2020 Sock Challenge

My friend and co-worker came up with the idea at the end of 2019 to do a Sock Challenge for 2020 with our classes. I also invited followers from my Queen Bee Knits facebook page. I hesitate to commit to things like this because I’m not very good about sticking with it but in this case, I did it!

Twelve pairs of socks. The challenge was to have two months where you challenged yourself and no more than two “little” socks. Here’s what I did this past year. (Gosh, it feels good to talk about 2020 in the past!) Here they are for your perusal … the proof is in the pudding, right?

You can see all of the details of yarn and patterns for all of these socks on my Ravelry project page! My Ravelry name is “lindar”! I hope you’ll add me as a friend on Ravelry!

Gone knitting!

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!

Christmas Balls

I may only be twenty-five percent of the way through twenty-four new Christmas ball patterns by Arne and Carlos, but I wanted to show you how great they are!

These beautiful balls have been such a wonderful opportunity during these tumultuous months to find comfort and peace in knitting. Each pattern is different … and they take just enough concentration to accomplish. I am so appreciative of Arne and Carlos’ “Sit and Knits for a Bit” podcasts over the last several weeks and months. It’s been a bright spot in my week to sit with my yarn and the podcasts and to center myself and my attention on something other than pandemics and politics.

I’ve barely made a dent in my yarn (yes, I purchased new yarn for this project … I didn’t have the right yarn in my stash) so I’ll be knitting more. There’s one that’s a VW bug with a tree on top … that’s one that I for sure need to knit!

The plan is to put them on our tree but for now, they’re on the wooden Skandinavian Christmas tree that a sweet, dear friend made for me over a decade ago. I enjoy seeing them together … for now.

See my Ravelry project page for more information about the yarn and needles I used.

Gone knitting!

Woo! Hoo!

The last knitted gifts are going out tomorrow! I’m very excited to start knitting some Christmas balls and to get up to date with my MKAL Gnome-Along. Here is what i’ve knitted so far … I won’t show the MKAL gnome pieces because I don’t want to ruin the fun for anyone else.

Arne and Carlos’ new Christmas balls. They’ve designed one for each day in December, like an Advent calendar. I’m several days behind but I’m doing the best that I can. I am using Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. The pattern called for three colors in a DK weight yarn. I love the way this yarn feels! Needles are US 4.

Ball 1, “Spruce”

Balls 2 and 3, “Old Fashioned” and “Mutton” …

Mutton is my favorite so far. I’ve decided to knit them and stuff them when I have a few to stuff rather than stuffing one at a time.

Gone knitting.

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!

Gift Delivered

So, now it’s safe to share with you …

A Gift for a Special Baby Boy

I got a sweet text message yesterday from the “little girl” that I’ve mentored since she was 9 years old. I met her in Florida when I was looking for a volunteer job and it turned out to be one of the best “jobs” I’ve ever had. Kind of like my job as a mother!

So, my girl is having her first baby in December … early December. They live in Florida right now but they’re moving to Colorado soon after the baby is born so he’s going to need lots of warm clothes!

Knitting Pure and Simple #295 Bulky Baby Pullover

I love this sweater. Plain and simply love it. I made my first iteration of this sweater for my “niece-to-be” when I found a bulky hand-dyed yarn in Massachusetts! We had gone to Gloucester to drop off a box of books for a friend in Florida on our way (from Florida) to Maine for the summer. We just happened to find a yarn shop … hey! There was a big sign on the sidewalk!

Wouldn’t you have stopped???

Ha! Well, this time, the sweater was knit up in Hayfield’s Baby Blossom Chunky. This yarn is mostly acrylic (man-made fiber) and is machine washable and dry-able. Any of us who have been fortunate enough to have children know that it is really important, especially the first time, to have easy-care hand-knits! I made the whole kit and caboodle with this yarn and I really liked the way it felt in my hands. If it feels soft and cozy, it’s good for a new baby! Right?

The blanket is a 3-cable baby blanket out of the same yarn. This pattern was a free pattern (is a free pattern) at the yarn shop where I work. Super simple (unless you twist a cable the wrong way like I did) and I have loved it both in this printed yarn and in the solid yarn, too.

3-Cable Baby Blanket

I also knitted a little hat with a pompom. I didn’t use a pattern for this and I hope it’ll turn out to fit the baby at about the same time as the sweater. If it doesn’t, so be it. I’m not even sure I wrote down what I did with the hat but if I did, it’ll be on my project page on Ravelry.

Bulky Baby Hat – my pattern

The little bonus was the pair of booties and the socks. Both of which I loved making and think are so stinking cute! Sue’s Baby Booties are one of those “vintage” patterns that I can’t find on Ravelry but have made for years (dare I say, decades?) I love making them with Cascade Fixation yarn because they tend to stretch a bit and not fall off as easily as anything you put on baby feet does. I have added an icord lace for my booties in a contrasting color and these make me really happy.

