How is it Already September 20?

Good grief! I can’t imagine how we’ve gotten to “late” September! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun (in a pandemic?)

The Apple Farm in Fairfield, Maine

I’ve been back to teaching a small class outside at a local park in Waterville, Maine until this week. My students were comfortable meeting outside, socially distanced and masked. I was, too. And then last week, it was chilly and we had to move from under the pergola in the shade into the sun to be comfortable. This week the high temperature was only going to reach 62 so we went into the store and were surprised that we were comfortable there, too.

Bickford’s Blueberries with the gang

Life has been full of visitors this summer, too. If there are to be blessings found in the Covid-19 pandemic, this is one! All of our children have visited for at least a week and a couple visited for two weeks and four weeks! Working from home/remotely does have its benefits. Nothing makes this mom happier than a house full of our kids! We are so proud of all of them and how gracefully they’re handling life under Covid-19. It’s been difficult; isolating at times, frustrating at times, fraught with financial uncertainty. My kids all work in the Arts in New York City … there won’t be solid work for them at least until 2021. They’ll all make it through this and they’ll all grow because of it.

(I missed grand-dog Severus. Boo! And the Littles were unimpressed and not on the porch.)

We have been eating well (everyone likes to cook) and the baking has been lots of fun! Notice that the photos are almost all of baked goods!? Ha! We made focaccia with a beautiful vegetable “picture” on it, lobster is always a favorite, raspberry ice cream cookie sandwiches, blueberries, blueberry buckle, a rustic peach and blueberry galette, blueberry bundt cake, blueberry muffins, Mrs. Dejonkheere’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, blueberry pie #1, lobster eggs Benedict, maple blueberry scones, squash pie, veggie frittata and apple pie. The raspberries, blueberries and apples were all picked by our hands! What a lot of fun.

There has been yarn in my hands throughout the visits! I’ve started and finished a few things that I wanted to share with you, too.

First up were two emPower People cowls in their signature purple.

The first is the emPower People Cowl by Casapinka. This is a simple garter stitch cowl that asks for a DK or sport weight yarn. I used Malabrigo Rios which is a light worsted weight. It’s a cowl so I really didn’t mind if it came out a little bit larger (or smaller). It was a quick and simple knit project and it’s a sample at the store right now. It’s so soft and will be a nice garment to wear and a good reminder to VOTE!

The second is EmPower Lace by Romi. I was a test knitter for this cowl and it was another really fun knit. This could be considered a bit more difficult than the first cowl, but it’s a great first lace project. I used Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool this time and I love this yarn. It was a new yarn to me. It shows the lace well and it’s soft and sturdy. Empower Lace is also a free Raverly download.

Next up are two pairs of baby booties. I confess that I have a collection of Cascade’s Fixation yarn from which I’ve made several pairs of baby booties and a few baby hats to match. But I had over-bought! Can you imagine that? Ha! Ha! So, in my pledge to use up stashed yarn, I decided to pull out all of the Fixation and use it up by making some baby booties. Two pairs down and I have plenty more to go. The green pair has a different bottom color and the pink ones are simple solid pink. The pattern is one that I can’t find online anywhere called Sue’s Baby Booties. It was a free pattern at the store. If you love it, let me know and I can scan it and email it to you.

I’ve started and finished a baby gift for a special baby boy coming soon so I can’t show you a full photograph of the gift that I’ve finished. I used Hayfield’s Baby Blossom Chunky to knit a Three Cable Baby Blanket and will make a little sweater and hat to match. I’ll update this post when I have given the gift to the mom-to-be. It’s soft, warm and washable and dry-able. All good things when you’re a new mother.

I’ve finished the first of my September socks from our 2020 Sock Challenge. This is another stashed yarn, one that I collected when we learned that there wasn’t going to be a US distributor for this wonderful Raggi yarn. (There is a distributor now, thank heavens!) Raggi is a worsted/aran weight wool and nylon blend so it’s perfect for knitting socks. The pattern, Urban Rustic Socks, I just happened across when I was looking for a worsted weight sock pattern that I hadn’t already made. I love these socks and they’re a fun knit, too. It’s a free Ravelry pattern.

