The Longest Day

June 20th, the summer solstice, is the longest day and each year The Alzheimer’s Association uses this day as it’s fundraiser.

This year I joined Ann Budd’s team (for the second year) and with a co-worker friend, we decided to knit together this year at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine where we both work. So when the sun was starting to rise, we were up and getting ready to “load in” with everything we needed for the day.

This is what 4:19am looks like

We arrived at the store a bit before 5:30am and got settled. We had planned to watch Knit Stars, YouTube videos and maybe more but we’d also invited customers and friends to come and sit and knit for a bit with us. Happily, that happened and the day passed more quickly than we could have imagined. Also happily, we shared many memories of those who we loved and lost to this horrible disease. That’s what the day is all about. Remembering … my mother, Glenda’s Val and the other people who are or were so loved by our visitors and all of those who donated online through our links.

On father’s day, my sweet husband brought us pizza for dinner and Vickie brought a beautiful Strawberry Rhubarb Solstice pie for dessert! It was delicious! (We each walked to Sela Tea for a salad for lunch and had some good snacks between! Snacks are important!

We raised over $2,000.00 for Alzheimer’s research and we had a wonderful day. We chose to wrap it up around 8:30pm for a total knitting time of 15 hours. Glenda finished her shawl, I finished the body of my cardigan and worked on my shawl for my daughter. Lots of progress was made.

We left for home with grateful hearts and a lot of hope that our money raised this year may, indeed, enable a cure for this horrible disease that takes away our loved ones one memory at a time. We spent the longest day making our memories. I got home in time to take one last photograph of the moon rising over the lake and a fabulous shade of, what else? Purple!

Gone knitting.

Our First (Post Pandemic) Car Trip

We always have trouble leaving home (and we were both a little cranky packing on Thursday night) but we really wanted to see N’s eldest daughter’s “new” home in suburban DC. So … off we went on Friday morning. Traffic was HORRIBLE and turned a 7-8 hours trip to southern New Jersey and our stop for the first night into 11 1/2 hours. It was a long day but it afforded us to get a glimpse of the new Tappanzee/Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge and wave toward my three kiddos in New York City. I finished N’s birthday socks and he’s happy about them. Thank you Yankee Knitter for the wonderful pattern. We were traveling with our dogs and have always liked staying at LaQuinta Hotels that are dog friendly (dogs stay for free!) Cheers at the end of the day in plastic hotel cups and a nearby restaurant for to-go food eaten in the hotel.

Day two we made it to Maryland early (it was only a couple of hours to Robin’s house.) As is my habit, I completely forgot to take photographs of the kids or their house or their cats who were mostly invisible. I mentioned that we traveled with our dogs, right? Needless to say, though, we had a wonderful time!

Part two was three days with the kids and adventures in the Greater Washington, DC area. N lived here as a young child and my grandparents are buried here. Go figure. A walk down memory lane led us to Oak Hill Cemetery where my Rockwell family is buried. Oak Hill is an historic cemetery and parts of it, including where my family rests, is very old.

You can’t see the names of my grandmother, Elizabeth Sheldon Dow Rockwell (June 1887 – March 1984), or my grandfather, Horace Lewis Rockwell (August 1886 – December 1942) without zooming in, but they share the side of the monument with Sarah Alice Rockwell who died at 18 months of age.

According to my family genealogy, my great-great-grandfather, Henry Ensign Rockwell (3/24/1811 – 1/22/1882) was the Secretary of the US Fish Commission. In 1867 he was a Representative in the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from Millbury. He is buried here with his second wife, Sarah Jemima Hathaway Rockwell (9/25/1824 – 2/6/1898). They were married in Boston on September 25, 1824. She lived a good long life, passing at age 73. Henry and Sarah had three children: Julius Ensign, Sarah Alice and Julia Lee all buried here. Julius and his wife Mabel Rose had two sons: Henry Ensign and Horace Lewis (my grandfather) who was a patent attorney and a Second Lieutenant in WW I. When he died, my grandmother had a “nervous breakdown” and was institutionalized at the Institute for Living in Hartford, CT. The children, my father included, were sent to live with friends of the family.

