A Very Good Week

Sunday Just After Sunrise

This has been a very good week despite the horrible Russian invasion of Ukraine. Two of my kids have been here with their significant others and their dogs. My mama’s heart is so full.

Neither my younger daughter or my son have been here in the winter, so they say and they got a good vision of what our life is like in Maine in the winter and how beautiful it is here at this time of year. And how crazy the weather can be.

We had some cold weather, got to walk on the ice, ate lobsters, experienced temperatures in the mid-60s and the mud that happens on a camp road, and figured out how to “run” from a snow storm when you have obligations that require you to be somewhere at a particular time. We made a puzzle in a day and we ate and drank and laughed and did a lot of dog walking. Five dogs is a lot of dogs! But they’re all so good at getting along. They set a good example for the humans of our world.

I took a step away from work and volunteering and even knitting to some extent. I always forget to take pictures of the people in my life because I am fully present in the moment. Lucky that I have a good memory and can remember the feeling of being together.

My son and his girlfriend have headed to Texas for a wedding and then to Los Angeles for a soccer game and they left their two dogs here with us. They’ll arrive back on Tuesday. Meanwhile, we are having some quality time with Gus and Picasso. They’re adding some good giggles to our days and I am talking lots of extra walks around the yard with the boys. We will be vacuuming the sofa when they all head home. The light-colored dogs love the dark sofa! LOL

Picasso and Gus

I finished my Fine Sand Cardigan and it’s blocking. This was a very long project from start to finish. Not because the sweater is complicated or difficult but because it kept getting pushed aside in favor of other (more pressing?) projects. This is a fun pattern, written a little bit differently, and the sweater and yarn are really lovely. I look forward to wearing this in the spring and summer months. You can find all of the details: pattern name and yarn used in my Ravelry project files.

Fine Sand Cardigan before blocking

I cast on a new project, too, of course. My Medomak Fiber Arts Camp friends wanted to do a KAL (knit along) with the pattern Campfire by Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits. We had a cast on Zoom party with a small group of friends but since I have already knitted this shawl, I cast on Humlebi in Juniper Moon Farm’s Patagonia Organic Merino in an oatmeal-y colorway. The cast on is a picot cast on and needed my complete attention so I mostly chatted. We will be gathering by Zoom again on Saturday for the bobble section. I have to remember how to do the bobbles so I can teach those who are concerned that they can’t do it. It’s fun to see my summer friends in the winter – and especially since I have missed the last two summers of camp!

Humlebi Shawl – cast on and first couple of sections

As I sit typing this update today, in the sunshine on a beautiful lake in Maine. My grand-dogs are snoozing in my studio chairs and my husband is downstairs starting breakfast (I can smell it) with our BBD. All of our kids are healthy and happy and I am enormously grateful for the life we are building and hugely aware of the inexcusable attack by Russia on Ukraine. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine. War is hell.

Gone knitting.

About Decency

I may have to admit to being old. I feel like I’m starting to sound like my parents or maybe it’s just that I am finding my voice at 60+. Regardless, there is something afoot on “my” lake that is aggravating my moral and ethical self and that is making me question the society that we live in in the good old US of A.

A Couple of Sunrises Ago …

I am on the board of trustees of a public charter school here in Maine and I have listened to educators and others say that our children are disrespectful and rude and have no manners and are selfish, etc. None of these are wrong but we, the adults, have to look at our own behavior as the examples that our youth follow and (maybe) look up to. Who are we? Who are we as an adult society? How do we behave? Are we respectful and polite? Do we set the example for our youth by behaving well, by saying “please” and “thank you”? Do we use our turn signals? Are we generous with our time and talents? Do we take our hats off inside? Do we watch our own language use?

This morning there is a large group of what appear to be adults (to be fair they’re over a mile away) who are out ice fishing on the lake. Ice fishing in Maine is a long-standing tradition, often a generational (family) event, that is a wonderful outside activity for adults and children. Lots of people I know take their kiddos fishing in the winter. In fact, I just found out that there are child-sized snowmobiles! How cool is that?!

