Gifts of Art

We have had a very busy last week, filled with guests and puppies and gifts of art.

I was at a board of trustees meeting on Wednesday night when I got a text from a high school friend. A very dear high school friend. She and her husband were coming to visit.

Back in the day, we had perused the Sunday paper for vans to buy and convert so we could go camping together when we were 17. Sharon and her husband just bought their camper van and we’re coming to park in our yard.

What a blast! We spent the better part of two days reconnecting and connecting with each other’s husbands. And I didn’t take a single photo of us. But they signed our guest book and Chuck left is this beautiful gift of art.

Our shore by Chuck Cornellis

A gift of art is a personal, thoughtful, almost intimate gift. We were touched and moved. and we can’t wait to get together again. As Chuck said, it could have been really uncomfortable and he had never met us. Sharon and I haven’t spent significant time together since 1976 and a lot can change in that long. But it wasn’t difficult or uncomfortable. It was wonderful. Time flew by and I’m still smiling.

Yesterday my sweetie and I took a walk down the road. Our blackberries are ripening and in the mailbox was a second gift of art. My little cousin sent a beautiful picture thanking me for “magic towels.” You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Little discs that when placed in water, expand to be a little cotton washcloth, often with a picture of something. These were Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Thanks by Penelope

I love art made by children. It’s so pure ans expressive and Penelope is an artist. Her dad said she was very excited about me getting her picture. I was excited to find it in my mailbox.

Both fabulous pieces of art will be proudly displayed at our house. We are grateful.

Gone knitting.

The Longest Day

June 20th, the summer solstice, is the longest day and each year The Alzheimer’s Association uses this day as it’s fundraiser.

This year I joined Ann Budd’s team (for the second year) and with a co-worker friend, we decided to knit together this year at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine where we both work. So when the sun was starting to rise, we were up and getting ready to “load in” with everything we needed for the day.

This is what 4:19am looks like

We arrived at the store a bit before 5:30am and got settled. We had planned to watch Knit Stars, YouTube videos and maybe more but we’d also invited customers and friends to come and sit and knit for a bit with us. Happily, that happened and the day passed more quickly than we could have imagined. Also happily, we shared many memories of those who we loved and lost to this horrible disease. That’s what the day is all about. Remembering … my mother, Glenda’s Val and the other people who are or were so loved by our visitors and all of those who donated online through our links.

On father’s day, my sweet husband brought us pizza for dinner and Vickie brought a beautiful Strawberry Rhubarb Solstice pie for dessert! It was delicious! (We each walked to Sela Tea for a salad for lunch and had some good snacks between! Snacks are important!

We raised over $2,000.00 for Alzheimer’s research and we had a wonderful day. We chose to wrap it up around 8:30pm for a total knitting time of 15 hours. Glenda finished her shawl, I finished the body of my cardigan and worked on my shawl for my daughter. Lots of progress was made.

We left for home with grateful hearts and a lot of hope that our money raised this year may, indeed, enable a cure for this horrible disease that takes away our loved ones one memory at a time. We spent the longest day making our memories. I got home in time to take one last photograph of the moon rising over the lake and a fabulous shade of, what else? Purple!

Gone knitting.

Are you KIDDING me???

We have a “critter” in our yard. A groundhog. It’s been here for a couple of years. We’ve been tolerant … to a point. BUT today I went out to inspect the garden when I was looking for a photograph for my Facebook page and I saw this …

My flowers are JUST starting to grow and they’re chewed down to nubs. The little (not so little in actuality) is getting right over by the house and eating all my tender green perennials! Grrr! This makes me very angry. I have no problem with the critter eating all of the dandelion greens it wants (and there are a lot of them out there in the grass but NOT my garden plants!

And to add insult to injury … this is what I found INSIDE MY SHIRT when I got back inside …

Little F#%$er!

The ticks are out there. I didn’t even touch any plants!

I have an intarsia class to plan … I’ll be itchy for the rest of the day!

Gone knitting.

Friday Vibe

Today is foggy and drizzly. A bit dreary, frankly and raw. Almost all of the snow has left the yard … but here’s the kicker … we may be getting some snow this weekend! I may be very unpopular but I’m hoping we get a good twelve inches or more. We haven’t had enough snow this winter – an inch or two doesn’t really count. Give me a good Nor’easter and I’ll be ready to march into spring.

WIPs … What to carry into the New Year


My Amarylis is Blooming! Happy, bright colors help in Maine winters!

