Thursday, December 31, 2009

Highlights of 2009, Part 2

Top of the Oriental Sign French Props
Living in Chicago, where there is a lot of theater we got a chance to see a few interesting performances this year. One was a free aquatic performance (picture above on the right) by a french group performed out near the end of Navy Pier. (I originally blogged about it here.) Another outdoor performance was by Redmoon Theater and was a sort of musical based on a fictional Norwegian Pop star. I tend to highlight events that sound truly unusual, difficult to imagine from written descriptions and possibly involve puppets and these two events fit the bill.

We also recently got to see The Addams Family, a new musical in previews here in Chicago which they will take to Broadway soon. It is still playing at the Oriental Theater (signage pictured on the left) for now. It stars Nathan Lane & Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia. What really impressed me though was the set design, which was rotated, connected & assembled to create various sets, reminding me of the original stage version of Sweeny Todd, only with a larger budget. There were also puppets involved. It was pretty cool.

We didn't have a chance to go to as many concerts as I would've liked this year. Perhaps in part because the first one we made it to was a pretty big deal. Leonard Cohen toured this year, and seeing as how I've been listening to his work (at first with my parents) for over 25 years, I couldn't miss his show. And it was well worth it! We did get to one other show, on my birthday as it happens. Devandra Banhart was much better in concert than I expected, in fact it was a fantastic show, summarized well over at chicagoist.

Tiramisu Cupcakes Tempeh Meatball
I'm probably resolving, again, to cook more often than I currently do. So my favorite sources of inspiration for that from 2009 are shown above. Tiramisu cupcakes, from Vegan Cupcakes take over the World, and tempeh meatballs from Vegandad. The meatballs were surprisingly easy to make, and the cupcakes were not surprisingly harder, but not that hard, and well worth the effort. These photos make me I will move on.

Ikea/Jansdotter Bag Endcap

Pictured above are, yes, the only two things I sewed up this year. But I was satisfied with the results. I enjoy sewing...the Lotta Jansdotter bag especially, with many pieces was a lot of fun to construct. But somehow I find that it just takes to much for me. I can almost see how it isn't really all that much, and especially not that much more than knitting I guess...but somehow I find that (though my yarn stash can at times make a mess) it's much easier to tuck away some balls of yarn, a project,'s significantly more difficult for me to pull out the sewing machine, ironing board and everything else in our small apartment. I either have to commit to single setting project completion, during which time it sort of feels like the whole apartment is in chaos, or I am faced with a mess to clean up then recreate until I finish. It feels like more of a pain than I want it to. But I will keep trying, I feel like I have improved even though my projects have been few and far between. And maybe some day I'll have enough space for a sewing corner or something, where stuff can just sort of stay out.


As for resolutions....I'm making "read more" a resolution again. should go better this time. I was given a Kindle for Christmas, which really surprised me. I've been having a lot of fun with it so far, and I expect will help me towards this goal. (one way it helps is that I can knit and read with less of a challenge than propping open a book) Pictured above is a contest entry to win a kindle etched with your design (I didn't win.) I have no plans to etch that into my kindle (I'm not taking any risks, the thing is too awesome!) but I might end up doing something with that design.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Highlights of 2009, Part 1

I haven't posted in ages, I realize. 2009 has been a crazy year. I thought I'd at least end it by posting some about my favorite parts of this year.

Lighthouse on Ice Treads
Last January we took a road trip up to a border town in Minnesota called Grand Portage...for no really great reason. Loosely because Chuck's studio project was the design of a border crossing station there, but really it was just for fun. It was cold, but so pretty and we got to be in nature and snowshoe.

Robie House Porch Opening Weekend

Architectural two things happened. One, I started volunteering at Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House in Hyde Park. It's been a great way to stay motivated since architecture as an industry has been very slow in the recession. I initially didn't think I was suited to giving tours, but I have since come to really enjoy it. I also get to help out with restoration projects like gardening & cleaning windows, special events and their Lego architects program for kids. Secondly, though it's not quite as personal, I have to mention the opening of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute by Renzo Piano. It's a very lovely and photogenic space, with the highlight being, as in many of Pianos museums, that the gallery spaces enjoy natural lighting without damage to the art on display. Plus there's a really nice Architecture collection there with sketches and models of everyone from "form follows function" Louis Sullivan to the local, woman-owned Studio Gang Architects.

