Friday, February 28, 2014

Simple Trick That Can Have You Writing Like A Legend

A Simple Trick That Can Have You Writing Like a Legend! (via
by Natasha Wing, Children's Book Insider Expert Guide   We all have one of those manuscripts. You work on it and work on it. In fact you work on it to the point where you’ve convinced yourself there’s absolutely nothing more you can do to improve…

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Becoming Fearless

To Change the World, First Become Fearless (via
  Fear is indeed a powerful emotion.  Left unchecked, it can paralyze you, stop you in your tracks, and suck the life out of you, leaving you feeling powerless to move in any direction, never mind forward.     So, for this thought for the day, it…

How To Write A Powerful Ending

How to Write a Powerful Ending (via
  The first few lines of any story are the most important — and often most difficult — words you'll write. The next most challenging piece of writing is the ending. Once you draw your readers in and take them through your story, you need to leave…

Saturday, February 8, 2014

[Product Review] Yarnology Hooks, Clover Soft Touch Hooks, Vera Bradley Quilted Bags, Yarn Bee Soft Secret 100% Acrylic Yarns

Product Reviews
Yarnology Aluminum Crochet Hook with Bamboo Handle US size K >> I generally 
©️Hobby Lobby
stay away from aluminum hooks mainly because I find it hard for me to get a good grip on the hook especially smaller sized aluminum hooks and because I find that my hands (fingers and wrist) cramp more easily even if I use both styles of holding the hook. This hook from Yarnology is made of aluminum but has a bamboo handle. The only reason I bought this is because my project Our Esprit Pullover by Nancy Queen calls for a US size K hook and this was currently the only one available in Hobby Lobby. I did stop by two of my LYS before hitting Hobby Lobby but they both didn't have it. So with this hook, I swatched and discovered that I needed to go down to a size J hook to get gauge so I was happy about that because that means, I get to use my Clover Soft Touch hook (more on that later). Anyway, with this hook, because it is a bigger sized hook, I noticed that I have a good grip on it whether using the pencil or the knife hold. I also noticed that the knife hold is much better suited for this type of hook although it still made my hand and arm cramp after an hour or so of crocheting. Using the pencil hold on this hook is okay and the weight of the bamboo handle makes it heavier to maneuver the hook around so I decided I don't like the bamboo handle that much on this hook. The point and the throat of this hook is similar to the Boye Aluminum hooks as well as those from the Clover Soft Touch hooks and it doesn't seem to split the yarn as easily as the acrylic ones. So if you like that kind of point and throat construction with the weight of the bambo handle and the slippery material of aluminum, this hook is for you. The hook size is engraved on the aluminum thumb rest, just like with the Boye and Susan Bates aluminum hooks.

Yarnology Acrylic Hook US size M & N >> I have been dying to try
©️Hobby Lobby
plastic/acrylic hooks just for the fun of trying new things and I finally got these acrylic hooks from Yarnology at Hobby Lobby. Because these two hooks are the bigger size, I like how it feels in my hand, they're very lightweight and colorful, and I can get a good grip with it using both the pencil and knife hold. I tried this hook with my Cascade 128 Chunky weight scrap yarn and it was a little disappointing in the sense that the hook was too grippy that the yarn doesn't glide easily across the shank compared to aluminum hooks. The point and the throat is very similar to those from Susan Bates aluminum hooks and because of this, it has a tendency to split the yarn quite easily when drawing through the loops but if you have been using Susan Bates hooks and really like that kind of construction, you will surely like this hook too. As for this being too grippy, I am hoping as time wears on the acrylic material, maybe it will smooth out or maybe it will work better with a different yarn material. This hook is perfect for the ultimate beginner so they're not constantly dropping their stitches. The hook size are engraved on the end of the handle and because of the dark colors and the see-through acrylic material, it is quite hard to see what the hook size is. But if you have a crochet hook case with labels on it, I guess it will be okay. 

