As I watch it grow in length and width I panic. Will it be too heavy? Too light? Too thick or too thin? Will it itch? Will it be aesthetically pleasing? Is the texture right? Will it be soft or rough against the skin? Will it be scalding hot or freezing cold? Will it shrink or stretch?

It is my first time and these are the questions that are floating around in my head at this very moment. Am I doing it right? Will I grip it too tightly or too loosely? Will it even fit? Will it be too big or possibly be too small? Will I cry in pain, relief, or disbelief when it is all over? Will I feel complete or broken like I lost something very important? At the end of it all will I hear sly comments like “maybe you should do this next time”, or “maybe you could have done this technique a little better”, or maybe just maybe I will receive more positive comments like “amazing”, “how did you learn to do that?”

It is calling out to me to touch it. Do I dare? Tentatively I reach out it feels like it has its own pulse. I do not want to stop. I want to keep going; however, I know I have to get some sleep eventually. After a long day, I look forward to repeating the previous evening’s activities. I enjoy it so much it has become part of my life. A lifeline that keeps me sane.

I add another pair of white balls. I am now up to three pairs of small white balls and a pair of larger black balls on either side of me. In a daze, I try to focus and take a brief look at the picture and instructions I am currently trying to follow along to. I think to myself what have I gotten myself into. It is the Kama Sutra of crocheting. Or should I say the Intarsia of crocheting. I look down at the project I am currently working on and think again how the balls of yarn remind me of limbs all tangled together to reach one’s ultimate goal of pure satisfaction.

After moving on from loom knitting and successfully teaching myself to crochet I was feeling really good about myself. I decided I was ready to crochet my first sweater. I wanted to pick a pattern that was unique and where I was going to learn a new technique. That is when I recall seeing a black unisex jumper with a white skull and crossbones on the front. The pattern was in one of the first crochet books I ever bought. The only thing is I did not know how to do colorwork. From the same book, I taught myself how to do tapestry crochet, but that is a different technique than what was used in the pattern for the sweater. Instead of carrying colors like in tapestry crochet, you attach a separate ball of yarn for each color area. This technique is called intarsia.

I jumped right in with beginner’s enthusiasm without learning how to crochet intarsia first. I thought I would just “wing it.” It had worked for me in the past. It was actually going pretty well until I got to my first color change. I had to make a skein of white yarn from the Jumbo ball of Red Heart Super Saver white yarn I was using (note: I also used a Jumbo ball of Red Heart Super Saver in black). I really had no idea how much yarn I would need for that particular area. I took a wild guess and wrapped it around a large clothes peg that I had lying around. Thankfully, I had a few large clothes pegs lying around for I would need a few of them for this project. I figured if I needed more yarn I would just make a new skein of yarn and continue on with the pattern.  It was also my first time reading a crochet chart of any kind. I found that a color chart using only two colors and one stitch is very easy to follow. This is not always the case, as I will learn later on as I continue to crochet and knit more complicated projects.

I am working on the Jolly Roger Jumper designed by Lynn Zykowski from the wildly popular Stitch ‘n Bitch book series, the Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller.

I try to hold on for as long as possible, but I am so close. All that is left to do is the assembly of the sweater, which consists of the following sewing side seams, setting in sleeves, underarm seaming, and the neckline still needs to be completed. All things I have never actually done before. Like I said it is my first time. I am grateful it is taking longer than I thought, but very frustrating at the same time. Delayed gratification does not always live up to its hype.

Finally, I pull the yarn through the last loop on the hook and complete the last stitch of the neckline. Still basking in the euphoric afterglow it is time to weave in all the yarn ends. It looks like I will have a lot of time to reflect on my crochet accomplishment for there are a lot of yarn ends to weave in.

I scream out in pure joy as I snip the last of the yarn ends. I hold up the completed garment. I am so happy. It looks just like the picture in the book. I do not hesitate and try the sweater on even though it is mid-July in the midst of a heatwave. I cry out again as I reach the peak of a second wave of pleasure… “It fits,” I yell out in delight.

