Thankful

We woke to this view this morning and are so thankful for the privilege of living here, this close to nature and where we can escape the craziness of the world. We are just back from our Thanksgiving gathering in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Two of my kids and their partners and dogs came up from New York. It was a wonderful Northshore Thanksgiving – seafood feast; clam chowder from the Causeway Restaurant in Gloucester, steamed clams and lobsters and dessert from the Italian bakery in the north end of Boston. A wonderful gathering of family and friends who are like family.

I’ve been knitting away and have finished several projects that I can share and a couple that I won’t.

I had a commission for three simple Christmas stockings from my cousin who had lost hers to a moth infestation. She requested green, red and white and I insisted that I’d put on their names. I made an effort to get them finished by Thanksgiving because I’ve lost the post office holiday “battle” before when items intended for Christmas didn’t arrive in time … even when sent two weeks in advance. I didn’t want that to happen here. I’ll be writing up this pattern in the coming weeks for my followers. Why not, right?

I also finished a stocking for my granddaughter. I wanted hers to match her parents and thankfully I kept a copy of the pattern. I must have had the book once upon a time but I don’t any more. I knit Sylvie’s stocking out of Plymouth Galway yarn in an Aran colorway. The stocking is cabled with two different cable patterns on it. The hugs and kisses cables go down the front and back of the sock from top to the tip of the toe, around the heel, too. It’s not an easy pattern but I’ve learned to read my knitting and cross the stitches according to my eyes in order to keep the pattern going. If my memory serves, I added a tassel and an initial ornament to her parents’ stockings. I couldn’t find a nice “S” ornament but I found a cute photo ornament and I think it’ll be good.

I’ve knitted a few things for my granddaughter that I think I can share with you since she’s not yet reading (she’s one month old!) I made her a pair of faux shearling booties and a Christmas sweater and a Love and Light to hang in her nursery.

The shearling booties have knitted cuffs. This is a fairly simple kit to knit that one of my co-workers saved out for me. She was knitting a pair for her granddaughter and I’m grateful that she thought of me. Every well-dressed Maine grand baby needs these. The are a “kit” by Boye called Starting Point Cozy Cuff Baby Booties. I used scraps of Berroco Vintage for the cuffs. I can’t wait to see these on her!

Babies love to look at lights and I thought a light-up heart, Love and Light, designed by Laura Nelkin would be a good addition to her nursery. I had ordered the 200-light strand of fairy lights from Amazon some time ago and finally grabbed my needles to get it done. It’s such “big” knitting that it doesn’t take too long to make and it’s absolutely adorable.

I made her a Newborn Vertebrae sweater in rainbow sock yarn and because this fits so well, I decided to make her another one, this time for Christmas. I knitted the body of the sweater with white sock yarn and then grabbed some bits of stashed yarn and knitted red cuffs, a green and red border around the front of the sweater, and then i duplicate stitched a big green Christmas tree with a bright yellow star to the back. I think it’s adorable. I really wanted to put some sequins and beads on it but babies only spend time on their backs these days and that would NOT have been comfortable. Maybe next year!

I’ve still got a Musselburgh hat to finish but I’m nearly up to the decreases and finishing. I hope it fits. I think it’ll be warm. Pictures to follow as it’s a gift. I’ve got 15 of my Arne and Carlos Norwegian mini-Jumpers finished and number 16 is on the needles. Needless to say, these will not be finished this year and it’s ok. I’ll get them done for next year and this year I’ve bought all of my kids a chocolate advent calendar from Harbor Sweets in Salem, MA. If you’ve not tried their sweet sloops, you’re in for a treat. They’re quite a step up from the $1 chocolate advent calendars from the Christmas Tree Store in Augusta!

I have a couple of pairs of mittens on the needles, too. The KAL “Merry” mittens has been fun. I’ve knitted through the end of the third clue and have the fourth to do next. And there’s a second mitten, too. The Peace de Resistance mittens have been chilling out in my knitting bag for ages. They’ll be happy to see the light of day one of these days. There’s also a pair of socks on my needles.

