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Thursday, August 2, 2007
I must say, that this has, so far been a most enjoyable Summer! All sorts of *farming* is taking place over here and we grow, grow, grow in the sunny, balmy air.
As the temperature of the Air goes up (in the high 90's heading up to the 100's soon), my motivation to knit wool goes down. The combination of house guests, humidity and nightside opportunity made for little knitting last week on my Mystery Shawl #3.
I think I've found my solution.
I am an early riser -- 6-ish? sometimes, 5-ish? -- depending on the call of the bird life out of my window. As regular as a Cock-O-the-Walk, we have some kind of bird in our neighborhood that greets the sun with a Very Loud Song. Once I'm up, I'm up and I've been going out on the deck and enjoying the coolness of the morning.
This perch is about 2.5 stories up and about 2 miles from Lake Michigan. It's usually nice and refreshing until the sun is overhead. The Swing is a nice oasis for Lace Knitting. The little *convenience center* between the two seats holds my pattern and cork-backed ruler, click-counter, and carabiner stopwatch for keeping track of the time.
I am about half-way through Clue 3 and totally enjoying this knit. It just keeps getting prettier and prettier, pulling me along for the ride.
I really don't need the watch, though. The sun gets to a certain point as it's rising and it comes around the corner of my house and I can feel it in my hands.
I finish Row 170 (!), offer the Sun a clammy salute and go inside . . .
At the top of our picture, we see the fabulous Jane P. in front of a wall of yarn at Unraveled in Richmond, VA, modeling her new CeCe (knit from Katia "Papiro").
Jane writes: "Hi Bonne Marie! I didn't think I could enjoy a pattern as much as I loved my Sitcom Chic but I just finished my new CeCe and I love it!!!"
Fantastique! Read more about her adventure (she started this July 20th and unveiled on July 30th!!!) at KnittingSister.
AND, since once is not enough, the gorgeous Amy H. models two fabulous CeCe-s fashioned by her Mom, Pam, using white cotton tape called Elena by Filatura di Crosa and Svale by Dale of Norway.
Pam writes: "Thought you'd like to see some finished objects using your patterns. I really enjoyed the raglan all- in- one shaping since seaming is not my favorite activity! I liked the Cece pattern so much that I knit 2 of them (and have enough in my yarn stash for several more). My daughter Amy is the model but her mother will actually wear the garments."
So pretty --
I've made FOUR! of these so far myself and am thinking about Nr. 5 -- just found some beautiful cotton/silk yarn that was lurking in a closet.
********************* make your own CeCe -- get the pattern HERE
Out-for-the-count. Not 21st Century boy style, either. Just old school BLOTTO. A Trilogy of Technical Terror...
Part One: sometime in the near past (?!) an assignment on the server that hosts Chic Knits changed. No one EVER knows how these things happen and when you're on the phone to SE Asia? Malaysia? Korea? HOW becomes irrelevant rather quickly and NOW becomes the chant.
As in: Make It Stop!
That one little assignment change made some root level folders on my site server start catching and filling with all the known Spam in the Universe. Well. Not all of it but a whole gob-smacking avalanche big enough to knock the CHIC right off line. Maybe you noticed.
Those folders filled to the brim meaning I had no disk space at all. And when I tried to post an entry in this blog, the fun really started.
The Berkely Database canabalized itself.
While trying to find a squooosh of space anywhere, Movable Type corrupted itself, blowing data chunks all over the place, not unlike that night I was unlucky enough to take the bottle of screw-top wine from my friend's hand at a concert.
So, instead of knitting, my fine friends, I've been Data Mining the last few days! I think I've cleaned up most of it. I did lose a TON of comments, including the most recent ones you all left about my Mom -- thank you all for your generous thoughts -- I did get to read them before they vaporized :)
Now I'm seriously thinking of migrating this ole blog to a hosted server. THOSE guys never seem to go down, right? Seriously, for the most part, and the estimates at Technorati alone are over 70 million blogs worldwide, these hosts do a pretty amazing job.
Part Two: all of this took place in a fry baby of a house because my central air unit had blown up! Never, and I mean, never, underestimate the importance of a $20 part especially when it comes with a $200 labor bill.
Part Three: to escape all of the above torture, one might turn to one's Entertainment Center and lose one's self in Sound. But ALAS! It too had caught whatever Ill Techno Wind was migrating everywhere else in This Old House. No Music. No Tuner. Dust-to-Dust...
At least my DVD player is still working. But where oh where is MY Colonel Brandon?
(Tell me who is Col. Brandon and win some STR [color Alina] yarn! Winner chosen by random drawing Friday, the 10th.)
it's been raining for days here and I'm a little Blue...
