Deep Freeze, Raw Emotions

Deep Freeze on Messalonskee 3/2/2021

My emotions have been very close to the surface recently. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m mourning the last year that we’ve “lost” because of Covid-19 or because there is finally a sense of calm in our Nation’s capital with the new administration. I’m not sure what it is that I am feeling so deeply or that’s bubbling up but it’s there and with this post I am acknowledging it. I am looking forward to the day when it feels safe to leave the house and when I can see my family again. I miss them all so much but I am also so grateful that they’ve all remained healthy.

We woke to sub-zero temperatures today and lots of wind gusts! It was blowing all night but we have been fortunate to retain our power today while lots of other communities in Maine have not. The sun is out and the sky is bluebird blue and that always helps my “attitude”. I would love to see a really good snowstorm before spring but they posted our road yesterday and our camp road has been a muddy mess for a week or more so I may not get my wish.

Today I finally seamed the underarms of my test knit sweater, Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnston. I like it more than I thought I would before it was blocked. The fabric relaxed a lot in its bath. I also learned a few new techniques: folded cuffs and neck and saddle shoulders. This sweater was fun to knit, partly because it’s somewhat cropped and knit in an Aran weight yarn. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran with Wool (a washable acrylic and wool blend) and it was heavy on the US8 needles … my hands got tired knitting! After seaming the underarms, I put the sweater on – this is the coldest day of our winter so far – and it’s nice and warm, the sleeve length is perfect and I like the pockets placed on the side of the sweater. I can’t show you any photographs yet but when I have permission, I’ll add them here.

Meanwhile, I have cast on a pair of socks for my March 2021 Sock Challenge. This month I’m knitting worsted weight boot socks in Raggi yarn. Gray and white marled leg and foot, red cuff and toe. I’ve nearly got one sock finished and will have to attach sock #2 as soon as #1 is finished. These will be super warm socks and they’re so cute!

I’ve also chosen to participate in the Confident Knitting year-long program hosted by Jen Arnall-Culliford. I also chose to splurge and purchase their yarns – typically not yarns we carry at the yarn shop where I work here in Maine. It’s a great chance to taste yarns that I may otherwise not get a chance to work with. AND they had a cool pink project bag!

I’ve started the March project, Flux Handwarmers by Martina Behm. The techniques learned this month are crochet provisional cast on and a folded edge. I chose to do a picot edge which is so cute! This month’s yarn is the springtime colorway of a Crazy Zauberball. These mitts will be a nice weight and they’ll be so cheerful. I’ve participated in A Year of Techniques and Boost Your Knitting for the two previous years and I learned a lot. I’m sure I’ll learn some new tricks this year, too! What I love about these programs is that there are detailed tutorials on all of the techniques and even when I already know one, I can find something to learn (or it just hammers it into my head.)

I’ve been spending a lot of time “worrying” about my sweet Lola. She’s not eating well and her hind legs are unstable. She sleeps most of the day but she still finds a tail wag or two to gift me with every day. For months I’ve been looking at the little kit that I bought when I was out shopping pre-pandemic. The little felt mitten has a bee on it and I couldn’t resist. This will eventually live on our Christmas tree but until Christmas, it’ll likely live on my desk lamp!

I finished two black tams for a customer and they’ve been delivered to the store for her to pick up. She wants two more navy blue ones. It’s sweet of her to ask me. I made a tarte tatin over the weekend. It was delicious! A few apples, some sugar, butter and a home made crust and it was dessert for two for several days. Yummy!

We’ve been spending lots of time doing puzzles. My hubby gave me a really difficult puzzle for Christmas and we stuck to it and finished it … and he ordered another one for Valentine’s day which we’re working on at the dining room table. Luckily, there are only the two of us so we only need one end of the table for eating (although we generally eat up in my studio and watch the news.)

Gone knitting!

