about this hat, as you can tell. It came out too big, which is the complaint that everyone on Ravelry who has made it has. The designer claims she knits very tightly and didn't want the yarn she used (cotton and bamboo blend) to stretch out. That should have been a warning right there.

Aside from that, instead of having you decrease one stitch at a certain number of points around the crown of the hat, she has you decrease two stitches. I think the result looks pretty yucky. I haven't blocked the hat yet (anyone have a spare 12" dinner plate I can borrow? mine are all 10") but am not sure that will help much.

The bright side in all of this is that my niece is not only pretty easy-going, but definitely a lover of funky accessories. I am sure she has the panache and style to carry this thing off. I just hope she likes it! She saw the photo in the magazine and requested the hat in dark green, and that's what she's getting.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wishful Thinking

It is in the 90s here today, and MAN do I wish it would cool off already! It's been fun (not) but it's October, for Pete's sake! (My family always asks me who the heck is Pete and why should we do anything for him?).

Ahem. Sorry about that little rant. Anyway. The idea for this card came when I tried to think where I could use those cute little face images (from the Posh Impressions Halloween Duets set). I've used them on flowers, and as you know, on the card in the post before this one. Actually, I started this card first, but it was finished second so that's why they're out of order. The hats and saying are from the Posh Snowman set, and of course the background and cacti are from the Posh Southwest set.

I think I will stamp some more snow-themed cards. Rain would be more realistic, but if you're gonna dream, dream big, right?

Sandy asked how long it took to make that little Hug from Home that I gave to Liat. It really knits up very quickly, and it's all knit flat and then sewn together. But it's tiny (fits in the palm of your hand) so it's fast. Doing the intarsia (where I changed from purple to blue green for the heart) made it take a little longer, but I would guess you could make one of these in a couple of hours or less.

And speaking of knitting, I have a completed Leaf Beret to show you as soon as I can get one of my models to pose for me. I'm also nearly done with another black London Beanie, this time for one of my nephews in Jerusalem.

I hope all of you are having a fabulous, not too hot!!!, day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I had some fun in my stamping room today. Soon the new Posh stamps from Stamp A Mania will be available (and I hope to be getting my first Design Team package soon, whooo hoo!) and I'm getting my stamping muscles back in shape to make sure I'm ready.

I was using the cactus stamp for a different card (which I hope to show to you soon) when I got the idea for this one. The pumpkins and all of the faces are from the Posh Impressions Halloween Duets set, while the cactus is from the Southwestern set. I love mixing things up and throwing in something unexpected.

In other news, Liat is safely home from her trip to Poland! She took lots of amazing photos and has already told us quite a few stories. It's so much nicer to have her home, even though she is making sure I won't be bored by reminding me of all the knitted items she wants me to make for her (this list got even longer while she was away). At least I finished the beret I was working on for my niece's birthday, so obviously I must cast on for something new (we'll ignore the two sweaters, scarf, wristwarmer and baby sock already on the needles, shall we?).

I thought we would.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Hat of My Own

I finally took the time to make a hat for myself! It's the Claudia hat, and it's a free pattern! I made some changes to the pattern, like using a size 5 (instead of size 4) US needle for the beginning of the hat. I then switched to a size 7 (instead of size 6) for the body. I knit until the hat was 5.5", which I think was too long, before starting the decreases. I realized that the decreases go on for quite a few inches, and my hat was either going to be too long or would have a little point poking up at the top. Not a look I am interested in cultivating.

So I cut short the decreases and also switched to size 6 double pointed needles after awhile. It fits nicely, but I haven't studied how the top of it looks when on the head...scared to, I guess.

I still have a lot more gift knitting to do, and we're talking about birthdays, not holidays! But first we have some more work to finish up, and I'm also itching to get back into my stamping room. Never enough time, is there?

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Hug from Home

I made this little guy (a modification of a Jean Greenhowe pattern) to tuck into Liat's suitcase before she left for Poland. I sewed a little bag for him, and attached a tag that said "A hug from home." I hid it with her pajamas, knowing she would find it on the first night, and she did.

She sent me a text message that she really loved it, and mentioned it again when we spoke last night. The idea was that whenever she felt she needed a hug, she could squeeze this little guy (he fits right in the palm of the hand) and know that I was sending her a hug.

What can I say? I'm corny like that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ain't No Sunshine

Liat left for Poland on Tuesday night, and it is very strange around here without her. Everyone keeps telling me, "Wait until she starts the army" and "Wait until she gets married."