My first attempt at a very complicated crochet intarsia sweater left me with such a feeling of contentment and true love for the textile arts it reminded me of an ancient Indian Sanskrit text on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment in life, the Kama Sutra; which, in turn, lead me to write this very racy article full of double entendres. I think I just might have to crochet some more sweaters; hopefully, this article inspires or the very least make more people curious about learning how to crochet and reap its many rewards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

                          

The most important thing to know about not just Japanese sewing books, but Japanese craft books in general (which have been translated to English) is to read all the instructions and the introduction on how to use the book section first. I do not mean just skim the pages. Actually understand what you are reading. There is a lot of important information in these pages that need to be absorbed before you even begin to start the project. Some Japanese sewing books include seam allowances and some do not a very important thing to know and remember. I learned this the hard way more about this later.

Another important thing is don’t to be intimidated by Japanese sewing books. Yes, I know, I know, trying to trace the pattern pieces or more specifically trying to figure out what specific pattern pieces to trace looks intimidating. The first thing that you will notice when you open the pre-printed pattern pieces from the back of the book is it looks like a giant traffic map of let’s say a place like Los Angeles. Japanese sewing books are similar to many other sewing books by how the different pattern pieces are tiled on top of each other, and they all do not necessarily belong to each other; i.e.: a sleeve can be tiled on top of a waistband of a pant or a skirt. Different pattern pieces for one pattern let’s say a pair of pants the front could be on page 1, the back can be on page 3, and the pocket could be on page 2. Unlike BURDA patterns or pattern books by UK designers Wendy Ward and Tilly Walnes, there is no color coding for sizes or in fact a particular pattern piece. The individual pattern pieces are not even color-coded. This is one thing that I would recommend to the book publishers of changing. I admit the hardest part of Japanese sewing books is trying to figure out what lines to trace for a particular pattern piece and what size you need. I am not going to lie it is just one big maze of black lines that all look the same. My trick is to lay the page that I need on the floor stand a distance away and look for the general shape of the pattern piece needed. Once I find the pattern piece I get my highlighter pen out and trace the size I need. You can not cut out the pattern pieces because you will cut into the other tiled pieces and there are also the pattern pieces printed on the backside of the paper which will be unusable if cut into.

Good news the two Japanese sewing patterns that I have made from Japanese sewing books were actually quite easy to sew together. Like I said before the hardest part is deciphering and tracing the correct pattern pieces, sizes, and remembering to add the seam allowances if needed.

The Elastic-Waist Crops, from the book Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha, my first attempt was going very well until I got to the waistband of the pants. I forgot to add the seam allowances to both the front and back of the body of the pants and to add extra allowance for the elastic casing. Since I was a fairly new sewer I did not realize this was a fairly easy fix. I could just draft a waistband that was separate from the pattern and attach it to the body of the pants; however, if I remember correctly I did not have enough fabric or the know-how to do this particular step. I decided the best thing to do next was just to start over using a different fabric. I chose light grey broadcloth that happened to work out perfectly. The pants are now one of my favorite things to wear in the summer.

I remember vividly the first time going to my local fabric store when I first was learning how to sew and skimming through the drape drape books by Hisako Sato. Flipping through the pages and seeing the minimalist, but most beautiful photos of models wearing such unique and interesting clothing I knew right then and there I was going to learn how to sew clothes specifically from this particular book series. I now own all three drape drape books by Hisako Sato. The One-Piece Side Drape Top, from the book drape drape 2 by Hisako Sato, was a little bit trickier than the Elastic-Waist Crops. The reason is my bust size is a small/medium and my waist size is a medium/large for this particular pattern. Another thing I did not consider when picking out a very cheerfully bright striped (yes, I said striped) lightweight four-way jersey knit fabric was this pattern is cut all in one piece on the bias. In hindsight, the name of the top was a giveaway. Note seam allowances are included in this Japanese sewing pattern book. Now you see why it is important to read all the information provided in pattern books. Matching the stripes was going quite smoothly until I hit the underarms where I graded to a smaller size. Oh well, I work at a fabric store and my manager, fellow co-workers, and customers all say the top looks great and could not tell the stripes did not match under the armhole.

A cool fact is on one of the episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee they actually used a Japanese sewing pattern for the contestants to figure out with the use of no instructions. It was quite interesting to watch because one contestant could not figure out how the pieces went together so another contestant actually went over to help her. Japanese sewing patterns do not use a lot of written instructions mostly pictures and drawings; which, I prefer, that way I can look through my vast library of craft books and use the internet to find a method to follow that makes sense to me. There is a whole collection of Japanese sewing books that have been translated into English, and I just recently purchased a Japanese knitting book that now has also been translated into English. I am sure there is a story to be told about how to decipher knit/crochet charts, understanding minimal written instructions and only really having a handful of diagrams to follow to create a garment.

