Friday, July 1, 2011

Day in Chicago, part 5 of 5--Millenium Park

We were nearing the end of our time in the city. We walked across Michigan Avenue, and came to this, the new wing of the Art Institute, with a bridge to Millenium Park. We were just in time to take the elevator up to the top of the bridge (the building closed at 5 PM) and we were able to walk across to the park.


The views are stunning from every direction! This is northwest, toward the Crown Fountain.


You can just catch a glimpse of the top of one of the pillars with the faces. You could probably see more in the winter, but I am not sure you would want to loiter on the bridge in the winter-time!


This is to the north east, the Lurie Gardens and the Pritzger Pavilion.


This is back to the south east, the artwork on the outside of the Art Institute. I am going to have to get back here to see what is inside.


And to the east, Lake Michigan! Have I mentioned what a beautiful day it was?


Here is another view of the Priztger Pavilion with the trellis over the great lawn holding the sound system and the lights. Under this garden and pavilion there are parking garages, the Harris Theater, and the train station!


Then of course we had to stop and enjoy gazing at the Bean. It got the name Bean because of its shape. The artist had not named it soon enough, so the people did. It's official name is Cloud Gate, and you can see why because the whole sky is reflected. I love the curvy buildings in this one.


This is the official portrait of our group. Don't we look styling? I think I should have dressed up a little more to match the rest of the group. You can also see the reflection of the wheel chair. We did not want it in the picture, but forgot that everything is reflected.


Tucked away in a corner there is a place to rent bikes (over 300 of them!) and a place to fix them, and to clean up after riding.


This is another bridge into the park from the northeast. Where the first bridge was straight as an arrow, this one curves back and forth, and you get the feeling of walking along the tree-tops. The view is not as fantastic, but the experience was still wonderful. We did not go all the way across, though. I for one was getting a little weary, and we were ready to start back home.


We got a glimpse of the taste, and we dodged a lot of the people that were heading in that direction, but no one was terribly disappointed not to go.


So that was our big day! I am so grateful I got to go with someone who knows what to share. A lot of the things we saw you could walk past for days and not even know they were there. I am not sorry I do not live in Chicago, but I do like being near enough to visit, explore, and see so many interesting things!

Day in Chicago, part 4 of 5--Palmer House

One block south of Carsons is the former C.J. Peacock and the Palmer House. These doors used to be in a jewelry store next door. When that business closed, they moved the doors into the entry way of the Palmer House. Aren't they gorgeous? Can you imagine going through them to buy jewelry? Even if you could only afford a bangle, it would feel totally indulgent.
To get into the lobby of the Palmer house, you have to walk through the ground floor, to the back, and then take an escalator up into the lobby. It is a magnificent space! 3 stories high with a gorgeous ceiling. There were tons of people here, but it still felt quiet and refined.

Most of my pictures of the ceiling did not turn out great. The edges are all in the Della Robbia style, almost like 3-D wedgewood applied to the ceiling, but it was paint. There were 12 canvases (pictures) surrounded by all the "wedgewood" designs.

In the picture above you can almost see the name of the room on the north side of the lobby: The Empire Room. It has a flight of stairs leading up to it flanked by these beauties:

According to our guide, these bronze lamps were designed by Tiffany as well. We went up the stairs and peeked in the Empire Room. No one was up there, and we could gaze to our heart's content. This feels, to me, like the epitome of elegance. It used to be a night club, now they have conferences and (high end) banquets there. Could you imagine a wedding reception?


It made me feel like I was in a night-club in White Christmas, where Rosemary sings the torch song. One of the people in our party had gone to prom there! If I had a limo to get there and back, it might be fun to have a night out on the town like that, but most of the time I prefer my home, and my knitting.
Just to not go too far off topic, I wanted to let you know that I started crocheting a tote bag that will be felted. I got the shaping on the base done, and then I could do the straight stitching (no increases, no turning, no counting) on the train up and back.

Day in Chicago, part 3 of 5--State Street

We came out of Fields (Macy's) on to State street (that great street! LOL). I was struck by the contrast of the ornate stone buildings with the shiny glass Trump Tower. As you can tell, we had a wonderful day, weather-wise. Not a cloud in the sky, and it was not even hot!, just comfortably warm.
Across the street from the Fields building is this "skyscraper" which was an early one in Chicago. The outside of it is terracotta. It is now a boutique motel with a very high end restaurant.


This is the Carson's building. I really love this ornamentation. The original plan was to have it in bronze! but that would have cost too much, so this is wrought iron.

Just beautiful!
There is great excitement, because Target is planning on opening a store in this space. That will make groceries available in this neighborhood, and will continue the tradition of department stores along State Street... at one time there were seven (!) department stores right along here.

Carsons and this building are at the center of the (Chicago) universe. The numbering zeros out at State and Madison. This brown building is very traditional Chicago architecture, with a 2 story space at the bottom for commerce, the large fixed glass and smaller side glass windows that can open, and the pediment at the top.

