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Sip 1 Knit 1 sit 1 KIP Letizia's 7-9pm

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The naked truth is covered in dustballs this winter. WHO wouldn't rather knit than do, hmmm, HOUSEWORK? But when you see a tumbleweed size d-bunny roll across the floor or you catch your foot in that project next to it just once too often, it's time to invite Mr. Clean over for a cocktail.

What you see above is my attempt to restore a little order in the studio corner. Piled high are swatches and swatches and swatches in a big bowl; new projects, old projects, fantasy projects. Things that go boom in the night, even.

Scary yarns! and friendly fiber all sittin' together in a swatch salad.

Seeing it all together like that makes me real frisky!

And, you know, it's March, time for a little madness. Let's see what we shall see...

miniHAHA: recent spam email from *ebay powerseller Stefanie4218 (15044)* - "Why dont you answer to my emails!!! If you dont Respond Now I will contact ebay safeharbor and report you ! Lett me know, I am not a fool ! Thank you ! ! "

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Chic Knits Weekend

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Chic Knits Twist
Chic Knits Gigi
Chic Knits Cutaway
Chic Knits Ribby Cardi

click on small images for garment details...


...see the Complete Portfolio

ChicKnitsLeChicButton.jpg

HERE

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Monday, March 6, 2006

  Monday Morning Mirth  

i can barely pickup the pen this morning because
I was busy last night doing THIS...

>>>>> NOTE: the link above is getting a lot of hits today
so it might not load right away... <<<<<

is it just me or was the 78th the Most Boring ever? I thought Hollywood was TinselTown, not Sleepy Hollow! Between Jon Stewart's nervous a**kissing and the insanely BAD parody ads for nominees, I was crushed by the mundane music they played throughout the acceptance speeches. Go back to the tiny musical CUE!

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Tuesday, March 7, 2006

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Sigh...

Going to get it right if it, well... two sleeves are shorter. The neckline is adjusted. Thought I'd be done by now. I was wrong.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
...Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

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Wednesday, March 8, 2006

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in the Valley of the Jolly chicmuse.gif...

A little wine, a little ambience, some fashionable friends!

I brought this naughty top with me to the Museum of Contemporary Art S'nB last night. It is just a short walk from work to the MCA - they've been staying open late on free Tuesdays so some Downtown Knitters can get together in Puck's (as in Wolfgang) Cafe on the east side of the building. This project is sort of like a big SOCK in that you just go round and round - so it makes for the Perfect Chat Project.

(I've learned the hard way that things like Lace and Fussy Cabling do not mingle well with the mingling...)

And before I knew it , the sippin and clickn with the happy gang - including Jen and Theresa and KarenB - made the knittin' fly by. In the middle of all that, a TV crew showed up and taped a segment for some show - My HANDS my HANDS! They were models for a little bit. And because we were downtown girls there was WINE! I toasted the camera guy when he asked me why I wasn't shooting - he's my fellow news hound outside - was he EVER surprised to see me clickn away. It made me go really fast. The drinkin shot will most likely be the one that makes it into their piece, I can just feel it...

So all that was left to do when I got home was the Neckband. And is it just me or does it look like that neckline is smiling?

I can't believe how the variegation made these little smiley curves around the scoop. Est il faux pour l'adorer? I had to find the ONLY lit place in the hut and take a pre-blocked picture just to make sure I wasn't seeing things...

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Friday, March 10, 2006

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Lolly writes: "...The idea of Project Spectrum is simply a celebration of the colors around us, and taking the time to notice them."


MARCH ======= RED

I am a stereotypical City Chick. Most days, the palette runs deep, down right to the Brown, Black and no other. My body's the baseline; the clothes the wrapper that SNAPS to large attention with just a touch of color.

Knitting is freedom like that. You can put on one small scarf and all of a sudden your eyes sing.

Or, you can brush away the shadows of your shoes with a stroke of Tone and You Dance!


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It has been thrilling to see all over the knitWeb the way people are taking this to the streets. I knew I would probably not be able to be a Calendar Girl and commit to a Project-a-Month but I told Lolly I thought I could dabble in May (hmmm... GREEN!) and dance with a few others as well.

This is my Red.

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And its red, burgundy, purple and blue! But when you see it from above, it's the Red that wants you.

The dark cool Blue recedes and moves away.