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Before starting any pattern no matter what it is knitting, crocheting, or sewing ALWAYS read over the pattern at least once to get an idea of the steps and techniques that are needed for that particular project. You may have to take the time to learn a new stitch/technique and/or some pre-planning before starting. I personally have had to do that more than once. The hour or so I spent practicing a new stitch or learning a new seaming technique saved the frustration of having to re-start many projects.

As soon as I found the free Patons Skirting Around Knit pattern on the Yarnspirations website I immediately ordered the exact same yarn and colour as the picture of the finished skirt and downloaded the pattern. I so wanted to take on what I knew would be a challenge. I never usually take on any project unless 1) I will wear, 2) really love, or 3) I will learn a new technique or stitch. My crafting philosophy is if I see a pattern that I like I want to be able to make it no matter how difficult or even if I don’t know how to do that particular craft. I will learn how if that is what it takes. My boss at the fabric store I work at likes to say to me, “I do like a challenge.” She is right.

I hate to admit to this, but I looked at this particular pattern quite a few times over the course of a year and kept putting it to the side. Yes, I was procrastinating. It wasn’t like I didn’t know how to read a pattern (or in fact a knitting chart), I knew how to do circular knitting, and I even knew how to knit cables. The issue was I knew after reading over the pattern I knew that there would be a lot of pre-planning that I would have to do. First of all, it took me a bit to figure out that each cable panel has different amounts of rows to complete each cable. For example, Panel A uses 6 rows, Panel B uses 8 rows, and Panel C uses 14 rows to complete. I decided to create a table containing this information of each row and corresponding panel which I will attach below. I only did the table up to row 104 you may have to add more rows depending on the length of the skirt. Note: the last row should correspond with the fourth round of the Irish Moss Stitch Pattern.

 A B    C Irish Moss Stitch
1 1 1 1 1
2 2 2 2 2
3 3 3 3 3
4 4 4 4 4
5 5 5 5 1
6 6 6 6 2
7 1 7 7 3
8 2 8 8 4
9 3 1 9 1
10 4 2 10 2
11 5 3 11 3
12 6 4 12 4
13 1 5 13 1
14 2 6 14 2
15 3 7 1 3
16 4 8 2 4
17 5 1 3 1
18 6 2 4 2
19 1 3 5 3
20 2 4 6 4
21 3 5 7 1
22 4 6 8 2
23 5 7 9 3
24 6 8 10 4
25 1 1 11 1
26 2 2 12 2
27 3 3 13 3
28 4 4 14 4
29 5 5 1 1
30 6 6 2 2
31 1 7 3 3
32 2 8 4 4
33 3 1 5 1
34 4 2 6 2
35 5 3 7 3
36 6 4 8 4
37 1 5 9 1
38 2 6 10 2
39 3 7 11 3
40 4 8 12 4
41 5 1 13 1
42 6 2 14 2
43 1 3 1 3
44 2 4 2 4
45 3 5 3 1
46 4 6 4 2
47 5 7 5 3
48 6 8 6 4
49 1 1 7 1
50 2 2 8 2
51 3 3 9 3
52 4 4 10 4
53 5 5 11 1
54 6 6 12 2
55 1 7 13 3
56 2 8 14 4
57 3 1 1 1
58 4 2 2 2
59 5 3 3 3
60 6 4 4 4
61 1 5 5 1
62 2 6 6 2
63 3 7 7 3
64 4 8 8 4
65 5 1 9 1
66 6 2 10 2
67 1 3 11 3
68 2 4 12 4
69 3 5 13 1
70 4 6 14 2
71 5 7 1 3
72 6 8 2 4
73 1 1 3 1
74 2 2 4 2
75 3 3 5 3
76 4 4 6 4
77 5 5 7 1
78 6 6 8 2
79 1 7 9 3
80 2 8 10 4
81 3 1 11 1
82 4 2 12 2
83 5 3 13 3
84 6 4 14 4
85 1 5 1 1
86 2 6 2 2
87 3 7 3 3
88 4 8 4 4
89 5 1 5 1
90 6 2 6 2
91 1 3 7 3
92 2 4 8 4
93 3 5 9 1
94 4 6 10 2
95 5 7 11 3
96 6 8 12 4
97 1 1 13 1
98 2 2 14 2
99 3 3 1 3
100 4 4 2 4
101 5 5 3 1
102 6 6 4 2
103 1 7 5 3
104 2 8 6 4

The second thing, I had to figure out and pre-plan where to strategically place stitch markers to make it easier to follow the repeat cable patterns. I will also post it below. Note: it is only for the extra-small/small size that just happens to be my size. Also, take note that I did not place the stitch markers until I completed the increase row of the Twisted Ribbing round.

