Love and Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gone knitting.

What a Day .. and a half

We had our first “plowable” snow Friday night and yesterday. We are thinking we got about 8 inches … maybe 9. It’s absolutely beautiful! The only drawback, if you can call it that, is that we lost power on Saturday at around 2:30pm. The short story is that we got power back this afternoon around 3pm. BUT for a household with two generators, we were mighty cool over that 24 plus hours and I’m really grateful that I have a husband who is creative and can figure out how to minimize our discomfort.

So, how is it that we have two generators and neither one works? Well, suffice it to say that we’re in between generators. Our old one is a portable model that we drag out of the garage and across the yard to plug in and it ran the whole house. But my husband needs a new hip and we thought we’d bite the bullet and get a new, automatic generator hooked up before the winter kicks into high gear. We had our neighbor install (except for the propane) a new automatic generator. We may be able to leave the house in the winter after all. BUT we were told by our propane company that we only had to dig a ditch from the house to the generator and they’d come hook it up … and then they needed a deposit … and they didn’t come. So my husband called them about it and they hadn’t scheduled us. And now it’ll be January 6th before they can come. Meanwhile, obviously, there was a nor’Easter … and several inches of heavy snow … and 24+ hours of powerlessness. Literally.

I’ve knitted through the hours that were difficult and growing cold. Neither of us slept particularly well last night. We were both up at 3am for a few hours … reading with our headlamps, drinking a cup of tea. I was lucky and was able to go back to sleep. This morning the sun came out and we are fortunate to get some serious passive solar heat. The living room was 66 even after almost 24 hours of no heat. Husband got a long extension cord, passed it through the kitchen window and plugged into the fridge so we didn’t lose our food. He also realized that he could plug into a power strip and then we could also charge our phones. And a space heater. And a shop light.

The knitting helped me cope with the lack of comfort. I take the luxury of heat and electricity for granted every single day. The expectation is that we will always have it – and we even flick the switches when we know that power is off. A rude awakening but a reminder, too, about how lucky we are to live here. In the home that we built on the lake that we love in the state that we chose as our home together. In a special country where we are afforded so many freedoms and luxuries. Our “suffering” and “discomfort” was minimal at best but we were among the lucky ones.

I’ve finished the socks for my daughter that I started on the way to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. I love the yarn. They’re happy socks!

They’re plain vanilla socks, my favorite Yankee Knitter pattern. I’ve bought the pattern several times and keep going back for more. I’ve now bought the pattern electronically and I hope I don’t shred that pattern, too.

I realized that I had some beautiful cashmere yarn in my stash that are the perfect colors for a hat for my sweet granddaughter. I have been wanting to knit a hat for her that is a bit larger than the newborn hats that she has because she’s bound to keep growing. I combined two patterns to make the bow hat in a DK weight yarn. I’ll block the pieces tomorrow and put them all together. I hope I love it as much as I think I will. Despite the ladders and some funky color change mess.

Aaand, last but not least is the little cardigan that I’m knitting for Sylvie. She’s getting big enough that the newborn sweater and the Christmas sweater that I made her may not fit. I’ve shipped the Christmas sweater and am close to finishing the cardigan … one sleeve almost finished and one more to go. Add some ribbing around the opening and some buttons and it’ll be ready to go. I love the shade of blue that is an On the Round sock colorway that I’ve had in my stash. I’m knitting a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern. (Have a look at my Ravelry project page for all the details.)

So, in addition to finishing the sweater and blocking and assembling the hat, I’ve been trying to decide what project to knit next. It’s difficult to believe that I haven’t got more projects on the needles. BUT it’s time for something new. I just saw a sweater (cardigan) pattern called the Ramona Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith. It’s an Aran weight wool in a grey colorway. I happen to have a sweater’s worth of a heavy worsted gray yarn by Brown Sheep. I think I may be heading down the Ramona path later on this week. I don’t have a dark grey sweater and this will match a lot of things that I wear on the regular. And it’s not complicated. My head is a swimming with responsibilities and I can’t deal with a knitting pattern that requires a lot of my attention.

