Fall-ing Back.

We see a lot more sunrises on the lake in the winter. We have gone back to daylight savings time here in Maine, falling back an hour. This means that we wake up to sunrise and it’s dark before the end of the workday. But it’s beautiful. The sun rises in the colder months almost directly across the lake from our bedroom window and that means the sun shines straight in. It’s lovely waking up to a colorful sky.

Life has been busy on the lake. We have been trying to get the gardens cleaned out and the pots emptied and put away. My hubby planted the garlic and covered it with a thick layer of hay. We have had our first snow … not enough to shovel and followed by rain, but first snow. It was lovely for me because I stayed in and enjoyed the warm, cozy house and a day of drinking tea and knitting.

We’ve been doing a lot of “family planning” with the holidays closing in on us again. We will be in Marblehead, MA for Thanksgiving this year with some of the kids, then heading to the Washington, DC area for (bonus daughter) Robin’s wedding and then I’ll be heading to New York City for my first babysitting gig as a grandma. The baby has hit her one month mark, loves to eat and hates to sleep on her back, alone, in her bassinet. Her parents are exhausted but totally in love.

Basic Christmas Stocking by Queen Bee Knits (pattern coming soon)

I’ve completed two of my three commissioned stockings and am working on the third. It’s of interested to note that I am using three different brands of yarn for these three stockings and they’re each a bit different. I think I saved the best for last, Cascade 220, which was the only 100% wool yarn that I found that was “white enough” to pass as white – not ivory or cream or aran colored. I’ve gotten down to the heel in about 6.5 hours of knitting. I estimated ten hours and we’ll see how close I get. I’m not as good as lawyers are at keeping track of my time. My dear old dad would be so disappointed (not really). Once tis he knitting complete, I’ll duplicate stitch the names onto them and send them off. The really rough pattern notes are here. I’ll write up the pattern when I can and post it on Ravelry.

I’ve finished the baby’s Christmas stocking, too. I made this stocking pattern for her parents “a few” years back. It must have been before I kept real records of my projects on Ravelry. But I do know that the pattern is out of a book … and I kept the pattern but didn’t keep the book. SO … I’m lucky that I have it to knit again. I really enjoy knitting cables. I had forgotten how much. This stocking is fairly heavily cabled but very satisfying to knit. The X and O cable pattern is easy to memorize with the stitches crossing every four rounds. Once you have learned how to make a cable lean to the left or the right, it’s a pretty easy pattern to read as you go. The “ornament” pattern is less intuitive but it’s really lovely. I love the way the design incorporates the cables all the way through the heel flap and heel turn and all the way down to the toe. The pattern is Hugs and Kisses Aran Stocking by Dee Lockwood.

Hugs and Kisses Aran Stocking

I’ve made a second Newborn Vertebrae for Sylvie. This time it’s a Christmas design. She’s getting so much bigger but she’s still pretty tiny and she spends a lot of time being held or lying on her back. (She much prefers the former, by the way.) The rainbow vertebrae sweater that I knit her fits her perfectly and her mom and I decided it was a good fit for the time through Christmas. We hope. Anyway, I used a 50g. ball of fingering weight sock yarn for the body of the sweater and then I dove into my stash for the accent colors. I found several greens and a lovely red and I’ve decorated the sweater appropriately. I wanted to go all out and decorate further with sequins and beads BUT they’ll be like a bad princess and the pea story because the beads would poke the baby’s back. So it’s unadorned for the most part. I just have to add a tiny yellow star.

I’ve set aside the Merry KAL until I get the deadline knitting finished. Suffice it to say that I was really (really) tired on Thursday after work and I decided to pick up this pattern for a bit … I knit and then promptly frogged the same rounds. Moral of the story is knit a very simple pattern when you’re sleep deprived or you’ll be tinking back. Ha! Ha!

