Amy Artisan

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Month: January 2007

Sunshine Salad

Oh the cold, gray days of winter…no sunshine in sight! So, on a cold, gray, snowy Sunday I whipped up a Sunshine Salad in the kitchen.

Sunshine Salad

I came across this citrus salad recipe and used it as my starting point. I used a ruby red grapefruit, navel orange and blood orange. For the dressing, I mixed half clover honey and half blueberry honey with the citrus juices. In addition to the cardomom (one of my favorite spices) I also added a dash of ground cloves. This is a simple salad that tastes great – I’ll be making it again.

In addition to finishing my Bejeweled scarf earlier this month I’ve managed to finish quite a few other things.

Current Finished Objects

First up, a stack of dishcloths (and this stack doesn’t even include all of them so far this month). Most of these are my standard “grandma’s favorite.” I also completed the January Monthly Dishcloth KAL – a snowflake. I must admit, knitting a dishcloth in cream (or white) seems odd to me – I knit dishcloths to be used & this seems like it will always be stained or always have to be bleached.

Next up, a secret knit that can’t be revealed quite yet. How’s that for a teaser?

Next, I dug deep into the WIPs and pulled out my striped felted tote. The bottom of the bag has been seamed up, all of the connections have been dealt with – it’s ready for felting fun in the washer and then some handles.

Why have I been knitting so much this month? Work has me traveling during the week again – this time driving to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. On my drive up last week, I managed a detour to the Herrschners Retail Store – the reason for stopping was to buy a Wool Winder to go with my new swift. I left with a bag filled with yarn and no winder – didn’t even think of it when I was in the store. I was able to stop at the store on the way home & pick one up. It has already been put to good use.

First Crochet Attempts

Last spring, I picked up SnB: The Happy Hooker when Debbie Stoller came to Arcadia Knitting. I wanted to pick up some of the crochet basics last year; however, that didn’t happen. On Saturday morning I had my first Crochet Basics class at Arcadia – when the class is done I will have completed a scarf & learned several basic stitches. Saturday was the single and double crochet – homework was to practice those stitches and we’ll begin the scarf next week. I have done some practice with the intended scarf yarn; however, most of my crochet practice has been with leftover dishcloth yarn – not only am I practicing my new skills I’ll also have a few “wonky” dishcloths for my sink. One thing I have noticed with the crochet is that my right hand and arm gets sore – which is something I haven’t noticed with knitting.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories about your Friday Night Knitting Clubs. Isn’t it great that we are each able to find our own groups – whether in person or through our online connections? Now that the book has been released the author has appearances throughout North America – check out the schedule and see if she is coming to your town. Unfortunately she isn’t scheduled to visit Chicago yet; however, if you do go to an event I’d love to hear about it.

Bejeweled Blue Hostas


Hostas have always been an Artisan family favorite in the garden. At home in the ‘Ville, the eastern exterior wall of the house is planted with hostas of assorted colors and sizes. Included in the collection are hostas from my grandparent’s home in Ohio (circa 1985), hostas from previous homes, hostas “rescued” from the houses that were torn down for the Atlanta airport expansion, and hostas from Miss Butterfly’s house here in Chicago.

Last year I stumbled across Jessie’s beautiful handpainted yarns. When I saw the skein called “Blue Hostas” I immediately snapped it up. When the yarn arrived I wound it into a ball but didn’t know what I would knit it into – throughout last year, everytime I would be in the yarn stash & come across this yarn I would have to “stop & stare” at the beautiful colors. New Year’s Eve weekend I cast on for the perfect project with this yarn: Bejeweled.

I love this scarf! The pattern was well written & I love how the lace knit up – it was a very easy pattern to memorize & progressed quickly. I finished the scarf in under a week. Once I was done, I gave it a dip in the SOAK from Scout’s Swag & then pinned it on the living room rug to open up the lace pattern.

Thanks Shobhana for sharing this great pattern! Thanks Lolly for organizing the KAL! I will definitely be knitting this pattern again – in fact, I’ve already started on 2 new projects based on this pattern (at opposite ends of the yarn scale).

(P.S. #1 The pictures don’t do the yarn & scarf justice – but the lack of decent daylight recently has made it difficult to capture the true beauty of the finished product.)

(P.S. #2 These aren’t pictures from our hostas – as I was pulling together this post I realized that I didn’t have any pictures. Click on each hosta mosaic for more details on the source Flickr pictures.)

