No More Knotted Ear Buds

Knitted I-cord Ear Buds by Queen Bee Knits

Knitted I-cord Ear Buds by Queen Bee Knits

It’s been awhile since I saw knitted ear buds somewhere on the Internet. I’ve thought about knitting a little “sweater” for mine (so they don’t always get tangled into knots) but, frankly, it hasn’t been high on my to-do list.

But today I guess I needed something brainless to do since I’ve been working so hard on class planning and samples for the classes that I’m teaching in Louisiana. SO … I started work on my ear buds. It’ll be helpful when I’m driving for two days because I don’t like to drive with my phone in my hand.

Basically, I am knitting an i-cord around the ear bud cord. I found this free tutorial on the blog Wonderfully Awkward and I know that there are patterns out there as well if you want to search.

I’m using my Lorna’s Laces Sport in the Spats colorway – it’s left overs from the Jimmy Beans Wool Downton Abbey Mystery Knit Along. I’m using a US 2 DPN which makes my stitches tight enough that I can’t see the white cord through the knitted fabric.

Casting on 4 stitches and started at the bottom of the cord near the plug, I’m just stitching an i-cord all the way up to the split. There I will increase a couple of stitches and then hold half the stitches on a stitch holder for one side while I wrap the other side. (Very simple. If you’ve never knitted an i-cord, I’ll have to write a post about that some day soon but for now you can Google some help! There are several decent tutorials both written and video to help you.)

There you go – that’s what I am up to today!

Gone knitting (i-cord!)

 

The Anatomy of a Sock

Circle of Life Socks

Circle of Life Socks for baby – pattern by Cat Bordhi

As I was sitting here in my atelier last night, I started thinking about how much people know about socks. I’ve knitted quite a few socks; baby socks, short socks, bed socks, yoga socks, cabled socks, patterned socks … toe up socks, cuff down socks, socks on DPNs, socks on two circs, magic loop socks … you get the general idea. Right?

Turkish Bed Sock

Turkish Bed Sock by Queen Bee Knits – pattern by Churchmouse Yarns

Well, what are the parts of a sock? Do you know what they’re all called? If you’re a knitter like me, you may … or may not! So, let’s do a post about the anatomy of a sock.

Whenever I’m preparing to write a post on knitting, I go out to the internet to search the topic. I searched the internet “Anatomy of a Sock” and this is what I found. A wonderful article, entitled Sock 101, already written beautifully by Knitty – a great resource and some fun free patterns – so I don’t have to write it myself. I can merely comment and compliment the Knitty article. Because there’s no use recreating the wheel, right?

Knitty's Picture of the Anatomy of a Sock

Knitty’s Picture of the Anatomy of a Sock

There it is. The perfect picture of the anatomy of a sock! Perfect!

Depending on the pattern that you’re using, you may start at the toe or the cuff. Everyone stresses (at least when you’re a new sock knitter) about turning the heel. The beauty of it, however, is that all socks have all the same parts. Once you know the anatomy of ONE sock, you know it all! It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Birthday Party Socks - by Queen Bee Knits

Birthday Party Socks – by Queen Bee Knits

If you haven’t knitted socks yet, you really should give it a shot – they’re so satisfying to knit and when they are finished and you put them on your feet or give them to someone as a gift, it’s amazing. They fit so well, they feel so good. And as a gift, they’re not soon forgotten – a true labor of love.

A personal sock story and then I’m going to end – I bought a ball of sock yarn with the idea that I’d make them for my son (then a freshman in college) because the colorway was similar to tiger stripes and he’s a Cincinnati Bengals fan – hey, no comments necessary, we lived his entire lifetime in Cincinnati! When I told him I was making him socks, he sweetly(-ish) told me he didn’t want hand-knit socks. Because I had the yarn, though, I didn’t pay attention and knitted the socks and gave them to him for Christmas one year.

Who Dey!

Who Dey! Socks by Queen Bee Knits

He graciously put them on his feet on Christmas day. Then, awhile later, I got a call from him,

“Mom, about the socks you knitted for me …?”

“Yes?”

“I love them. Will you make me some more?”

