Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happenstance, Chicago-style

My plan was a simple one. Buy some music then come back home. But this turned out to be the day where nothing happened as expected.

See, I recently joined a community choir and was in need of some readable, non-photocopied versions of music. It took some doing but I found one of the last places in Chicago where one can purchase sheet music. It's called Performers Music and it is located in one of my old haunts, The Fine Arts Building. Mindful of the photographic possibilities, I grabbed my camera on the way out the door.

Today was my day! The weather was perfectly sunny and just a bit crisp. The bus came right away and within minutes, I arrived at my destination. It was as I remembered. Dark. Vaulted ceilings. Ornate brass cage elevators and marble stairs. Entering Fine Arts is akin to stepping into a time machine.

Studebaker Theatre inside Fine Arts BuildingFine Arts Building Elevator Call Button
Fine Arts Building ElevatorFine Arts Building Elevator - From the Inside!
Alas, my music was not in stock so it had to be ordered. No matter. Stepping past the porticos and massive columns is always a treat. Even seeing the same elevator operator from many years ago was comforting.

Back in the sunlight, I decided to go buy two skeins of yarn to match the gray Aspen I'm using for a cabled neckwarmer design in progress. Fifty-one yards doesn't go very far with chunky yarn. Wow, is my bus karma holding. Just as I was taking a photo of the Congress Parkway Equestrian statues, the bus came and I was at the store pronto.

Aspen yarnAgain, what I desired was not in stock. The yarn I wanted had already sold out but there were two skeins of a coordinating color of mid-range blue that would do just fine. I felt good so, instead of heading home right away with my bounty, I kept on walking.

Just so happens there was another landmark from Chicago's musical past just down the street that I kept meaning to check out: the old Chess Records Studio. Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters - even the Rolling Stones all recorded in this modest, legendary space. The studio is now home to Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation and an adjoining outdoor performance space.

Willie Dixon's Blues Garden
I even ran into an old friend whom I had not seen in two years. Some days, it was her guidance and positive disposition that made all the difference between a bad day and a tolerable one.

So I wrap it up in a bow and consider it a gift. Today was just one of those days where you go looking for one thing and find something altogether different and wonderful.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Running with Knitters!

Colleen, Subway Knitter 9-2008I've been a busy woman lately! Between starting occupational therapy and hobnobbing with the knitterati, I haven't had a moment to myself.

Ha. Who am I kidding? The truth is that I'm slowly trying to get back in the game, reconnecting with friends of the yarnish persuasion and making a few small things, like a baby hat and one (yes, one) toddler-sized fingerless mitt from some yummy fingering weight leftovers. No pattern, just rib, gusset and go.

I did finally meet Colleen, aka Subway Knitter, in recent weeks. We gabbed like fiends over the Sunday buffet at India House. Smart lady with a beautiful smile. I wish that we'd had more time but planes to catch, etc.

The Book Report
Hot off the presses, we have Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne of Mason-Dixon fame "Knitting Outside the Lines". The cross-country book tour hit Chicago this weekend, and I caught up with the FO show and tell at Loopy Yarns. Just one pass through the latest hardcover tome and I've got at least 5 patterns marked. Big plus? They signed one just for me. And the other people standing in line. OK, I may not be special but I do declare (in my best Southern belle imitation), this sophomore effort is worth your time.
Mason-Dixon KnittingPatterns in the book shown here include the Stephen Colbert socks, Dotty, Kiki Mariko.

Franklin and his new book, It ItchesAlso spotted in the crowded two-story store were Mary Neal Meador, Bonne Marie Burns (ChicKnits) and Franklin Habit (The Panopticon) with the first copy of his new baby, "It Itches".

Franklin, beaming like a proud papa, lovingly passed around the new book, delivered late last week after months of intense labor. "It Itches" will be officially launched later this month in upstate New York at Rhinebeck. More tour dates are available here.

This last bit is kinda cool and I rate it as my favorite scene of the night. Here we have Ann Shayne, on her break from the book signing upstairs, shyly asking Franklin for his autograph on the special Loopy Yarn bags he designed.

Franklin signing Ann's bagI do love my knitters! They welcomed me despite my long absences from their midst. I'm just bummed I couldn't make it to YarnCon this year though, on second thought, my wallet is probably grateful.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

A Fallen Woman

falling off the face of the earthNo, your feed reader isn't on the blink. I haven't posted since late June. If it seems I've fallen off the face of the Earth, perhaps it is because I have.

