Of want and plenty

I nearly resorted to buying eggs this week. The poor hens have been so discombobulated by the raccoon visit that they still are not back to a regular laying cycle. After the “misfires” in the days immediately following, I was finding nothing in the nestbox most days. A week has passed and I’ve gotten only 2 eggs: one today and one on Wednesday.

I had planned to bake some chocolate zucchini bread this week, but I’ve held off because I don’t want to use up every egg in the house. And if I need to buy eggs, I’d rather use the store bought ones for baking than fresh eating. So I just keep holding off on baking or eating eggs. I suppose I’ll give in sooner or later. Or maybe the hens will be back on schedule soon. Is that too much to ask?

This week I’ve worked at home a lot because I caught a cold and didn’t want to pass it on to my colleagues at the office. I’m so thoughtful, aren’t I? Working at home also means I can slip in little naps and lie-downs, too, which is helpful when one is feeling icky.

Being cooped up in the house this much hasn’t exactly been a hardship, but I realized today that my solitary time at home is much more precious when its balanced by time out in the world. And today I went out into the world in a big way by going to Stitches Midwest.

The main attraction was really to see my friends. Adrienne was spending the weekend at the convention hotel because she’s taking a class. Rachael, her mom, Jamie, and Krista were heading up just for the day to shop at the Market. I could have caught a ride with them, but I needed to run some errands in the area.

So this morning I popped a Mucinex D and hit the road. I didn’t go to Stitches last year so it was the first time I’ve experienced it at the Schaumburg convention center. Very nice. And while a person may not be able to take the el out to Schaumburg directly, there’s a free trolley service that stops at the Convention Center and connects up to the PACE terminal, making it possible to get there and back on public transit.

I had a budget in mind and Adrienne promised to help me stick with it. Walking around the Stitches Market its possible to lose control pretty easily. There are many, many books to browse and amazing yarns of all colors, weights, and fiber compositions abound. We walked around fondling and exclaiming over them all. And we totally lost our heads.

As much as Adrienne said she’d help me stay on track, she couldn’t restrain herself this year. After being in the Market area for 6 hours and filling up her large Loopy Ewe shopping bag plus acquiring another to shopping bag full of yarn to boot, she barely pulled herself away from a skein of cashmere as we exited the Market floor.

And me, how did I fare? Well…yeah, I blew my budget. I’ll own up to it like a big girl. It’s too dark to take photos but I’ll make note of the purchases now while they’re still fresh: a kit to knit Cia in Island Moss (green) KidLin ; a huge hank of un-branded sock-weight superwash (enough to knit a pair of socks for one of the Esalen workshop leaders, as promised!); a pattern for a cardigan; a pattern for a wrap; a set of 3 funky ceramic buttons for a sweater I just finished; a pewter shawl stick; and a silk Lantern Moon bag.

I made two major splurge purchases. At the Elegant Ewe‘s booth I spotted a rare find: a few copies of A Stitch in Time. I first heard about this book on the Cast-on podcast and was greatly intrigued. A book full of vintage patterns updated to work with modern yarns and in modern sizes, it sounded amazing. And it is. I wasn’t going to order it from the UK sight unseen, but browsing through the store copy today I decided it was well worth the hefty price of nearly $50.

There are 56 patterns in the book and while I certainly wouldn’t want to knit all of them there are more than enough to make my hands itch to get started on one. I showed the book to Adrienne, who barely glanced at it before reaching into her wallet for the cash and sending me back to the booth to get a copy for her while she completed another purchase.

My final splurge purchase was a sweater kit to knit Imogen. I’ve had this pattern on my wish list for years (no exaggeration) and Adirondack Yarns sold it bundled with Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester Aran. I got a lovely, mottled, pewter gray kettle-dye. I suppose I could have purchased the pattern separately (I see they have it on Patternfish now), but this is a pattern that must be knit in a yarn with subtle color variations, and the Fleece Artist yarn fit the bill beautifully.

I nearly bought the Lady of the Lake kit, too, but I restrained myself. I do have *some* control. But now I’m quite certain that I will cancel the bi-weekly cleaning service so I can get back on budget again. Because budgeting is all about prioritizing, right? And I’ll pick yarn over a clean house any day. Is that bad?

Diversions

Of course I’ve been busy with work, but I have found time to have some fun lately.

One of the pleasures of living in a large city is the range of experiences and diversions open to you. Last night, I went with my friends Rachael and Shannon to the Music Box Theatre for one of the strangest and memorable experiences I’ve ever had.

I always enjoy attending a film at the Music Box. While the management has found a way to wedge in a small screening room where they show a few films, most movies are screened in a well-preserved example of the grand old cinemas that were the norm in the first half of the 20th century. OK, the original seats aren’t as comfy as those found in the modern cineplex, but the beautiful interior is a treat.

Music Box also shows films that you just can’t see anywhere else in Chicago. I remember seeing Guillermo del Toro‘s film Cronos at the Music Box in 1993 and being entertained by a live organ performance before the film started. Last summer Mark and I went there to see The War Tapes (which I highly recommend).

Last night Music Box presented a live performance of Brand Upon the Brain!. I’m still not sure how to interpret this film, but the performances were fantastic and the experience was, as I said, very memorable. I don’t think there was an empty seat in the house, and it was a lot of fun to have the Foley artists right below the screen so I could see how they made some of sound effects. Who knew what a key role celery plays in horror films!

We had beautiful weather yesterday, too, so it was quite a treat to sit outside at Julius Meinl for a pre-movie nosh. The sandwiches were good, but the Millenium Torte was awesomely yummy!

I wish I could say that I spent the splendid day working in my garden, but I can’t. I still have no beds in place for my vegetables, and I’m starting to get a bit annoyed by the delay. Apparently the landscaper wants to time things such that the crew is here to complete the entire job — hardscaping the yard (including building the veggie beds) and putting in the ornamentals — and not have to come back again to finish. She’s waiting for the dreaded 17-year cicadas to emerge, mate, and die before kicking off the project.

Instead of working in the garden, I spent the gorgeous day indoors yesterday learning Japanese short rows at a Windy City Knitting Guild workshop. I’ve worked short rows before, but I was very pleased to learn this new techinque which makes much, much better results for me.

I’m still working on the Lift and Separate wrap sweater and the same pair of Tofutsies socks. I haven’t had a lot of knitting time lately, so my WIPs are going quite slowly. I’m in the finishing stage of the sweater but there’s just a lot of finishing involved for this sweater, including knitting and sewing on the edging, and knitting the side ties. K1P1 ribbing is just not a fast knit for me.

Typically I don’t showcase photos of yarn but I just can’t resist showing this off.

Recycled and handpainted cashmere yarnIt’s a “reclaimed” yarn from Allspunup on Etsy. She unraveled the yarn from a sweater, washed and set the yarn, plied it to make a slightly thicker yarn, and then handpainted it. This is a fingering weight yarn that I’m going to use to make a small shawl/scarf for myself. The price was very reasonable, and she was super fast in getting it to me: I ordered on a Friday and had it in my hands on Monday.

I think Etsy is my newest obsession…