Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another day, another bag

Last week I looked around in stores for a weekend-trip bag. Once again I was reminded that I suffer from the "I can do that myself" disease. So I saved myself the $70 that they were charging for what I was looking at, and had a fun day making this:

I made it using this excellent tutorial, and just added the handles at the end.
It has a bunch of inside pockets, and between the two fabrics another layer of some plastic sheet, to make it sturdier and hopefully somewhat waterproof.

An extra reason to be looking forward to next weekend!

While I was making it I was enjoying the fabric, that made me very, very happy. I like the two-sized dots and the colour combination. In fact, it seems that these two greens together are one of my favourite, and that I often put them together

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Little moments of joy

It is a dark, melancholic morning. Fall is upon us, and I 'm not ready for cold. But it's Saturday, and that means I 'm staying mostly home, repaying the kitties for their patience over my long absences during the week.

I was sitting on the sofa, in my usual place. Where I knit, read, watch t.v., do computer stuff. The other side belongs to the kitties.

Skid came and curled up next to me, I registered her presence and kept on doing what I was doing. Half an hour passed this way.

Suddenly I turned to her, and saw she was dozing off. I reached out to her and put my hand on her. She 'd been cleaning herself all this time, and her fur was slightly wet, smelling of wet wool. In her half asleep state, she turned her head and rested it on my hand, her breath on my skin.

Now it doesn't matter that it's a dark, melancholic morning and fall is upon us.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I have done basic embroidery on and off since I was a child but not so much recently. My fondest memory includes one summer when my mother was making one of the most unique tablecloths I 've ever seen. She made all these incredible cute drawings and was tracing them with vibrant colours. It was lovely, but she never finished it. She 's always been a painter more than a needle person. She designed one for my aunt, though, and that one is finished and it's lovely! (secret question: should I try and finish it myself? tempting...).

While she was working on it, of course I got into it and wanted to do some myself (I can't remember how old I was, but I had tried needlework before). So my father generously donated his pyjamas, and I drew some shapes on the pocket and sleeve. Sea waves and a sun on the pocket, an odd round shape on the sleeve that was supposed to be a boat's strirring wheel (we were on summer holidays). I also embroidered his initials on the side. All that very clumsy, of course, and for that reason even more cute! Even though these pyjamas are too worn out for use, I think he still has them!!

The other day, however, I came across a very pleasant book at the library that inspired me to try my hand at embroidery again. So I pulled out my stash of embroidery floss, which I have been saving (and brought from Greece) since highschool. Back then, I used to make these:

It was the 80s, what can I say!

After studying the stitches in the book, I made a list (of course) of all the stitches and decided which ones I wanted to practice. I drew some examples on a pad, and that really helped because as I was drawing them I was visualising how the needle would have to work. It was an unexpected help!

I then transferred it on a piece of cloth. I did that just by redrawing it. I guess if I had something harder to redo I 'd use some of the transferring techniques the book suggests, but this was simple enough.

Stitching over the pencil marks didn't take long (yes, pencil marks! I didn't really care whether it washes off or not. Anyway, it does wash off, and my father's pyjamas will testify to it)

I am almost surprised, and certainly very pleased with the outcome. It was enjoyable, and its slow and deliberate pace is very relaxing and meditative. I will definitely work my way through the book's stitches in similar small projects and add embroidered embellishments to projects.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


One of the errands that is rather unpleasant, as it is so time consuming, is going to the post office to pick up parcels. It is ironic, as receiving parcels should be something fun, shouldn't it?

Well, in our case it takes half an hour of walking through boring streets, waiting for at least 20 min. to be served, and walking back. There is no bus going that way, and the postman never, ever, ever brings parcels to our door.

Imagine my frustration today, knowing that I had to pick up a parcel that wasn't even for me, and the contents weren't even going to be interesting to the recipient. Sad...

Luckily, I came across a new (?) craft store on the way to the post office, that also carries a small selection of Save-A-Thon fabrics. I just had to go in and reward myself with a little treat:

Three yards of fabric, and

some felt pieces to play around with applique!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Things I like

1. Fall is here. This means I can wear some of my scarves, long-sleeved shirts and light coats. Digging them out of storage is like reuniting with old friends.

