Busy (Queen) Bee

You May or May not know that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. There is way too much pressure to find the perfect gift for every person on your life. And I find I feel pressured to find all the perfect gifts, too.

That said, I have some wonderful students who pay me weekly for my expertise. They come to my class and have become some of my favorite people. I struggle to find something useful and organic to give them as a thank you for your trust and friendship gift. A happy holidays gift. This year I had two ideas that I’ve made for my students. Yesterday, I made them happen. It took me the better part of the day but I am happy with the products – which shall remain nameless – and all they need is “packaging”. A label and some gift wrap and my class gifts are finished and ready for our party on Friday.

Gift Number 1 – organic bees wax, cocoa butter and essential oil. oil, cocoa butter and essentiare two gifts this

I am sharing only the ingredients because I don’t want to give away the surprise. My students will also receive a second gift …

Gift 2. Coconut oil, Sugar and essential oils.

I know these are quality products made from quality ingredients for the best group of women I have the privilege of teaching every week.

Gone knitting.

Aurora Unicorn Mittens

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… before they’re trimmed and eyes embroidered!

Last week, one of my coworkers texted me that she was working on a pair of unicorn mittens and sent me a picture which was a link to the pattern in Raverly. And since I am still recovering from my bout with tendonitis, and not knitting too much yet (still?), I wasn’t going to do any knitting for Christmas.

Having thought briefly about it; I was working in a yarn shop … quite convenient, really, if you want access to yarn for a new project … and since they were so stinking cute, I bought a couple of skeins of yarn to make a couple of pairs of little unicorn mittens for a couple of sweet girls who I wished lived closer!

The pattern is Aurora Unicorn Mittens DK by Crafting Designs. I knitted mine with a skein of Berroco Ultra Wool in the cream (8301) colorway and a skein of West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley DK in the Rainbow (827) colorway. Since they’re little it didn’t take me too much time to knit up and today I finished them. They’re adorable and I can hardly wait to send them for Christmas!!!

Obviously, I can’t show you the finished object. They’re a surprise for Christmas … I will update after Christmas though! I’m off to watch Poldark. If you haven’t watched it, do!

As always, you can see my project up close and personal on my Raverly page, I’m “lindar”. And follow me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner.

 

WIPs No Longer in Time Out

IMG_4096I’ve actually begun to knit a little bit again. The tendons seem to be healing slowly but surely and I can’t stand NOT knitting! So. Old projects are coming out of “time out” and getting finished. Slowly!

IMG_4093I finished my Frosting Shawl. I love the cable on one edge, a reversible cable. I also like the icord bind off. I like this bind off in general because it makes a nice, substantial edge and it really does finish it well. I knitted my Frosting Shawl with the Manos Allegria colorway that the pattern showed in Ravelry. I love the colorway. I did not love the way the bright blue dye bled. I will try to re-wash it with some soap and see if I can whiten it up again. Ugh. Update: I did wash it again and it’s better but I know that the bright blue bled. I’m still not thrilled but I’m ok with it.

IMG_4097I also finished a little zip-up-the-back sweater for a baby gift. I knitted it in Plymouth Encore, a sturdy and easy care worsted, acrylic and wool blend. I love the red that I picked for this project. The pattern is an “oldie but goodie” that we hand out as a free pattern at my LYS. It is a simple knit and you can choose one of two cables for the center front and sleeves or knit it without cables. The part of this sweater that made me laugh out loud was that it had a zipper and in all of my years of knitting, I have never sewn a zipper into a sweater. Well, now I have! And it was a great success! I’ll post pictures after it’s been shipped and received! Update: the new baby has been born!

I’ve also been working on some charity projects. One of my sweet Friday students asked for hats and mittens for children who attend a Christmas party at an area club. I delivered two hats last Friday and this week I’ll deliver a pair of mittens. Simple, quick and very rewarding to know that every child will go home with a hat and mittens that night.

IMG_4092I pulled out my A Walk Through Aspens wrap. It’s been “away” for a long (long) time. So, A Walk Through Aspens is a beautiful bulky cabled wrap. I am going to “edit” the size of the project and make it into a pillow. I’m not sure exactly how it will work yet, but I’m knitting along … and remembering how much I like cables! This is a beautiful pattern and I am knitting with Cascade Eco+ in a really pretty blueish-grayish. It’ll be really pretty.

