Archive for the 'knitting' Category

Too Big for Travel Knitting

July 13, 2017

I’m doing a fair bit of air travel this summer, flying down to Washington DC every week for a couple of days with a new client. Even though the good folks at JetBlue provide free in-flight wifi, making it easy to keep up with online work, there’s still a fair bit of “down time” — or as I call it — knitting time.

Thanks to multiple flight delays (runway construction and summer storms are the double-whammy of on-time travel), the lovely Woven Sky Throw is progressing nicely. I’m close to the final tier of triangles, which means there’s “just” the border to finish. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s gotten too big for schlepping around airports and subway trains.

Entrelac-throw-wip

So yesterday evening, I broke out the swift and ball winder and grabbed my two skeins of Anzula “Cricket.” After a few minutes, they went from this…

anzula-cricket-yarn

to this.

Anzula-cricket-yarn

Next step: casting on for the Spring into Summer Romper.

 

 

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Summer Romper for a Baby-to-be

July 5, 2017

I wasn’t really looking for a new project when I walked into Flock over the weekend, but it would have taken nerves of steel not to have purchased something. I know there are people who only knit one project a time — I even met a knitter who stated as much with great pride (stunning!) — but I’m not one of those knitters!

One of the employees at my local coffee shop is due with her first child at the end of August, and I’m a sucker for baby knits. I was tempted by the collection of cute toys in the shop window, but frankly, I was looking for something a bit simpler.

knit-toys

Then this adorable striped romper caught my eye. It’s OGE Designs’ Spring Into Summer Romper, available on Ravelry.

spring-summer-knit-romper

Sheila, who’d knit the sample, provided some additional notes for the pattern and a yarn recommendation. I don’t know if the B2B* is a boy or girl, so I chose a gender-neutral combination (even though I truly believe all colors are for everyone).

I decided on Anzula’s “Cricket,” a delicious DK blend of superwash merino with a touch of cashmere and nylon, in Gravity (gray) and Keola. Casting on will have to wait until I get home where my needles are. What’s on your needles these days?

anzula-cricket-yarn

* Baby-to-Be

Island knitting

July 2, 2017

One of the benefits of being a freelancer is that I can work anywhere there’s an Internet connection and phone service. I’m still developing the discipline to focus on work as needed and then shift to other priorities, like last week’s anniversary trip to New Hampshire, time with family and friends, or this weekend’s trip to our quirky old house on my favorite island.

angels-roost-barn

As soon as I board the ferry and feel the sea — waves and air — my entire being eases even if I’ve got deadlines looming. On my usual early morning run, I loop through streets and lanes that are mostly quiet except for the people whose work keeps the island running.

flags-path

[Speaking of people who “get the job done,” an aside: Just in time for Canada Day and the 4th of July weekend, my brother Luke dropped a bit of his usual brilliance on his blog with a perspective on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s just-released video from “The Hamilton Mixtape.”]

morning-cemetery

Lest you think I spend my time here working and running past cemeteries, let me introduce you to my local yarn store. Just around the corner from our house, in a former and much-loved bakery, stands Flock: A Nantucket Knit Shop.

Flock has everything you could want in a knitting shop, whether you’re a novice looking for a first project or an experienced knitter in search of a new pattern, kit, or just the right yarn for your next project.

flock-madeline-tosh

There are samples scattered about the shop, always good for turning that “I want to knit something” into “Ooooh, I want to make that!”

flock-nantucket-knit

What puts Flock into the category of great yarn store, in my mind, is the helpful, generous staff. When I visited yesterday, Sheila was in the sunny side room, helping a preteen knitter making a Seagull from one of the shop’s kits. You can see a couple of seagulls in the photo above — adorable!

nantucket-knit-shop-flock

She paused to give me a range of suggestions for a baby-to-be project, seamlessly figuring out my skill and comfort level without ever asking. Moments after I’d made my decision (more on that in my next post), a half dozen shoppers blew into the store, chatting loudly excitedly and tossing out questions. Sheila was calm, cool, and collected as she guided them to patterns and yarns. Although I slipped out before the group left, I’m quite confident they departed with just what they wanted and Sheila returned to Charlotte and her seagull-to-be.