5 sts, **4 sts, pm, 10 sts, pm, 2 sts, pm, 4 sts, pm, 19 sts, pm, 24 sts, pm, 19 sts, pm, 4 sts, pm, 2 sts, pm, 10 sts, pm, 4 sts** 11 sts. Repeat from ** to ** once more. 6 sts

Sts = stitches

Pm = place marker

Note: this is just where to place the stitch markers you must follow the stitches used in the actual knitting pattern.

After hours of pre-planning I was ready to start this very on-trend cable knit skirt. Everything was going good. I just finished the increase row of the Twisted Ribbing on the hem and have the first four rounds of the cable pattern completed. That is when I noticed I needed to add another column to work out the rows used for the Irish Moss Stitch Pattern; which, you will see I added in red to the table above.

Hopefully, this bit of information and helpful tips will encourage knitters to try making this skirt. All the pre-planning and strategically placed stitch markers really do make this skirt very easy to make. Trust me the knitting is the fun and easy part.

I know a lot of crafters like easy simple projects and shy away from the more complicated patterns.  The more challenging the pattern the more determined I become to complete the project. Plus, with all my health issues the more I have to concentrate on a project the more I forget about the chronic pain I feel from my arthritis and fibromyalgia. You hear a lot about the healing powers of crafting and I am a firm believer that this is not just a myth. My rheumatologist is so shocked at how well I am doing, she actually asked me at my last visit, “what have I been doing?” I simply stated, “I have started crafting.”

The healing power of crafting is a story for another day.

After successfully teaching myself loom knitting and selling many infinity scarves and toques to raise money for local animal shelters I came to the realization that I could loom knit with my arthritis. Not only was it not making my arthritis worse it was actually helping my fine motor skills in my hands and fingers. I was starting to feel more adventurous – loom knitting and the Internet, especial PINTEREST, got me itching to learn another skill. I felt crocheting was the next easiest thing to try since I was still somewhat worried about what I could or could not do pertaining to my arthritis. I decided crocheting was going to be my next creative outlet since it uses only one hand.

I went to the local Michael’s Craft store and headed straight to the kid’s section and found a beginner’s kit on how to crochet a Granny Square (kid’s version). I thought how hard could it be. I was so wrong. I had no idea how to hold the hook, how to make a chain, or even how to do the most basic stitch the single crochet. A little ambitious or what…I had no idea what I was getting into. On a positive note, I did know how to make a slip knot because of loom knitting.

I proceeded by taking out the instruction pamphlet and feeling really confident I took the hook and yarn and started to follow the instructions step-by-step. It was not going well. Now I know what it really meant when the kit says on the box children under 8 should not try without adult supervision. It actually means an adult who not only knows how to crochet, but how to crochet a granny square.

After spending not only hours but what felt like days; which, thinking back at it now it was probably days googling how-to crochet tutorials and watching how-to videos I finally made a granny square or at least an attempt at one. I might even still have the picture somewhere; however, it has been at least six years. I posted the picture on Facebook asking if any of my friends crochet and asked if my first attempt could actually pass for what is called a granny square. The general response was very strong “NO”…lol. I had to admit it was a little crooked and looked more like a snowflake than a square shape.

I would say that one of my strongest assets would be that once I set my mind to do something I do not give up that easily. For example, my manager at the fabric store I work at asked me one time, “do you keep trying over and over again until you finally get it?” “Yup!” It took a while, but I can tell you that I finally successfully completed the granny square from the beginner’s kit. Once I figured it out my confidence was soaring and I actually found an App where every week a new granny square pattern was posted for free with written instructions and accompanying crochet charts. I was also teaching myself how to read crochet charts at the same time. That is an article for another time. I have no idea if this App is still available it was many years ago and I think it was only offered for a short time. Every week for I do not remember for exactly how long I looked forward to reviewing and learning a new granny square pattern, and the time in between I was teaching myself other techniques, for example, crochet amigurumi.

