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.

 

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!

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!

 

 

Regia Pairfect Tips & Tricks

IMG_3277.jpgI have never really worried about having socks (that I have knit) match. I have been working on a sock drawer full of handknitted socks for me and out of them all, only two or three match. Maybe only one. Anyway, Regia has a great new sock yarn that sets you up for success when you want to knit two socks that match! Regia Pairfect.

I’ve been looking at this sock yarn for quite a long time and I’ve had a lot of questions from our customers about how it works. The knitting instructions, if you can call them that, are inside the ball band so they’re difficult to read unless you buy the yarn. Even when you read them, they’re not very detailed and I did make a mistake when I was starting sock number two.

I used the Yankee Knitter Socks for the Family pattern as a basis for my Pairfect socks. I cast on 60 stitches on a US2 DPN. Because of the self-patterning yarn, it’s not necessary to do anything but knit the majority of the sock. The directions tell you to make a K1, P1 rib until the green yarn is used up and then start the leg, knitting until the blue yarn appears. I’ll suggest that you follow your favorite sock pattern, one that you know fits you.

So, here are a couple of tips and tricks that I discovered while I was knitting my matching socks with Pairfect yarn.

First, at the end of the yellow yarn, measure how far along the green yarn you start your cast on. Write it down so you remember it when you’re ready to start sock #2.

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My first short row heel!

Next, I’d suggest checking out the short row heel that Arne and Carlos use. This way they’ll look like the ones on the yarn label. There’s no surprise. Their short row heel is a quick and easy way to knit a heel. I think mine fits quite well. (Mine are going to be a gift for a friend who shares my size 9 foot size. I hope the socks fit her as well as they do me.)

Third, I misunderstood the directions on starting sock two. What you need to do (not what I originally did) is to finish the toe of the first sock and then start winding off the yarn beginning at the same place you just cut the yarn. Your yarn ball will be green and then yellow and THEN when you see the green again, you can start sock two.

I hope you took tip #1 and wrote down how many inches it was to where you started your cast on!

IMG_3278.jpgHere’s what my socks look like all finished. I hope you enjoy knitting a pair of matching socks (the easy way!)

Gone knitting!

 

Finished Objects, WIPs and taking flight

Today I had a day off and I wan’t feeling quite right. (If I don’t eat before noon, you know something’s “off”.) Despite feeling a little bit off, I had a wonderful day.

My Radiant Reflections quilt is finished! I actually finished it last night but it was too dark to take photos. I am really pleased with this quilt! I started it as a class a couple of years ago at the Cotton Cupboard in Bangor, Maine. We used templates on this project to cut all the pieces. It was a technique that I liked and it helped my corners match up really well. I think it’s the best quilt that I’ve made yet – maybe it’s because with more practice, you’re bound to improve your techniques. Regardless, I love the colors, I love the pattern, it was a challenge and I was successful in completing it on my own.

I also finished my “halloween” socks. I wish that I remembered where I bought this yarn because I really loved the feel of the yarn as I knit the socks. I also love the stripes! A friend reminded me that they are the colors of the Cincinnati Bengals and I like that idea, too. My son and I used to watch sports on television when he was younger and those were fun times. I’m not sure how he learned so much about sports because neither his father or I knew diddly about sports. Go figure! I’l be wearing these socks for any Bengals games and on Halloween, too!

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On the needles, and currently in rotation, are two shawls that I am really pleased with. I’m making progress on my Protest is Patriotic Shawlette by Craftiest Elizabeth Sovern. I know that my red yarn is a Malabrigo Sock in the Ravelry Red colorway. The white is a Cascade Heritage sock yarn and the blue is something that I have no clue what it is. It’s been in my stash and my stash has been moved, organized, packed, and moved again. I’ve lost a few labels. I bought the beads online because the only beads I could find locally were really too small. I am using 3/0 glass beads. I love the way they pop off the blue yarn! I’m hoping to have this done for the 4th of July week!

The other shawl is the Brambling Shawl by Bristol Ivy. This was one of the projects, perhaps one of the first projects in the Year of Techniques project. I really liked this “class” and I have enjoyed each project that I have attempted. I also bought the yarn kits for each season. I love the yarn. This yarn is fyberspates cumulus and it’s really soft and sticky … this is a “don’t make a mistake because thinking back is going to be difficult”! The colors aren’t necessarily ones that I would have chosen but I like them and I am happy mohave my boundaries challenged! I have not ever “studied” intarsia and this project has made me feel very confident with this technique.

