Amy Artisan

Family | Travel | Craft | Life | Books

Month: January 2008

Blooms & Blossoms

I have always liked flowers – both in nature and in art. Whenever I visit a museum I’m apt to pick up a postcard or print of any flower art that I’ve seen. On one bedroom wall is a collage of assorted prints from Redon, Renoir, Redoute and Cezanne. In the dining room, the floral bouquets of Jan van Huysum decorate the walls. When I see these prints I’m reminded of fun trips to the National Gallery of Art, the Getty Museum, and more. When given the chance, I enjoy planting flowers outside & watching them bloom. Summer visits to the farmers market mean coming home with armloads of assorted flowers & making flower arrangements to enjoy inside.  Trips to the botanic gardens in Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas have been filled with fun times and photo ops with family and friends. Sunflowers always make me smile.

This time of year, I enjoy watching amaryllis (actually hippeastrum), paperwhites and hyacinths bloom indoors.  This week it has been fun to see the 3 blooms emerge from this year’s bulb. The cheery red blooms brighten the room.


 Cheery Blooms

As the blooms have been growing in my living room, blooms and blossoms have also been growing from the knitting needles.

 Bloomin' Baby Hat

Bloomin’ Baby Hat

A friend is having a baby girl in a few weeks. I wasn’t able to make it to her baby shower; however, this little hat was there. Since Baby T will be joining a big brother I knew I wanted to give a decidedly girly gift & I wanted to branch out from the standard baby patterns that I’ve done before. Enter Ravelry – a search on baby items yielded the hat pattern. With the pattern in hand I dove into my stash & found a fun yarn combination. Within an evening the hat was on & off the needles. Once it was finished I knew it needed a little “something” extra – the original plan was to crochet a few flowers to add to it. Instead I knit a morning star flower from the pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts and then attached it to the hat with a button I had pulled from Grandma’s button box.

Details: Lilly Hat by Larissa Brown; Jaeger Matchmaker Merino & Koigu Kersti held together on size 9 DPNs.

Cherry Blossom Neckwarmer

Cherry Blossoms Neckwarmer

When I was in My Sister’s Knits earlier this month I saw this yarn & immediately thought of cherry blossoms. Many people think of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC each spring – my first thought for Cherry Blossoms is Macon, GA – in high school and college the Artisan family always enjoyed the great festival that celebrated the early blooms of spring. My original plan was to knit the skein into the Ribs & Ruffles scarf from the vendor website. Once I got the yarn home and was looking through my Ravelry queue I decided that a neckwarmer would be a great use for the yarn.

The details: Cherry Garcia from Hello Yarn; Misti Alpaca Chunky handpainted on size 10.5 DPNs.

Before too long, it will be time to pick up tulips from the store & bring cheer to the house…and then it will be time to think about what gardening will occur on the deck and in the flowerbed this year.


When I started blogging in 2006, I found several blogs that I read were participating in an ABC-along. I was intrigued by the idea – so when I saw that another round was planned for 2008 I knew it was an “-along” that I wanted to join. I don’t know how many “-alongs” I will join this year but this is one that I look forward to working through. For some letters I already know what I will post – for others it’s still a mystery what I will blog.

A is for ALIAS

A is for Alias

(You thought I would pick Amy or Artisan, didn’t you?)

In 2001, I remember seeing the ads for a new show called Alias and I thought it looked like something I would be interested in watching – little did I know…

I was home for the weekend in the ‘Ville when Alias premiered at the end of September, 2001 – so Artisan Dad watched the premiere with me and we both were immediately hooked on the show. It quickly became a routine that on the morning after an episode I would call Dad during my commute and we would talk all things Alias – the gadgets, the plot, the twists, the family relationships, the time warps that allowed them to travel around the world & back in seemingly the same day, etc.

Throughout the seasons this was a “never miss” show for me. If I wasn’t home the VCR was in action. When I met Jen & Greg we quickly discovered that we were all Alias fans – so there were times when a tape was passed around to catch up on a missed episode.

Fast forward to Season 4 – Maya was still in Chicago and I got her hooked on the show. Most Wednesday evenings I would go over to Maya’s to hang out with her & Miss Butterfly while Matt was out playing basketball with the guys. After dinner and some playtime we would put Miss Butterfly to bed & then watch Alias. To catch up with the show, Maya & Matt borrowed my DVDs of the earlier seasons and eventually Matt’s parents got hooked on the show as well.

