Wool and the Gang beginner knitting set. BEYOND excited about this!
Before I get to the bad stuff, first things are first – how cute is this company? Their play on words is absolutely genius. This photo alone pays homage to the epic 70’s r&b band, an unforgettable 90’s rap girl trio and the one-and-only Snoop Dogg himself via one skein of 100% Peruvian wool yarn and mammoth knitting needles. Consider me impressed and excited to once again try to learn this skill called knitting.
Obviously it’s the holidays, so I wasn’t just completely being selfish here. Last year, I ran a sweatshop out of my parents house and made a total of 80 coasters to give as gifts for friends. Since this year I’ll be working through both of my favorite holidays, I just didn’t have the energy to be the bearer of awesome homemade gifts for 20 friends again. But I’ve had my eye on Wool and the Gang for around three years now. I couldn’t help but take advantage of their buy 2 get 1 free (for ME!) gift deal and snag a beginner knit kit for both my best friend and my bf’s mom to enjoy this Christmas.
I swiped the freebie gift for myself because I’ll definitely need some sort of new creative distraction after dealing with crazed holiday travelers for these next 2 weeks straight. And this seriously may be the only gift I get this year anyways, so I refuse to feel bad about it! Besides, I seriously can’t wait to see how this turns out for all of us!! I think if you already know how to knit, this Lil’ Snood Dogg project could take you less than 2 hours to complete. That surely won’t be happening here, but honestly I will be so incredibly impressed with myself if I can figure this out soley via the online tutorials, haha.
Regardless, I managed to somehow squish my beginner kit into my rollerboard so the finished result will most likely be modeled on one of my layovers before the New Year (hopefully). I’m going to Canada a few times, so I would love to have it ready for snow!
Look at all of those teeth. So much cheesiness, as per usual. Genuinely excited how well this easy-to-sew knit project came out though. SRSLY.
I did not one or two, but I actually did (attempted) THREE of these knit tops!! The middle one happened to be a disaster, but I learned something new that day. I can listen to music or have the telly on in the background while I sew, but obviously NOT Periscope.
I managed to sew the neckband inside-out AND sew wrong pieces together while listening to one of Regina’s (of www.byregina.com) amazingly informative and hilarious scopes! If you are seriously interested in motivation and help pumping up your blog and overall brand, she’s definitely your gal.
Despite the epic fail, there are no regrets! The blunder actually motivated me to get MORE fabric and try another one since I was really pleased how the first one turned out. I fear knits no more!
Check my new pattern review video below for a detailed look at this pattern – I highly recommend this one for a quickie addition to your Fall wardrobe this season!
Welp that’s about it for now, but I hope you guys have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! Talk soon! xoxo
P.S.– If you’re at all interested in like seriously awesome and helpful info to help out your blog/brand, I’d highly suggest checking out Regina’s scopes. See her previous scopes here on Katch.me/byreginatv AAAANNNNDDD follow me on Periscope too (@diyraven)! Seamsters unite!
P.S.S.– Does this last knit top look a little Star Trekkie to you??? Lol.
I love wearing knits. Jersey knits most especially. I could live in tees, sweater tops and sweater pants without regrets. They pair so easily with jeans (my other favorite thing) and they have so much give in their fabrics. I say all of this to confess that although my feelings for knits is a life-long loving relationship that cannot be broken, I have much apprehension sewing with knits and other stretchy materials.
Wovens and other extremely stable fabrics are just so easy to work with, but knits scare me a little bit. They feel unpredictable under my sewing foot, and after I sew a decent line of stitching on a knit, it pops and breaks under the natural stress and stretch of the material.
But, to be frank, I know that I just haven’t done my homework. I never use the right needles and I have never bothered to do the correct finishing on knit hems. And after meeting with my sewing buddy in Dallas this last weekend, she swears to me that it’s seriously not as bad as I make it out to be.
I really really want to start wearing my own clothing for the everyday, and what I enjoy wearing on most occasions are knit-based items. Admitting my fear outloud to another person that sews was actually my first step in getting the proper help that I needed. Next I took a crash course by looking at these three brief videos, by Sarai of Colette Patterns, introducing you to the difference of knit fabrics and a quick overview on how to work with them – here’s video 1, video 2 and video 3 if you are interested! She also includes a chapter from her latest book about sewing with knits to download for free via PDF (!!!!)
Lastly, I just went to my neighborhood fabric store (JoAnn’s, of course) and selected a $1 easy-to-sew Simplicity pattern. I also took advantage of the Veteran’s Day sale and chose enough fabric to make two sweatshirts.
