Amy Artisan

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Category: Chicago (page 1 of 3)

Sounds of Thunder

As the holidays approach (seemingly very quickly this year!) there are many sounds that make up the soundtrack – favorite carols & holiday songs, the Salvation Army bell ringers, the crinkle of tissue paper and wrapping paper and more. This week, two different sounds of thunder were added to my holiday soundtrack.

The first sounds of thunder were Wednesday evening – at the final US tour stop of Celtic Thunder. After work I met my friend Elaine for dinner & then we headed to the show. We knew the seats were “in front” but we were both surprised when we “kept walking” down the aisle & into the orchestra pit where seats had been setup. We were in the second row – just right of center. When a couple sat down behind us, the woman commented “they are going to sweat on us.” While the seats weren’t quite that interactive we definitely felt a part of the show. Since it was their last show of the tour they hammed it up a bit with some of the songs & just had fun with it all. It was a very fun evening & just what I needed after the previous couple of days – thanks Elaine!

(Quick Shot + No Flash = Blurry Pic)

The second sounds of thunder were early Friday morning – being awoken by thundersnow & the sound of sleet pelting against the windows. This has been a tough weather week – ice on Monday morning, a four hour commute in the snow on Tuesday evening and then this latest round of snow, sleet & ice. With all the winter weather that we’ve experienced so far this month it seems like it should be February. Looking out the window on Friday morning I was grateful that I could work from home for the day!

The recent weeks have been filled with many unseasonal sounds around here and it seems like I have a ton of things to get done for the holidays. In a few days I look forward to the sound of “now boarding flight…to Atlanta” and spending some time at home with the family in the ‘Ville. Before that happens, this Sunday will be another favorite sound of the holidays – friends gathering at my house for my annual holiday tea.

Starting (Sock) Lineup

Throughout knitting blogs, October is better known as Socktoberfest – Lolly has been rallying knitters to a month of all things socks for several years. In 2006, socks still hadn’t clicked with me. Last year, I was working on my MTM Socks during the month. This year, even with other socks on the needles, I will be working on for a new pair of socks this month.

Last fall, I bought 2 skeins of Lorna’s Laces in the Cubby Bear colorway and added them to my stash. What a fun way to combine being a knitter and a Cubs’ fan! As the Cubs season unfolded this year, I thought that if they made it to the playoffs, I would bring out the yarn as a playoff knitting project. So, since the Chicago Cubs are the 2008 NL Central Champs and will be playing in October, it seems only appropriate to have my Cubby Socks be my Socktoberfest project.

I was wondering how the colorway would knit up so on Friday evening I started with one pattern and it appears to be a winner. This is my second time knitting up the Forward and Back pattern (rav only) – I still need to blog about the first pair, will do so sometime during Socktoberfest. So, the pattern was indeed a winner & I just kept going with it over the weekend. I’m just about ready to start the heel on sock #1.

Go Cubs!

More…Fiber…Folk…Fun!

 

This weekend was the 2nd annual Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair. Last year, it seemed like I stumbled on announcements about the fair and it was definitely a highlight of summer fun. This year, as soon as I saw the dates for the fair it was on my calendar. Saturday morning was rather rainy when I picked up Jen & Kristy – so we picked up our standard iced coffees and headed northwest – by the time we arrived at the fair the rain had stopped.  In addition to the vendors, these cuties were outside basking in all the attention.

With the new location and layout, vendors were spread out indoors and out. Our favorites from last year were mixed in among new discoveries. This year I ended up with quite a bit of fiber; however, each skein was unique in it’s own way & I’m looking forward to turning them into some fun projects. Among the spoils:

– A pair of Ohio Flats needles that Sistermaide debuted at the fair. These are so cool to knit with – they are flat instead of round needles which have a totally different feel to them – less stressful on the hands. (These are so new they aren’t on the website yet.)

Diann was back with her beautiful Creatively Dyed yarns. A skein of Ocean in a sage/rose overdye combo & a skein of her newest Woodbrook in the chocolate brown namesake color.

Brooks Farm: 2 skeins of their new Willow (wool & bamboo blend) and a skein of Four Play from the Widows & Orphans rack. Their Limited Edition III yarn is now a regular called Ellie – there were so many beautiful colorways that I may pick some up at Stitches Midwest next month.