As of today I’ve completed about 63 projects. I think. I keep track in my bullet journal and in my Ravelry queue (mark the year you’re knitting in the “tags” area) I’m quite pleased about this number because I’ve been working and teaching and volunteering on two boards of trustees so I’ve been busy.

I want to touch back to the sad end of of our Thanksgiving when we had to say goodbye to my beloved grand-dog, Willow. On Friday morning, something was wrong with our girl. Luckily, my brother is a veterinarian and he and his wife scooped up a very uncomfortable Willow and took her to their animal hospital for a check. It turned out that she had a “sizable” tumor on her heart and the heart was surrounded by fluid from the tumor. The fluid could be tapped and drained but there was no way of knowing how quickly it would fill up again. My daughter and her husband made the difficult decision to put Willow to sleep so she wouldn’t suffer, and she was suffering. We all had a chance to visit with her and say our farewells and my brother and sister-in-love are the most caring and compassionate team I know. We are so very lucky that we were there at their house when this happened. The kids were scheduled to head back into New York City that morning and it could just as easily have happened in the car. At least our dear Willow was surrounded by people who love her as she passed away. We will all miss her.

Rest in peace, sweet Willow. Until we meet again.

Gone knitting.

Fall-ing Back.

We see a lot more sunrises on the lake in the winter. We have gone back to daylight savings time here in Maine, falling back an hour. This means that we wake up to sunrise and it’s dark before the end of the workday. But it’s beautiful. The sun rises in the colder months almost directly across the lake from our bedroom window and that means the sun shines straight in. It’s lovely waking up to a colorful sky.

Life has been busy on the lake. We have been trying to get the gardens cleaned out and the pots emptied and put away. My hubby planted the garlic and covered it with a thick layer of hay. We have had our first snow … not enough to shovel and followed by rain, but first snow. It was lovely for me because I stayed in and enjoyed the warm, cozy house and a day of drinking tea and knitting.

We’ve been doing a lot of “family planning” with the holidays closing in on us again. We will be in Marblehead, MA for Thanksgiving this year with some of the kids, then heading to the Washington, DC area for (bonus daughter) Robin’s wedding and then I’ll be heading to New York City for my first babysitting gig as a grandma. The baby has hit her one month mark, loves to eat and hates to sleep on her back, alone, in her bassinet. Her parents are exhausted but totally in love.

Basic Christmas Stocking by Queen Bee Knits (pattern coming soon)

I’ve completed two of my three commissioned stockings and am working on the third. It’s of interested to note that I am using three different brands of yarn for these three stockings and they’re each a bit different. I think I saved the best for last, Cascade 220, which was the only 100% wool yarn that I found that was “white enough” to pass as white – not ivory or cream or aran colored. I’ve gotten down to the heel in about 6.5 hours of knitting. I estimated ten hours and we’ll see how close I get. I’m not as good as lawyers are at keeping track of my time. My dear old dad would be so disappointed (not really). Once tis he knitting complete, I’ll duplicate stitch the names onto them and send them off. The really rough pattern notes are here. I’ll write up the pattern when I can and post it on Ravelry.

I’ve finished the baby’s Christmas stocking, too. I made this stocking pattern for her parents “a few” years back. It must have been before I kept real records of my projects on Ravelry. But I do know that the pattern is out of a book … and I kept the pattern but didn’t keep the book. SO … I’m lucky that I have it to knit again. I really enjoy knitting cables. I had forgotten how much. This stocking is fairly heavily cabled but very satisfying to knit. The X and O cable pattern is easy to memorize with the stitches crossing every four rounds. Once you have learned how to make a cable lean to the left or the right, it’s a pretty easy pattern to read as you go. The “ornament” pattern is less intuitive but it’s really lovely. I love the way the design incorporates the cables all the way through the heel flap and heel turn and all the way down to the toe. The pattern is Hugs and Kisses Aran Stocking by Dee Lockwood.

