Monday, February 21, 2011


 "Fashion fades, only style remains the same."

Coco Chanel

 Somewhere between Piaget's Pre-Operational thought and memorizing the immunization schedule for normal healthy children I decided to take a break. Well really I decided to procrastinate, I mean is it really necessary for a nurse to know every  immunization a child should have by the age of 2 years? Honestly I bet the doctor doesn't, isn't that why he keeps the big chart on the wall in exam room? Ha! I bet you all thought that was for your information, how wrong you were!

  Well my aimless wandering through cyberspace in search of something that would nudge me out of this blah feeling it happened.  I found myself staring at beautiful lace, peek-a-boo cut outs, capped sleeves and nipped in waist lines.  I was in heaven!  No I am not speaking of any designers spring line, I only wish!  I happened to find a gold mine of vintage patterns hovering out there on the Internet just begging to be adopted.

With all the technology available it should surprise no one that we are able to preserve and re-publish patterns going all the way back to the 1900's.  And since the art of knitting and crochet has not changed much, it is fairly simple to re-create these fabulous looks!

If you take a peek at my dear friend's fashion Blog The Electric Elmo Newsfeed, she reviews Jason Wu's new collection at Fashion Week.  I don't know about you guys but I think I know where his inspiration came from!

Let's be honest, these looks never went "out" so much as were over shadowed by shockingly short, skin baring, let it all hang out looks.  But these beautiful little numbers have modestly and quietly sat in the back of our collective fashion minds and we take them out every now and then when we want to be ladies.

Could you get anymore elegant?
  So now that I have you hooked here is the exciting part, where you get your hands on these amazing treasures!  Read on dear readers.

  For those of us who are more frugal, or just don't have any money to spend, run don't walk over to Free Vintage Crochet and click, NOW! They have a huge selection of totally free vintage crochet patterns they have painstakingly scanned and re-published.  For you knitters here is the sister site they run Free Vintage Knitting. There is a huge number of patterns between both sites and even entire books re-published for sale.  Both sites are run by Purple Kitty LLC please check them out as they do great things by getting permissions to reproduce and redistribute patterns no longer in circulation.  Also if you have or know of anyone who has out of print patterns PLEASE donate them to this site! They even send you a free gift for donating your old patterns! Here is the information where to send any patterns.

Purple Kitty LLC
172 Ellen St
Oswego, NY 13126

Isn't this shrug to die for? And the pattern is free!

One of the 16 free patterns offered

  The biggest treasure trove I have happened to find is Yesterknits, which advertises itself as the largest collection of vintage patterns on the web.  After browsing their extensive pattern selection I would have to agree.They are based in the UK and most of the patterns are from over the big puddle so do be careful with the crochet patterns and know whether they are written in English or in US pattern format.  The pattern prices change depending on how many you buy, love bulk discounts, and at an average of $5.00 each they are worth it!  The site offers to send you a single pattern from their list of free patterns via email, I sent off for this one, still waiting on it however.

  This site packages together a number of booklets in one big bundle of crafty fun. Vintage Crochet Patterns.Com is a no frills website that looks more like a bad infomercial, they offer a free booklet to download if you fill out the form to request it. So I sent out a request and did indeed receive not one but three PDF booklets!  And for you knitters they also have a sister site with the same deal Vintage Knitting Patterns.Com and I received two PDF books one of stoles and one for hats. How perfect now I can accessorize that cute sweater!

  So in other words go forth dear readers and indulge your inner lady! Oh and by the way, I showed the patterns to the hubby who thoroughly liked them, he said something about more fun to guess what is underneath and to find out later how right you were! He's currently bugging me about when he gets to preview the finished product, so gotta go, Piaget can wait the hubby cannot!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sick Day

"In February it will be
My snowman's anniversary
With cake for him and soup for me!
Happy once, happy twice
Happy chicken soup with rice"
-Carole King


 Ok so even nurses and especially nursing students get sick, unfortunately for nursing students we don't get to call off sick. Just to put into perspective for those of you who haven't had the pleasure, lab and clinical time for nursing programs are very tightly measured. You MUST have a certain number of hours in clinical and lab in order to pass the semester, in our case this amounts to being able to miss ONE day.

