Thursday 13 – 13 January Images

It’s snowing.  My husband is not amused.  🙂

Boria napping in our new living room.  We had to get rid of the beanbag chair, but the cat loved it.

Here comes the train.  It’s snowy and they don’t put salt down on the platform, but sand.  Yes, it’s slippery.

This is a path that leaves the corner of my usual lunch park.  Where does it go?

This is the viaduct.  I love the cave-like hold under the train. Gorgeous.

Waiting for the bus to the Purple Line to go downtown.

Moon over train. Or, wait… is that a glare on the camera?

Cloud ceiling under the plane.

Peeking over the seats at the people ahead of me on the plane.  I am NOT creepy.  Just curious.

Red Rock Canyon.  Actually, I think this is a canyon south of it.




Thursday 13: A Writer In Her Library, Chapter Six

I have done a few posts about my favorite books in the past, Chapter One, Two, Three, Four, and Five. I’ve purged my library twice in the past, and cut too close to the bone. I’ve gotten rid of things I’ve later regretted. Now, if I keep a book and it goes into my library, I don’t get rid of it. I cherish it. I made special bookplates that can be printed on Avery labels, since buying bookplates would get way too expensive. I also started keeping an index.

The index has helped me identify which books and topics I like, as well as publishers I might like to target. I keep my list in Excel because it’s easy to sort and search, and in this way I can track my purchases and collection.

Today I share 13 more of my favorite craft books for you, along with pictures of their covers. These books inspire me and I turn to them again and again, to look at the pictures and read the patterns. Awesome!

Without further delay, then, let us wander the shelves.

1. Wildspur, by Louisa Harding, Steffprint, England, 2008.

I seriously love this catalog of patterns. Click on the picture and it will take you to Ms. Harding’s U.S. distributor, and they have a list of all the patterns – complete with pictures. I love Laidlaw and want to make it one of these days.

2. Decorative Knitting, by Kate Haxell and Luise Roberts, Trafalgar Square Publishing, North Pomfret, VA, 2005.

There are different covers for this, depending on your geographic location, but this is the version I have in my library and is the one she says on her website is for the U.S. version.

The book is filled with different decorative ideas, from patterns and laces to beading and other embellishments.  If you like to play with your knitting, this book is for you.

3. Hoverson, Joelle, Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, Stewart Tabori and Chang, New York, 2004.

I love, love, love this book. I’ve made a bunch of things out of here, and what I love about it is the philosophy. It restores control to the hands of the knitter as we think about what projects we’d like to make for our friends and family.

Seriously, check out the stuffed animals. LOFF!

Bonus: She’s got a great collection of patterns available on her Ravelry page, here.

4. Knitting Mochimochi: 20 Super-Cute Strange Designs for Knitted Amigurumi, by Anna Hrachovec; Watson-Guptill Publications; Crown Publishing Group; Division of Random House, Inc.; New York; 2010.

OMG. Srsly. OMG! Mochimochi Land is the online home of author and designer, Anna Hrachovec. Her patterns are adorable! Her book breaks down exactly how to make these little knitted designs, similar to the Japanese hobby of amigurumi, which typically are crochet.

I totally want to make the alligators in this book. I also love the moose. It’s awesome. Complete with little birdies. LOFF!

5. Christmas Stockings: 18 Holiday Treasures to Knit; Interweave Press; Loveland, CO; 2001.

This one is a lot of fun. Not only does it give patterns, but also generic stocking patterns for different yarn gauges. If you are curious about making holiday stockings, this book is for you. Lots and lots of design options and good instruction for taking the design process beyond the patterns provided.

6. 25 Bags to Knit: Beautiful Bags in Stylish Colors, by Emma King; Trafalgar Square Publishing, North Pomfret, VA; 2004.

I’ve had this one for a while; I think I bought it in the year it came out. I have a friend in Alabama who LOVES handbags, and this book makes me think of her.

The patterns are simple and easy to understand, and have front AND back pictures of the designs – which is helpful for someone learning to knit. This is a great book for beginners.

7. Knitters (Magazine); Jackets for Work and Play; XRX Books; Sioux Falls, SD; 2006

I love the designs in this book, including a Chanel-style jacket. The designs have an English flavor in the tight, clean lines, and they’re good for work and other similar occasions. I’m looking forward to making some of these, and routinely bring the book to the bathtub to wander through the patterns.

8. Weekend Afghans, by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss; Sterling Publishing Company; New York; 1987


9. 7-Day Afghans, by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss; Sterling Publishing Company; New York; 2004

Authors Leinhauser and Weiss share designs and writing processes, as well as their website.  I have made one of the afghans in the 7-Day Afghans book many times, varying the colors, as it’s a simple but pretty design and perfect for baby showers and other similar gifts.  I like Weekend Afghans, even though it’s older, because it gives interesting designs and colors.

10. Men in Knits: Sweaters to Knit that He Will Wear; Tara Jon Manning; Interweave Press; Loveland, CO; 2003.

The thing I like about this book is that it teaches you the philosophy of knitting. I’ve discussed the ideas in it with male friends and, later, my husband. They confirm the central philosophy in the book, which includes things like include your recipient in the design and don’t just hand him a fait accompli.

