My Needles are Clicking!

Perfect Maine Morning

It was a picture perfect day today but really warm. I don’t love the warm and muggy days. That’s why I live in Maine.

I spent the day getting all sorts of little projects taken care of … laundry, I baked a blueberry coffee cake with streusel topping (the butter had been sitting on the kitchen counter for a couple of days), made some iced green tea, cleaned the kitchen, made phone calls, worked on the details for our lake association annual meeting that’s coming up soon, and had a meeting. I am so grateful for the air conditioners in our kitchen/living room and my atelier. It makes getting things done so much easier – if I didn’t have the air conditioners I would be a lump in front of a fan.

But this isn’t about that.

I’ve had a request for a baby rattle that’s rather unique – it’s to look like a New York City Metro Card. When I was at the store on Friday I bought some Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic yarn in a golden yellow and black (for the stripe). I also grabbed a blue but I think that will be going back because the lettering will be added by embroidering and the cotton yarn will be too heavy.

It took me several times to get the size right. I originally thought it should be five inches wide but that turned out to be too big. The real cards are much smaller so I decided to cut it down to three inches wide and two inches tall. Figuring out the three stripes wasn’t too difficult and I’m quite pleased with the basic part of the “card”.

I knitted a plain yellow rectangle to be the back of the card. I intend to do a 3-needle bind off for one side of the toy and I’ll seam the sides when it’s stuffed and after the embroidery is finished. That will happen tomorrow. When the light is better and when I’m feeling fresher.

The biggest question to me is, how do I make it rattle. I’ve been researching tonight and one tutorial had a fabric tube stuffed with bells. That might work … and I’ll stuff around it with fiber fill. Time will tell if it will work. I’ll update after the gift is delivered.

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!

Labors of Love

Our flowers in the perennial gardens are showing off again. We don’t love gardening but we do it because we love seeing the flowers when they decide to bloom. And each year we are thrilled all over again because they’re so beautiful. This iris is one of the ones that I always forget about. I expect it to be a white iris and then this showy cousin of the white iris (that doesn’t exist) appears! It’s wonderful and (maybe) worth all of the brown tail moth rash that I am struggling with.

This is a great time to be looking at our gardens. The hollyhocks are blooming, the Stella D’oro lilies, the Iris and the daisies are all abloom. So are the hydrangeas (and we have a lot of hydrangeas) and the catmint. The bees and hummingbirds are happy campers and we are, too.

I’ve been working away at the different projects that I have on my list. I’ve finished two pairs of Billie pants for two new babies coming in the fall. These little pants are stinking cute! I’ve also finished a Kirby cardigan, a sample for the store, which is also going to be a KAL later on in the summer.

Kirby cardigan by Asa Buchta

Kirby by Asa Buchta is a simple top down cardigan with a little bit of lace around the yoke for babies 3 to 24 months. Suggested yarn, and the yarn I used, is Vintage DK by Berroco. I used the colorway that was in the pattern photograph. This little sweater is going to be part of a KAL with the Maine Yarn Cruise later this summer. Our Berroco rep at the store, Andra, had made several of these little sweaters in various DK weight yarns that Berroco makes. They were all adorable. This is a fun little sweater to knit.

When I started knitting this sweater, I was tired after the 4th of July weekend. I started it three times and each time I frogged it back and started again. The sweater that I was starting didn’t look like the photo on the pattern page. I’m a good knitter and I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I must have skipped a couple of rows. I texted a co-worker friend who I also knew to be knitting this sweater for her future granddaughter. I wondered if she had had a challenge with starting the sweater and did hers look like the one on the pattern. It didn’t. She was one garter ridge short, too. So, I wrote to the designer through Ravelry and told her what was happening. Come to find out the pattern was wrong and was missing a pair of garter rows following the button hole row. Yay, me! I was the one who noticed it. The pattern will be updated (and it appears that I was on July 7th.)

