It was a picture perfect day today but really warm. I don’t love the warm and muggy days. That’s why I live in Maine.
I spent the day getting all sorts of little projects taken care of … laundry, I baked a blueberry coffee cake with streusel topping (the butter had been sitting on the kitchen counter for a couple of days), made some iced green tea, cleaned the kitchen, made phone calls, worked on the details for our lake association annual meeting that’s coming up soon, and had a meeting. I am so grateful for the air conditioners in our kitchen/living room and my atelier. It makes getting things done so much easier – if I didn’t have the air conditioners I would be a lump in front of a fan.
But this isn’t about that.
I’ve had a request for a baby rattle that’s rather unique – it’s to look like a New York City Metro Card. When I was at the store on Friday I bought some Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic yarn in a golden yellow and black (for the stripe). I also grabbed a blue but I think that will be going back because the lettering will be added by embroidering and the cotton yarn will be too heavy.
It took me several times to get the size right. I originally thought it should be five inches wide but that turned out to be too big. The real cards are much smaller so I decided to cut it down to three inches wide and two inches tall. Figuring out the three stripes wasn’t too difficult and I’m quite pleased with the basic part of the “card”.
I knitted a plain yellow rectangle to be the back of the card. I intend to do a 3-needle bind off for one side of the toy and I’ll seam the sides when it’s stuffed and after the embroidery is finished. That will happen tomorrow. When the light is better and when I’m feeling fresher.
The biggest question to me is, how do I make it rattle. I’ve been researching tonight and one tutorial had a fabric tube stuffed with bells. That might work … and I’ll stuff around it with fiber fill. Time will tell if it will work. I’ll update after the gift is delivered.
A few weeks ago I would have told you that it was going to be a bummer because we wanted to go to Massachusetts to visit with my brothers and their families but as it turned out, we had to stay home (the bummer) because I forgot that I was signed up to work on Saturday and our kennel was closed on Monday and Tuesday due to lack of staffing. But it turned out to be a great weekend with a visit from my college roommate(s)!!!
I lived with C. sophomore year and we’ve been fast friends for nearly five decades. We had such a good time – we always do. We went to the garden store, Longellow’s, a huge hit with all of our out-of-town visitors, to get flowers for my pots outside. We had an “adventure” finding Maine peas and strawberries and we feasted on ice cream, homemade blueberry muffins, our first (not grown by us) native tomato, salmon, steak and quesadillas. We went on a “cocktail cruise” and did a lot of porch sitting and chatting. I did a bit of garden tending, we snipped back the garlic scapes, picked a few leaves of lettuce, pulled a few weeds, and spent an hour handing our our lake association’s Loon project signs. We watched the Friends of Messalonskee (lake association) annual 4th of July Boat Parade – we had the largest turn out ever! At the end of the parade route there were 40+ boats! We had a bonus visit on Sunday from my freshman roommate and her partner. L and I lived down the hall from C and her roommate, now deceased. We’ve all known each other for a long time and it’s wonderful to be together. L happened to be in Central Maine (across the lake from us) for a night on their way to the north woods. I wish we had remembered to take photos!
It felt so great to slow down and recover from the last few months of “rat race” and I’m trying to figure out how to keep that (more) balanced feeling closer to the everyday. I need to take more time for myself because I need it.
I had decked the house out with our buntings and our flag was flying. We looked mighty patriotic, if I do say so myself. (Today the buntings will come down and be put away for another year.)
What I didn’t do for the last few days was knit. I am rather amazed, frankly. I didn’t knit a stitch Saturday through Monday.
Last night I sat down to start a new baby sweater as a sample for the store. I cast it on three times and each time made a mistake in knitting rows. Each time because the directions seem hastily written (and it’s a major yarn company’s pattern.) There are directions for rows “hidden” in other directions and they’re not “obvious” to me. So, each time I frogged the start of the sweater and cast on again. And then I realized there weren’t three rows of garter stitch before the stockinette stitches began and I frogged it again. I finally put it in time out and picked up a different WIP – Billie – also by a major yarn company and I’ve had success with (almost) knitting two pairs of them. Pair number two is down the first leg. These pants are so cute, I’d like to have a pair for myself. Hmmm, that gives me an idea.
Last week I finished the Mermaid Tail that I was knitting. It makes me smile just looking at it. The pattern is Mermaid Cocoon Newborn Photo Prop by Angie Hartley. I knit mine in Plymouth Yarn Encore Starz in the teal colorway with sparkles. It’s perfectly gaudy and I can’t wait to gift it. I’m going to attempt a little matching headband – perhaps with a shell as a button embellishment. I’ll have to try to drill a hole in the shell and who knows how that will work.