I’m working away on making more masks for my kids, I’ve fixed a hat for a customer, fixed a shawl several times for a former student (the shawl has traveled from Florida to Maine and back several times) and I’ve got a bunch of projects on the needles. I’m still working on finishing my Arne and Carlos Quarantine Knitting blocks (I think it’s going to be a pillow) and my Hope Cardigan is half-done. So, life is busy and full … I wanted to catch up here so that the next post won’t be so long.

Gone knitting!

Time Off

I haven’t written in what seems like forever and I’m not even going to apologize because I’m not sorry. There, I’ve said it. I needed to take this little bit of time off to spend with my kids and just “be”.

This pandemic life has been really stressful and I have had lots and lots of ups and downs. I’ve had days when I thought I could live like this forever and then the next day I can’t wait for life to go back to “normal” so it will all end. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is the real spot where I balance (sort of!) So, when my daughter asked if I’d be ok with her visiting with her husband and dogs, I said “yes!” I also decided that our kids are the only ones who I’m comfortable having visit for now. I also give myself permission to change my mind.

For the last two weeks my daughter and her husband have been visiting. It was wonderful. Easy and comfortable and lots of fun. Kate and Spencer have a great energy and it was fun to spend time with them. They were initially going to spend a week and extended it to two because they weren’t excited about going back to the heat of NYC. They worked, I worked/volunteered. We did a bunch of baking and berry picking. They also overlapped with my step-daughter and her boyfriend and dog which made it even sweeter because they’ve not really been able to spend time like that together. COVID-19 has brought our house and my heart much needed filling up. I have counted my blessings a lot lately and I am feeling completely blessed.

I”m grateful for the time we had to spend together with our oldest and youngest. I’m so happy to have met my grand-dog, Benny, for the first time. I’m grateful for a wonderful spouse who I get to share life with. We are so lucky to live is such a beautiful place and have the room to accommodate visitors for weeks at a time. Our lake provides a calming influence on world-weary travelers, ourselves included.

Gone knitting.

The Longest Day … in memory of my mother

Just before sunrise on the longest day of the year

The Longest Day (summer solstice and the Alzheimer’s Association fundraising day) was June 20th this year. I participated for the first time as a member of Ann Budd’s team. Ann has been doing this for years (and I’m sorry I didn’t know about it sooner!) One of my co-workers was participating and I thought it was a wonderful way to remember my mother who died from Alzheimer’s in 2008 at the age of 76.

The day started with a wonderful sunrise and coffee on the porch. It quickly got too hot to sit on the front porch in the sun so I moved to location number two, the screened porch.

Location #2 on the longest day where I finished my June socks

My goal for the day, in addition to remembering my mom, was to finish projects or at least work to that end. I finished my June socks first. I had knitted them to the toe so it wasn’t a stretch! This yarn is another One the Round Signature Sock, fingering weight wool and nylon. I love knitting with it and I love wearing it. As you can see, I don’t worry about “matchy-matchy” and there’s a funny spot at the ankle of one and a little less funny spot at the ankle of the other. (Can you see me hunching my shoulders? I really don’t mind; they’re socks.)

Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter in On the Round Signature Sock

My next project was either my Humulus sweater or my The Shape of a Bay shawl. I chose the shawl because it’s been languishing in time out for nearly two years. I bought this kit at my fiber camp not last summer but the summer before. It’s two skeins of Cashmere People Fingering yarn and the pattern. The yarn is super yummy. I just finished a shawl test knit for Lori Versaci (VersaciKnits) for her pattern Campfire. ( blogged about it here.) This yarn is very special and the colors are so beautiful. Oddly enough, one of the colors in my Campfire shawl is the same color, albeit in a different weight, as my Shape of a Bay shawl. Go figure.

Location #3, inside with a view of my sweet hubby in one of his favorite spots

The Shape of A Bay is by Bristol Ivy. It is a half-pi shape shawl with double sided lace. I have learned that some lace is different than others. Some lace, typically more simple, is knitted with the lace-y stitches on one side only, usually the right side, and knits/purls on the wrong side. This pattern has those lace-y stitches on both sides, right and wrong side. When I am knitting a project that requires lace concentration, I like to do them earlier in the day, post coffee and pre-tired end-of-day eyes and/or cocktails. I love knitting this pattern and working with this yarn. It’s a treat. Two years ago I had worked into the pebbles section. (Lucky for me I had marked my pattern so I knew where I had stopped and I was able to start up without any trouble.) On the Longest Day, I got through the end of the pebbles section and finished most of the first repeat of the ripples section.