Like a good custom shirt or suit or whatever else is made specifically for you, hand made socks are super special. My brothers, boyfriend, niece and at least one daughter have pairs of their own. My goal is to knit some for all of my family. My son has three pairs that I’ve made to his request … including a brown pair that have a short cuff, a black pair and the Who Dey! socks that were his first. We all know that our first is something special!

The anatomy of a sock. There you have it. Now go get your yarn and needles and start knitting a pair! A good place to start is with Knitty’s Fuzzy Feet … worsted weight yarn and on a large scale. One step at a time. You can do it!

Gone knitting!

Louisiana, Here Comes the Queen Bee

roadtripThe Queen Bee is taking the show on the road!

Unlike some former presidential candidates, my little dogs will be riding inside the car and will be accompanying me on a two week teaching trip to Lafayette, LA.

I am so excited and honored to have been asked to come out to teach at a beautiful, comfortable, well-stocked with wonderful yarn LYS called the Yarn Nook. While I have been teaching for years (and years and years) in Cincinnati (past), Maine (summers) and Orlando (present), this will be the first time that I’ve been invited to come out to a new place and teach. I see it as a wonderful opportunity to share this craft that I love so much and to learn about how I can teach and travel and still make it work well for everyone concerned.

Because I am a people pleasing perfectionist, I can already see that I have probably offered to teach too many different classes. I want to be confident and educated when I teach a pattern or technique so I want to try all the patterns that I will teach. This time, I have not tried them all and despite my belief that I can teach just about anything, I am a bit more tense than I probably need to be around this issue. And it’s all me and my silly “worrying” and it’s probably for naught.

Knitted Jasmine Flowers

Knitted Jasmine Flowers

As it stands now, I am learning some new patterns and techniques that I may not have forced myself to learn otherwise – and you all know that I love to learn new things. What I haven’t told you before is that, like most of us, I can be lazy and keep using familiar patterns and techniques that I know and that are tried and true.

Knitted Violets

Knitted Violets

I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ll post lots of pictures on Facebook. I will be sure to blog about the fun and the frustration. But I know I will enjoy meeting the wonderful knitters and I already feel like I know the shop owners who are absolutely delightful and I have a feeling that it’s going to be a great experience.

Gone knitting!

Wet Blocking vs. Steam Blocking vs. Spritz Blocking

Some tools you'll need: Eucalan (or Soak) wash and stainless steel t-pins

Some tools you’ll need: Eucalan (or Soak) wash and stainless steel t-pins

It took me awhile, when I started knitting, to figure out just what blocking means. There are a few (maybe several) terms that knitters use regularly that are not really clear to those who are new to the craft. So, I’m going to try to give a general description of two often-used blocking techniques – wet blocking and steam blocking.

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Blocked Shawl – wool. Wet blocked.

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Close up of what happens to garments when blocked – the lacy details just come alive!

For most sturdy fibers, I like to wet block. Wool is a sturdy fiber (and if it has a little bit of man-made fiber blended in, it’s still sturdy enough). I would also suggest wet blocking linen garments. I’ve read that some people “whap” their linen once soaked … sounds violent to me but I know it does get “softer” when washed a couple of times.

To wet block a garment, you want to immerse the garment completely in cool water mixed with a little bit of wool wash like Eucalan or Soak. Gently lift your garment out of the water and gently squeeze the extra water out. Never (NEVER) wring hand-knit garments. I usually put the garment on a clean bath towel, roll it up and then press gently to get even more water out of the garment. Then lay it flat on a blocking board or a new clean towel on your guest room bed. Or on an infrequently traveled area of wall-to-wall carpet. Gently pull the garment to the right shape and measurements and let it dry. It may take a couple of days.

An alternate method is to steam block. I set my garment on a clean bath towel and with my steam iron set to the steam setting, Pin the garment into the shape/size that you want it to be. I hold the iron over (without touching) the garment and give it a jolt of steam or two or three. The heat and moisture will relax the fibers enough to make it possible to give it a little bit of adjustment. Let it dry completely. (Another way I’ve heard some people steam block is by using a wet (clean) pillow case on top of the garment and putting the iron onto the pillow, pushing the steam button, until the pillow case is dry. This is a gentler method than wet blocking and you should get the same result.

