Aurora Unicorn Mittens

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… before they’re trimmed and eyes embroidered!

Last week, one of my coworkers texted me that she was working on a pair of unicorn mittens and sent me a picture which was a link to the pattern in Raverly. And since I am still recovering from my bout with tendonitis, and not knitting too much yet (still?), I wasn’t going to do any knitting for Christmas.

Having thought briefly about it; I was working in a yarn shop … quite convenient, really, if you want access to yarn for a new project … and since they were so stinking cute, I bought a couple of skeins of yarn to make a couple of pairs of little unicorn mittens for a couple of sweet girls who I wished lived closer!

The pattern is Aurora Unicorn Mittens DK by Crafting Designs. I knitted mine with a skein of Berroco Ultra Wool in the cream (8301) colorway and a skein of West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley DK in the Rainbow (827) colorway. Since they’re little it didn’t take me too much time to knit up and today I finished them. They’re adorable and I can hardly wait to send them for Christmas!!!

Obviously, I can’t show you the finished object. They’re a surprise for Christmas … I will update after Christmas though! I’m off to watch Poldark. If you haven’t watched it, do!

As always, you can see my project up close and personal on my Raverly page, I’m “lindar”. And follow me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner.

 

Take up Space

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I finished reading Clara Parke’s newest book, A Stash of One’s Own: Knitters on Loving, Living with, and Letting go of Yarn. It’s a sweet collection of stories and essays by knitters dealing with their “issues” around stashing yarn.

The sentence above was in the last chapter of the book. Sitting there, just waiting to kick in my ocular incontinence. (Thanks, Bristol!) It nearly brought me to an ugly cry as I tried to explain myself to my DH. Why did a book about yarn make me cry?

At camp this summer (Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat), I heard my newest favorite designer, Bristol Ivy, give me permission to take up space. To claim a space that is comfortably and happily all mine. I don’t have to be pretty or well-mannered there. I don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations there, nor do I have to think about any societal rules about women (watch your weight, wear makeup, be attractive, speak sweetly, keep the house clean, cut the kids’ fingernails, don’t wear black, children are to be seen and not heard, you don’t need to know how to handle money, your husband will do that, etc.).

Hearing this was life changing for me. I grew up taking up very little space. My parents’ expectations were high but extraordinarily limited. I was taught to iron, sew and be a “good girl” with the idea that, one day, if I was lucky, I would gain a husband and a middle name. That was the reason that I went to college, too. Not to get a good education and grow as an individual but to find a husband. (The now-60-year-old me is groaning today!)

When I divorced my first husband, I continued in therapy with a series of wonderful women who helped me to identify what was important to me and to begin working on who I am today. Who I want to be. I have enjoyed the process of getting to know myself.

The idea of taking up space, however, was brand spanking new and threw open an entirely new door of personal development and a new way of thinking about my place in the world. AND it made me cry. It touched my soul to be given permission (so to speak) to take up space. To be myself, to dress as it pleases me, to speak my mind and to know that I am lovable and loved even as I am myself. To manage my own money and to buy things for myself and others. It was so incredibly powerful to hear that message and I’ve pondered (and will continue to ponder) that idea and how it applies to me and how to bring it into my daily life.

Today, when I saw the sentence above that says that women are expected to take up as little space as possible, it hit me again. Ocular Incontinence. (When I am brought to tears talking about something, I’ve learned, it’s a deep truth for me. I’ve hit the nail on the proverbial head. I am so grateful for the reminder that I have every right to take up space. And not just with my stashed yarn, either.

I have an extensive stash of yarn and two rooms in our home to use in any way that I wish. My DH is supportive of my creative endeavors (I have never hidden my yarn purchases from anybody.) I own my knitting and the supplies that I need to make it happen and I’ve always been unapologetic about it. I’ve been smart about it, too. Never would I be irresponsible and when I can’t really afford it, I head to my stash instead of my LYS. Finding a balance and being responsible are important parts of who I am. Who I have always been. But apart from my yarn, this reminds me to look at other ways that I take up space, to make some new boundaries in my life so that my time to create is sacred. Time with my wonderful, handsome DH is sacred. Time with my children and family is sacred. I want to have time to spend with all of them, and my friends, too.

So, today I put on my crazy flowered leggings and my cotton weird-edged tunic/dress and I am taking up space. I am worthy. I am loved.

 

Finished Objects, WIPs and taking flight

Today I had a day off and I wan’t feeling quite right. (If I don’t eat before noon, you know something’s “off”.) Despite feeling a little bit off, I had a wonderful day.

My Radiant Reflections quilt is finished! I actually finished it last night but it was too dark to take photos. I am really pleased with this quilt! I started it as a class a couple of years ago at the Cotton Cupboard in Bangor, Maine. We used templates on this project to cut all the pieces. It was a technique that I liked and it helped my corners match up really well. I think it’s the best quilt that I’ve made yet – maybe it’s because with more practice, you’re bound to improve your techniques. Regardless, I love the colors, I love the pattern, it was a challenge and I was successful in completing it on my own.