While I was sitting at the table eating my breakfast, I thought I saw that they had a flag flying over the group so I got the binoculars out and had a look to see what clever flag some family had created. Boy, am I sorry I did. There was a “F#*@ Biden” flag, a big one, flying with a Trump sign. I have no problem with the latter flag. We get to support who we want to in this country. But the former flag, the one with the obscene word and the name of the president of these United States, that one I take offense to … strongly.

We need to do better. Children will see that sign today and ask their mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, “what does F@#* mean?” because children READ! If we ever wonder why our youth today has no idea what appropriate language is about, this is one of the reasons why. We need to bring back the respect of the office. You don’t have to like the president, but the office must be respected. Only by demonstrating good behavior can we teach it. I am disgusted by this group and I hope someone, a mom or dad or another adult, will ask this group to take the flag down. What are we teaching our children?

I went out and put my American flag up this morning with a sadness that I haven’t felt for awhile and with a pride that I often feel. We can do better. We must do better.

Gone knitting.

Death is Nothing at All

We will be losing a neighbor today. She didn’t feel like she wanted to eat and had lost a lot of weight. Her doctor told her to just eat and that it was all in her mind. Well, it turns out that she had lymphoma and a tumor in her abdomen. Her cancer was “curable” and she had begun chemo treatment but she got dehydrated and was rushed to the hospital where she has had trouble breathing on her own. Today they’re going to remove her from the machines and let her go.

My heart hurts for her family and friends and her husband in particular. And when my heart hurts and I feel helpless, I go into the kitchen. Today I made my mother’s Minestrone Soup recipe and will take some over to her husband tomorrow. On Friday my sweet husband will make him some Shepherd’s Pie. I’ll bake for him, too. He’s going to be so lonely and heartbroken.

May her memory be a blessing. Rest in peace, AB.

WIP – Moorland Socks

Years ago, I was intrigued by A Year of Techniques “club” that came from the Arnall-Culliford Knitwear company out of the UK. I often seek to increase my knowledge of knitting so that I can pass what I learn on to my students and this seemed to fit right into that column. AND it was a year of improving knitting by a monthly technique project. There was a book and twelve projects so it seemed to be something that I could manage with everything else in my life.

That first year, I managed to complete a bunch of the patterns in the book. I also made the decision to buy the yarn collection for all of the projects because, being a company based in the UK, they were using yarns that I had not seen nor worked with. It would be an additional bit of knowledge that I could gather about yarn and how to match yarns and patterns and maybe, too, a little bit about color.

That first year I finished seven of the twelve projects. I ended up frogging one and not completing another because I didn’t like the fit, so we’ll count it as five projects completed and enjoyed. The next year they did Boost Your Knitting: A Second Year of Techniques followed the third year by Confident Knitting. Each year I went along and bought the yarns and have really, really enjoyed knitting with yarns that I may not have otherwise been exposed to in rural Maine. (Until I get to Paris and Shetland, anyway.)

But I digress because where I wanted to go with this post was to tell you about my Moorland Socks WIP. Moorland Socks were in the third group of technique projects. The yarn is from Fab Funky Fibers and contains two mini skeins as the main color of the socks, a wonderful self-striping multi-colored yarn with another mini for a contrasting heel. The technique for this project is a Garter stitch short row heel.

Today I finally finished the first short row heel and what fun it was to knit. (I can’t wait to try it on and see how it fits and how it feels to wear!) Because the heel and short rows are garter stitch, there is no need to pick up and knit the wraps for the short rows and that makes it much simpler and more straight forward to knit. I found that I did need to keep count of the stitches between the wraps, however; at least until I figured out how to read my knitting. It was more difficult on the increases (after the decreases on the first half of the heel) but I managed it, I think, quite well and it’s a super cute heel if I do say so myself.