HeavenSent Home Spun soaps & some roving from Esther’s Place – the 3 of us are planning to try making felted soap bars soon.

– A new discovery – Redfish Dye Works had beautiful skeins of silk dyed in just about every color of the rainbow. I picked a skein that reminds me of boysenberries.

– A skein of llama in Wedgewood blue from Rach-Al-Paca Farm. This yarn was spun from Zander – a 4-H show animal in Wisconsin.

I did pick up several other non-fiber finds; however, since I actually planned ahead & picked up a few gifts most of the pictures can’t be shown. I can show you one of my favorite finds of the weekend, some new art of my art wall in the living room.

– This little piece is from Sue Schneider (no website) – she had many beautiful oil paintings. Beautiful birds, detailed tea pots, gorgeous flowers & so many great fiber insired pictures. When I saw the colors of this one I knew it was coming home with me.

After we had our fill of fiber & folk art, we worked our way back to the city. Kristy had never been to Ikea – since she is leaving Chicago at the end of the month it only seemed right that we stop & let her experience it once.

All in all, a great day of fiber, folk and fun with friends!

A Mano

Handmade…

As someone who enjoys knitting and other handicrafts, it is obvious that I’m drawn to the handmade in life. The last week has provided me with an assortment of A Mano moments.

Stacey's Peru Hat

A co-worked recently returned from a vacation to Peru that included home stay lodging. As a way for the host families to recognize their guests, the mothers knit hats for everyone. Not only did the hat provide a signal in Peru, Stacey is using her hat to keep away the chill here in Chicago. I was in the office on Wednesday and had a chance to see this beautiful hat up close & personal. In a word – wow! The colors are so vibrant, the colorwork is so perfect. What a great way for her to remember this great trip.http://www.amyartisan.com/images/birthday_dinner_close.jpg This handmade colorwork piece is definitely something to aspire to.

Celebrating another year!

Another year, another birthday. To celebrate my birthday on Wednesday evening Greg, Jen, Kristy & I enjoyed a fabulous evening at a new restaurant in Chicago – A Mano. We were ‘drawn’ to the restaurant because it was part of the Bin 36 restaurants that we enjoy, it featured Italian food and they made many flavors of gelato in house. The evening didn’t disappoint. This is a great place to go with friends and share items off the menu – in fact, all of the pastas can be ordered as half portions – all the easier for sharing. As the name suggests, the menu focuses on the handmade – from the starters of celery root salad, prosciutto, mole salame and a lamb meatball/eggplant pizza to the hand-cut pastas (gnocchi, lasagna Bolognese, pumpkin ravioli, pappardelle with boar & raisins plus  a mushroom risotto) to the gelatos (we sampled chocolate, vanilla, chocolate-hazelnut, pumpkin, mascarpone, coffee, and a cranberry-apple sorbet) everything was delicious. They have a nice Italian wine list and were helpful in pointing us towards a “new to us” wine that we absolutely loved – a white Pinot Noir. Instead of a candle in the dessert, they brought out half glasses of a rose’ prosecco for us to toast my birthday – I thought that was a nice touch. It was an all around great evening and we all agreed that we needed to come back again soon to enjoy more of the A Mano specialities.

A baby blanket for Kristina

The last couple of weeks have been filled with some secret knitting. This weekend it was gifted and can now be revealed. My friend Kristina is pregnant with her first baby so one my Artisan Baby Blankets was in order. The gender of Baby C is not known so I went with a gender neutral color combo that also didn’t fall into the traditional baby colors. This blanket was knit with Cotton-Ease in the Violet & Almond colorways held together on size 10.5 needles. This was my first time working with Cotton-Ease and it was a great knit – I think it will be able to handle the task of being a well used baby blanket. I hear that the blanket is in the bassinet awaiting the arrival of Baby C.

With the holidays just around the corner my hands will be very busy in the coming weeks with the assorted handmade gifts that I’m hoping to finish up. (Hmm…my sweater may be taking a back seat to other projects for a while…) I also hope to spend some time in the kitchen making some handmade Christmas treats to share. What about you – what handmade experiences are you having these days?