The Shape of A Bay by Bristol Ivy

In the photo above, I’m through the pebbles section and starting the ripples. I had a lot of interruptions from the Littles who are getting old and have to be let out frequently … and who don’t always make it outside quite fast enough. I might have gotten further but I am grateful to be home with them when they’re really in need of their humans.

My end-of-day view was in my atelier, Littles at my feet, working on something mindless until the sun set. I took a break for dinner and a cocktail with my wonderful hubby and then we retreated to the air conditioning and a little bit of “stupid TV”. I have been working on using up some of the odds and ends of my fingering weight/sock yarns in a crochet blanket project called the Battenberg Blanket. Mine is not likely to look as “orderly” as the pattern is intended but I will have the pleasure of remembering all of the socks, shawls and other projects that I made. I am planning to use a solid color to put them all together but I’d like to make a big (queen-size perhaps) blanket so I’ll be making squares deep into my 90s. Ha! Ha!

My friends and family helped me to surpass my fundraising goal and together we will donate over $1,700.00 to fight the good fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t ever want another family member to experience the ravages of this disease that stole my mother from me and their beloved GranJan from my children and nephews. Thank you to Ann Budd and Glenda for making it so easy to participate. It was a privilege to knit on the Longest Day and I look forward to knitting again next year.

Gone knitting.

Wonderful Steam Roller Wallaby

Wonderful Wallaby (adjusted for no hood) by Cottage Creations

My newest family member is my nephew, Hugh. He just turned a year old and because of life and Corona Virus, I’ve not met him in person yet. When we were facetime-ing a little while back, I decided that I wanted to make him a sweater.

I went through the normal (ha! like anything I do is “normal”) process of figuring out what pattern and what yarn to use … I had this great blue tweed in my stash and it’s a worsted weight yarn. This, I decided, would be the color. BUT we had a sweater pattern at work called Digger Jacket and I loved the idea of putting a construction vehicle on the sweater. I didn’t love the jacket pattern, however. I considered knitting the jacket in my chosen yarn with the intarsia vehicles but I really love the Wonderful Wallaby pattern. I love the construction method of Wallaby and the pouch is something little kids love. SO, I decided to knit the Wallaby with no hood, a crew neckline and a steam roller on the pouch.

To be very honest, I had planned to knit the steam roller into the pocket but I forgot. It’s one of the “symptoms” of anxiety and lack of focus that I’ve been experiencing during this Corona Virus/Covid-19 pandemic and physical distancing. So, I made lemonade and duplicate stitched the pattern onto the pouch after the sweater was completed. I’m really pleased with the outcome!

My nephew lives in Northern California and I didn’t think that the hood as the Wallaby pattern is written would be a good idea. Typically, the Wallaby has a divided placket and a hood, neither of which I wanted. I followed the pattern up to where the placket begins and then I went off on my own, fingers crossed, hoping that I really do know what I am doing. I continued the decreases at the shoulders as set until I had 60 stitches. The head opening was too small. I frogged back to where I had 76 stitches and it was much better. Six rounds of 1×1 ribbing and a bind off round in pattern and the sweater is pretty much done … I just have to seam the underarm and sew in the ends, block it and put it into the mail. I already got online and sent a little board book about construction vehicles in advance of the sweater. My son loved his trucks books and I hope Hugh will, too.

Wallaby Pouch – finished!

Gone knitting!

Join me on Facebook: Queen Bee Knits by LindaWarner, on Instagram: @QueenBeeKnits and you can see all of my photos and information on this project and others on Ravelry, I’m lindar.

Settling In, Settling Down

“Zeaster”

After a month of being “locked in” and lots of worry and unknown, we are settling in to a routine (if you can call it that). We “celebrated” Easter with a Zoom (thus “Zeaster”) meeting with all of our kids. That helped a lot. Knowing they’re all safe makes a mom feel good.

