Rough Re-Entry; Wonderful Vacation!

Above the Rooftops – the Perch

We had the most wonderful week of vacation in Rhode Island with my kids and their significant others … and their dogs. This was the second time we’ve gathered in Weekapaug where my mother used to rent back when my children were little. They all have memories of our times there. This year we were short Kate and her family. She was in Seattle in rehearsal for a new play but she’s home now and preparing for the arrival of their first baby, a baby girl, in a few weeks. But we had a really lovely time together and the weather was glorious, the beach was gorgeous, the food was delicious and the week went by way too quickly.

Lobster Dinner!!!

This year we baked a cake, we went to a vineyard for a wine tasting (Stonington Vineyard in Stonington, Connecticut.) We took a picnic and tasted wines as we ate a yummy lunch. I took lots of walks because I’m trying to start new habits and be healthier, move more. Some of us played golf and some of us had a meal at the Ocean House. We all wandered Watch Hill and had a lobster roll and some peach ice cream. Most of all, though, we spent time relaxing together.

And then we all had to go home. My re-entry has been rough. Today I feel like I’ve not been away. My stress level has returned to pre-vacation levels and it’s only been 24 hours since we arrived home. I had a meeting to attend before I even had time to unpack and then today the in-person board meeting (for the board that I lead) fell back to a zoom meeting – after a lot of reminders and a lot of work finding a place where we could meet in person. I’m disappointed, frustrated, and concerned about the future of the organization. I have one more year as president of the board and there is no clear path for the future leadership. Too much falls to the president and burn-out is chronic. Tomorrow I will attempt to share my feelings and frustrations without getting emotional. That will be difficult for me – I have ocular incontinence, after all. I look forward to regaining 20 hours each week once my leadership role is ended. That’s what I’m thinking about right now.

I have been knitting, but not too much, while we were on vacation. I started and have nearly finished a tiny sweater for my granddaughter. I have made the Newborn Vertebrae before as a gift and it’s a quick knit in tiny yarn so it’s perfect for a fall in New York City sweater for the baby. Newborn Vertebrae (free on Ravelry) is a top down raglan sweater, an easy knit, knit flat. It’s designed to cover baby’s back and shoulders because baby’s chest is almost always against a caregiver. I wanted my granddaughter to have a rainbow sweater and this is the closest yarn that I can find on short notice. I’ll continue my search for another, larger, rainbow sweater in the future. All I have left is to pick up the stitches around the opening and knit a few rows of ribbing.

I also finished knitting my Aestlight Shawl. It’s blocking as I type. Although … to prove that even the “expert” knitters make mistakes, I noticed a dropped stitch as I was blocking it. It looks like I dropped the stitch during the bind off and because I didn’t weave in all the ends, it’s going to be relatively simple to fix. I love the color and I enjoyed knitting it. I think I have to have a shawl sale to thin out my collection and so I can continue knitting them. I have reached the point where I have too many (is that a possibility?)

I also got the button band mostly finished on my Elton. SO … all I have to finish is the bind off and then the collar and buttons. I need seven or eight 5/8″ buttons but I like to purchase buttons after the sweaters are finished. It’s always nice to put them on a finished button band and see how they look on the actual garment. Because this sweater is so light, I think I’ll need to buy light buttons because anything heavy will sag IMHO. Once I get that accomplished, I’ll have a new sweater to wear to Rhinebeck!!!

I’m going to Rhinebeck! My friend Glenda suggested it and we’ve gotten our tickets to ride the bus from Webs in Massachusetts up to the festival. We will stay near Webs on Friday and Saturday nights to make the driving easier on us. I’m really looking forward to it. And to a possible reunion with some of my fiber camp friends. Since we have only one day, we’ll be studying the maps closely and making the most of our experience.

Off to the post office to pick up our mail.

Gone postal? Gone knitting.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

I just wrote the store’s weekly newsletter which I’ll wrap up tomorrow morning and send out. I must be “enjoying” the stifling hot weather because Hot! Hot! Hot! has appeared here and there, too. Mainers have been a lot cooler than those in other parts of the country and the world but most of us here don’t have central air conditioning in our homes. We are very lucky to have three window units in our house that keep us more comfortable than we’d be otherwise … I’m not much for hot weather! In fact, I loathe it. Why do you think we were happy to move from Florida to Maine?! Without A/C I’d be parked in front of a fan all day and nothing would get done – no knitting, no cleaning, no laundry. Nothing. I don’t have that luxury right now … I have so much to do (and I’ve gotten so much done!)