Frontier Jacket Rapunzel Stockings

I've done a lot of knitting this year, I found that my skill and speed has improved quite a bit since I started. There are still techniques I struggle with and have yet to learn (part of what makes knitting exciting.) I recently found out that color work (vs. lace and cabling) is not one of my strong suits. Two of my favorite projects completed this year are show above. The Frontier Jacket was relatively simple, a seamless knit with an interested method for attaching the sleeves, from Knitscene Winter 2007 by Wendy Bernard. It produced what I think will be a useful final product, and I originally bought the yarn for $10 at a craft supply event in Wicker Park. The second project shown is a pair of stockings that were irresistible to knit up, but took a very long time to complete, I'm still amazed I did. They are the Rapunzel Stockings from Knit.1 Winter 2008 by Ysolda Teague. There are several other project I was pretty happy with this year, some of which you can see in my flickr set highlighting my favorite photos from 2009.

Tomorrow I promise to post again, finishing off some of the highlights from my 2009 before they year is over. I'll post about the concerts, shows, cooking and sewing accomplishments. And perhaps I'll even try to make a few resolutions. ( perhaps blogging more often? we will see.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sewing experiments

Ikea/Jansdotter Bag
I made this well over a month ago and never got around to posting about it here on the blog. It was a fun and easy project from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing. Though it was a bit time consuming for me, filled practically a whole weekend. I like how it turned out, although I think if I did it again (which I've been considering, hopefully it will go faster on take two) I would like to start experimenting with interfacing to give it some stiffness. But I had enough success with the project to propel the purchase of said interfacing, as well as attempt an impromptu (patternless) tank top right away. Which turned out well, but I made it quite hastily, without tying up loose ends as I went, so it remains incomplete, since that seems to be a major task. When I get around to doing that, I'll post pictures.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Site Announcement: I'm renaming my blog "I apologize for not blogging more often" No, not really. But it's been a while yet again! And there's no one major reason for that, other than lots of reasons including a new job, volunteering, studying for exams, etc. But yeesh, how long does it take to blog anyway? Not that long at all.

So the thought I had for today's post was about knitting (not surprising!) Chuck recently ordered French Girl Knits for me. He's so sweet! And I'm also feeling thankful towards amazon. Chuck was ordering books for school and need a little bit extra to get that super saver shipping, so he thought he might as well get me a knitting book!

Now that I have it I want to knit it from cover to cover. I'm not exaggerating, I like everything in it. The fact that the patterns tend toward the seamless construction does not hurt at all. I've really loved the seamless patterns I've done (including the Frontier Jacket, the Shalom and the Leaf Cardigans) They tend to get done, while other seamed projects remain UFOs (un-finished objects for the non-knitters.) I love them and advocate their loveliness to any knitter who mentions they haven't moved on from scarves and other rectangles yet. Maybe one day I'll get over my issues with seaming (I just dislike it!) but until then I have a book full of lovely patterns. And if I do manage to manage to knit through the whole book, I'll at least try to blog some of my progress.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shopwide Sale in the Etsy Shop

This weekend only Etsy is promoting BOGO deals throughout the site (you can read more here) and Emmakat is joining the fun. The deals is Buy one, get one 50% off for this weekend only! (Aug. 28-30)

How to benefit from this wonderful deal, you ask? Simply enter the code "Weekend Deals" in the Message to Seller during checkout and specify your "get one" preference that's equal to or lesser in value to the item purchased. Wait for a revised invoice before paying, or pay first and I will refund you through paypal. Happy shopping!

I'm hoping that perhaps having a few sales this weekend will motivate me to make a bunch of new stuff for the shop I've been thinking about making for a while!

Monday, August 24, 2009

French Water Show

Bike on water

Timing has been working out very well for me lately. I've been very busy! Anyway, an example of this is the fact that I found out about a free show out at navy pier Sunday morning. It turned out it was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, so I would've missed it. But there were technical issues that caused them to reschedule the event for last night. So we made it!

It's thanks to Chicagoist that we made it, you can read about the troupe of French "waterfools" (that was the name of the show) here. It reminded me a little of Le Petit Prince to start with only a few characters, one of whom was setting up street lamps on the water. It also reminded me of the Fremont Solstice festival...the performance part...which typically follows the parade or naked bike ride. Of course it was definitely it's own thing, with fireworks, fire, cars, boats, and all kinds of crazy stuff going on. Very glad I found the most interesting way possible to spend our Sunday night!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stay in and Craft

We tried to go out yesterday only to find the weather very uncomfortable. It rained for a few days (making for a muddy start to lollapalooza I gather) and then midday yesterday the sun came out. So we tried to venture out only to be confronted with the kind of humidity that we orginally left the midwest to get away from! It hasn't been like that too much here since we moved here last year, and I'm hoping in general, it's not common for Chicago, we are by a lake. So we made the quickest trip out, getting to the red line station only to decide it just wasn't worth being outside.

