Tag Archives: knitting

Love Craft

wheel throwing

In exchange for watching a dog for a week this summer, I was given unlimited access to a pottery wheel. My friend was given the wheel as a gift, but neither of us has ever thrown pots before. Naturally, I turned to the library for assistance. I like to get both books and DVDs for tips and techniques.


My 10 year old daughter loves to create things with paper. She has come up with many amazing creations on her own. I brought her a few books this past month, and she was off and running (actually just cutting and pasting – no running with scissors!)

Here is one of the things she made! (Photo by author)

Here is one of the things she made! (Photo by author)

So what’s next? I want to take up knitting this winter. There is a huge selection to choose from! I find it’s easier sometimes to browse the shelves to get just what I want. My daughter likes to make puppets. I’ll get her some puppet making books for kids.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has lots of great instruction books and DVDs for all kinds of arts & crafts techniques, some especially for kids, and some for adults from beginners to advanced levels. Try a few!



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How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Every year I take a little time off around the new year; not quite as long as a full vacation, but a mini-staycation to recharge for the new year ahead. I’m used to working in a building with books and music and movies at my disposal, so before I spend a few days away I go into panic-mode and start trying to think of everything I might possibly need to read while I’m away. Here are a few things that I was into this vacation:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy: I’ve been on a big YA literature kick lately. Between the fast-paced plots, elements of fantasy and magic, and strong female characters, lots of young adult novels just do it for me. This trilogy, in particular, is one worth reading. I’ve been recommending it to friends by saying that although it’s nothing like The Hunger Games, if they liked that series they will like this one. In this series, the princess Elisa has a heavy birthright to live up to, despite the fact that she feels anything but special. Her growth throughout the trilogy and the richly drawn world in which she lives, combined with excellent writing, really won me over.

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: I’m having a real love affair with our sewing book collection these days. Did you know we have a whole collection of books that have sewing patterns and instructions? I like checking out a pattern book, visiting the Center for Creative Reuse, and seeing what types of clothing I can come up with. This is a fun vintage-inspired book with easy to follow instructions, but I also really like the Japanese pattern books we have in our collection for more modern/bohemian clothing (such as Simple Modern Sewing or I Am Cute Dresses).

Frozen (movie and soundtrack!): I’m not sure why so many kids in the preschool set are so in love with Elsa (I’m an Anna fan myself!), but this movie and soundtrack are just magical for children of that age. They get to sing Let It Go; I get to sew…it’s a win-win situation.

Comfort Knitting and Crochet Afghans: Just before the holidays I came into a huge supply of lovely, soft yarn- enough for an afghan! Because it was all the same color I was on the lookout for a pattern with some texture. I really fell in love with some of the afghans and throws in this book; you get a nice mix of knit and crochet and colorwork, texture, or lace patterns.

The Art of Hungarian Cooking: New Year’s day always makes me think of my (Hungarian, by way of Slovenia) grandmother, who was insistent that you always had to eat pork and cabbage (preferably sauerkraut) on New Year’s Day. She also had this crazy tradition of going outside and finding a green stick and hitting (gently) anyone who came into her house. (I’ve never been able to find out anything about that superstition, nor have I ever met anyone else who’s heard of it!) This year I hosted a New Year’s dinner, and in homage I made sure to cook up some pork and cabbage. I brought this book home for some inspiration.



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Branches are people too.


Come visit us!

With all of the amazing activities taking place at the Mothership Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Main (language lessons, poetry, author visits, crafting) it is easy to forget that CLP has 17 neighborhood branches and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. And we’re all busy little bees, planning awesome programs for all ages, all year round. But since I’m the manager of CLP-South Side, let’s talk about me!

Every Week

TeenLoungeTeen Lounge
Mondays 4-6 pm
The South Side Library is the place to be every Monday afternoon. There’s tons of fun happening at Teen Lounge from gaming, snacking and crafting, to working on projects around the Library and around the South Side. Come and kick it at Teen Lounge.

Crochet & Knitting Club,
Wednesdays 5:30-7:30 pm
Join us for our Crochet and Knitting Group. We are a group of friendly crochet and knitting fans, looking to teach and learn from other friendly crafters. Bring your current projects or start something new!

Thursdays 11 am – 12 pm
All kids are welcome at these storytimes designed for children 18 months to age 5. Get up and get moving with stories, songs, rhymes and silly fun! In these 30-40 minute storytimes, children and adults will actively explore books that expand the imagination and inspire self-discovery.

Saturdays 12-3 pm
Feel like getting your game on? Head down to the library for an assortment of video and tabletop games for all ages! Meet new people to challenge, or bring a friend along for gaming fun.

