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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back where we started... we go 'round again.

I have now started my first pair of socks four times. First, there was the aborted Sockotta attempt. Then I moved on to the Socks that Rock on #2s. Ripped out once due to a mistake I couldn't figure out how to fix. Started again. Ripped out because, despite getting gauge, I just thought they were going to be too big. Ordered #1s (and #0s and #3s) from Jimmy Bean's Wool and have restarted--again. I'm thinking that this time will stick.

I got my Project Spectrum postcard in the mail today--and so much more! My swap partner sent a whole package of green-themed goodies. How sweet is that?!! What a nice surprise.

Confession time: I went a little crazy. Among the many things I gravitate to are skulls, specifically festive, whimsical Dia de Los Muertos-style skulls. Enter the Lexie Barnes Hermosa bags. The big one is actually a diaper bag. (The yarn will never know.) I have a bazillion bags, including a number of "knitting bags" and I don't need any more. Still, I had to have these:

Love them.

I'm hoping to get a lot of knitting (and other things like cleaning) done over the long weekend. (I don't like cleaning, I do like knitting. Wonder which one will win?!)

Hancock Fabrics is having a 50% off notions sale, so I think I'll go up there and pick up a few buttons, etc.

Long weekends are good.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why my bathroom smells like a pack of Juicy Fruit

The sun was shining, and there were several packets of Kool-Aid calling my name. So, I took the sun tea approach to dyeing.

On Friday night I conned the husband into accompanying me to a new (to me) yarn store in Chicago. Loopy Yarns is near 8th and State downtown. When we first moved to Chicago 13-ish years ago, we lived one block away. The Loop has gone through a major resurgence since we lived there. The sidewalks used to roll up at 7pm, and that particular area had a bit of an edge to it. (I say that having lived in Hell's Kitchen in New York before its renaissance. That neighborhood was even edgier then, but there were always lots of people around. Not so in the South Loop of a decade ago.) ER begain its first season right after we moved here, and on the very first episode, there was a scene that took place in front of the Pacific Gardens Mission, practically across the street from where Loopy Yarns is now. Julianna Margulies looked up from the shooting victim she was treating and said, "Welcome to Hell." "Fantastic," I thought, "I picked a great neighborhood."

Oh, but I digress. That was a long-winded way of saying that a lot has changed in that area. Loopy Yarns was nice. I plan to go back for their Friday night open knitting sessions, and maybe for their Einstein Coat Encouragement Sessions.

I bought both Cat Bordi's sock book and the Magic Loop pamphlet as well as some Addi Turbos in 2s. I decided to try the 2-needle method first. I did this:

I was using Sockotta and, frankly, it was not pleasing to me. So, I frogged it and dove right in to the Socks that Rock.

SO MUCH BETTER!!! Softer, squishier, more pliable. Anybody want some Sockotta?

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I've completed my first Project Spectrum card and it is winging its way to Malaysia. Hope it gets there. Since green is my favorite color group, this was fun. I have many, many green things in my home, from a sizable collection of McCoy pottery to a hefty portion of my yarn stash. When I was putting the card in the mailbox, I noticed this:

I love leaves. I find the colors and shapes incredibly inspiring. (Sadly, my 7th grade leaf collecting project did not reflect this. Sorry, Mr. Weinstein.)

My Socks that Rock arrived today. Exciting. Even though I don't often wear socks (which makes me an oddity in often-frigid Chicago), I look forward to the knitting challenge of making a pair (or 6 since that's how many skeins of StR that I bought!)

I've been home sick for a few days. I stayed home mostly to keep my co-worker from having to listen to me cough, clear my throat, and blow my nose incessantly. From the neck up, I felt awful. The rest of me felt pretty okay. So, I made some use of the time doing a little stash arranging. Whew. I'm not sure how I ultimately want to deal with it. (In my head, I see a wall lined with barrister's bookcases full of yarn so it can be seen. That's a somewhat expensive solution, but aesthetically very pleasing. Plastic tubs=way cheaper but not very pretty.) Right now, the stash lives downstairs because these guys... upstairs. Our house was/is a two-flat, so several doors separate them from the yarn. Given that they love yarn as much as I do--albeit for different reasons--the separation is a good idea. (That's Pitch in the back and Papel in the front.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Philly and beyond

Last things first. (Mostly.) My Mom said she suspected we might be coming in on Mother's Day, but she was still surprised. Hurrah. It was fun to do, and, as you might suspect, the trip was punctuated with...