2. Knitting progress to report
2.a. Brother's wooly hat: check!

Modelled by: Lamp

Now it is just waiting to be fitted with a soft piece of (other) brother's flannel shirt, but that will have to wait until Christmas. My job is done here.

2.b. I made a few more squares for the granny blanket, AND managed to weave in all the ends.

I am discovering, however, that I don't really like the way it looks with the squares in different sizes. Once all the smaller ones are made the same with the rest, I will count again and post a percentage. So far, I will still consider it as of my 15% estimate.

2.c. Blue and green sock # 1 is at the stage of turning the heel. Once this is done, I can count it as 25% done.

3. Kitty company. As I write, all my girls are curled up around me, grooming and enjoying the peaceful company. Being with them is always in my list of 'things I like', whether I mention it or not.

4. Quick and yummy snacks. Today I made a smoothie by mixing a handful of almonds (skins removed), soy milk, and a banana. It was very filling and tasty, but not heavy.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I often take photographs of food while I 'm cooking. Especially when I pour myself a glass of wine, put on some music, and approach cooking as something creative to be enjoyed. I like to take time and appreciate the involvement of all senses.

Oddly, taste is rarely the dominant one, as I don't nibble, not even to test food while I cook it. Smell is perhaps what I rely on most when I cook. I also enjoy the feeling of the ingredients as they pass through my fingers, and the close relation with fire that transforms individual items to a unified whole.

And vision, of course.

Last weekend's stirfry

I rarely follow recipes faithfully. Ingredient substitution is a dangerous habit, but often very rewarding. Most of the times, I have a general idea of how a meal is constructed, and as I cook I rely on my imagination - and the contents of my refrigirator. Don't some ingredients cry out "use me! use me!"?

Last night I made pseudo-quesadilla. I have no idea how one is really made, although I 'm sure a quick internet search would have provided the answer. I just came up with something myself that was so successful, I even decided to share.

1 cup flour (I only had white, but a combination of white & whole wheat would be better)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup water
shredded pieces of chicken (leftovers from a chicken soup)
1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly
1 handful sweetcorn
2-3 tbsp heavy cream
2/3 cup cheese that melts well, grated
salt, pepper

1. Combine olive oil with flour, stir with a fork until mixed, and there are no chunks of dry flour (this will avoid lumps). Add the water, little by little, stirring thoroughly. Mixture should be quite runny. Add some salt, if desired. Divide in half, and pour over hot pan, shaking to spread the mixture evenly. Make two, set aside

2. Fry chicken, pepper and sweet corn for 1-2 minutes, until heated through. Set aside

3. Turn fire to lowest possible. Place one of the crepes on the pan, spread chicken mixture on a thin layer, sprinkle with cheese, heavy cream, freshly ground black pepper

4. Place the second crepe over the whole thing, and heat until cheese is melted. Goes well with fresh green salad

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The maturity of knowing when to give up

Reading back on my Alphabet posts they remind me of primary school essays. That may have something to do with the time of day that I write them, or the lack of interest in talking about myself. Didn't take that long, did it? Truth is, I 'd rather talk about knitting and sewing (and occasionally the cats). This structured and ordered sequence of self-imposed topics certainly did not stimulate my creativity. I am impressed with all those people who manage to do it, with much grace and perhaps little effort, but I am obviously not one of them.

No problem with that - I have a list of projects that I 've been working on for a long, long while. I don't know how this got so out of hand, as I never had more than 2-3 projects simultaneously. Longer projects, though, would reach a point where I 'd be too tired to work on them at the moment, or I 'd be watching some fancy Japanese or Indian film where I 'd have to keep my eyes on the subtitles. Then inspiration would strike, and I 'd start something new before I knew it. So here 's the list of unfinished projects:

1. brother's grey hat (90% done)
2. Beachcomber Tunic (65% done)
3. Granny Squares blanket (15% done)
4. Lizard Ridge blanket (80% done)
5. Red Sweater (destined to become 9 balls of yarn)
6. blue-green socks (15% done)
7. Noro Clapotis (30% done)
8. Dots bedspread (15% done)
9. red skirt (perhaps destined to become pillowcases?)

