Friday, July 30, 2010

Cute inspiration

I whipped up a few cupcakes (knit and crocheted!) for a lunch gathering yesterday and they were a hit! It seems people love cute, fake food. About five years back I wanted to try felt food and made a cake. I can't believe I actually found this picture:I did not even embellish the ones I made yesterday and they were cute enough to impress, so I'm thinking with some bead sprinkles sewn on and a felt strawberry, they might be too tempting to resist. The absolute best thing about them is that they are unbelievably quick to make. I made 1.5 cupcakes on the train yesterday (and that was with ripping out a few times -- working without a pattern -- and standing up part of the way). Side note: crocheting on the train draws much unwanted attention. In my mind, if someone is engrossed in an activity, such as reading or stitching, that means they don't want to be bothered!There are so many blogs featuring cute fake food. I just love this little morsel by Lisajhoney:So, we're on "vacation" here now. Naturally, Grace is sick. Her fever went up last night to 104. Doctor this morning said throat infection. I thought for a while there that her illnesses were getting more infrequent, but July has been quite a month. Let's hope August is a bit more fun.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Been feeling a bit inspired these days, not having much time to craft, but trying to fit it in anyway. Grace has been good with me knitting around her. She doesn't try to touch my work very often, as long as I stop when needed to read her a book or get her some milk or something like that.

I found this very inspiring blog the other day and just fell in love with this woman's crocheted stones. She has done some really intricate ones using several types of thread and fabric, but she did a tutorial on how to do a simple one. I skimmed the tutorial and decided to do some free form on a seashell I picked up in Australia over five years ago. I think it's quite pretty. I wish I had some smooth stones to cover. Here is another really neat tutorial. I'm going to try to do some small jar covers next.A friend just started a custom cupcake business, so I thought I'd make her a little mascot. She also sews, so this could also be a pincushion (those pearly things in there are pins). It was fun to make, although I'm not totally happy with how it came out. There are several cupcake patterns on ravelry, so I might try my hand at another.Not too long ago, I bought about $60 worth of aran weight yarn in Dongdaemun, which I intended to knit/hook up into some small baby items and possibly try an Etsy store. Well, I still don't have a reliable pattern to use. I tried this little baby hat, and while it's cute enough, I'm not in love with it. I really need to think of the perfect pattern, otherwise, I can't do it. I can't fathom selling something that is less than perfect. Anyway, it's definitely back to the drawing board.Finally, I finished this little cropped shrug for Grace, only to find out it's too small. This was shocking, because I did the 7-8-year-old size. Of course, I was working with a much lighter yarn, but I thought I couldn't go wrong doing an older girl's size. Was wrong. Good part is, this only took me two or three days, so I'm going to do it again with a bigger hook and bigger size.There it is. I guess I've been feeling like doing some smaller projects since everything else I'm working on is so big. The sweater, the shawl...those take months. I needed something for some instant satisfaction.

Monday, July 26, 2010

When boring is good

I was the thinking the other day, "There is nothing new or exciting going on these days. Just same old, same old." After some more thought, I realized, this is a good thing. Sometimes it's good just to sit back and enjoy the uneventful times. I'm neither too busy nor bored. We are all well. This is a pretty decent state to be in. Although, I'm still very disappointed in Sejin's pathetic vacation time (Thurs-Sun). However, as I mentioned, that is one of the many reasons we've decided to do the immigration paperwork and move to Canada.I had a really nice weekend. It was the first weekend in a long time (maybe a month) that Grace was not sick. Seeing that she was feeling so well, I spoiled her a bit. We went to Baskin Robins for ice cream, went to the playground a few times, went splashing at Uijeongbu Station, and went "swimming" on the veranda. We even had udon last night, one of Grace's favourites. It's a bit scary watching her stuff noodles into her mouth, but at least she enjoys it. I hope I didn't overdo it, but it's so nice to watch her having fun.
There's not much more I can think of to say, but I'm going to go with it. Time to relax with some knitting after a long day of teaching.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cut-off from cola

My friend, A, posted this vintage ad in a Facebook album the other day, and I thought it was hilarious.