Hugs and Kisses Aran Stocking

I’ve made a second Newborn Vertebrae for Sylvie. This time it’s a Christmas design. She’s getting so much bigger but she’s still pretty tiny and she spends a lot of time being held or lying on her back. (She much prefers the former, by the way.) The rainbow vertebrae sweater that I knit her fits her perfectly and her mom and I decided it was a good fit for the time through Christmas. We hope. Anyway, I used a 50g. ball of fingering weight sock yarn for the body of the sweater and then I dove into my stash for the accent colors. I found several greens and a lovely red and I’ve decorated the sweater appropriately. I wanted to go all out and decorate further with sequins and beads BUT they’ll be like a bad princess and the pea story because the beads would poke the baby’s back. So it’s unadorned for the most part. I just have to add a tiny yellow star.

I’ve set aside the Merry KAL until I get the deadline knitting finished. Suffice it to say that I was really (really) tired on Thursday after work and I decided to pick up this pattern for a bit … I knit and then promptly frogged the same rounds. Moral of the story is knit a very simple pattern when you’re sleep deprived or you’ll be tinking back. Ha! Ha!

My Arne and Carlos Mini-Advent-Jumpers are frozen at number 15 1/2. I’ve begun number 16 but I haven’t been back to work on it for a few weeks. I don’t think I’ll finish them this year and that’s going to be ok. I’m going to give myself some grace since I haven’t stopped working whether it’s as president of the lake association, a board member for Maine Arts Academy, at the store or in my own knitting business. I also have a life aside from work and a house to clean, laundry, groceries, cooking, baking and sometimes I have to sleep, too. The LYS where I work and teach is kicking off a Fall Smalls KAL/CAL on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we’re going to work on small projects – participants can come knit with the group for no cost and can work on any small project they want; toys, a small sweater, a hat, dishcloths, whatever. Our Fall Smalls KAL/CAL will run for just a few weeks and end on the Winter Solstice. A little (pun intended) fun ahead of a busy holiday season.

I also have a Musselburgh hat on the needles that I’ve spoken very little about. This has been my knitting go-to for when I need something “brainless” to knit. I’ve got the hat nearly to eighteen inches and time to decrease for the end of the hat. BUT it’s been a lot of knitting in the round. Once past the increases which are not difficult it’s time to knit forever! I’ve been knitting forever. This is a hat designed for several different yarn weights. I’ve chosen a fingering weight sock yarn, washable, Berroco Vintage Sock in the black colorway. I’ll tell you honestly that I don’t love this yarn. I would rather be knitting with wool rather than this combination of acrylic and wool. The yarn is soft and washable, suitable for wearing against the skin and also suitable for babies. But my daughter said she’d wear a black hat and I wanted to try the pattern to see how it knits up. I love the pattern. Ysolda (Teague, the designer) is a genius. I hope it’ll be a perfect fit!

I’ll leave you here, dear friend (dare I say friends?) with the idea that this is a wonderful time to gather with friends and/or family and count your blessings even if they’re as simple as a crisp cool day with sun or the feel of yarn passing through your fingers. I’m grateful for a healthy family, the opportunity to travel to be with many of them over the course of the next few weeks and, of course for yarn. This is the time to fall back into the winter routine of coming inside and (hopefully) slowing down a little and knitting.

Happy Thanksgiving and cheers!

Gone knitting.

Fall – turning in

Hydrangeas in their Fall Dresses

The hydrangeas are wearing their fall colors and the temperatures are cooling. The sunrise is moving over into its fall position. Every morning it shines into our living room reminding me that I have yet to wash the big picture windows. The leaves are slowly but surely taking on the brighter reds and oranges and my favorite tree is about half-red.

