I Left my Heart in NY City

I’m back from a whirlwind trip to New York City to help my daughter when her husband was out of town and, obviously, to see my granddaughter and the rest of the family. I drove down to Westport, CT a day ahead of when I had planned to be there because we were supposed to have a big winter storm on the day I was supposed to leave.

Luckily my college “Roomie” lives there and she puts up with me (happily) when I come down her way. Thursday night we had dinner with another college friend and, as is apt to happen, talked until we were ready for bed. We’ve been friends for 47 years! Those friendships are so special and I am so grateful for these wonderful and dear friends.

On Friday I hopped on the train into the city. I can’t wait until this summer when I become an official senior citizen because the train fare becomes $9 each way even though $13.50 isn’t bad. The train ride to Harlem is so easy and my daughter picked me up at the station there. It’s such an easy trip and with no driving traffic, it was a 5-hour drive to Westport. Not bad at all.

This child. I have always disliked leaving the kids at the end of a visit. I love being around my children and I love that they all live close enough to each other and like each other enough to get together. This child, my granddaughter, their niece and daughter, is an amazing addition to the mix. I took precious few photographs because I had way too much fun playing with her, feeding her, and helping her very competent mom take care of her and her 4-legged sisters.

The last time we were in the city was at Christmas and in the month since, Sylvie has changed so much! She is actually making eye contact with people, she really engages, she’s generous with smiles, has a lot of new ways to be heard and she even clicks. Ha! Ha! Her hands are always busy and you can see the concentration when she reaches for things. It’s so intentional now. She sees what she wants and reaches for it. She still needs a little help but it won’t be long before she’s grabbing things all by herself.

I brought her a Knubbelchen “doll” that I made with scraps of left-over fingering weight yarn and I was thrilled that she loves it. It’s a perfectly sized toy for little bitty hands which have the most perfect knuckle dimples. The knots at the “hands” and “feet” of the Knubbelchen are just the little bit of help she needs to be able to hold onto it. And, of course, everything goes in her mouth!

I also brought the silver rattles that were given to my children when they were born. I had saved them for just this moment and our little Sylvie didn’t disappoint. She loves to lie on her back and kick and wiggle and the rattles were a fun addition. It’s the most wonderful feeling to see my child totally in love with her child. I really believe that our appreciation of our mothers only comes when we become mothers ourselves. I never tire of watching all of my children love on this baby girl. it’s remarkable, emotional, rewarding, it makes my heart grow even more full of love for them all.

The funniest part of the trip was that I was carrying ten pounds of corn-filled microwaveable heating pads that I had made for them all and only a year later. I promised to make these for them last winter when they came up skiing and well, life being what it is, the corn and fabric sat until last week. (I wrote about it here. My suitcase was incredibly heavy going there and significantly lighter heading home. Kate’s has already been spit up on which means that it’s already in use. And then there was the night that Kate received a “goodnight sweet pea” text from my husband. (I was meant for me.) And all of the kids sent him a good night text with a spontaneous term of endearment. Ned was entertaining us all from Maine and we had a good laugh at his expense and with lots of love – my kids all love my husband and he loves them. Another thing to be so grateful for. He’s already said that if we can take the train into the city, he’ll come with me next time. Yay!

I left New York yesterday with my heart so full and tears in my eyes. I managed to collect lots of snuggles and smile and belly tickles and kisses until next time. I can’t wait until next time.

Gone knitting. (Because I didn’t knit a stitch except for on the train.)

Wait, What? Two Posts in One Week?

Sunrise this Morning

Yup, it’s true. Two posts in a week’s time … astounding. But I was so excited yesterday when I needed to join the front and back of my Emsworth vest!

This vest is constructed brilliantly, as all of Isabell’s patterns are. You begin with the back and knit each of the shoulders and then work to put them together and begin the lace pattern in the middle of the two sides. Once complete (basically) to the under arm, you put the back on stitch holders and make the front in a similar manner. Once the front is to the under arm, you cast on a bunch of stitches for the sides and you pray that your lace pattern is in the same place on the front and the back.

MINE WAS!!! Yippee!!!

