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!

What a Week! Let’s Stick to Knitting

Mullein in bloom

What a week. What a series of weeks. On top of the Supreme Court decision, I’ve been so busy for the last several months volunteering for our lake association. Maybe too busy. I really needed to take this weekend off. I needed the time to recharge my batteries and to have some time to process everything. In addition to the Supreme Court decision, today would have been my father’s 100th birthday. He died suddenly in 1985 at the age of 62. Now that I’m nearly 64, it’s so evident that he was too young to die. And he’s missed so much. I would so love to be able to talk to him again. I have so many questions (for him and my mother.)

Trip Around the World Quilt

This week I finally got to repairing my daughter’s quilt. I made this quilt 35 years ago when my second-born was still in a crib. I remember hanging it behind her crib in her room in our Sharon, CT house. This quilt was a special gift that I made for her when my life wasn’t really my own. I was a stay-at-home mother of two little girls and quilts are an expensive hobby on one income – and I didn’t buy the fabric at an “expensive” (quality) fabric store.

Back in 1987 we had only the polyester, fluffy quilt batting. Since my daughter’s quilt was a tied quilt, the batting had separated and was extra fluffy in some areas and nonexistent in others. But it was her quilt and she loved it … until her puppy had a few unsupervised minutes and chewed a good bit of one side of the border. I got it back to repair probably two years ago and I just haven’t taken the time to fix it.

I had found the fabric for a new backing and a new border that matched pretty well. I also bought some red print fabric for the binding. I bought one of the new, better, more stable, natural batts. I used some of the old borders to make patches for the holes in the quilt top and stitched them on. And then I added the new borders … unfortunately, I didn’t remember what I had planned when I bought the fabric and I cut them months ago and they weren’t exactly what I wanted. But I made it work and sewed them on. I spent a good bit of time trimming threads from the back of the quilt (it had been washed a couple of times in 35 years) and on Friday after work, I dropped all the pieces off with a dear friend who is going to quilt it on her long arm. The quilting will make the quilt more stable and it will last longer. Once quilted, I’ll trim it and measure it and then cut and apply the binding. I will machine sew one side of the binding and hand sew the other. And then it will be ready to gift back to my daughter – a new old quilt for the ages.

Whoooo Loves Ya, Baby?

This owl bib is the third one that I have knitted. This one is absolutely for my niece’s baby boy because the mama-to-be loves owls. And I love this designer! She has lots of cute bib and washcloth pattern on Ravelry and they’re free! The pattern is Whooo Loves Ya, Baby? and I knit it in a premium cotton, Berroco Pima 100. I love the peach color and I love the yarn. I have a hank of green Pima 100 and I will be making more bibs. (All details are on my Ravelry project page.) The other two bibs I posted about here.

I knit these two sets of hats and thumbless mittens for two babies-to-be. I love knitting baby gifts and these are so cute! I knit them with a new yarn in the LYS where I work, Lang Merino 200 Bebe. One skein was enough to make both the hat and the mittens – complete with the icord string to hold them in the baby’s jacket. This is fingering weight yarn (it’s a fine yarn, Muffin) and will be a good weight for a fall baby. The pattern is a free pattern at our shop. The sample in the shop was knitted by a customer and this is her pattern. If anybody wants the pattern, please let me know and I can send it to you via email.

This morning I needed something to do for my family. I needed to disconnect and go outside and it was summery-warm here in Maine yesterday and today. So, we got out early and headed to Stevenson’s Strawberry Farm in Wayne, Maine. The berries were ripe for the picking and in about 45 minutes we picked 12 pounds of berries. When we got home I made the crust and put it in the refrigerator to chill. After lunch I washed my car for the first time in a few years – we have a pump that pulls lake water for our gardens and outside water activities and it wasn’t working properly. We finally got it, or rather the pipe from the lake, fixed and we’re back in outside water business again.

Once the crust was chilled, I made the rest of the Strawberry Glaze Pie. In my Friday morning knitting class, Jan brought in a strawberry glaze pie and after having a slice (or two), I knew I had to make one for my husband. It was a delicious fresh strawberry pie. The berries are perfectly sweet and this pie should be the most wonderful, fresh strawberry pie. I may have to make one tomorrow for my board meeting. If I plan my time well in the morning, I should be able to make the pie crust, go pick up my groceries, make the pie and then head to the car dealership so they can figure out what’s wrong with my screen – it keeps going black in the middle of a trip where I need to use GPS. Baking was something that I did with my grandmother and it always centers and grounds me and helps me to process my emotions and events of the day. I needed it today!

