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.
When you are knitting lace and there are obvious demarcations between sections, it’s so simple to take a few minutes to put in a safety line … it’s so simple! So, why in the world did I go zipping on by? Laziness is my only excuse.
So, I’ve been knitting along on my The Shape of A Bay shawl by Bristol Ivy and I’ve been right on the stitch count all along. Until section 7. I learned this 12 rows in when the pattern wasn’t working. I counted my stitches and, if I am counting stitches correctly, I should remain at 523 stitches througout. I had 403. That’s a difference of 120 stitches. Yikes!!! No way to fudge through 120 too few stitches (and I have no idea why that happened.) I had no choice other than to frog back the 12 rows to where section 7 begins and start over and knit more carefully!
A safety line will help. When I get to the 523 spot again, I’ll put in a safety line. A safety line is a long piece of, in my case mint flavored dental floss, thread or yarn that is the same weight of the yarn you’re knitting with or finer. Thread the long piece onto a sewing needle with a blunt tip so as to not pierce the yarn and bring it through the bottom of the stitches on the needle. On the first row after installing the safety line, be careful not to knit the safety line into your pattern. Let the safety line hang out until you are finished or reach another milestone or stitch count that is correct. You can put on in every couple of rows if you want. Or not. The purpose of the safety line is so that, God forbid, you make a mistake and have to frog back (again?!) you can just rip back to the safety line, put your stitches back on your needle and start again. It’s much simpler, especially when knitting a 2-sided lace pattern like mine, than finding all of your stitches, making sure you’ve not dropped any, etc.
As of this afternoon, I’m back to 523 stitches on my needles and I’ll restart section 7.
But for the rest of the day, I’m going to work on my Humulus sweater’s sleeve and see if I can get it finished and ready to block. It’s pouring rain and thundering and lighting … I have a very frightened BBD here by my side … so anything that gets wet will likely stay wet for awhile!
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I can’t believe that I haven’t written for such a long time … but I’m here today. It’s a questionably nice summer day today. We woke to rain, heavy rain, which is very welcome since Maine has been very dry. Parts of the state are talking about drought conditions. Not good this early.
I’ve been knitting along on the same projects. They seem to be taking forever to finish and that says that I’m not knitting as much as I think I am. With all sorts of time, it’s astounding to me that I get less and less done. Regardless …
My Humulus sweater is coming along. I’ve finished one sleeve and started the second one. If I really sat myself down and got off social media, I could probably finish it today. I am pretty pleased with the fit of this sweater and I really like the colors I chose. Ella Rae Classic wool is a good workhorse yarn. I would love to make another one of these sweaters (or one like it) in Malabrigo Rios or some other more luxurious yarn … some day. I have a list of sweaters and have already purchased the yarn for several that I have to knit first.
Next up, my Bristol Ivy shawl … The Shape of A Bay, I bought this pattern and yarn at Medomak Fiber Arts Camp not last summer but the summer before. It was my splurge. I started it immediately and then realized that it wasn’t a pattern to work on when you’re trying to converse with other people so I put it away until after camp. Time rolls on and then all of a sudden two years have passed and I hadn’t touched it since.
I love the yarn so much. It feels wonderful as it passes through my hands. I also am loving the intricate stitch patterns in this shawl. It’s brilliant. Way more brilliant than I can ever imagine designing myself … and that’s one of the reasons that I adore Bristol Ivy so much. She’s a knitting geek. Her designs are different, thoughtful, and wicked smaht! I am continually amazed at her creativity. I’m thoroughly enjoying knitting this shawl and I can hardly wait to see it in all its glory after it’s blocked!!!
I started a new project when I saw the newest Making magazine. There is so much in these little books that I want to make! I love these simple crochet slippers by Cal Patch (and I love Cal, too) so much and I eagerly finished both slipper bottoms in one porch-sitting day. I haven’t pulled them out again since. I am not as proficient at crochet as I am at knitting but I find it’s good for my hands and arms to change the movements up now and again. So, I change to crochet. This project, while simple for some, takes quite a bit of concentration for me but it is fun to succeed. And they’ll be warm and cozy when they’re finished and felted.
This is my other crochet project. The Battenberg blanket will be something I’ll be working on for(maybe)ever. These tiny little squares will be crocheted together eventually and I’d like to have it be big enough to cuddle an adult up in … it may be a baby blanket, however. Time will tell. I have several dozen of them finished in random sock yarns that I’ve used over the years. I have to find a solid or two to use to unify all the oddball patches. But I can make these in my sleep now. It’s a good end of the day project.
