Wait, What? Two Posts in One Week?

Sunrise this Morning

Yup, it’s true. Two posts in a week’s time … astounding. But I was so excited yesterday when I needed to join the front and back of my Emsworth vest!

This vest is constructed brilliantly, as all of Isabell’s patterns are. You begin with the back and knit each of the shoulders and then work to put them together and begin the lace pattern in the middle of the two sides. Once complete (basically) to the under arm, you put the back on stitch holders and make the front in a similar manner. Once the front is to the under arm, you cast on a bunch of stitches for the sides and you pray that your lace pattern is in the same place on the front and the back.

MINE WAS!!! Yippee!!!

BUT, I swore that I had marked down what row I had ended with on the back of my vest. Nowhere on my pattern (I have the Knit Companion app and I can write on the digital file right on my iPad) could I find the notation. And then, after searching and searching my pattern, I remembered that I started this project with a paper pattern that I had thrown away when I changed over to the Knit Companion pattern … and I neglected to transfer that important bit of information. Luckily, though, I know how to read my stitches. So I compared my stitches to my pattern and found that I had ended on row 14 and … my vest front was, too!

Emsworth by Isabell Kraemer

It was a thrilling moment for sure. Who knew that you could get so excited sitting all by yourself in a room! Hahaha.

Gone knitting.

Snow Day!

We awoke to snow this morning. Yay! I’ve been waiting and wanting some, what we call here in Maine, “measurable snow” and today we are getting it! Since it’s January 20th, let’s say that it’s about time!

When the local schools in Waterville are closed, our classes at the Yardgoods Center are canceled. We have a mostly older customer base and none of us should be out and about in this weather unless we absolutely have to … today is a snow day. The store is closed and classes were canceled. I’m putting my snow day to good use and after I had coffee and a muffin with my dear hubby, I went upstairs into my atelier.

On Wednesday I decided to make microwaveable (corn) heating pads. I’ve had the supplies on the floor of my studio for a year. When the kids came last winter to go skiing, they were a bit achey after their skiing and they used all of the warming things in our house. One in particular, they all liked best. So … I measured the one made by my friend Judy and bought the muslin, flannel and corn to make one for each of the kids. Wednesday I ironed and cut the fabrics and then sewed two of the sides and was ready to fill them and finish them up when I realized that the corn was either moldy or dirty.

Off to the kitchen I took all eight pounds of bagged corn and I cleaned it in bleach water to kill any surviving whatever might have been on it. It was powdery but dry and I am not sure what it was but I am sure, now, that the corn I’m putting into the bags is clean and won’t send something gross out into the air that they breathe when they microwave the bags to warm them up.

Today I brought the washed, dried and baked corn back up into my studio and filled the three bags and sewed up the final side. Ta done! Three microwavable corn-filled heating pads. I have more fabric to make three more but I didn’t buy enough corn. Each of the kids will get one this time and I’ll get three more made for the summer when we go to the beach.

Task number two was to make a heart pillow for daughter number 2 who lost her beloved pup Willow just after Thanksgiving. When we were in NY for Christmas, she asked if I could make a heart pillow out of Willow’s jacket. I am touched that she trusted me to do that for her.

Earlier this week, I cut out a heart shape to use as much of the fleece jacket that I could and pinned the sides together (right sides facing) in preparation to sew them up and stuff it.

At this point in the day I went downstairs to probably clean the corn and while the corn was soaking in bleach water, I decided to make some cranberry water that I’d seen a recipe for online. The cranberries were in my freezer for a year and it was time to do something with them. I had thawed them and just has to blend them with water and strain them. While blending them, the blender (it was overfull, I admit) leaked cranberry water all over the counter. I strained the water and when I was cleaning up I inadvertently switched the blender on and metal piece on the base was too close to my thumb … what a bloody mess I made. Some days … !

I cleaned up my thumb, cleaned up the mess and retreated to my studio for a few minutes of stupid TV and to hold my thumb up over my heart so it would stop bleeding.

Today I finished the pillow and I hope my daughter loves it as much as I love her. It’s far from perfect, I’m not a professional sewer by any imagination but it’s stitched with lots of love. I unstitched the tag from the jacket and put it into the seam so it sticks out as a reminder of what it was. I also preserved the spot where my daughter sewed a tear in the jacket by hand to remind her of how much she loved her pup and the memory of the hole, maybe, too. I’ll deliver it when I go to NY next.

I have been knitting and since this is technically a knitting blog, I should report on my progress. I have been making slow progress with my Emsworth. I’ve picked up the front shoulder stitches, and am working my way down the front. I’ve reached where the increases under the arms are and pretty soon I think I’ll be knitting all the way around the body. I’m enjoying the lace pattern and I love the charcoal gray colorway of the Patagonia yarn. It’s a bit tricky for my “old eyes” to see the dark yarn in the evening but I’m still working away at it.

