Wait, What? Two Posts in One Week?

Sunrise this Morning

Yup, it’s true. Two posts in a week’s time … astounding. But I was so excited yesterday when I needed to join the front and back of my Emsworth vest!

This vest is constructed brilliantly, as all of Isabell’s patterns are. You begin with the back and knit each of the shoulders and then work to put them together and begin the lace pattern in the middle of the two sides. Once complete (basically) to the under arm, you put the back on stitch holders and make the front in a similar manner. Once the front is to the under arm, you cast on a bunch of stitches for the sides and you pray that your lace pattern is in the same place on the front and the back.

MINE WAS!!! Yippee!!!

BUT, I swore that I had marked down what row I had ended with on the back of my vest. Nowhere on my pattern (I have the Knit Companion app and I can write on the digital file right on my iPad) could I find the notation. And then, after searching and searching my pattern, I remembered that I started this project with a paper pattern that I had thrown away when I changed over to the Knit Companion pattern … and I neglected to transfer that important bit of information. Luckily, though, I know how to read my stitches. So I compared my stitches to my pattern and found that I had ended on row 14 and … my vest front was, too!

Emsworth by Isabell Kraemer

It was a thrilling moment for sure. Who knew that you could get so excited sitting all by yourself in a room! Hahaha.

Gone knitting.

KnitCompanion

I got a new iPad for Christmas. My old one was probably an original iPad and it was ten or more years old. I used it regularly and it didn’t owe me anything but it was not able to run a lot of the programs that I wanted it to run and it was time for an upgrade.

The main reason I wanted an iPad was so I could use the KnitCompanion app. I’d used the free app but I wanted to upgrade and pay for a subscription because I’ve read and heard a lot about how wonderful it is. My old iPad couldn’t run the app.

I’m a serial paper pattern printer and I go through a lot of paper and ink and, although I recycle, it feels like a tremendous waste of paper if there’s an app for that. And there is. The subscription is $25 a year. I’m pretty sure that I pay that for ink alone in a year. And there is so much wonderful stuff in the KnitCompanion app. I’m really excited about it.

Today I’ve been working on my Emsworth vest. I’ve followed the beginning of the pattern from my printed paper pattern and I had two pieces of highlighter tape in two different places to remind me where I was. One was on the chart and one was on the pattern. Today I uploaded the pattern from my Ravelry library to KnitCompanion and customized the chart so that the row I’m working on is highlighted. I also changed the coloring of the chart to mark and count the (RS) knit/ (WS) purl stitches so that I don’t have to stop and count the long stretches of stitches, the app counts them for me. It’s brilliant!

There is a highlighter in the app and the highlighter lines don’t move when you close the pattern so you can work on another pattern – I was working on my Knubbelchen doll for my granddaughter. I’m heading into New York to help babysit when her dad is out of town later this month … I want to bring a few things with me and this is one of them. In advance of Valentine’s Day. Anywho … I digress. I hopped out of the Emsworth pattern and into the Knubbelchen pattern and I can be sure that when I go back to work tomorrow, the highlighters will be exactly where I left them (not hanging inside my knitting bag.)

I’ve found a good tutorial on VeryPink Knits YouTube channel. They’re really well done and they make great sense. I’m sure I’ll be returning to remind myself about certain parts of the app like I did today to remind myself how to manipulate the chart so that it’s easier to knit from. I’m one happy camper, uh, knitter!

Gone knitting.

Love and Light

We’ve had a few dreary, gray days here on the lake. The Paperwhite Narcissus that I forced are starting to bloom and they make it a bit brighter in the house. Today I started and finished Love and Light by Laura Nelkin for a friend of mine from high school days. She had seen the one that I made for my granddaughter and asked if I’d make her one. So, I’m spreading a little love down to Pennsylvania and to another artist. It’ll go out in the mail as soon as I have her address.

I think I have written about this pattern before but I’m going to write about it again. I used a US 10 1/2 needle (the pattern calls for a larger one but I don’t have one. I have a 10 1/2 so I used it … my thought is that if it’s not something that someone’s going to wear, it’s not critical. It takes me a few hours to make one. I started today at around 1:30 in the afternoon and was finished about 3 hours later with a couple of household chores thrown in.

Knitting with wire, however, is really tough on my hands. A few hours of knitting with wire and my hands are tired. But it’s so inspiring to start and finish a project in a day.

On the other hand, let’s talk about my Merry KAL mittens. I’ve finished both mittens but have two thumbs to knit and I’ll bet you a nickel that I don’t have enough yarn. Soooo … I have to decide if I want to buy another ball of Rowan Felted Tweed if I don’t have enough. It’ll be interesting to see how far I can get. And then I’ll need to make something else with the ball of yarn … because I bet I’ll get one thumb finished with the yarn i have so it’ll be one thumb out of the second skein! Good grief!

I sent off a package to New York City this week with my last FO of 2022 and my first FO of 2023. I finished the cashmere mittens to match my granddaughter’s bow hat and I also finished a little cardigan. I used some stashed yarn from On the Round in Rockland, Maine in a lovely blue tonal fingering yarn. I love Rachel’s yarn and the sweater is adorable. I found the perfect buttons and I think the baby will look adorable in it.

I’ve been working right along on my Emsworth vest by Isabell Kraemer. I’m knitting it in Juniper Moon’s Patagonia organic merino yarn in a charcoal gray. I really needed something in a dark gray or black and, well, you know what they say about knitting in black.