I also finished my “halloween” socks. I wish that I remembered where I bought this yarn because I really loved the feel of the yarn as I knit the socks. I also love the stripes! A friend reminded me that they are the colors of the Cincinnati Bengals and I like that idea, too. My son and I used to watch sports on television when he was younger and those were fun times. I’m not sure how he learned so much about sports because neither his father or I knew diddly about sports. Go figure! I’l be wearing these socks for any Bengals games and on Halloween, too!

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On the needles, and currently in rotation, are two shawls that I am really pleased with. I’m making progress on my Protest is Patriotic Shawlette by Craftiest Elizabeth Sovern. I know that my red yarn is a Malabrigo Sock in the Ravelry Red colorway. The white is a Cascade Heritage sock yarn and the blue is something that I have no clue what it is. It’s been in my stash and my stash has been moved, organized, packed, and moved again. I’ve lost a few labels. I bought the beads online because the only beads I could find locally were really too small. I am using 3/0 glass beads. I love the way they pop off the blue yarn! I’m hoping to have this done for the 4th of July week!

The other shawl is the Brambling Shawl by Bristol Ivy. This was one of the projects, perhaps one of the first projects in the Year of Techniques project. I really liked this “class” and I have enjoyed each project that I have attempted. I also bought the yarn kits for each season. I love the yarn. This yarn is fyberspates cumulus and it’s really soft and sticky … this is a “don’t make a mistake because thinking back is going to be difficult”! The colors aren’t necessarily ones that I would have chosen but I like them and I am happy mohave my boundaries challenged! I have not ever “studied” intarsia and this project has made me feel very confident with this technique.

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Perhaps the best thing that happened today was watching a family of barn swallows who were flying all over in front of our house. I noticed the swooping birds and went to look out the window of my atelier. There were two baby birds sitting on the roof … learning to fly! Later, I checked again and the parents were coming up to feed the babies … all FIVE of them! I spent the day watching them in complete fascination! Mother Nature is absolutely amazing and I loved this part of my day. Here is a pic of the babies! Mom and dad were way too speedy on the wing to catch in a photograph!

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It was a good day! Gone knitting.

 

 

Sweater Weather!

IMG_2703It’s April 15 today and it’s winter again. Today was not blue skies and sunny. We had snow flurries, a little sleet, a mixed bag of yuck! It’s truly sweater weather!

IMG_2706I’ve been drooling over some sock yarn by On the Round. On the Round is a Maine yarn and is hand-dyed in Owls Head, Maine. Rachel has been knitting since she was seven and she home schools her children … and dyes yarn in her “spare” time! Busy lady! Anyway, I finally decided to buy a hank of Silver Lining Tweed in Signature Sock and I am so glad I did. I haven’t knit socks in a little while and it felt like I was sitting with an old friend as I cast on and worked down the cuff of my sock. I always (almost always) use the Yankee Knitter pattern, Classic Socks for the Family and I am using it this time. I nearly know it by heart (always need help when I am turning the heel). I’m a happy camper …

IMG_2710I’m also working on my Malabrigo Rios sweater using the Knitting Pure and Simple Neck Down Cardigan for Women pattern. I didn’t get the right gauge of 16 stitches over four inches with this yarn. Probably because the Rios is more a light worsted. So, with my gauge of 17.5 stitches over four inches (4.375 stitches per inch), I’ve decided to make a size larger so that I have some positive ease. I love the colorway that I chose. It’s a blue and a grey at the same time. It’s tonal and I love it! I haven’t had an easy start with this sweater, though. I noticed, just as I was about to separate the sleeves, that I was a couple of stitches short on one side of the front. And I SAW that the reason why I was a couple of stitches short was because I hadn’t increased on one side of the marker. It was the one side that was front and center of course. I decided relatively quickly that I was not going to be happy with it and had to rip it back and fix it. It set me back a bit, but it was totally worth it. I am so excited to wear this sweater!

IMG_2709I have also cast on a shawl using my yarn from the sheep at Bedlam Farm. Mine is a sport weight from Susie and another sheep. It’s a lovely grayish brown. I had a customer at the shop who needed help with her shawl and it was pretty and simple. I like pretty and simple because it lets the yarn shine. So, I cast on the Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief and I pick it up now and then when I want to knit something simple. It’s going to be pretty! I think this shawl will be used to do some good. Stay tuned.

IMG_2688At home, we have begun the process of rebuilding our boat house. The original boat house was re-built around 1950 and then a “garage” with a dirt floor was added after that. The foundation of the building is in remarkably good shape so we are simply rebuilding the same building so that my husband can move his workshop into the garage part and we can turn the existing workshop (the white building at right), we hope, into a two-car garage in the future. This week we are hoping to see the roof joists and roof go up. It’s very exciting.

