Yip Yips for Christmas

It’s a perfectly miserable weather day here in Maine. The wind was blowing across the ice this morning and by mid-day there was freezing rain/sleet and continued wind. A good day to stay inside (and knit!)

Since they’ve been gifted, I thought I’d show you the Yip Yips that I crocheted for my nieces and nephew for Christmas. I think these little containers are so sweet and they make me laugh. I hope their parents have shown them videos of the Yip Yips on old Sesame Street shows (they’re on Youtube if you want to Google them). The one that I particularly loved was the telephone one. I may have posted it here before. I love them! This pattern is easy to follow for those like me who aren’t expert crocheters (yet!) I’ve heard that some people have made a whole family of these to use in lieu of Christmas stockings. I’m not sure I’m ready to go that far, but they sure are happy little creations.

Yip Yips (crochet) by Carissa Browning

I filled the Yip Yips with little gifts, too, of course. A hand-knit wash cloth (I can’t believe I forgot to photograph them), a toy car for my nephew and a couple of birds in nests for my nieces. These are designed by Susan B. Anderson and are called Simple Little Bird and Nest. I think they’re adorable and they were fun to knit.

Simple Little Bird and Nest by Susan B. Anderson

I sent a few other hand-knit gifts this year. Socks for my son, market bags for my daughter and my son’s girlfriend, dish cloths for all the kids, a Bankhead hat for my husband, and I’m currently working on a new sweater for my youngest grand-dog, Gus. All of these projects and all of the details about them are 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.

FO – Frosty the Snowman Christmas Stocking

I have finished and mailed off another family heirloom for a customer and friend. This stocking is the second one that I’ve knitted for her. The coolest part of the whole story is that her mother, now deceased, designed these stocking patterns for a very well-known stocking pattern company. Her mom had knitted stockings for the whole family and they’re trying to keep the tradition alive by knitting her mother’s patterns for new additions to the family. Cool, right?

The Frosty the Snowman stocking is relatively simple Intarsia knitting. A top hat wearing snowman who is holding a striped candy cane. My friend asked that I use angora as the pattern requires. With little bits of green for his scarf and mittens, black for buttons and hat, the most clever and my favorite piece of the design is the way she designed the candy cane – with white stripes on the red fabric and red stripes on the white. Sooo clever and it works so well!

What I don’t like about the Intarsia technique is weaving in the ends. The front looks so clean and clear but the back is bedlam! Each color across a row requires a different length of yarn and that means there are lots of bits of yarn dangling from the back. Every one needs to be woven into the reverse side of the stocking without being visible on the front. I also add the name in duplicate stitch on the front and then seam up the back and add a braided length of yarn to hang the stocking. Lots of work!

I was very happy with this stocking and I hope she is, too. I wish that their family has a very merry Christmas this year and every one after.

Gone knitting!

Adjusting. Change.

This will be the first month that I’ve missed knitting a pair of socks (or two) in almost two years. It’s been an extraordinarily busy month and it’s been really stressful.

Our refrigerator wasn’t keeping the ice cream frozen so we put a call into the technician we’ve used and he said it’s more than likely the condenser is shot. He advised us to buy a new refrigerator. Despite the LG people saying it takes a couple of hours (if you can find a technician who will come to service it – we’ve tried five, none of which can do anything for at least 3-4 weeks) the technicians all say it’s almost a full day’s work. LG will pay for the part under warranty but we have to pay for the service … guess what? It’s probably not worth it. Never mind that by the time someone can come to fix it our food will be gone. Ugh. So, we bought a new fridge and installed it ourselves because they couldn’t deliver for a week either. Ugh.

I’ve been driving a 2007 Camry since it was a new car. It was wonderful in suburbia but it’s not as wonderful on rural Maine camp roads. We’ve been talking about buying me a new one and we went out for our initial hunt last week. There isn’t much to see … not too many new or used cars are available and there’s not a lot of hope for a different situation into 2022 because of computer chips that aren’t readily available. Anywhoo … we found a RAV 4 that we thought was a good match for us and gave the dealership a deposit and it was supposed to come in at the end of the month. I was on my way to work last Thursday and saw it on the back of a car carrier truck and then got a call from the dealership that it was in if we wanted to test drive it. Suffice it to say, we pulled together all of our pennies and bought me a new car.

