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.

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!

Snow (-y) Day!

Just before sunrise this morning

We are finally getting a snowy day! I came home from work last night and listened to the weather reports and decided to err on the cautious side and cancel knitting classes today. Since weather forecasting is not ever a sure thing, I am always hesitant to cancel classes but this time it seemed that they were consistent messages that we were going to get measurable snow. And, YIPPEE! We are!

When we awoke this morning the snow hadn’t begun (picture above) but within an hour or so the snow could be seen coming up the lake and before long, it looked like this … and it’s supposed to continue on through the rest of the day.

The snow begins

So, my brain went on a snow day day off and I forgot my 8am Zoom meeting and my 9am Zoom meeting and I’ve chosen to give myself grace and move on to enjoy the day regardless. I decided that I’d give myself the gift of baking this morning. First up was The Foodie Physician’s Blueberry, Apple and Walnut Baked Oatmeal. I love baked oatmeal. I have always wanted to love oatmeal but the texture makes me gag. When I discovered baked oatmeal, I was skeptically hopeful … but it was good. I’ve been baking it ever since. This is a good recipe and I like it a lot. I used my frozen organic Maine blueberries and some too-old-to-eat apples from the farm in this recipe and local maple syrup. I didn’t have any plain yogurt but I had vanilla so that’s what I put in. I just had a serving for lunch and it was delish! Here’s the recipe:

Blueberry Apple & Walnut Baked Oatmeal (The Foodie Physician)

  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped, divided
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, any type (I used oat milk)
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use the pure stuff not the imitation)
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, finely chopped apple, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F)
  2. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Mix walnuts, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
  4. In a second bowl whisk milk, yogurt, egg, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla together.
  5. Arrange 1 cup each of apples and blueberries on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Scatter the oat mixture evenly on top. Pour in the milk mixture and press to submerge all the dry ingredients into the liquid. Scatter the remaining walnuts, apple and blueberries on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutesuntil the top is golden and the oats are set. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve as is or topped with milk, Greek yogurt or maple syrup. (Try it without further sweetening, I think it’s great as is with milk!)

Since I’d baked something for myself, I decided to make something for my wonderful hubby. His choice was blueberry muffins. This recipe, I’m afraid, I can’t share, it’s a family secret and held close to our family’s chest. But I will share the baked muffins if you ever come visit us in Maine. They are a regular pre-breakfast treat when we have company.

We had a visit from our neighborhood Pileated Woodpecker. The female is a regular at our feeder this winter. I sure hope this means that she has a nest close by and that we’ll see her whole family in the spring! Our little red squirrel has also been a regular at our living room window feeder and we have fun laughing at his or her antics. We can get up close and personal with the window between us but it will sit and eat all of the sunflower seed in the feeder if we allow it.

Paperwhite Narcissus in bloom

And the frosting on the snowy day cake is that my first Paperwhite Narcissus is blooming!

And now I’m up in my atelier sharing this snowy day with you and in a few minutes, I’ll be heading over to my chair to knit. I have a 3-cable baby blanket on the needles in Berroco’s Vintage Chunky for a client and the queue of orders is already starting … it’s a new year, after all. I’ve also re-started knitting the Arne and Carlos mini-jumpers for my Advent Calendar. I would like to finish them before Advent 2022. And I’m going to cast on a sweater that has been sitting in my Ravelry queue for at least a couple of years. I’m going to add some steek stitches to it so I can knit it in the round. I’ve decided that my first WIP (or UFO) attack for 2022 will be my lobster hat. It’s been languishing way too long.

You can see all of these projects on my Ravelry project page. Gone knitting!