2022 Year in Review – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Messalonskee Lake in the heart of Central Maine, USA! We had a quiet evening last night and were in bed and asleep well before the ball fell in Times Square but we live a simple life here and we like to get up in the morning and watch the sunrise, drink our coffee together and usher in a new day in relative peace.

This morning I slept extra late and missed sunrise but it was still lovely when I awoke. Foggy and warmer than usual temps here this morning (though the fog has burned off and the sun is out!) We are beyond grateful to be able to live here in this remarkable place. My hubby made delicious Eggs Benedict for breakfast after I sent the store newsletter and now I’m busy up in my studio.

I’m moving over into my 2023 planner this morning and have added up my FOs for 2022. It seems like I’ve finished about 72 projects this year. I say “about” because I didn’t take the time to count every single advent jumper and other little projects. They’re all on my projects page in Ravelry, though, and I’m quite pleased. Among some of my favorites were knitting with fairy lights and completing a couple of Laura Nelkin’s Love and Light. I have one to make for a commission for a high school friend who loved mine.

I totally enjoyed knitting little sweaters for our future Advent calendar. I’ve made it to #16 which is still on my needles and 14 and 15 are waiting to be seamed a little bit and ends woven in. But I’ll get them done this year for sure. I completed three sweaters this year. I’ve worn my Elton several times – including on my trip to Rhinebeck in the fall. I even wore it buttoned wrong … all around Rhinebeck and meeting so many of my knitting idols. I love my Patsy’s Traveling sweater and my Fine Sand, too. I’ll enjoy wearing them all in years to come. I didn’t knit socks every month this year but I got several pairs made. I gave most of them to my girls. My sock drawer is pretty full! I owe my hubby his Christmas socks … I hope to get the socks knit in January.

I loved knitting the Humlebi Shawl and watching the little bees pop off the fabric! I have to look for this shawl … it was washed and put away for the summer and I haven’t yet taken it out. And I loved knitting everything for my new nephew, Noah and my new granddaughter, Sylvie. We are so thankful for these precious additions to our family and we are so happy to be able to spend time with our family near and not-so-near.

We’ve had some really sad days in 2022. I lost a dear student who I’d grown very close to. Lucille was like a mother/grandmother/auntie to me. I spent every Friday with her, picking her up for class and bringing her home again for many of them. I appreciated her knitting talent and her graceful-ish aging. She didn’t like not being able to knit and do things as she’d always done. I couldn’t blame her. We lost both of my Littles in 2022. Boq died in January and Lola in July. I miss them every single day. There will never be another dog like them for me. And then in November we lost my grand-dog Willow. She was my daughter’s heart dog (as my litters were mine.) We had the honor of bringing her ashes home to NYC at Christmas time. Rest well all of you.

This past year has been busier than I might have liked for me in the volunteer realm of my life. I’ve been president of the lake association and on the board of a free public charter school for the arts. Both have been very fulfilling and I’ve enjoyed them a lot. I’ll be wrapping up my service to the lake association in July but I live on the lake so I can’t step far. I believe that boards need new people on and old people off in order to keep them healthy and thriving. I’ll always be available to help the new leadership. That’s our job as leaders to lead, step down and then to share our knowledge to the new generation. I’m looking forward to having a little bit more time to get back to sewing. I’ve got several projects to finish and some that I really want to tackle.

Clara Parkes, in her Daily Respite post this morning, offered this poem as a benediction for 2023 and I really loved it. I’ve shared it on my daily FB/Insta post and I shared it in the store newsletter that I wrote. Three times is a charm so I’m also sharing it here. I’m off to fling the door wide in welcome and sweep the threshold.

“Think of the year
as a house:
door flung wide
in welcome,
threshold swept
and waiting,
a graced spaciousness
opening and offering itself
to you. . .

And may it be
in this house of a year
that the seasons will spin in beauty,
and may it be
in these turning days
that time will spiral with joy.
And may it be
that its rooms will fill
with ordinary grace
and light spill from every window
to welcome the stranger home.”

— Jan Richardson

Gone knitting.

What a Day .. and a half

We had our first “plowable” snow Friday night and yesterday. We are thinking we got about 8 inches … maybe 9. It’s absolutely beautiful! The only drawback, if you can call it that, is that we lost power on Saturday at around 2:30pm. The short story is that we got power back this afternoon around 3pm. BUT for a household with two generators, we were mighty cool over that 24 plus hours and I’m really grateful that I have a husband who is creative and can figure out how to minimize our discomfort.