Our gardens are coming along. We have peppers forming and tomatoes blossoming. The garlic scapes are ready to be pinched and brought inside. Tonight we’re having pasta with the garlic pesto from last year’s harvest. Our lettuce is almost ready to pick and the peas are ready to have a trellis to climb. My Shasta Daisies are just about to pop. My dad loved his gardens and I hope he’d be proud of what we’ve built here and the good life we have here in Maine. My dad loved Maine.

I’m sure as I process the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, I’ll have something to say. I’m absolutely pro-choice and once again it’s about wealthy white men needing to be in control. This time it’s a dangerous line being crossed where politics and religion are being prioritized over the law and people of color and the poor are going bear the brunt of this decision. Women deserve better.

Gone knitting.

1787 to 2022 – a little bit has changed. So what do we do now?

Rainy Day in my Atelier

I’m not sure what this post will end up being. There is so much going on that it’s difficult to focus on one thing. My intention is to post here about LIFE in general which is why my “tag line” is what it is. BUT I’m afraid that if I stray from knitting that I’ll get up on my soapbox and may never come back down.

So, suffice it to say that I hope you’re not comfortable today.

That 19 children can die at the hand of a murderer who can legally buy TWO assault weapons more easily than I can buy SUDAFED is abhorrent. That those same children could be forced to watch said murderer kill their beloved teachers before he murdered them. That they watched their classmates be obliterated by his weapons so that they were only recognizable by their sneakers is unimaginable. The entire situation is unacceptable. AND YET our elected representatives say that it’s not a gun problem, it’s a mental health problem. I’m calling bullshit. (Sorry not sorry.) We have had a mental health problem in this country for decades. Mental health has been stigmatized and people who live with mental health challenges have been shamed, blamed, ostracized and, oh, by the way, if you’re not living in the top !0% of earners, mental health treatment can put you in debtors prison, making it nearly impossible for most of our citizens to get good quality services. Or any services.

Our problem here is GUNS. Ours is the only country in the civilized world that has as many guns and gives permission to anyone to buy and carry guns. Other countries have mental health problems just as we do but they don’t have the gun problems we do. People are the same no matter what language they speak, no matter what color their skin, no matter who they love, not matter what they do for a job, no matter where they live. It may be simplistic but it’s true. People are, at the core, alike. We want to be liked (loved) and we need food, air and water. We aren’t all that different from others and the differences make it more interesting. Anyway, my point being, we DO have a mental health crisis in our country but it’s nothing new. We ALSO have a gun crisis and it’s good and well time for us to accept that as truth and start to do something about it.

I can’t buy two boxes of Sudafed because “they’re” afraid that I will make crack.

I can’t have a driver’s license without proving that I am who I present myself to be. I must show a utility bill with my name on it, my marriage license, my passport, proof of insurance, etc. AND, by the way, I have to be at least 16, take a test that says I am a competent driver, and I can’t drive a car without it. Cars also kill people like guns kill people so why are they treated so differently!?

The ONLY reason to own a gun is to kill (or to boost a fragile ego.) Here in Maine, lots of people own guns. Most of those people have guns so they can hunt – and they eat what they kill. Most of the gun owners are responsible gun owners. For heaven’s sake, WE own guns! We don’t hunt and I don’t even know how to use the guns but my husband has killed rats in our yard. And I may have asked him to kill the groundhogs had they not left of their own volition. BUT it’s time for us to do something differently and drastic because killing innocent children in school is not OK.

My thought is that we must ban assault weapons AND we must put in place a way to make sure that those people who are allowed to buy guns are capable of being responsible gun owners. To drive a motorcycle you need a special license, right? Why not require classes and licensing for guns? Why not have a 48-hour waiting period … I’m required to wait 48 hours to have an abortion, considered by some as murder, why not have to wait for a license for a gun? This is a HUGE issue and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers but a document written by rich white men in the 1700s is not one to hang our hat on today – the world was a wholly different place then. Their “well-regulated militia” is our United States Military – Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines. We don’t need to arm our citizens to protect us as we did then. The rules have changed. The world has changed. Women can open a credit card account without their husband’s permission. Women are allowed to have POCKETS in their dresses because they’re allowed to own things. Women and black people are allowed to vote (or they have been, it seems that this is being challenged, too, but that’s a different post.)

