Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I recently spent the weekend in Chicago and wanted to share some of my photos from the trip. It was my first time visiting the city, and I hope it will be the first of several visits, because I liked it and there was a lot that I didn't get the chance to see. (And the food was so good. I want to go back and eat all the food.) I did do my essentials, though: art museum, dinosaur fossils and/or an aquarium, donuts, and yarn.

The Art Institute of Chicago has been on my list of museums to visit since my high school art history classes, and it didn't disappoint. I loved seeing Seurat's Sunday on La Grande Jatte in person - the experience of seeing a famous painting in real life is exciting, but it's even better when the painting is not just iconic but a personal favorite.

We also visited The Field Museum and saw Sue the T-Rex and her dino friends. Then the next day, we went to Shedd Aquarium, which is a great aquarium and they have belugas! One of my favorite animals! Even better, they have a baby beluga. I don't think I've ever seen a baby in real life. So cute! I really need to get around to making PlanetJune's beluga pattern that's been languishing forever in my queue.

For my donut trip, I chose Firecakes, where I had the most perfect chocolate glazed donut I've ever seen (sadly, no pictures, I ate it too quickly). For my yarn store, I went to Loopy Yarns in the South Loop. They had a nice selection, and I picked up a skein of Miss Babs Yummy sock yarn in the Swan Princess colorway, which is a dark purple with blue-gray-greens in it. So pretty:

Definitely a good trip! Chicago is only about an hour away from here by plane, so it's a nice long-weekend destination, and I hope I can go back soon.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wind it up

Recently I've been in one of those moods where I feel like I need to pause and get organized before I can accomplish anything. I kind of want to knit, or crochet, or work on my photo albums, but then I get aggravated because I'm trying to work from a tangled skein or find just the right scrap of paper in the middle of a messy heap. For my photo album supplies, I recently ordered some paper organizers that were a little pricey, but hopefully will make my life easier. And for my yarn:

Yesterday, all I wanted to do was tidy up my leftover odds and ends. Most of these were in hand-wound balls already, but I decided they would be easier to use if I rewound them as center-pull balls. Plus, it's a bit better for the yarn, since it's not under as much tension that way. I found this tutorial, and spent my afternoon and evening winding yarn around a toilet paper tube. And now I feel much better about everything.

The real inspiration for this exercise was that I want to start some new projects, and none of the yarn for them is wound yet. I don't feel ready yet to invest in a swift and ball winder, and I wanted to try out hand-wound center-pull skeins, so I practiced first... on everything. Now I want to actually start those projects, but the yarn still isn't wound, and I'm a little tired of winding at this point. Oops.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

WIP Wednesday: cables and charts

Glorious Cabled Mitts by Karen Adams caught my eye on Ravelry before I even knew how to knit, and it's been in my queue for a while, waiting for me to feel ready to tackle cables. Learning new techniques is one of my knitting goals now that I feel pretty comfortable with the basics, and now that I've tried cabling on my secret rough-draft project, it was time to cast on the mitts.

I'm using The Fibre Co. Canopy Fingering in Plum, using a US 1 needle. This combination is mostly due to my stubbornness. The pattern calls for a light fingering, which the Canopy Fingering is not, and for a US 0 needle, which I translate to "at least US 1". Since the yarn is a little heavy for this pattern, I feel like I should have used a US 0, but I don't have one and didn't want to go buy one. Or, since I wanted to use the needles I had, I could have bought a more appropriate yarn, but I really wanted to use the Canopy Fingering. Conclusion: I'm knitting stupidly tight, again, because I'm worried about the mitts turning out too big.

Now that I've gotten as far as the thumb gusset increases, I think the fit is fine for me. All those cables are driving me nuts, though, and I would like to do them without a cable needle, but it's too tricky. Not only are my stitches too tight and tiny, but the yarn is a little fuzzy and splitty, so it's hard to get it all back on the needle.

Whining aside, I really like this pattern. I'll probably make it again, using different yarn - these mitts might make nice gifts.

In the spirit of trying different things, I also picked out a pattern from this amigurumi book that I bought in Japan last November. Japanese patterns are given as charts, which is nice if you can't read Japanese, but I'm not a huge fan of charts. It's going pretty well, though, and I can definitely see the advantage of charts. They make me a little dizzy, but it's easier to visualize what you're doing and where to put your increases and decreases, than it is when you're trying to mentally transfer written instructions into a three-dimensional object.

I'm making the tanuki, which is the little guy in the third row down, second column from the right on the book's cover. As you can see, I've got about half of his bits and pieces done. I'm not super thrilled with how he's turning out, but again, this is because I'm using yarn that doesn't feel quite right for the project. I don't really have the appropriate colors, and this brown is a little too "blah" for him. I actually really want to make the maneki neko (the waving cats), and I do have yarn that works for them, but I thought I should do a warm-up project first. Not a great idea, since this guy will probably go into hibernation soon. Still, it's nice to get this book out and actually use it, not just let it sit around as a souvenir.

Check out more work-in-progress posts at Tami's Amis!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Daffodil socks

My Daffodil socks are done! I'm happy with them, especially because of the bright and spring-timey colorway (Lucky Ewe from GnomeAcres). Despite the calendar saying it's April now, we're still getting snow here, and there are not really any leaves or flowers or anything yet. So, at least I have nice socks.

As I mentioned in my WIP Wednesday post about them, I used a US 1 1/2 needle, and I think they turned out just a teeny bit too tight. They're perfectly comfortable, but because I'm the one that made them and I know what I would do differently, I can't keep myself from thinking about that when I put them on. Hopefully I'll forget about that issue soon and just enjoy them!

I'm also happy with the pattern I used, Jeck by Regina Satta. The columns of slipped stitches add just enough texture without fighting with the colors, I think.

My collection of hand-knitted socks is slowly growing, now that I have three finished pairs. I already have my next two sock projects planned out, but first I think I want to take a little break and cast on something different. Come back for WIP Wednesday to see what I've got going :)