This is Twinkletoes yarn from eBay seller lotusblossom (Over the Rainbow Yarns). Sadly, I don't have the color info anymore...

hmmm... Margene has meme tagged Red Around the House!

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Monday, February 13, 2006

  Monday Morning Mirth  

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There's no place I'd rather be than with my friends listening to music...

Add a couple of Volcanoes, Fishbowl size drinks and some Hula Dancers to a phenomenal String Master and you have the perfect Jake Shimabukuro. This Hawaiian native puts moves on a Ukulele like NOTHING you've ever seen [or heard].

Take a listen...

==============================

seen this weekend at

the Tiki Terrace
the fabulous Dinner Club in Prospect Hts.

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March 14, 2006

3


little Red (walking)Hood...

Margene tagged a meme for Red in the House but I had to GET home first...

This is Chicago Avenue, Chicago, USA, right around Ashland Ave. - 1600 West and 800 North, right around where I get off the #66 after work. I'm usually not looking around at much more than my feet as they leave the bus and hit the curb.

But this night, in the new twilight of earliest Spring, I window shopped and quickshot the red I saw as I walked the two blocks home.

click on small pictures to open larger version in a pop-up window...


   
   
   
   
   

be sure to leave your URL in the comments if
you've made a Red Montage
...

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KIPKIPKIP 2144 W Division 7-9pm

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TickTock...

OK. The world's gone mad.

Even more than ususal.

It's Thursday and I've just received an avalanche of email - most of it from Friday through the weekend. What gives with AWOL email? No explanation from my ISP, of course. No Clue. From their lovely desk in New Delhi, they could offer no insight other than to tell me what the weather was when I mentioned it was "...overcast in Chicago, how about you?" The answer: "...it's dark - can't tell."

Someone a couple of doors down is outside in their yard with their chain saw, busting a move. It is 7:30 am as I write this. Not user friendly to rip it up. Generally, people don't SOUNDup until around 9 - I believe that's usually the case when there are not milkcows to attend.

Hmmm.

Possibly, my nerves are more finely tuned than usual, too. Yesterday, while out driving in heavy traffic on the job, siren sound in the distance made me snap to the curb just as my truck came scarcely noseTOnose with a fleeing man behind the wheel of an old blue Chevy. It was going at least 70mph down the centerline of 71st St near Damen. Our eyes locked for a microsecond; his hands were seesaw-ing his steering wheel like a Cartoon Captain in a Gothic Gale. All I could do was hard exhale that deep held breath in my lungs as I watched two CPD cars fly-by in close pursuit.

I was a piece of pineapple suspended in lime jello, shaking.

[Turn the damn saw off.]

Ah, pass me my meds new sock. That's better...

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

- Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock (stashed yarn)
color 92: River

- pattern HERE

- Sock Bug's River Rapids Socks
shown in #92 River


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Erin-go-Bragh

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Ae nicht in Auld Reekie A walked doun the street
Whan a saucy big polis A chanced for tae meet
He glowert in ma face an he gied me some jaw
Sayin whan cam ye owre, bauld Erin-go-Bragh?


****************************

everybody and everything in Chicago is IRISH today!

...Hans E Hyttinen via SarahB!



Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Monday, March 20, 2006

  Monday Morning Mirth  

celebrate the Return of Lady Day


...In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns
to thoughts of love.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (18091892)
Locksley Hall (1842)


Phil says: "Get out of the cave and fall in love. Here's some help for you - just fill in the Blanks..."

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

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in spring a young man's fancy turns to love
but a young woman's fancy just might be...

YARN! Shocking but true - I spent the weekend fondling various cotton yarns in ye olde stash in hopes of finding some suspects to make some samples.

Above you see a sample Ribby Pulli in progress using Calmer. Now, I've been reading about the wonders of this stuff all over the web for a couple of years and even have started a sweater (then stopped and frogged) out of a pretty tomatoey color. The Audrey I was going to make went awry, not because of the yarn, but because I thought the design would look evil on me. (MANY devil projects have made me trust my instincts on these things, believe it.)

The yarn sat on the shelf mocking me, as stash is wont to do, and little by little I picked up a little more. (This is how ye Stash grows. And grows. And GROWS.)

But still no knitting came of it. WHY?

Because I just didn't trust the ball band gauge.

So I did what any sane knitter would do. I ignored it!