If you’re on Nantucket, be sure to visit Flock. If you’re not lucky enough to get to the island, follow them on Instagram for knitterly inspiration.

 

Porch knitting

June 25, 2017

As the rain passed and the sky began to clear over the White Mountains, we spent a lovely hour or so of our anniversary weekend on the hotel’s big front porch.

About a dozen or so people sat in the white Adirondack chairs, in small groups or solo, chatting, reading, “phoning,” or just sitting.

As luck would have it, a fellow knitter appeared, swapping out her newspaper for circular needles on which was a cowl-in-progress, knit in a gorgeous variegated yarn of blues and speckles of green, black, yellow, and purple.

Of course, I had to strike up a conversation. It’s what knitters do. And like most knitters, Annie was more than happy to talk about her project, where she got the yarn (vacation to the Cotswalds in England last year), the other project she’s working on (a drapey cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed, the name of which escapes me and I’d get lost looking through their wonderful patterns), and her next project (Purl Soho’s Ombré Wrap).

Woman knitting on porch

I’m curious — when you see someone knitting, do you strike up a conversation?

Fiber on the Mountains

June 24, 2017

In celebration of our 25th anniversary, Patrick and I are spending a few days in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Our plans for hiking every day have been dampened a bit by a combination of rain, thunder, and lightning — not a good combination if you’re above the tree line!

Before a low elevation hike yesterday, we wandered into the hotel’s barn where we discovered dozens of fiber producers: sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, and a litter of six-week old rabbits.

alpacas

Before being spun into yarn skeins, the fiber is stored in bins, each labeled with the name of its “source.” Love the names: Frisbee, Mariposa, Chaplin, Millie, and Ginger.

fiber-bins-namedjpg

There’s a display of different fiber types, just around the corner from the alpacas and llamas.

Fiber lesson in the barn! Match the fiber with its animal source. And alpacas! #fiberart #knittersofinstagram #alpacas

A post shared by Mary Ann Hill (@saltwaterhill) on

As part of its programming, the hotel has needle felting workshops and demonstrations on turning sheared fiber into yarn (washing, carding, spinning — and everything in between). They also sell rovings, yarn in a variety of weights, felting kits, and felted insoles to keep your feet warm and cozy.

barn-fiber

Much to my delight, the hotel sells yarn from its own animals. I haven’t made my choice yet, so more about that in a future post.

 

 

 

Yarn Bomb in the Neighborhood

June 12, 2017

About a year ago, I decided that the street sign at the corner of our house was a good venue for a yarn bomb. Thanks to the city park across the street and our location near the town center, there’s lots of foot traffic — neighbors of all ages, dog walkers, commuters, soccer players and fans.

Some of my knitting students used extra yarn from their projects to create segments of what would become the knitted wrapping. If you look closely at the video, you can see “memories” of Rachel’s butterfly dishcloth and Monkey’s little sweater.

Spruced up the corner street sign. #yarnbomb #knitting #newtonma #makesmesmile #knittersofinstagram

A post shared by Mary Ann Hill (@saltwaterhill) on

As I was stitching the pieces onto the pole, about 10 people stopped to comment and ask questions. “What happens when it rains?” was the most common question. I tried not to sound snarky or dismissive when I replied, “It’ll get wet.”

Later in the day, my friend Elyse called as she was walking her dog. “Your yarn bomb makes me happy,” she exclaimed. I couldn’t agree more.

Intro to Entrelac

June 10, 2017

Over the past couple of months, my knitting focus has been on the public art, yarn bomb project at a nearby lake. While great in length (about 23 feet/7 meters in total, I think), it wasn’t particularly interesting knitting. I didn’t have an idea for my next project, but I was looking forward to it — whatever it was!

By good fortune, I spent a couple of hours with a dear friend who asked for my help in rescuing her project, a cozy entrelac throw for a granddaughter who will be heading off to college in the fall. In advance of my “house call,” I watched a couple of entrelac videos and fell in love with the geometry and construction.

