campfire

I’m the queen (bee) of the world! 🙂
Campfire Shawl by Versaciknits

This week saw the release of Lori Versaci’s VersaciKnits newest shawl pattern, Campfire.

I was fortunate to have been asked to test knit this beautiful pattern and with that was a request to knit it in Cashmere People Yarns, Cashgora Sport.

When I called Portfiber in Portland, Maine to order my yarn, I spoke with owner, Casey Rider, a friend and “camp counselor” at one of my favorite places on earth, Medomak Fiber Retreat. Casey is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known. I wanted my shawl to evoke the feeling you get when you wear a comfortable pair of worn-in blue jeans. I’d looked at the colors of Cashgora Sport on Portfiber’s website so I had some idea of what colors I liked but I also knew that the colors on the computer aren’t always like those in your hands. I counted on Casey to take my initial ideas and transform them into reality – and she did a magnificent job. I love the colors individually and together. While this shawl was a financial investment, it’s worth every single penny spent. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting every stitch (even the ones I had to frog and re-stitch because I can’t count!) and I love wearing it.

The pattern is clear and not at all difficult for even an adventurous beginner. Increases are always in the same space, There is some stockinette stitching which makes the pattern stitch areas worth knitting. The contrast between the patterns and stockinette are so satisfying. And the finished product is stunning … even if I do say so myself!

Campfire is made with three skeins of Cashgora Sport. I used Scree (natural), Toile (light blue) and Denim (darker blue). But you should check out the colors … they’re amazing! And the purchase of these yarns support the women in Tajikistan and Afghanistan who spin and dye it. Giving these women work means that they can support themselves and their families. Doing good.

For the month of May, you can also help Lori and Casey do some more good … Lori is donating 100% of pattern sales to Vinylhaven Community Outreach, a non-profit supporting the needs of people on this Maine island that depends on the lobster industry that has taken a big hit during this Covid-19 pandemic. Portfiber (Casey) is donating 20% of Cashmere People yarn sales during the month of May to Full Plates Full Potential, a Maine non-profit that provides breakfast and lunch to Maine children even during this pandemic.

Let’s do some good~ Gone knitting!

Progress

The sun came up again today!

Today is Wednesday Tuesday (Ha! Thanks for the help! I guess I had lost track of the days!) not that it really matters. The only difference between the days is the weather. Yesterday was a true beauty and today is a little cooler but the brilliant sunshine always makes me feel better. We are going for a ride today to buy lobsters for dinner. Change it up a little bit.

I’m making progress (finally!) on my test-knit shawl which is being called Cashmere People Shawl. The design is by Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits. What I really love about Lori’s designs is the classic style. This is my third test knit for Lori, the first was my Mainstay Pullover in 2015. Sadly, this sweater has gone to live elsewhere because the yarn, a Berroco product, wasn’t color fast and it discolored when I washed it. Boo. The design, however was wonderful and I’ll make it again when I am finished with all my WIPs. (Like that will ever happen!) The second test knit was Open Star which finished in late 2015/early 2016. This is a cardigan and I still love this sweater. You can check out my Ravelry project page for details on both sweaters.

Star section at the bottom of photo, stockinette in navy and the start of a beautiful brioche

I struggled with the star section of this shawl for whatever reasons. Maybe it’s a simple as the counting; an ability that I often lack. But once I decided to go with reading my knitting, I zipped right along. I’m now into the last section of the shawl which is a “ruffle” of brioche. I need a longer cable on my needles because there are nearly 400 stitches at this point and cramming stitches on the needle and brioche don’t go well together. I’m eager to get this OFF the needles so I can see it in all it’s glory!

I continue to be behind on the Arne and Carlos Quarantine KAL. But I get about one done each day so, again, progress. I continue to enjoy this KAL because it takes just enough concentration to keep my mind busy and it’s very comforting. I’m trying to avoid Facebook and the news because it’s not very pleasant and plays with my head/anxiety levels. No news is good news just as long as my kids are ok.

And last but not least, I have the correct number of stitches on my son’s birthday socks and I’m (not really) zipping down the foot of the first sock. They’ll be easy to finish because it’s sport weight wool – with a bit of cashmere – so they do knit up a little bit more quickly than fingering weight would. This yarn, KFI Luxury Collection’s Indulgence Cashmere, is so soft. I need to make myself a pair. Or not. In fairness, I have an entire sock drawer full of my hand-knitted socks.

So, that’s progress.

Gone Knitting!

Ahhhh! The perfect spot to relax!

Quarantine Update – How are YOU doing?

The ice has gone from our part of the lake. This was the first (almost) sunset last night … gorgeous!

Y’all, this is difficult, isn’t it? I’m a very social person and I love working in a yarn shop, helping people, talking to people, laughing. So, this staying home thing is difficult. And I love my home!

So, here I am wondering how you are doing? I know that there are a few of you who actually read my blog, and I am appreciative of you (all three of you!!!)