I've been a cola addict since high school. At that time, I drank only the real stuff and I was active enough that it did not have any effect on my weight. I was always really thin. In my last year of university, I lived off campus with a friend who was diabetic. She always had diet coke in the fridge, and I often ended up dipping into her coke when mine ran out, especially during those long nights of thesis writing. Just me, the mice in the cupboards, and a bottle of coke...and our cat, Rufus. I quickly became hooked on diet coke and that addiction followed me here to Korea, where it is also widely available. Most recently, I've been drinking a lot of Coke Zero. A friend's Facebook status update about quitting the cola inspired me to do some online reading about diet cola. I was shocked to read about all the harmful side effects of the ingredient aspartame. I had heard things here and there, but I blocked it all out because I so loved drinking cola.

These days I have taken more interest in my health, and I thought that I, too, should kick the habit. So, I haven't had any diet cola or Coke Zero for around six weeks. I weaned myself onto regular coke for a while. I guess I drank that for about month, but I started to worry about gaining more weight, so I stopped that about two weeks ago. I don't intend to ban myself from cola. I will probably still have a glass if I'm out at a restaurant or at a get-together on a hot day, but I will not have it in the house on a daily basis anymore.

Also regarding my health, I think it's time to finally lose the last 15 pounds of baby weight I've been hanging on to. I purchased some small dumbbells from gmarket and I've got the 30 Day Shred all set up and ready to go. I've been wanting to start it for a long time, but I've been waiting for the right time.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Here is proof for my family in Canada that we are actually doing the paperwork. This stack of applications looks intimidating, but it's actually all the applications plus several photocopies of each. I figure I'll do one or two practice runs and I'll probably mess a few up, too. So there it is.And in case I needed a reminder of why I'm going through all this to return to an uncertain future in Canada: Sejin's "vacation." This year he gets a whopping four days. It's the 29, 30, 31, and Aug. 1. In Canadian terms, that's actually only two days, since that's a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Even if he stayed at this job for several years, he would not get any additional vacation time. That's the way it is. That's the way it is for many, many Korean families here, sadly.

Sejin works so hard, he really needs more of a break than this. It would have been nice to go on a trip to the beach or something, but there's no way I'm going on a trip by bus with an 18-month-old on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Knitting Update

I have been knitting a lot, every day, whenever I can. I really want to get Flora Dress done for Grace so that she can wear it a few times this summer, especially for photos. It's really hard to say how this one will look and fit. All the stitches are bunched up on my circular needle. I'm not that into the yarn I'm using, but I'm trying to discipline myself to knit up some old yarn in my stash. I bought this stuff way before Grace was born. I don't even remember what I had in mind for it. Well, it's now becoming a dress. Right now I'm in the knitting "black hole" part of the dress. This means I'm at the part where it seems no matter how many rounds I knit, it feels like I'm getting nowhere. Still a few inches to go until I can start the lace part of the skirt.Then we have Zetor Scarf. I'm taking a whole new approach with this project. Usually, I jump right into a project and knit and knit until I get bored of the pattern and then put it down for something else. On this one, I'm only knitting a row here and there, whenever I have a few minutes, usually after Grace goes to bed. I can't knit more than a few rows at a time because the yarn is so fine. I have perfect eyesight right now, but I might need glasses after this one is finished.Cardigan Sweater has been put aside because I can't wear it until November at the earliest anyway. I really should line the crocheted bag so I can use it. The lining part is so unappetizing because I'll have to hand sew it, and to be honest, I don't know how to go about doing it from the start. Suppose I'll have to google that.

Still winding the cobweb lavender yarn. Hand-wound balls look so cute, don't you think?

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Camera?

As if I need another hobby... I've been thinking about getting a new camera. Possibly a DSLR. My Canon Powershot has been great, but it just doesn't capture a busy toddler very well. A lot of my pictures end up all blurry these days. When Grace was a baby, I'd set her in her rocking chair near a window and she would sit there while I snapped away. Now, I'm very lucky to get one or two good pictures of her out of twenty while she's on the move. I've been reading up on DSLR's, namely a Canon model, and the image stabilization technology is supposed to nearly eliminate this problem. I also just like taking photos in general (see my knitting photos), so I think it would be a fun toy.