I love the fall and I look forward to all of the lake work coming to an end or at least slowing down enough to give me some breathing space. And, I look forward to being able to breathe more easily – the fall allergies are horrible this year. I look forward to getting some inside work done and catching up on the projects that get put aside to sit on the porch and work in the gardens and yard. That work, if I’m honest, is getting more difficult as we get older. I have to remind myself that it’s ok to balance work and rest. It’s part of what I like about fall and winter, preparing to turn in … thinking about what is important and having time to rest awhile. And maybe a bit of knitting?!

I’ve been knitting away, as usual. It’s not a good day if no fiber has passed through my fingers. This week I’ve been working to get my Mini Advent Jumpers completed by the start of December. I have 14 knitted, two need their ends woven in and seams sewn, but that leaves another ten to go. I can do it if I stick to two per week. I just need to figure out how to hang them once finished. I’ll get there. And, frankly, I was reminded that I could do the 12 Days of Christmas if I don’t get them all finished.

Elton Cardigan by Joji Locatelli

I also finished and wore my Elton Cardigan this week. It will be worn to Rhinebeck in a couple of weeks. I’m excited to attend my first New York Sheep and Wool with my friend and co-worker, Glenda. I’ll have to get a photo of me wearing it one of these days … maybe at Rhinebeck! I realized, too, that one of my most favorite babysitters lives in North Hampton, Massachusetts and we’re getting a bus from WEBS there. I wonder if we’ll have time to see Tiki? It gives me a good reason to reach out to her after a lot of years.

I cast on a Musselburgh hat by Ysolda Teague in black fingering weight yarn for my daughter, Libet. I must really love this kid to knit a black hat. Especially a fingering weight black hat. I thought the design was a great one, though and figured that my NYC kids would all likely wear this hat. This will be the first of several I think. I’m using Berroco Vintage Sock which is new to our store and I needed to give it a try. It’s got a very soft hand but it’s a little bit splitty. If the hat is a success, I’ll cast on another one in wool which I prefer to knit with. This one can be given away or kept. Wool is always warmer but I wanted to try the hat first with a less costly yarn to make sure of the fit.

I also knitted a couple of Bird BookMarks by Claire Garland. I need to seam them, stuff them and then add the string or cord so they can do their jobs. They’re very cute and will be cute stocking stuffers at Christmas time. I like them, in part, because they use up little bits of yarn that I have left over from other projects. I have a “problem” throwing away perfectly good bits and bobs of yarn and as a result, I have quite a bit of little bits. I keep thinking that I’ll use them in a blanket or something else that will use a lot of odd bits of yarn … so far, that hasn’t happened. And it may not … until I have to use it because I’ve knitted all the things that I want out of “new” yarn.

I added buttons on the Puerperium Cardigan for my future grandchild. She’s due in about 4 weeks time. To say that I am excited is an understatement. This little sweater is adorable. I had intended it to be for my great-nephew but it was too much pink so I’ve bought a new skein of yarn for his sweater and will cast on soon. This was a fun little sweater to knit and I’m glad that there’s a larger-sized version to knit for larger children. I’ll knit it again, I’m sure.

Puerperium by Kelly van Niekerk

I’ve got a pair of mittens on the needles, too. Their the Peace de Resistance Mittens by Bristol Ivy. I have had some yellow and gray Jamieson & Smith yarn from one of the Arnall-Culliford “Year of Techniques” projects that I never knitted. I decided that since this election cycle may be a bit crazy (again) that I should knit these mittens. I need to get cracking so they’ll be ready ahead of all the craziness. I haven’t gotten very far along with these but they’re fun to knit.

Peace de Resistance Mittens by Bristol Ivy

I’ve cleaned my atelier today and organized the mess that I’ve let accumulate over the past few weeks or months. I spent time this morning writing the newsletter for work, and I’ve written this … it’s time to get downstairs to make some pie crusts. We have an overabundance of eggs at our house and we’re going to make some quiche to freeze for future eating. We both are tired when we come home from work and easy suppers are much appreciated. Today it’s veggie quiches and an apple pie on the cooking list – since we don’t have to work today, we can get some cooking ahead done. At least that’s the plan.