I'm back in the shop for repairs (or something like it). I've scarcely purchased any yarn. The books and magazines that cross my threshold tempt but do not inspire me enough to action. Those projects that do get started sit so long that they've irretrievably crossed the invisible divide between "In Progress" and "Unfinished." The longer I wait, the harder it is to start again. My only creative pursuits these days involve photography (Flickr).

I definitely think I'm still falling.

[Edited to add] I very much appreciate your concern and support. I do feel lost and rootless and I suppose that's some of what I'm really trying to convey. Even the intensive rehab program is on hold until I readjust my expectations of my wellness potential. Just a bit wonky is all. Retooling core definitions of success and of self is disorienting work.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

FO: Boteh Scarf

FO: Boteh Scarf
Pattern: Boteh Scarf by Kathy Merrick from Interweave Crochet, Spring 2007
Yarn: 2+ skeins of allhemp6LUX, color: alioli
Hook: 4.5mm (G)
Modifications: 11 triangles instead of 16 called for in pattern yielded a 68" scarf, unblocked.

This is my first foray into working with hemp and it won't be the last. As mentioned, I did not block the scarf because it seems to have maintained its rounded, organic shape. I'm told by those who know such things that the fiber will soften with washing. It's already kind of soft - at least as far as hemp goes. According to the yarn store owner, that softness and subtle sheen is why it is considered "luxury" hemp. Someone on Ravelry likened it to buying jeans that are already broken in.

In other news...
I'm toying with using one of these two patterns for the birthday yarn: Eva's Shawl or Crocus Bud Shawl. Yes, I'm still in the crochet mood.

I just found out that I've been approved for one of the intensive pain management therapy programs at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. I'm hoping this will ease the pain enough for me to knit once again.

Oh, and one more thing. My cousin Simone will be going to the Olympics in Beijing as part of the USA women's basketball team. Pretty cool, eh?

A box of cat. Formerly, a box of cat food.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Say What?

Saw: Today I grew a new person
Says: Today I, the new person,

Saw: Gifts of contemptuous jewelry
Says: Gifts of contemporary jewelry

Saw: Light was in the glitter guild meeting
Says: Last night was the knitters guild meeting

Saw: Plenty of time to execute the guy thoroughly.
Says: Plenty of time to evaluate the guy thoroughly.

Could it be that I have some wires crossed in the cerebral cortex or some such? I used to think that my "creative reading" was just amusing but now I wonder if it goes deeper. I swear that I'm not making this stuff up. Could some latent visual perception dysfunction be emerging? Is there a neuroscientist in the house?

Well there's no mistaking this: FREE YARN!

Yes, it's my birthday May 29th but you get the gifts. Leave me a comment from now through midnight (CT) May 30, 2008 containing your best birthday haiku (English 5/7/5 style), along with your color family and weight preference. I'll pick three names at random, then announce the winners on Saturday, May 31, 2008. Be sure to include a valid email address so that I can contact you. For now, I leave you with this:

Spring is half over.
I've knit no warm weather gear -
Just bum shoulder blues.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm sorry if my last post gave the impression that I'd dislocated my shoulder. I did not. Instead, I suspect I aggravated the already torn ligament that keeps the ball joint in the socket. I thought I was doing myself a favor by sticking to small projects, however the intensity applied to completing them proved counterproductive. Time for a good, long rest of the right arm.

There must be non-crafting things I can do. What a perfect time for reading; something that does not involve politics (makes my blood boil) or medical research (makes me depressed). I just got handed a book that's been on my list for some time now: "Lamb, The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal". I can also take a walk around the neighborhood and become acquainted with the settings beyond "intelligent auto" on my latest camera.

Courtyard Trees In Bloom
Trees blooming in the entry courtyard
Sadly, this one-armed business leaves gardening off the list. Good thing about perennials, though. They let me enjoy the proliferation of pink columbine from the comfort of the bench in my wee garden.