So, how is it that we have two generators and neither one works? Well, suffice it to say that we’re in between generators. Our old one is a portable model that we drag out of the garage and across the yard to plug in and it ran the whole house. But my husband needs a new hip and we thought we’d bite the bullet and get a new, automatic generator hooked up before the winter kicks into high gear. We had our neighbor install (except for the propane) a new automatic generator. We may be able to leave the house in the winter after all. BUT we were told by our propane company that we only had to dig a ditch from the house to the generator and they’d come hook it up … and then they needed a deposit … and they didn’t come. So my husband called them about it and they hadn’t scheduled us. And now it’ll be January 6th before they can come. Meanwhile, obviously, there was a nor’Easter … and several inches of heavy snow … and 24+ hours of powerlessness. Literally.

I’ve knitted through the hours that were difficult and growing cold. Neither of us slept particularly well last night. We were both up at 3am for a few hours … reading with our headlamps, drinking a cup of tea. I was lucky and was able to go back to sleep. This morning the sun came out and we are fortunate to get some serious passive solar heat. The living room was 66 even after almost 24 hours of no heat. Husband got a long extension cord, passed it through the kitchen window and plugged into the fridge so we didn’t lose our food. He also realized that he could plug into a power strip and then we could also charge our phones. And a space heater. And a shop light.

The knitting helped me cope with the lack of comfort. I take the luxury of heat and electricity for granted every single day. The expectation is that we will always have it – and we even flick the switches when we know that power is off. A rude awakening but a reminder, too, about how lucky we are to live here. In the home that we built on the lake that we love in the state that we chose as our home together. In a special country where we are afforded so many freedoms and luxuries. Our “suffering” and “discomfort” was minimal at best but we were among the lucky ones.

I’ve finished the socks for my daughter that I started on the way to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. I love the yarn. They’re happy socks!

They’re plain vanilla socks, my favorite Yankee Knitter pattern. I’ve bought the pattern several times and keep going back for more. I’ve now bought the pattern electronically and I hope I don’t shred that pattern, too.

I realized that I had some beautiful cashmere yarn in my stash that are the perfect colors for a hat for my sweet granddaughter. I have been wanting to knit a hat for her that is a bit larger than the newborn hats that she has because she’s bound to keep growing. I combined two patterns to make the bow hat in a DK weight yarn. I’ll block the pieces tomorrow and put them all together. I hope I love it as much as I think I will. Despite the ladders and some funky color change mess.

Aaand, last but not least is the little cardigan that I’m knitting for Sylvie. She’s getting big enough that the newborn sweater and the Christmas sweater that I made her may not fit. I’ve shipped the Christmas sweater and am close to finishing the cardigan … one sleeve almost finished and one more to go. Add some ribbing around the opening and some buttons and it’ll be ready to go. I love the shade of blue that is an On the Round sock colorway that I’ve had in my stash. I’m knitting a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern. (Have a look at my Ravelry project page for all the details.)

So, in addition to finishing the sweater and blocking and assembling the hat, I’ve been trying to decide what project to knit next. It’s difficult to believe that I haven’t got more projects on the needles. BUT it’s time for something new. I just saw a sweater (cardigan) pattern called the Ramona Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith. It’s an Aran weight wool in a grey colorway. I happen to have a sweater’s worth of a heavy worsted gray yarn by Brown Sheep. I think I may be heading down the Ramona path later on this week. I don’t have a dark grey sweater and this will match a lot of things that I wear on the regular. And it’s not complicated. My head is a swimming with responsibilities and I can’t deal with a knitting pattern that requires a lot of my attention.

I also need to knit a pair of Christmas socks for my hubby. He surely deserves them for taking such good care of me.

Gone knitting.

Weddings and Grandma Duties and Family, Oh My!

All of a sudden I have nearly 20,000 miles on my car! The past month has been a whirlwind of travel and we’re not used to it. Not one little bit. But it sure has been fun!

It all started when my eldest bonus daughter got married in Virginia at the start of December. We drove down because she had asked her dad to make the chuppah for the wedding. He gathered beautiful Maine Birch logs and fashioned a large chuppah with them. It was gorgeous! BUT we had to also get it to the wedding venue, so … we bought a roof rack for my car and strapped the logs (now disassembled) to the top of the car and a few of the shorter logs were inside. The ride down and the proceedings up to the wedding itself were fun and it was great to see the kids and their significant others. My son and his girlfriend also came down to the wedding so we got to see them, too. The wedding day was *gasp* rainy but we were inside getting hair and makeup done and then photos and cocktails and the wedding ceremony.

