Tour de Knit Chicago Day 1

Okay, okay, I didn’t really go to Chicago just to knit — I had an educational meeting to attend.

Which was a great excuse to go and knit Chicago!

The Story of Day 1: (Warning; long with many pictures! I’m just overly excited about it all! You have my express permission to skip over the parts that bore you.)

Originally the whole family was to leave today (day 1) with me, as the girls were scheduled to be done with school the day prior to departure. But due to weather-related school closures this winter and early spring, the kids are not done with school until tomorrow as they have to make up the ‘snow days’.

So plan B is that I will go on the train

amtrak.jpgdepot.jpgtrain-crossing.jpgridin-the-rails.jpg

to Chicago, and the family will join me by car tomorrow night.

Hey, if you’ve got the time, the train is the place — for knitting, that is!

Fortunately, there was a whole car reserved for Chicago passengers, which was not very full yet (that changed later), so I had a seat to myself for awhile, until several Amish families boarded, and a little girl about 7, sat next to me. She was a little concerned about the camera (more accurately, why I was pointing it out of the window taking pictures of — apparently — nothing in particular), but she was interested in my knitting.

I was knitting a prayer shawl (pink fuzzy was just a little hard to handle mentally as I was running on too little sleep). [Photos of the prayer shawl in tomorrow’s post. ] This prayer shawl (my second) was started last year for no one in particular, and then put aside. Now I’m going to finish it, unfortunately, for a friend of the family who lost his wife recently. She was in poor general health, but her death was out of the blue, and she leaves behind a husband and young daughter. So I sat and knit, and thought about them; and read a little; and ate.

In the dining car, since I was ‘single’, I was seated with a couple other solo passengers. Only near the end of lunch did one of my tablemates and I figure out that we had gone to the same medical school one year apart! He is a pediatrician in the Twin Cities, and also an amateur figure skater (amateur in the fullest sense of the word, meaning someone who does something out of pure love for it). So we could empathize about middle-aged athletes doing non-traditional things, like me with ballet! We knew a lot of the same people, but not each other — unlike residency, in a big medical school, you don’t really get to know people a year away from you unless by chance you happen to be on a rotation together. I of course knit at the table too while awaiting lunch.

So after almost 6 hours of peace, quiet, knitting, watching an adorable 1-year-old Amish baby, and window-gazing:

window-1.jpgwindow-2.jpgwarehouse-depot.jpgwindow-3.jpgwindow-lake.jpgsmoking-stop-mwaukee.jpgklements.jpggiant-necco-wafer.jpg

(check out the giant Necco wafer at the end!) we arrived in Chicago:

warehouse.jpgview-from-el.jpgkilbourn-ave.jpgel-view.jpg

via the El tracks (notice we’re at treetop level in the second picture!), practically on time, where I took a cab from

Union Station union-station.jpgmen-at-work.jpgto my hotel.the-drake-at-evening.jpg and then the FUN began.

After claiming the room by strewing possessions around itbed.jpg

I grabbed my knitting (see pink fuzzy on the bed?) and headed out to

blinkiekip3.gif(graphic borrowed from Theresa)

Right place, right time to be in Chicago sans family!

But first, from Bonne Marie‘s link to helpful info, I had to check out Nina, a yarn shop not far from Letizia.

Sadly, I was overcome by yarn fumes and forgot to get any pictures of the shop.

Here’s what I did get, though:

nina-booty.jpg

That, my lovelies, is Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton in bone and color-grown sage (soft as a sigh!) and Ali’s Fitted Tank pattern, which I saw and coveted on her blog last month! Since I sadly did not win the pattern in her contest, I had to go buy it! It is a little ironic that I, who live just on the Wisconsin side of the Minnesota border, had to go to Illinois to buy a pattern from a Minnesota small business by a Minnesota designer.

I have enough yarn to either make the tank top all in bone, or (my thought) do the bottom ribbing in soft sage as well as the neck and armhole edging, but the rest in bone. If I hate it, I can frog and reknit all in bone! And either way, the remainder will make a very nice baby something!

While my yarn was being wound (I was considering the possibility of near-immediate knitting gratification), I picked up Amy Singer‘s No Sheep For You and was enthralled. So much so that, tearing myself away to KIP, I left my purse on the counter. . . .

