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Monday Morning Mirth October 11, 2010

  Monday Morning Mirth  

Never one to be sidetracked by a little research (erm), I was very curious about
the origin of the color of one of my latest projects: Hessian.

Now, I had to wade through a bunch of historical links about eighteenth-century German regiments (who were instrumental during our Revolutionary War), but eventually I came upon some fashion references…

“The cowboy boot as we know it today, as an icon of the American West and the rough riding and spirited cowboys who wore them, is a style of boot actually born far from North America as part of the military dress of Hessian (German) soldiers in the 18th century. The Hessian boot was characterized by a high shaft decorated with a tassel at the front, which was cut at a v-shape. The tip of the boot was narrowed and it had low heels that were adapted for ease of use with the riding stirrup.”

hessian_breeches_straw_woolThis, although interesting of course, did not solve the mystery of color!

So, I went down the list and came upon this:

Apparently the Fusilier Regiment von Knyphausen unit had breeches made from straw-color wool, and the shade was named “hessian”.

But it was this modern interpretation that made the light bulb go on at Chez Chic:

Pumps by Mui Mui Spr09

AHA! Hessian is burlap (or jute cloth).

And that, roughly, is the color of my sweater!

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How to Get Busy October 7, 2010

RachaelHerron: “I have that feeling that I get in fall — that there’s not enough time to make all the socks/sweaters/shawls I want to own right NOW.”

I read this this morning with my coffee and went “that’s Me!”

I am infected. It has totally gone over to sweater weather here in the Midwest and I can’t work fast enough – the ideas and projects are just pumped up.

chic knits wip

For a few days, I have a little time off from ye olde day job so I decided to put that to some good use. No Matter what one has in one’s closet, there’s always room for

chic knits wip 2Chic Knits Big BlueThings wear out. Things feel different. Tastes change.

My wardrobe, for years, has been dominated by what I’ve called sassy classics, so it’s mostly sweaters that have seen better days that are the big good-byes over here, not some buried flash in the pan (except for this which gets worn about 4 times a year in the coldest weather in January. It’s made from vintage super bulky yarn and is very very warm…)

The new things on my needles fall into two camps: little cardis and little cardis. That’s two camps you say? And you’re right!

Camp One is my bonne forte: Stockinette St! I’m starting to wonder if there is so much generational knitting imbedded in my DNA that it just feels like something my hands should be doing at all times. I’ve read about family knitting in Ireland – where everyone carried around a sock-in-progress and knit whenever they weren’t in motion or sleeping. (I especially like thinking of the “guys” down on the “corner” with the pipes smoking in the cool fall air and hands busy on the needles.) And I love going round and round; I love purling back!

So it’s no surprise that two of my personal fall sweaters are St st where I’ll get plenty-o done in a multi-tasking kind of way (erm, is television multi-tasking?). The body of the grey sweater is done and so is the right side front band, with button-holes. I like to “bribe” myself with the finishing – will do the other band and neckband after a sleeve is finished, which is next in line.

My pet/reward sweater, the turquoise ultra alpaca, has an almost finished yoke. The fabric this yarn makes is awesome – rich in tone and dense to feel, but lightweight.

Camp Two: then there’s this slightly yellow sweater…

And this is something that is giving me great pleasure, although it is taking a bit of time to come together (meaning rippage, re-do, rippage) to get quite right. I don’t think folks realize sometimes how much time a designer spends ripping and re-doing. Even things that look simple can take many tries to get it right. For instance, I knit the Maximus cowl six times to develop the pleasing proportion needed when using a super bulky yarn. Stuff just doesn’t spring into being; it needs to be crafted and refined.

The sweater is made using some deep-stashed yarn from awhile back, a RYC offering called CashCotton, in the color Hessian. Now, this was also “reward yarn” that arrived for my birthday in 2006, and I remember being enthralled to the idea of this fiber blend, but mostly excited by its color: a heathered light yellow with an intriguing blend of fibers living within – 35% Cotton, 25% Nylon, 18% Angora, 13% Rayon, 9% Cashmere! How they do that???

In the knitting, it feels a lot like cotton (with some fuzzy from the angora) which makes a more crisper than expected fabric. (Which was a little surprising.) And, of course, it is discontinued…

So I’m on the lookout for a new DK yarn to try for this design that has a nice softness, (without the “cashmere” hoohah, snark) that has that combination of hand and silght drape that will make this design perfect. Is it out there?

Après YarnCon October 5, 2010


What a fun time we had this weekend at YarnCon! Even though my new (!*&#^@**) little point-n-shoot camera flubbed royal, here’s what the little Chic Knits station looked like, right before the doors opened. The building where this is held, the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, is a few blocks from our house and is like many of the buildings in our neighborhood, built from bricks. But what makes this place so special are the murals! I was so excited to be “under the arch” a depression-era piece from the early 20th century.

“Completed in 1914, Pulaski Park was designed by architect William Carbys Zimmerman and renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen. In 1919, Jensen met with officials at the Art Institute of Chicago to discuss the idea of a competition for art students to paint a mural on the semi-circular proscenium above the stage in the field house auditorium. The West Park Commissioners provided the prizes of $100, $50, and $25 and instructors at the School of the Art Institute selected the winners. The first prize went to James G. Gilbert, who received $200 for materials as well as the $100 prize. In 1920, Gilbert painted his mural composed of a dramatic series of allegorical figures.”

Although the meaning of Mr. Gilbert’s allegory continues to be a mystery, it is speculated that the mural represents survival and success in a new place as the figures seem to be reaching for the sky and striving for a higher place. The neighborhood was predominantly Polish, and like many, very crowded with people living in wicky old tenements, with no space, air or room to move. Park houses like this gave people places to gather socially and recreate, a place that transcended their regular habitat.

YarnCon 2010YarnCon 2010YarnCon 2010

And transcend we did! You can see in Natalia’s great pictures above that not only was this room filled with lots of yarn and yarn folk, but the show continued to another large room as well. I was lucky enough to be right next door to the fabulous Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, from Kitchen Sink Dyeworks and across from Yarn Hollow (~~wave~~ Rita – who was wearing the most incredible Basic Chic Hoodie made from her hand-dyed Blue Face Leicester). And WOW! We had the best time meeting and greeting all the wonderful people who visited the show. Big hugz and thanks to all who stopped by to say hello or meet us for the very first time! :)

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