We have a “critter” in our yard. A groundhog. It’s been here for a couple of years. We’ve been tolerant … to a point. BUT today I went out to inspect the garden when I was looking for a photograph for my Facebook page and I saw this …
My flowers are JUST starting to grow and they’re chewed down to nubs. The little (not so little in actuality) is getting right over by the house and eating all my tender green perennials! Grrr! This makes me very angry. I have no problem with the critter eating all of the dandelion greens it wants (and there are a lot of them out there in the grass but NOT my garden plants!
And to add insult to injury … this is what I found INSIDE MY SHIRT when I got back inside …
The ticks are out there. I didn’t even touch any plants!
I have an intarsia class to plan … I’ll be itchy for the rest of the day!
Every once in a while my husband who is a “real” photographer takes a morning photo for me to post on Facebook. The daily photos have become a much appreciated habit and a welcome gift for my friends and family – particularly during the covid shutdown. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place and I feel driven to share it with the world. We were, for the most part, pretty happy to be locked up here.
This week the CDC announced that all vaccinated people can go out in public without masks. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, right? Returning to normal. Yeah, well, I’m not sure how I feel about this seemingly quick change. I think it’s great to be able to spend time with other vaccinated people in small groups of friends without masks but I’m not sure I trust the rest of the population to do the right thing if they’re not vaccinated. I’ll likely be wearing a mask at work for the near future. I’ll feel better that way.
I’ve also spent a few hours outside on the porch and in the gardens. We were talking one day recently wondering how people take care of their yards and homes as they get older. It’s a big job around here! I am grateful that we can do it now but what happens when we get older? It may just all got to hell. Meanwhile, our goal is to make everything easier to care for. Native plants that are good for the birds and bees, ground covers that aren’t invasive so that weeds aren’t as prevalent, etc. Another work in progress …
Meanwhile, I’ve been finishing up a few projects and I’ve been starting a few, too. Ha! Ha! I’ve finished over 33 items so far this calendar year. Most recently I finished slippers for my big brother (his beautiful bride will be felting them so they’ll fit him perfectly), Socks for a new baby boy and his big brother, and I’ve completely finished (well, I haven’t found perfect buttons yet) my Daytripper Cardigan. I’ve also been baking a bit. Apple Pie Scones are among our new favorites (and used the old apples in the refrigerator before they were rotten, banana nut muffins with blueberries use the old bananas. Waste not want not.
I have a new shawl, Gallbladder by Becky Sorensen, on the needles at the request of my younger daughter. I’m making the shawl in Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock in two colorways. A silvery gray called “Jackie O” and a darker gray speckle called “Stolen Dances”. This shawl is designed by a college friend and she said she’d love it for her birthday. I’m thrilled to make it for her.
Also new to the needles are socks for my husband’s birthday. I almost used this Manos Allegria yarn for my son’s birthday socks but I changed my mind. So, this week I cast on sock for my husband. This is my sixth pair of socks so far this year. I’m once again participating in the annual Sock Challenge and these are my June socks. Allegria is so soft on my hands. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful to wear! My new socks in progress are first below … the rest are after that.
I took two classes this weekend and I’m so happy that I did. Yesterday I took a mending class with Bristol Ivy and today I took a finishing class with Deborah Newton. Both were wonderful and I always learn something new and useful. This has been a blessing in the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. To be able to take classes for a reasonable price with internationally known teachers is marvelous! I’m grateful to have been able to “indulge” in several classes over the past year. I’m grateful to still be learning.
My classes on Friday at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine have started up in person again as of May. It’s so wonderful to gather together again. Zoom is a good situation when you absolutely can’t safely gather but it’s far better to be together in person. Friday is, again, my favorite day!
This year Mother’s Day was a happier experience for me. I’m not sure how or why it changes from year to year but this year it was a good day! We woke to a beautiful sunny morning (a bit early with a little white senior citizen 4-legged “child” who piddled on the bedroom floor) but it turned out to be ok because we were able to spend some time on the porch with our coffee and some apple pie scones that I had made the day before.
I put aside my WIPs and picked up some new yarn and a new pattern that I wanted to knit on Mother’s Day. I purchased four skeins of fingering weight yarn from Emma’s Yarn for a shawl for my daughter, Libet, at her request. I’ll be knitting her a Gallbladder Shawl by her friend Becky Sorensen in two shades of gray – a light silvery gray and a darker gray with speckles. I really like working with Emma’s Yarn and this is a big shawl. So far, I like the i-cord edge and I LOVE stripes! (These are the best kind of knitted stripes because I don’t have a hundredty-million ends to weave in later!
My sweet husband prepared a special brunch for me. He knows mother’s day is a mixed blessing and he really stepped up to make mine special this year. He bought a gorgeous lilac bush for our yard, too. I hope we will see it live and grow (our record in the yard is about 50% chance of success) … the tag says it’ll get to be up to ten feet tall and almost as wide. Imagine the scent! I love the smell of lilacs! Anyway, the eggs benedict were especially good and the hollandaise completely from scratch!