Hello? Not helpful, people.

Luckily, we have a big translation project to work on, so my mind is occupied for minutes at a time. Just kidding; once we start working, that is what I focus on. The hard part is once we take a break or are done for the day.

I think it's even harder because school is still out on break. Once Meital goes back to school on Monday, it won't seem so odd that Liat isn't here all the time.

How many hours until Wednesday morning?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Trip to Poland

Several people have asked me about Liat's upcoming trip to Poland (she needs to be at the school in another 25.5 hours...) so I thought I would give a brief explanation.

It has become an almost standard part of the high school experience that, in their senior year, many Israeli teens go on a trip to Poland, under the authority of the Ministry of Education. They are considered part of an official Israeli delegation.

This year, the trip will last for one week and will include such sites as Warsaw, Lodz, and several death camps: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Majdanek. They have had many hours of preparation for the trip, including visiting several Holocaust museums here in Israel, listening to the personal stories of several Holocaust survivors, and participating in a number of activities designed to prepare them emotionally for what they will see and experience in Poland. They have been assigned books to read, and some of the students on the trip are responsible for preparing a ceremony for a specific stop on the trip (Liat and her group prepared a ceremony for Warsaw, site of the famous ghetto).

There will be, of course, a number of teachers on the trip, not to mention a security force there to protect the students. It all seems very well planned out and organized.

If you'd like to read a little bit more about the trip, go to this website and scroll down to question number 11, which deals with the trip.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hat Trio

As promised (or threatened?) here is a photo of my three most recent hats. Bet you can't guess which one is for a guy.

Just kidding.

The black hat is, of course, a London Beanie. The colorful hat is Swell, a pattern which can be found on Knitty, though if you are thinking of knitting this fun hat, I strongly urge you to use larger needles than called for in the pattern. I used size 8, with size 9s for the colorwork. And of course the purple hat should look at least vaguely familiar; this is the fourth time I've made this Coronet pattern from Knitty! And the second in about a week.

You may recall my mentioning that originally, I had planned to make a Coronet hat for myself, then ended up making one for my niece, one for Liat, and now two for Liat's friends. Well, I am heartily sick of this pattern at the moment, and I also just happened to notice a pattern I had saved (not sure where I found it, but it's on Ravelry) called Claudia, by M.J. Kim. I decided that before I start the hats for my nephews, I would finally, finally, make a hat for myself. I cast on in royal blue, and am really enjoying the pattern so far.

And it's a jolly good thing hats are so small and quick to knit.

In other news, Liat leaves for Poland in approximately 50 hours.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Card for Joan

One of my friends at Club Posh suffered a stroke recently, so I made this card for her today. I am craving autumn (it is in the eighties and humid here, phooey!), so I chose that as my theme. The background is another piece from that large blotter paper background that I made months ago. For those who don't know, I started with the paint spattered newsprint I use as a blotter under my stamping, then added more color, stamped images, etc. to make an interesting and rather random background.

The leaves, acorn and pumpkin (all by Posh Impressions) were stamped on alcohol ink backgrounds I made some time ago, using pigment ink and embossing powder to really make the lines pop. They were then cut out and glued onto the background. I was worried that the background paper would be too dark and/or busy for the word stamp, so I used my finger to rub some white chalk onto the background. I didn't want to obscure the background, just lighten it, and I am very happy with the results.

I just hope the card brings Joan some cheer.

I am nearly done with the hat for Liat's friend Eden. I hope my next post will feature a photo of all the hats I haven't yet shown you. And just in case I wasn't already getting just the tiniest bit weary of hats, I promised to knit one for each of my two nephews in Jerusalem yesterday. Their sister wants a scarf. Bless her heart!

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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Doin' Some of This

In a few short hours we'll be off on our vacation. Hope to do A LOT of relaxing, visiting, reading, eating stuff we can't buy

I'm bringing Meital's cotton top to try and finish that up, plus I have what I think is probably enough leftover sock yarn (for making small socks) to last until we get back. I hoping to do some genealogy research, but most of all I want to relax. Just relax.

Even if I don't post regularly here, I will likely be tweeting on Twitter, and checking in on Facebook. I hope to see you at one of those places!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Endpaper Mitts?

Here is the start to my Endpaper Mitts. I love both of these yarns from the Periwinkle Sheep, but I have a feeling the variegated blue yarn isn't the right choice. Not enough contrast in some places. Sometimes when I look at it, it looks okay, but otherwise...meh.