As soon as I got home from our wonderful visit — I ripped and tinked while Barbara wove in ends (entrelac has lots of ends) — I found the Woven Sky Throw pattern and ordered four skeins of Universal Yarn, two each of English Garden and Silver Blush.

universal-yarn

I cast on pretty much immediately after the yarn arrived, just before Memorial Day Weekend. The ferry rides between Nantucket and the Cape provided perfect knitting time — accompanied by a tasty Whale’s Tail to start the summer off right. (Let’s not dwell on the cold, rainy start to summer that we’ve had here in Massachusetts, where it was 49F/9C for a couple of days last week.)

entrelac-ferry

I took advantage of a dishwasher dilemma to knit a few rows. Thanks to a wonky latch, the dishwasher door wouldn’t stay closed, so I pulled up a chair and applied some foot pressure. Voila! Clean dishes and another tier of entrelac triangles.

entrelac-ntkt

Yes, I recognize that this did not actually fix the dishwasher dilemma, but I’m OK with the short term solution. Besides, there was no way I’d get an appliance repair person to make a house call on the holiday weekend. Maybe the house elves will repair it before we visit again….

What’s on your needles these days?

 

 

How to Light a Fire Under a Knitter

May 26, 2017

Most of my afternoon knitting sessions with tween girls consist of a lively mix of joke telling, spontaneous singing and dancing, high volume stories of school, sports, and friends, and occasional knitting. I’ll often knit a row or round for every one they knit.

However, this week, I unconsciously threw down the knitting gauntlet (after all, who can knit with a gauntlet?!) and the results were remarkable. A couple of weeks ago, they’d started garter stitch headbands. Because she’d started earlier, Ella was a few inches ahead of Brigid, and I commented that she could probably finish that afternoon. “Do you think I’ll finish today?” asked Brigid. “I doubt it,” I replied.

Boom! The race began. United in their indignation that I’d doubted their abilities and ready for the challenge, their fingers flew. Progress was measured every two or three minutes.

Headband-measure

They helped each other with the decreases and i-cord. Ella was first to bind off.

Headband-bind-off

While she dashed off to change for lacrosse practice, Brigid zipped through the final few inches and sewed the ends together.

“YOU didn’t think we could do it, and we DID!” Delighted in their victory, they agreed to hold still for a photo.

B&E-headbands

They’re so awesome. I never doubted them for a minute!

Afghan Reunion

May 25, 2017

It must have been a change in the Knitting Force. That’s the only explanation for why Barbara awoke last week and thought, “What ever happened to my mother’s afghan that I dropped off before Thanksgiving with Mary Ann to mend?”

I’m convinced that my recent plea to you, dear reader, and to folks on Twitter and Facebook for help in finding the owner of this beautiful heirloom somehow generated enough good vibes to jog Barbara’s memory.

Into my email popped her message: “it’s so funny – I just woke up the other day and realized we never followed through with my mother’s afghan.” Very generous of her to say “we never followed through” when it was me who lost her contact information and was therefore unable to find her.

Afghan and Barbara were reunited yesterday afternoon (along with son Kevin). She’s delighted because her sister will soon have this treasured handknit, made by their mother, who died last fall. It fills my heart to know that I played a tiny role in making that reunion possible.

Afghan-found

 

Bike Rack Yarn Bomb

May 19, 2017

With all the rain we’ve been having this month, I’d been keeping my fingers crossed that nothing would be falling from the sky during my knitting girls’ field trip to install their yarn bomb. Fortunately, the bike rack that we wrapped was in a shady spot since Mother Nature gifted us a hot (93F, 34C) sunny day.

The first decision was what order to attach the 8 or 10 knitted segments, 7 inch wide rectangles of various lengths. Once each was pinned onto the rack, the installation began.

yarn-bomb-installation

crystal-lake-yarn-bomb

Each segment was stitched onto the rack, then the ends of the segments were connected so the rack was covered in one very long (about 23 feet, 7 meters) tube.

yarn-bomb-install

As always with 10- and 11-year old girls, the conversation was wide ranging and non-stop — mostly about the adventure at hand — and occasionally interspersed with outbreaks of singing!

  • “How long do you think this will stay here?”
  • “I really hope someone doesn’t cut this off or mess with it.”
  • “Is this art?”

The project is part of a city-wide Festival of the Arts, an annual event that usually includes some type of public art creation. This year’s public art is “Hooked on Newton,” a celebration of fiber via knitting, crochet, and (I’ve heard) tapestry that will be installed at a nearby lake. The first official installation is this coming Sunday, but we got permission from the organizers to decorate the bike rack on a week day, so the girls could participate.

