Knitting for Good

kfc_poster2008As knitters, it seems that we are programmed for using our craft to make the world a better place. Knitting chemo caps, hats and mittens for the homeless, blankets for women in domestic violence shelters, sweaters for penguins, purple hats for babies, helmet liners for soldiers, “knockers” for mastectomy patients. The list of charitable knitting ideas is endless. You can find something to knit that makes the world a better, softer, more loving place.

penguin sweatersI’ve knitted almost all of these opportunities. Almost. Most recently, I’ve knitted “knockers” for women who have had breast cancer and have had mastectomies. I’ve also knitted a couple of hats for children who have undergone chemotherapy.

Knitted-KnockersNow, I’m working on a hat and mittens to go to one of my students’ granddaughter’s second grade special needs class. Every year her class gets a hand-knitted gift from their teacher. Last year Alice knitted 21 sets for the class all by herself. This year, my Friday Knitters are helping. I am knitting a “hunting orange” hat and mittens because what second grade boy wouldn’t want one? We do live in Maine. after all, and people love to hunt here! Even if you don’t hunt, you (almost) need to wear that eye-piercing orange to walk to the mailbox or if you’re going for a walk in the woods. We even put it on our pets!

redhatsKnitting for good is a wonderful way to give back. I am so privileged to be able to knit and afford to buy yarn and needles (it’s an addiction!) I am happy to be able to knit for others who may not otherwise have access to warm, cozy garments. I don’t care to have my name attached to it, my giving is nameless and faceless. The “payback” for me is knowing that I’ve been able to do something for someone else. And it feels so good.

 

Gone knitting!

My Daughter’s Wedding

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My daughter was married on September 30th in New York. It was a perfect weekend spent with my family and now-extended family, too.

IMG_1670IMG_1680.JPGWhen a family grows by birth or by marriage, it is a time to count your blessings and celebrate life. I counted my blessings so many times that weekend.

I’m grateful for my wonderful husband who loves me and supports my crazy yarn obsession. (Note the picture above of us all in front of Purl Soho!) I’m grateful for my “new” big brother and his family that we’ve had in our life for almost ten years now. And that he is once again healthy. I’m grateful that my other brother Rick’s back is healing. I’m so thankful for the friends and family that gathered for my daughter’s wedding and for my new son-in-love’s family and friends, too. I’m thankful for friends who cooked us a wonderful brunch, for the beautiful weather, an adequate AirBnB apartment that allowed us to rest. Mostly I am thrilled and grateful for the happiness that I see in my daughter. I am so grateful for the man that loves her. I’m grateful that she’s found her person.

When I was pregnant with her, as the due date got closer, I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough love in my heart to give to this second child of mine. I loved her sister with all of my heart. When I held her in my arms for the first time, I found that there was an infinite amount of love in my heart for my child and that I would do anything within my power for them. I feel that way today as much as I felt it then.

On Sunday we had brunch at the home of friends in lower Manhattan. It was a perfect opportunity to let the bride and her new husband spend some time with their friends who traveled from all over the country for their big day. We had a walk around Battery Park and the 9/11 Memorial Site. It’s a remarkable area, full of history, and my heart healed a bit more. I had not visited my old work site at the World Trade Center since before the attack.

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Being a mother means living with your heart outside your body. My heart is full today with the memory of my daughter’s wedding and having my family around me. I will never forget.

Life is good!

Gone knitting.

Fathers’ Day or Father’s Day?

On this father’s day, I celebrate my dear old dad. He lived a “charmed” life but even lives of the very fortunate have some heart ache. My grandmother had a “nervous breakdown” after my grandfather passed away. The children were divided up amongst friends of the family while she was institutionalized. Her heart was broken. Dad was an attorney in Hartford for a successful law firm that became one of the biggest (and some would argue, best) in the state of Connecticut. He was admired and respected. I didn’t really understand who he was until he was gone and people shared some of his stories with me. Stories that he never did share.

In dad's writing ...

It was a secret he and my mother kept until their deaths. 

I found this cartoon among my mother’s papers when we cleaned out her house. I didn’t understand it except that we’d always heard the story that dad wouldn’t marry mom (a legal secretary) and he was dating others so mom moved to California to get away from the heart ache. Today we know that the truth was a bit different – mom had become pregnant with my father’s child and moved to California to conceal the pregnancy. Once the baby boy was born  (on Mom’s birthday, May 28, 1956) and put up for adoption, she returned to Connecticut and in September of 1957 my parents were married.