The venue was the River View at Occoquan in Lorton, VA. A lovely natural area in the middle of suburban Washington, DC. The ceremony was outside and then the reception was in the building on premises and it was a stunning venue. The bride was beautiful, her attendants were lovely and loving and they were celebrated in an appropriate manner. We are so happy to have Evan join our family.

After the wedding my hubby dropped me off in New York City for my first grandmotherly babysitting job. What a privilege to be asked to stay with my darling love for a few days. Her dad had business in California and her mom had rehearsals and a performance. I had a blast! BUT I can now say that I fully understand what my friends who are grandmothers have told me about it being the best title in the whole world. I fell head over heels in love with this little girl while I was there and it was really difficult to leave when the time came. Needless to say, we are thinking about heading back to the city for Christmas for a couple of days and I can hardly wait!

I did some knitting in the car on the way to Virginia and back to NYC but after that, my hands were busy and I might as well have sent my knitting bag home with my hubby. I didn’t knit a stitch while I was in New York. Somehow I have found a new activity that surpasses knitting and that’s holding my granddaughter! Home is my happy place and now she is, too. It’s a life changing experience. I am so eager to spend more and more time with her as she grows up and I grow old. I loved spending time, too, with my daughter. She’s already an incredible mom. I’m so proud of her.

I’ve finished my Musselburgh hat in Berroco Vintage Sock. I didn’t love the yarn, to be completely honest. BUT it is washable and the hat should be a good one for New York CIty winters. My kids all wear a lot of grays and black – it’s what you do in NYC. I hope she’ll like the hat and if not, there are plenty of people to give it to. Musselburgh is a long tube with increases on one end and decreases on the other. In black there’s not a lot to look at but I’ll get a photo on my daughter’s head (if I remember!) It was a fun knit to be sure.

I’ve finished one sock and am half-way done with the second one. The yarn was in my stash – I’ve been knitting 12 socks a year before this year and I was feeling like I needed to knit some socks. So I did. And it was a good idea, too, since we were traveling. Socks are always a good project for the road. I’m using the Yankee Knitter sock pattern which I almost have memorized in the fingering weight yarn for women. My daughter claimed these socks at Thanksgiving so they’ll also be going to NYC at Christmas time. Yarn details are on my Ravelry project page. The only thing I tend to change is the needle size. I like to knit socks on a slightly smaller needle. In this case, I’m using a US 1 1/2. I feel like it makes the socks hold up to wear better.

I’ve also cast on a sweater for my granddaughter because the little Newborn Vertebrae cardigans are getting too small – well, actually, the rainbow one was felted in the laundry and the Christmas one may (or may not fit). It’s in the mail on the way so she can wear it for a few days. The one I’m knitting now is a fingering weight cardigan in On the Round sock yarn that I had stashed in a beautiful blue tonal. I’m using Knitting Plain and Simple’s pattern #1506 Baby Cardigan/ Lightweight Baby Cardigan. I love knitting little sweaters, they really make me feel accomplished and finishing things is a pretty wonderful thing, too.

That might be all that I’ve done recently.

I flew home from NYC so I could teach on Friday and Friday night my friend Sarah and her Great Dane puppy, Esme, came for the weekend. What fun it was to see this giant puppy and get to know what a giant breed is like. At six months, she’s 90 pounds and she’s a little floppy like puppies tend to be. But she made me laugh more often than not – often when she tried to climb up into my lap.

Sarah left on Monday and I took off on Tuesday to visit briefly with my Salem and Marblehead family and to pick up the ashes of my grand-dog, Willow. Willow passed away the day after Thanksgiving. I’ll be delivering her ashes to my daughter and her husband. We all were touched by this sweet rescue dog who started out suffering (and making my daughter and anyone who loved her suffer) from severe separation anxiety. She was still anxious as an older dog but she had made great strides; mostly because my daughter loved her so much and was willing to put in the time and effort to help her feel a little more secure.

I arrived back home today and I’m heading back to work tomorrow. Friday there is supposed to be a “big” winter storm. My husband’s boss has called work for Friday already and my boss seems to be leaning that way, too. There will be three of us in the shop tomorrow – hopeful that we get some restocking done!

