This morning didn’t look particularly promising. I always feel better when the sun is shining and while we all know the sun is up there somewhere, we weren’t sure that we’d see the sun today. But we did! What a beautiful day. We had ice fishermen on the lake early in the day and I saw one snow machine. We won’t be seeing them for long. By late afternoon the lake ice was taking on a gray-ish tone which is typically a good sign that it’s thinning.
I’ve cut down my knitting because of the neck/nerve thing. I’ve been stretching my hands/arms/neck more often, too. I think it is making a difference. I hope so.
I’ve cast on a pair of socks for my “baby” brother. When we were in Massachusetts he happened to mention that he’d lost one of the socks I gave him several years ago. What a great opportunity to make him another pair. I’m using Yankee Knitter’s Classic Sock pattern #29 and Emma’s yarn in the “Legal Tender” colorway. His favorite color is green and our dad was a lawyer. It felt right.
I’ve cast on and frogged and cast on and frogged and cast on again and this time I hope it’s going to be okay. It’s a bit of a long story but one of my customer-friends brought in a little romper that she’s making for a future baby in her life that she needed some help with. I helped her over her knitting hurdle (bobbles … everyone bobbles a little bit differently and this one was one of the “oddest” ways I’ve seen yet.) The more I thought about it, the more I thought I needed to make one for my granddaughter.. I chose Universal’s Bamboo Pop yarn in white. The pattern is Jasmine Romper.
Lisa has since finished her romper and I’ve started mine three times. The first time, I cast on according to the written instructions and then switched over to the chart … but the stitch count was off. I had a look at the other sizes (I’m knitting 6-9 months) and it seemed like the chart was right. I wrote to the designer to tell her about the difference between the written and charted directions and a missing instruction. On Friday I made the assumption that the chart was correct and cast on the second time. Ha! We all know what happens when we assume, right?
Today I started for the third time. The designer responded and the chart is actually wrong. The third time’s a charm, right? I haven’t even taken a photo*. Soon enough, I will.
Note: *Photo above is a FO from Ravelry with credit given to the knitter/photographer.
Sunrise is happening about 30 minutes earlier than a few weeks ago and it’s moving back over to the left of the music camp. That’s a good indication that we are moving out of winter and into spring. Our camp road has been posted (this is an official town posting that prohibits heavy trucks from driving on the town roads when they are least stable – aka “mud season”.)
This is a blessing and a curse this year because we haven’t really had a good cold winter. Signs that this hasn’t happened are that we have had very few, if any, pickup trucks on the ice. I’ve seen exactly one. Normally, they’re everywhere for several weeks at a minimum. While this seems like a blessing, we have to be concerned about what this means for the health of our lake.
I’ve learned a lot about invasive plant species while being the president of our lake association and the future of Maine lakes is at risk. On our lake, we always had one seasonal bloom of our single invasive milfoil species. We now have two blooms per season. With the warm winter, there is evidence of the plant’s adaptation to colder water. Not a good thing.
Meanwhile, on the shores of Messalonskee, our snow is melting and I’ve been spending time in my studio. I’ve been working to clean up and clean out. I even took three bags of odds and ends of yarn to GoodWill this week. I even used my sewing machine this week.
My friend Deb gifted me this “kit” to make a bee tote. It’s printed on a loose weave cotton and it’s gorgeous! I decided that I needed to line it and to make it a bit stiffer so it’ll sit up by itself. So one day last week I went off to Yardgoods Center and picked the brain of the sewists on the fabric side. Vicki helped me choose an iron-on interfacing that will make the fabric stiffen up a bit. This week I cut out the pieces from the kit and cut the lining pieces as well. Of course I had to line it … which meant that I had to figure out how to sew it together without directions. Which, because I am not a confident sewist, proved to be a challenge. But I DID figure it out.
I ironed the interfacing to the wrong sides of the fabric, sewed the pocket (lined and with interfacing, too) to the bag lining, and turned the straps to the right side. That turning all by itself was a challenge but with a pin and knitting needle, I managed to get it done. I top-stitched both sides of the handles and set them aside while I figured out how to sew the pieces of the bag together. After one complete f@#%-up, I started over from the beginning and stitched each part, lining and bag, individually with the boxed bottom and all. It occurred to me that I had done a lined bag once before in the distant past. That spark of a memory helped me figure out how to sew the parts together and have the handles be in the right place, too. Woo! Hoo! Success! Yay, me!
I started a pair of Christmas socks for my hubby. Before you congratulate me for planning ahead, let me tell you that these socks were promised for LAST Christmas. I’ve chosen this pattern, Urban Rustic Socks, because he was wearing MY pair (and thought they were a bit small). Ha! Ha! Now he’ll have his own pair. And they’re fun to knit, the cables are lovely and I love mine. The yarn is Raggi by Jarbo Garn. We can’t get this in our LYS any more and when they announced it, I had the forethought to buy a bit “extra” because I really like how it knits and wears. Hubby benefits from my good plan!
