Deep Freeze, Raw Emotions

Deep Freeze on Messalonskee 3/2/2021

My emotions have been very close to the surface recently. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m mourning the last year that we’ve “lost” because of Covid-19 or because there is finally a sense of calm in our Nation’s capital with the new administration. I’m not sure what it is that I am feeling so deeply or that’s bubbling up but it’s there and with this post I am acknowledging it. I am looking forward to the day when it feels safe to leave the house and when I can see my family again. I miss them all so much but I am also so grateful that they’ve all remained healthy.

We woke to sub-zero temperatures today and lots of wind gusts! It was blowing all night but we have been fortunate to retain our power today while lots of other communities in Maine have not. The sun is out and the sky is bluebird blue and that always helps my “attitude”. I would love to see a really good snowstorm before spring but they posted our road yesterday and our camp road has been a muddy mess for a week or more so I may not get my wish.

Today I finally seamed the underarms of my test knit sweater, Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnston. I like it more than I thought I would before it was blocked. The fabric relaxed a lot in its bath. I also learned a few new techniques: folded cuffs and neck and saddle shoulders. This sweater was fun to knit, partly because it’s somewhat cropped and knit in an Aran weight yarn. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran with Wool (a washable acrylic and wool blend) and it was heavy on the US8 needles … my hands got tired knitting! After seaming the underarms, I put the sweater on – this is the coldest day of our winter so far – and it’s nice and warm, the sleeve length is perfect and I like the pockets placed on the side of the sweater. I can’t show you any photographs yet but when I have permission, I’ll add them here.

Meanwhile, I have cast on a pair of socks for my March 2021 Sock Challenge. This month I’m knitting worsted weight boot socks in Raggi yarn. Gray and white marled leg and foot, red cuff and toe. I’ve nearly got one sock finished and will have to attach sock #2 as soon as #1 is finished. These will be super warm socks and they’re so cute!

I’ve also chosen to participate in the Confident Knitting year-long program hosted by Jen Arnall-Culliford. I also chose to splurge and purchase their yarns – typically not yarns we carry at the yarn shop where I work here in Maine. It’s a great chance to taste yarns that I may otherwise not get a chance to work with. AND they had a cool pink project bag!

I’ve started the March project, Flux Handwarmers by Martina Behm. The techniques learned this month are crochet provisional cast on and a folded edge. I chose to do a picot edge which is so cute! This month’s yarn is the springtime colorway of a Crazy Zauberball. These mitts will be a nice weight and they’ll be so cheerful. I’ve participated in A Year of Techniques and Boost Your Knitting for the two previous years and I learned a lot. I’m sure I’ll learn some new tricks this year, too! What I love about these programs is that there are detailed tutorials on all of the techniques and even when I already know one, I can find something to learn (or it just hammers it into my head.)

I’ve been spending a lot of time “worrying” about my sweet Lola. She’s not eating well and her hind legs are unstable. She sleeps most of the day but she still finds a tail wag or two to gift me with every day. For months I’ve been looking at the little kit that I bought when I was out shopping pre-pandemic. The little felt mitten has a bee on it and I couldn’t resist. This will eventually live on our Christmas tree but until Christmas, it’ll likely live on my desk lamp!

I finished two black tams for a customer and they’ve been delivered to the store for her to pick up. She wants two more navy blue ones. It’s sweet of her to ask me. I made a tarte tatin over the weekend. It was delicious! A few apples, some sugar, butter and a home made crust and it was dessert for two for several days. Yummy!

We’ve been spending lots of time doing puzzles. My hubby gave me a really difficult puzzle for Christmas and we stuck to it and finished it … and he ordered another one for Valentine’s day which we’re working on at the dining room table. Luckily, there are only the two of us so we only need one end of the table for eating (although we generally eat up in my studio and watch the news.)

Gone knitting!

A few FOs and a few WIPs

I’m working away at a few projects. I’ve finished a few that I don’t think I’ve told you about …

Let’s talk FOs (finished objects) first, shall we? I’ve finished a pair of lace Cups of Light by Rosemary Hill. This is a free pattern on Ravelry and it was a quick knit with fingering weight scraps. I finished my Good Kharma shawl. I bought this yarn several years ago and wanted to make this shawl and then it sat and sat. It really didn’t take a lot of time to knit and the yarn is so soft and I love this little shawl. This is also a very inexpensive pattern on Ravelry called Dangling Conversation. It makes me happy and I find that I’m wearing it all the time!

The Chevron Baby Blanket is also finished (not my favorite project ever but they can’t all be.) I’m not even going to put up a photo of this blanket because I really don’t love it. BUT it’ll be used for a baby somewhere along the line. Probably here in our house. Or perhaps given as a “drag it along” blanket for someone.

I’ve finished a Herriot Hat which I will be giving away one of these days. I’m not sure who is accepting donations of hats, etc. right now. I have heard that the police department will accept hats for community residents who need them. That may be my best way to help someone. I have a pair of mittens made from “leftover scraps”, too. Last FO is two pairs of socks (as part of the 2021 Sock Challenge) and they’ve been sent to their new home in Atlanta. My daughter reminded me that I promised her bestest friend, Sheldon, a pair of handknit socks a while back and I had forgotten. I made a pair for Sheldon (and a pair for his husband because it too me so long to get to it and Sheldon got married!) and they loved them.

