July 31, 2013

Crochet Bobble Bag

There's a reason I claim to be a 'luggage lover'. I've always had a thing for bags -- ever since I can remember. Luggage of course, is essential for frequent travelers. I think my love of luggage runs deeper though. For years, I didn't own any furniture. I lived in places where of course I used furniture, but it wasn't mine. The only thing I owned were my suitcases, bags, purses, and the contents therein. 

I shopped for luggage and handbags as fervently as an interior designer does for furniture and decor. Like a turtle, I carried my 'home' with me, inside that luggage. Certain trips, countries and events gave me excuses to use different styles of bags.  

While the Sailor and I have accumulated our own furniture over the years, it's no surprise that I still have a soft spot for luggage and handbags. My own mother used to joke that I should someday open a bag shop. One day, I may still surprise her. 

If I did have a bag shop, this crocheted one would definitely make it to the window display for the summer. I gave you a glimpse in the last post; the mailman finally delivered the hardware needed to finish the project.

It's not too late to make yourself one for the rest of the summer! You can find the pattern for sale here, on Mon Petit Violon's blog. (Even if you don't crochet, check out the site -- her blog is beautiful!) 

Since I made my bag so late into the summer, I decided on yellow since I think it'll transition nicely into fall. I used Berroco Weekend worsted weight in Squash. The pattern called for linen or at least cotton yarn. Berroco Weekend is only 25% cotton, but while my Local Yarn Store had some beautiful linen and cotton yarn -- they didn't have a color I favored for a bag, so I purchased the Berroco instead.

I had a fabric remnant of giraffe print that proved to be a perfect fit for the bag, especially when I remembered I had a little gem of a keychain to go with it. 

I found the giraffe key-chain years ago at an airport in South Africa. I'm pretty sure it was after the Sailor and I went on a safari, and I wanted something to remind me of the giraffes. I have a leopard too, but he'll have to wait for his own bag. Both the bag handles and rings are from this Etsy shop.

I'm already dreaming up places for this bag and I to travel to! In the meantime, the crochet bobble bag is reminding me of past South African safaris and being wowed by the giraffes at sunrise. 

July 28, 2013

Crocheted Bobbles

I know I said that knitting and crochet are generally equal in my book in this recent post. When it comes to bobbles however, in my world, crocheting them wins hands down. I knit the sheep bobbles, but they seemed to take forever to me, compared to crocheting them. Maybe they're easier to knit for some people.

Here's a sneak peak of the crochet bobbles I've been working on lately:

I'm anxiously awaiting a package in the mail so that I can finish the last little bit. I will share the pattern source and the finished project with you in a forthcoming post, but in the meantime, here's another pic to keep you guessing: 

 Any guesses as to what I'm making?


July 25, 2013

Peach Chutney

I had never tasted chutney until my 20s, when I ordered curry at an Indian restaurant in the UK. I always associated chutney with Indian food from then on. I had no idea what else you could do with it.

Then I married the Sailor and he introduced me to a whole new world of chutney-related items. Earlier this month, I mentioned that my go-to roast these days included a bottle of Mrs Balls Chutney. I still haven't found Mrs Balls Chutney locally. 

What I did find was my mother-in-law's recipe book. Years ago, in a bid to learn more Afrikaans, and to help the Sailor's mother, I typed out her recipes and bound them together in a book. There are numerous typos (really, I didn't know any Afrikaans when I set out to do this project... and most of the recipes were scraps of paper written out by hand). I still need the Sailor's help to translate a number of the recipes, but the book is a wonderful reference. 

It's peach season where we are and it reminded me of South Africa. My father-in-law cultivates amazing peach trees -- you can read more about those peaches here and see another photo here from our last trip to the Southern Hemisphere. The Sailor reminded me this week that there is a peach chutney recipe in that book.

I've been wanting to try my hand at preserving food for a long time now, plus, I needed an excuse to use the giant stainless steel pot I recently scored at a thrift store.

I started off with a very small manageable batch -- only six jars worth. 

While the chutney simmered, the Sailor breathed in deeply and said it smelled like his family's house. It certainly did. When we left  South Africa earlier this year, my mother-in-law tried desperately to send us home with jars full of chutney. Baggage handlers and breakables don't usually go well together, so we declined the offer, but our taste buds regretted it the moment we got back to America. 

I'm beginning to realize how significant it is to carry on cooking traditions from both sides of my family. In January, I wrote a post on Family Kitchen Mergers -- you can read that here, in case you missed it. When I sent my mother-in-law a photo of the chutney cooking, her response implied she was over the moon. I think most families love to see a little of their history getting passed along.

We may have turned down importing my mother-in-law's stash of chutney, but I think she's just as pleased that we learned to make it ourselves. As per her instructions, we need to wait at least a week to sample the goods. Rest assured, I'll let you know the canning results.