I’ll sleep well tonight and most of the weekend is “mine” for finishing my Christmas shopping and getting some gifts wrapped. Crossing my fingers that everything arrives in time – I’m getting really good at shopping online! I was a little bit late getting started. The wedding preparations threw me off. But I got our Christmas cards ordered, addressed and sent! Last year I didn’t manage to get cards ordered or sent so I really wanted to get them done this year. I’m so happy with them.

Gone knitting (after I switch the laundry again!)

Thankful

We woke to this view this morning and are so thankful for the privilege of living here, this close to nature and where we can escape the craziness of the world. We are just back from our Thanksgiving gathering in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Two of my kids and their partners and dogs came up from New York. It was a wonderful Northshore Thanksgiving – seafood feast; clam chowder from the Causeway Restaurant in Gloucester, steamed clams and lobsters and dessert from the Italian bakery in the north end of Boston. A wonderful gathering of family and friends who are like family.

I’ve been knitting away and have finished several projects that I can share and a couple that I won’t.

I had a commission for three simple Christmas stockings from my cousin who had lost hers to a moth infestation. She requested green, red and white and I insisted that I’d put on their names. I made an effort to get them finished by Thanksgiving because I’ve lost the post office holiday “battle” before when items intended for Christmas didn’t arrive in time … even when sent two weeks in advance. I didn’t want that to happen here. I’ll be writing up this pattern in the coming weeks for my followers. Why not, right?

I also finished a stocking for my granddaughter. I wanted hers to match her parents and thankfully I kept a copy of the pattern. I must have had the book once upon a time but I don’t any more. I knit Sylvie’s stocking out of Plymouth Galway yarn in an Aran colorway. The stocking is cabled with two different cable patterns on it. The hugs and kisses cables go down the front and back of the sock from top to the tip of the toe, around the heel, too. It’s not an easy pattern but I’ve learned to read my knitting and cross the stitches according to my eyes in order to keep the pattern going. If my memory serves, I added a tassel and an initial ornament to her parents’ stockings. I couldn’t find a nice “S” ornament but I found a cute photo ornament and I think it’ll be good.

I’ve knitted a few things for my granddaughter that I think I can share with you since she’s not yet reading (she’s one month old!) I made her a pair of faux shearling booties and a Christmas sweater and a Love and Light to hang in her nursery.

The shearling booties have knitted cuffs. This is a fairly simple kit to knit that one of my co-workers saved out for me. She was knitting a pair for her granddaughter and I’m grateful that she thought of me. Every well-dressed Maine grand baby needs these. The are a “kit” by Boye called Starting Point Cozy Cuff Baby Booties. I used scraps of Berroco Vintage for the cuffs. I can’t wait to see these on her!

Babies love to look at lights and I thought a light-up heart, Love and Light, designed by Laura Nelkin would be a good addition to her nursery. I had ordered the 200-light strand of fairy lights from Amazon some time ago and finally grabbed my needles to get it done. It’s such “big” knitting that it doesn’t take too long to make and it’s absolutely adorable.

I made her a Newborn Vertebrae sweater in rainbow sock yarn and because this fits so well, I decided to make her another one, this time for Christmas. I knitted the body of the sweater with white sock yarn and then grabbed some bits of stashed yarn and knitted red cuffs, a green and red border around the front of the sweater, and then i duplicate stitched a big green Christmas tree with a bright yellow star to the back. I think it’s adorable. I really wanted to put some sequins and beads on it but babies only spend time on their backs these days and that would NOT have been comfortable. Maybe next year!

I’ve still got a Musselburgh hat to finish but I’m nearly up to the decreases and finishing. I hope it fits. I think it’ll be warm. Pictures to follow as it’s a gift. I’ve got 15 of my Arne and Carlos Norwegian mini-Jumpers finished and number 16 is on the needles. Needless to say, these will not be finished this year and it’s ok. I’ll get them done for next year and this year I’ve bought all of my kids a chocolate advent calendar from Harbor Sweets in Salem, MA. If you’ve not tried their sweet sloops, you’re in for a treat. They’re quite a step up from the $1 chocolate advent calendars from the Christmas Tree Store in Augusta!

