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Archive for the ‘chicago’ Category

Yep, You all know what that means…I’m a bridesmaid!

My best friend from High School is getting married this fall in Denver. Unfortunately, I can’t be there for all the fun planning stages (checking out venues, tasting sample menus, designing invitations, trying on bridal gowns, etc) so I’m largely in the dark. My major task right now is picking out my own dress. I’ve been told to wear “Any Blue Dress”. No length, fabric, texture, specific color restrictions.  Now, I do very poorly with loose boundaries. If she mailed me a box of coffee filters, a bag of frozen blueberries and told me I was not allowed to use thread or an iron, I would be able to create something stunning. That’s what art school is great training for; doing incredible things within absurdly tight restrictions. I’d kick butt on Project Runway, except that I’m not such a great seamstress, ha ha!

Anyways, Here are a few of my blue dresses I tried on at David’s Bridal yesterday (some are not blue, but come in blue). I’m just trying to nail down what sort of thing she’s looking for. I’m not exactly clear on what to do with “very very casual, like … cocktail attire”.

My next wedding project is creating the bride’s garter and birdcage bandeau veil. Any tips or links for those would be much appreciated!

In the mean time, reminisce about your own bridesmaid dresses with this little ditty from Deirdre Flint!

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If you are looking to knit the Stitch Diva Endless Cardi Shawl primarily for warm weather wearing, I would recommend Soysilk or Bamboo fiber.

The Cardi-Shawl can even be worn backwards!

I swatched up SWTC Bamboo, which makes for a very thin, EXTREMELY drape-y garment. Perfect for extra-hot climates or layering this garment with a more fashion forward outfit. I got gauge on a size 6, but would recommend stepping down a needle size to counteract some of the stretching that can occur with bamboo. This yarn has a beautiful barely-there sheen for an extra dash of polish.

In the soysilk camp there are two ways to go: Plied or Tape construction. Both are breathable and easy to care for. For those of you un-initiated to the world of soysilk knitting, I can tell you it is best looked at in comparison to the more familiar cotton.

The plied option is called “Pure” by SWTC. The swatch has the hand of the llama or even the yak/bamboo, shockingly enough. It has a very slight cotton-y halo and is incredibly light in the hand. Like cotton, this option lacks stitch memory. If tugged on, the fabric will stretch and hang the way cotton does. However, because it is so light, it will not pull itself out of shape the way cotton can.

The tape option for this project would be “Oasis” by SWTC. The tape structure adds 2 key feature to this project: texture and bounce. Tape yarns show textured stitches, such as cables, in high relief. This project does not a have a particularly textured stitch pattern, but the tape yarn does give it a little extra personality. Each stitch has perfect stitch definition and those drop stitch rows really stand out. The bounce come from the knitted structure built right into the yarn itself. You can tug on the fabric pretty good and the whole garment just pulls right back into shape with this yarn. The tape yarn does add a bit of weight to the fabric. The heaviness of the yarn balances with its own springiness to create a beautifully draped, bouncy garment.

I have yet to knit up the swatch, but I can tell you this project would also be a joy to knit with SWTC Terra. The cotton/bamboo blend comes in a rich palette of earth tones. This yarn has an intriguing interplay between the earthiness of the cotton and the sheen of the bamboo. In fact, the idea of this garment knit up in this yarn is begging me to go swatch it up right now!

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Joanna, modeling the amorphous garment "right side up"

On Thursday I was at Sister Arts Studio in Chicago to kick off a the Cardi Shawl Knit (and crochet) A Long. I first knit this garment (designed by Stitch Diva) last September. After raving about it to Donna at SASI over the pone and e-mail, I knew I just had to drop in wearing it. Just as I suspected, when she saw it in person, Donna decided that we must do this project as a Knit-A-Long.

The whole thing is knit up as one looooong rectangle, knit along the long edge instead of the short. The magic is in the 3 needle bind off. The resulting garment can be worn right side up, upside down, belted, pinned, open, even backwards!  Of all my garment projects, this is my most frequently worn item.

Please Note: photos never do this garment justice, though Donna and Joanna made a valiant effort! She is wearing the XS, which is generously sized enough to be tried on by significantly larger women. Customers who normally knit a size L or even XL are knitting this project in M.

To prepare for the Kick Off event, I knit up a small army of swatches. It was amazing how much there is to think about when planning a garment yarn choice. I admit, I usually don’t spend as much time on this step as I should. That will certainly change now! The key word you’re going to hear over and over with this project is “Drape”. This is not a densely knit wool sweater, it is an exciting foray into the sensuous world of slinky knits. Today I will cover the protein fibers I swatched up.

"Upside Down" and shawl pinned, my personal favorite way to wear this!

The most luscious choice by far was definitely the Lhasa Wilderness by Bijou Basin. It is a 75% yak, 25% bamboo DREAM of a yarn. I was in love before, but after this swatch, I am really dying to knit this garment again with this yarn. The swatch was unbelievably light and soft, but with spectacular drape and a barely-there sheen. The stitch definition was clear. This fiber combination is both breathable, hypo-allergenic, and warm. Considering this project would need just a hair over 4 skeins for the generously sized XS, this is a great “Bang For Your Buck” yak project.

