Someone is Eating my Kale!

When I posted a photo of our garden with all (ALL!) of the kale pilfered but spinach and lettuces untouched, lots of doubters commented that we were lucky that it was gone. I will not apologize for liking kale … I like kale! And some rotten critter has eaten it all! Every single leaf has been nibbled to the nubs.

Starflake Shawl by Stephen West

My Starflake Shawl is blocked and it’s beautiful! I am so thrilled about this shawl. I have to admit that I was not a big fan as I was knitting this. I wasn’t sure it would be something I would wear and I was pondering the idea of selling it or giving it away. BUT when I blocked this baby, I fell in love! I adore it!

The yarn is among the yummiest yarns that I have worked with. I used two shades of Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock in “Wish You Were Beer” (gold) and “Nailed It” (silver) -the names of the colorways remind me of the OPI nail polish names, they’re so clever! The yarn bloomed when the shawl was blocked, the stitches opened up and the i-cord edging and bind off are spectacular.

This was my first Stephen West (big) project and I doubted at times that I’d get it finished. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck Maine, I lost my knitting mojo and/or my ability to concentrate. This shawl is NOT a simple pattern. I spent so much time knitting and then frogging that I ended up putting it in time out for awhile. A few weeks ago, I got it back out because I realized that I was settling into a new “normal” and I wanted a bit of a challenge. Well, I’m so glad to report that in the end, the result is incredible!

Here’s what else I’ve been up to …

Gardening! I’ve got a small yard but a lot of gardens. We have the raised vegetable garden with greens, tomatoes, peppers and squash. We have several perennial gardens that were put in before we were married. Some have been more successful than others but they all need care and love. I’ve been outside weeding, edging and transplanting (and forgetting to water the newly moved plants … lucky I have a lot of creeping flox. My peonies are just about ready to pop for the first time.

Volunteering! I am on two Boards of local organizations that I care deeply about. One is our lake association, Friends of Messalonskee. It’s weird to be running a volunteer organization in a pandemic but it we let the invasive plants take hold for one summer, we will have lost a lot of (if not all) the progress we have made. So, we are carefully optimistic that our state and local funding will come through so we can do our good work. Maine Arts Academy is the second organization and combines my passions for education and the arts. MEAA is a free public charter high school for the arts. We just graduated 53 students on Sunday in a “drive through” graduation. It was awesome and the kids are heading off prepared for whatever they choose to do next!

And I have sewn some more face masks for these cuties! I’m so glad that my children, all in New York City, are being smart and wearing masks. Daughter number two and her hubby have a few different masks to get them through the new “normal” in the city. I think they’ll be wearing masks for quite a while.

Life is good. I feel very grateful for a healthy family, especially now.

Gone knitting!

All of my knitting projects and even some sewing projects can be found on my Ravelry project page, I’m lindar on Ravelry.

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Mid-May in Maine

Plant baby in my atelier

I have a new plant baby, a ZZ plant, in my atelier! I bought this for my hubby back in the wintertime thinking he’d like a plant in his studio space which is on our third floor. He was concerned that it would die up there because he’d forget to water it. So, since then, it’s been living in our living room with all the other plants and I’ve been taking care of it. This morning, I decided to take it up to my studio where I can enjoy it and it’s something green and alive.

Pansies in my bee pot

Yesterday was a beautiful, albeit windy and chilly, day and we went to the nearest garden center, a small family business in the next town to get some vegetable plants to put into our garden. I wanted to start some greens (they’re supposed to be hardy enough for this time of year) and get a leg up on growing our own food this spring/summer and into the fall. We have a very short growing season and last year we had a garden fail. I hope we are more successful this year. We bought a few pansies to decorate our front dooryard, too. Pansies are such bright and happy plants and we will enjoy these well into the summer!

