Hurricane Florence & Working with Yarn Again

IMG_3598We have had the most glorious weather here in Maine in the last few weeks. It’s hard to believe that at the same time we were having beautiful sunrises, a few hundred miles south, a hurricane has soaked several states!

My heart goes out to those who have been affected by Hurricane Florence. I have one friend and customer who was in harm’s way and was evacuated and I have a few family members down south who certainly will see a lot of rain. It has to be frightening and even heartbreaking to have your home flooded. While the stuff can be replaced and life is the most important thing, it’s still a lot of loss to bear. It sure seems that we have been seeing more huge storms over the last decade or so.

I’m so grateful for my dry, safe home and I’m so glad that I have been able to do some knitting again. Short sessions of knitting and crochet helps my elbow/arm to continue to heal without hurting. I’m thrilled to have yarn in my hands!

IMG_3623On my crochet hook, the Virus Shawl. This is a free pattern on Ravelry. It’s really just a crochet chart but there is a series of several very good tutorials that help you get started if you’re a beginner like me. Initially, I was going to use some stashed Noro Kureon Sock  (above) to make this shawl but it was so sticky that I had trouble working with it. It might be something I go back to because I love the colors! I practiced the first few sets on it and ultimately I chose some Malabrigo Sock in the Kandombe colorway to make my (first) Virus Shawl.

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I’ve been slowly making progress on my Sleeping Cedars baby sleeper sacque. This is a gift for a new baby who is arriving in late fall. I am knitting with Universal Yarn’s Adore (machine wash and dry but still mostly merino wool) in a the Cloud Gray colorway (color #105). I really like working with this yarn.

I am fairly certain that the gauge was spot on but this garment looks a little bit on the large size for a newborn. It might be more a 3-6 months size. I guess time will tell.

This is a fun knit. The body of this garment is knit in one piece from the bottom to the underarms and then split for the front and back. The lace detail on the front is just perfect. I love it. I finished the body by seaming the shoulders and then picked up the stitches for the sleeves. I’ve completed one sleeve and started the second and my working yarn is looking like it’ll be a good game of yarn chicken. I think finishing the collar will be nearly impossible. (Emphasis on THINK!) Fortunately I have an extra ball on layaway at my LYS (where I work!)

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Last but not least, I am very slowly working on my Frosting Shawl in Manos’ Alegria yarn. (Click through to the Ravelry pattern page and you’ll see why!) This shawl is super simple with a reversible cable on the edge of rows and rows of garter stitch. What appealed to me about this shawl was first, the yarn and then the tassels!!! When I saw it on (I think) Facebook, I recognized the colorway and I knew that I was going to buy that yarn and knit this shawl! I would have been so upset had it been sold on my day off! I have an extra hank on layaway at work just in case I want to make it larger than the pattern suggests. I love Alegria! It has a wonderfully soft hand and I love the colors. I have several other hanks that will one day be socks … they’re going to be the best socks! The winding job that I did was less than satisfactory and I had to undo a huge knotty mess in the middle of my knitting so I will have a few extra ends to weave in! I’ll be happy to wear this shawl when it’s finally done.

This “not knitting a lot” stuff really is a challenge for me! I really am grateful that I am able to knit at all and I really want to heal completely! I find I am reading a lot more and I have been doing a bit of sewing, too. My Christmas gifts for all of our kids are going to be sewn this year. Not knitted! But I can’t tell you anything more about this for now. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag!

I hope we will all be kind to each other while we clean up and recover from Hurricane Florence. So many people are going to need every kindness we can muster. Our country is experiencing some of the nastiest times I’ve seen in my sixty years. It bothers me that the people we’ve elected to lead us are behaving like children and that they seem unable to work together for the benefit of those who they serve. I hope you’ll consider calling your elected officials and let them know how you feel about their behavior.

Gone (not) knitting!

 

 

Tartan Knitting

 

Be still my heart! I love this shawl!

