The Queen Bee’s Excellent Vacation Adventure

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Me and the Kids … 1991-ish

When I was younger and had three little kids, life was busy. I loved being responsible for the care and feeding of three little humans (It was the best job I’ve ever had!) and I sometimes tried to imagine what life would be after they flew the nest … less laundry, less cooking, less busy. One of the things we all liked best was going to the beach with my mother (GranJan).

I used to pack up the “mommy van” (yes, it had wood paneled sides) with three little kids and drive from Central Ohio to Connecticut and then on to Rhode Island. They loved staying in a cheap Knights Inn somewhere in the middle of the trip. They “hated” Pennsylvania because it took such a long time to drive through. But the drive was always worth it when we got to the beach. All of the kids spent every summer there until about the year 1999 or 2000. Since they spent more years there, my girls have a greater connection to the place. The girls have returned to visit or drive through a few times. Kate met Heather at the beach. Her family owned a home there until about ten years ago. She had visited at the beach with Heather a couple of times and, as facts would have it, even slept in the house that I rented.

Anyway … we planned for a week in the late season and as it turned out the timing was perfect. The house was perfect and well equipped. The original part of the cottage was built in the late 1800s. It has a living/dining room, kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a bath but over the years, we figure, they added on bit by bit. Now there are three bedrooms and two baths in the main house and another two bedrooms and two baths in the new addition. There was plenty of space for all of us and room for another family, too. The kids and their significant others and their dogs all had space to live comfortably for a week. And we did!

The Nest with a Handsome Visitor at the Door
The Perch (the new addition)

We spent a lot of time outside. It’s an easy walk to “sea glass” beach or the “kiddie” beach and we enjoyed both. Since it was after the season, we were able to enjoy the beaches with the dogs and alone. We looked, but there is not much sea glass at “sea glass” beach these days.

We spent enough time at the beach to get a good dose of sunburn and that felt really great! We also spent a lot of time in the yard. We had a nice patio and yard with a grill and picnic table or two where we could enjoy the view of the ocean from the house and some smores.

Ahh! A View of the Ocean

We ate well, we stayed up late, we played fun games and had a puzzle-palooza competition. We filled the recycling container more than once with La Croix seltzer cans, wine and beer bottles. We visited Watch Hill for ice cream cones, peach, of course, and a bit of shopping. We had some trouble finding a place that was open for lobster rolls but we found a brewery in Westerly that had a great summer ale for $10 a case.

And my heart is full.

Nothing makes this mom happier than being with my kids. We haven’t spent time like this together for a long, long time. We think the last time we were at the beach was twenty-two years ago, plus or minus a year or two. I’m not sure that we’ve all been anywhere together for a week since then, actually. We’ve had weekends here and there, we’ve had some of us together (during the first pandemic summer) for a week or two, but not all of my kids for a week all together. The pile of shoes left at the front door was life affirming. The laughter around the fire pit was, too.

I am so grateful to have been able to spend this vacation with my three kids, two husbands, a girlfriend, my sweet, patient husband and our seven dogs. We had a great visit with my aunt and uncle who came all the way from Lake Tahoe to visit with our family and we had a visit from a summer camp friend who happened to be at the next beach over on business. It was, in a word, good!

I’ll forever be grateful to have been able to do this with my kids. Spending time together, reconnecting, getting to see their relationships, getting to know their significant others better. It was a walk down memory lane and a memory-making vacation that we all enjoyed. AND we are already planning our vacation for next year!

I have been knitting … more on that later!

Gone knitting.

Adjusting. Change.

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

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

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The new fridge on the doorstep … yes, the old one is in the driveway still!

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

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

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

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

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

Gone knitting.

Gifts of Art

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

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

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

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

Our shore by Chuck Cornellis

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

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

Thanks by Penelope

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

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

Gone knitting.

BEE-utiful!

Just Before Dawn

We woke up just before the sun rose this morning to this. How lucky are we to live here? It was a gorgeous day today. I ran into work to buy a pair of knitting needles because I need a US 10.5 sixteen inch for the sleeves of my Daytripper Cardigan … and I didn’t have one. All the sets and single needles that I own and I didn’t have a US 10.5 16″ needle! Good grief.

