January 2009

RED Hearts: The Pretty Puff Slouchy Hat


Tracy in Erika hat RED Hearts are guests posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. RED Hearts will be posting every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday through February.

Today's RED Hearts post is from Erika Kwee, 18, of Houston, Texas, who writes about the making of the Pretty Puffs Slouchy Hat:

To begin with, let me say that I am not a hat person. I hate wearing them. They tend to squash my bangs awkwardly across my face, or they make my head itchy, or they just poof out weirdly… It's good that I go to school in Texas, where it's not ever really THAT cold.

But. Over winter break, I decided that I needed a new knitting/crochet project. Besides, I was home in northern California on a damp, dreary Eskimo-hood kind of day and tired of scarves. I wanted a quick, cute project--so I ran an Internet search and came across this free pattern for the "Pretty Puffs Slouchy Hat" on a blog called Crafty Pants!

Lucky me--sometimes you can't tell by looking with these crochet patterns--but this one was quite easy, even with my rusty crocheting skills.

If you are new to crocheting, I highly suggest Leisure Arts' 10 20 30 Minutes to Learn to Crochet book for clear and easy instructions. However, if you don't feel like spending the money (especially for the less desirable granny-aged projects, i.e., the coasters and afghans found in the second half of the book), you can always do a quick search for beginner instructional websites and YouTube videos; there are many.

The night after I found the pattern, I began the hat while watching Love, Actually with my family. It took me the entire movie, plus about an hour, to finish--a grand total of approximately three hours. I used only a little more than half a 100g skein of worsted weight yarn. Quite the satisfying project!

I ended up giving the hat to my friend Tracy (that's her pictured), because I thought it would go well with her hair and she goes to Tahoe for snow stuff a lot--many apres-ski occasions when she needs to keep her head warm. And it's pretty non-frumpy and maybe even fashionable (!) bit of handiwork if I do say so myself…

Red hearts logo RED Hearts guest poster Erika Kwee is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which was recently published in paperback.

Use It: Pretty Protection


One Condoms2 The National Center for Healthcare Statistics reported this month that births among 15-19-year-olds are on the rise for the first time in 14 years.* Lame. As 19-year-old RED author Cindy Morand wrote in her standout essay--“Since When Is Teen Pregnancy Cool?”--on The Huffington Post, “We've initiated a dangerous new member of the breakfast club: the no-problem pregnant teenager.”

Is it the US Weekly effect of having celebrities and their babies smiling from glossy covers? Is it Jamie Lynn Spears? Juno? Bristol Palin? Nah, it wasn’t Bristol (though the largest increase, 19%, was in her home state of Alaska), and we’re not fans of blaming pop culture either.

The weird thing is that the number of teenagers having sex has actually gone down in this same time period. According to The New York Times, the increase in teen pregnancies has a lot to do with the fact that people are getting lax on protection.

That is so not cool. Especially when there are amazing companies working on pretty condom packages, like the ones above from One Condoms. Enter the 2009 design competition and you could soon be the Warhol of wrapping it; rate the current entries here.

We’re not judging, just saying be smart. Now get to work on those condom art sketches.

*While this could mean that more teen girls are carrying pregnancies to full term or that teen pregnancy rates are up, it's a number that we don't want to rise.

RED Hearts: Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion


Animal Collective RED Hearts are guests posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. RED Hearts will be posting every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday through February.

RED Hearts post is from Alison Smith, 18, of Brooklyn, NY, who writes about her love for Animal Collective’s new album, Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino Records):

It may be hard to believe that 2009's best album has arrived when it's only January. But it has.

Well, maybe that's an overstatement. If it is though, at least I’m not the only one making it. Pitchfork gave Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion a 9.6--the highest rating they've given in five years.