I’ve been working on an embroidery project, too. I am finding that I like embroidery – at least simple stuff! I bought a pattern at the Maine Quilt Show several years ago and finally pulled it out thinking it’s a good way to “not knit”. So, I bought some white cotton, interfacing and lots of colors of DMC floss and I’m stitching away. I’ll add some Christmas fabric around it and it’ll be a great Christmas pillow for our house. Next up is an appliqué pattern that I bought the same year. I decided to hand-stitch it … again, “not knitting”. I’ll keep you updated!

I’ve got a couple of thumbs to knit. What are you working on?

 

SNOW!

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We had our first snow Saturday. It’s still only October and this seems pretty early but it was thrilling to see! After living in Florida for ten years, and Ohio before that, the anticipation of winter makes me feel like a little kid again!

I’ve been knitting a little bit but I also am very cognizant of needing to take my re-entry into knitting slowly so that my tendonitis (knitter’s elbow) doesn’t return! So, each day I knit for a very short while and then I do something else. On Friday I bought some new supplies to make an embroidered pillow. I purchased the pattern ages ago (seriously, several years ago when I went on the Maine Quilt Shop Hop. I haven’t been out on a shop hop for at least two years. So, the pattern is at least that old.)

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The pillow, if I can get it done by Christmas, will be for my dear husband. I hope he doesn’t read my blog or I may have just ruined a surprise. Anyway, I’ve traced the design onto the white cotton fabric that I bought and ironed on a thin stabilizer. Now I can stitch the design. Stitching  with the stabilizer will slow me down because it pulls the same muscles that haven’t been feeling well but that’s ok.

And I have finished the knitting portion of a little baby sweater. This is a gift for a new baby. I can’t give too much information but it’s the Zip Up the Back baby sweater. (This pattern is a free pattern that we have at the Yardgoods Center where I work. I am not sure if it’s a Ravelry pattern or not but if you happen to read this and want a copy, I’ll send you one from the store. Just ask!) All I have to do is get a zipper and sew it in. (And sew in all the ends!) It will be sent off as soon as I get it finished and I hope it will be a good surprise. Meanwhile, another of my daughter’s friends has had a baby and I feel like I need to knit something for him, too. I may knit this sweater again. It was quick and easy and I really like it! I made this sweater in Plymouth Yarns Encore worsted in the Ravelry Red colorway. It took two skeins.

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I continue working very slowly on the Frosting shawl in Manos Del Uruguay’s Alegria yarn. Very slowly. It’s difficult to knit only a couple of rows a day but I know it’s what I need to do to heal completely. I am getting there! I am eager to be all better and back in the saddle. I have a shawl/scarf that I “owe” to a friend as a trade of services. I’d love to get it started for her!

No Christmas knitting from my house this year!

Virus Shawl … FO!

This is one of my wonderful Friday knitting students, Annie! Annie’s from East Texas and has the beautiful accent to prove it!  My boss took this photograph of us on Friday after my class. I’m wearing my Virus Shawl for the first time.

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I am really happy with the way the shawl turned out. It’s my first “real” crochet project and I think it’s really pretty. I used two hanks of Malabrigo Sock in the Candombe colorway. I’m not sure why I love it so since green is not really “my color” but I do love it and I was happy to wear it!

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Candombe has greens and purples and a great grellow color all smooshed together to make another great colorway for knitted garments. The way the colors, with very short color changes, move is really quite wonderful and I think I’d even like it as a sweater or other garment.

The pattern for this shawl is a simple chart that you repeat. I memorized it and could just crochet away. It could be made in any weight of yarn. (Since I get hot easily, I most always choose fingering weight yarns for shawls and, increasingly, choose sport or fingering for sweaters, too.) The only stitches are single crochet, double crochet and chain stitches. Simple! Even for me!

Fun! I’m feeling accomplished!

I Made a Project Bag!

IMG_3660I made a functional sewn item! Yes, I did! Me! The one who wasn’t allowed to sew costumes at my childrens’ school!

When I over-knitted this summer at Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat, I decided that I needed to take some time to rest my left arm. I decided that I would make a project bag, following (loosely) the project in my Making Magazine. Initially I thought I would make it exactly according to the pattern … until I had to figure out how to “trace” the pattern for the embroidery onto a piece of linen fabric. That was way too much to expect from me.

I decided to “wing it” with the pattern. No tracing. I went to my LYS (where I work) and bought some linen fabric, some embroidery floss and needles, too. I worked the stitches to make flowers on the linen. It wasn’t knitting but it was making something with my hands.

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Once I was satisfied with the look of the embroidered flowers, I put the bag together.

