Success!?

What is our measure of success? People measure success by the cars they drive, the homes they own, the jobs they have, how much money they make and a lot of other things. It’s different for all of us. Right?

I’ve measured my success by looking at what others think of me for much of my life. It’s only after a ton of therapy and the grace of having had a lot of time on this planet, that I can say that I feel successful. I’m content. Content with the life that we’ve built here on the lake in Maine.

Members of my Friday Knitting Group loving each other … kindness is rampant in this group!

I feel successful at work. I have created a circle of customers and friends and students who I enjoy spending time with. I feel like I am making a difference by sitting on two boards of trustees go organizations that have meaning to me. My kids are grown and living full lives. I’m deeply in love with the person I married and he loves me despite my perfect imperfections. (*ha! ha! ha!)

I’m feeling confident as a knitter. I’m wearing my Sunset Highway sweater today for the first time. It fits and it’s really lovely. I am quite proud to be able to make garments that I can wear. I have been finishing some projects, too, projects that have been hanging around in my studio for a long (long!) time!

Last year I was going to knit Christmas stockings for my daughter and son-in-love. Because I got a pretty good case of tendonitis, I wasn’t able to knit the stiff fabric for the stockings. But I just got them finished … with a little help from my friend and co-worker, Peggy. She took the first stocking, which I had begun over a year ago, and whipped it into shape while I started and finished the second one. They’re all steamed and finished now and ready to be gifted to the wonderful couple. Their anniversary is next week but I think I’ll save them until Thanksgiving and give them as an early Christmas present!

The stockings are both kits from Accessories Unlimited. Kits #402, Toy Soldiers and #103, Christmas Tree Stocking. The yarn isn’t what I would choose to knit with. It’s very stiff and scratchy but because it won’t be worn, it’s ok. They will hold up well and the stitches are pretty well-defined. I am very pleased with them both.

I’ve also finished a scarf promised as a trade with my herbalist. I had wanted it to be done a year ago as well but for the same reasons that the stockings weren’t done, the scarf was shelved (quite literally). Yesterday I brought it over to Danielle and she loved it. I’m pleased. It was (is) gorgeous. This is the first project I actually blocked with blocking wires. Lace really requires it. The pattern was a free one, Sage Smudging Scarf, on Ravelry and I knit it with the most gorgeous shade of gold Alegria by Manos. All of the details are on my Ravelry projects page. Suffice it to say that this scarf will adorn a neck and feel soooooo good!

When I was at Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat (or as I call it, Fiber Camp) this summer, we designed a lace cowl in our Lace class with Bristol Ivy. I have finally finished and photographed my cowl. The pattern was created using a process called “encoding” which was first brought to knitting by Naomi Parkhurst. In the yarnovers, there is a secret message.

Encoded lace … “I love Ned” and “Embraced” are hidden in the yarnovers

I’ve finished a new sample, a baby sweater, for Yardgoods. It’s Knitting Pure and Simple pattern #214, Baby Pullover. We chose a Cascade yarn, Pacific Color Wave, to knit it up in and since it’s teeny-tiny, it takes only one ball of yarn and knits up in no time at all.

I still have several projects to finish and a few to start, but I’m feeling the success all around me and it feels really good.

Gone knitting!

You can find more details about these projects and others on my Ravelry projects page. I’m Lindar. Also, follow me on Facebook, Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner, and on Instagram, @QueenBeeKnits.

WIP … 1, 2, 3, … No Yarn, No Fabric

In my knitting bag

Today I was up in my atelier after doing all of my day off list of activities when I decided to see what I’ve got in my knitting bag. I tend toward throwing whatever I want to have at work into the bag and taking it with me. Sometimes it just needs to be cleaned out. Today I discovered five projects, WIPs, in my knitting bag. All in process … some further ahead than others.

First, my husband’s sweater. I’m really working hard to knit up some of the projects already in my stash. If fact, I have a new mantra … No Yarn! No Fabric! I repeated it over and over again when my two friends at work and I went on the Maine Yarn Cruise. Anyway … I’m knitting my husband a Knitting Pure and Simple sweater in Ella Rae Classic Wool. I love these patterns because they are time-tested. The pattern is Knitting Pure and Simple #255 Henley Neck Down Pullover for Men. The yarn is Ella Rae Classic Wool in color 125.

And then there is the beautiful lace scarf that I am knitting for my herbalist friend. She needs a gift for a friend and she didn’t have the time (or the inclination) to knit a scarf. I love the Manos Alegria yarn. It’s very soft and not splitty. The color for this project is absolutely amazing. The pattern is pretty but it’s actually boring to knit. A four-row lace pattern repeated one hundred twenty times … or more. Pattern: The Sage Smudging Scarf, free on Ravelry. Yarn is Alegria by Manos del Uruguay in the Turmeric colorway.

For Christmas this year, my husband gave me some lovely wool yarn. And then he told me that it was for him – he wanted me to knit socks for him. Perhaps he should have put the yarn in HIS stocking?! This yarn is what I would call a heavy worsted and it’s working up really well but it’s a bit hard on my hands! He’ll love these socks in the winter. One sock is finished and the second sock is begun but I have put this one aside until I get a couple of projects finished that are “due” sooner. The yarn is Briggs and Little Tuffy in the Granite colorway. The pattern is Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter.

