Close call

While coming home from Stitch n’ Bitch tonight, I was nearly assaulted.

I narrowly managed to elude harm, and am now sitting here trying to cut through the lingering effects with a cold beer. As for the other party, it’s probably still hanging out in a yard, digging for juicy grubs. Yes, my potential assailant was…a skunk.

Riding the bus home from the el station was an option, but the weather is nice tonight and I really need the exercise. So, I walked. I was strolling along enjoying the new Mosh Knit podcast, when I smelled it: the thick, musky stench of a skunk. About five steps later, I saw it. And it was close. Too close. Maybe about 10 feet away from me.

I paused. It paused. It started to raise it’s tail, and I quickly back pedaled, then side stepped into the street and across to the other side. I sighed with relief, and continued to cautiously make my way home.

A half block later, I smelled another one. I was getting really nervous, looking around for it. (Apologies to the two young women sucking each other’s faces off in a car. I wasn’t gaping at you. Yes, I did a double take, since that isn’t something I see very often in my neighborhood. But the reason my walk had slowed so much was so I could take extra care in looking for the next skunk, not so I could check out the action more closely.)

Finally, I decided that the safest course of action was to walk down the middle of street. Yes, I had to keep track of approaching cars, but at least I wasn’t skunked.

And you thought living in the city meant that the only wildlife we see is in the zoo? Hah!

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Guess

OK, three guesses as to what these photos mean.
Grazing sheep

Grazing sheep.

A friendly dog A friendly dog.

Wheels and fiber Wheels and fiber.

Yes, the correct answer is: a vist to The Fold! [OK, photo number 2 may have been a bit of a red herring, but those who have visited The Fold are familiar with Eric, the official shop “greeter.”]

Jamie, Rachael and I visited The Fold yesterday and had a fabulous time. The traffic on I-90 was reasonable, the weather was sweet (not too hot, not too cold), and we had a fabulous time visiting with Toni, trying out a wheel, and fondling fibers and yarn.

Before arriving at The Fold, we stopped in downtown Marengo for lunch at the Marengo Cafe, a nice little diner with fabulous hamburgers, and then crossed over to the Flatlander Market for some local and gourmet goodies to take home, and some full strength coffee to go. Suitabley fortified for a few hours of fiber fun, we headed down the road to The Fold.

The sheep were out (obviously) and we “city girls” lamely attempted to get their attention by “baaing” and waving stalks of grass. You can see the reaction we elicited in our “group shot” below.
The whole crew

There are lots more photos, but Blogger is being a pain again and not allowing me to post them. So, visit the set on Flickr and enjoy!

I’ve been up to…

Lots of work, for sure, but also periods of fun, fun, fun.

I had a wonderful birthday week, including gifts from friends and a cake presented to me at WWKIP. Jamie gave me homemade gifts: handspun yarn and a necklace, and Rachael gave me a beautiful Dracinia that is now gracing the upper porch. Mark bought me a video iPod, which I think I’ve finally gotten used to. And the following weekend, my sister presented me with a wonderful picnic dinner that we enjoyed while enjoying School of Rock at Independence Park (one of the Chicago Park District’s Movies in the Park events).

So, it hasn’t been all work and no play.

The garden beds are taking good care of themselves. At this time of year, I only have to make sure it stays watered, do some light weeding, and enjoy the fruits of my labors.

black raspberry cluster A ripe black raspberry, on the bush and ready for picking.

raspberry harvest All this was harvested just today. Plenty more to come!

raspberries close upGiant berries! Look at the size of the yellow raspberry on the right. Geez, you’d think I was feeding the plant my own blood. No, this isn’t Little Shop of Horrors in my backyard. All the yellow raspberries are huge for some reason.

Obviously, the black and yellow raspberries have started to ripen. The red ones are always a week or two behind for some reason.

Well, Blogger isn’t letting me show you any more photos right now, so I may as well sign off. We’ve got a bottle of wine to consume and a pizza to cook. Ah…I love Friday nights!

WWKIP, Chicago style

Knitting in handNature smiled on us today. When I woke up this AM, it was to the sound of rain beating against the windows. But, as the time drew near to leave for World Wide Knit in Public Day, the rain stopped and the sun started to peek through the clouds.