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Perhaps the best thing that happened today was watching a family of barn swallows who were flying all over in front of our house. I noticed the swooping birds and went to look out the window of my atelier. There were two baby birds sitting on the roof … learning to fly! Later, I checked again and the parents were coming up to feed the babies … all FIVE of them! I spent the day watching them in complete fascination! Mother Nature is absolutely amazing and I loved this part of my day. Here is a pic of the babies! Mom and dad were way too speedy on the wing to catch in a photograph!

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It was a good day! Gone knitting.

 

 

Passage of Time

With the impending arrival of Father’s Day tomorrow and Mother’s Day in the past, I have done a lot of reflecting on my own experiences with my parents. How they raised me, their only daughter, in the late 50’s and early 60’s while keeping a deep and very dark (to them) secret.

Shortly after my mother passed away in October of 2008, we found out that she had given up a baby boy for adoption in May/June 1956. Had she given birth to that baby boy, she’d have been ostracized. She’d have been labeled a strumpet, a hussy, a tramp. She would not have been allowed to marry my father if anyone had known. My father, however, would have been left to continue his life as before.

Being the next child born, and a girl, I can only imagine that I was a disappointment and it explains a lot about how she raised me. She was disconnected, aloof, often angry, not encouraging or loving. She was always heavy … keeping a layer of protection around her. Please don’t get me wrong, she fed me, did my laundry, drove me everywhere. I didn’t want for anything. Except her love. None of this was my fault, of course, and I didn’t know that I was getting treatment that was different from my younger brothers or my peers. But it was different and I was scarred by it. (Thank God for therapy!)

I say this today because I realized recently that many of my friends on Facebook seem to miss their parents and were deeply loved by them. Sadly, I don’t have that same feeling. I’d love to have them back to ask them questions about why they did what they did. Why they kept the secret after we were adults. Why they never told me they loved me or were proud of me. (They really didn’t unless it was after a fight and then it would be, “of course we love you” said in anger and frustration.) My brothers had a different experience. Psychologically, I’m certain that it was because I was the first born “after the adoption” and I wasn’t a boy.

I was encouraged to find a husband and marry … that’s why a girl goes to college. I was born to have babies, that was where I would find happiness and fulfillment.  I was taught to iron and sew, to play the piano and guitar. I was given ballroom dancing lessons at Mary Jane Spencer’s. My peers were encouraged to pursue a career, told they could do anything that they set their mind to. I didn’t know that until I had children of my own … and had been in therapy for depression and a failing/failed marriage that lead to an ugly divorce.

img_0121.jpgToday I am happier. At nearly 60 I am feeling comfortable in my own skin. I am grateful for the life I was given and I know that my parents never meant to cause me harm. They did their best. Sadly, it wasn’t good enough to give me wings to fly. I had to find those for myself.

Today, one of the things that makes me happy is yarn. Everything around yarn. I love people who use yarn in their creative endeavors. I love the animals who provide the fibers and the process that leads to the yarn being available to buy. I love feeling it and working it into a garment. I love the shop keepers and the customers. I  am grateful for the shared wisdom of women and men who share my craft and the love of yarn. I love that I have found a wonderful man with whom to share my life. He loves me as I am even when I don’t.

Life hands you some bizarre twists and turns and I’ve learned that it’s all about what you do with them that makes you who you are. I am grateful for them all because I like where I am today. I wouldn’t be here without all those experiences. I’m strong and resilient and happy. I’ve started over many times and I’m sure I’ll start over again.

Speaking of starting over … I started something new yesterday.

IMG_3065Born out of frustration with the fit of my nearly-done Malabrigo sweater, and in an effort to use some of my stashed yarn, I cast on the Brambling Shawl.

The Brambling Shawl by Bristol Ivy was one of the projects in A Year of Techniques. It’s a study in Intarsia – the use of two colors in the same row. The yarn used in the pattern (and that I bought) is Fyberspates’ Cumulus. It’s a lovely blend of baby Suri alpaca and Mulberry silk. The project calls for five colors (camel, slate, plum, sea green and silver) and is worked from tip to tip with increases and decreases to make a triangular shawl. I’ve just gotten started and have yet to add the second color, but I love being able to learn a technique with practice.

So, tomorrow I will celebrate my husband who is a great father. Patient, loving and kind. I will also celebrate the fathers in my life, my brothers, uncle, cousins, and my own dad who did his best. He did teach me to love pistachios!

Gone knitting!