Saturday, November 3, 2012


I met a new friend at the Anchorage Museum and as we looked out the window over the whole city she said with an almost rhapsodic voice, "Anchorage is not the ugliest city in America... but it's definitely in the top ten."  Walking around, it's hard to disagree.  It reminds me of the flat blocks back in Prague, built for one purpose, and aesthetics was not it.  

It's easy to look just in front of you.  It's easy to discount the city for its blocks of beige boxes.  But they serve an essential function.  The hold the offices of businesses and industry that provide us the opportunity to live in modern comfort and...

 to live in a city with this as the horizon.  

I've been in Alaska three weeks.  I found a job teaching preschool and I took it!  I do not view this as wildly-adventurous.  We live in a time when opportunities must be seized because it is unlikely that they will come along again soon.  But one thing I have found about Alaska is that there are opportunities here.  Things are not as rough as in the rest of the country.  This is the first place I've been where most recent college graduates I meet are working in their chosen fields.  

And I'm digging the people.  The fashion is blog-worthy.  The beer is good.  Public transit is working well for me so far.  The public libraries are awe-inspiring.  

And I can be friends with this reindeer on Facebook.  

(My roommate tells me that this is not the original Star, but a replacement.  As a child, she would drive by and whisper, "I will free you someday, little reindeer.")

Expect more Anchorage love from me!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On the Road in Italy: Pisa

While driving through Italy, my parents and I decided to take a pit stop in Pisa to look at the iconic leaning tower. The leaning tower is the bell tower for the cathedral in Pisa. The tower has been unsteady since construction began in 1173; however, the tower was built over the course 344 years. It slowly continued to tilt over the years. There have been efforts to stabilize the tower in recent years; this corrected the angle from 5.5 degrees to 3.99 degree. So there is little chance that the tower will come crumbling down, despite its tipsy appearance. 

I am not sure about this hostel that does not allow dogs, but bears are no problem... I guess the no dog policy keeps the bears from getting rowdy.

12th century city walls. 

My mom holding up the tower!
We had to take a few touristy photos!

My dad holding up the tower.

I decided to relax while holding up the tower!

Very tall and very impressive monument. It was such a fun and beautiful day (a bit hot for my taste, but clear blue skies)!

<3 Amy

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How To: Wet-Felted Cloche Hat

Wet-Felted Cloche Hat


As cooler weather rolls in, I am always looking for more warm hats.  My affinity for red pea coats  (10 years, going strong!) means that I have to choose carefully lest I clash or look like a Christmas tree.  Though I love knitting, I like a little variety in my hats.  With only a few hours of work, you can take a pile of roving and turn it into a cute cloche hat.  Plus, you can go ahead and call yourself a milliner afterwards, and that's pretty great.  Some experience with wet-felting is definitely helpful.  

-Wool roving
-A hat form or a balloon
-Nylon stocking
-Bubble wrap or sushi mats
-Ivory soap (or another gentle liquid soap)
-Hot water
-Felting needles (if needed for fixing up)

If using a balloon, inflate to about 1/2 inch larger than the diameter of your head.  Determine how long you want your hat to be and mark it with masking tape on the balloon or the hat form.  Apply a thin layer of liquid soap on your form, it will act as an adhesive and help with the felting process.

Begin applying wool as follows:

First, apply a layer of wool vertically.  Gently stretch out wool in lines from about an inch below the tape line over the top of the form to an inch below the tape.  Apply vertical lines until the form is covered.  Next, apply a layer of wool horizontally.  Wrap the wool in rings around the previous later from bottom to top.  Repeat these two steps until you have 5-6 layers. 

After the form is completely covered, carefully pull a nylon stocking over the top.  Cut off any excess stocking and tie in a knot (or cut the stocking above the foot, then you will have the toe seam on top).   Put your hat form somewhere that you can get wet.  I used a shallow plastic box.  

Squirt some more liquid soap on top of the stocking.  Using water as hot as you can stand it (or, cover your hands in rubber gloves if sensitive), pour a small amount onto the wool.  Pat with your hands to ensure the water is everywhere.  Gently rub your hat with your hands, in small circles.  As you rub, you will feel the wool begin to felt.  When the hat starts to feel firm, you can rub much more forcefully.  Add more soap and water as needed.