My Arne and Carlos Mini-Advent-Jumpers are frozen at number 15 1/2. I’ve begun number 16 but I haven’t been back to work on it for a few weeks. I don’t think I’ll finish them this year and that’s going to be ok. I’m going to give myself some grace since I haven’t stopped working whether it’s as president of the lake association, a board member for Maine Arts Academy, at the store or in my own knitting business. I also have a life aside from work and a house to clean, laundry, groceries, cooking, baking and sometimes I have to sleep, too. The LYS where I work and teach is kicking off a Fall Smalls KAL/CAL on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we’re going to work on small projects – participants can come knit with the group for no cost and can work on any small project they want; toys, a small sweater, a hat, dishcloths, whatever. Our Fall Smalls KAL/CAL will run for just a few weeks and end on the Winter Solstice. A little (pun intended) fun ahead of a busy holiday season.

I also have a Musselburgh hat on the needles that I’ve spoken very little about. This has been my knitting go-to for when I need something “brainless” to knit. I’ve got the hat nearly to eighteen inches and time to decrease for the end of the hat. BUT it’s been a lot of knitting in the round. Once past the increases which are not difficult it’s time to knit forever! I’ve been knitting forever. This is a hat designed for several different yarn weights. I’ve chosen a fingering weight sock yarn, washable, Berroco Vintage Sock in the black colorway. I’ll tell you honestly that I don’t love this yarn. I would rather be knitting with wool rather than this combination of acrylic and wool. The yarn is soft and washable, suitable for wearing against the skin and also suitable for babies. But my daughter said she’d wear a black hat and I wanted to try the pattern to see how it knits up. I love the pattern. Ysolda (Teague, the designer) is a genius. I hope it’ll be a perfect fit!

I’ll leave you here, dear friend (dare I say friends?) with the idea that this is a wonderful time to gather with friends and/or family and count your blessings even if they’re as simple as a crisp cool day with sun or the feel of yarn passing through your fingers. I’m grateful for a healthy family, the opportunity to travel to be with many of them over the course of the next few weeks and, of course for yarn. This is the time to fall back into the winter routine of coming inside and (hopefully) slowing down a little and knitting.

Happy Thanksgiving and cheers!

Gone knitting.

Crofter’s Smock Test Knit

I swatched and swatched and swatched again! The first swatch, the pink-ish yarn was on target but the red, that I thought would be perfect for this project wasn’t right. This swatch was knitted flat before I discovered the instructions to knit the swatch in the round … so I got my needles back out and swatched again, this time in the round, with the red yarn. It was close “enough” and would probably have given me a little bit larger sweater when finished. But then I thought, since I can’t identify the yarn because it was gifted to me, that wouldn’t help the designer. So back to work. I dove into my stash and thought that Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted is a heavy worsted. But I didn’t get gauge. Last chance was a stashed Hayfield Aran with Wool and my gauge was spot on! Woo! Hoo!

Next day I was off to my LYS (Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine) to see what two (big) balls were in stock for this sweater. I’d done a bit of research into colors so I did have some idea what I wanted to do and found Celtic Grey (is it grey or gray?) I also happened to grab a couple of balls of Raggi worsted sock yarn and ordered some Lettlopi for a future Stopover Sweater and Mary Jane Mucklestone’s new Heart Mittens. They’ll both be a “reward” for finishing my test knit.

I’ve been knitting away as often as I can manage between work and my volunteer board meetings and phone calls and as of this afternoon I have passed the seven inches mark. I checked the Google doc for the test knitting group to pass information to Gudrun and I’m doing pretty well … even if some of the testers have moved on to the sleeves. A few more inches to the armpits!

Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnston in Hayfield Aran With Wool

I am enjoying the mixture of textures in the body of the sweater and it’s simple enough to not have to look at the pattern. So, I’d best get back to work so I can keep the progress rolling! One stitch at a time! I’ll be back soon with a post about measuring gauge (just in case you don’t know how to do it!)

Gone knitting!

1898 Hat – A different construction

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1898 Hat in Cascade Eco Duo

The 1898 Hat by Kristine Byrnes is a free pattern on Ravelry. We sell a lot of yarn for them at my LYS, Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine. It may help that we have a great sample, in hat and headband form, right near the cash register!