My life was forever changed when I gave birth to three wonderful human beings. I have been so blessed to watch them grow. I got to go on field trips, be PTA President, have birthday parties in limousines and buy Christmas gifts, fill their stockings and help them with their homework – at least through elementary school. I have gone to sports events, high school and college concerts and plays, we spent time at the beach in the summers, went to the Ohio State Fair, met college friends, boy- and girl-friends from all over the country. When a parent does their job well, their kids go off to build their own life and I’ve had the pleasure of watching my kids get jobs, live with roommates, live alone, move from one city to another, live on cruise ships, meet a special person, get engaged, get married, buy a home. My kids are all in their 30s and I can’t imagine NOT having lived through all of the regular and special moments with them.

BUT there are 19 sets of parents, 19 sets of grandparents … who won’t ever be able to see their beloved child get their period, find body hair for the first time, get arrested for something stupid, graduate from high school … the list goes on and on. Because life is lived in the ordinary moments and some shitty human being with two legal assault weapons decided to go into a school and murder children cutting those ordinary moments short.

We all need to feel uncomfortable about this until something changes and the murders stop. Don’t be fooled, this can happen to you or someone you love. There are 19 families who know this as fact this morning and won’t forget it tomorrow. Or the next day … or the next …

Gone knitting.

An Excellent (Happy Mama’s Day) Visit

Washington Heights, NYC

I got my mother’s day gifts early this year – I traveled to New York City to spend time with all of my kids. They, of course, are my best gifts ever. I am so proud to be called their mom.

I had an excellent adventure. I drove to my college roommate’s house in Westport, CT, visited with her for an evening and then headed by train into New York City for a few days with my kids. The first day I had lunch in mid-town with Daughter 1 and her husband. April 27 is my son’s birthday so we had a bite of dinner at Bea in mid-town and then headed to the bowling lanes to meet a group of my son’s friends. What fun it was to bowl in New York City, of all places. I wish I’d taken a photo or two.

Thursday we visited Holland Ridge Farms in New Jersey. Acres and acres of tulips that you can pick and pick we did. My daughters each picked more than 70 and I controlled myself because I knew I had to transport my flowers to Maine. Suffice it to say that there was every imaginable color and type of tulip. They were gorgeous and the scent was mind boggling. I never realized that tulips had a scent. (We chose to pick mostly closed flowers, hoping they’d bloom more slowly and last longer. Note: mine are just about done as of today.) We walked and walked and walked and practically got blown away in the wind. It was sunny but very windy and we were dust-covered from tip to toe. We found a fun pick up spot and bought some subs (shrimp parm and steak pizza subs. Yum!) and root beer for lunch before heading back to the city. We happened upon a special sight on the way back to the highway – young horses in a big field, running and playing.

Yearlings?

My younger daughter loves horses. We had to stop to get closer and watch these magnificent animals. They were very shy and kept their distance but it was so much fun to watch them run.

I met my son’s girlfriend for lunch on Friday with their dogs and after lunch we took them to a local “park” for a bit of a run. The “park” is actually an historic home, The Morris-Jumel Mansion. Next time I’m in the city, I want to tour the home. The grounds have been somewhat ignored over the past few years but you can see its potential. I then took the subway (all by myself) to midtown to meet my youngest brother at his hotel for a drink. He was in the city for a veterinary conference. A quick hike to a new Thai restaurant, Lum Lum, with my daughters and their husbands and later, my son and his girlfriend came to join us. The food and company was extraordinary.

Saturday was exercise day. I am tired and sore just thinking about it. Daughter 1, her husband and their dog Bessie and I walked to the Linwood Farmer’s Market. Through Fort Tryon Park to drop off their composts, bought some fish and apples, had a wonderful bagel sandwich and then hiked back to the Heights along the river. 13,000 steps round trip and we hadn’t even gotten to the yarn store yet!

Daughter 2 and her husband were so sweet to go with me to Brooklyn to visit Brooklyn General Store – a bucket list item for me. It’s quite a distance from Washington Heights (but I learned that you can tap your credit card in the subway!)

