Starting the New Year off with FOs!

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First finished object is the Ruche Beret by Susan B. Anderson. I love this hat and hope that the new owner will wear it through some challenges and into a lifetime of good health. I knit this for a friend from college who has a friend going through chemo treatments. I knit this in this pretty beige-y taupe-y color and it’s a dk-weight yarn, Plymouth Baby Alpaca DK. I love knitting with this yarn! It’s so soft and will feel so good on a “naked” head. The best thing about this hat is the simplicity of the design. I just love it.

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Next up, the 1898 Hat. This is a free pattern on Ravelry and calls for a worsted weight yarn and US 7 needles. I started knitting with the needle as in the pattern but it was too small. So, I changed to a US 8 and the hat is lovely! I knit with the customer’s Cascade Yarns Eco Duo. Another super soft yarn and it will be so warm. The construction of the hat is a little bit different – the “cuff” is knitted in garter stitch with slipped stitches that is folded in half and grafted into a “headband”. Stitches are picked up around the cuff and the hat is completed in a more traditional manner. The customer was so happy that she’s asked me to knit another one out of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride. Stay tuned!

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Last but not least, a baby blanket for my sister-in-love. They have an employee who is having a baby this month and she asked me to knit a blanket. I love stripes, so this was my suggestion. Knitted in Plymouth Encore (navy, white and bright green) to make life easier for the new mom (it’s washable and dry-able!) This is a simple knit – almost boring, actually – two rows of each color, carrying the yarn up the side. The green is an i-cord edge. I love the way the green pops! It’s blocking on my guest bed (sans sheets after Christmas) and it will be sent very soon.

Speaking of Christmas … I haven’t shown you all of the Christmas knits that were finished and given.

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An eyeglass case in Berroco Comfort DK (red and green, obviously!) The pattern is Sweet Sunglasses Case by Ambah O’brien. This was a fun little something to knit for my co-worker who is super sweet. I will make more of these. The Comfort yarn is very soft and won’t scratch glasses … it could be lined but I stink at sewing.

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These are really a better and brighter blue with a bit of sparkle and were sent to my adorable mentee. I met this darling girl when she was ten years old and I was her mentor at school for a couple of years before she moved about 2 hours away. She had a rough transition and I adored her so I traveled to meet her for lunch at her new school every week. Zip ahead and she’s now a beautiful teenager and I still adore her.

Pattern is Holywood Mitts and was a free pattern at our store. I knit these in Holywood by Cascade Yarns. It’s just enough sparkle. And I loved the button that I found to serve as a ring!

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Wow! This is a terrible photograph! These are alpaca fingerless mitts knitted in Cascade Yarn’s Eco Alpaca in black. The pattern is Maize by Tin Can Knits. I love, love, love Tin Can Knits designs! I made the mitts a bit longer than the pattern called for because when I am driving I want to have the fabric of fingerless mitts between my hands and the freezing cold steering wheel. Most fingerless mitts are a bit too short. I hope my son-in-love loves them. I figure that they’re classic enough that they’ll go with any coat in New York City. Right?

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Another questionable photograph but these are the felted slippers that I made for my step-daughter. (I don’t love that “title” and will need to think of an alternate term for my husband’s wonderful daughters.) Anyway, I made these for her for Christmas at her request. Her favorite color is blue so I chose two shades of blue Cascade 220 Heathers. The pattern is Fiber Trends Felted Clogs by Bev Galeskas. I’ve made several pairs of these for different people and they are fun to knit, interesting construction, and they’re very cozy, too.

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I made several of these hats! This is another Tin Can Knits pattern called Barley. I made a trial Barley for my husband and he loved it so I made one for all the boys in the family for Christmas. This one is Plymouth Yarn’s Homestead in Brown Heather colorway. The other three, for the NYC boys were knitted in Berroco Ultra Wool in black. All city people like black. I like black, too. I love the Ultra Wool! it’s a wonderful super wash wool and I am looking forward to seeing how it holds up to the washing machine!

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Two more! For my other step-daughter, a cowl made with Universal’s Bamboo Bloom in shades of pink and Wisdom Yarn’s Poems. I love the Hanassaku Cowl pattern, too! It’s fairly simple pattern is easy (-ish) to follow. I say “fairly” and “-ish” because it always seems to me that when I let myself believe that something is easy, I always make mistakes. I started this cowl twice because I assumed that I knew what I was doing and I also pretended that I could count! Needless to say, I couldn’t do either! It was better on the second try! I started my cowl with the Poems and ended with it, too. Mine is not nearly as wide as the pattern suggested. I used one skein of each and knit until it was gone. I love it and I hope she does, too.

