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.

BEE-utiful!

Just Before Dawn

We woke up just before the sun rose this morning to this. How lucky are we to live here? It was a gorgeous day today. I ran into work to buy a pair of knitting needles because I need a US 10.5 sixteen inch for the sleeves of my Daytripper Cardigan … and I didn’t have one. All the sets and single needles that I own and I didn’t have a US 10.5 16″ needle! Good grief.

I got my car washed and then headed back home to enjoy the day.I made my famous granola and while I was in the kitchen, I decided to make some brownies for my sweet hard-working husband – with extra nuts and some granola for me. Cleaned up the kitchen after making a big mess and then went outside to knit in the sunshine.

I cast on a new project today. One that I have had in the lineup for long enough that it’s now a late birthday gift. I’m not going to share a lot of detail but it’s a special shawl/scarf for a special person. The original is iknit in bright primary colors but I chose to make it in a softer color combination. I hope it works. Today I got the first two sections finished (it’s a wee shawl) and started the third section. I’ve still got a way to go but it’s enjoyable for sure.

Wee Secret Project

This evening I got the sleeve on my Daytripper cardigan started. This was the reason that I needed the new needle. (And I’m sure I’ll find my 16″ US 10.5 now that I’ve bought a second. This happens all the time. I have several doubles of needles that I thought I didn’t own. Ha! Joke’s on me. Anyway … I got a few repeats of the decrease row done and that feels good. If I could focus on one project at a time, this sweater would probably be done. At the rate I’m going, it’ll be ready to wear in the fall.

Sleeve Island on my Daytripper

I got two of the three tams finished for a customer. One is black and the other is a forest green. Both are knitted up in Berroco Ultra Wool Bulky (100% superwash wool). These hats nearly knit themselves and I think this customer has had me knit ten of them so I almost know the pattern by heart. The pattern is called Quick Lacy Slouch Hat and it’s a free pattern on Ravelry. Knit on a US 10 16″ circular needle. Once blocked, these babies change their entire attitude. I have one more in Malabrigo Chunky and the order will be complete.

I’ve made progress on my Evolve cowl, too. This has been such a sweet surprise. I hadn’t expected to like the cowl or the yarn but both are proving me wrong. Don’t judge a book, right? The lace pattern is simple enough to not require too much concentration and the yarn is really pretty and feels so good! I’m looking forward to the blocking in the round tutorial, too. (Another piece will be finished just in time to launder it all and put it away until next fall.)

Gone knitting!

A Traumatic Day

Yesterday was a rough day. I’m not gonna lie. I haven’t slept well for a couple of nights and that usually means that there’s a full moon or that something is bubbling up inside me that needs to be gone from me … my life … my belief system … whatever it is. I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, angry, tearful (like the ugly cry kind) and, by the end of the day, traumatized. I know I’ll work through it and the personal stuff in detail isn’t something that really belongs here. I know I can work through it and if I can’t, I can reach out to my (former not old) therapist who will guide me in the right direction. In the meantime, today I’m going to burn some sage in the house to cleanse the energy in it and I’ll take time to be quiet and see what my mind/body/soul reveals.

Oddly enough, in addition to having a traumatic, emotional day, I heard a phone ringing in the house. It was neither mine nor my husband’s. It was distant but seemed to be coming from inside out house. This morning I heard it again when I was standing in the kitchen. There isn’t another phone in the house. Yeah, I know. This is an odd one. Anywhoo …

Signs of hope in the garden this morning

When I went outside this morning to take my morning shot of the lake (it will be a video) I made a discovery. Crocus! I had completely forgotten that we planted a couple of bunches of crocus bulbs last fall. What a pleasant and welcome surprise. Some critter is munching on the lakeside spot and he or she will pay for that if I have anything to say about it but I was so pleased to see a couple of flowering buds and more coming. It makes me feel hopeful again.

Lots has happened around the lake since I last posted. The husband and I have both received and recovered from our second Moderna doses. We had what I would call very, very mild symptoms of what may have been fever (I had chills one afternoon) and fatigue. My arm hurt a little bit as did his. Overall, however, we are so grateful to be closer to living without the fear of this virus being ever-present in our minds. The vaccine feels like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders. I can’t wait to hug my kids and my friends!

We had ice out on our lake!

What a difference a day makes! And with the ice going out, the loons and water birds are coming back. In fact, as soon as there was open water, the birds were returning. Pairs of mergansers, at least one loon (we saw it and heard it, too), mallards, Canada geese and others are here again. It’s quite a wonderful change of pace after the winter months. Our bird feeders are full of bright yellow goldfinch, and my hubby said he’s seen purple finch. They’re eating us out our house and home!

I’ve been knitting madly away on a few projects that are on my needles.

On Easter Sunday I knitted one of the eggs from Arne and Carlos’ new collection of Twelve Easter Eggs. I’m using tiny balls of Sirdar Happy cotton yarn and they’re fun and relatively quick to knit. I’ve begun a second but I’ve put it aside to finish a project for a customer … or at least get it started.

I”m to the bottom colorwork band on my Daytripper cardigan so the mindless rounds of stockinette stitch are done and I’ll have to concentrate again (and count). I love the colors that I chose and this will be a great addition to my sweater collection.

