Design – 2012 Trends

I’m already laughing because the original title to this post was written “Design – 2010 Trends” … and it’s true that I am not a fashion plate, what the heck gives me the chops to design? And my response to myself is, “it’s for dogs!”

I do believe that fashion trends are created by the industry solely to give designers and fabricators job security. Those of you who are fashion-driven (I do not belong to this group) will be drooling over the new colors and styles paraded across magazines and runways and city streets. I just happen to be missing that gene. But, dressing my dogs … that’s a whole other situation!

Bright colors seem to be the trend and lots of pattern. The Señorita Lolita is still in vogue (no, not the magazine) and I still believe that neutrals and traditional cables like the MacTire are timeless. This little coat is really cute – celery green and with the fabulous seed stitch texture. I have to find the right buttons to go along with it … perhaps one that is feminine and one that is masculine (for obvious reasons.)

I knit this coat with a super bulky merino wool by Rowan called “rowan big wool”. It’s 100 gram ball (at approximately 87 yards) was just enough to make a coat for a or 11 pound dog … with a little bit of wiggle room depending on button placement. The shade that I used (29) is a light celery green … one of my favorites! I love knitting with this wool. It’s soft and not at all splitty and knit up it’s light weight but really warm. Care for this wool by washing in cold water by hand and dry flat. Never wring hand knits – simply roll them up in a big towel and press the water out of the garment, unroll and dry flat.

Rowan has a bunch of beautiful patterns FREE on their website! You’ll need to register but, trust me, it’s worth it! Their patterns are beautiful and plentiful!

I think the second draft will have to be in a tangerine orange color as the Pantone color of the year is “tangerine tango” a vivid red-orange that would look so wonderful on my boy, Boogie! I never liked “orange” but find myself wearing it today! Go figure! I’m so stylin’!

So, off to the yarn store in the world wide web I go.

Photos to follow soon of all my finished projects!

Gone knitting!

Challenge

For Christmas I got some beautiful new yarn from my LYS – Knit in Longwood, Florida. It’s a relatively small shop but it’s warm and welcoming and they have some splendiferous (yes, my word!) fiber!

Anyway, it’s a super bulky yarn by Malabrigo called Rasta in the Archangel colorway. It’s lovely in it’s wide variety of colors from purple to yellow to orange and blue and green. Like all other Malabrigo yarns, though, it’s got a lovely, soft hand and it’s great to knit with! (None of the photos of the yarn look like the yarn that I have!)

Poor color (not accurate) and not a great look!

I have already used one hank to make a seed stitch cowl (it was a free pattern with the yarn). But when it was finished, I didn’t like the way it looked … especially when I put it on. So … I did what any other knitter would do and frogged the sucker! Un-wove (yes, another one of my words!) the ends and ripped it out, ready to start over again.

Tonight, I’m trying a new approach. Something that I thought about when I was braiding the  ties for an earflap hat. Something totally different and an “out of the box” approach to this beautiful yarn.

Once again my knitting relates to my life. I’ve started a new life after having lived a very different one. My marriage needed to be  frogged too (so to speak). It wasn’t working. Not in the fabric of my life. It didn’t make me happy. Today, I’m re-knitting the frogged yarn. Creating a new life that suits me better. Learning the feel of the yarn in my hand as it passes through my fingers with each stitch … just as I’m learning about myself and the fibers that are spun together to make up the person that I am today. It’s a work-in-progress. But it’s fitting better and I’m learning so much and I’m knitting a beautiful fabric that will be my life.

Each time I sign off from an entry on this blog, I say, “gone knitting” or something similar. It’s not said lightly because, for me, knitting is serious business. I’m knitting in the hope that I can make a living and I’m knitting to make a life. And today, life is good.

Gone knitting.

Personality Plus

So, I designed this pattern for a competition – I won “skein-ettes” and had to make them into something. What better than a sweater for my “little girl” (aka Lola).

Animal lovers know how each little critter has a personality all their own. My brother has two big dogs. One is afraid of her shadow and hides behind the kitchen table. The other is just “one of the boys”, my fourth nephew, and always wants to play – drops slimy soliva-covered popped ball pieces (chewed frisbees, bits of sticks or firewood, plastic water bottles, shoes he grabbed indoors, etc.) at your feet morning, noon and night. He never gives up.