The designs live up to the reputation of Interweave Knits, known for publishing high-quality, well-written designs. I found Ms. Manning’s approach easy to follow, her designs well-conceived, and the patterns inventive. Highly recommended if you have men in your knitting universe.

11. Saturday Sweaters: Easy to Knit, Easy to Wear; Marquart, Doreen L.; Martingale & Company, Woodinville, WA; 2005

I got to meet Ms. Marquart at her shop, Needles ‘n Pins Yarn Shoppe in rural Delavan, WI. Her shop is beautiful and has many different yarns and books to look through. I selected a new book and got the yarn to make one of the sweaters, and the clerk asked me if I’d like to have the book signed. I’m grateful to her friendliness to a new-at-the-time knitter and wish her every success. Her book of Saturday Sweaters will have you knitting sweaters in no time.

She has a neat page on Ravelry, too, where she shares her designs.

12. Knitting Lingerie Style, by Joan McGowan-Michael; Stewart Tabori and Chang; New York, 2007.

Ms. McGowan-Michael is one of my favorite designers out there. She has amazing, beautiful stuff. Her website (possibly not NSFW; no outright nudity but lingerie) is a treat of scrumptious designs.

Her book on lingerie breaks down a mystifying subject and explains how garments are constructed, from simple to complex pieces. She’s even got a knitted garter belt. Lovely!

13. Unexpected Knitting, by Debbie New; Schoolhouse Press; Pittsville, WI; 2003.

This is an incredible and unusual book, truly worthy of the title “Unexpected.” I can’t even do it justice by describing it, other than to say it’s worth checking out. I mean, knitted china pattern teacups and saucers? Awesome. Well worth a look.

There’s an interesting website created by Philosopher’s Wool. It has a very nice summary of her work, and the site has a lot of personality.

Thursday 13: Thirteen Images from Lunch

Not actually images of food, but images from my walks during my lunch break.  I’m fortunate to be working along the Chicago River and the weather has been absolutely fabulous lately!  Take a look:

This is the medallion in my elevator, actually.  I’m fond of it.

I love flowers.  Never know what they’re called, but I love ’em.

This is actually a shot of the train platform in the morning before work; this is one of the stations that’s at street level (they’re in the more residential areas as opposed to downtown, where it’s either the elevated “L” or a subway).  (We still call the subway the “L”, go figure.)

I love this view in the morning!  We zoom over it pretty fast, but I would love to have one of the houses on the bank and a little dock so I could take my boat up and down.

The parking structure is almost all gone.  Looks like a scene from some big space exploration, like a robot lost a bucket or something.

Trump tower is in the center.  You can’t really see it very well (my camera on my phone doesn’t have a zoom), but the metal superstructure at the top is a crane for the window washing crew.  !!!!  D00d.  I will never complain about my day job again!  Sheesh!
I love this one.  It isn’t great from a composition standpoint, but it captures everything I like about my lunch walks:  the flowers (these weird cabbage rose things that look like colored Brussels sprouts, huh?) and the water with the boats.

This is a prior shot of the demolition, where you can still see the building, parts of it.  This was just 2 weeks ago.  It’s startling how fast a brick structure can just disappear.


I love they have mint planted along the river!

More greenery.  This is right in the midst of downtown, too!  (See the next shot for context.)

This is the bridge by my office, and you can see the river and flower edging.  Cool, no?

I love reading signs about things; it makes me feel more like I know what’s going on.
MINT!  It has lovely purple flowers, too.  I just love how exuberant this plant is.  ROWR!

Thursday 13: Thirteen Herbalism Terms Defined

In the study of herbalism, I come across a number of terms that are both interesting and mystifying, since they’re not things we use in everyday conversation. I thought I’d share 13 with you – out of a list of quite a bit more than that! o.O… Never knew whatcha didn’t know, huh? Me neither.

So. Here we go:

1. Abortifacient: A drug or other agent that induces the expulsion of a fetus.

2. Alterative: An agent that produces gradual beneficial change in the body, usually by improving nutrition, without having any marked specific effect and without causing sensible evacuation.

3. Analgesic: A drug that relieves or diminishes pain.

4. Anaphrodesiac: An agent that reduces sexual desire or potency.

5. Anesthetic: An agent that deadens sensation.

6. Anthelmintic: An agent that destroys or expels intestinal worms; vermicide; vermifuge.

7. Anthocyanins: Any of a class of soluble glycoside pigments that are responsible for most of the blue to red colors in leaves, flowers, and other plant parts.

Bonus: Glycoside: Noun: A compound formed from a simple sugar and another compound by replacement of a hydroxyl group in the sugar molecule.

8. Antibiotic: An agent that destroys or arrest the growth of micro-organisms.

9. Anticoagulant: An agent that prevents clotting in a liquid, as in blood.

10. Antiemetic: An agent that counteracts nausea and relieves vomiting.

11. Antihydrotic: An agent that reduces or suppresses perspiration.

12. Antiperiodic: An agent that counteracts periodic or intermittent diseases (such as malaria).

13. Antipyretic: An agent that prevents or reduces fever.

Source: Jeanne Rose,The Medicinal Herbal, Aromatherapy and Herbal Studies Course, 2001, page 102

Thursday 13: The “I’m Not In A Mood Anymore” Post

As a follow-on to last weeks vent of spleen, this week I want to focus on 13 Things I’m Grateful For. And, for those of you who are curious if domestic mayhem was committed at the Noonypad last week, all is well. THINGS were discussed, and are on their way to being resolved.

