HOW TO: Knit an Infinity Scarf

Nothing says cozy Autumn and Winter like heavy knit clothes, right? So let’s talk about how to knit.

Sweaters, scarves, socks, hats, mittens, and more.  We shell out big bucks for things that look like they’re homemade just for them to fall apart by the next season.  Or, even if we do find something that lasts, it turns out to be slightly the wrong color, or the slightly wrong size, or it fits just a little weird.  But we buy them anyway because how else will we get them?  It’s not like we can make these things ourselves…

… Or can we?

Pictured above: Me, in my fancy sweatpants, knitting an infinity scarf on Friday night. Deep into the midst of a How I Met Your Mother marathon and enjoying every moment of it.

I taught myself to knit when I was in 7th grade.  It has been a hobby that I have been obsessed with on-and-off through the years but it definitely reached it’s peak in high school.   Aside from bringing it during downtimes at after school activities, I eventually got comfortable enough to bring it to school with me on movie days in class (much to the amusement to my teachers. The phrase “Little Grandma” was thrown around more than I’d like to admit).  I even went so far as to start a knitting club my Senior year.  We met Monday afternoons in AP English teacher’s room, and hung out for an hour while knitting (or teaching others to knit).

My obsession grew to the point where in addition to starting a knitting blog– which has since been either deleted or is lost in the depths of the internet, so don’t even ask for the URL– I even spent four years on a 6 X 6 foot afghan for my Texas-native Uncle.

It is my greatest knitting achievement to date, and I doubt I’ll ever do it again.  Did I mention I designed the letters and long horn logo myself using regular school graph paper scotch taped together?!  The original designs are not pretty, but the outcome was be-a-uuuuuuuu-tiful, if I do say so myself.

And yes, I know.  You don’t need to say it.  I’m a super cool person.

Add the knitting hobby with my love for food, and my cat, and it’s a wonder how I’m single.

Anyway.

Despite what people think, knitting really isn’t that hard.  The fact that many people learn when they’re really young should be a clue enough that it’s a pretty easy skill to learn once you master the basics. If pioneer girls did it by candle light back in the day, using yarn they spun themselves from their pet sheep Steve (I’m assuming), we sure as hell can do it now with access to things like the internet.

Enter: Me, and the amazing tutorial I am about to offer.

My #1 tip is to start with something small.  Once you complete your first project, and you get that sense of accomplishment, you’ll be hooked forever.

As it’s finally scarf season, AKA my favorite time of the year, I thought it’d be a great time to pass along a fun new hobby and a way to add to your wardrobe.

Before you start, it’s important to know a few things:

  1. It’s going to be confusing in the beginning. You will get angry and you will throw the needles down at least once.  That’s totally normal. Just make sure you pick them back up for your animals run away with it.
  2. It’s not going to be pretty.  Your first project is never cute, is probably full of holes, and doesn’t look like the pictures.  Which is why I’m not giving you a picture, because I don’t want you comparing your masterpiece to a picture that someone who has been knitting for years has made.  Just focus on your project and it’ll be fine.
  3. No matter how angry you get, do not throw it away or rip it out.  Just keep going.  Learn from your mistakes.  No matter what, finish the project.

Beginners 4-Step Infinity Scarf Pattern

Materials:

Set of size US 10.5 knitting needles
600 yards of Worsted weight yarn
1 darning needle (Also known as a tapestry needle)

(I recommend Red Heart or Lion’s brand. They’re both relatively soft, but also cheap for your first project.  This yarn will go through a lot, so best not to waste money on the good stuff your first time out (in my opinion– some may tell you differently).  Also, it’s best not to choose something super fuzzy, or with lots of extra stuff on it for your first time.  You want to be able to see your stitches easily.)

Step 1: Cast on

Depending on your learning style, pick your choice of education tool:

Videos (most of these include Step 2 explanations too):
Purllinknitting Long-tail cast on
KnittingHelp.com, Long-tail cast on method (AKA, my favorite cast-on)
KnittingHelp.com
Absolute Beginner Class

Articles:
About.com Knitting
Vogue Knitting
WikiHow

Step 2: Knit across the row.  When you reach the end, turn the needle and knit back across the row.  Continue on until the scarf measures at least your height, if not longer.  

Videos:
Knitting Tips by Judy
Purllinknitting 

Articles:
WikiHow
Crafty Yarn Council

Bonus:
“How to knit a garter stitch scarf” by iknitwithcatfur

Step 3:  Cast off

Videos:
Purllinknitting
Knitting Tips by Judy

Articles:
The Knitting Site
Craftsy

Step 4:  Sew together the edges.