Three of us, all teachers, decided to do a MKAL together and chose an “oldie”that we had all seen on Facebook and loved, the Dragonfly MKAL 2016 by Rachel Roden. This pattern is available for purchase on Ravelry.

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The Yarn!

I am using two skeins of Manos del Uruguay’s “Alegria” fingering yarn (75% merino wool and 25% nylon) in two colors, Kohl, and Teal. Both colors are tonals which means that there is a slight variation of shade in the yarn. When I chose the yarn colors I probably had a choice of 20 different colors and it was not easy … but this was my favorite combination at the end of the day. I love the teal and I love the gray with it.

There are five clues. They are well divided and very satisfying to knit. Clue 1 starts at the center of the neck and has the first section of plaid knitting. The clues and the shawl grow well together and I especially loved knitting the sideways cables (braids).

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Nearing the end!

I am currently knitting the very last section of the shawl with over 400 stitches and it is a pleated ruffle border and I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s complete. I also can’t wait to block and wear it.

My goal is to have it finished and blocked this week so I can take it with me to visit my kids in New York this weekend.

Yes, you should give this pattern a try! Use your stashed yarn or come visit me at my LYS!

Gone Knitting!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

The View From Our Woodshed

The View From Our Woodshed

By now I hope you’ve realized (because I hope I’ve told you) that we’ve moved from Florida to Maine. We have torn down our beloved “camp” here to make way for a new house that honors the history and the old house but will afford us the luxury of living here full time … with heat!

When we arrived here in late April, I went to my regular Wednesday night knitting group and was asked to fill in while two of the “girls” who work there were off babysitting for their new grandchildren in June and July. So, I’ve been working 2 or 3 days a week at my LYS, the Yardgoods Center in Waterville.

The Pattern

The Pattern

I’ve been knitting there for eight summers and now that I’m a local, I’m working there. And I’ve been having a blast! “Like” Yardgoods- Yarns on Facebook and you’ll see why! Better yet, plan a visit to Maine, stay in the area and come visit me at work. We’re having a wonderful July Yarn Sale (until August 22) and all regular-price hand-knitting yarn is 20% off. I came home Friday with a full bag and a couple of balls of yarn for a Christmas gift for my nieces. More on that later.

 

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N, the boyfriend, proposed to me a few weeks ago and then, because his daughter insisted, he went to Walmart to buy me a ring. My real ring is being made in Portland and won’t be ready to wear until mid-August so this one is an adorable fill-in for the time being. And the sentiment is adorable. We are not even thinking about a wedding until our house is finished and we’re all moved in. We hope to be all moved in before the first snow!

I’ve been sewing with my buddy, Beverly, and have taken a quilting class in Bangor that was really fun. It was a flag throw quilt that I had hoped to complete before July 4th. Seeing as today is July 5th, I’ve failed miserably but I will be taking my machine out today to repair two head-lights for N and I’ll get some sewing in, too. I also am making a Christmas quilt which I’d love to have done before this Christmas. I’m told it’s a quick project. I guess I’m not spending “enough” time focused on sewing … but I have to make some progress before my wallet class on July 18 and then a beginning quilting series of classes in November.

I have plans to be at a class in Maine in November!!! We get to live here!!!

Driftwood Sweater … the green's a sleeve

Driftwood Sweater … the green’s a sleeve

I have been knitting, too. Lots of projects on the needles and not too much progress on any one project. But it’s all good … my Driftwood sweater is getting closer and closer. This yarn has been in my stash for years and I’m finally making a sweater that I think I’ll like. I’m knitting away on it in the oddest order. Shoulders, body, sleeve 1 to the cuff, body … you get my drift? I am a bit worried that I won’t have enough yarn to complete the sweater so I’m spit-joining the yarn so I can use every inch.

I bought a skein of Reggia Arne & Carlos sock yarn and I’ve cast on and completed most of the first sock’s cuff. I love that the self-patterning yarn that makes me look like a competent fair isle knitter when I’m not really. One more pair to add to my sock drawer.