I did do some knitting yesterday and finished a bird. The pattern is Susan B. Anderson’s Simple Bird and Nest which can be found in the most recent Making Magazine, #9 Simple. I dove into my stash to find the yarn and it is really cute. I’ll make the nest today … and maybe its eggs. This will be a gift so I won’t show the whole “set” until it’s been received. I’ll be making two … or maybe three of these for some special friends.

Susan B. Anderson’s Simple Bird and Nest

All of my new veggie plants were in the garden to be planted yesterday and I ran out of steam. That turned out to be lucky because we had a frost last night … go figure, it’s the middle of May! Ha! Ha! I wonder if we will ever see summer this year. The weathermen said that should be our last frost … I’ll plant the greens: kale, spinach, lettuces, and some spring mix this afternoon or tomorrow. I think tomorrow.

5/13/2020 Messalonskee Morning with Moon and Merganser

Gone knitting.

I Made a Thing

Yesterday I FINALLY made something that I’ve been thinking about (and telling my sweet hubby about) for several days … or weeks? I made cinnamon rolls (with pecans because sometimes you feel like a nut.

I followed the KIng Arthur Flour pattern recipe for Cinna-Buns from their website. You can Google it! It’s a pretty simple recipe. The only “problem” I had was patience … and waiting for the dough to rise. It didn’t rise like bread dough. I’m not sure it was supposed to … but it didn’t. I forged ahead anyway because, well, why not? And they are beautiful! And yummy!

Next time, I’ll hold back on the frosting because then I can freeze them (and frost them when they’re defrosted and reheated because they’re best warm!) A dozen is a big batch and the two of us can’t eat all of them before they’re stale. And I can’t really share them with anybody right now, can I? So, I’ll wrap them up and freeze a few. We’ll see how that goes!

Gone knitting!

This Will be Short

Yesterday we had a Nor’Easter. It was coming down like crazy and it was wet snow. Needless to say, much of the state is now without power. We are without power … but we have a generator so we are not totally in the dark.

But I wanted to write to share that I’ve finished my test knit, named for now, the Cashmere People Shawl because it’s knit with Cashmere People yarn. This shawl is designed by Lori Versaci of VERSACIKNITS. As with Lori’s other designs, it’s a classic design and a textural wonderland. Such a fun project to knit.

I started this shawl project just as I was going into self-isolation in mid-March. The shawl calls for three colors of cashgora yarn in sport weight. I really wanted to have my shawl look and feel like a comfy pair of jeans. Casey Rider at Portfiber in Portland, Maine picked the three colors for me and she did an excellent job! I love the way the colors work together and I can’t wait until it’s dry and I can wear it!

I had a tense few moments at the end because I was very afraid I’d run out of the natural color of yarn at the edge. I’m happy to report that I won the game of yarn chicken this time! Woo! Hoo!

This afternoon I wove in the ends and blocked my shawl and I’m so happy to have it done. When the pattern is released, I’ll let you know.

Gone knitting!

Progress

The sun came up again today!

Today is Wednesday Tuesday (Ha! Thanks for the help! I guess I had lost track of the days!) not that it really matters. The only difference between the days is the weather. Yesterday was a true beauty and today is a little cooler but the brilliant sunshine always makes me feel better. We are going for a ride today to buy lobsters for dinner. Change it up a little bit.

I’m making progress (finally!) on my test-knit shawl which is being called Cashmere People Shawl. The design is by Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits. What I really love about Lori’s designs is the classic style. This is my third test knit for Lori, the first was my Mainstay Pullover in 2015. Sadly, this sweater has gone to live elsewhere because the yarn, a Berroco product, wasn’t color fast and it discolored when I washed it. Boo. The design, however was wonderful and I’ll make it again when I am finished with all my WIPs. (Like that will ever happen!) The second test knit was Open Star which finished in late 2015/early 2016. This is a cardigan and I still love this sweater. You can check out my Ravelry project page for details on both sweaters.