I think their ought to be more contrast if I'm going to all the trouble of doing the colorwork. Do you agree?

By the way, are any other Blogger users having trouble positioning a second photo in their posts? I used to be able to upload more than one, then just click and "drag" it into position. Now when I try that, nothing happens.

Still, one picture is better than none. In fact, I've heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Or is it ten thousand?

And speaking of words, I have joined the ranks of Those Who Tweet. You can find me here. I've even broken down and joined Ravelry, so if you're on there, you can find me there, too. No cute pseudonym, just my name.

If you'll excuse me, now I'm going to get back to banging my head against the genealogical brick wall that is my great great aunt Anna Blau of Paterson, New Jersey. She's hiding somewhere, and one of these days, I will find her!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Here are the two washcloths I made as part of a hostess gift. Yarn is Sugar 'n Cream, and the patterns are the Waffle Knit Dishcloth from Homespun Living (cream) and Baby Fern Stitch Dishcloth (pink). They made a nice change of pace from my usual Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth (the one knit on the diagonal) of which I have made many. These used up more than half of a 2.5 ounce (I used size 8 or 5mm needles) skein of cotton, but I was able to squeeze a Grandmother's Favorite out of the leftover cream colored yarn. Haven't tried with the pink yet, but since the pink cloth is a bit larger (though of course it is lacy which means it uses less yarn) I don't know if that will work. Or, I suppose I could knit to, say, 42 stitches instead of 44, before starting the decreases.

Meanwhile, I have been making some cards and am pretty pleased with them. They are a gift for someone, so more to the point - I hope she will like them! I am also trying to come up with a clever idea for a bookmark swap over on Club Posh. I'm having second thoughts about my first idea for that.

I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July. Ours was very un-Fourth like. Often we spend the Fourth in the U.S., which of course is way more fun than trying to celebrate it here (which we sometimes do. Just didn't work out for this year). Two years ago, the girls and I went to a parade with my father, where Uncle Sam was walking around randomly asking kids if they knew which birthday he was celebrating. Liat was the first person he asked who knew the right answer!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

Things have been hectic here at Bag of Chocolates. I have finished objects to share, but haven't photographed them yet. Instead, I share the lovely wonderfulness that is two skeins from the Periwinkle Sheep (Google that, you won't be sorry!) These have already been wound into balls (the old fashioned way) and are seeing how they like the idea of becoming a pair of Endpaper Mitts. I'm halfway through the first repeat of the colorwork pattern and can't quite tell yet if this is going to work or not. Stay tuned.

Other than that, I finished up some washcloths which I hope to photograph and share soon. I am also doing a little card-making, and am nearly finished with the 5th grade layouts for Meital's scrapbook. I was hoping to finish 6th grade before we leave on our vacation (in ten short days) but I have decided not to sweat that too much. There are too many other things that need to get done!

I am hoping to be at least somewhat organized, genealogically speaking, before we head to the States. I am planning to do some research while we're there, and I want to be sure I have all of my notes (and my questions!) lined up. I need to stop for a minute and remember that I want to have fun, too! I am sure I will. With luck, I will get a chance to meet up with some friends on this trip, and that will be wonderful.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Congratulations, Meital!

Last night was Meital's graduation party/show. They do things somewhat backwards here, with the celebration happening before the actual end of the year. The kids got today, the day after the party, off, but there are three more days of school left next week.

Meital performed in three dances, and my completely fair, balanced and unbiased opinion is that she was wonderful! Some of her friends have been taking dancing lessons after school for years, and perhaps did even better, but for a girl who learned on the job she was marvelous.

Not only was this party the culmination of six years for Meital at this school, but eleven years that Avi and I have been parents at this school. More than that, Avi finished up seven years as president of the Parent's Association. He made a speech, as he always does at these events, but this time (as with Liat's graduation five years ago) it was personal.

Liat and I helped him write out his speech, and as usual Liat typed it up for him. Unbeknownst to me, Avi added a few handwritten lines right before we left the house for the party. After saying everything he wanted to say, and thanking those who helped him in his work as PTA president, he thanked me for supporting him all these years! I was completely surprised and of course almost cried. It was a moment, to be sure.

But more than anything, Meital's happiness and satisfaction at a job well done made the evening one we will always remember.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Can't Count

As you can see, the problem with my browser seems to be fixed, thank goodness! I finished these Sockotta yarn socks for Liat a while ago, but couldn't show you the photo until now. This is actually the third pair of socks I've made in 2009; I forgot about the pair of toddler-sized socks I made early in the year. Now I'm working on a baby sock using leftover Lorna's Laces. Looks like it will be baby and toddler socks for the duration at this point, until the weather cools down again.