  You can bet there was no way I was missing our sim lab today even though my stomach has been rejecting all attempts to give it any type of nourishment for the past 24 hours. Thanks to my great classmates I managed to get through the day with minimal dehydration issues and my hubby sweetly swung by to grab me from school. This leaves one problem, my stomach still steadfastly refuses to accept any offerings of food.

  Now going onto 36 hours with little other a tiny bowel of oatmeal and tea it is time to take matters into my own hands. I am pulling out the big guns! Chicken soup, yup that's right it has been proven that chicken soup is indeed one of the best remedies for all that ails you. So sorry guys, you are all going to have to admit that Mom knew best on this one.

  Let me break it down for you like this. The soup provides you with some much needed protein for healing, all those white blood cells being made deplete resources! The veggies provide vitamins and nutrients and since they are cooked in the broth you don't loose any water solubles, they're just in your broth. The pasta or rice give you some simple carbohydrates that are easy to digest, you need these for energy...fighting germs is hard! Warm hot broth helps loosen up pesky mucus in the nasal passage and apparently even some studies have shown that chicken soup with veggies packs a great anti-oxidant punch.  Look out germs!

  Now I certainly don't feel like making a huge pot, it's only me and the hubby and thank goodness I am the only sicky right now, so roasting an entire chicken is out of the picture. Well I must confess, I cheat. I know you are shocked. I simply take the quarter of the roasted chicken we bought at Walmart the other day and toss that into my large sauce pan with water and boil....voila soup!  Ok so not that easy but close enough, anyhow for any of you who are sick (or just hungry) here is my sort of recipe for chicken soup and a little flashback to childhood.

Kitty's Germ Fighting Chicken Soup

You will need:

1 roasted chicken quarter (store bought or home made whatever!), meat removed from bones and set aside

4 cups of water

2 bay leaves

1/2 bullion cube or some low sodium chicken broth

You will want any of the below:

2 cloves of garlic (great for fighting germs)

Carrots fresh or frozen (Vitamins!)

3 Tablespoon Long Grain Rice (Carbs)

Handful of dark green leafy things, Kale, Collards, Spinach etc (more vitamins and antioxidants!)

Mushrooms chopped (these are just yummy)

Onion, some roughly chopped

What to Do:

 Ok pull the meat off the bones and put it in the fridge, plunk any and all bones and skin into the pot and cover with water and 2 bay leaves. Stick it on the burner and let it come to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and walk away for at least a 1/2 hour.

 When you come back from your nap (you are sick after all!) strain the broth and toss out the bones. Don't forget to peel what ever meat you can from the bones BEFORE they go into the garbage.

  Put pot of soup back on the burner and add onion and garlic at this time. Add bullion cube or broth to richen up the broth before you add mushrooms, carrots now if they are fresh and rice. 

CAUTION! Do not add more than 3 tablespoons of rice, I know it looks like nothing but it will grow and eat up all of your soup! Trust me.

 Bring soup to a simmer and keep it there until you notice the rice starting to puff up add frozen carrots now. Then add green leafy stuff and simmer until wilted and tender. Season soup to your (or your stomachs taste) at this time and simmer for 10-15 minutes and serve!

This soup is ready for germ fighting duty!

  I added frozen leeks to my soup, and I use Trader Joe's cooking greens mix in my soup.  Try any combo of things you like.  If you prefer, add pasta instead of rice, just remember to cook it separately and add at the end with your greens. I seasoned this batch very simply due to the gastric issues, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper and finished it with a touch of white wine for depth (hey I'm sick not dead!).  Get crazy and wild experiment with your favourite veggies. Post a comment and let me know what variant you tried I would love to hear from you!

Look out germs!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring has sprung....

 "Spring has sprung,
 The grass has riz,
I wonder where them birdies is."