We took a nice little drive to Unity and Thorndike yesterday to visit the Amish Country Market, now newly rebuilt and get some Macoun apples and cider from Mueller Farm and some Christmas gifts from my friends at Over the Hill Lavender farm. It was a wonderful day for a drive and it was nice to be out and about. I think it’s time to get down to the kitchen, eat an apple for lunch and get some quiche or pie in the oven.

Gone knitting … well, after I cook!

Labors of Love

Our flowers in the perennial gardens are showing off again. We don’t love gardening but we do it because we love seeing the flowers when they decide to bloom. And each year we are thrilled all over again because they’re so beautiful. This iris is one of the ones that I always forget about. I expect it to be a white iris and then this showy cousin of the white iris (that doesn’t exist) appears! It’s wonderful and (maybe) worth all of the brown tail moth rash that I am struggling with.

This is a great time to be looking at our gardens. The hollyhocks are blooming, the Stella D’oro lilies, the Iris and the daisies are all abloom. So are the hydrangeas (and we have a lot of hydrangeas) and the catmint. The bees and hummingbirds are happy campers and we are, too.

I’ve been working away at the different projects that I have on my list. I’ve finished two pairs of Billie pants for two new babies coming in the fall. These little pants are stinking cute! I’ve also finished a Kirby cardigan, a sample for the store, which is also going to be a KAL later on in the summer.

Kirby cardigan by Asa Buchta

Kirby by Asa Buchta is a simple top down cardigan with a little bit of lace around the yoke for babies 3 to 24 months. Suggested yarn, and the yarn I used, is Vintage DK by Berroco. I used the colorway that was in the pattern photograph. This little sweater is going to be part of a KAL with the Maine Yarn Cruise later this summer. Our Berroco rep at the store, Andra, had made several of these little sweaters in various DK weight yarns that Berroco makes. They were all adorable. This is a fun little sweater to knit.

When I started knitting this sweater, I was tired after the 4th of July weekend. I started it three times and each time I frogged it back and started again. The sweater that I was starting didn’t look like the photo on the pattern page. I’m a good knitter and I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I must have skipped a couple of rows. I texted a co-worker friend who I also knew to be knitting this sweater for her future granddaughter. I wondered if she had had a challenge with starting the sweater and did hers look like the one on the pattern. It didn’t. She was one garter ridge short, too. So, I wrote to the designer through Ravelry and told her what was happening. Come to find out the pattern was wrong and was missing a pair of garter rows following the button hole row. Yay, me! I was the one who noticed it. The pattern will be updated (and it appears that I was on July 7th.)

I’ve finished my second Billie pants. These pants are so cute and I can’t wait to see them on the babies that I’m knitting for. One is expected in September and one in October. The pants are knitted in Berroco’s Vintage DK (or Vintage Baby). These yarns are basically the same yarn but one is in 50 gram balls and the other is in 100 gram balls. Since these pants (size 6 months) required 2 balls of Vintage Baby, I chose to buy one skein of Vintage DK. The yarn is nice to work with, soft and machine washable and dryable. I love the folded ribbing at the waist and the ankles and the extra room at the butt where the diaper bulk will be. Now I need to make two sweaters before the babies arrive! I’ve got one planned and need to find the second pattern. I have ideas!

Mermaid Cocoon Photo Prop by Angie Hartley

So, this is a special gift for a special baby. The mother of this little girl-to-be was a HUGE fan of Ariel (The Little Mermaid) when she was a little girl and I think this will be a fun gift for her baby-to-be at her baby shower later this month. When I first saw this, I filed it in the back of my mind because I thought it was really cute in the sparkly yarn and it was so appropriate for the mother! The yarn is Plymouth Encore Starz in a teal-y blue with sparkle. I’ve also knitted a simple garter stitch headband to go with it. I’d love to make some braids with an orange yarn and attach them. I hope I’ll have time. Add a fork and it’ll be a hilarious photo prop for a newborn.

