Amy Artisan

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Month: November 2006

Time to Sit & Knit…and more

As I’ve written about before, Harbor Country in Michigan is a favorite quick escape from the city – both as a daytrip or a weekend. This past Saturday was no exception – my friend Kristy was game for an outing. 

The goals for the day were simple:

Pick up some vino for holiday gifts at Round Barn Winery. check!

Do a bit of shopping at some of our favorite shops. check! In addition to stopping at the fun Ben Franklin we found some fun things at Pomegranate Home.

Lunch at someplace fun. check! we finally checked out The Stray Dog Bar & Grill and both agreed that it will be in the restaurant rotation on future trips.

Sit and knit a bit at our favorite yarn shop, Sit & Knit. Check! When we walked into the shop we were greeted by Kim, the shop owner that we had met at Stitches Midwest in August and she remembered us from visiting the booth. No one else was in the shop at the time so we had great fun getting to know Kim. This last week was a big week for the shop – she just launched a blog and also filmed a pilot episode of their knitting talk show: Sit & Knit with Kim, Jack and Bird. It will air in South Bend in January it hopefully will become a national show. The shop as a great private label yarn line that is similar to the Cascade 128 line – lots of fun colors & so soft. I picked up several colors for assorted projects – including more felted bowls. Kristy cast on for her first felted bowl – Kim helped her get going “in the round.” The shop was supposed to close at 5 & it was about 5:45 when we were finally on our way with lattes to go. As I’ve said before, if this shop were closer I think I would be there every weekend. Thanks Kim for a lovely afternoon in your shop!

After a bit of outlet shopping in Michigan City we picked up Pumpkin Spice milkshakes from Culvers for “dinner” on the drive home. Kristy continued to knit round & round on her bowl while in the car – she felt the uptempo tunes (Play by Great Big Sea) had her knitting quickly and making great progress.

On the way home we detoured through downtown Chicago hoping to see the Christmas lights that had just been turned on – but Michigan Ave. still wasn’t open back up to traffic so we missed the lights but were in the midst of all the traffic. While in the traffic, Kristy did snap some fun shots of the city at night.

The evening ended with more knitting while watching a holiday favorite, Love Actually. Kristy finished up her first felted bowl & started her next one. I started and finished the square for Cathy’s Comforting Jenn blanket – a dusty sage & dusty rose superwash that I picked up at Sit & Knit earlier in the day. (picture to come later)

We did the same day trip last year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving – I think this is becoming our “routine” for kicking off the holiday season.

Routine Things

I find it interesting how quickly we can slip into routines. Initially some “new thing” may seem odd and then before you know it, it is “your” routine and any change to it causes you to pause.

While work travel might seem like a big distruption to routine, in reality a new set of routines emerged for me while on the road…a Sunday evening flight to Chattanooga…Tatum, the shuttle driver, waiting at the airport to take us to the hotel…the barista at Starbuck’s starting to make my drink every morning as soon as I walked into the store…the 2 block walk from the hotel to the office…These routines helped to bring some normalcy to the “un routine” when work was extremely busy.

Now that I’m back home routines are shifting and some old routines are once again new…making coffee each morning with the french press & listening to NPR on the kitchen radio while getting ready…the daily commute on the bus & el (including darting across 4 lanes of traffic on Western Ave. from the bus stop on the way home each evening)…etc…

A routine that is never routine is having a birthday. With the travel of the last couple of months, mine seemed to sneak up on me last week. The first Saturday of this month was a delightful afternoon tea at The Peninsula Chicago with my friend Elaine – her birthday is in late October so every year we try to celebrate our birthdays together with something fun. On my birthday, I met Jen & Kristy at Bin 36 after work and we each enjoyed a wine flight and splitting an appetizer. Jen’s husband, Greg, picked us up and then we all enjoyed a yummy dinner at Francesca’s Bryn Mawr. The day was also filled with emails, e-cards, instant messages, cards, and calls wishing me well. All in all, a lovely celebration!

