The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Nov. 30, 2009

You still have today to get into the contest. Mr. Honey will pull the winner sometime this evening and I will review all the entries and announce the winner tomorrow!!

OK, so I chose a restaurant for my birthday dinner. Way back decades ago when I was in college, there was this restaurant by the campus called My Pie (except on the sign the pie was the Pi sign.) Great pizza – I mean really great. They closed but then a year or so back I read an article where they reopened a couple of restaurants and I tucked that information away. When Mr. Honey asked where I wanted to go for my birthday, I chose My Pie. I dutifully looked it up on the Internet (because Mr. Honey always wants to review the menu before he goes) and I looked at the menu – not surprising for a pizza restaurant, it had pizza stuff like that and it had a daily special that said either dine in or carry out.

I need to repeat that: the daily special was good for dine in and carry out.

So we mapped out how to get to the place because it wasn’t far but it wasn’t close. So we get to it and

no restaurant.

I don’t mean that is was closed – I mean I didn’t see a building. We passed by a few more times and then I saw it. It’s not a stand alone restaurant – it’s in a mall.

So we park, get out of the car and walk over to the place.
Do you know what dine in means?

One of those tacky little glass patio tables with two ratty rattan chairs and some of the rattan was missing.
Ended up going to Giordanoscuz we wanted pizza. Mr. Honey was kind enough to say that didn’t count as my Bd dinner. There’s another My Pie location in the suburbs and he suggested I call them to see if they were a dine in restaurant – but I don’t trust them to know.

But that’s not why you’re here. You want to see the goodies I’ve picked for this week – and I want to show them to you. I promise the word ‘pie’ is not in the title of any of them. So here, in no particular order, are the ten things that will make me forget the birthday restaurant experience:

Holiday Pillows by Earth Cadets
It’s nice that there’s a pair – but I only need the one.

Iris Heart Necklace by Chinacherie
It’s pretty and elegant and will suite a wide age range. This is the kind of piece that goes timeless.

Cashmere Dog Sweater by shopKCQ
Not only is the sweater cute, but you know the dog is saying: ‘After this is over, you so better be giving me treats.’

Orange Dichronic Glass pendant by lpjewelry
Whimsical, cute and the color is eyecatching!

Blessing Pears
by Middleburg
I could never do paper mache when I was a kid. I just ended up with a goopy mess my mother wouldn’t even show off on the mantle. This is a much better improvement!

So, how’s the Christmas shopping coming? I have one set of items to make. During the week when I haven’t been posting, I’ve been a cotton dish/hand/body cloth making machine. I’ve made about 10 spa cloths, 5 scrubbers, 4 pots/pan scrubbers and 5 face scrubbers. We’ll see how well they do at the holiday shop which opens this weekend.

I’ve also been working on the new church website. So, you see, I have my reasons. Hey, a new giveaway is coming, too. Kind of a neat prize, too. You can thank that ole Knitting Knoobie Suzy for it. I’ll explain that when it happens! For now, here are the final five:

Mena by jenniferhawkjewelry
These are so pretty!

3 Strand necklace
by sweetcharity
Colorful and really beautiful, I can see wearing this necklace on a nice night out (to a restaurant with real seating!)

Santa Stone Coasters by creativecoasterchick
Here’s my selection for the holiday season. These are kicky and cute. You can sit your glass right on Santa’s face!

Messenger sling by toteworthydesigns
That this cute little tote bag made the list isn’t a surprise – but how did a store with the word ‘tote’ in it escape my notice for so long?

Timmy by glasscat
Glasscat returns to the list because of this very cute and funny suncatcher. I think it would look great in the window of a child’s room!

I hope your Thanksgiving was great! I cooked a really good dinner and we had the leftovers the next night and they were even better than the first night. Mr. Honey will be cooking the Christmas dinner and he has something to beat; I’ll tell you that!

I also hope you get the chance to take the batteries out and let them recharge. The holiday season is hectic and leads right into the new year so there’s stress to be had all around. But you don’t have to let it get to you. Make the time to take some deep, cleansing breaths and let the world turn without for a moment or two. It’s the best present you can give yourself!