I got my car washed and then headed back home to enjoy the day.I made my famous granola and while I was in the kitchen, I decided to make some brownies for my sweet hard-working husband – with extra nuts and some granola for me. Cleaned up the kitchen after making a big mess and then went outside to knit in the sunshine.

I cast on a new project today. One that I have had in the lineup for long enough that it’s now a late birthday gift. I’m not going to share a lot of detail but it’s a special shawl/scarf for a special person. The original is iknit in bright primary colors but I chose to make it in a softer color combination. I hope it works. Today I got the first two sections finished (it’s a wee shawl) and started the third section. I’ve still got a way to go but it’s enjoyable for sure.

Wee Secret Project

This evening I got the sleeve on my Daytripper cardigan started. This was the reason that I needed the new needle. (And I’m sure I’ll find my 16″ US 10.5 now that I’ve bought a second. This happens all the time. I have several doubles of needles that I thought I didn’t own. Ha! Joke’s on me. Anyway … I got a few repeats of the decrease row done and that feels good. If I could focus on one project at a time, this sweater would probably be done. At the rate I’m going, it’ll be ready to wear in the fall.

Sleeve Island on my Daytripper

I got two of the three tams finished for a customer. One is black and the other is a forest green. Both are knitted up in Berroco Ultra Wool Bulky (100% superwash wool). These hats nearly knit themselves and I think this customer has had me knit ten of them so I almost know the pattern by heart. The pattern is called Quick Lacy Slouch Hat and it’s a free pattern on Ravelry. Knit on a US 10 16″ circular needle. Once blocked, these babies change their entire attitude. I have one more in Malabrigo Chunky and the order will be complete.

I’ve made progress on my Evolve cowl, too. This has been such a sweet surprise. I hadn’t expected to like the cowl or the yarn but both are proving me wrong. Don’t judge a book, right? The lace pattern is simple enough to not require too much concentration and the yarn is really pretty and feels so good! I’m looking forward to the blocking in the round tutorial, too. (Another piece will be finished just in time to launder it all and put it away until next fall.)

Gone knitting!

A Traumatic Day

Yesterday was a rough day. I’m not gonna lie. I haven’t slept well for a couple of nights and that usually means that there’s a full moon or that something is bubbling up inside me that needs to be gone from me … my life … my belief system … whatever it is. I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, angry, tearful (like the ugly cry kind) and, by the end of the day, traumatized. I know I’ll work through it and the personal stuff in detail isn’t something that really belongs here. I know I can work through it and if I can’t, I can reach out to my (former not old) therapist who will guide me in the right direction. In the meantime, today I’m going to burn some sage in the house to cleanse the energy in it and I’ll take time to be quiet and see what my mind/body/soul reveals.

Oddly enough, in addition to having a traumatic, emotional day, I heard a phone ringing in the house. It was neither mine nor my husband’s. It was distant but seemed to be coming from inside out house. This morning I heard it again when I was standing in the kitchen. There isn’t another phone in the house. Yeah, I know. This is an odd one. Anywhoo …

Signs of hope in the garden this morning

When I went outside this morning to take my morning shot of the lake (it will be a video) I made a discovery. Crocus! I had completely forgotten that we planted a couple of bunches of crocus bulbs last fall. What a pleasant and welcome surprise. Some critter is munching on the lakeside spot and he or she will pay for that if I have anything to say about it but I was so pleased to see a couple of flowering buds and more coming. It makes me feel hopeful again.

Lots has happened around the lake since I last posted. The husband and I have both received and recovered from our second Moderna doses. We had what I would call very, very mild symptoms of what may have been fever (I had chills one afternoon) and fatigue. My arm hurt a little bit as did his. Overall, however, we are so grateful to be closer to living without the fear of this virus being ever-present in our minds. The vaccine feels like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders. I can’t wait to hug my kids and my friends!

We had ice out on our lake!

What a difference a day makes! And with the ice going out, the loons and water birds are coming back. In fact, as soon as there was open water, the birds were returning. Pairs of mergansers, at least one loon (we saw it and heard it, too), mallards, Canada geese and others are here again. It’s quite a wonderful change of pace after the winter months. Our bird feeders are full of bright yellow goldfinch, and my hubby said he’s seen purple finch. They’re eating us out our house and home!

