I put a lot of energy into writing this (it’s not just a “don’t you already own 5 black sweaters?” kind of list), because it’s something I feel really strongly about. I advocate buying used clothing, and if you have the means, buying clothing that is handmade or ethically made. And yes, ruining shopping for used clothing for me is reason #9 I hate these stores — but the 8 I’ve got here are more important.

Also, if you want to learn more about where your clothing (and other goods) come from, I highly recommend the books I cite in that piece:

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Elizabeth L. Cline)

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster (Dana Thomas)

and most of all, even though it’s mainly not about clothes but mostly because it will cure you of ever shopping at IKEA:

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture (Ellen Ruppel Shell)

I am so happy and humbled that this post has gotten the most shares of any of my Lifehack posts so far. Puff even beat Louis C.K.! 

It was really bittersweet for me writing this post — sadly, there’s a reason I’ve been in such a reflective mode about Puff. Her health has been failing recently. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure not too long ago — her heart is, literally, two sizes too big. It means not only does her heart have to work extra hard, but because it’s taking up so much space, her lungs are compressed, making it difficult at times for her to catch her breath. She’s a fighter, and we’ve managed to make things more comfortable for her with medications, but it’s been tough.

I was worried the site wouldn’t publish this post because it’s relatively personal (“I” rather than “you”, for the most part), but I am grateful they did, and it really makes me happy that it’s received some attention. 

And now, to end on an extra happy note, here’s a bonus pic of Puff and Rico.

I’m so excited to have one of my first-ish crochet projects featured on the very cool Illuminate Crochet site! Check out the link for fabulous content including original patterns, stitching tips, interviews with fiber designers, and oodles of Remix Friday features. Thanks so much to Sara for reaching out to me and featuring one of my projects!

Summer Sample Sale!


My studio is a total disaster area — seriously, it’s like an avalanche of yarn and wrestling action figures — so in the hopes of clearing some space, I’m clearing out my inventory of crocheted goods! Check out the sale section of my Etsy shop for discounted, ready-to-ship handmade crocheted friends. Every single one of these guys is ready for a new home, and the item you see in the pictures is the exact item you’ll be getting. It’s all first quality (it’s not like, sample sale of “slightly irregular” items or anything like that), I just need more room. (Did I buy more yarn today? Uhhh technically yes.) Head over and check it out!

Pinworthy Crochet

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I have been branching out into a new gig (actually, technically new gigs, because yes, I guess I don’t already have way more than enough to keep me busy!). But in any event, the one I’m talking about here is contributing to a site called My favorite article that I’ve done so far is one that I conceptualized and pitched myself (rather than taking an assignment) — 5 Ways to Use Pinterest to be More Productive

I was reluctant to use Pinterest for a long time, mainly because I wasn’t really sure what it was, and I had social networking fatigue. Once I finally started, wowzers — I use it almost every day. And it’s completely different from other social sites. Yes, I follow people I know, but in general, I mainly use it to curate stuff I’ve found on the web. (Also, like in my article, I do totally have a bunch of private boards that help my husband and I get stuff done.) 

Having Pinterest on the brain (even more than normal) got me wondering what my most popular pins are — what’s got the most repins, to be specific. My public boards are almost all crochet, so when it comes to crochet, what are the people digging? (Or, I mean, pinning.) Let’s have a look!


The Pin: Knit earbuds from Anthropologie

My Caption:Technically these Anthropologie earbuds feature a knit covering, but it would be SO easy to DIY this by working single crochet around your cords! Might have to try it with one of the zillion spare pairs of iPod/iPhone headphones I seem to always have lying around….”