The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Nov. 23, 2009

It’s almost Thanksgiving.
This year Mr. Honey and I will be staying home. We were invited to his brother’s but I had already told him I wanted him for myself this Thanksgiving and I will be cooking – but he can bake the gingerbread – I should probably remind him of that.

I wasn’t sure there was a lot I would want to be thankful for this year; there was so much stress, but there are things to be thankful for – there always are:

I am thankful for my aunt ‘Bay.’ She is the last one of her generation. After her there are no more aunts, uncles, Moms or Dads for me any all my cousins. She is in poor health and I have been in contact with her. She is the ‘fun’ aunt and I am grateful for her laughter and her smile – especially after all she has gone through in her life. She has a genuine spirit that will stay with her the rest of her days.

I am thankful Gayle, Judy and Cindi. Four friends from the other church who’s friendship was never in question. They have stayed by me during the entire ordeal even though Judy now lives in New York. Cindi is Gayle’s daughter and she and her husband have been very present and vocal. It’s good to know people will speak up for you when the popular thing is to remain silent in the presence of a bully.

I am thankful for Mr. Honey for being the most wonderful husband in this and probably any universe. He handed over $30K to me in the summer and then just last week asked me what I wanted for my birthday.

I am thankful for all of you in the knitting blogosphere. Those who comment and those who lurk and those who do both. I really feel connected to you all and I don’t remember what life was like before you – but it could not have been this fun.

Are you ready for this week’s picks? I am thankful to be able to bring them to you – and when you see them you’ll know why. In no particular order here are ten items to think about over the holiday week:

Snakeskin Purse by grandmamarievintage
Veru funky, very vintage

Customized mirror by chaoticcurios
I had to pick out a mirror and i like the funky chunky one with the letter. I like them all. what a unique gift idea for someone!

Cubes by burntone
I don’t know what it is but this painting intrigues me.

French Love Letter
by chinacherie
They’ve made the list before and earned another spot with this lovely piece.

Beach walk by liamparkinson
This isn’t his first time on the list, either, and this photo is just stunning.

So what are you doing this Thanksgiving? If you have some time between visits and friends, you still have until the end of the month to enter the contest. There will be another contest coming sometime next month as well. I have more books I can afford to give away and there’s always someone out there who can use it! How about the final five?

Green River by peggysu1464
I love the color and the stillness, but it’s the reflection in the water that sold it!

Baby Pod
by ventichi
Doesn’t it make your uterus ache?

Holiday shimmer
by glasscat
O come on, you knew it was just a matter of when the earrings would show up!

Teardrop Earrings by uncharted
These will be home for Christmas

Shumai by gobuggy
Two words: clev ver!

I wish for you and your family the time together to appreciate the good things about each other and that your hearts are so warmed in your company that you cannot wait for the next time to be together. Have a safe Thanksgiving!

A Special Kind of Prayer Shawl

Still have time to enter the contest and win a nice ‘knit kit’ or some stash yarn from my stash to yours!

The prayer shawl in the picture was started last Sunday during church. I like to sit in the back and knit. It’s not that people can’t see me, but sitting in the back is less distracting and the prayers of the people can still reach what’s on the needles. It was easier at the other church because it’s a lot bigger and sitting in the back was like sitting in a cavern. At the new church, people can easily see.

This prayer shawl is special because it is the first one I knit for someone at the new church. There are prayers and good wishes for the recipient knit into it, but there’s also relief and relaxation knit into it from me. I just feel so much better.

It’s going to a woman who has come to that time in her life where she can no longer make all her own decisions. She suffered a fall and her husband is also in poor health and they can no longer live alone. She’s in her upper 80’s and she’s reached that point.

God bless her life that she has been able to live it in her own way for so long. The most precious gift we have is the ability to self-determine. To be able to decide for one’s self how their life is going to go. And the second precious gift is having loved ones around you when time and nature start to remove that ability from us. So we are not abandoned and left behind but that we are given as much of the ability that can be had so we may continue with dignity and integrity.

