Obviously, baking yields something delicious at the end but I don’t just bake for the result. It’s about the process, too.
My grandmother, my mom’s mom, always had something that she’d just baked on her pantry shelf. Always. She never failed. (The pantry also had a metal three-drawer cabinet that housed her “candy drawer” at the bottom where we could always go for a chocolate treat.) Chocolate frosted, only on the top and in the middle, yellow cake. The same yellow cake in cupcake form with chocolate frosting. Cream puffs, chocolate chip cookies … often the same but never boring.
My gram would take the time to bake with me and I think that’s why I love to bake. I so enjoyed being with her while we baked together and if we didn’t have time to bake together I always knew the love that went into it. Precious moments. Gram didn’t have a lot of money to buy stuff but she gave me the gift of time.
As I bake, my gram is with me. I can feel her in my heart and it makes me so happy. As I’m writing this my eyes are filling with tears which is a message that my words and feelings around this are true. (Bristol Ivy said I had “ocular incontinence” and she’s not wrong!) Baking centers and grounds me. It is something I shared with my children and with with my grandchildren; the ones of the heart and the blood ones if we are so blessed.
Meanwhile, it settles my heart in a bizarre year. I always know that baking something fills my belly and my heart.
Knitting does something similar but it doesn’t have the heart connection to my family like baking does. I love knitting, don’t get me wrong. I can sit and knit for hours and be “in the zone” where time is lost and my mind is focused. It’s good for my soul. I’ve been knitting a lot through the pandemic and have been experiencing a little soreness in my left arm – I don’t stop and stretch often enough. I’ve also been sitting too long and have worked over the past year to get up and stretch more to help my hips and back. Both passions have helped me to pass the lockdown time in a state of (mostly) contentedness and peace and they’ve been such a blessing. My husband enjoys the fruits of my labor on both fronts.
This week I’m rushing to finish his birthday socks. I’ve got one done and one to go.
Good grief! I can’t imagine how we’ve gotten to “late” September! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun (in a pandemic?)
I’ve been back to teaching a small class outside at a local park in Waterville, Maine until this week. My students were comfortable meeting outside, socially distanced and masked. I was, too. And then last week, it was chilly and we had to move from under the pergola in the shade into the sun to be comfortable. This week the high temperature was only going to reach 62 so we went into the store and were surprised that we were comfortable there, too.
Life has been full of visitors this summer, too. If there are to be blessings found in the Covid-19 pandemic, this is one! All of our children have visited for at least a week and a couple visited for two weeks and four weeks! Working from home/remotely does have its benefits. Nothing makes this mom happier than a house full of our kids! We are so proud of all of them and how gracefully they’re handling life under Covid-19. It’s been difficult; isolating at times, frustrating at times, fraught with financial uncertainty. My kids all work in the Arts in New York City … there won’t be solid work for them at least until 2021. They’ll all make it through this and they’ll all grow because of it.
(I missed grand-dog Severus. Boo! And the Littles were unimpressed and not on the porch.)
We have been eating well (everyone likes to cook) and the baking has been lots of fun! Notice that the photos are almost all of baked goods!? Ha! We made focaccia with a beautiful vegetable “picture” on it, lobster is always a favorite, raspberry ice cream cookie sandwiches, blueberries, blueberry buckle, a rustic peach and blueberry galette, blueberry bundt cake, blueberry muffins, Mrs. Dejonkheere’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, blueberry pie #1, lobster eggs Benedict, maple blueberry scones, squash pie, veggie frittata and apple pie. The raspberries, blueberries and apples were all picked by our hands! What a lot of fun.
There has been yarn in my hands throughout the visits! I’ve started and finished a few things that I wanted to share with you, too.
First up were two emPower People cowls in their signature purple.
The first is the emPower People Cowl by Casapinka. This is a simple garter stitch cowl that asks for a DK or sport weight yarn. I used Malabrigo Rios which is a light worsted weight. It’s a cowl so I really didn’t mind if it came out a little bit larger (or smaller). It was a quick and simple knit project and it’s a sample at the store right now. It’s so soft and will be a nice garment to wear and a good reminder to VOTE!
The second is EmPower Lace by Romi. I was a test knitter for this cowl and it was another really fun knit. This could be considered a bit more difficult than the first cowl, but it’s a great first lace project. I used Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool this time and I love this yarn. It was a new yarn to me. It shows the lace well and it’s soft and sturdy. Empower Lace is also a free Raverly download.