The last photo is how I left my sewing desk before I had to leave for my 4-day work trip. But come next week, we’ll see how well this pattern really turned out!
As with most projects that I start, I usually end up completing them several months later for one reason or the other. This naturally means that the masterpiece that I have created is actually out of season. So here I am looking like Summer when it feels like Fall.
However, my elation will not be deterred!! Check out these fancy pants made of loud (and proud) floral rayon fabric.
Also, I love reading pattern reviews because they prove so helpful before I start my own pattern project. I appreciate the time that other seamsters have taken to share awesome outfit pictures and write detailed reviews of the great and not-so-great things about said sewing pattern. I’ve contributed a few of my own over the years too.
However, I thought I’d take this idea further and make a simple pattern review video instead! There’s no substitution for video sometimes, especially when it comes to seeing how clothes really move on the body.
I plan to do more of these because I feel like these prove helpful to some. Take a gander at my quick pattern review of Simplicity pants pattern #1165.
New Ikea project desk and my sewing machine that I haven’t seen in nearly 4 months!
100 pounds of sewing supplies from home that I finally got around to shipping to myself from Houston!
I know it’s been a while, kids. I’m ever-so-slowly trying to get my life here settled in San Diego. Remember when I transferred to Seattle for work? Yeah, well after 4 months, I just transferred to San Francisco!
Oh the adjustments. But at least I’m working in the same state that I live now AND my sewing life is finally here with me!
My life is about to be split between three cities. My car and most of my personal belongings are currently in Houston. My transfer (job/base) is now in Seattle beginning tomorrow. My significant other and our future apartment together (that has yet to be found) is settled in San Diego right this moment. I will be traveling as usual for work, since that’s what my job ultimately requires me to do. But between my usual scheduled trips for work, I will be an exhausted blurry figure pulling a large carry-on between So-Cal, the Northwest and the Dirty South.
I’m extremely excited and yet I have NO idea what I’m doing. So that naturally also makes me terrified of this entire situation. I have no real ties or connections in Seattle, so I am going to be flying in the day before my trips begin starting on Monday, staying in a hostel to save money, and beginning my trips the following day. The operation in the Northwest is very very different and I’ll be training on a brand new plane in the fleet in Utah as well this month. It’s almost like working for a completely different company. So that’s not stressful at all.
San Diego though. I visited last weekend and it’s probably more perfect than I ever recall it. Me and that guy walked the coastline from Pacific Beach to Mission Beach exchanging words, smiles and mutual awe of our potential surroundings. It was oddly overcast when I went so we laid on the bare sand threw the blanket over us to keep warm from the ocean breezes. Tacos are basically my favorite food, and all I hear is that they have the best ever and I can’t wait to eat them all. Or at least die a happy girl trying. It’s the beginning of a lifestyle I could definitely get accustomed to.
This. ALL OF THIS has been a long time coming. Leaving home yet again, but I’m kind of really hoping it’s for good this time. I’ve been just too scattered to sew things, make or complete any new videos or do any worthwhile updating on this little space of mine. Frankly I’m all out of sorrys – it’s just life and new adjustments! I went to Amsterdam at the end of May and turned 32 in June, but I just haven’t put the effort into sharing on any of my social media. I’ve made amends with myself that it’s probably going to be one of my last “fun” trips in a while. I’ve just been a little self absorbed with myself and all of the new changes I’m trying to gracefully accept and deal with.
I know this is boring, you guys. Promise to bore you more next time though. Enjoy your holiday weekends!
Konichiwa! Tokyo is definitely a great city to visit anytime of the year, but this time I had my heart set on visiting during the cherry blossom season. Unfortunately my friend and I were a week late for it AND it rained the first 2 days of our visit -_-
But no worries! We made the best of our trip and I scoured the drugstores and markets bringing some goodies back for my friends. I usually bring boxes of flavored Kit-Kats, but this time I decided it would be fun to try out a few Japanese beauty products instead!
Also on this visit, I got a chance to stuff my face at the Tsukiji fish market, which is THE largest wholesale fish market in the entire world!
That’s sweet egg on a stick with a radish-based sauce? Whatever it was, it was seriously bomb. If you are curious about the street foods in the market, you can see a few food porn pics on my IG account.
Just to let you know that in this video of course I’m all about THE FOODS; from touch-screen sushi to the fish market finds. But care to see my swanky capsule hotel and some clips around the big city? Check out my latest visit smashed into 3 minutes!