Special Events

All Day Movies
Thursday, 11/28- Family Blockbusters
Saturday, 12/13- Holiday Favorites
Friday, 12/26- Holiday Favorites
Join us at the library for an all day movie marathon! Each month we’ll feature a day long celebration of films on a fun theme.


The Labs
Monday, 12/8
3:30 pm – 6:00 pm
The Labs is the place to make and learn with art and technology. During this workshop, teens can explore a variety of processes with the help of mentors. Mentors will provide equipment and expertise related to music/audio production, design, circuitry/robotics and photo/video. Stop by and make something cool with us!

IMG_20141111_142113 (1)Work. Nights.
Thursday, 12/4
6 pm-midnight
Scott talked about Work. Nights. in a previous post, but I wanted to remind everyone that it is taking place at CLP- South Side!
Accelerate. Collarborate. Innovate.
Stay up late at the Library. Network. Get stuff done. Connect with other innovators. Research your ideas and jumpstart your ingenuity! Come to the library for:

  • a creative co-working environment
  • guidance from library professionals well-versed in technology, entrepreneurism and more
  • late night snacks and coffee

GingerbreadGingerbread Houses
Saturday, 12/6
11 am – 1 pm

Add a sweet touch to your holiday with edible arts and crafts! We’ll supply the gingerbread, icing and decorations—everything you need to make a delicious gingerbread house. Due to limited space, registration is required. 412-431-0505 or southside@carnegielibrary.org

Book Sale
Saturday, 12/13
10 am – 5 pm
Browse our new and gently used books. Homemade baked goods will be available for purchase, as well as gifts made by our Crochet and Knitting group. All proceeds benefit the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- South Side Friends group.

Saturday, 12/13
2:30 – 3:30 pm
Be social, Be spontaneous and Be artistic! Check out this program dedicated to cooking, crafting and technology based making for teens.

Whew! This is only one month of one branch’s activities! You could probably find something to attend every day of the month if you tried. Hope to see you here!


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Being Fine About Not Being Any Good

I am only one kind of crafty and it’s the kind that gets people to make things for me, not the kind where I make things for myself. Last year, I was given a sewing machine and some patterns by a friend. That’s all I have to say about that. I don’t have the needed attention to detail and patience I think is required for knitting. My fingers are too unwieldy to do anything like origami. I had resigned myself to not being an artsy-craftsy person. Until I discovered that I am an amazing painter.

When I say “amazing”, I mean there’s no screaming and I like it. And by painting, I mean paint-by-numbers and rock painting. During Christmastime last year, I went shopping with my niece with the intent of buying her a book, but we ended up buying three paint-by-numbers kits and a rock painting kit. It took some time to finish the paint-by-numbers, but I was so happy when it was finished.

Look at my art! (It's a sorcerer.)

Look at my art!
(It’s a sorcerer.)

Then I moved onto rocks. I’ve only done two so far, but I’ve noticed that there’s something incredibly soothing about painting a rock. There’s also something incredibly soothing in accepting that I am not a master artist and will never be. The painting isn’t about creating a masterpiece (rock). It’s not about me making some beautiful thing; it’s about me making some thing. It feels so great to create something that I’m thinking about breaking out that dusty sewing machine and making something that may be so horrible I can only wear it when I’m alone.

So if you’ve been wary or unwilling to do something because you think you’re not going to be good at it, join the club. Then read a few books or dive right in with no instructions and join the other club where we knit or paint or sew and make something that may be not so great, but is all yours.

MeandMySewingMachine    Watercolor101      PrintingbyHand



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She’s crafty – and she’s just my type

You that know we have a bajillion (roughly) craft programs at our many branches, right? No matter your skill level or interest, we probably have something that’ll butter your bread.

Me? Knitting is my weapon of choice, although last weekend I did try soap-making for the first time (I obviously know how to have a wild Saturday night) and I pretend I can sew.  Like any knitter (and Dumbledore), I love patterns. They’re fun to dissect and figure out, similar to a good puzzle. But even more, I love a well-written book about the details of knitting.

Maggie Righetti’s Knitting in Plain English is my top choice for “book every knitter should probably have in their personal library.” Righetti is sharp and wry, with chapter titles like: ” You Can Always Tell What’s Wrong with the Garment by the Way the Model is Posed or, Slender Five-Foot-Ten Models Look Good in Anything” or “Deliver Us From Disaster.” She covers every possible topic from choosing your needles and yarn to basic skills and fixing mistakes. Don’t ever let her catch you with your projects in a plastic shopping bag, either – it demeans the craft. Her Sweater Design in Plain English is another indispensable resource, should you want to make the perfect cardigan.