My Elton cardigan is languishing. I picked up the arm stitches on Friday and haven’t touched it since. I have to find a short needle to knit the sleeves and hope I can avoid using DPNs because they make sleeves so much clunkier to knit. I have a Ciao Goo Interchangeable Minis set and I’m crossing fingers and toes that the needle size that I need isn’t already being used for another project. (I’ll have to go on a hunt for them in project bags both hidden and in plain sight in my atelier.
I did finish the body of the sweater and did my first tubular bind off and I’m wondering where this fabulous technique for a stretchy, clean and neat bind off has been all my knitting life. It’s perfect!
Today is Wednesday and my husband and I both have the day “off”. I’ve been languishing – with a few emails and a phone call of two – on the front porch in the sun with my coffee. It’s nearly noon and I am choosing to enjoy the day with no pressure to “do” stuff. While I’m tempted to do the sheets and towels and remake the guest room bed, I think I’ll take my sample baby sweater out to the porch and cast on again. Persistence for the win!
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.
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.
The past week I’ve been living “on the road” which is saying that I’m not home. This is the first road trip that I’ve taken by myself in two years. I found myself very anxious when I was leaving the house. My GPS on my car wouldn’t connect, I couldn’t get it to play my podcasts that I had hoped to listen to, nor would it play my music that “I” downloaded (with lots of help and support from my sweet husband.) Turns out that if you turn the car off and then re-start it, that it works. Phew. I was so grateful for my husband’s suggestion.
First stop was to my “oldest” friend’s house in Connecticut to celebrate the life of her son. He died on Valentine’s day in a one car crash. He was 28 years old. The memorial service or “Irish Wake” was wonderfully well put together for Scudder. He didn’t want a church funeral or, really, any formal service. So, we all ate and drank and remembered the young man who was so loved by his family and friends. His sister’s and mother’s lives will be forever changed. I was lucky to be able to spend the night at my friend’s house and chat for a few hours before heading off to Massachusetts.
Second stop was Salem, Massachusetts. My sister-in-love is house and dog sitting for my niece and her husband who are honeymooning in Italy! We haven’t been able to have a lot of girl time since I moved to Maine (we have plenty of time together with husbands and kids and other siblings but not just the two of us) so I really wanted to visit for a couple of days. And I did … and I extended my visit to a week! One of my wonderful co-workers worked for me on Thursday and I cancelled my class (I know, that’s not normal!) on Friday. Today the husbands arrive and we’ll spend the weekend celebrating my nephew who is off on an excellent adventure to Alaska for a few months.
I am knitting! I finished my Humlebi Shawl by Fiber Tales. I knit this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. I love the oatmealy-gray yarn and the bumble bees that are knitted in around the edge are fabulous! I will block it aggressively rather than gently and I hope it’ll be an ok size for me. I used just over one skein and I’ll weigh the remaining one to figure out how much I used in total. I checked my gauge and I measured 19 sts per inch rather than 17. So, I wasn’t too far off but it probably would have been a bit better for me on a larger needle. It was a fun knit so I may consider knitting it again just to see what happens when I change the gauge to what it’s really supposed to be and I have more yarn.
I also knitted up a couple of pairs of booties for a new mom (and dad)-to-be. I knitted up the pattern that I found at the store years ago and that I really love to knit. It’s called Sue’s Baby Booties and I knit it up in Cascade Yarn’s FIxation. When I ran out of projects (daughter’s socks are at the toe and I need her foot measurement, Humelbi Shawl was finished except for blocking, and I only had Arne & Carlos’ Advent Jumpers left which take too much concentration to knit in a group) so I cast on another pair for my brother and sister-in-law’s neighbors who just had a baby girl. This pattern makes me so happy! I love all the combinations.
I have reached the toe decreases on the socks for my dear daughter. Plain vanilla socks for the first pair to see how she likes them and how they fit. Since I don’t have her feet to try them on or measure. I sent her a text to trace and measure her foot so I know how long to knit them. We used to have the same shoe size but mine are bigger these days, I guess. Anyway, I’ll put the first sock onto a holder and start on the second sock so I can continue my progress. I’m feeling successful and productive with all these small projects.
Spring in Massachusetts is a couple of weeks ahead of us here in Maine. I can’t wait to see our spring bulbs in bloom. They’re coming!!! The snow in the yard is all gone, the road has already dried up a bit from the muddy mess that it was when I left. The lake is still mostly covered with ice (it’s certainly ice-covered at our house but each end is more open than a week ago) and it’s turning grayer. I’m ready to see the water again.