Star section at the bottom of photo, stockinette in navy and the start of a beautiful brioche

I struggled with the star section of this shawl for whatever reasons. Maybe it’s a simple as the counting; an ability that I often lack. But once I decided to go with reading my knitting, I zipped right along. I’m now into the last section of the shawl which is a “ruffle” of brioche. I need a longer cable on my needles because there are nearly 400 stitches at this point and cramming stitches on the needle and brioche don’t go well together. I’m eager to get this OFF the needles so I can see it in all it’s glory!

I continue to be behind on the Arne and Carlos Quarantine KAL. But I get about one done each day so, again, progress. I continue to enjoy this KAL because it takes just enough concentration to keep my mind busy and it’s very comforting. I’m trying to avoid Facebook and the news because it’s not very pleasant and plays with my head/anxiety levels. No news is good news just as long as my kids are ok.

And last but not least, I have the correct number of stitches on my son’s birthday socks and I’m (not really) zipping down the foot of the first sock. They’ll be easy to finish because it’s sport weight wool – with a bit of cashmere – so they do knit up a little bit more quickly than fingering weight would. This yarn, KFI Luxury Collection’s Indulgence Cashmere, is so soft. I need to make myself a pair. Or not. In fairness, I have an entire sock drawer full of my hand-knitted socks.

So, that’s progress.

Gone Knitting!

Ahhhh! The perfect spot to relax!

Quarantine Update – How are YOU doing?

The ice has gone from our part of the lake. This was the first (almost) sunset last night … gorgeous!

Y’all, this is difficult, isn’t it? I’m a very social person and I love working in a yarn shop, helping people, talking to people, laughing. So, this staying home thing is difficult. And I love my home!

So, here I am wondering how you are doing? I know that there are a few of you who actually read my blog, and I am appreciative of you (all three of you!!!)

I’m doing my best to make every day as positive as I can. I have made some masks and will be making more. My local farmer has asked for masks for her family so that they can go to the farmers’ markets and bring food to their customers’ cars from their farm stand. I also want to make some for my family. I’m not a competent sewist but I’m doing my best. I currently have eight masks that I am happy to donate to anyone who needs them. If you know someone, let me know. They’d be very appropriate for someone working with children.

What else am I doing to stay sane? Baking. Baking is always something that I love doing but when life is in full throttle busy I tend to let the baking slide … giving priority to other things that may not be as pleasurable. When this is all over, I will continue to make baking a priority in my life. My husband, in particular, enjoys the sweets and I do, too. I like to do things that he enjoys and baking reminds me of my grandmother.

I’m also doing some knitting. Not a lot, oddly. I’ve finished my socks (see the previous post) for my neighbor and that felt so good. I’ve been crocheting tiny squares out of my scraps of left-over sock yarn to make a blanket. I’m making progress but this project is going to require lots and lots of these little squares. I will have to buy a solid color to crochet them all together at the end. Here are the squares I made yesterday. They’re small so they’re also very satisfying.

I’ve also been continuing the blocks for the Arne and Carlos Quarantine KAL and I’ve been continuing to be behind! It’s all good. I’m happy with my progress and I like the blocks that I have made. I believe that I’m four blocks behind right now so I am grateful for the weekend when I can catch up a little bit. I believe they’re going to have one more week. I’ll be happy to have something finished that will remind us of this time in our life when life was anything but normal!

And wonder of wonders, I’ve finished the “star” section of my test knit shawl! I’m so happy to have that section behind me. I ended up having a few extra stitches but because I could read my knitting, I made the necessary adjustments and kept on … after the two times that I knew it wasn’t right and frogged back to the previous section. So now I can knit on to the next sections and maybe I’ll finish it before we’re out of “social distancing”!

I have been trying to get up and get showered and dressed every day. Today I’m not only showered and dressed but I’ve vacuumed my studio. It’s actually just over 50 degrees today so I cracked my studio window for some fresh air. Life is good. I hope you’re staying home and staying well.

Gone knitting!