Sue’s Baby Booties

The littlest socks are from Yankee Knitter’s pattern “Socks for the Family” which is my go-to pattern when I am knitting socks. These tiny ones are the smallest size and in fingering weight yarn. The yarn is Paton’s Kroy which is a heavy fingering but I love this print and have had it in my stash for a while. Perfect time to use up a bit of it and keep a baby’s toes warm at the same time. I’ll knit more baby-sized socks when the Christmas knitting jobs are all done.

Baby socks!

I have a lot of “fun” knitting I want to do … a couple of sweaters or six, Frog and Toad (have you seen this pattern?), I want to finish my Dolores by Franklin Habit and knit her some outfits, too, and there is a KAL with Arne and Carlos for 24 new Christmas balls (I’ve bought the yarn for that and it starts 12/1). There’s a gnome KAL starting in December and I have a pattern for a Scandinavian doll that I’ve been wanting to knit forever. I have a MochiMochi bee kit to knit, too.

I’m hoping to get the Christmas stocking knitted in good part today … no time like the present!

Gone knitting!

While I’m at my Desk This Morning

Let me update you on the week I’ve had. It was busy and full as usual but with a bit of an added twist … we think it was food poisoning!

This week on Messalonskee

Friday night I woke up with my heart beating (what I thought was) extra fast. Fast enough that I felt unsure of what was happening and a bit fearful, to be totally honest. I got up out of bed and got a glass of water, sat in the living room for a bit until I decided I needed to be close to my dear hubby in case something bad happened. My arms and legs and head felt “fuzzy” (tingly?) and I woke him up, asking him to call 911. Fortunately he waited a minute or two because I realized I was going to vomit … all the blood was going to my stomach! I have never realized how my body works so efficiently! (Ha!) Soon, I was feeling better and we went back to bed and to sleep, my heart returning to its normal rate. Yesterday I spent the day in my PJs. I was tired enough to take a nap and miss a call from my dear daughter. Napping is not something I do unless I’m not feeling well (needless to say, it doesn’t happen often!)

Today, I am feeling much better, thank goodness! I dare say, I feel “normal” again. I’ve been up at my desk playing catch-up. I needed to write a newsletter for work, add a bunch of new people to the store email list, writing a membership article for our lake association newsletter, etc. and I figured I’d let you know what’s happening in my knitting world.

#295 Bulky Baby Pullover

I finished the baby sweater, Diane Soucy’s Bulky Baby Pullover, for a special little baby. This completes the gift that will be sent off sometime soon. Baby isn’t due for a few more weeks but I want him to have it when he’s born. He’s moving from Florida to Colorado in January and he’ll need a bunch of warm clothes! I really enjoyed knitting with this chunky yarn and because it’s easy care, the new mom won’t have to stress about washing. Once the gift has been received, I’ll post pictures of the gift in its entirety.

Tin Can Knits The World’s Simplest Mittens

This is a custom order from a wonderful customer (and friend) for her grandsons. Mittens! Here in Maine we all need at least a pair of warm mittens in the winter (and sometimes in the fall, too.) These mittens are knit in Berroco’s Ultra Wool Chunky and, as such, they knit up really quickly. If my mind could concentrate, I’d have finished a pair in a day. I love the Ultra Wool yarns for their superwash ease and their heft. These will be warm mittens. The pattern, another free Tin Can Knits pattern on Ravelry, is really simple and is written for fingering, DK, worsted and chunky yarns (so, any gauge, really). If you don’t have my vintage mittens pattern, you need this one. And frankly, if you want to knit mittens in any gauge, this is a good pattern. Peruse the other free or paid Tin Can Knits patterns, they’re all pretty special!

Fingerless Mitts in purple

I have offered to make some fingerless mitts for the Maine Arts Academy to use to incentivize students at times. Or, frankly, to use in any manner that the administration sees fit. There may be a student who needs some love and that’s ok, too. So, I’ve knitted the mitts with some stashed Patons Classic Wool yarn in a deep purple colorway. My plan is to add some snowflakes to the back of the hands to make them a bit more interesting. This will be an ongoing opportunity for me to knit down some of my stash and to give back to the MeAA community. It’s a wonderful school of which I feel so privileged to be a part. (I know that’s grammatically correct, but gee, it sure sounds stuffy, doesn’t it?)

These mitts are based on the vintage pattern seen in the photograph. This is a classic mitten pattern that I knit to the knuckles or wherever I deem fit to stop knitting and add a few rows of ribbing. Simple, clear and include sizes for children and adults. I love this book and when I retire and have more time (does that ever happen?) I will knit all the things in the book. The mitten pattern itself is free on Ravelry but you can buy the whole book at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine 207-872-2118 … we’ll send it out to you if you don’t live nearby! You might even talk to me!

