Making Progress … stitch by stitch

Driving Home

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

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

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

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

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

Gone knitting!

 

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.

 

Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat

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I went back to camp last week.

When I was thirteen, my parents sent me to Medokawanda Camp for Girls. It was a wonderful experience and I loved every minute. I learned a lot about who I was at summer camp, away from the control of my parents. I learned to smoke cigarettes behind our cabin (not necessarily a good thing) and I learned that I loved singing and theater and being outside in the woods and on the lakes. I loved waterskiing, too. It was a special place and remains so today. So when I found out that there was a Fiber Arts Retreat at my old camp, I jumped at the opportunity.

Who knew that forty-two years later that the place would be just as special and that the women I met would be as welcoming and wonderful. I’m pretty sure that some will be lifelong friends.

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On Sunday afternoon, we all checked in to our cabins. I was in a “dormitory” cabin with three other campers; two that I knew (alumnae from earlier years, one a counselor of mine) and one that I didn’t. The cabins are simple but comfortable. Linens, towels, blankets and pillows are supplied by the camp and we were very comfortable. Most importantly for women of a certain age, there is a full bathroom and shower in each cabin. (I did get an extra blanket after the first night because I wasn’t warm enough. I also brought a box fan which was a good suggestion from a multi-year camper!)

Sunday night, dinner was the first official event and the food was amazing. The kitchen staff is incredibly accommodating to those who are gluten-free or vegan or vegetarian or who have allergies to food. The food is fresh and fantastic, healthy and mostly local. And it was amazing. Fresh bread, fresh vegetables, wonderful desserts and even a lobster dinner the final night. We ate well!

There was a great diversity of choices for classes, too. Weaving, writing, knitting, dying, wet felting, spinning, needle felting, and more. I took a 4-class series of knitting classes with the indomitable Bristol Ivy. Knitting being my first real love, I HAD to take this class and it was absolutely packed full of useful information that will make me a better knitter and a better knitting teacher. I learned some new skills, too.

I learned about cleaning, carding and combing raw fiber from Rachel Bingham Kessler. This was a fabulous class, especially after having learned about all sorts of different yarn types, particularly worsted spun and woolen spun yarns. I learned that carding and combing fibers changes the way the fiber “organizes itself” and that’s how roving is made. I truly believe that I will be able to recognize the difference in the fiber I see and sell in the future.

IMG_3350I learned to use a drop-spindle and spin yarn! Casey Ryder from Portfiber in Portland, Maine was the spinning teacher and she made this experience so much fun. We were provided with a borrowed spindle and some fiber (two combed and two carded) and it was really fun to see how the fiber is manipulated into something you can knit or weave with! (I bought the spindle. I want to keep doing this!)

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I went to a yoga class at 7:30 in the morning, before coffee! I was so glad I did. It made me feel energized and ready to face a very hot day.

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The View

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The Studio

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The icon – with Bristol, an icon in the making

We went on two field trips. The first was to the studio of Katharine Cobey in Cushing, Maine. Katharine is a gem. A successful poet, Katharine chose to make knitting her career. Her husband built her a beautiful studio above a finger of the ocean. She has become an icon of knitting and knitting as art. She has studied the process of knitting and is perhaps one of the most wise and wonderful knitters that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Katharine held a mini-class describing the ONE stitch that there is in knitting – the knit stitch. The purl stitch is just a knit stitch viewed from the back. We swatched an i-cord that was knitted and a garter stitch i-cord. And we learned Portuguese Knitting at her feet. I fell in love that day with an 80-year-old woman. I’d like to study at her feet. She is my new knitting idol.

The second field trip was to a fiber farm and mill in Waldoboro. Only minutes from camp, New Aim Farm is a working mill. Nancy and her husband are raising pigs for meat (they’ll keep one and sell the others) and some sheep for fiber. Nancy runs the mill and takes fiber from other farms and she’s very busy! It was a fascinating time spent learning about the milling process (and buying some very pretty yarn!) Nancy also is the current president of the Maine Fiber Frolic, the only fiber fair in Maine and the first of the New England season.

IMG_3352One evening I learned to needle felt. It was a loonapalooza! Once again, Casey organized a wonderful class and we had some really good belly laughs. I laughed until I cried … mostly because my loon had a very large beak. But everyone succeeded in creating a loon and we all had fun. Emily named them Zebra, LooLoo and Kandoo.

This is a beautiful place, close to nature. At the top of the hill was our cabin, the yurt, a field full of wild Maine blueberries, free for the picking. The dining hall, the Lodge, the barn and the lawn were all places for classes. Surrounded by perennials and Morning Glories, bird song and pine trees. It’s still a very special place. A place that I have visited throughout my adult life, a place that has tugged at my heart since I was thirteen.

Some of the classes that I wasn’t able to take were weaving on a rigid hettle loom, weaving an amulet and a doll as part of the Weaving a Life program. I didn’t take the slow sewing class or the wet felting class or the lichen, safflower or indigo dying classes … all of which looked like lots of fun, too. Next year, I’ll try more classes and I can’t wait to go back to camp.

I’m so grateful to have been able to return as a camper, surrounded by creative women, wise and knowledgeable teachers, and a beautiful spot. It was the best vacation that I’ve taken since moving to Maine and I look forward to returning next year!

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I’m a happy camper!

PS- I haven’t written about everything here. I’d have written for days. So, suffice it to say that it was an amazing week … a life changing week … a life challenging week. I know I’ll be working on so many pieces of my life, enhancing and creating. Check out the details at the website for Medomak Retreat Center.

 

 

Regia Pairfect Tips & Tricks

IMG_3277.jpgI have never really worried about having socks (that I have knit) match. I have been working on a sock drawer full of handknitted socks for me and out of them all, only two or three match. Maybe only one. Anyway, Regia has a great new sock yarn that sets you up for success when you want to knit two socks that match! Regia Pairfect.

I’ve been looking at this sock yarn for quite a long time and I’ve had a lot of questions from our customers about how it works. The knitting instructions, if you can call them that, are inside the ball band so they’re difficult to read unless you buy the yarn. Even when you read them, they’re not very detailed and I did make a mistake when I was starting sock number two.

I used the Yankee Knitter Socks for the Family pattern as a basis for my Pairfect socks. I cast on 60 stitches on a US2 DPN. Because of the self-patterning yarn, it’s not necessary to do anything but knit the majority of the sock. The directions tell you to make a K1, P1 rib until the green yarn is used up and then start the leg, knitting until the blue yarn appears. I’ll suggest that you follow your favorite sock pattern, one that you know fits you.

So, here are a couple of tips and tricks that I discovered while I was knitting my matching socks with Pairfect yarn.

First, at the end of the yellow yarn, measure how far along the green yarn you start your cast on. Write it down so you remember it when you’re ready to start sock #2.

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My first short row heel!

Next, I’d suggest checking out the short row heel that Arne and Carlos use. This way they’ll look like the ones on the yarn label. There’s no surprise. Their short row heel is a quick and easy way to knit a heel. I think mine fits quite well. (Mine are going to be a gift for a friend who shares my size 9 foot size. I hope the socks fit her as well as they do me.)

Third, I misunderstood the directions on starting sock two. What you need to do (not what I originally did) is to finish the toe of the first sock and then start winding off the yarn beginning at the same place you just cut the yarn. Your yarn ball will be green and then yellow and THEN when you see the green again, you can start sock two.

I hope you took tip #1 and wrote down how many inches it was to where you started your cast on!

IMG_3278.jpgHere’s what my socks look like all finished. I hope you enjoy knitting a pair of matching socks (the easy way!)

Gone knitting!

 

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.)