Next we were on to visit N’s special place, the Tastee Diner, that his father started in the 1940s. It has been moved from its original location but it remains very similar … including the original countertop in the diner section. Our “snack” became dinner … the dinner of champions! LOL

One of Robin’s requests was to make a pie. We ended up making a galette with fresh blueberries after a visit to a huge and wonderful Wegman’s grocery store! Galettes are so simple because you don’t need a special pan or other baking utensils. A little flour, sugar and butter, add fruit and voila! I hope she’ll try to make another galette when her mom visits!

Too soon we were back on the road back home and leg three of our trip. This time through Hartford, CT and the LaQuinta in Windsor Locks. We visited my parents who are buried at the Fairview Cemetery in West Hartford. The last time I visited the area was for my 40th high school reunion and I couldn’t find the plot. I’ve decided that I have to claim having the very worst sense of direction of any human on this planet. Thankfully, my sweet husband has a good sense of direction and we did manage to find them this time!

We had dinner with two dear high school friends on Tuesday night in Windsor, CT. The only time I remember visiting the Windsor area was to go to the airport but it’s a lovely area and there are some wonderful sculptures. It was a wonderful reunion.

Wednesday morning we got up early again and headed to East Cemetery in Manchester where I needed to find my grandmother Barnard who was my favorite person in my family when she was alive. I have so many wonderful memories of doing things with Gram. She didn’t have a lot of money but she spent time with me and that’s what I will always treasure.

I don’t know who all the “players” in the Robb family are so I will do some research one day. But I found my grandmother, Maude Elizabeth Robb Barnard and her husband, my grandfather, Irwin Henry “Jack” Barnard. We found them first. I had assumed that Gram would be buried by her sister Ethel and was surprised to see that they’re actually at opposite ends of the cemetery.

We hunted for my great-aunt, Ethel May Robb next. Aunt Ethel was the principal at Wadsworth Elementary School in Manchester and we spent a lot of time with her, too, as children. Aunt Ethel took me on my college visits. Ethel is buried with the rest of the Robb family near the Robb Monument. I’ll assume that Josiah Robb and his wife, Eliza Jackson (?) are the parents of Ethel, Maude, Willard and Gladys. I remember Aunt Violet who I believe was married to Willard. Gladys died young and I never met her. More work to be done on this part of the family!

The last couple of days I focused on my Fine Sand Cardigan and made great progress with it. I’m closing in on the bottom of the body – woo! hoo! When we arrived at home, we found that the resident woodchucks had decimated my hollyhocks which were nearly six feet high when we left. The rubble left from them is above right. It’s war, now! They also ate every single petunia in the pot on our front steps. Grrr.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!

Are you KIDDING me???

We have a “critter” in our yard. A groundhog. It’s been here for a couple of years. We’ve been tolerant … to a point. BUT today I went out to inspect the garden when I was looking for a photograph for my Facebook page and I saw this …

My flowers are JUST starting to grow and they’re chewed down to nubs. The little (not so little in actuality) is getting right over by the house and eating all my tender green perennials! Grrr! This makes me very angry. I have no problem with the critter eating all of the dandelion greens it wants (and there are a lot of them out there in the grass but NOT my garden plants!

And to add insult to injury … this is what I found INSIDE MY SHIRT when I got back inside …

Little F#%$er!

The ticks are out there. I didn’t even touch any plants!

I have an intarsia class to plan … I’ll be itchy for the rest of the day!

Gone knitting.

Gnoming

A Gnumber of Gnomes

I’m up to five gnomes in my gnitted gnome collection. I have several more to gnit and I will get them done. They’re so much fun! And they’re really cute.

All of my gnomes are patterns written by Imagined Landscapes’ Sarah Schira. Her patterns are often offered in MKAL format which offers you the opportunity to knit a gnome over a short period of time (and print the pattern on lots of paper.) I have also purchased some of Sarah’s “gnormal” gnome patterns (not MKALs) that I want to knit. I enjoy the KALs and I think I’ll also enjoy the simple pleasure of knitting a gnome at my own pace.

