sweetfigs   s w e e t   f i g s


                in pursuit of a fruitful life


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The unofficial start of summer

We had a great weekend, even though we stayed home most of the time to work on the house.

On Friday night we went to the garden center so that we could fill up the planters on the front stoop, the flower boxes in the back yard, and that narrow little bed that runs along the back fence. We got everything planted and swept up before it started drizzling rain. Perfect timing.

On Saturday and Sunday we tackled the kitchen and either threw out or gave away a bunch of stuff we no longer need, and then reorganized what was left. Top to bottom, it all got attention. The place looks better, it's sparkling clean, and it feels great to have a new kitchen.

It wasn't all work, though. Since a lot of Chicagoans were out of town, we snagged a table at the tiny new Neopolitan pizza place. We took a bottle of wine and had a fresh spinach salad with goat cheese, sweet strawberries, and balsamic vinegar dressing, a plate of grilled calamari with garlic, lemon and olive oil, and a thin crust roasted vegetable pizza. The service was charming and attentive. Our only disappointment was not having enough room for the locally-made gelato. We're giving Sapore di Napoli 4 stars. And that bottle of red after a long day wasn't bad either. ;)

The long weekend also gave me time to pop into the bead store to find a sterling chain for my mom's new dogwood pendant. I'm pretty sure she'll like it. It's truly wearable art from Jenna's etsy shop -- she drew the flower on a piece of that shrinky dink plastic and then baked it.

I'm also sending my mom a pair of socks. Trekking XXL color 109, knit on US size 1 Crystal Palace bamboo dpns, 72 stitches, flap heel. I didn't think this yarn needed any fancy stitchwork. The Haphazard Knitter just happened to be casting on with the same colorway, and she said she was using #1s & 72 stitches, so I did the same. We won't mention the fact that she got her's done in a few weeks and that I needed a few months.

And looka, the peony that was camera shy last week has become a big show off. Maybe I should have saved this for Eye Candy Friday.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Happy Friday, people!

We were going to spend the three-day weekend in Da Yupee, but my guy talked me into staying home so that we can "get things done." We've got some purge/organize type projects to work on indoors, and we're going to finish planting the garden outdoors.

Many of our outdoor plants didn't survive the winter. I think it's because it was so dry in the Fall, and then so cold/hot/cold during the winter. My lavender plant is only about 1/3 the size it was last year. The greatest lost was a fragrant rose bush that we inherited from the previous homeowner. It was probably at least 20 years old. It makes me a little heartsick to think we lost a vintage, non-hybridized plant. We're going to find another rose, but it's not going to be the same, it won't be the gorgeous dark red one that was planted by the little German man that used to live here.


Our peony survived, though. The ants are still hard at work removing the wax from the buds, so it's not quite camera ready. The peony in the picture lives in our friends' side yard. Maybe our's will be camera ready by the end of the weekend, and I can photograph it with a (gasp) new FO.

See you next week. :)


Thursday, May 24, 2007

What's for lunch?

Yesterday I walked over to the Daley Center on my lunchbreak. Asian American Festival is going on all this week, so the plaza is filled with entertainment and booths of food, jewelry and home decorations.

I had a big bowl of Pad Thai and a mango lassi, and got to watch the fabulous dancers from Saint Therese Chinese Catholic School. The boys were dragons, and the girls performed the Ribbon Dance (girls in the bright pink), the Peacock Dance (girls in the light green), and the Pig Dance (little girls in the light pink tutus). Aren't they cute?
Asian American Festival

Today promises to be another bright, sunny day, a perfect one for lunch on the plaza. If you want to see the entertainers, be there between noon to 1:30.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Light a fire

We're back from a weekend in the Upper Peninsula. The snow was gone and the seedlings were up, but it was still cold.
Cold enough that we needed to keep the fireplace stoked, and cold enough to snow on Saturday night.

There was also another kind of fire.
The guys spent most of the weekend working with the blow torch, soldering a bunch of leaks in the water pipes, which formed when the electric service failed last winter and the water pipes froze and then burst. The electricity was off for about 2 months, so there was a lot of damage.
While the guys worked on the plumbing, the girls did a spring cleaning on the yard, the gravel driveway, and the dusty house.
Next trip, we'll have time to walk through the woods, instead of just driving by it, on the way to and from the house.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

The color for the day is pink!

We're packing up for a trip to the U.P. this weekend. It might be a little early in the season -- hopefully not too chilly. We'll be busy opening up the house, but I'm also taking 2 cameras, and will be on the hunt for some interesting plant life. See you soon.



Friday, May 11, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Happy Friday and Happy Mothers Day to all the moms!

It's going to be a busy weekend. Tonight there are three events for me to pick from -- Looptopia, which is Chicago's first dusk-to-dawn arts and culture gathering (film, music, visual art, theater, dance, poetry, and, yep, knitting), a workshop with Dr. Svoboda on ayurveda, and a workshop with Paul Grilley on yin yoga. If my energy holds up, I'll be able to do one workshop and then join Looptopia.

On Saturday and Sunday we'll be setting up a new senior apartment for D's mom and celebrating Mothers Day. D's sisters are driving in from Ohio and Indiana, so there will be lots of laughs and bustling about. D's mom is sad and anxious about moving, and not ready to leave her house, so for now, the apartment will be a second residence, with a blend of new furniture and her old favorites.