I also need to knit a pair of Christmas socks for my hubby. He surely deserves them for taking such good care of me.

Gone knitting.

Cashmere … Nimbus Cowl

Pink Cashmere Times Two

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 …

Sunrise 2/1/2022

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.

Gone knitting.

What is a Weekend?

Saturday Morning 4/18/2020

Here we are on Saturday again. I’m trying like crazy to make the weekends feel like a weekend, like normal. At least a new normal. Today we went on a drive to Farmington, Maine to get some lobster and steamers for dinner, They were out of fish already. There was a long line of people, respectfully standing six feet apart, some with masks. I stayed in the car while my hubby went to get the food. I am realizing that I am fearful of other people and I need to conquer that fear because my dear hubby is at risk, too. Not just me.

The drive was enjoyable and I was glad to leave “campus” (home). It was actually sunnier in Farmington than it was here today. But we are enjoying the merganzers and loons and other feathered creatures returning to the lake. We scared a critter swimming by the house early this morning – the tail slap told us that it was a beaver. Pretty wonderful.

I’ve finished a dishcloth promised to my middle child. I had made one for her brother for Christmas and she wanted the same one because she liked the larger size.

Not Really a Mystery Dish Cloth in Sugar and Cream

I’ve also finished my son’s birthday socks. If you see him, please don’t tell him about them. He’s entitled to one pleasant surprise on his 30th birthday. This will be a tough day for all of us when we can’t be together to celebrate but when this is over, there’s going to be a massive celebration!

Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter

I used a KFI sock yarn that is cashmere and wool and these are so soft! I made a pair for my sweet hubby for Christmas with the same yarn. I liked it so much that I bought a second ball to make for my boy. I had a kerfuffle around the number of stitches on the first sock so I had to frog a bit and reknit, but they’re done and they’re lovely. I hope he will love them and know how much I love him – he has huge feet and his socks take forever to knit.

Fine Sand by Heidi Kirrmaeir

Once I got my Find Sand sweater to the place where I divided the sleeves from the body, I tried it on. Boy, am I glad I did. I didn’t do a swatch for this sweater and I should have. Call me lazy. I have frogged the whole project and will now do a swatch and reknit the pattern. It was too small and my stitch count was way off. I had two more stitches per two inches … when you’re making a “me-size” sweater, you will have a significantly smaller sweater if you’re this far off. No amount of blocking will help. Hence, frogging. If I didn’t laugh at myself, I’d be miserable. I can laugh, give myself a brief slap on the wrist and then move on. This is one of the great lessons that I’ve learned from knitting. Forgiveness of self.

I’ve finished 18 patches for the Arne and Carlos Quarantine KAL and they’re great! This has been such a happy project for this difficult time. While I was unable to focus on larger projects, as I’ve said before, I could focus on these little ones. I am waiting to see what Arne and Carlos say that we’re making before I finish mine but I am thinking that I’d like to make a wall hanging rather than a pair of pillows. BUT with that said, I kind of like the idea of pillows, too. I’d back mine with denim and they’ll match the pillow I wove at Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat last summer. I’ll let you know.

Gone knitting!

View from my Atelier window … there’s a loon out there, fishing

Find all the details on these projects and more on my Ravelry project page. I’m lindar on Ravelry. Find me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by LindaWarner and on Instagram as @QueenBeeKnits

Making Progress … stitch by stitch

Driving Home

So, I’ve written about having been struggling with “tennis elbow” since the end of July. It’s still a nagging problem but I’ve been doing some knitting. Not much but some. Yesterday I went to get a massage to work out some new kinks in my shoulders and arms. It was very helpful and I felt pretty good afterward. I had a couple of errands to run and then planned to go home to get some Christmas stuff “wrapped up”. (ha! ha!)