I’ve finished black sock #1 and have reached the heel of black sock #2. Today will be a good day for me to turn the heel and pick up the gusset stitches. Black yarn really does challenge the eyes. It’s best attacked when the lighting is good and bright. Hahaha!

I also started a new project, the Stashbuster Shawl by Heather Haynes. One of my former co-workers came in in hers and I knew I had the same yarn. Since everything else I’m working on was dark colors, I cast on for this shawl so I have something to knit at the end of the day. I’m enjoying the simple, meditative knitting on this one. Mostly Garter stitch, it doesn’t take a lot of brain power (of which I have precious little at the end of the day.)

My plan for the rest of the day is to do some knitting (as my “blended” thumb will allow.) I am so left-handed that it’s tricky to do anything without my left thumb! I’ve managed to write this post and I’ll probably do some baking today or tomorrow. I found a recipe for sugar cookie bars (they’re frosted and sprinkled, yum!) and I haven’t made any granola since the batch that I took to NY at Christmas time. I might need to vacuum again, too. Don’t let anybody tell you that Labs don’t shed a LOT!

Gone knitting.

Summing Up Another Busy Week

Sunrise a week ago today …

It’s been a pretty dreary week on the lake. We haven’t seen a lot of the sun so the sunrise that we did see was even more appreciated. This one was taken by my husband while I was sleeping. The lake has finally frozen over and despite the almost 50 degree day, we still have ice. Maybe we will see winter after all.

I’ve had a busy week again. I had a lake association board meeting to run on Wednesday evening and I spent the early part of the week preparing for that and sending out the necessary documents to the board members. This was also my week to work on Saturday so I was in the store two days and taught one day, too. I love teaching on Friday … it’s a highlight of my week. My morning class keeps on showing up and challenging themselves. My afternoon class has gotten smaller but they’re a good bunch.

I’ve been working away at my couple of projects. I started and finished another Love & Light by Laura Nelkin for a friend of mine. I completely forgot to take any photographs of it before I wrapped it up and mailed it off. I hope she loves it. She’s been a sweet friend for a long time.

I made a little “doll” for my granddaughter. I have customers who have made these dolls over the years and I’ve always thought they were cute. I chose a couple of my larger balls of left-over fingering weight yarn from my stash and got to knitting. Knubbelchen by pezi888 is a relatively simple project and so sweet. I hope it’ll be chewed on and loved.

I’m also working away on a pair of black socks for my son. He’s very appreciative of my hand-knit socks. This pair is black alpaca. The yarn is Lang’s Alpaca Sox 4-ply and it’s utterly delightful to knit with and is so soft and squishy. These may be the squishiest socks I’ve ever knitted. I’ve got the first sock completed and the second sock is at the heel turn. My son has huge feet so I’ll be knitting the foot of the sock for two days but they’ll be done well in advance of his birthday.

Have I ever written about the Sock Ruler? I love this tool. It was gifted to me by my sister-in-love who didn’t want to knit socks and, at first, I thought this was a goofy item and that I’d never use it. Boy, was I wrong. I love the sock ruler and it’s an amazing way to measure the length of the foot in particular. The rounded end fits perfectly in the heel and you work the foot until it’s 2 inches (or whatever your pattern directs) less than the length of the foot. In my son’s case, that’s 9 1/2 inches of foot and then the toe decreases. The Sock Ruler is available in an adult size and a baby and infant size, too. I have bought the baby and child Sock Rulers and I’ll be sure to use them when Sylvie gets bigger but I use the adult one every single time I knit socks. I love it! (And I really love my son because these socks are black.)

The Sock Ruler in my son’s black socks.

I’m working right along on my Emsworth by Isabell Kraemer, too. It’s a little bit slow-moving because I have to be able to pay attention when I’m knitting this vest. The lace work is simple enough but when I am in a group and talking, I tend to forget to move markers and counters and all the tools that you need to keep track of where you are. I can share with you that I have picked up the front shoulders, connected the neck and am working my way down through the increases at the side of the underarms. It’s quite a fun knit and the charcoal gray, while a little bit difficult to see the stitches, is a great color for my wardrobe. I look forward to getting this finished, blocked and wearing it!

Emsworth

I wound a couple of hanks of stashed yarn into cakes this afternoon for a new shawl project. One of my former co-workers came into the store last week with a shawl/scarf on that I really liked and I knew I had the same yarn in my stash. I have to pattern and am ready to cast on and play with some blending of the two yarns. More on that when I get started.

This afternoon, after I finished the store’s weekly newsletter, we went on a most excellent shopping adventure to Portland, Maine. We’ve been talking about finding me a good knitting chair for ages. I thought I wanted a sleeper sofa or a chair but it had to be comfortable for a knitter which means a straight back and a relatively shallow seat and, most important of all, low or no arm rests. I’m so excited to report that we’ve ordered my chair and it’ll be delivered in March or April and I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone on this one! Wait until you see it.