Add to that humidity so thick you feel like a ghost suspended in the air and it's not wonder that fog fills the brain.
I can't make up my mind.
Blue Nr. 1
Blue Nr. 2
Blue Nr. 1: it's the one that looks GOOD on all the gentlemen you work with. They often substitute this color for the insipid pervasive White Collar in the workplace. I think it's one of the signature Late 20th Century Office Rebellions ("get off my back white shirt monkey!").
Blue Nr. 2: this is another of my favorites, Bijou Blue. It is very flattering on ze Ladies, (which, but of course, includes moi).
I am poised to cast-on and can't move another inch without your help -- Nr. 1 or Nr. 2 on the needle?
Nothing in the heat, heat of summer, is more enjoyable than a cool shady room.
Add to that the ability to stroll and you have a oasis!
Stroll indoors? Yes, via the cool jetstream of the internet, one can virtually go anywhere for a visit.
I've been going to 1810 England, Jane Austen's England. Or I should say, I've been shopping in 1810 England. WHO doesn't love a Mall in the Heat (or the cold, eh Minnesotans?).
I was Astounded to see the loveliness of their covered lane shopping -- my favorite was here at the Burlington Arcade where one could find, in the early 1800's: "eight milliners, eight hosiers or glovers, five linen shops, four shoemakers, three hairdressers, three jewellers or watchmakers, two shops apiece of lacemen, hatters, umbrella or stick sellers, case-makers, tobacconists and florists, as well as a shawl seller, ivory turner, goldsmith, glass manufacturer, optician, wine merchant, pastrycook, bookseller, stationer, music seller and engraver."
Hmm. No yarn shops, but people started wearing shawls aplenty in these times -- those shoulders were cold, m'ladies. Women, had gone from too much to too little covered and were needing some extra warmth:
cartoon by Isaac Cruikshank after a drawing by George M. Woodward
This was a time, at the dawn of the Industrial Age, when women, although still stylized beyond our modern comprehension, threw off the fetters of the Corset, if for just a little while. The simple muslim dresses were worn over, well, their Bodies, instead of layers and layers of pinnings, bonings, petticoats and more. (Apparently, according to Cruikshank, some ladies managed this better than others.)
I love the writings of Jane Austen and I adore the costuming in the movie "Sense & Sensibility" and found this site which features some of the period dresses created for this (and other) productions: The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes.
Currently (to September 20, at the Paine, Oshkosh, WI) is a touring exhibit called "Fashion in Film." You can visit and admire many of the luscious dresses worn in favorite movie productions, including (scroll down above page), Bright and Beaven's Bridal Gown for Marianne Dashwood, which features something called "Straw work" where gold thread is embroidered over tiny bits of straw to make ruffles and motifs appear similar to basketry weaves and curves. (Close-up)
Exquisite! See you in Wisconsin (or at the movies?) -- I have to go have a look-see in person!
But first, back to the knitting:
Perhaps joining me for a cool wrap-fest this weekend, Colonel Brandon, from Sense & Sensibilty?
At the beginning of the summer, after spending one too many evenings in *over-aired* restaurants and theaters, it dawned on me. I desperately needed a little something.
Just a little something that would take the edge off – something that would make the man-made surround a little more user friendly and happy so it wasn't nipping at me so.
A shawl? Too big. A sweater? Who could carry it outdoors? A Shrug?
So along comes Miss Dashwood...
This MDash is made in cotton; it takes lower yardage than a complete sweater so would be wonderful for Hand Spun yarn as well. I'm eyeing some wool next now that Fall and those chilly lake mornings are right around the corner...
Not too many weeks ago, the Song of the Fiber Sirens called me up to Wisconsin for a little road trip. WHO would not enjoy a morning out in the *country* petting the *sheep*.
The lovely sock yarn you see above was the result of a visit with the lovely Catherine of Knitting Notions –– BEAUTIFUL! You might've seen some of Catherine's yarn at January One, in Cara's spectacular Wing-O-the-Moth Shawl she knit this summer.
This weekend, I get another chance to say *hey!* but this time, it will be in another Midwest state, my neighbor, my home state, Michigan!
The Michigan Fiber Fest is this weekend at the Allegan Co. Fairgrounds and Catherine and many, many other folks will be there in the rolling acres that is the site. I love this site. I've spent many a last Sunday-O-de-Month wandering the Allegan Antique Market that's held there. Here my sister Catherine taught me the Art of the Deal. I practiced my bartering buying buttons and charms and found how to how collect (although with my Pack Rat DNA, it was only a matter of time before I fell down THAT rabbit hole)!
The Adventure starts early tomorrow morning when I board a bus with a whole group of lovely knitters from the Windy City Knitting Guild! WooHoo -- HOURS of hands-free driving, hours of interesting scenery to amuse while I Knit Knit Knit then go pet the little sheeps...
