Monday, December 11, 2006


Amazing what a little coersion from the universe can do to lead you to something new, something different. Peeps, I'm talking about knitting with wire!

It all started with these candles.

Tiny Anais Garden Votives

Oddly enough, the universe threw the candles at me on Thursday while I was holiday shopping. I didn't NEED them but I can't resist most candles, especially one dozen 2 inch high candles in a beautifully adorned box.

Then on Friday, I saw this Twist and Loop had finally arrived on the shelves at Books a Million. Perused the book but resisted the urge to buy because I MUST finish my Christmas knitting FIRST! (Yeah, right)

And on Saturday, the universe finally threw a brick at my head with this adorable, ingenius pattern at Knitty - Venezia. I dreamed about this pattern all night, the beads, the colors, the wire, the excitement of something NEW.

I finally gave in and on Sunday, I dug out my bead box, found some 24 gauge wire, some simple glass beads and decided to try my hand at knitting with something other than fiber. I.AM.ADDICTED! The 2 inch candles are no longer naked, they have little handknit, beaded chaquetas (aka jackets for us gringos).

Tiny Votive Chaqueta (detail)

Tiny Votive Chaqueta

The multicolor one was my prototype. While the 24 gauge wire was just fine to knit with, I decided to use 28 gauge on the rest of them. I'm not going to stop until all 24 of them have jackets. Yup, some of you will be getting these for Christmas pressies this year.

Tiny Votive Chaquetas

Pattern: Mine on the fly
Wire: 28 gauge/24 yards (should be able to knit at least three jackets per spool)Beads: (Green hued votives) Blue Moon Beads sea colored mix and Natural gemstone Jade chips (be sure not to use plastic beads so that they don't melt)
Needles: Size 9 mystery double points (they're white plastic/acrylic from years ago; I think they're Lion Brand)
Misc: Wire snips, 2" tall (1.5" across) votives
Time: 1 hour or less per chaqueta (includes stringing beads)


1.) String the beads randomly onto the wire (I spaced the Blue Moon beads and the jade chips using approximately a 7:1 ratio). I didn't count the number that I strung on but approximately 125 should do it.

2.) Using knitted cast on, loosely CO 15 sts (at least for me, this row was very ugly!)

3.) (Before knitting each stitch, slip a bead then knit the stitch) Knit 8 rows slipping beads in between EACH stitch (you don't have to bead every stitch if you don't want to. Play with pattern until you're happy with it cause its all about YOU).

4.) Loosely BO all sts continuing to slip beads into the BO row; leave a 12 inch tail.

5.) Use tail to stitch the two sides together.

6.) Continue using tail and loop wire through all of the CO stitches and draw them together tightly to close the gap to create the flat base for the chaqueta. Using wire snips, twist and tuck ends so that they're not exposed.

7.) Pop votive into the chaqueta to lightly stretch it so that it fits.

8.) Repeat until you're either tired of making them or you run out of beads and wire.

Notes: Stringing the beads takes the longest time of anything with this project. I may invest in a bead spinner or make one of these to make this part go faster. Or I may bribe Thing 2 to do it in exchange for Christmas gift spending money. Contrary to some of things I've seen on the internets, knitting with wire was not hard on my hands. I only suffered one minor injury where I carelessly reached into the bead box and very quickly found where the beading needles had disappeared to - ouch!

So what are you waiting for? Pick up those needles and start knitting with some wire!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Healing Hands - Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener's Hand Therapy

Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener's Hand Therapy

Where to buy: Crabtree and Evelyn
Price: $14.00 (US)
Price rating (1-5 with 1 = great value and 5 = expensive): 4
Size: 3.4 oz
Favorite or featured ingredients: Shea butter and bisabolol
Greasiness (1-5 with 1 = not greasy at all and 5 = very greasy): 2
Staying power (1-5 with 1 = constantly need to reapply and 5 = lasts even after hand washing): 2
Softness of hands (1-5 with 1 = not soft and 5 = very soft): 4
Fragrance: herbal upon initial application but fades quickly to become much more subtle
Overall rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Since this is the first review of hand creams, let me set up my criteria:
* I will use a product exclusively for at least 24 prior to reviewing.
* Each will be tested under the same circumstances when possible (variables such as weather are beyond my control)
* Each will be reapplied at regular intervals during the waking hours.
* Each will be tested while knitting with wool yarn for at least one hour.
* Each review is purely my opinion and experience and are not based on research based evidence
* I'll add updates to the various reviews as comments and suggestions come in

My Review:
I've used several of the Crabtree and Evelyn hand therapy creams over the years. La Source, Lavendar, Goat Milk and the Gardener's cream have been my favorites. The pros of these creams is the shea butter content which is great for super dry hands like mine. The tubes, while expensive, last a very long time because a little goes a long way. The fragrances tend to be subtle and yet pronounced enough if you really like good smelling hands. The Gardener's Hand Therapy smells a bit bohemian - like Patcholi - which my kids tend not to like to smell. But the fragrance fades quickly and isn't overpowering. Even though it is billed as a hand therapy for gardeners (which I am not), I didn't find that the cream has the best staying power. On cold dry days like yesterday (Dec. 3rd) which is when I tested it, I had to constantly reapply every hour or so. I also needed to reapply after hand washing otherwise my hands were horribly dry.

As far as softness, my hands feel great when the cream is regularly reapplied. The cream is very tacky and greasy upon initial application. However, it rubs in within a minute or two and doesn't leave a greasy residue. I keep this in my knitting bag because it does seem to last very nicely on my hands when knitting. My hands aren't too sticky after application so I can immediately resume knitting without worrying about getting residue my project.

Overall, I really like this hand cream and its certainly one of my top 10 favorites. However, in my neverending quest for the "perfect" hand cream, this one is lacking the staying power that I want when its cold and dry. In the spring, summer and fall, its great but when the temps start to drop below 40, I need something more.

What are your thoughts?