I’ll end on the volunteer front where I started and let you know that our administrative coordinator is leaving us and we (I?) will be getting back all of her files and jobs and the office phone early next week. I’ve decided to close the “office” for a couple of weeks to give myself some time to recharge. It’s been a lot of work. My board meeting was successful in that there are several board members who have stepped up to get a few tasks accomplished and we will be forming a governance committee group to find the new slate of officers to take over in the late summer. And we will also be forming a committee to figure out how to better organize the lake association so that we can close down for a while in the winter and how we can better plan the season so that the board does less of the work and there are consistent tasks for the staff. I’m eager to see where this leads. We are on the precipice of requiring a part-time executive director to oversee the business of the organization.

The other organization whose board I sit on is the Maine Arts Academy. We’ve had a busy fall/winter, too! We are so excited, though, because we’ve bought our own building and we’re moving the school to Augusta, Maine pretty soon. Our current campus has gotten way too small and we have the demand from students and this year we had to turn some away. (And we hate to do that!) I’m extra proud of this group of dedicated teachers, administrators and board members. They’re among some of the most wonderful people I’ve had the occasion to work with. I look forward to being in our own building and seeing where the school goes. I’m sure it’s going to be a bright future for MeAA!

Sunset this afternoon … pink skies and snow in the forecast. I’m crossing my fingers (and toes!)

Gone knitting.

KnitCompanion

I got a new iPad for Christmas. My old one was probably an original iPad and it was ten or more years old. I used it regularly and it didn’t owe me anything but it was not able to run a lot of the programs that I wanted it to run and it was time for an upgrade.

The main reason I wanted an iPad was so I could use the KnitCompanion app. I’d used the free app but I wanted to upgrade and pay for a subscription because I’ve read and heard a lot about how wonderful it is. My old iPad couldn’t run the app.

I’m a serial paper pattern printer and I go through a lot of paper and ink and, although I recycle, it feels like a tremendous waste of paper if there’s an app for that. And there is. The subscription is $25 a year. I’m pretty sure that I pay that for ink alone in a year. And there is so much wonderful stuff in the KnitCompanion app. I’m really excited about it.

Today I’ve been working on my Emsworth vest. I’ve followed the beginning of the pattern from my printed paper pattern and I had two pieces of highlighter tape in two different places to remind me where I was. One was on the chart and one was on the pattern. Today I uploaded the pattern from my Ravelry library to KnitCompanion and customized the chart so that the row I’m working on is highlighted. I also changed the coloring of the chart to mark and count the (RS) knit/ (WS) purl stitches so that I don’t have to stop and count the long stretches of stitches, the app counts them for me. It’s brilliant!

There is a highlighter in the app and the highlighter lines don’t move when you close the pattern so you can work on another pattern – I was working on my Knubbelchen doll for my granddaughter. I’m heading into New York to help babysit when her dad is out of town later this month … I want to bring a few things with me and this is one of them. In advance of Valentine’s Day. Anywho … I digress. I hopped out of the Emsworth pattern and into the Knubbelchen pattern and I can be sure that when I go back to work tomorrow, the highlighters will be exactly where I left them (not hanging inside my knitting bag.)

I’ve found a good tutorial on VeryPink Knits YouTube channel. They’re really well done and they make great sense. I’m sure I’ll be returning to remind myself about certain parts of the app like I did today to remind myself how to manipulate the chart so that it’s easier to knit from. I’m one happy camper, uh, knitter!

Gone knitting.

A Quickie – Merry Mitten MKAL

One of the women that I work with told me about this mitten MKAL (mystery knit-a-long) she was doing this winter. I decided to partake, too … and now I’ve (finally) finished a bit behind but I did it and I wanted to write a little bit about my experience in the MKAL.

The pattern called for and I used one ball of Rowan Felted Tweed. I chose a neutral gray/blue colorway that I liked and figured they’d match all of my jackets. The yarn is soft and a joy to knit with.

The pattern is a very nicely written pattern and I really enjoyed the opportunity to practice cabling without a cable needle or twisted stitches or whatever. Everyone deals with these techniques differently but the directions were clear.

The pattern is really pretty and it was fun to knit. BUT I have a couple of “complaints.”

First of all, it takes one ball and half a thumb worth of yarn. Ugh. I was so bummed to have to purchase a second ball for half a thumb but that’s what I needed to do. Now I have almost a full ball of Rowan Felted Tweed to use up.

Secondly, now that the two mittens are done and wet blocked, I look at them and the stitches and all the patterning is lost in the tweedy nature of the yarn. I chose a light color because when you have a pattern/textured stitches they show up better with lighter yarn. Sadly, this yarn is so “busy” that the pattern has been swallowed up. I’d love to see what the pattern looks like with a “plain” yarn that isn’t tweed or multicolored or anything other than plain. I suspect that the patter would show up much better.

