Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Oy! Another Seraphina?
I just cannot seem to stop crocheting new and improved Seraphina Shawls! While I was at Stitches West in Santa Clara, Blue Moon Fiber Arts had a huge sock yarn booth. "Socks That Rock" is their motto. The yarn colorways are absolutely gorgeous. I bought 4 skeins at $15 each of the 100% superwash merino. That's 360 yards for $15 at the Stitches Market Place. Online, the same yarn sells for $19 per skein. The colorway I chose is not listed on their website. I love it. It's orange. It's called "Fred Flintstone." Yup! Sure looks like the town of Bedrock to me! You would almost swear that this yarn looks like Koigu...the texture is marvelous!
Thanks (or curses) to Drew for introducing me to Seraphina . This shawl looks equally great using a large hook and fat yarn to using a medium-sized hook and sock yarn. For my Flintstone Seraphina I'm using a size "H" crochet hook. Looks like I'll be using about 2 skeins of the Blue Moon yarn for this shawl. Hmmm? What on earth will I do with the other 2 skeins?


Monday, February 27, 2006

Mardi Gras in L.A.

Larry and Ellen at the Farmers Market Mardi Gras - 2006
This weekend was the 18th annual Mardi Gras celebration at the Original Farmers Market. Luckily, the weather was good for this outdoor fest. Larry and I have attended the F.M. M.G. for almost all of it's existence. We always have a great time and it's a major photo opportunity for Mr. Larry! One of these days, all 18 years of these Mardi Party Pics should go into a book.
The celebration is a two-day affair. The Gumbo Pot Restaurant (under previous owner, Charles Myers) initiated the party. Charles used to be the chef at Kokomo Restaurant too. Now he lives in San Luis Obispo and owns another restaurant called Big Sky Cafe. We've visited the Big Sky and Charles has many of the same items on his menu there that he served at the original Gumbo Pot Restaurant.
The tradition that Charles started lives on and is a huge event for the Market. The Market management adds to the merriment and throws Mardi Gras beads at intervals to all of the party people. This year, there were numerous bands performing: T-Lou and his Super Hot Zydedo Band, Lula and Afro Brasil, Lisa Hayley and the Zydekats and Eddie Baytos and the Nervis Brothers. I think this must be one of the most authentic Mardi Gras celebrations in this part of the country. People dress up in costumes, wild hats and carry parasols. Everyone always has a wonderful time.
This year much emphasis was placed on our friends in New Orleans and their abbreviated celebration. I hope that the Mardi Gras brings people back to N.O. Everyone has suffered so much in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that the City needs some cheer.
My doctored-up, self-decorated Entemann's King Cake
See you next year at the Mardi Gras! Laissez Le Bon Temps Roulez....Let the Good Times Roll!


Friday, February 24, 2006

Back to Basics @ Billingsley's

Billingsley's on Pico @ Sawtelle, WLA
I've been going to Billingsley's Restaurant in West L.A. since the 70's. They serve plain and delicious food...more importantly, the martinis are faboo! One of Barbara Billingsley's sons owns and runs the place (Barbara, of Mrs. Cleaver TV fame). Barbara's other son ran the Billingsley's Restuarant at the Van Nuys golf course that closed about a year ago. The Billingsley boys' father, Glenn Billingsley ran The Stork Club in New York before coming out to L.A. and opening other restaurants. When you visit Billingsley's, you can read all about the history on the back of the menu.
Mmmmmm....Green Goddess Dressing
This is one of those "red leather booth" places....old-fashioned and comfy. The martinis are very reasonable and positively perfect. You can actually sit in a dark booth and talk to your companion over drinks and cheese bread.
Mr. Larry and I went to Billingsley's for Valentine's Day dinner. If you go early, you'll see the senior set, along with their grandchildren. If you wait until after 7pm, the crowd is more middle-aged....like us.
I usually order the prime rib dinner, but for this evening I ordered the Yankee Pot Roast (delicious) and Larry had the Chicken Cordon Bleu. You can't get away from the Cheese Bread. It's decadently ladened with butter (see photo above) and some sort of other-worldy cheesy goodness....carbolicious. This is one of the few places in town that serves Green Goddess Dressing on their salad. They make the croutons out of old cheese bread! Dessert looks quite ordinary...just like Mom used to make. Larry had a scoop of lemon sherbet and I had the tapioca pudding. This is not a diet or health-food restaurant....it's old-fashioned and familiar.
There are banquet rooms in the back....I'm thinking this might be a perfect spot for a special birthday party celebration and it wouldn't break our bank account either!
11326 West Pico Blvd., @ Sawtelle, WLA


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Yarn-a-holics Unite!

Accesories at the Stitches West Market Place
If you haven't been to a knitting/crochet convention, find one and register now! I just returned from Stitches West in Santa Clara, CA. It was wonderful. I learned something in each of the classes I attended. I have been knitting and crocheting for over 40 years...I thought I knew it all, BUT NOOOOOOOOO. If you come to a WeHo SnB, ask me to show you a few of the tips and tricks that I learned.
I drove up to Santa Clara on Wednesday, February 15th. It was an easy drive...lots of farm country and cows. I arrived in SC at 3pm and checked into the Hyatt Regency on the Great American Parkway. The hotel was in a business park...lots of office buildings, no visible restaurants, markets or shops. Luckily, one of my office mates is from Santa Clara and she gave me some directions to hidden shopping centers within 5 minutes of the hotel. After checking in, I cruised over to the supermarket to stock up on breakfast food for my hotel fridge...yogurt, cereal, juice, etc. I had to plan ahead. A few of my classes were called for 8am...I needed to have breakfast in my room.
Wednesday night I completed my class HOMEWORK. Yes, at Stitches West you have homework before each class, consisting of knitting various swatches.
Thursday was opening day of the event. Sally Melville, author of many clever knitting instructional books spoke about our Creative Existence and Unleashing our Talent! Her lecture was very inspirational....she spoke about how everyday things influence her knitted designs. One of her examples of finding design ideas: She showed us a slide of an abstract painting by a friend. She loved the painting, so she designed a sweater similar to the painting! Faboo! We had a lovely luncheon afterwards where we could all meet each other. There were about 1,500 registered students.
At 1:30 Thursday afternoon, I attended "The Art of Aran Crochet" with instructor, Bev Cooper. Bev is from Australia and is a clever designer. We learned a crocheted moss stitch, crocheted cables, front posts and back posts, boxes, bobbles, etc. I really knew many of these stitches, but I learned a few new tips along the way. Crocheting cables is really fun.
Just hanging out in the lobby of the Hyatt was a feast for the eyes. Of course, all of the stitchers were wearing their knitted and crocheted garments. It was a constant fashion show all weekend. That night, there was a Market Preview for students and teachers only. The MarketPlace was in this huge convention hall, filled with vendors of every type of yarn and garments imaginable. It was yarn-gasm at its best.
Friday, my scheduled class was "Build a Better Bag" with Gwen Bortner of Knitability. This was a class on how to structure a purse without felting it to make it sturdy. The methods we used were a series of slip-stitch patterns. We made this tiny sample bag. We learned about different types of closures for the bag and also about handles.
Friday night there was a banquet and fashion show by many of the teachers, designers and yarn companies. Again, very inspirational! I met so many nice people from all over the country. Many of the yarn celebrities were there. In addition to Sally Melville, Lily Chin was there, along with Nicky Epstein, Debbie New AND MORE!
Designers Lily Chin, Nicky Epstein and Debbie New
Saturday morning was my class with designer Melissa Leapman. Melissa has been one of my favorite pattern writers for many years. I've made quite a few of her crochet designs. Her patterns are logical and easy to understand. This was a class on how to shape a garment with style and finesse, using all sorts of tricks for a better fit. We had tons of homework for this class, it was difficult, but I really picked up some interesting techniques.
Saturday afternoon, I needed a break from the yarn-frenzy, so I drove to downtown San Jose and visited the Quilt and Textiles Museum. It's a small and colorful place with an excellent gift shop. I was yearning for some decent tacos too, so I sought out an authentic Mexican restaurant. I came upon Charro's and had a cheese-laden, yummy lunch!
Upon my return to the Hyatt Saturday afternoon, I roamed thru the MarketPlace again and came upon Sara, working at the Stitch Diva booth. I saw many L.A. people....Tricia from Knitter's Edge was there, along with lots of familiar faces from Stitches From The Heart and various L.A. chapters of SnB throughout the MarketPlace. Actually, you could sit down anywhere with anyone and have a meaningful conversation about yarn and such. I was home with my people.
Saturday night was the Student Banquet and Fashion Show. This was a chance for everyone to show off their own creative designs. Of course, after dinner, I changed into my Red Heart Queen of Crochet outfit that I'd made for last year's Halloween party at the WeHo SnB. I gave everyone a laugh.
Sunday, I had an early class (8 am!) with L.A.'s own Joyce Wyatt, called Dimensional Knitting. Joyce showed us how to add bows, bobbles, butterflies and all sorts of texture to our knitted pieces. She's a great teacher and has some very ingenious ideas.
By noon on Sunday, it was time for me to get on the road for the long drive home. I got home just in time for a lovely homemade dinner by Mr. Larry. He missed me. I missed him. Yarn is not a substitute for a husband (most of the time)!
My favorite creative sweater by a Colorado Knitter


Monday, February 20, 2006

Stitches West

Just back from Stitches West convention in Santa Clara, CA. Wow! It was yarn-tastic! I met sooo many wonderful people, learned many new techniques for knitting and crocheting and saw some extremely inspirational creations made by stitchers from around the world!

I took four classes: Aran Crochet; How to Build a Better Bag; Fully-Fashioned and Fabulous and Dimensional Knitting. All of my classes were exceptional. I took away something useful from each class. I photographed everything while I was there. I'll be downloading pics tomorrow and putting them on my blog.

I thought about all of my SnB friends while I was at Stitches West....I missed you last Thursday night at the WeHo SnB and I have all kinds of wonderful yarn-tales to spin for you!

Until tomorrow's blog!


L.A. Ell aka The Caped Crocheter aka The Queen of Crochet aka Agent Orange


Friday, February 10, 2006

Disturbin' Turban!

Last night's WeHo SnB was chock full o' fun! We were all buzzin' about the recent article in the L.A. Times. Crystal, Shannita and Faith were featured in the photos. Autographs, please. Many knitsters are working on different projects, utilizing fun winter yarns. We''ve got some new members that are learning to knit and crochet. Because it's winter, it's not so crowded at the Farmers Market, so it's easier to park! If you haven't visited our group meeting, please do so! We meet every Thursday night from 7-9 pm in the upstairs dining area at the Farmers Market on 3rd & Fairfax.
Regina brought one of her latest creations...the Turban. She got the pattern from an old McCall's Needlearts magazine. A few of us crocheters signed on to make the flowered headband and muff from this issue. I've finished the headband, but am reluctant to start the muff. Will I ever use it? Anyway, after trying on Regina's faboo Turban last night, I must make one of these for myself!!! It's so glamorous.
When I was a child here in Los Angeles, there was this man on a local TV show named Korla Pandit. He was very mysterious, he wore a bejeweled turban and he played the organ. The entire TV show consisted of Pandit playing popular exotic-tinged tunes on the organ while he gazed into the camera with this mezmerizing look. It was quite hypnotic. So, when I saw Regina's turban, I immediately thought about Korla.
Years later, when I co-hosted a blues radio show on KPCC-Radio, I came across albums of blues and R & B greats who also wore turbans. There was Eddie Kirkland, Sonny Rhodes, The King of the Stroll--Chuck Willis, a group called The Turbans and of course, one of my faves from the 60's, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. There's a great site all about turban-wearing musicians here.
Remember Lana Turner in "The Postman Always Rings Twice"? Another disturbin' turban!
I may have to wait before I start crocheting my custom turban, however. I'm on vacation next week and on Wednesday, I'll be driving up to Santa Clara for Stitches West. I'm really excited. I've never been to one of these conferences. I've signed up for 4 classes: Build a Better Bag with Gwen Bortner, The Art of Aran Crochet with Bev Cooper, Fully Fashioned and Fabulous with my favorite designer Melissa Leapman, and Dimensional Knitting with Joyce Wyatt. There will be a fashion show by knit designers and a student fashion show and dinner. It's going to be total immersion...total yarn....for 4 whole days! Yippee!
I'll try to post during Stitches, but if I don't, I promise to post pictures and a detailed description upon my return. Au Revoir and Happy Crafting!


Thursday, February 09, 2006

One More Taco Fan

Fresh Salsa, Guacamole and Chips at Tacos Por Favor
Tacos Por Favor has been written about on the L.A. food blogs quite a bit. Well, that's because it's a REALLY GOOD restaurant! I've been driving past this place for years, but had never eaten there until my office moved to Santa Monica. Now, it's one of my favorite places. We often have casual office birthday parties here.
Bandini on The Great Taco Hunt has written about this place, as well as L.A. Chowhound readers and others. I can't stress enough that the food is really fresh and they do not use lard!
The restaurant is very laid back. You have to wait in line to order and then pick up your order on a big, round plastic tray and take it to your table. There is a salsa bar with lots of choices. It looks like they expanded into the space next door, because the dining area is quite large. The tables are mismatched and wooden, the walls are painted in bright colors. Usually, you'll see groups of local workers (office and trade) enjoying their tacos and burritos. I've even seen major film executives reading scripts at corner tables while munching on taquitos! On the counter, near the cash register there is a case of baked cookies. My knitster friend, Natalie turned me on to the sugar cookies. They are yummy! The prices are very reasonable and the owners are extremely friendly. It's a very comfortable place to eat.
On a recent visit there, my friends ordered taquitos, a grilled mahi mahi sope', chile rellenos, the enchilada plate, caldo con pollo (delicious chicken soup/stew), hard tacos with chicken and of course, the salsa with guacamole and chips! They also carry the Penafiel brand of soft drinks....much tastier than our American soft drinks.
The next time you're in Santa Monica, check out Tacos Por Favor, 1406 Olympic Blvd in Santa Monica, Mon-Sat 8am to 8pm closed Sundays.
Oh yeah....also very important: Tacos Por Favor is within the vicinity of three great Santa Monica yarn shops (Yarns Unlimited, Stitches From The Heart and Wildfiber).


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Building Blocks

Puffed Flower Granny Square - 100% Virgin Acrylic Yarn
I read Drew's post yesterday about Heartmade Blessings. He is part of a group that puts together comfortghans for people in need. He's looking for donations of afghan squares for the group. Drew has all the specifics on his blog regarding how big to make your comfortghan squares, what type of yarn to use, etc.
I L*O*V*E crocheting granny squares. I've often said that "granny squares are the building blocks to fashion." When the crochet craze of the late 1960's, early 1970's came on, I couldn't wait to learn how to crochet so I could make some granny squares and put them together in a long vest to wear over my muslin peasant blouse and blue jeans. Squaw boots were in style at the time too. We were oh so colorful back then!
30 + years later and, surprise, granny squares, brightly crocheted clothes and the flower-child look is back. Thank goodness I honed my crochet skills early so that I'd be prepared for this fashion comeback!
Vintage Acrylic & Dazzelaire Yarn from Super Yarn Mart
As soon as I crochet a few more squares, I'll be sending them to you, Drew!
If you'd like to make some granny squares for donation, here's an easy pattern to follow. Also, Drew also listed more patterns on his site for you to crochet. Start building those blocks to fashion and philanthropy now!


Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery