Friday, July 29, 2011

My love letter to Debbie Stoller

When I was 21 years old a friend of mine brought me along to a weekly knitting circle she attended.  Those ladies introduced me to the first Stitch N’ Bitch book, and I took off from there.


I have loved knitting ever since, and I turned out to be pretty good at it!

If you want to see some examples of my work, just check out my shop, Five Oh! Four Rag, on  But I digress…

Since then Ms. Stoller has gone on to publish four more books, and of course I own them all!  Each one is full of useful, easy to follow instructions as well as funky modern patterns that anyone can enjoy.

stitch-n-bitch-nation   stitch-n-bitch-crochet-happy-hooker
stitch-n-bitch-son-of-stitch   stitch-n-bitch-superstar-knitting

Recently she also began selling her own line of yarn: Stitch Nation.  All of her yarn is made from natural fibers and is very affordable at around five dollars a skein.  For those of you who know yarn, you know how awesome this is. 

In addition to all of this, Debbie Stoller is the editor-in-chief of BUST magazine.  This magazine celebrates all things female: our achievements, our abilities, and our future.  Of all the feminist magazines out there I have found this one to be the most fair minded and empowering, and it has become very important to me over the years. 

So, thank you, Debbie Stoller!  You’re work has changed my life in more ways than one, all for the better, and I will be forever grateful.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Discovery: SecretSafeBooks

I adore books.

I love everything about them: reading them, holding them, hiding keepsakes in them.  I just added that last one because I just found SecretSafeBooks on

hollow book safe 2  hollow book safe 1 
hollow book safe 3   hollow book safe 4

How cool is that?

I have seen books made into secret boxes before, but not so well done as this.  I love the pictures at the bottom of the compartments!  It’s a wonderful detail.

Click here if you want to here what the artist has to say about her work!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Project: increasing your wardrobe

You may have noticed that I have been posting a lot of sewing projects lately.

There are a few reasons for this:

1. I often see clothing I like and would like to wear, but that I refuse to buy because of the price or the simplicity of the design.  If it looks simple to make, it probably is, and I would hate to think I took the easy way out.  I’m weird like that.

2. I can finally do something about it because I have recently (and a little late, I know) discovered the wonder of the YouTube how-to video library!  There are so many videos out there that teach you how to make your own clothing, and most of it is so much easier than I knew.  For instance, I made this dress yesterday:


I didn’t have a pattern, but instead created the design by tracing the shape of a dress that I bought some time ago and that fits me well.  And the idea for that technique came from this video:

see how she traced the tank top?

For the waist band of the dress I used a technique called “shirring,” which I learned by watching this video from


And I also added hidden pockets, as illustrated in this recycled t-shirt video!

I bet it’s super comfy.

It’s as if a whole new world has opened up to me!  I am going to need more closet space…

Monday, July 18, 2011

Inspiration: Midnight in Paris

A few days ago I saw Woody Allen’s new film Midnight in Paris.

It was gorgeous!

Now, I haven’t seen the vast majority of Woody Allen’s films, but I have seen enough to know his rather distinct style.  His movies become very formulaic after a certain point, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  In my opinion this one works and then some.

Owen Wilson plays a modern day novelist in love with 1920’s Paris.  I don’t feel like I can say much more without ruining the story line, but when I say it was gorgeous I mean that in more ways than one.  It is well written and the acting was excellent.  And the costumes… oh, the costumes!  That was the best part for me.  I was inspired to create this set:

Midnight in Paris

I will most certainly see this movie again, if only for the outfits!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Project: the Bigger Picture

Hey, remember when I made a light box?  That was a fun project, but the size of the items I could photograph was quite limited.

I needed a way to get a better, bigger picture.

I found this video, which was very informative…

I do wish I had a few of those stick-in-a-cans.

… but I found myself more limited in space and supplies than this guy.  So I took his basic instruction and improvised, of course!

