A Fear of Stranded Knitting Conquered

Starting the Lobster Hat

I bought a Lobster Hat kit at Over the Rainbow Yarns in Rockland, Maine several years ago. I bought it for my daughter for Christmas that year with a promise that I’d knit it for her. Fast forward to today and I “found” the kit in my time out cabinet and decided to give it a go and see if I can’t finish it (finally!!!) All those years ago, I’d begun the knitting but I wasn’t particularly confident about it. I didn’t know how to carry the floats well and my tension was wonky. So I frogged what I had begun, rewound the yarn and started over.

I had avoided stranded knitting/colorwork and Fair Isle for a long, long time. I’ve blogged about this before. But a few years ago my co-worker showed my a pair of beautiful (and warm) Snowflake Mittens and I HAD to knit them. I’ve knitted many pairs of them (one story included two left hands!) and have taught many knitters to make them, too. Worsted weight yarn and only two colors didn’t feel too overwhelming but I wasn’t really eager to try the finer yarns or more than two colors.

This year, however, the stranded knitting projects have been coming at me from everywhere! My co-worker, Peggy, and I made the Sunset Highway sweater. I found a knitted coffee cup cozy pattern that is a Fair Isle pattern knit in the round and steeked as a practice for a sweater I want to knit. I made a Christmas stocking for my daughter. I am knitting a pair of socks, as part of a MKAL and our 2020 Sock Knitting Challenge that is stranded knitting. I just took a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone that turned into a test knit project for her, the subject of which was a Fair Isle cowl (the pattern is coming soon!) And then I found the Lobster Hat.

So, riight now, on my needles is a pair of socks and (ta! da!) the lobster hat. I need to cast on another pair of Snowflake mittens, too, for a friend. I’m really pleased and proud to say that I am feeling very confident with colorwork/stranded knitting. Progress through practice!

Gone Knitting!

You can find out more about these projects and more on my Ravelry Project page. I’m lindar on Ravelry. Find me on Facebook and Instagram @QueenBeeKnits.

Sleepless and Blogging

I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged for so long. I apologize to those of you (all two or three of you) who want to read something of substance about knitting and were looking to me to blog about something. I’ve failed you. (Ha! Ha!)

I’ve been knitting a bunch and have been having fun while doing it. I have my new scarf on the needles with some pretty beads. The pattern is a free one from my LYS called “Beaded Scarf” and it’s a skein of fingering weight yarn – I chose Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock Yarn (Color 5630/ Lot 075) in a light turquoise blue with beads that are the same color and lined in silver (Deanna’s 6/0 beads). I have seen it on the counter in a different yarn and decided that I liked the simplicity of the yarn I picked and it’s simple and understated and I really liked it. The only “difficult” part was figuring out how to get the beads onto the yarn easily. Thankfully, I have knitting friends who are helpful (thanks to Beverly) and got the job done. I did have to buy some straight needles to knit this project. I haven’t knitted on straight needles forever but you have to have them for the beading … or you’ll be moving beads around which is a tedious job.

The beginning ... after stringing on three strands of beads.

The beginning … after stringing on three strands of beads.

These beads needed more light!

These beads needed more light!

I found out today that my brother’s feet are not a size 13 but a size 14 which means that I have a bit more knitting to do before I can finish the toe and deliver the gift. Did you know that a man’s size 14 shoe converts to a 12 inch foot? It’s like knitting for a giant’s foot! 😉 I hope he’ll love them and I am going to work on them tomorrow because I’m ready to cast on another new project and promised myself that I would finish the socks first. I will keep this promise to myself … better than the no buying any new yarn promise.

Keep knitting! Keep Knitting! Socks for "giant" feet!

Keep knitting! Keep Knitting! Socks for “giant” feet!