The funny thing is that I really want to finish all these projects, and use them. So I will try my best NOT to begin anything new, except the occasional bag (I may need my instant gratification fix every now and then) until I bring the list down to two projects, one of which should be portable. I plan to start with those that are close to finishing, so I can knock them off my list - because that's what us experienced listmakers do. Wish me luck!

Good luck, Katerinaki! Here, I 'll hold on to those until you're done!

Monday, September 10, 2007

C - (my) camera

I really, really like my camera. It's been with me to so many places, and has helped me to keep things in memory. Not just that, it's helped me look for the beauty around me, see my surroundings in a different way. And often it has managed to capture these images close to the way I want them to look, while sometimes the result is a total surprise. Not always unpleasant.

I 've always liked to take photographs, but I am not particularly skilled in the use of machines. In fact, I 'd say I suck at it. So a good camera, with tons of settings and complicated numbers, measurements etc. is out of my range. What I like about my camera, then, is that it does a good job even for a technicaly challenged person like me.

Here 's just a sample of what we 've seen together lately:

I haven't been doing much knitting or otherwise crafting worthy to talk about. Just progress on things that I 've already posted about a shameful while ago. I don't even think I 'll have anything finished soon. sigh!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

B -Bags

(Image from:

I love making bags! I have made quite a few and plan to make more, many more. Although I am finding more and more ways to use them around the house, I enjoy just as much giving them away - in fact, anyone who dares to say 'nice bag' to me runs the risk of ending up with it. They give me a very good reason to make another one!

At the same time, I hate plastic bags. In fact, I am working on developing a mental allergy to plastic bags, and hope to eliminate them from my life as much as possible. This is sometimes easier said than done. Cashiers at my local supermarket act as if they are almost personally insulted when I pull out my shopping cotton bag and tell them 'I don't need bags, thank you'. In many other places cashiers also act surprised, as it stops them on their track - it seems almost instinctive to them by now: scan purchased item, reach for plastic item that may take up to 300 years to disintegrate, times two if double-bagging. On other occasions, though, people have appreciated what I am doing, and some have also thanked me and added their own support on the subject. Moments like that certainly make up for the other days.

So I 'll keep making and giving away bags, and favour places that at least make an effort to use alternatives or encourage reuse of plastic bags. It's a win-win situation!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Alphabet City -A

I 've been enjoying reading the meme on people's thoughts based on the alphabet. Although it may be a bit too late (I 'm over a month late), I thought I 'd give it a try and see if I can finish the alphabet.

Some slight modifications arise even before I begin:
1. As my inspiration, along with everything else, is bilingual, sometimes the original words will have to be in Greek. I will translate (of course), and write out thoughts in English (I may also sneak in a Greek letter or two. I kind of like Ξ and Ψ...)

2. I tend to rename things/people in my head. In my mind this one is called Alphabet city.

(Image found here:

Αρχή (=beginning, start, n.)

  • On many occasions, such as in History, I think that beginnings are just a textbook convention, to help put order into time. I usually conclude that they are simply the next step from a situation that built up to it. Consequently, I have trouble understanding things as out-of-the blue beginnings, as I always look for what led to them.
  • I like starting a new project, although I have trouble finishing things. In fact, this contradicts another very true concept, of Κάθε αρχή και δύσκολη (=Every beginning is hard). It can be hard, fun, scary, exciting. Or it can just be the next step from yesterday.

101 Sweaters I Could Knit?

Thanks to a colleague's thoughtfulness, I came accross this. Published in 1963.

(I give up. I have no idea how to rotate this...)

I love the timeless sweaters patterns I found here. Despite being timeless, they can look so different with the right accessories (and hairstyle!). I would certainly knit and wear this:

and the two-shades cardigan at the top left:

and this:

Please observe above the solution to 3/4 sleeves: fancy, tight gloves. How wonderful!
Have a nice weekend!