I’ve been knitting madly away on a few projects that are on my needles.

On Easter Sunday I knitted one of the eggs from Arne and Carlos’ new collection of Twelve Easter Eggs. I’m using tiny balls of Sirdar Happy cotton yarn and they’re fun and relatively quick to knit. I’ve begun a second but I’ve put it aside to finish a project for a customer … or at least get it started.

I”m to the bottom colorwork band on my Daytripper cardigan so the mindless rounds of stockinette stitch are done and I’ll have to concentrate again (and count). I love the colors that I chose and this will be a great addition to my sweater collection.

I’ve cast on the Evolve Cowl by Hunter Hammersen which is the second project in the Confident Knitting program from Arnall-Culliford Knitwear. The yarn is Dusty Dimples DK, this is a hand-dyed yarn from the UK and it’s really delightful to knit with. The yarn was purchased as a kit to go with the book (for now virtual) that includes a lot of technique tutorials. This is the third such program that I’ve purchased and I have yet to be sorry that I did. I have not finished all of the projects from the first two books; Some I probably won’t ever make and some I know that I will. When the time is right. The technique this month is blocking a cowl in the round so that it doesn’t have the horrible creases. Good to know.

The Flux Handwarmers were the first project from Confident Knitting and they’re finished. I don’t love them to be completely honest because they’re a bit too short for my liking. I like fingerless mitts that at least keep my fingers protected from the cold steering wheel. These don’t. But the Zauberball (the yarn, Muffin) is pretty and I like the weight of the mitts. They’ll be a good gift for someone one day.

March socks are pretty rudimentary average everyday boot socks. They’re made out of Raggi yarn which I love. I made it just under the wire finishing these socks in March with a day to go. I’m not sure what socks will be happening in April … and I may skip a month. How do you like that? Ha! Ha! I do have some green buffalo wool sock yarn that is begging to be Christmas tree socks … time will tell.

Opus. What can I say about Opus? I love him/her so much. What a joy to knit and I love seeing it on my guest room bed every time I walk by. It seems a bit silly to enjoy something so apparently random but I do. I wrote about him/her here before I got to the tentacles. What a creative project.

My Fine Sand cardigan is slow progressing. I have it down in the living room now, next to my chair so that I can knit a few rows when I’m sitting down there. It’s endless rows of stockinette stitching now with every sixth row having some shaping increases and decreases. If I’m lucky, this will be done before the end of the summer … and since it’s a summery cotton/linen blend yarn, it’d be nice to be able to wear it this year. But it’s definitely going to be awhile.

So, there you have it. My life and knitting in a nutshell. I haven’t been baking much but I have the intention of making apple dumplings today … whole apples, cored and wrapped in pastry dough and baked. I have such fond memories of these at the Ohio State Fair with my singing kiddos! I’ve been eating my granola like crazy in the mornings or sometimes for lunch after work. Overall, I’m so grateful to be where I am and with who I’m with … life is good.

Gone knitting.

Oh (Covid) Christmas Tree!

Sunday Morning … Ice In?

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

Our Covid Christmas tree

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

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

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

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

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

Gone Shopping.

Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged

Yesterday we left campus.

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

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

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

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

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!

Remembering

Cookies!!!

This morning I made cookies. As I always do, I stacked them up on top of each other at an angle so that I can get all the cookies on one cooling rack. My grandmother did this when she made cookies and she was the one who taught me to love baking. So, for my entire baking life, I’ve stacked the cookies this way. I was thinking about my Gram as I stacked the cookies today and just this afternoon I realized that today is the anniversary of her death. I knew it was coming up but I just checked my calendar!

My Gram had a tiny kitchen without a lot of counter space and she always refused to have a dish washer. When we bought her one, she made us take it back. She washed dishes by hand. There was always soapy water in her kitchen sink! But the love that came out of that kitchen was simply amazing. Among my favorites, pot roast, twice baked potatoes, and baked goods. She was a wonderful lady and I have such fond memories of spending time with her. Remembering her house brings such happy feelings and memories of baking with her – or going over to visit and finding cupcakes or cake or cookies in her pantry. And the candy drawer was always full. Just for us.

