Rough Re-Entry; Wonderful Vacation!

Above the Rooftops – the Perch

We had the most wonderful week of vacation in Rhode Island with my kids and their significant others … and their dogs. This was the second time we’ve gathered in Weekapaug where my mother used to rent back when my children were little. They all have memories of our times there. This year we were short Kate and her family. She was in Seattle in rehearsal for a new play but she’s home now and preparing for the arrival of their first baby, a baby girl, in a few weeks. But we had a really lovely time together and the weather was glorious, the beach was gorgeous, the food was delicious and the week went by way too quickly.

Lobster Dinner!!!

This year we baked a cake, we went to a vineyard for a wine tasting (Stonington Vineyard in Stonington, Connecticut.) We took a picnic and tasted wines as we ate a yummy lunch. I took lots of walks because I’m trying to start new habits and be healthier, move more. Some of us played golf and some of us had a meal at the Ocean House. We all wandered Watch Hill and had a lobster roll and some peach ice cream. Most of all, though, we spent time relaxing together.

And then we all had to go home. My re-entry has been rough. Today I feel like I’ve not been away. My stress level has returned to pre-vacation levels and it’s only been 24 hours since we arrived home. I had a meeting to attend before I even had time to unpack and then today the in-person board meeting (for the board that I lead) fell back to a zoom meeting – after a lot of reminders and a lot of work finding a place where we could meet in person. I’m disappointed, frustrated, and concerned about the future of the organization. I have one more year as president of the board and there is no clear path for the future leadership. Too much falls to the president and burn-out is chronic. Tomorrow I will attempt to share my feelings and frustrations without getting emotional. That will be difficult for me – I have ocular incontinence, after all. I look forward to regaining 20 hours each week once my leadership role is ended. That’s what I’m thinking about right now.

I have been knitting, but not too much, while we were on vacation. I started and have nearly finished a tiny sweater for my granddaughter. I have made the Newborn Vertebrae before as a gift and it’s a quick knit in tiny yarn so it’s perfect for a fall in New York City sweater for the baby. Newborn Vertebrae (free on Ravelry) is a top down raglan sweater, an easy knit, knit flat. It’s designed to cover baby’s back and shoulders because baby’s chest is almost always against a caregiver. I wanted my granddaughter to have a rainbow sweater and this is the closest yarn that I can find on short notice. I’ll continue my search for another, larger, rainbow sweater in the future. All I have left is to pick up the stitches around the opening and knit a few rows of ribbing.

I also finished knitting my Aestlight Shawl. It’s blocking as I type. Although … to prove that even the “expert” knitters make mistakes, I noticed a dropped stitch as I was blocking it. It looks like I dropped the stitch during the bind off and because I didn’t weave in all the ends, it’s going to be relatively simple to fix. I love the color and I enjoyed knitting it. I think I have to have a shawl sale to thin out my collection and so I can continue knitting them. I have reached the point where I have too many (is that a possibility?)

I also got the button band mostly finished on my Elton. SO … all I have to finish is the bind off and then the collar and buttons. I need seven or eight 5/8″ buttons but I like to purchase buttons after the sweaters are finished. It’s always nice to put them on a finished button band and see how they look on the actual garment. Because this sweater is so light, I think I’ll need to buy light buttons because anything heavy will sag IMHO. Once I get that accomplished, I’ll have a new sweater to wear to Rhinebeck!!!

I’m going to Rhinebeck! My friend Glenda suggested it and we’ve gotten our tickets to ride the bus from Webs in Massachusetts up to the festival. We will stay near Webs on Friday and Saturday nights to make the driving easier on us. I’m really looking forward to it. And to a possible reunion with some of my fiber camp friends. Since we have only one day, we’ll be studying the maps closely and making the most of our experience.

Off to the post office to pick up our mail.

Gone postal? Gone knitting.