Next up are two pairs of baby booties. I confess that I have a collection of Cascade’s Fixation yarn from which I’ve made several pairs of baby booties and a few baby hats to match. But I had over-bought! Can you imagine that? Ha! Ha! So, in my pledge to use up stashed yarn, I decided to pull out all of the Fixation and use it up by making some baby booties. Two pairs down and I have plenty more to go. The green pair has a different bottom color and the pink ones are simple solid pink. The pattern is one that I can’t find online anywhere called Sue’s Baby Booties. It was a free pattern at the store. If you love it, let me know and I can scan it and email it to you.
I’ve started and finished a baby gift for a special baby boy coming soon so I can’t show you a full photograph of the gift that I’ve finished. I used Hayfield’s Baby Blossom Chunky to knit a Three Cable Baby Blanket and will make a little sweater and hat to match. I’ll update this post when I have given the gift to the mom-to-be. It’s soft, warm and washable and dry-able. All good things when you’re a new mother.
I’ve finished the first of my September socks from our 2020 Sock Challenge. This is another stashed yarn, one that I collected when we learned that there wasn’t going to be a US distributor for this wonderful Raggi yarn. (There is a distributor now, thank heavens!) Raggi is a worsted/aran weight wool and nylon blend so it’s perfect for knitting socks. The pattern, Urban Rustic Socks, I just happened across when I was looking for a worsted weight sock pattern that I hadn’t already made. I love these socks and they’re a fun knit, too. It’s a free Ravelry pattern.
I’m working away on making more masks for my kids, I’ve fixed a hat for a customer, fixed a shawl several times for a former student (the shawl has traveled from Florida to Maine and back several times) and I’ve got a bunch of projects on the needles. I’m still working on finishing my Arne and Carlos Quarantine Knitting blocks (I think it’s going to be a pillow) and my Hope Cardigan is half-done. So, life is busy and full … I wanted to catch up here so that the next post won’t be so long.
Y’all! What is happening? I’m sitting here wondering, trying to remember if it’s ever snowed in May … on Mother’s Day weekend … in my lifetime. I don’t think it has. One of our local television stations says that there was accumulation of five inches on May 10-11 1945 and 1963. I wasn’t born in ‘45 and I was 4 in ‘63. So there you go.
I’ve been keeping myself busy though. A zoom call with my Friday knitters yesterday was the highlight of my week. As it usually is, Friday is a great day when my students and I gather around the table. Or in this case around our computers. At least we can be together virtually. I bought a subscription to zoom this week so we can visit for more than 30 minutes.
Im using up a ton (well, that may be an exaggeration) of leftover bits and bobs of sock yarn making little crocheted squares for a Battenberg Blanket. This seems to be a project that I can focus on. Especially at the end of the day when my body and mind are tired. The mis-matched squares will be unified with squares of a single color … I’m not sure what that color will be yet. Time will tell.
My Humulus sweater is back out of time out … although the way it’s been behaving may warrant a return. I have managed to complete a couple of rounds but not without some drama. Mostly because my focus is stunted and I miss a stitch, typically at the end of a chart repeat and I don’t notice it until I’m at least half way around. Frogging is our friend in knitting, right? Sewing is not so forgiving. (Don’t ask!) I will soldier on and get the color work yoke finished one of these days. Then it’ll be smooth sailing to the bottom. 🤞🏼
My June socks are progressing. These are for the 2020 Sock Challenge that I’m doing with my students, a co-worker and her classes, plus a few of my wonderful FB followers. I can work on these at night, too. I’ve chosen to crochet for the last few evenings. This month, I’m using On the Round Signature Sock yarn and a US 1.5 needle and knitting the largest size. They sure are pretty.
Queen Bee’s Note: It’s now the end of the day, the snow has stopped and is mostly melted. I’ve not knitted a stitch yet.
My newest family member is my nephew, Hugh. He just turned a year old and because of life and Corona Virus, I’ve not met him in person yet. When we were facetime-ing a little while back, I decided that I wanted to make him a sweater.