This is the story, er guide, of 2 college friends from Houston, TX that decided to take a 5-day trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai together. Read on for details of how we found inexpensive flight tickets, things to do, and helpful tips on how to get around.
Overall, Dubai is a very safe city. So many expats and travelers from all over come to Dubai for work and play alike. The language was never an issue for us; the majority of folks you’ll encounter will speak both Arabic and English. The city offers a varied cuisine, most especially in the area of Old Dubai. In the more contemporary areas, they have an overwhelming amount of popular American joints that you already have at home, but there are also lots and lots of middle eastern food spots to try too.
Keep on the lookout for great flight deals. Scoring cheaper flights really helped with budgeting for a trip like this from the beginning. Theflightdeal.com offered a fare alert on Christmas Day last year to Abu Dhabi from DFW. I was able to book on Orbitz (my friend used Priceline) with a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany for $378 – roundtrip and all taxes included! At that price, I didn’t care if we had to sit with the cargo. But you have to be really fast on the draw because fares like that go insanely quick!
Just a note if you are traveling on Etihad airlines. I must say, they are awesome! The food in Economy was actually fantastic (no plasticware!), plugs/USB connections available at your seat, and the in-flight entertainment was great. If you are flying into Abu Dhabi first, Etihad offers a complimentary shuttle to Dubai if you reserve up to 24 hours before your flight. It’s a 75-minute ride on a clean bus with free bottled water, mints, and onboard entertainment. It takes you to the Etihad Travel mall, which is within an easy walking distance from the ‘Noor Bank’ Metro station. (More on the Metro later.)
If you do have time to visit Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed mosque is a MUST SEE. We planned most of our trip time to be spent in Dubai, but since we were flying into the capital of the UAE we dedicated our first morning to visit the ‘Grand Mosque’. Not only is it the most expensive, one of the world’s largest, and only one of two mosques in the entire UAE that is open to non-Muslims, it’s absolutely exquisite!
Visitors are welcome to take as many pictures as they’d like, but respectful dress and manner is strictly enforced. I tried to take a shot of my friend putting a little sass in her hips while holding her arms up in a ‘V’, but a guard kindly told us not to take any “action” pictures in front of the mosque. Also, ladies, make sure that you are dressed appropriately when you are on the grounds. A long dress or pants is recommended, and definitely a shirt that covers the “girls” and your shoulders well. Be sure to bring your own scarf with you to cover your head too if you’d like to wear your own clothes. If you aren’t completely compliant, it’s definitely okay. We didn’t bring our own scarves, so we were given an ‘abaya’ to wear; a loose robe or overgarment that covers the entire body with the exception of your face, hands, and feet. Just be ready to hand over your ID in exchange for it. Also know that you will be taking off your shoes when you walk the interior area, so sandals or easy flats are a good idea.
I would highly recommend starting your visit early to avoid the crowds and the heat. The mosque opens at 9 am most days with the first free guided tour of the day beginning at 10 am. Admission into the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is completely free!
People come from all over to be thrown around the sand in a jeep and pose with a camel. Do yourself and your travel buddies a favor and book a Desert Safari. We met folks from various parts of India, Russia, Australia, Germany and of course a few locals that were getting in on the experience too. Believe it or not, one of the easiest methods of booking a safari tour on the cheap is Groupon. The itinerary usually includes a meal, a crazy ride over the dunes, a camel ride, henna, an area to try on traditional clothing, and live belly dancing. There are several companies to choose from, so be sure to read the fine print and check Tripadvisor.com to do a little comparison shopping. The company we selected picked up and dropped us off at our hotel afterwards, so it definitely made transportation a non-issue for us. Although the weather in mid-March was rather mild, we chose a sunset tour to avoid the heat of the day and to take the best photos.
Got Camel milk? While you are in Dubai, why not treat yourself to a ‘Camelccino’ or ‘Camellatte’? At The Majlis Dubai cafe, located on the ground floor of Dubai Mall in the middle of the ‘souk’ (a bazaar or outdoor market) you can order a variety of coffees with the camel milk added. Camel milk is extremely high in iron, vitamin C and low lactose. Unlike the tang of goat milk, camel is extremely similar in taste to cow milk. It’s very mild and smooth with a slight aftertaste. Although we only tried the chocolate camel milkshake (which was absolutely delightful) and a cold glass of plain camel milk, they also offer camel milk muffins, ice cream, chocolates and more!
