Sifu Design Studio & Fine Yarns

Sifu is Chinese for “Master” or “Teacher.” In Mandarin it is pronounced like “sure foo”, whereas in Cantonese it is more like “see foo.” However, no matter how you vocalize it, it is used to express the speaker’s utmost respect with regard to the addressee’s skills and experience.

A Japanese friend (when taught how to knit) called Lisa her Sifu. Understandably, Lisa would feel very honored and when starting her business the Sifu became her mission statement: “You, too, can be a master of your craft.”

When asking where and how to get a copy of Chicago Knits Magazine’s first issue I was told to buy it at Sifu Design Studio & Fine Yarns in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. And this is where I went.

IMG_1160IMG_1163To cut a long story short: it is a store with a soul! Does that make sense? I so wish it would be in my neighborhood!

There is that huge table in the back, where probably ten people of all ages would sit, knit, work on computers, laugh and chat away, while one was trying to refloat a knitting machine (or loom?). The center of the store (if there is a center) is an old counter, surrounded by mostly antique furniture along the walls, such as drawers, suitcases, shelves, boxes and dressers, brimming over with yarn of all colors imaginable. The walls are covered with paintings, thread spools, and other decoration. There are books, magazines, postcards, all sorts of hooks and needles, ribbons, buttons, stitch holders in little drawers, trinkets everywhere.

IMG_1153An amazing store, punishing me for every time I had been (too?) strict with J: “You’re supposed to look with your eyes, not with your hands. Don’t touch it! Put that down!” Well, here I was, in knitting wonderland, wanting to touch everything, as everywhere was something to see, to admire, and – yes – to desire, to long for …

IMG_1154As the world is small, my friend Mamie has known Lisa for quiet a few years and when I told her that I wanted to go to the store, Mamie left a gift certificate for me behind Lisa’s counter. What a treat!

IMG_1155No doubt – M and J needed quite a bit of patience until I was done choosing from all the lovely yarn and stuff that was there … Here is what I (finally) picked: Four skeins of Cascade 220 sport in “Lake Chelan Heather” and the most beautiful handmade little stitch markers in turquoise and orange. Again, thank you so much Mamie – once I have decided what to make out of it I will let you know!IMG_1882

And guess who I met while there: Kim Richardson, the Chicago Knits Magazine‘s “mother.”IMG_1157If you like to know more about Lisa and her Sifu Design Store – she is featured in the magazine. If you get a chance to visit – GO!


The Windy Knitty

In Southern Illinois (the night before we left for Chicago) my circular needles would break! Have you ever experienced that? They would break right above the point where needle and cord meet. Knitting garter stitch (while holding the broken needle in my right hand), I had been lost in thought, not paying attention to what I was doing. Consequently, I would not even realize what had happened until J pointed it out (“Mami, are you doing this on purpose? They’re all falling down …”). Very weird experience, that has never happened to me before – fortunately easy to fix (the knitting, not the needle).

However, the next day, literally right after dropping our luggage at the airbnb-place we had rented, all three of us went to the Windy Knitty.

Windy Knitty ChicagoThere we would not only get the circular needle, but so much more! The ladies were extremely helpful – with regard to all sorts of gorgeous yarn and when it came to Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood in general: they would provide us with addresses from breakfast to dinner, from yarn makers to book stores, from basketball trading cards to public NBA broadcast, writing everything down or encircling it in the map. In no time, three days were packed, every minute planned :).

We were all set! Plus, I had bought a book, that had been on my list for a long time (Amy Herzog: Knit to Flatter, signed by the author), and a beautiful pattern for a summer wrap.

Windy Knitty ChicagoThe store itself is really nice, very well-assorted, with a lot of space and a lot of light, and a super-wide variety of yarn for every budget, which made it pure pleasure to examine (eyes & hands) their specialty yarns as well as affordable skeins and quite a few “must-haves” (Cascade 220, Malabrigo, Louisa Harding, Madelintosh).

Windy Knitty Chicago Windy Knitty ChicagoUnfortunately, we would not stay long enough for me to take part in one of their meet-ups for yarnies or a knit-night. I’ll have to come back I guess …

Thanks again for recommending the store in your comments!

Chicago Knits Magazine

The first issue of Chicago’s “irreverent quarterly yarn craft magazine … devoted to the irreverent Chicago yarn arts” was released in early April. I had read about it beforehand and got my very own copy when visiting Chicago.

Don’t you just love the cover? (Highlighted by a tablecloth on my garden table …).

IMG_1658It’s a first issue, a baby quarterly, and you can tell this baby is loved. Kim Richardson – the editor-in-chief, photographer, graphic as well as contributing designer, and ‘the baby’s mother’ – put together 56 pages, packed with information, interviews, reviews (books, yarns, gadgets), patterns, and more with regard to knitting, crochet, and spinning.


The magazine is her attempt to bring Chicago’s knitting and crochet community “together in one place, to share patterns and stories about knitting in the city, to talk about upcoming events, to learn new things, to meet new people, and to make … knitting circles larger.”

I learned the word “swatch” which I had not heard before, together with a fabulous new stitch in crochet (the window stitch), I read about the “German twisted cast-on” to realize that (even though I am German) I have never used it (but will now – Kim says it looks bad-ass 🙂 ), the knitting memory game made me laugh, and I could not agree more with the presentation of the featured store, Sifu Design Studio and Fine Yarns. And I love the chart with all symbols and abbreviations one could possibly think of. It is neatly arranged and very convenient.IMG_1665



What is left to say? I wish for Kim and her magazine that a lot of people in the Chicago area like the magazine as much as I do, so that hopefully the second issue’s volume will be twice as big!

IMG_1667Good luck to everyone involved and please keep me updated!!







Travelling to Illinois

Very soon, I get to go to Illinois. Too late for the YarnCon 2014 but still: a good week southwest of Chicago and then 4 days in the Windy City!

Yes – I am excited and I have two questions for you:

(1) Would you know whether I am allowed to bring (circular) knitting needles on board when flying United Airlines?

(2) Where would I go in Chicago in terms of “yarn” (cafés, stores, guild …)

What else is new? I have almost finished the lacy wrap for my host – maybe another inch or two – and will block it tonight. I wanted to give her something that’s nice to have in summer over a dress or a t-shirt and useful in winter (has any winter ever been that cold and long in IL before??), wrapped around neck and shoulders. This is it:

easy lace wrap haekelmonster.comeasy lace wrap haekelmonster.comIt looks like a bug’s parade to me on that picture, crawling north.

Oh yes, I am excited to go …