I started 2020 with a list of WIPs.

  1. Dolores by Franklin Habit
  2. Bristol Ivy’s shawl
  3. Clog Socks (one was done, this was the second one needed)
  4. Lobster Hat
  5. Hope Cardigan
  6. Good Karma Shawl
  7. Mitts for Flo
  8. Battenberg Blanket
  9. Socks for Rose
  10. Maine Mittens

This year I finished the The Shape of a Bay shawl. It was a kit that I bought at Medomak Fiber Arts Camp two summers ago. it got sidelined but I really wanted to finish it and wear it! It’s a beauty! I also finished the socks for my granddaughter, Rose.

Shape of a Bay (pre-blocking)

I didn’t even begin two of the “WIPs” … so, do they even count as WIPs if I didn’t ever start them? Maybe they should have been put on a wish list rather than a WIPs list. Anyway, the Good Karma shawl and mitts for Flo have not even seen the needles yet. Needless to say, I’ll carry them along.

I frogged the clog sock because who knew, all those months later, what size I made (I didn’t mark my pattern well before I put it in time out.) I also frogged the Maine mittens. I have two skeins of Bartlett yarn and ton of stashed fingering bits and bobs enough for clog socks. I won’t carry them forward but I will eventually make the clog socks again (I’ve felted a couple of pairs) and I really want to make the mittens but they were too hard on my hands this year.

Remaining on my needles, or off of them and in time out, are Dolores, Lobster Hat, Hope Cardigan and the Battenberg Blanket.

I got some good progress done on the Hope Cardigan this year and I’m excited to keep going on it. I like the weight and the different construction of this sweater so I’ll take it with me into 2021. I’ll also commit to finishing Dolores (and the outfits that I have bought) and the Battenberg Blanket. Although I won’t make any more tiny granny squares, I’ll just attach them and make do with whatever size it makes. The assembly is what I find way too tedious!

Hope Cardigan in process

I had 10 WIPs on my list in my new Bullet Journal planner. I listened to the Yarniacs podcast this morning and I decided to look at those WIPs and decide how many I really want/NEED to carry along into the New Year.

I have decided to cut my WIPs down to

  1. Dolores
  2. Hope Cardigan
  3. Battenberg Blanket
  4. Fine Sand Sweater
  5. Arne & Carlos Quarantine KAL cushion

I’ll add Mitts for Flo, Good Karma shawl and Fish #3 to my list of things I want to knit … maybe my Ravelry queue would be a more appropriate place for them to sit since they’ve never been started and they’re not technically WIPs. That will feel better.

While I was adding to my Ravelry queue, I deleted a bunch of projects/patterns that I had marked as favorites or put on my queue and that lightened my load a bit more. Now, if I could only get that efficiency in the house … closets, drawers, pantry …

As we step out of 2020 and into 2021, I’d like to wish each of you a lightened load. This has been a trying time and it sounds like masks and distancing will continue in the future. It’s all about how we carry these “restrictions” with us. I choose to take the blessings with me – our health, my love of family, gratitude for a roof over our heads and food in our pantry among others – When I can do that I make my life easier and happier. Light, love and laughter keep me smiling (and I can see it in the eyes of others!) I’m so grateful to be a maker this year. Making – knitting, baking, sewing, etc. keeps me focused on a forward-looking task. While I am sometimes fearful, I am mostly content and I wish you the same contentment. Thank you for reading my blog and I appreciate the sweet comments and encouragement you’ve offered over this year. I know 2021 is going to be another great year. Cheers!

Oh (Covid) Christmas Tree!

Sunday Morning … Ice In?

Our lake is iced over this morning and it’s the Solstice! I can’t believe that this year is nearing the end. I’m so grateful that my husband and I, our family and friends (for the most part) have had good health and are not struggling too badly. I’m a lot of things (I wear a lot of hats) but I’m first and foremost a mom and this mom is so grateful for our healthy kids!!!

Our Covid Christmas tree

In all its glory, our tree is up. We weren’t sure we wanted to put one up this year because the kids aren’t coming and we aren’t sure we really “care” but I decided that it was important, maybe more this year than ever before, to maintain some sense of “normal” and put it up. I’ve enjoyed seeing the ornaments and have been making a few. I hung up two that I made last night and I’ll get them photographed and update this post when I do. But here are a few of my most favorites:

Handmade by my kids in preschool and kindergarten, the last three are my most favorite. It’s amazing to think of all the years that have passed since they were this little. And what marvelous humans they are today. The pig, made by my favorite art teacher, was “won” in a battle for the ornaments at a traditional holiday gathering in Ohio and I adore it. Her gifts were always treasured by the whole group!