See what a good rant can help with?


1. I’m grateful for my OCD creative husband. In the last 3 weeks, he’s sewn over 14 garments, finished building 4 pieces of furniture, and started his Victorian boudoir photography series. He’s got 3 photo shoots this Saturday with professional models! I’m so excited and proud to be married to him.

2. I’m grateful my kid is healthy, happy and safe. And drug free. And hasn’t made me a grandmother.

3. I’m grateful for my neurotic dog. I mean, what, you’d expect me to have a normal dog like everyone else? Coyote keeps me sane by comparison.

4. I’m grateful that Belii, who has feline kidney disease, is doing well on his new diet.

5. I’m grateful to Jean Marie Ward for her advice on how to accomplish #4 for the long term. Jean Marie, thanks. Truly.

6. I’m grateful The Kitten Monster of Doom is healthy and that I haven’t killed her and made a Daniel Boone hat out of her hide, complete with a calico tail.

It’d be a really cool hat.

7. I’m grateful Boria is playing with Nadya (the kitten of #6) and not sulking all over the house anymore. Besides, it’s cute, and he’s lost weight. And she wins, a large portion of the time, which is worth seeing.

8. I’m grateful to my chiropractor for figuring out what’s wrong with my back and fixing it. It’ll be a long haul, but I’m already seeing results. He rocks.

9. I’m grateful to be doing a TT on gratitude. It’s easy to forget how much better one feels when one writes a list of things for which they are grateful. Saying thank you is an underrated spiritual path.

10. I’m grateful I know how to type. (No, I’m actually serious. Watching my friends who hunt and peck is painful. I am glad I took the time to learn it.)

11. I’m grateful I have friends who can’t type. And friends who can. Y’all, I love you!

12. I’m grateful my car has air conditioning.


Happy TT!

Thursday 13: The “I’m In A Mood” Post

13 Random Things. And if you have to ask, don’t.

1. When you “do the dishes,” they’re not done until they’re put away.

2. “Doing the dishes” means all the dirty dishes get washed. Not just the ones in the sink. Or on the drain board. Or on the stove.

3. When you are doing nothing but going to school, you damn well better be getting A’s and B’s – ESPECIALLY if I had to work full time, get an MBA (and a straight-A average) AND wrote a novel in 20 months. NO SYMPATHY.

4. When you walk out of the house in 90+ degree weather with 80%+ humidity, SHUT THE FUCKING DOOR.

5. Don’t sound surprised that I have air conditioning living in Chicago. I’m not 12 anymore, and I’m not homeless.

6. Stop making fun of me, ridiculing me, or even fucking commenting that I make lists. I like lists. They keep me organized. Deal with it.

7. Your disorganization and failure to plan do not constitute a problem on my part. Especially if I ask you, several times, ahead of time, to do things that would avoid said problem.

8. You don’t get to call me “anal” if you do #7.

9. Don’t stand there, in 90+ degree weather with 80%+ humidity, with the refrigerator door wide open, trying to figure out what’s in there that you can eat. It hasn’t changed since the LAST time you were in there, you helped me shop, AND I TOLD you what I bought. Use your memory.

10. Failure to use your memory is not solved by “I’m sorry.” It’s solved by FUCKING USING YOUR MEMORY!

11. Because I’m better organized than you does not mean I should do all the organizing.

12. Because I’m better organized than you does not mean I should be the one taking all the notes.

13. Don’t fuck with me before coffee or you’ll get an entire Thursday 13 post dedicated to you in absentia.

Any questions?

Thursday 13: A Writer In Her Library

Today we continue with craft books. The fun thing about craft books is that they can serve as inspiration for art that one wants to create. I get ideas and inspiration when I read them and see pictures of things. It’s one of the reasons I love knitting and crochet magazines, because the full-color glossy pictures are fun to look at and imagine myself making the outfits. Even if I don’t make the specific item in the picture, the design ideas influence my own creations.

1. Epstein, Nicky: Crocheted Flowers; Sixth & Spring Books, New York, 2007
This is the publisher that handles a lot of the current Vogue books. They do a lot of Ms. Epstein’s as well. I love this book. She’s an amazing designer with a seemingly endless fount of ideas, and her instructions are easy enough that I, as a novice crocheter, can follow them. I’m sure that anyone without my 2D/3D hangups would find them super simple to follow along. I even made an enormous blue crocheted rose, as practice, that turned into a gift for a friend out of town. Fun stuff.

2. Knight, Erika: The Harmony Guides: Basic Crochet Stitches ; Sixth & Spring Books, New York, 2008
This is the second of my crochet reference books that I have in my main, working collection. This is an awesome book. I’ve heard excellent things about the Harmony Guides series; if they’re anything like this one then they’re well worth the investment. I had taken one crochet class and was able to follow the instructions in here; again, someone without my 2D/3D issues would find it very clear and easy to follow. Highly recommended.