When it seems like nothing you are doing makes a difference, it is time to full the felt.  Remove the stocking and form.  Rinse your hat, alternating hot and cold water.  Wring it out and place it on your fulling mat (bubble wrap or sushi mat).  Add more soap and hot water.  Now, you are going to be very aggressive with your felting.  Rub it all around your mat or roll it up inside, then roll back and forth.  Repeat, turning the felt every few minutes, until your hat feels very well-felted.  Rinse out and place back on form to dry.  You may have to stretch it to make it fit, but get it on there!  

After your hat has dried, trim it to your desired length.  Working from the inside, use felting needles to fill in thin spots.   You may also want to use your felting needle to smooth out the edge where excess was trimmed off. 

In my opinion, a cloche looks naked without something on the side.  I used pre-folded quilt edging to make a ribbon and bow on mine.  I preferred this to actual ribbon because it was not so shiny, which matched the matte of the hat well.  I sewed the ribbon around the brim then added a bow.   For a tutorial for this style of bow, follow my finishing for these hair bows.  You could also add a big flower or a feather instead if it suits your fancy.

And then, you have a hat!  So easy and so warm.  Hooray for millinery! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hooray for the Internet!

The weather has been cooling down here in California; however, very far from you typical fall weather. I have been busy knitting to add some warmer pieces to my wardrobe for the winter! Here are a few lovely things I have found around the internet in the last few weeks. Enjoy.

Fall still hasn't arrived in California, but I am looking forward to it!
via Tumblr
Eight hands would help with so many daily activities.
via Dapper Toad
I am so in love with this quilt pattern, but it is definitely beyond my current quilting skills. Looks like I will just have to step them up a level! :)
via Hyena In Petticoats
Amazing collar embellishments.
via ... Love Maegan
Peanut butter and pumpkin dog treats.
via A Beautiful Mess
Such a gorgeous piece!
via Apartment Therapy
Such a beautiful chair!
via Skunkboy
Fall garland! <3
via A Beautiful Mess
<3 Amy

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On the Road in Italy: Menaggio, Italy on Lake Como

One of my favorite recent trips was an overnight stay in Menaggio, Italy. It is on Lake Como, which is absolutely breathtaking. We went here based on a recommendation from my boss and I am so glad we did. 

Our short stay involved walking along the water and enjoying the view.  However, we made sure to eat pasta, drink wine, and enjoy an evening gelato.

The lake is the deepest in Europe (over 1300 feet) and was created by glacial activity. It has been a vacation destination since the Roman times and attracts people from around the world today.

I was lovin' this little seaplane that we saw takeoff on our morning stroll!

The drive to and from the city was full of amazing views of the water and surrounding mountains. It was comprised of winding tiny roads that were hard to maneuver, but worth the stress for the beautiful landscape! 

<3 Amy 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Hats!

Today's Thrifty Thursday is dedicated to a few hats which were purchased and worn recently! Additionally, this post is dedicated to a special outing to celebrate Colleen's birthday. We visited Linde Lane, which we posted about a few months back. 

Colleen picked up this lovely silk hat at Junkee Clothing Exchange in Reno for $8.  It's my favorite vintage shop in Reno. 

I purchased mine for only $4 from the Laney College flea market in Oakland, CA.

It was such a great morning and the perfect opportunity to show off our new little treasures!

<3 Amy

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On the Road in France: Nice

Earlier this spring, my parents and I made a quick overnight stop in Nice, France. While we were not there long, it was still a nice little visit. I had visited the city a few years earlier in the winter; so it was lovely to see it in nicer weather! 

We stumbled upon this adorably small car parked on the sidewalk. I can fully understand them resorting to this parking space, after having driven around looking for one myself!

We stopped in here for an afternoon break next to a fountain and these gorgeous purple trees!

The beaches of Nice had breathtaking views, but were a bit too crowded for my taste. Every other section is required to be open and free to the public, which is nice for those who are traveling on a budget. However, these sections are rocky and not as nice. The private sections, usually belonging to hotels, have sand, umbrellas, and lounge chairs 

Nice has a few streets that really come alive when the weather is nice. There are cafes, restaurants, shops, and plenty of ice cream for those perusing the area! It is a great stop along the French Riviera for those who are traveling in the area.

<3 Amy