I loved wandering this little shop. It’s an older building, full of character: wood floors, lots of yarns that my LYS doesn’t carry – La Bien Aimee, Spin Cycle, and so many more. I patted lots and lots of yarns there. I also admired fabrics, stitch kits, etc. I couldn’t decide what to buy but I ended up with a really pretty fingering weight peach cotton/alpaca yarn by Illimani Yarn Company. I bought another in an oatmealy-grey color as well. I’m not sure what it will become but when it decides what it wants to be when it grows up, I’ll let you know. We had dinner, Ramen, at my daughter’s apartment that night and she tested positive for Covid. I’ve been double boosted so I figured that I was as “bullet proof” as I ever could be having had my second booster shot two weeks before. My son-in-law tested positive on Sunday. I’ve continued to test negative. (By the way, if you want to test for possible Covid exposure, New York is the place to be. Tests are readily available all over the city.)

Sunday I headed back to CT for another evening before driving home on Monday. It’s so wonderful to have long-time friends (we have known each other for 46 years now!) who you can pick up with as if you’ve been apart for a few days rather than several months. It’s always special to spend time together with my special woman friends.

This mama’s heart is so full and I am so grateful to be able to travel to the city for a visit. Grateful for time away from work and my volunteer jobs. Grateful for my husband who is willing to hold down the fort while I am gallivanting. And it’s so great to come home again – where I can rest up for a couple of days before heading back to work. My legs are still tired.

Gone knitting.

It’s Been a Little Bit Since my Last Post

This was a very full, busy week. I had a lake association board of trustees meeting on Wednesday that I had to prepare for and run. Being the president of the lake association is a privilege and a lot more work than I anticipated. But we are doing a lot of good work and making a difference in the health of our lake and, we hope, the other lakes in our chain of seven and the rest of the state. These lakes are so beautiful and we want to keep them that way.

In addition, with the war in Ukraine and the political strife and division in our country, I’ve been feeling so sad and powerless. My energy has been lagging and I haven’t wanted to bake and haven’t been knitting much. I’m mostly exhausted by the blame laid at the feet of people who aren’t responsible. I’m tired of hearing about hateful policies being passed in some of our southern states. I am frustrated by the whining about fuel prices when we are all sitting pretty in our warm homes with full bellies and no bombings blowing up our hospitals and schools. None of this is easily solved and I am smart enough to know that there are untruths (spin/propaganda) on all sides but I believe that we are experiencing a temporary discomfort. Ukraine will be forever changed and I am so grateful that we have leadership in place in our country today that at least has some experience. Is our leadership perfect? Certainly not, but I believe the best interest of our country and democracy is safe in their hands. I “fear” that this could easily morph into a WWIII.

Winter’s Last Gasp?

Today is an ugly day in Maine and it may be winter’s last gasp. Time will tell. We woke to drizzle and have seen rain and now it seems to be turning to snow. A veritable weather-tasting! We are so grateful to be happily ensconced in our home; my DH in his man cave watching his movies and me in my atelier doing a little catch-up work and knitting.

I just finished jumper number 10 of 24 of the Arne and Carlos Advent Calendar jumpers. I need to sew in the ends and block it but that’s not going to take much time. I’m likely to knit the 11th before I finish 10. Number 11 will be green with red as the contrast color. It’s interesting knitting them all with the same three colors. I’d like to balance the combinations across the 24 and I think that I can come up with six color combinations so that means four of each.

I’ve also begun a pair of socks for my second-born DD. When they were here for a visit, she requested hand-knit socks and I am happy to oblige. I hope she loves them so she’ll ask for more. My drawer is pretty full and so is my DH’s. How lucky are we?

Fine Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier

I finished my Fine Sand cardigan after a mere three years. It was time to get it finished for sure. I will be happy to wear it this summer. I’ve blocked it and just need to sew in a label.

I also finished a pair of tams for a customer. She has asked me to knit six hats each year for several years and I’m always happy to hear from her. This pair was in forest greens. One in Malabrigo Chunky and one in Berroco Ultra Wool Chunky. Details are on my Ravelry project page. I forgot to take pictures of the finished and blocked hats before they were delivered to the store for pickup. Oops.