I discovered a problem with the larger size, though. When I got to the increase round, the ribbing didn’t line up when I knitted the pattern as written. So, on the third try, I just kept an eye on my knitting and “forced” the ribbing to line up. I will write down what I did when I knit the second sock, For now, though, I’m off and running – and I’ve reached the heel flap on the first sock. Another thing to note … using US 4 needles with an Aran-weight yarn causes my hands and arm to hurt. I might have tried knitting these on a US 5 needle and it might have been easier on my hands. But it’s too late now.
My Emsworth is also really really really close to being done. I reached the 11 3/4″ mark on the body of the vest on Friday but when I held it up to my body, it felt too short. My knitting class confirmed it and I kept on knitting. I’m going to try another inch or two and see if that isn’t better for me. I hope that I can get it finished in the next week so that when my yarn arrives from Norway, I can begin knitting my genser without having to put aside my vest. (*crosses fingers and toes.)
My “knitting chair” that I ordered in mid-January was promised in mid-March. It seems that it has been delayed and I’m trying to be patient. I cleaned up the studio last week and have been thinking about moving some of the furniture around in advance of my new chair’s arrival. It seems I can take my time.
Gone knitting. (Enjoy a few sights from the lake.)
This was my weekend to work and that’s why today feels like Sunday. We have had a gray start to the past few days but the ice has been growing up the shore of the lake and it looks very dramatic. We always get thick ice climbing out of the lake and this year, while it’s been a bit different than the past few years, we finally have ice coming up. I am not yet comfortable with going out on the ice for a walk but lots of people do. Call me crazy but when we have these “puddles” of water on top of the ice you have no idea what the ice below it is doing.
So, on Saturday I was at work and the last couple of days have been my weekend. Yesterday I wrote the store newsletter and got caught up with our house stuff, mail, calendars, you know, the stuff you need to catch up with at the end (or start) of the week. I’ve also been knitting.
My Emsworth vest has been my major focus this weekend. I am really enjoying this pattern and we all know that the yarn is my favorite. At least for now. I’m using the charcoal gray colorway of Patagonia Organic Merino yarn by Juniper Moon Farm and I really like the rustic quality of this yarn and yet, the merino makes it feel soft and it’s a pleasure to work with. The Emsworth pattern is fun for a couple of reasons: First because the lace sections keep it interesting with a lot of stockinette between the lace. When I bought this pattern I thought it was cables. Well, it’s not. But I am still having fun knitting the vest and I am hoping to get it finished before I finish my Norwegian Genser virtual class on the 19th. I guess it could happen.
I started the weekend with four inches from the underarm. I just measured it again and I’m at more than eight inches. If memory serves, I have to get to eleven-ish inches. I’m getting close!
I finished my Setesdal Hat. I had a feeling that this hat would be too small for my big head and I was right. But the hat was so much fun to knit and the colors are fun and attractive. I blocked it today – Arne and Carlos use a damp pressing cloth and a steamy iron to steam press wool garments – and the magic of blocking makes me so happy.
The photo on the left shows the wonky before stitches where the motifs look pretty good but some of the stitches kind of sink and the different shapes aren’t all the same. The photo on the right is after the magic of steam blocking. You can see how the stitches bloom to be more even across the board. I love it. One of my students on Friday afternoon will be happy to wear this hat – she called “dibs” on it at class on Friday. I am happy to have it go to a good home.
I also finished my traditional Norwegian Hals. I’ve signed up for a bunch of instruction from Knitography farm and it’s been wonderful. I enjoy the community and support that Patricia has built and her dedication to the traditional Norwegian knitwear designs. The hals (cowl) pattern is one that she translated from an historic pattern. This would probably be called a “dickie” in our culture but it’s a warm addition to winter wear. Unfortunately, once again, my big head won’t fit in the turtleneck so I will be giving this away. I ordered the yarn from Patricia’s farm. She has a herd of heritage sheep. I think it’s a bit scratchy … but it was historically accurate and I will be donating it to a worthy cause and it will keep someone warm.
I ordered new yarn this week from Norway to make a genser (pullover) in a traditional pattern. The pattern is really pretty. I found out about the pattern and the book that it’s in through the zoom meeting with Patricia of Knitography Farm. She’s doing a virtual Choose Your Own Path class and since I’ve never knit a traditional genser, I’m starting with a beginner pattern. I’ve also completed her online course on stranded knitting. I always learn something new.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and my sweetie and I are going to Longfellow’s on a date. I want some dirt and some flowers for the house to cheer it up … the late winter and the gray days this time of year need some color.