Note: If your garment is made of hand-dyed wool, and the color isn’t “fixed” and you see dye in the water when wet blocking, you can also add a little bit of white vinegar (a cap-full or two) which should help “fix” the dye. If color is bleeding, keep rinsing with cool water until the water runs mostly clear.

Lacy edge of a mink & cashmere blend shawlette

Lacy edge of a mink & cashmere blend shawlette (it’s for sale, if you’re interested)

The last method that I want to discuss is spritz blocking. If using this method (which is good for any fibers you have doubts about soaking in water or steaming with an iron … in my house that’s alpaca, silk, mohair, cashmere and anything I’m not sure of … I pin it into shape and then spritz it with a plant sprayer. Make sure the sprayer is clean (hasn’t been used for cleaning chemicals or anything) and filled with water and just spritz the garment until it’s moderately damp. Leave it there until it’s dry.

There you have it. A primer, if you will, on blocking. I hope this helps!

Gone knitting!

Keep Calm & Cast On

keepcalmI always knew that the meditative aspects of knitting were good for my soul. It appears that there is scientific proof that the repetitive nature of knitting is a health benefit. There’s an article on facebook today that I think is very interesting and you can read it by clicking HERE!

While I can’t say that knitting has been good “exercise” and there is no proof that I have lost weight or become more physically fit by knitting, I do believe my mind and soul is healthier (and maybe it’s helped my blood pressure, too). I have had some experience over the years with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and depression. When my son became school aged, I had a really intense bout with depression and really thought that I was going to die. Thanks to my friends and family who stepped in to help me with my children when I was immobilized, some wonderful doctors who were willing to listen to me – beyond the physical symptoms, medication and a great therapist who invited me to look at myself, I recovered and resumed being a mom. I’ve had a few little struggles along the way but nothing like the big “wake up call” back then.

I thought I could attribute my mental health to therapy and self-awareness. Now, I think I have to give, at least partial credit, to my knitting needles and yarn. It does feel good to relax deeply and watch the fabric grow with time and attention. It feels good to finish a project and sense the accomplishment of having created something beautiful; often to keep someone I love warm or to give as a gift to someone that I love or admire.

We’ve all seen the pictures on Pinterest and Facebook that say that knitting is cheaper than therapy – and while I’m not certain where I’ve spent more money, I do know that I feel healthier today and, according to science, I can thank my knitting for part of that!

Gone knitting!

I Hate it When This Happens!

I was happily knitting along on my Twisted Rib Hat when all of a sudden I noticed this …

I Hate it When This Happens!

I Hate it When This Happens!

Can you see how I’ve goofed up the pattern?

Simple as it is, I have knitted when I should have purled and purled when I should have knitted. And it’s actually not the top most row that I’ve just finished either! So, in this case, what does one do?

I thought briefly about pulling out my needles and ripping back a couple of rows. But with the twisted rib, and only about ten or maybe a few more stitches in the mix, I figured it may just be easier to fix it stitch by stitch. So, I un-knitted back to the stitch where I first got off course and dropped the first stitch.

The stitch on the pink crochet hook is the dropped stitch.

The stitch on the pink crochet hook is the dropped stitch.

Now, I have to fix it. Remembering that it’s a twisted rib, each stitch has to be twisted before pulling through the next yarn “bar” with the crochet hook.

 

Twist the knitted stitch(es) one half twist to the back or to the right before inserting the crochet hook

Twist the knitted stitch(es) one half twist to the back or to the right before inserting the crochet hook

And then you insert the crochet hook and pull the dropped stitch above it through from the back to the front (this is what you do when you’re picking up a dropped stitch, too.)

Pull the next stitch through from the back to the front. (You've inserted the crochet hook in from the front, too)

Pull the next stitch through from the back to the front. (You’ve inserted the crochet hook in from the front, too)

Now you take the new stitch just pulled through off the crochet hook and give it a twist just like the last time. Insert your crochet hook from the front of the stitch and pull through the next dropped stitch. You’re working from the bottom to the top, picking up a stitch for each row that you’ve dropped.