They had a blast and were all justifiably proud of their creation.  Me, too.

yarn-bomb-girls

yarn-bomb-bike-rack

 

Lovely Afghan Seeks Owner

May 15, 2017

OK, this is embarrassing, but I’ve got to ask: Does this afghan look familiar?

Orphan-afghan

This hefty, cozy afghan has been in my house since October for a while, and I can’t for the life of me remember who brought it to me. In response to one of my knitting class notices, a woman contacted me to ask if I could mend an afghan that her late mother had knit.

Sure I can fix it, I replied confidently. She delivered the afghan to my house. I told her that I’d have it mended in a few weeks. She went home. The afghan sat on a table for about a month before I mended the broken seams, wove in a dozen or so ends, and gave it a nice bath and blocking.

When I went to email the owner to let her know her heirloom treasure was fixed, I couldn’t find her contact information. Anywhere.

“Did you check everywhere in your email?” well-meaning friends have asked. “Of course, I did” I shout in frustration reply. I’ve searched and searched and searched. Nothing.

My only consolation — which really isn’t much — is that the afghan owner (Brenda? Barbara?) has lost my contact information, too.

So I’m swallowing my pride and asking for any and all help from knitters and non-knitters alike, here in Newton, Massachusetts, and around the globe. Please share this post and photo and help reunite this beautiful handknit with its family.

Here it is again (just in case you misplaced the first photo) ;-)

Orphan-afghan

Nothing like finishing

March 31, 2017

Each Friday, I spend 90 minutes with 7 or 8 fourth grade girls at a nearby after-school program. I’m there to teach knitting, but mostly I just try to keep up with their questions, energy, anxieties, and aspirations.

“Help! I messed up! Oh wait, never mind.”

“I want to knit slippers. How many stitches should I cast on?” Said while holding nothing but a ball of Sugar ‘N Cream cotton yarn and size 7 (mm) needles

“I was going to go on the field trip today but my stomach hurt from worrying, so I decided to come to knitting instead.”

Last week, Lily finished the last couple of inches of a garter stitch scarf, a gift for her aunt who was coming over for dinner. Another knitter volunteered to model. I love her t-shirt — Try And Stop Me — which conveys the fierceness that so many 10-year-old girls possess.

Garter-stitch-scarf

As she carefully folded the scarf and put it into her backpack, Lily wondered aloud, “I hope she likes it. I know she likes these colors but will she like the scarf?”

“How could she not like it?” a fellow Fearless Knitter asked and then confidently answered her own question, “You made it and she loves you.”

So very true.

 

 

That Mistake? It’s Part of the Design.

March 29, 2017

I’ve written often about important it is for knitters to learn to spot their mistakes and figure out how to remedy them.  I firmly believe that one won’t become a Fearless Knitter without learning how to fix mistakes. If you allow an error to ruin a project — in your mind — then you’ll abandon it, be discouraged, and be less likely to try something else.

I’m also a firm believer in each knitter finding the best remedy for his or her particular project at the time. This will differ based on complexity, how far into the project you are, how long you’ve got to go, the scope and scale of the mistake (among other things).

How far back do you need to go to fix the mistake? How obvious is the error? It’s nearly impossible not to see an error — since we knitters can spot our own mistakes from across the room.

The real question is: How comfortable are you with letting go of a mistake and just letting it be? Every knitter has a different tolerance for mistakes, one that may vary depending on project, mood, and deadline for finishing.

Just as each knitter develops her or his own way of holding needles and yarn, there is no right or wrong way to handle a mistake. As The Yarn Harlot says, “there are no Knitting Police.”

Like me, Fearless Knitter Marcia is comfortable with finding her own way to deal with the inevitable mistakes. You may recall how she treated a few errant stitches  on the complex Aran Afghan square that she worked on during her girls’ fishing and drinking weekend.

At class recently, Marcia shared how she remedied a mistake in the button band of a baby sweater. See that row — opposite the button hole — that she forgot to purl (or maybe knit, depending on the direction)?

mistake in garter stitch button band

Well, Marcia didn’t see it until she’d knit a couple more inches of the top-down sweater. So, rather than rip back all that work, she incorporated the new “design element” into the rest of the button band, lining up the next line opposite the next button. Damn clever!

garter stitch button band with mistake incorporated

What mistakes and/or fixes have you been particularly proud of?