Left to right (above) are my current gnomes:

Most recent FO is Gnot just another Gnome, Gnathan. I knitted my gnome in worsted weight yarn rather than the proscribed fingering weight. I love my giant gnome. I used DPNs smaller than the yarn wrapper indicated and checked the fabric to make sure that it was tight enough that the stuffing wouldn’t show through once the gnome was finished. I used US 5 DPNs throughout. My Gnathan has gnarly arms (they look a bit too thin) so in the future I’d add a stitch or two to the i-cord numbers to make them more proportional. But he’s acceptable just the way he is … he will have to do more pull-ups to build his arm muscles! LOL! Gnathat has some wonderful cables on his hat and on the side of his body. The cables on the sides run from the base to the tip of the hat. It must be my Irish heritage, I love cables.

“Gnathan”, Gnot Just Another Gnome

Second from the left is Gnome is Where You Hang Your Hat. This one was really fun because it was a stranded knitting design from the start and this gnome (gnamed Gnemo) got a hand-knit sweater! This little guy is knit in fingering weight yarn and US 1 1/2 needles. I’d love to make this guy again in a sport-weight yarn so he’s a little bit bigger. I didn’t weight this gnome … probably because I was lazy and didn’t have anything in my studio at my fingertips. That’s a bummer because he does tip over. I’d also like to make one of these with the hat pointing up. It’s a lovely piece of knitting!

Gnome is Where You Hang Your Hat, “Gnemo”

Gnutmeg is the next one in the lineup, pattern name is the ADVENTure Gnome. This one was knitted in early December 2020 thus it’s name. I used all leftover yarn bits and bobs. I actually love this guy, too. This was a MKAL knitting project. I love love love his boots! This would be fun to make in a heavier weight needle, too. This one is in sort-of-holiday colors … I was in a sort-of-holiday mood, apparently. I’d rather the gnomes not be too holiday-ish because they stay out all year. Until now, they’ve lived on a bookshelf in my atelier. They may move downstairs in the wintertime. This pattern came with a pattern for a Christmas ball, knitted of course, and two recipes.

ADVENTURE Gnome, “Gnutmeg”

The first gnome project I embarked on, and the last two in the lineup, was Oh, Gnome, You Didn’t! I may have un-gnowmingly knitted the first Gnellie with the wrong size needle and so I decided to knit a second Gnellie (appropriately named Gnellie 2.) Again, I used leftover scraps of fingering weight yarns from my bins (and bins and bins) of little bits of sock yarns. I braided Gnellie’s hat but left Gnellie 2’s hat alone with its three points. I love the Gnellies’ pockets!

Oh, Gnome, You Didn’t!

These guys would be fun to make more of. It’s probably good that Sarah keeps adding MKALs because the likelihood of me having time to make duplicates at any time soon is unlikely. I have already bought four more of Sarah’s patterns and I absolutely will knit them all … as I type this I am printing out the pattern for Gnome de Plume (Gnatalie to be) … I may have to knit two; one with braids and one without!

Gone knitting.

Why I Bake

Granola – before

Obviously, baking yields something delicious at the end but I don’t just bake for the result. It’s about the process, too.

My grandmother, my mom’s mom, always had something that she’d just baked on her pantry shelf. Always. She never failed. (The pantry also had a metal three-drawer cabinet that housed her “candy drawer” at the bottom where we could always go for a chocolate treat.) Chocolate frosted, only on the top and in the middle, yellow cake. The same yellow cake in cupcake form with chocolate frosting. Cream puffs, chocolate chip cookies … often the same but never boring.

My gram would take the time to bake with me and I think that’s why I love to bake. I so enjoyed being with her while we baked together and if we didn’t have time to bake together I always knew the love that went into it. Precious moments. Gram didn’t have a lot of money to buy stuff but she gave me the gift of time.

As I bake, my gram is with me. I can feel her in my heart and it makes me so happy. As I’m writing this my eyes are filling with tears which is a message that my words and feelings around this are true. (Bristol Ivy said I had “ocular incontinence” and she’s not wrong!) Baking centers and grounds me. It is something I shared with my children and with with my grandchildren; the ones of the heart and the blood ones if we are so blessed.

Granola – after

Meanwhile, it settles my heart in a bizarre year. I always know that baking something fills my belly and my heart.