I’ve finished my second Billie pants. These pants are so cute and I can’t wait to see them on the babies that I’m knitting for. One is expected in September and one in October. The pants are knitted in Berroco’s Vintage DK (or Vintage Baby). These yarns are basically the same yarn but one is in 50 gram balls and the other is in 100 gram balls. Since these pants (size 6 months) required 2 balls of Vintage Baby, I chose to buy one skein of Vintage DK. The yarn is nice to work with, soft and machine washable and dryable. I love the folded ribbing at the waist and the ankles and the extra room at the butt where the diaper bulk will be. Now I need to make two sweaters before the babies arrive! I’ve got one planned and need to find the second pattern. I have ideas!

Mermaid Cocoon Photo Prop by Angie Hartley

So, this is a special gift for a special baby. The mother of this little girl-to-be was a HUGE fan of Ariel (The Little Mermaid) when she was a little girl and I think this will be a fun gift for her baby-to-be at her baby shower later this month. When I first saw this, I filed it in the back of my mind because I thought it was really cute in the sparkly yarn and it was so appropriate for the mother! The yarn is Plymouth Encore Starz in a teal-y blue with sparkle. I’ve also knitted a simple garter stitch headband to go with it. I’d love to make some braids with an orange yarn and attach them. I hope I’ll have time. Add a fork and it’ll be a hilarious photo prop for a newborn.

I have quite a pile of baby clothes now. I love babies and I’m so excited about these little ones. I hope that I’ll have lots of time to hold them and love them and I know that I’ll be knitting for them. I also have to get back to my Elton cardigan. I only have two sleeves to knit … and the button bands … and then it’ll be done. I hope that it’s a good fit and that I can find a dress to go with it – we are heading to Washington, DC in December for my bonus daughter’s wedding and I am thinking that I can use it for that event … maybe with some sparkly buttons? I also have to focus on the Arne & Carlos Advent jumpers. I have exactly half of them knitted … maybe I’ll give myself some grace and another year to complete the set. If I really concentrated on them, I could get them done in a couple of weeks. Time will tell.

I have another project that I will write about in a separate post when I get it finished. It’s a big one and a true labor of love … all over again.

Gone knitting.

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.

Summer Solstice – a little different this year

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. For the past two years on this day, I’ve been knitting from sun-up to sundown to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease in honor of my mother who passed away after a long decline with this illness.

This year, however, I’m really busy with volunteering as president of our lake association and this is the season where all the planning (or sometimes the lack of planning) comes to fruition and I have to take the morning to accomplish some lake tasks – register our DASH (pontoon boat for suction harvesting invasive milfoil) boat, pick up some plastic boxes to store papers so they won’t be eaten by mice in storage, etc.) And I have a couple of phone calls to make as well. By the time I actually get to sit down to knit, it will be noon at the earliest – and I was out of the house before 9am.

But as I knit today, I’ll be thinking about my mother and the disease that she so feared as a younger woman. I remember her saying things like, “I must be getting Alzheimer’s,” when she forgot something. If there’s a reality of manifesting your own destiny, then I’d say my mother did just that. She was forgetting things that mattered by the time my children we in elementary school and she was in her mid-sixties. My age. She forgot her purse when we went to the grocery store, she forgot to take the emergency brake off when she was driving the car, she forgot that she’d already mixed the mayonnaise mixture for potato salad. She couldn’t organize things like the grocery list and shopping for groceries so she said that there was enough even though there wasn’t. She forgot how to feed her cat and would stand in the middle of her kitchen with a can of cat food and couldn’t figure out what else she needed to get the food to the cat. She forgot how to make coffee in her coffee pot so she would walk to the local restaurant for her coffee and say that she liked the walk in the morning. She left her purse at the muffin shop, and the jewelry store, and forgot it when she went to the gas station. The list is lengthy. She forgot so much that we couldn’t leave her alone with the grandchildren and that was very hurtful. We had to take away her keys to the car eventually and hire people to help her and care for her. And eventually we had to find her a home in an assisted living care home. None of us enjoyed any of that.

And then mom forgot who we were.

She lived for ten years after her diagnosis. Watching our mother and grandmother fade away was so sad. The kids didn’t want to see her at the end, preferring to remember her as the vibrant, active, fun, happy grandmother. She became agitated and tearful, she couldn’t speak and finally she was bedridden, curled in fetal position, hands atrophied, gaunt, empty-eyed. She passed away in the fall of 2008. She was 76 years old.