I really can't justify this purchase right now, but it's nice to think about. I also think it's been on my mind because I recently dropped my camera and the battery closure thing snapped off, so it's held on there with tape. I could probably get it fixed at a service centre, but I've been thinking of it as a sign that I should get a new camera. Sejin is probably cringing as he reads this.

Any of you with DSLRs out there, what is your advice? And if anyone knows of any used ones for sale, please let me know.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Just testing out some other templates/backgrounds. It might look strange until I get it the way I want it.

Edited to add:
Well, several hours wasted doing this and still not perfect. I would appreciate honest feedback from friends. What do you think of this new look?

Friday, July 16, 2010

An idea

The KnitPro Symphony needles are supposed to be good for lace knitting and I have seem them at one store in Dongdaemun and also at Banul. Actually, I've only browsed Banul online, but it looks like it's time I visited their store in Myeong-dong. That'll be something cool to look forward to next week. I'm so happy I didn't buy those Addis on Ebay now. I'd rather drop 10,000 won on one set and see how I like them.

Grace is in bed with a fever. It's really, really weird how she's always sick in time for the weekend. I think every weekend for the last month she's been sick. When will it end?

Need Needles

One of my students always comes to the hakwon early and hangs out in my classroom and bugs me. She's cute, but I like to have that time before class to myself, since I have five back-to-back classes. Anyway, she knows how to operate my phone pretty well and snapped this picture of me knitting when I should have been planning.I have a lot of light weight yarn in my home. Huge amounts. Problem is, I'm finding out that you need the proper types of needles to knit really fine lace. The Denise needles only go down to a 3.75mm needle and they are too dull anyway. I ordered some assorted Addis a while back, but I now know that they are not appropriate either. They are too slippery for knitting lace and also too dull. Addi has a line of lace knitting needles. They are very pointy (very necessary) and are a brushed metal, providing more drag. Not available in Korea from what I know. I really need some proper needles to knit this stuff up. To order, or not to order? Well, this small swatch is the result of much frustration. The bottom, looser part is knit with 3mm bamboo Dongdaemun freebies. Bamboo seems to be good for this type of knitting because it grabs the yarn well. But they were not pointy enough, and as you can see, the fabric is loosely knit. If you're going for that look, that's fine. The top was knit very slowly and carefully with 2mm Addi needles. I like the look of the tight knit fabric better, but knitting with the Addis is not an option. Way too slippery. So now I have a dilemma.I ordered this machine embroidered quilt block from Ebay. I don't quilt (yet), but I thought it was so cute, cute enough to frame some day soon. The seller was so nice. Actually, I ordered this back in May and it never arrived. Lost in the mail I guess. I was so bummed. I emailed the seller just to make sure it was sent, and yes, it was. So I explained the situation, and she mailed me another, on the condition that if the other one arrived, I would send it back. No problem. I don't think I'll ever get the other one, but I was very impressed with this seller's good service, so I thought I'd write up a post here. Here is a link to the seller. Hmm, looks like she might be closing up shop. There are not many items for sale anymore. It's now just pinned to the wall above my knitting basket.
It's raining cats and dogs today. I really hope it doesn't rain all weekend...again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I haven't done a gmarket post in an long time because I have mostly been ordering mundane things from there, like diapers, wipes, shampoo, etc. I ordered something fun the other day and it came today. Grace is obsessed with washing. She loves to wash her hands and face. It's really cute how she says "Bubbles!" over and over. The only problem is, she usually does it with a big plastic bowl on the floor. She splashes the water everywhere and when she's done, we have a big mess to clean up. I saw one of these at my friend's house a few years ago before I had a baby, and I thought of it the other day. Sure enough, I found one on gmarket. Now Grace can wash her hands any time she wants and I don't have to clean up water everywhere. I also ordered some baby soap that looks like teddy bears, but it hasn't come yet. She thought the sink was great today and spent quite a while in there splashing around. It's great. I love that it has a drain, so I can drain it right into the tub and remove the sink easily.

