Tuesday, January 31, 2012


When you go into any store that sells sheets whether it's in sets or individual pieces, I am sure that the thread count catches your eye.  You know what I am talking about- 300, 400 or even 600 thread count!  But do you really know what you are buying??  Now before I go any further I am not here to tell you which sheets to buy.  Sheets are like works of art, a very personal thing.  What is great for one person is awful to the next.  But what I am going to do is arm you with a little knowledge so that the next time you are out buying sheets you will be able to make a well informed decision.  Personally when I go looking for sheets I always buy 100% Cotton.  I just like Cotton- always have.  I try to buy between 280-400 thread count.  And I ALWAYS buy plain weave sheets- NOT sateen!  I will explain all of this further.
There are 3 main things I want to talk about with regards to sheets: 1. Fibre  2. Thread Count  3. Type of weave  (and I'm not talking about the one on your head!)

Most of the sheets that are available to the average consumer is either Polyester/Cotton, Cotton, Cotton/Bamboo, Bamboo or Silk.  If I had to put my money down on sheets I would keep to 100% Cotton or Cotton/Bamboo mix.  Bamboo is nice because the fibers are natural, fibres are long in length (more on that in a bit)  and is highly absorbant.  Oh and one other thing, it is a renewable resource!  But for the most part 100% Cotton is what is widely available to everyone.  Try to stay away from the Cotton/Poly mix as this can tend to feel scratchy and will not absorb moisture as well as 100% Cotton.  In addition these types of sheets ten to "pill". 

Pills are those little balls of fibres that are attached to your sheets.  Due to the inherent properties of Polyester- those little balls hold tight to little fibres that have been rubbed into a little ball- this isn't very comfortable at all. 

Silk is lovely but can tend to be warmer to lie on in the summer. They can also tend to be higher maintenance.  As a side note, did you know that for a long time silk is the fibre of choice for Arctic Thermal Wear.  Silk is highly insulative!  Hence, why in the summer, Silk sheets may not be your sheets of choice!

100% Cotton is a great choice for sheets.  Cotton is first a foremost a natural fibre- which I love!  It is one of the most absorbent fibres out there which is great for sheets.  It also launders and holds up really well.  If you are one of those people that iron your sheets- Cotton feels beautiful when ironed.  Now there are different types of Cotton that are available.  For the most part if you see Egyptian, Pima, Supima, or Sea Island Cotton you will be buying a quality product-MOSTLY!  Why do I say that?  Well.....  These types of cottons tend to have a longer "staple" length.  Which means its fibres are naturally long.  When this is the case, the fabric produced from these longer staples feels really nice and wears really well.  Now if sheets are made from yarns that have short staple lengths even if they are Egyptian or Pima or whatever, they won't feel as nice and won't wear as well.  In fact they will tend to pill more.  Think about it!  If you were to rub together yarns with short staples all of those little fibres will matt together or will rub away.  If they are longer this will not happen as readily.  Simple Physics (well not Physics but you know what I mean) !!  So what does this mean in terms of sheets.  Those quality long staple cotton sheets will wear, feel, and launder better thus giving you a quality product that you will have for years to come.  I could go into way more detail about cotton but I think I will just leave it at that for now and leave a more detailed posting of Cotton later.