3. Jacobs, Kate: The Friday Night Knitting Club; Berkley Books, New York, 2007
Here we switch gears entirely to fiction with knitting in it. (I’d say “knitlit” but someone thought of it first and came up with a series; see below.) (Wish I thought of it first, though!)
This was a gift from my sister-in-law and follows the lives of the people in the Friday Night Knitting Club. It’s a cool idea for a story!

4. Murphy, Bernadette: Zen and the Art of Knitting: Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity; Adams Media, Avon, MA 2002
If I were to write a memoir about my thoughts on knitting and spirituality, this would be the title I’d want to give it. I love it. Ms. Murphy wrote a deeply thoughtful, fun and accurate book about how knitting can connect us with the deeper vibration. Brava!

5. Roghaar, Linda & Molly Wolf: Knit Lit and Knit Lit Too; Three Rivers Press; New York, 2002
These two are awesome. Find out why you should “Never Knit Dog” and how one woman’s abduction in a war-torn country was turned into something much less sinister with the power of knitting. Highly, highly recommended. They also have KnitLit the Third: We Spin More Yarns – MAN, I wish I thought of these titles! ~grin~ I haven’t read the third one, but that’s a function of time rather than inclination. ~eyes TBR pile~

Moving on then…

6. Better Homes and Gardens, Knitting Year-Round; Better Homes and Gardens Books, Des Moines, 2003
I really love this book because it lays out a plan for knitting the entire year, including how to finish season-specific items in time for use during that season, but also so you’re not knitting a really heavy woolen sweater in the middle of July’s heat. Lots of fun.

7. Bush, Nancy: Knitting on the Road, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO, 2001
This is one of the first design books I bought, and I really love it. She’s got a lot of great thoughts about knitting while traveling, and all sorts of thoughts about portability. Lots of fun.

8. Carles, Julie and Jordana Jacobs: The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Beyond the Basics; Potter Craft, New York, 2005
I got this book when I was part of Crafter’s Choice. It’s not bad, but it’s not something I’d say run out and buy immediately either. The authors are spunky and fun, and it’s a good idea generator.

9. Epstein, Nicky: Knitting On Top of the World: The Global Guide to Traditions, Techniques and Design; Nicky Epstein Books; New York, 2008
This is a gorgeous book. It’s essentially a coffee table book, due to size and glossiness, but Epstein as always delivers an expert product. She’s an incredible designer and I recommend checking this out – even if you only do so at the library, the pictures alone will make you swoon. Her thoughts and instruction on design interpretations around the world are worth the read.

10. Falick, Melanie; Handknit Holidays; Stewart Tabori and Chang, New York, 2005
I love this book, and the next one I have by her: Weekend Knitting; Stewart Tabori and Chang, New York, 2003. Falick edted for Interweave and her experience shows. These are professional, well-designed, and very informative – not to mention, fun. Highly recommend both of these.

11. Family Circle; Easy Sweaters; Sixth & Spring Books, New York, 2001 and Easy Afghans, 2003.
I like both of these as good, solid, simple compendiums of easy projects to make. They’re a good way to learn how to do structures and such, and I’ve made several of the afghans multiple times as gifts.

12. Griffiths, Melody: Knitting in No Time; Reader’s Digest Association Inc., New York, 2006
A surprising and fun book. Mulitple quick-to-knit projects of all kinds, this is a great place to go when you need gift ideas or stash-busters.

13. Harding, Louisa: Knitting Little Luxuries: Beautiful Accessories to Knit; Interweave Press; Loveland, CO, 2007
I love Louisa Harding. She’s another of my favorite designers. This book is beautiful – full of lovely photographs of elegant knits from shawls to sweaters to unusual items. I like this collection because it gives you ideas for things to make with one or two skeins of luxury yarns, so that the project matches the quality of the fiber. Lots of fun.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s glimpse into my library, and that maybe I’ll inspire you to start checking out the wealth of information in craft books. Even better, maybe you’ll pick up a craft or two. Happy TT!

Thursday 13: A Writer In Her Library

Welcome to another segment of my ongoing series, “A Writer In Her Library.” Today, I’d like to pull the focus a bit and talk about categorizations.

When one goes to a library, the books are organized according to some particular method. The most common are the Dewey Decimal System, as seen in many high school libraries and some public ones; and the Library of Congress System, as seen in, well, the Library of Congress, as well as many universities and some public libraries (for example, the Chicago Public Library System).

Both of these systems are useful, and a good way for Librarians to manage information. When I set up my library, though, I wanted something simpler and that fit the way I use my books. This leads me to an important observation about managing information that I’ve learned over twenty-five years managing offices and the information in them.

The critical part of any information management system, be it books, paper files, or online content, is getting the information back out of the system when it’s needed. Fifteen years ago, before Google was even a common term, (Google was founded in 1998), the internet was described as a global library where all the books were piled in the middle with no rhyme or reason. That’s one of the reasons Google has been so successful. Its search algorithms allow users to get more and more precise search results for information they need. There are other methods of doing so, Yahoo! being one of the most markedly different, but my purpose here is more to discuss the philosophy of organization rather than its specifics. I use Google as an example, though, because its key success factor is its ability to return the information that the user needs, when the user needs it.