BUT, I swore that I had marked down what row I had ended with on the back of my vest. Nowhere on my pattern (I have the Knit Companion app and I can write on the digital file right on my iPad) could I find the notation. And then, after searching and searching my pattern, I remembered that I started this project with a paper pattern that I had thrown away when I changed over to the Knit Companion pattern … and I neglected to transfer that important bit of information. Luckily, though, I know how to read my stitches. So I compared my stitches to my pattern and found that I had ended on row 14 and … my vest front was, too!

Emsworth by Isabell Kraemer

It was a thrilling moment for sure. Who knew that you could get so excited sitting all by yourself in a room! Hahaha.

Gone knitting.

Snow Day!

We awoke to snow this morning. Yay! I’ve been waiting and wanting some, what we call here in Maine, “measurable snow” and today we are getting it! Since it’s January 20th, let’s say that it’s about time!

When the local schools in Waterville are closed, our classes at the Yardgoods Center are canceled. We have a mostly older customer base and none of us should be out and about in this weather unless we absolutely have to … today is a snow day. The store is closed and classes were canceled. I’m putting my snow day to good use and after I had coffee and a muffin with my dear hubby, I went upstairs into my atelier.

On Wednesday I decided to make microwaveable (corn) heating pads. I’ve had the supplies on the floor of my studio for a year. When the kids came last winter to go skiing, they were a bit achey after their skiing and they used all of the warming things in our house. One in particular, they all liked best. So … I measured the one made by my friend Judy and bought the muslin, flannel and corn to make one for each of the kids. Wednesday I ironed and cut the fabrics and then sewed two of the sides and was ready to fill them and finish them up when I realized that the corn was either moldy or dirty.

Off to the kitchen I took all eight pounds of bagged corn and I cleaned it in bleach water to kill any surviving whatever might have been on it. It was powdery but dry and I am not sure what it was but I am sure, now, that the corn I’m putting into the bags is clean and won’t send something gross out into the air that they breathe when they microwave the bags to warm them up.

Today I brought the washed, dried and baked corn back up into my studio and filled the three bags and sewed up the final side. Ta done! Three microwavable corn-filled heating pads. I have more fabric to make three more but I didn’t buy enough corn. Each of the kids will get one this time and I’ll get three more made for the summer when we go to the beach.

Task number two was to make a heart pillow for daughter number 2 who lost her beloved pup Willow just after Thanksgiving. When we were in NY for Christmas, she asked if I could make a heart pillow out of Willow’s jacket. I am touched that she trusted me to do that for her.

Earlier this week, I cut out a heart shape to use as much of the fleece jacket that I could and pinned the sides together (right sides facing) in preparation to sew them up and stuff it.

At this point in the day I went downstairs to probably clean the corn and while the corn was soaking in bleach water, I decided to make some cranberry water that I’d seen a recipe for online. The cranberries were in my freezer for a year and it was time to do something with them. I had thawed them and just has to blend them with water and strain them. While blending them, the blender (it was overfull, I admit) leaked cranberry water all over the counter. I strained the water and when I was cleaning up I inadvertently switched the blender on and metal piece on the base was too close to my thumb … what a bloody mess I made. Some days … !

I cleaned up my thumb, cleaned up the mess and retreated to my studio for a few minutes of stupid TV and to hold my thumb up over my heart so it would stop bleeding.

Today I finished the pillow and I hope my daughter loves it as much as I love her. It’s far from perfect, I’m not a professional sewer by any imagination but it’s stitched with lots of love. I unstitched the tag from the jacket and put it into the seam so it sticks out as a reminder of what it was. I also preserved the spot where my daughter sewed a tear in the jacket by hand to remind her of how much she loved her pup and the memory of the hole, maybe, too. I’ll deliver it when I go to NY next.

I have been knitting and since this is technically a knitting blog, I should report on my progress. I have been making slow progress with my Emsworth. I’ve picked up the front shoulder stitches, and am working my way down the front. I’ve reached where the increases under the arms are and pretty soon I think I’ll be knitting all the way around the body. I’m enjoying the lace pattern and I love the charcoal gray colorway of the Patagonia yarn. It’s a bit tricky for my “old eyes” to see the dark yarn in the evening but I’m still working away at it.

