Archive for the ‘Illinois’ Category

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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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!



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









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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Thank you to everyone who came out to the Gifted Purl for the Fashion Event on Friday night! It was so much fun and I felt so welcome there. I would like to extend a very special thank you to Mollie, the shop owner, and my 4 volunteer models; Jeanette, Allie, Casey, and Lindsey. They were total pros and such good sports. Here are some photos of our fun from Friday.

This is called a “Knitter’s Handshake”.

Here are Mollie, the shopowner and gracious hostess, and Kat, my special guest, the General Manager of Southwest Trading Company.
I have two fashion events planned for October. 1 at Montoya Fiber Studio in Evanston for Thursday, 10/8 and another at Sister Arts in Chicago for Thursday, 10/15.
If you would like to have a fashion show in your area, Please leave a comment or send me an e-mail! I love these shows and they are a great time for everybody!

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To begin with, I should have taken photos. I really should have.

That being said, after a brief sales call out in Joliet at The Perfect Touch, I headed into Chicago for a very special Knit Night at Sister Arts Studio. We were celebrating (…and celebrating and celebrating…) Donna’s 50th birthday! There was pizza and knitting and wine and great company and a fantastic time was had by all! If anyone has photos please e-mail them to me to post at a later date.
On the repping front, I have good news brewing and will share it when everything is official.
I also have 2 particularly friendly and fabulous yarn shops to recommend.

In Dunlap, IL I went to Knit 4 Together (no site) where I got to hang out with Nancy and Marilyn. Be warned, Nancy has a wicked sense of humor! I had such a good time and am hoping to have a fashion event with them. They are even looking into renting out a church hall for it!

From Dunlap I continued on to Knoxville, IL where I visited Sit’n’Knit (no site), a yarnshop-slash-HAIR SALON (Oh how cool!) I have been to a few cafe-yarn shops, but this was totally new and fabulous. Maureen, the shop owner, was just as sweet as pie and we had such a fun time looking at yarn. However, I did not take any photos, so bad blogger: no cookies.
I don’t have much planned as far as appts for next week, so I’m hoping to get a lot of cold calling done, and perhaps even some knitting. (GASP!). Wish me luck!

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Dear Long Grove,

I have been so close to you for so long, and yet, I had no idea. I drove in, fumbling with my notes and map and other assorted detritus of travel, turned an unassuming corner and was stunned. Quaint shop after general store after art gallery after artisan candy shop… oh I could go on. Well done Long Grove. You are lovely.
Much Admiration,
I visited I’d Rather Be Knitting in Long Grove this afternoon. A large, charming shop with an eye on fashion forward knits.

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