Saturday

There actually wasn’t class today because of Easter, so this is a picture we took a few weeks back. This is called the lotus, and I think it is beautiful.  It is a really easy hang and he’s quickly become a favorite for the girls.

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I have done other photos from guerilla acrobatics on sunsets and stuff, now that the weather is finally turning towards warm. I’m so excited for the possibilities of this summer.

Explore Chicago: A Mid-Week Escape

I declared yesterday “Mental Health Day.”  With the spur of activity that has surrounded me for the last couple of weeks and what I see in the upcoming ones, my psyche was on the brink of total metldown.  I could hear that little voice in my head crying out “Run Away!” every time a new task fell into my lap.  My to-do list is far too long to ever think about completing, and I don’t foresee another opportunity for a break until June.

So, what did I do?  I played hookey.

Ok, not entirely truthful.  I clocked out of the office after a half-day, with the reasoning that mental health is just as important as physical well-being, and if they wanted a happy and productive employee, they would let me take the time off.

A friend and I hopped on the train at 2 and headed for the city.  He couldn’t believe that I had never been to Garrett’s (or the Magnificent Mile for that matter), so that was our first destination.

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There was a line stretching out the door and down the block, and I loved watching the little kids pressing against the glass cases that were filled with tons and tons of delicious smelling popcorn.  We got our bags (one of cheese and one of caramel) and started walking.  Garrett’s popcorn is definitely as good as it is made out to be.  (I have the remnants in a drawer of my desk and have been sneaking handfuls throughout the workday.  Yumm!)

As we were walking down Mag Mile, I stopped dead and I’m pretty sure my chin hit the ground and my tongue went rolling like a cartoon when I spotted this lovely window display.

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That look you see on my face – that’s the “up-to-no-good-can-I-smash-the-window” look.

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I probably spent about 10 minutes inspecting every machine close enough to look at.  I didn’t spot my featherweight though, which was a little disheartening.

We then went to the John Hancock building, up to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor.  We had cocktails (deceivingly strong ones) and admired  the view.  I feel bad for being there without Ellette, who would have gone crazy with excitement.  We will plan a return trip later in the spring, when the weather warms up and we have a bit more time.

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While I was sitting there, staring out over the city, and running my mouth like a crazy woman about every little thing under the sun, I couldn’t believe that this is where I live now.  I have been in Chicago for almost 3 years. I have avoided a lot of the touristy attractions in search of a more real, down to earth, side street kind of scene.  I have met some wonderful and talented people, seen some amazing shows, and learned a lot of new and sometimes strange things in doing so.  But being up there, looking down, it was all kind of surreal.

Afterwards, we walked along the lake front until we came to Millenium Park and the iconic Bean (because everyone has to see the bean).  It was fun watching all of the tourists getting excited about all of the different ways they could photograph the sculpture.

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We capped our day with a very satisfying dinner at the Chiago Diner in Boystown.  This is one of my favorite restaurants – and a must try for any vegan/vegetarian reading this.  Everything on the menu caters to a meatless diet and their ethics are fantastic.  Their wait staff has always been wonderful and their food is mouth-watering.   I have yet to get a dish I don’t enjoy.  They are small, but always bustling, with a charming and vibrant atmosphere.

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This was the perfect break I needed.

On the Fly

Last night, with an evening gloriously free of youngling and outside commitment, I settled into my perch on the couch, with balls of yarn spilling around my feet and a set of comfy headphones in place, listening to music and watching videos as I churned out butterfly after butterfly on the bosc scarf.

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I am about halfway done – maybe a little more.  The pattern calls for 20 repeats of the butterfly motif, but I think I will have enough yarn to make it to 25.  This is something I will have to gauge as I work – the risk being that I may gauge incorrectly and not have enough left over to do the edging.