Repins as of Now: 252

[Note: Yeah somehow, this pin just blew up! These aren’t available from Anthropologie anymore, but the gal who actually makes these sells them in many colors in her Etsy shop, CasePhile]


The Pin: Anonymous Coachella festival-goer in a crochet tank dress, from Harper’s Bazaar

My Caption:Coachella and crochet go together like … Coachella and crochet! Face it, it’s a festival staple. (2014)”

Repins as of Now: 163


The Pin: Paparazzi pic of Taylor Swift at the Ventura County Flea Market, via the Daily Mail 

My Caption:How have I not pinned this already?? Taylor Swift wears a vintage crochet dress while antiquing in Ventura (Jan 2012)”

Repins as of Now: 150


The Pin: Autumn Cashmere filet crochet card seen at Revolve 

My Caption: ”Edgy filet crochet! And the colorway is called “Glow worm” — can you even try to resist!? (Autumn Cashmere Crochet Skull Sweater)”

Repins as of Now: 136


The Pin: Colorful ombre hair pic from Cosmo

My Caption:A sexy neutral crochet dress (by Anna Kosturova) pairs perfectly with this edgy hair (it’s temporary chalk color!) Cosmopolitan July 2013”

Repins as of Now: 110


The Pin: DIY Cross Stitch Pegboard from WhimseyBox

My Caption:Tutorial for a gorgeous storage solution! For your dream craft room… (DIY Cross Stitch Pegboard)”

Repins as of Now: 108


The Pin: Vanessa Hudgens fashion shoot for Cosmo

My Caption:In a Coachella-inspired shoot for Cosmopolitan (April 2013), Vanessa Hudgens shows once more that she’s pretty much the celebrity ambassador for boho-style crochet (top by Anna Kosturova).”

Repins as of Now: 56 (But I have to include this one, since it was this and another pic from the same issue of Camilla Belle that got me started using Pinterest!)

P.S.: How much do I not love that Pinterest no longer gives you the embed option? The only way you can automatically share these days is Facebook. Puh-leeze! 

Special delivery! This fox is on his way to live in a nursery — he’ll be waiting there to welcome a new baby, and hopefully be a little handmade companion for many years to come. I am so honored when people want my work to be part of their lives; I’ll most likely never meet this baby, but I put a lot of love into making this fox. #etsy #crochet #amigurumi #fox

Special delivery! This fox is on his way to live in a nursery — he’ll be waiting there to welcome a new baby, and hopefully be a little handmade companion for many years to come. I am so honored when people want my work to be part of their lives; I’ll most likely never meet this baby, but I put a lot of love into making this fox. #etsy #crochet #amigurumi #fox

When Can I Stop Being Angry?

I’ve been asking myself this more or less constantly for the last five days. The answer is, I can’t stop. None of us can stop. We have to do something. We have to stand up for ourselves, and for other women. We have to keep this conversation going. 

Reading #yesallwomen tweets and posts by other women has brought back so many memories I’d forgotten or pushed aside. I don’t feel like I’m ready to publicly share many of my experiences, but here are a few that have resurfaced for me in the past few days. Admittedly, these are nearly all encounters with strangers — many of the others are just too personal for me. But here we go.


…because when I was 16, a man tried to follow me home. Exposition: My mom wanted me to get some “experience” that I could put on my college applications, and so she arranged for me to be an intern one day a week at an art museum in a nearby city. I grew up in a relatively rural area, and I didn’t have my own car, so this involved riding a commuter bus that would take me the 40 minutes to get to this small city from where I lived. It made, more or less, one stop in each town along the way. One day while I was waiting downtown with the other commuters to catch my bus, a man approached me and began propositioning me. I didn’t know what to do as he became more aggressive (I was 16, and this was well before the age of cell phones). I remember feeling almost disoriented, like I was in a dream, because none of the other commuters standing around me — men and women — appeared to take any notice, and none did anything to help me or draw attention to what was happening. I tried to get away from the man by boarding the wrong bus, then jumping out through the middle door. I thought I’d gotten away, but I hadn’t. No sooner had I sat down on my own bus than he sat down directly across from me, legs spread, elbows on his knees, and proceeded to stare intensely at me for the entire bus ride. My panic grew the longer the bus went. I knew I couldn’t get off at my actual stop — I had to walk like half a mile from the center of town to get to my home, and once there I was going to be home alone, which wouldn’t be any help. I finally decided the best thing to do was to try the “bus jump” again. At the stop in the town before mine, I grabbed my purse and literally leapt out the back door of the bus as it was closing. I can’t remember if I called my mom from a pay phone or just walked to her work (she worked in that town), I just remember she wasn’t happy that I had inexplicably gotten off at the “wrong stop.” I was too rattled to say anything about it. When my mom drove me home later, I saw that the man was still sitting at the bus stop in the center of my town (it was the last stop on the line), I guess waiting for a bus back to the city. I told my boyfriend at the time (who was incredibly upset by the whole thing, and wanted to confront the man but on seeing him still at the bus stop thought better of it) but I never told anyone else.