Necklace for myself Necklace for myself

So we stayed in. I got some crafting done. Made a few necklaces for myself. My craft supplies are dwindling a bit and I haven't had the resources to restock them for a little while now. So, cobbling together what I had left, these will be for me, rather than for the shop. Hopefully in the near future I'll be able to get more supplies, I like how this one turned out and I'd like to keep it as a prototype for future items that might show up in the shop. For a clasp I finally put to use the handmade silver latch I made a year or so ago in a class with Marlo! Another reason this necklace is for me, cause that clasp is special to me. I also started a sewing project, which is still in progress. I hope it goes far so good...but we'll see.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Frontier Jacket

Frontier Jacket Frontier Jacket

It's finally done. Though, seems a little silly that I was so impatiently awaiting completion since this project came together in about a week. It seemed like the finishing, which was actually minimal, took longer than the sweater itself.

This is the Frontier Blues Jacket seen in Knitscene magazine's Winter 2007/Summer 2008 issue, by Wendy Bernard. I really enjoyed the thoughtful construction. I like a good yoke and the way the sleeves use a few decreases to bell out in a lovely way. I was lucky enough to get this yarn very cheaply at an event earlier this spring. Even luckier that it worked out for a project I've had in mind for a while. Of course it was the pattern yarn, but I was a little concerned that I might run out right at the end. Fortunately it worked out perfectly, with just a little bit leftover to play with.

The pictures show me trying to keep the sweater closed with my dinky little AIA pin, which just barely works. I do have an enameled pin I made years ago when I was taking classes, which works if it suits my color scheme of the day (the pin is purple & blue.) This has seen me adding some vintage brooches on Etsy to my favorites...though I may eventually decide to go the ribbon/snap route the pattern recommends. Regardless, it's very soft and comfy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Too much to post...

I haven't been keeping up very well with blogging lately, and trying to reflect on everything going on lately, seems like too much to fit in one post! But I will try...

The Drop

My family was in town this weekend, including my Aunt Cheryl, cousin Jill and her boyfriend Danny. Our adventures included waiting in an endless line to see the skydeck of the newly renamed Willis tower (formerly famously known as the Sears Tower) with brand new glass projecting lookouts called "the ledge." I survived. Actually after the first few nervous steps it was pretty cool.

Calder DodgingCute CoupleCultural Arts Center Dome

Since it was their first time in town we went to many of the standard sites, the Bean, the Calder at Federal Plaza, the glass domes at the Cultural Arts Center, the Tiffany Ceiling at Marshall Fields. (One of my bean pics made it onto Chicagoist!) We ended that day with a trip to the Art Institute's Modern Wing, since they are having free evenings on Fridays from 5-9pm.

I came home to find a letter from Washington Dept. of Licensing. Could only be one thing, the results to the last architectural licensing test I took. I had convinced myself I had failed this one, since I was preoccupied with some other issues at the time I took it. But fortunately I was wrong! It's a relief, and it's exciting that I'm that much closer to licensed, even if it is only #3 out of the 7 total I need to take (which means only 4 more to go!) A pass always gets me pumped for the next exam...though that feeling passes rather quickly.

Tiramisu Cupcakes
Anyway, Saturday my parents took everyone to the Botanic Garden, while Chuck and I stayed home. We sorta spent the day preparing to have them all over in the evening, among other things. There had been some discussion of cupcakes, so I decided to pull out Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The Tiramisu recipe called to me. They were fairly easy to make, actually, and they turned out great. I think the cookies and cream recipe might still be our favorite, but I believe these have the potential to be made again. Cream cheese digress.


There was a Summerfest in Chinatown this weekend, so that was how we ended their trip. It was very crowded, there was a lot going on...somehow we pretty much managed to stay together. Pictures of it all are on my flickr, Chuck's flickr, etc.

Lastly I somehow managed to find time to fit in knitting an entire sweater/jacket this week. It's not quite done, but I have cast off, just leaving some finishing work. Progress pictures are mixed in with the others on my flickr photostream, with finished object photos coming soon!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Belated EtsyTwitter Shop of Last week

I'm really taken with this little chair from Though she was the team's shop of the week last week, there are still great deals to be had in her adorable shop! Check it out. Also, there should be a new shop of the week over on the EtsyTwitter Team blog in the next day or so!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I tasted