Yarn: Patagonia Organic Merino (Light Grey colorway; three hanks)
I have knitted a lot of shawls and this is the first one that I’ve knitted that starts with a pico cast on – and over 300 stitches! I’m not convinced (yet) that the picot is picot-y enough, but I hope that if I block the shawl and pin each of the picots that it will be more accentuated. I can’t wait for the yarn. to bloom and to see what happens to the little bees. They’re knitted over a few rows so the first half of them is just a couple of wings and a bobble … bee butts! I had to laugh when I saw them. And then you go back and knit another bobble row and the bee is finished. They’re adorable and I’d like to add them into every single thing that I knit from today forward. (I probably won’t do that but, gosh, they’re stinking cute.
I am knitting this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino yarn by Juniper Moon Farm. This may be my new favorite yarn. I have a vest worth in a charcoal gray and I have a sweater quantity in a rusty orange color. It’s a rustic wool but it has a nice hand and it’s just sticky enough that it would be a perfect pick for a colorwork project. Obviously, this isn’t colorwork but it’s a fun and simple enough project.
The bees are simple enough as are the flowers. The rest of the shawl is garter stitch with decreases. Lots and lots of garter stitch and decreases. Once I reach seven stitches, I’m done. More on that as I make progress!
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 …
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.
I write a weekly newsletter for the LYS where I work. This past Sunday, I included what I thought was a good idea to start off a new year … organizing your workspace/knitting corner and all your supplies.
The idea isn’t mine. I saw it on an Instagram post by @ithoughtiknewhow and the general premise is to take a day to do something to start your new year off with a sense of organization and planning rather than the left-over havoc of the old year. I know that I can’t get all of these tasks done in a day but I can probably accomplish several of them in a week. Yesterday I started and finished three steps (all of the ones that I suggested people finish in the newsletter.)
I gathered all of my WIPs (works in progress), my needles and notions that are spread around in bags and drawers in my studio, and brought them to one spot. I’m so lucky to have a studio space where I can do this! (Gratitude.) I then proceeded to examine each project to see if it’s something that I still want to knit, made sure that the yarn and pattern are in the bag of projects I want to keep and put them away in my cabinet. I also rescued yarn for the projects I don’t want to knit, returned it to a cake/skein and put any needles and notions away. I put finished project contents and bags away (I have bins of partial skeins saved away for those “just in case” times and I do return to them frequently) and made sure the project bags were clean before I put them away, too.
I have kept ten WIPs to finish this year. I returned several projects that I don’t want to knit and there may be one more that I’m on the fence about.
I also made a list of the WIPs in my 2022 Bullet Journal so that I make time to get some of them finished – they’ll be in my face every time I start or finish a project. Right now I have a commission that I am working on, it’s half-way done and when it’s sent off to my client, I’ll finish one of the WIPs in my cabinet. @ithoughtiknewhow suggests the possible planning of a day where you work on WIPs … I’m not sure I’m that good at keeping a schedule but it’s appealing and I’m considering giving it a try.
(Sadly, I have a drawer of sewing/quilting WIPs, too. I wonder when I will get to thinking about them. Maybe when (if?) I retire. LOL
When I was younger and had three little kids, life was busy. I loved being responsible for the care and feeding of three little humans (It was the best job I’ve ever had!) and I sometimes tried to imagine what life would be after they flew the nest … less laundry, less cooking, less busy. One of the things we all liked best was going to the beach with my mother (GranJan).
I used to pack up the “mommy van” (yes, it had wood paneled sides) with three little kids and drive from Central Ohio to Connecticut and then on to Rhode Island. They loved staying in a cheap Knights Inn somewhere in the middle of the trip. They “hated” Pennsylvania because it took such a long time to drive through. But the drive was always worth it when we got to the beach. All of the kids spent every summer there until about the year 1999 or 2000. Since they spent more years there, my girls have a greater connection to the place. The girls have returned to visit or drive through a few times. Kate met Heather at the beach. Her family owned a home there until about ten years ago. She had visited at the beach with Heather a couple of times and, as facts would have it, even slept in the house that I rented.
Anyway … we planned for a week in the late season and as it turned out the timing was perfect. The house was perfect and well equipped. The original part of the cottage was built in the late 1800s. It has a living/dining room, kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a bath but over the years, we figure, they added on bit by bit. Now there are three bedrooms and two baths in the main house and another two bedrooms and two baths in the new addition. There was plenty of space for all of us and room for another family, too. The kids and their significant others and their dogs all had space to live comfortably for a week. And we did!
We spent a lot of time outside. It’s an easy walk to “sea glass” beach or the “kiddie” beach and we enjoyed both. Since it was after the season, we were able to enjoy the beaches with the dogs and alone. We looked, but there is not much sea glass at “sea glass” beach these days.