Fast forward about three years and I was looking for a project that I could do in smaller sections since I was back in school full-time and writing essays, role plays, oral presentations, and doing case studies on a daily basis. Remembering how much I enjoyed making granny squares I started looking for a pattern that incorporated granny squares. The first thing I found when I googled granny square fashion was a picture of Mary-Kate Olsen wearing a crochet granny square scarf. I could not find a pattern for it at the time. I guess I could have easily designed my own; unfortunately, at the time school was taking all my brain-power and I just wanted to follow a simple pattern. That is when I found this awesome free pattern from Red Heart – Granny Square Coatigan. Yeah, I get to make granny squares again.

I am not sure exactly when I decided to do adaptations to the free Red Heart Granny Square Coatigan. I think it was when I was going through my yarn stash and finding that brown was the only colour that really went with the colour scheme of the granny squares. Plus, brown was the only colour I had in my stash that I would have enough yardage to finish the coatigan. There it was. Brown was going to be the main colour. Only thing is brown is not really my colour and definitely not one of my favourite colours. Oh well, I will make it work. Using the brown yarn to finish each granny square I laid all the squares out similar to how I made my Retro Patchwork Charm Pack Skirt. I came up with a schematic drawing that consisted of the order of the numbered squares, a narrow button band which went around the collar and the bottom hem of the coatigan. I decided to add just one button so I was able to close the front.

After many snow days classes were cancelled. Note: this is a very rare occurrence in Vancouver, BC. I was able to finish this particular project faster than I thought. I wore it to school the very next day. It was like wearing a giant blanket so warm and cozy. As soon as I got to class my teacher could not believe that I made the granny square coatigan, and she told me that she saw something similar in one of the stores in an upscale mall for hundreds of dollars. She even got me to model it in front of the class and asked me when I found the time to make the coatigan. I told her I started and finished during the snow days. She laughed and said she did nothing at all during that time. One of my fellow students took a picture and posted it on one of her Facebook groups.

Although, I love the Red Heart Granny Square Coatigan especially making all the granny squares and constructing the garment the brown colour was just not doing it for me. I ended up donating the coatigan to Goodwill. I am hoping it is now keeping someone warm and cozy. Do not let anyone tell you that it does not matter what yarn, colour, and/or fabric that you choose for any project.  It most definitely does!!!!

 

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The closest thing I ever made that came close to sewing a quilt was a very cheerful retro long patchwork skirt (pictured below). To this day I wear it all the time. I particularly like wearing it on dark gloomy rainy days, which is a very common occurrence in Vancouver, BC Canada. I find that when I wear it to work, especially, everyone seems to be happier and brighter because I am. How could I not be when I was wearing a skirt made from an Amy Butler’s charm pack aptly called Eternal Sunshine? When I first picked out and bought this particular charm pack I had every intention of making a quilt; however, I think all of the years working in retail clothing stores making clothes just came naturally and was my real passion. What girl does not dream of being a fashion designer?

I did not use a pattern for this particular skirt. I just used some common sense, a little bit of math and logic, and mistakes that I made and learned from doing previous projects. The first thing I ever learned from my very first sewing project which was a long halter dress pattern from Martha Stewart was to use my hip measurement instead of my waist or bust measurement. Yes, I am one of those flat-chested women whose hips are bigger than her waist and bust, but I do have a butt. By using my waist or bust measurement I would not be able to get the skirt up and over my butt. This could possibly be a bit of a problem. Another very important thing I learned was to give myself some ease for walking unless you want to put slits in the skirt. Since I was going for the bohemian look I did not think it would be suitable for this particular skirt. I read somewhere; probably, someone’s blog that I really wish I could remember and give reference to right now (you know to give credit when it is due). The solution was easy by taking one big step forward; take a measuring tape and measure around both my ankles. I had to add this measurement to my width if you remember was hip measurement/2 (front and back) + seam allowances now add the ease measurement. That would be my finished width of the skirt. I am happy to report that it gave me plenty of room to walk comfortably. I have to admit I am one of those geeky people that read how-to books from cover to cover like a novel and I spend hours researching the internet and craft books for patterns and helpful tips on how to make myself a better sewer.