The Ahab Inside Me

September 3, 2022 – Morning

This morning we had our coffee on the porch. Coffee on the porch is not an unusual occurrence but this morning coffee was with blankets over our laps and my hubby had his (hand knit) hat on. It was 50 degrees at 6:30 this morning. But it was gorgeous and we are so grateful to live here and to have a place that is safe and warm to call home.

There are a lot of people who aren’t as fortunate as we are through no fault of their own. Last night we went to see the premiere of a new play in Augusta at the historic Colonial theater with a group of new friends. It’s obvious that I love theater and the arts (at least I hope it is!) I have driven by the Colonial Theater so many times without even recognizing that it was there. The theater is a sidewalk’s-width from the street but it’s been around since 1913 and figured into Maine’s early film history and it’s now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The play, “The Ahab Inside Me – A High Seas Blues Opera”, was moving and, although a bit unpolished, it sent a strong message about addiction and recovery and how it affects generations in families. I have friends and family touched by addiction and it’s important to bring attention to the stigmatization of those who struggle with addiction. Addiction is a disease. Nobody asks to be an addict. Nobody thinks less of cancer or covid victims, why do we think so little of addicts? Why do we treat them as “less than?” We have a lot to do to educate people about addiction. A health care system would be a good place to start.

We enjoyed our night out in the company of new friends.

I spent the day today knitting and getting prepared for our vacation. I made granola and did a load of laundry so we have clean sheets at the beach. I changed our bed and wrote two agendas – one for the Maine Arts Academy Development Committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon and the other for our Friends of Messalonskee Board meeting on the 14th. Life is busy and full – how lucky am I?!

Aestlight by Gudrun Johnston

Today I worked on the edging for my Aestlight shawl. I’ve passed the half-way mark and am knitting toward the end of this project. I giggle when I say that I started this shawl in “protest” because my friend and co-worker was going to Shetland without me. I’ve enjoyed this project so much and I look so forward to going to Shetland myself one day (maybe next year!)

Elton by Joji Locatelli

I also worked for a little while late in the day on my Elton Cardigan. I am getting very (very) close to finishing the second sleeve … and that means that there is only the button band left to do. Well, almost. I am excited to see what happens to this sweater when it’s blocked. The pattern says that it should be blocked aggressively. I may be able to finish the knitting before we leave for vacation but I’m likely to wait to block it until we return. I look forward to wearing it, for sure.

I bought some new yarn this week. I saw the new pattern designed by Wool & Pine Designs, the Three Season Cardigan and I knew I had to knit this cardigan, heavily cabled, a little bit cropped, v-neck, and gorgeous! AND I had to have it in the yarn that they showed in the sample knit – Katia Concept Cotton Merino. I was challenged, couldn’t find it at any of my “normal” locations, but I did find it on the Katia website. The customer service at Katia was extraordinary and the shipping was so quick. Nearly as immediate as going to my LYS! I shopped my LYS, too! I bought several skeins of yarn to make some more sweaters for my grand-daughter … what a wonderful phrase – “my grand-daughter!” When I am at work and it’s a quiet couple of hours, I get into trouble. In this case, I bought some rainbow Perth sock yarn to make a Newborn Vertebrae, some Berroco Vintage to make a Little Coffee Bean Cardigan and a couple of other surprises.

I have also bought a few more patterns. Oops! I have really loved the Pressed Flowers shawl. We have a sample in the shop that I like but I don’t love worsted weight shawls – too hot for me these days, at my age. This week, Amy Christoffers added the Pressed Flowers Hat to her collection and I bought both patterns. I’ll make them both in sport weight yarn. And I look forward to it. I also love supporting the talented designers that continue to offer incredible patterns.

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!

An Excellent (Happy Mama’s Day) Visit

Washington Heights, NYC

I got my mother’s day gifts early this year – I traveled to New York City to spend time with all of my kids. They, of course, are my best gifts ever. I am so proud to be called their mom.