Friday Night Knitting Club

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In October (in the midst of the work craziness) I received an email from Penguin Books inviting me to receive an advance copy of a new book: The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. I responded that I was interested & when I got back to Chicago after Christmas the book was waiting for me. I immediately started into the book & was done with it in less than 24 hours. What a fun read – it was a great book to end 2006 with since the year was so knit-filled for me.

As the title implies, this book is set around a group of knitters that gathers weekly in a small knitting shop. The stories of their lives are woven together throughout the book & through their shared passion for knitting. In November, there was advanced buzz about the book because Julia Roberts has signed on to star in and produce the movie adaptation of it. In recent years there have been a lot of books written that are based on the “women coming together in a group over a common interest” – one of the characters in this book even comments on this knitting club being like a new quilting bee.Â

This book isn’t only “for knitters” – in fact, one of the characters comes to the shop with a preconceived disdain for knitting. This is a story about independent women and how they come together to support each other.

In addition to the “standard” chapters in a novel this book also contains several extras: a scarf pattern that is used in the story, a yummy muffin recipe from the store and each section of the book is introduced with a knitting basic – which becomes an analogy for the life unfolding in the book.

As I was reading this book I started thinking about the concept of “women coming together…” and reflecting on my own circles. I’ve actually been thinking about this concept for several months…While I don’t have a “Friday Night Knitting Club” per se, I do have several circles that are important to me.

On the knitting front, I haven’t “joined” in an organized knitting group (maybe this year?); however, since teaching Jen & Kristy to knit we often have our own ‘knitting club’ sessions – while knitting & purling we catch up on life, watch silly movies, order Thai from our favorite place and just have fun.

Since starting to scrapbook in 2003, I have found that to definitely be a “circle” activity. As I’ve mentioned before I host a quarterly crop club where friends gather in my dining room once a quarter to work on albums and catch up on life. When possible, I also go to other crops. Each January I also go to a scrapbook retreat – 3 days of uninterrupted time to work on albums (in fact, next weekend is the retreat!). This is a larger circle but the conversations are the same.

A circle I’ve been a part of since first moving to Chicago is my book club. We are quite a varied group – professionals, teachers, stay at home moms, creatives. Our monthly Thursday evening gatherings are a lot of fun. We normally discuss the book we’ve read – even if just for a bit. Most months the book also seems to be a launching point for all sorts of other conversations. This is a group where even if you’re gone for a couple of months when you come back in it is easy to pick up where you left off with everyone.

Sometimes a circle just comes together – one of the highlights of my December was my Christmas Tea.  It was fun to see how quickly we found commonalities among “strangers until today” and had lots of group conversations instead of just “two-sies” & “three-sies.”

What is your Friday Night Knitting Club?

P.S. As part of this advance copy, I received several copies of a “Special Sneak Peek” of the book. If you are interested in a copy, leave me a comment and I’ll send one your way.

Time to Be…

Now that the holidays are over and the new year is started it is “time to be…involved” in several fun activities throughout blogland.

Bejeweled

I’m participating in the Bejeweled KAL and am loving how the scarf is knitting up so far. It’s fun to see the scarves that are coming together – lots of fun yarn choices. This one will be for me – I commented to Mom that this would make a great birthday gift for a friend; however, I’m loving this yarn so much that I will indeed keep it for myself. So, semi “tongue in cheek” it seemed only appropriate to join It’s Not a Gift! 2.0 with this.

I see lots of possibilities in my stash for additional Bejeweled scarves this year!

Be Healthy

 

 With the new year comes a new look at health and nutrition. A couple of years ago, I “inherited” a great recumbent bicycle from a friend and am finding that it is a great way to exercise no matter what the weather is like. As a motivator, I have joined in with with the goal of logging at least 100 miles on the bike before April Fool’s Day. The bike time will also be a great way to catch up on some podcasts that I’m way behind with.

Be Photographing

 

 

I have always enjoyed taking pictures and since getting my digital camera 3 years ago I have enjoyed it even more. Stephanie and Margene have started 007 Snap a Dozen Days with the goal of each month blogging about a picture that sums up the month for you.

Be Colorful

  

Lolly has just posted the plans for Project Spectrum 2.0 – this year’s approach has opened a totally different way of looking at colors. Time to start planning the projects – knit and otherwise. I had projects I wanted to accomplish in ’06 which were pushed to the back burner once I started traveling for work.