That, fundamentally, is the purpose of any organizational system. Some of them require more training on the part of the user in order to use them (Dartmouth’s university library catalog in 1993 is one of the most complicated I have seen), but the fundamental purpose behind them is the same: organize data in such a way that it can be retrieved, as needed, in accordance with the need of the user. (So when you look up flowers, you don’t get baking flour, for example.)

What I’ve learned handling this process for various offices and people that I’ve worked with is that this last point is the most challenging. It doesn’t matter how well I understand file management. It matters how the people USING the files recall the data, because that is how they’ll look it up. Some people recall colors better. Some recall people and authors better. Some, like me, recall by date and subject.

In setting up my own library, something I haven’t taken the time to do until recently, I have complete authority over the subjects I pick. This is a rare pleasure. Usually, I’m working with a team and I need to set up the system according to how the team thinks rather than my personal preference. But now, with my books, I get to be boss and peon.

I was surprised to find out, then, that my cookbook collection had a lot more subject divisions than when I started to pull all of the books together. It was fascinating to start separating them into their relevant subjects and I found that I had more than I thought. I’m one short of 13, so it’s not a proper Thursday 13, but I share my subject headlines both from a sense of personal pride and fun in that I get to determine the subjects, but also in the rare chance that one or more of my readers might see something in my subject divisions that might inspire them with their own libraries.

1. Comprehensive Cookbooks

These are the traditional “cookbooks” that one thinks of when one thinks of the generic term: Betty Crocker, Better Homes and Gardens, etc. General, all-purpose, and comprehensive; the cookbooks in this category fill most of the needs of the home cook from main dishes to beverages and such.

One interesting thing I noticed is the books in this category tend to be organized in one of two ways: by meal or by ingredients. Some cover topics like Breakfast, Lunch or Light Fare, Dinner, Entertaining, Beverages, and Desserts; the second group covers topics like Meat, Fowl, Fish, Soups and Stews, Vegetables, Beverages, Cakes, Pies, Candies, Ice Creams and Frozen Custard, etc.

2. Cooking for Two/Working Adult Cookbooks

If you had asked me before I started collecting cookbooks when I thought the “cooking for two” idea came about, I would have said it was my own generation (Generation X) when we were in high school in the 80’s. The so-called nuclear family of Reagan and then the growing propensity of people to marry late and have children late would have engendered a need for such books.

Boy, was I wrong. My earliest book of the type is 1963. Granted, it’s not strictly for two people, but it’s called THE WORKING WIVES’ (SALARIED OR OTHERWISE) COOKBOOK by Theodora Zavin and Freda Stuart. They discuss smaller portions and also the ideas of making items ahead and all sorts of time-saving ideas. I have also seen titles from the 1920’s on the same subjects, so my generation is hardly the first to realize that the primary cook of a household may, in fact, work for pay outside that household but still need to feed its members adequately.

3. Canning and Storage

It will come as no surprise to my long-time readers that I was probably born in the wrong century and would privately love to be a frontierswoman. In fact, I used to play in the Society for Creative Anachronism, otherwise known as the SCA, who at times describes itself as an organization for re-creating the medieval times but with plumbing and without the Plague.

I like the idea of canning and storage. While I haven’t had the time to devote to it or a large enough garden to make it cost-effective, my plan is to remedy that when we buy either our first or second home. In the meantime, I’m an armchair frontierswoman. I love reading about malic acid and fruit pectin, and know that apples can be used as a good natural thickener. Until I can really go to town putting up the fruit crop from my peach orchard, I’ll fantasize in my books.

Besides. My neighbor has a lovely mulberry tree and if I go late at night, maybe they won’t notice my ladder and bucket. Pardon me, I’ll be right back…

4. Family Cookbooks

It turns out I have several cookbooks compiled by family and for family. I find these at garage sales, through my family, and as fund-raisers. They’re an interesting window on how other people cook, as well as their favorite recipes.

5. Cook’s Illustrated

This is both a magazine and they do a hard-back annual compendium. I have one of the annuals, as well as a couple years’ worth of subscriptions. Of all the cookbook magazines, I like this one the best because they review multiple cooking methods for the same type of food, as well as multiple iterations of the same kind of dish (like, say, oatmeal).

6. Specific Technique and Equipment

This is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a category for the cookbook that came with our microwave or the blender, etc. I have a title called ELECTRIC BREAD, for example, that has recipes for using a breadmaker. Anything of that type goes in this section.

7. Meal-Specific Books

Again, pretty self-explanatory. It’s not the compendium as mentioned in section one, but it’s a book all about a specific meal – I have one entitled BRUNCH, for example.

8. Weight Watchers

It startled me how many Weight Watchers cookbooks I actually own. (They’re really good about making their cookbooks sexy, full-color, and food-porn, though I’m sure their marketing department wouldn’t describe them in those terms.) (But if I didn’t like food porn and sexy full-color exposes on my food, I wouldn’t NEED Weight Watchers, now would I?)

(Get your mind out of the gutter. I don’t mean porn with food, I mean food porn. As in, a sexy spread about Zanzibar Chocolate Ice Cream that won’t add twenty pounds to your ass just by reading the recipe.)

9. Vegetarian

Um, this about, like, Vegetarian cooking.


10. Health and Instructional Books about Food and Eating

Hmm. My topics are getting more and more self-explanatory.