Knitting does something similar but it doesn’t have the heart connection to my family like baking does. I love knitting, don’t get me wrong. I can sit and knit for hours and be “in the zone” where time is lost and my mind is focused. It’s good for my soul. I’ve been knitting a lot through the pandemic and have been experiencing a little soreness in my left arm – I don’t stop and stretch often enough. I’ve also been sitting too long and have worked over the past year to get up and stretch more to help my hips and back. Both passions have helped me to pass the lockdown time in a state of (mostly) contentedness and peace and they’ve been such a blessing. My husband enjoys the fruits of my labor on both fronts.

This week I’m rushing to finish his birthday socks. I’ve got one done and one to go.

Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter Designs in Manos Alegria

Gone knitting.

A Good Week

Just before dawn

Every once in a while my husband who is a “real” photographer takes a morning photo for me to post on Facebook. The daily photos have become a much appreciated habit and a welcome gift for my friends and family – particularly during the covid shutdown. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place and I feel driven to share it with the world. We were, for the most part, pretty happy to be locked up here.

This week the CDC announced that all vaccinated people can go out in public without masks. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, right? Returning to normal. Yeah, well, I’m not sure how I feel about this seemingly quick change. I think it’s great to be able to spend time with other vaccinated people in small groups of friends without masks but I’m not sure I trust the rest of the population to do the right thing if they’re not vaccinated. I’ll likely be wearing a mask at work for the near future. I’ll feel better that way.

Lilac in bloom

I’ve also spent a few hours outside on the porch and in the gardens. We were talking one day recently wondering how people take care of their yards and homes as they get older. It’s a big job around here! I am grateful that we can do it now but what happens when we get older? It may just all got to hell. Meanwhile, our goal is to make everything easier to care for. Native plants that are good for the birds and bees, ground covers that aren’t invasive so that weeds aren’t as prevalent, etc. Another work in progress …

Meanwhile, I’ve been finishing up a few projects and I’ve been starting a few, too. Ha! Ha! I’ve finished over 33 items so far this calendar year. Most recently I finished slippers for my big brother (his beautiful bride will be felting them so they’ll fit him perfectly), Socks for a new baby boy and his big brother, and I’ve completely finished (well, I haven’t found perfect buttons yet) my Daytripper Cardigan. I’ve also been baking a bit. Apple Pie Scones are among our new favorites (and used the old apples in the refrigerator before they were rotten, banana nut muffins with blueberries use the old bananas. Waste not want not.

I have a new shawl, Gallbladder by Becky Sorensen, on the needles at the request of my younger daughter. I’m making the shawl in Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock in two colorways. A silvery gray called “Jackie O” and a darker gray speckle called “Stolen Dances”. This shawl is designed by a college friend and she said she’d love it for her birthday. I’m thrilled to make it for her.

Gallbladder for my daughter

Also new to the needles are socks for my husband’s birthday. I almost used this Manos Allegria yarn for my son’s birthday socks but I changed my mind. So, this week I cast on sock for my husband. This is my sixth pair of socks so far this year. I’m once again participating in the annual Sock Challenge and these are my June socks. Allegria is so soft on my hands. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful to wear! My new socks in progress are first below … the rest are after that.

I took two classes this weekend and I’m so happy that I did. Yesterday I took a mending class with Bristol Ivy and today I took a finishing class with Deborah Newton. Both were wonderful and I always learn something new and useful. This has been a blessing in the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. To be able to take classes for a reasonable price with internationally known teachers is marvelous! I’m grateful to have been able to “indulge” in several classes over the past year. I’m grateful to still be learning.

My classes on Friday at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine have started up in person again as of May. It’s so wonderful to gather together again. Zoom is a good situation when you absolutely can’t safely gather but it’s far better to be together in person. Friday is, again, my favorite day!

Gone knitting.

A Wonderful Mother’s Day

Our First Visit from Mr. Oriole

This year Mother’s Day was a happier experience for me. I’m not sure how or why it changes from year to year but this year it was a good day! We woke to a beautiful sunny morning (a bit early with a little white senior citizen 4-legged “child” who piddled on the bedroom floor) but it turned out to be ok because we were able to spend some time on the porch with our coffee and some apple pie scones that I had made the day before.