I have about 11 inches of the knitted bag finished. Knitting this project is hard on my hands. It’s double worsted weight yarn held together and the pattern asks for a size US 6 needle. The fabric is very stiff and, of course, being stockinette stitch, it rolls up and is fairly unforgiving. I can only do a few rows of this before my arms are tired. A strange “complaint” for a knitter (but you’d understand if you tried it!) I am loving the colorway that I chose which is a dark gray but not quite charcoal gray. I think the bag is going to be pretty and I am eager to get to the two lace panels which are what I think will make the bag!

Dark Grey Purse Fabric ... getting there!

Dark Grey Purse Fabric … getting there!

I haven’t touched my DROPS tunic. So be it. Other projects are taking precedence now and that has to be OK. My new yarn awaits and I have a new order for a baby blanket so I have to find some yarn and get moving on that, too.

Meanwhile, our house is full of family tonight and it’s such fun to have my brothers and their families in our house. We had a fabulous dinner of lobster (caught by my brother) and fresh Striped Bass. Life is good and I feel so blessed.

Gone knitting!

Sexing a Lobster

Lobster Specimen - Cooked to Perfection!

Lobster Specimen – Cooked to Perfection!

I’ve been privileged to eat lobster in Maine since I was a very little girl. Every time we have a lobster dinner (or brunch as we did today), we thank the lobster for feeding us. If I had to kill the live animals that I eat, I’d probably be a vegetarian. But being closer to the food we eat is, I believe, an eye-opening experience. I am grateful to my parents, my foodie friends, and all of those who have given me perspective on eating animals. Or crustaceans. As it were.

If I were on death row and had to choose a last meal, mine would be a Maine lobster. Not a rock lobster like you get in the islands or in some fancy schmancy restaurants. A Maine lobster. And the first thing I’d do when I got it is the same thing that I have done no matter where I’ve eaten a lobster for as long as I’ve lived – find out whether it’s a boy or a girl. Yup! I know how to sex a lobster.

Today’s lobster will be my example. When you flip the lobster over (and you must), it looks like this. At the top of the picture are the legs which you’re going to want to pull off and eat. But it’s the first set of “flippers” that is critical to deciding whether your lobster is male or female. You can see that my finger is pointing to the first pair of flippers (under the legs and before the soft flippers that are under the tail.


The first set of flippers will tell you if it’s a boy or a girl.

The next picture is a better one. If it is hard it’s a boy (as mine was today). If it is soft like the rest of the flippers, it would have been a girl. Next time I have a lobster and it’s a girl, I’ll post a picture, too. The only real difference that I can figure out is that the females have roe or clusters of eggs inside the body cavity. Some people (my father, for example, and my brothers) like to eat the roe. I do not. Nor do I like the tamale (since I learned what it was. If you like it, don’t find out.) But I do love my Maine lobsters! And when I’m done with it, there’s nothing (NOTHING!) left that is edible.


It’s a boy!
Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s a flipper!)

It was good. And gone in a flash!

Gone knitting!

Empty Houses

Last one in the pool … three boys and one who should have been a boy!

While my family was here for an extended weekend, we celebrated being together. We celebrated my oldest brother’s second recovery from a bout with hepatic encephalopathy. We mourned the loss of N’s dog, Max. We laughed, set off fireworks, made Smores, took a road trip to the Maine neighborhood where we went as kids, ate a few lobsters, some fried seafood, some “incredible cheeseburger pie” … really enjoyed having the time to spend together.

Baby Mourning Doves in their hand knit “nest” – Scuttlebutt and Ringo

My middle nephew found this pair of baby mourning doves a few days before coming to Maine and had researched the care and feeding of baby birds. They were thriving under his hourly feedings. It’s not an easy job being a mama bird … especially for a thirteen year old boy. Sadly, the smaller bird on the left, Scuttlebutt, died after they left Maine. As my brother the veterinarian says, “that’s why birds lay more than one egg.” Death is part of the circle of life. Survival of the fittest. A valuable lesson for all of us to enjoy the time we have.

