A No Good Very Bad Day

It’s not often that I am immobilized by life. I’m typically a very happy, upbeat person. Today started off that way. Coffee with my sweet husband, the love of my life. We woke up to six or more inches of snow and when he was out snowblowing the driveway, I got a call from Atlanta; the office of the president of UPS (What can Brown do for you?).

I emailed him last night when I was furious because my package … the one that I had been waiting for, patiently, for over two weeks … was “confirmed” to be delivered at my front door and it wasn’t there. Nor was it a mile away at my mailbox. Last night I spent 47 minutes on hold with UPS 800 Customer Service. When rep answered, she sounded as if she had been woken up by my phone call. She wasn’t very customer-service-oriented and the experience put me over the top. I emailed the president of UPS to share my five-year-long challenge with the local arm of his business and the apparent mess that is the Waterville, Maine UPS shipping center.

Anyway, supposedly they’re working on getting to the bottom of the problem. The corporate office could see where the truck went yesterday but they couldn’t figure out where the driver left my package. I was told that a claim had been sent to Amazon to pay for them to reship the order to me … turns out miss-asleep-at-the-wheel emailed that to me. Another managerial problem, in my humble opinion. I also think that the drivers working in Maine should have vehicles that can drive in the snow on camp roads (here in Maine we have dirt roads otherwise known as camp roads).

After the phone call, I was feeling pleased with myself and (finally) heard. So, I went to the kitchen to make blueberry muffins for my husband as his “reward” for snowplowing. We had a second cup of coffee and a muffin together but they didn’t taste quite right … into the trash after I realized that I had added baking SODA not powder.

Sweet, toothless Lola.

My Lola, my 14-year-old Shitzu, isn’t eating well. Often won’t eat at all. Sometimes will eat if I hand feed her. But she’s not drinking water either which is maybe even more troublesome. Today is one of those days. She won’t eat and I’m very, very worried! I adore this dog and even thinking about a world without her in it makes me cry. (Those of you who know me know that I tend to have a problem with ocular incontinence even on good days and as you know, today wasn’t a good day.) I hope my brother the veterinarian will call me and have some suggestions.

We did leave campus briefly today and that did help. Husband ran errands while wife sat in the truck. At least I got some fresh air and a change of scenery. But I find that it’s now 5pm and I haven’t done diddly. Squat. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zillch. I was going to sew face masks.

For today I’m giving up and giving in. I’m going to turn on the television, stream my Arne and Carlos podcast for today (i’m already two days behind and it’s only Tuesday!) When it’s cocktail time, I’ll have a strong one and hope that UPS finds my package and it’s a better day tomorrow.

Thanks for listening.

Gone knitting.

Mary Jane Mucklestone!!!

The American Queen of Fair Isle Knitting, Mary Jane Mucklestone at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Mary Jane is holding my knitting and balancing on one leg because her class sample is on her raised right leg! She does it all!

YOU GUYS!!! I took a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone!!!

Late last week, my co-worker, Glenda, shared with me that she was going to take a class at the Farnsworth with Mary Jane Mucklestone. Needless to say, I was hoping that my calendar and husband would be supportive of me doing the same … and that there would still be space in the class when I signed up! The knitting gods were smiling in my favor so on Saturday afternoon, Glenda and I, driven by my handsome hubby, went to Rockland!

Mary Jane is a wonderful and knowledgable teacher. The class was inspired by my friend and knitting idol, Katharine Cobey, who has a one woman show at the Farnsworth through April 12, 2020. Go see the show. It’s magnificent. I blogged about it here. Katharine made famous diagonal knitting and the class was a Fair Isle design based on “diagonal” knitting but the Fair Isle way. Mary Jane was kind enough to bring one pattern for her Flying Geese Cowl about which she had intended to teach the class. She also was inspired to design another cowl pattern very shortly (days) before the class was to happen and we also got that cowl. It is, as yet, unnamed.

