Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I got an email over the weekend that stopped me dead in my tracks. My big brother and his wife are having their first baby!

You're probably thinking to yourself, what's the big deal? People have babies all the time. What's she got her knickers all bunched up about?

You're absolutely right to think that. My extended family is all about the babies lately. Two of my nephews have added to their families this year and one of my nieces is expecting right around the same time as my brother. We're lousy with little ones in this family.

But, for some reason this one seems extra special. I guess it's because it came out of left field. No one ever thought he was going to have kids. He didn't marry until he was 50 and they always said that kids weren't in the plans. But babies don't always play by the rulebook do they?

So, more baby knitting for me. Since I've made several sweaters lately, I decided to do a blanket this time around. After a couple of false starts, I've settled on OpArt from Knitty.

Next up was color. Just about the time I was heading over to the broken bags shelf, I found Emily rummaging around in there. She pulled out skeins of Shepherd Worsted in Courage and Douglas Fir and exclaimed how pretty they looked together. She was right. And they're perfect for this project because we don't know the gender of the baby.

This isn't the greatest representation of the colors. They are both deeper and richer, particularly the Douglas Fir. But, it'll give you an idea of where I'm headed.

I cast on last night during NCIS (Mark Harmon!) and after a couple of false starts got a reasonable amount finished. This is one of those projects that you start in the center with just 4 stitches and work your way in ever larger circles where the last round has 888 stitches. I am trying to make sure that I don't get too smug and feel like I'm cruising right along when I know darn well that those later rows are going to sneak up and kick me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chapeau et chaussettes

Oh sure. You actually want to SEE how that outfit with the boot turned out. How pretty the hat and coordinating socks I mentioned on Friday looked once I put them all together. Ummmm....well....I'm not going to be able to show you pics from last Saturday night because there was a camera malfunction. I'll let you talk to my husband about that part.

I can however, show you the dress, hat and socks and let your imagination go from there.

Here's a little better shot of the sock and hat. I was really happy with how nicely my Margo sock in Rockwell coordinated with the hat.

After Friday's post, a couple of people also asked if we were in the old Boye needle company building. Unfortunately, we are not. It's right across from us though. How wonerful would it have been to have Lorna's Laces creating yarn in the very place that once housed an industry staple like Boye? Almost gives me shivers.

We're in the Littell building. They manufacture coils and the like. They're out in the suburbs now. I'm sure they are a very nice company and I am trying not to be biased, but somehow coils aren't quite as interesting as knitting needles.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lorna's Laces is housed in an old warehouse building on the north side of Chicago. The neighborhood is called Ravenswood. It's a great blend of residential, commercial and manufacturing living happily next door to each other.

Our building is pretty special because it's been converted into small spaces for artisinal companies like Lorna's Laces that create a physical product rather than turned into office space. It really hard to find something like this in the city. So many places want nice, clean businesses. If they are willing to accept a messy tenant like us, they expect you to be a ginormous company that wants to rent 5000 square feet or something equally as ridiculous.

The space we have is wonderful. There are 16' ceilings and a long wall of east facing windows to let in the sun. We have two of those banks of windows that you see in the picture. We're up on the second floor.

There's even a roof top deck so we can enjoy lunch outside when the weather is nice. Today was one of those days. It's was in the 80's! It's a little early to expect us to have consistently warm weather but I plan to take advantage of the warm weekend. My husband and I were thinking about a trip to the zoo.

Before I forget, thanks to everyone for their suggestions about how to accessorize "the boot". Because I still have a couple more weeks in it, I chose not to bedazzle or put glitter on it. While it would have been fun for the event, I wasn't sure it would work very well in the rest of my jeans and sneakers life. I decided that the best plan was to wear a bright hand knit sock under it. My dress was black and I wore a beautiful cocktail hat and coordinated the sock to the hat. I received compliments all night long. A few sidelong glances as well, but what do they know about fun?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mittens for Peter.

Emily made these great mittens for her nephew, Peter. His little brother Sam is a couple of years younger and with any luck, he'll get some pretty fantastic hand me downs once Peter outgrows them.

It's her own design and she graphed the alphabet in Excel.

I like the idea of the alphabet motif for little kids. Provides a means for stealth learning. I have a chocolate cake recipe that contains pureed beets. It's sort of the same thing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Can you help me accessorize?

I have a party to go to Saturday night. It's a fundraiser for a local theatre company and the tickets were a gift. I had an outfit all figured out until I looked closely at the invitation. It's black tie. Woopsy! Thank goodness I figured that out before Saturday afternoon. Or as I walked in the door. I have nightmares about that sort of thing.