Pink Columbine bloom
Once I do pick up my needles, it will be to Learn the Continental Style of Knitting (warning: video starts automatically!) . Old dog, new trick? What? I can do it.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Just Like Starting Over

Tiger Lily Bud
"It's been too long since we took the time
No-one's to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It's like we both are falling in love again
It'll be just like starting over, starting over" - John Lennon

I'm working on rediscovering my love of crafting and the pure pleasure of seeing and feeling beautiful yarn and patterns. Like many things, it's often a course of action with no roadmap, making it all the more difficult. I'm clawing my way back at present and losing fingernails in the process. No, seriously. Ripped one of the thumb bits right off this afternoon. I'll be back fairly regularly once I find the delicate balance between tolerating the process to get to the end result.

Unlike my wisdom teeth, my finger-snapping, nose-twitching "Bewitched" powers never came in very well. Really though, what fun would it be to see a new pattern and have it come into being in a flash. The first few times it's kinda cool perhaps, but how much joy do you get from 'Open the closet, and POOF. New sweater from that fabulous yarn'. What would I learn about patience or creativity or pride in accomplishment? About messing up horribly then making it right? Nothing! Bugger all, being a thinking person. Hence the balancing act.

You have to be in the mood for life lessons though because, no matter how long you've been above ground and breathing, starting over is still no fun.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dye Tripper!

*Picture heavy post*

I never really thought about the whole colorful, messy business of dyeing and distributing yarn. I learned a thing or two during the Hyde Park Knitting Guild's behind the scenes glimpse into life at Lorna's Laces. It was exciting for me to see how yarn moves from color concept

Dye, dye, dye
to realization

Chasing rainbows of yarn
to a yarn scavenging frenzy. We got our pick of mill-ends, one-of-a-kind and the occasional oops dyed yarns - some as low as $1 per skein. Believe it or not, I left empty-handed, merely chronicling the event.

Feeding frenzy!
I think I was most surprised that the operation (and the people) behind this now-famous brand is nothing fancy or pretentious. Owner Beth Casey and her sweet Great Dane Pearl welcomed us as we reached the 2nd floor landing at the door of their space in this sprawling warehouse.

Beth, Lorna's Laces owner
Sweet Pearl
Pearl roams around the main rooms beneath the high ceilings and suspended PVC poles holding freshly dyed and drying yarns. Bare yarn lies in wait next to dye pots and utility sinks. The walls are lined with yarn-filled wire baskets fronted by handwritten signs bearing the names of a yarn shop near you.

It's drying time
Perhaps that is part of the appeal of our crafting adventures. It is humble. It is imperfect. It is one REAL thing in a culture often consumed with artifice. It is the work of our hands.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Ah, Spring!

Spring, 2008
Can't you just hear the birds sweet songs and feel the warming sunshine upon your face as it beams through crystal blue skies? Welcome to the first storm of Spring '08, where some areas to the north of here expect upwards of 8 inches of snow.

While I wait for things to clear up, I'll continue to beaver away at my second Monkey sock. The hand rash has cleared by and large, thanks to a prescription cortisone ointment, so finishing at least one thing seems reasonably in order. Happy stitching, all!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

You Like Me!

For those of you who don't get the post title reference, it is part of actress Sally Field's 1985 Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech. Since she said it better than I, allow me to quote, in part:
"I've wanted more than anything to have your respect...And I can't deny the fact that you like me... right like me. Thank you."
You Make My Day awardWhy this gratitude? Because Sarah of Bella Knitting just awarded me by saying "You Make My Day". What a compliment that she and you would take the time and make the effort to connect with me on a regular basis. If you think about it, for those few moments we become part of each others lives. It is a gift and I am grateful because you guys really do lift my spirits!

Now, according to the rules, I must name 10 people whose blogs bring me happiness and inspiration, then let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. The tough part is that I read dozens of blogs, not all of them related to the craft. Here are my nominees, in alphabetical order:

Find out what clever writer and designer Susan is up to at A Few Stitches Short.

A visit with Leslie will always lighten your mood A Friend To Knit With.

You'll find warm and welcoming Opal at Akamai Knitter.

Witty and talented Bonne Marie rambles on about fashion at ChicKnits.

Chris always reminds me that there is goodness in the world at Crafty Angels.

Debi's got the tutorials, humor and an exotic short hair dubbed The P-Man at Fluffy Knitter Deb.

Anne gardens, cooks, and brings a modern, wearable twist to lace at KnitSpot.

Wry Meg is truly sweet, creative and caring. Inch By Inch.

Co-bloggers Lynette and Monica, prolific knitters with puppies and a positive attitude at PassionKnit.