I have completely finished my daughter’s quilt repair project. It’s bound, labeled and ready to wrap up. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow but I didn’t dare send it to her in NY City. I’ll carry it by hand when I go down to the city next week. No photos for now. I’ll update my post here when I’ve delivered the quilt.

I finished knitting the Mabel cardigan in Berroco Vintage. This was a fun and quick knit. I made the 6-12 months size and hopefully it will go with the raspberry Billie pants that I made awhile back. I only have to sew on three little buttons and it’s good to go. I love the raspberry color!

Mabel by Fiona Alice

This week I designed and knit a teeny tiny Metro Card rattle. It was a special request from a mom-to-be that lives in NY City. There is a shower in her honor next weekend and I’ll be making a crazy quick trip to New York City for the shower and to bring some of the things that I’ve created. Lucky that I had a real Metro Card to copy! Baby girl will have her own card so she can travel the city when she’s born. I used Tahki Classic Cotton and a US 4 knitting needle.

The other baby that I’ve been knitting for is arriving first but his mama-to-be hasn’t decided if she wants to have a shower. Time will tell but I’m knitting for baby boy (his name will be Noah) and I can’t wait to meet both babies! I looooooove babies! (My husband is concerned that he may never see me once they’re born … and he’s right to worry! LOL)

Metro Card Rattle by Queen Bee Knits

I made a pair of tiny socks for a baby gift. I have a bunch of little bits of sock yarn in my atelier and I had (sort of) run out of projects to knit at my class yesterday so I picked up one of the larger bits and made a pair of baby socks. Baby socks can be knit in a couple of hours so they’re very satisfying.

Classic Socks by Yankee Knitter

I have been ignoring my Elton cardigan. I have started the first sleeve but I’ve been busy knitting baby gifts and have set the sweater aside for now. I’ll be picking it back up on the next week or two and will hopefully finish it so I can wear it as it gets cool later this summer.

I’m starting to think about Christmas gifts, too. And fall knitting. The heat may be getting to me. I’ll have to get rolling on my Arne & Carlos Advent jumpers, too, if they’re going to be done by December 1st. If I don’t get them done, I fear that they’ll never get done! If not, this year, there’s always next year, right?

Gone knitting.

My Needles are Clicking!

Perfect Maine Morning

It was a picture perfect day today but really warm. I don’t love the warm and muggy days. That’s why I live in Maine.

I spent the day getting all sorts of little projects taken care of … laundry, I baked a blueberry coffee cake with streusel topping (the butter had been sitting on the kitchen counter for a couple of days), made some iced green tea, cleaned the kitchen, made phone calls, worked on the details for our lake association annual meeting that’s coming up soon, and had a meeting. I am so grateful for the air conditioners in our kitchen/living room and my atelier. It makes getting things done so much easier – if I didn’t have the air conditioners I would be a lump in front of a fan.

But this isn’t about that.

I’ve had a request for a baby rattle that’s rather unique – it’s to look like a New York City Metro Card. When I was at the store on Friday I bought some Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic yarn in a golden yellow and black (for the stripe). I also grabbed a blue but I think that will be going back because the lettering will be added by embroidering and the cotton yarn will be too heavy.

It took me several times to get the size right. I originally thought it should be five inches wide but that turned out to be too big. The real cards are much smaller so I decided to cut it down to three inches wide and two inches tall. Figuring out the three stripes wasn’t too difficult and I’m quite pleased with the basic part of the “card”.

I knitted a plain yellow rectangle to be the back of the card. I intend to do a 3-needle bind off for one side of the toy and I’ll seam the sides when it’s stuffed and after the embroidery is finished. That will happen tomorrow. When the light is better and when I’m feeling fresher.

The biggest question to me is, how do I make it rattle. I’ve been researching tonight and one tutorial had a fabric tube stuffed with bells. That might work … and I’ll stuff around it with fiber fill. Time will tell if it will work. I’ll update after the gift is delivered.

Gone knitting!

Labors of Love

Our flowers in the perennial gardens are showing off again. We don’t love gardening but we do it because we love seeing the flowers when they decide to bloom. And each year we are thrilled all over again because they’re so beautiful. This iris is one of the ones that I always forget about. I expect it to be a white iris and then this showy cousin of the white iris (that doesn’t exist) appears! It’s wonderful and (maybe) worth all of the brown tail moth rash that I am struggling with.