IMG_2601Our family thrives! All five kids are working hard and make us very proud. Youngest, Amy, made my blueberry muffins this weekend and they looked wonderful. A great first attempt.

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photo by Jenny Anderson

Oldest, Kate, opened in Mean Girls on Broadway last weekend. This is a big deal for her and she has worked so hard to get here. She’s a star and it seems that she’s stealing the show! We look forward to seeing the show in a few weeks and hope to see all the kids and their significant others here this summer.

Life is good!

Gone knitting.

(Find more information about my knitting projects on my Ravelry project page. My Ravelry name is lindar.)

Snow Day!

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I’m so thankful to be here in Maine. Florida was a nice place to live but it never really felt like home. Maine is home. Many of my friends ask if we are sick of the snow yet or if we regret moving here, regret leaving the south. Nope. Not even one little, teeny tiny bit!

Yesterday was my regular day off and I was nursing a sore back. Today my back feels mostly better and my boss closed the yarn shop for the day. Snow Day!!! Most everything is closed; restaurants, town offices, schools, courts, etc. I’m up in my studio finishing projects and working on others. I love working in my studio.

Yesterday I was working on my Zick Zack Scarf. I have admired this scarf at the shop for a long time. I even loved the colors of our store sample so picking my colorways was easy. I love this scarf and may be able to get it finished today!

I was also working to finish my fingerless mitts kit from the Alpaca Yarn Company.

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The Forget Not Mitts are really pretty and I love the argyle pattern. The yarn is gorgeous and I love knitting with it. I wish there was more contrast between the two colors in the kit. I feel like the pattern doesn’t pop like it could. I’ve got two thumbs to complete as of this morning and then I’ll block them. These will be finished today.

I finished a shop sample last week. It’s a really cute hat! We used Juniper Moon Farm’s Moonshine in a deep red colorway.

img_2509.jpgThe pattern is the Gigi Hat and it’s a free pattern on Ravelry. I knit the hat exactly according to the pattern (because it’s a shop sample and it would be misleading to change a pattern and then show if off in the shop.) The only thing I did differently was to add an i-cord around the brim of the hat, tied in a little knot. I think it came out really well and the yarn is so … SO … super soft! I love it.

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Last, but certainly not least, is the 1898 Hat for my husband. I’ve made four of these hats now and this one is the last for now, but also the warmest. (I even blogged about it before. Here.) I gave N. one of these hats for Valentine’s day in a beautiful Malabrigo Rios to match his slip stitch scarf. He asked me if I could make the top of the hat doubled like the earflaps. He also asked for the two colors which I happened to have in my stash. When knitting the hat, I followed the directions on the hat and then picked up the stitches inside the brim and knit the top of the hat a second time. I knit two fewer rounds in order to compensate for a smaller space inside the first hat and then decreased exactly according to the hat pattern. I wove the ends inside the hat so they’re visible but still inside. He loves the hat and it sure will keep his head and ears warm.

Gone knitting!

 

All of these projects have more details on my Ravelry project page. I’m “lindar” on Ravelry. Find me on Facebook as Queen Bee Knits. I’m on Instagram, too!

 

Wrapping up 2017!

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It’s almost time for me to make those resolutions that I never manage to keep … so this year, as I enter 2018, I am resolving to be kind, to think positively, and to remember to write 2018 on my checks!

For Queen Bee Knits, that means to get the planner for next year out, get my studio (atelier) clean and organized and to keep learning more about my craft. I had a great learning experience this year with the Year of Techniques hosted by Mason Dixon Knitting here in the USA. A few things that I loved about it were that I learned a few tricks that I can pass on to my students at work, I reviewed techniques that I’ve been using – many not very often – and I got to work with yarns that I wouldn’t normally have knitted because they’re UK-based yarns. I chose to purchase the kids that were offered for each project, not that I have completed them all! The yarns were wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the new yarn experiences!  This was a wonderful collaboration and I would join in again if it is offered.

I’ve done a lot of knitting this year but I’d dare say that it was less than previous years because of my job at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine. I have often dreamed about what it would be like to work in or even own a yarn shop. I am gaining experience each day that I work there and I am finding that I really do love it! Working as a clerk and teacher, I go to work happy every day and I love helping our customers find their knitting mojo! I also enjoy being part of the local movement – we are a small, family-owned business (68 years old in 2017) and each customer that I encourage to make a purchase supports our community and local business. Waterville is not a fancy, thriving, seasonal, coastal community but there are lots of family small businesses struggling along.