Such a pretty heel, such a pretty sock! Since I wrote this I’ve finished sock number 1 and have cast on sock number 2. The mini skeins made it pretty easy to “match” the socks (so they look alike … or as alike as I care to make them look.) The fit’s pretty good, too. I’ll be curious to see how this heel wears compared to my favorite heel flap and gusset. I’ll let you know.

Gone knitting.

Cashmere … Nimbus Cowl

Pink Cashmere Times Two

I had a hank of cashmere lace in my stash. It came from my college friend “Sue Doo.” She saw it at a fundraiser, if memory serves, and bid on it with me in mind. Isn’t that so thoughtful? It had several skeins of Noro yarn, some knitting books, and this lovely cashmere lace.

And then a couple of years ago, I was with friends on the Maine Yarn Cruise and we were visiting the Good Karma farm in Belfast where they’d purchased a bunch of yarn and they were selling it for a song. I found a skein of cashmere and silk lace.

Both of these yarns are pink. One a bright pink and one a soft pink. They’re both lace weight. So, when held together, they make a fingering weight. I only have one of each so it’s a one and done kind of pattern that I needed to find and Purl Soho’s Nimbus Cowl was super simple. It seemed perfect.

Since I’m “experimenting” here, I cast on the 154 stitches (after I cast on 174 and then took off 20) and just knit around and around for three inches. After three inches, I’ll decrease a bit because it’s cashmere and I want it to sit close to my neck, of course! It’s so soft and so light. I hope this little knitting experiment works.

Also today …

Sunrise 2/1/2022

This was sunrise this morning. I woke up extra early this morning and so I got to watch the sun come up. It was really cold this morning (-8) but it was clear. I always feel better when the sun is out. My dear husband and I had an appointment this morning at an auction house, getting some free appraisals on some old stuff that we have. It was a great day to drive to the coast, actually. After our appointment, we went home to let the dog out and then off to a Medicaid 101 class at our local senior center. Good grief, how is it possible that we are getting close to being official seniors (and not in high school or even college!) It felt particularly odd to be walking through a senior center and thinking that we could be hanging out there. I’m glad we are on this side of the dirt today.

Gone knitting.

The Blizzard of 2022

Sunrise after the Snow

The morning after is here. We made it through this giant monster storm with wind and sideways snow without so much as a flicker of the lights. It started out innocent enough yesterday morning around 7:00am with lovely little flakes and it progressively got heavier and then windier. As long as it was light, we couldn’t see across the lake. At times, we couldn’t see the ice fishing shack that’s about half way across. But we were warm and cozy inside our house.

This morning the sun is up and it’s a bluebird day. We spent the early pre-dawn hours with coffee working ourselves up to the digging out (which mostly falls on my sweet husband and the snowblower) but I helped! I’ve cleaned off my car, the front dooryard and half of the porch. I also brought in the porch cushions which we “forgot about” in the fall. Since it’s Sunday, he had an extra dose of motivation … the Sunday NY Times! He’s headed out to see if it’s been delivered since we can’t get it delivered to the house here in the country.

We had a good day for making things at home since we couldn’t go anywhere. I started with blueberry muffins before 8 yesterday. They were delicious. They always are. From there, we went to our own “corners” but met in the middle several times. When N. made breakfast, reheated leftovers for lunch, to watch the news and for dinner (he made Musaka!) … all in all, it was a really sweet day.

I finished and blocked the two tams that I’ve been asked to make for a customer. I’ll trim the ends and wrap and deliver them on Monday. I spent some time working on the newsletter that I write for the store, and I updated the email list. It takes at least three hours a week to get this done and I love hearing from customers who like it – and some who don’t, who challenge me to write better or differently. I also know that you can’t please everyone and I’m pleased with and proud of what I write every week.

Love & Light … lit

I also knitted the Love and Light heart. This is a fun, quick knit and I was surprised and a little bit pleased when I plugged the fairy lights in to find that they were multi-colored! (I bought these on Amazon.) I thought I ordered white lights just like I bought for my Starry Light. Yeah, nope. Surprise! But it’s all good. I like the way it turned out and we all need a little more love and light these days, right? This is the third project that I’ve knitted in fairy lights. The first was Leila Raven’s Knitted Fairy Lights idea about a year ago. I merely bought the lights and “swatched.”

