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!

Vaill Island Vest Version 2

I’ve had this vest in my WIP pile (actually a pile of project bags full of future projects and projects half-done) forEVER! I love the first version of this vest so much that I’ve encouraged a couple of my knitting students to give it a try AND I cast another one for myself on back in mid-January. Yes, it’s been that long!

Every once-in-a-while I’ve pulled it out and finished a few rows and then away it goes in favor of another more current and seemingly imperative knit. Well, yesterday I took it to my knitting class with me with the thought that I didn’t even remember how much I had left to knit. I got the back finished and one of the front sides nearly finished at class and then continued late into the night … when I started to notice mistakes. (Hey! I’m usually in bed by 9 or 9:30 and last night it was after 11.) This morning I will frog back a couple of rows on the last front side and re-knit so that I can get it finished this weekend and I will be able to wear it this fall.

Vaill Island Vest designed by Gwynn Ericsson for Halcyon Yarn in 2008. This is a free pattern on Ravelry.

I really like this pattern. The repeat is simple, it’s knit bottom up in one piece (at least mostly in one piece) and I can wear it over my self-imposed work “uniform” which is almost always a pair of slacks and an oversized tunic/blouse. A wool vest will be great … as is the cotton vest (first iteration). I used Ella Rae worsted wool in a deep red colorway (it’s on my Ravelry project page). The color is really closer to the first picture. The second is to show a close-up of the stitch pattern. So close!

Vaill Island Vest … nearing completion

Stitch Pattern … this yarn has great stitch definition!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found a mistake in the pattern, though, last night. The directions for the left front say that when I slip the stitches from the holder that I should have 45 stitches. Well, I had 50. That’s the number of stitches that I was told to slip onto the holder and they’ve just been sitting out there for all this time. So, having adjusted the stitch numbers, I had 50 to slip onto the needles, I bound off 8 right away (42 sts). Then I begin decreases, one every other round six times, to 36 stitches. Neck decreases total to 5+4+11=20 and now I have 16 stitches which is the correct number in the pattern. Thankfully, I am still able to count and could figure this out as I knit so it’s all good in the end. I will write to the designer and see why this hasn’t been corrected since the pattern’s been out for several years!

Happy Saturday to anyone who reads this!

Gone knitting!

SaveSave

Busy Busy (Queen) Bee

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All About That Brioche by Lisa Hannes

I can’t believe that I’ve not written a post since Father’s Day! Yikes! I didn’t realize how busy I’ve been … or how I’ve totally neglected my blog!

We have had visitors a couple of times. My aunt and cousin and his family came for a visit from the other coast. We had a hoot and I got my fill of babies and toddlers. The kids were so much fun and I am so grateful that my cousin’s wife wanted to come east to spend time with us. My eldest daughter and her husband and their dogs came for a visit, too. I am always happiest when one of my kids is in the house! Both visits put my knitting on hold for a few days.

Today I finished my All About That Brioche shawl by Lisa Hannes. Let me chronicle the adventure that was this shawl for you!

I bought the kit from Kitterly. Yellow … NEON yellow and charcoal gray. What’s not to love? They’re bee colors! Madeline Tosh (Merino Light) yarn is very soft and not plied. Sometimes it gets a little fluffy which is not always what you want. Regardless, it’s a delight to knit with and will be a delight to wear. The pattern is fun to knit. A bias-knit garter to begin and then two bands of contrasting two-color Brioche. I needed to pay a little bit of attention to the increases and decreases but it’s a relatively simple six row repeat.

Initially, I thought I wanted to add an additional colorway to the mix but after knitting a little bit of the way, I decided that there was a reason the original design had only two colors. The addition of a third would have messed up the contrast. So, I frogged the first attempt and proceeded with the gray/yellow color palette.

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I’m not crazy about the edge on one side of the shawl, if I’m totally honest. I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention to how the rows begin. The point is to slip the first stitch and then bring the working yarn to the back or front so the edge has a consistent color.

This is right.

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This is not right.

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Can you see the black yarn crossing over the yellow edge stitches? And to the right there is yellow yarn crossing over the gray edge stitches? Yeah. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. BUT I also decided that it wasn’t worth frogging the Brioche section to repair this so I went forward knowing that I was going to have a funky edge on one side of the shawl. I’m ok with it (most of the time, anyway!)

I need to weave in my ends and block it today to make it wearable. I think the size will increase exponentially when I block it. Right now it’s a little bit too small for my liking. But I can’t wait to wear it … and it won’t be long until fall! We are experiencing crisp, clear, cool mornings and evenings here in Maine! I love the changing seasons!

Gone knitting!

“Flax” by Tin Can Knits

It’s finished and my husband wore it on Friday!

I loved knitting Flax by Tin Can Knits!

Flax is a free pattern for a simple top down sweater with an interesting and different sleeve treatment called a grater sleeve. Basically, the sleeve has a garter stitch “stripe” from the top of the shoulder to the cuff. It looks great and adds a bit of interest to an otherwise simple sweater.

That said, I’ve been knitting for over 30 years and I do not like seaming. I can do it and I can do it well but I still don’t like it. Any time I can avoid it, I will! And I did on this sweater – I win! 🙂

I knitted Flax in Ella Rae Classic Wool in a beautiful medium-blue. This yarn came to my LYS (and the wonderful place that I work) as a clearance yarn. It is 100% wool and has a good hand. I wanted to give it a try so I can recommend it (or not) to our customers. It was reasonably priced and made for making an affordable sweater for an adult at just around the $50.00 mark. I liked the yarn although when I blocked the sweater there was a lot of color bleed. I’m glad I didn’t stripe it!