Ever watchful Lola. Ever sleepy Boogie!

My little dogs each have their own personality: Boogie is a “stoner” … he’s very trainable and has “sit”, “down”, and “give me five” but he is not a self-starter. Lola is the “alpha” dog in the pair;  she’s independent, and as nosy and bossy as dogs get. She’s a whopping 9 pounds dripping wet … go figure. In order to get Boogie to go outside, we call, “LolaBoq Come” … most of the time we get both dogs. 🙂

Anyway, I digress …

I have a first Prima Dogma by Queen Bee Knits order. The first sweater, “Turtle” is finished and ready to ship. BUT the yarn that I originally bought for the second sweater just wasn’t doing it for me. I ordered a second skein and cast on this morning. I love it – and I want to recommend it to you knitters out there in blog-land! It’s called Koigu KPPM. The one I bought this time is one of their solid colors but they have an endless line of wonderful colors sure to please every person’s taste. I’m buying mine at JimmyBeansWool.com because their service is very quick, their prices are reasonable and they’ve got a great selection. I think I could knit with only Koigu and be happy. I just ordered their last book … I’ll report on it as soon as it arrives.

So, off I go to knit AJ’s baby girl a pink Señorita Lolita sweater (Prima Dogma by Queen Bee Knits’ first design) … gone knitting!

Sore Fingers

Eight hours today … knitting a pair of fingerless mittens. But I now know that this is not the pattern to “follow” for my order of 15 pairs! I’ve got to devise a much simpler pattern with heavier weight yarn and bigger needles! I’m thinking a worsted weight yarn and size 7 dpns.

Starting where I was today, I think I can safely guess that I’ll have to cast on about 35 stitches and will do a rib pattern around. Perhaps the cuff can have a couple rounds of purled stitches so that they “stand out” from the rest of the mitt. Then a rib pattern with a thumb gusset and ta da! They’re done!

I have some great colorful wool from Maine and will have to check my stash to see what other wonderful yarns I have that would be appropriate.

For now, I’m going to stop knitting and go read a book – my fingers have knitted enough for today and they need a rest!

From Soft Ball to Hard Crack

This photo is from 2010 ... not yesterday!

I got three loads of laundry done yesterday. It’s a bit different here. I always know we’re home in Belgrade when the first load of wash goes up on the line. It’s totally old fashioned or retro or green or whatever you want to call it, but it’s comforting and I love looking out to see the clean clothes flapping in the breeze (or gale) off the lake. Towels were drying in an hour yesterday despite no sun. Everything smells better when it’s been dried outside – the towels are only a bit rougher!

Yesterday was a productive day – may be because the sun actually peeked it’s head out. I made some really yummy toffee with cashews in it (and dark chocolate on it!) Making candy is really a cinch if you can resist touching it when it’s all in the pan. It wasn’t easy the first time I did it but this time, I didn’t mind at all. A good candy thermometer is just about all you need … watch the mercury rise from soft ball to hard crack and then turn off the heat! The candy is yum-ers! If you’d like to get the recipe for the Sea Salt Chocolate Cashew Toffee, visit this wonderful blog … just click HERE and you’ll be magically transported (you may have to search for the recipe, links aren’t working properly, sorry!)! Since I changed a couple of things, you’ll have to know my toffee doesn’t look exactly like this (this is pretty but too “fussy” for me in Maine). I didn’t use sea salt because I used salted cashews. I had no Karo Syrup so I substituted honey. Finally, I used one 13 oz. bag of dark chocolate chips which I spread on top of the hot but starting to set toffee rather than dipping it in melted chocolate. If you let it get warmed up sitting on top of the hardening candy, you can easily spread it around with a knife. Then watch it disappear!

I’m finishing several little side projects.

You’ve already seen the picture of the Senorita Lolita Sweater (the first design for Prima Dogma by Queen Bee Knits). In case you’ve missed it, I’m providing another shot of the first and second iterations here. The first one “placed” in a design contest using Koigu skein-ettes. I am over the top pleased with it! The second, while it is not nearly as special visually, it’s perhaps more special to me in that it means that the pattern is written down and I’m making progress!!!