I went through the normal (ha! like anything I do is “normal”) process of figuring out what pattern and what yarn to use … I had this great blue tweed in my stash and it’s a worsted weight yarn. This, I decided, would be the color. BUT we had a sweater pattern at work called Digger Jacket and I loved the idea of putting a construction vehicle on the sweater. I didn’t love the jacket pattern, however. I considered knitting the jacket in my chosen yarn with the intarsia vehicles but I really love the Wonderful Wallaby pattern. I love the construction method of Wallaby and the pouch is something little kids love. SO, I decided to knit the Wallaby with no hood, a crew neckline and a steam roller on the pouch.
To be very honest, I had planned to knit the steam roller into the pocket but I forgot. It’s one of the “symptoms” of anxiety and lack of focus that I’ve been experiencing during this Corona Virus/Covid-19 pandemic and physical distancing. So, I made lemonade and duplicate stitched the pattern onto the pouch after the sweater was completed. I’m really pleased with the outcome!
My nephew lives in Northern California and I didn’t think that the hood as the Wallaby pattern is written would be a good idea. Typically, the Wallaby has a divided placket and a hood, neither of which I wanted. I followed the pattern up to where the placket begins and then I went off on my own, fingers crossed, hoping that I really do know what I am doing. I continued the decreases at the shoulders as set until I had 60 stitches. The head opening was too small. I frogged back to where I had 76 stitches and it was much better. Six rounds of 1×1 ribbing and a bind off round in pattern and the sweater is pretty much done … I just have to seam the underarm and sew in the ends, block it and put it into the mail. I already got online and sent a little board book about construction vehicles in advance of the sweater. My son loved his trucks books and I hope Hugh will, too.
Join me on Facebook: Queen Bee Knits by LindaWarner, on Instagram: @QueenBeeKnits and you can see all of my photos and information on this project and others on Ravelry, I’m lindar.
This week saw the release of Lori Versaci’s VersaciKnits newest shawl pattern, Campfire.
I was fortunate to have been asked to test knit this beautiful pattern and with that was a request to knit it in Cashmere People Yarns, Cashgora Sport.
When I called Portfiber in Portland, Maine to order my yarn, I spoke with owner, Casey Rider, a friend and “camp counselor” at one of my favorite places on earth, Medomak Fiber Retreat. Casey is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known. I wanted my shawl to evoke the feeling you get when you wear a comfortable pair of worn-in blue jeans. I’d looked at the colors of Cashgora Sport on Portfiber’s website so I had some idea of what colors I liked but I also knew that the colors on the computer aren’t always like those in your hands. I counted on Casey to take my initial ideas and transform them into reality – and she did a magnificent job. I love the colors individually and together. While this shawl was a financial investment, it’s worth every single penny spent. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting every stitch (even the ones I had to frog and re-stitch because I can’t count!) and I love wearing it.
The pattern is clear and not at all difficult for even an adventurous beginner. Increases are always in the same space, There is some stockinette stitching which makes the pattern stitch areas worth knitting. The contrast between the patterns and stockinette are so satisfying. And the finished product is stunning … even if I do say so myself!
Campfire is made with three skeins of Cashgora Sport. I used Scree (natural), Toile (light blue) and Denim (darker blue). But you should check out the colors … they’re amazing! And the purchase of these yarns support the women in Tajikistan and Afghanistan who spin and dye it. Giving these women work means that they can support themselves and their families. Doing good.
For the month of May, you can also help Lori and Casey do some more good … Lori is donating 100% of pattern sales to Vinylhaven Community Outreach, a non-profit supporting the needs of people on this Maine island that depends on the lobster industry that has taken a big hit during this Covid-19 pandemic. Portfiber (Casey) is donating 20% of Cashmere People yarn sales during the month of May to Full Plates Full Potential, a Maine non-profit that provides breakfast and lunch to Maine children even during this pandemic.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Yesterday was a difficult day in corona virus isolation. I wasn’t in a good head space and I was really struggling with anxiety. Because of my chronic cough/allergies and my age, I’m in a higher risk group of (crap!) older people. I woke up yesterday morning feeling a little bit off … and I couldn’t pick myself up all darn day. And it was a beautiful day, too!