Do I need to discuss what Health and instructional Books About Food and Eating are?

In all seriousness, I include topics like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for treatment of intestinal disorders and other such topics in this area.

11. Culture-Specific Cookbooks

Russian, Jewish, Mexican, Asian, etc. all fit in here. I have, for example, an excellent review of all types of Russian cooking by Anne Volokh, the first post-Soviet food reporter in Russia. (Prior to Glasnost, they didn’t have such an occupation; at least not openly.) I lump other cuisine-specific books in this category because that’s where I expect to find them when I go looking for ideas.

12. Ingredient-Specific

As in, 101 Different Ways to Prepare Chicken, and such. I have a book on Mustard, one on Garlic, and actually two on Mushrooms (since my husband LOVES them).

I don’t have a 13th Category, so I ask you, the Reader: tell me, in Comments, what you might add to my list or how you organize your own cookbooks.

As I’m typing this, my buddy who is sitting here reading while I type, said, I have one. So, here is Dorothy’s additional category:

“Making Ingredients” as in, How to Make Cheese, How to Make Flavored Vinegars, How to Make Butter, How to Distill Oregano, etc.

Oooh. Those sound fun. Hmm. Maybe I need to go cookbook shopping here soon.

Book addiction? Me?

Silly. There’s no such thing. ~nods~

Happy TT!

Thursday 13: A Writer In Her Library

Chapter Three

Today’s TT focuses on Knitting Reference books. These books focus on particular techniques, rather than a designer’s vision of patterns, and include stitch dictionaries. I love knitting reference books. They usually have things in them I don’t already know, or look at a particular topic in a new way.

In fact, when I signed up for the Master Knitter course through TKGA, a bibliography is part of the course. I figured, in my arrogance, that I am The Noony! Of COURSE I have all the books on the bibliography, and what books I don’t have aren’t worth bothering with, because I am The Noony.

Boy, was I stunned. I had, like, two.


Sheesh. Put me in my place, whydon’tyou?

I have since collected several of the books on the recommended bibliography and wow, those folks sure know what they’re doing! These books are awesome!!!

Anyhoo, back to MY list, because after all, I am The Noony.

1. Crompton, Claire; The Knitter’s Bible; David & Charles; Cincinnati, OH; 2004

I like this book a lot. It covers the basics, but after each technique, it includes projects that use what you just learned. There are several projects that I want to try myself, including gorgeous little sachet bags and blankets and purses and things. Well-rounded, fun book.

2. Epstein, Nicky; Knitting On The Edge; Sixth & Spring Books; New York; 2004
Knitting Over The Edge, 2005
Knitting Beyond The Edge, 2006

Nicky Epstein is an amazing designer. She doesn’t only ‘do’ knitting, she’s published books on crochet design as well. She travels internationally, teaching, and even came to our guild here in Chicago two years ago.

She decided to write Knitting On The Edge when she realized there weren’t any guides to edging techniques available at the time. Some books had some edgings, but nothing really dedicated to the edges of garments. She started researching and collected a number of edging options, as well as designing a bunch on her own, and voila: a phenomenon was born. Immensely popular, On the Edge was followed a year later with Over the Edge, and then Beyond the Edge. These are stitch dictionaries as opposed to longer design books; they are filled with ideas that you can incorporate into your own projects. There are a few projects given that utilize the patterns, but for the most part, it’s simply a graphic of a particular edging pattern and instructions for how to work it.

Since she has a very involved website, I’m going to include that here rather than an image of her table of contents. You can check out her work here: She doesn’t only have textile arts; she created a line of handmade buttons and clasps that are incredible and well worth a browse.

The books are available for purchase:
Knitting On the Edge

Knitting Over the Edge

Knitting Beyond the Edge

3. Golden Hands; Aran & Fair Isle Knitting; Marshall Cavendish; London; 1977

A classic book, but worth a look if you like the style of knitting. It includes detailed instruction on the art of Aran (cable) knit sweaters and Fair Isle (colorwork). It’s got a number of interesting patterns that will expand your skills and experience with these two techniques.

4. Kooler, Donna; Encyclopedia of Knitting; Leisure Arts Publication; Little Rock, AK; 2004

This is a good all-around technique dictionary. There are some lovely pictures, and I totally want to make that handbag on the table of contents.

5. Leinhauser, Jean; Learn to Knit in Just One Day; American School of Needlework; San Marcos, CA; 1994

This one holds a special place in my heart. I dearly wanted to learn to knit for most of my life. I couldn’t master crochet, and I tried the one needle knitter from K-Tel with some success. But I really, REALLY wanted to learn to knit.

Sadly, I can’t translate two-dimensional instructions into three-dimensional reality.

I really tried, too.

I picked up this book several times over the years, and could NOT master it. I finally took a class in 2000 from Sharon Shoji, a Chicago instructor and designer. I haven’t looked back.

And do you know what? After I took the class, this book suddenly made sense!

If you don’t have the 2-D/3-D disconnect, this is a remarkably easy book to learn from. It’s thorough and teaches you to make sweaters and afghans in a very short time. I actually like it because it doesn’t have a lot of the clutter of some of the modern glitzy books, which can be good when you’re trying to learn.