I am such a jeans and sneakers kind of person that this becomes something of a challenge. A search of the closet revealed a dress that I bought a few years back that will fit the bill AND still fits me, thank goodness. Shoes and accessories are going to prove more difficult primarily because I have to work around this:

How exactly does one minimize the ugly boot? Or it is better to go the other route and make it the showpiece of the outfit? Should I bedazzle it? Or perhaps I can knit it a cozy? There has to be something.....

It's a beautiful day here. Cocktails on the deck tonight. And I'll stop complaining about the broken foot.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oh. My.

I just sat down and spent a little time with the new VK. I know it's been out for a little while, but sometimes my desk gets the better of me.

These stockings took my breath away! Kudos to Mari Muinonen for this beautiful design. Can you imagine the look on the face on the lucky groom?

They are pictured in Shepherd Sock, 0ns Natural but doing them in black or a great red would be smashing too.

And, I can't tell you how tickled I was to see Pearl featured in the Luxury for Less section. I know it's about the pattern and not the dog, but I feel like a proud parent right now. Silly? You bet.

Besides my beautiful 8-year old Great Dane, the photo shows our I-Cord Boogie pattern. Booties are pretty much my go-to last minute shower gift. But booties can be tricky for parents.

Too often those little feet start kicking and one bootie is lost forever. My husband has the same issue with his mittens. I’ve fixed his problem by connecting them with i-cord and figured that the same solution would work just as well for the baby booties. I picked Shepherd Sport, a superwash yarn since the i-cord will be traveling up the legs and next to the diaper. Now the kiddies can dance the night away with no fear of losing one of these hand knit beauties.

Even better, you can get two pair out of one skein of yarn.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Little Things

There's been loads of baby knitting around these parts lately.

Once it has two sleeves and some buttons, this beauty is going off to Steph's impending nephew. It's Knitting Pure and Simple's Babies Neckdown Cardigan, #982.

The baby is due this summer. His older brother calls him either Batman or Cargo. Cargo seems like a pretty sophisticated concept for a four year old to me. Especially when he's referring to a pregnancy.

This cute little dress is a design of Amanda's making. It's for her brother's brand new daughter, Gracie. And I mean new. Girl arrived on Tuesday.

It's made from a single skein of Shepherd Sport. So, it's a nice quick knit and oh-so-cute.

Last up is the back of a pullover I'm working on using our Shepherd Worsted in Chocolate and Cranberry. It's going out to an undisclosed recipient.

It's from Wee Knits, a Mags Kandis book that I've had for years. The patterns are timeless and I find myself returning to if often for gifts for special friends.

What is it about knitting for babies that is so appealing?

There's a whole group of answers that revolves around the fact that the objects are small.

1) They knit quickly so you get (almost) instant gratification.

2) The size makes tasks you might find distasteful like weaving in ends or sewing pieces together less unpleasant. I mean really, the seams are only 6 inches long.

3) It's easier to tackle a new technique because even if you don't like it, you haven't committed to a queen size afghan.

4) You can experiment with wild colors and crazy design elements because the person wearing it cannot object. (OK that's not so much about small, but it's still true.)

But I think there's more to it than size. Knitting for babies is about embracing potential. After all isn't that what a baby is, a darling bundle of what-might-be? S/he could grow up to be President, cure cancer, find the secret to world peace.

No less importantly that child could be your next door neighbor, the guy in the office next door, your best friend. All those possibilities wrapped up in a convenient, easy to carry package. What more could the world ask for?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Two donations

As many of you know, we take 20% of our sales of Flamingo Stripe Shepherd Sock yarn and donate it to a different breast cancer charity every quarter. This time around we made two donations.

Before you get to thinking that we're being all fancy or anything, I need to make a little confession: I didn't do one at the end of the year. We just didn't sell much Flamingo Stripe during the fourth quarter and the money didn't seem like it was enough.

I know that every little bit helps and that I shouldn't make value judgements on the worth of a gift. But things often happen for a reason and this was one of those times. It turns out I have two good choices for donations right now. And I feel better about the dollar amount they each get. So win-win.

The first is sponsoring a walker for Avon's Walk for a Cure. I follow the blog that Sheri from The Loopy Ewe writes. She's mentioned that one of her crew has been in the hospital a couple of times recently so I asked Sheri to find out if Susan had somewhere she'd like to see the money go. She asked that it go to support her SIL's walk.