I’d tell you to knit this pattern, it’s a fun knit, the weight of the yarn is a good choice and the pattern is attractive. BUT knit it in plain yarn. Not a tweedy yarn. Not a variegated yarn. A plain yarn. Try a Berroco Vintage DK or a Cascade 220 Sport or Emma’s Yarn DK in a tonal. There are so many DK weight yarns that would show this lovely pattern better than the yarn called for in the pattern. I don’t have anything against the Rowan Felted Tweed. I love the yarn. But save it for another project.

Gone knitting.

Love and Light

We’ve had a few dreary, gray days here on the lake. The Paperwhite Narcissus that I forced are starting to bloom and they make it a bit brighter in the house. Today I started and finished Love and Light by Laura Nelkin for a friend of mine from high school days. She had seen the one that I made for my granddaughter and asked if I’d make her one. So, I’m spreading a little love down to Pennsylvania and to another artist. It’ll go out in the mail as soon as I have her address.

I think I have written about this pattern before but I’m going to write about it again. I used a US 10 1/2 needle (the pattern calls for a larger one but I don’t have one. I have a 10 1/2 so I used it … my thought is that if it’s not something that someone’s going to wear, it’s not critical. It takes me a few hours to make one. I started today at around 1:30 in the afternoon and was finished about 3 hours later with a couple of household chores thrown in.

Knitting with wire, however, is really tough on my hands. A few hours of knitting with wire and my hands are tired. But it’s so inspiring to start and finish a project in a day.

On the other hand, let’s talk about my Merry KAL mittens. I’ve finished both mittens but have two thumbs to knit and I’ll bet you a nickel that I don’t have enough yarn. Soooo … I have to decide if I want to buy another ball of Rowan Felted Tweed if I don’t have enough. It’ll be interesting to see how far I can get. And then I’ll need to make something else with the ball of yarn … because I bet I’ll get one thumb finished with the yarn i have so it’ll be one thumb out of the second skein! Good grief!

I sent off a package to New York City this week with my last FO of 2022 and my first FO of 2023. I finished the cashmere mittens to match my granddaughter’s bow hat and I also finished a little cardigan. I used some stashed yarn from On the Round in Rockland, Maine in a lovely blue tonal fingering yarn. I love Rachel’s yarn and the sweater is adorable. I found the perfect buttons and I think the baby will look adorable in it.

I’ve been working right along on my Emsworth vest by Isabell Kraemer. I’m knitting it in Juniper Moon’s Patagonia organic merino yarn in a charcoal gray. I really needed something in a dark gray or black and, well, you know what they say about knitting in black.

I had a really nice day today. My calendar had no appointments on it so I could stay home and do whatever I want. I baked some carrot cake baked oatmeal for my breakfast and some blueberry muffins for my husband to have with his coffee in the morning. I got some laundry done and a bit of work at my desk, too. It’s nice to climb into clean sheets and I have a new “fancy” silk pillow case that my daughter gave me. It’s pink.

Gone knitting.

What a Day .. and a half

We had our first “plowable” snow Friday night and yesterday. We are thinking we got about 8 inches … maybe 9. It’s absolutely beautiful! The only drawback, if you can call it that, is that we lost power on Saturday at around 2:30pm. The short story is that we got power back this afternoon around 3pm. BUT for a household with two generators, we were mighty cool over that 24 plus hours and I’m really grateful that I have a husband who is creative and can figure out how to minimize our discomfort.

So, how is it that we have two generators and neither one works? Well, suffice it to say that we’re in between generators. Our old one is a portable model that we drag out of the garage and across the yard to plug in and it ran the whole house. But my husband needs a new hip and we thought we’d bite the bullet and get a new, automatic generator hooked up before the winter kicks into high gear. We had our neighbor install (except for the propane) a new automatic generator. We may be able to leave the house in the winter after all. BUT we were told by our propane company that we only had to dig a ditch from the house to the generator and they’d come hook it up … and then they needed a deposit … and they didn’t come. So my husband called them about it and they hadn’t scheduled us. And now it’ll be January 6th before they can come. Meanwhile, obviously, there was a nor’Easter … and several inches of heavy snow … and 24+ hours of powerlessness. Literally.

I’ve knitted through the hours that were difficult and growing cold. Neither of us slept particularly well last night. We were both up at 3am for a few hours … reading with our headlamps, drinking a cup of tea. I was lucky and was able to go back to sleep. This morning the sun came out and we are fortunate to get some serious passive solar heat. The living room was 66 even after almost 24 hours of no heat. Husband got a long extension cord, passed it through the kitchen window and plugged into the fridge so we didn’t lose our food. He also realized that he could plug into a power strip and then we could also charge our phones. And a space heater. And a shop light.