…because a couple of years later, I was working in that city again, and the same thing nearly happened. This time, I was working full time just for the summer in the library of a college there. I was 19. The college itself is very pretty, but it’s not in the best area. I had to catch a city bus from a street near the college (just a nondescript side street, the bus stop was in front of a small auto-body repair shop) to get downtown to my commuter bus. One day a man approached me and began hitting on me. He was visibly drunk, which made me even more uncomfortable. I felt like I had to be “friendly” and “polite” though to defuse the situation. When he pressed for my name I told him my name was Linda, because yes, by then this kind of thing had already happened enough that I had a fake name that I kept (still keep) handy for these situations. He followed me onto the city bus, where he only kept up his banter. Despite my earlier experiences of being ignored by downtown commuters, I kept thinking if I could just get downtown, I’d be okay. Once we got off the city bus, I tried to lose him in the crowd of people, but he kept catching up to me. Again, no one seemed to notice what was happening. It’s like a dream where you’re screaming for help but no one can hear you. Except I wasn’t screaming, because I didn’t feel like it was appropriate for me draw that kind of attention to myself. This time, the bus switch worked — he followed me onto a bus that wasn’t my bus, and I jumped off that bus before it pulled away. I was shaking and felt sick as he yelled out the window, “Linda!” After that happened, the mechanics who worked in the auto-body shop would always come out and stand just behind or beside me whenever a man approached me (which happened regularly as the summer wore on). Once when it was raining, one of them came out and held an umbrella above me. They didn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak what they spoke (I’m not even sure where they were from), but I was so grateful to them. I wish I could have thanked them. In all of these incidents, they were the only people who ever tried to help me.

…because I’m still afraid of the Eiffel Tower. When I was 20, I went to Europe to visit friends of mine who were spending their junior year abroad. We took the Chunnel train to Paris from London for the weekend, and toured around all of the obligatory sights. One evening, we were planning to go to the Eiffel Tower. I was nervous about it, because I’m pretty afraid of heights. But it’s you know, a big deal to go see and stuff, so I was like sure I’ll go. I made it up to the first level (I think the one with the restaurant), and I was just like, this is way too high for me. But my friends all wanted to go to the top observation deck, so I told them to go ahead without me. I would just go back down and wait for them at the base. It wasn’t packed — it was a fairly cool March night — but there were lots of crowds of people around. I was just standing around waiting for my friends when a man approached me. He wasn’t French, I think he was Italian. He starts talking to me, and he’s making me nervous but I’m trying to be polite. I tell him my name is Linda. He keeps asking me to leave and go somewhere with him, and I keep telling him no. Eventually, he seems to give up, and he leans toward me. I don’t lean away, because I’m thinking it’s just the little cheek kiss thing Europeans do. It’s not. He grabs me and shoves his tongue in my mouth, while painfully kneading my butt with his hands. I struggle and get away from him, but he catches me again and does it again, trying to pull me away with him, even though by now I’m crying and starting to panic. (Yes, this is now the cell phone era, but I’m just in Europe for a short time and so I don’t have one.) I manager to shake him off and run away and try to find someone who can help me, who can either keep me safe or help me get in touch with my friends, who seem to be staying on the observation deck for an interminably long amount of time (although honestly, I am not sure how long it was). It was another bad dream scenario. I try going up to the different security guards and people who are working at the Tower, but I can’t find anyone who speaks English and understands what I want. Eventually I find an American tour group. By this point I am so upset I am a bit incoherent, not helping the language barrier. It’s because this guy hasn’t left — he’s been hanging back about 30’ from me, just circling. I beg them to please just let me stand with them, let me pretend to be part of their group. They seem weirded out by me and to not really understand what my situation is, but they let me do it. I basically hid in a crowd of Americans until my friends finally came back down. This was like 13 years ago, but even seeing a picture of the Eiffel Tower still makes me feel nauseated. I know this isn’t like, part of what happens when you try to go see world landmarks, but I still never, ever want to go back there.