A long standing routine has been my bookclub, The G.I.R.L.S. When I moved to Chicago in the fall of 1999 this was one of the first things that I joined – my friend Maya invited me to “her group” and the first book I read with them was “A Widow for a Year” by John Irving. Last week I was able to participate in a gathering for the first time since May – it also marked 7 years since my first meeting. We were a smaller group than some months; however, that didn’t diminish the good conversation. Our book was “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell – as is always the case, we talked about the book for a bit and that conversation spurred many other conversation topics.

A newer routine (since 2003) is scrapbooking – I host a quarterly “crop club” for friends to get together and spend a morning working on albums and catching up on life. This past Saturday was the last one for this year and it was great fun to have everyone back at my house for the morning (In Sept. a friend graciously hosted us at her place because of my travel) Since it was a chilly autumn morning it was the perfect weather to make some yummy fall goodies – a pot of spiced cider simmering on the stove, warm applesauce and a pumpkin cranberry coffeecake (using one of my favorite shortcuts, the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread mix).

As I’ve mentioned, knitting is once again (finally) part of my routine. This weekend I finished up several felted bowls from Oneskein. These are a quick knit and it was fun figuring out which bowls to shape them against. I anticipate making a few as gifts and as I get my office/craft room/guest room organized I plan to make a couple for in there. (pictures to come) I continued to work on some of the projects that have been on my needles for a while (including socks!) and tried to start some new ones.

Knitting to comfort others is a routine that I enjoy. In the coming week I’ll be knitting a square for a new comfort blanket. Cathy is pulling together a blanket to comfort her friend Jenn who is in need of some comfort these days.

As I also get back into the routine of blogging, I have a couple of Knitbloglandia items that I’ve been meaning to post – so now seems like a good time to do it!


I joined Lolly’s sock celebration for October and then didn’t knit a stitch on a sock – although a sock project traveled with me the entire month. Insert your favorite quotation about good intentions…

So belatedly, here is my sock history. It is a short history.

In February 2003 I took my first sock class at Arcadia Knitting. Over the course of the class I finished the first sock. Pretty soon thereafter I began the second sock. And well, recently I discovered the bag with the sock and yarn – as you can see not much progress has been made on the second sock. In May of this year I took a “Socks on 2 Circular Needles” class at Arcadia. As I blogged about earlier, the first skein of yarn was a bit defective so I didn’t get the sock finished. When I learned that I would be traveling for work this summer I thought that socks would be a great travel project. Yeah, well that didn’t happen. The work travel is done and no socks were knit; however, I have picked up quite the sock yarn stash over this year. At Stitches Midwest in August I picked up Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles and have started on another pair of socks using this method. With all the sock yarn that I now have I am definitely ready to knit socks. I have several projects to finish before the holidays; however, I hope that the coming months will be an extension of Socktoberfest for me.


In August I signed up for several swaps – not “putting it together” that the mailing deadlines were in the middle of the work insanity. I’m thankful that my spoilees have been patient as I’ve been slower getting their packages together.

  • KnitFlix: This concept was a lot of fun – movies & knitting! Earlier this year I even had a post about movie knitting. My swap pal was Amy in MN. She put together a great box of goodies. The movie is Babette’s Feast – I’ve never seen it but had it in my Netflix queue. Lots of popcorn for snacking. And the yarns! A beautiful purple silk from Alchemy yarns. A Dusty Olive Malabrigo with a great button & the pattern for the Gelato felted bag. Thanks Amy!
  • Knitter’s Tea Swap 2: Round 1 in May/June was so much fun so I’m back for more. I was spoiled by Barb in Canada. With the cooler days, these yummy teas will be enjoyed soon – Also some yummy honey sticks to sweeten the teapot. One of my favorites for tea snacking – shortbread! A berry candle the smells of fall. And a pale blue Paton’s Divine yarn. Thanks Barb!
  • Dishcloth Shuffle: As I’ve mentioned in numerous posts, dishcloths are a relaxing “go-to” knit for me – so this exchange seemed like a great one to join. I was spoiled by Alisa in Australia. Alisa knit 5 different dishcloths in beautiful colors and patterns. She also included some bright cottons for my own dishcloth knitting, some fun Australia themed stickers, an iron-on to embroider, a dainty hankerchief (how did she know I have a collection?) and a cute notepad from her recent vacation to Thailand. Thanks Alisa!