The next step I guess would be similar to making a quilt was I strategically laid out the pre-cut squares to my desired width hip measurement + seam allowance (do not forget when you sew each square together you have to allow for a seam allowance) and length measurement. Of course, I ran into a little minor problem I ran out of squares to make the preferred length of the skirt. I scrounged around my craft room and found some random fat quarters that would do the trick. I really do think in the back of my mind I plan on making a quilt one day. I just calculated the extra length I needed and sewed the fat quarters together to make an extra-wide band at the top of the skirt the same width as the rest of the skirt. Do not forget to add in seam allowances and the extra width for the elastic casing. Oh right, I guess I should have mentioned that I just used a basic elastic waist for the skirt. In hindsight, it was quite possible that I could have put the band on the hem of the skirt or half of the band on top and the other on the bottom of the skirt. That is the joy of making your own clothes you get to be the designer and do whatever you want.

The final steps were to make the elastic waistband and finish the hem of the skirt. To make the elastic waistband I needed to get a piece of elastic and put it around my waist (or where you want the skirt to sit) plus one inch. I used I believe a 1” wide elastic. To make the casing for the elastic I folded over the top of the skirt the width of the elastic plus a ¼” – ½”. Sew around the bottom of the casing as straight as possible leaving about a 2” gap between the start and finish of the casing. I used a large safety pin to thread the elastic through the casing making sure the elastic does not twist. Once the elastic is through sew the elastic together using the 1” extra as the seam allowance and then push the elastic so it is flat into the casing and sew the edges closed. The final step is to hem the bottom of your skirt. I recommend doing a double hem for quilting cotton frays quite a bit.

Voila, look how easy it is to sew this long retro patchwork skirt. I think this would be an ideal project for even the beginner sewer. I look forward to seeing everyone’s finished projects.

 

One thing I learned about writing is to be able to do it well like anything you have to be passionate about your subject or have a really tight deadline. I am guessing that this should not come as such a surprise that I now have that nagging feeling that I am not reaching my full potential of making clothes either by sewing, knitting, and/or crocheting because I am not sharing my own trials and tribulations of teaching myself these skills. I have many authors to thank for being my inspiration to take on this challenge; which, are as follows in no particular order: Alanna Okun and her book of essays called, “The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater,” Rachel Herron and her book of essays called, “A Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter,” and Adrienne Martini and her novel, “Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously.” I would say my conversational style of writing is similar to Elizabeth Zimmermann and her classic knitting bible called, “Knitting Without Tears.”

I think I always knew deep down I would become a writer of some sort. My father used to say to me I could make a bus ride sound exciting. I guess I just didn’t have a real passion for anything to write about until I started writing book reviews. That is a story all it’s own, which I think I should write now. I need some motivation to push me forward to pursue my dreams. It was late-December 2005 and my husband, Marco, and I were just about to get married my mom passed away the past June and it was my first Christmas without her and I was working full-time in a mall. The Christmas Spirit was all around me and I was having a real hard time with the stress of everything. Marco being from Germany thought it would be a good idea once we got married to take me back to his parents bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere, well actually North Bavaria, in the Black Forest, for a little time off from everything. When he went back working on the cruise ships for four months and I stayed behind living in a small village of no more than 900 people who barely spoke any English that they learned in school, and to be honest I did not know any German since I did not take it in school. Anyone who knows me knows I like to talk and communicate with people, so purely out of boredom I got myself on MySpace, which was the popular Social Media platform at the time and shared my love of books and reading. I entered contests where authors and publishers were giving away free books, which I happened to win quite a few.