Choosing Colors

We learned a lot about choosing colors when knitting in the Fair Isle way. We were to come to class with an inch or so of ribbing in a dark, high-contrast color. I chose an Ella Rae Classic Wool in a dark charcoal gray. (Details on all my yarns are on my Ravelry project page. Find me on Ravelry, I’m “lindar”.) I brought a bunch of leftovers from my stash in various colors that I like which you can see above. Since you don’t need a whole lot of any one color, in this case, I brought bits and bobs. We needed three colors to really have some fun and I finally chose the creamy white Galway worsted and the one right next to it which is an ice blue colorway in a Paton’s Classic wool. All three are worsted weight and plain old wool.

While we were knitting, Mary Jane serenaded us with stories and tales about her travels to and knitting from Fair Isle. She is a wonderful story teller and full of knitting knowledge. I really enjoyed listening to her talk. She brought TONS of samples of Fair Isle motifs, talked about and demonstrated how some yarn colors, shades and tones, play well together – or don’t. It was a wonderful day.

Glenda, my co-worker, has finished knitting her Flying Geese cowl and she was blocking it when we last spoke. I must be knitting too slowly. I am planning to finish my cowl today because we have a snow day today so it’s an unexpected “free” day to sit in my atelier to knit. I don’t think I have to tell you that both cowls are fun to knit and a good way to learn to knit with two colors at a time (and you don’t have to catch the floats!)

I offered and Mary Jane has accepted me as a test knitter for this pattern and I am happy to oblige. Deadline is 2/13/2020 … so I had best stop “talking” and go knit!

Gone knitting!

Proof. Fan girl photo! Thanks for obliging me, Mary Jane!

2020 The Year of the Rat

Hello 2020!

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.

Not a great photograph but he or she flew off just after I snapped this photo!

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.

Gone knitting!

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.

Katharine Cobey, A Different Voice

I don’t think I wrote about the opening of Katharine Cobey’s one-woman show at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Ned and I were thrilled to attend the VIP (smaller) opening on the first night and Katharine’s talk on Saturday afternoon.

We had a few minutes in the gallery prior to the opening so that Ned could get film footage of Katharine’s works on display. Our plan is to make a short documentary about Katharine in hopes to help her find homes for her pieces, particularly the larger ones.

Birds of a Feather, 2003
wool
60 x 74 x 3 inches
Mime for the Gulf War Birds, 1991
Black plastic, wood, steel
72 x 36x 36 inches
How Katharine got it done

Katharine was quite practical about how to get the job done when creating the Gulf War Birds which was knitted out of black garbage bags. She used a swift to hold the plastic bags and cut them directly into a basket.

As anyone who is creative will understand, it’s not just the finished piece that matters. The process and means by which the artist gets there is creative and necessary. How does one cut up a bunch of black plastic garbage bags into useful strips so that they can then be formed into the ultimate piece? I loved that the Farnsworth used this as an example of the ingenuity and creativity of this fiber artist!

Portal (Pillars), 2003/2008
Wool
96 x 36 x 36 inches
Courtesy of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Gift of the Artist, 2019
Detail of Portal (Pillars)

Upon walking into the gallery, I was very moved. I may be said that my “ocular incontinence” kicked in a little bit. (Thanks, Bristol, for the term!) It is very emotional to see these pieces, most of which I had seen in Katharine’s studio, hanging in an art gallery. They’re masterful and thoughtful and quite beautiful. They’re also quite big. Portal, in particular. Katharine told us that at one of the museums where Portal was going to be on display, a staff member asked if there was a form around which the knitted “columns” should be placed in order to give them form. Nope. The columns are perfectly shaped by the knitted stitches. Knits and purls. You can see them in the detail of the piece. Brilliant.

Portrait of Alzheimer’s, 1992
Silk and wool, wood base
69 x 77 x 28 inches

Portrait of Alzheimer’s is probably my favorite piece in this collection. Probably because I have a personal experience with the disease and I can understand this piece better than any other. My mother died from Alzheimer’s Disease. So did Katharine’s mother.

Beginning from the left side, with one strand of yarn, a beautiful lace shawl is knitted together. And it is gorgeous. At about the half-way point of the shawl, the stitches start to be misshapen and become a bit odd, as if there is a mistake, something is happening that is incongruous with what has happened until this point. And then the knitting becomes less “regular” the pattern isn’t regular and can’t really be recognized as the pattern was at the start. And finally, it completely unravels. Unrecognizable as a shawl. Simple strands of yarn in no apparent pattern or shape, with threads hanging out at the edges. Just like the disease that took hold of my mother. And yet, in the middle remains the form of the person whose body supports the shawl.