I’ve been in Maine now for three winters. Winters are cold here. Hats are a must for my husband, in particular, because he has no hair. I almost always wear a coat with a hood which is enough for me but I have been known to wear a hat, too. All of this is to say that I am shocked that I haven’t knitted this hat before now.

A few weeks ago, a woman came into the shop when I was working and she wanted to have someone knit a 1898 hat for her out of some lovely Cascade Eco Duo alpaca yarn that she had bought. I’ve never seen this hat in alpaca before. I offered to knit it for her. When I called her to have her come pick it up, she asked me to make another in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride.

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1898 Hat in Lamb’s Pride Worsted

Both hats are wonderful. The alpaca was so soft and the Lamb’s Pride Worsted is so squishy. AND the knit was fun for me, too!

IMG_2313The headband is knit flat in garter stitch with increases for the ear flaps. It has a provisional cast on – I used a crochet cast on. It’s knit in garter stitch on either side of three slipped stitches on the wrong side (they’re knit on the right side) which makes it fold in half to make the headband double thickness and really, really warm! You graft the ends of the headband together with Kitchener Stitch (if you do it properly it’s completely invisible!) and then pick up the stitches from both sides of the headband to make the rest of the hat in the round like any “normal” hat.

One hank/skein/ball of worsted weight yarn worked for each hat. I KNOW my sweet hubby needs one of these hats. He works outside. In Maine. In the winter. It’s really, really cold. He has no hair. Did I mention that he has no hair?

Gone Knitting!

 

 

Interweave Knits Fall 2016

I got my new Interweave Knits Fall 2016 magazine a couple of days ago and it’s full of wonderful designs. But one pattern really caught my eye on my first pass through it, though – Thompson River Socks pattern by Carolyn Kern.

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Seldom does a pattern jump out at me that says, “Go buy this yarn now and cast on as soon as possible!” But this pattern said just that! So, I listened.

It just so happened that I was teaching at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine last Tuesday (the following day) and we carry the Raggi yarn by Jarbo Garn that is called for in the pattern. I grabbed three balls – two in the gray and one red – and set them aside to purchase after my class.

(Note from the Queen Bee: I have it on good authority that the company that makes Raggi yarns is closing up shop. This is a travesty because I love their sock yarns. I wish I could buy the company and keep making the yarn I love it so much. I have a dozen or so balls on hold at my LYS and I may add more to the bag. You might consider collecting some for your stash, too!)

undertheweatherYesterday, when I was at home recovering from the horrible stomach bug/food poisoning that had bitten me on Tuesday night and Wednesday, I cast on the socks. I am surprised that the pattern calls for a US 3 needle which will make the stitches very dense. But, like a good rule follower, I forged ahead.

These socks are knitted toe-up and use a simple cast on and long circular needles (I am using the magic loop method to knit these babies! The pattern for the top of the sock is simple. Since I am knitting the largest size, I added four of the pattern stitches on either side of the cable pattern. The directions weren’t clear on this so I made an executive decision. I’m not sure what I would do if I was knitting the medium size … but this time I am not. The wonderful world of Ravelry.com has allowed me to send a message straight to the inbox of the wonderful designer, however. I am awaiting her reply to make sure I did the right thing … and to find out how to adjust the pattern for the medium-sized pattern since it is my intention to knit those for myself next!

My hands get tired since the fabric is so dense but I made good headway – Here is my progress …

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Gone knitting!

Knitt-ah. N. A person who knits (in Maine).

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I love knitting. I love teaching people to knit.

In my next life, I want to work in a yarn shop or around yarn and teach knitting. I have come to know that I am a really good teacher and I know my craft well. I want to use the passion that I have for teaching and learn more about yarn and fibers. Working in a yarn shop will help me get there.

That next life is coming screaming around the corner on two wheels!

For Sale!

For Sale!