Clover Soft Touch Crochet Hooks US sizes B,C,D,E,F,G,7,H,I, & J >> It was a
©️Ambidextrous Crafter
long time before I found this set and my husband got it for me. Back in my knitting days, I have two Susan Bates aluminum hooks to fix knitting mistakes in US size C and G, with which I tried to learn how to crochet. But because of the slippery aluminum material and the fact that I only crocheted with the knife hold, it was terribly hard for me to get a good grip on the hooks and my wrist and arm would cramp up in thirty minutes. Not a very good experience for a beginner crocheter. I found the Clover Soft Touch crochet hook set at the Clover website because I figured, if I really love their Bamboo circular knitting needles, maybe they have something for crochet that I will love as well. After reading all the reviews on both the Clover website and on Amazon, I was convinced that this is the answer to my problem. I had it on my Amazon wish list and my husband got it for me. With this set of hooks (the set comes with US size C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J and sizes B & 7 just recently came out so I bought those too) I noticed how easy and comfortable it is for me to hold it using both the knife and the pencil hold without accidentally dropping the hook or dropping a stitch. I also noticed that with the knife hold, my wrist and arm takes longer for the cramps to begin. I could crochet with the knife hold for 4 straight hours before my wrist and arm would get a little tired but with the pencil hold, I could crochet for 10 hours straight and not feel any discomfort at all. These set just makes me want to crochet non-stop. The handle is made of durable plastic with a rubber thumb rest and the hook size printed in black at the end of the handle, making it easy to identify what hook size it is without having to pull out your needle/hook sizer. So if you are one who has arthritis or suffering from chronic pain in the hands, wrist, arms and elbows, this super comfortable hooks just might be for you.

Vera Bradley Quilted Bags - Mandy Handbag in Tea Garden & Vera Tote in Paisley Meets Plaid >> I was lucky enough to be gifted with these two Vera Bradley bags. I love the fact that they are machine washable & dryable and that they both have a lot of pockets inside. I don't use it for everyday work bag but I actually use them both as project bags. The Mandy Handbag, is about medium sized and can fit a couple of socks, dishcloths, wraps and shawl projects while the Vera Tote is quite large and can fit a sweater or a baby blanket project. With these bags, I usually don't need to bring my bulky notions pouch because there are at least six pockets on the inside to hold the absolute essentials. I do bring my all my hooks just in case. The Mandy Handbag has only one outside pocket while the Vera Tote has two outside pockets, one side has a zippered pocket and the other has a regular pocket. The handles and both bags are very well constructed and I absolutely love them both.

Yarn Bee Soft Secret 100% Acrylic Yarns >> After buying six skeins of Cascade 128
©️Hobby Lobby
Superwash Merino and making it up into the Our Esprit Pullover by Nancy Queen, I tried it on and started itching all over in ten minutes. "I can't be allergic to wool?!" My mind screamed at me. But apparently I might be. It is weird though because when I knitted my socks out of Paton's 50% Superwash Merino, 25% Rayon from Bamboo & 25% Nylon, my hands and feet were fine. No itching whatsoever. And now this, after I have painstakingly worked and seamed all the pieces of my first pullover and even with a sleeveless shirt underneath it, the skin of my arms, neck and shoulder area that was exposed to the wool started itching.  So when I went to Hobby Lobby to look at some yarns they have (the two LYS in my immediate vicinity don't carry acrylic yarns). The pattern On The Town Shawl was calling for Red Heart yarns. They did have it but upon touching the skeins, my hand recoiled from the rough texture of the Red Heart Super Saver acrylic yarns on the shelves. I walked up and down the aisles looking at yarn bands and touching the yarns that interest me. I saw some bamboo yarn, some cotton yarn, crochet threads and the rest of the yarn inventory goes to the acrylic yarns. So far, for non wool yarns, I have only worked with the Lily Sugar 'n Cream 100% Cotton yarns and the Bernat Baby 100% Polyester Super Bulky yarns and I didn't get any itching on those but at the same time, I don't like working with the Lily Sugar 'n Cream because the yarn is so stiff, a little rough and unforgiving on my hands. So the only time I use that yarn is to make a year's worth of dishcloth for my mother-in-law. So I was looking for a nicer acrylic yarn when I was browsing the aisles of Hobby Lobby and there I saw Yarn Bee Soft Secret yarns. Though it is 100% Acrylic, the colors are very bright and vibrant and it has that sheen to it and it is super, super soft and squishy. It is actually better than Caron Simply Soft Premium Acrylic yarns. I just love working with Yarn Bee Soft Secret Yarns and I am looking forward to creating more lovely things with this yarn company.