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Thursday, May 22, 2008

more color inspiration…

Barbara Kay writes, talking about the sweater color in the last post: “…Actually, I was thinking “it’s Crepe Myrtle pink”. Crepe Myrtles do come in a lovely cotton-candy pink, and in white. However, the most planted here (perhaps the hardiest?) is the color of your sweater. (Here is south Louisiana).”

This comment made me so sentimental! When I first started gardening, years ago (after seeing one in LA), I fell in love with the Crepe Myrtle and tried to plant one in my front yard. Our *Zone* (5b) is just a little too cold (erm, it’s 43° right now in the morning) and it was not to be! Back then, I didn’t know anything about matching plants to the weather conditions of an area, so I was mystified and so disappointed when my little tree didn’t come back in the Spring…

Chicago loves its plants! I’m often at City Hall and there are now huge planters, curbside and in the large windows, full of the most fabulous seasonal flowers and more!

Up top you see that wonderful shade of Fuschia, this time in a Buttercup! Or, for you horticulturalists out there, Ranunculus Fuschia (factoids on Ranucnculus Bulbs). I came face to face with this beauty while parking my car and couldn’t resist a shot with ye olde camera. Here’s two of my color obsessions in the wild, together and quite stunning, but WAIT.

Isn’t that lovely green in the background Lettuce?

Indeed, lettuce (and kelp kale) are favorite cool-weather ornamentals here in the Big Windy. I used to throw seed out as soon as you could poke the ground at my old place and it makes a wonderful, frothy companion to the Bulbs of Spring and other cool variety flowers.

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Here at the Hall, you see pansies, johnny-jump-ups, snap dragons (another favorite of moi), tulips, and the whimsical lettuce.

Our Chicago Park District Flower people are some of the finest in the world! Many of the things planted in the various municipal boxes, planters, hangers and parks are started from seed and lovingly tended at the Lincoln or Garfield Park hothouses, then planted out at several times during the year. This way, we Up Norths get to enjoy the lush beauty of the southern regions’ more bountiful varieties.

Sometimes, they get a little too envious of the tropics—a few years ago, at Roosevelt and Michigan, there was a huge plant-out of Palm Trees, Banana Plants, and other imported deep south region trees and flowers. The mighty Citizens of Chicago rejected it out of hand, dubbing the area “Gilligan’s Island” and insisted that the City money would’ve been better spent on something we were used to looking at! Looking back, that planting did appear woe-begone and lonely in front of all the Boul Mich skyscrapers and the experiment was never, ever repeated!

That event, however, hasn’t prevented the Park folk from sticking Bamboo every/anywhere they can fit it in :) The appeal is lost on me most of the time…

But just look at this lovely bunch the City fashioned for us:

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

RE-New Threads TUESDAY!

Give a girl a couple of days off the Hamster Wheel that is Life and all of a sudden! Things start getting done ;p

I finally finished the second buttonband of my cardigan from long ago (2004). This sweater was a Shirley Paden design from Vogue Knitting Magazine Fall 2002 (executed in Filatura di Crosa: 401) that I changed from being a turtlenecked pullover to a zipped-up collared cardigan (wherein I bit off more than I could chew — see mods below), and used a zipper closure which was w.r.o.n.g.

So wrong, I rarely wore the thing!

Now, like a little breath of Spring air (omg, it’s STILL 47° degree mornings here) I have a (re)New sweater to enjoy.

I love it. I love the color! I remember the day I bought the yarn, I walked right over to it which is only unusual if you’ve ever been shopping with me. Most will attest, to my embarrassment, I usually beeline any old chartruese yarn that fills the frame.

Not that day. It was Fuschia!

Perhaps the siren song I heard was from the Basin; I’d seen, in the many years I visited New Orleans in the early spring, the explosion of the Azaleas; the excitement of the Rhododendrons…

These flowering bushes have potent, saturated blooms, sometimes in the very color of le Cardigan!

I also got to finally use some buttons that had been lingering in the basket since ’04. They are dark burgundy, with carved faces showing stylized petals.