The cartoon above now takes on special meaning in our family. This must have been when mom was returning to her life in Connecticut. My future parents had me in July of 1958 and my two brothers in 1960 and 1963. We, too, lead a charmed life according to most. I’m quite sure that their secret burned a hole in my parents’ hearts and in their marriage, too. Neither of them ever “forgot” that baby boy. It was a secret they kept until their deaths.  When my father died from a heart attack, they were in the process of being divorced. My mother followed him in death in 2008 after ten years with Alzheimer’s Disease. Is it possible that their secret had an affect on their lives and their deaths?

My dad was born in 1922 and if he was still living today he’d be ninety-four years old. I miss my dad today. I miss him often. I wish he was here to see my kids “adulting” and to see all four of his kids all together. I would love to be able to introduce him to my big brother who I found nine years ago and who has been integrated into my family with my “new” (and only) sister. How fortunate we are to be add siblings in our 50s! I think dad would be proud of us all and he’d be thrilled with his ten grandchildren. He’s missed so much in the thirty-plus years that he’s been gone. I still think about calling him when I have questions or challenges. He was a wise adviser, a great provider, a good man. I have fond memories that I hold dear of Saturdays at his office, automat lunches, watching for the church steeple on Sunday mornings for a penny. Smelling the “root beer trees” in the woods around our house and his battle with squirrels who always won. I cherish the memories.

rrsailingHe was only three years older than I am and I sure know that I’m not ready to die yet. I imagine he felt much the same. I hope that those of you who still have a father in your life take the time to spend time with your father today and as often as you can. (Your mother, too, if you’re that lucky!)

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I sure do miss you.

Gone knitting.

 

Life is Good!

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This is the view from my studio chair this evening. I love when the shore across the lake is all lit up in the afternoon. It really is magnificent.

Today was a good day. Good morning, good day at work, happy to be home and then this view when I looked out the window.

Our plants are blooming and most survived the winter and it feels good to be home. Here are a few pictures of the plants that I took today. I’m no photographer but I sure do love to see things grow!

Wild rose, “ever blooming” rose and yellow iris. The iris have been here forever and continue to spread all across the shore. The roses are both new. Rosa Rugosa (the wild rose) is a native plant and fully expected to live happily against the lakeshore. We shall see about my friend Janet’s gift from last year but I love these flowers. They are fragrant and low-maintenance and bloom all summer long.

How did we get so lucky?

Gone knitting.

Sunday Fun Day!

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Yesterday morning, we woke up to a little fog on the ice and more open water than we’ve seen in what seems forever! Knowing that it was going to be sunny, we figured that the fog would go away and we’d have less ice at the end of the day.

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Before we left to go take a Sunday drive, this is what it was looking like. There were a couple of times when the ice came right up to the land and sounded like crystals being rolled around. The sound was so unique! I tried to get a video of the sounds but I didn’t think any of the three were audible enough to translate. Suffice it to say, it was really great!

We wanted to head to Skowhegan today to see if the Maine Grains “cafe” was open and if we could get a bite to eat and buy some oatmeal. It was not open, but it was a pretty drive.

My husband heard about a sculpture at his volunteer job at Colby College Art Museum. Colby Art Museum has a few pieces by this artist. Apparently when he died, his widow spread his works around the state and two are found in Skowhegan!

The Indian statue is HUGE! He is easily the world’s tallest Indian. It’s sixty-two feet tall atop a 20 foot tall base, He was erected in 1969 and dedicated, as you can read in the picture above, to Maine’s Abenaki Indians. The play area, which they now ask you to stay off of, is a two-sided stair-step of farm animals. Please don’t climb on them! These sculptures are a little gem of art and Maine history along the way. You can find this guy on the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and High Street behind the Cumberland Farms food mart. It’s free and worth a detour!

When we got home (after a stop at Giffords for a bit of ice cream) the ice was moving by our house again. And before sunset, it was gone. Ice out!

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We heard our first loons on the lake, too. It brought tears to my eyes. I love living in this place and feel so fortunate to be here.

Gone knitting!

 

Thankful for Family Visits

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This Thanksgiving was spent with a full heart and a full house! We travelled to my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Marblehead, Massachusetts where we were joined by nephews and dogs and two of my three kids, one fiancé, and my grand-dog Willow. What a wonderful time! While the picture above isn’t the most flattering of this Queen Bee, it’s a good summary of how I feel when I’m with my kids and my extended family.

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This is Ruby. She is a nine-month old Leonberger and she is HUGE! She is also about as sweet as can be. Ruby didn’t quite know what to think about my little dogs – she kept wanting to use her “hands” on them … and one swipe would have sent the little dogs flying! 

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Marblehead, MA is a scenic and historic little town. This is from the top of the hill overlooking the cemetery and the harbor. We took the dogs for a walk before we went out on the boat for a tour of the harbor – and it was cold!

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Marblehead is full of sights – this is a bunch of big sailboats in dry dock … the harbor was empty of boats with the exception of the working boats – those that are still working even in the colder winter months.

