Amy Artisan

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Category: Chicago (page 2 of 3)

Sounds of Summer…(& Socks, Too)

Hibiscus Bloom

…the buzz of the air conditioner
…the gentle whir of the ceiling fans
…the repeating song of the neighborhood ice cream truck
…this year, cicadas
…ice cubes clinking in a glass of iced tea
…the sprinklers watering the lawns
…the neighborhood kids playing outside till well after dark
…lawnmowers starting
…fireworks being shot off by neighbors
…summer rainstorms – some (or a lot this year) with thunder & lightning

…songs under the stars…

With all of my work travel last summer it seemed like I didn’t hear a lot of the sounds of summer. Being back home in Chicago this summer has meant the opportunity to hear many sounds. In addition to the “routine” sounds of summer, a few summer evenings have been spent at favorite outdoor concert venues.

In June, my all time favorite band, Pink Martini, finally played at Ravinia Festival. (when I first heard them 5 years ago I immediately thought they would be a great act for this fun summertime venue) It was a perfect Chicago summer evening for this concert. Seven of us brought our folding lawn chairs, blankets and all the fixings for a simple picnic spread – while waiting for Pink Martini to take the stage, I did some sock knitting. By the time the first band took the stage the lawn was pretty filled; however, many people left after Arturo Sandoval – all the more room to spread out and enjoy the show.

In July, The Decembrist’s were in town playing with the Grant Park Orchestra at Millennium Park. Rain threatened as we gathered on the lawn to picnic – the first 30 minutes or so ended up being rainy but that didn’t stop the fun. The lawn was packed with concert goers. As the final song was being performed another storm came in so the music was accented with thunder & lightning that only added to the effect. As we headed for the parking garage after the show the sky opened up.

This week allowed for one last summer outing to Millennium Park – The Joffrey Ballet performed to the tunes of The Beach Boys, Motown and Prince. After a teasing rain shower as we headed to the park the evening turned out to be perfect weather for show. I love to watch the lights of the city come alive through the canopy of the Pritzker lawn.

The Joffrey @ Millennium Park
(more pictures here)

As I’ve listened to the sounds of summer I have been knitting away on my “summer socks” that I started back in May. While enjoying the ballet this week I finished up the second sock (actually, all but the Kitchener on the toe but by then it was too dark to do it). These are the 3rd pair of socks that I have made – again using the 2 circular needles method. This time I used size 1 needles and did a 4×2 rib pattern & continued it around the entire foot. I picked up this yarn (ONline Supersocke 100 Summer Color) on my first visit to My Sisters Knits, right after I started blogging, I loved the colors on the skein and as the stripes appeared during the knitting process I loved the colors even more. The colors of these socks remind me of the colors of my pot of portulaca on the back deck.

Summer 2007 Socks

Before long the seasonal soundtrack will change and the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot will become a loud chorus. This fall as I crunch through the leaves I will be wearing handknit socks for the first time – I can’t wait.

Of course, I have another sock on the needles – actually I started it about a month ago. This time, I’m using an “actual” pattern – Ampersand and am loving how the tvyarn is knitting into the sock so far.

MTM Socks

What sounds are “the sounds of Summer 2007” for you?

Face to Face

In addition to being a place to write about my artistic endeavors and other things, one of the perks of blogging is making many new friends “in the virtual world” and on occassion I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of these friends in person.

This week provided me with a triple blogger encounter. First up, meeting up with Lolly, who was in town for a conference. (It turned out that her conference hotel was right next door to my current project site.) Lolly was one of the first bloggers that I started reading as I was contemplating joining the blog world so I was thrilled to hear that she was coming to Chicago & that our schedules allowed us to meet-up. On Sunday evening we met up for dinner – we went to one of my favorite places, Reza’s Restaurant, for a delicious spread of Persian food. After dinner we walked back through the city and I played a bit of tour guide, pointing out buildings & interesting facts along the way. What’s a knitter meet-up without knitting? We ended our evening working sitting, knitting & chatting. Lolly was working on the beautiful Malabrigo sweater and I also got to see the beautiful purple shawl that accompanied her on her recent Peru adventures. It was a lovely evening of conversation and friendship – because of blogging, this felt like catching up with an old friend rather than meeting one for the first time.