My “au pair” snowman is also special as it recalls all of the wonderful men and women from all over the world who spent a year with me in Cincinnati … it was my job to provide counseling and guidance to make their year successful and happy. International exchange at its very best! I learned so much about different cultures and realized that we all share so much more in common than we are different and I am so excited that I am still in touch with so many of them! Now, though, they’re raising their own families, living such interesting lives, traveling (pre-covid) to some cool places … enriching my life and keeping my mind open.

As I sit here at my computer to reflect on the year and to begin to think about looking ahead, I see a lot of the same in the coming year but perhaps with a little bit of hope. I am rethinking my Queen Bee Knits business and what I really, really want it to be. I’m trying to figure out a better revenue stream to maintain my/our finances in 2021 that might allow me an opportunity to spend a bit more time at home in my studio. Sewing may be a part of this. I am not completely adept at sewing but it occupies my mind differently than knitting does and it’s quicker? (Maybe it’ll be quicker as I get more proficient.) I made one upcycled tote bag yesterday out of a bird seed bag. It took me hours but I think it’s something to work on and very useful.

Well, Christmas isn’t going to happen if I don’t get out of the house for a little bit today.

Gone Shopping.

Grateful for Generators

Sunrise over Sidney, Maine 12/7/2020

It was a glorious start to the day today. We are so lucky to live here and to be able to enjoy Mother Nature’s art work every time we look out the window!

We have been without power (but we have a generator that runs the house) since the Nor’easter hit on Saturday late afternoon and into Sunday. Power blinked on and off a few times, came back on and then went off. My sweet hubby lugged the generator out of the garage and plugged it in. We were back in business.

A couple of hours passed and the power came back on. Hubby went out and covered up the generator and changed the power back over to the house but it wasn’t long before the power flickered and went out again. It’s been out ever since!

Our family around the country says that our Nor’easter has made the news. They’re worrying and here we are warm and doing all the things that we normally do. We are so fortunate!

Beautiful “bluebird” sky this afternoon

A Week?

Is it possible that already a week has passed since Thanksgiving? And it’s been two weeks since I’ve been to work! Amazing how quickly time passes … and how I manage to keep busy despite having “nothing” to do!

We’ve been working around the house to (begin to) get ready for Christmas. Christmas is not and has never been my favorite holiday. I much prefer Thanksgiving and we had hoped that at least a couple of our kiddos would be coming up for Thanksgiving but Covid-19 quashed that plan. It was too difficult to get tests as required by the states and the risk was too great. This latest surge is a beast. But the hubby and I had a lovely Thanksgiving alone together. We cooked a twenty pound turkey and all the fixings and I made two pies; chocolate peanut butter for him and pumpkin for me. I “cheated” and used a prepared pie crust for my pumpkin pie and it was awful … we ended up pitching all but one slice. It simply wasn’t worth the calories! I have a pie crust in the ‘fridge and some pumpkin I cooked and plan to make another one this weekend.

Getting “decorated”

I saw planters like the one we made (above) at a local garden center. Their greens were expensive and we live in the woods so the weekend after Thanksgiving the hubby and I went foraging in the woods for some greens and birch logs. It didn’t take long to find them and we are pretty pleased with our front door decoration. We added some fairy lights to make it extra sparkly.

We had to buy new lights for the outdoor fir tree that we planted when we had our gardens done after we built the house. The tree has grown a lot and the old lights were all dead – perhaps because of the squirrels that like to hide in the tree and “yell” at us. Two extra long sets of lights weren’t enough and even the third doesn’t quite finish the job.

Knitted Fairy Lights

Inside, I’ve been up to some decorating, too. I bought 100 feet of fairy lights from Amazon after I saw this idea on Instagram. Leila Raven (@leila_raven) was the first post that I saw and I’ve since seen a lot of others. It’s not “easy” to knit lights on wire but it sure turns out to be sparkly. The hubby wants me to knit 400 feet next. I’m not sure if that’s a goal that I want to take on right now. Ha! Ha!

My fairy lights “swatch” was knit using US13 needles and I cast on 24 stitches with a backward loop cast on. Garter stitch all the way to the end of the lights and pull the end through the last stitch. Ours are hanging in the front hall where they greet us as we come and go.