Good Day for a Baby Sweater

March 24, 2017

I haven’t knit anything baby-ish in a while, but the Gidday Baby sweater (Tosh DK in Leopard and Maple Leaf) and reminds me how enjoyable such projects can be. Starting with the first few rows of garter stitch in alternating colors, I was hooked.

gidday-baby-sweater-neck

My recent spate of travels gave me lots of opportunities to work on the sweater — with the exception of my ill-fated Kentucky trip during which I found myself without the necessary next ball of yarn. In case anyone’s still wondering, my suitcase did arrive at the hotel — about an hour before I checked out and headed for flight back to Boston. Better late than never and all that.

Once I’d cast off and woven in the few ends that remained, I tossed the sweater into the sink for a pre-block soak. I’m a full-water blocker, preferring it to steaming, assuming that I’ve got the time, which I generally do. After I patted it into shape, I left it in the sunshine for a while.

Gidday-blocking

Something was missing, namely a couple of tiny buttons to hold the yoke together. So the sweater and I spent about 15 minutes at a nearby yarn store trying on different buttons before deciding on these stylish, square-ish pair.

Gidday-baby-sweater-buttons

It’s all come together quite nicely, and I’m looking forward to walking it down the street to my newest neighbor.

Gidday-baby-sweater

 

 

Gearing Up for Yarn Bombing

March 20, 2017

You can imagine my delight when I learned that my city is organizing a yarn bombing as part of its annual, yearlong Festival of the Arts. Only they’re not calling it yarn bombing because, well, bombing is frowned upon.

With a much more PC tamer moniker, “Hooked On Newton” is a public art project, a collaboration of the Newton Arts Council and the Crystal Lake Conservancy. The lake — specifically, the picnic area and public beach — will be the palette for knit and crochet creations.

The best part is that anyone, even you, dear reader, can join in the fun. Send me something for the yarn bombing public yarn art, and I’ll be sure it gets “installed.” Heck, I’ll even take a photo and be sure you get due credit!

We’ve got a water theme — maritime and/or lake — but I don’t think anyone’s very picky about what’s included. Maybe some leaves? Or fish that could be stitched onto a fence or tree? How about this amazing duck? Speaking of trees, we’ll definitely be wrapping trees. Find me on Ravelry @saltwaterhill to see other patterns I’ve favorited or popped into my library.

bike-rack-yarn-bomb

Yarn Bomb Wrap a Bike Rack*

I’ve volunteered to lead the bike rack wrapping since it’s a great project for the 4th and 5th graders in my knitting classes. What do we need for a bike rack but a lot of scarf segments?

The lake has a wiggly bike rack like the one above although currently not wrapped and definitely covered by a fair bit of snow. We’ll collect all sections and install (by sewing) them sometime in May.

Here’s my bike rack wrap recipe:

“Scarves” that are 7 inches wide and any length. We need a total of 300 inches to cover one bike rack.

Knit with any colorful yarn (wool, acrylic, cotton). Change colors and/or yarns. Stripes are fun but not required.

Cast on enough stitches for 7 inch width. If you’re using:

  • Bulky/chunky yarn (approx 3-4 stitches/inch): cast on 21 or 22, use needle sz 10-11
  • Worsted/Aran yarn (approx 4-5 st/inch): cast on 28-35, use needle sz 7-9
  • DK/light worsted yarn (approx 5-6 st/inch): cast on 35-42, use needle sz 5-7

Use whatever stitch pattern you’d like. Bind off when you’ve knit as much as you want. Let me know when you’re done (via Ravelry, Twitter, or a comment here) and I’ll send the mailing address.

*try saying that 10 times fast!

How do other people do this?

March 3, 2017

Regular readers and those who know me “beyond the blog” know that knitting helps keep me balanced. I love the creativity and challenge, but the repetition and focus help to quiet my mind — and I’m convinced, make me a better person.

I love having something to concentrate on — to do — during life’s “down times.” Waiting for a medical appointment, watching TV, sitting around talking after supper, or riding a bus, train, or plane.