Our home here in Florida is on the market and we are looking forward to moving to Maine. It’s where we feel most grounded. N has had the constancy of the house there in his life for all of his life. We were there are crazy-in-love teenagers. We started our life together with a summer there after our divorces. It is home. The old house is coming down to make way for a very similar house that we can live in year-round. N will be hammering and sawing and nailing. I will be compiling my list of classes that I can teach and going around to meet yarn shop owners to  put it out there that I would like to teach in their shops. I also want to send a note to the LYS shop owner I know whose shop is closest to our house to see if she’d be interested in hiring me to work in the shop part-time and to teach some classes. All of this will be happening sooner than I can imagine. Life continues to zoom past at an increasing speed!

I’m putting it all out there. Being open to the ideas that may be created and open to the suggestions of my peers. I want to visit the markets and fiber events as a blogger and knitter and teacher. That’s where my heart is leading me and I’m choosing to follow my heart.

As our house sale comes together and the move starts to be planned, I am so grateful for the wonderful life that I live. My friends and family who support me (and us.) Life is so good!

Gone knitting.

Louisiana, Here Comes the Queen Bee

roadtripThe Queen Bee is taking the show on the road!

Unlike some former presidential candidates, my little dogs will be riding inside the car and will be accompanying me on a two week teaching trip to Lafayette, LA.

I am so excited and honored to have been asked to come out to teach at a beautiful, comfortable, well-stocked with wonderful yarn LYS called the Yarn Nook. While I have been teaching for years (and years and years) in Cincinnati (past), Maine (summers) and Orlando (present), this will be the first time that I’ve been invited to come out to a new place and teach. I see it as a wonderful opportunity to share this craft that I love so much and to learn about how I can teach and travel and still make it work well for everyone concerned.

Because I am a people pleasing perfectionist, I can already see that I have probably offered to teach too many different classes. I want to be confident and educated when I teach a pattern or technique so I want to try all the patterns that I will teach. This time, I have not tried them all and despite my belief that I can teach just about anything, I am a bit more tense than I probably need to be around this issue. And it’s all me and my silly “worrying” and it’s probably for naught.

Knitted Jasmine Flowers

Knitted Jasmine Flowers

As it stands now, I am learning some new patterns and techniques that I may not have forced myself to learn otherwise – and you all know that I love to learn new things. What I haven’t told you before is that, like most of us, I can be lazy and keep using familiar patterns and techniques that I know and that are tried and true.

Knitted Violets

Knitted Violets

I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ll post lots of pictures on Facebook. I will be sure to blog about the fun and the frustration. But I know I will enjoy meeting the wonderful knitters and I already feel like I know the shop owners who are absolutely delightful and I have a feeling that it’s going to be a great experience.

Gone knitting!

My Maine LYS

In Maine, the yarn scene is so much richer than in Central Florida. There are all sorts of fiber farms, most of which spin their own fibers. Many of whom sell at local yarn shops. My LYS when I’m here is the Yardgoods Center in Waterville.

The Yardgoods Center has been in business for more than sixty years. Before Joyce and her brother owned it, their father was the proprietor. Half of the store is wall-to-wall fabrics, a sewer’s paradise. The other half (and where I spend my time) is yarn (and a little bit of stamping.)

Yardgoods Center offers classes almost every day that it’s open … and more than one class on some days. They are open six days a week – Sunday is their day of rest. They have a huge selection of yarns and should be able to please just about anybody. From the relatively inexpensive yarns to the very expensive … beads, notions, needles. It’s pretty amazing! They have a big wall of sock yarns, novelty yarns, and always several bins of sale yarns that are at least twenty percent off. If you take a class, you enjoy a ten percent discount on anything that you buy (a good time to plan your next project!)

I’ve attended a class on Wednesday nights for several years. I have also attended once on Tuesday night (when I thought it was Wednesday – no wonder I didn’t know a soul!) and just took a class on Friday afternoon. The teachers and students are friendly and you can get help with any project … or the teacher will suggest one for you.

The only “weakness” that I can find is that their technology is not always up to date. Blog is currently stalled since February. When you click on the classes link, no classes are listed. Facebook is seldom updated … at least from the yarn side. Maybe they can hire me to do that for them!?

If you’re ever in Waterville, I highly recommend the Yardgoods Center.

Yardgoods Center, Downtown Concourse, Waterville, Maine

Monday through Saturday 9:30am to 6:00pm

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