Hat, Hat, Spring and the Big Decision

It seems that Spring has finally come to Maine!

I took a walk around the yarn this morning before I headed off to work and the flowers both wild and “domestic” (is that what you call them?) are starting to bloom! I love seeing my yard in full bloom! The rhododendrons were purchased years ago from a big box store and they were teeny tiny and nearly dead. We bought three plants to add some pretty between the guest cottage and the woodshed. One got stepped on during the construction of the new house and didn’t survive. The other two are starting to get bigger. Although they’re nowhere near enough to make a “statement”!

Trillium, Violets and (I think) forget-me-nots. I love seeing them! The Bleeding Heart and Creeping Phlox is just about to bloom, too. It’s simply gorgeous and it makes me very happy!

Happiness makes me think of yarn and knitting! (Duh!)

Winterberry Farm yarn

I’ve been working with my “lady farmer” at Winterberry Farm in Belgrade, Maine. Winterberry Farm is an organic farm and their sheep provide Mary with lovely fleeces that she has spun into yarn. I’m working with Mary to make up some knitting kits with her yarn and some simple yet fun patterns that will let her yarn shine. The first sample I knitted up for her is a hat from Tin Can Knits free patterns called “Barley Light.”

While my photograph isn’t the exact right color, it’s pretty close. I like this simple hat pattern because it lets the beautiful, lanolin-y yarn be the star of the show. A one-skein project. The “corrugation” adds just enough interest to make it interesting.

I’ve also knitted a rainbow-stripe hat for the Yardgoods Center. Joyce, who owns the shop, asked for a ribbed hat in a new yarn (to us). It’s a West Yorkshire Spinners “Colour Lab DK” yarn which is 100% British wool. I love working with this yarn. It’s stretchy and squishy soft. And the colors are fabulous! We have three or four colorways at the shop.

The pattern that I found is on Ravelry and it’s a free pattern by Chandi Agee at Expression Fiber Arts called “Boyfriend Beanie”. A 3×2 rib all the way up to the crown. when the decreases start, it becomes fully knitted. A quick knit and super fun! Since it’s ribbed, it’s stretchy and will fit any adult head.

And my big decision?

Oh, my Sunset Highway.

I’m not ok with the main body color. It’s too busy and it detracts from the beautiful colorwork. So, after discussing my options at knitting class on Friday and with the help of color expert, Marlene (Hi, Marlene!), I’ve decided to frog the body of the sweater and reknit it in a different yarn that isn’t so crazy busy. I’m not saying that I don’t love the MC. I do. But I don’t like it here on this sweater. I think the new yarn will be much better and will let the colorwork be the main attraction. So, that’s the big decision that I have made and tomorrow I will be doing the frogging and starting the body over.

I know I wasn’t settled with it and this is a good choice. I’d rather love the sweater and wear it than let it languish on a shelf in my closet. There are also the two different colorways. Strikes one and two and that’s all I need to inform my choice. I’m frogging the body.

Gone knitting!

Sunset Highway

For years and years, I’ve been knitting and avoiding color work.

Several yearns ago, I made a pair of snowflake mittens and I had caught the bug. I liked the smaller, more manageable projects, though. I admired other’s beautiful sweaters, socks, vests, blankets, etc. but there was no way that I was going to attempt a bigger project, say than a hat!

Well, then my friend and co-worker, Peggy suggested that we both knit Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter. Fingering weight yarn and a color work sweater for me?!?! Yeah, maybe not. Or maybe so. We started playing with yarn choices one slow afternoon at the shop and before I knew it, I’d bought some new On the Round yarn because nothing that I had in my stash would work. (Right!?)

Iteration 1 – I started with the smaller needle size, knitted up the ribbing and began the color work with the first choice of yarns. I had chosen a burgundy solid and a tonal “gold” and I didn’t like it. The fabric was too tight (and I thought it would be too small.) So, I put it away in a project bag for a few months and let it sit.