Meanwhile, my brother and sister-in-love in MA called me to talk about my remaining Little, Lola. I knew that she was close to the end of her life and that she wasn’t thriving but I was blind to the truth that she had no real quality of life and certainly no joy. My wonderful family offered to come to Maine to have a look and see how she was doing and, if I wanted to, to euthanize her. As I thought about it all last week, I knew she was ready. I wasn’t and would never be if I am totally honest. She was disoriented, her back legs weren’t’ working and she often fell down, she wasn’t able to get outside to do her business and she kept getting “stuck” around the house. She wasn’t comfortable.

Lola died peacefully at home on Sunday morning with all of us loving her. I will always remember her like this. She was such a wonderful girl. She was my heart animal and I absolutely adored her. She was almost literally attached to my right hip for the past 15 years. Life is horribly out of balance without her. To have lost both of my beloved Littles in six months is crushing. I am so grateful to have had them both in my life for so long and selfishly I wish it could have been longer. But even another year or five years wouldn’t have been enough. I still wouldn’t have been ready to say goodbye. I already miss her more than I could have imagined.

I’m knitting and it’s my time-filler now as well as being something to focus on in this difficult time. I’ve been working to finish the Gallbladder Shawl for my daughter’s birthday (that is this weekend) and I may get it finished but I doubt that I can get it blocked and delivered in time. But that will have to be ok this year. I think she’ll understand. I have a Christmas stocking up next for a sweet friend/customer and a list of future knits to follow that. I have to finish a sweater that has been languishing … I need to pick up the stitches around the neck and down the second side and knit four rows for the button bands and then knit the sleeves. It’s SO close.

For now, I’m giving myself grace around everything as I learn to live without my four-legged companion. My husband and I were talking over coffee this morning and saying that we are each missing the habits or patterns that our little family has been living with all these years. We look for her in her spot, I walk downstairs at bedtime with empty arms, there’s nobody to take outside first thing in the morning or last thing at night. So we will continue to be grateful that she’s at rest and we will create new habits/patterns to fill in those holes where the Littles are missing. We loved them so.

Gone knitting.

Gifts of Art

We have had a very busy last week, filled with guests and puppies and gifts of art.

I was at a board of trustees meeting on Wednesday night when I got a text from a high school friend. A very dear high school friend. She and her husband were coming to visit.

Back in the day, we had perused the Sunday paper for vans to buy and convert so we could go camping together when we were 17. Sharon and her husband just bought their camper van and we’re coming to park in our yard.

What a blast! We spent the better part of two days reconnecting and connecting with each other’s husbands. And I didn’t take a single photo of us. But they signed our guest book and Chuck left is this beautiful gift of art.

Our shore by Chuck Cornellis

A gift of art is a personal, thoughtful, almost intimate gift. We were touched and moved. and we can’t wait to get together again. As Chuck said, it could have been really uncomfortable and he had never met us. Sharon and I haven’t spent significant time together since 1976 and a lot can change in that long. But it wasn’t difficult or uncomfortable. It was wonderful. Time flew by and I’m still smiling.

Yesterday my sweetie and I took a walk down the road. Our blackberries are ripening and in the mailbox was a second gift of art. My little cousin sent a beautiful picture thanking me for “magic towels.” You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Little discs that when placed in water, expand to be a little cotton washcloth, often with a picture of something. These were Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Thanks by Penelope

I love art made by children. It’s so pure ans expressive and Penelope is an artist. Her dad said she was very excited about me getting her picture. I was excited to find it in my mailbox.

Both fabulous pieces of art will be proudly displayed at our house. We are grateful.

Gone knitting.

Another Wonderful Weekend

Last weekend we traveled out of the state of Maine for the second weekend in a row. This time we headed for Marblehead, Massachusetts and a reunion with two of my brothers and their families. (Most of them, at least.)

It was so good to hug our family!!!

Marblehead Window Box

I can’t say that I’ve gotten a whole lot of knitting done. My Daytripper is still languishing on the ottoman in my studio. It needs to have the steek fastened down on the back and I need to find some wonderful buttons. I’m going to buy some ribbon at work on Thursday for the steek cover. Buttons will probably happen on Saturday. Or early next week. It’s getting a bit close to too warm for wearing this sweater.