The Love & Light pattern was a little bit confusing in its construction. You knit one “lobe” and then the second and connect them as you knit down. You’re supposed to leave some slack (inches of it) between the lobes and I’m still not sure why. Regardless, it’s so much fun. Knitting with wire “yarn” is unforgiving and it’s really difficult to go back and re-knit. Fairy lights are not really strong, either, so you need to remember to knit gently and not pull too tightly. Both of these patterns, though, are quick and I really enjoyed them and I love lighting up the house with them.

I binge watched the entire second season of Emily in Paris yesterday evening. It’s just what the doctor ordered for a blizzard and no politics or violence. At the end of the day I picked up the Anchor Sweater and got the shoulders seamed and the collar knitted. Today the plan is to pick up the shoulder stitches and work down at least one sleeve. I’m getting closer to another FO.

You can find all of my projects on my Ravelry project page.

Gone knitting.

Mini Jumpers Advent Calendar, WIPs and a FO

I’m making progress day by day and I’m well on my way to completing the 24 Arne & Carlos Advent Calendar mini-jumpers. I’ve finished through #8 and have begun #9. They’re quite fun and they don’t take a lot of time at all once you get the hang of it.

Because they’re going to hold tiny trinkets (gifts) for Advent, I decided to catch the floats in the body of the jumper but I’m not worrying at all about the sleeves. Nobody’s fingers will be getting caught in the floats so I’m just knitting them with abandon. I decided at the outset to make all of the sweaters in a “traditional” Christmas palate of red, green and white and I’m sticking to that. To be honest, though, I’ve doubted myself here on more than one occasion as I try to figure out how to keep the colors random but no two the same right next to each other.

I’m slowly making my way to finishing a few WIPs or UFOs … I use the two terms interchangeably, don’t you? I’ve finished a camouflage sweater for my son’s pup, my youngest grand-dog, Gus. I was asked to knit it in camo yarn in honor of my little shihtzu, Boq who died last January. A very sweet request. Gus should have it (hopefully it will fit!) in New York City by Boq’s birthday. I can’t believe how much I still miss those little dogs. Boq loved his “macho” camo sweater and was such a handsome model (see below.) Photos of Gus in his sweater coming soon.

Wicked Munchkin Boq 1/31/2005 – 1/15/2021

I’ve had a new order from a former customer who I’m always delighted to hear from. Every winter I’ve been knitting her a few caps in bulky weight yarns. This year she’s requesting black hats and navy hats. I have one black hat knitted and the second hank of yarn is caked up and ready to knit. If I’d stop writing, I could knit it and have them both blocked and ready for delivery next week.

I’m nearly finished with the front of the Anchor Sweater. I put it aside to knit Gus’s sweater and the caps for Judy. I hope I’ll get it finished so that I can knit the sleeves and wrap this project up by the middle of next month. The sleeves have some stripes on them but they’re pretty simple and shouldn’t take a long time to knit. Intarsia is still one of my least favorite knitting techniques but the sweater is pretty cute. Some lucky kiddo will get to wear this sweater eventually!

Gone knitting!

Another Day to be Grateful

Another Day to be Grateful

I’m one grateful girl today.

I had a text from two of my three kids telling me about the free Covid test kits and my daughter already ordered mine. They really do love their old mom! I got a text from one of my lake neighbors, too. How wonderful it is to feel so loved and cared for. If you know me, you know that I am apt to wear my heart on my sleeve and when I am feeling so grateful, it’s typical for me to get teary-eyed. A dear knitting friend, Bristol Ivy, told me that I have “ocular incontinence.” That is an apt title for me for sure.