Getting Crafty

How appropriate that after blogging about the sounds of summer this past week treated us to a taste of fall weather. And how better to spend a fall-like Saturday than at a fair? The Renegade Craft Fair was in town this weekend so that became the starting point for a fun Saturday with friends. After picking up Kristy & Elaine we headed over towards the fair. We spent several hours looking through all of the booths of fun, quirky, unique and beautiful items. While I didn’t leave with nearly as many things as previous fairs this summer I did pick up a few things as a jump start for Christmas gifts. (As such, they are tucked inside the cute zippered pouch that I picked up for me)

Renegade Loot

Our time on Division ended with a great mid afternoon meal at Aki Sushi. It was our first time at Aki and we weren’t disappointed with our order. Since we were feeling crafty we decided to check out a “new to us” local yarn – Knitwerks. For several months I had been wanting to check out this store and after hearing Lolly and Nova rave about it when they were in town I knew I needed to get there soon. All of the buzz that I’ve heard was right – this is a great addition to the Chicago yarn community. So many beautiful yarns and colors – you just want to touch it all. Cherrl was so welcoming and friendly – Kristy’s sandal had broken and she offered a nearby store to pick-up a pair of flip-flops, our next visit will need to include time to check out the nearby Italian cafe that she recommends. Of course, we didn’t leave there empty handed. Elaine discovered the beauty of Dream in Color yarn and picked up a couple of skeins – she isn’t sure if she is going to crochet a scarf or have me teach her to knit one. I also picked up some needed needles and also some yarn for gift knitting (so no pictures here).

Speaking of local yarns – have you seen KnitMap.com? It has just launched and aims to collect all of the local yarn shops in one “go to” site with ratings and comments from local knitters. As someone who travels a lot, this will be a frequently visited site. I’ve already added one of my favorite shops to the mix.

Saturday’s weather was perfect for revealing a new knit project. Earlier this summer I made a scarf as a gift for Elaine (either a very belated gift for her last birthday or an early gift for this year). I gave it to Elaine first thing and it turned out that it matched her turtleneck perfectly so it immediately was put to use. Introducing – Sage Friend:

A Sage Friend
The details: Midwest Moonlight from Scarf Style; 2 skeins of Baby Pima from Catalina Yarns; Size 10 needles; This was a very fast knit. The yarn was very soft and even after blocking it retained the softness.

There has been a lot of knitting happening around here in recent weeks. Some has been gift knitting so it can’t be revealed. Other items are ready to show.

First up: Silky Summer Scarf

Silky Summer Scarf
The details: Montego Bay Scarf from Interweave Knits, Summer 2007; 1 skein of Brooks Farm Yarn – Limited Edition 3 (picked up at Midwest Fiber & Folk Art in July); Named Silky Summer because of being a summer knit – which will keep me warm in the fall & winter. This yarn was such a treat to work with – it was so fun to see the colors change from one to another and also see the yarn change from really thick to really thin. I’m glad I picked up 2 more skeins of this for another project.

Next up: Knit for a Cure

Knit for a Cure
The details: Based on Bejeweled; 2 skeins of Lion’s Brand Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Strawberry; Size 13 needles; Knit in preparation for a Breast Cancer Awareness event. Stay tuned for details. This was my first time working with this yarn and it was great to work with – I think I might add it to my list of baby blanket yarns. The resulting scarf is so soft. As I’ve said before, the Bejeweled stitch pattern is a great go-to pattern and each time I knit it the result is beautiful – on the large needles this was a fast knit – I started & finished it this weekend while catching up on my Netflix.

During the odd bits of time & while watching movies at the theater I’ve continued to build up the dishcloth stash.

More Dishcloths

Many other projects are currently on the needles – including some holiday gifts (so no pictures). The knits that can be shown are very appropriate for this final month of Project Spectrum 2.0 – variations on browns.

Brown Knits

Chocolate & Spice Socks – my current “basic sock” (in Trekking XXL #183) that stays in the work backpack or purse; Celebration Tote – my latest felted bag starts with a lot of brown knitting.

While the list of projects I want to knit seems to be never ending it is nice to see projects get completed and come off the needles.

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