Yes, the Ball Band is a Prime Pet Peeve of mine. It's a wonderful starting point but can be a real roadblock to progress if you always just take it at face value.

The more I knit the more I discover the *personality* of most yarns allows for a Range of Gauges that can be used with them. And sometimes, the best draping gauge (IMHO) is not that which is recommended on its BBnd.

If you are a Geek Knitter (raise your hands!) you will make a scientific swatch that tries to match the manufacturer, especially when a fabulous project's start is in the balance. Last year, I made another sweater out of this yarn that made it to the finishing stages while over the Atlantic on a jet. I was so smug - seaming it on board, being cooed over by my seat mate, a lovely lady senior who was giving me all sorts of kudos (in French!) for even knitting at all (something young people just don't do anymore...) The more I *felt* the thing while working on it, the more it felt like a wooden board and WHOOSH! My smug ass dissolved in a puff of smoke.

Inches from the finish line, even though I had spot on ball band gauge, I had to retire it to the frogpile. (YES! It will live again!)

This time, the Muse goes before me and I will not ignore... She sez: "Swatch & Learn..."

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006


What in the world do toast & yarn have in common? Nothing! But the Jelly & Yarn do! Both come from the lovely hands of Heidi who birthday gifted me with them on a recent trip. This morning, I finally had a little time to play with them in the sun (before devouring the wonderful PB&J sandwich made with the Blood Orange marmalade Heidi made herself - YUM is not big enough to say how great this tastes - THANK YOU is not big enough to express my delight!)

I can hardly wait to start some socks from the Briar Rose yarn in the background - all my favorite colors live in this yarn - a custom handpaint from Chris herself. Pampered Piggies await.

Yesterday those little piggies went to market in a big way along Chicago's Damen Avenue. I met my neighbor Theresa for a Bucktown Boutique Romp - I've been on a *local* vacation this week and we decided to be tourists in our own town! Truly nothing better -

We went up to Bucktown and worked our way south.

****** ******



I saw this wonderful arrangement in the window of a shop -



and just had to go in and make some new friends.

This space was FULL of ruffley tulips and just mouth watering roses in bi-colors and more. VOILA! Mega Spring Fever!

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I ended up with a retro pot (the green fluted one on the left) as a new home for the Christmas Cactus my neighbor gave me - hey TOM! It's still ALIVE! I didn't think I could do it but hey, it's the 22nd of March and it's still kickin...

Bucktown is one of the most lovely neighborhoods in Chicago - many of its buildings hail circa 1880 and most of the little shops along Damen are in the original charming storefronts that graced the avenue back in the day. A little north of Larkspur, we found C'est Moi.

This is a delightful houseware store and I spotted something through the window that made me rush inside.

My Aunt Florence, who lives in Hampton, Georgia, sent me some birthday $wag and now I have something to light up my life and think of her in the evening.



The magical thing about this 10" lamp is that the shade is not a shade at all but a CANDLE! It burns from the inside down and light shines through the rest of the wax. Ah, vacation - enough time to take a picture of it and play in Photoshop to make this card for Auntie Flo - thanks for visiting, y'all...

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

: the Dye Pot


Awhile back, my friend Rachel picked up some luscious yarn. Problem was, the color was not so wonderful - or at least what Rachel needed.

Emboldened by my garment over dyeing, we decided to transform the color of that yummy yarn.

Enter the Dye Pot...


Here's the original yarn in all its glory - Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere in a rather glorious fuchsia. However, lurking beneath the surface of that color was the Soul of a Jazz Purple.


  

Rachel sent me these two samples of Purple to peruse...


But wait - this yarn is 85% Cotton & 15% Cashmere - and here's where the dyer stumbles. What to do with a combination yarn?

Get out ye olde calculator and pencil, that's what. Following the directions given by the dye manufacturer for immersion dyeing using Procion MX dyes, I first figured out a factor to convert the quantities of materials used. They give all directions relative to 1lb. of dry fiber. I would only be using a *sacrifice* 50g skein of yarn.

So I went through the list and converted all the quantities as needed - but still there was a question tickling my brain.

This yarn is a mixed protein and cellulose. How was the dye going to react since each fiber needed different handling?

The Cellulose (Cotton) needed Alkaline (Soda Ash). The Protein (Cashmere) needed Acid (White Vinegar) AND Heat.