When I moved back home to Canada I started writing book reviews in my own unique style. As one reader wrote she liked how I did not write what you would call a traditional book review, but I used how the book related to me personally and wrote accordingly. Back in 2006 the concept of eBooks was just a slight hum among the book-publishing world and was causing excitement and a little fear of the unknown. Since everyone who was involved in book publishing even in a little way was on MySpace promoting books and book signings I decided to write a simple small blog followed by a simple question asking book lovers what they thought about eBooks and how they thought they were going to change the book publishing world. I had so many comments that the Marketing Director of HarperCollins mentioned my blog along with a link on his blog at HarperCollins. Next thing I knew I was working hand in hand with this particular Marketing Director of HarperCollins in New York sharing our love for books. I even got introduced to other imprints at HarperCollins like Avon Red (Erotica) and had an online interview with the editor and writing book reviews for this particular imprint. I even wrote a start of an erotic novel that the editor read and passed on and told me to contact her when I was finished writing the book. I still have not finished writing the book, and to be honest probably never will. I think I was a little scared of actually reaching my goal, but realistically I knew I was not a good enough writer to be a novelist. This was five years before Fifty Shades of Grey was even published. When I was in my twenties and thirties I would have been too prude and righteous to read erotica and openly admit to it let alone write about it. Once I hit my forties and my hormones had taken over I stopped caring what people actually thought. A little erotica does not hurt anyone. After a year or so and getting sent so many free books from authors and publishers to read and write reviews I had to stop. I just could not keep up. It was overwhelming. Plus, I felt I had to actually get a real job where I got paid actual money to help pay the bills. I think I was terrified of the success I was having I was way over my head and I kind of felt like a fraud since I did not even finish college or get a degree in ANYTHING.

Skipping a few years ahead I have now taught myself how to knit, crochet, and sew in that order. I now have found my true passion in life. I love it so much I started volunteering teaching kids what I think are important life skills. Another thing I discovered about myself is that I can explain and show someone how to do something, but when I try it for the first time it is a whole different story. For example, inserting a fly front zipper in a pair of pants. Of course, I don’t do anything the easy way, like following a pattern. I have to draft my own pair of pants from a pair I already own and draft my own pattern pieces for a fly front zipper and don’t forget the fly extension. Needless to say I sewed the zipper to the fly extension. Hey, it was my first try and I did draft my own pattern. In turn, all this teaching everyone I know and their kids to either knit, crochet, or sew lead me to going back to school to take an Education Assistant Program. That is where my creativity and writing really took off both teachers and peers praised me. I found out how much I loved writing stories, role-plays, essays, and even lesson plans. I learned a lot about myself. I have lots of patience and people skills. Who knew?

One major thing I learned the hard way and I am still learning today is when making your own clothes you have too really love the pattern you set out to make. Especially with knitting and crocheting since you pretty much have to make the fabric before assembling let’s say a sweater; whereas, sewing a garment is a lot faster because the fabric is already made and you just have to cut out the pattern pieces and sew them together. Okay, there is a bit more to it than that, but you get the idea. I can tell you that twice, for sure, I have been at least half way done knitting a sweater which I have worked on non-stop for a week and dropped a stitch which is easy to fix; however, because I didn’t love the pattern, or colour I chose, or whatever, I would take the tail end of the yarn and pull it all apart. It is actually a very liberating feeling ripping it all apart and winding it back into a ball. I have to say very meditative. It almost feels as good as when a customer at work is testing your patience and you want to tell them to just bugger off, but you know you can’t say that in a workplace especially to a customer. Instead you look down at the faux fur and you somehow get the grip of a vise and the strength of the Hulk and you rip the fabric the exact size the customer wants. You take a deep calming breath after and feel the anger rush out of your body and turn to the customer with a wide smile and ask, “Is there anything else I can assist you with?” It is almost as goodie orgasmic sex. Note: I work in a fabric store.

Lesson learned do what you love with passion and you will never work a day in your life again.

We Are The Goldens – Dana Reinhardt – Wendy Lamb Books (Random House Children’s) – May 27, 2014

I want to start by apologizing I wrote this review on my lunch break on my little note pad that I had in my purse, and retyped it when I got home after work. I am exhausted so be nice. I can say with 100% certainty that the grammar and syntax is just horrible. I have a bad habit of writing just like I talk with no punctuation. NO commas or periods just one big breath. I can’t seem to get everything that I am thinking out fast enough. I finished reading WE ARE THE GOLDENS by DANA REINHARDT about a week ago, and although I loved the book I didn’t know what I was going to write for the review. Of course inspiration hits you at any moment and that just happened to be at work and I couldn’t wait to go on my break to start writing in my notebook that I carry everywhere with me.

I am ethically responsible to let my readers know that I received WE ARE THE GOLDENS for free from the publisher Wendy Lamb Books (Random House Children’s) via Net GALLEY.