OK, for the Eye Candy .... I couldn't pick a favorite, so today's a twofer. See ya next week. :)


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bohus, Poems of Color, and Kimmet Croft Fibers

Ever wonder how the patterns in Poems of Color and the Kimmet Croft Fibers compare to the vintage Bohus Stickning sweaters? This photo went a long way in explaining in to me.

Both hats employ the Blue Shimmer color work that Anna-Lisa Mannheimer Lunn designed in 1947, and are part of Susanna Hansson's collection.


The hat on the left is the Poems of Color version, knit at a gauge of 7 stitches per inch, in Kimmet Croft Fibers' Fairy Hare (60/40% Rambouillet wool/Angora).

The hat on the right is from a kit sold by Solveig Gustaffson, knit at a gauge of 8.5 stitches per inch in yarn she hand dyed to match the original Bohus fibers (50/50 wool/Angora).


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bohus Stickning, the sweaters I can't name

Here's the last of the photos from Susanna Hansson's Bohus Stickning workshop. She had names for all of vintage sweaters she brought, but I don't remmember them all.

This yellow one has a gorgeous combination of colors, including a strand of hot pink (click for bigger or to look at other views). It looked like it was never worn, but not many people are flattered by bright yellow:

I like this one almost as much as the Large Lace Collar. It reminds me of burnt toast:

Susanna must have said the name of this one about a dozen times. I think it was something like the Dark Palm:

Hats are probably my favorite type of handknit. I have lots of them, but I'm always thinking about more, and I wish this one was mine:

A pair of tams that were probably designed by the knitter:

And, last but not least, a cardigan that's quite unlike the others. It's my favorite. Susanna pointed out that some of the triangles are purled and some are knit. Also, it's kind of felted (well-loved):

I didn't mention that Solveig Gustafsson offers a few kits for making a tam and scarf set or a hat and scarf set. I think I'm going to order the tam kit in the Large Lace Collar pattern.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Bohus Stickning, the Large Lace Collar

Here's another one of the vintage sweaters in Susanna Hansson's collection, done in the Large Lace Collar pattern, which was designed in 1960 by Karin Ivarsson (click on photo for bigger):

Here's the same pattern appearing in a Bohus Stickning advert (click on photo for bigger):

Mmmmm, do you think they intended for one to wear a matching hat, sweater and mittens gloves. Seems a bit much.

Regardless, if you've fallen in love with this striking pattern, Solveig Gustafsson is selling kits here with exquisite, hand dyed yarn for making either a pullover or jacket version. Maybe there would be enough leftovers for making a pair of those mittens gloves.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Happy Friday! Here's some blooms we saw that the local garden center. We didn't take these home -- we went pink instead.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bohus Stickning, the Myrten

I tried doing a mosaic so that these photos would load faster, but I didn't succeed. So, without further ado, here are photos of Susanna Hansson's vintage Myrten sweater with replacement button. It was designed by Kirsten Olson in 1963. The yoke was knit from the top down, then the stitches for the back, front, and sleeves were segregated and knit flat, because side seams were a sign of quality.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Susanna Hansson's Bohus Stickning workshop

In mid-April, Susanna Hansson, a Swede who has been living in the U.S. for about 25 years, traveled from her Seattle home to teach knitting workshops in Chicago for the Windy City Knitting Guild.

Susanna offers about a dozen different workshops focusing on garment shaping and finishing techniques, as well as bead knitting, modular knitting, and an introduction to Bohus Stickning (sounds like boo-hooos, not beau-haus).

Bohus Stickning was a Swedish handknit business that sold fine gauge luxury sweaters and accessories in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The enterprise was started during war time as a way for women of Sweden's Gothenburg and Bohus counties to earn money without leaving home.

Susanna brought vintage garments she has been collecting for approximately a decade. I've got photos but I'll save them for another post. It was obvious from their buttery soft angora/wool blend and intricate color work why authentic sweaters sold for several hundred dollars even during the 1940s and spawned copies and commercial patterns.

She also brought a colorful slide show, some Bohus books, and kits for our workshop project, the Blue Shimmer wristlet:

The workshop project required the tiniest needles (for me, size 000s) and yarn with such subtle color differences that it was difficult to choose the right skein at the right time. The colors are apparent in the full skeins, but not so much when I was working with just the 2-ply strands.

The angora/wool blend yarn that Susanna brought with her is hand dyed (painstakingly!) in Sweden by Solveig Gustafsson to match the original Bohus yarn. Solveig sells Bohus kits on her website, but if you want to make the Blue Shimmer Wristlet, you'll have to take Susanna's class. Here's a vintage hat and a new wristlet:

Bohus Stickning designs incorporated not only subtle color changes, but also well-placed knit and purl stitches:

After a full day of instruction and knitting, we gathered all our wristlets together and admired our work. (Really, it wasn't just Susanna, there's a whole bunch of camera shy women on the other side of the table.)
Susanna is a wonderful teacher. Although she's been leading workshops for a few years, she's not as well known as other instructors, probably only because she is not a prolific writer. Search her out, she's wonderful. :)


Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I've been at the pool and the yoga studio, but I do have some knitting to show you. Bohus and WIPs coming soon.
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