Both my husband and my college roommate showed me this recipe … that’s a strong hint. And they’re delicious. I spent a good part of the day one day this week making these and some peanut butter oatmeal cookies with nuts and chocolate chips added (because what’s a cookie without adding some extra good stuff?). I will not be shedding pounds this week, that’s for sure. This recipe can be found on the NY Times Cooking website. Let me know if you try them!
Last but not least, I finally cast on my July socks. I’ve blogged before about our 2020 Sock Challenge and I have a few friends of QBK on Facebook who are knitting socks with me this year. It’s been fun … but this month I almost forgot to start a pair! I had initially thought I’d make a pair that I saw online somewhere that was made with two yarns in contrasting colors, knit two stitches with color one and knit two stitches with color two and then after two rounds, switch the colors and so forth. But when I got started, I didn’t like the two colors together – not enough contrast – so I am knitting a simple pair of socks using my favorite Yankee Knitter sock pattern. The yarn is On the Round yarn in the Rebel colorway.
I’ve been working at weeding our gardens. So far the weeds are winning but we’ve had some wonderful floral successes this year. Have a look at my bee balm! The hummingbirds are so happy with these flowers!
All of my projects are on my Ravelry project page. You can find them there! My Rav name is Lindar. Find me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner and Instagram @QueenBeeKnits.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
When I posted a photo of our garden with all (ALL!) of the kale pilfered but spinach and lettuces untouched, lots of doubters commented that we were lucky that it was gone. I will not apologize for liking kale … I like kale! And some rotten critter has eaten it all! Every single leaf has been nibbled to the nubs.
My StarflakeShawl is blocked and it’s beautiful! I am so thrilled about this shawl. I have to admit that I was not a big fan as I was knitting this. I wasn’t sure it would be something I would wear and I was pondering the idea of selling it or giving it away. BUT when I blocked this baby, I fell in love! I adore it!
The yarn is among the yummiest yarns that I have worked with. I used two shades of Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock in “Wish You Were Beer” (gold) and “Nailed It” (silver) -the names of the colorways remind me of the OPI nail polish names, they’re so clever! The yarn bloomed when the shawl was blocked, the stitches opened up and the i-cord edging and bind off are spectacular.
This was my first Stephen West (big) project and I doubted at times that I’d get it finished. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck Maine, I lost my knitting mojo and/or my ability to concentrate. This shawl is NOT a simple pattern. I spent so much time knitting and then frogging that I ended up putting it in time out for awhile. A few weeks ago, I got it back out because I realized that I was settling into a new “normal” and I wanted a bit of a challenge. Well, I’m so glad to report that in the end, the result is incredible!
Here’s what else I’ve been up to …
Gardening! I’ve got a small yard but a lot of gardens. We have the raised vegetable garden with greens, tomatoes, peppers and squash. We have several perennial gardens that were put in before we were married. Some have been more successful than others but they all need care and love. I’ve been outside weeding, edging and transplanting (and forgetting to water the newly moved plants … lucky I have a lot of creeping flox. My peonies are just about ready to pop for the first time.
Volunteering! I am on two Boards of local organizations that I care deeply about. One is our lake association, Friends of Messalonskee. It’s weird to be running a volunteer organization in a pandemic but it we let the invasive plants take hold for one summer, we will have lost a lot of (if not all) the progress we have made. So, we are carefully optimistic that our state and local funding will come through so we can do our good work. Maine Arts Academy is the second organization and combines my passions for education and the arts. MEAA is a free public charter high school for the arts. We just graduated 53 students on Sunday in a “drive through” graduation. It was awesome and the kids are heading off prepared for whatever they choose to do next!
And I have sewn some more face masks for these cuties! I’m so glad that my children, all in New York City, are being smart and wearing masks. Daughter number two and her hubby have a few different masks to get them through the new “normal” in the city. I think they’ll be wearing masks for quite a while.
Life is good. I feel very grateful for a healthy family, especially now.
All of my knitting projects and even some sewing projects can be found on my Ravelry project page, I’m lindar on Ravelry.
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I started this project with the best of intentions and then the world went crazy! Between holiday orders, crazy busy work and volunteer life (lives?) and then the Corona Virus … I couldn’t concentrate on this pattern so it went into a brief time out. As my concentration returned, I pulled it back out and got it finished yesterday with the exception of weaving in the ends and blocking. This will happen today!
