Supporting the Hauser family – Auction for Eleni

A wonderful quilt blogger, Rachel of Stitched In Color, has recently given birth to her third child – baby girl Eleni. After complications during birth, Eleni has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The community is organizing a support effort via an auction on Instagram (@AuctionForEleni #auctionforeleni) on March 14th and 15th.

My cousin in law, a preteen girl full of smiles and a zesty personality, has cerebral palsy with a low functioning expression. I cannot grasp what this means, emotionally, for her parents; how it altered their lives. But now, as a newbie mom, with the challenges of a baby’s first months so fresh in my memory, I understand a little better.

I’m donating two pairs of earrings to the Auction for Eleni. To bid, 1) sign in with your Instagram account on May 14th, 15th; 2) check out the items posted by @AuctionForEleni; 3) comment with your bids under the photos of the items you want; 4) persons with winning bids will be contacted after auction close with a Paypal invoice and details for receiving the item.

Slim Twilight Earrings

This nuanced pair features a grape-like cluster of earthy colored tourmalines, iridescent labradorites, and chocolate smoky quartz. Light and sophisticated, they add a calming presence to brightly colored outfits. Place your bids HERE on March 14th and 15th.



Waterfall Earrings

These fun and versatile earrings feature a bright sky blue cascade of aquamarine. Arranged in a graduating cluster, like grapes on a vine, each gemstone stem combines a smooth chip and faceted rondelles, resulting in a fuller earring body with a leafy sparkling texture. Place your bids HERE on March 14th and 15th.


Take a minute to oggle the donated fabric and handmade items!

Here are some handmade quilts and crafts that have caught my eye.

IMG_9487 copy

Posted in Life/Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning to knit: “Frostlight” Scarf

Starting on creative projects has been the second hardest thing for me since I’ve become a parent. The first, surprise surprise, is the effect of sleep deprivation. First three months, it was minimal and thus negligible. Then Dasha begun learning to roll over, started waking up 4 times per night, and BAM! I am a useless blob with a sore throat.

2014-12-03 009

Having a routine feels impossible; I can never predict when, and how much time I will have to myself (mooove like a jellyfish, rhythm is nothing, goo with the flow). About once a week I get shmancy in the kitchen with a creme brulee, or uber garlic mashed potatoes. But my beloved gemstones and pencils, they are gathering dust.

Until I figure this time management thing all over again, I need a craft that a) can be started and stopped at any point; b) sees progress in utterly flexible chunks of time; c) helps relax/meditate. I’ve decided that KNITTING IS IT! And being me, I’m not going to learn by making, like, a small square or a simple flat pattern. Oh no. I aim to replace my husband’s favorite scarf from H&M as a New Year’s present. (He’s sniffed this out already, mostly because I’m a shit liar).

My ambition is to knit a 8″x90″ version of the “Frostlight” pattern. I obtained 7 skeins of Majestic Tweed by Classic Elite Yarns in lavender, and am using Knitter’s Pride Karbonz 40″ circular size 9 needles. I’ve finished the first skein (resulting in a 8″x16″ rectangle) – and it took me half the skein to truly SEE the pattern; to be able to look at the previous row and my current place, and know the next step without needing to count stitches.

2014-12-03 001

The first 3 inches were the hardest. I unraveled my progress 4 times before managing to avoid significant mistakes. Even so, see the absence of lace between the knitted paths to the left of yellow dashed line? Caused by twisting up Yarn Over stitches.

2014-12-03 002

The next five inches were less painful, but still a harsh learning curve. If Dasha woke up mid-row, I couldn’t proceed without counting stitches and then double checking my count. Some of the lace holes ended up stacked instead of alternating in a zig zag. I was still a total noob, and didn’t suspect that you could just look at what came before to tell what to stitch after.

2014-12-03 003

By now, my brain recognizes the visual pattern of the stitches. As I tried to show in the photo below, when you know what to look for the various types of stitches are obvious: knits, purls, yarn overs, knit2together, and slip2&knit2together from the back.