I have quite a pile of baby clothes now. I love babies and I’m so excited about these little ones. I hope that I’ll have lots of time to hold them and love them and I know that I’ll be knitting for them. I also have to get back to my Elton cardigan. I only have two sleeves to knit … and the button bands … and then it’ll be done. I hope that it’s a good fit and that I can find a dress to go with it – we are heading to Washington, DC in December for my bonus daughter’s wedding and I am thinking that I can use it for that event … maybe with some sparkly buttons? I also have to focus on the Arne & Carlos Advent jumpers. I have exactly half of them knitted … maybe I’ll give myself some grace and another year to complete the set. If I really concentrated on them, I could get them done in a couple of weeks. Time will tell.

I have another project that I will write about in a separate post when I get it finished. It’s a big one and a true labor of love … all over again.

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.

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!

Grateful

Sunrise at Home

I started this post after Thanksgiving having spent several days with two thirds of my kids, their significant others, my brothers and sisters-in-love and their kids and some of their significant others. Being with family is my drug. I left Massachusetts with my heart full and my soul warmed. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday just before all of the pressure heading into Christmas begins. I’m so grateful that my children and their cousins know each other and that they enjoy spending time together and we enjoyed spending time together, too!

And now we’re well into the Christmas rush. Rushing to get the tree decorated and the presents bought and mostly shipped to their recipients but some to put under the tree and into stockings for Christmas day. I’m working hard to keep the gratitude and warm fuzzies in my heart that I had a Thanksgiving and to be fully honest here, I’m struggling. My dear husband’s daughters and one of their boyfriends are scheduled to be here for Christmas this year. It seems that because of a sick dog, one won’t be able to come. The other daughter’s boyfriend seems to be rethinking the trip because he’s spent a lot of time in Florida with his family. I was really looking forward to seeing them because we haven’t seen each other for a long time. We haven’t seen the dog mom daughter for a year and a half.

Today I’m trying to wrap my head around having Christmas at home with my little family – me and my husband. It seems that it’s entirely possible again this year. Somehow I have to make it ok and I’m not sure how to do that. It’s going to be difficult to make any major changes because I’m now scheduled to work since we were going to be celebrating here with my step-daughters. It’ll be near-impossible to kennel the dog at this point to fly anywhere and a drive to their homes is at least a two day drive each way … leaving two days to visit. We don’t relish the idea of four days in the car for a two-day visit. The NYC kids are having a Christmas dinner to which we’ve been invited but I don’t know what kind of hotel or extra bed situation we’d be looking at and the dog still needs to be kenneled. I guess we will look at our options if we find it’ll be just us for sure.

Meanwhile, I’m knitting. A lot. I’ve been finishing some projects, too. I have so many things that I want to knit and with my schedule, I’ve been lining them up for when I have some time to knit “what I want”. I’ve knitted several gifts for the kids in NYC and they’ve been sent on. We are going to go to the beach in Rhode Island again in September and that’s their big gift. Since they haven’t opened gifts, I’ll not discuss what I’ve made until after Christmas – and I even forgot to photograph a couple of the gifts. Oops!

The Slip Stitch Hat by Tanis Williams is a sweet hat with a slip stitch section around the head. It makes the sport/dk weight hat a bit warmer around the ears. I used a bit of a handspun yarn that I was gifted with a wool/silk blend yarn that I found at Marden’s here in Maine. It was a yarn company close out sale and was a great deal. This hat will be going to Yardgoods Center’s February hat drive for the needy in our community.

The beaded tape measure is a new activity that I’ve been doing with my Friday knitters, one of whom is a phenomenal talent at beading and quilting in addition to being a great knitter. Anyway, we bought a kit online (Etsy) and we had a class at the end of my teaching day a few weeks ago. What fun! I love the way the tape measure looks so much but I admit that I’m a bit hesitant to put it into my knitting bag for fear that it will be damaged or get dirty.