I started and finished the knitting on a gift for my Louisiana brother’s birthday. I can’t write about them until after they’re gifted. I’m sending the gift on to Louisiana for their last bath. More on this later. This photo is the best I can do to show you what it is … and I don’t think you’ll “get it.”

Secret Project … in Cascade 220
Kisses for Rose – Wee Wonder Woman shawl in Sisu yarn

This is our Chocolate Lab, Monk, wearing the Wee Wonder Woman shawl that I knitted for my granddaughter in France. I couldn’t send her one in red and gold. I actually bought red and gold yarn and then returned it because I needed to send her a pink one. This pink and white wool worked out perfectly. I was thrilled and I think my Rose was too. Monk is Rose’s favorite and Monk loves her. I like to think that he was sending her a big wet kiss.

A Single Sock in Patons Kroy

I have begun another knitted gift. Socks are such a great project. I love knitting socks and these are turning out really well. I like Paton’s Kroy. This is Yankee Knitter’s sock pattern. It’s my favorite pattern that I almost always go to when I knit socks. These are for a child and the slightly heavier fingering weight yarn will make these a little heavier than normal and slightly less heavy than boot socks.

Two weekends of late nights and food and adult beverages has me tired and with a full heart. I love my family so much and I hope we can get together again soon. I hadn’t really been able to spend time with them since my niece’s 30th birthday and she’ll be 32 in October (and married in November!) There is so much to be grateful for.

And then we came home to this … flowers budding and that beautiful big pool we live next to!

Gone knitting.

Oh (Covid) Christmas Tree!

Sunday Morning … Ice In?

Our lake is iced over this morning and it’s the Solstice! I can’t believe that this year is nearing the end. I’m so grateful that my husband and I, our family and friends (for the most part) have had good health and are not struggling too badly. I’m a lot of things (I wear a lot of hats) but I’m first and foremost a mom and this mom is so grateful for our healthy kids!!!

Our Covid Christmas tree

In all its glory, our tree is up. We weren’t sure we wanted to put one up this year because the kids aren’t coming and we aren’t sure we really “care” but I decided that it was important, maybe more this year than ever before, to maintain some sense of “normal” and put it up. I’ve enjoyed seeing the ornaments and have been making a few. I hung up two that I made last night and I’ll get them photographed and update this post when I do. But here are a few of my most favorites:

Handmade by my kids in preschool and kindergarten, the last three are my most favorite. It’s amazing to think of all the years that have passed since they were this little. And what marvelous humans they are today. The pig, made by my favorite art teacher, was “won” in a battle for the ornaments at a traditional holiday gathering in Ohio and I adore it. Her gifts were always treasured by the whole group!

My “au pair” snowman is also special as it recalls all of the wonderful men and women from all over the world who spent a year with me in Cincinnati … it was my job to provide counseling and guidance to make their year successful and happy. International exchange at its very best! I learned so much about different cultures and realized that we all share so much more in common than we are different and I am so excited that I am still in touch with so many of them! Now, though, they’re raising their own families, living such interesting lives, traveling (pre-covid) to some cool places … enriching my life and keeping my mind open.

As I sit here at my computer to reflect on the year and to begin to think about looking ahead, I see a lot of the same in the coming year but perhaps with a little bit of hope. I am rethinking my Queen Bee Knits business and what I really, really want it to be. I’m trying to figure out a better revenue stream to maintain my/our finances in 2021 that might allow me an opportunity to spend a bit more time at home in my studio. Sewing may be a part of this. I am not completely adept at sewing but it occupies my mind differently than knitting does and it’s quicker? (Maybe it’ll be quicker as I get more proficient.) I made one upcycled tote bag yesterday out of a bird seed bag. It took me hours but I think it’s something to work on and very useful.

Well, Christmas isn’t going to happen if I don’t get out of the house for a little bit today.

Gone Shopping.

We Dodged A Bullet

Matrix Bullet Dodge | Know Your Meme

This week, my husband and I dodged a bullet.