I was stopped in traffic on my way to the office store for labels when *CRASH* … I was rear ended. After a call to the police, waiting for them to arrive and make a report, I was able to drive my car away with minimal damage. The woman who hit me wasn’t so lucky. Her car was towed. Just before Christmas, that’s a big bummer. She said she was trying to find a cough drop and looked down. My response and the police officer’s response was the same, “That’s all it takes.”

Today I am feeling fine. I was happy to head to work with minimal aches and pains. I think those that I had were more from the massage working out kinks than from having been hit. So, I am feeling so grateful that it wasn’t worse. That nobody was hurt. That I was able to drive away. 

Oh, and my knitting … I’ve got several projects on the needles. None are moving along at a quick pace. I knit a few rows (or rounds) at a time and then put it aside. A pair of socks for my favorite son, a pair of fingerless mitts that have been languishing for thirteen years. A Bristol Ivy shawl in Cashgora yarn, Dolores (Franklin Habit’s sheep) and several others.

I did finish a baby hat knit in cashmere yarn for my new nephew in California for Christmas. He’s perfect and I can’t wait to meet him! 

Gone knitting!

 

Wet Blocking vs. Steam Blocking vs. Spritz Blocking

Some tools you'll need: Eucalan (or Soak) wash and stainless steel t-pins

Some tools you’ll need: Eucalan (or Soak) wash and stainless steel t-pins

It took me awhile, when I started knitting, to figure out just what blocking means. There are a few (maybe several) terms that knitters use regularly that are not really clear to those who are new to the craft. So, I’m going to try to give a general description of two often-used blocking techniques – wet blocking and steam blocking.

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Blocked Shawl – wool. Wet blocked.

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Close up of what happens to garments when blocked – the lacy details just come alive!

For most sturdy fibers, I like to wet block. Wool is a sturdy fiber (and if it has a little bit of man-made fiber blended in, it’s still sturdy enough). I would also suggest wet blocking linen garments. I’ve read that some people “whap” their linen once soaked … sounds violent to me but I know it does get “softer” when washed a couple of times.

To wet block a garment, you want to immerse the garment completely in cool water mixed with a little bit of wool wash like Eucalan or Soak. Gently lift your garment out of the water and gently squeeze the extra water out. Never (NEVER) wring hand-knit garments. I usually put the garment on a clean bath towel, roll it up and then press gently to get even more water out of the garment. Then lay it flat on a blocking board or a new clean towel on your guest room bed. Or on an infrequently traveled area of wall-to-wall carpet. Gently pull the garment to the right shape and measurements and let it dry. It may take a couple of days.

An alternate method is to steam block. I set my garment on a clean bath towel and with my steam iron set to the steam setting, Pin the garment into the shape/size that you want it to be. I hold the iron over (without touching) the garment and give it a jolt of steam or two or three. The heat and moisture will relax the fibers enough to make it possible to give it a little bit of adjustment. Let it dry completely. (Another way I’ve heard some people steam block is by using a wet (clean) pillow case on top of the garment and putting the iron onto the pillow, pushing the steam button, until the pillow case is dry. This is a gentler method than wet blocking and you should get the same result.

Note: If your garment is made of hand-dyed wool, and the color isn’t “fixed” and you see dye in the water when wet blocking, you can also add a little bit of white vinegar (a cap-full or two) which should help “fix” the dye. If color is bleeding, keep rinsing with cool water until the water runs mostly clear.

Lacy edge of a mink & cashmere blend shawlette

Lacy edge of a mink & cashmere blend shawlette (it’s for sale, if you’re interested)

The last method that I want to discuss is spritz blocking. If using this method (which is good for any fibers you have doubts about soaking in water or steaming with an iron … in my house that’s alpaca, silk, mohair, cashmere and anything I’m not sure of … I pin it into shape and then spritz it with a plant sprayer. Make sure the sprayer is clean (hasn’t been used for cleaning chemicals or anything) and filled with water and just spritz the garment until it’s moderately damp. Leave it there until it’s dry.

There you have it. A primer, if you will, on blocking. I hope this helps!

Gone knitting!