I’m actually knitting again and able to concentrate as well.

Cashmere People Shawl by Versaciknits

I have finished my Cashmere People Shawl test knit project for Versaciknits. I wore it yesterday. When I’m told that I can post pictures, I will. Until then, it’ll have to remain a secret with a few shots of sections close-up.

Yesterday I worked on my cotton/linen sweater in Juniper Moon Farm’s Zooey. The sweater is called Fine Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier. I’ll be making the XL size. The yoke is an interesting challenge with right- and left-leaning lifted increases and a chart that I struggled with at first. But I’ve now completed all of the yoke and have the right number of stitches which is phenomenal!!!

Fine Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier

Knitting tip: when a designer gives you a stitch count in a pattern, stop knitting and count your stitches! It’s so worth the time to check stitch count as often as you can to make sure you’re on track for success!

Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter Designs

The 30th Birthday socks are half-finished and the second sock is started. It’s going to be difficult for this mom to not celebrate with my favorite boy on his birthday. We will be sending a care package and will have to Zoom together.

Thanks, EZ!

Gone knitting.

You can find more information on all of these projects and more on my Ravelry project page. I’m lindar on Ravelry. Find me on Facebook – Queen Bee Knits by LindaWarner and on Instagram – @QueenBeeKnits

Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged

Yesterday we left campus.

We packed up the three dogs and our lunch and breakfast and snacks and water and coffee and drove my little Lola to the doctor. We filled up in Maine, stretched in the rest stop in Maine. We drove to my brother’s veterinary hospital so that he could tell me what was going on with my little girl.

Lola is typically around 9 pounds. Today she was just over 7. That’s a lot of weight loss for a little dog. She’s not been eating well, despite my urging, for months. Now that I have been home in isolation, I have been able to focus on her food and water intake and have been very worried. I’ve cried more than once with her in my arms believing that she was going to die. I was concerned enough to call my brother, a veterinarian in Massachusetts, to ask what I should do. His advice was to bring her in. Yesterday we did.

She was poked and prodded, x-rayed, sonogrammed, given a shot of antibiotics and an anti-inflamatory steroid shot. She was sent home with a couple of medicines. Nothing is visibly wrong, per se, but the x-rays will be read by a specialist. She has a dark spot on her spleen but my brother doesn’t think it’s a problem. I feel better but not yet settled. We will see what happens over the next couple of days. Lasts night, she ate her dinner. This morning she ate breakfast AND drank out of the water dish … she hasn’t done that for sure for at least ten days!

I was very afraid to go out. I have been in isolation for two weeks. I know I don’t have Corona virus. I was concerned about filling up my gas tank, where I would go to use a rest room, crossing paths with people. I needn’t have been worried because we didn’t cross any paths! I didn’t even hug my brother. We ate our picnic lunch in the car in the vet hospital parking lot and when Lola was done, we got in the car and drove home. We were all happy to get home and have a drink: The two-leggers among us in particular.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!

Remembering

Cookies!!!

This morning I made cookies. As I always do, I stacked them up on top of each other at an angle so that I can get all the cookies on one cooling rack. My grandmother did this when she made cookies and she was the one who taught me to love baking. So, for my entire baking life, I’ve stacked the cookies this way. I was thinking about my Gram as I stacked the cookies today and just this afternoon I realized that today is the anniversary of her death. I knew it was coming up but I just checked my calendar!

My Gram had a tiny kitchen without a lot of counter space and she always refused to have a dish washer. When we bought her one, she made us take it back. She washed dishes by hand. There was always soapy water in her kitchen sink! But the love that came out of that kitchen was simply amazing. Among my favorites, pot roast, twice baked potatoes, and baked goods. She was a wonderful lady and I have such fond memories of spending time with her. Remembering her house brings such happy feelings and memories of baking with her – or going over to visit and finding cupcakes or cake or cookies in her pantry. And the candy drawer was always full. Just for us.

I got all caught up over the weekend with the Arne and Carols Quarantine KAL. This was the last of the five “squares” and I really enjoyed knitting them. (I have since the photo below, sewn in all of the ends, too.)