This is a great time to be looking at our gardens. The hollyhocks are blooming, the Stella D’oro lilies, the Iris and the daisies are all abloom. So are the hydrangeas (and we have a lot of hydrangeas) and the catmint. The bees and hummingbirds are happy campers and we are, too.

I’ve been working away at the different projects that I have on my list. I’ve finished two pairs of Billie pants for two new babies coming in the fall. These little pants are stinking cute! I’ve also finished a Kirby cardigan, a sample for the store, which is also going to be a KAL later on in the summer.

Kirby cardigan by Asa Buchta

Kirby by Asa Buchta is a simple top down cardigan with a little bit of lace around the yoke for babies 3 to 24 months. Suggested yarn, and the yarn I used, is Vintage DK by Berroco. I used the colorway that was in the pattern photograph. This little sweater is going to be part of a KAL with the Maine Yarn Cruise later this summer. Our Berroco rep at the store, Andra, had made several of these little sweaters in various DK weight yarns that Berroco makes. They were all adorable. This is a fun little sweater to knit.

When I started knitting this sweater, I was tired after the 4th of July weekend. I started it three times and each time I frogged it back and started again. The sweater that I was starting didn’t look like the photo on the pattern page. I’m a good knitter and I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I must have skipped a couple of rows. I texted a co-worker friend who I also knew to be knitting this sweater for her future granddaughter. I wondered if she had had a challenge with starting the sweater and did hers look like the one on the pattern. It didn’t. She was one garter ridge short, too. So, I wrote to the designer through Ravelry and told her what was happening. Come to find out the pattern was wrong and was missing a pair of garter rows following the button hole row. Yay, me! I was the one who noticed it. The pattern will be updated (and it appears that I was on July 7th.)

I’ve finished my second Billie pants. These pants are so cute and I can’t wait to see them on the babies that I’m knitting for. One is expected in September and one in October. The pants are knitted in Berroco’s Vintage DK (or Vintage Baby). These yarns are basically the same yarn but one is in 50 gram balls and the other is in 100 gram balls. Since these pants (size 6 months) required 2 balls of Vintage Baby, I chose to buy one skein of Vintage DK. The yarn is nice to work with, soft and machine washable and dryable. I love the folded ribbing at the waist and the ankles and the extra room at the butt where the diaper bulk will be. Now I need to make two sweaters before the babies arrive! I’ve got one planned and need to find the second pattern. I have ideas!

Mermaid Cocoon Photo Prop by Angie Hartley

So, this is a special gift for a special baby. The mother of this little girl-to-be was a HUGE fan of Ariel (The Little Mermaid) when she was a little girl and I think this will be a fun gift for her baby-to-be at her baby shower later this month. When I first saw this, I filed it in the back of my mind because I thought it was really cute in the sparkly yarn and it was so appropriate for the mother! The yarn is Plymouth Encore Starz in a teal-y blue with sparkle. I’ve also knitted a simple garter stitch headband to go with it. I’d love to make some braids with an orange yarn and attach them. I hope I’ll have time. Add a fork and it’ll be a hilarious photo prop for a newborn.

I have quite a pile of baby clothes now. I love babies and I’m so excited about these little ones. I hope that I’ll have lots of time to hold them and love them and I know that I’ll be knitting for them. I also have to get back to my Elton cardigan. I only have two sleeves to knit … and the button bands … and then it’ll be done. I hope that it’s a good fit and that I can find a dress to go with it – we are heading to Washington, DC in December for my bonus daughter’s wedding and I am thinking that I can use it for that event … maybe with some sparkly buttons? I also have to focus on the Arne & Carlos Advent jumpers. I have exactly half of them knitted … maybe I’ll give myself some grace and another year to complete the set. If I really concentrated on them, I could get them done in a couple of weeks. Time will tell.

I have another project that I will write about in a separate post when I get it finished. It’s a big one and a true labor of love … all over again.

Gone knitting.

July 4th

Maine Blueberry Muffins

We had such a wonderful weekend!

A few weeks ago I would have told you that it was going to be a bummer because we wanted to go to Massachusetts to visit with my brothers and their families but as it turned out, we had to stay home (the bummer) because I forgot that I was signed up to work on Saturday and our kennel was closed on Monday and Tuesday due to lack of staffing. But it turned out to be a great weekend with a visit from my college roommate(s)!!!