This is not strictly on State street, but it fits better here than anywhere else. This is the ceiling of the lobby of a smaller building next to the Palmer House. These tiles are Rookwood ceramics!


Day in Chicago, part 2 of 5, Marshall Fields building

By now, on our big adventure, we were getting hungry, and were starting to have trouble concentrating on all the interesting things our guide was sharing with us. When asked for her recommendations, she suggested either the Subway next to the Cultural Center, or the Frango Cafe in the Marshall Fields building. Which would you pick?

(If you are from Chicago, you will know that the Marshall Field Building now houses the Macy Department store. Although the Macy people do not understand it, many Chicagoans still feel a strong sense of loss since Marshall Fields is gone, and resentment that Macy's has taken its place.)

Up on the 7th floor, there are several choices for eating, including the Walnut Room, which is a traditional place to eat at Christmas because of the 2 1/2 story Christmas tree. I was very happy to see the Walnut room, even without the tree.


Very elegant! We did not eat there, however, but in the Frango Cafe. I did not take a picture of it, even though it was picture worthy, with very modern design. The food was very good, and the company was wonderful!

Looking over the side after lunch I saw this composition of escalators. I like the kaleidoscope look of them.

After lunch we went to the 5th floor to look at the ceiling that Tiffany designed and oversaw the installation. My pictures really do not do it justice at all. The mosaic is pearlescent, which of course does not show up in pictures, and it really glows. The best view is from the lingerie department!


Tiffany lamp. There were originally 4 of these. Two are still hanging, one was broken, and the last one mysteriously showed up in the Mays (Target) headquarters, the previous owners of Fields.

The store was added to 5 times, and I think it takes up a whole city block. Even though this looks like two buildings, it is all Fields building. The oldest building is from the 1890s, and the main building was in 1907.


There are more pictures here if you are interested. Stay tuned for State Street.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day in Chicago, part 1 of 5--Chicago Cultural Center

We had a wonderful day yesterday. One of the members in my yoga class is a docent for an architectual tour organization in Chicago. She offered to lead us on a tour, and we jumped at the chance. About half the class was able to go. She was a wonderful guide, and we had so much fun! It was planned to be about 2 hours... we were down town for about 4 hours.

I took almost 100 pictures! That is why I am going to split my conversation into 5 (!) posts.

We took the South Shore train. I had never been on the South Shore, so I was interested in that new experience. We were a group of 7, with one of us in a wheel chair because of a procedure. The trip was very easy.

We arrived on Randolf street and took the pedway to an elevator that brought us right into the Cultural Center. I had been in the building before, but I never "saw" it.

The building was built shortly after the 1893 World Fair, by some of the same people involved in that extravaganza. It was the home of the Chicago Public Library. The first room we went to was the GAR Hall. It originally held Civil War memorabilia and items.


The dome is gorgeous! I could not get a picture of the whole thing, because the center has been restored, and is a lot brighter than outer area. This first picture is the whole dome. The center is over-exposed.


This is the center area. I will have to look up the name of this stained glass artist... I did not take notes (I was too busy taking pictures!).


In the hall there are all the names of the battles of the Civil War engraved on green marble. (I am so ashamed to admit I don't even recognize most of them!)


I this area the mosaic floors were catching my attention. These are such lovely and interesting patterns!



Then we went over to Preston Bradley Hall. The radio station I often listen to sponsors lunch-time concerts in Preston Bradley Hall, and I never knew where it was. It used to be called the delivery room, because when you used the library you would request your book at a big desk, and a librarian would go fetch it from the closed stacks and it would be "delivered" to you from the corner.

This room is amazing! The ceiling was covered with mosaic. There are sayings about reading and wisdom in many languages spelled out in mosaic, in Latin, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, Egyptian, Greek, and German.

The colors are just so lovely! In the archways there are names of authors. These are English authors. At the front door there were all the Greek and Roman authors, and then, by the steps were all the American authors.

On the stairs I was able to get a close-up of some of the mosaic work. Isn't this just lovely!

In this hall the dome is a Tiffany dome. This one has been completely restored, and is so beautiful. The symbols around the center are the zodiac symbols.

Our guide said that during the 1980's (known as the "decade of destruction") the City of Chicago wanted to demolish this building! The first Mrs. Daley was against that, and was successful in saving it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Knitting and a day out

Yesterday was my 19th annual cancer check-up! It is amazing for a couple of reasons, first and foremost being that it is totally amazing to survive cancer for 19 years! Also, I can hardly believe that it has been 19 years... some days it feels like it just happaned yesterday. My oncologist doesn't even see me in person any more, except if I want to. She is too busy taking care of people who's care is more urgent. I nodded to her in the office, but the nurse practitioner did my exam. Everything is fine!

After that (which took longer than it should have, thanks to the new computer system!) we went out for lunch with a former boss of mine. We stopped in and saw his retirement community. He recently lost his wife, so it was nice to spend some time with him. (He is in his 90s, and still going strong.) He wanted to show off the view he sees every day during meal time. Isn't this gorgeous?