I hope this shawl brings her comfort and keeps her connected with a church family that has been a part of her life for a very long time. And I hope it keeps us connected with her that we remember her in our prayers and in our visits and that we pray for everyone to live with grace no matter what our age. That we live our own lives that way so we are so filled up that we overflow with it and others can benefit from the excess of our blessings.

My blessing is to feel a part of something again and to move one step closer from walking away from a bad habit. Thank God I could make that determination for myself.

Mandy Patinkin Deserves an Emmy

Ohmigod!

I was never a great fan of Mandy Patinkin. He was great in a little Broadway show called ‘Evita’ and that shot him to stardom and it seemed, at least to me, that the shot went straight into his head and he seemed a little too pleased with himself. Of course, that could have just been his character on ‘Chicago Hope.’

But I watched ‘Three Rivers” on CBS (actually, I watched it Monday from On Demand through Comcast) and he blew me away.

He played Victor, a man with ALS who is in a car accident that puts him on a ventilator. With the ALS, he will never get better, but he will be alive. But it isn’t what he wants and after speaking with a patient who needs a heart transplant, he decides to take himself off the ventilator so he can donate his heart. Another woman walks in with her daughter and asks if he will give a portion of his liver. Another doctor walks in and asks for his lungs. Victor feels thrilled that he can make a decision about his life that the ALS cannot touch.

But Victor has a daughter. And this daughter was neglected when she was younger and having her father need her in the throes of his disease is her way of keeping him with her. She wants to stop his decision and even speaks to her attorney to stop it. Also, Victor’s doctor doesn’t think he should end his life because even though he will be tied to the ventilator and even though the ALS will continue to ravish him, he would be alive.

But that’s not a life to Victor and he tells Andy that he wanted to be able to die with dignity and to give life to others and that would be his way of beating ALS one last time.

He gets his wish except the man he wants to have his heart gets a fever on the day the transplant is supposed to take place and it cannot go on but as Victor is willed into the operating room where his ventilator will be removed, he will die and his organs harvested, the people who will receive his organs are lining the hall to thank him and at the end of the hall is his daughter who is really proud of him.

Patinkin’s performance is amazing. His speech and body movements, his emotions are moving and compelling and he keeps it from being over the top which it easily could have been. If there is not an Emmy nomination at the least then there is something seriously wrong with the process or there have to be some other kick ass performances out there that I haven’t seen.

If you can get to On Demand and see the episode, you will see a truly moving performance.
Well done, Mr. Patinkin, well done.

The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Nov. 16, 2009

I joined a new church yesterday! It’s way smaller than the one I left and there’s a great deal that needs to be done there, but at least I can walk into a house of worship and not have the feeling I need to wear body armor.

Want to have a bad experience? Have a pastor that lies about you to other members of the congregation and have those people either believe her or if they don’t, stay silent and let the lies go on. And with that statement, I hope to have breathed in and out the last of that experience and can now let it go.

And why not? There are some nice items out there in the handmade world that are a better use of time looking at and thinking about. Have you looked at the calendar? Almost a month to go. That’s it. You’re going to have to start getting serious about the holiday shopping. Let me help you. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here is the top ten list for the week of November 16:

Green Apple Vegan Soap by YourTimeBodyTreat
Fall. Apples. Just makes sense. Besides, it looks great!

Golden Leaf Necklace by vivarevival
It’s very retro and very cute. I just saw it and loved it. Simple as that.

Red Ombre by Industryjewelry
One of the reasons I like something is that it makes me think of something I can knit. I love the gradiation of color in the necklace. I love doing that in knitting.

Amber Fairy Light by olderthanyouare
This reminds me of some of the knick-knacks I used to see in the houses in the south. Elegant and timeless.

Coonley Playhouse Kitchen Window
by RKMStudios
I am in awe of folks who can work with glass and this is very much like Frank Lloyd Wright’s work – which is what it is based on! Simply beautiful!