Vegan Taste of Chicago

The image above is actually from last year's Taste of Chicago, but it's a booth we hit again this year. Taste of Chicago, like many food festivals, isn't really the greatest place for vegetarians and vegans, but last year they added Soul Veg to the line up. It was a relief to find them there again. While the pic above shows 2 items we didn't get this year (the veggie gyros which they did have again, and the cauliflower, which was not on the menu) we did have the BBQ twist again. It's obviously quite messy, but good. Also featured both this year and last was a nice sweet potato pie, and new to the menu were some yummy spicy tamales. We tagged along with my parents last weekend, and since they are not vegetarians they got a little more of the experience of all the options there. I did get to snack on some taro root fries from Tamarind, a restaurant in our neighborhood, and they were very good. The festival is going on through the weekend, though based on our experience around this time last year and even though we are walking distance, the crowds are prohibitive around the fourth. So I think we had our fill.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe fourth. Not sure what we'll be doing yet, plans as, usual are kind of loose. There's talk of getting up to Evanston with my parents. Last year we attempted to get close to the main Chicago fireworks, got caught in the largest mess of people I've ever been in and decided just to go home and check out what the view from our new apartment would be. It turned out it was only slivers of fireworks, but it made for a pleasant evening anyway. This year I'm just pleased that for the first time in 5 years the 4th can be a family affair again!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Top of the Morning...

It's been over a week since I've posted anything, so I thought maybe this morning I would throw a little blogging into my morning routine. Coffee, surf the internet, is typically what I do, but I tend not to blog for fear of lack-of-coffee-induced-typos, and general non-sensicalness. But it's been a while, and before I go off and study all day long (or find ways to procrastinate from studying) I thought I'd stop by.

Most of the last week or so hasn't been all that interesting, just studying. I've got a 300 page study guide that I'm working my way through, a box of flashcards, a CD and a sample test booklet...all of which I need to go through before the test on Tuesday. We've been trying to make that a little more interesting by going out to coffee shops, but mostly it is what it is, not too exciting.
Almost done
I still found some time to finish off my knee-high socks, but they're still waiting on the weaving in of the ends, and I need to take some nice pictures as well. I've got plenty of shots of the progress, so once I take the last set of pictures I might post a collection of those images, just for fun.

Tempeh Meatball
Oh, and I meant to find a moment last week to post about something we ate, just to say we used a recipe for tempeh meatballs from the blog vegandad, which turned out great. We also picked up a smoothie mix by Naysoya that they've started carrying at our local grocery store, which was also very tasty.

Lastly, we did get in some movie watching this week, and have sorta made the theme for the weekend "movies directed by Sam Mendes." I was pretty interested in seeing Away We Go since we saw the trailer attached to Limits of Control, because of the concept of a couple trying to find the right place to live and the fact that David Eggers wrote the screenplay. I was not disappointed, it wasn't quite what I expected and instead was sweeter and more intelligent. Then last night my parents had rented Revolutionary Road, which I was interested in seeing, so we stuck around to watch that with them. I was less excited about that movie, it just wasn't terribly interesting. But I do enjoy a somewhat themed weekend of movies nonetheless.

As a side note, I think we were at the theater that recently hosted the premier of that new Johnny Depp movie. The evidence of that was the fact that they had removed all of the movie posters in the mega-plex AMC and replaced them with posters of Johnny Depp. I believe the premier was the night before, although there seemed to be something going on as we were leaving. Anyway, not terribly exciting since we didn't see anyone famous, just thought it was interesting!

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're walking....

I got the results back from one of my exams and within a few days signed up for another, so I've been trying to study. The test date is coming up quickly, at the end of the month, since I had to get it in before they make me transition to a new version. (I will have to transition, and there's a fancy chart explaining which old tests are equal to which new tests...basically I wanted to keep going with the tests, so it was either take one before the end of the month, or wait until the transition happens, and I already have materials for the old version anyway.)

Of course, since I've only been studying sporadically, I think the real reason I haven't blogged this week has more to do with the fact that we've been taking lots of walks. Somehow they have taken the place of blog entries. We went up north on Sunday, made a short visit to the Field Museum, wandered our neighborhood eventually stopping to eat some Indian food and wandered around Chinatown last night. I guess this is mostly because it's finally been pretty nice weather-wise.

So, anyway, it's not really much to blog about, more time out/less time in. This weekend is the big Chicago Blues festival featuring Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Betty LaVette. Both of whom we have seen before, but certainly won't miss the chance to see them again for free! And I'm finally close to finishing off the knee-high sock project, so you might see some pictures of that soon!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Something we ate this week

Pancake Coins

Though I enjoyed participating in Vegan Mofo last fall, my posts about food have been few and far between since then. The last few weeks I've been thinking I really ought to make a point of posting something about food on a weekly basis, even if Chuck is the one who made it, or it's just some packaged product we like, or that we ate out somewhere nice. Well, Chuck was the one who got around to making us a fancy breakfast this time and I'll have to do some catch up cooking next week.