Videos:
Jenn Wisbeck
Knitting Board

Aaaaaannnnddd voila!  You just made a Garter Stitch scarf. Toss it on with your next outfit and enjoy feeling stylish and cozy!  And make sure to tweet me a picture or tag me on Instagram with your new creation.

xo, kelsey (2)

Beauty Lessons from the Make-up Counter

To celebrate my only day off this week, I woke up on Thursday morning with a few very specific plans:
1.  Drink coffee and stalk Pinterest
2.  Enjoy the left-over Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi soup from last night’s board meeting as breakfast
3.  Go shopping
4.  Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.  Love me some Shondaland.
As soon as I had successfully crossed the first two off my to-do list, I headed out towards the mall.  I had a few things on my list, including new make-up brushes and a new liquid foundation.  
So naturally, I headed towards Sephora.
I almost always head immediately away from the super pushy totally well-meaning sales staff that single in on you the moment you walk into a store,  and today was no different.  My mother and I  politely rebuffed the offers of help while I circled the store a few times before I realized they didn’t have the brushes I was looking for.  
I was about to head out, but was stopped with Mom spotted a display promoting the bareMinerals Blemish Remedy foundation.  
Cathy is always pushing me into trying new acne-centered products, as I have a pretty bad acne around my mouth, and on my lower cheeks.  Much like the sales ladies, I usually ignore her urges to spend XX amount of money on new products promising to cure my face.  I’ve had acne for the past few years, and feel as if I have tried every trick in the book, every abrasive chemical that promises results, and every totally bullshit DIY skin treatment that has ever been pinned on Pinterest.  In between the red marks, I actually do have pretty nice skin, so I have just learned to live with the splotchy marks as one of my perfect imperfections.
Still, I found myself flagging down the sales woman that I hid from in the beginning, and then somehow ended up sitting in the little chair at the make up counter with a tattooed woman named Shannon looming over me.
Bing, bang, boom.  Testing the foundation turned into getting bronzed, blushed, and having an in-depth conversation about my style preferences, coloring, and dermatologists vs. estheticians.  And during this discussion, I learned several things:
  • Knowing the color tones of your face is important.  Turns out, according to Shannon, I have a peachy skin tone, which does not sit well with the normal bronze-y colors I usually pick out.  If I hadn’t stopped to try out the foundation, I would have grabbed the color I thought matched me, which turns out makes my cheeks look very yellow.  It wasn’t until she did a side-by-side comparison that I noticed how much brighter my skin was with a pinker toned foundation, as opposed to my tan ones.

  • Testing foundation colors on your hand/wrist/etc is an outdated process.  For the best results, test it on your face.  And if you’re between two products, test both of them side by side.  As I learned from my yellow/peach discovery, it is important to see it on your face.  Also, if you can, testing it in your face is especially good if you have sensitive skin.  
  • Add warmth to your face by bronzing a few choice areas.  I don’t know how to explain this one, so please see the handy little diagram below.  Shannon followed the dark marks around the edge of my face, top of my head, in the hair line, down the middle of my cheeks and around the bottom of my face, near the neck.  She didn’t do anything to my nose or collar bone, like this picture shows, but I suppose if you want to get fancy, go for it!  

  • Blush and bronzer make good eyeshadows.  If you’re going for a natural look or minimal make up look, use your bronzer to fill in the crease of your eyelid and your blush to add some color to your eyelid.  Top that off with some mascara, and suddenly you’ve got a “relaxed but glam look” (Shannon’s words).  It could also provide for make-up when you have to pack lightly for something (My words; always practical). 

I ended up purchasing the foundation (which I may review here in a few weeks, as I really do like how it feels, even if it doesn’t help improve my skin), and no brushes.  So I achieved nothing like I planned on today, but I did get a nice little lesson on using a few simple products.   I may even go back for more in a few weeks, this time to get an actual liquid foundation, and trick her into giving me more lessons.

But for now, it’s time for #4 on my list: Grey’s and Scandal.  All hail Queen Shonda.

xo, kelsey (2)

Lazy Girl Tips

“Organized” or “tidy” have never been strong words in my vocabulary.  Despite always looking up to the girls who had their notebooks color coordinated to their backpacks and pencil cases, I somehow always ended up as the girl with the frayed and ripped edges to her binders, and the papers overflowing out of the bottom of her locker.

I have no idea how this turned into school metaphor– probably because I just had a three hour board meeting in a first grade classroom and was sitting at one of those desks with the giant compartment in it.  So many flashbacks to Mr. Oker’s 5th grade classroom and the class-wide unspoken competition about having the coolest desk.  

