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.

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.

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!)

Still Knitting … but Secret Knitting

We’ve been having summer-like weather in Maine for the last few weeks. I’m not going to be popular when I say that I would rather have cold, fall weather. But this is New England and it’ll change. This I know for sure. In fact, tomorrow we’re expecting rain and wind and then we’re supposed to get some cooler weather. One customer today even said that she’d heard snow on Wednesday.

I’m knitting away like crazy. At this time of year I always am. I used to plan to make something knitted for everyone in the family. Those days are over because it was killing me. Not everyone wants or needs something that I knit and I’ve stopped knitting like a crazy woman before Christmas.

This year I’m making a Christmas stocking and a Christmas sweater for my granddaughter and a hat for my daughter (and another as a surprise for someone very special.) I’m going to have twenty hours in the car when we go to my bonus daughter’s wedding in Washington, DC in early December. I’m hoping that by the time we’re in the car that I will be able to knit a vest or sweater for myself in the car. I only have a minimum of five sweaters’ worth of yarn that I need to knit.

That said, let’s talk about what I can talk about.

I’m knitting three “plain” stockings for my cousin Joan who had a moth infestation. The moths destroyed her childhood stocking and a couple of others. When she called to ask me if she could commission me to knit some new stockings I couldn’t say no. So, I found some green, red and white worsted weight yarn and did a bit of pattern research. I decided to use the traditional intarsia patterns, take away the intarsia and the decreases to the heel and knit a simple stocking.

I cast on 60 stitches and knitted the leg of the stocking flat starting with 7 or 8 rows of 2×2 ribbing and then changing to stockinette stitch (knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side.) The reason that stockings are so often seamed up the back of the leg is because they really need some structure and strength there in order to be able to hold the weight of the Christmas morning goodies (if you’ve been very good!) I knitted 84 rows of stockinette stitch (or about 12 inches) and then joined to knit in the round. The first 15 and last 15 stitches become the heel stitches and the next step is the heel flap. On the right side, slip 1, knit 1 across and on the wrong side, slip 1 and purl the rest of the stitches to the end of the row. The last row should be a right side row. When the heel flap is 2 1/2 inches long, we’ll turn the dreaded heel.

Basically, if you’ve noticed, this is the exact same process as knitting a sock but with worsted weight yarn. Not rocket science. Not scary. Just follow the simple steps and trust the pattern. Mine is a very loose pattern, it’s not tech edited or tested. Beware if you choose to follow it. LOL.

Heel turning: on the wrong side, slip 1 stitch, purl 17, purl 2 together, purl 1 and turn. Slip 1 stitch, knit 5, knit 2 together, knit 1, turn. From here on, look at your knitting and slip the first stitch, purl to one stitch before the gap (that’ll be six stitches purled after the slipped stitch), purl the stitches on either side of the gap together, knit one and turn. Now you’ll do similarly on the knit side … slip 1, knit to the gap (7 sts.), knit two together, knit 1 and turn. You’ll continue to slip 1, purl to the gap, purl the two stitches together (one from either side of the gap) and purl 1 then turn and knit back as you’ve been doing. Do this back and forth until all of the stitches are used up. Ending with a knit row.

Gusset time! Pick up and knit 12 stitches down the side of the gusset. Each of the slipped stitches leaves a pretty clear place to pick up stitches. Knit across the 30 stitches on the top of the foot. Last, you’ll pick up and knit another 12 stitches up the side of the second side of the gusset and then knit across 9 of the heel stitches. Knit once around the stocking and then every other round will be a decrease round: at the bottom of the first side of the gusset you’ll knit 2 together, knit across the top of the foot and then knit two together at the top of the second gusset side, knit to the end of the round. The decreases are on either side of the top of the foot only in this part. Once you are back to the original number of stitches, you just knit around and around until the foot measures four inches from the heel flap edge.