The knitting helped me cope with the lack of comfort. I take the luxury of heat and electricity for granted every single day. The expectation is that we will always have it – and we even flick the switches when we know that power is off. A rude awakening but a reminder, too, about how lucky we are to live here. In the home that we built on the lake that we love in the state that we chose as our home together. In a special country where we are afforded so many freedoms and luxuries. Our “suffering” and “discomfort” was minimal at best but we were among the lucky ones.

I’ve finished the socks for my daughter that I started on the way to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. I love the yarn. They’re happy socks!

They’re plain vanilla socks, my favorite Yankee Knitter pattern. I’ve bought the pattern several times and keep going back for more. I’ve now bought the pattern electronically and I hope I don’t shred that pattern, too.

I realized that I had some beautiful cashmere yarn in my stash that are the perfect colors for a hat for my sweet granddaughter. I have been wanting to knit a hat for her that is a bit larger than the newborn hats that she has because she’s bound to keep growing. I combined two patterns to make the bow hat in a DK weight yarn. I’ll block the pieces tomorrow and put them all together. I hope I love it as much as I think I will. Despite the ladders and some funky color change mess.

Aaand, last but not least is the little cardigan that I’m knitting for Sylvie. She’s getting big enough that the newborn sweater and the Christmas sweater that I made her may not fit. I’ve shipped the Christmas sweater and am close to finishing the cardigan … one sleeve almost finished and one more to go. Add some ribbing around the opening and some buttons and it’ll be ready to go. I love the shade of blue that is an On the Round sock colorway that I’ve had in my stash. I’m knitting a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern. (Have a look at my Ravelry project page for all the details.)

So, in addition to finishing the sweater and blocking and assembling the hat, I’ve been trying to decide what project to knit next. It’s difficult to believe that I haven’t got more projects on the needles. BUT it’s time for something new. I just saw a sweater (cardigan) pattern called the Ramona Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith. It’s an Aran weight wool in a grey colorway. I happen to have a sweater’s worth of a heavy worsted gray yarn by Brown Sheep. I think I may be heading down the Ramona path later on this week. I don’t have a dark grey sweater and this will match a lot of things that I wear on the regular. And it’s not complicated. My head is a swimming with responsibilities and I can’t deal with a knitting pattern that requires a lot of my attention.

I also need to knit a pair of Christmas socks for my hubby. He surely deserves them for taking such good care of me.

Gone knitting.

Weddings and Grandma Duties and Family, Oh My!

All of a sudden I have nearly 20,000 miles on my car! The past month has been a whirlwind of travel and we’re not used to it. Not one little bit. But it sure has been fun!

It all started when my eldest bonus daughter got married in Virginia at the start of December. We drove down because she had asked her dad to make the chuppah for the wedding. He gathered beautiful Maine Birch logs and fashioned a large chuppah with them. It was gorgeous! BUT we had to also get it to the wedding venue, so … we bought a roof rack for my car and strapped the logs (now disassembled) to the top of the car and a few of the shorter logs were inside. The ride down and the proceedings up to the wedding itself were fun and it was great to see the kids and their significant others. My son and his girlfriend also came down to the wedding so we got to see them, too. The wedding day was *gasp* rainy but we were inside getting hair and makeup done and then photos and cocktails and the wedding ceremony.

The venue was the River View at Occoquan in Lorton, VA. A lovely natural area in the middle of suburban Washington, DC. The ceremony was outside and then the reception was in the building on premises and it was a stunning venue. The bride was beautiful, her attendants were lovely and loving and they were celebrated in an appropriate manner. We are so happy to have Evan join our family.

After the wedding my hubby dropped me off in New York City for my first grandmotherly babysitting job. What a privilege to be asked to stay with my darling love for a few days. Her dad had business in California and her mom had rehearsals and a performance. I had a blast! BUT I can now say that I fully understand what my friends who are grandmothers have told me about it being the best title in the whole world. I fell head over heels in love with this little girl while I was there and it was really difficult to leave when the time came. Needless to say, we are thinking about heading back to the city for Christmas for a couple of days and I can hardly wait!

I did some knitting in the car on the way to Virginia and back to NYC but after that, my hands were busy and I might as well have sent my knitting bag home with my hubby. I didn’t knit a stitch while I was in New York. Somehow I have found a new activity that surpasses knitting and that’s holding my granddaughter! Home is my happy place and now she is, too. It’s a life changing experience. I am so eager to spend more and more time with her as she grows up and I grow old. I loved spending time, too, with my daughter. She’s already an incredible mom. I’m so proud of her.