Chuck was working with this recipe for "Pop up Pancakes" from a site called Make and Takes. Of course this recipe called for something like 6 eggs, which were replaced with egg replacer. In the end they didn't so much pop-up, but were still tasty and wonderful. Chuck theorized that the recipe could possible use some baking powder, or that the batter could be hand mixed rather than blended to keep it fluffy/full of air. Regardless, I hope he plans on expirimenting with this idea again because they were very yummy as coins or as pop-ups. And hopefully I'll remember to post about something food related on something like a weekly basis. Sunday seems like a good day for these posts, in general.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

3rd Largest Things in Chicago

1. McCormick Place, 2. Untitled, 3. Iron and sheilds, 4. Service Access,
5. Wandering in the Convention Center, 6. Water Show, 7. A Must have, 8. Sailing,
9. Chuck in the Vista Room, 10. Dream Catcher, 11. 350 Cermak Entrance,
12. Bang and Splash, 13. Very Huge Spaces

We've been doing some exploring since I got back into Chicago. Practically the first thing on the agenda was checking out the new Whole Foods Store (we also were in need of lots of groceries, so that worked out.) It's apparently the 3rd largest now. I had a kombucha at the bar.

We also went for a long walk around our neighborhood, ended up at the McCormick Place Convention Center. It's huge. It is actually the largest in the US, and the 3rd largest in the world.

So, if anyone knows of anything else in Chicago that is the 3rd largest something or other, I will add it to my list of things to check out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Traveling begets Finished Objects

Entrelac Socks w/shoes

I knew the trip to Ohio would involve a lot of travel time, so I packed accordingly. As far as knitting projects go, I mean. I packed about 4 projects, which of course was ridiculously over ambitious. The mentality here was similar to when I would pack 10 different books up for a 2 hour car trip as a kid. I wanted to be sure to have exactly the book I was in the mood for at any given time. And so I had lots of knitting project options.

Of course I only got one project completed in the week I was in ohio, the above pictured Entrelac sock pattern from Son of a Stitch'n'Bitch. I cast on in the car on the way there, and almost finished it before I got home, but ended up sleeping most of the ride home. So I finished off the last bit of the toe the day after getting home.

Entrelac looks impressive but I really didn't find it very difficult. Like any other project the most troublesome issues were gauge related. Initally I started making a pair of these for chuck, but they were coming out way too huge. So I adjusted down from 13 stitch to 10 stitch squares. Fortunately that seemed to do the trick. More than likely I will end up using a different pattern for Chuck's socks now, though I have to admit I still sort of like the idea of his and hers entrelac socks....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Turtles & birds/caps & gowns

1. Turtle with racing stripes, 2. Hibiscus, 3. Grandma's Yard, 4. Zorniger Education Center

I have finally returned from my original home state of Ohio. Most of the week was spent with my grandma, who lives in Middletown, OH. Middletown is a steel town (home of Armco) that I always think of as the middle between Dayton and Cincinnati. As a kid I would always spend a few weeks in the summer with my grandparents, so this trip, which was over a week long, was somewhat reminiscent of childhood.

Some of the highlights from the trip included a trip to an ice cream shop with my Aunt Jan in Lebanon Ohio and a trip with my mom to a really lovely knitting shop in Springboro. I resisted the urge to stash more yarn, even though a sugar based yarn peaked my interest and overall the shop carried very nice colorways. We also spent some time at the Cox Arboretum on the edge of Dayton. And of course, the ultimate purpose of the trip was to attend the high school graduation ceremonies of two of my cousins (the only males of my generation on each side of the family are coincidentally the same age!) Which took us to New Albany, outside of Columbus. I'm not sure how many of you (who aren't family) are following all this geography, but basically we were near my grandma's for most of that, with the exception of making a trip requiring just under 2 hours of car travel to get to New Albany.

Overall, it was a nice time of year to be back in Ohio with birds chirping, lots of green and sunshine. Although the first few days were muggy and humid, it cooled off making the trip generally much more pleasant than the Ohio I remember. And being there at the start of summer definitely beats the mid-winter Christmas trips, or the heat that will come in the next few months. It's still cooler back here in Chicago but I think I am glad to be back before it turned into Ohio summer. Plus I had been away from Chuck and Lucy for long enough.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Art Institute Take 2

Another Up shot photo

A few more pictures of the new Modern Art wing are up on my flickr. (Also check out Chuck's, he's got a fancier camera).We had a chance to go there this week and actually see a bit of the art as well as the building. It's been free all week, so it was still pretty packed, but we saw the photography, Modern European Art, and the Cy Towmbly Exhibit. Wow, we saw most of it I guess, just need to go back at some point to see the Contemporary art. It's not a small new wing!