Susan and Sally bring their knitting prowess and down-to-earth wit to The Rainey Sisters.

Limiting the list to 10 was tough. There are others, of that you can be sure but rules are rules. I mean I really wanted to give a shout out to my girls at Chicago Bites, because I don't dare dine in the city without consulting them; to Laura at Frog Is A Four Letter Word because she always makes me smile; and to Kathy, aka Grumperina, because she's a totally fearless, articulate and inspirational knitter.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sometimes, I Knit

Sadly, for the past week or so, I've been doing everything but. I've done a few more repeats on the ZigZag scarf but nothing that bears a photo update: "Oh, look! It's longer than last time." Yawn.

Aside from the usual blah-blah (doctor) blah-blah, there's been quite a bit of design thinking (and sketching, planning, coloring, procurement) going on. That Ravelry is both a font of information and a cattle prod when it comes to pursuing what I've come to see as possible. Heck, at least it's forcing me to do proper drawings and come up with construction models for the designs. I love how the colored sketches look but can't share them with you. It's that old "first publishing rights" thing.

I did receive a special post-holiday treat that I can share with you. My friend Y stopped by for a visit and graciously let me take her photo as she modeled the hand knits I made for her.

Pretty in pink
Thanks, Y. Rarely do I get to see my gifts in action. You really made my day.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Gifts, Year-round!

The gift of friendship
knows no season, has no price.
It's always welcomed!

Not a lot of knitting in that mitten, but each stitch is full of well-wishes and good intentions for the recipient. The mate is more than halfway done. Although the pair will not be complete by Christmas, I have no doubt they will be no less appreciated.

Peace, y'all! And thanks.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Do, Or Do Not.

"Do, Or Do Not. There is no 'try.'" -- Jedi Master Yoda

Sure, Yoda. I live in the real world where sometimes "try" is all you have and failure is a strong possibility. What am I talking about? Exhibit One, your Honor:

Almost Garter - Unfinished
I will not finish this gift of the Almost Garter scarf before Monday. For some reason, maybe concern for my recovery and lack of understanding, my caretaker-to-be has forbidden me to knit. I was read the recovery riot act last weekend. I love my mother, but she baffles me. I must comply for a few weeks, though, because I need her help. She once told me that even a good friend of hers calls her "The Warden."

Exhibit Two? I lost at least one friend through inattention or carelessness; possibly both. Here again, I tried but apparently - inadvertently - did not try my best. This loss does not make me happy. It does, however, make me realize that there are things I need to be mindful of, especially when it comes to other people's feelings. By the way, please do not rush to my defense. We all fall down sometimes.

There is hope for the neckwarmer, though. The brown leather buttons arrived earlier this week so it seems possible - no, likely - that I'll get this one in under the knitting ban wire!

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Is My Past My Future?

partial design sketchThere are plenty of articles positing that the way to your adult career passion is through careful examination of your beloved childhood activities. Upon reflection, I suppose this makes a certain amount of sense: did you like Legos? Maybe you'll find career satisfaction as an architect or a builder.

In my own childhood, creativity was the common denominator of things that made me the happiest: writing, reading, singing, acting, drawing, painting, knitting, crochet and clothing design. The ship may have sailed on my becoming a star of stage and screen, but I may yet discover success through some of my other passions.

I can't say what or where specifically, but a friend and co-conspirator may have just dragged me toward a future that I thought was just a dream. The beauty part? This venture relies on nearly all of the things I thought of as "child's play." Here I was, spending years wishing there were more dimensions of "me" in my work life; then perhaps I'd enjoy investing so much time - and so much of myself - in it.

It was less than a week ago that I first said, "Nah, there's no way. Maybe next time.", fully aware that I'd probably concoct some other excuse then too. Luckily, we'd been tossing around a few details of a design idea and just last Thursday, this friend made me believe in myself enough to give it a try. December 5th was the deadline and we made it! Thank Rufus for overnight delivery.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

For The Love Of Wool

If we've chatted for more than five minutes, it would become apparent that I have quite a few interests. Alongside history, languages, travel, social justice and politics lives my life-long interest in fashion. Oh, the incongruity! Anyway, as I was going through my daily reads, I found this item at The First Post: Wonder Woollens. Apparently, knits - especially big, comfy knits - are all the rage in Britain. Does this surprise? After all, it is the home of Rowan, Jaeger, Debbie Bliss and Blue-faced Leicester.