Iteration 2 – I frogged the first iteration because I didn’t like the colors and returned the yarns that I hadn’t used and bought the On the Round yarn in the Eclipse colorway. (Note … my stash has already grown by two skeins!) I was still going to use the gold … until I didn’t like them together and bought a second skein of On the Round in the Always a Bridesmaid colorway. I had a skein of Wicked with most of it left over from a baby gift that I had to make … but I didn’t really love the green at that time so I went back to my stash and found a skein of burgundy-ish that I did like. (Stash addition down to one skein.) Forging ahead! By the time I got past the colorwork chart and on to the main color, I wasn’t loving the Rebel colorway that I had chosen but I forged ahead again. I really love the yarn and although the colorway is busier than I would probably have chosen had I known ahead what it knitted up like, I still like it. Until I hit the second skein which was quite a bit different. Rip back and start over or keep going? I kept going.

Tonight I reached the bottom of the body of the sweater. There is a “line” that I can see where the skeins changed. I wish I had thought to start with the two skeins that were the same and leave the third skein for the sleeves but I didn’t. So, I am going to finish it and I think I will like it. If I don’t, I can always frog is later and start over! 🙂

One of the things I love about knitting is that it is not finite. It’s fluid. It can always be changed – frogged, re-knit, changed. I’ve learned a lot about acceptance from knitting. Accepting those imperfections, even loving them. Learning all the way.

I’m learning. Gone knitting!

Nearly Done

This is my Neck Down Summer Cardigan by Knitting Pure and Simple. It is nearly done! I’ll be excited to get it off the needles when I complete the button band and front band. Which I am determined to do today!

I am knitting this sweater with a stashed yarn. A deeply stashed yarn that I have been carrying around with me for almost ten years. It may, in truth, be more than ten years. I don’t really remember. Anyway … the yarn is Elsebeth Lavold’s Tweedy Wool. It’s a (light) worsted weight yarn in wool with a bit of acrylic and viscose (the flecks). I’ve liked knitting with this yarn and the sweater is ok … I’m not sure I love the color any more but I’ll wear it … I think. 🙂

My swatch came out a bit off from the gauge recommended for the pattern. I decided to make the x-large rather than the large to compensate for my swatch rather than to change the needle size because I liked the way the fabric was when I knitted it on a US 7 needle. I wouldn’t have liked the fabric had I knitted with a larger needle.

The front bands shouldn’t use any more than the rest of one ball of yarn so I’m going to go out on a limb and say I used seven balls (50g, 136 yards each) of yarn to finish this sweater. It’s really cute and I’ll make it again. Initially, I just needed a good travel project … now I have a spring sweater. I think it’d be a fun one to knit in a solid yarn and embellish with some embroidery.

Knitting tip: When knitting the sleeve of this sweater, I wanted it to be around elbow length or just a touch shorter. Touching the top of the elbow. I alternated decreases, knitting two rounds, decrease a round and then knitting one round until I had 80 stitches. I did six rounds of ribbing so it wouldn’t roll and then bound off … but I bound off with the larger needle so I had some stretch! I don’t like it one little bit when the edge of knitted garments aren’t stretchy! This worked like a charm. Typically, when I am knitting garments, socks, etc. I bind off with a needle that is one or, in this case, two sizes larger than the one I was knitting with. I used a US7 for the body of the sweater and a US5 for the ribbing. I bound off with the US7.

My new favorite needles are the Chaio Goo Red Lace needles. I have three circulars. I used them all for this sweater and they make me happy. The tips are wonderful but the best part is the cords that have no memory and don’t get all tangled up in themselves. I’ll be buying more!

Gone knitting!

Indigo Frost

I finished and blocked my Indigo Frost by Isabel Kramer over the weekend.

I knit mine is Ella Rae Classic wool in a heathered gray colorway. The yoke is knitted in three yarns: another Ella Rae yarn, the bright yellow-green and two stashed wools. One was a Patons Classic wool (light blue-ish) and the other was likely a Galway wool (the off-white.) I love knitting from stash.

This pattern was a very satisfying knit. It was quite simple. The “colorwork” is actually slipped stitches and that was fun to watch as it took shape. The body of the Poncho/cape/whatever is less boring than it could have been thanks to the alternating rows of yarnovers.

I did change the pattern when I knit my Indigo Frost because I don’t like turtle necks anymore. I simply cast on and did ten (or so) rounds of ribbing before starting the yoke. (Don’t forget, if you do this to shorten the length of the whole garment or you’ll have to frog it! Ask me how I know!) when I blocked this, the yarn bloomed like crazy! It evened out the slipped stitches … it was nearly a miracle!

