Arcadia Knitting

Welcome to the blog of Arcadia Knitting, Chicago's largest yarn store! Owned by sisters Kathy and Sharon Kelly, Arcadia has been serving the Chicago knitting and crocheting community for over six years. Keep up with shop news and read more about our ongoing adventures in yarn...

Friday, July 31, 2009

More parking & other good news

Okay I know most of us are a little frustrated with Mayor Daley's new parking regime. I think we may be one of the few places to benefit from this new system. We have expanded from 3 to 4 pay for parking spots. That space by the alley that you have all snuck into is part of the new pay for parking spot.

BUT...BUT even better news: two free spots!!! They moved the bus stop from west of Ashland to east of Ashland. They put the no parking sign, pointing east, on the same pole where the bus stop sign was. The sign for pay for parking is two spots west of the no parking sign at Ashland & Lawrence. So there is kind of two "free spots" if you interpret the pay for parking sign as the spot where you have to start paying for parking.

So, more parking!!!!

We have dollar coins in the shop to put in the meter.

Disclaimer: I don't know if it is true that where the pay for parking sign indicates the spaces where you have to pay for parking. But it has to be open for interpretation.

Plus what you really want to know: Yarn!!! Great new yarn!!! Come see it & touch it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sweaters for Summer

Do you work in an over air conditioned office? Are you working on a winter sweater that you usually put aside in the summer because you will never wear it? Well, I've got one of those. Made from the bottom up to the yoke where all pieces are joined and finished as one piece. Usually I would have put it away by now but my new office is freezing. I need this wool & cashmere sweater for the summer!

Very cute, btw, from the spring Verena. I have to admit I was a bit put off by the styling in the Verena magazines when I first saw it. But every issue has something I want to make. The directions for this sweater were very nice. Somehow European magazines manage to write shorter pattern directions than many in the US and I don't see much difference in the outcome.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Letting Go

I've been away for awhile. Tons of things going on at the shop. A little surprise is coming your way. Tell your stash that it's days are numbered.

On the knitting front, I had to give up the Rowan #7 sweater. I COULD NOT GET THE LACE PATTERN. ONLY 2 ROWS IN THE PATTERN. ONLY 9 STITCHES IN THE REPEAT. I blame seasonal affective disorder. My mind was too muddled with the hell that was this winter. Eventually I moved on to a cardigan in the spring/summer 2009 Verena Magazine. It's a cardigan with a very basic 4 st cable on the body and sleeves and the yoke is a lacey pattern. It is worked from the bottom up and joined in one piece from the neck. I opted to make the bottom all in one piece. The pattern has short rows on the front and back before you join all pieces for the yoke. A very interesting thing to do which will make it fit better. The grey yarn looks great. I expect to be wearing this sweater for the next thirty years. Very classic.

Off topic but on all of our minds...THE WEATHER. For Pete's sake people it's 70, it snows, it's 60 , it rains, it's 40 and windy. That all happened in 1 1/2 days! Every morning this week I had to look at my coats and make a decision. I had three or four ways to go: heavier coat, lighter scarf, lighter coat, heavier scarf, umbrella yes/no, boots yes/no, gloves yes/no. Thankfully my new morning routine is yoga and green tea or I would be giant ball of stress before leaving the house.

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Disturbing Trend

I try to keep positive when I see knitting magazines and patterns and see all the hits and misses. There are things out there not to my taste. It is not my job to tell other people that it is ugly. I think about what a hampster wheel it is to finish one issue and have to go onto the next. But there is something else that I have begun to notice that I have to come out and say is wrong. I have seen lately in a number of magazines and books cardigan sweaters on models where the button band pulls and is gap-ey. Button bands are supposed to lie flat, not pull, not gap.

How do you prevent that? I would say in the case of the publications - use a model that fits in the sweater.

In the case of the individual knitter, here's a few tips:

Measure, measure, measure. Are you making the right size? Look at the finished bust. If the cardigan fits snugly on the model and the button band is gap-ey then there is no ease in the sweater. If you make a sweater with ease of 3 to 5 inches then it should not be too tight to button. Measure a sweater that fits the way you want this sweater to fit.

Is your front bigger than your back? Do you need to add on a few inches on the front? Sometimes you can make the front a size bigger than the back. You will have to fiddle on the shoulder but as long as your front isn't inches different than your back you can usually ease in an inch or so.

Look at how they have made the button band. Some button bands are knit as you go and others are added afterward. Garter stitch is not very firm. Going down a needle size or two or three will produce a much firmer fabric. If you can do a rib with twisted stitches that is very firm. If you can do a double thickness band, that is firmer. Or remember when people put a grosgrain ribbon on the back or front of the band? That was the function of the ribbon.


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Big Plans Brought Low

I finished my Kinetic scarf from Fall 08 Knitty and it is love pure and simple. I held a lace weight mohair together with Karabella's DK Silk Merino and it is the softest, most luxuriant thing I have knit in a long time. I will definitely be making more things from the Karabella Silk Merino. It comes in a lace weight, too. Maybe a very lacey sweater for summer office wear in the frigid air conditioning.? A pale, icey blue?