Anyway, I'll be in Ohio for the next week. Several of my cousins are graduating high school and also college, though that comes next month. So posts will be light this week, most likely. So have a good one!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Modern Art Wing Opening

Opening Weekend Opening Weekend Opening Weekend

I had a very architectural weekend. Friday night we got to go to a preview night for volunteers of the homes on the Wright Plus tour. We managed to cram all the homes into the 2 or so hours that we had that evening, but it's a bit of a blur. I had to review the booklet the next day to get a little clarification. But it was a nice evening, and the first time I've had a chance to do much wandering around Oak Park. We will be going back just for some walks.

Since we'd been so successful covering everything there, we decided that the opening weekend of the Art Institute's Modern Wing was not something to miss. It was packed full of people, but I managed to get a few shots of details like the ones above. I do kind of like all the pictures I got of tons of people going up and down the stairs as well, that's not something that's going to happen again. Overall, it's a lovely clean and efficient building, what you would expect from Renzo Piano. I think we were all a little surprised by the amount of glare coming off of the metal flooring on his bridge, but I guess that fits in with the BP bridge by Gehry. Still, it was hard to take without sunglasses. Otherwise the experience of walking up to the restaurant and outdoor patio from the garden across the street was pleasant. We really only took in the building, though we did (appropriately) pop into the Architecture and Design exhibit. I look forward to going back soon to see how it functions on a typical day. And probably to take more pictures.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Computational Knowledge Engine

This morning chuck told me that the WolframAlpha Knowledge engine was released today. I of course had know idea what he was talking about, or even if I was sure if he was speaking english. But I went and looked for it anyway. I'm still not sure I get what it's all about, but it seems fun. I searched for my name, and the results are below. A chart that reflects what I've perceived to be true, Emma was not a common name when I was born, but had been in the past, and is currently. You can also search for dates, locations, and so forth, and it will draw statistical information from all over the internet. A pretty cool idea and fun to explore. It's still in testing, so I ran into just a few kinks, but retrying my entry seemed to get it to work.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wright Plus

Robie House

This is where I'll be today, and then again on Sunday. Wright Plus is a big event in Chicago, it's a home tour in Oak Park of homes by Frank Lloyd Wright or his contemporaries. Of course, the Robie house, which is the house I know stuff about, isn't in Oak park. So instead of activites on the day of the event, Saturday, the days around the event they are expecting Wright Plus crowds at the Robie house. I've already spent a bunch of time down there training, last weekend I helped out with some gardening, but I haven't given a tour yet. This weekend will be my first real tour! I hope it goes well.

Also this weekend is cram packed full of all kinds of events around Chicago, like the opening of the new wing at the Art Institute, architectural tours all over the city, the farmers markets have started up...all kinds of stuff. I am really not too sure what I will be doing with my Saturday yet, but regardless, I will be pretty busy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Vines for spring

Vine Scarf Vine Scarf

Scarves go quickly, most of the time. This one did, due to the fact that the fancy Bamboo yarn from Be Sweet was lovely to work with. It was not cheap stuff, I bought about a year ago. But as the label says it's "hand dyed and balled by woman in South Africa under a job creation program that has offered opportunity in an economically depressed area with a 75% unemployment rate." Sounds good! I bought it orginally thinking of the evening shrug from purl bee, but I hadn't really thought that through. I could only bring myself to splurge on two balls, and that project probably would've been about twice that. A scarf was more sensible anyway. So I had this in my stash, and it seems so nice and spring/summery, so the yarn was calling to me. I wanted something lacey, and scoured ravelry until I found the right project. I think this was it! It flew off the needles. The pattern is the Strangling Vine Lace Scarf by Nicole Hindes avaliable free here:

Monday, May 11, 2009

South Paw Studios

Oooh sparkly. This week's featured shop on the EtsyTwitter Team's Blog is South Paw Studios. My initial reaction is above, and I think that's somewhat thanks to her lovely photography skills. The sparkliness set against the rustic wood backdrop makes me want to reach out and grab these pieces, and certainly wear something so sparkly! South Paw Studios is offering a 15% discount on your order, with free shipping, details on the team's blog!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Historic Photos of Chicago

Now that it's getting a little warmer there's the possibility of exploring the city a little more. We're situated in the near south/south loop neighborhood, which really gives a sense of different eras of development in Chicago's history. Close to Printer's Row, Motor Row, Chinatown, Downtown, and the Prairie Ave. district. A stroll in any direction is a pretty lovely slice of the past.