I still haven't finished the sleeve-less cotton top for Meital, but I have worked on it. And I finished one washcloth and started another; I need to make four to give as part of two hostess gifts I am putting together.

We've been busy with translation work, and I finally cleared out the carpet in the last room to still have any. I've made some progress in Meital's scrapbook, but hope to get more done. I've also been writing a family history narrative that I hope to finish in time to give to my father when I see him next month.

And that's mostly it from here. Tonight is Meital's graduation from sixth grade party and show. She will be performing in three dances, so it should be fun!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Photo Op-less

I have just discovered that the annoying problem I've been having lately with my browser has made it impossible for me to upload photos to the blog. Probably to anywhere on the Internet. Since I have no idea what is causing the problem (the one thing I thought to try didn't help) I am not sure how I can fix this. I need to talk to our friendly computer guy and see if he can talk me through a fix.

Meanwhile, I finished a pair of socks for Liat, and realized I may not have shown you a pair of toddler socks I actually finished earlier this year and then forgot about. I hope I will be able to show you photos soon.

Other than that, I am nearly done with a cotton washcloth and have made a tiny bit of progress on Meital's sleeveless cotton top. And I started a baby sock with some leftover yarn. I've also been doing some scrapbooking, and some translation work.

Liat has finished classes for the year, though she still has several matriculation exams to get through. She had her first call up last Thursday, where the army's doctors examined her and she took a "psychotechnical" test, whatever that is. Eventually they will contact her again, probably to interview her and start the process of figuring out what they're going to do with her for two years.

Meital's graduation party (from 6th grade) is next week, and she finishes school on the 30th. Most of her school hours are spent in rehearsals for the big party/show (she's in the dance troupe). She had a great group of girls over for a swim yesterday, and has invited them to come again next Friday.

That's the news from here!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hurry Home

Bright and very early this morning (6:40, to be exact) Meital set off on what is her first-ever overnight school field trip. She'll be back tomorrow, but... she's my baby and aside from a few sleepovers with her grandmother and her friends, she hasn't been away from home overnight before.

Before the trip she was very excited, deciding what to pack and picking out the snacks and treats she wanted to take along. She called earlier this evening, sounding very happy and enthusiastic. I was thrilled and relieved.

But she just called again, in tears. Why are kids so mean to each other? And is there anything worse than being far away and unable to do anything when your kid is miserable? By the end of the call she seemed better, determined to deal with the problem.

I just hope I can get to sleep tonight.

She should be home in about 23.5 hours.

Hurry home, sweetie!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back Up!

In one of those minor household tragedies which can occur from time to time, Avi and I discovered last night that we somehow neglected to make a back up copy of some photos. Just a few. Months, that is. Most of 2007 and part of 2008.


We saved the photos from the camera onto the hard drive, but somehow we neglected to back them up onto a CD. Of course, the hard drives of all of our computers are long since toast.


I started blogging some time in 2005, and switched from that blog (Yahoo 360, which by the way is closing down next month) to this one a couple of years later. By going page by page through my old blog, I was able to discover a number of missing photos that had been posted there, and have now saved them. Whew!

The good thing about Blogger is that all of the photos I post here are automatically saved in an online photo album hosted by Picasa. Though I suppose I shouldn't count on that always being there.

Another trick I've learned works once you've got the photos on your hard drive. Attach the photos to an e-mail and send them to yourself. I found quite a few "missing" photos that way, too.

So even if you don't save your photos to a diskette, CD or thumb drive, at least post them on the Internet somewhere or send them to yourself in an e-mail, so you'll still have them if disaster strikes your hard drive.

End of lecture for today.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

First Pair in 2009

I actually finished these socks two months ago, but didn't have the get up and post to show them to you. I am currently on the foot of the second sock in a pair for Liat which will, when finished, be the second pair of socks completed in 2009. Pitiful.

Actually, I could only remember finishing the neckwarmer and these socks so far this year, so I checked my Excel chart for Knitting 2009 (doesn't everyone have one?) and saw that I have also finished a sweater for Meital (the green one), a cabled shrug for Liat (in blue) and two pairs of wristwarmers.

Good thing I've been keeping track.

Anyway, these socks are done in Judy Sumner's Better Than Vanilla pattern and were knit in Opal that Judy herself gave me when I was lucky enough to meet her in person a couple of years ago. Thank you, Judy!