Senorita Lolita (Copyright 2011 Prima Dogma by Queen Bee Knits

 

I have finished the fingerless mittens … these are a gift for a very special person. The pattern was great to follow and you can find it HEREI did change just a few little things. I didn’t use the smaller needles to cast on (because I like the wider, looser, mitten cuffs and these climb up your arm), I likewise, didn’t cast off two stitches for the thumb (thought it might be too tight). But I love the yarn I used and they’re really pretty – can’t wait to present them to my sweet girl recipient (ha! thought I’d tell you who they are for, didn’t you?! Ha!) I used some yarn that my daughter gave me for my birthday last summer from KnitPicks. Click HERE to be magically transported … I used the “Enchanted” colorway. Pretty!

I did finish the boulette blanket (and wrote down the free pattern which is posted here in my blog) and it was really warm. Ugly but warm for the baby when he was here visiting!

Ugly but Warm - "Boulette" blanket copyright 2011 Queen Bee Knits

I’m finishing all these little already-on-the-needles projects because I forgot all the patterns that I had intended to knit while we’re back East. They’re all down south. Go figure. Lucky we’ve got an event to attend and are flying back there for a long weekend so I can get the patterns and continue my knitting progress.

In the meantime, I have a cowl on the needles and the second design for the Prima Dogma line. Only “problem” is that with all our gray and rainy weather, this designer doesn’t feel a lot like designing.

I have a third pair of Birthday Party socks (thanks to my sister Kathy for the name!) on the needles, too. The first pair was a gift to Kathy for her birthday. The second pair is for sale in my Etsy shop. You can click HERE if you’d like to visit my shop. (Thank you, BTW, for supporting the talented artisans on Etsy.com … if you’ve never visited the site, it’s really quite amazing.)

So, I’m going to go out and brave the wind off the lake and the drizzly rain … just as soon as I have a cup of tea!

Gone knitting!

 

 

Free Knitting Pattern (and a little lesson)

You may (or may not) know that I had my French daughter, her husband and baby boy here for a visit. We’d not seen each other for more than ten years and it was a wonderful reunion. I am continually amazed by how you can reconnect with people with whom you’ve lost touch over the years and, if they’re also willing, can start over where you left off!

It was as if no time had passed. (Well, except for the fact that she found a husband and has a baby!) We laughed and cried, ate, talked, shopped … a trip to TJ Maxx, Walmart and Wendy’s were some highlights. At Wendy’s N taught “la boulette” to dip his fries in ketchup! To watch a really cute short video, click here: bouletteatw

Happy Boulette bathes in the kitchen sink!

When it came time to put them on the airplane, the tears were just like those shed in years past. I’d “forgotten” how much I love “my kids” and how much it hurts to say “good bye”. But at the same time, how wonderful is it that I have this little family that isn’t really mine but feels like it!? And I know we’ll be together again (hopefully, soon!)

Bet you thought that I’d forgotten the free knitting pattern, didn’t you?

Nope! Here it is! This is perhaps an ugly blanket because I had to use yarn that I had here and it was very last minute when I realized that a warm blanket was going to be needed – badly needed!

“La Boulette” Blanket (an Original Queen Bee Knits design)

Needles: size 15 circular needle (or larger or smaller to fit your yarn)

Yarn: Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand 4 skeins, knitted with yarn doubled throughout. (Note: this is a very simple blanket, knitted on the bias. It will make a square blanket and could be knit with ANY yarn and needles appropriate to the yarn weight. Just knit as in the pattern directions until it’s the width that you want and then start the decreases! Easy!)

Blanket Directions:

Cast on 4 sts.
K2, YO, K to end
Turn and K2, YO, K to end of row
Repeat these two rows (which are actually identical) until the blanket is the width that you want.

Middle

K2, YO, K2tog, K to end of row
Turn
Repeat the last row three times more (total of four rows)

now it’s decrease time!