WIPs (works in progress) are up next! I have a crochet hat, The Cleo Wide Brimmed Fedora in a cotton tape yarn that I’m really enjoying is coming along well. I bought this yarn from the yarn rep when she came to the shop where I work because I really wanted to make this hat. So far, so good … I have almost completed the “bowl” of the hat.

When I started writing this post, the last WIP was not yet finished. Little did I know that it would be such a quick knit. The purple slipper is a sample for the yarn shop. We decided that it’s a sample and we didn’t need to knit two (because one slipper is one ball of yarn!) The instructions for this Basic Chunky Slipper weren’t the best but they were adequate once I decided that cast on with two strands meant that you were to knit the whole project with two strands held together. Typically, directions will say that two strands are used throughout, but this one didn’t say that. A bit vague but it worked and the slippers are super squishy and once the lavender faux fur pompom is sewn on, they’ll be a big hit!

All of these projects are on my Ravelry project page: yarns used, patterns, etc. I hope you’ll have a look! My Ravelry name is lindar.

Gone knitting!

Hope Cardigan

Hope Cardigan by Amy Christoffers

I’ve finished another item after it’s been in “time out” for a long time! This is my Hope Cardigan. The pattern is from Making Magazine / Dots.

The pattern called for (and I used) Berroco Remix Light which is a mix of recycled fibers but feels like cotton/linen and has some man-made fibers including acrylic. It’s got a tweedy texture which I like and the design is very interesting.

The sweater is knitted beginning with the cuff and the sleeve (a good reason not to swatch because it’s a small area and small enough that if your gauge is off you can start again without much fanfare!) Stitches are cast on at the underarm and the body is knitted to the middle. The second half is knitted the same way and you join the pieces with a 3-needle bind off at the center back. I like the simplicity of this sweater and I like the little eyelets along the sleeves and the neckline.

I am looking forward to wearing this with a tank top and white pants in the summer!

More details can be found on my Ravelry page. (I’m lindar on Ravelry.)

Gone knitting!

Testing … testing …

I’ve been accepted as a test knitter by Gudrun Johnston for a new pattern that she’s designed. I”m excited about testing for her and I love this new design and think it’s going to be very wearable.

First order of business is to find an Aran weight yarn that’ll knit to 4.5 stitches to an inch. I have two yarns in my stash that were gifted to me by a friend when her mother stopped knitting because of dementia. I thought, since both are rather rustic wool tweeds, that they might work if I have enough.

I did a quick (flat) swatch and, after blocking, there was one that was 4.5 stitches per inch exactly on a US 8. The other (which is the one that I’d really like to use) is more like 4 stitches to the inch and, frankly, I don’t love the openness of the fabric at this gauge. BUT when I returned to read the pattern, the gauge should be worked in the round. So, back to the drawing board I will go. I’m hoping that the red one will work when swatched in the round (purling back causes the fabric to be a bit looser since purl stitches are typically a little bit looser than the knit stitches.)

I’ll return to the drawing board with circular needles and we’ll see what gauge looks like. Cross your fingers!

Meanwhile, I’m knitting a sample for the Yardgoods Center in a new yarn that came in. Noro Okunoshima is a worsted weight yarn that’s a combination of silk, wool, angora and mohair. It’s really soft but a bit of a loose twist and thus has some “thick and thin” spots. The colors, as with all Noro yarns, are gorgeous. I’m knitting #15 Cable Hat from the Noro Magazine (Fall/Winter 2020). It’s a sweet hat pattern but I still stand by the fact that cabled patterns show up much better in light, plain colored yarn. There, I said it!

#15 Cable Hat

I’m nearly finished with my Hope Cardigan. I have (finally) picked up the stitches around the front and neck of the sweater and will only have to knit the button band and block it. I’ll be happy to have this one off the needles and I look forward to wearing it. I love the color and I really like Remix Light.

There’s my Friday update! We are due to get some wicked cold weather here this weekend. The ice fishermen have been out all week and they were even out this morning with the wind blowing and ten degree weather. I think they’re crazy but they must love it. Tonight temps are due to drop into the single digits. Woo! Hoo! Winter is here! I’m so grateful for our warm, toasty home and lots of wool to keep me warm!

Gone Knitting!

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.

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 …

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!

Three Little Pumpkins

I have finished these adorable little pumpkins and I love them! I found a few skeins of Lion Brand Thick and Quick in my stash and, you all know, that I’ve been working hard to knit down my stash. Many of the yarns that I have are nearly antiques! (Some are legit antiques but that’s another story.)

Three Little Pumpkins

I have knitted this pattern before. It’s “Pumpkin” by Marnie Ann Joyce and it’s free on Ravelry. I’ve made these little pumpkins in super bulky and worsted weight yarns before. So when I found the leftovers of orange and green Lion Brand Yarns Thick and Quick, I knew what I needed to do – and the timing is so right on! Right?

I used US 10 1/2 DPNs for this project which made them a little smaller than previous versions but they’re perfect this way because none of the stuffing shows through and they’re pretty indestructible … and since they’re going west to my nieces and nephew, they’ll be bounced around a little bit (or a lot!)

These guys knit up in a flash. I was able to finish one in about two hours. I added the icord stem by knitting a 5-stitch icord for two or three rounds, and then decreasing to a 4-stitch icord for a couple of rounds and ended up with a 3-stitch icord until I thought it was the way I liked it. The green pumpkin has a special curved stem that has two stitches (one leg of each stitch) knitted together to stick them that way forever!

Gone knitting.