The 2nd thing you should watch out for is thread count.  This is one area that can be quite confusing and deceiving to the consumer. Thread count is the number of threads in 1 square inch of fabric.  Generally speaking if you buy sheets that are 280- 400 thread count you will be just fine.  You say- "how can 280 thread count be better than say 600?"  Well first of all IF the quality of the thread is better in the 280 thread count sheet it will just hold up better and feel better. 
For the longest time manufacturing made it so that only high quality yarn (long staples) could be made into a high thread count sheet thus making high thread count sheets out of reach for the average consumer due to their high cost.  Nowadays, anyone can get a hold of 600 or even 800 thread count- but do you know what that means?  We are lulled into thinking that the higher the thread count the better.  But a lot of the time they are using inferior threads (short staples), using a 2 ply yarn and a sateen weave.  All of this can add up to sheets that will not hold up.  What do I mean when I say the sheets may be made with  1 or 2 ply.  Well.... 1 ply means just that- a thread that is a single spun thread.  A 2 ply is a thread that has 2 threads twisted into one thread.  If the sheets you buy is a 2 ply a lot of times the manufacturers cheat and say they have 600 count sheets but in fact they are really 300 count!  Sneaky I know!!  In addition , are the threads used thick or fine? And what length of fibre did they use?  PHEW!  I know it's a lot to take in.  Generally speaking a finer thread produces a finer fabric, a thicker thread a thicker one- pretty simple.  but what does this mean for you?  This means that if the sheets were made using long staple fibres, fine fibres and a high thread count- you have a mighty fine set of sheets my friend and you probably paid a lot for them!  If you bought 800 thread count sheets for $29.99......  well...... they are probably not exactly what the claim to be.  Like a lot of things in life you get what you paid for!

The 3rd and last thing to look for is the weave that the sheets were made with.  For the most part sheets are made either with a plain weave also stated as Percale or a Sateen Weave:

If the sheets are made with this weave (Plain), and have a high thread count and are made with a great quality yarn this would be my sheets of choice by far!  They would also be known as Percale sheets. They tend to be smooth and crisp, wear really well and launder great!   Now I know a lot of people out there really like Sateen sheets.  Sateen is:

Can you see the difference between the two pictures?  The Sateen Weave has what is called floats.  Floats are threads in the fabric that literally float over other threads.  They will generally float over 2 or 3 threads.  This produces a fabric that is very smooth and has a soft feel (hand).  The main issue with this type of weave is that the floats can snag and pull easily.  In addition, this fabric tends to produce pills.  Since there are threads that are raised they tend to rub.  I am sure you know what I mean.....  I too have bought Sateen sheets/pillowcases in the past and have regretted it.  I thought-what the heck I will give these sheets a try.  I have will never buy sateen again! 
When I go into discount stores and I see 800 count sheets with a sateen weave and have a low cost, I run screaming and so should you!  I can almost guarantee they were made with an inferior 2 ply threads.  In addition because of that inferior thread those lovely floats that make that sheet feel so nice AT
FIRST will pill and pull horribly.  And I can almost guarantee they ARE NOT 800 Thread Count!

So what does this all mean to you.  I just wanted to arm you with a little knowledge so that the next time you go and buy sheets you may think twice about what you are buying.  I personally like crisp sheets.  Not so crisp that they are crunchy!  But sheets that have a descent thread count and are a plain weave.
There is nothing like a bed made with fresh sheets!
Since I live in a Northern Climate I love having Flannel Sheets.  They are so lovely to get into at night.  I leave the crisp ones for summer. Although I have used my Flannel ones in Summer as well- as they are highly absorbant.  When I go to buy Flannel sheets I try to buy ones that aren't that cheap.  You really do get what you pay for with Flannel.  I try to buy ones with a plain weave that is TIGHTLY woven.  This tightly woven sheet is just a better product.   But really, when it comes down to it, it really is trial and error with flannel- well at least that's what I have found anyways.  Just remember.  To always wash Flannels and any sheets before using.  The main reason is that there will almost always be a "finish" on them when you get them.  This means that the fabric has been treated in some way so that the sheets have a nice "feel" and look nice in the packaging.  Please, please, please, after drying your flannel sheets clean out the lint trap- you have no idea- or maybe you do- the amount of lint that is produced.  This is especially true when they are washed the first few times. It is any wonder there is any fluffiness left on those sheets to snuggle into.
Have a great day!