I have purposely left out several of the pieces that are displayed in this show. I want everyone to go to see it. Fiber Arts in a much-respected museum! A Fiber Artist, a Maine gem, being recognized for her art. This show is at the Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, Maine through April 12, 2020. Go see it!

If you know of a museum that might be interested in any of Katharine’s art, please let me know. Katharine or one of us will be contacting museums. Thanks for your help in advance.

Success!?

What is our measure of success? People measure success by the cars they drive, the homes they own, the jobs they have, how much money they make and a lot of other things. It’s different for all of us. Right?

I’ve measured my success by looking at what others think of me for much of my life. It’s only after a ton of therapy and the grace of having had a lot of time on this planet, that I can say that I feel successful. I’m content. Content with the life that we’ve built here on the lake in Maine.

Members of my Friday Knitting Group loving each other … kindness is rampant in this group!

I feel successful at work. I have created a circle of customers and friends and students who I enjoy spending time with. I feel like I am making a difference by sitting on two boards of trustees go organizations that have meaning to me. My kids are grown and living full lives. I’m deeply in love with the person I married and he loves me despite my perfect imperfections. (*ha! ha! ha!)

I’m feeling confident as a knitter. I’m wearing my Sunset Highway sweater today for the first time. It fits and it’s really lovely. I am quite proud to be able to make garments that I can wear. I have been finishing some projects, too, projects that have been hanging around in my studio for a long (long!) time!

Last year I was going to knit Christmas stockings for my daughter and son-in-love. Because I got a pretty good case of tendonitis, I wasn’t able to knit the stiff fabric for the stockings. But I just got them finished … with a little help from my friend and co-worker, Peggy. She took the first stocking, which I had begun over a year ago, and whipped it into shape while I started and finished the second one. They’re all steamed and finished now and ready to be gifted to the wonderful couple. Their anniversary is next week but I think I’ll save them until Thanksgiving and give them as an early Christmas present!

The stockings are both kits from Accessories Unlimited. Kits #402, Toy Soldiers and #103, Christmas Tree Stocking. The yarn isn’t what I would choose to knit with. It’s very stiff and scratchy but because it won’t be worn, it’s ok. They will hold up well and the stitches are pretty well-defined. I am very pleased with them both.

I’ve also finished a scarf promised as a trade with my herbalist. I had wanted it to be done a year ago as well but for the same reasons that the stockings weren’t done, the scarf was shelved (quite literally). Yesterday I brought it over to Danielle and she loved it. I’m pleased. It was (is) gorgeous. This is the first project I actually blocked with blocking wires. Lace really requires it. The pattern was a free one, Sage Smudging Scarf, on Ravelry and I knit it with the most gorgeous shade of gold Alegria by Manos. All of the details are on my Ravelry projects page. Suffice it to say that this scarf will adorn a neck and feel soooooo good!

When I was at Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat (or as I call it, Fiber Camp) this summer, we designed a lace cowl in our Lace class with Bristol Ivy. I have finally finished and photographed my cowl. The pattern was created using a process called “encoding” which was first brought to knitting by Naomi Parkhurst. In the yarnovers, there is a secret message.

Encoded lace … “I love Ned” and “Embraced” are hidden in the yarnovers

I’ve finished a new sample, a baby sweater, for Yardgoods. It’s Knitting Pure and Simple pattern #214, Baby Pullover. We chose a Cascade yarn, Pacific Color Wave, to knit it up in and since it’s teeny-tiny, it takes only one ball of yarn and knits up in no time at all.

I still have several projects to finish and a few to start, but I’m feeling the success all around me and it feels really good.

Gone knitting!

You can find more details about these projects and others on my Ravelry projects page. I’m Lindar. Also, follow me on Facebook, Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner, and on Instagram, @QueenBeeKnits.

Hat, Hat, Spring and the Big Decision

It seems that Spring has finally come to Maine!