I had an excellent adventure. I drove to my college roommate’s house in Westport, CT, visited with her for an evening and then headed by train into New York City for a few days with my kids. The first day I had lunch in mid-town with Daughter 1 and her husband. April 27 is my son’s birthday so we had a bite of dinner at Bea in mid-town and then headed to the bowling lanes to meet a group of my son’s friends. What fun it was to bowl in New York City, of all places. I wish I’d taken a photo or two.

Thursday we visited Holland Ridge Farms in New Jersey. Acres and acres of tulips that you can pick and pick we did. My daughters each picked more than 70 and I controlled myself because I knew I had to transport my flowers to Maine. Suffice it to say that there was every imaginable color and type of tulip. They were gorgeous and the scent was mind boggling. I never realized that tulips had a scent. (We chose to pick mostly closed flowers, hoping they’d bloom more slowly and last longer. Note: mine are just about done as of today.) We walked and walked and walked and practically got blown away in the wind. It was sunny but very windy and we were dust-covered from tip to toe. We found a fun pick up spot and bought some subs (shrimp parm and steak pizza subs. Yum!) and root beer for lunch before heading back to the city. We happened upon a special sight on the way back to the highway – young horses in a big field, running and playing.

Yearlings?

My younger daughter loves horses. We had to stop to get closer and watch these magnificent animals. They were very shy and kept their distance but it was so much fun to watch them run.

I met my son’s girlfriend for lunch on Friday with their dogs and after lunch we took them to a local “park” for a bit of a run. The “park” is actually an historic home, The Morris-Jumel Mansion. Next time I’m in the city, I want to tour the home. The grounds have been somewhat ignored over the past few years but you can see its potential. I then took the subway (all by myself) to midtown to meet my youngest brother at his hotel for a drink. He was in the city for a veterinary conference. A quick hike to a new Thai restaurant, Lum Lum, with my daughters and their husbands and later, my son and his girlfriend came to join us. The food and company was extraordinary.

Saturday was exercise day. I am tired and sore just thinking about it. Daughter 1, her husband and their dog Bessie and I walked to the Linwood Farmer’s Market. Through Fort Tryon Park to drop off their composts, bought some fish and apples, had a wonderful bagel sandwich and then hiked back to the Heights along the river. 13,000 steps round trip and we hadn’t even gotten to the yarn store yet!

Daughter 2 and her husband were so sweet to go with me to Brooklyn to visit Brooklyn General Store – a bucket list item for me. It’s quite a distance from Washington Heights (but I learned that you can tap your credit card in the subway!)

I loved wandering this little shop. It’s an older building, full of character: wood floors, lots of yarns that my LYS doesn’t carry – La Bien Aimee, Spin Cycle, and so many more. I patted lots and lots of yarns there. I also admired fabrics, stitch kits, etc. I couldn’t decide what to buy but I ended up with a really pretty fingering weight peach cotton/alpaca yarn by Illimani Yarn Company. I bought another in an oatmealy-grey color as well. I’m not sure what it will become but when it decides what it wants to be when it grows up, I’ll let you know. We had dinner, Ramen, at my daughter’s apartment that night and she tested positive for Covid. I’ve been double boosted so I figured that I was as “bullet proof” as I ever could be having had my second booster shot two weeks before. My son-in-law tested positive on Sunday. I’ve continued to test negative. (By the way, if you want to test for possible Covid exposure, New York is the place to be. Tests are readily available all over the city.)

Sunday I headed back to CT for another evening before driving home on Monday. It’s so wonderful to have long-time friends (we have known each other for 46 years now!) who you can pick up with as if you’ve been apart for a few days rather than several months. It’s always special to spend time together with my special woman friends.

This mama’s heart is so full and I am so grateful to be able to travel to the city for a visit. Grateful for time away from work and my volunteer jobs. Grateful for my husband who is willing to hold down the fort while I am gallivanting. And it’s so great to come home again – where I can rest up for a couple of days before heading back to work. My legs are still tired.