I’ve finished my Musselburgh hat in Berroco Vintage Sock. I didn’t love the yarn, to be completely honest. BUT it is washable and the hat should be a good one for New York CIty winters. My kids all wear a lot of grays and black – it’s what you do in NYC. I hope she’ll like the hat and if not, there are plenty of people to give it to. Musselburgh is a long tube with increases on one end and decreases on the other. In black there’s not a lot to look at but I’ll get a photo on my daughter’s head (if I remember!) It was a fun knit to be sure.

I’ve finished one sock and am half-way done with the second one. The yarn was in my stash – I’ve been knitting 12 socks a year before this year and I was feeling like I needed to knit some socks. So I did. And it was a good idea, too, since we were traveling. Socks are always a good project for the road. I’m using the Yankee Knitter sock pattern which I almost have memorized in the fingering weight yarn for women. My daughter claimed these socks at Thanksgiving so they’ll also be going to NYC at Christmas time. Yarn details are on my Ravelry project page. The only thing I tend to change is the needle size. I like to knit socks on a slightly smaller needle. In this case, I’m using a US 1 1/2. I feel like it makes the socks hold up to wear better.

I’ve also cast on a sweater for my granddaughter because the little Newborn Vertebrae cardigans are getting too small – well, actually, the rainbow one was felted in the laundry and the Christmas one may (or may not fit). It’s in the mail on the way so she can wear it for a few days. The one I’m knitting now is a fingering weight cardigan in On the Round sock yarn that I had stashed in a beautiful blue tonal. I’m using Knitting Plain and Simple’s pattern #1506 Baby Cardigan/ Lightweight Baby Cardigan. I love knitting little sweaters, they really make me feel accomplished and finishing things is a pretty wonderful thing, too.

That might be all that I’ve done recently.

I flew home from NYC so I could teach on Friday and Friday night my friend Sarah and her Great Dane puppy, Esme, came for the weekend. What fun it was to see this giant puppy and get to know what a giant breed is like. At six months, she’s 90 pounds and she’s a little floppy like puppies tend to be. But she made me laugh more often than not – often when she tried to climb up into my lap.

Sarah left on Monday and I took off on Tuesday to visit briefly with my Salem and Marblehead family and to pick up the ashes of my grand-dog, Willow. Willow passed away the day after Thanksgiving. I’ll be delivering her ashes to my daughter and her husband. We all were touched by this sweet rescue dog who started out suffering (and making my daughter and anyone who loved her suffer) from severe separation anxiety. She was still anxious as an older dog but she had made great strides; mostly because my daughter loved her so much and was willing to put in the time and effort to help her feel a little more secure.

I arrived back home today and I’m heading back to work tomorrow. Friday there is supposed to be a “big” winter storm. My husband’s boss has called work for Friday already and my boss seems to be leaning that way, too. There will be three of us in the shop tomorrow – hopeful that we get some restocking done!

I’ll sleep well tonight and most of the weekend is “mine” for finishing my Christmas shopping and getting some gifts wrapped. Crossing my fingers that everything arrives in time – I’m getting really good at shopping online! I was a little bit late getting started. The wedding preparations threw me off. But I got our Christmas cards ordered, addressed and sent! Last year I didn’t manage to get cards ordered or sent so I really wanted to get them done this year. I’m so happy with them.

Gone knitting (after I switch the laundry again!)

Thankful

We woke to this view this morning and are so thankful for the privilege of living here, this close to nature and where we can escape the craziness of the world. We are just back from our Thanksgiving gathering in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Two of my kids and their partners and dogs came up from New York. It was a wonderful Northshore Thanksgiving – seafood feast; clam chowder from the Causeway Restaurant in Gloucester, steamed clams and lobsters and dessert from the Italian bakery in the north end of Boston. A wonderful gathering of family and friends who are like family.

I’ve been knitting away and have finished several projects that I can share and a couple that I won’t.

I had a commission for three simple Christmas stockings from my cousin who had lost hers to a moth infestation. She requested green, red and white and I insisted that I’d put on their names. I made an effort to get them finished by Thanksgiving because I’ve lost the post office holiday “battle” before when items intended for Christmas didn’t arrive in time … even when sent two weeks in advance. I didn’t want that to happen here. I’ll be writing up this pattern in the coming weeks for my followers. Why not, right?

I also finished a stocking for my granddaughter. I wanted hers to match her parents and thankfully I kept a copy of the pattern. I must have had the book once upon a time but I don’t any more. I knit Sylvie’s stocking out of Plymouth Galway yarn in an Aran colorway. The stocking is cabled with two different cable patterns on it. The hugs and kisses cables go down the front and back of the sock from top to the tip of the toe, around the heel, too. It’s not an easy pattern but I’ve learned to read my knitting and cross the stitches according to my eyes in order to keep the pattern going. If my memory serves, I added a tassel and an initial ornament to her parents’ stockings. I couldn’t find a nice “S” ornament but I found a cute photo ornament and I think it’ll be good.