 Cookie A is a big deal among sock designers and knitters. Her Sock Innovation book is full of great now-classic patterns, but it’s the first 50 pages or so that are so invaluable. There are a number of options when it comes to the elements of a sock (Cuff-down or toe-up? Type of heel? Toe shape?), but after working a few patterns, most knitters will find they have a bias for certain design components (Cuff-down, flap heel, wedge toe). Cookie A covers it all, plus how to make those elements work for you.

Super Stitches Knitting is one of many, many stitch dictionaries. It just happens to be the one I favor. The book is well-designed and a great source of inspiration for when it’s time to step up your game from plain stockinette (not that there’s anything wrong with plain stockinette) to fancy cables or lace.

These are also fantastic resources:


– Jess, who has approximately five projects going at any given time


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What I’m reading

Who’s on Goodreads?  I have an ancient account, but I’ve never been much for keeping it updated.  In theory I love the idea of keeping track of what I’ve been reading, but somehow I never manage to do it.  This year though, I’ve decided to try and keep a running list of things I’ve read.  Hopefully I’ll eventually enter them in Goodreads, but for the time being I’m doing it the old fashioned way and keeping a list in a notebook.  It’s early in the year, so I expect this list to grow quite a bit, but here’s what I have under my belt so far:

Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk: Imagine The Breakfast Club if it were set in hell, with a little smidge of Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret and some gross-out humor, and you have this book.  This is my first foray into Palahniuk’s work, and I suspect it may not be his best effort, but the writing was compelling enough that I’ll probably be picking up some of his other works to give them a try.

The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides: This novel follows three young adults, two of whom are involved in a relationship and a third who has unrequited feelings for the heroine of the story.  It was an entertaining read, although fairly bland.  Eugenides is another author who I picked up for the first time this year, and while I wasn’t blown away by this novel, it was enjoyable enough reading that I plan on reading more of his novels

The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children, by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett: I absolutely loved this book, which critically examined popular notions of differences between the sexes, particularly in learning styles.  The authors sift out the pseudo-science from the science in this heavily researched book, writing about the issue with a notably unbiased voice. 

Knitting Mochimochi: 20 Super-Cute Strange Designs for Knitted Amigurumi by Anna Hrachovec: It’s hard to say I’ve “read” a knitting book, but I’m including this anyway!  As a knitter, I’m always a little envious of the cute amigurumi crochet designs I see.  Sure, I could just learn to crochet, but for some reason I’m much more fond of knitting.  This book has lots of cute little stuffed creatures to make that can rival the cutest crocheted amigurumi.

That’s my count so far for 2012.  Do you keep a list?  Do you prefer a social list, like Goodreads, or do you jot down titles in a notebook? 



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Santa, Sweetie: Bring Chanel

“Chanel, Dior, Lagerfeld, Givenchy, Gaultier, darling!   Names, names, names!”
–Jennifer Saunders as Edina Monsoon, Absolutely Fabulous

Santa, darling:

You’ve never let me down before, so I’m pretty confident you can make my 2009 holiday dream a reality.  All I want for Christmas this year is a little black Chanel suit.

Not Lagerfeld-era Chanel, mind you, though I’ve nothing against the gentleman personally.  But, darn it, I’m a librarian of old-school taste and class. Ergo, I want Chanel Chanel.  The genuine article.  The real deal.  That’s not so much to ask, is it, Santa? Just one, teensy, vintage, piece of classic couture?

Obviously I don’t expect you to bring it straight to my house.  Pittsburgh is simply crawling with fabulous places to find fashion treasures.  So I’ll tell you what, Santa-pumpkin:  I’ll combine my librarian wiles with loads of legwork, and you can just leave the suit somewhere here in town where I’m likely to find it.

Deal, or no deal?

Why don’t you sleep on it, sweetie?  I know this is a really busy time of year for you.  Keep in mind, though, I’m not really asking just for myself.  I’m asking for all the fashionable women here in the ‘burgh who have champagne taste and root beer budgets.  I’m asking for all those women who still don’t know — or just can’t master — the arts of knitting and sewing. I’m asking for everybody who stays positive and works hard.  So what do you say, Santa?  I’ve been saving my pennies; won’t you make me a shiny example of a bona fide Christmas miracle?


Leigh Anne


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Made With Love

Every year I have grand plans for all the homemade holiday gifts I plan on giving everyone, and often by the time December rolls around I’m in the midst of a full-on holiday freakout.  (It isn’t unusual for my family members to receive polaroids of half-knitted socks). If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few suggestions that might help you out, depending on how much time you have to devote to crafting:

Have two months, or close to it?  You have time to do practically whatever you want!  Knit a sweater, crochet a blanket, or design and make your own holiday cards

Have a month?  Drinks like limoncello or fragolino make festive gifts, and take about a month for the flavors to infuse.  Try the fragolino recipe in Olives & Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus & Beyond, by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox. 