Crofter’s Smock Test Knit

I swatched and swatched and swatched again! The first swatch, the pink-ish yarn was on target but the red, that I thought would be perfect for this project wasn’t right. This swatch was knitted flat before I discovered the instructions to knit the swatch in the round … so I got my needles back out and swatched again, this time in the round, with the red yarn. It was close “enough” and would probably have given me a little bit larger sweater when finished. But then I thought, since I can’t identify the yarn because it was gifted to me, that wouldn’t help the designer. So back to work. I dove into my stash and thought that Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted is a heavy worsted. But I didn’t get gauge. Last chance was a stashed Hayfield Aran with Wool and my gauge was spot on! Woo! Hoo!

Next day I was off to my LYS (Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine) to see what two (big) balls were in stock for this sweater. I’d done a bit of research into colors so I did have some idea what I wanted to do and found Celtic Grey (is it grey or gray?) I also happened to grab a couple of balls of Raggi worsted sock yarn and ordered some Lettlopi for a future Stopover Sweater and Mary Jane Mucklestone’s new Heart Mittens. They’ll both be a “reward” for finishing my test knit.

I’ve been knitting away as often as I can manage between work and my volunteer board meetings and phone calls and as of this afternoon I have passed the seven inches mark. I checked the Google doc for the test knitting group to pass information to Gudrun and I’m doing pretty well … even if some of the testers have moved on to the sleeves. A few more inches to the armpits!

Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnston in Hayfield Aran With Wool

I am enjoying the mixture of textures in the body of the sweater and it’s simple enough to not have to look at the pattern. So, I’d best get back to work so I can keep the progress rolling! One stitch at a time! I’ll be back soon with a post about measuring gauge (just in case you don’t know how to do it!)

Gone knitting!

Testing … testing …

I’ve been accepted as a test knitter by Gudrun Johnston for a new pattern that she’s designed. I”m excited about testing for her and I love this new design and think it’s going to be very wearable.

First order of business is to find an Aran weight yarn that’ll knit to 4.5 stitches to an inch. I have two yarns in my stash that were gifted to me by a friend when her mother stopped knitting because of dementia. I thought, since both are rather rustic wool tweeds, that they might work if I have enough.

I did a quick (flat) swatch and, after blocking, there was one that was 4.5 stitches per inch exactly on a US 8. The other (which is the one that I’d really like to use) is more like 4 stitches to the inch and, frankly, I don’t love the openness of the fabric at this gauge. BUT when I returned to read the pattern, the gauge should be worked in the round. So, back to the drawing board I will go. I’m hoping that the red one will work when swatched in the round (purling back causes the fabric to be a bit looser since purl stitches are typically a little bit looser than the knit stitches.)

I’ll return to the drawing board with circular needles and we’ll see what gauge looks like. Cross your fingers!

Meanwhile, I’m knitting a sample for the Yardgoods Center in a new yarn that came in. Noro Okunoshima is a worsted weight yarn that’s a combination of silk, wool, angora and mohair. It’s really soft but a bit of a loose twist and thus has some “thick and thin” spots. The colors, as with all Noro yarns, are gorgeous. I’m knitting #15 Cable Hat from the Noro Magazine (Fall/Winter 2020). It’s a sweet hat pattern but I still stand by the fact that cabled patterns show up much better in light, plain colored yarn. There, I said it!

#15 Cable Hat

I’m nearly finished with my Hope Cardigan. I have (finally) picked up the stitches around the front and neck of the sweater and will only have to knit the button band and block it. I’ll be happy to have this one off the needles and I look forward to wearing it. I love the color and I really like Remix Light.

There’s my Friday update! We are due to get some wicked cold weather here this weekend. The ice fishermen have been out all week and they were even out this morning with the wind blowing and ten degree weather. I think they’re crazy but they must love it. Tonight temps are due to drop into the single digits. Woo! Hoo! Winter is here! I’m so grateful for our warm, toasty home and lots of wool to keep me warm!

Gone Knitting!