This week I learned that another local small business yarn shop, Over the Rainbow, in Rockland, Maine is closing its doors. My heart breaks to see another local yarn shop going out of business. I’ve visited OTR many times and will miss having it on my list of places to visit when in Rockland. OTR joins Quilt Divas that closed a year or so ago.

😦 This is me making a sad face.

We’ve had a great year personally … my daughter was married, my other daughter booked a Broadway show. The husband and I entertained a few visitors at our house and traveled a little bit to be entertained by others. Our family is healthy and thriving and we are so grateful for our health, too.

I’m finishing up a few knitting projects and am looking forward to some pleasure knitting.

IMG_2248I’m knitting a striped baby blanket for my sister-in-law to give to one of her employees as a gift. I’m using Encore worsted (baby items must be washable and dry-able) in a navy and white strip with an apple green i-cord edge. It is the nature of stockinette stitch to curl and it’s curling a bit at the edges but the baby won’t mind! It’s really cute! I’m half way around with the edge … getting there! Then I’ll wash, block and send it.

I’ve finished and will block (today!) a hat for a college friend who has a friend who is going through chemotherapy. It’s a lovely soft alpaca in DK weight. The pattern is by Susan B. Anderson, “Ruche Beret” in the Weekend Hats book. I love it’s simple lines and may have to make one for myself!

I’m also working on another hat for a customer at the shop. She bought yarn and is using the 1898 Hat (free) pattern on Ravelry. This hat is very popular in Maine in the winter – especially this winter because it’s been wicked cold! Knitted with worsted weight yarn, it’s a one-skein-wonder, too! I’m knitting “mine” in Cascade Eco Duo in a great colorway – it’s so soft and it will be super warm, too! I have some Eco Duo in my stash … hmmm. IMG_2249My little boy dog was sitting in my lap the other morning when I was swatching with the US 7 needle. He doesn’t like the yarn to touch him and he kept stretching out farther and farther on my legs. 🙂 I love him!

I have many (MANY) project bags with UFOs in them. Projects that were set aside for Christmas knitting. That’s a whole new blog post! For today, I’m done. I’ve rested my hands, had a little lunch and now it’s time to get back to knitting! I love my work!

Happy New Year to my readers … all two or three of you! 🙂 May we all be blessed with love and kindness, good health and warm yarn!

Gone knitting!

Ho! Ho! Ho! No More UFO!

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For Clark and Stephanie

I’ve just finished a long project (like any good knitter, I kept finding other projects to do) that was a true work of love. My college roommate, Mary Frances, aka Muffin, asked me to copy her lifetime Christmas stocking for her new grandson and daughter-in-love.

I had no pattern but assumed that I could copy just about anything. The stocking arrived at my house several months ago and I set about copying the stitches to make a chart. This part was pretty simple and straight forward. If you can count stitches, you can chart.

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My Chart

I knew I wanted to knit the top part of the giant sock flat so I could embellish with beard and sequins more easily. I also wanted to use the intarsia-style of knitting because stranding would be crazy wasteful. Once done with the chart, I took the original stocking to the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine … where I happen to work … to find yarn colors that were as close as possible. Lucky me! I found Christmas Green, Red and Blue that matched in good old Cascade 220 100% wool. I knew I had a similar ivory/off white in my stash and some black, too.

When you’re knitting stockings, you’re knitting them upside down and it’s fun to watch the images develop stitch by stitch. The intarsia creates lots and lots of ends to weave in. I am so thankful for the invention of bobbins. I couldn’t have done this without them. The fact that I stitched them flat made the weaving of ends simpler, too!

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Once past the charted section, it was a super quick process to the bell at the tip of the toe. I joined the stocking at the ankle and knitted the rest of the “giant sock” in the round. At the toe, with the tail of the yarn, I attached a silver bell just like on the original stocking.

I knew that I would add the lettering, and the eyes and nose on Santa at the end in duplicate stitch. I believe that the original stocking had lettering that was stranded but with a couple of washings, the stocking has withered a bit and the lettering doesn’t stand out as well as I would like. I’m very happy with the results of the duplicate stitch lettering. Then it was time to give Santa a beard and a pom-pom on his hat. I used short pieces of wool that I looped around itself and then clipped short and steam blocked to that it “frizzed” up. I love the beards, especially!

I am so pleased with the way the Santas and the trees turned out. I sewed individual sequins on all of the Christmas trees. I am not the most graceful sewer, but the sequins add such a wonderful sparkle on the trees! A braided loop for hanging was the last addition after steam blocking and seaming the back of the stocking. The seam is a blessing in disguise – it gives some substance and stability to the back of the stocking and makes it sturdier since it will be stuffed and hung on the mantel!

I love that they’re finished … and just in the (Saint) Nick of time! Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas to you, my dear friend, Muffin! I know this will be a happy one at your house!

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All three stockings together, in public, for the first time! (LOL!)

Gone knitting!