As the week progressed we made plans to visit The Field Museum on Friday morning – my work schedule allowed me to take the day off which meant I had a chance to be a tourist in my own town. What started as one plan for the morning turned into a full day of fun! The weather was ideal for walking along the lakefront to the museum, so Lolly & I set out for the museum with Nova, Paige & Cynthia (fellow conference attendees).

A stroll along the lakefront

Along the way we had fun seeing the current Chicago public art installation, Cool Globes.

A few Cool Globes

Right in front of the Field was the perfect globe for the knitters among us – Adjust the Thermostat by Lindsay Obermeyer – a globe that had been covered in a handknit sweater.

Knit Friends

(all pictures here)

We spent several hours wandering through the exhibit halls – it had been several years since I had been the museum so it was great to see it again, it is truly a museum that never fails to be enjoyable.


My favorite exhibit of this visit was Plant Portraits: The California Legacy of A. R. Valentien – I was unfamiliar with this artist but the combination of botanical prints & a focus on California was a great combination for me.

California Oak

Before long it was time to head back to the hotel – while everyone was in their afternoon sessions I passed the time with an iced coffee, a new magazine and some knitting (of course). After their afternoon conference sessions wrapped up, several of us piled into a cab for a bit of local yarn – a trip to Loopy Yarns. The collective purchases were minimal – mostly some magazines, a few supplies and some sock yarn.

The evening included a reception at Millennium Park. When that was over, it was time for more knitting. Lolly, Nova & I sat in the hotel lobby to knit and were soon joined by Rebecca. What started out as “oh, just a quick bit of knitting before calling it an evening” turned into several hours of knitting and great conversation. As we called it an evening we were able to get a quick picture of all of us with our projects.

Knitting in the lobby

Thanks girls for letting me hang out with you for the day – what a fun way to start off a holiday weekend!

Seasoned Stitchers

As you may have read on other blogs, Stitches Midwest was in Chicago this weekend. So for the third Saturday morning this summer, I picked up iced coffees & my knit pals, Jen & Kristy, and headed out for some fiber fun.

When we arrived at Stitches last year I think “overwhelmed” was a very accurate word to describe our collective reaction to everything. This year, all three of us were much more prepared to make our way through the offerings. Since the Fiber and Folk Art Fair last month, we each had spent some time coming up with supply lists so that our shopping had purpose. After three hours in the marketplace we all were pleased with our purchases.

Handles Haul

Among my purchases – some leather bag handles from Homestead Heirlooms. The brown handles are for my stash bag that has been “in progress” for way too long. It is finally felting today & should be put into use soon. The pink handles are for my next felted tote project – which includes the brown and pink wool I picked up at the Webs booth.

Button Stash

A stop into the Color In Stitches booth yielded quite a stash of buttons. The best find was a semi-hidden basket of vintage buttons – there were all sorts of fun shapes, colors, sizes & the prices were some of the best I’ve seen for vintage things. I don’t have projects in mind for them but they will definitely serve as inspiration.

Brooks Farm Blue

Last month I picked up some Limited Edition 3 yarn from Brooks Farm that is becoming a Montego Bay scarf. It is a beautiful yarn that ebbs and flows from thicker to thinner weight. This weekend I picked up 2 additional skeins in a beautiful blue – I plan to turn this into Nereides.

Blueberry Mix yarn

My biggest purchase was also one that I never thought I’d make – yarn for a sweater for me. I picked up a beautiful Berreco Ultra Alpaca in Blueberry Mix at Webs. Stay tuned for details as I venture into my first sweater project this fall.

Button Yarn & Buttons

The last purchase of the day was at Black Water Abbey. I was immediately drawn to this Butter color. Last year I purchased the Seafoam color which has stayed in my stash – so I’m thinking of a project to incorporate both yarns. And these buttons were too cute to pass up. At the Black Water Abbey booth it was also fun to reconnect with Judy, my Vacation Knit Swap pal from last summer.