Evergreen Socks by Madeline Gannon are so much fun! I loved knitting these. I used deeply stashed yarn from Buffalo Wool Company. I’ve had this yarn from a bunch of years ago when I signed up for their monthly yarn club. It’s a fingering weight blend of wool and buffalo so these socks are likely to be nice and warm. I think these will be for me. I only have one daughter who has the same size feet as I do and she likes shorty socks.

Husband’s Christmas (last year) sweater. Well, he loves it and it’s a perfect fit. I gave him the yarn for this sweater last year at Christmas. His face when he opened it was a classic. He wondered if I was going to teach him to knit! LOL. Needless to say, here it is almost Christmas again and I have finally gotten it done. I loved loved loved knitting with Cascade 220 worsted yarn. I’ve not knitted with it before (I know, I was surprised, too) and it’s so much softer and more luxurious feeling that the Ella Rae wool that I’ve knitted with several times. The price point isn’t that different anymore so I’d prefer the Cascade; especially when it’s a garment. We’ll see how it wears and how it pills. The pattern is Knitting Plain and Simple #991 and it is simple but the heathered yarn makes is anything but plain.

Oh, Arne and Carlos, how I love you. I started knitting the Christmas balls last year and got about six of them finished. I haven’t tried to knit any this year because these stinking cute mini jumpers came out and that’s all I wanted to knit. I have managed to get five done and will pick up the rest of the 24 and hope to get them finished before next Christmas. I’m using Patagonia organic merino in three colors. I decided to keep the traditional holiday colors for our house. We shall see. But I love them so much!

Last but not least, I have cast on for a new pair of mittens for me. I love my “old” snowflake mittens a lot. These new ones are similar and very different. These are the Northman Mittens by David Schultz and I’ve chosen to knit with the same yarn as the design calls for. It just so happens that we have a great selection of Berroco Ultra Alpaca yarn. I’ve changed my mind already several times but I can’t change it again. I am knitting with a light tealy-blue-green and a light gray shade. The lining will be knit in a pink for a pop of color and you can find all the gory details for this and all of my other projects on my Ravelry project page. (I”m “lindar” on Ravelry.)

I am knitting a sweater for my almost-93 year old student who is having memory challenges and she was unable to be successful with this Plain and Simple pattern. I’ll get the sleeves finished this week and will present it to her as my gift on her 93rd birthday which is on Friday … and a cake! She’s one of my favorites and it’s crushing to see her struggle to knit. She was a wonderful knitter back in the day.

There you have it. I’ve caught you up to date. I’m sorry for the downer at the start of this post but I have promised myself that I would be authentic here and show you how life and knitting weave together to make me who I am. I won’t apologize for who I am and I am an emotional person. I’ve mentioned before my “ocular incontinence”, right? I will make the best of whatever Christmas brings, I’m just struggling with it for now. It’s all good. We love all of our kids and this won’t change that, of course.

Gone knitting.

It’s been a “Timespan”

This has been a crazy busy timespan … since I am lazy enough to not go back and see when I last posted, I’m using that word to indicate that it’s been a while since I have last written something here.

Life has taken on a life of its own and I am feeling the pressure of fall and shorter darker days and the impending holidays that always add pressure. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn to say “no” more often but for now, I am keeping my promises and working hard to stop every so often so that I don’t fall apart. Spending part of every day with yarn in my hands certainly helps. It also helps me to see that I am making progress both in my knitting projects and in work and volunteer areas of my life. My husband and I even had a date night and went to see a movie – neither one of us “liked” it but we went out. Together! A first since the pandemic began.

Socktober Socks

I started a thing at the store that isn’t original and not close to being my idea. Socktober. I found an article somewhere on the Internet about it and did a bit of research and then added it to my work newsletter that I write each Sunday morning. The Yardgoods Center – Yarn department – donated 16 pairs of hand knitted socks to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter. I knit the pair above and also included a pair of baby pink hand knit socks, two pairs of store-bought socks that have been in my gift drawer (doesn’t everyone have one of these?) and the wonderful customers at YGC brought in the rest. I think it’s a wonderful gift to those who are less fortunate and I hope the socks will keeps some feet warm this winter.