Oh god, I feel as though I could write a 20-page essay on this album, the band’s ninth. This one finds them as a three-piece (including band members Avey Tare, Geologist, and Panda Bear), continuing to make ambient music that stretches the boundaries of conventional sound. They use thick electronic beats and original samples of sounds like splashing water for a strong-yet-tender series of 11 songs. Although Animal Collective is as experimental as ever, Merriweather Post Pavilion shows their progression toward accessibility for previous non-fans. Here, they draw upon more common song structures and melodies than the seemingly random chaos of their earlier creations.

Lyrically, the album reveals a very romantic and mature side of the band, like in the first single and one of my favorite songs, “My Girls,” where Panda sings of only wanting to protect and provide for his wife and daughter; and in "Bluish" where Avey croons (well, coming from a guy who has spent a good deal of his musical career screeching, "croons" might be a stretch) about being driven "so crazy"--in a good way--by the beautiful little things he sees in his spouse.

The fact that Merriweather Post Pavilion right away found a place in iTunes’ top 10 albums shows that Animal Collective may not be the weird kids in the room anymore. I’m all for them being widely accepted as the innovators they truly are. Catch them when they tour this spring. Their flashing lights, palpable bass, and spastic wailing are absolutely not to be missed.

Find Animal Collective on MySpace, and watch the video for "My Girls" below:

Red hearts logo RED Hearts guest poster Alison Smith is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which was recently published in paperback.

Photo: Takahiro Imamura

Your Teen Bloggie Nominees!


TeenbloggiesIt's awards season. The SAG, People's Choice and Golden Globes have already come and gone. Now we wait for the Grand Poobah of all awards. We're not talking about the Oscars, we're talking about the Bloggies--the Web's longest-running blog awards!

Today, we feature the five stupendous blogs nominated in the category of Best Teen Weblog. After you check all of them out, go vote for your favorite at the Bloggies site. (One more thing: I Heart Daily is also up for a Bloggie in the category of Best Group Weblog! How 'bout dem apples? We won't twist your arm, but cast a vote for us if you please. Voting closes on Monday, February 2!)

Now, on to the nominees!

Smartypants who aspires to become a supreme court judge one day
Favorite ways to procrastinate: "My chosen methods are endless, but the most common include: instant messaging, reading blogs, posting on Snark Forums, creepin' around Facebook, designing and coding new layouts (but never putting them up), watching TV, and reading Arrested Development quotes online."

Oh Clementine
The witty musings and writing of an aspiring teen author
Favorite blogs: "I really enjoy reading Lene's blog (silencios.org) and Sarai's (chiklita.net). I'm also a fan of Kaylee's writing [of Reliquesce], and I'm thrilled that she's nominated as well!

Book lover who spills her heart and words into her blog
Currently reading: "The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I love it!"

Foodie at Fifteen
Teenage foodie who writes about his apprenticeship at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse
How to know if he likes you: "
If my present to you is food, I care; if you get a Border's gift card, you're chopped liver."

Sea of Shoes
Fashion-forward maven with an envious closet full of designer duds
Tips for walking in high heels: "Wear them every day, at least for a little while. If you have a pair of shoes that you find uncomfortable, force yourself to wear them so you break them in and they start to mold to your feet. When wearing heels, take short steps. Long strides in high heels make you look clumsy!"

Natural Balmshells


Hr_peppermint Avocado Oil, Beeswax, Apricot Kernal Oil, Vitamin E… these are good things. They also happen to be the main ingredients in Pin Up Balms ($4), nourishing lip products that come in retro slide-top tins with old-school bombshells on the covers.

Have I mentioned that I’m a sucker for packaging? (Especially when it's vintage and hilarious, like this polar-bear-riding peppermint beauty. WTF? Gorgeous genius.)

Pin Up Balms’ 40 flavors are all natural and range from green tea to tangerine to various types of cheesecake. YUM. And here’s the scientific part: avocado oil is an organic UV protectant, beeswax is a natural emollient, apricot kernel oil is good for hydration and Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant.

Plus, you’ll look really slick sliding open your old-fashioned tin.

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