…because the years I spent living in New York City were more or less just one big street harassment montage. It was the heyday of Sex & the City, and yes, I fancied myself a Carrie (on an extreme budget, but still). Multiple times though, I had to go home and change (or if I was too far from home, go into whatever business was convenient) because crowds of men were following me. If it was just one man, fine, I’d ignore it, but once it was two or more I got scared. I was proud of my clothes, I spent so much time trying to find UES ladies’ designer castoffs in church basements and turn them into SATC-worthy outfits. It felt like a strange betrayal when what I thought was making me unique and expressive made me a target. I was never groped or flashed on the subway, and you know what’s f-cked up? That happened so often, and to pretty much every other woman I knew, that I actually felt weird that it didn’t happen to me. Like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t receive unwanted subway attention. The longer I lived in the city, the more I strategized how to manage getting around and minimize being harassed or threatened. I always wore my earbuds, whether I was listening to music or not. That way I could credibly pretend not to hear what some man was saying to me, or yelling at me. I wore large, dark sunglasses whenever I was outside so that it would be hard for men to make eye contact with me or tell where I was looking. If I was walking home from the subway by myself, I would hold my keys in one fist, with each key sticking out of the cracks between my fingers, like a sad little Wolverine fist. Thank goodness I never had to see if that one would actually work. Wherever I was walking, if I was by myself, I made a habit of regularly looking at my reflection in windows, so I could see if anybody was following me. Living in New York wasn’t fun for me, and the sense of constant vigilance didn’t help anything. Even trying to relax could backfire. Once, when I was 22, it was a beautiful spring day, and I decided to go lay in the park and tan (which if you’ve never lived in New York is considered a legitimate activity — it’s not like I came up with this brainwave on my own). I was wearing a bikini top and shorts, lying on my towel, listening to music, when I got a feeling someone was near me. I opened my eyes, and a man was standing right over me, touching himself. I grabbed my bag and ran. I don’t even think I took my towel. He yelled after me, “Please, I wasn’t going to touch you, I just wanted to look!”

…because when I was 27, I stopped going to the gym because a man wouldn’t leave me alone. I’ve always felt that basic gym etiquette is you don’t talk to the other people, and if I’ve got my headphones in, I’m sweating, I’m clearly exerting myself, then I am even more obviously not there to chat. When I moved into the apartment complex I lived in, I was excited that they had a little gym. Convenient fitness! Not too long after I started going there though, a creepy guy — younger than me, I think — started talking to me in there. At first I tried to be polite, but he kept pressing for longer and longer conversations. He wouldn’t even work out, he’d just stand there and talk to me. I told him I had a boyfriend (which was true), and he’d just try to tell me reasons he was better than that boyfriend. Eventually I started wearing a big engagement ring — from the time I spent working at a wedding magazine, I had a large CZ solitaire that was pretty convincing — and told him I was engaged. But no matter what I said, or how I acted, he wouldn’t leave me alone. So I stopped going to the gym. I put on some weight, and was afraid to go to even other gyms for roughly 2 years after that.

In all of these examples, I wasn’t doing anything in particular. I was just trying to live my life. To get to work, to get home, to go to the gym, whatever. But all of these men felt I owed them something. My time. My smile. My name. My body. Not all men act like these men, but knowing that these kinds of things can happen when you’re just waiting for the bus or relaxing at the park means that, yes, all women have to have keep on their toes, have to be on guard, have to have a plan, be ready. I am a human being, but I don’t feel that I can trust that men will treat me like a human being. There have been too many times that I have been treated like a woman, and in case it’s not clear by now, no, I don’t mean by having the door held open for me.

I can’t stop being angry.

I just found this going through Twitter. I love my husband so much, and I am so grateful there are men like him in this world. I have tears in my eyes because he has my back even when I don’t know it, and because his last statement is so simple and eloquent. It says what I wish I had said to this guy… but I didn’t reply to him, because I assumed he wouldn’t listen to me. Because I’m a woman, and because I don’t think it’s “too soon” to talk about rampant misogyny and violence against women. Our voices need to be heard, and I am grateful to all of the women who have been sharing their experiences as part of this painful but extremely necessary conversation.