As Season 5 was coming to an end I was just starting my project in Chattanooga. It was only fitting that I was able to watch the series finale with Artisan Dad back in the ‘Ville (we both weren’t around on the evening that it aired and so watched the tape the following weekend when I was home for Memorial Day).

As a fan of Nancy Drew and Wonder Woman as well as mystery/intrigue novels (including some Tom Clancy) it seems like the next step in the entertainment evolution that I would have latched onto this series. The seasons on DVD are in my “go to” rotation when I want something in the background during a rainy/snowy day inside knitting. Every so often I’ll encounter something in everyday life that will remind me of something from the show – for example, whenever I see someone talking on the phone in a parking deck I wonder if they are really on the phone or just trying to not stand out (a key scene from the pilot episode).

When I saw this yarn, even though the colors are not quite me I knew I would knit it up – it is the Alias colorway from the TV Yarn collection. In keeping with the A – it only made sense to knit up the Ampersand pattern. It has been fun to see how this colorway plays with the pattern – the white/gray/black is spiraling around the sock to break up the bright colors. In the dreary mid-winter days this colorway is a cheerful diversion.

In the Neighborhood

Books (especially fiction) are often viewed as an escape from our surroundings into another world. However, sometimes the books that you read are set in your city, your neighborhood, your familiarity. These can be fun reads as well – allowing you to look at something familiar through a new light. I’m currently reading a book that is set in my neighborhood – it got me thinking about some of of the other neighborhood reads that I’ve enjoyed throughout the years. Let’s take  a stroll through the neighborhoods…

 Fayetteville Mural

(Mural Photo from here)

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – I read this my freshman year of high school when we still lived in Kansas. Not too long afterwards Mom & Dad took us to a special showing of the film adaptation in the movie theater. Within 2 months Dad came home from work one evening and announced that we would be moving to Georgia – at which point he started humming the Tara theme from the movie. It turns out that we moved right to heart of GWTW country when we moved to the ‘Ville.  We were right around the corner from Lovejoy & the mythical Tara was practically in our back yard. This story came full circle in high school when our marching band show my senior year included Tara’s Theme as a selection.

Mercer's Administration Building

Whisper of the River by Ferrol Sams – As a freshman preparing to start at Mercer Univeristy this was required reading. This is the 2nd in a trilogy of books about a small town Georgia boy and his adventures through college and medical school. The school is a fictional representation of Mercer University – so reading about the exploits of Porter Osborne is like being on the campus decades ago. As I became involved on campus I learned more & more about which fictional item corresponded to which reality of campus. It was a rite of passage to climb the rickety ladder in the attic of the administration building to view the city from the tall spires. My sophomore and junior years I was an orientation assistant and always enjoyed the book discussions with the new students. The main character, Porter Osborne, is based on the author – who actually is from the ‘Ville – in fact, the high school auditorium was the Ferrol Sams auditorium and his wife was my doctor in high school.

Chicago Skyline

Many books are set in Chicago. Among the recent (last couple of years) Chicago reads that were very familiar: Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is filled with the sites and sounds of Chicago that I encounter on a regular basis. Early in the book the main characters eat at their favorite sushi restaurant which is practially around the corner from my house – one of these days I will check it out. Set in the late 70s into the 80s, Crossing California by Adam Langer sheds some light on what my neighborhood was like years ago – many of the frequently visited locations in the book are still here – the high school, the hot dog stand, etc. The Yada Yada Prayer Group series by Neta Jackson is set here on the Northside of Chicago within the last couple of years so the referenced restaurants, shops, etc. are places that I have been to or driven by often and the characters in the stories seem like women I could meet at my church.

What in the neighborhood books have you read?

Keeping Warm

The new year came in with a gust of COLD air – the wind chills stayed south of 0 for a couple of days and so many methods are needed to keep warm when venturing outside.

Method 1: A new scarf around the neck.

Earth Foam Hat

I have been able to fight off the chill with a new scarf – my last finished project for 2007.