I’ve finished black sock #1 and have reached the heel of black sock #2. Today will be a good day for me to turn the heel and pick up the gusset stitches. Black yarn really does challenge the eyes. It’s best attacked when the lighting is good and bright. Hahaha!

I also started a new project, the Stashbuster Shawl by Heather Haynes. One of my former co-workers came in in hers and I knew I had the same yarn. Since everything else I’m working on was dark colors, I cast on for this shawl so I have something to knit at the end of the day. I’m enjoying the simple, meditative knitting on this one. Mostly Garter stitch, it doesn’t take a lot of brain power (of which I have precious little at the end of the day.)

My plan for the rest of the day is to do some knitting (as my “blended” thumb will allow.) I am so left-handed that it’s tricky to do anything without my left thumb! I’ve managed to write this post and I’ll probably do some baking today or tomorrow. I found a recipe for sugar cookie bars (they’re frosted and sprinkled, yum!) and I haven’t made any granola since the batch that I took to NY at Christmas time. I might need to vacuum again, too. Don’t let anybody tell you that Labs don’t shed a LOT!

Gone knitting.

Summing Up Another Busy Week

Sunrise a week ago today …

It’s been a pretty dreary week on the lake. We haven’t seen a lot of the sun so the sunrise that we did see was even more appreciated. This one was taken by my husband while I was sleeping. The lake has finally frozen over and despite the almost 50 degree day, we still have ice. Maybe we will see winter after all.

I’ve had a busy week again. I had a lake association board meeting to run on Wednesday evening and I spent the early part of the week preparing for that and sending out the necessary documents to the board members. This was also my week to work on Saturday so I was in the store two days and taught one day, too. I love teaching on Friday … it’s a highlight of my week. My morning class keeps on showing up and challenging themselves. My afternoon class has gotten smaller but they’re a good bunch.

I’ve been working away at my couple of projects. I started and finished another Love & Light by Laura Nelkin for a friend of mine. I completely forgot to take any photographs of it before I wrapped it up and mailed it off. I hope she loves it. She’s been a sweet friend for a long time.

I made a little “doll” for my granddaughter. I have customers who have made these dolls over the years and I’ve always thought they were cute. I chose a couple of my larger balls of left-over fingering weight yarn from my stash and got to knitting. Knubbelchen by pezi888 is a relatively simple project and so sweet. I hope it’ll be chewed on and loved.

I’m also working away on a pair of black socks for my son. He’s very appreciative of my hand-knit socks. This pair is black alpaca. The yarn is Lang’s Alpaca Sox 4-ply and it’s utterly delightful to knit with and is so soft and squishy. These may be the squishiest socks I’ve ever knitted. I’ve got the first sock completed and the second sock is at the heel turn. My son has huge feet so I’ll be knitting the foot of the sock for two days but they’ll be done well in advance of his birthday.

Have I ever written about the Sock Ruler? I love this tool. It was gifted to me by my sister-in-love who didn’t want to knit socks and, at first, I thought this was a goofy item and that I’d never use it. Boy, was I wrong. I love the sock ruler and it’s an amazing way to measure the length of the foot in particular. The rounded end fits perfectly in the heel and you work the foot until it’s 2 inches (or whatever your pattern directs) less than the length of the foot. In my son’s case, that’s 9 1/2 inches of foot and then the toe decreases. The Sock Ruler is available in an adult size and a baby and infant size, too. I have bought the baby and child Sock Rulers and I’ll be sure to use them when Sylvie gets bigger but I use the adult one every single time I knit socks. I love it! (And I really love my son because these socks are black.)

The Sock Ruler in my son’s black socks.

I’m working right along on my Emsworth by Isabell Kraemer, too. It’s a little bit slow-moving because I have to be able to pay attention when I’m knitting this vest. The lace work is simple enough but when I am in a group and talking, I tend to forget to move markers and counters and all the tools that you need to keep track of where you are. I can share with you that I have picked up the front shoulders, connected the neck and am working my way down through the increases at the side of the underarms. It’s quite a fun knit and the charcoal gray, while a little bit difficult to see the stitches, is a great color for my wardrobe. I look forward to getting this finished, blocked and wearing it!