I’ve knitted a few things for my granddaughter that I think I can share with you since she’s not yet reading (she’s one month old!) I made her a pair of faux shearling booties and a Christmas sweater and a Love and Light to hang in her nursery.

The shearling booties have knitted cuffs. This is a fairly simple kit to knit that one of my co-workers saved out for me. She was knitting a pair for her granddaughter and I’m grateful that she thought of me. Every well-dressed Maine grand baby needs these. The are a “kit” by Boye called Starting Point Cozy Cuff Baby Booties. I used scraps of Berroco Vintage for the cuffs. I can’t wait to see these on her!

Babies love to look at lights and I thought a light-up heart, Love and Light, designed by Laura Nelkin would be a good addition to her nursery. I had ordered the 200-light strand of fairy lights from Amazon some time ago and finally grabbed my needles to get it done. It’s such “big” knitting that it doesn’t take too long to make and it’s absolutely adorable.

I made her a Newborn Vertebrae sweater in rainbow sock yarn and because this fits so well, I decided to make her another one, this time for Christmas. I knitted the body of the sweater with white sock yarn and then grabbed some bits of stashed yarn and knitted red cuffs, a green and red border around the front of the sweater, and then i duplicate stitched a big green Christmas tree with a bright yellow star to the back. I think it’s adorable. I really wanted to put some sequins and beads on it but babies only spend time on their backs these days and that would NOT have been comfortable. Maybe next year!

I’ve still got a Musselburgh hat to finish but I’m nearly up to the decreases and finishing. I hope it fits. I think it’ll be warm. Pictures to follow as it’s a gift. I’ve got 15 of my Arne and Carlos Norwegian mini-Jumpers finished and number 16 is on the needles. Needless to say, these will not be finished this year and it’s ok. I’ll get them done for next year and this year I’ve bought all of my kids a chocolate advent calendar from Harbor Sweets in Salem, MA. If you’ve not tried their sweet sloops, you’re in for a treat. They’re quite a step up from the $1 chocolate advent calendars from the Christmas Tree Store in Augusta!

I have a couple of pairs of mittens on the needles, too. The KAL “Merry” mittens has been fun. I’ve knitted through the end of the third clue and have the fourth to do next. And there’s a second mitten, too. The Peace de Resistance mittens have been chilling out in my knitting bag for ages. They’ll be happy to see the light of day one of these days. There’s also a pair of socks on my needles.

As of today I’ve completed about 63 projects. I think. I keep track in my bullet journal and in my Ravelry queue (mark the year you’re knitting in the “tags” area) I’m quite pleased about this number because I’ve been working and teaching and volunteering on two boards of trustees so I’ve been busy.

I want to touch back to the sad end of of our Thanksgiving when we had to say goodbye to my beloved grand-dog, Willow. On Friday morning, something was wrong with our girl. Luckily, my brother is a veterinarian and he and his wife scooped up a very uncomfortable Willow and took her to their animal hospital for a check. It turned out that she had a “sizable” tumor on her heart and the heart was surrounded by fluid from the tumor. The fluid could be tapped and drained but there was no way of knowing how quickly it would fill up again. My daughter and her husband made the difficult decision to put Willow to sleep so she wouldn’t suffer, and she was suffering. We all had a chance to visit with her and say our farewells and my brother and sister-in-love are the most caring and compassionate team I know. We are so very lucky that we were there at their house when this happened. The kids were scheduled to head back into New York City that morning and it could just as easily have happened in the car. At least our dear Willow was surrounded by people who love her as she passed away. We will all miss her.

Rest in peace, sweet Willow. Until we meet again.

Gone knitting.

Fall-ing Back.

We see a lot more sunrises on the lake in the winter. We have gone back to daylight savings time here in Maine, falling back an hour. This means that we wake up to sunrise and it’s dark before the end of the workday. But it’s beautiful. The sun rises in the colder months almost directly across the lake from our bedroom window and that means the sun shines straight in. It’s lovely waking up to a colorful sky.

Life has been busy on the lake. We have been trying to get the gardens cleaned out and the pots emptied and put away. My hubby planted the garlic and covered it with a thick layer of hay. We have had our first snow … not enough to shovel and followed by rain, but first snow. It was lovely for me because I stayed in and enjoyed the warm, cozy house and a day of drinking tea and knitting.

We’ve been doing a lot of “family planning” with the holidays closing in on us again. We will be in Marblehead, MA for Thanksgiving this year with some of the kids, then heading to the Washington, DC area for (bonus daughter) Robin’s wedding and then I’ll be heading to New York City for my first babysitting gig as a grandma. The baby has hit her one month mark, loves to eat and hates to sleep on her back, alone, in her bassinet. Her parents are exhausted but totally in love.