Now, many, many years later, I still find myself drawn to people who seem to have their sh*t in order.  Girls who not only had all their assignments organized neatly in their planner, but had a patterned pen and notebook to match.  Meanwhile, I sit rummaging through my backpack, pushing crumpled pieces of paper and empty coffee creamer containers aside before finally admitting defeat and asking someone next to me if they have an extra pen.  
Thankfully, despite my lack of talent in the Having My Sh*t Together department, I somehow managed to keep the peace with my college roommates by keeping my mess contained to my personal space (usually).  I learned to just shut my door, shut out my mess, and nobody was the wiser.  However, now that I am cohabiting with Mom, that style will no longer suite my lifestyle. 
Though I have my own bedroom and bathroom, it’s kind of hard to argue with the person who actually owns the physical space you are occupying when they yell at you ask you to tidy up.  Therefore I have adopted a few new techniques to keep the peace, and also make my life a little easier:
  • Downsize // It’s a lot easier to keep your things clean when you don’t have so much of it.  When you have a few hours of free time, blast some music and start sorting through your crap. Create a system to decide what stays and what goes.  Mine includes:

    • Does it still have tags on it?   Yes, then it deserves to go to a better home.
    • When was the last time I wore it/used it?   Can’t remember, get rid of it.
    • Did I even remember I owned this?   Nope, throw it out.
    • Is it damaged, stained, too big or too small?  Then why do I need it; get rid of it.
    • Am I saving it for a “rainy day”?  Too bad, time to go.

           And so on and so forth. Be honest with yourself and donate whatever you truly do not need.  The less you own, the less you need to maintain.  

  • Improve your curb appeal // Evaluate how you are storing your things.  The more visible things lying around, the messier or more half-hazard a space feels.  This has been a true struggle for me personally.  Just because I use my make-up every day does not mean the bag needs to sit out on the bathroom counter– a direct quote from my mother.  The solution? Downsize my make-up collection (which I definitely recommend– did you know make-up products have expiration dates!?), and repurpose a mason jar (or old salsa jar) to hold your brushes. A smaller bag of make-up now fits under the counter, and the brushes stay clean in their cute new home sitting next to the soap dispenser.  And now Mom can allow guests to use my bathroom without feeling ashamed!  

  • Get it off the floor // Not everything you own needs to be seen. This goes with the above tip, but holds true to itself as well.  Closets, under the bed, drawers, shelves are your friend.  Plastic storage bins come in a variety of sizes and are stackable for closets, flat for under the bed and even small enough to fit multiple inside drawers. Take a walk through Target’s homeware section and be amazed at the storage opportunities.  Bonus: labeling them makes it even easier to keep things straight and mindless for when you really don’t want to clean.  Extra purses can go under the bed for easy access, but those heavy sweaters you definitely don’t need to wear during the summer can go in the storage bins in the bottom of your closet.  For visible areas, invest in some super cute containers, baskets, or even cover some card board boxes with patterned paper or wrapping paper to make boxes to hold items on shelves, or for things that must sit on desk tops, dressers, etc. If everything has a place, it’s super easy to keep it picked up without having to really think about it.
Still, it’s a work in progress. Whenever the mood strikes, tackle an area.  The closet one day, and then your dresser the next.  Start small and work your way up to finally having the desk area that the girl with the color coordinated folders and day planner would be proud of you for having.  Or, at least one she wouldn’t be horrified to look at.

xo, kelsey (2)

I Bought a Car: Introducing Beyoncé Weasley

I Bought A Car: Introducing Beyoncé Weasley

After yesterday’s marathon of car window-shopping, I all last night contemplating.  I made pro/con lists.  I looked at websites.  Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, Google, and Consumer Reviews.

I asked friends for recommendations.  And they were super helpful.

I Bought A Car: Introducing Beyoncé Weasley

Really, just SUPER helpful.

I also tweeted, asking for advice.  Got a few serious responses from friends with much more car knowledge than I have, but also had an awkwardly chipper response from the Ford Service twitter account this afternoon.  He referenced macaroni and cheese.  It was weird.

In the end, it came down to a feeling.  I just had a Thing for the Jeep.

(Not to mention the six recalls for the Ford Escape 2014, as well as other consumer reviews about having problems, plus the problems I’ve had personally with my own 2005 Ford Escape.  But let’s just focus on the Thing for the Jeep.)

As soon as I was sure about the Jeep, Dad and I found our way over to a dealership he has used for other cars in the past, and bing-bang-boom.

Except not really.