I lived with C. sophomore year and we’ve been fast friends for nearly five decades. We had such a good time – we always do. We went to the garden store, Longellow’s, a huge hit with all of our out-of-town visitors, to get flowers for my pots outside. We had an “adventure” finding Maine peas and strawberries and we feasted on ice cream, homemade blueberry muffins, our first (not grown by us) native tomato, salmon, steak and quesadillas. We went on a “cocktail cruise” and did a lot of porch sitting and chatting. I did a bit of garden tending, we snipped back the garlic scapes, picked a few leaves of lettuce, pulled a few weeds, and spent an hour handing our our lake association’s Loon project signs. We watched the Friends of Messalonskee (lake association) annual 4th of July Boat Parade – we had the largest turn out ever! At the end of the parade route there were 40+ boats! We had a bonus visit on Sunday from my freshman roommate and her partner. L and I lived down the hall from C and her roommate, now deceased. We’ve all known each other for a long time and it’s wonderful to be together. L happened to be in Central Maine (across the lake from us) for a night on their way to the north woods. I wish we had remembered to take photos!

It felt so great to slow down and recover from the last few months of “rat race” and I’m trying to figure out how to keep that (more) balanced feeling closer to the everyday. I need to take more time for myself because I need it.

Home sweet home – from the water, with loon sign

I had decked the house out with our buntings and our flag was flying. We looked mighty patriotic, if I do say so myself. (Today the buntings will come down and be put away for another year.)

What I didn’t do for the last few days was knit. I am rather amazed, frankly. I didn’t knit a stitch Saturday through Monday.

Billie for “Jambalaya”

Last night I sat down to start a new baby sweater as a sample for the store. I cast it on three times and each time made a mistake in knitting rows. Each time because the directions seem hastily written (and it’s a major yarn company’s pattern.) There are directions for rows “hidden” in other directions and they’re not “obvious” to me. So, each time I frogged the start of the sweater and cast on again. And then I realized there weren’t three rows of garter stitch before the stockinette stitches began and I frogged it again. I finally put it in time out and picked up a different WIP – Billie – also by a major yarn company and I’ve had success with (almost) knitting two pairs of them. Pair number two is down the first leg. These pants are so cute, I’d like to have a pair for myself. Hmmm, that gives me an idea.

Last week I finished the Mermaid Tail that I was knitting. It makes me smile just looking at it. The pattern is Mermaid Cocoon Newborn Photo Prop by Angie Hartley. I knit mine in Plymouth Yarn Encore Starz in the teal colorway with sparkles. It’s perfectly gaudy and I can’t wait to gift it. I’m going to attempt a little matching headband – perhaps with a shell as a button embellishment. I’ll have to try to drill a hole in the shell and who knows how that will work.

My Elton cardigan is languishing. I picked up the arm stitches on Friday and haven’t touched it since. I have to find a short needle to knit the sleeves and hope I can avoid using DPNs because they make sleeves so much clunkier to knit. I have a Ciao Goo Interchangeable Minis set and I’m crossing fingers and toes that the needle size that I need isn’t already being used for another project. (I’ll have to go on a hunt for them in project bags both hidden and in plain sight in my atelier.

Tubular Bind Off

I did finish the body of the sweater and did my first tubular bind off and I’m wondering where this fabulous technique for a stretchy, clean and neat bind off has been all my knitting life. It’s perfect!

Today is Wednesday and my husband and I both have the day “off”. I’ve been languishing – with a few emails and a phone call of two – on the front porch in the sun with my coffee. It’s nearly noon and I am choosing to enjoy the day with no pressure to “do” stuff. While I’m tempted to do the sheets and towels and remake the guest room bed, I think I’ll take my sample baby sweater out to the porch and cast on again. Persistence for the win!

Gone knitting!

What a Week! Let’s Stick to Knitting

Mullein in bloom

What a week. What a series of weeks. On top of the Supreme Court decision, I’ve been so busy for the last several months volunteering for our lake association. Maybe too busy. I really needed to take this weekend off. I needed the time to recharge my batteries and to have some time to process everything. In addition to the Supreme Court decision, today would have been my father’s 100th birthday. He died suddenly in 1985 at the age of 62. Now that I’m nearly 64, it’s so evident that he was too young to die. And he’s missed so much. I would so love to be able to talk to him again. I have so many questions (for him and my mother.)