I took a walk around the yarn this morning before I headed off to work and the flowers both wild and “domestic” (is that what you call them?) are starting to bloom! I love seeing my yard in full bloom! The rhododendrons were purchased years ago from a big box store and they were teeny tiny and nearly dead. We bought three plants to add some pretty between the guest cottage and the woodshed. One got stepped on during the construction of the new house and didn’t survive. The other two are starting to get bigger. Although they’re nowhere near enough to make a “statement”!

Trillium, Violets and (I think) forget-me-nots. I love seeing them! The Bleeding Heart and Creeping Phlox is just about to bloom, too. It’s simply gorgeous and it makes me very happy!

Happiness makes me think of yarn and knitting! (Duh!)

Winterberry Farm yarn

I’ve been working with my “lady farmer” at Winterberry Farm in Belgrade, Maine. Winterberry Farm is an organic farm and their sheep provide Mary with lovely fleeces that she has spun into yarn. I’m working with Mary to make up some knitting kits with her yarn and some simple yet fun patterns that will let her yarn shine. The first sample I knitted up for her is a hat from Tin Can Knits free patterns called “Barley Light.”

While my photograph isn’t the exact right color, it’s pretty close. I like this simple hat pattern because it lets the beautiful, lanolin-y yarn be the star of the show. A one-skein project. The “corrugation” adds just enough interest to make it interesting.

I’ve also knitted a rainbow-stripe hat for the Yardgoods Center. Joyce, who owns the shop, asked for a ribbed hat in a new yarn (to us). It’s a West Yorkshire Spinners “Colour Lab DK” yarn which is 100% British wool. I love working with this yarn. It’s stretchy and squishy soft. And the colors are fabulous! We have three or four colorways at the shop.

The pattern that I found is on Ravelry and it’s a free pattern by Chandi Agee at Expression Fiber Arts called “Boyfriend Beanie”. A 3×2 rib all the way up to the crown. when the decreases start, it becomes fully knitted. A quick knit and super fun! Since it’s ribbed, it’s stretchy and will fit any adult head.

And my big decision?

Oh, my Sunset Highway.

I’m not ok with the main body color. It’s too busy and it detracts from the beautiful colorwork. So, after discussing my options at knitting class on Friday and with the help of color expert, Marlene (Hi, Marlene!), I’ve decided to frog the body of the sweater and reknit it in a different yarn that isn’t so crazy busy. I’m not saying that I don’t love the MC. I do. But I don’t like it here on this sweater. I think the new yarn will be much better and will let the colorwork be the main attraction. So, that’s the big decision that I have made and tomorrow I will be doing the frogging and starting the body over.

I know I wasn’t settled with it and this is a good choice. I’d rather love the sweater and wear it than let it languish on a shelf in my closet. There are also the two different colorways. Strikes one and two and that’s all I need to inform my choice. I’m frogging the body.

Gone knitting!

Teaching This Old Dog a New Trick: Still Learning

Attic Heirlooms January 2019 Ornament

My wonderful co-worker provided me with a kit of wool and supplies for this month’s ornament pattern from Attic Heirlooms. I’d put it into the pile of projects that I am amassing and it seems that this morning was the morning to get it done!

As I stitched away, I realized that I was doing the blanket stitch all wrong. All wrong, all along. I pulled out the outside edge but decided to leave the stitching on the flower in the center just to remind myself that I can still learn. I grew up hearing “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I am here to tell you that I am calling BS on this one! I am proof that you can keep learning no matter how old or young you are!

You can see that I have left the “wrong” stitching around the pink part of the flower and continued in the “right” stitching around the red leaves. I pulled out the green around the mitten after a little bit of thought because I really do want to be proud of my work.

I had always wondered why my blanket stitches didn’t really stay square. Now I know. I was doing it the wrong way! That’s what happens when you teach yourself (sometimes!)

All done! All I need is a little string to hang the ornament with and it’s ready for our tree … in a few months, anyway!

Attic Heirlooms is on Main Street in beautiful Damariscotta, Maine. You can find the free patterns or reasonably priced kits on their website. There are some cute shops, good food and a lovely coastal feel to Damariscotta. You should visit!

Gone knitting!

You can find me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner and on Instagram as QueenBeeKnits. I’m on Ravelry @lindar. I hope you’ll join me there!