My packages have been dispatched to Minnesota, Nebraska, Western Canada & Eastern Canada. whew!

A Time to Remember…

In Flanders Fields

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

(Poppies from Flickr: 1. Poppies, 2. Poppy Field, 3. Thousand poppies, 4. Roadside Poppies, 5. dazzling French poppies, 6. Poppies & Blue Sky)

How Tall This Fall?

When Miss Butterfly lived in Chicago, we had a fall tradition of going to Didier Farms to get pumpkins and apples. We would also pose Miss Butterfly in front of the cute “How Tall This Fall?” giant pumpkin growth chart. When the family moved to Texas last year we all agreed that the annual pumpkin patch visits must continue. My first visit to their new home in Dallas was last Oct. and on a 90 degree day we went to a pumpkin patch.

This year it worked out that my project in Chattanooga wrapped up and allowed for some vacation time to head to Texas to hang out with Miss Butterfly & Miss Doodlebug. The 6 day visit was full of parties, fun adventures and just hanging out at home.

Dallas Highlights

Our first adventure was the annual trek to the pumpkin patch. As we drove to the farm, the weather turned cold and when we parked in the field it was pretty close to bitter. Thankfully we had lots of layers for the girls but it was a quick trip through the farm. We quickly fed the animals, posed for some pictures (including “how tall”), went on the hayride and picked up some pumpkins.

The adventures continued throughout the trip. On Saturday we had 2 Halloween parties. Miss Butterfly was the cutest ladybug ever and Miss Doodlebug was the cutest little pink flower. Sunday was time with both sets of grandparents and a bit of shopping. Monday was preschool and the Halloween parade and classroom party. Monday evening we had an early birthday celebration for me – Miss Butterfly helped her mom make the yummy lava cakes. Tuesday was ballet and then a trip to the carousel at a local mall and lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. It was Miss Doodlebug’s first time sitting in a booster seat & she had to do everything that Miss Butterfly did. Halloween evening was bustling…the girls went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood and also helped hand out candy to trick-or-treaters at the house. Miss Butterfly even went to the “scary” houses and was a brave little ladybug – the next day she said the scariest house was her favorite.

When not “on the go” we had lots of play time at home – dress up, art time and of course reading stories. Both girls love to read! When I was in Chattanooga I picked up a cute book for Miss Butterfly that highlighted some of the Scenic City attractionsPardon Me is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo? by Ellen Eady. I gave her the book on Friday morning & I think by the time I left we had read it at least 20 times. I had a secret knitting project with me & one evening I pulled it out to work on – as soon as Miss Butterfly saw it she said “knitting like Grosi” and had to sit next to me while I knit. A couple of times throughout my visit she would “help” me knit by holding the ball of yarn. Each time I asked what we were knitting she would gleefully should out “A xxx for yyy!” (can’t spoil the secret) Another new favorite thing to do became tumbling on M’Amy – Miss Butterfly discovered that she could do a somersault up my legs & that was just too much fun.

Before I knew it my time in Dallas was done and it was time to come back to Chicago. Between my travels this fall I seem to have missed most of the “fall like” temperatures – it has been quite chilly back here, although there is a possibility of Indian Summer later this week! I’m getting into the routine of working downtown and being home. Since I’ve been back from Dallas my knitting “bug” has returned & my hands have been constantly busy – yeah!

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