The first clue for the second week was released today … again, I’m behind! Lucky that I don’t take this too seriously! I feel like I have plenty of time to get them done … this social distancing isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

“Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises.” -Elizabeth Zimmerman

Gone knitting!

Progress … Two FOs

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

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

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

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

Gone knitting.

Passage of Time

With the impending arrival of Father’s Day tomorrow and Mother’s Day in the past, I have done a lot of reflecting on my own experiences with my parents. How they raised me, their only daughter, in the late 50’s and early 60’s while keeping a deep and very dark (to them) secret.

Shortly after my mother passed away in October of 2008, we found out that she had given up a baby boy for adoption in May/June 1956. Had she given birth to that baby boy, she’d have been ostracized. She’d have been labeled a strumpet, a hussy, a tramp. She would not have been allowed to marry my father if anyone had known. My father, however, would have been left to continue his life as before.

Being the next child born, and a girl, I can only imagine that I was a disappointment and it explains a lot about how she raised me. She was disconnected, aloof, often angry, not encouraging or loving. She was always heavy … keeping a layer of protection around her. Please don’t get me wrong, she fed me, did my laundry, drove me everywhere. I didn’t want for anything. Except her love. None of this was my fault, of course, and I didn’t know that I was getting treatment that was different from my younger brothers or my peers. But it was different and I was scarred by it. (Thank God for therapy!)

I say this today because I realized recently that many of my friends on Facebook seem to miss their parents and were deeply loved by them. Sadly, I don’t have that same feeling. I’d love to have them back to ask them questions about why they did what they did. Why they kept the secret after we were adults. Why they never told me they loved me or were proud of me. (They really didn’t unless it was after a fight and then it would be, “of course we love you” said in anger and frustration.) My brothers had a different experience. Psychologically, I’m certain that it was because I was the first born “after the adoption” and I wasn’t a boy.

I was encouraged to find a husband and marry … that’s why a girl goes to college. I was born to have babies, that was where I would find happiness and fulfillment.  I was taught to iron and sew, to play the piano and guitar. I was given ballroom dancing lessons at Mary Jane Spencer’s. My peers were encouraged to pursue a career, told they could do anything that they set their mind to. I didn’t know that until I had children of my own … and had been in therapy for depression and a failing/failed marriage that lead to an ugly divorce.

img_0121.jpgToday I am happier. At nearly 60 I am feeling comfortable in my own skin. I am grateful for the life I was given and I know that my parents never meant to cause me harm. They did their best. Sadly, it wasn’t good enough to give me wings to fly. I had to find those for myself.

Today, one of the things that makes me happy is yarn. Everything around yarn. I love people who use yarn in their creative endeavors. I love the animals who provide the fibers and the process that leads to the yarn being available to buy. I love feeling it and working it into a garment. I love the shop keepers and the customers. I  am grateful for the shared wisdom of women and men who share my craft and the love of yarn. I love that I have found a wonderful man with whom to share my life. He loves me as I am even when I don’t.

Life hands you some bizarre twists and turns and I’ve learned that it’s all about what you do with them that makes you who you are. I am grateful for them all because I like where I am today. I wouldn’t be here without all those experiences. I’m strong and resilient and happy. I’ve started over many times and I’m sure I’ll start over again.

Speaking of starting over … I started something new yesterday.

IMG_3065Born out of frustration with the fit of my nearly-done Malabrigo sweater, and in an effort to use some of my stashed yarn, I cast on the Brambling Shawl.

The Brambling Shawl by Bristol Ivy was one of the projects in A Year of Techniques. It’s a study in Intarsia – the use of two colors in the same row. The yarn used in the pattern (and that I bought) is Fyberspates’ Cumulus. It’s a lovely blend of baby Suri alpaca and Mulberry silk. The project calls for five colors (camel, slate, plum, sea green and silver) and is worked from tip to tip with increases and decreases to make a triangular shawl. I’ve just gotten started and have yet to add the second color, but I love being able to learn a technique with practice.

So, tomorrow I will celebrate my husband who is a great father. Patient, loving and kind. I will also celebrate the fathers in my life, my brothers, uncle, cousins, and my own dad who did his best. He did teach me to love pistachios!

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.