We spent a good chunk of the day relaxing. I needed to get some laundry done and we needed to spend some time in our yard. We have a plethora of weeds that required a dose of weed killer – we use a combination of extra strength white vinegar, dawn dish detergent and epsom salts as was suggested by the man who designed and planted our gardens. Since we live in a shoreline zone, we don’t want to put anything chemical on our yard. Ever. But this works! We also dug up a bunch of errant daylilies and hostas that have spread into the center of the garden that we call “Helen’s Garden”. This is the garden in front of our bedroom window and it used to be just daylilies and weeds, a groundcover and a few lilies of the valley. After we built the house and before our wedding we hired someone who knew what they were doing to design a few gardens that were bird and bee friendly. Now we have to maintain them and it can be back breaking work but we got it done. Four of our five kids called which was wonderful. We are so grateful that they’re well and healthy. And to top if off, we spent time sitting in the afternoon sunshine watching the birds and had our first visit with Mr. Oriole. What a gorgeous bird he is! I even got a little bit of sun on my face!
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I can’t believe that I haven’t written for such a long time … but I’m here today. It’s a questionably nice summer day today. We woke to rain, heavy rain, which is very welcome since Maine has been very dry. Parts of the state are talking about drought conditions. Not good this early.
I’ve been knitting along on the same projects. They seem to be taking forever to finish and that says that I’m not knitting as much as I think I am. With all sorts of time, it’s astounding to me that I get less and less done. Regardless …
My Humulus sweater is coming along. I’ve finished one sleeve and started the second one. If I really sat myself down and got off social media, I could probably finish it today. I am pretty pleased with the fit of this sweater and I really like the colors I chose. Ella Rae Classic wool is a good workhorse yarn. I would love to make another one of these sweaters (or one like it) in Malabrigo Rios or some other more luxurious yarn … some day. I have a list of sweaters and have already purchased the yarn for several that I have to knit first.
Next up, my Bristol Ivy shawl … The Shape of A Bay, I bought this pattern and yarn at Medomak Fiber Arts Camp not last summer but the summer before. It was my splurge. I started it immediately and then realized that it wasn’t a pattern to work on when you’re trying to converse with other people so I put it away until after camp. Time rolls on and then all of a sudden two years have passed and I hadn’t touched it since.
I love the yarn so much. It feels wonderful as it passes through my hands. I also am loving the intricate stitch patterns in this shawl. It’s brilliant. Way more brilliant than I can ever imagine designing myself … and that’s one of the reasons that I adore Bristol Ivy so much. She’s a knitting geek. Her designs are different, thoughtful, and wicked smaht! I am continually amazed at her creativity. I’m thoroughly enjoying knitting this shawl and I can hardly wait to see it in all its glory after it’s blocked!!!
I started a new project when I saw the newest Making magazine. There is so much in these little books that I want to make! I love these simple crochet slippers by Cal Patch (and I love Cal, too) so much and I eagerly finished both slipper bottoms in one porch-sitting day. I haven’t pulled them out again since. I am not as proficient at crochet as I am at knitting but I find it’s good for my hands and arms to change the movements up now and again. So, I change to crochet. This project, while simple for some, takes quite a bit of concentration for me but it is fun to succeed. And they’ll be warm and cozy when they’re finished and felted.
This is my other crochet project. The Battenberg blanket will be something I’ll be working on for(maybe)ever. These tiny little squares will be crocheted together eventually and I’d like to have it be big enough to cuddle an adult up in … it may be a baby blanket, however. Time will tell. I have several dozen of them finished in random sock yarns that I’ve used over the years. I have to find a solid or two to use to unify all the oddball patches. But I can make these in my sleep now. It’s a good end of the day project.
Both my husband and my college roommate showed me this recipe … that’s a strong hint. And they’re delicious. I spent a good part of the day one day this week making these and some peanut butter oatmeal cookies with nuts and chocolate chips added (because what’s a cookie without adding some extra good stuff?). I will not be shedding pounds this week, that’s for sure. This recipe can be found on the NY Times Cooking website. Let me know if you try them!
Last but not least, I finally cast on my July socks. I’ve blogged before about our 2020 Sock Challenge and I have a few friends of QBK on Facebook who are knitting socks with me this year. It’s been fun … but this month I almost forgot to start a pair! I had initially thought I’d make a pair that I saw online somewhere that was made with two yarns in contrasting colors, knit two stitches with color one and knit two stitches with color two and then after two rounds, switch the colors and so forth. But when I got started, I didn’t like the two colors together – not enough contrast – so I am knitting a simple pair of socks using my favorite Yankee Knitter sock pattern. The yarn is On the Round yarn in the Rebel colorway.