I’ll knit today for my mother and in hopes that a cure will be found so that families and victims of this horrid disease don’t have to experience it as we did. And I’ll have a bourbon old fashioned cocktail tonight in her memory. My mother and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye but she loved me and she adored my children and I wish she could see them today. She’s missed so much and we have missed her, too. Cheers to you, Mom. I hope you can see how great your family has grown and continues to grow. We are all here because of you (and some help from Dad, too.)

Gone knitting.

Pumpkin Hats, etc.

I’ve been working on knitting down my (sizable) stash. When a knitter talks about his/her stash, we all respond that we have bins and bins of yarn. And we do. It seems to me that we all think we have the largest stash but we likely don’t. BUT mine is sizable and I’m proud to say that I did really well to knit only from stash UNTIL I went back to work and customers started giving me ideas again.

This is the yarn corner of my atelier. I had the shelf (and a matching one on the other side of the window holds my knitting books and fabric in the cupboard. Sadly, I have three Ikea shelf sets that also hold yarn. A total of about a dozen fabric boxes in addition to my built-ins. It’s a good sized collection … and I like to think that it adds to the r-value of our home.

Anyway … I digress. I have been trying to knit down my stash so that when I die my children won’t have to deal with it. Partly because they don’t have a clue as to its value. At the end of the year, I dumped out all of the little bins and boxes and went through the yarn to try to cull some that I knew I wouldn’t be knitting with – not ever. I also noticed some that I could knit up and get out. One of those was the Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece that I have had forever (or the last time I had fall babies to knit for.) I knew that this yarn had to be a pumpkin hat for my great-nephew-to-be who is due in September and who will live in Salem, MA. A perfect gift for a Salem baby.

So, last week I cast on and knit the smallest size pumpkin hat. I had forgotten how cute the hat is and how little yarn those tiny hats use. I had a significant amount still left. Surely, I thought, I can use it all up if I make a medium-size pumpkin hat, right? This weekend I cast on again and am nearly finished with pumpkin hat number two. And guess what? I have a feeling I have enough for a third hat, too. The extra hats will go into my gifts drawer or maybe I’ll have a giveaway on my Instagram page. I haven’t done that for a long time.

The Fiber Trends Patrick’s Pumpkin hat is really one of my favorite patterns. It’s a clever construction with a “shark tooth” piece done up first in garter stitch and then added to a rolled brim. When the hat is finished and blocked you can tack the pieces to that they stay in the right spot. The pumpkin part is so simple and yet so obviously a large orange gourd and it makes a great gift for a fall baby’s arrival. Especially in New England.

Cotton Fleece yarn by Brown Sheep is what I have always bought for this hat. I’m not sure why but it is. I love knitting with this cotton/wool blend yarn. It’s not as stretchy or squishy as full wool but for a baby’s tender head, it’s a soft but warm alternative to acrylics or acrylic blends. And we all know that cotton yarn doesn’t really hold its shape. So … this seems the perfect solution. I also love Brown Sheep because it’s an American company.

Brown Sheep was started over 100 years ago and pivoted in the 1970s when farming prices were low and the market for lamb was dropping off. The Brown family pivoted and began processing wool from their sheep and the rest is history. The Brown family (now with the last name Wells after a couple of generations of marriage) still owns and runs Brown Sheep.

I’ve made a LOT of these hats but on this last one, for whatever reason, I increased in every stitch when the color changed to orange so I had WAY more than 90 stitches. After an inch or so, when the stitches were so squished on the 16″ needle, I had a second look at the pattern and kept knitting. After two inches, I pulled it out, realizing my error. Good grief. Knitting keeps me humble.

I recovered my place again last night while I was watching the Tony Awards. I’m about ready to decrease for the crown of the hat and then I’ll weigh the remaining yarn to see if I have enough for one more hat. It must be my Yankee upbringing that makes it difficult for me to “dispose” of yarn that could still be used. I hope my fingers and wrists hold up well into old age.