One night my husband coughed in the middle of the night. The next day he woke up with a horrible cough and chest congestion. Our first thought and our fear was that he had Covid-19. We both feel very strongly that we should do the right thing so he went to have a Covid test. We also believed that we needed to report it to his employer, to our family who were just here and the friend who was in our house the day before.

I cancelled my classes for the week and found a colleague to work for me. He called his boss and took the rest of the week off. His boss closed down the company. We all did the right thing.

Yesterday, a couple of days ahead of the five days that we were told it would take, we got his results and they were negative. (I also did an at-home Covid test and I got my results yesterday, too. Mine were also negative.)

Today we are so grateful that we can live in the same house without having our masks on. We are so grateful that we dodged a bullet that so many families haven’t been able to dodge. The incidence of Covid-19 in Maine, and especially in our county, are still low in relation to other states and counties but our numbers are rising. We were fortunate this time and we were reminded that this disease is not “over” and “gone”. We will be wearing our masks, washing our hands and counting our blessings.

Gone knitting.

Time Off

I haven’t written in what seems like forever and I’m not even going to apologize because I’m not sorry. There, I’ve said it. I needed to take this little bit of time off to spend with my kids and just “be”.

This pandemic life has been really stressful and I have had lots and lots of ups and downs. I’ve had days when I thought I could live like this forever and then the next day I can’t wait for life to go back to “normal” so it will all end. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is the real spot where I balance (sort of!) So, when my daughter asked if I’d be ok with her visiting with her husband and dogs, I said “yes!” I also decided that our kids are the only ones who I’m comfortable having visit for now. I also give myself permission to change my mind.

For the last two weeks my daughter and her husband have been visiting. It was wonderful. Easy and comfortable and lots of fun. Kate and Spencer have a great energy and it was fun to spend time with them. They were initially going to spend a week and extended it to two because they weren’t excited about going back to the heat of NYC. They worked, I worked/volunteered. We did a bunch of baking and berry picking. They also overlapped with my step-daughter and her boyfriend and dog which made it even sweeter because they’ve not really been able to spend time like that together. COVID-19 has brought our house and my heart much needed filling up. I have counted my blessings a lot lately and I am feeling completely blessed.

I”m grateful for the time we had to spend together with our oldest and youngest. I’m so happy to have met my grand-dog, Benny, for the first time. I’m grateful for a wonderful spouse who I get to share life with. We are so lucky to live is such a beautiful place and have the room to accommodate visitors for weeks at a time. Our lake provides a calming influence on world-weary travelers, ourselves included.

Gone knitting.

Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged

Yesterday we left campus.

We packed up the three dogs and our lunch and breakfast and snacks and water and coffee and drove my little Lola to the doctor. We filled up in Maine, stretched in the rest stop in Maine. We drove to my brother’s veterinary hospital so that he could tell me what was going on with my little girl.

Lola is typically around 9 pounds. Today she was just over 7. That’s a lot of weight loss for a little dog. She’s not been eating well, despite my urging, for months. Now that I have been home in isolation, I have been able to focus on her food and water intake and have been very worried. I’ve cried more than once with her in my arms believing that she was going to die. I was concerned enough to call my brother, a veterinarian in Massachusetts, to ask what I should do. His advice was to bring her in. Yesterday we did.

She was poked and prodded, x-rayed, sonogrammed, given a shot of antibiotics and an anti-inflamatory steroid shot. She was sent home with a couple of medicines. Nothing is visibly wrong, per se, but the x-rays will be read by a specialist. She has a dark spot on her spleen but my brother doesn’t think it’s a problem. I feel better but not yet settled. We will see what happens over the next couple of days. Lasts night, she ate her dinner. This morning she ate breakfast AND drank out of the water dish … she hasn’t done that for sure for at least ten days!

I was very afraid to go out. I have been in isolation for two weeks. I know I don’t have Corona virus. I was concerned about filling up my gas tank, where I would go to use a rest room, crossing paths with people. I needn’t have been worried because we didn’t cross any paths! I didn’t even hug my brother. We ate our picnic lunch in the car in the vet hospital parking lot and when Lola was done, we got in the car and drove home. We were all happy to get home and have a drink: The two-leggers among us in particular.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!