Basic Christmas Stocking by Queen Bee Knits (pattern coming soon)

I’ve completed two of my three commissioned stockings and am working on the third. It’s of interested to note that I am using three different brands of yarn for these three stockings and they’re each a bit different. I think I saved the best for last, Cascade 220, which was the only 100% wool yarn that I found that was “white enough” to pass as white – not ivory or cream or aran colored. I’ve gotten down to the heel in about 6.5 hours of knitting. I estimated ten hours and we’ll see how close I get. I’m not as good as lawyers are at keeping track of my time. My dear old dad would be so disappointed (not really). Once tis he knitting complete, I’ll duplicate stitch the names onto them and send them off. The really rough pattern notes are here. I’ll write up the pattern when I can and post it on Ravelry.

I’ve finished the baby’s Christmas stocking, too. I made this stocking pattern for her parents “a few” years back. It must have been before I kept real records of my projects on Ravelry. But I do know that the pattern is out of a book … and I kept the pattern but didn’t keep the book. SO … I’m lucky that I have it to knit again. I really enjoy knitting cables. I had forgotten how much. This stocking is fairly heavily cabled but very satisfying to knit. The X and O cable pattern is easy to memorize with the stitches crossing every four rounds. Once you have learned how to make a cable lean to the left or the right, it’s a pretty easy pattern to read as you go. The “ornament” pattern is less intuitive but it’s really lovely. I love the way the design incorporates the cables all the way through the heel flap and heel turn and all the way down to the toe. The pattern is Hugs and Kisses Aran Stocking by Dee Lockwood.

Hugs and Kisses Aran Stocking

I’ve made a second Newborn Vertebrae for Sylvie. This time it’s a Christmas design. She’s getting so much bigger but she’s still pretty tiny and she spends a lot of time being held or lying on her back. (She much prefers the former, by the way.) The rainbow vertebrae sweater that I knit her fits her perfectly and her mom and I decided it was a good fit for the time through Christmas. We hope. Anyway, I used a 50g. ball of fingering weight sock yarn for the body of the sweater and then I dove into my stash for the accent colors. I found several greens and a lovely red and I’ve decorated the sweater appropriately. I wanted to go all out and decorate further with sequins and beads BUT they’ll be like a bad princess and the pea story because the beads would poke the baby’s back. So it’s unadorned for the most part. I just have to add a tiny yellow star.

I’ve set aside the Merry KAL until I get the deadline knitting finished. Suffice it to say that I was really (really) tired on Thursday after work and I decided to pick up this pattern for a bit … I knit and then promptly frogged the same rounds. Moral of the story is knit a very simple pattern when you’re sleep deprived or you’ll be tinking back. Ha! Ha!

My Arne and Carlos Mini-Advent-Jumpers are frozen at number 15 1/2. I’ve begun number 16 but I haven’t been back to work on it for a few weeks. I don’t think I’ll finish them this year and that’s going to be ok. I’m going to give myself some grace since I haven’t stopped working whether it’s as president of the lake association, a board member for Maine Arts Academy, at the store or in my own knitting business. I also have a life aside from work and a house to clean, laundry, groceries, cooking, baking and sometimes I have to sleep, too. The LYS where I work and teach is kicking off a Fall Smalls KAL/CAL on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we’re going to work on small projects – participants can come knit with the group for no cost and can work on any small project they want; toys, a small sweater, a hat, dishcloths, whatever. Our Fall Smalls KAL/CAL will run for just a few weeks and end on the Winter Solstice. A little (pun intended) fun ahead of a busy holiday season.

I also have a Musselburgh hat on the needles that I’ve spoken very little about. This has been my knitting go-to for when I need something “brainless” to knit. I’ve got the hat nearly to eighteen inches and time to decrease for the end of the hat. BUT it’s been a lot of knitting in the round. Once past the increases which are not difficult it’s time to knit forever! I’ve been knitting forever. This is a hat designed for several different yarn weights. I’ve chosen a fingering weight sock yarn, washable, Berroco Vintage Sock in the black colorway. I’ll tell you honestly that I don’t love this yarn. I would rather be knitting with wool rather than this combination of acrylic and wool. The yarn is soft and washable, suitable for wearing against the skin and also suitable for babies. But my daughter said she’d wear a black hat and I wanted to try the pattern to see how it knits up. I love the pattern. Ysolda (Teague, the designer) is a genius. I hope it’ll be a perfect fit!

I’ll leave you here, dear friend (dare I say friends?) with the idea that this is a wonderful time to gather with friends and/or family and count your blessings even if they’re as simple as a crisp cool day with sun or the feel of yarn passing through your fingers. I’m grateful for a healthy family, the opportunity to travel to be with many of them over the course of the next few weeks and, of course for yarn. This is the time to fall back into the winter routine of coming inside and (hopefully) slowing down a little and knitting.

Happy Thanksgiving and cheers!

Gone knitting.