I have a couple of pairs of mittens on the needles, too. The KAL “Merry” mittens has been fun. I’ve knitted through the end of the third clue and have the fourth to do next. And there’s a second mitten, too. The Peace de Resistance mittens have been chilling out in my knitting bag for ages. They’ll be happy to see the light of day one of these days. There’s also a pair of socks on my needles.

As of today I’ve completed about 63 projects. I think. I keep track in my bullet journal and in my Ravelry queue (mark the year you’re knitting in the “tags” area) I’m quite pleased about this number because I’ve been working and teaching and volunteering on two boards of trustees so I’ve been busy.

I want to touch back to the sad end of of our Thanksgiving when we had to say goodbye to my beloved grand-dog, Willow. On Friday morning, something was wrong with our girl. Luckily, my brother is a veterinarian and he and his wife scooped up a very uncomfortable Willow and took her to their animal hospital for a check. It turned out that she had a “sizable” tumor on her heart and the heart was surrounded by fluid from the tumor. The fluid could be tapped and drained but there was no way of knowing how quickly it would fill up again. My daughter and her husband made the difficult decision to put Willow to sleep so she wouldn’t suffer, and she was suffering. We all had a chance to visit with her and say our farewells and my brother and sister-in-love are the most caring and compassionate team I know. We are so very lucky that we were there at their house when this happened. The kids were scheduled to head back into New York City that morning and it could just as easily have happened in the car. At least our dear Willow was surrounded by people who love her as she passed away. We will all miss her.

Rest in peace, sweet Willow. Until we meet again.

Gone knitting.

I’m a Grandmother!

Sylvie Violet was born on October 19th at just before 9am and she is already the love and light in our lives. I got the text message announcing her arrival from her proud papa and immediately started packing for my first visit. I needed to lay eyes on my daughter and meet the baby. When I still hadn’t heard from my dear husband two hours later, I got in my car (with no clear idea of where I would be sleeping) and started my drive to New York City. I felt a little bit like I was running away from home! (My dear husband did call me when I was close to the NH border and forgave me for going without him. I do love him!)

I met her for the first time on October 20th. My son and I went to the hospital together. He’d never held a baby before and was a bit unsure but quickly adjusted. It was absolutely incredible to see and hold and kiss this little nugget for the first time. My heart expanded again by double as it did each time I held one of my own babies for the first time. She is beautiful and perfect and I’m so excited to see her grow up and to see her mom and dad parent her.

I know that this child will be well cared for and well loved. She already is. Welcome to this crazy family, Sylvie Violet! We love you forever!

Gone knitting. (I’m a grandmother now! Lots of little knitting to do!)

Helping

I was called in to work today for a couple of hours because my friend and co-worker had an appointment. My boss arrived after me and shared a story about one of our customers.

Said customer saw a sample as part of a trunk show at another LYS in our state. She really loved one of the patterns, bought a sweater’s with of yarn and the pattern and off she went. Mind you, a sweater’s worth of yarn is, at minimum, $100 and in this case was likely to be upwards of $150-$200 or more.

But when she started knitting her sweater she had a problem with the pattern and particularly one special stitch labeled as a “special technique” in the pattern- K2Ctbl. She called the LYS where she purchased the yarn and pattern and asked for some help with the pattern. She was told that it was a trunk show and no one at the shop has knitted the sweater. They suggested she reach out to the designer by email. (Not a bad idea, BTW.) our customer then called my boss to share the story.

When I heard the story, I pulled out a bit of yarn and a pair of needles and gave the direction a try. In our customer’s defense, the way it’s written is a bit odd and confusing but when I saw the dash I figured that the direction for the stitch was after that. Anywhooo, I figured it out and called the customer to tell her how to do it. She was so happy to have a little help and, she’s a very good knitter, she was appreciative.

Tonight the boss got a text message:

She’s got it!

This is why I do what I do. I love helping people be successful. It was a simple thing to do and made such a big difference for our customer.

I’m a knitting teacher! Gone knitting.

Rhinebeck 2022

Leaving home

We went to New York Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, New York!

My friend and coworker and I drove down to Massachusetts on Friday, checked in to our hotel and then did a “dry run” to WEBS so that we knew where we were going (early) the next morning. We also made a visit to WEBS. What a lovely shop! We both agreed that it was clean and bright and well-organized and there was a lot of selection. WEBS is a Rowan Flagship store and it’s the most Rowan yarn that I’ve ever seen in one place. They also have their own line of yarns, Valley Yarns, and they bought Stacy Charles several years ago. In 2020 WEBS was purchased by LoveCrafts.