My daily morning run serves the same purpose — getting out by myself, moving, breathing. A psychologist friend once explained that I’m not “in relation” to anyone during that time — I’m not a mother, wife, daughter, consultant, sister — so I can just be me. Makes sense. As my favorite poet-artist, Brian Andreas of Storypeople, conveys in this “story” that hangs by our back door.

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-8-43-43-pm

Go to his site and look at the prints. They’re wonderful.

The power of these two habits has become abundantly and viscerally clear in the past day. I used the last of my yarn on the Gidday Baby sweater on yesterday’s flight.


I hadn’t brought the next skein from home. Ah well. I still had my book and running stuff in my bag, which I’d checked through to my “final destination” because the flight was totally full.

But my flight was canceled, and I ended up flying into another city and renting a car to drive to my “final destination.” However, my bag — which I’d taken a photo of just in case — never arrived.

 And, despite this lovely photo, it didn’t and still hasn’t. It’s not even been located, according to the automated customer service system.

So I find myself without my knitting, without my running stuff, without my clean clothes (except for new underwear from Walgreen’s – yes, 2 pack of cotton bikini), without my library book. Except for the undies, I haven’t had time to remedy any of these situations. I’m feeling the most out-of-sorts — downright cranky and occasionally weepy — that I have in quite a while.

So I wonder — after a very long and busy day, how do people do this life thing without knitting or running?

Knits for a New Life

February 28, 2017

There’s a new person our street, a baby girl born last month, and that is a cause for celebration! And how does (this) one celebrate a new life? By knitting something small that isn’t a pair of socks.

I showed what I consider remarkable fortitude by searching through my stash for yarn with which to make something for this new little one. It would have been much, much easier and more efficient to spend an hour at my local yarn store, perusing patterns and buying yarn. As much as I love to boost the local economy and support a local business, I’m trying to exercise some financial discipline when it comes to yarn. Plus there’s the space issue: how many plastic boxes of yarn can one person have?

I’d already decided against a traditional pink, preferring to go with a blend of bright and neutral colors. Gidday Baby by Tikki Knits seemed like the perfect match for the two skeins of Madeline Tosh DK that I bought last summer at the lovely fLoCk on Nantucket.

On my flight to Philadelphia this past weekend, I cast on and worked a few rounds.

gidday-baby-sweater-neck

Switching colors every two rows and bringing up the yarns along the side made for quick knitting. Of course, after two rounds of 20+ stitch increases, my pace slowed a bit. On the train down to Washington on Sunday afternoon, I managed a couple more rounds after doing some prep for client meetings.

gidday-baby-sweater-train

I think I’m going to like this project.

 

Midwest Travels with Son and Sock

February 26, 2017

Michael and I spent a busy few days in the Midwest last week, visiting a college for Admitted Students Day, driving about 600 miles, and exploring the Windy City during a freakishly warm spell. The sock joined us for the journey and, like our waist lines, got bigger.

We arrived in Chicago by way of New York (more on that weekend visit in a future post) and drove southeast through wind turbine-covered farmland in Indiana to the college town of Miami, OH. Dinner at a local sports bar made for a great evening of pro hockey, the NBA All-Star Blow-out Game, and people-watching. Michael wondered if the lively table near us were faculty. He was puzzled when I somewhat cynically told him that they were too young and too funny to be college professors. “Old?!” Ah to be 18 again…

oxfordoh-sportsbar

My plan to explore the campus during my morning run was stymied by the thick fog that had developed overnight. Beautiful and somewhat mysterious…

miami-ohio-fog2

The sock made its first appearance during one of the presentations, hanging out in the back row.

sock-heel-2017

I’m not coordinated enough to knit while walking on a campus tour, and deciding to be as non-embarrassing a parent as I could, chose to keep the sock in my bag for the rest of the day.