6. Leisure Arts; 99 Knit Stitches; Leisure Arts Publication; Little Rock, AK; 1997

This book a surprise. It’s put together in a booklet format that seems light-weight, but when you delve into it, it’s got a very well-rounded group of stitches to try. It’s a good little stitch dictionary and has the benefit of not weighing a lot in one’s knitting bag.

7. Rutt, Richard; History of Hand Knitting; B T Batsford; London; 1989

This is the classic book on knitting history. Written from the point of view of scholar and not knitter, it’s a little dry, but the information is comprehensive and well-researched. If you’re curious about knitting’s origins in history (like the fact it probably comes from the Middle East, for example, and the oldest extant knitted textile is a sock from Turkey), this is the book for you.

8. Starmore, Alice; Book of Fair Isle Knitting; Taunton Press; Newton, CT; 1988

I coveted this book for ages. Starmore is my hero. I looked up the book and couldn’t find it for under $150, since it had gone out of print. I saved and saved and one year, got two gift certificates for Amazon. I found it for $99 and pounced on it.

The next year, Schoolhouse Press re-released the book.


Not that I have anything against Schoolhouse Press. Lovely group. But sheesh!

If you are serious about Fair Isle (colorwork), this is a phenomenal book. Starmore teaches you about design, not just the knitting process. She also discusses the history of the art, which is worth a read.

9. Sterling; Knitting School: A Complete Course; Sterling Publishing Company; New York; 1990

I bought this through the Crafter’s Choice book club. I do not recommend it. Poorly done, with inadequate explanations. I kept it because I already know how to knit and figured that some of the instruction might be useful, but this is little better than a stitch dictionary.

10. Vogue; Vogue Knitting and Vogue Knitting Quick Reference; Sixth & Spring Books; New York; 2002

These are excellent reference materials. The Quick Reference can be carried in a knitting bag. Vogue Knitting covers all the basics, and has an excellent overview of different cast-on and cast-off methods, construction, and a modular sweater design method that breaks down the design process into clear steps.

11. Vogue; Stitchionary: Volume One – Knit and Purl; Sixth & Spring Books; New York; 2005
Stitchionary: Volume Two – Cables, 2006

These are good stitch dictionaries. There are more volumes than the two I have, but Volume III is colorwork and IV is crochet, neither of which I really need. These two basic ones are good. They’re not great; they don’t have details about the stitches or how they work, and I find the Harmony Guides better for basic instruction. But I’m loyal to Vogue and like these two books.

12. Vogue; The Ultimate Sock Book; Sixth & Spring Books; New York; 2007

If you like socks, BUY THIS BOOK.

‘nuff said.

I love it. It covers toe up and cuff down, all sorts of design information, and then a whole library of designs for you to play with. Loff!

13. Walker, Barbara G.; A Treasury of Knitting Patterns; Schoolhouse Press; Pittsville, WI; 1998
A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns; 1998
Charted Knitting Designs: A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns; 1998
A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns; 2000

Awesome!! These are an excellent basis for any knitter’s library. In fact, Walker has nearly eclipsed Alice Starmore as my Number One Knitting Hero. I use Walker’s books more often than Starmore’s, as it happens. She’s smart, funny, and opinionated. I love her. Her stitch books put the Stitchionaries to shame: she gives details for EACH of the stitch patterns she includes in her books, which include her thoughts on the history of the stitch, how it works in garments and projects, whether it looks good on the front and back or if it’s one-sided, etc. I love these books, and am grateful to Schoolhouse Press for re-releasing them.

If you are a knitter who is familiar with Walker’s books, you should check out the Walker Treasury Project. It’s a blog that records modern color pictures of the patterns in the four books. Four more information, visit the blog.

Happy TT!

A Writer In Her Library, Chapter Two

Thursday 13: A Writer In Her Library

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! As a fourth-generation Irish American, today has special significance since my uncle, the oldest surviving Irish relative on American soil, passed away this month. Our family draws together to remember our connections and to celebrate our family ties. I wish you and yours a very happy and bountiful year! As you raise a glass in celebration, please toast to my Uncle Tom and the family of poor Irish potato farmers who have “made it good” in the new land.

Today I offer the second installment in my series, “A Writer In Her Library.” We continue with craft books today and venture out of the anthologies and into the single titles. I have an eclectic collection spanning some of the glitzy modern photo-intensive books that have little in the way of actual instruction, to those older books from the 50’s and 60’s that have a lot of instructions and much less glam. Enjoy!

1. Singer Sewing Series, Sew and Save for Home and Fashion, Elmsmere Publishing Inc, New York, 1972.

This one caught my eye at a Brandeis Used Book Sale a couple years ago. It’s a battered 3-ring binder, like the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, and covers all sorts of the basics of sewing. Since it’s also targeted to the thrifty home sewer, there are a lot of tips on mending and wardrobe construction.

2. The next five are all from Reader’s Digest. Some of my acquaintance don’t like the RD books because they are abridged; however, I have always enjoyed their how-to books for their depth and breadth of coverage of the topic. I remember the first time I saw a stitchery book and coveted it so badly! It took another decade before I broke down and bought one used, and I love it.

Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills. Reader’s Digest Association Inc., Pleasantville, NY; 1981.