I’m knitting a pair of mittens as a sample for my Messalonskee Adult Ed class that begins in a couple of weeks. We will knit a pair of mittens and then embellish them with embroidery. I’m knitting with Ella Rae Classic Wool … they’ll be pretty mittens and they’ll also be very pretty. The plan is to embroider a bee on one mitten and maybe some flowers on the other. Maybe two bees! The pattern is Classic Mittens and Gloves for the Entire Family (this is a must-have pattern, by the way!). The yarn is Ella Rae Classic Wool in colorway 177.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the cutest crocheted hat on Facebook. It was made with a rafia “yarn” that I quickly found online and ordered. Oops? I had a bit of a challenge with the very start of the hat but with a couple of tries, I was successful and was going around and around! I’m making progress. I thought I’d have it done by Friday, but I remembered the scarf was promised in September. The hat probably won’t be worn until spring. The yarn is called Ra Ra Rafia by Wool and the Gang. The pattern is the Devon Hat (it’s free on Ravelry!)

I have two Christmas stockings, one Delores, a pair of socks, and several other projects on my atelier shelf. The stockings have got to be done by November! They’re the next two projects that have to rise to the top of the list! I have the yarn and patterns chosen for five more sweaters for me, too!

I haven’t sewn for a year but I have the fabric for two twin size quilts for the guest bedroom on the third floor, a tree quilt and a few other projects.

No yarn! No fabric!

Gone knitting!

Allison Cardigan

It hasn’t been an easy path for this wonderfully soft and beautifully dyed Malabrigo Rios yarn. I started out knitting one sweater and then another but both got frogged because of the fit or the style. (Both were pretty horrendous!) The yarn went into “time out” for awhile until I found the Allison Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.

Getting started!

This cardigan is knitted from the top down in one piece with US7 needles. I knew that to get the right gauge, I needed to knit this yarn on a size 7 needle. This pattern seemed perfect. It’s a simple sweater, pretty straight forward in the top down sweater world.

The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in the Cirrus Grey (845) colorway. I love, love, love this color! It’s somewhere between a denim blue and grey and everything in between. I chose the Purpureas (872) colorway for the pocket. This is another rich purple color and I think it’ll be just enough zing when the interior of the pocket shows against the blue sweater. I can’t wait to wear this sweater!!! Rios is what I would call a light worsted weight merino yarn. It’s not got a whole lot of twist and that’s why I want to knit it up on a “smaller” needle. The US7, in this instance, I think will be perfect. I loved the fabric on my swatch.

Incredibly purple pockets!

The construction of the pocket was different than any pockets I’ve knitted before. It is knitted into the body of the sweater and then seamed at the sides. Initially I thought it would be bulky but it’s not. And my hands will be so warm!

Once the body of the sweater was finished, I started on the first sleeve. One of the tricks I’ve learned over the years is that if I want to make the sleeves even and balanced, I need to use the tools that I have and mark every decrease! It really helps. And the sleeves turned out the same the first time around! No adjustments necessary! Woo! Hoo!

I was a little bit (or maybe a lot) concerned that I didn’t have enough of the main color so I didn’t finish the ribbing on the bottom of the sweater until I had knitted both of the sleeves. Turns out that I didn’t have to worry. I had enough yarn and one extra skein of the purple! Maybe I’ll knit some fingerless mitts to wear with the cardigan!

Ready for blocking!

Here it is before blocking (on my wonderful antique braided wool rug made by my husband’s grandmother.) I will post another picture or two after it’s blocked and in some good light. I blocked it tonight and I know I’m going to love wearing this cardigan this fall/winter!

Gone knitting!

Progress … Two FOs

I’ve finally finished the two pairs of fingerless mitts for my French grandchildren. They asked for these when they were here earlier this summer. (When it was so much cooler!) My grandson, Oscar, asked for the Rainbow yarn which he found in my atelier. He loved the bright colors. His little sister, Rose, likes unicorns. This American grandmother is happy to oblige!

I used bits and bobs of yarns that I had left over from previous mitten knitting. The rainbow yarn is WYS (West Yorkshire Spinners) Aire Valley DK in colorway #822. The white in the unicorn mitts is Berroco Ultra Wool DK in colorway #8300 (Snow). I hope they’ll fit when the weather turns cooler in the fall.

I followed, for the most part, the Aurora Unicorn Mittens DK pattern by Craftling Designs. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry. The differences are that I didn’t bother purling a stitch on the rainbow mitts because they don’t have a mane to attach later. I followed the directions to where I thought the mitts would be the appropriate length and then did four rounds of K2, P2 ribbing. Same for the thumbs. They’re pretty stinking cute, don’t you think!?

I have traced the hands and feet of both kids so I can potentially make them some socks, too. I love these two kids so much! I hope to see them again before they’re married! (Ha! Ha! That’s a joke!)

Gone knitting.

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!