...visits to knitting stores! First off, Loop on South Street in Philly. Loved, loved, loved this store. Wanted to pack it up and bring it home to Chicago. It was bright, it was well organized, the people were so nice, the samples were all hip and beautifully done. I got some circulars in sizes I had been having trouble locating here. And, it is on South Street, which, if you grew up in the Philadelphia-area in the 80s, was the mecca for all things cool. Skinz and Zipperhead ruled. That's where you would go with your babysitting money to buy your Sex Pistols t-shirts that you were SO not allowed to wear to school, so you only wore them on, like, a day trip with your friends down the shore. (Yes, downtheshore, never down to the shore.) (Photo of the former home of Zipperhead--although I can't remember if the ants were there then.)

So, Loop. Go there.

On the way down South Street to Jim's Steaks (yeah, yeah, we could have gone to Pat's or Geno's, but Jim's was closer) we passed this.

I love this place. This artist's work is all over the South Street area, but this is where it all converges.

Then to Jim's for a 40 minute wait, half of it in the rain.

Worth it. Cheese steak with onions, sweet and hot peppers, and Whiz. (That's Cheez Whiz, y'all. Something I absolutely, positively do not eat outside the Philadelphia city limits.)

NOTE: I have a thing about names intentionally spelled wrong like Klassy Kuts or Kidz Korner or anything of that ilk. Cheez Whiz gets a pass, but only when I am in the City of Brotherly Love.

We skipped Sophie's, which is around the corner because the aforementioned wait backed us up a little. It's on my list for the next trip in.

Then, back up South Street to retrieve the rental car, and on to the Chestnut Hill section of the city. Chestnut Hill is lovely. Historic homes, nice shopping, charming restaurants, etc. Try the Baker Street Bakery's Apricot and Pistachio Bread if you get the chance. Delish. And, they also had some decent Philly-style soft pretzels. These are not like soft pretzels anywhere else. Shaped different, taste different, must be eaten with yellow mustard. I love them. A lot. And these weren't bad considering they lacked that street vendor je ne sais quoi.

I stopped in at The Tangled Web and at The Knit With. I bought my very first book of knitting patterns at The Knit With a long time ago, so it has a special place in my heart. I also got some very sweet needles that, I must admit, I bought for decorative rather than practical purposes. Both of these stores were well-stocked but not much was happening at either, so I didn't get a sense of the "culture" at each. (I was really impressed with the variety, selection, and organization of the needles at The Knit With.)

Each LYS has a personality, and you have to find the one that works best for you. For me, I would like to rent a permanent space on the couch at Loop.

Monday, May 08, 2006

MSW--My Spectacular Weekend

What a fantastic time! My husband, niece, brother- and sister-in law indulged me by attending the Sheep and Wool Festival. A good time was had by all. We spent about 5 hours there on Saturday. I would have spent the whole weekend but, hey, when you're the only knitter in the crowd, one must compromise. The niece enjoyed petting things and picking out wool for a hat that I promised to knit. The husband and his brother are "let's find out" types and enjoyed asking questions of the breeders. (The anatomy of male sheep provided serious fodder for discussion. Boys.) I enjoyed everything. I must admit, as we were leaving, little clumps of knitters were scattered about in the shade, and I so wanted to plop down and knit away, but it was not to be.

Saturday morning I gave my niece a hefty gift bag full of goodies including a knitting starter set: Kids Can Knit, a knitting spool, two sizes of needles, a crochet hook, brightly colored cotton, and some Kool Aid-dyed wool. She spent a good part of the weekend making "tube scarves" for her stuffed animals. A knitter is born!

On Sunday, the niece and I decided to continue the knitting lessons (subjects covered: spool knitting, finger knitting, casting on, and the knit stitch) outside. Yep, knitting in a parking lot. All we needed was an Igloo cooler and a six-pack of cold ones. (Juice boxes, obviously.) We attracted some attention. A little neighbor saw what we were doing and went inside to get a knitting kit she had never even opened before.
Dear Makers of Kids' Knitting Kits:
Please, oh, please rethink the contents of your kits. Resist the urge to make an additional buck by including the crappiest yarn EVER in them. No one who touches that petroleum-based, sticky-yet-greasy nastiness will ever want to grow up to be a knitter. They will toss down their needles in frustration convinced that they cannot knit when, in fact, NO ONE can knit with that @#$%. Thank you.

My heart swelled with knitterly pride and joy when my niece told her friend, "This is my aunt. She is going to come visit this time every year and we are going to go to the Sheep and Wool Festival. She dyed this yarn herself with Kool Aid!" How sweet is that?!

Our short time at the Festival resulted in a relatively modest (by my warped, OCD-tinged standards) addition to Le Stash. On a side note, there was knitting, frogging, and re-knitting of the GG. (I did not see any GGs at MSW. Too warm, perhaps?) Once I decided it would not be worn to the festival, I frogged about 5 inches at the bottom that were just bugging me and started over. I may try to get it done for this weekend when I fly to PA to surprise Mom for Mother's Day. (She doesn't even know what a blog is, so the cat is in no danger of being let out of the bag!)