When I needed a break from the counting, I pulled out the time lord socks for a bit of mindless stockinette.  I got sucked in while turning the heel.  It came out a smidge too long, but I’m thinking I can fix that once I finish the sock if I don’t like it.  The toe is a little pointy, so I can pull out the cast on and rip out a few rows, making the toe less point and the foot that teensy bit shorter.  I still have a good deal of yarn leftover, and I am excited to see how high the socks end up going.  Will they end mid-calf?  At the knees?  Or could they even go over the knee?  I realize that I have only hit the heel and already worked through about one-third of the ball, which means that they will probably come up to the knee – but here’s to hoping I have found the fiber vortex on purpose.  It would be very apropos.

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There is currently some discussion going over at the Yarn Harlot’s blog about the extent to which designers should be expected to explain patterns and techniques versus what the knitter should know or be expected to find out on their own.  It is all really fascinating, and good points are being made for both sides of the argument (one side assuming the designer should spell everything out in big bold font and the other assuming that the knitter should have basic skills, such as problem solving and the ability to look up references, before tackling a pattern).  There I was last night knitting a sock – I had only worked toe-up socks once, following a pattern that said only “Use Turkish Cast On and cast on 16 stitches” or some such, and I looked in the back of the book for instructions on what the frack a Turkish cast-on was.  Well, it stuck in my head, and even though I know a couple of methods to achieve the same effect, it is still my favorite.  Then I knit the sock, and came to the heel, which I turned using the short-row method (or rather, “a” short row method since there are several in regards to turning a sock heel).

The point is – I like to knit, and I like to discover new things, and I really would rather not be held back from completing something because I don’t know how.  Yes, a designer could spell this out for me, but I think that creates a laziness in the knitter.  I don’t want to follow someone else’s pattern for everything I make.  These socks, for instance, are entirely on the fly.  And really, that’s kind of my MO.  I knit on the fly.  I have an idea, and I mull over how to achieve that idea, and then I go.  Most of what I know was learned from references books (and a bit of trial and error) rather than actual patterns.  This has benefited me greatly when I come to errors in the patterns I do follow (and errors will always exist – not in every pattern mind you, but in a lot more than you want to admit).  I come to an error, and I look at why the error is there, what the designer was trying to achieve, and figure out how to work ahead.  I don’t get stalled because there is a miscalculation or chart issue, and I have the freedom and confidence to alter patterns any way I choose because I have the skills behind me to help.

Where do you stand on the debate?

Diagnosis

Startitis.  Yep.  I realized this morning I am hopelessly afflicted.  The desire to cast on new and exciting projects is just too strong to ignore.

Don’t get me wrong though!  Sunday morning I whacked out a chunk of the Bosc scarf before my eyes, hands, and needles started to wander.  My reasoning was sound.  I was about to embark on an adventure and needed something that didn’t require so much thinking.  The only thing that really came to mind were your standard vanilla socks.  So, I dug through the stash and cast-on.

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This is ‘Time Traveler” sock yarn from Knit Picks, which my old nanny gifted to me at some point, knowing that I’m kind of a raging Dr Who fan.  She gave me two balls of it, and I plan on using every last yard.  So, the socks are worked from the toe up, and I imagine there will be some clever calf shaping happening at some point.  For now, I am entirely enchanted by the colors and changes.  And it is kind of flying by since it is stockinette in the round.

I am doing my best to stay on track, but right now, with everything else going on, I just want to have fun with it.  And if that means a delicately knit chess board or a heavy butterfly scarf don’t fulfill that desire – bring on the whacky colors and summery tops!

But don’t worry – I don’t think startitis is contagious.

Pretend this is Saturday

Saturday sort of escaped me, as did Sunday. But look!  Picture!

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Slowly But Surely

There is progress.  Not much, mind you, but it is noticeable.  I have had a very busy couple of weeks and knitting has not been high on my list of priorities, unfortunately.  If it were, I’m sure I would be in much higher spirits.

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Most of what you see here was acheived Sunday morning, when for once, I had nothing scheduled and blissfully sat in the sunlight knitting away for hours.  I want to say I am about one third of the way complete.  I plan on working until I am almost out of yarn.

Saturday

I spent a good amount of time this afternoon working on my own choreography.  By the end of the day, I was exhausted, with blisters on my palms and bruises everywhere, but I felt good.

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