So when I was asked if I'd like to review a book of Historic Chicago photos from Turner Publishing, I gladly said yes! It's something I can see myself flipping through before and after walks through any of these historic districts.

I expected the book to mainly be about architecture...probably because of my background, I really hadn't given too much thought to what else it might cover. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of really great pictures of people, including one I find particularly fascinating of mourners viewing Abraham Lincoln's body at the Chicago Courthouse. You can see that image at, but the print in the book is nicer, and there's a neat time lapse effect that starts to give a sense of just how many people went through.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find many pictures from the Chicago fire. I really hadn't seen images of it before, and it was more of an abstract, from the "hot time in the old town tonight" song I remember hearing as a kid, to learning about how it provided opportunities for architects of the era afterward, a whole downtown that had to be rebuilt. But seeing the photos, you really start to realize the scale of the damage that was done. It's similarly engaging (and perhaps somewhat more pleasant) to pour over the images of the Columbian Exposition, another topic I've learned about (and I'm also currently in the middle of Devil in the White City.)

I could go on, but the book covers a lot, ranging from Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr.. There is a very good balance though, effectively personalizing the history with not only images of architecture but also families, rallies, sporting events, prohibition and ticker tape parades. There's a moment in The Limits of Control where a character is discussing her love of old movies, because you can really see how people have changed. It really made me think of this collection of photos, you really get a chance to consider that, see how people went about their day to day business and how the city and the clothing looked so much different. It's really a fascinating resource to have on hand.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Jarmusch & Art

I love Jim Jarmusch movies. We were basically first in line to see his new movie The Limits of Control Friday night (while everyone else was off seeing Star Trek, I'd imagine.) I might mention a few things...We haven't gone to see very many movies the past year. I believe the last thing we saw in a theater was Indiana Jones (fun) and that was way back in Seattle. But seeing a new Jarmusch movie in the theater...these are the kinds of things I will go out of my way for. We found out it was playing at a theater here in Chicago called "pipers alley," which I thought sounded cool and artsy but turned out to be a loews/amc. Though it did feature a very odd small escalator that no one was really using and didn't really need to be there....which in my opinion gave a nice Jarmusch -y feel to the place in spite of itself.

I of course really liked it. Not everyone will, I'm sure, the pacing is slow, and it has even less dialogue than other Jarmusch films, which is saying a lot. As a confused person behind me repeatedly, annoyingly, pointed out more than once "it's sooo repetitive." (by the way i might not recommend starting with this movie if you're not familiar with his other films.) But that was all part of the way Jarmusch carefully crafts his films, and I thought was clearly related to the theme of the movie and gave an odd kind of character development that only happens in his movies.

It was really packed full of stuff to think about. I've seen so many movies where you can't make yourself care about the characters at all...Isaach De Bankolé's "lone man" says so little in this film, yet within a few scenes I was glad to be experiencing the imagery with his character in mind. He was definitely a recognizable Jarmusch character, yet I'm not sure exactly what was done to get him there, but it doesn't matter, it worked for me. And art was prominently featured, with the lone man spending much of his time in Madrid's Renia Sophia (where Picasso's Guernica is housed.) It also tied into the story line in a really lovely way. I spent my morning today googling art, trying to remember who created some of the art work featured and referenced.

I'm actually positive it's going to take a few more viewings and time to let this movie sink in, which makes me really happy. I always have such a sense that I relate to Jarmusch's films...which I tend to attribute to his being from Ohio, orginally...though that's surely a little silly since he left when he was about 17. But regardless of how he got there, I love the appreciation of art, science, taking time to consider these things, landscapes, his fascination with communication and language...and I always adore the way he films car travel. So there you have my completely biased crazy positive review from my favorite director ever. I can't wait until his next movie!

And I will definitely be seeing Star Trek in the theaters before long.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I saw Leonard Cohen!

We may have been way up in the balcony, I couldn't help but wonder how amazing the show must have been from the front (something like $500+/seat) rows, but it was still a great experience. Our first time at the Chicago Theater, which is an interesting theater space. We spent some time before hand discussing how they dust and generally keep it clean, and also counting the sculpted faces all over everything, including the chandeliers.