What I didn’t know is that WEBS started out as a weaving store and they expanded to a yarn store from there. They currently offer a catalog and they offer a 25% discount on purchases over a certain amount … I almost always surpassed that limit. It isn’t difficult.

I was having so much fun looking at yarn that I forgot to take any photographs. Oops!

On the bus!

Saturday morning we boarded the bus to Rhinebeck at 7am. That meant a really early wakeup and a short drive to WEBS with a quick stop for coffee at Dunkin. WEBS had apple cider donuts and cider at the store Saturday morning for all of us traveling with them. It was wonderful. With a few raffles (no, neither of us won) we arrived at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, home of the iconic NY Sheep and Wool Festival.

Through the entrance (security checked all bags for firearms) and we were in! We had been told by friends who had attended Rhinebeck before that internet was spotty so go prepared – know which vendors and events that you want to visit, what projects that you’ll be collecting yarn for, what events you might want to attend, and head for the food and drinks in the off times. We never did buy any food, by the way. The lines started out long and stayed that way. Luckily, we brought our own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water and fruit because we didn’t want to be starving and have to then wait in long lines. It was all good advice.

The crowds were HUGE! Lines were long everywhere! We started out heading to one of the areas where the books were being signed. To be completely honest, after three years of not being around people, I got really uncomfortable being so close to so many strangers. We were in the book store area and I wish we’d gone there second or third (after I’d adjusted to the crowds.) I walked out of the booth having purchased nothing … we did have a chat with Ann and Kay from Modern Daily Knitting – and had a good feel of their new Atlas yarn. I feel comfortable buying it now, by the way. It’s lovely. Kay and Ann were very personable and I hope Ann will take me up on my offer to visit Maine! I don’t know why I didn’t put my mask on at this point. But I didn’t. I should have, in retrospect.

We saw so many wonderful members of the knitterati! These are some of the people I admire most in the business. They’re all regular folks, making a living and who are genuine and gracious.

The first people we saw were the podcast team from the Wooly Thistle podcast (they happened to be in the line for the ladies room in front of us.) We both love their podcast. We did a bit of shopping and wandering and then headed to the infamous hill – and oh, boy! It was thrilling to meet people whom I’ve only ever seen online and in virtual classes. We saw Laura Nelkin, Louis Boria from Brooklyn Boy Knits, Aimee from La Bienne Aimee in Paris, Patty Lyons, Kat from Brooklyn General Store, Adella Colvin and her husband Jimmy of Lola Bean Yarn Company, Casapinka, Yasmen of Designs by Yasmen, and so many more. I know I’m forgetting some. Some of my favorite knitting celebrities and yarn shop owners. It was amazing reconnecting with people.

Glenda and I both got to reunite with friends from different knitting experiences. Two of my friends from Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat were there – it had been too long since we had hugged each other. Covid was a real divider of friends (and family), wasn’t it? For both of us, the best part of the festival was seeing our friends and the people who we admire.

The crowds … but it was a picture perfect day!

I bought very little. I got a souvenir tote bag and a queen bee project bag. I know, no yarn? No yarn. I wasn’t feeling drawn by any particular yarn and truth be told, I have a lot of yarn already. I do have a plan to contact Adella at Lola Bean Yarn Company to buy a sweater’s worth of yarn. I’d love to knit something with Bare Naked Wools and I loved several of their samples. We saw a great poncho at WEBS and I’ll be knitting that in the future, too. So I was very inspired.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the beautiful sweaters and hats that we saw. Knitrino had a meetup with coordinating sweaters, we saw tons of Andrea Mowry’s Alpenglow. Wooly Wormhead hats galore. Lots of beautiful garments both knit and crochet. I want to also mention the diverse crowd; it was lovely to see many men, young people and people of every color. I felt hopeful about our community. We even saw animals!

One more note is that there were very few masks being worn and it was probably irresponsible that we didn’t all mask and not for ourselves as much as for others. those who can’t be vaccinated or who have low immunity or are immunocompromised. For that I am sorry. We got carried away by being together again after a very long time. What they say about Covid exhaustion is true. We are all feeling it. A return to normal, even for a day, was welcome. It felt almost “normal”!

We came home tired and inspired and it was a very good weekend. I’m grateful to Glenda for going with me and for having the idea in the first place. Where will we go next?

Gone knitting.

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.

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!