Monday, September 03, 2007

August was supposed to be clothes-mending month. I have all these dresses and tops and skirts that need only a tiny bit of change to make them just right. Of course, I should have remembered my own hard-found words of wisdom: Don't bother making plans, as they never come out as you planned them. That's not to mean to just sit and let life take you places aimlessly. It just means that for me it is best to have solid, general ideas of what needs to be done, and wait for the right moments to carry out plans as opportunity appears. Much better than getting caught up in planning and be taken by surprise when things don't go as desired.

Anywayyyyyy... The only thing I managed to do was making a summer dress longer. My sewing abilities have a (very) long way to go, but here's what I did anyway

Fold dress in half and measure the bottom hem. Draw an extension of the side curve, and cut pattern paper. That is 1/4 of what the fabric piece should be. Lay on fabric folded in 4, vertical line on folded side.

Cut fabric. It should be wider than the dress, much wider if pleats are desired. I didn't, so I just left some extra fabric for the seams. Join at the hem first, then sides, then fix new hem.

Have husband or other poor unsuspecting individual take photographs (headless version optional)

I am quite pleased with the result, although in retrospect some extra fabric for a few pleats would have been better. I consider this a 80% success project.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sushi for breakfast

I know it's not supposed to be a good idea, but I absolutely love eating last dinner party's left overs. Especially when dinner looked like that:

From top left to bottom right: sushi rice, eel, crabmeat shredded, mixed with mayonaise, carrot, cuccumbers and perhaps some sauce, nori sheets, salmon, spicy tuna, crab sticks. Yum! There were also salmon flakes, tuna with mayonaise (not pictured), wine, margaritas, and lots of sake. I believe the Japanese must have a saying that goes kind of like that, in regards to sake: when it's cheap, drink it cold. We chilled it as much as we could ;-)

...follwed by green tea and Argentinian sweets (sory, I forget the name. Probably due to the copious consumption of abovementioned sake...)

The company was great, and I had the luxury of washing the dishes listening to live music. Am I the most fortunate girl in the world, or what!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

50 posts

Life is slowly getting back to a rhythm. So I started my Saturday morning in very much the way I like. In list form, here is how it went:
  • I was waken up at my usual, ungodly 6 am by three hungry kitties, who don't understand the concept of weekends and sleeping in (ok, this part I didn't quite like)
  • I daydreamed about future crafty projects, still in bed, with the (now fed) abovementioned monsters hovering around me for snuggles. This hour has always been my most creative and productive time, be it for crafty, academic or life ideas
  • Read a bit from my favourite book. It didn't help me go back to sleep, as I can never go 'back' to sleep, but it did put me in a good mood
  • Made coffee, and a wonderful discovery: Oreo cookies taste really yummy dipped in hot coffee. Just be careful, as the hot drink saturates them MUCH faster than cold milk - 1-2 seconds are enough, or you loose your cookie! (for milk I count to 6)
  • Curled up on the sofa and made some progress on one my current wip's
Faithful to my finishing mood, I am not starting any new projects unless the current ones are finished. Here are some progress photos, at last

1. Wooly hat for brother, intended for Christmas present (aren't I commendable, starting so early?!). I 'm planning to line it with some flannel, to keep away the cold Dutch wind

2. The Beachcomber Tunic (link at sidebar)

All knit parts have been finished long ago, but I had some trouble with getting gauge on the crocheted parts. I ended up using a 2.75 mm hook, as the suggested 3 mm was too big for the knitted part and it looked funny. I am very pleased with it now

3. Finally, some finished objects. Two pairs of wristwarmers, made with one skein of Noro Big Kureyon. I was impressed by the fact that the stripes came out so well coordinated - I didn't plan it! They also are intended as Christmas presents

The thumb openings are simple 5-stitch buttonholes, based on a friend's suggestion. At first I wasn't sure if I 'd like it, but now I do, and planning to make a pair for me as well using this, much cosier thumb opening. Thank you, Sachi!
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