2017! Happy New Year!

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I feel fortunate that 2016 was a wonderful year for me and for my family. One daughter bought a new home, another daughter became engaged, I married the love of my life and we had all of our children in our house at the same time (for the first time). Our children are gainfully employed, healthy and happy. We are both working at jobs we love and are paying the bills, we have food on our table, a warm home and we are healthy. What more can you ask for?

I am eager to see what 2017 brings and what opportunities in the fiber world I will become involved with. I am excited to continue teaching knitting and creating in my every-improving atelier! This year’s goal is to add some serious shelving to my studio for fabric and yarn storage. I am already realizing that my “cheap fix” is not going to work long-term … fabric and yarn multiply when packed into small spaces and despite working hard to knit from my stash, it’s only minimally smaller.

img_7778We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at our house. A summer camp (childhood) friend and his son joined us for a lobster feast and a glass or two of sparkling wine prior to midnight. The guys all stayed awake after the power went out but I claimed the black-out as an opportunity to go to bed “early”. This is our photograph, grainy though it may be, from around 10:30pm. I love selfies with this guy and can’t wait to see what 2017 brings to add to our life together.

My goals for the year are to attend and help with, perhaps, the fiber week at my old summer camp. I’m looking forward to Maryland Sheep & Wool, too. I want to do more in my community – attend events, help my neighbors, life my best life and speak from my heart (not usually a problem). I want to floss more often and remember to listen to myself and speak my truth. Having lost my voice a long time ago, it feels wonderful when I speak out and speak up and feel heard. I’ll keep working on that piece.

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Wishing you blessings in 2017. I’m hoping that it’s the best year yet for all of us!

Gone knitting.

“Terror Towel” Quilted Throw

 

Delivery ... and first thoughts

Delivery … and first thoughts

Several months ago a high school classmate asked me if I would be willing to make a quilted throw for him. He and his wife had collected “terror towels” from various sports events that he and his wife had attended.

I am a new but eager maker of quilts but this didn’t sound impossible to me but for months I’ve been “worrying” about this quilt. The terry cloth fabric is a different entity than the traditional cotton fabric. I wasn’t sure what would happen to the towels when I cut them to size.

So I picked peoples’ brains. I was advised that I should use a stabilizer on the backs of the towels. I was also advised that I should not use cotton fabric as a frame between the towels. The thought was that the two weight of fabrics would cause uneven wear. This made sense. Stabilizer, not so much.

As you can see from the picture above, that’s one funky shaped quilt. I had to somehow figure out how to make it square or rectangular … which meant making all the towels the same size.

Deciding on the design and directionality

Deciding on the design and directionality

What I ended up doing was using little paper “towels” to lay out my plan. If I could make the towels to a size of 14.5 x 16.5 inches I could piece them together and make a throw. After many hours of thinking and measuring, I had a plan. A few of the towels were not going to work in the size that I had chosen – three were too small (way too small) and one was printed in such a way as to make cutting it to any size difficult. But the rest of the towels, 16 in all, were going to work!

Day 1: I “ripped” out the stitching around the edges of the towels to make them a little bit larger and then I cut the towels to size. Even cutting the towels is a challenge. They really aren’t square nor are they printed with the designs exactly in the middle. But I used my 12″ square template to center the design and then worked around it to cut the two lengths thus making a 14.5 x 16.5 inch rectangle of each towel.

Day 2: I zigzagged the four sides of the towels to keep them from fraying. Terry cloth is a messy, messy (did I say MESSY?) fabric. Yuck! My studio is a horrible mess and I’m not even done yet!

Day 3: This is the moment … all the towels are laid out on the floor and I decided on the design placement. There are four towels with a different directionality. I chose to have them all facing the same (but different from the other 12 towels) direction. Here is the design that I liked best … the four towels with different directionality are not diagonally down the middle but one in each row and “randomly” placed.

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My final design … I’m ready to make strips!