With one project finished I could start another with head held high. A sweater for me from Rowan #7. Yes, Rowan #7. It was an era of shoulder pads, high-waisted pleated trousers, and most especially the models skipped and gambolled through the shoot. The models are happy in their knitwear, as it should be.

It is a cardigan with a very large ribbed border and then the top is lace. I have started and ripped back the lace pattern 4 times. I know it is always hard at the beginning of a lace pattern to get it all set up. It takes awhile to get it in your head. But this is a 9 stitch, 2 row repeat. Do you know how row 3 is different that row 1? It is offset by one stitch. So it is the same 9 stitches in row 1 and row 3. The beginning of the row is fine. I get to the end of row 3 or on my second repeat of row 1 and something is off. This is my tv watching project. It has to be easy. Sigh.

And so, to begin again.


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Saturday, February 07, 2009

It's so warm!

Let's do a little project review of what I'm working on right now:

Habu Sweater - kind of stalled

Kinetic Scarf by Norah Gaughan from Fall 2008 Knitty - deciding to go on and make it longer or stop now. Pros & Cons: if I stop then I am done with a project and therefore can start something else with a clear conscience, but it may be too short, but if I go longer it may be to big too wear as often as I think I want to wear it, but I love working with the yarn - Karabella MerinoSilk DK & Neighborhood Yarns Loft lace weight mohair & silk. The Karabella is to die for and I will be making a number of things in that yarn.

2 1/2 inch crocheted squares out of alpaca to eventually make an afghan for our bed. I have done the math. I need about 900 squares. If I make 10 squares a week I will be done in about 2 years. But they are very portable. I can fit everything I need in a Glad snack bag. This is repurposed yarn from an earlier afghan project. I think this is a better plan.

Knit Along Scarf - A simple looking lace pattern that I invariably f*** up after 2 inches. Very close but very frustrated.

Crochet Cardigan out of scraps - Done on the fly. I need to revisit.

Arty Farty Sweater out of Merino Frappe Stripes - Done on the fly late at night in a burst of inspiration that left me once I had to make my experiment look like a sweater that a sane person would wear.

I want to start a cardigan from a very old Rowan. Rowan #7! I have some lovely grey wool & cashmere from Simply Shetland in a dk weight. However I don't trust myself to pick the right pattern that will flatter me. Sharon is helping me with some ideas of how to adapt the pattern.

I love to start. I love to knit. But when I hit a roadblock or get bored I want to move on to the next thing. I think my adrenaline rush comes at the beginning of the project or when I have mastered something. It does not come at completion. I enjoy wearing what I have made but at the point I have worn something for years what I went through to knit it is just a fog.

How do you get yourself to the end of the project? Any games or tricks?


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Scenes from a Yarn Shop

Scene: Yarn shop interior, day. Table & chairs where women are knitting.

Sharon: Knitting. Looks at needles. Frowns. Puts down knitting. Picks up Knit Check needle sizing gizmo and puts one needle through one of the holes. Puts down needle and puts needle with knitting on it in Knit Check sizing gizmo. Needle does not fit in same hole as previous needle. Needle does not fit in hole next to the hole for the first needle. Needle fits in hole two holes away from first needle's size. Sharon sighs heavily. She says: "Size 3 or size 5? I need to pick one and stick to it."


What I wore when it was sub-zero

Undies & bra - natch
silk footie socks
1 pair socks made from Soxie
1 pair of socks made from Bearfoot
cashmere vest on top of sweater
another hat

I'm just saying that we're blessed when this weather comes along because we are prepared.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Need More Sweaters!

When and how did this happen? Somehow, I don't have enough sweaters or the right sweaters. Every morning I go through my collection and some how there are too many pullovers, too big of a gauge, not the right style, not the right color. Huh?

It's winter, heat is expensive, and I own a yarn store so I actively promote the wearing of sweaters by being a shining example. But I feel as if I have fallen down on the job.

I certainly knit a lot. I produce things. Where are they? Let's take a little inventory of past projects. My body has changed in the last few years and what used to work on me no longer does. That was reflected in a few completed sweaters that somehow look great on Sharon. Some of my production goes to shop models. Before the store all production was about me all the time. The projects I do now are much more varied: lace shawls, socks, hats, crochet, etc.

I don't follow patterns a lot and when I do results vary. Ask me about my swallowtail lace shawl. It looks like none other. Patterns for me are just a jumping off point which leads to a lot of stops and starts. Lots of knitting, lots of ripping.

I was working on a sweater from a kit but when I finished the back and sleeves it was obvious that there was not enough yarn. The yarn came on cones so I couldn't do my old trick of weighing finished pieces versus yarn remaining to guesstimate whether I would finish or not. So, I went up a needle size, re-worked the pattern and I hope found a way to get it done.

So, it's an early New Year's Resolution to get back in there and make some sweaters!

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