I had a really nice day today. My calendar had no appointments on it so I could stay home and do whatever I want. I baked some carrot cake baked oatmeal for my breakfast and some blueberry muffins for my husband to have with his coffee in the morning. I got some laundry done and a bit of work at my desk, too. It’s nice to climb into clean sheets and I have a new “fancy” silk pillow case that my daughter gave me. It’s pink.

Gone knitting.

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.

Still Knitting … but Secret Knitting

We’ve been having summer-like weather in Maine for the last few weeks. I’m not going to be popular when I say that I would rather have cold, fall weather. But this is New England and it’ll change. This I know for sure. In fact, tomorrow we’re expecting rain and wind and then we’re supposed to get some cooler weather. One customer today even said that she’d heard snow on Wednesday.

I’m knitting away like crazy. At this time of year I always am. I used to plan to make something knitted for everyone in the family. Those days are over because it was killing me. Not everyone wants or needs something that I knit and I’ve stopped knitting like a crazy woman before Christmas.

This year I’m making a Christmas stocking and a Christmas sweater for my granddaughter and a hat for my daughter (and another as a surprise for someone very special.) I’m going to have twenty hours in the car when we go to my bonus daughter’s wedding in Washington, DC in early December. I’m hoping that by the time we’re in the car that I will be able to knit a vest or sweater for myself in the car. I only have a minimum of five sweaters’ worth of yarn that I need to knit.

That said, let’s talk about what I can talk about.

I’m knitting three “plain” stockings for my cousin Joan who had a moth infestation. The moths destroyed her childhood stocking and a couple of others. When she called to ask me if she could commission me to knit some new stockings I couldn’t say no. So, I found some green, red and white worsted weight yarn and did a bit of pattern research. I decided to use the traditional intarsia patterns, take away the intarsia and the decreases to the heel and knit a simple stocking.

I cast on 60 stitches and knitted the leg of the stocking flat starting with 7 or 8 rows of 2×2 ribbing and then changing to stockinette stitch (knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side.) The reason that stockings are so often seamed up the back of the leg is because they really need some structure and strength there in order to be able to hold the weight of the Christmas morning goodies (if you’ve been very good!) I knitted 84 rows of stockinette stitch (or about 12 inches) and then joined to knit in the round. The first 15 and last 15 stitches become the heel stitches and the next step is the heel flap. On the right side, slip 1, knit 1 across and on the wrong side, slip 1 and purl the rest of the stitches to the end of the row. The last row should be a right side row. When the heel flap is 2 1/2 inches long, we’ll turn the dreaded heel.

Basically, if you’ve noticed, this is the exact same process as knitting a sock but with worsted weight yarn. Not rocket science. Not scary. Just follow the simple steps and trust the pattern. Mine is a very loose pattern, it’s not tech edited or tested. Beware if you choose to follow it. LOL.

Heel turning: on the wrong side, slip 1 stitch, purl 17, purl 2 together, purl 1 and turn. Slip 1 stitch, knit 5, knit 2 together, knit 1, turn. From here on, look at your knitting and slip the first stitch, purl to one stitch before the gap (that’ll be six stitches purled after the slipped stitch), purl the stitches on either side of the gap together, knit one and turn. Now you’ll do similarly on the knit side … slip 1, knit to the gap (7 sts.), knit two together, knit 1 and turn. You’ll continue to slip 1, purl to the gap, purl the two stitches together (one from either side of the gap) and purl 1 then turn and knit back as you’ve been doing. Do this back and forth until all of the stitches are used up. Ending with a knit row.

Gusset time! Pick up and knit 12 stitches down the side of the gusset. Each of the slipped stitches leaves a pretty clear place to pick up stitches. Knit across the 30 stitches on the top of the foot. Last, you’ll pick up and knit another 12 stitches up the side of the second side of the gusset and then knit across 9 of the heel stitches. Knit once around the stocking and then every other round will be a decrease round: at the bottom of the first side of the gusset you’ll knit 2 together, knit across the top of the foot and then knit two together at the top of the second gusset side, knit to the end of the round. The decreases are on either side of the top of the foot only in this part. Once you are back to the original number of stitches, you just knit around and around until the foot measures four inches from the heel flap edge.

Now there’s only the toe to knit. Again, the decrease rounds will be every other round until there are 28 stitches and then every round until there are 12 stitches. The decreases are in four places on the toe. The beginning of the round is at the middle of the bottom of the foot. Knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 24, knit 2 together, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 12. You can place markers, use DPNs, whatever works … you are the boss of your knitting! If you’re still using the 16″ circular needle, I’ll place markers at the sides of the sock, separating the top of the sock and the bottom of the sock. The decreases will be made on both sides of the markers. After a decrease round, knit one round plain (with no decreases.) Decrease and knit a plain round until there are 14 stitches on each side of the sock (top and bottom.) Now you’ll decrease every round until there are six stitches on either side and cut the yarn long enough to Kitchener stitch the sides together. Weave in all the ends and you’re pretty much finished.

I hold two strands of yarn (about 24″ long) together and use a crochet hook to make a chain that’s about four or five inches long. Thread a needle with one of the ends and pull it from the outside to the inside of the stocking just under the ribbing and tie both ends of the chain together very carefully and tightly.

I always use duplicate stitch to add the name to the top. Cousin Joanie said it wasn’t necessary but I’m going to add names if only so Santa knows which is which.

I’ve finished one green stocking and am down to the foot of the red stocking. Tomorrow I’ll pick up the white yarn for the third stocking. If I really sit and focus, I can knit these in a couple of days but I knit quickly.

Gone knitting!

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.