So, today I started sewing together the rectangles. I decided that because terry cloth is so bulky that I had to sew the pieces together and then “tack” down the extra fabric on the wrong size by sewing them down. I sewed a 3/8 seam and then positioned my needle to the left and ran another line down each side of the seam tacking the bulk to the pieces. So far, I am really pleased with the strips. Tomorrow I will sew the strips together and then it will be time to find a backing. I am thinking that I would like to use two layers of cotton flannel. One white in the middle and a sports-themed print as the backing fabric. I will sandwich them all together but I haven’t decided whether I will simply stitch in the ditch or if I will stitch diagonally across the rectangles, too. I want them to be stable so that the towels wear well.

I’ll let you know how it progresses! I am thrilled to be working on this rather than “worrying” about it. Gone … sewing? (Actually my book club is coming and I’d best go get ready to greet them!)

WIPS Wrestling – Ravellenics 2016

imageRavelry has a wonderful knitting challenge during the Olympics and I’ve chosen to be on the “WIPS Wrestling” team and challenge myself to finish several projects during the Olympic Games. I’m proud to say that I have challenged myself to finish, and have finished  four projects so far.

Rustling Leaves Beret

Rustling Leaves Beret

I had a commission to make a lace hat for a customer. Her hat was begun just before the Olympics started. I knit Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos. It’s a fun knit and pret quick to knit up as well. My customer bought Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock yarn in a navy color. Now, all knitters worth their salt know that dark colors (particularly black but any dark color) are difficult to see your stitches. The biggest challenge for me with this hat was counting, or more specifically, dividing stitches. You begin the hat casting in stitches and I used DPNs. Needless to say, I divided wrong the first time and came up with 30 stitches short. It was going to be a very small hat! The hat is delivered and my customer has requested another hat just like it but in a little brighter blue! I blocked the hat, as directed, on a dinner plate and it was just gorgeous!

Drachenfels - times two

Drachenfels – times two

I also finished my Drachenfels Shawl. I really enjoyed knitting this shawl. I had chosen yarn based on a sample that I saw knitted up at the Maine Fiber Frolic in June. Green is not usually a color I knit with but I loved the three colors together. Drachenfels is by Melanie Berg and is a slightly “off kilter” triangular shawl knit in garter stitch with an Icord bind off. I knit mine with a dark gray, a medium blue and a deep apple green. I loved knitting it and I love e finished result. The sport-weight yarn makes it a quick knit and the shawl is a good size! Two other women in my Froday class are/have knitted this shawl and it’s really fun to see the results in different colors.

Number 2 Pencil Socks

Number 2 Pencil Socks

The wonderful and fun Number 2 Pencil socks are also finished. This was yarn that I waited for for what seemed like forever because the first shipment was lost or stolen in transit. When I finally did get it, it went immediately into my stash to be used as encouragement for me – encouraging me to finish some other projects. It was a very fun project and I can’t wait until it’s cooler and I can actually wear them! The yarn is hand-dyed by Yarn Enabler (she has an Etsy shop). I had seen in on Susan B. anderson’s blog or Facebook page  and it was a total impulse buy but totally worth it  I bought the pattern from Yarn Enabler, too though truth be told, I only partially followed it  I used a heal flap heel rather than a FLK – but I’ll attempt the Fish Lips Kiss heel another time for fun!

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

Last but not least, is the second pair of Snowflake Mittens. This pattern is a very old pattern gifted to me by my friend and colleague Bette. I made myself a pair and this pair is for my friend. I’ll make a third pair for my sister-in-law in Massachusetts. I typically have a rule to never knit two of the same thing. This pattern is an exception and I fully plan to knit it repeatedly! I used Brown Sheep Company’s Lambs Pride Worsted in White Frost and Navy Sailor. I love the contrast in the colors and I love these mittens. I avoided color work for years but this pattern made me begin to think about conquering my fear of color work. I think I have succeeded. My favorite part of these mittens is the pattern on the inside of the thumb. Isn’t that silly?

The only other thing I’d really like to compete is the Aran Sweater that is sitting in a bag in my studio. It’s been swealtering hot the last few days and I could not sit under it. It was too darned hot! Tomorrow I head to the beach in Virginia with my college girls for a few days. Friends for 40 years, we always have a wonderful time together and Virginia Beach is gorgeous for a little R&R. I may choose to drag it with me and try to seam it in air conditioning. I really haven’t decided.