Next I found out something about Chicago. Like St. Paul, and like Topsy, it just kind of grew (unlike Minneapolis and Rochester, Minnesota, much of which were planned when they underwent rapid growth). One of the results is that blocks, streets, and numbering are sometimes creative. I foolishly chose to wear my cute and comfortable flats, since by the street address numbers, Letizia was only maybe 4 blocks from Nina. uh Yup. When the numbers started to continue for 3 blocks before changing to the next 100, I started to realize my error. But nothing I could do about it now. Limping slightly, I found my way to a warm welcome at Letizia,

letizias-exterior.jpg

where Bonne Marie and Mary made me feel immediately at home. As I put my knitting bag down and went to get an iced tea and bite to eat for supper — oops. No purse. (I usually don’t carry a separate purse; that and No Sheep For You are my only excuse.) Luckily I had a card I had grabbed at Nina, and my cell phone (not always the case), and I called and reached the owner, who was trying to lock up but was Googling and calling around to try to locate me. I was thrilled that she was still there and had my purse, but my heart also sank. I was tempted to walk barefoot back to the shop to avoid my blisters worsening, but thought perhaps that wouldn’t be the best idea on Chicago streets.

**Recently in the blogosphere, there was a lot of testifying going on as to rude, unhelpful LYS owners at Alison’s Blue Blog. I did leave a comment that my experiences with yarn shop owners had been at worst neutral, and usually great. Here’s a real-life example:**

Nina (the shop owner and the one who had been waiting on me) not only had somehow tracked me down as far as the hotel I was staying at and was about to drive downtown to drop the purse off, but volunteered to drive the purse to me at Letizia on her way home. (I didn’t even mention my blisters, I promise!) Talk about wonderful customer service! Thank you, Nina! And her shop is beautiful, serene with gorgeous yarns laid out like a work of art. I could have spent much more money and time had I not been in a little bit of a hurry to get to Letizia!

So, then I could really enjoy the rest of ChicKnits KIP!

letizia-kip-cropped.jpg

(Definitely click to enlarge! When I post the picture full size, the right side of the table gets cut off. So you get a thumbnail instead.) Aren’t they a grand bunch of knitters! Among others, I met Theresa with busy Miss Z (in progress), Mary, Bonne Marie, Michelle, Rachel, Molly and Dana. I think. Forgive me and let me know if I have goofed up or missed someone or misattributed blogs. I’ve left out one name, because there was also a shy knitter:

kip-natural-light.jpg (Note to self: even if natural light is preferable, it doesn’t always work without a tripod, and certainly not with the little travel digital camera. But note shy knitter in her natural habitat on the left.)

Was that Corinne, by chance?

Ensued a marvelous evening of knitting and talking knitting, with occasional obstetrical asides (mostly on my part, not Theresa’s!). Some vintage and recent knitting magazines and pattern books were shared, progress was made on pink fuzzy as well as others’ projects, and a great time was had by all. Then home (thanks, Theresa, for the lift part way home!) to sleep the sleep of the weary and happy. If I dreamed, it would have been about knitting. But I don’t think I dreamed. I probably smiled in my sleep, though.

In other news, actually from today:

The Dulaan deadline is nearing. Today I started and finished Ken’s Dulaan hat

and here it is: dulaan-hat.jpg

The spiral striping is serendipitous. (Don’t you love serendipity? It’s the best kind of dipity there is!) This is, as I recall, Plymouth Yukon Print, a soft bulky blend of mohair, wool and acrylic. (I think I left the ball band at work, though, so don’t quote me on that.)

As I was out in the yard confusing the neighbors by taking pictures of hats, I saw this little buddy:

baby-bunny.jpg

He’s destructive and will eat anything of mine he can get his little paws on (kind of like a toddler!) but he’s SO CUTE! (Also like a toddler!)

Coming tomorrow:

Day 2 of Knit Chicago!

One response to “Tour de Knit Chicago Day 1

  1. Man that looks like fun. I’m from MA and went to school out on Long Island so the trains were THE way to travel in my college days. I loved the time in those seats, quiet and contemplative, admiring the landscape and the fact that I wasn’t driving🙂
    I’m glad you had a good time.

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