We spent enough time at the beach to get a good dose of sunburn and that felt really great! We also spent a lot of time in the yard. We had a nice patio and yard with a grill and picnic table or two where we could enjoy the view of the ocean from the house and some smores.
We ate well, we stayed up late, we played fun games and had a puzzle-palooza competition. We filled the recycling container more than once with La Croix seltzer cans, wine and beer bottles. We visited Watch Hill for ice cream cones, peach, of course, and a bit of shopping. We had some trouble finding a place that was open for lobster rolls but we found a brewery in Westerly that had a great summer ale for $10 a case.
And my heart is full.
Nothing makes this mom happier than being with my kids. We haven’t spent time like this together for a long, long time. We think the last time we were at the beach was twenty-two years ago, plus or minus a year or two. I’m not sure that we’ve all been anywhere together for a week since then, actually. We’ve had weekends here and there, we’ve had some of us together (during the first pandemic summer) for a week or two, but not all of my kids for a week all together. The pile of shoes left at the front door was life affirming. The laughter around the fire pit was, too.
I am so grateful to have been able to spend this vacation with my three kids, two husbands, a girlfriend, my sweet, patient husband and our seven dogs. We had a great visit with my aunt and uncle who came all the way from Lake Tahoe to visit with our family and we had a visit from a summer camp friend who happened to be at the next beach over on business. It was, in a word, good!
I’ll forever be grateful to have been able to do this with my kids. Spending time together, reconnecting, getting to see their relationships, getting to know their significant others better. It was a walk down memory lane and a memory-making vacation that we all enjoyed. AND we are already planning our vacation for next year!
Last week I sent some yarn to a customer who lives far away. She wanted to make socks out of Encore Worsted yarn. I sent her a picture of a few choices and we got it mailed to her. On Wednesday I got a phone call and she was stuck. She had gotten her leg and heel flap done, had turned the heel and picked up the gusset stitches. But despite having done all the “hard” work she was stuck on the directions to knit the next part – mostly on having the right number of stitches on each needle so she could decrease in the right spot!
Now, any of you who have ever tried to explain something over the phone understand how difficult it is, right? I think every teacher, at one time or another, assigns students to give directions in writing for someone who has never done something. Dialing a phone, making tuna salad? It’s not easy to fully describe any task where you are unable to see the person to whom you are giving directions.
So, I’m on the phone with a customer who is stuck on her sock. First I have to figure out where she is exactly. Next, I have to explain to her what to do next. Well, on Wednesday I didn’t do a good job. We couldn’t find a place where we could communicate with each other well enough to solve the problem. I was feeling like a failure and she was frustrated.
And then she suggested that she might send me a picture! It was a genius idea!
This was the picture I got via email
This is the picture that I got. You can see where the working yarn is (at the bottom left-hand corner of the needles) and, if you’ve knit many (MANY) pairs of socks, you know exactly what you would do next. Right? But can you describe to someone over the phone what to do? Well, after spending fifteen minutes on the phone without making any real progress, we finally had a new starting place and new hope!
Once I saw exactly where she was, I could then explain to her what she needed to do next.
She knitted down the left-hand needle and then knitted half of the heel (top) stitches. This becomes needle number three. We are now at the new beginning of the round. Now she can begin her first round with gusset decreases – Needle one will be the second half of the heel stitches and the right-hand needle stitches, the bottom needle is the top of the foot and will be needle two. We already know where needle three is!
Working together with our photograph and the use of our wonderful new technology …
Now she’s ready to complete her foot.
I am so grateful for the challenges that I am given as a teacher. I love the brain work that it takes to figure out how to solve a challenge for the student and for me. And I have made some wonderful connections and created wonderful friendships, too. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love teaching knitting!
Well, we did it! We moved to Maine. Our house in Florida is sold, we have driven forEVER (four days) and we are here in our happy place.
The cars are unpacked, all my yarn is in totes and bags and boxes and is ready to have me knit with it. But first I have to do a little settling in … find some clothes to wear, clean the kitchen for use the next couple of weeks, clean the guest house cabin where we will live over the course of our house-building process and then move our stuff up there.
We have to do a test sleep up there because I recall that the bed we bought for the guest house was reported to have a sink hole in the middle of it (one person slept there?) and I absolutely refuse to fight an uphill sleeping battle for three or four months! My sleep is too important to me to sleep in a less-than-perfect bed!
Tomorrow night is my knitting group and I’ll be happy to see the ladies! And there’s a tea party at my LYS this weekend. Best get my work done so I can go relax and visit and knit!