As soon as the ice goes out (this year it happened on April 6th) the water birds and critters return to the lake. It’s miraculous, really, that they know when it’s safe to come back out on the lake. This year we heard reports from the northern end of the lake that the loons had returned while our section of the lake was still covered by ice. BUT as soon as the ice was gone, the loons were calling from the cove. There’s nothing quite like living so close to nature. We are so grateful to be able to witness the seasonal changes, to watch the sun change its position in the sky, and to know that there are more miracles coming soon when the babies are back with their parents. It won’t be long.
Since the ice went out, we’ve seen all the weather. Beautiful blue bird skies, thick fog and days of rain. Fortunately, it seems that mud season was relatively short this year and early. I had some white knuckle trips down our road and I may have let a few four-letter words escape my lips while hoping that my car wouldn’t get stuck in the mud.
I’ve been knitting like a mad woman. I seem to want to cast on all the new projects and I am trying to stay focused on finishing some, too.
I’ve got a full basket of cotton yarns that I’ve collected over the years. I am trying to knit down the stash and one of my favorite projects is dishcloths/washcloths that I’ll pop into my gift drawer and pull out as needed. These two are from deeply stashed yarn from a big box store and they’re obviously seasonal. We use them here at home and the kids like them, too. They’re great stocking stuffers or as a gift with a special bar of soap. The pattern is so simple and easy to remember which makes these dishcloths good TV knitting.
I’m almost half-way through the collection of Advent jumpers from Arne and Carlos. I love knitting these little sweaters and they knit up so quickly. I’m using Patagonia Organic Merino yarn from Juniper Moon Farm and, I have to say, this is my favorite yarn right now. I’ve made my Humlebi Shawl in it and I’ve got the charcoal gray colorway set aside to make an Emsworth vest. Number 12 will likely be finished by the end of the day today. I like to spend Sunday knitting for fun. I also like to bake and I’ve eaten all of my granola and my baked oatmeal.
The body of my Traveling Sweater is nearly done (it may, actually be done but I have to measure it again to make sure.) This has been a fun knit. Patsy is a customer who has come into the store a bunch of times to purchase Plymouth Gina yarn for the sweaters that she makes. She has a Facebook page for the sweaters because she’s knitted over 100 of them. I have loved the sweater since I first saw it and have almost bought the yarn once before. When we heard that Plymouth was discontinuing the yarn, I put aside what colors we had in the shop and the boss ordered bags of each remaining color. When they came in, I bought the yarn and cast on my sweater.
The pattern is a Knitting Plain and Simple pattern #9724, Neck Down Pullover for Women. These patterns are simple beginner patterns and are knit top down in the round with minimal seaming. The sizing is somewhat size-inclusive but they certainly could be expanded. It would be wonderful if they added full stitch counts, too. But I recommend these patterns often for customers and students knitting their first garments. I’ve chosen 10 colorways of the Gina yarn and have randomly pulled them out of the bag to knit next. I have simple knitted the whole ball and then spit-spliced the next ball and kept knitting. I had a bit of a challenge making gauge but I decided that I would use the recommended needles and knit the size larger so that it would fit comfortably. I’m thinking that I may use a folded hem rather than a rolled hem but I haven’t decided yet. I suppose I can knit the rolled hem and then sew it up if I change my mind.
I’ve got to buy one more ball of Gina so that my sleeves, at least at the shoulders, match as closely as possible to the body of the sweater. After that, random is fine.
You know (don’t you?) that I live on a beautiful lake in Central Maine. We are very fortunate to have a thriving loon population despite the crazy boaters that have caused nests to fail (one year we had two lost eggs on the same nest).
This year, the loon pair nearest to our house had two chicks. They nested on a nesting platform that has been built by our lake association (and is in need of some work). Loons don’t walk on land well. Their legs are located farther back on their bodies than other waterfoul and their bones aren’t hollow like other birds. Loons sit low in the water and are very heavy so nesting is a challenge for them. Regardless, our pair had two eggs and hatched two chicks. We watch them like hawks … and I’m not kidding about that at all. Hawks and eagles and other animals prey on baby loons. They become “my” chicks every year. My neighbors feel the same way.
This year, we have all enjoyed watching the twins with their parents until there was only one twin. My heart was broken that we seemed to have lost one of our sweet chicks. But our local lake tour guy, and a friend of mine who sits on the lake association board of trustees with me, texted me about the “missing” chick that he hadn’t seen for five days. He reached out to another board member who just happens to be our resident nature guy and loon expert. Here’s the skinny …
Our loon is healthy and well and living in pseudo-captivity for the next few weeks in Massachusetts. And this is the gist of what I’ve learned. There is an organization here in Maine called Biodiversity Research Institute and they’re authorized to move loons (after they’re big enough to feed themselves but before they are able to fly) to Massachusetts to translocate loons in an effort to restore the common loon to an area where they’d disappeared. This is what’s happening to our loon. He or she is helping the loon population to grow in another place. And the BRI program has been very successful over the past several years. This is loon conservation at it’s finest! (Read about the success of the program here!)