I’m doing my best to make every day as positive as I can. I have made some masks and will be making more. My local farmer has asked for masks for her family so that they can go to the farmers’ markets and bring food to their customers’ cars from their farm stand. I also want to make some for my family. I’m not a competent sewist but I’m doing my best. I currently have eight masks that I am happy to donate to anyone who needs them. If you know someone, let me know. They’d be very appropriate for someone working with children.

What else am I doing to stay sane? Baking. Baking is always something that I love doing but when life is in full throttle busy I tend to let the baking slide … giving priority to other things that may not be as pleasurable. When this is all over, I will continue to make baking a priority in my life. My husband, in particular, enjoys the sweets and I do, too. I like to do things that he enjoys and baking reminds me of my grandmother.

I’m also doing some knitting. Not a lot, oddly. I’ve finished my socks (see the previous post) for my neighbor and that felt so good. I’ve been crocheting tiny squares out of my scraps of left-over sock yarn to make a blanket. I’m making progress but this project is going to require lots and lots of these little squares. I will have to buy a solid color to crochet them all together at the end. Here are the squares I made yesterday. They’re small so they’re also very satisfying.

I’ve also been continuing the blocks for the Arne and Carlos Quarantine KAL and I’ve been continuing to be behind! It’s all good. I’m happy with my progress and I like the blocks that I have made. I believe that I’m four blocks behind right now so I am grateful for the weekend when I can catch up a little bit. I believe they’re going to have one more week. I’ll be happy to have something finished that will remind us of this time in our life when life was anything but normal!

And wonder of wonders, I’ve finished the “star” section of my test knit shawl! I’m so happy to have that section behind me. I ended up having a few extra stitches but because I could read my knitting, I made the necessary adjustments and kept on … after the two times that I knew it wasn’t right and frogged back to the previous section. So now I can knit on to the next sections and maybe I’ll finish it before we’re out of “social distancing”!

I have been trying to get up and get showered and dressed every day. Today I’m not only showered and dressed but I’ve vacuumed my studio. It’s actually just over 50 degrees today so I cracked my studio window for some fresh air. Life is good. I hope you’re staying home and staying well.

Gone knitting!

Frogged Again!

The sun is out again today and it’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood. It’s not even that cold! Somehow, the days keep ticking by and are filled with all sorts of different activities.

Yesterday I made five face masks.

Germ-free me

They’re not perfect but they’ll work and they’re all made with lots of love! I hope they’ll help people who need them. I bought a kit from a store in Auburn, Maine and I got about 30 pairs of fabric rectangles all cut out to 7×9 inches. I also got the elastic cord that you can’t find anywhere around these days! I am a very slow stitcher and it took me forever to get these done, but I did it and I will do the rest over a few days. Or weeks.

Cashmere People Shawl

I posted this picture a few posts back. This is a shawl that I am test knitting for Lori Versaci (VersaciKnits). I am having focus problems that I’ve written about earlier. Well, this is no exception. I have knitted and frogged and knitted and frogged again on one section. I don’t seem to be able to count to three, yarn over and go again. Ha! Ha! I am going to try once more and have the right number of stitches on row 4. On I go … and I hope I can count and yarn over this time. I can certainly count my stitches and read my knitting but this is ridiculous!

I am attributing this lack of focus to the corona virus pandemic and my concern about my little Lola who hasn’t eaten again today. It looks like the dreaded three hour drive to Massachusetts is on for tomorrow. We will drive down, drop her at my brother’s office and wait for her tests to be done. Then we’ll drive back home. We will wear gloves, wash our hands, bring our own lunch and shower when we get home. And we will have some answers.

I continue to knock out the Arne and Carlos blocks for their Quarantine KAL. We are up to day eight and I have through day six finished (one block needs ends woven in.) I continue to enjoy this. It’s in manageable bites and it feels good to be able to manage something in this chaos.

I also got my neighbor’s birthday gift delivered back to me. She turned 60 a month or so ago and I gave her yarn for her birthday with the promise to make her a pair of socks. They’ll be worsted weight and shorted in the leg so they can be worn as slipper socks or socks. I’ve not knitted with the yarn before – it’s new to our shop. I’ll get pictures up and the story of the pattern as I get something knitted and have something to show!

Gone knitting!

Sunrise Messalonskee style

Knitting = Sanity!

This is what today looks like outside my house. My sweet hubby has gone out to find a newspaper and I’m dressed and in my studio. It’s damp outside but not too chilly … if you’re properly dressed!

I stayed up late (for me last) night knitting. I’ve finished the second stockinette section of the Cashmere People Shawl test knit and am heading into the star section. I’ll enjoy this textured section and knitting in a new color. Lori (Versaci of VersaciKnits) sure does know how to write a pattern! I’m loving this knit. Did I tell you yesterday that I was wearing the Open Star sweater that I test knit for her? Open Star is a great cardigan pattern. Quick to knit and wonderful texture to keep the knitting interesting!

Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting – Block 1
Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting – Block 2

I’m still two blocks behind on the Arne & Carlos Quarantine Knitting KAL. Ha! Ha! But I’m finding that I really like to have to “work” on this knitting because it takes my mind to a clearer, more focused, less anxious place. I get lost in the counting and the stitches. Concentrating on something is good for the soul! I’ll get block three done today … and maybe block four this weekend. The good news is that the weekend is catch-up time – no new blocks! Yippee!

I’m so grateful that my kids are doing ok in the big city. One of my daughter’s friends has tested positive for the virus. I’m hoping that he recovers fully and soon. A couple of the cities/states that I have lived in in the past are really taking the lead during these trying times. Shout out to NYC and Ohio! That is what leadership looks like. I read today about new evidence that a couple of our elected officials in Georgia and North (or is it South?) Carolina sold off a significant portion of their stock market portfolios to mitigate their losses while telling their constituents and the country that things weren’t so bad. I sure do hope that they get whatever they deserve. What self-serving, corrupt, despicable human beings they are. Karma’s a bitch, folks. (Stepping off my soapbox now.)

So, we will take full advantage of this grey, damp day and I hope you will, too. As always, I’m so grateful to have a warm home to hole up in, plenty of yarn (and food) in our house and friends and family checking in with us. More tomorrow!

Gone knitting!

Let’s be friends on Ravelry (lindar) and Facebook (QueenBeeKnits by Linda Warner) and Instagram (@QueenBeeKnits). For more information my knitting projects are all on Ravelry!

I Heart Aran – Nearing the Finish Line

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I Heart Aran by Tanis Fiber Arts – blocking!

I started knitting the I Heart Aran sweater by Tanis Fiber Arts in early September. It’s a 32nd birthday gift for my eldest daughter. I’m not sure how she got to be so old when I remain young and nearly the same age as she! Kate chose the sweater pattern from Ravelry and this was the one she loved the most. This morning I finished the knitting and it’s blocked. Woo! Hoo!

I was gifted the yarn by my sister-in-law, Annie, who found it and some purple at an estate or garage sale several years ago. For ten dollars! She’s a very thoughtful person and I’m delighted to be able to make a sweater with five of the ten skeins of ivory/aran color that she gave me which leaves several skeins for me to make something for Annie! It’s Shetland by Jaeger (80% wool, 20% alpaca 100 g/166m). The hand on this yarn is wonderfully soft thanks to the alpaca. It was great to knit with – not splitty and no little bits of wool all over my dark jeans. Because it’s an Aran weight yarn and the sweater was rather small, it knit up in no time at all. It helped, too, because the sleeves and back are all a very simple, almost boring, stockinette. If I were going to knit this sweater again, I’d consider adding a cable up the sleeves or on the back or both. The stitch definition is amazing and there is enough wool so that the sweater shouldn’t stretch out (or grow!)

Superior Stitch Definition

Superior Stitch Definition

I used my good old Hiya Hiya Interchangeable needles with the US6 and US8 tips. I used the US6 tips only for the sleeve ribbing and chose to use the US8 (not the US6 as written in the pattern) because I don’t love sweaters with very tight ribbing at the waist. Hiya Hiya Interchangeables are decent needles. The join is mostly smooth. The tips could be pointier.  They were ok for this project because the yarn is heavy enough and the cables weren’t too tight. I chose to knit flat on my circular needles. You could also have knitted this on straight needles.

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

One of the things I liked about this pattern is that it had a perfect schematic so that when I was blocking (and knitting) I knew exactly what the measurements were to be. This makes my life as a pattern-follower so much easier than when I have to go back into the pattern to decide what the measurements are – and Tanis even added the measurement that is supposed to be across the neck (3″) to eliminate any guesswork. Thank you! The directions were clear and concise.

There was only one place where I was unsure of the directions and I think it was the knitter not the instructions after a quick discussion with knitwear designer Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits.

If it says, “Dec every 8 rows”, you should make the first decrease after 8 rows. If the designers means for you to make the first dec on the next row then start every 8 rows, the directions should say, “Dec on next and then every 8 rows” or something like that!

– Lori Versaci, VersaciKnits

Fortunately, I had figured it out because the decrease instructions all happened on the RS (right side) rows which meant that it was going to have to happen on rows 1 and 9 not on row 8. Being thoughtful, taking a pause to think about my knitting answered the question for me. A life lesson put to use in my knitting yet again.

I block everything on my guest room bed. Today I have two projects blocking – a hat for a customer and the sweater. I can’t wait until it’s dry and can be assembled and I can knit the collar. Then we can choose a button on Tuesday when I’m at the yarn shop and send it off to Kate who is in rehearsal for Carousel which will open later this month at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. I know it’s sweater weather in Maine (at least in the morning and afternoon) but I’m not sure about the Washington area.

I’ll show you the finished garment in a day or two!

Gone knitting.