Wishing you a great weekend and HOPE to see you there :)
For a City Girl, it's an imperative to Get Out of Town every once in awhile. For this City Girl, the more Country Days, the merrier! The sign above, at the entrance to the Allegan Co. Fairgrounds was a reminder, of sorts, to Let it Go. Let the City fall away, as mist receding over a far horizon. Leave it all behind and see what ye can see in the open air...
the Briar Rose booth
And right off the bat, one sees what one cannot see in Town. I did not realize, the first time I went to a fiber fair that there would be Fiber Folk, people who were busy in their corner of the universe creating incredible things, things you could only see if you were Right There. Chris Rosen, from Briar Rose, is one of those people - painting yarn like none other that delights and entices.
Notice the lady on the right *trying on* the skeins on her arm! I was doing this over and over during the day too in addition to Sniffing. Oh. Don't look at me like that. You do it too. Just enjoy that tiny bite of vinegar, please ;p I'd be happy to pass it your way...
But what really made this trip especially fun for me was the People! Over and over, we all crossed paths and found friends old and new. From the very beginning of the day, it was quite the adventure––I was on a bus that left Chicago around 7 am with over 50 fellow Fiber Friends from the Windy City Knitting Guild. I happily shared a seat set with the charming Vicki, from Loopy Yarns, who celebrates her 2nd Anniversary this year! We had a great time knitting and grinnin'.
Once we landed at the fairgrounds, I ran into my good friends Jessica and the lovely Tonya, who was spotting sheep to bring home to her farm up north; Corinne was there with her man, looking for possible Alpacas to adopt. I sat in one of the Sheep Barns and knit with Fair Ladies to the music of the BAAaaa Orchestra in the background. I'd never knit with sheep accompaniment before and it tickled beyond belief!
I was able to finally meet one of my *oldest* online friends––the lovely Meg from Northern Lower Michigan––who was as beautiful and peaceful in person as she is in words. Dellightful! (And, if anyone could entice me to the Spinning side, Meg is the one––the grace and calm of the process just radiates from her.)
Tonya & Bill's handsome boy meets his 1st Bluefaced Leicester
And there you have it––when the people reach out and touch the animals MAGIC happens...
Why travel miles & miles to a field in the middle of the country?
Well. There's the Country. Good Lookin' State, Michigan!
and then there's
the YARN (and sheep, but of course.)
I had a plan. Yes. I did. ;p
Last year, I'd used Shelridge Farms Soft Touch WW for a sample (a short-sleeved Ribby Pulli) and loved it. I wanted more! But Buffy Taylor and her mate were off on the fest circuit and it was just as easy to go to the mountain, etc. etc. etc.
AND, wonders of wonders, when you visit in person, you also visit the COLORS. This is called Heath and I swear! This was an intended gettee before Meg gifted me with these lovely lovely earrings she made:
Thanks Meg! Beautiful Beads! Love those little green apples!
Behind the green, there's a cone of Ebony Jaggerspun Merino/Tussah. I have 2800 yards of Lace Weight scored at a penny a yard. Hmm. Let's go SHAWLING! Hey –– I saw some Sheep-to-Shawl stuff going on at the Fest; this is My Version.
But the pièce de résistance was not to come until moments before the Bus left back for Chicago.
Now, I've been a longtime fan of British Rare Breed wools. Last year found me on an exciting train quest with Rachel for Bluefaced Leicester yarn. It's hard to find here in the USA and one MUST when one Must.
I spied a tent in Michigan where they are keeping hope alive: Flying Fibers.
This Soft Red Wensleydale Longwool couldn't even wait to get back to the City to jump on the needles. But wait! I had no needles! No Problem, dude. You're at a Fiber Fest –– go into the nearest Barn (5 feet) and grab some HiyaHiya's (and giggle over the free stitch holder in the pack!)
Temperance writes: "Yummy yarn, love the green, but the red is truly luscious. I am feeling ignorant, however, rare breed yarn? How is it different / better then common sheep yarn?"
It took a tour of a barnful of sheep at the first fiber fest I went to for me to realize just how many types of wool might be in the world.
I'd really never thought of it before!
Indeed. Just what Fiber had traveled my Handiwork Highway? Well. Merino Definitely. Hmm. Shetland -- actually owned and wore many cabled sweaters in high school. Uhm.
Yet out in the greater world, the world of Alice Starmore, Gladys Thompson or Shelagh Hollingworth, there were many other types of wool: Bainin, Harris, Guernsey, and more -- and they might not have been made from the same breed of sheep.