About Yesterday

View from my bedroom window

Yesterday was a difficult day in corona virus isolation. I wasn’t in a good head space and I was really struggling with anxiety. Because of my chronic cough/allergies and my age, I’m in a higher risk group of (crap!) older people. I woke up yesterday morning feeling a little bit off … and I couldn’t pick myself up all darn day. And it was a beautiful day, too!

We started the day with accidents in the house. Two little dogs both getting old and they’re having some health challenges right now. Both of them together. So, we started the morning cleaning up after little white dogs. The rest of the day, I spent trying to focus on anything other than worry …

But you’re not reading this blog to (necessarily) hear all about my ‘crazy’ days. I have been able to knit some more of the Arne and Carlos blocks for their Quarantine KAL. If you’re not following this KAL, they were on a cruise away from home and were ordered to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival back. While in quarantine, they decided to do a KAL. I’ve really enjoyed it. I haven’t been able to watch all the videos yet but I have gotten many of the blocks finished. There have been ten designed for the first two weeks and there will be ten more coming … they’ve decided to do an additional two weeks because we’re all enjoying it so much!

I also started on the socks for my neighbor’s birthday. She was kind enough to trace her foot so they’ll be a perfect fit! I got one finished yesterday and I started the second one today after I did some baking. I made my hubby’s favorite scones. He’s been asking for them forever! It’s only fair since he went to take my car to get the snow tires taken off and took some mail to the post office for me. We freeze the scones so he can have one a day!

By the end of the day I was feeling better and went to bed early … today is a new day!

Gone knitting!

Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged

Yesterday we left campus.

We packed up the three dogs and our lunch and breakfast and snacks and water and coffee and drove my little Lola to the doctor. We filled up in Maine, stretched in the rest stop in Maine. We drove to my brother’s veterinary hospital so that he could tell me what was going on with my little girl.

Lola is typically around 9 pounds. Today she was just over 7. That’s a lot of weight loss for a little dog. She’s not been eating well, despite my urging, for months. Now that I have been home in isolation, I have been able to focus on her food and water intake and have been very worried. I’ve cried more than once with her in my arms believing that she was going to die. I was concerned enough to call my brother, a veterinarian in Massachusetts, to ask what I should do. His advice was to bring her in. Yesterday we did.

She was poked and prodded, x-rayed, sonogrammed, given a shot of antibiotics and an anti-inflamatory steroid shot. She was sent home with a couple of medicines. Nothing is visibly wrong, per se, but the x-rays will be read by a specialist. She has a dark spot on her spleen but my brother doesn’t think it’s a problem. I feel better but not yet settled. We will see what happens over the next couple of days. Lasts night, she ate her dinner. This morning she ate breakfast AND drank out of the water dish … she hasn’t done that for sure for at least ten days!

I was very afraid to go out. I have been in isolation for two weeks. I know I don’t have Corona virus. I was concerned about filling up my gas tank, where I would go to use a rest room, crossing paths with people. I needn’t have been worried because we didn’t cross any paths! I didn’t even hug my brother. We ate our picnic lunch in the car in the vet hospital parking lot and when Lola was done, we got in the car and drove home. We were all happy to get home and have a drink: The two-leggers among us in particular.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!

A No Good Very Bad Day

It’s not often that I am immobilized by life. I’m typically a very happy, upbeat person. Today started off that way. Coffee with my sweet husband, the love of my life. We woke up to six or more inches of snow and when he was out snowblowing the driveway, I got a call from Atlanta; the office of the president of UPS (What can Brown do for you?).

I emailed him last night when I was furious because my package … the one that I had been waiting for, patiently, for over two weeks … was “confirmed” to be delivered at my front door and it wasn’t there. Nor was it a mile away at my mailbox. Last night I spent 47 minutes on hold with UPS 800 Customer Service. When rep answered, she sounded as if she had been woken up by my phone call. She wasn’t very customer-service-oriented and the experience put me over the top. I emailed the president of UPS to share my five-year-long challenge with the local arm of his business and the apparent mess that is the Waterville, Maine UPS shipping center.