I’ve knitted several pairs of mittens for a friend and customer for her grandsons (did I mention this already?). I had a bit of yarn left over and made another pair of mittens for my local school. Kids around here always need mittens, right? I finished the thumbs last night and will drop them off today on the way to work.

I’m also working on a Christmas stocking for a friend and customer. Her mother was a knitwear designer for Columbia-Minerva back in the day and the family all have stockings in her designs. I’m making one for a new family member. I have to say, intarsia is not my favorite technique. It’s fiddly and messy and there are millions of ends to weave in. With that said, I’m making progress and hope to get the colorwork part finished up this weekend and then it’s clear sailing to the toe. I had said I couldn’t promise the stocking for Christmas but I think and hope that I can get it delivered. I’m sure going to make a good old college try!

I’m participating in a couple of KALs this month. One is a gnome MKAL (mystery knit-a-long) hosted by Imagined Landscapes. I love her gnome patterns and will eventually knit a collection of them since I’ve purchased the patterns. This month it’s an ADVENTure Gnome MKAL. Four colors of fingering weight yarn and US1 needles is all you need. I’m knitting entirely from stash. Clue 1 came out on Tuesday and I’ve finished it but won’t show it until later. Stay tuned.

I’m also going to do Arne and Carlos’ 24 new Christmas balls. I’ve printed the patterns out and I’m already feeling stressed because I’m two days behind (soon to be three days behind) but I had purchased yarn that was an acrylic and wool blend and I’ve decided that I really want to use wool because they’ll block out so much more nicely. Acrylic yarn really doesn’t block at all. So, today, when I’m at work I’m going to search around for some wool yarn that isn’t superwash to use for this project and then I can start knitting. You can find the pattern at Arne and Carlos dot com. They have an entire book of Christmas balls, too. I haven’t (yet) gone down that road but we’ll see how I like the 24 that I have the pattern for! I’ll write more as I get one or two done … or find yarn!

Dried Orange and Lime slices

I’ve decided to make some of my own decorations this year inside the house. I also think I may make some simmering potpourri for my students as a little holiday gift. My hubby found a dryer ages ago and we’ve used it once or twice but most of the time it’s been stored in a cabinet. Well, I’m making good use of it! I’ve dried six oranges and three limes so far. I’ll be adding some pine and cranberries to my indoor decorations and cinnamon sticks and cloves. This weekend is bound to be another busy one!

Gone knitting!

Triggered but Grateful

Rainbow After the Storm

This morning I had a “discussion” on Facebook with high school friends about the current situation in our country with the coronavirus and the president. I have always been willing to give people I meet (and don’t meet) the benefit of the doubt. I did with this president, too. But I’m done. I am done giving the president the benefit of the doubt. I’m done with people “putting words in my mouth” both literally and proverbially. I’m calling BS on those who continually harken back to Hillary or Obama to compare. Let’s stick to the present and give credit where the credit is due.

The president is a liar. Google “all the presidents lies” and see what comes up. Note: I didn’t say which president or put an apostrophe before the “s”. See what comes up. Go ahead, I’ll wait!

This morning I realized that this is a problem for me because I lived with a man who was a lot like the president for nearly thirty years. I lived with a person who was verbally and emotionally abusive (especially when he was drinking) and a person who lied. A person who manipulated words, twisted the truth, told partial truths. A person who eroded my sense of self, my confidence, and erased my laugh. I was told, “of course I’m not having an affair with another woman” and “if you were a better (wife, mother, housekeeper … fill in the blank) I’d come home at night”. They were all lies and this is why what comes out of the White House, America’s house, triggers so many emotions in me and why I’m feeling anxious lately.

I’m so grateful that I can realize the trigger for what it is and name it and claim it. I’m grateful that I no longer live with a liar. I’m grateful for the new husband in my life who loves my craziness and supports me. I’m grateful for the self-awareness after nearly 30 years of therapy so that I can see why my anxiety is presenting itself in my life today. I love that I valued myself enough to make the investment of time and money to go to therapy week after week for so long. I am thankful that those women with whom I worked shared their deep knowledge of humanness with me. I am thankful that I have a voice and feel heard.

Foggy, cooler morning

Today I have “nothing” to do. The sun has come out after a foggy and gray morning and I am going to take my knitting and sit outside on the porch and watch the loons fish. It’s fall now, the temperatures have cooled, the leaves are changing color and it’ll soon be too cool to sit on the porch. I’m going to take advantage of today and soothe my soul with yarn and needles.

Gone knitting.

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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