We started the day with accidents in the house. Two little dogs both getting old and they’re having some health challenges right now. Both of them together. So, we started the morning cleaning up after little white dogs. The rest of the day, I spent trying to focus on anything other than worry …
But you’re not reading this blog to (necessarily) hear all about my ‘crazy’ days. I have been able to knit some more of the Arne and Carlos blocks for their Quarantine KAL. If you’re not following this KAL, they were on a cruise away from home and were ordered to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival back. While in quarantine, they decided to do a KAL. I’ve really enjoyed it. I haven’t been able to watch all the videos yet but I have gotten many of the blocks finished. There have been ten designed for the first two weeks and there will be ten more coming … they’ve decided to do an additional two weeks because we’re all enjoying it so much!
I also started on the socks for my neighbor’s birthday. She was kind enough to trace her foot so they’ll be a perfect fit! I got one finished yesterday and I started the second one today after I did some baking. I made my hubby’s favorite scones. He’s been asking for them forever! It’s only fair since he went to take my car to get the snow tires taken off and took some mail to the post office for me. We freeze the scones so he can have one a day!
By the end of the day I was feeling better and went to bed early … today is a new day!
The sun is out again today and it’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood. It’s not even that cold! Somehow, the days keep ticking by and are filled with all sorts of different activities.
Yesterday I made five face masks.
They’re not perfect but they’ll work and they’re all made with lots of love! I hope they’ll help people who need them. I bought a kit from a store in Auburn, Maine and I got about 30 pairs of fabric rectangles all cut out to 7×9 inches. I also got the elastic cord that you can’t find anywhere around these days! I am a very slow stitcher and it took me forever to get these done, but I did it and I will do the rest over a few days. Or weeks.
I posted this picture a few posts back. This is a shawl that I am test knitting for Lori Versaci (VersaciKnits). I am having focus problems that I’ve written about earlier. Well, this is no exception. I have knitted and frogged and knitted and frogged again on one section. I don’t seem to be able to count to three, yarn over and go again. Ha! Ha! I am going to try once more and have the right number of stitches on row 4. On I go … and I hope I can count and yarn over this time. I can certainly count my stitches and read my knitting but this is ridiculous!
I am attributing this lack of focus to the corona virus pandemic and my concern about my little Lola who hasn’t eaten again today. It looks like the dreaded three hour drive to Massachusetts is on for tomorrow. We will drive down, drop her at my brother’s office and wait for her tests to be done. Then we’ll drive back home. We will wear gloves, wash our hands, bring our own lunch and shower when we get home. And we will have some answers.
I continue to knock out the Arne and Carlos blocks for their Quarantine KAL. We are up to day eight and I have through day six finished (one block needs ends woven in.) I continue to enjoy this. It’s in manageable bites and it feels good to be able to manage something in this chaos.
I also got my neighbor’s birthday gift delivered back to me. She turned 60 a month or so ago and I gave her yarn for her birthday with the promise to make her a pair of socks. They’ll be worsted weight and shorted in the leg so they can be worn as slipper socks or socks. I’ve not knitted with the yarn before – it’s new to our shop. I’ll get pictures up and the story of the pattern as I get something knitted and have something to show!
This morning I made cookies. As I always do, I stacked them up on top of each other at an angle so that I can get all the cookies on one cooling rack. My grandmother did this when she made cookies and she was the one who taught me to love baking. So, for my entire baking life, I’ve stacked the cookies this way. I was thinking about my Gram as I stacked the cookies today and just this afternoon I realized that today is the anniversary of her death. I knew it was coming up but I just checked my calendar!
My Gram had a tiny kitchen without a lot of counter space and she always refused to have a dish washer. When we bought her one, she made us take it back. She washed dishes by hand. There was always soapy water in her kitchen sink! But the love that came out of that kitchen was simply amazing. Among my favorites, pot roast, twice baked potatoes, and baked goods. She was a wonderful lady and I have such fond memories of spending time with her. Remembering her house brings such happy feelings and memories of baking with her – or going over to visit and finding cupcakes or cake or cookies in her pantry. And the candy drawer was always full. Just for us.
I got all caught up over the weekend with the Arne and Carols Quarantine KAL. This was the last of the five “squares” and I really enjoyed knitting them. (I have since the photo below, sewn in all of the ends, too.)
The first clue for the second week was released today … again, I’m behind! Lucky that I don’t take this too seriously! I feel like I have plenty of time to get them done … this social distancing isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
“Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises.” -Elizabeth Zimmerman