We’ve picked up some more followers! Thanks so much. There’s still time to get in on the contest. Remember there will now be two winners – one randomly drawn by Mr. Honey and the one tip that I think helps me the most. It’s a chance for me to clear some room on my book shelves and clear out some of the yarn stash. Please enter!

Fiesta Dish Pillow by rachelsretrorags
This is just the cutest pillow. I know some folks who collect Fiesta dishes and this would be a great gift for anyone who does.

Cranberry Soap by nothingbutsoap
it looks like a piece of creamy candy but this is one treat you can rub all over body.

Emotions by adrianaoancia
Stunning colors in her artwork. I can see this in the upstairs hall of my house.

Blue Hawaii by elenadiadenko
Another piece of art with stunning colors. I’ve tried drawing and painting; if it weren’t for those little numbers, I couldn’t do it at all.

Heart by itsourearth
What makes this so cool? It’s made from a recycled LP (for those of you who don’t know that’s a record – a disc that plays music with the help of a record player. LP means Long Play as opposed to a 45 – which is a small record that plays music with the help of a record player!)

Did you notice? Not a bag on the list this week. But two soaps and two pieces of art. How about that for a little different? Like I said, the holidays are fast approaching. If you don’t shop any of these places – or my shop, make sure you look at some handmade shops for serious consideration.

I’m going to play with April and Melissa tomorrow at Barnes & Noble. I hope you have a great day!

Instant Gratification

Remember this? I put this photo up in yesterday’s post. Oh, btw, here’s the link for the contest.

Anyway, I posted this scarf yesterday and put the scarf and the hat in the shop for sale. Last night, right before dinner, I thought I’d check to shop views to see if anyone was looking around.

The scarf had sold.
This brings two conflicting thoughts to mind.
The first: YIPPEE!!!
The second: I sold it for too little.

The first thought tells the second thought to shut up. Pricing has been a big issue in both the freelance and handmade fields. We’ve had this discussion before: some folks are very quick to point out how pricing too low kills the rest of the industry. I still hear it from people who tell me I price my stuff too low.

Too low for what?

See. This is why the first thought tells the second thought to stuff it. For those of you who are thinking of selling your items, you will have to figure out what works best for you and let everyone else’s opinion roll off your back.

Sometimes you have let it roll off your own back. I worked out a formula and I plug it in and a price comes up. Sometimes it seems reasonable; sometimes not, but some things about the business remains the same: materials cost what they cost, postage and fees are usually consistent. Time it take to create an article usually changes so I put in an average value for that which can increase over time like a raise or salary increase. And then I live with the numbers.

I do something similar when figuring out prices for the in person sales. There are some different considerations (like no shipping or handling fees) but the formula remains pretty much the same. Sometimes it means some really good prices – steals almost. Sometimes it means something will be pretty high end. Most of the time it hits it just right. And that might be the best you can hope for.

So I will probably get over the price thing – in truth, the price is probably about right to slightly too low – but the gratification of the sale remains with me. To know folks will buy your stuff. It’s better than when I sell something I’ve written – and that’s a pretty good high!

I’ll worry about pricing another day – when I schedule time to worry about things. But for the moment, I’m going to rejoice that I have made my 18th sale since being in business for almost a year.

YIPPEE!
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I Can’t Keep Up

Keep those tips coming for the giveaway contest.
The things I’m learning. Since it is my contest and I can make the rules, I will be giving away an additional prize of stash yarn to the tip that personally helps me the most. So, now, you have more to win! Keep them coming, they are very helpful and very diverse. Knitters Rock.

Dig the color of the scarf and hat. Aubergine. Doesn’t it make you drunk just saying it? I love the color and you know what? I didn’t even know I was making a set. I made the hat about a week before I made the scarf. They aren’t supposed to be a set, though I do think they came from the same pattern book.

I bought four books from Knit Picks while they were having their 40% books sale. I will review them all in detail at a later date, but I am salivating over two of them, one has instructions that I either need to give up drinking altogether or increase my intake three fold in order to understand, and I don’t remember what the last one was. (I just went over the site and looked it up…it’s OK.)