This one is a gem. It’s got all SORTS of cool stuff. The one that got my husband is ‘build your own stone house.’ Now he wants to go out and collect rocks. 🙂

3. Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual. 1973.

When my husband and I moved in together, we merged our libraries (which were both prodigious). We each had a copy of this book.

‘Nuff said.

4. Complete Guide to Needlework. 1979.

There she is!! This is my first compendium of needlework purchase, and I love it! It’s got stitchery alphabets and instructions for all sorts of crafts! I don’t always learn from 2D to 3D very well, but once I got the basics elsewhere this was a snap – and if you don’t have the whole 2D/3D problem, you’re set.

The interesting thing about this one, is that it has sections on both macrame and lace (including bobbin lace and tatting), which after about 1985 is not something you see much of.

5. Crafts and Hobbies. 1979

JACKPOT! This is awesome. The breadth of crafts included here is staggering, and almost rivals the Family Creative Workshop – and this is only one volume! It goes from Drawing to Enameling to Preserving Fruit, all in the same book. Who needs a television with this thing around??

6. Fix-It-Yourself Manual. 1977.

This is a good book to have around if you own your own home or do your own repairs. It’s got oodles of advice for how to handle common household problems, and includes a section on Furniture Repair that’s exceedingly useful.

7. Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book: Sewing How-To For Home and Family. Better Homes and Gardens Books, 1981.

This is an excellent resource. I’m wondering if I have a typo in my bibliography, because what I found online was 1961 where the cover matched my recollection. Either way, this is an excellent sewing book. It covers adjusting patterns and making fitting fixes better than almost any other sewing book I own. I highly, highly recommend this if you are serious about sewing garments for yourself or others.

8. Jefferys, Chris; Learn to Sew: A Beginner’s Guide. New Holland Publishers Ltd, London, Cape Town, Sydney, Auckland; 2005.

I really like this one. It’s big and has very clear pictures. The projects, as you can see from the Table of Contents below, are broad-ranging and non-repetitive, but cover all the basics you need to develop a good basis for making your own garments or soft furnishings for the home.

I love the Silverware Roll; that seems like a fun gift for the holidays. The Table Runner with Mitered Border is beautiful and I like the zippered bags. I find zippers intimidating, and the idea of making several small bags to practice seems wise.

9. Oops! Missed a Reader’s Digest. I have it in a different spot on the shelf because it’s in a different format than the ones I listed above; I simply included it in the single titles on the shelf.

Step-by-Step Sewing Course: Essential Techniques for Making Over 150 Creative Home Projects. 2005.

I couldn’t resist the cover.

I’m shallow. ~shrug~

I really want to make that bolster! Maybe this will be the year. From the book jacket:

“Learn to sew and make beautiful gifts and decorator-style custom furnishings for your home with the Step-by-Step Sewing Course. This handy guide is filled with more than 150 projects and variations for beginner, intermediate, and advanced sewers, complete with clear, easy-to-follow, illustrated instructions that lead you through each project, one step at a time. Along with vital information about essential sewing equipment and basic techniques, you’ll discover how to make…: Quick and easy bedspreads, Tablecloths with lace panels, Decorative window treatments for every type of window, Shower curtains and bath mats, Pillows with romantic ruffles, Duvet covers, Padded fabric headboards, Gift bags for special occasions, …and so much more! “

10. Simplicity, Simply the Best Sewing Book: Revised Edition. Simplicity Pattern Co., Inc., New York, 2001.

This was the recommended book for Veronica Brackett’s excellent sewing courses at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. If you ever get a chance to take one of her classes, DO IT. She’s the single best sewing instructor I have ever met.

The book is good. It starts with your sewing philosophy (do you want to sew simple and buy complicated? Or spend time sewing complicated and buy simple?) and goes through basics. It’s even got a selection of basic patterns to get you started.

11. Singer, Sewing Step-by-Step. Cy DeCosse Incorporated, Minnetonka, MN, 1990.

I like the Singer books. They good, solid, basic, and I have a Singer machine so the instructions are targeted for my equipment.

12. Vogue, Vogue Sewing Book. Butterick Publishing Company, New York; I have two editions – 1975 and 2000.

The 1975 has a section on menswear and is much more in-depth. The 2000 eliminated the menswear section (and it’s only been this year that I’ve started to see men’s patterns making a comeback on the pattern sites) and is a lot more sparse on the instruction. Still, this is a classic reference and well worth having on the shelf.

The Table of Contents, below, is from the current edition but is substantially similar from edition to edition.

13. And now we switch gears into the Knitting Reference section. This is distinct from the Knitting Patterns section, in that the material here covers the basics in how to knit or includes various stitch guides like the Walker books and the Vogue Stitchionaries.

This first one is a surprising find, to me anyway, because I’d already purchased my reference books for knitting and didn’t think I needed any more. I’ve since learned that Debbie Bliss is a knitting luminary and well worth taking a look at her work; this book is no exception. Truly an excellent resource.

Bliss, Debbie, How to Knit. Trafalgar Square Publishing, North Pomfret, VA, 1999.

In looking at this today, I realize that I should crack it open and review the section on colorwork, since I’m working on an intarsia (color block) project that’s proving a bit of a challenge. ~glee~

Thank you for visiting today, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into one writer’s library. Happy TT!