More good news … Our remaining loon (and the loon that was translocated) has a significantly better chance of surviving to adulthood. Feeding two chicks is a huge job for the adults. Feeding one chick is a big job. This way, since loons don’t count very well, the adults will be feeding their remaining chick well and they’ll all three be healthier and more prepared calorically for their flight in the near future to the coast. Our loons will winter over in the harbors off the coast of Maine and then in the spring after ice out, our adult pair will return to the lake. The young chick will remain on the ocean for a couple of years before flying “back home” to find a mate. The translocated chick will be fed minnows for a few more weeks and when he/she is ready, will be released on a lake in Massachusetts. That baby loon will fly to the coast from it’s new home in MA. Baby loons navigate “home” based on their first flight.
I am delighted to report that our baby loon is going to be a positive helper in the future wellbeing of the common loon. This kind of program has also helped to bring back Ospreys, Eagles, and other animals. There is currently a program that is working to bring turkeys from Maine to Texas where there used to be a lot of them. (We have tons of them in Maine!)
There you have it! I was so excited that I needed to share.
Time sure does fly. I’ve told more than one friend and/or family member that I thought life would slow down and change after my kids were little and life was so busy-active. Once they grew up and had homes of their own, I imagined that time would slow and life would be less busy. Turns out that I was totally wrong. The time seems to only go by more quickly.
So, with that said, this is my first post of the new year and new decade. The year of the rat according to the Chinese calendar. I think it’s going to be another wonderful healthy year full of fun and lots of good knitting!
We have started 2020 with a Sock Challenge. Twelve pairs of socks, one each month. Two pairs can be little socks for children or “peds”, two need to be something you’ve never done before. I have finished two pairs of socks so far this year and am up to the heel on the first sock of the third pair.
January pair number one is for my granddaughter, Rose. Her name explains the color choice, n’est ce pas? Pattern is Yankee Knitter’s Classic Socks for the Whole Family. I did a 3 x 1 rib down the leg and on the top of the foot. Knitting for children, who grow too quickly, I like to build in a little bit of wiggle room. I measured their feet in May so I gave them an extra half-inch in foot length and made the large child size. This Cascade Heritage wool is nice and soft.
February pair number two is my DH’s Christmas socks. I’ve begun to give him a ball of yarn in his Christmas stocking (also hand-knit, not by me) because we all know that Christmas knitting leaves little time for selfish knitting and it’s the old cobbler’s children philosophy: no hand knit socks for my DH until after the paid knitting is finished. Anyway, this pair is also Yankee Knitter’s Classic Sock pattern and it’s a sport weight yarn by KFI with a touch of cashmere. They’re very soft and felt good on my knitting hands! That said, there are spots where it seemed like the dye hadn’t completely saturated the yarn but I hope that doesn’t reflect on the socks themselves. I have two more balls of this yarn because it feels so good. Another blue and a grey.
I’ve been wearing and loving wearing my Love Note sweater by Tin Can Knits. I love the yarn, the weight, the color and the fit. This may be my very most favorite sweater of the year and decade (so far!) I have a couple of other sweaters coming up on my queue and it’ll be interesting to see if I like them as well as I like my Love Note!
Today we had a visitor in our yard. I am so privileged to live on the edge of a lake in Central Maine. The Belgrade Lakes area is a well-known summer spot but it’s also a fun place to live in the winter. I know, many of you are wondering if my mental health is stable but I have to say, I love the snow and I love watching the different seasons and the way the lake and life changes. Today has been a relatively warm winter day for Maine and the lake was crawling with ice fishermen (and women), snow machines, and birds. I was thrilled when I returned from lunching with a girlfriend and saw a Bald Eagle on the lake about three quarters of a mile from our front porch. Later this afternoon, as I was sitting at my desk working, another (or maybe the same) eagle left the ice and flew straight toward our house and landed in our tree. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “it doesn’t get old”! What a thrill watching these birds! I do have to watch the little dogs very carefully in the winter – an eagle or a big owl or hawk would love a shitzu feast.
My philosophy for the next year is to be kind. Truthful and kind. Accepting and kind. Healthy and kind. Happy and kind. Loving and kind. Simply put I want to bee happy … and kind.
You can read more about my projects and yarns on my Ravelry project page. My Ravelry name is Lindar. You can also find Queen Bee Knits on Facebook and @QueenBeeKnits on Instagram.