Be Simple

  

While bouncing around blogs I came across a new web ring A Year of Simple Things. Over the course of this year I’ll be blogging once a week about a simple pleasure that happened within the week. I’ve blogged before about simple things that have made for a good day or weekend – this should be a fun way to keep focused on those things. (For details, click on the webring in my sidebar to the right.)

What will you “Be” in 2007?

Volume II

Happy New Year Everyone!

It has been one year since I started blogging here at Amy Artisan. I “discovered” the world of knit blogging in October 2005 – there was an article in The NY Times that talked about Major Knitter – I visited her blog and started clicking on her links to other knit blogs. I was hooked and decided that I wanted “a blog of my own.” Throughout the fall of 2005 I continued to read blogs and started researching the best way for me to blog. In November I claimed my URL.

Looking through this year in the blog here are some of the highlights:

  • The Knitting Olympics were a fun way to join the knit community in working on a personal challenge within a deadline. In 2007 I plan to knit another Capri shawl – looking at the currrent one I see several holes that I really shouldn’t have let remain in the project. I also enjoyed sharing the story of the Needlepoint Olympics that I grew up with – that entry was how I shared my blog with my parents.
  • Lolly’s Project Spectrum has had me looking at colors in a new way – in my knitting, in nature and all around. I look forward to what Project Spectrum 2.0 will hold in 2007.
  • Knitting for Others…In addition to knitting for family, friends & myself I have really enjoyed the opportunity to knit for others (Comforting Jef, Warming Grace, Papa’s Quilt, Comforting Jenn). In the coming year I look forward to more knitting for others.
  • We all remember our childhood books! The post that had the most comments was D.E.A.R. on Beverly Cleary’s birthday. In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing another childhood read memory & asking you to share yours as well.
  • Even though work had me on the road for a good part of the year I knit quite a bit! I think I knit more items this year than in all my previous knitting years combined. While I still haven’t conquered socks yet (a definite goal for 2007), I knit quite a variety of things: several scarves (5), a hat, 2 shawls, a poncho, lots of dishcloths(15+), wrist warmers, first forays into felting (clutch purse & several bowls), baby bibs (3), a lap blanket, a couple of baby blankets, the iPocket and Travel Pocket (small forays into designing), and a small forest of knit Christmas trees(6). The vast majority of these knits have been gifted to others – very few have remained with me.
  • In 2006 I also participated in the knit community - in person. Meeting Debbie Stoller at Arcadia Knitting, visiting several “new to me” yarn shops, Stitches Midwest (& meeting a swap pal), a yarn swap at Arcadia & meeting a couple of local knit bloggers, Bonnie Marie’s trunk show at Arcadia.

I’m normally don’t do a lot of the memes that make the rounds; however, this one was a fun walk through the past year. Here are the first sentences from each month of 2006:

  • January: Welcome to my latest endeavor…the Amy Artisan Blog!
  • February: Baa, baa, black red, white & pink sheep have you any wool?
  • March: (First I will divert your attention from the fact that I haven’t been able to start on my Project Spectrum Red & Pink items by sharing a picture of a stargazer lily that I took last summer when visiting a tulip farm in Holland, MI.)
  • April: As we move into the celebration of all things Orange & Yellow during Project Spectrum: April I thought I would share a mosaic of some orange & yellow Dale Chihuly glass from the exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in 2004.
  • May: The weekend road trip to Ohio was a lot of fun.
  • June: …46 hours to be exact – that’s the elapsed time between when the cab dropped me off on Friday evening & when the cab will pick me up on Sunday evening to head back to the airport.
  • July: Wishing you a safe & happy July 4th holiday!
  • August: While browsing through The New York Times yesterday one of the top articles I saw was about a favorite Southern California summertime event – the tableau vivant that is Pageant of the Masters.
  • September: Contrary to popular belief, I haven’t quite fallen off the face of the earth.
  • October: As my recent lack of blogging has shown, I’ve been pretty close to “lost in my work” here in Chattanooga since early August.
  • November: When Miss Butterfly lived in Chicago, we had a fall tradition of going to Didier Farms to get pumpkins and apples.
  • December: This was the knit project I took home to GA with me over Thanksgiving.

Looking ahead to this new year I have lots of Artisan things that I’d like to accomplish & I look forward to sharing them with you via this blog. Thanks for reading my insights into my artistic endeavors and other things this past year!!

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