Just like in my last photo project, I used muslin to diffuse the light from my trusty clamp lamps (found at your local hardware store).  I didn’t have a frame to stretch the fabric across like in the video, so instead I anchored my muslin to a door frame with thumb tacks.  It worked beautifully!


I used a large piece of solid color fabric for my backdrop.  I taped the fabric to an old broomstick and balanced it on a ladder to keep it in place.  Then I stretched another piece of muslin across the top of the area and, after much frustration, managed to keep it all in place with painters' tape.  It was not neat or tidy, but improvisation rarely is.  In the end my front hallway looked very much like an old school pillow fort!


I anchored some white poster board across from the muslin doorway to reflect the light from the clamp lamps, and I was set!  Check it out:

051   022   070   065

Extra points if you recognized the infinity dress!  The backdrop could look better, but at least I got the lighting right!  Let me know what you think…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Back from the Green Mountain State

greetings from vermont
You may have noticed that I was gone for a bit, but now I’m back!  My boyfriend and I just spent a lovely four days in Burlington, Vermont, where the people are friendly and the mountains are green. 

We attended a wedding at The Old Round Church in Richmond, VT, and really, the bride couldn’t have picked a prettier place to get married.  It was like a scene straight out of Little Women.  And the reception was on a boat that cruised around Lake Champlain while everyone on board ate food, drank alcohol, and danced the night away.  It really was one of the happiest weddings I have ever been to.

My boyfriend was a groomsman, and the groom chose a day of kayaking for a bachelor party celebration, so on that day I was charged with finding my own entertainment.  To that end I decided to take a walk down to Shelburne Farms.  Their website lured me in with promises of cheese making and tasting, which I thought meant that they would teach me how to make my own cheese.  If I had read more closely I would have realized that it was only a demonstration on how they make cheese, but I did get to taste the samples so it was worth the hike.

And of  course we couldn’t go to Burlington without stopping to visit the Ben and Jerry’s factory.  We took the tour and we were rewarded with a taste of one of their newest flavors: Jimmy Falon’s Late Night Snack.  It was a delicious!

A successful and enjoyable trip overall, I would say, but I am glad to be home.  I have so many projects to catch up on!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Introducing: Five Oh! Four Rag–the Shop!

That’s right, my friends, it has finally happened.  I have opened my very own shop on!


gold leaf headband - top    black snood - rose
red snood - back    blue snood - front

It is a small shop yet, but I’m going to keep it growing!

The headbands were designed by me and represent the first knitting pattern ever to come from my own brain!  I’m pretty happy about that.  I started out by creating a very basic headband pattern that I knew could be modified in a variety of ways.  Then I found a lovely lace pattern that I used to add texture and detailing, so the plain headband becomes the slightly more fancy hair piece!  And it has two buttons in the back for adjustable sizing, so during the winter it can be worn over the ears as an earwarmer!

And the hair-net like accessories, which are called “snoods” by the way, are based on a vintage pattern from a book on knitting and crochet published in the 1940’s.

Special thanks to Upsidesunny Photography for the beautiful pictures!  And I hope you all enjoy what I’ve made!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Discovery: The Infinity dress

I have discovered a wonderful invention: the Infinity Dress!


It’s been around for years, apparently, but I have only just found out about it. 

If you google the term “infinity dress” you will get a number of tutorials, both on how to make them and how to wear them.  They seem so incredibly easy to make, I would definitely recommend this as a first sewing project. 

I found this Little Red Infinity Dress Tutorial on a blog called Sew Like My Mom.  All of the tutorials I found were basically the same instructions, but I think this one was the most clear and easy to follow.  The dress is comprised of four parts: a circle skirt, a waistband, and two really long, wide, straps.  You’re going to need a lot of fabric because of these straps, which I think is the only draw back, but it can't be avoided.  However, if you find just the right stretchy knit sale you could have one dress that can be worn a multitude of fashionable ways for super cheap!

So many possibilities!

As soon as I make one of my own there will be pictures, I promise!
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