The Details: Easy Drop Stitch Scarf Pattern from Frazzled Knits; The Knittery 4 Ply Sock: Merino & Cashmere in the Earth colorway. Size 10 1/2 needles. When I received this yarn from Camee in the Knitters Tea Swap 4 I knew that it was too pretty to hide in shoes – a scarf was in order. I had initially planned to make the Morning Surf Scarf with this yarn. Both of these scarf patterns are based on the seafoam stitch. The “deciding” factor was that the Easy pattern had an 8 row repeat versus a 12 row repeat – heading into my Christmas vacation the 8 rows seemed easier to memorize. So, I knit the first 8 rows while waiting for my taxi to head to the airport – once through security, as the flight was delayed about 4 hours I continued to work on this scarf and when we finally boarded the plane I had about 20″ complete. I knit on this while at home with the family and then once I was back in Chicago it finished up quickly. To block this scarf I used my new blocking wires – wow! It was so much easier than the myriad of pins that I’ve used in the past. I love the colors of this scarf! This scarf looks great with my assorted winter coats and will get a lot of use this winter.

Method 2: A new hat to keep the head covered.

Simple Soot Hat

I had a charcoal yarn in my stash that I thought would make for a nice complementary hat for the new scarf. Since the scarf had more detail I wanted a simple hat.

The Details: Ribbed Hat from One Skein Wonders; Sugar Bunny Boulevard Sock Merino in Soot; size 6 needles; yarn held double. A quick pattern that yielded a soft and squishy hat in just a few hours. I think I have enough yarn left over to make another hat – maybe a gift? Holding the yarn double provided an interesting play of the charcoal and gray subtleties in the yarn.

Back Half of Sweater

While staying warm, I have finished the back half of my (first!) sweater. Now it’s on to the front half of the sweater. Since the two halves are identical to the neckline I made notes of the exact row counts through each section so that they will match up when I go to seam them up. This has continued to be an enjoyable knit – I have made a few mistakes that involved ripping back a couple of rows – these were definitely user errors.

In addition to the new handknits to keep me warm outside, I’ve stayed warm at home with older handknits – my Fetching mitts have kept my hands warm & my 2nd pair of handknit socks have been paired with my new slippers to keep my warm.

Yesterday I made a trip to My Sister’s Knits to pick up some yarn for a secret knit to provide some comfort and warmth. A quick visit to the store lasted several hours – as is often the case, a common thread of knitting allowed for lots of conversation with the other customers there: Ravelry, favorite patterns, providing first hand reviews of many of the gorgeous yarns in the store.

In true Chicago weather fashion, this weekend is quite a warm up from the bitter cold of a few days ago – today we hit 60 and all of the snow from the previous 10 days has melted away. Also in true Chicago weather fashion, I know that the handknits will be needed before too long to keep me warm outside once again.

What keeps you warm these days?

A New Year…

…A New Volume for the Amy Artisan Archives.

Two years ago I dipped my toes into the world of blogging with my first post. And so, with the start of the new year it is the start of the third volume of my blog.

Looking through my posts in 2007 is an enjoyable walk through the year. A common thread throughout the year is a sense of community: less time on the road for work meant more fun times with family and friends; participating in several “knit for others” opportunities allowed me to be a part of a larger community of knitters providing comfort for others; knit fun through book readings/signings, fiber festivals, and meeting knit blog friends; learning more about my community of readers with a few “share your favorite…” contests; and all sorts of other fun times.

2007 Fun!

Without a doubt, 2007 was filled with the most knit stitches for me to date. September marked 10 years since my first dishcloth. Looking through my projects in the past year I see quite a variety of projects – including some that I never thought I would do. A quick summary of the stitches: 9 scarfs; 4 pairs of socks; 4 pairs of fingerless mitts; 2 hats; 2 Halloween Hats; countless dishcloths; 1 baby blanket; 3 accessories; a forest of knit trees; 3 “knit for others” projects; and the start of my first sweater. Oh, and I learned how to crochet; however, I haven’t done much with it since the last class back in February.

2007 Knits

As I take down the Christmas decorations and start using the new calendars today, I look forward to what the new year holds. The transition from 2007 to 2008 was pretty low-key – an evening of homemade goodies, fun tv/dvd choices and knitting with a friend. The knitting was focused on the sweater – after watching the Rose Parade this morning I am close to finished with the back of my sweater. It has been a gray day all day & not conducive to pictures – pictures of sweater progress and my last 2007 FO (my Christmas travel scarf) will have to wait for another day.

P.S. With a new year I thought it was time for a new look here at the blog. I’m still working on the header – so the image may be changing; however, for now I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures – a quick pic of I Faraglioni off the coast of Capri from summer 2005.

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