Crew – A Test Knit

 

IMG_5175

Crew

If I show you a picture of the finished sweater, I think Lori would have to kill me. (Not really.) But just in case, I wanted to show you my progress on my test knitting project for VersaciKnits.

I “worried” about the yarn for several days and finally just “bit the bullet” and bought some lovely Berroco yarn in their Folia line (40% cotton, 30% viscose, 15% alpaca, 10% nylon, 5% wool). It’s like a mutt blend of yarn with a little bit of everything. But I liked the soft hand and the gauge looked like it would match the pattern requirements. I bought eight skeins/hanks to make the size large in the teal blue color #3856 (dye lot 83925) and, of course, neither of my photographs is color-accurate! I’m knitting with a US 5 circular needle (Knitter’s Pride Dreamz).

IMG_5188I have nine or ten inches knitted up and I am loving the drape and feel of the fabric. I guessI should recheck the gauge to make sure I’m on target. My swatch was pretty much perfect. Stitches were spot on and the rows were a tiny bit shy of what was required but I didn’t block the swatch very aggressively and I know I could have made it work. I’ll remember that with the sweater pieces before I seam!

Our timeline is to have the sweater finished in four to six weeks. We got the pattern on July 16th and have had one update since then. I’d better quit blogging and get knitting!

Gone Knitting!

 

 

Learning Something New

This week I started a new job with a day of training and then “bam!” I hit the ground running. I am the Clinic Assistant at my local elementary school … what used to be the school nurse but public school budgets don’t have the budget to pay an RN so they train us to do the job under their supervision.

So, I’m learning a lot of new things. How to take in and administer medications for students in my school. How to deal with angry parents who didn’t educate themselves. How to follow new procedures. How to deal with “politics” in the office and how to create healthy boundaries so that we all do our jobs in a cooperative, collaborative and happy environment.

Today I taught myself something else new. I learned to crochet!

I learned it by watching this most excellent tutorial on Youtube! It’s provided from All Free Crochet (dot) com and Nastazia … check them out (since I can’t teach crochet just yet!)

My first attempt was nowhere near a square shape. The sides were all sorts of wonky.

First Attempts

First Attempt

It was supposed to be a washcloth or dishcloth but I didn’t have the proper size of crochet hook. My hook was somewhat smaller and so was my swatch … so we’ll call it a coaster! 🙂 I also used cotton rather than acrylic (because if my dishcloth had been dishcloth size, I would certainly not have wanted it to be acrylic … acrylic doesn’t really absorb! Anyway, my first attempt (which isn’t well photographed) looks much better here than it turned out. It was the most oddly shaped piece of work EVER! So, I frogged it and started again.

I’m super pleased with my second attempt!

Second Attempt

Second Attempt

My second swatch is a real square and it has fairly decent tension. Tah! Dah!

I guess I am going to have to take a trip to Joann’s now to buy some larger metal crochet hooks so I can keep learning … it is a lot quicker than knitting and some of the new patterns that I have been seeing (in crochet) are so cute. I have been threatening to learn for so long. It’s about time I finally just did it!

And now I am feeling proud!

I can crochet … the Queen Bee Knits and Crochets, too!

Gone shopping!

Peace Time

knitting-groupToday I went to a new knitting group. Well, not totally new, but new enough. I had a great time and will head back again next Friday. What I realize is that what I like about knitters is their willingness to embrace a relative stranger.

We chatted, we laughed, we shared stories (particularly about our animals) and we enjoyed some peaceful time together. I love my peace time with my yarn and needles. It’s mediative and sometimes requires enough concentration that the worries or problems just disappear for a time. It’s a lovely thing.

Next week I may stay all day! 🙂

Gone knitting!

Future Knitting

I haven’t been doing a whole lot of knitting that I “want” to do … rather, it’s been knitting that I have been doing for others. Often for work. And I’m so grateful for the friends and family members and even some perfect strangers who have bought my work!

This summer, I want to do some holiday knitting and crafting. I also want to make a tea cosy or two … just because I really like them. I may even be able to design one for my shop! But I’m starting to think about what yarn I need (and what I could use that I already have) for these projects!

I love new projects!

Gone knitting.

Challenge

For Christmas I got some beautiful new yarn from my LYS – Knit in Longwood, Florida. It’s a relatively small shop but it’s warm and welcoming and they have some splendiferous (yes, my word!) fiber!

Anyway, it’s a super bulky yarn by Malabrigo called Rasta in the Archangel colorway. It’s lovely in it’s wide variety of colors from purple to yellow to orange and blue and green. Like all other Malabrigo yarns, though, it’s got a lovely, soft hand and it’s great to knit with! (None of the photos of the yarn look like the yarn that I have!)

Poor color (not accurate) and not a great look!