Also, lots of people pose and take pics with the camel statues in front of the cafe area, so be prepared to ask a stranger for a quick shot or get your selfie-stick ready. I brought a couple of boxes of camel milk praline chocolates home as gifts for my close friends and my parents, which they really enjoyed!
Cross the Old Dubai creek by ‘abra’ + visit the souks! Abras are little wooden boats that ferry passengers from one side of the creek to the other, are incredibly frequent, and will only cost you 1 Dirham (approximately 27 cents)! It is a short 5-minute ride, but it’s really the most convenient and charming way to take in the city’s history by floating between Deira and Bur Dubai.
Walking the souks are so much fun, but be aware of aggressive sellers everywhere trying to get you to see/buy their wares! Everything from belly-dancing costumes and pashminas in any color/design to Louis Vuitton knockoffs is available for sale, but don’t accept the first price you get. HAGGLE BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING!
Visit the only completed World Island of Lebanon. This cluster of artificial islands was developed to make an approximate map of the world, but the project hasn’t been touched much since 2006. My travel buddy found yet another deal on Groupon that lets you hang out on one of the islands! The $95 included boat transport to and from the mainland, an included meal, a select adult beverage, kayak rental, and a chance to kick back on the private island of Lebanon while looking back at the Dubai skyline. Honestly, it’s an experience that could be passed up since it’s just hanging out on a relatively sparse island amongst other nearby mounds of sand on the water, but I’d imagine the top-down helicopter view would be pretty interesting though. If nothing else it was an excuse to do some sunbathing and posing on a unique part of history.
The Burj Al Arab, the world’s “7-star hotel”, is a beautiful architectural feat standing on a man-made island and designed to look like a sail. This is also the 3rd tallest hotel in the world. The interior of the hotel has grand gold columns, unbelievable floor tiles, solid Swarovski crystal doorways, and other extravagant eye-fulls (see video for views inside). Unless you are a guest at or have a dining appointment at 1 of the 9 restaurants in the hotel, you aren’t even permitted on the premises. We booked an afternoon tea online at the Junsui restaurant several weeks prior. It consisted of 7 light courses, your choice of two teas and an amazing view for about $112 per person. Oh, it’s expensive, but the experience is amazing! Not to mention the wifi connection is FLAWLESS.
If a visit inside the Burj Al Arab hotel doesn’t sound the least bit interesting to you budget-wise, be sure to get an almost equally incredible (and complimentary) view from Jumierah Beach.
How to get around and where to stay.
Limit your Taxi use. Honestly the first two days we relied on taxis to get everywhere, which got expensive rather quickly. Not to mention the traffic was terrible most of the time. It wasn’t until day three that we actually wised up and realized how extremely easy it was to just use the Metro. It is so much more efficient and the facilities were so clean! We usually paid for a daily pass from the automated kiosk so we could hop on and off of the train as much as we pleased for about 22 AED (approximately 6 USD). The kiosks accepted both Dirhams and credit/debit cards.
Just a quick note for the male travelers on the Metro. Watch for some signs that designate zones for women and children only. Sure, we saw plenty of men sitting/standing in these zones too, but an official randomly came on one of the stops and fined at least 10 guys 100 Dirham each (approximately 27 USD) for breaking the rule. They were all escorted off at that stop too. Just be sure to read all the signs, well, everywhere! You can also be fined 100 dh for eating or drinking, and there is no gum-chewing allowed on the train either. Smoking is prohibited too of course (200 dh penalty).
If you choose to stay in the more contemporary areas of Dubai, I definitely recommend staying in a hotel close by a Metro station. We stayed at City Max hotel (Al Barsha) which couldn’t have been more perfect. For 4 nights my travel partner and I split a room with double beds about $180 each total for a place in walking distance from Emirates Mall, which is connected to a Metro station.
City Max hotel has free wifi in the rooms, they offered a sign-up sheet for (free) shuttle times to and from Jumeirah Beach, has a gym, and rooftop pool. The downstairs area included a small cafe, restaurant with buffet, a small night club on one side, and a small sports bar on the other with the lobby area in the middle. A taxi was always available if we needed and an ATM is located near the entry. Not to mention the hotel staff were very accommodating!
Here’s a link to a downloadable Dubai metro route map to keep handy on your phone or another portable device.