Quite coincidentally, big, hearty, like-a-hug sweaters have been much on the mind of late. I credit Rebecca with the term, "February sweater" because it's about that time in the Midwest when you are really and truly sick of winter. It loses all its pretense of chilly charm, the stuff formerly known as snow has now become something definitely not from nature and you just want it to be over. Period. All I have to do now is decide on the perfect pattern. Maybe Twist? Or the Dollar and a half cardigan? The yarn has been selected from stash after much gnashing of teeth over plunking down additional dinero on tweed. I think it'll do just fine.

Burgundy Jaeger Shetland Aran
In the meantime, the race is on the finish two gifts in two weeks because I'm scheduled for a lumbar laminotomy and discectomy on December 10th. Since the new scarf is taking longer than anticipated, I may switch to *gasp* crochet to do the majority of it, then switch back to knitting to mirror the start.

Black & Blue Scarf
I'll let you know later this week what I end up doing. It could be an interesting texture mix of hook and needle.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

In Search Of...


and food

Triad Restaurant

with friends

Rebecca and Rocky

but mostly, yarn

I had the chance to spend three yarn-filled days with Rebecca. I'm glad she was able to finally take a break from dyeing her own yarn to visit me in Chicago to, ironically, paw more yarn. A stitcher knows the love of fiber, despite being surrounded by it on a daily basis.

The tour began Thursday at Loopy Yarns, where we inspected a considerable amount of yarn from Cascade to Rowan and every popular brand in between. I made a modest purchase of one skein of tweedy amber-colored yarn for The Harlot's "Unoriginal Hat" pattern (PDF). That is, once I get around to my "me" knitting after the holidays.

If it's Friday, we must be at Knitwerks. Owner Cherrl Harmon welcomed us warmly at her table, which was laden with the latest books and magazines. Since I frequent her establishment, I showed Rebecca a few of the highlights - like Knitwerk's collection of Dream In Color - then left her to her own devices. I bought the last two skeins of plum, green and rust Ironstone Yarns "Bouquet of Colors" mohair loop as well as Louisa Harding's latest "knitting little luxuries." If you're on the fence about this book, don't be. It is a worthy addition to your library.

This past Saturday was, serendipitously, Nina's 3rd anniversary, where everything in store was discounted 20%. Good times. Good times. You may be surprised to learn that I did not go wild, spending a restrained $50 after tax on five skeins of yarn (including Blue Sky Alpaca's Suri Merino) and some Louisa Harding Kimono ribbon.

The only thing that marred this otherwise splendid few days was the casual thoughtlessness and infantalizing condescension shown friend Rebecca. You might not know this, but she is deaf. She also happens to be whip-smart with a Master's degree. She also happens to be funny and snarky and talented. In short, my kind of pal.

I found it galling that people would routinely talk to me about her preferences instead of addressing Rebecca directly. One restaurant employee asked me, "Can she read lips?" I said, "Why don't you ask her! "

Rebecca says it has become the norm for her to feel like a permanent foreigner. What's a thoughtful knitter to do to counteract this perception within his or her own sphere of influence? Wikipedia offers some suggestions with their "Disability Etiquette." Food for thought, at the very least.

Tomorrow: a new finished item to go with an old one.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ghost In The Machine?

Scene: Friday evening at a popular downtown knit bar, Loopy Yarns. Some wine, chocolate cake and dozens of stitchers are on hand for local designer Bonne Marie Burns ChicKnits fashion show. This was apparently the place to be. I spotted so many familiar faces who'd come out to show some love for one of Chicago's very own.

The laughing and smiling and "how do you do" left me in good spirits for most of the evening. Good thing too, since otherwise I would have been a moping misanthrope had I known my usually reliable old Sony compact was going to let me down. Now I know I should've packed the big girl camera, especially with results like these:

Friday Night Yarn Follies
Believe it or not, this was supposed to be a shot of Corinne of Lucky Penny Handmade, but shutter lag and other ghostly doings would belay those intentions. That's why I will not subject you, gentle reader, to any more of my fuzzy shots of this otherwise wonderful fashion show.

ChicKnits TwistBonne Marie showed nearly one dozen of her most popular styles beginning with the everyday ease of Ribby Cardi and ending with the chic new addition, Beryl. Take it from me: it is so gorgeous in person - especially the textured stitch detailing on the straight peplum at the bottom of the sweater.