Gone knitting.

Thank You, Kim! (A Wonderful Moment)

Not a great photo of me but a wonderful memory

I had a wonderful moment last week when one of our customers, who I’d helped with a knitting challenge, came in to say thank you. With flowers!

Kim is a relatively new knitter and she wanted to knit a shawl to keep her warm. She chose a relatively simple shawl, Truly Tasha’s Shawl, that is … it’s simple until you reach the edge. The edge is a knitted-on lace edge and she had no experience with this type of thing. She was ready to just leave it off or make it simpler. I encouraged her to try it and walked her through a couple of repeats of the pattern. Sure enough, she got it and has finished the shawl.

As a teacher, we have a lot of “proud mom moments” and it’s always sweet to hear from a student that they have accomplished something that they feel proud of. I call it a proud mom moment because that’s the only parallel that I can find – when you’re raising little human beings, it’s such a win when they do something, sometimes with your guidance and sometimes not. that they feel proud of whether it’s making a lego tower or graduating from college. Seeing someone that you’ve “helped” to get to a point where they can do something without you is really wonderful!

I had that happen (again) last week and Kim brought me flowers! The little tag is a keeper and a reminder that what I do is meaningful. Whether it’s giving my own child or someone else’s child (even a fully grown one) confidence, another tool to add to their personal tool box, it’s a wonderful feeling. Kim, you made my day!

Gone knitting.

Knitting Queen (Bee)

Rainy Day on the Lake – but the plants inside are on point

I’m knitting. I promise, I’m knitting! Today is a rainy day at the lake but I’m happy about it because everything was dry and that’s never a good thing when you have gardens and a well. Despite the abundance of water just outside our windows, we would much rather have rain than have to water the gardens. The veggie garden was planted (seeds, sewn directly) and we have signs that it was a success as baby plants are popping their heads above the dirt. Our perennial gardens have been showing us iris, lilacs, and more. I’ve tried to get some weeding and edging done with some, albeit limited, success. One or two gardens have had added compost and I hope to get some mulch delivered to spread around. We also have to replenish the rocks in our drip lines around the house and add them around the boathouse and other outbuildings on our property.

But I am knitting!

I’ve finished a pair of bibs and a pair of baby socks, a “journal band” and my husband’s felted slippers, I even finished them on his actual birthday!

I have a lineup of projects on the needles and reaady to go onto the needles. But I’ll keep this short … I hope. And “light” … I hope.

Bibs

These two bibs are so cute and so fun to knit. These are both free patterns on Ravelry. I knit a bib as a baby gift for one of my daughter’s friends when she had a baby boy. I may be knitting more of these … well, I still have yarn from the ball of Berroco Pima 100 … let’s see how far it goes, right? So, here you have a baby starfish and a pumpkin. It isn’t easy to choose which design to knit, I have to be honest. The next one, already on my needles is an owl Who Loves Ya. My niece loves owls.

I chose to knit the short rows for the start of the bibs. Because the bibs start with seed stitch and are highly textured, you don’t have to worry about picking up the stitches that are wrapped … actually, you don’t have to wrap the stitches at all. I got each of them finished in a couple of hours and it was a good break from my rows and rows of fingering or lace weight stripes.

On my needles (still) is my Elton Cardigan by Joji Locatelli. I am making progress but it’s slow progress. I have posted about this pattern before and I know that once it’s finished, that I will wear it a lot and love it but, geez, it’s not particularly exciting after the fronts are picked up from the back. It’s miles and miles of four-row stripes. For my size, I need to knit stripes until the length from the arm pit to the bottom measures about 15 inches. I have about 9. I’ll keep on keeping on.

I do love the yarns that I chose for this cardigan. The Malabrigo Sock is merino wool and it’s the softest wool to work with. The Berroco Aerial mohair lace is also really soft (and so fine!) Once this sweater is finished and blocked, I think it’s going to be a favorite go-to.