But this hat and scarf – or the original patterns – came from 24 Hour Knits. There’s some nice stuff in that book and I am certain that if I ever completely follow a pattern as written – it would be from that book. Of course, I say that knowing I rarely do a pattern exactly as written and the road to hell is paved with good intentions – but still.

I’ve started a prayer shawl. I gathered my shawl books together because I’m feeling a shawl mojo starting (say good-bye to hats for the moment.) I am missing a prayer shawl book. I have the feeling it’s up in the office which means that when I find it, it will signal the second coming. But even so, I have eight books of shawl patterns. Eight. I just like books. Nothing wrong with that.

I went stash shopping for another project and discovered a bunch of Homespun (of course) so now with that added to the skeins in the upstairs stash not to mention the new skeins in the trunk – I have contracted prayer shawl fever. I have a challenge to see how many I can finish between now and the end of the month. Nineteen days.

What do you think? How many can I get done?

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The Chicago Top Ten for the Week of Nov. 9, 2009

Let’s do some housekeeping:

1. You can enter the giveaway contest to win a copy of Knit Fix and other goodies here.

2. I hope you are all reading the tips that have been entered. There are some really good ones there, heck, they’re all good. And they will all be the subject of their very own posts giving credit to the person who submitted them. I’m learning some new things every day from you guys (which happens to be a very good tip submitted by a reader!)

3, You won’t believe what I just did! I had a meeting with my new pastor this afternoon and of course, I mentioned my knitting. She said she knew someone who had a stash of yarn from a yarn shop that closed down and they were giving it away and she wanted to know if I might be interested in having some of it.

I said no.

Before you beat me to a pulp.

Then I said to myself: “Girl, you crazy, you better get some of that.”
I said: “This is yarn from a yarn shop?’
“Yes.”
“Oh yes, we want some of that. We can use that to make prayer shawls and use them for members and the like.”

You can put your knitting sticks down now. You won’t need to beat me with them. I was thinking about the huge stash of yarn I already have and I was also thinking my mother also told me to say know when folks offered stuff.

But that was all overridden by it’s yarn from a yarn store and if it’s the yarn store I think it is – they don’t sale very much acrylic yarn (which I love) but this could be a source of some natural fibers and that would be a great source of higher end items that can be made for church members.

In any case, that old training was left behind!

But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here to see who and what I’ve chosen for this week’s list. I am eager for you to see them so without further ado (what’s an ado, anyway?) here, in no particular order, is this week’s top ten:

Gray Mohawk Hat by LeafLee
Come on, now. You gotta admit it’s way cool. I like the fact that it even exists.

Fall and Grapes
by promirta
This is a lovely and unusual piece. The entire shop is like that. Another newbie who makes the list their first time out.

Evening Stroll by Elizabeth Wren
This isn’t the first time Elizabeth has made our Top Ten and with work like this lovely shawl, it won’t be the last. It’s just beautiful and it looks snugly.

Crochet Picture Frame by double stitch
Now this is something I’ve never seen before and when you look at it you say, ‘well, of course!’ I love creativity and resourcefulness.

Abstract Gold Earrings by allisonmooney
These earrings are almost 3 inches so they have substance. I was thinking I shouldn’t wear the big earrings because I have no neck and then I saw a reporter on the t and v and she has hair even shorter than mine and she was wearing these big a earrings and she doesn’t have a neck, either. That’s why these earrings are on my list.

I want to thank the new followers that I’ve picked up and remind all of you that I will give a shout to all of (especially if you have a blog or store or both to promote. In the meantime, I enjoy you all very much.

Now, back to the show…

Red beret for kids
by fril
I’ve never seen a leaf pattern done in this way. Great job? I’m so gonna make my own version! Thanks for the inspiration,

Holographic Bling Pendant by FireGrog
Gimme,gimme,gimme,gimme

Blue Dreams Quilt by kateemarie
Wow! Lovely simply lovely. I don’t have this kind of patience!