The show itself was a good 3 hours long without an opening act. Maybe not the greatest thing for Chuck, the night before his final review for studio, but I didn't hear many complaints. Cohen did bring along a slew of musicians though, including his collaborator Sharon Robinson and the duo The Webb Sisters, who were well featured over the course of the evening. I didn't know a lot about Sharon Robinson, and it turns out she wrote one of the great tracks off of Bettye Lavette's I've got my own hell to raise in addition to collaborating with Cohen on "The Future," "Waiting for the Miracle," and "Everybody Knows," among other songs. Her website features several tracks, including her take on Everybody Knows, which is quite different!

It was a great evening. The set decoration was sparse, but I was one of the many things I really loved about the show. Rugs covered the stage floor, which combined with Cohen's comfort on stage and his great soothing voice...It felt quite comfortable, warm and sweet. I'm still contemplating the way the pacing on several of the songs was different, slower, more dramatic in person than on the albums...which I think may lead to the need to own a copy of the live DVD that just came out. Regardless there will be many more listens to his catalog...which is always true, I never seem to get tired of any of it...but I've seen him live! That's really too cool for words.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

F.O. Again, So Soon?

Nob Hill

Well it seems soon, but it's really not so much. This project has been around nearly since the pattern. When I saw Nob Hill over on knitty last year I almost immediately started looking for yarn for it and ordered some from Nordic Mart right away. But after a few tries I gave up on it for a while. I was having trouble keeping track of my increases for some reason. It seems kind of weird now, but I think I was also feeling a little confused about gauge and thought perhaps the yarn looked a little too open in Stockinette stitch, and the color was brighter than I had anticipated. So overall I was just feeling discouraged about it. There was frogging, restarting, frogging again, packing it away for months....

Then in march of this year I pulled it out again. I guess I was determined to make nob hill and to use this yarn since I hadn't really thought up another convincing project for it. So I just went for it, figuring it might not turn out perfectly, but...whatever. That was what this yarn was meant to be for. This time I did the math, adjusted for my slightly off gauge, and ended up feeling completely fine with both the color and how open the stitches were. It's actually a fast project....but once I got to the sleeves I came to a halt again. I did one sleeve wrong, with the cast off showing on the right side, bleh! And I hadn't been careful at all about picking up stitches evenly, so they just looked all weird. I made room for the project in the closet and moved on again...

So when I pulled it out this week, there really wasn't a lot of work to be done. But there was still a lot of knitting angst to face. The sleeves that just won't sit right! Well an episode or so of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency helped me tackle them, making the much more even this time. They are still kind of wonky... After weaving in all the ends I blocked, which helped some. I am hoping they wear in and take on a reasonable shape eventually. Until then, I think I may have figured out what I'm wearing to see the new Star Trek movie! Actually, the photos I just took of this project are convincing me that it's not as sci-fi looking as it seems in my head.

My other issue is that I didn't cast on as many stitches as I probably should have for the collar. I was too worried about the sleeves still and just wanted to be done. But my hair is there, so it may not be too much of an issue. I guess I'm planning on seeing how the sleeves do. If I eventually decide I have to redo them, I might as well consider redoing the collar too....but since that's not the most motivating project, I think I'll avoid it if I can. Meanwhile...I think I'm pretty happy with the finished object overall, and the fact that all this knitting angst has drawn to a close, for now at the very least.

This project and the last one, the shalom cardigan, have seen the use of some buttons Chuck made for me on the schools laser cutter. I'm still trying to figure out a decent way to finish them, a stain, paint or sealant of some kind, but I couldn't really resist adhering them to my projects anyway.

Guess what else? Tonight is the Leonard Cohen concert I've been looking forward to for months! In just a few hours, I can't believe it. It should be great!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Shalom in Photos

I finally got some photos of the Shalom Cardigan I recently finished in action. I've already worn it at least three times, but it wasn't until the third time and the photos that I realized how happy with the project I am overall. Somehow pictures just let you know everything worked out as planned!

Front of Shalom Cardigan Back of Shalom Cardigan

I also found a little scrap busting project which used up a bit of leftover cotton-ease from my leaf cardigan, and then a cabled hat. This didn't take very long at all. Come to think of it, the leaf cardigan started as a result of some left overs from the hooded tunic project. But thanks to this pattern from Persnickety Knitter, my adventures with cotton-ease my have finally come to an end. At least in this lake/blue color way.:

Arrow Headband

And on a very unrelated subject: movies! I found out there's a new Jim Jarmush movie coming in very select locations. Not here, unfortunately. And I haven't been able to find anything about when it might see a wider release so far. But, the stills look great. Meanwhile, I guess the X-men movie about Wolverine did come out today, which is about as far from an art house Jarmush pic as you can get, but nonetheless, it sounds fun, and I've heard good things. We may be visiting a theater near us for the first time since....Indiana Jones? Yeah, I think that's right.