Pattern: Yankee Knitter Socks for the Family, Yarn: Regia 8 Fadig. Check my Ravelry project page for more details on this project and all of the others I talk about. I’m LindaR on Ravelry.

I have a bunch of projects on the needles and a few that I feel like I need to get to or need to finish.

Neck-Down Pullover for Men

I have finally made some real progress on my husband’s Christmas sweater. I gave him the yarn for said sweater last year at Christmas and it looks as if I will have it finished by Christmas this year. I’m knitting him the Knitting Pure and Simple Men’s Pullover in Cascade 220 yarn in a heathery-gray colorway. I don’t recall ever knitting with Cascade 220 yarn and I really like the hand of this 100% wool yarn. It’s not scratchy at all.

Pattern: #991 Neck-Down Pullover for Men, Yarn: Cascade 220 (100% wool).

Evergreen Socks

I finished my “Christmas Tree” socks that I’ve been wanting to knit for ages. I’m trying to keep up with a pair of socks a month (2021 Sock of the Month Challenge) and I may have fallen off the wagon just a bit but I think I am back on. This pattern is on Ravelry and I used deeply stashed yarn by the Buffalo Wool Company. Back when I was being paid to work full time (as compared to now when I’m working part-time and volunteering part-time) I joined a yarn club with BWC. I got to know the owner because we had a couple of shipping snaffus … mostly because we were in Maine for a couple of months and then Florida the balance of the time and yarn went to one place when we were in another and never the twain should meet. Ron was an absolute wonder to work with and when I “tripped” over him at an outside holiday art/craft festival in Washington, DC one year, it was really fun to be able to meet in person. (And of course he remembered me as the shipping problem. LOL)

Pattern: Evergreen Socks, Yarn: Buffalo Wool Company Tracks Sock

Arne & Carlos 2021 Advent Calendar

I’ve begun working on Arne and Carlos’ 2021 Advent Calendar patterns. I adore these little “jumpers” so much and they’re fun to knit and very satisfying to finish in a day or two. I’ve finished the first two jumpers and have finished knitting the third but still need to weave in ends and steam block it. I don’t imagine that I’ll finish these before Christmas is over but I will get them done (probably before I finish the Christmas balls from 2020) because I really want to have them displayed in the house. It takes me about four hours to knit one of these and another half an hour to do the finishing. Each one is unique and there is a collection of Christmas balls to match … I won’t be buying that pattern … yet.

Pattern: Arne and Carlos 2021 Advent calendar mini-jumpers is available for purchase on their website, yarn: Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm.

I have been crocheting snowflakes for the store window display using free patterns off the internet and scraps of yarn on hand. I have to get the glue out and dilute it to “starch” them so that they’ll hang straight. I’ve also been crocheting a set of Yip Yips that will be a gift. I’ll stop talking about them here and will write about them after they’re delivered. Another gift is a pair of socks that are on my needles currently. It’s a pair of “vanilla” socks in a colorful colorway and I’ll write more about them later, too. Suffice it to say that I am almost done with the first sock. I’ve got a way to go to get them completed.

My FEZA baby blanket is nearly finished. I’ve reached the finishing point of the fourth color. Since this isn’t promised to anybody (I started it as a project to work on when I am teaching classes or sitting in a Zoom meeting) it is sitting alone in the bottom of my knitting bag. I’ll get it finished one of these days. My Fine Sand Cardigan is in the same place. I won’t likely wear it until spring. That gives me the winter to get it finished. I really need to get it finished THIS winter, though.

With any luck, the next time I write here, there will be more than one finished item. Perhaps a sweater and a blanket by the end of the year? I’m keeping track this year of how many projects I complete … so far it’s up to around 50. Can I reach 60? Time will tell … that work thing keeps getting in the way of my knitting time.

Gone knitting!