 

Lucky for me, I have a pretty decent stash of fabric, too. I went (obviously) for some bee fabrics for the lining and the little bit that makes the space for the draw string. I chose a very light color for the lining because I hate a “black hole” in my purse or my knitting bag. I needed this to be super simple this first time. Next time, I’ll probably put a pocket in the lining. I love pockets!

I only had a bright yellow grosgrain ribbon for the drawstring. I have since found a ribbon (again, at my LYS) that is the same color as the lines on the fabric on top of my bag. I like it much better. I also made a small change to this part of the bag. I made it a little bit wider and stitched 1/4 inch along the top to make a more finished edge.

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Ta-da! I’m very pleased and will proudly carry this project bag … filled with knitting … for a bunch of years!

Gone (not) knitting!

Hurricane Florence & Working with Yarn Again

IMG_3598We have had the most glorious weather here in Maine in the last few weeks. It’s hard to believe that at the same time we were having beautiful sunrises, a few hundred miles south, a hurricane has soaked several states!

My heart goes out to those who have been affected by Hurricane Florence. I have one friend and customer who was in harm’s way and was evacuated and I have a few family members down south who certainly will see a lot of rain. It has to be frightening and even heartbreaking to have your home flooded. While the stuff can be replaced and life is the most important thing, it’s still a lot of loss to bear. It sure seems that we have been seeing more huge storms over the last decade or so.

I’m so grateful for my dry, safe home and I’m so glad that I have been able to do some knitting again. Short sessions of knitting and crochet helps my elbow/arm to continue to heal without hurting. I’m thrilled to have yarn in my hands!

IMG_3623On my crochet hook, the Virus Shawl. This is a free pattern on Ravelry. It’s really just a crochet chart but there is a series of several very good tutorials that help you get started if you’re a beginner like me. Initially, I was going to use some stashed Noro Kureon Sock  (above) to make this shawl but it was so sticky that I had trouble working with it. It might be something I go back to because I love the colors! I practiced the first few sets on it and ultimately I chose some Malabrigo Sock in the Kandombe colorway to make my (first) Virus Shawl.

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I’ve been slowly making progress on my Sleeping Cedars baby sleeper sacque. This is a gift for a new baby who is arriving in late fall. I am knitting with Universal Yarn’s Adore (machine wash and dry but still mostly merino wool) in a the Cloud Gray colorway (color #105). I really like working with this yarn.

I am fairly certain that the gauge was spot on but this garment looks a little bit on the large size for a newborn. It might be more a 3-6 months size. I guess time will tell.

This is a fun knit. The body of this garment is knit in one piece from the bottom to the underarms and then split for the front and back. The lace detail on the front is just perfect. I love it. I finished the body by seaming the shoulders and then picked up the stitches for the sleeves. I’ve completed one sleeve and started the second and my working yarn is looking like it’ll be a good game of yarn chicken. I think finishing the collar will be nearly impossible. (Emphasis on THINK!) Fortunately I have an extra ball on layaway at my LYS (where I work!)

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Last but not least, I am very slowly working on my Frosting Shawl in Manos’ Alegria yarn. (Click through to the Ravelry pattern page and you’ll see why!) This shawl is super simple with a reversible cable on the edge of rows and rows of garter stitch. What appealed to me about this shawl was first, the yarn and then the tassels!!! When I saw it on (I think) Facebook, I recognized the colorway and I knew that I was going to buy that yarn and knit this shawl! I would have been so upset had it been sold on my day off! I have an extra hank on layaway at work just in case I want to make it larger than the pattern suggests. I love Alegria! It has a wonderfully soft hand and I love the colors. I have several other hanks that will one day be socks … they’re going to be the best socks! The winding job that I did was less than satisfactory and I had to undo a huge knotty mess in the middle of my knitting so I will have a few extra ends to weave in! I’ll be happy to wear this shawl when it’s finally done.

This “not knitting a lot” stuff really is a challenge for me! I really am grateful that I am able to knit at all and I really want to heal completely! I find I am reading a lot more and I have been doing a bit of sewing, too. My Christmas gifts for all of our kids are going to be sewn this year. Not knitted! But I can’t tell you anything more about this for now. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag!

I hope we will all be kind to each other while we clean up and recover from Hurricane Florence. So many people are going to need every kindness we can muster. Our country is experiencing some of the nastiest times I’ve seen in my sixty years. It bothers me that the people we’ve elected to lead us are behaving like children and that they seem unable to work together for the benefit of those who they serve. I hope you’ll consider calling your elected officials and let them know how you feel about their behavior.

Gone (not) knitting!