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I used a Top This! Hat “kit” to make this little crocheted lamb lovie for my dental hygienist. Well, not for her, exactly, for her new baby. I am going to visit her next week and will deliver it then. The pattern is a free pattern that I found at the shop (Yardgoods Center, my LYS). I started to knit the pattern and didn’t like the way that the fabric felt. I decided to try to crochet it instead and really had fun making my fourth (or fifth) crocheted project! I hope the baby will love it. It’s really just a great big granny square – and I love making granny squares!

I finished a pair of socks for my handsome hubby, too. I used a ball of Regia (their worsted weight sock yarn) and he’s happy as a clam. He was “nagging” me about a new pair of socks for him and I knit them at work or at knitting group so that he had no clue I was making him socks. I do love a surprise when I can keep them! I haven’t taken a photograph of them … they’re already in the laundry.

So, that was a long post full of finished objects. It feels good to see that I have gotten a lot of knitting done and gifted. I love to make gifts! More details are in my Ravelry project page. I’m “lindar” on Ravelry!

Gone knitting!

Another Adventure …

What kind of crazy people are we?

We left Florida on December 20. Three dogs in the back seat and the truck loaded up with presents and a Honey Baked Ham … New York City and Christmas with two of my three children. We planned to spend one night in Richmond, VA on our way and then a night just shy of the city. Only one wrong turn which sent us into Washington, DC … at least we weren’t towing the boat! Smooth sailing!

Almost There!

Almost There!

With my daughter’s help, and having made good time, we ended up in Washington Heights and our little sub-let one night early.

The little apartment we rented was about mid-way between my son’s and my daughter’s apartments. Allowing for adjustments for all the dogs and super convenient for us – not to mention really reasonable rates!

Lobster Feast!

Lobster Feast!

Christmas eve was spent eating (mimosas started off our day) and baking cookies. Our family tradition is Spritz cookies. It’s still more fun to make them when you have someone else to decorate them. I love that my kids all value that tradition – started by my mother – it’s simply not Christmas without Spritz! A lobster feast for dinner, with thanks to my brother the lobsterman, had us all a mess and very happy. Christmas movies and lots of laughs … or was it the wine? I almost forgot to have the kids open their Christmas Eve gifts from Santa.

Christmas Day was low key – relaxing over coffee and muffins, Skyped with the missing daughter and her father in Chicago. The NY kids had to work but we hung with my boy and all the dogs. Ditto on Boxing Day.

IMG_2636Our big outing into mid-town was dinner and going to Kate’s show. We went to Qi for dinner and I love their food. Seeing my girl one more time as the star of Rock of Ages was a special treat for me – and my boy went with his old mom. N decided to skip the show and visited the Strand Bookstore at Union Square which he adored despite a couple of wrong turns and perhaps a wrong address (hence the wrong turn!)

On the 27th we packed up the dogs and presents and tearfully kissed the kids goodbye. Heading north in our truck to our “camp” in Maine.

camp /kamp/ n. A place usually away from urban places where tents or simple buildings (as cabins) are erected for shelter or temporary residence.

Camp Warner

Camp Warner

Think primitive. No running water. No plumbing. Think outhouse with a very (VERY) cold seat. And melting snow on the wood stove to wash dishes. Our mattress on the floor in the living room. Windows frozen with condensation. We carried all of our stuff in from the street with our Christmas snowshoes! A simple dinner in front of the wood stove and I was ready for bed. Too many late nights and I was ready for bed … probably long before I actually climbed in. Despite the “camping” and the cold, I wasn’t ready to leave when we heard that there was a Nor’ Easter coming in! I can’t wait until we are there for all the winter storms!

Next to Marblehead and a visit with my youngest brother and his family. We’ve loved getting to know their friends and love any chance to visit this charming town full of friends and family. So much so that I forgot to take any photos of the visit!

New Year’s Eve day we headed to Connecticut … a trip down memory lane for me at Shady Glen in Manchester and then a visit to the cemetery to check on the headstone for my parents. Then on to Westport to my college roommate’s new apartment … had to check on my “roomie” since we were so close!

What a wonderful trip! I am so grateful that my N loves my family as much as I do and that he’s willing to drive all the way to Maine and back so I can knit!

Gone knitting … Happy New Year!

It’s the Most Wonderful (?) Time …

Over the years, I learned to dislike the Christmas season … yes, I am a Grinch-y Christmas person. I’m not sure when I made the turn but somewhere along the line, the expectation of  making Christmas perfect for everyone got bigger than me. And it grew and it grew like the Grinch’s heart. I keep trying to scale back the expectations and it’s difficult. Even with no kids in the house and even though the pressure really only comes from me. I’m still not in love with Christmas.