Gone knitting.

Ice Out and Critters Return – Welcome Spring!

The Critter

As soon as the ice goes out (this year it happened on April 6th) the water birds and critters return to the lake. It’s miraculous, really, that they know when it’s safe to come back out on the lake. This year we heard reports from the northern end of the lake that the loons had returned while our section of the lake was still covered by ice. BUT as soon as the ice was gone, the loons were calling from the cove. There’s nothing quite like living so close to nature. We are so grateful to be able to witness the seasonal changes, to watch the sun change its position in the sky, and to know that there are more miracles coming soon when the babies are back with their parents. It won’t be long.

Since the ice went out, we’ve seen all the weather. Beautiful blue bird skies, thick fog and days of rain. Fortunately, it seems that mud season was relatively short this year and early. I had some white knuckle trips down our road and I may have let a few four-letter words escape my lips while hoping that my car wouldn’t get stuck in the mud.

I’ve been knitting like a mad woman. I seem to want to cast on all the new projects and I am trying to stay focused on finishing some, too.

Grandma’s Favorite

I’ve got a full basket of cotton yarns that I’ve collected over the years. I am trying to knit down the stash and one of my favorite projects is dishcloths/washcloths that I’ll pop into my gift drawer and pull out as needed. These two are from deeply stashed yarn from a big box store and they’re obviously seasonal. We use them here at home and the kids like them, too. They’re great stocking stuffers or as a gift with a special bar of soap. The pattern is so simple and easy to remember which makes these dishcloths good TV knitting.

Arne & Carlos Advent Jumpers

I’m almost half-way through the collection of Advent jumpers from Arne and Carlos. I love knitting these little sweaters and they knit up so quickly. I’m using Patagonia Organic Merino yarn from Juniper Moon Farm and, I have to say, this is my favorite yarn right now. I’ve made my Humlebi Shawl in it and I’ve got the charcoal gray colorway set aside to make an Emsworth vest. Number 12 will likely be finished by the end of the day today. I like to spend Sunday knitting for fun. I also like to bake and I’ve eaten all of my granola and my baked oatmeal.

Patsy’s Traveling Sweater

The body of my Traveling Sweater is nearly done (it may, actually be done but I have to measure it again to make sure.) This has been a fun knit. Patsy is a customer who has come into the store a bunch of times to purchase Plymouth Gina yarn for the sweaters that she makes. She has a Facebook page for the sweaters because she’s knitted over 100 of them. I have loved the sweater since I first saw it and have almost bought the yarn once before. When we heard that Plymouth was discontinuing the yarn, I put aside what colors we had in the shop and the boss ordered bags of each remaining color. When they came in, I bought the yarn and cast on my sweater.

The pattern is a Knitting Plain and Simple pattern #9724, Neck Down Pullover for Women. These patterns are simple beginner patterns and are knit top down in the round with minimal seaming. The sizing is somewhat size-inclusive but they certainly could be expanded. It would be wonderful if they added full stitch counts, too. But I recommend these patterns often for customers and students knitting their first garments. I’ve chosen 10 colorways of the Gina yarn and have randomly pulled them out of the bag to knit next. I have simple knitted the whole ball and then spit-spliced the next ball and kept knitting. I had a bit of a challenge making gauge but I decided that I would use the recommended needles and knit the size larger so that it would fit comfortably. I’m thinking that I may use a folded hem rather than a rolled hem but I haven’t decided yet. I suppose I can knit the rolled hem and then sew it up if I change my mind.

I’ve got to buy one more ball of Gina so that my sleeves, at least at the shoulders, match as closely as possible to the body of the sweater. After that, random is fine.

Spring has sprung!

Gone knitting.

It’s Been a Little Bit Since my Last Post

This was a very full, busy week. I had a lake association board of trustees meeting on Wednesday that I had to prepare for and run. Being the president of the lake association is a privilege and a lot more work than I anticipated. But we are doing a lot of good work and making a difference in the health of our lake and, we hope, the other lakes in our chain of seven and the rest of the state. These lakes are so beautiful and we want to keep them that way.