Anyway, supposedly they’re working on getting to the bottom of the problem. The corporate office could see where the truck went yesterday but they couldn’t figure out where the driver left my package. I was told that a claim had been sent to Amazon to pay for them to reship the order to me … turns out miss-asleep-at-the-wheel emailed that to me. Another managerial problem, in my humble opinion. I also think that the drivers working in Maine should have vehicles that can drive in the snow on camp roads (here in Maine we have dirt roads otherwise known as camp roads).

After the phone call, I was feeling pleased with myself and (finally) heard. So, I went to the kitchen to make blueberry muffins for my husband as his “reward” for snowplowing. We had a second cup of coffee and a muffin together but they didn’t taste quite right … into the trash after I realized that I had added baking SODA not powder.

Sweet, toothless Lola.

My Lola, my 14-year-old Shitzu, isn’t eating well. Often won’t eat at all. Sometimes will eat if I hand feed her. But she’s not drinking water either which is maybe even more troublesome. Today is one of those days. She won’t eat and I’m very, very worried! I adore this dog and even thinking about a world without her in it makes me cry. (Those of you who know me know that I tend to have a problem with ocular incontinence even on good days and as you know, today wasn’t a good day.) I hope my brother the veterinarian will call me and have some suggestions.

We did leave campus briefly today and that did help. Husband ran errands while wife sat in the truck. At least I got some fresh air and a change of scenery. But I find that it’s now 5pm and I haven’t done diddly. Squat. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zillch. I was going to sew face masks.

For today I’m giving up and giving in. I’m going to turn on the television, stream my Arne and Carlos podcast for today (i’m already two days behind and it’s only Tuesday!) When it’s cocktail time, I’ll have a strong one and hope that UPS finds my package and it’s a better day tomorrow.

Thanks for listening.

Gone knitting.

Knitting = Sanity!

This is what today looks like outside my house. My sweet hubby has gone out to find a newspaper and I’m dressed and in my studio. It’s damp outside but not too chilly … if you’re properly dressed!

I stayed up late (for me last) night knitting. I’ve finished the second stockinette section of the Cashmere People Shawl test knit and am heading into the star section. I’ll enjoy this textured section and knitting in a new color. Lori (Versaci of VersaciKnits) sure does know how to write a pattern! I’m loving this knit. Did I tell you yesterday that I was wearing the Open Star sweater that I test knit for her? Open Star is a great cardigan pattern. Quick to knit and wonderful texture to keep the knitting interesting!

Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting – Block 1
Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting – Block 2

I’m still two blocks behind on the Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting KAL. Ha! Ha! But I’m finding that I really like to have to “work” on this knitting because it takes my mind to a clearer, more focused, less anxious place. I get lost in the counting and the stitches. Concentrating on something is good for the soul! I’ll get block three done today … and maybe block four this weekend. The good news is that the weekend is catch-up time – no new blocks! Yippee!

I’m so grateful that my kids are doing ok in the big city. One of my daughter’s friends has tested positive for the virus. I’m hoping that he recovers fully and soon. A couple of the cities/states that I have lived in in the past are really taking the lead during these trying times. Shout out to NYC and Ohio! That is what leadership looks like. I read today about new evidence that a couple of our elected officials in Georgia and North (or is it South?) Carolina sold off a significant portion of their stock market portfolios to mitigate their losses while telling their constituents and the country that things weren’t so bad. I sure do hope that they get whatever they deserve. What self-serving, corrupt, despicable human beings they are. Karma’s a bitch, folks. (Stepping off my soapbox now.)

So, we will take full advantage of this grey, damp day and I hope you will, too. As always, I’m so grateful to have a warm home to hole up in, plenty of yarn (and food) in our house and friends and family checking in with us. More tomorrow!

Gone knitting!

Let’s be friends on Ravelry (lindar) and Facebook (QueenBeeKnits by Linda Warner) and Instagram (@QueenBeeKnits). For more information my knitting projects are all on Ravelry!