So, for this year’s goal for myself, it’s to try to keep it simple. Focusing on what’s important. I’m not going to have all the gifts ready – my daughter’s leg warmers are probably not going to be finished. But she knows they’ll get to her as soon as it’s humanly possible. The rest of the family I’m keeping in my heart with small gifts to acknowledge the day. The hundred and fifty cards may not be sent until after Christmas (Happy New Year!) I want to make cookies because it’s a tradition. I want to have a small something for my family to open on Christmas and know that they’re with me in spirit although we’re separated by many miles. I want to be relaxed and enjoy the season!

I know I’m blessed to have children and family that I’ll miss on Christmas because that means I have people in my life that I love. I want to hold that close and remember how grateful I am for my children, my family and my friends – and you, dear blog readers are in that extended family, too.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah, whatever you are celebrating I hope it’s filled with joy, wonder, good health – and maybe a little bit of yarn!

Gone knitting!

Leg Warmers in Process

My daughter the actor wants a pair of leg warmers for Christmas. I love that she asked me to make them for her! Love it! And so, I got on Ravelry and found several patterns for her to give me an idea of what she had in her mind. This child knows what she wants!

The pattern that she liked is by Drops Designs and can be found here. They’re considered leg warmers or yoga socks. Yoga socks don’t have toes or heels. Leg warmers are over the knee length. So, when I was in New York visiting her (and seeing her show on Broadway) we went to Soho and visited Purl Soho. Oh. My. God! Talk about a little piece of heaven! I didn’t get nearly enough time to browse adequately … and I probably could have spent a couple of hours in the store. The colors, the fibers, the light wood and tea and it was so busy!

The Queen Bee at Purl Soho

I was so enthralled with the shop that I forgot to take photos inside! Sorry!

She picked a Madeline Tosh yarn in two colors and wants me to do the pattern design. (The Drops pattern was in a self-patterning yarn and much more .) The yarn is Madeline Tosh’s Tosh Sport (100% superwash merino wool; 270 yards; 5-6 sts = 1 inch) The colors that she chose are warm mushroom, a lovely neutral that is warm and the color of mushrooms – aptly named. The second color is fig. A deep, rich, reddish-brown that is a lovely contrast with the warm mushroom.

My swatch (yes, I made a swatch for this project!) was perfect! On the money – 26 stitches and 13 rows!

Swatched Stitches!

The yarn is yummy to knit with – and I am moving right along! As I’m knitting and designing at the same time, I am never sure if I’ll love the pattern. But I am pleased with it. The sample shown in the pattern is much more pattern-y so I had to make sure she was liking the direction I was taking. (I texted Kate a picture today for the stamp of approval and she liked it.) This is the picture that I texted to her …

Leg Warmer #1 … is on the needles!

So far, so good! Only about 36 inches left to knit. (Oh, yeah, and did I mention that I still have to knit two Christmas stockings?) Did I tell you before that I love knitting? Well, I do! I just hope that they fit her legs!

Gone Knitting!

I Believe …

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I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. I’ve always liked Thanksgiving best.

Christmas was OK when my children were little … nothing like the excitement of Santa Claus early (very early) on Christmas morning … it’s believing in miracles that is so sweet with children.

Now, when my children are grown (and Christmas stuff is out before Halloween), … it’s way too commercial. People are all in a hurry and seem to forget that they’re not the only ones driving (there have been two fatal accidents close to here in the last week) or shopping or whatever-they’re-doing. I’m not sure if this is because of the season or the lack of people-contact that we have in our world today. We seem to have no realization that our actions can impact the life of someone else.

That being said, here are some things that I believe.

I believe that every house should have only one television … and maybe none at all but I realize that’s unrealistic. When we all are able to go to our own corners and watch whatever we want whenever we want, we learn selfishness. When we learn selfishness and then are rewarded with gifts galore, we learn entitlement. Selfishness and entitlement are not pretty when they combine.

I believe that we need to give something of ourselves away. By that I mean giving gifts (anonymous donations, hand-made and sent away, something from the heart) that we have absolutely no expectation of getting anything in return. This year I’ve knitted a hat for a baby in Maine as part of the Period of Purple Crying project. Nobody (well, maybe you who read this blog will know) even knows that I donated a hat. I hope the baby that wears that hat is warm and safe this Christmas. Nobody knows that I sent another had to a soldier … I’m hoping that soldier is coming home this Christmas. I’ve read about K-Mart shoppers having their layaway items paid for and Caribou Coffee orders paid for. This is great giving and just what the spirit of the season is all about – giving freely, no strings attached. When strings are attached, it’s not really a gift at all. It’s a bribe, a manipulation and nobody likes being manipulated.