While wandering the aisle we stopped by to say hi to Jack & Kim at the Sit & Knit/Cast On, Bets Off booth where Jack was busy signing copies of the mystery the entire time we were chatting with them.

This year Stitches was sharing the convention center with a Wizard World convention – which yielded some extreme people watching opportunities. As we left the Marketplace, (classic) Batman & Robin got on the escalator in front of us. Jen’s husband Greg is a huge Batman fan – so it was only fitting to quickly get this picture with my cell phone.

As we headed back to the car – still giggling from the Batman picture which we emailed to Greg from the parking deck – we all were pleased with our purchases and joked that we were indeed Seasoned Stitchers with how we tackled the marketplace this year with purpose.

The day ended at Jen’s with Thai food, a movie, and of course knitting. I refrained from casting on any of the new purchases – rather I spent most of the evening working on a project with yarn from last year’s Stitches stash.


Within the last couple of weeks, I started seeing mention for the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair on a few blogs. When I checked out the website it sounded like a perfect way to spend a Saturday. The fair was this weekend and it turned out to be not too far from a BBQ that was already on the calendar for later in the evening. Saturday morning I picked up my knit gals, Jen & Kristy, and we pointed the car towards Crystal Lake.

In a word – WOW! Where to start with describing this great event? Several times throughout the day we commented that we just couldn’t believe that this was the first year for the fair – everything was so well organized. There were 4 large tents filled with vendors. The mix of vendors was great – a lot of fiber options but also a lot of “non-fiber” choices. Looking through my bag of purchases, the yarn was kept to a minimum. Among the spoils:

A sheep and yarn bowl from Jennie the Potter . Have you seen her adorable knit themed pottery? She’s a knitter as well as a potter and while at a knitting event someone suggested that she incorporate knit motifs into her work. This bowl is glazed with a pale green & the sheep & yarn are navy blue. She also has a cute needle & thread motif and some beautiful nature motifs. I would love to pick up more pieces of her work in the future. These tulip coasters are leftover weavings from SAORI Freestyle Weaving Studio.

Creatively Dyed Yarn – In the last couple of months I’ve seen blog mentions about this beautiful yarn. Seeing all of the colors in person – they were so bright and fun. I went outside my normal zone twice with this selection – first with the curly yarn and second with the color choice. I think this will become a simple triangle shawl. This year’s limited edition yarn from Brooks Farm is 50% wool and 50% silk and oh so lovely. This skein is filled with taupe, pale aqua and a dusty lavender. I think this skein may become a Montego Bay scarf for me.

This bunch of corn is actually 3 mini baskets tied together with raffia from Basket Beginnings. This will be a fun autumn decoration to use for years to come & the colors go great with my terra cotta walls. I picked up the pattern for the wool felt candle mat from In The Wool – it looks like a simple pattern that will be a fun diversion from knitting and a great gift idea.

A simple note card with woven fabric on the front – picked up from Biggie. Some wonderful soaps from HeavenSent HomeSpun.

Jack & Kim Olesker had a booth & were signing copies of Cast On, Bets Off – it was great to see them since they were out of town when we were in Michigan last month. The book continues to do well and there is movie news on the horizon – talk about the ultimate knitflix!

What is a summertime fair without fun food? The Beer Garden had several local restaurants provide all sorts of fun choices – our lunch included Hong Kong chicken with fried rice, pulled pork BBQ, a shrimp taco, kabobs and peroigies. When we were done shopping we chilled with delicious mocha granitas from Conscious Cup while listening to the tunes of the Long Gone Lonesome Boys.

When it was time to leave we all had bags full of treats – yarn, notecards, and more. Kristy did a needle felting sample and became hooked on the craft so she stocked up on supplies – I see some creative felting happening in the coming weeks.

We all agreed that this was a lovely event & look forward to making it an annual tradition!

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!

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