  Spring has sprung in the desert (sorry to all you folks on in the heartland and east coast!) I can tell because the grass has definately "riz" and my little garden is looking like it is recovering from that freak frost we had a couple weeks ago.  Yes we actually had three days of freezing temps and got ice on the fountains, ICE! I digress and will share the pictures of the ice another time. Right now the sublime 78 degrees and bright wild flowers blooming is enough to have me singing "Here Comes the Sun". 

 Now my garden is saddly still a little bare and no blossom's in sight.  So, not to be out done by those brazen little wild flowers I decided it was time to make my own flowers.  I have a ton brightly coloured crochet cotton and my husband is ready to declare war on my yarn stash, so I figured this was a great way to use the scraps of cotton left over from previous projects. And this is what I ended up with....

My very own rose garden!

  The large roses were made using size 3 with crochet cotton with a 2.75 mm steel hook, the small yellows and purple were made using size 10 crochet cotton and the blue and pink were made with nylon Cro-Sheen that was sent to me from a friend who gave up on knitting (thanks Lacy!). All the small ones were made with a 2.25 mm steel hook.

  There are a number of free patterns for roses and other flowers out there, check through my links for free pattern sites.  I tend to use this pattern from Crochet Spot as it is the best one I have met yet and as a bonus they even have a great step by step tutorial for how to roll up your roses, believe me it is not as easy as you think! 

  Ok so now that I have a veritable rose garden the next question is what the heck am I going to do with them? I have a tolerant hubby but he is not going to want them hanging around so I needed to find something to do with these little guys. Well while cruising a friends fashion blog I noticed that flowers are HOT this year.  Take a look!

  So I figured I could follow the trend and make some cute flower hair ties! 

I started with a flower and decided that it needed a little something something, so I went through my boxes and some ribbon in a number of shades of green. I like the bright green one on the yellow rose.

I made "leaves" by creating a double twist. 
It looks something like this.
                            Then attach it to the base of the rose.

And you get this!

Super Cut Rose


Attach your super cute creation to an elastic hair tie with a few stitches of black thread....

Voila! You have a trendy and cute hair tie!
Make one or two...dozen!
Now even if you are snowed in you can have your own spring flowers and wait for them birdies to arrive!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Knitting with Neko

Hi All,

  I am Neko, for all of you scratching your heads this is the Japanese word for cat.  When we first started dating my husband used to make comments about how much I had in common with my kitty, so he started calling me that and 11 years later still does.  So I thought it was an apt name for me through this blog.

  Let me introduce myself, I am currently in my 3rd semester of nursing school after taking a year off to work as an LPN in Phoenix, AZ. I grew up Toronto, ON Canada and am trying to adjust to the Southwest.  I began to knit only about 6 years ago and recently taught myself to crochet by watching online tutorials.  I have been married for 11 years to a wonderful husband who tolerates my crazy yarn hoarding habits with great patience and humor.

  So what am I up to now?  Well in order to de-stress from the fun life as a nursing student I play with yarn, can you see the cat like tendencies? I mean how can you really have fun at school when your greatest worry is "Are my shoes white enough?" and how many of you can rattle off Piaget's Pyscho-Social Development Stages while trying to keep all your patients medications straight? Yeah didn't think so. So you can see that in the very complex world of nursing school that I turn to a very un-comple hobby, at I think it's uncomplex.  I laugh every time someone sits and stares in fascination at my busy hands coaxing some bit of brightly colored yarn into shapes.  I find yarn crafts uncomplicated, a series of knits and purls or singles and doubles put in the right order to achieve the right shape.

  Ok so I ran a little off course, I do that...ALOT.  Well right now I try to keep my projects small and easily stashed in my bag somewhere between the 1300 pages of Medical Surgical text and my wallet so that I can whip them out when I am riding on the bus or waiting for my professor to show up.  I have also been lured into the beautiful and painful world of knitted wire jewellery, I have a small cuff on the go but my fingers need healing time from the blisters that created. Thank god I can do my own wound care!

  So in other words stay tuned, I will posting some pictures of the projects on the go and handing out some free patterns. In the meantime please browse my resources and enjoy all the free pattern sites I have listed.