Trip Around the World Quilt

This week I finally got to repairing my daughter’s quilt. I made this quilt 35 years ago when my second-born was still in a crib. I remember hanging it behind her crib in her room in our Sharon, CT house. This quilt was a special gift that I made for her when my life wasn’t really my own. I was a stay-at-home mother of two little girls and quilts are an expensive hobby on one income – and I didn’t buy the fabric at an “expensive” (quality) fabric store.

Back in 1987 we had only the polyester, fluffy quilt batting. Since my daughter’s quilt was a tied quilt, the batting had separated and was extra fluffy in some areas and nonexistent in others. But it was her quilt and she loved it … until her puppy had a few unsupervised minutes and chewed a good bit of one side of the border. I got it back to repair probably two years ago and I just haven’t taken the time to fix it.

I had found the fabric for a new backing and a new border that matched pretty well. I also bought some red print fabric for the binding. I bought one of the new, better, more stable, natural batts. I used some of the old borders to make patches for the holes in the quilt top and stitched them on. And then I added the new borders … unfortunately, I didn’t remember what I had planned when I bought the fabric and I cut them months ago and they weren’t exactly what I wanted. But I made it work and sewed them on. I spent a good bit of time trimming threads from the back of the quilt (it had been washed a couple of times in 35 years) and on Friday after work, I dropped all the pieces off with a dear friend who is going to quilt it on her long arm. The quilting will make the quilt more stable and it will last longer. Once quilted, I’ll trim it and measure it and then cut and apply the binding. I will machine sew one side of the binding and hand sew the other. And then it will be ready to gift back to my daughter – a new old quilt for the ages.

Whoooo Loves Ya, Baby?

This owl bib is the third one that I have knitted. This one is absolutely for my niece’s baby boy because the mama-to-be loves owls. And I love this designer! She has lots of cute bib and washcloth pattern on Ravelry and they’re free! The pattern is Whooo Loves Ya, Baby? and I knit it in a premium cotton, Berroco Pima 100. I love the peach color and I love the yarn. I have a hank of green Pima 100 and I will be making more bibs. (All details are on my Ravelry project page.) The other two bibs I posted about here.

I knit these two sets of hats and thumbless mittens for two babies-to-be. I love knitting baby gifts and these are so cute! I knit them with a new yarn in the LYS where I work, Lang Merino 200 Bebe. One skein was enough to make both the hat and the mittens – complete with the icord string to hold them in the baby’s jacket. This is fingering weight yarn (it’s a fine yarn, Muffin) and will be a good weight for a fall baby. The pattern is a free pattern at our shop. The sample in the shop was knitted by a customer and this is her pattern. If anybody wants the pattern, please let me know and I can send it to you via email.

This morning I needed something to do for my family. I needed to disconnect and go outside and it was summery-warm here in Maine yesterday and today. So, we got out early and headed to Stevenson’s Strawberry Farm in Wayne, Maine. The berries were ripe for the picking and in about 45 minutes we picked 12 pounds of berries. When we got home I made the crust and put it in the refrigerator to chill. After lunch I washed my car for the first time in a few years – we have a pump that pulls lake water for our gardens and outside water activities and it wasn’t working properly. We finally got it, or rather the pipe from the lake, fixed and we’re back in outside water business again.

Once the crust was chilled, I made the rest of the Strawberry Glaze Pie. In my Friday morning knitting class, Jan brought in a strawberry glaze pie and after having a slice (or two), I knew I had to make one for my husband. It was a delicious fresh strawberry pie. The berries are perfectly sweet and this pie should be the most wonderful, fresh strawberry pie. I may have to make one tomorrow for my board meeting. If I plan my time well in the morning, I should be able to make the pie crust, go pick up my groceries, make the pie and then head to the car dealership so they can figure out what’s wrong with my screen – it keeps going black in the middle of a trip where I need to use GPS. Baking was something that I did with my grandmother and it always centers and grounds me and helps me to process my emotions and events of the day. I needed it today!

Our gardens are coming along. We have peppers forming and tomatoes blossoming. The garlic scapes are ready to be pinched and brought inside. Tonight we’re having pasta with the garlic pesto from last year’s harvest. Our lettuce is almost ready to pick and the peas are ready to have a trellis to climb. My Shasta Daisies are just about to pop. My dad loved his gardens and I hope he’d be proud of what we’ve built here and the good life we have here in Maine. My dad loved Maine.