Monday, January 30, 2012


Microwaves in kitchen islands?  Yay or Nay??  If you are planning on a Kitchen Reno there is a little detail you may want to think of.  Do you want a seamless look in your kitchen or a look that hides your microwave?  Case in point the microwave in a Kitchen Island:

This really is a great way to "hide" the microwave.  But one thing I want you to think of if you are thinking of this feature.  If you have kids or are thinking of having kids then this may not be the way for you.  This is one way for the lego or your cat to be cooked!! Sound crazy??  Ask any parent if they have a "little Houdini" around? When we renovated our kitchen 7 years ago (has it been that long?), someone suggested that I put my microwave at hip height in the pantry cabinetry.  All I could think of was......  "Well that's a great way for a child to put something in there and nuke it!"   My suggestion is that if you want this seamless look, purchase a microwave with a lock out feature.  This is just a little thing but it is an idea that may come back to bite you in the long run.  Just a little food for thought.  And yes I know that little people will not always be that way, but if I had a microwave at hip height with little guys running around I would be uncomfortable.  But that's just me!  Also remember that if your microwave is in the island you will be bending to use it.  If you have a front load washer without the stand you will know what I am speaking of when I say that bending can be quite a pain.  So think about how you would use your appliances and if this is how you want to live.  The same goes for a microwave that is incorporated into cabinets that is at "hip height".  Again is it accessible to little fingers?

One other thought is when you DIY'ers out there design a kitchen.  Seek a lot of help in the kitchen designing department.  There are a lot of little details that you may not think about.  Again back to the microwave thing.  Make sure that you have adequate "landing" space.  Landing space is the area that would be used when something is taken out of either the oven or microwave.  If you do not have adequate landing space this could not only be disastrous but also dangerous.  Again, just some more food for thought.
Hope this little posting today made you think just a little bit or helped in some little way.
Have a great day everyone!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Well that's what I am sure those around me think most of the time!!  How could I possibly be working on 3 different knitting projects at the same time?  Well let me tell you my friends it is very easy!  For those out there that knit a lot you know of what I speak.  For the true avid knitter, 1 project just wouldn't do!  Sometimes I feel like working on one thing and other times something else.  I guess that's what keeps me going.  Here is what is in progress right now (subject to change!).  Two of my cowls I am making is my own pattern.  The other is one I found on Ravelry.

The first one is the Inspira Cowl:

Here it is in progress- I just started last night!

This is the yarn that I am using:

The main colour is a fingering weight mohair.  I wish I could remember what it is called but I bought it years ago.  It is by Colinette Yarn.  They make some of the most beautiful variegated yarns out there and have for years.  The other yarn I am using is a sock yarn by Bernat- again have had it in my "stash" for years.  I don't think you can get it anymore either.  I saw this pattern and wanted to try it out.  I didn't want to buy any new yarn for it so I went diving into my handy dandy stash to see what I could find- and Voila!  I thought that the two yarns went well together.  If you go to the Ravelry page on this pattern you will see others that have knitted this pattern and what yarn they chose to use.  I think the cowl is most striking when you use 2 different variegated yarns- will have to try that soon, so I will keep you posted.

The 2nd Cowl is:

I designed it myself.  I will be making the pattern available soon so stay tuned!  Again I went to my stash to see what inspired me.  I have had this Country DK for a very, very long time.  I think that they had discontinued it for awhile but here it is- see link below.  

Last but not least is a little gem that I will be finishing ASAP!!  I am lucky enough to have some pretty special people in my life.  When one of my Best Friends was going to New York just before Christmas she asked if there was anything I would like her to pick up. You see she was making a "pilgrimage" to Purl Soho.  Lucky Duck!  Well that's all I can call her here :)  Anyways.....  I really couldn't make up my mind as to what I would want her to pick up.  So I told her don't worry,  if I wanted anything I would order it online.  Well....  Just before Christmas she gave me my Birthday Gift and part of it was.....

Isn't she just lovely??  When I pulled her out of the gift bag I gasped!  Really I did!!  I can't even describe how beautiful this yarn is.  And, it is very easy to knit with.  It is called Symphony by Tilli Tomas.  You would think that knitting with the beads would be awkward or uncomfortable.  Well it is not at all.  It is a delight to knit with.  I made up a pattern for her and she will be finished soon.  I can't wait to wear her.  Here is my progress so far:

I will be posting the pattern for this when I am finished knitting it. It is a very basic pattern of 2x2 Rib with Stockinette Stitch.  I just wanted something simple so that the yarn would show through.  She is the star after all.  Again, I am so lucky to have the friends I do, I love them dearly!  And I thank them for enabling my yarn addiction!!  Can't beat friends like that!
Sorry if the Pics aren't the greatest.  I know that you should take pictures in natural light without a flash.  I did do that but the natural light we have been getting here lately has been very dark and dull.  I haven't see the sun for 5 days now.  So taking pics has been a bit of a challenge.  But I think you get the idea of the projects in progress.
Anyways, that is what I am working on, on the yarn front.  I am going to be doing other projects around the house very soon.  I have to prioritize what I am going to be working on,  so stay tuned.
Have a great day!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


First of all, I think the Australian Open (tennis) is going to kill me!  This 16hr time difference is killer!  Might have to get up at 3:30am tomorrow morning if I want to watch the 2nd semi-final.  I LOVE TENNIS.  Always have loved tennis.  It is my goal in life to go to all 4 major tournaments in my lifetime!  I have not been to any yet!  Only been to tournaments in Toronto.  I have been lucky enough to see some great players in my life: Lendl, Courier, Rafter, Agassi, Nadal, Federer.  I really love the current 4 top players. Besides the fact these guys can really play, they are such great sportsman.   They have the utmost respect for one another.  They are such great role models for their sport.
Anyways, back to design........Here is another Wine label that intrigued me at the Liquor Store.  I have to be honest- one of my friends happened to see it first!  She definitely has a great eye for things!  The wine I am talking about is:

Again, I am not a wine expert but I do know what I like.  And I must say that this Chardonnay is really great!  It was very smooth and not acidic at all.  It also had lovely flavour!  So another winner for picking wine because of it's label.  How crazy is that??  I guess this is an example of Marketing at work!

There is something so French Country about the label.  Could be the colours used: Bright Yellow and Navy.  But I think that it has something to do with the graphics as well.
If I were to design a room around the label it might look something like this:

Sofa: Ballards
Chair: Ballards
Side Table:  Restoration Hardware
Ottoman:  Ballards
Fabric: Tonic Living
Paint:  Walls: Benjamin Moore - Wickham Gray HC 171
          Trim: Benjamin Moore-  Decorators White CC 20
Area Rug: To be grayer than sample shown.

This is my take on a Modern French Country theme.  I can just see this bottle of wine sitting (opened of course) in this room.
Well must try to get a nap today so that I can get up early to see my semi final!!
Hope you enjoyed.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Now, first of all I think Sarah Michelle Gellar is so lovely!  I have enjoyed watching her since she was on All My Children and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.   I mean, you cannot say anything mean about this girl, she is and will forever be "Buffy".   I don't know her personally but she has always seemed very sweet and nice.  I know a lot has been said about the dress she wore to the 2012 Golden Globes .  Personally, I think it took a lot of guts to wear a gown like that because it was so different- Heaven forbid someone is different out there!!  What I am going to talk about is that amazing fabric it was made with. It is not for me to judge whether she made a good choice or not on the gown she chose--   I love the fabric.  Personally I would have used the fabric in other ways but that is just me.  I wish I had the confidence to wear a dress like that....... granted I would have to have somewhere to where such a dress......... but that's a whole other topic.  The blue and the white makes me think of oceans and breezes and tropical islands. I just want to take that dress and use the fabric for pillows or whatever!  I love how the fabric has been dyed.  I love me some good blue and white tie-dye. 

Roost (batik)

 Whether you are talking about traditional Tie dye or Dip dye or Batik - it doesn't matter to me, I love it all.  I will talk about Batik on its own another time.  I think what I love the most about these techniques is how "free" they are.  I love how the dye "bleeds" outwards on the fabric, it really is beautiful.  The Curtains in the 2nd pic would be very easy to do.  Just acquire good quality blue dye, add to a bucket of water as per instructions and dip your curtain/fabric up to the height that you want.  I know it sounds easy- and it is.  The only key to this is make sure that the fabric you use is a natural one.  The best being Cotton or Linen.  Silk can be dyed but Cotton really does dye very easily.  The other key thing is to wash your item before you dye it- this is imperative that you do so.  When fabric or finished items reach your doorstep they will almost always have a coating or a substance in or on the fibre.  So it is an absolute must you wash it before dyeing so that you start with a clean fibre so that the dye will be absorbed by your item.  One last thing to remember is that if you buy ready made curtains say from Ikea, the stitching used may be Polyester or a Cotton/Poly mix.  Even if the fabric content states it is Cotton, the Stitching thread may not be.  If you dye the item, the thread will take up the dye differently than the fabric, if at all.  If the thread is Polyester it will NOT absorb the dye.  Thus your curtains will be dyed a beautiful hue and you will be left with white stitching.  You may use this to your advantage and have it as a design detail but if this is not the look you were going for you may not get what you envisioned.