I’ve also started a new shawl pattern. Humlebi by Fiber Tales. I was really challenged by the bumble bee section. Most likely because I was so stressed and tired and I needed to knit it with fresh eyes and a rested soul – this has been difficult to do lately. The cast on is a picot cast on and lots and lots (and lots) of picots to cast on. But the real challenge for me was when I started the bee section which I knitted and then frogged and re-knitted. The second time, this is what I got …

Humlebi Shawl in progress

It’s a bee!!! I’m working this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. I can hardly wait to block this shawl (and I have a long, long way to go before I can.) I believe the yarn will bloom beautifully these wonderful bees will adorn the edge proudly!

I think my next cast on will be a vest, also in Patagonia but this time in a charcoal gray. I’m thinking it will be Emsworth by Isabell Kraemer. I “need” a dark gray garment to wear with my work “uniform.” It will be a fun knit. I also need to finish one more WIP. Perhaps the lobster hat that I have started and re-started more than once. So many projects and so little time. Ha! Ha! Ha! (My kids would say that I’m not funny and compared to them I’m not but I can make myself laugh and I enjoy my own sense of humor.)

Season six of Outlander started this week and I’m binge watching season five today (maybe it’ll stretch to this weekend or more?) I’ll be ready to watch season six episodes 1 & 2 when I finish – I just have to refresh my memory of where it left off. Today is the perfect day for such activities.

Gone knitting.

Snow (-y) Day!

Just before sunrise this morning

We are finally getting a snowy day! I came home from work last night and listened to the weather reports and decided to err on the cautious side and cancel knitting classes today. Since weather forecasting is not ever a sure thing, I am always hesitant to cancel classes but this time it seemed that they were consistent messages that we were going to get measurable snow. And, YIPPEE! We are!

When we awoke this morning the snow hadn’t begun (picture above) but within an hour or so the snow could be seen coming up the lake and before long, it looked like this … and it’s supposed to continue on through the rest of the day.

The snow begins

So, my brain went on a snow day day off and I forgot my 8am Zoom meeting and my 9am Zoom meeting and I’ve chosen to give myself grace and move on to enjoy the day regardless. I decided that I’d give myself the gift of baking this morning. First up was The Foodie Physician’s Blueberry, Apple and Walnut Baked Oatmeal. I love baked oatmeal. I have always wanted to love oatmeal but the texture makes me gag. When I discovered baked oatmeal, I was skeptically hopeful … but it was good. I’ve been baking it ever since. This is a good recipe and I like it a lot. I used my frozen organic Maine blueberries and some too-old-to-eat apples from the farm in this recipe and local maple syrup. I didn’t have any plain yogurt but I had vanilla so that’s what I put in. I just had a serving for lunch and it was delish! Here’s the recipe:

Blueberry Apple & Walnut Baked Oatmeal (The Foodie Physician)

  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped, divided
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, any type (I used oat milk)
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use the pure stuff not the imitation)
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, finely chopped apple, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F)
  2. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Mix walnuts, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
  4. In a second bowl whisk milk, yogurt, egg, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla together.
  5. Arrange 1 cup each of apples and blueberries on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Scatter the oat mixture evenly on top. Pour in the milk mixture and press to submerge all the dry ingredients into the liquid. Scatter the remaining walnuts, apple and blueberries on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutesuntil the top is golden and the oats are set. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve as is or topped with milk, Greek yogurt or maple syrup. (Try it without further sweetening, I think it’s great as is with milk!)

Since I’d baked something for myself, I decided to make something for my wonderful hubby. His choice was blueberry muffins. This recipe, I’m afraid, I can’t share, it’s a family secret and held close to our family’s chest. But I will share the baked muffins if you ever come visit us in Maine. They are a regular pre-breakfast treat when we have company.

We had a visit from our neighborhood Pileated Woodpecker. The female is a regular at our feeder this winter. I sure hope this means that she has a nest close by and that we’ll see her whole family in the spring! Our little red squirrel has also been a regular at our living room window feeder and we have fun laughing at his or her antics. We can get up close and personal with the window between us but it will sit and eat all of the sunflower seed in the feeder if we allow it.

Paperwhite Narcissus in bloom

And the frosting on the snowy day cake is that my first Paperwhite Narcissus is blooming!

And now I’m up in my atelier sharing this snowy day with you and in a few minutes, I’ll be heading over to my chair to knit. I have a 3-cable baby blanket on the needles in Berroco’s Vintage Chunky for a client and the queue of orders is already starting … it’s a new year, after all. I’ve also re-started knitting the Arne and Carlos mini-jumpers for my Advent Calendar. I would like to finish them before Advent 2022. And I’m going to cast on a sweater that has been sitting in my Ravelry queue for at least a couple of years. I’m going to add some steek stitches to it so I can knit it in the round. I’ve decided that my first WIP (or UFO) attack for 2022 will be my lobster hat. It’s been languishing way too long.

You can see all of these projects on my Ravelry project page. Gone knitting!

WIPs in the New Year

I write a weekly newsletter for the LYS where I work. This past Sunday, I included what I thought was a good idea to start off a new year … organizing your workspace/knitting corner and all your supplies.

The idea isn’t mine. I saw it on an Instagram post by @ithoughtiknewhow and the general premise is to take a day to do something to start your new year off with a sense of organization and planning rather than the left-over havoc of the old year. I know that I can’t get all of these tasks done in a day but I can probably accomplish several of them in a week. Yesterday I started and finished three steps (all of the ones that I suggested people finish in the newsletter.)

Gathering WIPs

I gathered all of my WIPs (works in progress), my needles and notions that are spread around in bags and drawers in my studio, and brought them to one spot. I’m so lucky to have a studio space where I can do this! (Gratitude.) I then proceeded to examine each project to see if it’s something that I still want to knit, made sure that the yarn and pattern are in the bag of projects I want to keep and put them away in my cabinet. I also rescued yarn for the projects I don’t want to knit, returned it to a cake/skein and put any needles and notions away. I put finished project contents and bags away (I have bins of partial skeins saved away for those “just in case” times and I do return to them frequently) and made sure the project bags were clean before I put them away, too.

I have kept ten WIPs to finish this year. I returned several projects that I don’t want to knit and there may be one more that I’m on the fence about.

I also made a list of the WIPs in my 2022 Bullet Journal so that I make time to get some of them finished – they’ll be in my face every time I start or finish a project. Right now I have a commission that I am working on, it’s half-way done and when it’s sent off to my client, I’ll finish one of the WIPs in my cabinet. @ithoughtiknewhow suggests the possible planning of a day where you work on WIPs … I’m not sure I’m that good at keeping a schedule but it’s appealing and I’m considering giving it a try.

(Sadly, I have a drawer of sewing/quilting WIPs, too. I wonder when I will get to thinking about them. Maybe when (if?) I retire. LOL

Gone knitting.

Grateful

Sunrise at Home

I started this post after Thanksgiving having spent several days with two thirds of my kids, their significant others, my brothers and sisters-in-love and their kids and some of their significant others. Being with family is my drug. I left Massachusetts with my heart full and my soul warmed. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday just before all of the pressure heading into Christmas begins. I’m so grateful that my children and their cousins know each other and that they enjoy spending time together and we enjoyed spending time together, too!

And now we’re well into the Christmas rush. Rushing to get the tree decorated and the presents bought and mostly shipped to their recipients but some to put under the tree and into stockings for Christmas day. I’m working hard to keep the gratitude and warm fuzzies in my heart that I had a Thanksgiving and to be fully honest here, I’m struggling. My dear husband’s daughters and one of their boyfriends are scheduled to be here for Christmas this year. It seems that because of a sick dog, one won’t be able to come. The other daughter’s boyfriend seems to be rethinking the trip because he’s spent a lot of time in Florida with his family. I was really looking forward to seeing them because we haven’t seen each other for a long time. We haven’t seen the dog mom daughter for a year and a half.

Today I’m trying to wrap my head around having Christmas at home with my little family – me and my husband. It seems that it’s entirely possible again this year. Somehow I have to make it ok and I’m not sure how to do that. It’s going to be difficult to make any major changes because I’m now scheduled to work since we were going to be celebrating here with my step-daughters. It’ll be near-impossible to kennel the dog at this point to fly anywhere and a drive to their homes is at least a two day drive each way … leaving two days to visit. We don’t relish the idea of four days in the car for a two-day visit. The NYC kids are having a Christmas dinner to which we’ve been invited but I don’t know what kind of hotel or extra bed situation we’d be looking at and the dog still needs to be kenneled. I guess we will look at our options if we find it’ll be just us for sure.

Meanwhile, I’m knitting. A lot. I’ve been finishing some projects, too. I have so many things that I want to knit and with my schedule, I’ve been lining them up for when I have some time to knit “what I want”. I’ve knitted several gifts for the kids in NYC and they’ve been sent on. We are going to go to the beach in Rhode Island again in September and that’s their big gift. Since they haven’t opened gifts, I’ll not discuss what I’ve made until after Christmas – and I even forgot to photograph a couple of the gifts. Oops!

The Slip Stitch Hat by Tanis Williams is a sweet hat with a slip stitch section around the head. It makes the sport/dk weight hat a bit warmer around the ears. I used a bit of a handspun yarn that I was gifted with a wool/silk blend yarn that I found at Marden’s here in Maine. It was a yarn company close out sale and was a great deal. This hat will be going to Yardgoods Center’s February hat drive for the needy in our community.

The beaded tape measure is a new activity that I’ve been doing with my Friday knitters, one of whom is a phenomenal talent at beading and quilting in addition to being a great knitter. Anyway, we bought a kit online (Etsy) and we had a class at the end of my teaching day a few weeks ago. What fun! I love the way the tape measure looks so much but I admit that I’m a bit hesitant to put it into my knitting bag for fear that it will be damaged or get dirty.

Evergreen Socks by Madeline Gannon are so much fun! I loved knitting these. I used deeply stashed yarn from Buffalo Wool Company. I’ve had this yarn from a bunch of years ago when I signed up for their monthly yarn club. It’s a fingering weight blend of wool and buffalo so these socks are likely to be nice and warm. I think these will be for me. I only have one daughter who has the same size feet as I do and she likes shorty socks.

Husband’s Christmas (last year) sweater. Well, he loves it and it’s a perfect fit. I gave him the yarn for this sweater last year at Christmas. His face when he opened it was a classic. He wondered if I was going to teach him to knit! LOL. Needless to say, here it is almost Christmas again and I have finally gotten it done. I loved loved loved knitting with Cascade 220 worsted yarn. I’ve not knitted with it before (I know, I was surprised, too) and it’s so much softer and more luxurious feeling that the Ella Rae wool that I’ve knitted with several times. The price point isn’t that different anymore so I’d prefer the Cascade; especially when it’s a garment. We’ll see how it wears and how it pills. The pattern is Knitting Plain and Simple #991 and it is simple but the heathered yarn makes is anything but plain.

Oh, Arne and Carlos, how I love you. I started knitting the Christmas balls last year and got about six of them finished. I haven’t tried to knit any this year because these stinking cute mini jumpers came out and that’s all I wanted to knit. I have managed to get five done and will pick up the rest of the 24 and hope to get them finished before next Christmas. I’m using Patagonia organic merino in three colors. I decided to keep the traditional holiday colors for our house. We shall see. But I love them so much!

Last but not least, I have cast on for a new pair of mittens for me. I love my “old” snowflake mittens a lot. These new ones are similar and very different. These are the Northman Mittens by David Schultz and I’ve chosen to knit with the same yarn as the design calls for. It just so happens that we have a great selection of Berroco Ultra Alpaca yarn. I’ve changed my mind already several times but I can’t change it again. I am knitting with a light tealy-blue-green and a light gray shade. The lining will be knit in a pink for a pop of color and you can find all the gory details for this and all of my other projects on my Ravelry project page. (I”m “lindar” on Ravelry.)

I am knitting a sweater for my almost-93 year old student who is having memory challenges and she was unable to be successful with this Plain and Simple pattern. I’ll get the sleeves finished this week and will present it to her as my gift on her 93rd birthday which is on Friday … and a cake! She’s one of my favorites and it’s crushing to see her struggle to knit. She was a wonderful knitter back in the day.

There you have it. I’ve caught you up to date. I’m sorry for the downer at the start of this post but I have promised myself that I would be authentic here and show you how life and knitting weave together to make me who I am. I won’t apologize for who I am and I am an emotional person. I’ve mentioned before my “ocular incontinence”, right? I will make the best of whatever Christmas brings, I’m just struggling with it for now. It’s all good. We love all of our kids and this won’t change that, of course.

Gone knitting.