This shawl was a good challenge. I liked the variation of stitches and the different techniques that Stephen used. It’s a different shape and I love a good i-cord! This shawl is loaded with i-cord. I also loved working with Emma’s yarn. This is a merino and silk blend fingering weight hand-dyed yarn. Emma’s yarn is dyed by two sisters in Winter Haven, Florida. Their parents own and run the beautiful Four Purls Yarn shop … and they’ve got a yarn truck that I used to shop from when I lived in the suburbs of Orlando. The Black Sheep Shop, where I used to teach, partners with Four Purls for some wonderful yarny fun!
I’ll update photos when the shawl is blocked. I can’t wait to see how this shawl “blooms” with blocking. Blocking works miracles!
My Devon hat is also finished … except for the little tail that is hanging off the back of the hat. This was also a fun project. The Devon Hat is a simple crochet project. I still consider myself a beginner in crochet. This hat’s first few rounds are a bit wonk but the end result, despite being a little bit too big, is pretty stinking cute! The RaRa Raffia yarn is from Wool and the Gang. I bought it on the Wool and the Gang website directly but it would be a fun yarn for yarn shops to carry specifically for making hats and tote bags, too!
The hat is crocheted at a pretty tight gauge so my hands were a bit sore but I took breaks – and you should take breaks and stretch when you’re knitting or crocheting for a extended period of time. Stretching is a good thing – I promise, I know!
I never wear hats because I have a big head. “One size fits all” sure doesn’t. So, I thought this would be a good solution to my problem. I love hats but I can’t find hats that fit. This one will work when I’m sitting in the sun knitting.
I love this magazine! Every one that I have purchased has at least a few patterns that I’d like to try to make. Note, I said, “try”.
This time, in issue 9 Simple, it’s the Simple Bird and Nest by Susan B. Anderson. Susan has made a beautiful little business for herself designing the most exquisite “toys”. Ostensibly for children, the toys are so clever that they’re tempting to make for yourself (even if you’re a senior citizen!) This time, the birds just got me.
I dove deep into my stash and found a couple of colors of DK or Sport weight yarn. I know the first color is a Knit Picks City Tweed DK that I was given for mothers’ day a long, long time ago. It’s a soft, 2-ply yarn that knits up beautifully. Just so happens that I am planning two bird and i had two colors of this yarn in my stash. One is more purple and the other more a dusty rose. The pattern calls for several colors … I found a creamy white, a brown, and a grey. Since they’re for toys that probably won’t be washed, I’m not going to worry about fiber content. Suffice it to say, they’re all wool or wool blends and some may be superwash.
The pattern is so simply written that it makes it a cinch to knit. The bird is quick to knit with a couple of rounds of beginner colorwork. Not too scary when you can do it on something small. The nest has a Latvian braid at the top which is, again, described so as to make it easy for anybody to try. I finished the bird and nests in a couple of sittings but I do knit quickly – and have a lot of experience. The eggs, too, are quick and simple. I’ve got one knitted for each bird so far. Again, stashed “rainbow” yarn will make the eggs completely fictional but colorful. My intent is to write a little story to go along with the gifts … we will see if I get that part done.
I have a new plant baby, a ZZ plant, in my atelier! I bought this for my hubby back in the wintertime thinking he’d like a plant in his studio space which is on our third floor. He was concerned that it would die up there because he’d forget to water it. So, since then, it’s been living in our living room with all the other plants and I’ve been taking care of it. This morning, I decided to take it up to my studio where I can enjoy it and it’s something green and alive.
Yesterday was a beautiful, albeit windy and chilly, day and we went to the nearest garden center, a small family business in the next town to get some vegetable plants to put into our garden. I wanted to start some greens (they’re supposed to be hardy enough for this time of year) and get a leg up on growing our own food this spring/summer and into the fall. We have a very short growing season and last year we had a garden fail. I hope we are more successful this year. We bought a few pansies to decorate our front dooryard, too. Pansies are such bright and happy plants and we will enjoy these well into the summer!
I did do some knitting yesterday and finished a bird. The pattern is Susan B. Anderson’s Simple Bird and Nest which can be found in the most recent Making Magazine, #9 Simple. I dove into my stash to find the yarn and it is really cute. I’ll make the nest today … and maybe its eggs. This will be a gift so I won’t show the whole “set” until it’s been received. I’ll be making two … or maybe three of these for some special friends.