Next another hat will go on the needles.

Gone knitting!

New Friends

oldfriends

 

You’ve all probably seen these photographs on Facebook and Pinterest. The other day at the Yardgoods Center Yarn Shop I made three new friends. Three ladies came into the shop and it was clear that they had all the time in the world to shop. One spent a few minutes on the phone at the table in front making plans with family. The other two were checking out the free patterns. After awhile, and having checked on them all a couple of times and having showed them the color-changing “Abracadabra” yarn, they came to the cash register with a few patterns to purchase and a question.

Turns out they’ve been friends since early childhood and were together again for three weeks more. When one lady said they had a question, the other two ladies giggled. (It’s funny to see elderly ladies giggle like girls!) They’d spent hours (HOURS!) over the past couple of days trying to figure out what it meant to cast on stitches without a slip knot in the backward loop method. They were all beaming, eyes bright, smiling widely with the memory. I had a left-over ball of yarn and one needle left behind by a customer and I showed them what to do. They were delighted. “You made our day!”

Such a simple thing made a big impact. They made their purchases and left for lunch. Giggling that they only had a two hour ride. I smiled at them behind their backs. What a treasure their friendship is.

Old friends are the best friends!

Old friends are the best friends! We are being sharks … at 50-something.

I am so fortunate to have some old friends, too. Not that we are old, we have been friends for a long, long time. We don’t get to see each other very often, but we make an effort to meet once a year. Each time we pick up where we left. We may not party like we used to and we’re often in bed by ten but the reunion is always sweet.

I’m going to be missing the reunion this year and am so sad about it but  I am coming to realize that I can’t do it all – and that saves my sanity. Only two of us will be at the beach next weekend. I’ll be there in spirit but not in body. I commit to 2016, though. I need the girl time to recharge and renew. Old friends are the best friends. I love my girls!

Gone knitting.

A Wonderful Gift

I taught my next-to-last last knitting class on Saturday and at the end of the class, Anne, the owner of The Black Sheep in Orlando wanted to give me a gift. A beautiful “little” skein of big yarn.

What a Wonderful Gift!

What a Wonderful Gift!

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to teach knitting in this wonderful shop and for the friendship that we’ve enjoyed. Who knew I’d meet such a great friend in a puppy training class?

I can’t wait until you come to Maine!

Gone knitting.

Getting Projects Finished! (And Sewing, too!)

Sunrise over Messalonskee

Sunrise over Messalonskee

Well, my time in my happy place is coming quickly to an end. Last Wednesday I said, “good-bye for now” and “see you next summer” to my knitting friends. It’s always sad for me to say good-bye to my knitting friends both here and in Florida.

I had my last day sewing with my friends Beverly and Lorry yesterday. We finished a project for Lorry to take to her friend in France and I made another great bag (with a lot of help.) It’s fabulous and I love it. I love it because it’s a team effort and that my friends found three of the five fabrics for me when they were on a road trip to a quilting shop in New Hampshire. Four fabrics with bees and one with flowers and a lot of patience and I have a bag that I will carry in the winter months. Full of the love of my friends here in Maine.

My Wonderful Wallaby is almost done. I’m just knitting the hood which is simple  stockinette stitch all the way to the Kitchener stitch at the top. I took a break when I got to the neck to try it on and it fits perfectly. I’m so pleased that I have lost a little weight because now it’s perfect. Just the way I like it. Now my sweet man thinks he’d like to have one, too.

IMG_3465I finished the darling striped baby cardigan and the booties for my niece-to-be. I even bought the buttons. I’ll have to sew them on tonight so I can post a picture here. The booties are Sue’s Bootie’s and the pattern was begged for (by me) at my knitting class. They no longer had it at the shop and I couldn’t find it on the internet. They are adorable and super easy to knit. I loved the combination of colorways that my friends were using and I followed their lead using two different colors of Fixation. Fixation, if you don’t know, is slightly elastic and makes great baby booties and socks and it’s difficult for the baby to kick them off … well, relatively difficult anyway.