Dongdaemun Haul

I had to go to Dongdaemun Shopping Town today. I had a lot of stuff to get. So that I didn't get off track, I wrote down everything and checked things off as I got them. Shopping at DST can be a bit daunting. It's five or six floors of wholesalers selling everything from yarn to fabric to ribbon to beads to pretty much anything you need to do your crafting. The problem is that it is huge and not always organized the best way. Plus, wholesalers can either be very helpful or downright rude. The plus side is that it is usually very cheap. Browsing at Michael's craft stores in Canada last time I was home, I was astounded at the high prices.

Anyway, I have very distinctive "good" and "bad" shopping days at DST. Today was a really good day. Everything seemed to work out just right and most of the vendors were very helpful. It was such a good day, I took pictures of my goods (I'm pretty excited when I do that).

I got another bag of yarn for my vintage cardigan. This purchase hurt a little bit because I was sure one bag (ten 50g balls) would be enough. But I'm on the ninth ball of my first bag and still have to finish a whole sleeve, two collar panels, and do all the sewing up. I brought an extra ball with me to see if I would be lucky enough to get the same dye lot. I was amazed when the guy went away and came back five minutes later with a bag of yarn of the same dye lot! I thought for sure I wouldn't be that lucky because I bought the yarn some time ago. Score.Next up was purse handles and fabric to line my crochet squares bag. I brought the bag with me so that I could hold it up to potential candidates. A woman in the basement had some perfect handles (I'm still not sure how I'm going to attach them but I'll figure it out). On the top floor after a lot of looking I found the most amazing fabric to line my bag. Of course, it was some special designer quilting fabric and a little pricey, but I only needed 1/2 yard, so it wasn't too bad. Here is a sneak peak. I guess I'll be doing hand sewing for this as I don't have a sewing machine.Next on the list was some aran or chunky weight yarn to attempt my little experiment. I'll call it project Etsy. Well, I found the yarn I was looking for. It's very nice...not a cheap yarn. There are a lot of chunky acrylic yarns in Dongdaemun, but they are not suitable for knitting anything nice, especially baby things. Most of the baby yarns are very fine. But this stuff seems to be very good quality and although it doesn't come in a wide range of colours, the colours they have are really nice. To top it off, the vendor was very nice and did the unthinkable -- she let me mix and match colours. Usually, the wholesalers make you buy a whole bag of one colour, which can get pricey if you need a lot of colours. Anyway, I'm happy with this yarn even though it is a little expensive.As I was shopping for this stuff in the basement, I had one eye on the lookout for lace weight yarn. The last stuff I bought (lilac coloured stuff you may have seen in a previous post) was okay, but it turns out it is cobweb weight -- not lace weight. I'm not too upset about it because it was 6000 won. I'm going to wind multiple balls and knit it doubled and make the best of it. Anyway, I saw a guy selling cones of yarn way back in the basement and he was willing to listen to my broken Korean. Finally, I wrote down what I was looking for (2/28 count wool) and he actually had it. He even had me sit down and did the burn test for me, I guess to prove that it was wool and not acrylic. So, I added a gigantic cone of wool to my bags. Here is the label, too.Oh yes, I also had to find some elastic thread to do some shirring on a dress I'm knitting for Grace. I cast on for this dress last night because I suddenly realized that Grace has absolutely nothing handmade to wear this summer. Plus, I may be getting photos done and it would be really cute if she had a knitted dress to wear. It turns out, the elastic thread was not hard to find at all and it cost 2000 won for a whole spool. Here is the dress in progress with the thread.Up on the top floor is where you find all the accessories and bits and bobs to embellish your crafts. There are beads, ribbon, crystals, lace, quilting stuff, buttons, and pretty much anything. Keeping in mind project Etsy, I picked up some stuff for embellishing.I had loaded bags by the time I left, but it's all stuff that I am going to use. I made sure to collect name cards from most of the vendors, so if anyone wants shop numbers, just let me know.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Knitting dreams and photos

I have a lot of dreams about knitting these days. It's kind of weird, and scary.

I finished one sleeve of my vintage cardigan and have started the other. It should be done soon, although, like I mentioned in the previous post, I need more yarn in order to complete it. I'm hoping the vendor has more yarn in this colour. If not.... I just don't know.