Emsworth

I wound a couple of hanks of stashed yarn into cakes this afternoon for a new shawl project. One of my former co-workers came into the store last week with a shawl/scarf on that I really liked and I knew I had the same yarn in my stash. I have to pattern and am ready to cast on and play with some blending of the two yarns. More on that when I get started.

This afternoon, after I finished the store’s weekly newsletter, we went on a most excellent shopping adventure to Portland, Maine. We’ve been talking about finding me a good knitting chair for ages. I thought I wanted a sleeper sofa or a chair but it had to be comfortable for a knitter which means a straight back and a relatively shallow seat and, most important of all, low or no arm rests. I’m so excited to report that we’ve ordered my chair and it’ll be delivered in March or April and I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone on this one! Wait until you see it.

I’ll end on the volunteer front where I started and let you know that our administrative coordinator is leaving us and we (I?) will be getting back all of her files and jobs and the office phone early next week. I’ve decided to close the “office” for a couple of weeks to give myself some time to recharge. It’s been a lot of work. My board meeting was successful in that there are several board members who have stepped up to get a few tasks accomplished and we will be forming a governance committee group to find the new slate of officers to take over in the late summer. And we will also be forming a committee to figure out how to better organize the lake association so that we can close down for a while in the winter and how we can better plan the season so that the board does less of the work and there are consistent tasks for the staff. I’m eager to see where this leads. We are on the precipice of requiring a part-time executive director to oversee the business of the organization.

The other organization whose board I sit on is the Maine Arts Academy. We’ve had a busy fall/winter, too! We are so excited, though, because we’ve bought our own building and we’re moving the school to Augusta, Maine pretty soon. Our current campus has gotten way too small and we have the demand from students and this year we had to turn some away. (And we hate to do that!) I’m extra proud of this group of dedicated teachers, administrators and board members. They’re among some of the most wonderful people I’ve had the occasion to work with. I look forward to being in our own building and seeing where the school goes. I’m sure it’s going to be a bright future for MeAA!

Sunset this afternoon … pink skies and snow in the forecast. I’m crossing my fingers (and toes!)

Gone knitting.

KnitCompanion

I got a new iPad for Christmas. My old one was probably an original iPad and it was ten or more years old. I used it regularly and it didn’t owe me anything but it was not able to run a lot of the programs that I wanted it to run and it was time for an upgrade.

The main reason I wanted an iPad was so I could use the KnitCompanion app. I’d used the free app but I wanted to upgrade and pay for a subscription because I’ve read and heard a lot about how wonderful it is. My old iPad couldn’t run the app.

I’m a serial paper pattern printer and I go through a lot of paper and ink and, although I recycle, it feels like a tremendous waste of paper if there’s an app for that. And there is. The subscription is $25 a year. I’m pretty sure that I pay that for ink alone in a year. And there is so much wonderful stuff in the KnitCompanion app. I’m really excited about it.

Today I’ve been working on my Emsworth vest. I’ve followed the beginning of the pattern from my printed paper pattern and I had two pieces of highlighter tape in two different places to remind me where I was. One was on the chart and one was on the pattern. Today I uploaded the pattern from my Ravelry library to KnitCompanion and customized the chart so that the row I’m working on is highlighted. I also changed the coloring of the chart to mark and count the (RS) knit/ (WS) purl stitches so that I don’t have to stop and count the long stretches of stitches, the app counts them for me. It’s brilliant!

There is a highlighter in the app and the highlighter lines don’t move when you close the pattern so you can work on another pattern – I was working on my Knubbelchen doll for my granddaughter. I’m heading into New York to help babysit when her dad is out of town later this month … I want to bring a few things with me and this is one of them. In advance of Valentine’s Day. Anywho … I digress. I hopped out of the Emsworth pattern and into the Knubbelchen pattern and I can be sure that when I go back to work tomorrow, the highlighters will be exactly where I left them (not hanging inside my knitting bag.)

I’ve found a good tutorial on VeryPink Knits YouTube channel. They’re really well done and they make great sense. I’m sure I’ll be returning to remind myself about certain parts of the app like I did today to remind myself how to manipulate the chart so that it’s easier to knit from. I’m one happy camper, uh, knitter!

Gone knitting.

A Quickie – Merry Mitten MKAL

One of the women that I work with told me about this mitten MKAL (mystery knit-a-long) she was doing this winter. I decided to partake, too … and now I’ve (finally) finished a bit behind but I did it and I wanted to write a little bit about my experience in the MKAL.