Have a weekend?  One Skein Wonders: 101 Yarn Shop Favorites, edited by Judith Durant, features quick projects that use only one skein of yarn.  There are projects for a wide variety of yarn types, so chances are good you already have something in your stash that you can work with. 

Have a day?  Homemade soaps or spa products make great gifts.  Get some inspiration from books like Natural Soapmaking by Marie Browning, or Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self by Stephanie Tourles. 

Have a few hours?  Everyone loves cookies around the holidays, and even at the last minute they make a great handmade gift.  Books like The International Cookie Cookbook will help you find something creative enough to gift, but easy enough to whip up in a few hours. 


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Knit and Purl and Repeat

I find almost any work commonly associated with women enthralling.   If I spy a book about knitting, for example, I’ll latch onto it regardless of authorship or age or whether it has garnered positive or “so-so” reviews. 

I’ve seldom been disappointed.  The excitement for me, in this case, stems from developing technical expertise as well as uncovering information about women’s roles regardless of time or place. Based on the numbers of clubs that were active and classes that were offered, knitting appears to have had wide appeal for women and girls of various circumstances during the first half of the twentieth century.

Its appeal increased even more during the war years when women routinely provided handmade garments for soldiers.  During World War I, for example, members of Pittsburgh’s Red Cross Chapter were commended for the quality of socks, sweaters, shawls, ambulance covers and other items they had knitted for use by the military in the United States and abroad.  And,  Florence Smith Pittman, a World War II counterpart and head of the colored knitters group in Altoona knit the first sweater shipped to Europe during that conflict by a volunteer group (Per Pittsburgh Courier, 12/2/39).

The library offers books, magazines, and dvds on various aspects of knitting and other handicrafts.  If you’re interested in the classics, check out anything by Elizabeth Zimmermann—her work is available via books or DVDs; for patterns, Barbara Walker’s series is inspirational.  The multi-volume Weldon’s Practical Needlework, a reproduction of 18th-century newsletters providing instructions for knitting and other needlework offers technical information in a historical context, while A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt and No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting by Anne McDonald focus on social and cultural matters.  In addition, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offers  hands-on knitting sessions at 4:30 pm on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.


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Vibrant Hues at CLP

Everyone has a passion for something outside of his or her job,  and it’s often something completely unrelated.  For many, especially among the staff here at the Carnegie Library, their passion lies somewhere on the creative spectrum.  The Annual CLP Staff Art Show here at Main is a living testament to this. The hallway across from the Large Print Room currently features magnificent pieces of artwork, all made by the staff in the Carnegie Library system.  The display will run throughout the month of April, partially in honor of National Library Week.

Do you have a creative outlet, or some other passion that you love to indulge in outside of your normal routine?   Is there any craft or medium that you’ve wanted to dabble in but never dared to try?  Allow me to recommend a few useful resources to get you on your way:

Stitch n’ Bitch:  The Knitter’s Handbook is by far my favorite book when it comes to learning how to knit.  It has some of the best illustrations and descriptions, which really come in handy.  It is also filled with a variety of patterns to try after you get the basics down.

The Happy Hooker:  Stitch n’ Bitch Crochet is in the same series as the one listed above, and is likewise just as useful for the crochet newbie. 

If you have tried books to learn how to knit and/or  crochet, but still find yourself at a loss, you can always come to Carnegie Knits and Reads at Main.  It’s on the first and third Wednesday of every month and is chock-full of yarn masters who can aid you in your crafty quest.

A Short Course in Photography is a great book for people who want to take their photography to the next level.  This book will give you plenty to think about when it comes to perspective and personal style.  Definitely a must for anyone who wants to progress beyond taking merely a “nice photo.”

Glass Blowing: A Technical Manual is an excellent source for explaining the overall process of glass blowing by using an array of completed pieces as examples.   It provides a stellar overview of the basic techniques as well as gives the reader plenty to ponder when it comes to color and personal style.

Art Class: A Complete Guide to Painting is a marvelous book for anyone who wants to learn how to paint.  The author, with the help and advice of several artists, provides the reader with insight on everything from choosing a medium to deciding on a subject.  An absolute must for those who yearn to add some extra brush strokes to their days.

The New Artist’s Manual is essentially four years of art school without the hassle of expensive loans and college applications.  A hands-on art text, it is a great resource for beginners and advanced artists alike.  One of my favorite books.

The Big-Ass Book of Crafts is one of the most fun books you can have on your creative shelf.   Ever wonder what to do with all that extra silverware you obtained from your dorm room days?  Or how about all those clothes pins or subscription cards that fall out of your magazines?  This book offers fun-filled, imaginative and creative solutions to such problems.  A great book for anyone who wants to dabble in the creative world, but has no preference when it comes to medium.

Happy creating!! 


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