I've been wanting to get photos done of Grace for the longest time, but we just don't have the money to drop at a photo studio. It turns out, a friend of mine is coming to Korea to do fieldwork for her PhD and she happens to be an excellent photographer. Check out her website and some of her work. We met while studying Taekkyon together. Taekkyon is an ancient Korean martial art -- cooler than Taekwondo, in my opinion. It was almost wiped out during the Joseon Dynasty and the Japanese occupation, so it is harder to find a place to study it, but it's definitely worth it. Anyway, CedarBough's photographs that I have seen are stunning, so I'm pretty excited to get some photos taken -- finally!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Looking up

Looks like I will be working on a writing project with a major international publisher. I was excited to hear that they did not forget about me, but with bigger companies, there is a lot more red tape and projects take longer to get approved. So, I turned down yet another project with D company (hope I'm not shooting myself in the foot), in hopes of starting this bigger project soon. Even though I don't plan on staying in this ESL industry for much longer, I think it would be good to have this experience on my resume.

Other than this, things are the same. Both Grace and I are sick with colds now. She always seems to get sick on the weekend. This time, her cold is quite bad, as she has a double ear infection, a major runny nose, and a bad cough. So, we're not going far today.

I have a trip to Dongdaemun planned for Tuesday. I'm really excited. I have to get more yarn for my vintage cardigan (turns out ten balls is not enough -- ouch), purse straps for my crochet squares bag which I finished and looks awesome, and fabric to line that bag. Also, I'm going to look for appropriate weight yarn to whip up some baby items and see if it would be impossible to start selling a few of my own things. After browsing etsy over the last few days and seeing some successful vendors selling chunky crocheted baby beanies and such for over $20 each, the wheels have been turning in my head. I may be able to make them more original if I can find some neat embellishments there.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The quest continues!

Well, I think I'm coming out of the funk I was in a few weeks back. I was wanting so badly to be done the books I was working on, and was feeling very stressed about having too much on my plate and having no time for anything else. When I finished the book, the burden was lifted and within a few days I was back to myself. I'm not a negative person by nature, but for a while there I was wondering what was wrong with me.

It's amazing what a little bit of free time can do for a person. I've taken a few completely selfish days to loll about and think about what should come next for our family. I'm feeling very inspired these days to do something for myself. I don't want to go back to Canada and work at a lousy job. I want to do something that is my own idea and that I enjoy doing. Or at least, I'd like to try to make that work. I've been inspired by some friends of mine who are chasing after their dreams, and I've been thinking, why not me, too? Of course, I do not have much financial freedom and therefore can't invest a lot of money into a business, but I can start small. I have been talking with my mom and sister about a potential opportunity in our community in Canada, which, if it is feasible, would be a huge, but amazing project to work on. I'm waiting to get more information on this opportunity, and if it sounds at all doable, I may be heading back to North America sooner than planned to snatch it up.

I am also thinking about a smaller scale idea that I could start soonish. I may head to Dongdaemun for supplies tomorrow or Friday. Probably not tomorrow, as Grace just puked all over her crib and it looks like we should stay close to home.

But yes, the quest continues. I love this feeling of hopefulness and inspiration. On top of all this, I received a phone call last night from my good friend in South Carolina, who I studied Korean with at Ewha Women's University. It's always great to get an unexpected phone call from a good friend!

Then today, I received a rather heavy parcel in the mail from my friend Becky (the Constant Crafter), who I haven't even met in real life. It was a fantastic parcel of CRAFT BOOKS. A knitting book, a polymer clay book that she wrote herself, and four quilting books! She must have been paying attention to my facebook status updates and blog posts about me wanting a sewing machine so that I could take up machine quilting. So, when I decide to finally start, I have some great books already on the shelf! Becky herself is an inspiration since she has published nine craft books of her own. I was so touched to receive this package. When it came to the door, I was getting ready for a day of teaching and feeling the dread of going into work. It certainly brightened up my day.So, I'm back on track and thinking about bigger and better things for the future. Support from my friends and family has been much appreciated. Hopefully there will be posts soon with more details about all my plans.