2014-12-03 004

It’s silly, but I am so proud of being able to come to a lacy junction and deduce the next steps. In the instance beneath, I am deciding what comes after a knit-knit-purl sequence. In the row below, two stitches have been knitted together (pointing to the right), followed by hole created via a YarnOver. Therefore, to turn the zigzag to the left, I need to YarnOver-Slip2ToRightNeedle&Knit2TogetherFromBehind-purl. (Yeah, that lengthy-explanation stitch does have an abbreviation –  SSK).

2014-12-03 005

Similarly, in an opposite instance, I come across a point where the previous row contains a YO-SSK-purl; thus I need to k2tog-YO-purl to turn the zigzag of the lace to the right.

2014-12-03 008

Another big thing for keeping the lace holes even and visible: when knitting on the back side of the scarf (in a purl-purl-knit sequence) and reaching a YarnOver stitch to purl onto the right needle,  I needed to pay attention to the placement of yarn on the left needle. Often, the YarnOver stitch was on the left needle from front to back. If I left it that way, the stitch would end up twisted (like my first 3 inches).

2014-12-03 006

If instead I placed it from back to front and then purled, the hole kept its maximum diameter, and, you know, actually looked like lace.

2014-12-03 007

I have a couple of great hopes for this scarf. One, that I actually finish it, preferably on time (that’s 3 inches to knit daily). Two, that by the end of it I learn to hold the thread with consistent tension so that stitches of the same type look identical from row to row.

Posted in Life/Personal, Other Arts & Crafts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Salmon & Pineapple Salad

Before Dasha’s birth, an evening in was a rarity. If we weren’t visiting friends, family, or the climbing gym, we were sipping on Bubble Tea at our favorite cafe while engrossed in our Kindles. Nowadays, I’m ecstatic when I manage to lull the dragon into slumber at 7pm, and then wander the living room at a loss – what the hell to do with the two remaining hours at absolutely zero strength?

2014-11-18 002

Apparently, salads are the answer. The past week, I’ve been on an arugula kick. Why did it take me so long to discover arugula? So much better than lettuce! More zesty, funner texture. One pre-washed package lasts for three salads for two people.

It’s also the pineapple season (or so it looks from the spiky rows at two bucks per head). And while I’m exploring greens, Levon is has been acquainting himself with the Anova Precision Cooker (a sous vide machine he backed on Kickstarter). Thus, out of fatigue and last minute experimentation, the Salmon & Pineapple salad was born!

2014-11-18 003

Ingredients, yielding 2 servings:

  • 2 frozen salmon pieces
    • sous vide at 120F for over an hour
    • seared for under a minute on the side with skin prior to serving
  • 1″ slice of fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 an orange or yellow pepper, sliced into strips
  • a handful of Zima tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 of red onion, diced
  • 3 tsp balsamic vinegar, mixed with a dash of olive oil
  • lemon juice, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste

The result was light, juicy, on the sweeter side. Methinks the salad lacked a subtle punch – next time I’ll try adding some dijon mustard into the dressing, half to a full teaspoon.

2014-11-18 001

Posted in Life/Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kale fruit smoothie

I’ve decided to try something different – to expand this blog to all sorts of endeavors, rather than keeping a narrow jewelry focus. Why? Mainly because, three and a half months into motherhood, I cast a much wider creative net, yet still really enjoy documenting my explorations, process, and self-development.

2014-11-10 005
An alternative presentation: I haven’t learned to manage my time well enough as a caretaker to return to jewelry making – but I’m still doing stuff! And I want to talk about it!
So. Let’s see where this takes me.

Kale Fruit Smoothie

Really, green smoothies were not my thing. Maybe still aren’t. Except, every week, for four months straight, we received an armful of curly kale as part of our summer CSA.
I tried salads. I added it to soup. I gave it away. I let some of it yellow and wilt in our fridge (and those of you who’ve stored kale know that it takes centuries for that to happen. Kidding. Sort of.)

2014-11-10 001

One morning, feeling spurred by guilt over wasted vegetables and emboldened by a recipe on Pinterest, I added kale (a ton; all the kale ever) to an already planned banana-blueberry smoothie. It turned out this muddy eggplant color that quickly oxidized into beige (aka: fugly), but tasted nice. So I tweaked and fine-tuned to our taste, and now we regularly breakfast on the following recipe:

  • 2 bananas (pretty ripe)
  • 2 apples (I bet any are fine, but I’ve used gold delicious and pink ladies)
  • 1 cup milk (we, still being really Russian in this regard, use whole milk)
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • ~ 5 oz frozen pineapple chunks
  • a handful of roasted unsalted cashews (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup (optional, to be added after tasting how the rest of ingredients mixed)
  • kale, the trunk and veins removed (the more you put, the greener and grassier the resulting taste is; I use 1/3 of a $3.00 bunch purchased at the farmer’s market – or all that’s shown in the photo)

This yields about 7 cups of liquid, or 4 tall glasses, of a vivid spring green goodness.

2014-11-10 003

Posted in Life/Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Better Than Perfect

I often operate under a counterproductive assumption that: if a result isn’t perfect, then it’s sort of pointless. (But I don’t want my effort to be pointless! I gotta strive for perfection!) Yet applying this premise to daily endeavors only brings on artist’s block.

2014-08-29 001

At the start, perfection is paralyzing. The more daunting and time-consuming the execution of a project appears, the more tempting it becomes to quit without trying. At the end, perfection begs for that last edit, and then another and another. It narrows perspective, obscures balance.

Furthermore, perfection is merely perception! As an appreciative judgement, “perfect!” identifies the flaws in a work a great fit to your taste. Otherwise transient, “perfect” shifts to “could be better” as you grow in skill and discernment.

2014-08-29 004

So I remind myself to begin things small; to leave them at completion rather than perfection; to strive for progress. Because done is better.

Posted in Creativity, Personal Development, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Wading Back To Self

Dear all, how have you been?

A little over three weeks on the new job (ahem, parenthood) and I’m tentatively getting the hang of being a caretaker/main food supply. Flexibility, readiness to take naps anytime, and willingness to eat anything placed in front of me are my main survival skills. (Though friends and family have spoiled us by bringing all the tasty stuff).

2014-08-18 001
When I’m ok-slept our tiny human, Dasha, is pretty fun. At this point, she seems a tangle of basic functions, squirmy reflexes and derpy faces. I’m beginning to see why during our evening walks the passerby halt and break into smiles upon noticing her; I think they remember their own kids as babies. I think I will become like them, appreciating any and all new life. (Makes me want to sit on imaginary porches at the break of dawn, looking out across dew-filled fields and whisper “Hello, tiny creature. Welcome to the world”).

The first two weeks with Dasha, the lack of confidence and sleep left me hollow. I’d get time to myself but wouldn’t be able to muster the energy to even read. Yet last week saw strength and creativity start seeping back! My milestones:

  • finished Wool by Hugh Howey (if you’re into fiction with a dystopian setting, I highly recommend it!);
  • cooked panna cotta (so quick, so creamy, so mmm);
  • rediscovered internet through my phone and learned to type with one thumb;
  • took pen to paper and began the two personal essays on lessons learned from pregnancy and labor.

I’m unable to say when I will resume a regular post schedule, but I’m happy that I’m heading back toward myself. Meanwhile, I hope summer ends with a blast for you! See ya’round.

Posted in Life/Personal | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

DIY Swaddling Blankets: Printed & Dyed Muslin

In a largely failing attempt to distract myself from impatiently anticipating the upcoming labor, I made swaddling blankets.

Leaf Printed


Inspired by Leslie Keating’s tutorial, I armed myself with unbleached muslin from JoAnn’s, a small variety of leaves (maple, tulip poplar, elm), acrylics, Fabric Medium, a glass bottle instead of a roller – and spent several hours telling myself to leave some white space between the colorful leafy awesomeness.



Lessons learned:

  • To keep hue per leaf consistent throughout, mix more pigment than you think you need;
  • More water = thinner layer of paint = better detail of veins;
  • Heat-set, HEM, then wash;

diy_leaf_printed_muslin_swaddling_blanket_006 diy_leaf_printed_muslin_swaddling_blanket_007



Guided by MustHaveMom’s tutorial and instructions on Rit Liquid Dye bottles, I hemmed four 45×45 inch white muslin squares, and then basically cooked each for 40 minutes on medium heat in a steel 8 liter pot. I winged various combinations of Aquamarine and Wine hues to get the colors you see below.


Posted in DIY | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments