Polka Dot Cottage

TWiP: Primary Colors

Posted August 23rd, 2014 by

This Week in Pictures at Polka Dot Cottage

It’s funny. I look around Flickr and I am so drawn to the images with a faded, washed-out look to them. And sometimes I manage it in my own photography. In fact, I just spent the evening with my son at the park. He rode his scooter while I had a little photo shoot. And I pulled all of those images into Photoshop and gave them a bit of a faded, washed-out treatment, kind of like you would find in Instagram’s “Nashville” filter.

Still, as much as that look appeals to me in other people’s stuff, I find that I almost always prefer my own images to be vibrant and realistic. I think this week’s mosaic proves that, between the paper straws and the farmers’ market especially.

This week, we welcomed Neil home after a nine-day absence. He was in Ireland and England and we missed him. Also? I spent several days becoming increasingly aware of the impending end of summer and the fact that we have only been to the beach once. ONCE! Oh, the horror of it.

I’m trying not to think too hard about buying school supplies and getting forms sent in and such, but I must remind myself that some of these things really do need to be thought about now, particularly those that require appointments or are time-sensitive. Oh, I really, really do not want to think about the start of school just yet! Can’t I keep my head in the sand just a little while longer?

We’ve just gotten Aidan’s high school class schedule and bus assignment,and Eamonn has a middle school orientation in a few days, so I guess the answer to that question is no.


So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365, plus some everyday-life images I posted on Instagram during the previous week. (FYI, my daily photo project this year has changing monthly themes. August’s theme is “Soul” based on the exercises in Alessandra Cave’s new book Shooting With Soul.)

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


365: Soul 16/31 – Exercise 26: A Message from the Universe – We stayed at a local-ish hotel last night and outside our balcony was this billboard. Is this the message the universe thought it needed to send me? I guess I’ll scrap my plans to commit insurance fraud. Darn.


365: Soul 17/31 – Exercise 42 Simplicity – Besides being right for today’s exercise, this coffee cup is also a taste of things to come. I’m pretty sure mugs are going to feature prominently in my September photo-a-day project. I’m getting kind of tired of specific prompt-based photography. Looking forward to a month where the theme is really broad. Like "mugs" :-)


365: Soul 18/31 – Exercise 29: Head in the Clouds – For this one, I played around with a screw-on wide-angle converter lens (blurry areas on the edges courtesy of the "you get what you pay for" principle). The clouds were so huge yesterday, you really don’t get a sense for how wide an expanse of sky this was.

Instagram: Waiting :-)


365: Soul 19/31 – Exercise 43:4 Abundance – I have a bit of a paper straw problem.


Instagram: Welcome to my summer of too many carbs :-)

365: Soul 20/31 – Exercise 15: Errands – Time to replenish the husband’s drug supply.

Instagram: Neil has taken over the tv tonight (he’s [very] noisily blowing up aliens or some such thing). I’m carving out a bit of quiet with a cup of decaf, a little knitting, and a back episode of the Cast-On podcast.


365: Soul 21/31 – Exercise 31: Markets and Stalls – This exercise took me outside of my comfort zone. I am always so self-conscious bringing my camera to a public place. This farmers market is a very small one, so I figured I could go unnoticed if I brought my zoom lens and stood off to the side with it. I do think a couple of people saw me, but they didn’t ask me to stop, so mission accomplished.


365: Soul 22/31 – Exercise 38: Taste – I treated us to a new-to-us soda at supper tonight. It was ok, but it’s obvious my tastes have changed where soda is concerned, because I’d have been just as happy (maybe even happier) with ice water.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Weekend Favorites

Posted August 22nd, 2014 by

I like the pops of red in this week’s mosaic. Cheery!

I thought I had shared more links this week, but it looks like there were only two. And both of them are photography-related. I apologize for my one-track mind lately. I’m on a real photography kick, that’s for sure. Just you wait, though. Soon enough this theme will make way for something else entirely, and you won’t be able to get me to shut up about granny squares (or patchwork, or millefiori, or whatever happens to grab me next…)

On Flickr

The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week. Be sure to click on the titles below the mosaic, if you want to know more about the image or the photographer behind it.

(follow me on flickr)

Weekend Favorites

1. IMG_0661, 2. “Tic Tac Toe” Quilt – Finished!, 3. Basler herzen…, 4. Lysergic Lilies, 5. Untitled, 6. Lavender – Provence – *FREE LUMINOSITY MASK TUTORIALS – ENG & GER*, 7. Untitled, 8. 12, 9. A cup of tea, 10. ~ DIY, Crochet delight ~, 11. crochet trim on pillowcase…, 12. potholder swap 2010

Around the Web

I spend some time earlier in the week sharing my favorite crafty links through social media. And then I repeat them here on Fridays.

Have fun!

Book Review: Knitting Reimagined

Posted August 20th, 2014 by

Book Review: Knitting Reimagined

I think that the moment I was tempted to call this book a “wackadoodle knitting book” is the moment that I confirmed with absolute certainty that I am not of the “high fashion” world. (Ha! Like there was any doubt!)

In Knitting Reimagined, Nicky Epstein presents 25 projects that, as they say on the back cover, “push the boundaries of what knitwear can be.” This not an understatement. Just look at the front cover. The featured sweater combines fair isle, lattice texture, and furry fringe. It’s really rather odd.

The designs in this book are certainly innovative, and there are really so so many techniques represented.

Book Review: Knitting Reimagined

These are some of the wackier projects, between the use of fur, and the braided stuff, and the oversized skull-based colorwork…

Don’t get me wrong. I would never choose to wear most of these pieces, however, that doesn’t mean I dislike the book. On the contrary, I find it fairly interesting, and I can think of ways to take some of these techniques and use them in ways that appeal more to my own sense of style.

Book Review: Knitting Reimagined

The use of texture to draw a picture here is interesting. I don’t like the shape of this sweater, or really even the picture they are drawing, but the technique could be used on anything. I mean, I could knit the Polka Dot Cottage logo into a pair of armwarmers or something using this technique.

Book Review: Knitting Reimagined

I don’t care for this asymmetrical garment, but I really like the woven i-cord. That could work on a more traditionally-shaped sweater, too.

Book Review: Knitting Reimagined

Ok, I’ll admit it. I actually like this project as-is. I’m not sure how it would look on someone who is not tall and skinny like the model, but I do like it.

So there’s your little peek inside Knitting Reimagined. I don’t want to sound too down on this book. If I didn’t like it at all, I wouldn’t review it. I’d just quietly donate it to my local library and you’d never even know I had it.

If you are a strictly by-the-pattern knitter, and you like simple and traditional designs, then you might want to pass on this one.

If you are an adventurous knitter who likes super unique designs, then this book was written for you.

If you don’t care for the more unusual runway looks, but you like learning new techniques and are bold enough to mix and match patterns (for example, your favorite sweater pattern combined with a woven technique from the book) then you will probably get something out of this book as well.

Buy the book at Amazon.com.

(The usual disclaimers apply re: books received, reviews given, and links provided.)

The Breezy Sounds of Late Summer

Posted August 17th, 2014 by

The Breezy Sounds of Late Summer, a new playlist from Polka Dot Cottage

This has been a strange August, in terms of the weather. We’ve barely exceeded 80 degrees most days, and the nights have often dipped into the 50s. There has been very little humidity, a fact which has me happily leaving all of the windows thrown open wide all day and all night. I can’t remember the last time I turned on my air conditioner.

No this has not been a typical New Jersey August in the least. In fact, it feels more like September in many ways, and that’s what I wanted to capture in my newest mix CD. It’s that feeling of impending autumn. Mellow and contemplative. A little windy. Cloudy. And yet not quite the end of summer.

School is still a few weeks away, and we probably have time for another beach trip, so I’m not throwing in the towel on summer just yet. But I am really enjoying these slightly chilly evenings and this mix makes a good soundtrack to that.


For the cover, I used a photo I took a few Septembers ago and added some graphic elements to make it look like a vintage album cover, complete with wear and tear.

I had so much fun doing the cover, in fact, that I made a few more just for kicks. There are no mixes to go with these. They’re just covers.

bog leaps

jumping flufy

I could do this all night. But I won’t :-)

Here’s what you’ll find on The Breezy Sounds of Late Summer:
1. The Mowgli’s – Emily (3:32)
2. David Wax Museum – Will You Be Sleeping? (3:28)
3. Ditty Bops – Breeze Black Night (2:59)
4. John Denver – Windsong (3:57)
5. Toad The Wet Sprocket – Windmills (3:46)
6. April Smith & The Great Picture Show – Can’t Say No (3:16)
7. Pink Martini – Sway (3:37)
8. Michael Bublé – Haven’t Met You Yet (4:04)
9. Grand Archives – Orange Juice (1:31)
10. Simon & Garfunkel – Cloudy (2:21)
11. The Innocence Mission – The Leaves Lift High (3:57)
12. Beck – Heart Is A Drum (4:31)
13. Elizabeth & the Catapult – Like It Never Happened (2:40)
14. K.S. Rhoads – If You Want Love (4:58)
15. James – Laid (2:36)
16. The Paper Kites – Bloom (3:31)
17. Van Morrison – Into The Mystic (3:27)
18. Gentlemen Hall – Sail Into The Sun (3:34)
19. Nick Gallant – Wanderlust (3:12)
20. Twin Forks – Cross My Mind (3:34)
21. Echosmith – Cool Kids (3:57)
22. The Postmarks – Summers Never Seem To Last (3:13)
23. The Association – Windy (2:56)

You can have a listen through the embedded player below, or (if you don’t see a player there) you can go directly to the playlist here.

The Breezy Sounds of Late Summer from lclarke522 on 8tracks Radio.

Now go pour yourself a cup of decaf, open a window, and enjoy the music!

TWiP: In the Dark of Night

Posted August 16th, 2014 by

The Week in Pictures

My absolute favorite time of day for photography is the morning. Twice I have done “a month of mornings” and I even devoted an entire year to it for my 2010 Project 365. I took a few morning shots this week, but I also got the itch for some night photography as well.

Neil has been in Ireland and England this week, and the boys and I have been taking our own small-scale vacations while he’s been gone. As I write, we are on our second mini-getaway, enjoying a night in a hotel about 30 minutes from home.

Earlier in the week, we spent a few days at my parents’ house. Two times while we were there I took my camera out during the very photogenic “blue hour,” played around with a few techniques (star bursts, light trails, bokeh…) and photographed my old home town.

There was also a Super Moon this week, so my camera saw much more than the usual amount of post-sunset action.

It’s nice to shake things up a little bit :-)

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365, plus some everyday-life images I posted on Instagram during the previous week. (FYI, my daily photo project this year has changing monthly themes. August’s theme is “Soul” based on the exercises in Alessandra Cave’s new book Shooting With Soul.)

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


365: Soul 9/31 – Exercise 8: Home – One of my two favorite comfy little nooks.

Instagram: With so many trees in my front yard I can’t get an unobstructed shot of the moon. Close enough though :-)


365: Soul 10/31 – Exercise 10: Self-Care and Pampering – A squirt of my current favorite perfume.


365: Soul 11/31 – Exercise 14 House Chores – Time to do the dishes…

Instagram: Boulevard Bokeh


Instagram: Good morning!

Instagram: *yawn*

365: Soul 12/31 – Exercise 37: Soft to the Touch – Cotton balls!


Instagram: Too cold for me! I lasted 5 minutes. 3 of those minutes were spent trying to push past my kids who were purposely blocking my escape route ;-)

365: Soul 13/31 – Exercise 19: Evenings – I went out with my sister tonight and took some pictures in our hometown.


Instagram: Chatting with my husband who is in an airport in Ireland. (open windows, coffee, and technology in bed – this feels like the story of my summer mornings this year [and I like it])

365: Soul 14/31 – Exercise 13: Mornings – Ah, morning – my favorite time to take pictures! The light is always so pretty… This morning the kids and I are cleaning up after ourselves and leaving our "vacation home" (aka Mom and Dad’s House) where we’ve been hanging out for the last few days.


365: Soul 15/31 – Exercise 16: Something You Made – I was up late last night finishing the body of my stripey sweater. This is exciting to me, not because I am eager to wear this cardigan once the sleeves and button band are done, but because I needed to free the needle so I can use it to swatch for another project which I am eager to start.This sweater will keep while I do something new :-)

Instagram: Friday night hotel swim :-)

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

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