From Marblehead we kept heading south to Washington, DC where we were able to see two more of our kids and a boyfriend as well as friends from our beloved summer camp and a friend of mine from high school. Forty years passes without a thought and it is so much fun to reconnect. We shared some wonderful food and an adult beverage or two and filled our hearts with time with our children. We are so proud that we have five children who are living their dreams.

While there, this happened…

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We had a great walk by the Mall and visited the Museum of Art (East). They’re already building the stage for the inauguration of our next president in front of the Capitol building and the new wing of the art museum was beautiful. I am still shocked that all the museums are free. We attended the production of Carousel on Tuesday night before heading toward home on Wednesday. It was fantastic! If you’re in the area, get a ticket. We loved seeing it and I still pinch myself that my kid is making a living doing what she wanted to do since she was three.

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So, all of this has nothing to do with knitting until this point, right? Right! But here’s the clincher – I finished and gifted a sweater for my eldest daughter, the actor. It’s a birthday gift (she was born in August) … and it fits! Perfectly!

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This was a wonderful sweater to knit and I loved the pattern that she chose (I let her into my Ravelry queue). The sweater is I Heart Aran by Tanis Fiber Arts. Here is a link to my project page about this beauty! I hope she wears it and knows that every stitch was knit with lots of love.

Check me out on Facebook, Ravelry (Lindar) and Instagram @QueenBeeKnits!

Gone knitting.

 

I Heart Aran – Nearing the Finish Line

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I Heart Aran by Tanis Fiber Arts – blocking!

I started knitting the I Heart Aran sweater by Tanis Fiber Arts in early September. It’s a 32nd birthday gift for my eldest daughter. I’m not sure how she got to be so old when I remain young and nearly the same age as she! Kate chose the sweater pattern from Ravelry and this was the one she loved the most. This morning I finished the knitting and it’s blocked. Woo! Hoo!

I was gifted the yarn by my sister-in-law, Annie, who found it and some purple at an estate or garage sale several years ago. For ten dollars! She’s a very thoughtful person and I’m delighted to be able to make a sweater with five of the ten skeins of ivory/aran color that she gave me which leaves several skeins for me to make something for Annie! It’s Shetland by Jaeger (80% wool, 20% alpaca 100 g/166m). The hand on this yarn is wonderfully soft thanks to the alpaca. It was great to knit with – not splitty and no little bits of wool all over my dark jeans. Because it’s an Aran weight yarn and the sweater was rather small, it knit up in no time at all. It helped, too, because the sleeves and back are all a very simple, almost boring, stockinette. If I were going to knit this sweater again, I’d consider adding a cable up the sleeves or on the back or both. The stitch definition is amazing and there is enough wool so that the sweater shouldn’t stretch out (or grow!)

Superior Stitch Definition

Superior Stitch Definition

I used my good old Hiya Hiya Interchangeable needles with the US6 and US8 tips. I used the US6 tips only for the sleeve ribbing and chose to use the US8 (not the US6 as written in the pattern) because I don’t love sweaters with very tight ribbing at the waist. Hiya Hiya Interchangeables are decent needles. The join is mostly smooth. The tips could be pointier.  They were ok for this project because the yarn is heavy enough and the cables weren’t too tight. I chose to knit flat on my circular needles. You could also have knitted this on straight needles.

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

One of the things I liked about this pattern is that it had a perfect schematic so that when I was blocking (and knitting) I knew exactly what the measurements were to be. This makes my life as a pattern-follower so much easier than when I have to go back into the pattern to decide what the measurements are – and Tanis even added the measurement that is supposed to be across the neck (3″) to eliminate any guesswork. Thank you! The directions were clear and concise.

There was only one place where I was unsure of the directions and I think it was the knitter not the instructions after a quick discussion with knitwear designer Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits.

If it says, “Dec every 8 rows”, you should make the first decrease after 8 rows. If the designers means for you to make the first dec on the next row then start every 8 rows, the directions should say, “Dec on next and then every 8 rows” or something like that!

– Lori Versaci, VersaciKnits

Fortunately, I had figured it out because the decrease instructions all happened on the RS (right side) rows which meant that it was going to have to happen on rows 1 and 9 not on row 8. Being thoughtful, taking a pause to think about my knitting answered the question for me. A life lesson put to use in my knitting yet again.

I block everything on my guest room bed. Today I have two projects blocking – a hat for a customer and the sweater. I can’t wait until it’s dry and can be assembled and I can knit the collar. Then we can choose a button on Tuesday when I’m at the yarn shop and send it off to Kate who is in rehearsal for Carousel which will open later this month at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. I know it’s sweater weather in Maine (at least in the morning and afternoon) but I’m not sure about the Washington area.

I’ll show you the finished garment in a day or two!

Gone knitting.