Put the new/fixed stitch back on the left-hand needleThen put the stitch on your left-hand needle (when there are no more to be picked up) and knit it – in this case, you’ll be knitting into the back of the stitch to give it that twist!

Since this is a 1 x 1 rib, the next stitch to be dropped and picked up is a purl stitch. You drop the stitch – you may have to give it a tug to get it to drop down below your mistake – and then I work the purl stitches from the wrong side of the garment. I turn the garment to the wrong side and insert the crochet hook from front to back just like I did on the knit stitch on the right side of the garment and pull through each dropped row of stitches (no twist on this one!). When you’ve picked up all the dropped rows, turn the garment to the right side and place the new stitch on the left-hand needle and purl it.

Next! Repeat this process for each of the “mistakes” …

All Fixed!

All Fixed!

There you have it! I had to fix about ten stitches – I probably looked away for a few seconds … it may be my little dogs’ fault! They can be so distracting! 🙂

Gone knitting!

 

Burning a hole in my … stash?

Like other knitters, I have a fairly extensive stash. No, not mustache, a yarn stash – that little bit of collected yarns from here and there that you have to buy because it’s so soft or pretty or pretty soft.

I bought this yarn last summer in Maine. I think what made it so appealing was the price … and maybe the color. Yes, I paid $2.49 a ball for it at Marden’s! It’s Main Street by Reynolds (color 6760, lot 8078, 53% wool, 47% acrylic, 50 grams/approx. 98 yards) – 16 sts and 22 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette stitch on US #8 needles.

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Yesterday, I was going through one of my stash bins and found this yarn (I have only two balls) and I was thinking about what I could make with it. It’s wool and acrylic. Soft. And it occurred to me that it would make a great hat. I’m envisioning a rolled brim cap that could be rolled down so that it would be slouchy. And then I was reminded of the Steven West post about pompoms that I saw on Facebook (I love making pompoms) and so I think it needs to have a pom pom at the top. Maybe even a crazy multi-colored pompom. That decision has not yet been made!

I measured my own (oversized) head and cast on 80 stitches that, with a ribbed hat, should accommodate larger and smaller heads. And I decided to make it a (sort of) twisted 1×1 rib (knit 1, purl 1) by knitting into the back of the knitted stitches. I love it when there is that little bit of twist in the knitted stitches. It’s just a little bit different and very pretty.

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See? Aren’t those lines of twisted knit stitches so pretty?! I can get so excited about the simplest little things! I think this is going to be one fun hat! Wait until you see the way the colors subtly shift from purple to nearly red! You can already see a couple of very subtle variations on purple. I’ll keep this pattern going for 9 inches or so. More pictures will be forthcoming at the hat “grows”!

Gone knitting!

EEEEeeeee! (Yes, I’m excited!)

On New Year’s Day I got a phone call from my first-born. In a somewhat hurried but muffled voice, she said she was in a fancy restaurant and probably shouldn’t be on the phone but “Spencer just proposed” and she didn’t want me to “hear” about it on Facebook (because her friends can’t keep a secret). Wow! My “baby” is engaged. That means I’m going to have a kid who’s married! Thank God, she wants to be engaged for awhile so I can get used to the idea.

On the other hand, she’s so totally happy, I’m so excited for her.

IMG_1041In 1980 when I got married, I wore my mother’s wedding dress. Somewhere I have a formal photo of mom wearing the dress in 1957 and another of me wearing it in 1980 – but having moved a few times, I’m not sure where they are … and for obvious reasons, hanging one in my house now is out of the question. Anyway …

Kate is interested in wearing the dress when she gets married and I thought it was a good time to open the box and see how the dress had fared since 1980. With several moves and a couple of “floods” in homes along the way, who knew what condition I’d find it in.

But it’s still perfect.

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The veil is, too!

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I’d even forgotten that it’s ivory colored and that the Alencon lace is so beautiful. When I wore the dress in October I wanted to have long sleeves and a long veil. The lady who altered the dress did a beautiful job of matching the lace for the sleeves and the veil to the lace that was already on the bodice of the dress (from nearly 25 years before!) And looking at the dress, I am amazed and awed that I had such a tiny waistline! Ah, what three babies and some stress and age will do to the waist!