K2, YO, K2tog, knit to 4 sts before end of row, K2tog, K2
Turn
Repeat the last row until there are 4 sts on the needles (decreasing one stitch in each row)
Cast off 4 sts
Weave in all ends

And here’s the little lesson …

How do you count rows when you’re knitting all rows (otherwise known as stockinette stitch)?

Counting Rows for Stockinette Stitch

Each “pair” of bumps, one looks like it arches up like the letter “u” and the other arches down, is a row. In this photo, there are five bump pairs which means that you’ve knitted ten rows … hunh? you say? Yes, you’ve knitted ten rows because there is a corresponding bump on the back of the fabric, too. For each row you see on one side of the fabric, there is a bump on the other side of the fabric when you knit “back”. See what I mean?

Try knitting a few rows. Yup, take out your needles and a single strand of yarn (the sample above is a double strand of yarn). Cast on about 20 stitches and knit across them. Then knit back again. Now … look at what you have. You’ve knitted two rows and there are two “pairs of bumps” one on the right side and one on the wrong side.

If you don’t get it, comment on this post and I’ll illustrate further!

But for now, I’ve gone knitting!

 

 

The way to a man’s heart …

There are white caps on the lake this morning. When I look outside from the warmth of the wood stove, it looks (and sounds) a lot like the ocean. It’s a bit misty, too. Not a warm spring day in Belgrade!

We have a copy here of The Settlement Cook Book. Copyright 1944, the “Victory” (26th) edition published by the Settlement Publishing Company during WWII. Compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander. On the inside of the front cover is a lovely “autographed” photograph of Mrs. Simon Kander (if you click on the link above, there is a photo of the page!) who compiled the recipes and (not to worry) they’re “tested” recipes from “The Milwaukee Public School Kitchens, Girls Trades and Technical High School, Authoritative Dieticians and Experienced Housewives” … what a hoot!

As you may know, I love to bake. When I’m up here I like to use what we have around – much of which has been here for 50+ years. This cookbook is one of the things I love (and who’d ever have thought that it’s a rare, collectible book!) The big mixing bowl, is another. Anyway, I digress … Chapter One is entitled, “Household Rules” and it tells you all you need to know about keeping house – literally. Including, how to light a “modern” gas range, set a table, and how to make soap. One of my favorite recipes, though, is a recipe for “Scotch Scones” which I’ve used as the base of my recipe below and have adapted over the years according to what I’ve been eating. Since I’m now eating gluten-free, I’ll give you the basic scone recipe and then gluten-free!

Maine Blueberry “Scotch” Scones (best served warm with a cup of coffee or tea on a cold May day, inside by the wood stove when Lake Messalonskee looks like the ocean!)

2 cups bread flour (I use unbleached all-purpose flour)
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons butter, cold!, cut into small cubes
2 eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk or cream
1 cup Maine blueberries (frozen or fresh)
 
 
 
Wash your hands now and take off your rings … this gets messy!
 
 
 
Preheat oven to 350°.
 
 
 
Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add butter and with your hands, mix butter into flour mixture until it is all blended in by pinching it between your thumb and fingers. Flour will look like larger grains and no lumps of butter will remain. Add eggs and buttermilk and mix until just combined. Fold in blueberries. Toss dough onto a floured surface and pat or roll to a square about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into triangles about 2 inches across. (This time, though I patted mine into a circle 3/4 inches thick and cut it into large wedges.) Transfer to greased cookie sheet, brush with egg white, and sprinkle with your choice of brown sugar and cinnamon, organic raw cane sugar, cinnamon sugar, etc. (My traditional sprinkle is with Turbinado sugar but today I used brown sugar and cinnamon.)
 
 
 
Bake for approximately 15 minutes.
 
 
 
For the gluten-free version, substitute Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free baking mix for the flour and add 3/4 teaspoon of xantham gum but the rest of the recipe is the same.
 

Now, for a cup of tea and a bit of knitting … new on the needles this morning, the Queen Bee’s Tweed Boulette Blanket. My French daughter and her family are coming to visit after waaaayyy too many years and I’m worried that the baby, la boulette, will be cold. So, what does a good “grand-mere” do? … She knits one!

Off I go to knit and snack!