I’m sure as I process the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, I’ll have something to say. I’m absolutely pro-choice and once again it’s about wealthy white men needing to be in control. This time it’s a dangerous line being crossed where politics and religion are being prioritized over the law and people of color and the poor are going bear the brunt of this decision. Women deserve better.

Gone knitting.

1787 to 2022 – a little bit has changed. So what do we do now?

Rainy Day in my Atelier

I’m not sure what this post will end up being. There is so much going on that it’s difficult to focus on one thing. My intention is to post here about LIFE in general which is why my “tag line” is what it is. BUT I’m afraid that if I stray from knitting that I’ll get up on my soapbox and may never come back down.

So, suffice it to say that I hope you’re not comfortable today.

That 19 children can die at the hand of a murderer who can legally buy TWO assault weapons more easily than I can buy SUDAFED is abhorrent. That those same children could be forced to watch said murderer kill their beloved teachers before he murdered them. That they watched their classmates be obliterated by his weapons so that they were only recognizable by their sneakers is unimaginable. The entire situation is unacceptable. AND YET our elected representatives say that it’s not a gun problem, it’s a mental health problem. I’m calling bullshit. (Sorry not sorry.) We have had a mental health problem in this country for decades. Mental health has been stigmatized and people who live with mental health challenges have been shamed, blamed, ostracized and, oh, by the way, if you’re not living in the top !0% of earners, mental health treatment can put you in debtors prison, making it nearly impossible for most of our citizens to get good quality services. Or any services.

Our problem here is GUNS. Ours is the only country in the civilized world that has as many guns and gives permission to anyone to buy and carry guns. Other countries have mental health problems just as we do but they don’t have the gun problems we do. People are the same no matter what language they speak, no matter what color their skin, no matter who they love, not matter what they do for a job, no matter where they live. It may be simplistic but it’s true. People are, at the core, alike. We want to be liked (loved) and we need food, air and water. We aren’t all that different from others and the differences make it more interesting. Anyway, my point being, we DO have a mental health crisis in our country but it’s nothing new. We ALSO have a gun crisis and it’s good and well time for us to accept that as truth and start to do something about it.

I can’t buy two boxes of Sudafed because “they’re” afraid that I will make crack.

I can’t have a driver’s license without proving that I am who I present myself to be. I must show a utility bill with my name on it, my marriage license, my passport, proof of insurance, etc. AND, by the way, I have to be at least 16, take a test that says I am a competent driver, and I can’t drive a car without it. Cars also kill people like guns kill people so why are they treated so differently!?

The ONLY reason to own a gun is to kill (or to boost a fragile ego.) Here in Maine, lots of people own guns. Most of those people have guns so they can hunt – and they eat what they kill. Most of the gun owners are responsible gun owners. For heaven’s sake, WE own guns! We don’t hunt and I don’t even know how to use the guns but my husband has killed rats in our yard. And I may have asked him to kill the groundhogs had they not left of their own volition. BUT it’s time for us to do something differently and drastic because killing innocent children in school is not OK.

My thought is that we must ban assault weapons AND we must put in place a way to make sure that those people who are allowed to buy guns are capable of being responsible gun owners. To drive a motorcycle you need a special license, right? Why not require classes and licensing for guns? Why not have a 48-hour waiting period … I’m required to wait 48 hours to have an abortion, considered by some as murder, why not have to wait for a license for a gun? This is a HUGE issue and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers but a document written by rich white men in the 1700s is not one to hang our hat on today – the world was a wholly different place then. Their “well-regulated militia” is our United States Military – Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines. We don’t need to arm our citizens to protect us as we did then. The rules have changed. The world has changed. Women can open a credit card account without their husband’s permission. Women are allowed to have POCKETS in their dresses because they’re allowed to own things. Women and black people are allowed to vote (or they have been, it seems that this is being challenged, too, but that’s a different post.)

My life was forever changed when I gave birth to three wonderful human beings. I have been so blessed to watch them grow. I got to go on field trips, be PTA President, have birthday parties in limousines and buy Christmas gifts, fill their stockings and help them with their homework – at least through elementary school. I have gone to sports events, high school and college concerts and plays, we spent time at the beach in the summers, went to the Ohio State Fair, met college friends, boy- and girl-friends from all over the country. When a parent does their job well, their kids go off to build their own life and I’ve had the pleasure of watching my kids get jobs, live with roommates, live alone, move from one city to another, live on cruise ships, meet a special person, get engaged, get married, buy a home. My kids are all in their 30s and I can’t imagine NOT having lived through all of the regular and special moments with them.