I opted to take home Twist, shown left in the clearest shot of the evening. I expect this button-front hoodie should be a good chill-chaser once the winds begin to howl in the upcoming Chicago winter.

And yes, a skein or two of yarn managed to jump into my basket. You know I couldn't leave empty-handed. Temptation whispers my name oh, so sweetly sometimes.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ode to Stockinette

Boring. Uninspired. Mindless. Oh, the ubiquity! This is oft your lot, my dear stockinette; much maligned, nay, overlooked I think might be a better way to put it. In reality, you should be hailed as the maker of quick work. As rest for weary eyes. As Zen for the fingers.

Stockinette in the round was the only way I could go from concept ("Oh, I should make a hoodie!") to over 75% complete on said project within days.

WIP: Jack's Birthday Hoodie
That uplifting feeling of accomplishment cannot be overstated - especially since it just dawned on me this week that it is holiday knitting time! I want to keep things manageable so I don't succumb to the self-imposed pressure of not keeping up. For now, I'll put aside all thoughts of "me" knits (Juliet, Anise, Honeybee Stole) and turn my hands toward making a couple of pairs of socks, a simple black scarf, two hats and the Tree Bark neckwarmer.

Does that seem like a long list? Maybe not, if you consider that my friend Stockinette will feature prominently in at least half of them. It may not be exciting or challenging but I don't need that shock to the system every time I pick up my needles. Sometimes, it's just about the soothing motion and controlled tension of yarn through fingers and loop over loop.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007


My original plan for today was to show you just how much sock I was able to twist up in 24 hours with my brand-spanking new yarn, the lovely sportweight Chewy Spaghetti in "Cheeky."

I was cruising along on one of the "Sensational Knitted Socks" chevron patterns late last night when I hit a wall of tired around 1 a.m. That's when I started to make mistakes in the 2-round pattern; the kind of mistakes that mean you first try the restrained un-knit, then you pull out a row or two in frustration. After doing this twice into the wee hours, I decided the sock and I would be best off put to bed. There was still much love for the emerging footwear goodness.

Once I awake from a foggy, fitful sleep and get a little caffeine going through my veins, it is once again time to tackle the sock with a positive attitude and renewed vigor. After knitting and un-knitting and laddering down and ripping back at least four times, my positive attitude dissolved like sugar in the rain. Oh, yes. Girlfriend snapped and that sock became tangled, angry string in no time flat!

Before, in a fit of frogging rage:
Tangled Spaghetti yarn

After I regained control of the knotty problem (and myself):
Chewy Spaghetti yarn
I don't blame the pretty yarn but I do think it wise to declare no socks for me - at least not today. I think I should back away from the Addis and call a truce with this particular effort. Does anyone else ever have one of those days where things just get all tangled up?

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Just So Random

You know how we casually toss off the phrase, "stuff happens?" Today's post is all about small things and random encounters as I skip across the Web.

The first "small things" belong to my neighbor's newborn baby boy. Even though it took approximately 3 weeks off and on to knit the earflap hat with matching socks, I'm sure he'll graduate in no time to bigger and better things - in probably less than 3 weeks time!

Jaeger merino baby items
Two- color hat and socks made from Jaeger Matchmaker Merino

Here's another way to get small: Nikon's small world and the obvious companion piece, The Micropolitan Museum. There are so many interesting - and usually unseen - parts of the world around us. All we need is a little help in opening our eyes to them.

A word, if you please. Where do you go for your fix? You might find a new source or two in "A Logophiles Delight!"

Quilters already know about fitting small squares inside larger squares. See how commonly understood principles of logic and design meet harmoniously in "Layers of Meaning."

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Knitting Wasteland

There is the faint, haunting whistle of dust and emptiness; the antiseptic sweet aroma of mothballs and cedar. Mohair fluff mixed with cat fur form giant fiber tumbleweeds that huddle in quiet corners. Sad projects, begun with such promise, litter the landscape in various states of undone-ness. This is the knitting wasteland and it is not a pretty place.

I manage to knit a few rows here and there before my right shoulder resident, Madame SLAP tear, bites back. A baby sock. An accidental toddler sock that was supposed to be a baby sock (I had Addi gauge issues). An emerging second sleeve for Fantine. A promising start on the Honeybee Stole slumps to last place on the WIP parade. Too bad there's nothing consistently working. I've got plans and yarn, baby!