I’ve cast on the Evolve Cowl by Hunter Hammersen which is the second project in the Confident Knitting program from Arnall-Culliford Knitwear. The yarn is Dusty Dimples DK, this is a hand-dyed yarn from the UK and it’s really delightful to knit with. The yarn was purchased as a kit to go with the book (for now virtual) that includes a lot of technique tutorials. This is the third such program that I’ve purchased and I have yet to be sorry that I did. I have not finished all of the projects from the first two books; Some I probably won’t ever make and some I know that I will. When the time is right. The technique this month is blocking a cowl in the round so that it doesn’t have the horrible creases. Good to know.

The Flux Handwarmers were the first project from Confident Knitting and they’re finished. I don’t love them to be completely honest because they’re a bit too short for my liking. I like fingerless mitts that at least keep my fingers protected from the cold steering wheel. These don’t. But the Zauberball (the yarn, Muffin) is pretty and I like the weight of the mitts. They’ll be a good gift for someone one day.

March socks are pretty rudimentary average everyday boot socks. They’re made out of Raggi yarn which I love. I made it just under the wire finishing these socks in March with a day to go. I’m not sure what socks will be happening in April … and I may skip a month. How do you like that? Ha! Ha! I do have some green buffalo wool sock yarn that is begging to be Christmas tree socks … time will tell.

Opus. What can I say about Opus? I love him/her so much. What a joy to knit and I love seeing it on my guest room bed every time I walk by. It seems a bit silly to enjoy something so apparently random but I do. I wrote about him/her here before I got to the tentacles. What a creative project.

My Fine Sand cardigan is slow progressing. I have it down in the living room now, next to my chair so that I can knit a few rows when I’m sitting down there. It’s endless rows of stockinette stitching now with every sixth row having some shaping increases and decreases. If I’m lucky, this will be done before the end of the summer … and since it’s a summery cotton/linen blend yarn, it’d be nice to be able to wear it this year. But it’s definitely going to be awhile.

So, there you have it. My life and knitting in a nutshell. I haven’t been baking much but I have the intention of making apple dumplings today … whole apples, cored and wrapped in pastry dough and baked. I have such fond memories of these at the Ohio State Fair with my singing kiddos! I’ve been eating my granola like crazy in the mornings or sometimes for lunch after work. Overall, I’m so grateful to be where I am and with who I’m with … life is good.

Gone knitting.

Charting Your Own Colors

You all know that I am knitting Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Daytripper Cardigan from MDK’s Field Guide 17 – Lopi. I’ve chosen my colors which I wrote about here. I am pleased, I think, by my colors. I fretted about it for a long time. The fretting process was eased when MDK released a coloring book-style drawing of the sweater for you to color in. I colored about a dozen different versions with my chosen colors and it really did help.

Daytripper Cardigan in Lettlopi

This is a closeup of my Daytripper yoke.

This is the second time I knitted to this place. I took a photo of the first yoke but there’s a glitch getting it transferred here. Regardless, let me explain the situation that lead me to knit this, find out that I had too few stitches and then frog and re-knit it.

It was suggested by MDK that you can color in a graph of your own colorways (making it so much easier to follow the colorwork yoke pattern. EXCEPT if like me, you neglect to add the bold vertical line after the 12th stitch to mark the repeat sequence.

<My chart is missing a line here

This is the first version of the chart that I colored in with my colors.

The first time I knit the yoke, I had a 13 stitch repeat. It was slightly wonky but I figured that MDK and Mary Jane knew what they were doing, right? Ha! Ha! Who knew it was ME!? I ended up around 20 stitches short of the stitch count. WTF? I knew I’d done the correct increases, why wasn’t the stitch count right? Well, it turns out that I didn’t put the line in that separates the repeat sequence from the last stitch. So, rather than starting with a 4-stitch repeat, I had a 5-stitch repeat. The difference is a significant one – I started out with three fewer repeats which meant three times fewer increases as I worked up the yoke.

Once I realized my mistake, off I went the second time and was spot on with my stitch counts. Woo! Hoo!

Gone knitting!

Friday Vibe

Today is foggy and drizzly. A bit dreary, frankly and raw. Almost all of the snow has left the yard … but here’s the kicker … we may be getting some snow this weekend! I may be very unpopular but I’m hoping we get a good twelve inches or more. We haven’t had enough snow this winter – an inch or two doesn’t really count. Give me a good Nor’easter and I’ll be ready to march into spring.

Daytripper

My Colors

As usual, I’m a bit late to the party but I’ve cast on my Daytripper cardigan again.

I thought I’d be smart and cast on and do a gauge swatch at the same time. Usually I am pretty close to gauge. This time, not so much. I got 13 stitches for 4 inches not 14 stitches. So, I’m going to go up a needle size and re-start. Since I’m going up a needle size for the yoke/body, I made the executive decision to go up a needle size on the collar ribbing as well.

The main color is the lightest gray at the top left of this photo. Color A, the color that I will use for my collar, cuffs and button bands, is the darker gray. The rest of the colors are for “pops” of color, There are five of them in this sweater. The light pink will be one of the “larger” colors as will the fuschia. The blues are for accent colors for the most part. The medium gray will balance the fuschia. I hope.

I spent the morning creating a chart of my colors. The idea came from one of the MDK blog posts and it will help me to knit with the right colors. It was a wonderful exercise for me, and a new use for my Bullet Journal, too!

That’s all I’ll show you for now. More soon, I promise!