I became interested on a personal level a few seasons ago when I started making sweaters to work outdoors in. I've worked as a photographer for many years and my *uniform* between October and May (!) is a long-sleeved black turtleneck, cabled aran-weight sweater topped by a black or dark brown down vest. (Colorful scarves rescue my femininity from oblivion!)
It quickly became apparent that many of the wools out there for handknitting were not up to rigors so I started the Quest for the Worker Yarn. I was especially romantic about Bluefaced Leicester and Wensleydale Long Wool, both produced from small flocks in the U.K. hence the *rare breed* designation. A spinner friend of mine told me about this book:
This tome is a most useful handbook. Although it's subtitle is "A Handspinner's Guide to Wool", for a knitter, it is a most enjoyable and enthusiastic introduction to the fold.
Breed information is presented in chapters by wool types and then a sample of each fleece is pictured with details about their characteristics.
All in all a most informative read and bookshelf staple.
Summer 2007 in the USA has been filled with romance. Even if your dance card isn't too full, chances are your closet is! Everywhere I go, I see skirts, ballet flats, ribbon-tied wedgies, slip-dresses, and lace.
And we have in our house, a designer most accomplished in the language of lovely sentimental knitting:
The incredible Annie Modesitt has put together a collection of 26 designs of the most feminine sort. Here you will find lace, ruffles, texture and color combining in ways that charm and enchance the wearer.
Annie calls romance "falling in love with life" and her designs reflect the joy of the female form. There are flirtatious trimmed wraps; cabled and laced tops; fitted, fetching skirts and wonderful accesories you will not see anywhere else. I am especially in love with a hat called "High Society" a ribbon-trimmed lace cloche.
Form and function with beauty is what we love about clothes. Making them is what knitters love doing.
"Romantic Knits" gives you the blueprints and palette to create your own masterpiece.
the Chic Knits TGIF Library is always open HERE. . .
August 2007 in Chicago was a challenge, to be sure. Over and over, we were hit by tremendous thunderstorms, the likes not witnessed by any in memory, recent or otherwise.
Rain, rain, and more. Rain was the order of the day, day after day.
Last Thursday appeared a storm so huge, so volatile, that even though the NWS didn't call it a tornado, it was everything but the funnel. Several hundred thousands were without power for days; only yesterday had restoration begun to be widespread. I worked at my *day job* endlessly recording the damage and woe. Everywhere I went, it looked as though a giant had walked the land, crushing 100 year oak trees like pencils, splitting power lines like twigs, lifting and crashing boats upon the shore.
Once home, I had not the heart to go farther than my deck after it all calmed down. There I found things thrown around, but no real damage. Praise.
Today I went into the yard and found: Blessing.
As if to meet the challenge of the rain, wind and lightning, everything grew like mad, as if getting bigger would might just shake a fist at the storms. I dare you to uproot me; I will twist and hold onto stem and rock and anchor myself against you!
Things had doubled, tripled, quadrupled in size, none getting larger in proportion than the Lamb's Ear I planted by a huge stepping stone. This started as a tiny cutting my Mother brought me from her garden a few weeks ago. I had given a small cutting to her over 10 years ago and now it had come home, and circled the place where the children like to stand.
When we were digging, at first, we unearthed a huge piece of worn cement -- possibly a piece of the foundation of the house that burned down on this site many years ago. Every time the grownups were working, the children would take turns standing on this rock, overseeing us, being as tall as we. I planted the Lamb's Ear for them too -- I have never met a child that did not like to pet it :)
Veronica lifts its arms in song...
For me, Nature is something you sometimes have to just get out of the way of and let it g(r)o(w)...
One of the things that jumped on the bus with me back to Chicago from the Michigan Fiber Fest a couple of weekends ago was not a giant Magic Eraser (good one, Paula!) nor a delicious cake form (yum, Frank) or a humungous Altoid (ha, Jill) but a new Foam Hat Mold.
I'd seen this set several times before (from the Mielke Farm folk) but all of a sudden, after one small phone call from explorer Nancy Q. in Bldg. A to me on the Sheep Midway, it just seemed right. [Notice that it is large enough to make a man's wide brimmed hat.]
I'd like to call this music video I shot about the new toy "Ode to Felting."
It is just a small narcissistic knitting equivalent of one of those bum-shakin' videos that are so so prevelent on ya Tube, but here instead of a booty call, you get some wet felt in the face ;p
And yet, even though it exhibits and celebrates all the characteristics of Tube: grainy video shot with a micro-camera, slightly annoying soundtrack, (not as annoying as that Popeye's ad, people) and that wonderful Utube shabby playback quailty from their funk Flash compressor, you can see this is no tender grasping moment, but a real hands-on push-me-pull-me time of wool on a frame. Almost like working bread dough...