I just found this going through Twitter. I love my husband so much, and I am so grateful there are men like him in this world. I have tears in my eyes because he has my back even when I don’t know it, and because his last statement is so simple and eloquent. It says what I wish I had said to this guy… but I didn’t reply to him, because I assumed he wouldn’t listen to me. Because I’m a woman, and because I don’t think it’s “too soon” to talk about rampant misogyny and violence against women. Our voices need to be heard, and I am grateful to all of the women who have been sharing their experiences as part of this painful but extremely necessary conversation.

Crochet + Coachella = Cro-chella?

So this past weekend was Coachella… and what were all those stylish festival-goers wearing? Well, insanely short yet oddly high-waisted denim shorts appeared to be mandatory, as did some form of uncomfortable shoe (laced boots or gladiator sandals were preferred), oversized (and oddly-shaped) sunglasses, and some kind of head accessory, either practical (sun-shading Carly Simon hat) or free spirited (flower wreath). But what does Coachella mean to me? Yes, it’s the return of crochet season. 

Not for me personally — I mean, I crochet year-round, and I wear more crochet in cooler temps. But for the rest of the world, warm weather means crochet comes out to play! And play it did.


Much as I poke fun at Coachella*, I appreciate it as a bellwether of crochet fashion trends. Combing through street style pics you’ll find crochet everywhere (more so on the teeming masses than on the celebs this year, though Selena Gomez was representing team crochet once again). 

In looking through a zillion and twelve pics, a clear trend emerged — the crochet bra top (for lack of a better term) was definitely a winner with the Coachella crowd, as you can see on these ladies above. Whether white (most common), black (second most common), or multi-hued, these strappy, midriff-baring crochet tops were a staple at Coachella 2014. 

Do I feel like this is something I could wear? Mm, not really. Do I feel like this is something that would be easy and fun to make? Heck yes! So if you feel like getting busy with a hook and some yarn, why not make a flirty summer top? (Bonus: If it’s still cold where you are, it’ll help you get in a summer mood.)

If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve compiled a quick list of some patterns for just this type of top that I found on the knit and crochet megasite and all-around terrific resource Ravelry. I haven’t made these myself, so I can’t vouch for them personally. But they look good to me, so check ‘em out!

Things to consider when you’re picking your yarn: It’s summer, so you’re going to want something that breathes and feels good on your skin. I’d recommend a lighter-weight, natural fiber — high-quality cotton or a plant-based blend (yes, there are bamboo-based yarns out there). And when you’re figuring out what you want to make (and the sizing), ask yourself: Am I going to wear a bra with this? Support and um, opacity are both things you probably want to think about.

Want to see more Coachella crochet (both past and present), plus loads of celebs and fashionable folks rocking crochet? Check out my Pinterest board Fashionably Crocheted!

*I just have to. Face it guys, I’m old. I went to multiple Lollapaloozas (Lollapaloozi?) when it was actually still a tour. My idea of concert fashion? Stuff that’s actually comfortable! If I remember correctly, that was usually one of my many Sonic Youth tees, PG-rated jean shorts (or an old pair of my dad’s jeans, depending on the temperature), and Birkenstocks or Airwalks. Guys, it was the early/mid 90s. To paraphrase Montell Jordan, that was how we did it.

DIY Reverse Photo Mats aka “Matless Mats”


So yes, I’m still being negligent in my blogging due to new house projects. (I’ve also been cracking out Etsy orders and working on top-secret surprise crochet projects I can’t bring out in public just yet). But today, I did something that brings together both new house and crochet, as I worked on decorating my crafting/work space with vintage crochet pattern booklets. (That’s my work table in the photo above. The paper hanging from the wall? That’s the “set paper” I use to shoot my finished projects — which is also why I have two lamps.)