In addition, with the war in Ukraine and the political strife and division in our country, I’ve been feeling so sad and powerless. My energy has been lagging and I haven’t wanted to bake and haven’t been knitting much. I’m mostly exhausted by the blame laid at the feet of people who aren’t responsible. I’m tired of hearing about hateful policies being passed in some of our southern states. I am frustrated by the whining about fuel prices when we are all sitting pretty in our warm homes with full bellies and no bombings blowing up our hospitals and schools. None of this is easily solved and I am smart enough to know that there are untruths (spin/propaganda) on all sides but I believe that we are experiencing a temporary discomfort. Ukraine will be forever changed and I am so grateful that we have leadership in place in our country today that at least has some experience. Is our leadership perfect? Certainly not, but I believe the best interest of our country and democracy is safe in their hands. I “fear” that this could easily morph into a WWIII.

Winter’s Last Gasp?

Today is an ugly day in Maine and it may be winter’s last gasp. Time will tell. We woke to drizzle and have seen rain and now it seems to be turning to snow. A veritable weather-tasting! We are so grateful to be happily ensconced in our home; my DH in his man cave watching his movies and me in my atelier doing a little catch-up work and knitting.

I just finished jumper number 10 of 24 of the Arne and Carlos Advent Calendar jumpers. I need to sew in the ends and block it but that’s not going to take much time. I’m likely to knit the 11th before I finish 10. Number 11 will be green with red as the contrast color. It’s interesting knitting them all with the same three colors. I’d like to balance the combinations across the 24 and I think that I can come up with six color combinations so that means four of each.

I’ve also begun a pair of socks for my second-born DD. When they were here for a visit, she requested hand-knit socks and I am happy to oblige. I hope she loves them so she’ll ask for more. My drawer is pretty full and so is my DH’s. How lucky are we?

Fine Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier

I finished my Fine Sand cardigan after a mere three years. It was time to get it finished for sure. I will be happy to wear it this summer. I’ve blocked it and just need to sew in a label.

I also finished a pair of tams for a customer. She has asked me to knit six hats each year for several years and I’m always happy to hear from her. This pair was in forest greens. One in Malabrigo Chunky and one in Berroco Ultra Wool Chunky. Details are on my Ravelry project page. I forgot to take pictures of the finished and blocked hats before they were delivered to the store for pickup. Oops.

I’ve also started a new shawl pattern. Humlebi by Fiber Tales. I was really challenged by the bumble bee section. Most likely because I was so stressed and tired and I needed to knit it with fresh eyes and a rested soul – this has been difficult to do lately. The cast on is a picot cast on and lots and lots (and lots) of picots to cast on. But the real challenge for me was when I started the bee section which I knitted and then frogged and re-knitted. The second time, this is what I got …

Humlebi Shawl in progress

It’s a bee!!! I’m working this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. I can hardly wait to block this shawl (and I have a long, long way to go before I can.) I believe the yarn will bloom beautifully these wonderful bees will adorn the edge proudly!

I think my next cast on will be a vest, also in Patagonia but this time in a charcoal gray. I’m thinking it will be Emsworth by Isabell Kraemer. I “need” a dark gray garment to wear with my work “uniform.” It will be a fun knit. I also need to finish one more WIP. Perhaps the lobster hat that I have started and re-started more than once. So many projects and so little time. Ha! Ha! Ha! (My kids would say that I’m not funny and compared to them I’m not but I can make myself laugh and I enjoy my own sense of humor.)

Season six of Outlander started this week and I’m binge watching season five today (maybe it’ll stretch to this weekend or more?) I’ll be ready to watch season six episodes 1 & 2 when I finish – I just have to refresh my memory of where it left off. Today is the perfect day for such activities.

Gone knitting.