BUT there are 19 sets of parents, 19 sets of grandparents … who won’t ever be able to see their beloved child get their period, find body hair for the first time, get arrested for something stupid, graduate from high school … the list goes on and on. Because life is lived in the ordinary moments and some shitty human being with two legal assault weapons decided to go into a school and murder children cutting those ordinary moments short.

We all need to feel uncomfortable about this until something changes and the murders stop. Don’t be fooled, this can happen to you or someone you love. There are 19 families who know this as fact this morning and won’t forget it tomorrow. Or the next day … or the next …

Gone knitting.

An Excellent (Happy Mama’s Day) Visit

Washington Heights, NYC

I got my mother’s day gifts early this year – I traveled to New York City to spend time with all of my kids. They, of course, are my best gifts ever. I am so proud to be called their mom.

I had an excellent adventure. I drove to my college roommate’s house in Westport, CT, visited with her for an evening and then headed by train into New York City for a few days with my kids. The first day I had lunch in mid-town with Daughter 1 and her husband. April 27 is my son’s birthday so we had a bite of dinner at Bea in mid-town and then headed to the bowling lanes to meet a group of my son’s friends. What fun it was to bowl in New York City, of all places. I wish I’d taken a photo or two.

Thursday we visited Holland Ridge Farms in New Jersey. Acres and acres of tulips that you can pick and pick we did. My daughters each picked more than 70 and I controlled myself because I knew I had to transport my flowers to Maine. Suffice it to say that there was every imaginable color and type of tulip. They were gorgeous and the scent was mind boggling. I never realized that tulips had a scent. (We chose to pick mostly closed flowers, hoping they’d bloom more slowly and last longer. Note: mine are just about done as of today.) We walked and walked and walked and practically got blown away in the wind. It was sunny but very windy and we were dust-covered from tip to toe. We found a fun pick up spot and bought some subs (shrimp parm and steak pizza subs. Yum!) and root beer for lunch before heading back to the city. We happened upon a special sight on the way back to the highway – young horses in a big field, running and playing.

Yearlings?

My younger daughter loves horses. We had to stop to get closer and watch these magnificent animals. They were very shy and kept their distance but it was so much fun to watch them run.

I met my son’s girlfriend for lunch on Friday with their dogs and after lunch we took them to a local “park” for a bit of a run. The “park” is actually an historic home, The Morris-Jumel Mansion. Next time I’m in the city, I want to tour the home. The grounds have been somewhat ignored over the past few years but you can see its potential. I then took the subway (all by myself) to midtown to meet my youngest brother at his hotel for a drink. He was in the city for a veterinary conference. A quick hike to a new Thai restaurant, Lum Lum, with my daughters and their husbands and later, my son and his girlfriend came to join us. The food and company was extraordinary.

Saturday was exercise day. I am tired and sore just thinking about it. Daughter 1, her husband and their dog Bessie and I walked to the Linwood Farmer’s Market. Through Fort Tryon Park to drop off their composts, bought some fish and apples, had a wonderful bagel sandwich and then hiked back to the Heights along the river. 13,000 steps round trip and we hadn’t even gotten to the yarn store yet!

Daughter 2 and her husband were so sweet to go with me to Brooklyn to visit Brooklyn General Store – a bucket list item for me. It’s quite a distance from Washington Heights (but I learned that you can tap your credit card in the subway!)

I loved wandering this little shop. It’s an older building, full of character: wood floors, lots of yarns that my LYS doesn’t carry – La Bien Aimee, Spin Cycle, and so many more. I patted lots and lots of yarns there. I also admired fabrics, stitch kits, etc. I couldn’t decide what to buy but I ended up with a really pretty fingering weight peach cotton/alpaca yarn by Illimani Yarn Company. I bought another in an oatmealy-grey color as well. I’m not sure what it will become but when it decides what it wants to be when it grows up, I’ll let you know. We had dinner, Ramen, at my daughter’s apartment that night and she tested positive for Covid. I’ve been double boosted so I figured that I was as “bullet proof” as I ever could be having had my second booster shot two weeks before. My son-in-law tested positive on Sunday. I’ve continued to test negative. (By the way, if you want to test for possible Covid exposure, New York is the place to be. Tests are readily available all over the city.)