I’ll post a few more pictures when I get the ends woven in and the snowflakes added.

Gone knitting …

Whatever Lola Wants

Lola’s New Sweater

This little dog is not a cooperative model but here is Lola’s new sweater!

I found this big box craft store yarn in my stash and decided that I needed to knit it up and get it used up and out of my “collection”. It was in the same bin as the camo yarn that I found for Boq’s sweater … and I’ve been carrying it around for years. (The camo yarn has been around much longer but still!)

I used the pattern, Pug Dog Sweater, the same pattern that I used for Boq’s sweater (see my previous post) and I did change this one up a bit, too. Female dogs don’t have a problem with sweaters coming low on the belly so I added more rounds to Lola’s sweater to make it longer under her belly and then I only did a few rounds of decreases to cover her back. I have written the details in my Ravelry project pages for both sweaters. (Or I will after I finish writing this post. Ha!)

I still have a bunch of this yarn so I think that when life calms down a little bit that I’ll knit up some fingerless mitts and mittens and bring them across the lake to the Maine Arts Academy. I’m sure there are students with cold fingers over there!

Gone Knitting!

New Sweater for Boq

Pug Dog Sweater in Camo

I don’t generally like knitting with Red Heart yarn. I don’t like the way it feels in my hand when I’m knitting and there are better quality acrylic yarns out these days that, while they are a little bit more expensive, they are so much better to work with and to wear. So, when I went searching for stashed yarns for a future project, I found an extra skein of this camouflage yarn that I believe I had used about 20 years ago to make a blanket for my son. Yes, I know. I’ve been carrying around some yarn forever!

My little Boq likes to wear a sweater these days. He seems to get chilly more as he’s aged and his old sweater has been starting to show its age … he’s caught it on his nails and pulled it, it’s pilled and stretched out (and with male dogs, a sweater pulled out around the belly is its own problem.) So, I decided to give a new sweater a go …

Attempt one.

I had knitted the pattern, Pug Dog Sweater, for my grand dog, Gus and blogged about it here. It worked pretty well after two tries at getting the size right. When you’re knitting for a puppy, it’s difficult because the little buggers are growing like weeds! Knitting for a senior citizen shitzu isn’t as difficult and he also lives here so I can knit and check the size/length. I knitted the XXS size for Boq and decided to extend the length of the chest by several rounds. I also extended the length after the legs so Boq’s back is covered. It was bunchy around his shoulders.

Attempt two.

I knitted the pattern again. This time as written to the sleeves and then I extended the length as I did on the first attempt. This time the fit was much better. I had to unravel the first sweater to finish the second one, but that was fine with me. I pitched the knitted bit of the first sweater that I didn’t need to unravel … I’m really working to use the stashed yarn!

Now, I think Lola needs a new sweater, too! I have a skein of acrylic yarn from a folly trip to Hobby Lobby. I’ll use this up, too.

Gone knitting.

Making Monday

Sunrise this morning over Sidney, Maine

It’s a new week and a new opportunity to make things! When I started this blog, it was meant to be about all of the things I made with a focus on knitting. So, here we are at another Monday and I am starting a whole new week of making.

I finished something yesterday! Woo! Hoo! I love to knit and I love to finish projects and send them on their merry way. This is a baby blanket that my sister-in-love asked me to make for her niece. I love this pattern because it’s a classic style that pleases everyone. I knit this with Berroco Vintage Chunky, an acrylic and wool blend that is machine washable and dryable, both very important for a new mom. The pattern is called Three Cable Baby Blanket and it’s a pattern that we hand out for free at the yarn shop where I work. This blanket took four hanks of yarn The chunky yarn makes it take a lot less time than a finer yarn and it’ll be nice and warm for the baby!

Banana Nut Muffins with Blueberries

Because I live in Maine, I like to add blueberries to almost everything I bake. They’re also good for us, right? My sweet husband loves to have something sweet in the morning with his coffee. When I bake for him, he’s a happy camper. You know the saying, “sometimes you feel like a nut”? He always likes nuts and these have a full cup of chopped walnuts in them. The recipe is one that I was given forever ago from a friend. It says it’s the recipe from the West Milton Inn. You can find the recipe here! This is the best banana bread recipe that I have ever had. I freeze the bananas when they’re getting old and when I defrost them, I add all the liquid and the bananas. Try making them plain, as written, and then play with adding different things: 1 cup of chocolate chips or a cup of blueberries or a cup of nuts (walnuts or pecans are great!)

I made granola!

I usually add dried cranberries in place of the raisins and I add 1/4 cup of maple syrup, too. I’ve been known to add chopped pecans or walnuts (remember that my husband likes nuts!) I now like to add pepitas (pumpkin seeds), too. I love this with a bit of almond milk or even with greek yogurt for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack when I forgot lunch and don’t want to ruin my dinner.

So, there you go! I’ve started my week making … baking!