So I decided to Start the process with heat and a little acidity to welcome the Protein, then finish the session with alkaline and a cooled down temperature. There was no guarantee this would work - but what I've noticed and learned in my other dyeing attempts is that if I follow the basics, I have gotten great results. So I decided to just go for it.

I added the needed water to the pot and brought the temp of the liquid up over a flame. Usually with cotton, you would just use warm tap water. I watched the liquid closely so it was just giving off a little steam on the surface, not simmering, not boiling.

After I added the salt and mixed dye (1 part Raspberry; 2 parts Lilac; and 1 part Midnight Blue), I added a couple of tablespoons of vinegar, and mixed well. Then I added the yarn, reduced the gas flame as low as it would go and stirred constantly for 10 minutes. Then I turned the flame off and followed the manufacturer's instructions for the rest of the process (20 more minutes of constant stirring; remove fiber; add soda ash; repot fiber; stir every 5 minutes for another half hour) with one exception.

Big Difference: I added 1.5 times the amount of soda ash that was recommended to neutralize the acid of the vinegar. If I was dyeing a larger amount of fiber, I would make the percentage of the alkaline even higher.


Voila! The color Purple! I am a Lucky Dog - I must say, I am so totally amazed that this worked - the color is clear and deep. The surface and texture of the yarn seems unaffected by the process and is still soft and *new*. Now let's see if we can pull it off on a whole batch of yarn... :)

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Monday, March 27, 2006

  Monday Morning Mirth  

flip the fug coin and you get...

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

yeah baby...

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The little purple skein begat 14 more purple skeins.

Taking it to the Dye Pot this Sunday, Rachel and I jumped in feet first and just held our breath. Two hours later, we had:

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Glorious Purple Yarn!

The bright sunshine of high noon illuminates the skeins - they are rinsed and ready for washing here. The color looks a little different because of the high contrast light source and the fact they are WET! It was a very close replication of the sample skein -

**********************************

- total weight: 25.3 oz

- 5 gallons water

- 3.5 C salt

- 1T each, Rasberry & Marine Blue & 2T Lilac - Procion MX dye by Jacquard

- 1/2 C Soda Ash

- lots of heart (thanks Rachel for all your patience!)

**********************************

What I learned:
- skein management is really important - limit length to ~26"

- be sure to secure initial end when making skein

- tie in Figure 8's in at least 4 places (see Fig. 12.)

**********************************

Overall, the process went smoothly and quickly. The only downside was the tendency of the wet cotton to want to knot itself on other strands. Think wet shoelaces - we spent a little extra time untangling some scary looking snags at the very end. I had to take a deep breath and listen to some Jimi Hendrix (Voodo Child) before continuing...

A little judicsious teasing, shaking and rinsing, made everything smooth out and become quite lovely...

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

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Lorna's Laces Shepard's Socks *RIVER*

Try as I might to cheat on 'em, I am still loving my simple top down stockinette stitch wheels-on-the-bus-go-round-and-round SOX! These are my Happy Hour cocktail treats after work -- my mind empties of the day's cares after about 2 rounds and then it's just bliss.

A couple of couples were right over me on the SRO #66 last night. They spied my Eye-of-the-Partridge flap (later - oops - these are just Slip-stitch flaps) and one of the guys says loudly, "HEY! That's a sock! That's really cool!" Then he turned to his girlfriend and sighed, "I wish I could find a girl who would knit me socks!" She replied, "I'm sure the campus is crawling with them..." BAdum...

Well, I'm not a bug, but it still goes to show how much LATITUDE there is in the ATTITUDEs about Knitting. Some women, (like me!) are extremely empowered by the craft; others (including most of my male co-workers and a lot of urban women) still think it's the DeathKiss of the Granny Woman and just jump back from the Notion of the Needle.

What's really funny, is even the women I've met who bad mouth the thought of knitting (remember these are hungry commuters - they're not thinking straight!~) still stare at my stitching hands with LONGING in their eyes. I know they want to...

Especially this cool Eye-of-the-Partridge (OK where did that name COME FROM?!) heel flap. This is my favorite cushy, long-wearing finish - basically, it's a row of Slip 1, k1; followed by a row of Slip 1, purl across. I think it's really pretty, too.

Sexy Knitters

Knit Socks

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