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!

WIPs and Phew!

It’s been a little bit since I’ve written here and there is a LOT going on in my life. That may be why. Regardless, let me report on a few things that I”ve been up to both in the knitting world and my life in general.

I’m knitting away but I’ve also been working extra hours because my boss is in Hawaii for five weeks, and two of our colleagues are on vacation for a week or more. We’ve got a delicate balance for the four of us and we are all picking up extra hours. Personally, I’ve got a new car payment so I don’t mind too much … except for the fact that work is cutting into my knitting time.

From top to bottom, here are my WIPs and FOs (Muffin, that’s works in progress and finished objects) … I’m on sleeve island for my Fine Sand cardigan. I’m making very slow progress on this sweater despite the fact that NOW is the time I might be able to wear it. It’s knit in Juniper Moon Farm Zooey and as such is very unforgiving so my hands get really tired knitting it. And there are 20 rounds between sleeve decreases so … lots of little stitches.

Pink butterfly washcloth. I’ve got a few generic dish/washcloths made but this one is for someone special. I have a couple more to make, too.

A baby blanket that will fade from gray to white and is perfect for airplane or knitting class knitting. I don’t have to think much when working on this blanket because it’s that simple. The yarn, however, is really splitty – cotton threads loosely spun – so I have had to go back and fix the funky spots a few times.

A FO – the cotton hand towel that I made to keep my husband from his towel thievery. This is the simplest towel to make and it seems to stay put so I can find a towel when my hands are dripping wet without searching all over the kitchen or house! I believe I’ve put the pattern on my facebook page but if you want it, let me know.

The Slip Stitch hat is also finished. This is a cute hat with two yarns. One deeply stashed DK weight yarn that I bought after a yarn company closed at deep discount. The contrasting color band is a hand-spun gifted to me by my daughter. This hat is for sale or will be donated in my community since it doesn’t have a body to call its own. The two yarns in this hat are really beautiful – the main color is merino and silk and so soft – no forehead itch here!

A pair of baby socks is finished. I’ve had two baby-sized balls of sock yarn in my stash for ages and I am finally getting around to knitting them up and they’ve kept me in the sock challenge. I also got a pair of socks … well, one partially-finished sock and the yarn and needles … from a friend and former knitting student. She has eye problems and isn’t able to see her stitches anymore. So I’ve fixed and finished her sock and started the second sock for her. I’ll send them on to her to finish the cuff and I’ll probably be seeing them again to finish the heel and the second sock. (There’s no photo of these socks because I remembered too late. They’re packaged to mail.)

Last, FO! The Gallbladder Shawl for my younger daughter is off the needles, blocked, and ready to be gifted. I loved knitting this shawl – it’s such a unique design and it was fun to see it as it “grew” and then the second side was knitted and it was grafted together. I knitted this yarn in two shades of Emma’s Yarn and I am really happy with the way it turned out. I think my daughter will be able to wear it a lot this fall/winter!

I’m saving my “big trip” for another post but I’ve got to report that I am the new president of our lake association board. I’ve been serving on the board of trustees for Friends of Messalonskee for several years and have just been elected president as we are jumping off on a new (big!) project. The work that we’ve been doing, primarily mitigation of invasive milfoil by hand- and DASH harvesting and providing Courtesy Boat Inspections at our two boat launches, will be doubled as we begin a Watershed Survey. We will have volunteers walking every acre of our watershed to find sources of phosphorus runoff and then we’ll help the landowners to get financing for the repair of the problems. Passion projects for those of us that are lucky enough to live on the shores of this beautiful lake. With warming temperatures and land development, we’re seeing warmer water temps and more algae, etc. None of this is a good thing and we can repair the problems but it’s going to be a lot of work!

Keeping the view beautiful like this for generations to come!

Gone knitting!

Details for all of my knitting projects are on my Ravelry page. I’m lindar on Ravelry. Like Queen Bee Knits on Facebook and Instagram!

Someone is Eating my Kale!

When I posted a photo of our garden with all (ALL!) of the kale pilfered but spinach and lettuces untouched, lots of doubters commented that we were lucky that it was gone. I will not apologize for liking kale … I like kale! And some rotten critter has eaten it all! Every single leaf has been nibbled to the nubs.

Starflake Shawl by Stephen West

My Starflake Shawl is blocked and it’s beautiful! I am so thrilled about this shawl. I have to admit that I was not a big fan as I was knitting this. I wasn’t sure it would be something I would wear and I was pondering the idea of selling it or giving it away. BUT when I blocked this baby, I fell in love! I adore it!

The yarn is among the yummiest yarns that I have worked with. I used two shades of Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock in “Wish You Were Beer” (gold) and “Nailed It” (silver) -the names of the colorways remind me of the OPI nail polish names, they’re so clever! The yarn bloomed when the shawl was blocked, the stitches opened up and the i-cord edging and bind off are spectacular.

This was my first Stephen West (big) project and I doubted at times that I’d get it finished. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck Maine, I lost my knitting mojo and/or my ability to concentrate. This shawl is NOT a simple pattern. I spent so much time knitting and then frogging that I ended up putting it in time out for awhile. A few weeks ago, I got it back out because I realized that I was settling into a new “normal” and I wanted a bit of a challenge. Well, I’m so glad to report that in the end, the result is incredible!

Here’s what else I’ve been up to …

Gardening! I’ve got a small yard but a lot of gardens. We have the raised vegetable garden with greens, tomatoes, peppers and squash. We have several perennial gardens that were put in before we were married. Some have been more successful than others but they all need care and love. I’ve been outside weeding, edging and transplanting (and forgetting to water the newly moved plants … lucky I have a lot of creeping flox. My peonies are just about ready to pop for the first time.

Volunteering! I am on two Boards of local organizations that I care deeply about. One is our lake association, Friends of Messalonskee. It’s weird to be running a volunteer organization in a pandemic but it we let the invasive plants take hold for one summer, we will have lost a lot of (if not all) the progress we have made. So, we are carefully optimistic that our state and local funding will come through so we can do our good work. Maine Arts Academy is the second organization and combines my passions for education and the arts. MEAA is a free public charter high school for the arts. We just graduated 53 students on Sunday in a “drive through” graduation. It was awesome and the kids are heading off prepared for whatever they choose to do next!

And I have sewn some more face masks for these cuties! I’m so glad that my children, all in New York City, are being smart and wearing masks. Daughter number two and her hubby have a few different masks to get them through the new “normal” in the city. I think they’ll be wearing masks for quite a while.

Life is good. I feel very grateful for a healthy family, especially now.

Gone knitting!

All of my knitting projects and even some sewing projects can be found on my Ravelry project page, I’m lindar on Ravelry.

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