Sunday I headed back to CT for another evening before driving home on Monday. It’s so wonderful to have long-time friends (we have known each other for 46 years now!) who you can pick up with as if you’ve been apart for a few days rather than several months. It’s always special to spend time together with my special woman friends.

This mama’s heart is so full and I am so grateful to be able to travel to the city for a visit. Grateful for time away from work and my volunteer jobs. Grateful for my husband who is willing to hold down the fort while I am gallivanting. And it’s so great to come home again – where I can rest up for a couple of days before heading back to work. My legs are still tired.

Gone knitting.

On the Road Again

Marblehead Light from Fort Sewell, Marblehead, MA

The past week I’ve been living “on the road” which is saying that I’m not home. This is the first road trip that I’ve taken by myself in two years. I found myself very anxious when I was leaving the house. My GPS on my car wouldn’t connect, I couldn’t get it to play my podcasts that I had hoped to listen to, nor would it play my music that “I” downloaded (with lots of help and support from my sweet husband.) Turns out that if you turn the car off and then re-start it, that it works. Phew. I was so grateful for my husband’s suggestion.

First stop was to my “oldest” friend’s house in Connecticut to celebrate the life of her son. He died on Valentine’s day in a one car crash. He was 28 years old. The memorial service or “Irish Wake” was wonderfully well put together for Scudder. He didn’t want a church funeral or, really, any formal service. So, we all ate and drank and remembered the young man who was so loved by his family and friends. His sister’s and mother’s lives will be forever changed. I was lucky to be able to spend the night at my friend’s house and chat for a few hours before heading off to Massachusetts.

Second stop was Salem, Massachusetts. My sister-in-love is house and dog sitting for my niece and her husband who are honeymooning in Italy! We haven’t been able to have a lot of girl time since I moved to Maine (we have plenty of time together with husbands and kids and other siblings but not just the two of us) so I really wanted to visit for a couple of days. And I did … and I extended my visit to a week! One of my wonderful co-workers worked for me on Thursday and I cancelled my class (I know, that’s not normal!) on Friday. Today the husbands arrive and we’ll spend the weekend celebrating my nephew who is off on an excellent adventure to Alaska for a few months.

I am knitting! I finished my Humlebi Shawl by Fiber Tales. I knit this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. I love the oatmealy-gray yarn and the bumble bees that are knitted in around the edge are fabulous! I will block it aggressively rather than gently and I hope it’ll be an ok size for me. I used just over one skein and I’ll weigh the remaining one to figure out how much I used in total. I checked my gauge and I measured 19 sts per inch rather than 17. So, I wasn’t too far off but it probably would have been a bit better for me on a larger needle. It was a fun knit so I may consider knitting it again just to see what happens when I change the gauge to what it’s really supposed to be and I have more yarn.

Humelbi Shawl blocking close-up

I also knitted up a couple of pairs of booties for a new mom (and dad)-to-be. I knitted up the pattern that I found at the store years ago and that I really love to knit. It’s called Sue’s Baby Booties and I knit it up in Cascade Yarn’s FIxation. When I ran out of projects (daughter’s socks are at the toe and I need her foot measurement, Humelbi Shawl was finished except for blocking, and I only had Arne & Carlos’ Advent Jumpers left which take too much concentration to knit in a group) so I cast on another pair for my brother and sister-in-law’s neighbors who just had a baby girl. This pattern makes me so happy! I love all the combinations.

I have reached the toe decreases on the socks for my dear daughter. Plain vanilla socks for the first pair to see how she likes them and how they fit. Since I don’t have her feet to try them on or measure. I sent her a text to trace and measure her foot so I know how long to knit them. We used to have the same shoe size but mine are bigger these days, I guess. Anyway, I’ll put the first sock onto a holder and start on the second sock so I can continue my progress. I’m feeling successful and productive with all these small projects.

Spring in Massachusetts is a couple of weeks ahead of us here in Maine. I can’t wait to see our spring bulbs in bloom. They’re coming!!! The snow in the yard is all gone, the road has already dried up a bit from the muddy mess that it was when I left. The lake is still mostly covered with ice (it’s certainly ice-covered at our house but each end is more open than a week ago) and it’s turning grayer. I’m ready to see the water again.

Gone knitting!

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!