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!

To Swap Magazines

Not knowing if and how often you read Caitlin’s delightful blog: in March she wrote on Not-Hoarding Crafting Magazines. On the spur of the moment, we agreed in the comments to swap – regardless of country or language or style – and that is what we did. How exciting not to know what to expect! However, (to quote Caitlin) hoarding fail … Right. Both of us would not minimize the number of magazines we have. But an idea ever so grand!

Caitlin already blogged about what I sent to her and I am happy to tell you she likes the (older) German magazines – even though I forgot to include the quarterly that I promised to send in the first place …

In return, she sent me a very cool package to my friend’s house in New Jersey. This is where I got it last week and here is what was inside:

IMG_1647So far I have only browsed through the magazines while carrying them with me all the way back to Germany. Hence, I can’t say much (yet). However, the amount of text in each magazine surprises me! There is quite a bit about colors, techniques, and even knitting history that I did not expect as German magazines are usually not that elaborate. I can’t wait to spend some time in the garden, reading some more (top of my list for tomorrow)!

Together with the magazines, Caitlin sent two skeins of yarn and a cute little card, telling me about the skeins: one (the purple one) is from Sun Valley Fibers, which is about 20 minutes from where she grew up in Southern Wisconsin. 220-yards of worsted Merino (80%)/Cashmere (10%)/Nylon, hand-dyed, variegated and absolutely pleasant to the touch. I really have to start a “purple project” for you to see how lovely it is.

The other one is the most beautiful yarn I have seen in a long time. Period. I totally love the color, the feel, everything about it. To know that it is handspun by the Oregonian Judith McKenzie makes it even more precious. I keep holding it in my hand. Stupid? Maybe. Don’t tell me you never did that. Back in the 90s, I worked in Oregon for a year and a half. If I were to pick a color to represent the state I could not think of any better than the blue skein Caitlin sent.

And then there was even another local goodie – some of the weirdest local laws in Minnesota. Thank you Caitlin! If ever I make it to Minnesota I will make sure not to be standing around any building without a good reason to be there (as it is illegal), neither will I cross state line with a duck atop my head (same reason) … Oh, and I will never tease skunks 🙂