18 Months

I can't believe Grace is 18 months old. The last 12 months especially have gone by incredibly fast. I'm loving getting to know her as her little personality emerges. We're very lucky to have this little gem.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I was contacted yesterday by a woman in Malaysia trying to order the Pognae. I guess she found my review. I think I've helped sell quite a few of these things for the Pognae company. I feel like I deserve a cut or something. Anyway, the woman asked me if I still think it's a good carrier. I'd have to say yes, I do. It worked out very well for us, although I don't have another carrier to compare it to. It's easy to get on and off, comfy (although Grace can only be worn on the back now because she's too heavy), and I think it looks nice. It's a good value I think. I was originally going to get an Ergo, but at the time they were going for over 110,000 won on gmarket and I was trying to save a bit of money because we were buying so many baby things. Anyway, we still use the Pognae -- actually, Grace is usually very eager to jump into her "car" (stroller) and head to daycare, but for some reason this morning she went over to our carrier which was sitting on a shelf, and motioned for me to put it on. I thought it was kind of sweet that she still likes being carried. So, in conclusion, my original review remains unchanged. The Pognae is a good baby carrier.

By the way, in trying to help this woman, I went to Pognae's website and discovered that I am in a photo collage (scroll down a bit) of foreigners wearing the Pognae. Wow, it seems so long ago that Grace was 4 months old.

EDITED TO ADD: Sometimes this really frustrates me: the lack of customer service in Korea. There are some great products and businesses here, but the people in charge really need some lessons in how to provide quality customer service. I have been trying to help this woman from Malaysia whose husband is now in Korea and wants to buy two Pognae carriers. Sejin has had several conversations with the people at Pognae today and they are pretty unwilling to set up a convenient payment method for them. They insist that he has to go to their office and pay cash. I thought for sure they would allow a paypal or credit card transaction and have the carriers delivered to his hotel in Seoul. Not so.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

FO: Swallowtail Shawl

It was actually only about a month and a half of work. But lots of work. I worked on this nearly every day. I became a little obsessed, but it was lots of fun. It's one of the few projects I'd definitely do again. I love the colour I chose. I'm usually one to choose boring colours, like white or ivory, but this bright pink worked perfectly with this pattern, in my opinion. As I said in a recent post, I'm definitely a newly addicted lace knitter. I'm still a beginner, but I'm eager to learn more.

Today was one of the hottest days of the summer, but I could resist getting my 100% wool Swallowtail out to take some photos in natural light. My friend Amy (who Grace calls Mimi) came over, so she took some photos of me and shawl. Sorry Facebook friends -- you've already seen these.

Here she is blocking:
This is the wing span. It's pretty big. Actually, I could have gotten away with the smaller size (this is the version with 19 repeats of the budding lace pattern), but I guess it'll be extra cozy in the fall/winter.

I think it looks nice worn like this. But not today....

Grace and Mimi:
Now to decide on my next project! Well, I'm still working slowly but steadily on the vintage cardigan, but I'm not in a big hurry. As long as it's done for the fall, I'll be happy. I'm thinking about doing a quick project for Grace. A little short sleeved shrug for when it gets chilly in the air conditioning. I'll decide soon.

It's been hot

The humidity has been almost unbearable the last few days. I haven't been running the air conditioner too much up until now, but wow, it's been muggy. But that doesn't stop Grace from wanting to go outside. I'd much prefer to stay in and stay as still as possible, but just isn't an option this summer. On Saturday, friend S who also lives in Uijeongbu, came over and we taxied over to Uijeongbu Station where they have splashing rivers running down the middle of the main drag. After having a quick lunch, we stopped by the river, and sure enough, Grace wanted in on the action. The water was nice and cool and she had a blast splashing away. S was nice enough to take some photos while we waded.
Taking off the socks:
Getting into the water:
Loving it:
She has an obsession with washing. Almost the entire time in the water, she washed her hands, face, hair, you name it. And she kept doing the sign language for bath.
Washing my face:
With a buddy:
She eventually fell down in the water, getting soaking wet. I just put a dry diaper on her and I had a dry cardigan in my bag. Note to self: bring extra pair of clothes next time.
But as much fun as we had, it's just a slashing pool, so Sejin's newest mission is to track down a baby-friendly pool/water park in the area. There are some great ones in Seoul and other suburbs, but they are too far away to take Grace by public transportation. He has some leads already to some potential places.