The pattern called for and I used one ball of Rowan Felted Tweed. I chose a neutral gray/blue colorway that I liked and figured they’d match all of my jackets. The yarn is soft and a joy to knit with.

The pattern is a very nicely written pattern and I really enjoyed the opportunity to practice cabling without a cable needle or twisted stitches or whatever. Everyone deals with these techniques differently but the directions were clear.

The pattern is really pretty and it was fun to knit. BUT I have a couple of “complaints.”

First of all, it takes one ball and half a thumb worth of yarn. Ugh. I was so bummed to have to purchase a second ball for half a thumb but that’s what I needed to do. Now I have almost a full ball of Rowan Felted Tweed to use up.

Secondly, now that the two mittens are done and wet blocked, I look at them and the stitches and all the patterning is lost in the tweedy nature of the yarn. I chose a light color because when you have a pattern/textured stitches they show up better with lighter yarn. Sadly, this yarn is so “busy” that the pattern has been swallowed up. I’d love to see what the pattern looks like with a “plain” yarn that isn’t tweed or multicolored or anything other than plain. I suspect that the patter would show up much better.

I’d tell you to knit this pattern, it’s a fun knit, the weight of the yarn is a good choice and the pattern is attractive. BUT knit it in plain yarn. Not a tweedy yarn. Not a variegated yarn. A plain yarn. Try a Berroco Vintage DK or a Cascade 220 Sport or Emma’s Yarn DK in a tonal. There are so many DK weight yarns that would show this lovely pattern better than the yarn called for in the pattern. I don’t have anything against the Rowan Felted Tweed. I love the yarn. But save it for another project.

Gone knitting.

Love and Light

We’ve had a few dreary, gray days here on the lake. The Paperwhite Narcissus that I forced are starting to bloom and they make it a bit brighter in the house. Today I started and finished Love and Light by Laura Nelkin for a friend of mine from high school days. She had seen the one that I made for my granddaughter and asked if I’d make her one. So, I’m spreading a little love down to Pennsylvania and to another artist. It’ll go out in the mail as soon as I have her address.

I think I have written about this pattern before but I’m going to write about it again. I used a US 10 1/2 needle (the pattern calls for a larger one but I don’t have one. I have a 10 1/2 so I used it … my thought is that if it’s not something that someone’s going to wear, it’s not critical. It takes me a few hours to make one. I started today at around 1:30 in the afternoon and was finished about 3 hours later with a couple of household chores thrown in.

Knitting with wire, however, is really tough on my hands. A few hours of knitting with wire and my hands are tired. But it’s so inspiring to start and finish a project in a day.

On the other hand, let’s talk about my Merry KAL mittens. I’ve finished both mittens but have two thumbs to knit and I’ll bet you a nickel that I don’t have enough yarn. Soooo … I have to decide if I want to buy another ball of Rowan Felted Tweed if I don’t have enough. It’ll be interesting to see how far I can get. And then I’ll need to make something else with the ball of yarn … because I bet I’ll get one thumb finished with the yarn i have so it’ll be one thumb out of the second skein! Good grief!

I sent off a package to New York City this week with my last FO of 2022 and my first FO of 2023. I finished the cashmere mittens to match my granddaughter’s bow hat and I also finished a little cardigan. I used some stashed yarn from On the Round in Rockland, Maine in a lovely blue tonal fingering yarn. I love Rachel’s yarn and the sweater is adorable. I found the perfect buttons and I think the baby will look adorable in it.

I’ve been working right along on my Emsworth vest by Isabell Kraemer. I’m knitting it in Juniper Moon’s Patagonia organic merino yarn in a charcoal gray. I really needed something in a dark gray or black and, well, you know what they say about knitting in black.

I had a really nice day today. My calendar had no appointments on it so I could stay home and do whatever I want. I baked some carrot cake baked oatmeal for my breakfast and some blueberry muffins for my husband to have with his coffee in the morning. I got some laundry done and a bit of work at my desk, too. It’s nice to climb into clean sheets and I have a new “fancy” silk pillow case that my daughter gave me. It’s pink.

Gone knitting.