It was a lovely day to sit in Millenium Park and knit.
Knitters galoreThe day was delightfully cool, which allowed knitters to wear their hand knits very comfortably.
Lots of knittersSweaters, socks, shawls, and scarves of all kinds were oohed and ahhed over.
The orange shawlYarns and patterns were discussed. New friends were made.
Chatting with AidanWe all enjoyed the day so much that we may just have a monthly gathering in Millenium Park during the summer months.

Special thanks to Aidan for organizing this wonderful day, and to my husband Mark for taking such fabulous photos. There are many more available in the Chicago WWKIP set of my Flickr account.

A Stitch n Bitch controversy

No, not the controversy about Sew Fast Sew Easy.
Bite Me SFSE Button published with the permission of The Knitting Curmudgeon. Thanks!

I mean this crisis that faced the few “early bird,” dedicated SnB women who showed up at our usual gathering place last night.

Eviction NoticeLocked out! No Trespassing! And no place to knit. This caught us off guard until some quick thinking women who live in the neighborhood came up with an alternate location for the evening. Then we just needed to figure out how to spread the word the folks who would be coming by a bit later.

That’s a sheet of notepaper Jamie luckily had on hand, and I found a couple bandages in my purse that we used to stick the note on the door.

I feel kind of bad for the cafe owner. I guess his business wasn’t doing so well, although he was always very nice to us. Now we also have to figure out where to gather. This location was so convenient: close to an el stop and major bus lines for those who take public transit, and with plenty of street parking for those who drive.

I’ve had some knitting progress recently, though. Another Finished Object! May I present, my wonderfully functional fingerless mittens:
fingerless mittensI wore them at the office yesterday after the super high level of air-conditioning began to numb me. They helped a lot. Although, when one of my colleagues dropped by my cubicle and saw me with a shawl (my Clapotis) draped around me and a pair of fingerless mittens on, he commented that I looked like Bob Cratchit. I really don’t care…I’m warm!

A wonderful, Neat(by) day!

Ok, that title may sound corny, but I couldn’t resist. Today I took a day off of work and did this:

Swatch1
Swatch2Photos courtesy of Mark Williams: my awesome, highly talented husband.

The Windy City Knitting Guild is hosting a series of workshops this weekend with Lucy Neatby. I couldn’t resist the chance to meet Lucy and learn some of her innovative techniques. I had a total blast today, and am signed up for another course on Sunday AM that I am now extremely excited about.

The swatches above show some of the great techniques I learned today, such as Channel Islands cast on, short-row garter stitch heels for socks, a different crocheted provisional cast on, a Turkish or after-thought sock heel, and a chimney to aid with grafting. Oh, I learned more than that, but it just doesn’t show on these swatches.

I haven’t taken a lot of knitting classes, but I have to say that Lucy is my hands down favorite instructure now. Some designers and authors may come across great on paper, but they just lack certain people skills needed for conducting classes. Lucy was able to handle a room full of independent women: keeping us all on the same page (or close enough to it that her presentations really worked), and dealing with us all with a calm, interested demeanor. I learned a LOT from her session on Sensational Socks, and what I learned applies to not just socks.

As for my real “on the needles” projects, I’m still finishing up those toe-up socks. I’ve finished the short-row heel (in stockinette stitch) so it will soon be done. Really, it shouldn’t take too long to finish up the leg portion, especially since I’ve now moved up from 2.25 mm double point needles to 2.5 mm Addi Turbo (circular) needles.

I’ve also started on a pair of fingerless mittens in DK weight Knit Picks Merino Style. These are absolutely essential to have completed ASAP now that we are into air conditioning season at work. There are days when I get so cold that my fingers and nose become icy and numb. I’m hoping the fingerless mittens will help. I’m also thinking that I may need to knit a pair of leg warmers for the days I wear skirts and maybe even a nose warmer…assuming our business casual dress code will allow it.

In the garden I am still way behind. I haven’t even put the purchased tomato and pepper plants in the ground. Mark did generously help me move around compost after work on Wednesday, and I have most of my shrub pruning done.

Now that I have a Flickr account, I’m kind of lazy about posting photos here on my blog. I do update the Flickr account at least once a week with new photos, so be sure to check out the newest ones of what’s blooming in the garden.

At least the mating frenzy of the box elder bugs seems to be over now, making it a little less creepy in the garden. They’re essentially harmless to my garden, but having hundreds of double ended mating pairs crawling around in the mulch or unlucky singles flying up at you is kind of gross and off-putting.