Buying a car turned out to be a 5-hour ordeal.  There was a test-drive.  Then there was the realization that that model didn’t have a back-up camera in it, so then there was another test-drive of a slightly upgraded model.  Then there were a lot of intrusive questions about the history of Kitty, my old 2005 Ford that we traded in.

Pro Tip from Papa Miklos: They’ll find out the problems with a used car pretty quick, thanks to the Car Fax report, and just using their eyes to see the issues.  Namely, the broken brakes, air conditioner, the piece of the front bumper that was lying the backseat of the car, the rusted door-dings from years of parking it on the street and the years of bug guts caked on to the front grille.  Best answer vaguely and not give them any reason to reduce the trade-in price.

Then came the credit application, which mostly just felt judgmental.  Basically my entire short spending history was coming down to this moment: Would I be paying more in interest for this loan than the actual loan itself, or has the past few years set me up for success?

Following the application came The Wait.  Shoutout to the watered down car dealership coffee for making that go faster.

Thankfully, I got some good news.  Turns out that despite my very short history of actually having any sort of credit, I am apparently a responsible spender.  That is, if you don’t count how much I spend on Chinese food, and McDonald’s Chocolate Shakes.

Following the happy news immediately came all of the paperwork.  The loan contract, the purchasing contract, the contract signing over ownership of my Ford to them, and so on.  The financing woman was super nice, but I kept half-expecting her to dupe me somehow.  She’d explain a big of legal jargon, and then tell me where to sign, but I kept expecting her to be like “LOL, BTW, you just agreed tap dance naked every time the car needs an oil change, and you already signed for it so there is nothing you can do about it, suckaaaa.”

But, as this is real life and not a bad Disney sitcom, that never happened.  So no, there was no naked tap dance clause.  Just a lot of really official looking documents, and SURPRISE: finding out that until I finish paying off my car (in 60 months, LOL), the bank will actually own my car.  Awesome.

Finally, at 3:30pm, after 5 hours of sitting at the dealership, I got the keys.

I Bought A Car: Introducing Beyoncé Weasley

Say hello to Beyoncé Weasley.  Beyoncé because she’s just too damn fierce for her own good, and Weasley because she’s a ginger (duh).  She’s perfect.  I am in love.  The end.

xo, kelsey (2)

Say Yes to the… Mid-Sized SUV

Today I spent 6 hours shopping for a new car.

My beloved 2005 Ford Hybrid Escape is no longer suitable for driving.  After an emergency trip to the mechanic (in which they charged me ONE-HUNDRED DOLLARS just to diagnose the beast, but whatever, I’m not bitter) on Tuesday, it has become clear that she cannot go on.  The brakes are malfunctioning, which is SUPER fun to drive, and SUPER expensive to fix.  She also has problems with the “sway bar”– which, believe it or not, is not a ballet reference– and a shotty air conditioning which has created problems with the battery.  And for a hybrid, no battery = no car.

So, much like the 50-year-old man having a mid-life crisis, the time has come to trade her in for a newer, sexier model.

(I’m sorry.  That was inappropriate. I’ll see myself out.)

Thankfully, I’ve been planning on getting a new car for a long time.  Over a year ago, my dad generously offered to help me with a down-payment on a new one as a graduation gift (AKA, a this-is-the-last-thing-I-will-help-you-do-before-I-shove-you-from-the-nest-so-time-to-learn-to-fly-b*tch gift).  But, now that my car is heading towards that wonderful Used Car Lot In The Sky, I’ve actually had to get serious about car shopping.

Which led to today.

Three car dealerships in 6 hours.  I test-drove a Jeep, a Ford, and a Honda, and have come up with a few conclusions:

1. Shopping for cars is like Say Yes To the Dress, but much more expensive and confusing.  A lot of them are great, they feel great, look great, run well.  You may be in love with a design, but there are so many different modifications and models for that design.  Only one is your perfect fit, and you can only choose one (unless you’re rich).  And though it may look great on the hanger (or car lot), when you actually try it on it could be completely different.

2. Shopping for cars is also like sorority recruitment.  You will look at many, and they will all seem like a great fit at first, but each has their own personality.  They have many different looks, different styles, different options and opportunities.  And you should probably take notes after each experience, because they will all start to look the same after awhile.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be yourself.  It was so nice meeting you, and good luck with the rest of Recruitment shopping!

3. Nothing is more intimidating than trying to turn left onto a street with 5 lanes while you’re test-driving an expensive brand new car with the salesman in the backseat asking you about your preference for leather or cloth seats.  Nothing.

Tomorrow is Bid Day.  The final fitting.  Are you ready to Yes to the Mid-Sized SUV?

xo, kelsey (2)