I believe that we need to search our souls to find out what we believe. How we want to live our lives. How we want to be treated and, thus, how we will commit to treating others. The “golden rule” … “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is not a bad way to live. We left our summer house clean with crisp air-dried sheets on the beds, floors swept, kitchen clean, fridge stocked. We leave hotel rooms with a tip for the maid (tips= “to insure proper service”) because we appreciate the clean sheets and towels. We leave the beaches and hiking trails with gathered from the surf and sand and woods trash. Left behind by selfish, thoughtless, litterers who didn’t think about how beautiful the woods were in Maine in July. Someone who couldn’t be bothered to carry his Coke can down the trail to the garbage can at the parking lot. (See paragraph 2 about selfishness and entitlement combining.)

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I believe that we can’t spoil a baby with love. Babies require copious amounts of holding and hugging and kissing and cooing. Require! And in order to be able to provide all that loving, we need to take care of ourselves. If that means spending 3 nights (in tears because I could feel their pain) listening to them cry themselves to sleep according to the doctor’s advice, then we all learned something. (By the way, those were three of the most difficult nights of my life. Three times.)

I believe in miracles (I found my big brother when I was 50), I believe in caring and compassion (I keep McDonald’s gift cards in my car to give to homeless people who might need a hot meal), I believe in volunteering and giving back. I believe in Karma … you get what you give.

I believe in therapy (mental health and yarn). It keeps my hands busy and my heart goes into every stitch. Knitting is therapeutic for me. While I knit a garment, I think about the person who will wear it. I think about the stitches and all else falls away.

This has been a good year full of learning for me. The bumps in the road remind me to value the smooth roads. The few illnesses have reminded me to appreciate health (mine and that of those I love). Short times together remind me that I love being with my family and that there’s never enough time spent together – and that’s such a good thing because it means we love each other and get along. I miss my parents, my grandmother, my children at Christmas – good, too, because it means we’ve had good times together and I desire there to be more. I am thrilled to be making a little bit of money doing what I love and look forward to doing more of it.

I’m moving forward. As unperfect (ha! autocorrect doesn’t like that word) I am, I am enough. I am consistently working to be a better person … learning more about myself, my world, my art, eating less (and exercising more), meeting people, creating true friendships, one step, one day, one moment at a time.

Gone baking …. hey, it is Christmas! 🙂

 

Fini! (That’s French for Well-Finished!)

Pair One through Fifteen

Well, the shipment has been sent to Massachusetts – can we hear a “hurrah!”? Whew! What a big order and what I have learned is that a simple pair of fingerless mittens takes about six hours to knit (without weaving in the ends). More complicated ones take up to eight hours. So, for fifteen pairs, that translates to over 100 hours of knitting. Tough to do in a matter of a couple of weeks and preserve the health of one’s fingers! (I can officially say that my left hand/wrist is a bit tender.)

So, what am I going to knit next? Christmas gifts, of course. I have a headband and a (*gasp*) pair of fingerless mittens first on the list. I’ve also had an order for a pair of custom-knit felted slipper socks from my Etsy shop. That will mean that I’ve sold three pairs of slipper socks, a pair of mittens, a hat … all to people who are NOT in my family! Yay, me!

I have a lot of cookie baking to do as well. My mother always made Spritz cookies at Christmas time. She was particular about decorating them which I am not. I can’t do Christmas without them! This year, I would also like to make some molasses spice cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies and peanut butter blossoms (the ones with the ginormous hershey kisses stuck in the middle of them). We’re having a little holiday gathering right before Christmas and I’d like to have a few dozen as gifts for my guests and also take a few over to my little “old lady” friend across the street. Her husband is in a nursing home – I’m sure she’s not baking this winter.

My gifts are all ordered and sent. Have bought the niece and nephews a little something – also in the mail. My kids gifts are done and gone. Now, to focus on the gifts for those who will be spending the season here in our house.

My Christmas village is calling to me – the parts are all out and the lights are in but I have to figure out where they’ll live in this house and get them set up. It’s been a couple of years since I have done the full Christmas decorating thing … and despite the fact that I won’t have my kids here this year (and no Christmas is quite right without my kids) I’m trying to have a festive and happy attitude of gratitude. I’ve got so much to be thankful for!

Gone knitting! (Or at least I’m going to think about it!)