The extra bonus to this whole adventure was finding this on the box …

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In my mother’s handwriting, a piece of family history that so touched my heart. I wish she was here to share this happy event with us. My mother so loved her grandchildren and would be so proud and happy to see them today as the wonderful young adults that they’ve become. I am hoping that Kate will decide to wear the dress, will change it to make it feel like it’s really a reflection of her style and personality and that we can add another date to the box.

I’ll be carrying this precious box full of family history up to New York City when we go to meet Spencer’s family, to oooh! and ahhh! over Kate’s ring and to see her star in Rock of Ages on Broadway. Several proud mom moments all wrapped into one weekend. Lots of emotional moments to cherish and an opportunity to have all three of my children in one place even if only for a couple of days.

Exciting, terrifying, amazing …

Gone knitting!

Twin Baby Socks

One of each is a real blessing. I’ve decided to knit something for the babies and started with my favorite baby wash cloths … baby feet. I found some wonderful cotton yarn in Maine last summer. Ta! Da!

Lov this green!

Lov this green!

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And this salmon is fabulous!

To go with the wash cloths, I decided to make a couple pairs of booties but the pattern annoyed me (not sure if it was the pattern or me but it simply wasn’t working for me) so I went with the basic sock in baby size. I love the gray Cascade Eco Alpaca (100% baby alpaca) yarn. It’s a little bit “splitty” but so soft and will be so warm on those baby toes!

I wanted to have a little bit of “color” for the socks so I used an eyelet row to embellish the plain socks and allow me to add a bit of ribbon for the color (I went traditional this time but the new mom can change out ribbons if she wants). The eyelet row was simply a purl row, a row with a few yarn over, K2togs as evenly spaced as I could get it, and then another purl row. I’m really happy with the way that they turned out.

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They’re all wrapped and ready to be sent! I can’t wait to see pictures of the little ones wearing these socks!

Gone knitting!

 

 

On Being a Mentor

I’m a mentor at my local elementary school. I had been feeling like I was missing being around children. Mine a grown and have full lives of their own; boyfriends, girlfriend, jobs, social lives, homes to clean, dog to walk … all the things that they’re supposed to have as young adults. I did my job as a mother and as a result of having done it well, my kids have moved on and are building lives of their own. It’s a good thing. And I was still feeling like I had something to offer to children. So I signed up as a volunteer with our local school district not really knowing where it would lead.

A little over a year ago, I got a call from the counselor at my local elementary school. She was looking for a mentor for a student – a third grade foster child. While the “warming up” was slow, I know now that she was holding herself back because she’d been disappointed by adults who had been in her life and was hesitant to trust that  would stick with her. We had a great time visiting over lunch at school every week. I often brought a little craft project or a book to read together or a puzzle to solve and was there for her when she decided she wanted to talk. When I met her, her foster family was going to adopt her. This fall, she moved again to a former foster home two and a half hours away from me. Now, I choose to drive down to visit with her every other week – I started out visiting every week but she’s so well adjusted now, I know she’s OK when I’m not there every week. But at first, she was having a rough time.

Last night, her “foster mom” called me and we had a face time session. I love to see her snuggled up at home and smiling because her report card was a good one and she’d been to a fun Super Bowl party. Normalcy is a good thing for children. Especially those who’ve had a rough start.

Last week I got a call from my neighborhood school again. This time, there’s a little third grader who is in crisis. Grandmother takes care of her and her siblings and cousins. We’re going to meet again next week and I’ll help her get up to speed on her math and be there for her so she feels important to somebody. No strings. No manipulation. Just a grown-up who’s there for her. This one is adorable, too. And so needy.

I’m so lucky to be able to work with these two little girls. They help me as much as I help them. They give me purpose and allow me to give something back to the community that I live in. And they give me joy – a lot of good laughs despite their difficult circumstances and hugs. There’s nothing like the full-heart feeling that you get when you make a difference in the life of a child. And there are so many children today who need a solid adult presence in their lives.

All you have to have is an hour a week and a phone to call your local school … you won’t be sorry. I’m proof!