This charcoal Cascade 128 for Juliet:
Cascade 128 charcoal grey yarn

Two sportweight skeins of Claudia's Handpainted in Peppermint Mocha acquired from The Loopy Ewe for a buttoned neckwarmer I have in mind:
Peppermint Mocha
Two flavors of Malabrigo (Loro Barranquero and Burgundy) with nothing in mind beyond some heavy petting. Come to momma, precious...
Malabrigo Yarns Burgundy and Loro Barranquero

In the other news this week, my copy of Rowan NewShapes arrived. How you wound me, my beloved cover girl, Anise, for I cannot begin to begin you in either capability or good conscience.

Naturally, all these schemes are on hold - only to be played out in my rich knitting fantasies, where shoulders don't scream, fingers do not tire and the yarn (oh, the yarn) is soft, plentiful and wonderfully organized. A girls gotta dream.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

I Love Buttons

...and so do dozens of other confessed Ravelry Button Addicts. I am most fortunate for I have a friend "in the business" as they say: among other things, Laura makes buttons from vintage fabrics she collects. I've picked up a few from her Etsy shop.

Vintage buttons
An East Coast transplant, Laura and I first met up earlier this year for the express purpose of visiting Chicago's Tender Buttons, a now-shuttered mecca for rare, antique and vintage buttons as well as thousands of beautiful modern closures. ETA: The store closed this past summer and has yet to relocate.

Other surprise finds? The word is getting out about Vintage Necessities if you're looking for unique buttons for your hand knits or just the right decorative finishing touches for jackets, hats or handbags.


OK, I'm back now. When I went to confirm the Vintage Necessities' address, I happened to see a one-of-a-kind set of faceted Bakelite buttons. They now belong to me.

Moving on to modern, I almost always find what I need at The Button Drawer. By the way, they will ship internationally. These beauties came today:
Pink and gray buttons
(Piedras - top, Twisted Flower - bottom)
Some of the most unusually beautiful closures and buttons I've come across are the handcrafted design work of the artisans at Moving Mud. While not inexpensive, the owners will work with you to capture movement, shape and colors in small pieces of wearable art.

I'm the boss, m'kay?As you've probably guessed by now, Fantine is languishing on sleeve island – a one-armed beauty in search of her mate. It is not for lack of trying. More medical blah-blah-blah equals zero knitting. Please to be distracted by the boys, whom you have not seen in a while.

Click the picture to embiggen or check out the entire Flickr set entitled, "All My Cats" if you just can't get enough Nikita and Rocky.

More ESIs, some physical therapy and a fresh perspective (quoth the doctor) and hopefully knitting can resume. My hands miss the action of the needles and the feel of the fiber. You know how it is...

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Monday, August 20, 2007

More From The Fiber Festival

For years I've fondled the end product of the chain that primarily begins with fiber on the hoof, toe or paw but never really seen a concentration of the start of it all. As I understand it, most fiber festivals have some sort of "sheep to shawl" demonstration and the Michigan festival was no exception. Without further ado, say hello to a few of my fleecy (but noisy, bleating) friends:

Sheep: some sheared, some not
Some ewes have been shorn, others not. None seem too pleased.

Blue Faced Leicester Sheep
I am Blue-faced Leicester. Adore me-e-e-e!

Icelandic Ewe
This polled (hornless) ewe may be an Icelandic cross-breed.

I'm Icelandic all the way, bay-bee!

Angora Goat Sisters
My Angora sister and I have some of the softest mohair curls in town!

There were lots of barns and pens and competitions going on but I didn't have the energy to visit them all. That's why I missed the Angora bunnies and probably the Alpacas and whichever other fiber-bearing creatures deigned to call during the week.

But wait! I failed to mention any purchases. Witness one tasty 1200 yard hank of Briar Rose "Celebration", a 60% merino /40% bamboo mix in the blue-green shades of the sea. Briar Rose' owner, Chris couldn't be nicer.

Other than some aromatic goodies, that's all I bought. The point of the trip wasn't to spend money so much as to get away from the knit cave and medical issues and the city for a spell. To that end, the deal was done, and in spades. Thanks for coming along with me for a taste of the Michigan Fiber Festival.