I got all caught up over the weekend with the Arne and Carols Quarantine KAL. This was the last of the five “squares” and I really enjoyed knitting them. (I have since the photo below, sewn in all of the ends, too.)

The first clue for the second week was released today … again, I’m behind! Lucky that I don’t take this too seriously! I feel like I have plenty of time to get them done … this social distancing isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

“Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises.” -Elizabeth Zimmerman

Gone knitting!

Knitting = Sanity!

This is what today looks like outside my house. My sweet hubby has gone out to find a newspaper and I’m dressed and in my studio. It’s damp outside but not too chilly … if you’re properly dressed!

I stayed up late (for me last) night knitting. I’ve finished the second stockinette section of the Cashmere People Shawl test knit and am heading into the star section. I’ll enjoy this textured section and knitting in a new color. Lori (Versaci of VersaciKnits) sure does know how to write a pattern! I’m loving this knit. Did I tell you yesterday that I was wearing the Open Star sweater that I test knit for her? Open Star is a great cardigan pattern. Quick to knit and wonderful texture to keep the knitting interesting!

Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting – Block 1
Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting – Block 2

I’m still two blocks behind on the Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting KAL. Ha! Ha! But I’m finding that I really like to have to “work” on this knitting because it takes my mind to a clearer, more focused, less anxious place. I get lost in the counting and the stitches. Concentrating on something is good for the soul! I’ll get block three done today … and maybe block four this weekend. The good news is that the weekend is catch-up time – no new blocks! Yippee!

I’m so grateful that my kids are doing ok in the big city. One of my daughter’s friends has tested positive for the virus. I’m hoping that he recovers fully and soon. A couple of the cities/states that I have lived in in the past are really taking the lead during these trying times. Shout out to NYC and Ohio! That is what leadership looks like. I read today about new evidence that a couple of our elected officials in Georgia and North (or is it South?) Carolina sold off a significant portion of their stock market portfolios to mitigate their losses while telling their constituents and the country that things weren’t so bad. I sure do hope that they get whatever they deserve. What self-serving, corrupt, despicable human beings they are. Karma’s a bitch, folks. (Stepping off my soapbox now.)

So, we will take full advantage of this grey, damp day and I hope you will, too. As always, I’m so grateful to have a warm home to hole up in, plenty of yarn (and food) in our house and friends and family checking in with us. More tomorrow!

Gone knitting!

Let’s be friends on Ravelry (lindar) and Facebook (QueenBeeKnits by Linda Warner) and Instagram (@QueenBeeKnits). For more information my knitting projects are all on Ravelry!

Making Progress … stitch by stitch

Driving Home

So, I’ve written about having been struggling with “tennis elbow” since the end of July. It’s still a nagging problem but I’ve been doing some knitting. Not much but some. Yesterday I went to get a massage to work out some new kinks in my shoulders and arms. It was very helpful and I felt pretty good afterward. I had a couple of errands to run and then planned to go home to get some Christmas stuff “wrapped up”. (ha! ha!)

I was stopped in traffic on my way to the office store for labels when *CRASH* … I was rear ended. After a call to the police, waiting for them to arrive and make a report, I was able to drive my car away with minimal damage. The woman who hit me wasn’t so lucky. Her car was towed. Just before Christmas, that’s a big bummer. She said she was trying to find a cough drop and looked down. My response and the police officer’s response was the same, “That’s all it takes.”

Today I am feeling fine. I was happy to head to work with minimal aches and pains. I think those that I had were more from the massage working out kinks than from having been hit. So, I am feeling so grateful that it wasn’t worse. That nobody was hurt. That I was able to drive away. 

Oh, and my knitting … I’ve got several projects on the needles. None are moving along at a quick pace. I knit a few rows (or rounds) at a time and then put it aside. A pair of socks for my favorite son, a pair of fingerless mitts that have been languishing for thirteen years. A Bristol Ivy shawl in Cashgora yarn, Dolores (Franklin Habit’s sheep) and several others.

I did finish a baby hat knit in cashmere yarn for my new nephew in California for Christmas. He’s perfect and I can’t wait to meet him! 

Gone knitting!