As beautiful and perfect the two above rooms are they would still be quite sensational with an injection of a little tie dye.  Just a pillow or two would do it.  I feel that when dealing with a "pattern" such as tie dye "a little goes a long way".

Have you had the chance to catch this issue of House Beautiful.  They have a Makeover segment that really hit the mark this time for me.  Here is some great eye candy!

Just look at that RUG!!  I can't even put into words how much I adore it.  Besides the pillows, I think my favorite thing in this room would have to be the rug.  To find one similar you could try:

You could also check places like Pottery Barn Teen, they used to carry this:

I Love this rug from Pottery Barn Teen but I think it is discontinued- please bring back this pretty rug!!
For some reason I think the combination of Blue and White suits this pattern the best.  I know I am biased since I love the combination of Blue and White.  What do you think?  Is Blue and White your favourite colours for tie dye home items??

If I was to do a room this is what I would put in it:

All Bedding: Serena and Lily
Rug:  Weisshouse
Curtains: Custom  (Ikea Merete with Custom Banding)
Pendants: 2 over bedside tables- Union Lighting
Bedside Tables: West Elm
Art: Art.Com
Wall Paint:  Benjamin Moore- New York State of Mind 805
Trim Paint: Benjamin Moore- White Dove OC-17

I wanted to add just a little tie dye to this room- I thought the rug would be great here.
Hope you enjoyed!  Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Now that Christmas is long past, I got to thinking about the traditional colours of that season- Red and Green!
Red and Green isn't just for Christmas- look at all of these examples below.  I have tried to get a variety of styles and rooms to prove "RED AND GREEN ISN'T JUST FOR CHRISTMAS":

Country Living

Kim Nichols- Houzz

Kelly Starr- Houzz

Country Living- Houzz

Tim Cuppett- Houzz

Country Living

Country Living

Country Living

Birdhouse Interior Design- Houzz

Alisborg Parker Architects- Home Bunch

See- Red and Green work great together!  They should, they are complinmentary colours.  But you have to be careful how you do it otherwise it ends up looking like Christmasville!
 I think a lot of these rooms work because of the green chosen.  The greens used tend to have a yellow undertone to it.  I feel and it's my opinion, that if a blue/minty green were used it would not be as effective.
Here are some examples of fabrics that incorporate red and green: 

If you want to go the Red Green route, you may want to stick to greens with a yellow undertone.  Colours such as these might work for you:

ICI- Wood Fern 10GY 62/168

Sherwin Williams:  Svelte Sage SW 6164

Martha Stewart- Lemongrass MSL090

Martha Stewart- Timothy Hay MSL091

Benjamin Moore Aura- Urban Nature AF-440

Benjamin Moore- Fernwood Green 2145-40

Benjamin Moore- Brookside Moss 2145-30

Benjamin Moore- Stem Green 2029-40

Benjamin Moore- Rosemary Green 2029-30

I couldn't talk about greens without mentioning 2 of my favourite go to greens:

Benjamin Moore- Old Prairie 2143-50

Benjamin Moore- Camouflage 2143-40

These are but a few that could be appropriate greens to work with if you wanted to paint your walls green.  If in doubt ask a professional-like me!  But remember to start with some fabric, a rug or a large piece of furniture first as your "jumping off" point!  There are thousands of paint colours to choose from so it will be easier to pick that after you start with the more "set" item.
Hope this shows that Red and Green aren't just for Christmas.  Have a great day!