I came across Net GALLEY by researching other book review sites to see how different reviewers/bloggers, publishers, literary agents, and authors are using social media to their advantage to help promote books. I have been out of the game per se for at least 8 years and MySpace is pretty much run its course. MySpace is where I originally had my blog News and Reviews for Book Lovers. It definitely piqued my interest when HarperCollins introduced me to Edelweiss Interactive Publisher Catalogs and were offering Digital Review Copies (DRC) to reviewers and bloggers. For all those people who love the smell, holding a book, and turning the pages of a traditional book I think that the e-book is here to stay especially with all the new e-readers getting introduced into the marketplace.

I have to agree with one of the book reviewers/bloggers that I came across that it is definitely easier to get your book review request approved through Edelweiss than it is through Net GALLEY. However, as I found with WE ARE THE GOLDENS by DANA REINHARDT that publishers can send you invitations to read a digital review copy (DRC) straight through Net GALLEY you just have to accept the invitation and download the book on to your favorite device. Through Edelweiss you have to get on a publishers book reviewer/blogger mailing list, and than the publicist of a particular book asks if you are interested in reviewing a particular book through email. If you are interested you have to email back the publicist requesting either a hard copy or a digital review copy (DRC) through Edelweiss. Most publishers would much rather send you a DRC a lot easier and faster. To finish the publicist has to give you access to the book via Edelweiss. If there is an easier way for publicists to invite reviewers/bloggers to review a particular book I haven’t come across it yet. Requesting a book though both Net GALLEY and Edelweiss is fairly easy. Net GALLEY allows you to build an individual profile that you provide a mini bio, contact information, links to social media sites, and what genre of books that you are interested in reading. I am also assuming that the more books you review and post on Net GALLEY the more you will get approved for more book requests. Registration for both Net GALLEY and Edelweiss is free, but keep in mind to get free books to review you must have a good relationship with authors, publishers, and even literary agents will send you books to review of their current authors. You just have to hit the REQUEST button and it goes off into cyberspace. You will get an email telling you of any invitations, approved and disapproved requests. Edelweiss is basically the same thing you just hit REQUEST DIGITAL RC and you just give a description of your role, and I just found out it automatically saves it for you for future requests. I just love the digital review copies it so fast and easy and cost efficient.

 

Now for the review of the book WE ARE THE GOLDENS by DANA REINHARDT I read this book in just one sitting just a few hours. Not only was it not a long book not even 200 pages, but also it was fast and very entertaining read.

WE ARE THE GOLDENS by DANA REINHARDT is written in the voice of the younger sister, Nell, writing which felt like to me a love letter to her older perfect sister, Layla.

What I liked about this particular book is even though I knew from the description of the book given by the publisher that the older sister, Layla, had a big secret that she was hiding from everyone even her beloved younger sister, Nell. Layla is having an affair with one of her high school teachers. Knowing this fact it did not ruin the suspense of the story line. Instead of focusing on this big secret I found that the book was mostly about two very close sisters who are struggling with adolescence and one sister, the older sister, Layla in particular who is trying to develop her own sense of independence and individuality with or without her younger sister, Nell.

I found that the book was quite short in length because it did not go into any real dialogues between people or did not contain descriptions of every little detail and setting. It was not necessary since the book was written pretty much in the form of a letter and expressing the thoughts, feelings, and the happenings of the younger sister, Nell.

Another thing I really liked about WE ARE THE GOLDENS by DANA REINHARDT is the book wasn’t too preachy. For example, we all know that the teacher is an adult and should no better than to get involved with an underage student romantically, but it shows that the teacher is just human just like everyone else. The book focuses more on Nell, the younger sister, on how she reacts before and after she finds out Layla’s big secret and the fight she has within herself on what is morally right and wrong. At the end of the story it isn’t so much about going to the authorities and getting the teacher fired for his crime and misdemeanor.  As it is about how Layla had changed so much, and what she ultimately ends up doing to keep the affair going on even when the teacher knew he had to call it quits. I do believe what Nell does at the end of the story is the right thing to do in this situation. Get the family involved in a somewhat intervention letting Layla realize that she is going down a very dark and lonely road, and that Nell’s decision was based solely out of the love that can only be felt between two very close siblings especially sisters.

Here are some links to websites that I mentioned in my blog.

www.netgalley.com

www.edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com

www.danareinhardt.net

www.randomhousekids.com