I’ve been working at weeding our gardens. So far the weeds are winning but we’ve had some wonderful floral successes this year. Have a look at my bee balm! The hummingbirds are so happy with these flowers!
All of my projects are on my Ravelry project page. You can find them there! My Rav name is Lindar. Find me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner and Instagram @QueenBeeKnits.
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.
My StarflakeShawl 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.
All of my knitting projects and even some sewing projects can be found on my Ravelry project page, I’m lindar on Ravelry.
Follow me on Facebook – QueenBeeKnits by Linda Warner and Instagram @QueenBeeKnits
I have a new plant baby, a ZZ plant, in my atelier! I bought this for my hubby back in the wintertime thinking he’d like a plant in his studio space which is on our third floor. He was concerned that it would die up there because he’d forget to water it. So, since then, it’s been living in our living room with all the other plants and I’ve been taking care of it. This morning, I decided to take it up to my studio where I can enjoy it and it’s something green and alive.
Yesterday was a beautiful, albeit windy and chilly, day and we went to the nearest garden center, a small family business in the next town to get some vegetable plants to put into our garden. I wanted to start some greens (they’re supposed to be hardy enough for this time of year) and get a leg up on growing our own food this spring/summer and into the fall. We have a very short growing season and last year we had a garden fail. I hope we are more successful this year. We bought a few pansies to decorate our front dooryard, too. Pansies are such bright and happy plants and we will enjoy these well into the summer!
I did do some knitting yesterday and finished a bird. The pattern is Susan B. Anderson’s Simple Bird and Nest which can be found in the most recent Making Magazine, #9 Simple. I dove into my stash to find the yarn and it is really cute. I’ll make the nest today … and maybe its eggs. This will be a gift so I won’t show the whole “set” until it’s been received. I’ll be making two … or maybe three of these for some special friends.
All of my new veggie plants were in the garden to be planted yesterday and I ran out of steam. That turned out to be lucky because we had a frost last night … go figure, it’s the middle of May! Ha! Ha! I wonder if we will ever see summer this year. The weathermen said that should be our last frost … I’ll plant the greens: kale, spinach, lettuces, and some spring mix this afternoon or tomorrow. I think tomorrow.
I planned to do nothing today. It was a bit grey and dreary … a lazy kind of Sunday.
Porch View - Grey-ish Sunday
I woke up late, had my coffee (soon it will be tea in the morning and no coffee but that’s a whole other story) and a rather sad looking pumpkin scone with the texture of a muffin, really. Then went outside because N. was going to mow the lawn … and I decided to weed the little perennial garden that we added by the big rock outside the front door. During the month of August, it went to heck and really needed some TLC!
We’ve been collecting the bits and pieces of scrap metal left behind by the railroad workers who’ve been upgrading the train tracks behind the house. And I decided that my garden needed to be edged with railroad spikes. I love it – and it’s so appropriate for this house that is so close to the tracks! (And we’ve still got a bucket and then some of pieces of metal for N. to practice soldering with!) A little bit of mulch and it will be done. Yippee! What do you think?
After doing nothing this morning, I made a pumpkin pie. I thought I bought a can of pumpkin but it was organic pumpkin pie filling … and the recipe on the back of the can didn’t ask for any sugar so the pie needs a bit more sugar but it’s OK with some homemade coconut ice cream on the side!
We took the dogs for a walk down the street and chatted with neighbors and then I got to sit and knit a bit with a lovely cup of tea on the side porch.
So, for having planned to do nothing done today, I feel like I accomplished a little bit!
PS – We have been working on repainting the front screen door and the fence that surrounds the garbage cans. Though we didn’t do any painting today, we nearly have it done and it looks so much better! Now, on to the back of the house (or the wood shed or the bedroom door and window or …) Here’s the “before” … “after” pictures when we’re completely done!
This morning my nose was freezing cold when I woke up. I was even cold last night under a down comforter. Good sleeping weather.
The main reason, though, that I love it here is the nature. When I was up reading (and sniffling) last night, I could hear the loons calling. I love that sound – and somehow it makes you feel like you’re not alone.
This morning, I was sitting in the sun on the porch and watched a king fisher catch two fish … well, I didn’t exactly watch the darned bird – it was way to speedy for me! I saw it flash back up to the roof of the front porch after I heard the splash (twice!) and there was definitely something in it’s beak. They have a unique call so I knew it was on the roof above me but even as I watched, it moved more quickly than my eyes!
And last night on our cruise, we watched a couple of flocks of sea gulls over the lake. I’ve seen them flock over the ocean but never on the lake … well, at least I’ve not noticed it before. They were eating bugs. I didn’t know they ate bugs. Learn something new all the time!
Right now as I type this, a loon is fishing in front of the house … the wonders of nature!
We’re endeavoring to eat more vegetables and more locally. Here is lunch today …
Local tomatoes, basil from our garden, Maine-made mozzarella and freshly baked baguette from the Green Spot in Waterville. Delicious!