I have finished, in an attempt to knit from my stash, another pair of booties and a pair of baby sock and a pumpkin hat. I had two little balls of Regia baby sock yarn (I may be a bit off on the name of the yarn but it’s Regia for sure.) I knit up the pink pair quite a while ago and now I knit up the blue pair. The tiny balls of yarn are cute but probably silly (and more expensive than a full 100 gram ball. The ones that I bought were on sale, if memory serves, and they were too cute to resist. And I knew that there would be babies born in the future. They’ll go into my gift drawer. The booties, are a repeat of former projects, too. I have a bag full of Cascade Fixation yarn that I have bought over the years. I’m working on getting that yarn used up, too. And last, when I was cleaning out my worsted weight yarn stash, I found the Lamb’s Pride Cotton Fleece yarn in green and orange that I’ve made several hats out of and thought I needed to use it up, too. So, I made a hat for my niece’s baby-to-be and it looks like I still have another hat’s worth. I’ll keep going with my fingers crossed … the green might be a yarn chicken game.

Bullet Journal Band with Pen Pocket

A couple of days ago, I came upon a pattern for a Journal Band with Pen Pocket. This is a perfect little project to use up some of my fingering weight scraps. It’s so small that I’ll have to knit hundreds of them … I may find a better use for my scraps to use more than a tiny bit. I’ve also found some book mark patterns that I will have to knit. Have you seen the Flat Rat bookmark? There are so many cute bookmark patterns. My Journal Band will live on my bullet journal and will hold my pen so I don’t have to hunt for it in my purse. It’s a rainbow band because it’s pride month.

Love and Light by Laura Nelkin

I knitted another Love and Light by Laura Nelkin for my bonus daughter, Robin and her fiance, Evan. I got some pink lights for this project and knitted it up in a few hours. When they were here for my hubby’s birthday, I missed hearing them say that they loved the one in our living room window – and then I gifted them theirs. I hope they hang it in a place of honor to remind them of the love they share today and keep working to build it every day.

My two bonus daughters and their significant others came to Maine to surprise their dad for his birthday. A few months ago, he was in the store (I work in a yarn shop) and I had him pick out some yarn to make him a new pair of felted slippers and this time I planned to add the full leather sole. I had finished the knitting a week or so before his birthday but I hadn’t had the time to felt them. On his birthday I did felt them and then attached the soles and he’s happily wearing them even in the summer. Our mornings, to be fair, are cool and slipper-worthy. I think I posted about them before, the pattern is Fiber Trends Felted Clogs and I used four skeins of Ella Rae Classic Wool, chosen by my husband. He needs the soles so he doesn’t slip on our concrete floors. They’re wonderful leather soles purchased at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine (where I work.)

I’ve seen two moths in my atelier in the last week and that meant I had to clean my yarn shelves. I’d be devastated to have a moth (larva) problem. I’ve even considered going out to buy some plastic bins for yarn storage … but I’m not there quite yet. I’ve sorted and shaken and cleaned the shelves and added a lot of new lavender buds to the shelves. I hope that will deter them. One more moth and I’ll be heading to buy air tight yarn storage bins … and my beautiful visible yarn will be no more.

I haven’t been baking lately. Too much going on in my world. I did make a 65th birthday blueberry pie that wasn’t beautiful but it tasted good. Prior to that I had baked blueberry banana nut muffins and blueberry muffins, too. But I haven’t had the time or energy to bake much since that. I’ll get my baking mojo back soon, I hope. I picked some rhubarb out of our yard and I’ve got a cake that I want to try with strawberries and rhubarb in it.

I’ve been working too hard on lake association stuff to have much time to breathe. But we’re making progress and have a location and date for our Annual Meeting, a new location for our DASH boat and docks, we have hired a wonderful new Administrative Coordinator and our season is just starting. We also arrived at the end of the year for the Maine Arts Academy and graduation was fantastic! Listening to the student speakers and our wonderful Head of School speak was very uplifting. I left graduation feeling grateful and hopeful (at least for awhile.)

Today is my first day home alone in a couple of weeks. With visitors, meetings and other goings on I have neglected the laundry and house so I will end here and head down to finish the laundry and clean up a little bit before I head out this evening for dinner with my co-workers. I am fortunate to work with three really wonderful women.

Laundry first and then some 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.