The whole city spread out. We had a gorgeous day as well. One of the residents takes care of the green house. I love these colors!


While we were waiting (and waiting) at the doctor's office, I finished this, a dishcloth from the never-ending cotton yarn skein. There will be more from this skein too!


Last Thursdsay, after our knitting outing I decided I should learn to knit lace, since I picked out yarn and a pattern for a lacy shawl. My Knitting for Dummies book had a pattern for a lace sampler, so I found a yarn, and tried it.


Talk about new vocabulary! and these are all acronyms. You have ssk, k2tog, yo, and one I am not quite sure of, p2tog-b. Those stand for slip, slip, knit; knit two together; yarn over; and I think the last one is purl two together in the back stitches... If you look closely at the sampler, you can see I missed a yarn-over in one of the sections, even though I think I did that section at least 3 times. I enjoyed it, though, and it helped a lot to see a little bit of what the different combinations of stitches looks like. I felt confident enough to try the pattern I picked out, but didn't get quite as far. Here is the first half of the pattern:


I messed up on row 16, so I quit, and I haven't had a chance to work on it again. This is not the type of knitting you do "on the train" or in a group. It needs a lot of concentration. Moonsilk Stitches gave me quite a bit of good advice on how to handle the knitting, including writing the pattern out one page per row (to avoid getting confused on what row you are stitching) and the use of rescue rows, lacing some thread through a row before knitting it so if you make a mistake you can back up to there without having to take out all your work. A third suggestion was to count your stitches after every row to make sure you are on course.

My swatch actually looks pretty good as far as I got (discounting the bubble-gum pink, of course. I picked up the pink from a "survivor" promotion, but the more I look at it, the less I like it. I may even end up using some of it for temari wrap, but for now it works for practicing my knitting.) I like the ridges that formed. The second half, where I messed up and quit, has a more leafy feel and I can't wait to see how that looks as well. I did mess up several times on the first half, but started over each time.

I love learning how to do new things! I think that is part of my problem. I enjoy the learning process, but once I have learned, I don't always enjoy the doing. That happened with learning crazy quilting. I enjoyed the on-line class I took, but I made such a mess picking out fabrics, threads, trims and embellishments that it took longer to clean up than it did to stitch! Something similar happened when I tried polymer clay... making the beads and things was fun, but I couldn't get the finish I was looking for. So far, cross stitch and temari are good with the doing/process.

I won't have time today, though. I have another outing planned to Chicago with my yoga class group (!). More pictures tomorrow! I hope I can post this, last time I had to use another computer to publish my post after writing it on this one. We shall see!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Midwest Fiber Fest

I did knit on Thursday, after our outing, and completed a "lace sampler" from my Knitting for Dummies book, but I will show you that work tomorrow. On Friday, my friend Moonsilk Stitches and I went to the Midwest Fiber Festival along with a couple of hundred of our closest friends.


The festival was held at the Dupage County Fairgrounds, and it was a very nice venue. The building was air-conditioned, although with the weather on Friday, they were considering turning on the heat. Anyhow, there was room for demonstrations, for classroms, all the shops and for musicians. These gentlemen were sitting off to the side, playing their music, and most of the day there was a harpist perfuming the air with her music as well (sorry, no picture!).


The first thing I saw when we got through the door was this lady demonstrating spinning with a spindle. They had a couple of demonstration spindles set up for people to try, and I tried... without a whole lot of success, but with an urge to try more.


I was able to pick up a small spindle and some roving (and a book!) to try once I got home.

The shopping was a lot of fun. There were raw fleeces, and angora rabbits for sale, and for petting, and felt, and roving, and yarn, and combed tops, and some pottery, and some dyed fabric, and all of it was very interesting. The show was a very nice size as well; I got through most of the booths by lunch-time.


Lunch was outside... and I don't know if you can tell, but it was a little cool. I was wishing for a little more jacket than I had. The food was very good. There was a Polish food stand with perogis and blinzes, sausage and kabobs (which is what I had) and an Amish food stand with bbq pork and pulled pork, and etc. It was real food!


There was more real music too. This was acoustic, even though it was amplified afterwards. With my hearing the way it is, I was not able to listen to the lunch conversation because of the music... but I did enjoy it.


Yesterday I tried out my new spindle, and this is the result:


I spun this cop all by myself! I actually made thread! It is not done yet, I have to make this much again, and then join the two plies together. Then I have to put it into a skein, and then wash it before it becomes yarn you can work with. I have discovered this spindle is too small for the thickness of the yarn I made, but it worked! I don't know if I will have enough yarn to make anything from this. I did pick up some roving in a very nice denim color, and I have a plan to make a mobius scarf from that.

I am really enjoying learning something new! There is a whole bunch of new vocabulary to learn, and then the muscle memory with the hands so it keeps things interesting.

On our way home from the festival we shopped at Village Needleworks (I picked up some temari threads) and Whole Food. We just had a wonderful day!