Friday, May 4, 2012

Sudden Day Trip and What to Pack?

Wednesday night my sister calls me and says that Marilyn is leaving Chicago and she's going on Friday to see her, do I want to go? Never mind I work on Friday. Nevermind...wait, who is Marilyn??

Turns out she meant the 26-foot tall statue that was installed last summer.

"Forever Marilyn" by Seward Johnson. It is being removed on this coming Monday and will be starting a tour of other American cities.

Now, I have no particularly strong interest in Marilyn, but I didn't want to let that stop me from having a fun trip into the city with my sister. And work is actually slow enough now (pat, pat on my back for getting so much done early!) that I took the day off (with the boss's permission, of course).

We didn't get all the details arranged until Thursday evening and that meant I had very little time to prepare some travel knitting. I mean we were taking the train--this is prime time! I thought about starting some new socks with some new yarn I had recently bought. I tracked down some possible patterns. I even went so far as starting a Ravelry project page (calling them "May the Fourth (be with you) Socks," since they would have been started on May 4), but in the end I couldn't face the thought of another work in progress around here.

But I don't have a lot else going on that could go. The most likely candidates were my zigzag socks, and they were not behaving well enough to be rewarded with a field trip! But I decided that putting them in time out forever really wasn't going to solve the problem.

So I took them out on Thursday and reassessed. I already told you that I knit as far as the leg and they wouldn't fit over my heel. Since then I ripped to the top of the heel and added more height to the heel in an adaptation of Cat Bordhi's "Sweet Tomato Heel." I found this heel method through two sources almost simultaneously: a picture in a forum on Ravelry and a link left by commenter GerryArt. (Thanks, GerryArt!) (It's this link, in case you're interested. It looks like a simple method that would work well!)

Thursday evening I looked at the socks with fresh eyes. I knit a little more on them moving up the leg after the heel and adding a few more increases to make sure they were wide enough. When I tried them on, though, I decided that the foot part of the sock was way too long, it was never going to fit right. I agonised for a long 30 seconds or so and then just started ripping.

By then it was late enough that I didn't even have time to get all the stitches onto the needles. But I figured I could do that on the train. While falling asleep, I realized I would have to rip back even further to do the gusset. Good thing I hadn't wasted the time putting the stitches on the needles!

Yes, my sister knits too. She's working on one of her hats.
We ended up not having much time on the train because we searched near and far for seats that could hold us and the two girls with us. It was a crowded train, but we ended up finding four in a row. Score!

While on the train, I took out the additional rows, got the stitches back on the needles properly, and had time to knit one row. (Not even one round, just one row.) But I felt like the socks were back on track.

Once off the train, our first stop was the City Library at the corner of Rudolph and Michigan. It doesn't hold books any more, but you can visit for free and the mosaics on the roof, walls, floors (ok, everywhere) are well worth your time.
They also have a room with tables and chairs where you could eat a box/packed lunch or enjoy a coffee if it's too cold outside. (They don't sell anything there; you'd have to bring your own.) We also toured the fancy room where you can have a wedding or other big event as well. The room looks out toward the lake and you have a nice view of Millennium Park and the Bean rising from the trees:
(It totally looks like a space ship from here!)

The library also hosts art exhibits. One of them today was...well...lets say quilt like. The artist takes all kinds of fabric, mounts them to chicken mesh for stability and then loads them with all kinds of embellishments. Most of them were very bright and vibrant. This is "Eating Cake" (I'd guess about 6'x8'):
It was much more vibrant in person; unfortunately my camera washed out the color. Here's a detail,
to give you an idea of the embellishments. Here's a list from the info card: plastic toys (paratroopers, alphabet letters, sheriff badges, ants, rings, bracelets), buttons, tassels, silk flowers, satin ribbon rose, fake fur, beads, fringe, children's dance costumes, Barbie clothes and shoes, fabric, clothes--and I'm sure she didn't list them all.

Another piece had quite a different colour pallette, but the idea was the same:
In case it's not apparent to you, this is a wedding dress. Just flattened out and gussied up! It was really neat stuff. Crazy awe-inspiring stuff.

But then we were off...next stop, Marilyn:
She seemed happy to see us.

We did the obligatory pictures standing under her, between her legs. (Such as the one at the beginning of the post.) There don't seem to be many other options. It's not the most polite place to be... I'll leave it at that.

We continued our walk up Michigan Avenue to the Water Tower. We stopped for a snack and a rest there. We ended up exiting through the American Girl Doll Store and it almost killed the girls to not stop and shop. But that was not on our agenda. (We didn't actually make them run through the store; they had a little gawking time.)

We went just a little further north (further than I usually venture) because I had looked up a yarn shop on Oak Street. After having just denied them their American Girl experience, our own girls were only too happy to go another four chilly wind-blasted blocks for a yarn store. (Hmm...maybe I am not so good at reading people because that doesn't sound right.)

We found the shop, "We'll Keep You in Stitches," which focuses on knitting/crocheting and needle point. It's on the fourth floor, but worth the stairs. The proprietors (two sisters-in-law) are just the right amount friendly and helpful without getting to prying and judgmental.

I admired their hand painted needle point canvases but settled on two balls of linen/cotton from Araucania. The colour was beguiling. I wish I could show you in the hank, but it a mix of cool greys and blues with warm oranges and yellows. The pallette is soft and striking at the same time. I plan to use it to knit a gift for someone. I have been worried about it because I really didn't think she is someone that needs a lot of warmth so that kind of rules out things made with wool, alpaca, cashmere, and even silk. This linen/cotton blend might just be the ticket!

From there, we made our way all the way back to the other end of Michigan Avenue and then decided we had enough time to go visit the Bean. One of the girls with us had never seen it. (She had also never been to Chicago and never taken a train, so quite a big day for her!)

When I got there, I realized that I had never been there when you could walk under the Bean. I don't remember what was happening that day, but the whole thing had been cordoned off.

We took the obligatory reflection pictures, making the girls twist and contort their bodies for a good pose, but I was especially taken in by the city reflections. It was a sunny and foggy day. The tops of all the tall buildings faded into forever. I think it was an interesting mix of weather--bright enough for good reflections but the reflections were of a misty city.

From there, it was back to the train and a little more knitting:
We quickly found seats at the top of a double decker car and were able to take full advantage of the travel time. I'm still not very far on my sock after all that ripping, but I think we're on a good path again.

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