Extra things recommended to bring with you:
A travel adapter with a USB and two outlet spaces. I ordered the OREI 3 in 1 UK travel adapter plug with USB and Surge Protection, type G (in the USA we use types A & B). City Max hotel did have at least one adaptable outlet available in the rooms already for our use, but it was great to have at our 1-night hotel stay in Abu Dhabi (which didn’t) and while waiting for the airport shuttle in the Etihad travel mall. Besides, trying to find an available plug in an airport can serve as a challenge since everyone needs to power-up their devices at the same time. We only needed to use a single plug to charge 3 different devices, thus avoiding being that typical charging station jerk taking up multiple outlets.
Speaking of recharging devices, I also purchased the Anker 2nd generation lipstick-sized portable battery charger for my iPhone. Most of our time was spent outside of the hotel room, so it was super handy to have an option for a back-up charge on the go. It charges up to 150% (or a total 1.5 times on a single charge).
The final addition to my packing was this pocket guidebook to Dubai. This small guidebook was an easy flip-through on the plane ride with details on Abu Dhabi as well. The included full-color pull-out map came in extra handy when we got a little turned around trying to locate some areas in Old Dubai. I mean, yeah you could get the Kindle version for like a $1 less, but you miss out on the map and it’s actually convenient to have at least one tool in your travel bag that doesn’t rely on a battery.
If I had another 5 days, this would definitely be on my list to do & see.
Lastly, 7 minutes of your life that you will never get back.
If you’re interested to see a bit more, here’s a collection of randoms and candids from our trip that I (lightly) edited for my youtube channel.
Welp, that’s about it! If you have any questions about my trip, please ask below. From now on, I intend to write more reviews after my travels to pass along any information that I have. Hope this helped!
Editorial shot (not really) live from my hotel room in Sioux Falls, SD
Close-up print + lace detail
Wingspan (shirt tucked to show crop length)
Obligatory back shot
Bonheur. (French for ‘happiness’)
I’m making it a point in 2015 to try to sew more for myself regardless of all the other things that get in the way. That means hand sewing or project planning on both work and fun travel days. Days at home mean quality time on my machine. No excuses.
It has been so tiring – but so fun!
If you follow me on Instagram (@diyraven) you’ve already seen a sneak peek of the box pleated skirt (Butterick #B5929) that I’m making out of one of the fabrics that I purchased on my last Japan visit. I’m almost finished, but I had to complete this kimono ASAP before my trip to Abu Dhabi/Dubai coming up this week after my 4-day work trip!
In the UAE it is required for ladies to dress modestly in public (covering shoulders to knees), but most long sleeves I own are for cold weather only. Dubai is going to be pretty blazing hot, so (at the last minute of course) I dug out this recently purchased Simplicity pattern from my collection. I bought 1.25yds of a light, silky polyester fabric and lace trim from JoAnn fabrics and got to work that evening on this kimono.
Even though I was a bit hesitant how the cropped version would look and although I had a couple confusing moments during the construction of this little garment, I’m so pleased with how it turned out! I’ll be able to cover up all my tanks and skimpy tees without being offensive NOR having a heat stroke. It also won’t hardly take up any space in my luggage.
That last statement is actually the most important because I really need the extra space to bring back new FABRIC!!
1. YES! Those are indeed (baby) dreadlocks – nearly 7 months in!
NO. That is NOT armpit hair. 2. Fabric I scored back in June from JoAnn fabrics via their small ethnic collection. They had me at hot pink + gold detailing. 3. I hate making bias tape, but I hate the look of stiff store-bought bias tape on beautiful fabric even more. The struggle is always worth it. 4. Business in the front. Party in the back. 5. As pointed out by a male friend via my Instagram upload of this photo, it totally looks like I’m pissing on the wall. Artsy polaroid attempt ruined.
As always, I intended to make this top in time for the appropriate season. Luckily (or not so luckily) Texas doesn’t really have seasons. So although other places in the United States are making their transition into Fall, we are still busy in the South either getting our tan on or dodging raindrops. Basically, this top is super perfect for the now. Big half-moon window in the back and all.
Allow me give more credit to the backside of this pattern – this. back. is. absolutely. SICK.
That detail alone makes the top for me.
Oh. This is McCalls pattern #6702, version A.
If you aren’t traveling a lot for work or in the middle of a major move, it should be a relatively quick sew? A few focused evenings and it should be knocked out. It’s labeled as Easy, so it definitely wasn’t terrible.
And yeah. Go ahead and scroll up to revisit the last pic again. It totally does look like I’m relieving myself on the wall, doesn’t it!??