My husband and I are both of the “if we like it then we’re gonna put a frame on it” school of thought (to paraphrase Beyoncé), and since that often means framing objects of unusual sizes and (sometimes) thicknesses or textures, I’ve spent a lot of time working on figuring out how to display our various finds without spending a fortune on custom framing. The “reverse photo mat” or “matless mat” is one of my favorites. It helps oddly-sized pieces fit in regular-sized frames, it lets you show off the object in its entirety (like the well-worn edges of these booklets), and it’s way easier than trying to cut a mat. Rather than cutting an opening into a piece of paper or a mat board for the image to show through, you display the framed piece on top of a backdrop. 

Before we go there though, here’s what I was framing — super-awesome 1950s crochet pattern booklets (center pic) that I got the other week at the San Diego Vintage Flea Market. Seriously, G and I had so many great finds, and it’s a fantastic mix of vendors, all very friendly. When it’s held in North Park, I really can’t ask for anything more.

You actually don’t see a lot of crochet pamphlets (knitting and sewing are much more common), so I had to scoop these up. “Crochet Treasures You Asked For” is just a fabulous title, and who knew you could do so much with crocheted bottle caps? (See the photos above at left and right, both from “Table Magic.”) Okay, mostly you can make trivets, but since I’m all about upcycling and those just plain look cool, I’m into it. I mean really, can you resist the midcentury “bottle cap magic!” artwork? No, you can’t.

Here’s all you need for matless mats:

  • The object(s) you want to frame
  • Frames large enough to fit those objects (with room to spare on either side, and yes, usually that leftover space is not symmetrical). My pamphlets were roughly 7.5”x10.5”, so I used frames that were 11”x14”.
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or yardstick
  • X-acto knife
  • Cutting board (or another hard surface you don’t mind possibly inflicting some cuts on)
  • Tape
  • Heavy-ish paper in a fun pattern or color that complements what you’re framing. I’ve used scrapbook paper here. I don’t actually scrapbook, but if I see a pad of interesting scrapbook paper on clearance I’ll buy it, because yes, I am a childless adult who nonetheless often has a need for something along the lines of construction paper!

This is actually so simple, I feel kind of like saying this project is DIY might be overstating it. But then again, I Did it Myself, and you could Do It Yourself, so I think it counts.

First, choose the paper you’re going to use for your background. You’ll need to cut and measure pieces to make a reverse mat that fits your frame. In this case, I was using an 11”x14” frame, and scrapbook paper is 12” square. Using the X-acto and cutting board, I measured and trimmed an inch off the edge of one sheet of the paper, then cut an 11”x2” piece from a second piece of paper with the same pattern. (If you want to be safer, you can cut the “filler” paper a little taller than you need it, so you have some overlap, but I like to live dangerously.)

Next, line up your paper pieces so that they are the size of mat you need. The insert with the stock photo of a smiling couple that inevitably comes in inexpensive store-bought frames is your friend here. If you can cover them up perfectly, your mat is the right size!

One concern: If you are using paper that has a pattern, you want to be sure the pattern lines up. Since the mat is larger than the paper, there’s going to be a seam in it where the two pieces of paper are joined. Aligning the pattern correctly ensures that this will be as invisible as possible. Can’t see the seam, can you Russ?

Once you’ve got everything straightened out (literally and figuratively), use the tape to connect the pieces on the back of the paper — you don’t want any tape showing on the front.

Now you can go ahead and place your artwork. For these, I was using tension frames, where you just pop the glass and frame innards out of the front. The booklets have slightly rounded (and worn, since they were used!) corners, and I wanted these to show, so I simply set them where I wanted and then replaced the glass — the tension holds them in place. For other types of frames, I recommend using another tool I’ve stolen from the scrapbooking realm — a tape runner, ideally the archival-safe type, especially if you’re framing something older. I’ve also frequently used photo corners (which you can buy at craft stores and frame shops) to hold items in place on a reverse mat. These are especially great for vintage photos and postcards, and add another layer of depth and interest to your frame.

And… that’s that! A bit of measuring and hammering (and then a bit of yanking out, remeasuring, and re-hammering) later, my crochet pamphlets are ready for display. My workspace is still such a work in progress, but getting these bits of cheer up on the walls goes a long way toward making it feel more like home… or like a home office, I suppose!