I put aside my WIPs and picked up some new yarn and a new pattern that I wanted to knit on Mother’s Day. I purchased four skeins of fingering weight yarn from Emma’s Yarn for a shawl for my daughter, Libet, at her request. I’ll be knitting her a Gallbladder Shawl by her friend Becky Sorensen in two shades of gray – a light silvery gray and a darker gray with speckles. I really like working with Emma’s Yarn and this is a big shawl. So far, I like the i-cord edge and I LOVE stripes! (These are the best kind of knitted stripes because I don’t have a hundredty-million ends to weave in later!

Galbladder by Becky Sorensen in Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock

My sweet husband prepared a special brunch for me. He knows mother’s day is a mixed blessing and he really stepped up to make mine special this year. He bought a gorgeous lilac bush for our yard, too. I hope we will see it live and grow (our record in the yard is about 50% chance of success) … the tag says it’ll get to be up to ten feet tall and almost as wide. Imagine the scent! I love the smell of lilacs! Anyway, the eggs benedict were especially good and the hollandaise completely from scratch!

Eggs Benedict for breakfast … yummy!

We spent a good chunk of the day relaxing. I needed to get some laundry done and we needed to spend some time in our yard. We have a plethora of weeds that required a dose of weed killer – we use a combination of extra strength white vinegar, dawn dish detergent and epsom salts as was suggested by the man who designed and planted our gardens. Since we live in a shoreline zone, we don’t want to put anything chemical on our yard. Ever. But this works! We also dug up a bunch of errant daylilies and hostas that have spread into the center of the garden that we call “Helen’s Garden”. This is the garden in front of our bedroom window and it used to be just daylilies and weeds, a groundcover and a few lilies of the valley. After we built the house and before our wedding we hired someone who knew what they were doing to design a few gardens that were bird and bee friendly. Now we have to maintain them and it can be back breaking work but we got it done. Four of our five kids called which was wonderful. We are so grateful that they’re well and healthy. And to top if off, we spent time sitting in the afternoon sunshine watching the birds and had our first visit with Mr. Oriole. What a gorgeous bird he is! I even got a little bit of sun on my face!

It was a good day. Now onward through the week!

Gone knitting.

Another Wonderful Weekend

Last weekend we traveled out of the state of Maine for the second weekend in a row. This time we headed for Marblehead, Massachusetts and a reunion with two of my brothers and their families. (Most of them, at least.)

It was so good to hug our family!!!

Marblehead Window Box

I can’t say that I’ve gotten a whole lot of knitting done. My Daytripper is still languishing on the ottoman in my studio. It needs to have the steek fastened down on the back and I need to find some wonderful buttons. I’m going to buy some ribbon at work on Thursday for the steek cover. Buttons will probably happen on Saturday. Or early next week. It’s getting a bit close to too warm for wearing this sweater.

I started and finished the knitting on a gift for my Louisiana brother’s birthday. I can’t write about them until after they’re gifted. I’m sending the gift on to Louisiana for their last bath. More on this later. This photo is the best I can do to show you what it is … and I don’t think you’ll “get it.”

Secret Project … in Cascade 220
Kisses for Rose – Wee Wonder Woman shawl in Sisu yarn

This is our Chocolate Lab, Monk, wearing the Wee Wonder Woman shawl that I knitted for my granddaughter in France. I couldn’t send her one in red and gold. I actually bought red and gold yarn and then returned it because I needed to send her a pink one. This pink and white wool worked out perfectly. I was thrilled and I think my Rose was too. Monk is Rose’s favorite and Monk loves her. I like to think that he was sending her a big wet kiss.

A Single Sock in Patons Kroy

I have begun another knitted gift. Socks are such a great project. I love knitting socks and these are turning out really well. I like Paton’s Kroy. This is Yankee Knitter’s sock pattern. It’s my favorite pattern that I almost always go to when I knit socks. These are for a child and the slightly heavier fingering weight yarn will make these a little heavier than normal and slightly less heavy than boot socks.