The second donation cuts a little closer to home. While we were away, Michael's aunt lost her battle with breast cancer. She'd been doing very well for a couple of years and went down hill very quickly. This is the first time that one of our donations has been "in memory of" rather than "in honor of".

Please join me in lifting a glass or mug of your beverage of choice to Aunt Rosemarie.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

City of Lights

Sorry about not posting for awhile. I think I've been sulking. I suppose it's time to get off the bitter bus about the broken foot and back to the real world.

The trip to Paris was sorta spur of the moment. I had reached the point where everything was bugging me and I knew I needed to get away. I'm pretty sure the crew around here did the dance of joy when they found out I was going on vacation.

We thought about the beach, but once we got honest with ourselves we knew we wanted to go back to Paris. So I started looking into ways to make the trip feasible financially. I checked out how many airline miles we had and it turned out we had more than enough to get us both there. Yay!

Next up was lodging. I talked to my SIL and she recommended a site called Vacation Rentals by Owner. I was able to find a nice apartment for a fraction of what we'd pay for a hotel. Plus, we'd have a kitchen so we could save a little on meals too. We were good to go.

I wanted to really and truly disconnect on this trip. So I left my cell phone on the counter at home. Left the laptop at the office. No email, no tweeting, no Internet, no TV, nothing. It was wonderful. I have to admit to the tiniest bit of withdrawal, but I was fairly confident that the world would survive a week without me.

We didn't really have much planned for the trip. There was an exhibit at the Louvre on comic books that my husband wanted to see and we booked a couple of walking tours before we left, but the rest was left to chance.

The first few days were very similar to one another. We slept late, took long walks just drinking in the sights and sounds and smells of the city. I couldn't get enough. The weather was perfect for this time of year, about 60 degrees and sunny.
We visited Notre Dame, Palais Royal, Place Vendome, Places des Vosges, Isle St.Louis and some others. We sat in cafes, we picnicked. We chose restaurants for dinner because they looked interesting when we walked by rather than reading about them in guidebook.

Of course there were yarn stores. The first we stopped at was La Droguerie. I don't think you're allowed to be a yarnie in Paris without stopping in. It's a legendary shop with a house brand of yarn they display beautifully right as you walk in the door. There are alpaca, wool, silk and cotton yarns all hanging in hanks along with their swatches. They also have a splendid selection of buttons, beads and ribbon. It's the kind of place you could lose a day in if you aren't careful.

As enamored as I was of La Droguerie, I have to say I liked another shop I stumbled across even better, Entree des Fournisseurs. It was tucked back in a little courtyard on Rue de Francs Bourgeois very close to Place de Vosges. Instead of a house yarn line, they had more mainstream choices like Annie Blatt, Fonty and Bouton d'Or. So, from a yarn POV, La Droguerie was a clear winner. But, OMG, the ribbons and buttons here were out of this world! My normally ever-patient husband actually had to nudge me to bring me back to reality.

Both of these shops were really busy when we visited. Even in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. It was nice to see the craft world alive and well in the city of lights!
There was a soon-to-be yarn shop we stopped in as well called L'OisiveThe. It's a cute tea house in the 13th Arrondisement owned by an American expat from Kansas named Aimee. She's been doing knit nights there and is expanding to include a nice selection of U.S. yarns. She's going to be carrying Lorna's Laces. Whee!
I had hoped to check out the yarn selection at La Samaritaine but it was closed for renovations while we were there. The "incident" precluded a trip to Le Bon Marche. I was a little disappointed, but if I had to choose, I'm glad I saw the small shops rather than the yarn section at the deparments stores.

The day we lunched at L'OisiveThe, we went on one of the walking tours I mentioned earlier. It was of the Catacombs. I know tours like this are incredibly touristy things to do, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. We had great guides and I learned so much more than I would have if we'd just gone on our own.

The Catacombs are fascinating. Creepy too. First you have to climb down under the streets. Almost 20meters underground. That had me just a little queasy. Especially because the passageway at the beginning of the tour was very narrow and only a couple of inches taller than I am. Once you get inside there are over 700 years of bones piled up down there. They even think Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI are part of the crowd.

My knitting on this trip was pretty dismal. I worked on the Lyerka Scarf and started and frogged the same sock about a billion different times. I just couldn't make friends with any of the patterns I tried. What's up with that? I didn't even take pictures of many permutations of the miscreant sock. Bleh.

All in all, this was one of the nicest trips I can remember. I know it's a successful vacation if we are enjoying ourselves so much that we discuss the possiblity of moving there. This was absolutely one of those.

We even picked out our fantasy apartment. You are welcome to come visit.