I’m also grateful for my knitting students. We had some “sad” news last Friday when Lucille, 93, told me that she probably wouldn’t be coming to class any more. She had a small stroke around Christmas time and her family is moving her into an assisted living community this week. I’m so grateful that her family is so loving and caring. She deserves to be cared for in all the best ways. I’ve grown very attached to her over the years that we’ve been knitting together. I’ve picked her up and dropped her back home, I’ve visited her in her apartment to help with knitting problems, and the whole class has helped her to be social and active … at least on Friday! I’m grateful to a couple of my students who picked her up or dropped her at home to help me and so Lucille could keep coming to class. It has taken a village, so to speak, and the village has helped to keep Lucille knitting.

Lucille

I’ve grown to love Lucille and I’m going to miss her. Look at that sweater! I’m hoping that there will be a knitting group at Lucille’s new home or that she’ll be able to get transportation to class once in a while. We are all going to miss her. But we’re all so happy that she’s moving to a place that is going to see that she’s cared for and that she’ll not be living alone. I’m sure she’s going to love being there and being able to socialize more often and I’ll enjoy visiting her in her new home.

Gone knitting. (And maybe experiencing a bit of ocular incontinence.)

From the “Expert”

Anchor Sweater v.2

Because I value honesty, I want to tell you a very typical story from knitters. Beginner knitters all the way through to expert knitters. All of us have had this experience that I had today. Fortunately, I can laugh at myself. I made a rookie mistake today.

I pulled one of my UFOs out of the cupboard this week in an effort to get some old projects finished. This one is the Anchor Sweater, an intarsia sweater in a child size, by Roo Designs. I started this sweater last year when I was teaching an intarsia workshop. And once the class was over, I put the sweater away and “forgot about it” until I started a cleaning up program in the New Year.

Today I started working on the back of the sweater. My pattern says that the back needs to be knitted until it’s 16 inches long. I got knitting this morning in my class and then at lunchtime I found the back that I had knitted last year …. I should have been knitting the front! Oh, crap!

So, tonight, when I got home, I frogged back to where I started this morning and began following the chart for the anchor. And I was laughing at myself and my rookie mistake.

All of this is to say that I am not perfect. Many people might consider me an expert (I don’t think I’ll ever get there, it makes me laugh because I still learn new things about knitting all the time!) I make mistakes. Lots of them. On a regular basis. This time, here’s what I did wrong … (the idea here is for me to teach you something, right?) I put a project away without making a note on the pattern noting exactly where I stopped work. I “should” have at the very least marked my pattern with a big arrow showing where I begin knitting. If I had marked my pattern (with a big arrow?) I would have known that I’d finished the back and was working on the front.

Oh well. Gone knitting.

Yip Yips for Christmas

It’s a perfectly miserable weather day here in Maine. The wind was blowing across the ice this morning and by mid-day there was freezing rain/sleet and continued wind. A good day to stay inside (and knit!)

Since they’ve been gifted, I thought I’d show you the Yip Yips that I crocheted for my nieces and nephew for Christmas. I think these little containers are so sweet and they make me laugh. I hope their parents have shown them videos of the Yip Yips on old Sesame Street shows (they’re on Youtube if you want to Google them). The one that I particularly loved was the telephone one. I may have posted it here before. I love them! This pattern is easy to follow for those like me who aren’t expert crocheters (yet!) I’ve heard that some people have made a whole family of these to use in lieu of Christmas stockings. I’m not sure I’m ready to go that far, but they sure are happy little creations.

Yip Yips (crochet) by Carissa Browning

I filled the Yip Yips with little gifts, too, of course. A hand-knit wash cloth (I can’t believe I forgot to photograph them), a toy car for my nephew and a couple of birds in nests for my nieces. These are designed by Susan B. Anderson and are called Simple Little Bird and Nest. I think they’re adorable and they were fun to knit.

Simple Little Bird and Nest by Susan B. Anderson

I sent a few other hand-knit gifts this year. Socks for my son, market bags for my daughter and my son’s girlfriend, dish cloths for all the kids, a Bankhead hat for my husband, and I’m currently working on a new sweater for my youngest grand-dog, Gus. All of these projects and all of the details about them are on my Ravelry project page.

Gone knitting!