Rebecca’s Growing Garden Pendant by westbyron
The piece is very sweet and the description is touching. Read it for yourself and fall in love with it.

Spiral scarf by trucksandpearls
This scarf is quite lovely and the care that went into it shows up very nicely. If I didn’t knit, I’d be looking to buy it.

There you have it – isn’t an unusual but exciting list? Christmas is getting closer, do that holiday shopping and you can have bragging rights over your friends. Look locally, look at handmade and see if that doesn’t supply your every gift giving need!

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This I Am Told

Still have time to enter the contest! Win a copy of Knit Fix and other goodies!

I tell you, this being in business for yourself thing is a web.

I know from my work in Publicity and PR that a three pronged approach to getting the word out is a key. Not everyone reads the newspaper so there should be something else to go with the press release to the newspaper. So you might do an email mailing, and then you might put flyers up around town. You might utilize the Internet by posting your event on various calendars. I’m used to doing that. But somehow my brain did not make the connection with a three prong approach when it comes to my store.

But I was listening to a webinar (can you believe what we come up with?) and the moderator said we should have a three pronged approach to our shop. We create an item in the shop and we should:

1. Blog about it
2. Facebook it
3. Tweet it

Well, ain’t I a clever sausage because I already do those things – I just never put it altogether as a marketing strategy. OK, the truth is, I would blog it and tweet it – the facebook thing is new. I thought it would also be a good idea to do the same thing with the items I sell because it shows movement. It may inspire someone else to go looking around the shop. It keeps the product out there in the spheres (web sphere, blogosphere, here a sphere, there a sphere, everywhere a sphere sphere.)

Don’t you think that has some validity?

Good. This sold today. My Prayer Shawl. You know what really freaks me out? I was thinking about prayer shawls over the last few days. I need to make some more for families of soldiers who have fallen, my last remaining aunt (and the last one of her circle) is ill and they’ve started hospice care, and I want to get the ministry established in my new church.

And the one prayer shawl I have is now sold.

God is trying to tell me something. I do have a fair amount of yarn to make shawls, but it doesn’t all match. The thing about Homespun is that as longs as some of the colors are the same, they mix very well – as witnessed by this prayer shawl made of two different color ways. Homespun was on sale at JoAnn and I had a 10% off coupon – so now I have some to make the new prayer shawls that I am hoping will provide comfort and solace to those who need them – just as I hope it does to the person who purchased it and the person they purchased it for.

May God bless us everyone.

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Book Review: Knitting To Go Deck

Win a copy of Knit Fix and other goodies. Contest rules here!

Knitting to Go by Kris Percival and Sherri Giblin

I was not hesitant about giving Kris Percival another shot, after all, she did Knitting Pretty which has a version that like, Knitting on the Go, is done with cards that you can drop in your bag and carry. (Knit Knack Kit) I have both versions (BTW, I will be giving away the card set in another contest down the road.) So buying this set wasn’t a hard choice for me to make.

This set is a lot more challenging than the projects in her previous work, and that’s a good thing. As I flipped through the cards, I found some projects that I am looking forward to wrapping my yarn around. There’s a blanket, wraps and some animal hats that I want to get to (but you know me, could be years…)

The patterns are easy to read and to follow and the authors do a nice job of offering some variations to the pattern in case you’re like me and following the rules all the time begins to wear on you. The photographs are certainly big enough (although a problem I have with a lot of books is that they only show one angle or one side. I would take a slightly smaller photo if I could have the front and back and the occasional side of an object just to make sure I know what it’s supposed to look like.)

Most of the patterns seem within reach of a beginner/advanced beginner and every once in a while an intermediate pattern shows up. But that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with an easy pattern – it opens up your mind to change it around to create something unique or it allows you to enjoy the process of knitting more. At least that’s how it works for me.

Overall, I like it. Out of the 25 patterns in the book, I will probably tackle about half and that’s a good ratio. If you’ve a mind to try it out, you can find the book new and used at Amazon and other book websites.

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