The next day, we retraced our steps to Chicago – the turbines not such a novelty the second time around. After checking in to our hotel, we walked to nearby Millennium Park, a civic treasure. Thanks to the warm weather, hundreds of people were out and about, enjoying the sunshine, skating at a public outdoor rink, and marveling the “Cloud Gate”sculpture, aka “The Bean.”

chicago-bean

I confess the view from underneath the structure made me feel a bit queasy when I looked up and turned to see the various angles and perspectives.

inside-chicago-bean

Watching people interact with the sculpture was an unending source of amusement. Little kids were the most fun to watch, but I didn’t want to alarm parents by photographing them.

chicago-bean2

Fog rolled in overnight, this time from Lake Michigan, hanging low over the city before burning off by our mid-morning hop-on/hop-off bus tour.

chicago-fog

We stumbled upon the Chicago Cultural Center, a totally unexpected surprise. Housed in the former public library, the building is exquisite — as late 19th century public libraries often are — with inspiring quotations, soaring ceilings and domes, stained glass, and broad marble staircases. Dozens of people were seated as a pianist warmed up for a free lunchtime concert.

In a large gallery space, we wandered through a stunning exhibition of muralist Eugene “Eda” Wade’s doors for Malcolm X College, a collection of 16 sets of your standard issue school hallway double doors that are considered a monument to the Black Arts movement in Chicago.

murals-chicago

wade-murals

Another hop-off location of our day was Navy Pier where we rode the giant ferris wheel, formally called Centennial Wheel. The views of the city and lake were breathtaking — not so surprising since we were 200 feet above ground. I was too busy looking to take photos on our three-times-around journey, but Michael graciously shared some screen shots of his Snapchat video. I like the reflections in this one.

chicago-wheel

We spent the evening at the famed Second City comedy club, laughing (occasionally snorting, I admit) until tears ran down our cheeks at the six professionals who did sketch and improv comedy for 2.5 hours. Deferring again to my parental role, I did not knit during the show.

My run along the lake the next morning was crisp and fog-free.

chicago-sunrise

By the time we landed in Boston, the sock was ready for the toe to be seamed. I decided to wait until home for that final step — the Kitchener stitch requires my full concentration!

knit-socks-plane

What’s up in your world these days?

Quick Knit for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2017

Whew, I made it just under the wire! Ok, ok, there’s no wire. Valentine’s Day is not a big holiday in my family. We’re firm believers in expressing love every day in ways large and small, and yes, with chocolate at any time of the year. But with all the cute heart-shaped knitting projects around, I wanted to make something. I’ve done it before, and I was determined to do it again.

About an hour before I headed off to teach knitting to two zippy fifth-grade girls, I cast on for a soft heart ornament, Amanda Berry’s “Hearts.”  I’ve got a fair bit of pink yarn left over from my Pussy Hat projects, so I gathered two strands of pink fingering and dove in.

This heart is knit in one piece and looked a bit odd once I’d cast it off.

knit-heart-before-seam

I’m a visual learner and pretty good with spatial manipulations, so it took just a couple of moments to realize that the sides folded in on itself — kind of like a hug.

knit-heart-sew

A few stitches here and there, and I was done.

knit-heart-ornament

Maybe next year I’ll prepare sooner and knit a few of these to slip to loved ones. Ah, why wait until next year?! I’ve got plenty of pink yarn….

Any Valentine’s Day knits in your life this year?

 

 

One Down, One to Go

January 30, 2017

Now that I’ve got a sock project on my needles, I realize how much I enjoy knitting them. It took me ages to make my first pair — not to actually make them but to tackle the project. Looking back, I realize that all the features of socks that I loved in that first pair still hold true nearly six years later.

You finish the top ribbing and it’s on to the leg.

felici-sock-yarn-jan-2017

Before you have time to get bored with the rounds of stockinette (or whatever pattern you’ve chosen), it’s on to the heel flap. I’m partial to the Eye of Partridge stitch.

 

striped-sock-knit-heel

Since learning new techniques or patterns is part of what makes knitting so enjoyable, I think I may try a new heel on my next pair. Maybe an After Thought Heel? I like the idea of making a solid colored sock with a contrasting heel and toe. Plus anything created by knitting great Elizabeth Zimmerman must be worth a try.

That’s for another day and another pair. This one — and it is only one at this point — will be my go-to Good, Plain Sock Recipe from the Yarn Harlot.

krd-striped-knit-sock

Kevin, the intended recipient of this pair, has voiced texted his approval: “It looks great!! I like the colors.” It goes without saying that he’d like a pair rather than one, so I’d best cast on the next one lest I be hit with Second Sock Syndrome. Don’t laugh — it’s a thing.

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