This was a good knitting project and would be a great first garment. The sizing in the pattern is from baby to man or teeny to really big. Knitted in worsted-weight yarn it is a quick project, too. Not that knitting should ever be a race! It’s all about the process.

Hubby is happy and I am happy, too. Check out the beautiful patterns by Tin Can Knits on Ravelry.

Gone Knitting!

Tartan Knitting

 

Be still my heart! I love this shawl!

Three of us, all teachers, decided to do a MKAL together and chose an “oldie”that we had all seen on Facebook and loved, the Dragonfly MKAL 2016 by Rachel Roden. This pattern is available for purchase on Ravelry.

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The Yarn!

I am using two skeins of Manos del Uruguay’s “Alegria” fingering yarn (75% merino wool and 25% nylon) in two colors, Kohl, and Teal. Both colors are tonals which means that there is a slight variation of shade in the yarn. When I chose the yarn colors I probably had a choice of 20 different colors and it was not easy … but this was my favorite combination at the end of the day. I love the teal and I love the gray with it.

There are five clues. They are well divided and very satisfying to knit. Clue 1 starts at the center of the neck and has the first section of plaid knitting. The clues and the shawl grow well together and I especially loved knitting the sideways cables (braids).

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Nearing the end!

I am currently knitting the very last section of the shawl with over 400 stitches and it is a pleated ruffle border and I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s complete. I also can’t wait to block and wear it.

My goal is to have it finished and blocked this week so I can take it with me to visit my kids in New York this weekend.

Yes, you should give this pattern a try! Use your stashed yarn or come visit me at my LYS!

Gone Knitting!

UFOs Finished!

Like any “good” knitter, I tend to put off finishing projects that I don’t really want to do “right now”. I have a complete sweater sitting in time out waiting for me to seam it. A full sweater. One that I would like to wear but I really don’t love finishing sweaters. This one will take maybe 2 hours to finish … after many more hours than that of knitting it. Regardless, while the sweater sits in time out, I have begun and finished several projects.

Pussy Cat Hats in Pink and Gray … my pattern

Two Pussy Cat hats or Kit Kat hats. One is bright pink for those days when I feel like taking a stand and the other is grey for those days when I want to stand firm but not bring attention to myself. I like they way these worked out. I used Plymouth Yarns Encore Chunky yarn for both hats. Normally, I’d rather knit with natural fibers but these hats are soft and chunky and they knit up super quickly. I also can wash and dry them in my machine. I sent my original hat that I knit in Malabrigo Rios worsted yarn to my future son-in-law. He wanted a hat and I was happy to send mine and knit another for myself.

The pattern is mine.

Queen Bee Knits Pussy Hat

 

With bulky yarn and US 10 16″ circular needle, cast on 72 stitches. K2, P2 ribbing for 12 rounds. Knit around until hat is 9″ from cast on edge. Use a 3-needle bind off to cast off all stitches. Weave in ends. 

 

Feel free to use the pattern for personal use. If you want to give away hats, that’s fine. Please don’t sell these hats. Thank you.

A cowl for a customer. I have a customer who loves my knitted accessories. I’ve knitted her three or four tams in different weights and now a cabled cowl. The latest is a Bandana Cowl from Purl Soho which is a free pattern on Revelry or the Purl Soho website. She didn’t understand that the picture of the cabled cowl wasn’t really how a cowl worked. She was wanting a “dickey” that will sit down on her chest and around her neck rather than a cowl that solely goes around the neck. I’ve finished this one is Cascade 128 Superwash in a lovely teal colorway. It will match the hat that I just made her. She still wants another pair of hats. One in a yellow Cascade 128 and another in a Noro yarn.

I also finished the first block of my Cascade Knitterati Afghan MKAL. I love doing things that are a little bit different. I am not knitting with the same colors that the KAL is recommending (why would I do that?) but have picked one colorway so far that is a dark Granny Smith apple green. I’ve loved the color from afar for a long time and it’s high time to use it somewhere. Squares two and three have been released. I’ll likely knit square three before two because it’s a single color square and I have a single color yarn.

I have been knitting dish cloths for the daughters. It all started with sending three to my children at Christmas time. Daughter #1 asked for more so that they aren’t using paper towels any longer. They’ve been sent. In the meantime, I’ve knitted a few more for Daughter #2. And then I’ve knitted three tiny ones for the little California nieces. I’ve got to mail them away soon. The pattern is Grandma’s Favorite Dish Cloth and it’s a free Rarely pattern. These are all Lily Sugar and Cream yarns one is a pink camouflage colorway and the other simply made me think “Valentines Day”!

Fornicating Deer Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I made my handsome and bald hubby a hat for Valentine’s Day this year. I used a navy and a gray worsted wool by Lamb’s Pride. A long time ago, I saw a chart on Pinterest and I saved it. It made me laugh and it is totally my husband’s sense of humor. It’s called the Fornicating Deer chart by Ann Rutten. It’s on Ravelry. Needless to say, I didn’t have a pattern to go with the chart but I looked at my expected gauge and decided to knit three repeats of the chart. I also decided that once the deer were finished that I would do my decreases and not finish the entire chart. He likes caps that fit tightly but cover his ears. When he came home after work the first day he wore it, he said, “hey hon, now I really have sex on the brain!” Yup. I think he loves his hat.

Oh, I need a better camera. The color is way off!

I do love to finish projects! Today I hope to finish a pair of bright orange work socks (the picture doesn’t come close to the bright “hunting orange” color) for my husband. He loves to wear the thick, warm Raggi yarn socks to work. He works outside in Maine in the winter. Enough said?

Gone knitting!