I’m ignoring the fingerless mitts that I dragged all the way from Florida to Maine … and will drag all the way back, too.

"Lobster On the Rocks" Hat designed by Donna Frost Ritchie

“Lobster On the Rocks” Hat designed by Donna Frost Ritchie

I’m slowly making progress on a lobster hat for my daughter. It was going to be for her birthday but it will be a late gift … thank heavens I have another couple of months until it gets cold in New York. I’m thinking that perhaps color work is not my thing. But I’ll keep trying.

I have a wonderful stash of yarn to take back to Florida with me and work with over the next ten months until I can be back here again. With any luck, my whole atelier will be coming with me then because we’re moving here permanently. This is where my heart lives.

Gone knitting.

 

Another Adventure …

What kind of crazy people are we?

We left Florida on December 20. Three dogs in the back seat and the truck loaded up with presents and a Honey Baked Ham … New York City and Christmas with two of my three children. We planned to spend one night in Richmond, VA on our way and then a night just shy of the city. Only one wrong turn which sent us into Washington, DC … at least we weren’t towing the boat! Smooth sailing!

Almost There!

Almost There!

With my daughter’s help, and having made good time, we ended up in Washington Heights and our little sub-let one night early.

The little apartment we rented was about mid-way between my son’s and my daughter’s apartments. Allowing for adjustments for all the dogs and super convenient for us – not to mention really reasonable rates!

Lobster Feast!

Lobster Feast!

Christmas eve was spent eating (mimosas started off our day) and baking cookies. Our family tradition is Spritz cookies. It’s still more fun to make them when you have someone else to decorate them. I love that my kids all value that tradition – started by my mother – it’s simply not Christmas without Spritz! A lobster feast for dinner, with thanks to my brother the lobsterman, had us all a mess and very happy. Christmas movies and lots of laughs … or was it the wine? I almost forgot to have the kids open their Christmas Eve gifts from Santa.

Christmas Day was low key – relaxing over coffee and muffins, Skyped with the missing daughter and her father in Chicago. The NY kids had to work but we hung with my boy and all the dogs. Ditto on Boxing Day.

IMG_2636Our big outing into mid-town was dinner and going to Kate’s show. We went to Qi for dinner and I love their food. Seeing my girl one more time as the star of Rock of Ages was a special treat for me – and my boy went with his old mom. N decided to skip the show and visited the Strand Bookstore at Union Square which he adored despite a couple of wrong turns and perhaps a wrong address (hence the wrong turn!)

On the 27th we packed up the dogs and presents and tearfully kissed the kids goodbye. Heading north in our truck to our “camp” in Maine.

camp /kamp/ n. A place usually away from urban places where tents or simple buildings (as cabins) are erected for shelter or temporary residence.

Camp Warner

Camp Warner

Think primitive. No running water. No plumbing. Think outhouse with a very (VERY) cold seat. And melting snow on the wood stove to wash dishes. Our mattress on the floor in the living room. Windows frozen with condensation. We carried all of our stuff in from the street with our Christmas snowshoes! A simple dinner in front of the wood stove and I was ready for bed. Too many late nights and I was ready for bed … probably long before I actually climbed in. Despite the “camping” and the cold, I wasn’t ready to leave when we heard that there was a Nor’ Easter coming in! I can’t wait until we are there for all the winter storms!

Next to Marblehead and a visit with my youngest brother and his family. We’ve loved getting to know their friends and love any chance to visit this charming town full of friends and family. So much so that I forgot to take any photos of the visit!

New Year’s Eve day we headed to Connecticut … a trip down memory lane for me at Shady Glen in Manchester and then a visit to the cemetery to check on the headstone for my parents. Then on to Westport to my college roommate’s new apartment … had to check on my “roomie” since we were so close!

What a wonderful trip! I am so grateful that my N loves my family as much as I do and that he’s willing to drive all the way to Maine and back so I can knit!

Gone knitting … Happy New Year!