From the Archives: the Neckline Mods…

the Original SIN

The original pattern was for a pullover with a turtleneck. First of all, pullovers made from wool are out of the Chic Knits repertoire because they cannot be thermostatically controlled like a cardigan. Our North American residences and business are usually overheated and if I can’t get some air in the mix, I’ve found I probably will rarely wear the garment.

So, a cardigan it became.

AND, the turtleneck had to go because it wouldn’t work with the new idea. This neckline was going to be fresh and a little naughty and I envisioned it with a large portrait collar emanating from a rather low scoop neck…


So, I set to shaping the neckline at a point determined by measurement and where a pattern repeat would make it easier.

Good solid logical thinking.

What I did not do properly the First Try was the shaping. You can see how angled and sloppy the finished product is:


the Brainstorm

I could not just let this alone. I was playing with another sweater design – very different – but similar in the fact that it too, needed a scoop neck.

Well, my usual neck shaping is *Bind-off xx stitches at the neck edge, then DEC 1 st at the neck edge every other row…*

BLAH, Blah, blah…

A versatile, simple neckline to be sure, but like everything in the world, ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL…

I needed a curved neck that had a gentle slope.

I needed ART!

Art School rears its Gelled Head…

What do you get when you cross Fashion Training with an Engineering degree? Why, a desperate need to solve the puzzle.

And I had the tools, I just didn’t know it.

After undergrad, I went Post-al and studied Graphic Design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

And, as I considered the distorted wavy neckline, I remembered I knew how to draw curves in Freehand (from Macromedia) and Illustrator (from Adobe)…

So out comes the graph paper.

On goes an actual stitch count / row count of the front piece, with the selected dimensions I chose for the shoulder width, armhole depth and my shaping and the neckline drop.

I also added red lines every 10 boxes vertically and horizontally.

the Fun of IT!

Now it got very exciting for me because I realized it was going to be a game of connect the dots !

I drew a curve with the pen tool, that went from about 2" in from the front edge to the interior shoulder edge.

The ~2" was going to be the initial flat center of the neckline.

Then it would curve up to the shoulder.

Making my curve, I tried to hit the edges of the graph paper boxes to form a nice graduation. I didn’t want it to be too extreme or angled.


Quick Draw

With the curve in place , now all I had to do was draw my stitches along its shape.

I made another line going across then up, across then up, hitting the curve wherever it intersected with a box edge.


You can see, from right to left:

  • Bind-off 12 sts at Row 30
  • Work one row.
  • Bind-off 3 sts once.
  • Work one row.
  • Bind-off 2 sts once.
  • DEC one stitch at neck edge every row twice.
  • DEC one stitch at neck edge every ALT row twice.
  • DEC one stitch at neck edge every 4th row 3 times.
  • DEC one stitch at neck edge every 6th row once.

Who’s the Boss

I printed out my new and shiny graph, frogged the nasty Right Front piece right back to the armhole shaping, and FOLLOWED MY NEW IMPROVED INSTRUCTIONS!

What did I get for all of my trouble?

An elegant curved edge :


No Software?

In my first Graphic Design course at SAIC, the instructor FORBID us to use computers at all. About a third of the class transferred to another section. I wanted to jump right in and get my hands dirty so I just kept on.

Somehow it was just emancipation to grab pencil and rubber eraser and go organic…

Fear not ! Just print out the graph paper and draw your curve by hand…

Get thee to thy local Office Despot or Wallgrins and buy thyself a CURVE!


Whether you use a fabulous French Curve like the ones by ALVIN pictured above or the school supply verison protracter/curve I got at the Dollar Store for $.50 below:


or even the edge of a bowl or plate, the results are the same:

You want to draw a nice edge outline that can be transformed
into the perfect neckline!

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Monday, May 18, 2007

  Monday Morning Mirth  

This is in honor of all pets who LURV their TV! I spent several days last week enjoying some down time with the Box and everytime an animal would enter the picture, the dog would jump either up and down in front of the TV or sit like a sphinx, strangely mesmerized…

It really made me wonder about what it might be doing to me ;p
bonus: a picture of BooBoo, our family dog, watching hockey…

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