Now there’s only the toe to knit. Again, the decrease rounds will be every other round until there are 28 stitches and then every round until there are 12 stitches. The decreases are in four places on the toe. The beginning of the round is at the middle of the bottom of the foot. Knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 24, knit 2 together, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 12. You can place markers, use DPNs, whatever works … you are the boss of your knitting! If you’re still using the 16″ circular needle, I’ll place markers at the sides of the sock, separating the top of the sock and the bottom of the sock. The decreases will be made on both sides of the markers. After a decrease round, knit one round plain (with no decreases.) Decrease and knit a plain round until there are 14 stitches on each side of the sock (top and bottom.) Now you’ll decrease every round until there are six stitches on either side and cut the yarn long enough to Kitchener stitch the sides together. Weave in all the ends and you’re pretty much finished.

I hold two strands of yarn (about 24″ long) together and use a crochet hook to make a chain that’s about four or five inches long. Thread a needle with one of the ends and pull it from the outside to the inside of the stocking just under the ribbing and tie both ends of the chain together very carefully and tightly.

I always use duplicate stitch to add the name to the top. Cousin Joanie said it wasn’t necessary but I’m going to add names if only so Santa knows which is which.

I’ve finished one green stocking and am down to the foot of the red stocking. Tomorrow I’ll pick up the white yarn for the third stocking. If I really sit and focus, I can knit these in a couple of days but I knit quickly.

Gone knitting!

Rhinebeck 2022

Leaving home

We went to New York Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, New York!

My friend and coworker and I drove down to Massachusetts on Friday, checked in to our hotel and then did a “dry run” to WEBS so that we knew where we were going (early) the next morning. We also made a visit to WEBS. What a lovely shop! We both agreed that it was clean and bright and well-organized and there was a lot of selection. WEBS is a Rowan Flagship store and it’s the most Rowan yarn that I’ve ever seen in one place. They also have their own line of yarns, Valley Yarns, and they bought Stacy Charles several years ago. In 2020 WEBS was purchased by LoveCrafts.

What I didn’t know is that WEBS started out as a weaving store and they expanded to a yarn store from there. They currently offer a catalog and they offer a 25% discount on purchases over a certain amount … I almost always surpassed that limit. It isn’t difficult.

I was having so much fun looking at yarn that I forgot to take any photographs. Oops!

On the bus!

Saturday morning we boarded the bus to Rhinebeck at 7am. That meant a really early wakeup and a short drive to WEBS with a quick stop for coffee at Dunkin. WEBS had apple cider donuts and cider at the store Saturday morning for all of us traveling with them. It was wonderful. With a few raffles (no, neither of us won) we arrived at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, home of the iconic NY Sheep and Wool Festival.

Through the entrance (security checked all bags for firearms) and we were in! We had been told by friends who had attended Rhinebeck before that internet was spotty so go prepared – know which vendors and events that you want to visit, what projects that you’ll be collecting yarn for, what events you might want to attend, and head for the food and drinks in the off times. We never did buy any food, by the way. The lines started out long and stayed that way. Luckily, we brought our own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water and fruit because we didn’t want to be starving and have to then wait in long lines. It was all good advice.

The crowds were HUGE! Lines were long everywhere! We started out heading to one of the areas where the books were being signed. To be completely honest, after three years of not being around people, I got really uncomfortable being so close to so many strangers. We were in the book store area and I wish we’d gone there second or third (after I’d adjusted to the crowds.) I walked out of the booth having purchased nothing … we did have a chat with Ann and Kay from Modern Daily Knitting – and had a good feel of their new Atlas yarn. I feel comfortable buying it now, by the way. It’s lovely. Kay and Ann were very personable and I hope Ann will take me up on my offer to visit Maine! I don’t know why I didn’t put my mask on at this point. But I didn’t. I should have, in retrospect.

We saw so many wonderful members of the knitterati! These are some of the people I admire most in the business. They’re all regular folks, making a living and who are genuine and gracious.

The first people we saw were the podcast team from the Wooly Thistle podcast (they happened to be in the line for the ladies room in front of us.) We both love their podcast. We did a bit of shopping and wandering and then headed to the infamous hill – and oh, boy! It was thrilling to meet people whom I’ve only ever seen online and in virtual classes. We saw Laura Nelkin, Louis Boria from Brooklyn Boy Knits, Aimee from La Bienne Aimee in Paris, Patty Lyons, Kat from Brooklyn General Store, Adella Colvin and her husband Jimmy of Lola Bean Yarn Company, Casapinka, Yasmen of Designs by Yasmen, and so many more. I know I’m forgetting some. Some of my favorite knitting celebrities and yarn shop owners. It was amazing reconnecting with people.

Glenda and I both got to reunite with friends from different knitting experiences. Two of my friends from Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat were there – it had been too long since we had hugged each other. Covid was a real divider of friends (and family), wasn’t it? For both of us, the best part of the festival was seeing our friends and the people who we admire.

The crowds … but it was a picture perfect day!

I bought very little. I got a souvenir tote bag and a queen bee project bag. I know, no yarn? No yarn. I wasn’t feeling drawn by any particular yarn and truth be told, I have a lot of yarn already. I do have a plan to contact Adella at Lola Bean Yarn Company to buy a sweater’s worth of yarn. I’d love to knit something with Bare Naked Wools and I loved several of their samples. We saw a great poncho at WEBS and I’ll be knitting that in the future, too. So I was very inspired.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the beautiful sweaters and hats that we saw. Knitrino had a meetup with coordinating sweaters, we saw tons of Andrea Mowry’s Alpenglow. Wooly Wormhead hats galore. Lots of beautiful garments both knit and crochet. I want to also mention the diverse crowd; it was lovely to see many men, young people and people of every color. I felt hopeful about our community. We even saw animals!

One more note is that there were very few masks being worn and it was probably irresponsible that we didn’t all mask and not for ourselves as much as for others. those who can’t be vaccinated or who have low immunity or are immunocompromised. For that I am sorry. We got carried away by being together again after a very long time. What they say about Covid exhaustion is true. We are all feeling it. A return to normal, even for a day, was welcome. It felt almost “normal”!

We came home tired and inspired and it was a very good weekend. I’m grateful to Glenda for going with me and for having the idea in the first place. Where will we go next?

Gone knitting.

Rough Re-Entry; Wonderful Vacation!

Above the Rooftops – the Perch

We had the most wonderful week of vacation in Rhode Island with my kids and their significant others … and their dogs. This was the second time we’ve gathered in Weekapaug where my mother used to rent back when my children were little. They all have memories of our times there. This year we were short Kate and her family. She was in Seattle in rehearsal for a new play but she’s home now and preparing for the arrival of their first baby, a baby girl, in a few weeks. But we had a really lovely time together and the weather was glorious, the beach was gorgeous, the food was delicious and the week went by way too quickly.

Lobster Dinner!!!

This year we baked a cake, we went to a vineyard for a wine tasting (Stonington Vineyard in Stonington, Connecticut.) We took a picnic and tasted wines as we ate a yummy lunch. I took lots of walks because I’m trying to start new habits and be healthier, move more. Some of us played golf and some of us had a meal at the Ocean House. We all wandered Watch Hill and had a lobster roll and some peach ice cream. Most of all, though, we spent time relaxing together.

And then we all had to go home. My re-entry has been rough. Today I feel like I’ve not been away. My stress level has returned to pre-vacation levels and it’s only been 24 hours since we arrived home. I had a meeting to attend before I even had time to unpack and then today the in-person board meeting (for the board that I lead) fell back to a zoom meeting – after a lot of reminders and a lot of work finding a place where we could meet in person. I’m disappointed, frustrated, and concerned about the future of the organization. I have one more year as president of the board and there is no clear path for the future leadership. Too much falls to the president and burn-out is chronic. Tomorrow I will attempt to share my feelings and frustrations without getting emotional. That will be difficult for me – I have ocular incontinence, after all. I look forward to regaining 20 hours each week once my leadership role is ended. That’s what I’m thinking about right now.

I have been knitting, but not too much, while we were on vacation. I started and have nearly finished a tiny sweater for my granddaughter. I have made the Newborn Vertebrae before as a gift and it’s a quick knit in tiny yarn so it’s perfect for a fall in New York City sweater for the baby. Newborn Vertebrae (free on Ravelry) is a top down raglan sweater, an easy knit, knit flat. It’s designed to cover baby’s back and shoulders because baby’s chest is almost always against a caregiver. I wanted my granddaughter to have a rainbow sweater and this is the closest yarn that I can find on short notice. I’ll continue my search for another, larger, rainbow sweater in the future. All I have left is to pick up the stitches around the opening and knit a few rows of ribbing.

I also finished knitting my Aestlight Shawl. It’s blocking as I type. Although … to prove that even the “expert” knitters make mistakes, I noticed a dropped stitch as I was blocking it. It looks like I dropped the stitch during the bind off and because I didn’t weave in all the ends, it’s going to be relatively simple to fix. I love the color and I enjoyed knitting it. I think I have to have a shawl sale to thin out my collection and so I can continue knitting them. I have reached the point where I have too many (is that a possibility?)

I also got the button band mostly finished on my Elton. SO … all I have to finish is the bind off and then the collar and buttons. I need seven or eight 5/8″ buttons but I like to purchase buttons after the sweaters are finished. It’s always nice to put them on a finished button band and see how they look on the actual garment. Because this sweater is so light, I think I’ll need to buy light buttons because anything heavy will sag IMHO. Once I get that accomplished, I’ll have a new sweater to wear to Rhinebeck!!!

I’m going to Rhinebeck! My friend Glenda suggested it and we’ve gotten our tickets to ride the bus from Webs in Massachusetts up to the festival. We will stay near Webs on Friday and Saturday nights to make the driving easier on us. I’m really looking forward to it. And to a possible reunion with some of my fiber camp friends. Since we have only one day, we’ll be studying the maps closely and making the most of our experience.

Off to the post office to pick up our mail.

Gone postal? Gone knitting.

Queen Bee Sews, too!

Back in the 80s, I made a quilt for my second daughter. It hung over her crib in our house in Sharon, Connecticut. This year, my daughter turns 35. The quilt has been in my care for most of the years since I was divorced because she didn’t have room for it in her apartments but a year or so ago she asked for it and took it home. And then she called me to tell me that he unsupervised puppy had chomped the edge. Could I fix it?

What kind of a mom would I be if I didn’t answer in the affirmative – “of course I can fix it!” So I got the quilt back.

30+ years ago, I made this Trip Around the World quilt. It was a tied quilt with a polyester quilt batting (it was all that was available back then.) Over the years as it was used, the batting had separated and settled. It had a few little holes and some seams had separated and, of course, the outside border was chomped on one side.

I cut the ties, ripped the seams and tossed the batting and backing and then took off the outside border. Then I took what was left of the quilt top to a fabric shop to find a replacement border and backing. I got lucky in Bangor, Maine at the Cotton Cupboard. A solid blue for the borders and an extra-wide blue floral fabric for the backing … I also got help figuring out how much of each fabric I needed! And then everything sat in my sewing room for ages … maybe a year? Maybe longer. And then eventually I cut the borders. Months later, I sewed them together and attached them to the quilt. I also spent some time patching the seams that had separated and the little holes. I used the old border (the part that wasn’t chewed by Severus.)

With the quilt top back to its original size (-ish), I decided to take it to a friend who owns a long arm machine and have it quilted. Really quilted. I had bought a “new-fangled” quilt batting that is cotton and brought all of the parts to Candy at In Stitches Sewing School. Last week I picked up the quilt. I am so excited! It looks amazing and it’s going to wear much better because the quilting stitches and the new batting make the quilt top much more stable.

As of today, I’ve made the binding out of the left-over backing fabric and I’ve sewn it onto the edge of the quilt. Tomorrow I’ll start hand sewing the back of the binding and then I’ll make a label and I’ll be delivering it for my daughter’s birthday at the end of the month.

If I showed you photos now, I’d have to kill you. LOL … I am such a pacifist, there’s not any chance of that happening. But I promise that once it’s finished and delivered, I’ll add photos here on this post.

Gone sewing!

July 4th

Maine Blueberry Muffins

We had such a wonderful weekend!

A few weeks ago I would have told you that it was going to be a bummer because we wanted to go to Massachusetts to visit with my brothers and their families but as it turned out, we had to stay home (the bummer) because I forgot that I was signed up to work on Saturday and our kennel was closed on Monday and Tuesday due to lack of staffing. But it turned out to be a great weekend with a visit from my college roommate(s)!!!

I lived with C. sophomore year and we’ve been fast friends for nearly five decades. We had such a good time – we always do. We went to the garden store, Longellow’s, a huge hit with all of our out-of-town visitors, to get flowers for my pots outside. We had an “adventure” finding Maine peas and strawberries and we feasted on ice cream, homemade blueberry muffins, our first (not grown by us) native tomato, salmon, steak and quesadillas. We went on a “cocktail cruise” and did a lot of porch sitting and chatting. I did a bit of garden tending, we snipped back the garlic scapes, picked a few leaves of lettuce, pulled a few weeds, and spent an hour handing our our lake association’s Loon project signs. We watched the Friends of Messalonskee (lake association) annual 4th of July Boat Parade – we had the largest turn out ever! At the end of the parade route there were 40+ boats! We had a bonus visit on Sunday from my freshman roommate and her partner. L and I lived down the hall from C and her roommate, now deceased. We’ve all known each other for a long time and it’s wonderful to be together. L happened to be in Central Maine (across the lake from us) for a night on their way to the north woods. I wish we had remembered to take photos!

It felt so great to slow down and recover from the last few months of “rat race” and I’m trying to figure out how to keep that (more) balanced feeling closer to the everyday. I need to take more time for myself because I need it.

Home sweet home – from the water, with loon sign

I had decked the house out with our buntings and our flag was flying. We looked mighty patriotic, if I do say so myself. (Today the buntings will come down and be put away for another year.)

What I didn’t do for the last few days was knit. I am rather amazed, frankly. I didn’t knit a stitch Saturday through Monday.

Billie for “Jambalaya”

Last night I sat down to start a new baby sweater as a sample for the store. I cast it on three times and each time made a mistake in knitting rows. Each time because the directions seem hastily written (and it’s a major yarn company’s pattern.) There are directions for rows “hidden” in other directions and they’re not “obvious” to me. So, each time I frogged the start of the sweater and cast on again. And then I realized there weren’t three rows of garter stitch before the stockinette stitches began and I frogged it again. I finally put it in time out and picked up a different WIP – Billie – also by a major yarn company and I’ve had success with (almost) knitting two pairs of them. Pair number two is down the first leg. These pants are so cute, I’d like to have a pair for myself. Hmmm, that gives me an idea.

Last week I finished the Mermaid Tail that I was knitting. It makes me smile just looking at it. The pattern is Mermaid Cocoon Newborn Photo Prop by Angie Hartley. I knit mine in Plymouth Yarn Encore Starz in the teal colorway with sparkles. It’s perfectly gaudy and I can’t wait to gift it. I’m going to attempt a little matching headband – perhaps with a shell as a button embellishment. I’ll have to try to drill a hole in the shell and who knows how that will work.

My Elton cardigan is languishing. I picked up the arm stitches on Friday and haven’t touched it since. I have to find a short needle to knit the sleeves and hope I can avoid using DPNs because they make sleeves so much clunkier to knit. I have a Ciao Goo Interchangeable Minis set and I’m crossing fingers and toes that the needle size that I need isn’t already being used for another project. (I’ll have to go on a hunt for them in project bags both hidden and in plain sight in my atelier.

Tubular Bind Off

I did finish the body of the sweater and did my first tubular bind off and I’m wondering where this fabulous technique for a stretchy, clean and neat bind off has been all my knitting life. It’s perfect!

Today is Wednesday and my husband and I both have the day “off”. I’ve been languishing – with a few emails and a phone call of two – on the front porch in the sun with my coffee. It’s nearly noon and I am choosing to enjoy the day with no pressure to “do” stuff. While I’m tempted to do the sheets and towels and remake the guest room bed, I think I’ll take my sample baby sweater out to the porch and cast on again. Persistence for the win!

Gone knitting!