If the Yak/Bamboo is just not in the budget, the new Llama Luxury from South West Trading Company is a spectacular substitute. It comes in a subtle palette of neutrals. The llama fiber is remarkably light, yet insulating (think alpaca). It drapes wonderfully, but has enough stitch memory to keep from looking saggy. The swatch had a slight halo, making it look oh-so-inviting to squish!  Soft and lovely next to the skin, you would need 7 skeins to make the XS.

Wearing it backwards; feels crazy, and yet it totally works!

The most popular choice at Knit Night was the Yin/Yang combination from SWTC. These are sister yarns, each 60%wool, 20% bamboo, 20% silk. Yang also has a iridescent mini-sequins held on by a silk thread. With these yarns you can knit most of the garment in the plain Yin, and then throw in some Yang on the ribbing and drop-stitch rows. It adds some extra sparkle and interest. The yarn itself has great stitch memory and knit up to a rather dense, bouncy swatch compared to the rest. The bamboo and silk contribute enough drape to keep the project hanging as it should.

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of Swatched With Love; Cellulose Strikes Back!

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Tea and Swatches

In preparation for a very exciting night this Thursday at Sister Arts Studio, in Chicago, I have been a’swatchin’!

You may remember, last fall I knit the Stitch Diva Endless Cardi Shawl. It was a delightfully simple yet satisfying project. I wore the resulting, um, cardi? shawl? wrap?…garment to knit night. It was a smash hit and I got knitters’ handshakes from every direction. Well, We decided that it needed to be a Knit-A-Long.

I knit my original garment using stash yarn, not yarn I sell. However, several of the yarns that I carry would be stellar subs for this project. The garment demands a drape and sheen to be successful. I have been swatching and sampling from my rep kits to help customers pick their favorite yarns for their projects.

If you are interested in joining this KAL, we will be kicking it off at Sister Arts Studio on Thursday at 6:30.

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It is a sad fact that the downturned economy and a multitude of other forces have sunk several independent yarn shops in the south-west suburbs of Chicago. It seemed to me that this blight of boarded up store fronts was just too bleak to be true. Surely at least one shop managed to hunker down and weather the storm? Well, it turns out, one did! Yesterday I went to visit Stitch N’ Hook in Shorewood, after being tipped off by Jordana Paige that there was a shop still open in the otherwise barren LYS-graveyard. Ms. Sonda’s shop is modest, but well edited. Stitch N’ Hook has a clear and well executed focus on affordable but fashionable sweater knitting. This shop has a spectacular set up for warm and inviting knit nights! I can tell that this shop has a dedicated following of talented knitters. If you haven’t been there yet, I recommend that you go soon. Be advised that there is a mess of construction all up and down Cottage St. The shop is still accessible, but if dealing with construction makes you batty then you should probably wait a month or two before checking this gem out.

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IMG_0592Well it is a BEAUTIFUL weekend here in Chicago. The temperature is hovering just under 70°F and the sun is out. What a fantastic time for the Fiber Art Show at the Chicago Botanic Gardens!

 

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The garden was packed to the gills with folks out enjoying the last gasp of warmth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The show was mostly quilts, with a fair amount of weaving thrown in. There was a sizeable market to check out in addition to the show itself. The dozens of woven wraps and scarves available for sale were the highlight of the show for me. There were a lot of strung bead necklaces, painted silk scarves, and simple garments knit from big-box-store yarns that truthfully, I could have done without.

IMG_0585It was a spectacular day to be at the gardens; Quilt show or no.

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To start off with, I have a big announcement. I am now the President and CEO (and secretary and janitor and sole employee) of my VERY OWN CORPORATION! Knest Inc. has been officially registered as a corporation with the Illinois Secretary of State. Very exciting, if only this was a corporation that made $$…

Anyways, I have yet more exciting announcements. Ladies and Gentleman, get out your calenders! I have booked SWTC fashion events that you all truly must attend!
Friday, 9/11 @ 6 PM-Gifted Purl (120 W Main st, West Dundee, IL). A Stitches Celebration with Surprise SWTC Guest!
Thursday, 10/8 @ 5 PM- Montoya Fiber Studio (2566 Prairie ave, Evanston, IL). The Central Street Shopping District, a fabulous destination any day, is having an event called “Retail Therapy”. There will be fun stuff happening all over, most notably the SWTC roadshow!
Thursday, 10/15 @ 6:30 PM- Sister Arts Fiber Studio (721 W Wrightwood, Chicago). This store is most near and dear to my heart. Please join the funniest, knittiest, wine-iest group of ladies in Chicago for an evening of, what else, wine, knitting, and SWTC fashion!
I hope to see lots of you there! And remember the SWTC motto: “Expect the Unexpected!”

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