July 22, 2013

Spring Blossom Score

We've been here over a month now, and every time I open the cabinet and see my vintage Pyrex I smile. (See more here.) Our last location barely had space for normal plates, let alone vintage pretties. 

Within a week of moving here, I began scouring the local thrift stores to see what was on offer. (You didn't actually think I was done collecting, did you?!

The first store yielded nothing (and was in fact quite a dump in general....) I began to wonder if I'd find any Pyrex, or if I left it all at my old thrifting haunts.

At the second store though, I saw this Spring Blossom Cinderella bowl (the pattern is often mislabeled as Craisy Daisy) -- lonely and on its own for only $3.


There IS Pyrex here. 

You can read more of the story here at the Pyrex Collective III site, where I'm one of many bloggers. We buy Pyrex, we use it, we rearrange our displays, and in general, we swoon over vintage glassware. 

July 19, 2013

Knitting versus Crochet?

One of the best things about moving somewhere new is trying out the local flavor of everything. I was pretty stoked to discover a Local Yarn Shop (LYS) within a few miles of my new home. 

Previously, my LYS was about a 30 minute drive away. Admittedly, I usually purchased yarn at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Joanne's, which were all within a three-mile radius of my old home. I also ordered yarn online, on occasion. Every now and again though, I'd drive all the way to the LYS. The last time I was in there, I brought a friend. She wanted me to make a gift for someone else and we needed time to think about the yarn. (Read: we needed to browse -- without distraction.)

The owner would have none of it. She hemmed and hawed and hovered -- flat out telling me I was in the wrong section of yarn for what I planned to make (despite my pleas that I was simply BROWSING...) She carried on with telling me that no pattern would have me make anything out of two different weights of yarn (Oh really? Tell that to the sheep.) 

At this point, I had about $50 worth of yarn in my hand. It wasn't even for the project I  planned to make -- it was for myself! We still planned to buy the yarn for my friend's project. But the LYS was so bent on telling us what we couldn't make, that in the end, I got so annoyed with the woman, I pulled my friend aside, threw the yarn back on the shelf, and told her we were leaving.  

To this day, I've never been back there. (Note to LYS owners: please let customers browse.)

Thankfully, my new LYS is a little friendlier and they appear to be less bossy. I've been in the store several times already, and my wallet knows it. This week, I went in looking for yarn to crochet a bag. The older lady was super helpful -- offering me a range of yarns, and sensing my hesitation over the price, actually convinced me to purchase a cheaper range -- and then she let me continue to browse the rest of the shop. 

As I continued browsing, however, she and her young colleague embroiled themselves in a discussion over the merits of knitting versus crochet. I can't be sure, but I think what set them off was a knitting magazine that published a crochet pattern. 

Heaven forbid. 

Knitting versus crochet is a long-standing debate. They both serve their place in my crafting world. I'm always thankful that I know how to do both. (If you could see the ladies at my previous knitting club... some of whom had knit for YEARS, struggling to crochet, you'd understand.) 

But the young thing casting on what appeared to be a lace shawl, vehemently slagged off crochet, right as I stood behind her eyeballing the yarn for my bag. (Did I mention I was CROCHETING a bag?!) She made accusations that crochet garments are ugly (occasionally true... if you're looking at a 1970s magazine, but nowadays often false), you can't do cables with crochet (false), and that crochet takes up twice as much yarn (false - it takes up slightly more yarn than knitting, but twice as much is a gross exaggeration). 

While the conversation annoyed me, I can kind of understand. I made up my mind to relearn crochet before I ever wanted to knit. Frankly, knitting scared the pants off of me -- all of that talk about dropping stitches... and wielding two or even FOUR sticks? No thank you... I was going to crochet ONLY.  

My anti-knitting campaign was short-lived. I found a set of knitting needles at a thrift store only a few months later, and somehow I was so mesmerized by the thought of knitting that I decided to buy them on a whim. 

Knitting versus crochet? I couldn't tell you which I prefer. It depends on the season, the item I'm making, and even the yarn. Right now I'm knitting a shawl and crocheting a bag. Both give me pleasure (although the shawl less so at the moment simply because I messed up on it and it's taking me forever to figure out where the mistake happened.) 

But back to the LYS. The girl was actually so rude that I thought she must just be a visitor sitting there knitting with the employee, so I excused her behavior. However, she rang out my purchase! 

I almost said something to her. I almost said she should watch what she says... she could lose some valuable crochet customers. I've heard of LYS stores who are quite rude to crocheters -- and I don't understand why. Why would you alienate a craft that could easily spend more money than your average knitter on yarn? (You've already substantiated the claim that crocheting takes more yarn than knitting... so clearly we crocheters may end up plonking down more cash!) 

But I bit my tongue, made my purchase and smiled as she told me she liked the color I ended up choosing. I thought the next time she's working, I hope she'll notice my cool crocheted bag. Maybe I can teach her to crochet cables in the future.