You can see my adorable shitzu stitch marker that I bought at last year’s Maine Fiber Frolic. They look like my little dogs!

I bought the yardage suggested by the pattern and used one less ball than was asked for for my size (xl). That balance out the green that I bought that started this whole knitting adventure.

I’d heartily recommend this pattern as a quick knit that is super wearable and fun to knit. I’m wearing mine at work today and loving it!

Gone knitting!

Happy New Year! New Year, New Yarn!

Winter Wonderland!

This was my view on the way to work the other day. The camp road is slippery and ice-covered but so beautiful! This is why we love living here in Maine. Every season has its beauty if you are open to seeing it!

We had a wonderful Christmas with my sweet husband’s daughters and one boyfriend. The Christmas tree was beautiful and the weather was perfect – except we didn’t have any snow! But the ice on the lake was perfect for ice skating and other wintery exploits!

I’m knitting away … well, not completely “normal” but I’m making progress working through the WIPs in my atelier. And I may have cast on a new project, too.

Yip Yips by Carissa Browning (crochet version)

This Yip Yip was a gift for my husband who has trouble keeping track of his wallet. Sometimes it’s in the kitchen or the bedroom or bathroom or his office or truck (among other locales) and I thought this Yip Yip would be a silly and fun container for the wallet. This is free pattern on Ravelry in either knit or crochet. Mine is the crochet version. It was quick to make and I think it’s hilarious! The ping pong ball eyes are the best! I will make more of these! They make me smile.

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This is the best mitten pattern! I love mittens in Maine in the winter and this is a good mitten pattern for the whole family! I had a skein of Knitting Fever’s Painted Sky and a bit of mohair that I knitted together at the same time and they’re really soft and they’ll be really warm. I’m planning to do a little bit of embroidery on them to give them a little bit of color. They’ll likely be inside my leather choppers. The pattern is out of print but it’s out there if you look.

And I have another pair of mittens that I have finished … this yarn and the pattern came from Knitty.com back in 2005! The pattern is actually from Knitty in the fall of 2002. I printed the pattern with the plan to make them for my daughter who was in high school. She chose the yarn which I bought from Knit Picks online.

2005 project finished

These are convertible mittens … they can be mittens and they can be fingerless mitts … well, they have partial fingers so they’re not really fingerless, are they?

Broad Street Mitts by Janis Corteses

Back in 2005, I wasn’t as confident a knitter as I am today. I was wondering why I didn’t finish these way back when and I think it was the “reverse all shaping” for the second mitt. I didn’t understand what that meant and the internet wasn’t nearly as good at showing you anything you want to know or learn. Now, however, I am able to reverse the shaping and knit the second mitt. I put the mittens in the mail to New York City as a surprise and my daughter was delighted. These are the Broad Street Mitts and they’re available on Knitty and Ravelry. They’re made from a fingering weight yarn and I used Knit Picks sock landscape. I don’t know if they still make it but it felt really nice to knit with!

Son-in-Love Socks – Classic Socks for the Family by Melinda Goodfellow

I just finished a pair of Birthday socks for my son-in-love whose birthday is later this month. My daughter said that he wouldn’t wear them but I said he needed to try them anyway … I think he’ll love them if he tries them. My son had the same reaction initially and he loves his hand knit socks (and is asking for more … they’re on the needles!) I love the Lang yarn and I used my favorite sock pattern by Yankee Knitter! I used a 3×1 rib on the cuff and instep. Socks are still one of my favorite things to knit.

Lallybroch Shawl by KnitzyBlonde (inspired by Outlander)

I may have slipped and cast on a new project the other day. I had bought three hanks of Malabrigo Arroyo (sport) in a pretty color way. I had thought it would knit up into a very pretty Lallybroch Shawl. And then I had a customer who has knit more than one and used the Rios by Malabrigo and I worried for awhile that the Arroyo wouldn’t be heavy enough. So I set aside three hanks of Rios in the Paris Night colorway. So, the other day when it was quiet at work, I wound one hank of the Arroyo to see how it worked up … and I am so happy to report that it is perfect. I really don’t love worsted weight shawls. They’re too warm for me – I tend to run hot – and the sport will be much better. I love this yarn and this colorway. I can’t wait to wear it.