All of my new veggie plants were in the garden to be planted yesterday and I ran out of steam. That turned out to be lucky because we had a frost last night … go figure, it’s the middle of May! Ha! Ha! I wonder if we will ever see summer this year. The weathermen said that should be our last frost … I’ll plant the greens: kale, spinach, lettuces, and some spring mix this afternoon or tomorrow. I think tomorrow.
Y’all! What is happening? I’m sitting here wondering, trying to remember if it’s ever snowed in May … on Mother’s Day weekend … in my lifetime. I don’t think it has. One of our local television stations says that there was accumulation of five inches on May 10-11 1945 and 1963. I wasn’t born in ‘45 and I was 4 in ‘63. So there you go.
I’ve been keeping myself busy though. A zoom call with my Friday knitters yesterday was the highlight of my week. As it usually is, Friday is a great day when my students and I gather around the table. Or in this case around our computers. At least we can be together virtually. I bought a subscription to zoom this week so we can visit for more than 30 minutes.
Im using up a ton (well, that may be an exaggeration) of leftover bits and bobs of sock yarn making little crocheted squares for a Battenberg Blanket. This seems to be a project that I can focus on. Especially at the end of the day when my body and mind are tired. The mis-matched squares will be unified with squares of a single color … I’m not sure what that color will be yet. Time will tell.
My Humulus sweater is back out of time out … although the way it’s been behaving may warrant a return. I have managed to complete a couple of rounds but not without some drama. Mostly because my focus is stunted and I miss a stitch, typically at the end of a chart repeat and I don’t notice it until I’m at least half way around. Frogging is our friend in knitting, right? Sewing is not so forgiving. (Don’t ask!) I will soldier on and get the color work yoke finished one of these days. Then it’ll be smooth sailing to the bottom. 🤞🏼
My June socks are progressing. These are for the 2020 Sock Challenge that I’m doing with my students, a co-worker and her classes, plus a few of my wonderful FB followers. I can work on these at night, too. I’ve chosen to crochet for the last few evenings. This month, I’m using On the Round Signature Sock yarn and a US 1.5 needle and knitting the largest size. They sure are pretty.
Queen Bee’s Note: It’s now the end of the day, the snow has stopped and is mostly melted. I’ve not knitted a stitch yet.
One of my co-workers and I have challenged our classes and our followers on Facebook and Instagram to a 2020 Sock Challenge. The challenge is that you must knit a pair of socks each month. Two pairs can be “tiny” socks and two should be a challenge, something you’ve never tried before or that stretches your comfort level!
So far, I’ve knitted six pairs and I’m working my way through the seventh.
January, rose colored socks for my granddaughter, Rose! This counts as a tiny pair. Earlier in the year I made a pair for my grandson because everything should be even. Oscar is more open about asking for what he wants. Little sister deserves some handknit socks, too. I am delighted to have these delightful, delicious kiddos to knit for!
February socks were for my sweet husband. It’s become a tradition for me to put a ball of sock yarn into his Christmas stocking. With all that happens in the weeks working up to Christmas, I haven’t been able to get his socks finished. When I can knit them after Christmas, it’s way more relaxing and fun.
March socks were a stretch for me. I’ve been “challenged” by fair isle or stranded knitting for EVER. I have avoided it, I’ve refused to do it, I have not bought beautiful patterns. This year and for part of last year, too, I have challenged myself to get myself more confident with stranded knitting. These socks, while they are a little bit too big, they’re really beautiful and I love them. And they’re so warm … duh! Because they’re double thickness!
April socks were a 60th birthday gift for my neighbor. Ya know, when you get to see 60 there’s not much that you “need” and maybe even want… except to spend time with your family and friends. So, when Tammy turned 60, we spent time together but I wanted to make her something. This yarn came into the yarn shop where I work and it was exactly what I needed.
May socks were for my boy. Finished in April, actually (I’m a bit ahead of myself because of the tiny pair that I started with!) My son turned 30 this year. How did that happen? This yarn is amazing and I love knitting with it. Both of my favorite guys have gotten a pair of socks in the same yarn and I have another ball left to knit up. Woo! Hoo!
The socks that I have called my May socks until I realized that they’re really June are in Rachel’s Ontheround sock yarn. I have had this yarn in my stash forever and I always knew it had to be socks because the other pair of Ontheround socks that I have are my favorite socks. The colorway of these is magnificent and I love the feel of them as I knit.
All of the details, yarns, needles and patterns for all of these socks are in my Ravelry project page. I even have a few non-knitting projects there. The plan is to make a pair of socks with some lace perhaps or a cable maybe. I guess I’ll figure it out as I get there. I love knitting socks because they’re practical and portable!