Cousins on Blueberry Hill

My niece from LA was here for the first time. She was making some new “firsts”. First trip to Maine, first time picking blueberries, first sailboat trip, first lobster salad … and the list goes on.

It’s hard to believe that this young woman (and the rest of her family, too) has been in our lives for only a bit over three years. It feels so natural to be together and we have so much fun together. I’m not sure whether family just fits together … or maybe we are simply blessed to have that ease and comfort with each other after so short a time.

Jumping Off

Now, after they’ve all left, only N and I and two little dogs remain. The house is so quiet. N is struggling with a sore neck and a hurting heart. The empty house has reminded him of his loss and we are both feeling the loss of our family in the house.

I haven’t done much knitting but have to “un-knit” the few extra rows in my sweater … that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention! There were better things to watch and enjoy!

Gone knitting.

A Two-lighthouse Day

Owl's Head Light

We headed out Sunday to see the ocean and a light house. Since Kelly hadn’t ever been to Maine and the Maine coast being my favorite thing, it was a cinch to decide to head eastward.

First stop, Owl’s Head Light near Thomaston, Maine. Thomaston, by the way, is one of my favorite childhood memories. We used to visit this adorable vintage Maine town with the white homes on either side of Route 1 and where the Maine State Penitentiary used to be. Connected to the state prison, there was the prison store. My brothers and I loved visiting there to purchase some little trinket carved by the inmates (and there were real inmates at the cashier’s desk with armed guards). A bit of wonder and a bit of fear made this a great place to visit. They’re open every day but Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day (a couple of days in January and Maine snow days.)

Owl's Head LightBut I digress… the land for Owl’s Head Light was purchased in 1824 by a Congressional appropriation of $4,000.  Owl’s Head marks the entrance to Rockland harbor and the light was first lit by it’s first keeper in September 1825 (the project was completed for a cost of $2,707.79 … way under the appropriation. Bet that wouldn’t happen today!)

Today, you can visit the lighthouse (the keeper’s house is still standing but not open to visitors. It’s a bit of a climb into the tower but the view is worth the effort. The lens of the light is simply amazing.

A 1,000 watt hallogen bulb lights the light today

It’s a Fresnel lens which replaced the original in 1856 and it’s simply amazing. It was originally designed to turn (and has wheels) but they decided to keep it a stationary light as all the others in the area were blinking. Did you know that each lighthouse had it’s own pattern of blinks? Ayuh, they did.

From the Foot of the Tower

From the tower, the Rockland Breakwater was pointed out to us by the volunteer at the top of the tower. (It was a beautiful sunny day and it was hot up there!) She said we could walk out the mile long “jetty” (made from rubble granite) and visit the keepers house and lighthouse. SO, who could resist? Off we went.

View from the Lighthouse over the Breakwater toward shore

The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is going through a major renovation and it’s going to be a beautiful place to visit. Well, it was a beautiful place to visit and I could imagine living there as the keeper (all lighthouses in Maine today are automated.) While I think the volunteers could have designed a more professional display of the history of the lighthouse, it’s a fun visit and it’s a treat to see the keeper’s house as well as visit the tower. My camera died so I can’t share with you the views other than the two I took. One above is toward the shore over the breakwater (wear sturdy shoes for this hike) and another looking toward the Owl’s Head light across the harbor.

A visit to Rockland after our lighthouse adventure for a bit of lunch at the Rockland Cafe … where we shared a cup of their seafood chowder (yummy, especially with a dash or three of hot sauce) and ordered a couple of lobster BLTs and a “small” plate of whole belly fried clams. The BLT was tasty (the bread/roll was unoriginal) and the clams were delish. Rockland is also home to some great shops, an excellent (new location is quite a step up) coffee shop and book store (Rock City Cafe) and the fabulous Farnsworth Art Museum, home of many of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings and always a good visit!

Fun day with friends, good food, a bit of exercise and we learned a bit, too. Not typical for us but a great day in Maine!