Two weekends of late nights and food and adult beverages has me tired and with a full heart. I love my family so much and I hope we can get together again soon. I hadn’t really been able to spend time with them since my niece’s 30th birthday and she’ll be 32 in October (and married in November!) There is so much to be grateful for.

And then we came home to this … flowers budding and that beautiful big pool we live next to!

Gone knitting.

A Long-Awaited Visit

It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to see our family. This past weekend, we were able to travel to New York City to visit my children. We brought my mother’s piano (in a u-haul trailer) to my daughter who will USE it. We don’t use it and it’s a real shame that it just sat in the living room and wasn’t played.

On Saturday it was a gorgeous day and we walked parallel to the river with my daughters and their husbands and dogs to the weekly farmers market and to drop off their compost materials (they freeze it and then walk it to be composted every week!) My daughter’s step counter said it was more than 12,000 steps. She guesses it’s about 5 miles and the last bit was up hill. I haven’t walked five miles in forever! It was such a fun day and we completed it with a family dinner to celebrate (for the first time) my son’s 31st birthday. We were supposed to celebrate 30 last year when Covid required that we stay home.

I have been knitting! I knitted a pair of birthday socks for my son. I’ve never used this Schoppe-Wolle Das Paar sock yarn before. A customer last week bought a hank and asked that it be wound … I thought there was something wrong when it “broke” about half-way through until I realized that it was meant to happen! They made the yarn so that you get two socks that are the same! So, I had to try it and I loved it. I liked the hand (feel) of the yarn as I was knitting and the socks are exquisite! I’ve put aside two more hanks for future sock knitting.

I’ve begun a baby gift of socks for one of my daughter’s friends who had a new baby recently. The gift is socks for the boys – each the same, two-color socks (heels, toes and cuffs will be red and the body of the sock a marled gray.) I love knitting little socks! These are especially cute in my humble opinion.

When we got home I reinforced and steeked my Daytripper Cardigan. It’s thrilling to cut down the middle of a sweater and have the stitches hold. I’ve since picked up my stitches for the button bands and only have to secure the back side of the steek and find eight buttons to make the sweater wearable … just in time for warmer weather. I’ve steam blocked it to make it easier to steek but I’ll still give it a good wet block before it’s really and truly finished.

This is the beginning of my next “surprise” gift. New felted clog slippers for my LA brother. I made him a pair … I did the knitting and my sister-in-law did the felting and added the slipper soles … a bunch of years ago and they’re holey. She asked if I’d make him a new pair … we’ll handle it the same way as last time so they are felted to fit his feet (they live in Louisiana so it’s difficult to do at a distance!) This time he’s getting some LSU slippers. I decided to hold two strands of the different colors together which will make them quite different from the former pair that were dark gray or black. I hope he loves them. He’s such a LSU fan that he had a purple leather chair.

We came home on Monday to another beautiful day and the blossoms of spring in Maine. The forsythia is blooming and the rhubarb is starting to grow. It won’t be long before strawberry rhubarb jam season. My bleeding heart plant is growing so fast that I think you could actually see it growing. The daffodils are up and the birds are all traveling through … no sign yet of our hummingbirds but I’m sure they’ll be here early this year.

Life is good.

Gone knitting.

A Quick Post

Monk mid-drool

I knitted this Wee Wonder Woman wrap for my granddaughter in France. I wanted to get a photo of her favorite family member wearing the wrap before I wrapped it up to put it in the mail. This is the result of that photo shoot. Well, I have a few somewhat better pictures but this one makes me laugh. Good old Monk loves his treats and you can’t see my hubby who’s holding a treat to get Monk to focus. Needless to say, the anticipation is making him drool. And it got so bad that I had to get the wrap off of him before it got drool on the clean, blocked little shawl.

I made this little shawl with Sisu yarn. One 50g ball of each color. I made an executive decision to NOT knit this is red and gold which are very bright and not my Rosey’s colors. I think the pink and white will be perfect. I can hardly contain myself waiting to see her receive this little gift. Wonder Woman has a special significance in their family and I hope it makes her happy.

Wee Wonder Woman is a free pattern on Ravelry and requires about 50 grams of two colors of fingering weight yarn. I chose Sisu (wool and nylon blend) because I liked the pink. I followed the pattern exactly.

Gone knitting.