IMG_4915I have a Shadow Shawl in process with some beautiful Manos del Uruguay Serena. Super simple pattern and wonderfully soft yarn. I will get a lot of wear out of this shawl up here in the fall. I originally started this shawl with the other colorway as the primary color and there was a time or two when I couldn’t count to four … so I frogged it and started again and changed my colorway order so that the “plainer” colorway was the primary color. I like it in its second iteration better and the ridge in the pattern stands out and the colors of the second (CC) colorway are sitting back and will get the attention when the shawl is finished and blocked.

I have a cowl/infinity cowl on the needles, too. This will be my older daughter’s Christmas gift. I’m using a really pretty green alpaca yarn and a seed stitch pattern with a cable along one edge. Since I have to knit about 60 inches of this, I got bored and haven’t looked at it this week. I have about 52 inches to go before joining the ends … I will get there.

One little bootie … for one little niece

One little bootie … for one little niece

Yesterday I cast on a new project just for giggles. Little bootie socks for my baby niece. I’ll plan to take them with me on my trip out to California in early August. I’m planning a bigger pair for the big sister, too. They knit up in about an hour or two, maybe, and they’re super cute. Just perfect for chilly Lake Tahoe mornings. I also bought two book panels to bring with me … they’re another sewing project … one with no words so the big sister can read to her little sister. I hope they’ll love them.

I started (again) a square that is part of the Great American Aran Afghan pattern. I love Aran knitting and I really REALLY want to make this afghan. I’ve had 24 balls of ivory wool in my stash for several years and it’s time to start making progress. The only problem is that I really need to be alone in a quiet room in order to be able to concentrate on the pattern … and while we’re living in 300 square feet of cabin, that’s not happening too often. So, I’m going to call this my long-term project and not put any pressure on myself.

I have finished two pairs of socks, and a Loopy Mango throw since I’ve been here. And a pair of peds, and slipper socks. Gee, in retrospect, that’s not very much. I must be having too much fun with life in general … see what I mean about the title of this post?

Gone knitting (or sewing)!

 

Rough Life

My View From the Porch

My View From the Porch

I have a rough life.

Today is my “day off” and I am still sitting in my pajamas on the front porch of our little cabin with my Driftwood sweater in my lap listening to a knitting podcast and listening to the work on our new house progress. Two families of Canada Geese just swam … paddled? … by on the lake. The hummingbirds are coming and going from the feeder.

It’s an absolutely glorious day. There’s a breeze blowing and the sun is shining. Everything here is green now and the day lilies that are so plentiful in our yard are budding. Forget-me-nots and Indian Paintbrush and Daisies are all popping up because the yard is so full of construction materials and rocks and cut wood we can’t really mow the grass. The wildflowers are an extra bonus.

I have a long list of things to do today starting with making the bed and getting dressed. I’ve had a cup of coffee and eaten my yogurt with what’s left of my home-made granola (you can add just the right amount of yogurt to the greek yogurt container and no bowls to wash) and I am due for another cup of coffee before I get moving. (IF I get moving.)

Children's Mukluk Slippers

Children’s Mukluk Slippers for Laine

I’ve gotten several projects finished and have started at least one new one. Finished are my sweet Knitting Pure and Simple’s Muckluck Slipper Socks for my adorable little former student who I got so attached to. I hope she loves them and remembers me when she wears them. I want to make a pair for me because they looks so warm and toasty.

Peds for Megan

Peds for Megan

 

 

 

 

I think I already told you that I finished (and mailed) some ankle socks (peds?) to my sweet mentee for her birthday gift. She loves pink and she loves zebra print and these are a perfect blend of both. I hope they fit – I had to guess since she’s so far away. But the good news from her is that she is living with her new forever family and her adoption should be final in August. This is what I’ve been praying for for her and I am beyond thrilled. She has three sisters and parents who love her and are willing to make the commitment to her forever. I can’t wait to meet the rest of her family and hope they’ll be coming up for a visit next summer! I have another ball of yarn to make another pair of socks providing they fit. Or I’ll make them differently so they do fit! I used as a base, Susan B. Anderson’s How I Make My Socks pattern from her website. I knit only 9 rounds of ribbing and then proceeded to the heel. Next time I might choose to knit 3 or 4 rounds of ribbing to make them even shorter.