As an aside, if you’ve not been watching Outlander on the Stars Network, watch it! I love it. And the books are incredible – it’s a time travel, historical fiction, love story with some really spectacular knitwear!

I still have many (MANY) WIPs still waiting for my attention but I am working my way down the list. I have “promised” myself that I won’t buy any more new yarn until I get a couple of the sweaters that I have all of the yarn for, by the way, done! I think my Malabrigo Rios sweater will be first. I’m going to be knitting it on a smaller needle as if it was a DK weight yarn so it won’t pill as much. I’ll let you know when I get rolling!

Gone knitting! I leave you with the sunrise picture I took this week. It’s been beautiful!

Sunrise and Ice Fishing Shack on Messalonskee

Aurora Unicorn Mittens

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… before they’re trimmed and eyes embroidered!

Last week, one of my coworkers texted me that she was working on a pair of unicorn mittens and sent me a picture which was a link to the pattern in Raverly. And since I am still recovering from my bout with tendonitis, and not knitting too much yet (still?), I wasn’t going to do any knitting for Christmas.

Having thought briefly about it; I was working in a yarn shop … quite convenient, really, if you want access to yarn for a new project … and since they were so stinking cute, I bought a couple of skeins of yarn to make a couple of pairs of little unicorn mittens for a couple of sweet girls who I wished lived closer!

The pattern is Aurora Unicorn Mittens DK by Crafting Designs. I knitted mine with a skein of Berroco Ultra Wool in the cream (8301) colorway and a skein of West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley DK in the Rainbow (827) colorway. Since they’re little it didn’t take me too much time to knit up and today I finished them. They’re adorable and I can hardly wait to send them for Christmas!!!

Obviously, I can’t show you the finished object. They’re a surprise for Christmas … I will update after Christmas though! I’m off to watch Poldark. If you haven’t watched it, do!

As always, you can see my project up close and personal on my Raverly page, I’m “lindar”. And follow me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner.

 

SNOW!

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We had our first snow Saturday. It’s still only October and this seems pretty early but it was thrilling to see! After living in Florida for ten years, and Ohio before that, the anticipation of winter makes me feel like a little kid again!

I’ve been knitting a little bit but I also am very cognizant of needing to take my re-entry into knitting slowly so that my tendonitis (knitter’s elbow) doesn’t return! So, each day I knit for a very short while and then I do something else. On Friday I bought some new supplies to make an embroidered pillow. I purchased the pattern ages ago (seriously, several years ago when I went on the Maine Quilt Shop Hop. I haven’t been out on a shop hop for at least two years. So, the pattern is at least that old.)

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The pillow, if I can get it done by Christmas, will be for my dear husband. I hope he doesn’t read my blog or I may have just ruined a surprise. Anyway, I’ve traced the design onto the white cotton fabric that I bought and ironed on a thin stabilizer. Now I can stitch the design. Stitching  with the stabilizer will slow me down because it pulls the same muscles that haven’t been feeling well but that’s ok.

And I have finished the knitting portion of a little baby sweater. This is a gift for a new baby. I can’t give too much information but it’s the Zip Up the Back baby sweater. (This pattern is a free pattern that we have at the Yardgoods Center where I work. I am not sure if it’s a Ravelry pattern or not but if you happen to read this and want a copy, I’ll send you one from the store. Just ask!) All I have to do is get a zipper and sew it in. (And sew in all the ends!) It will be sent off as soon as I get it finished and I hope it will be a good surprise. Meanwhile, another of my daughter’s friends has had a baby and I feel like I need to knit something for him, too. I may knit this sweater again. It was quick and easy and I really like it! I made this sweater in Plymouth Yarns Encore worsted in the Ravelry Red colorway. It took two skeins.

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I continue working very slowly on the Frosting shawl in Manos Del Uruguay’s Alegria yarn. Very slowly. It’s difficult to knit only a couple of rows a day but I know it’s what I need to do to heal completely. I am getting there! I am eager to be all better and back in the saddle. I have a shawl/scarf that I “owe” to a friend as a trade of services. I’d love to get it started for her!

No Christmas knitting from my house this year!