New to the needles is my shawl that’s being knitted in Manos’ Serena yarn in two colorways. I picked two similarly toned yarns one with a gray, green colorway called Horizon (9791) and the other with the same green and pinks and corals called Wildflowers (8931). These colors are all soft and pastel-shades. I chose them because they were different than all the other shawls that I have. The pattern is a free pattern that came with the yarn, Shadow Shawl. It’s a very (VERY!) simple two-row striped shawl with yarn overs at the edge and down the center of the triangle. I must admit that I have frogged it once because I realized that I had made some counting mistakes early on and had one spot where there was no “division” for several rows more than was written in the pattern and another spot where I made the same mistake but not for as long. I considered leaving it as a “design element” but decided I was not going to be happy with it. So, I’ve started again and will pay more attention to counting to FOUR!

I am making great progress on my Driftwood sweater and am praying while knitting that I have enough yarn to finish the whole sweater and make long sleeves. I’ve chosen to forgo the stripes as written in the pattern and am making it more color-blocks. I’ve had this beautiful wool from Seacolors Yarn (Washington, Maine) for several years and it’s actually been a sweater and frogged once. I’ve reached the point where the sweater is joined and will keep plugging on the body until I have very little of the orangey-coraly yarn left (I want some for the tops of the sleeves) and then I will change to the dappled greeny-yellowy yarn for the rest of the body and one sleeve. I also have a lovely shade of medium blue that will be another sleeve and the collar and button band. I am eager to see it finished. I hope that it fits!

So, there you have it. I am also working on two quilts and working in my wonderful yarn shop, Yardgoods Center, in Waterville, Maine. I work on Tuesday and Thursday and some Fridays, too. Business has been a bit slow but I absolutely love it. Yardgoods Center is a family-owned business that has been around for almost 66 years! Come visit me and I’ll help you spend your money … or give you some help with a knitting project!

Gone knitting.

 

Short Rows Superwoman!

Short Rows.

I’ve attempted a couple of short rows projects over the years. Never successfully. Until today – and thanks to a great short rows tutorial posted by the Purl Bee. Click here to head on over to see the tutorial and bookmark it!

I’m becoming a short rows expert today. I’m in my atelier working on a new project that I saw for the first time when I was in Lafayette, LA for my nephew’s wedding. With all the hoopla surrounding the wedding, my sister and I HAD to make a trip to her LYS – the Yarn Nook – and that’s where I found the Bandana Cowl pattern (free from the Purl Bee!) and bought some yummy, super soft Manos Maxima (color way M8881) in Queen Bee colors (mostly yellow and golds and browns and blacks but a touch of grey and blue too).

I love the Manos yarn. It’s 100% extra fine merino wool, kettle dyed and fair trade! They call themselves the “fair trade merino”. The Bandana Cowl is a one-skein project using a little bit more than 100 yards of chunky-weight yarn. My skein has 219 yards (200 m). Gauge is 18-20 stitches per 4 inches (10 cm) on a 6-8 needle (4-5 mm). The yarn doesn’t split much at all despite it’s loosely spun look and feel. The hand of the extrafine merino is so soft, it’s like knitting with a cashmere blend and I’m quite certain that it will feel really nice around my neck.

Now that I have the hang (sort of, I am only referring back to the tutorial once every three wraps!) of the short rows, it’s knitting up pretty quickly. I’m not sure when I’ll have an opportunity to wear this cowl but you can be sure that I’ll be wearing it soon – at least to take a few photos for you!

Gone knitting!