I have already used one hank to make a seed stitch cowl (it was a free pattern with the yarn). But when it was finished, I didn’t like the way it looked … especially when I put it on. So … I did what any other knitter would do and frogged the sucker! Un-wove (yes, another one of my words!) the ends and ripped it out, ready to start over again.

Tonight, I’m trying a new approach. Something that I thought about when I was braiding the  ties for an earflap hat. Something totally different and an “out of the box” approach to this beautiful yarn.

Once again my knitting relates to my life. I’ve started a new life after having lived a very different one. My marriage needed to be  frogged too (so to speak). It wasn’t working. Not in the fabric of my life. It didn’t make me happy. Today, I’m re-knitting the frogged yarn. Creating a new life that suits me better. Learning the feel of the yarn in my hand as it passes through my fingers with each stitch … just as I’m learning about myself and the fibers that are spun together to make up the person that I am today. It’s a work-in-progress. But it’s fitting better and I’m learning so much and I’m knitting a beautiful fabric that will be my life.

Each time I sign off from an entry on this blog, I say, “gone knitting” or something similar. It’s not said lightly because, for me, knitting is serious business. I’m knitting in the hope that I can make a living and I’m knitting to make a life. And today, life is good.

Gone knitting.

New Year, New Look

I’m sporting new hair today after going to visit Stephanie to “fix” it, I decided to take of several inches of length (I’m never sure going in what I’ll do) and I feel lighter and ready to kick some New Year bootay! I’m ready now with a stylin’ new hairdo!

I’ve also given my website/blog a new look featuring some of my knitting in the banner and the wonderful beachy sea glass blue-green, martha stewart-esque color that is now the background. I love cables and featured the cable comes from my knitted coat. One of these days I’ll post a picture of it here with me wearing it but for today, here it is flat on the floor (thank God I’m not in it!)

I knitted this sweater over the course of a couple of years and love it (although I don’t have many opportunities to wear it in Central Florida!) The pattern is Jo Sharp‘s “Uptown” cabled coat from the Jo Sharp Village Hand Knitting Collection Book Number Six. (I’ve just visited the Jo Sharp Website and it must be out of print now!) Anyway, I bought the book and yarn at a LYS in Cincinnati that was going out of business and everything was 50% off! Yippee! So the Jo Sharp Silkroad Ultra Yarn (all 31 balls of it!) was not as awfully expensive as it might have been. I love the coat’s mustardy color and, of course, the cables. BTW, I love knitting with Jo Sharp yarn and at the Website, the prices are not bad! Special discounts apply for purchasing 10 balls of yarn … and it’s quite a savings!

So, with that … I and my new hair are gone knitting!

Memories and Peace

Whenever I hear this song, I’ll remember Diane. She was my neighbor and friend. She called me to ask me for help with caring for her children. I couldn’t help her when she really needed help. I know it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t my rules, I tried my best. I simply couldn’t provide an au pair for her children when we all knew she was leaving our world for a better place, leaving her children to grieve her loss, open and raw. The program regulations do that to protect the au pairs. I still felt helpless.

It’s funny how songs reminds us of something and can have such powerful, nearly physical memories attached to them. This version is only slightly different from the original but still invokes strong memories for me. Diane’s in the arms of the angels and her family soldiers on. They moved away and, last I heard, they were moving on; Jim was remarried and the kids were doing well. Tyler and Samantha. I’ve not heard from them for a long while. I don’t expect I will again but I still think about them and Diane every time this song is played.

My loss is not like theirs but my life, too, was forever changed in 2007. Everything I ever believed was called into question. It’s been four years and a half and I’m still working to make sense of a re-ordered world. A world that is strangely unsafe and only somewhat familiar. Without choice, I’ve been soldiering on, like Diane’s family. I do pretty well most days and am grateful for friends and family who have faith in me when I loose faith in myself. I know I have angels in my life who are watching over me (as Diane, no doubt, is watching over her family) and hope this path will dump me out into a sunshine-filled field where I can find safety, comfort, happiness and peace.

Gone knitting.

On the Needles (and in my head)

So many patterns and so little time!

I’ve got a couple of projects on the needles and I’m nearly finished with one of them. My big brother’s birthday socks – only a few more inches on the toe of the second sock and they’ll be done. I still love the yummy “java” sock yarn by String Theory … it feels so good knitting with it (and that doesn’t happen with all yarns!)

Today I visited my LYS here and bought a new knitting needle – a 40″ US 13 Addi that I will be using to make my life much (MUCH!) easier. I finished the bottom of my Noni Medallion tote bag and had started picking up the stitches around the bottom for the main part of the bag. The two needles that I had on hand were not working for me – yarn was getting twisted and it was a mess. My new needle makes life oh so very much easier! The two colored knitting colorwork is getting better and better with every row. Knitting in the round on the right side is so totally more easy than purling on the wrong side! Anyway, I got the new needle today because otherwise, I am going to have to knit with two needles and that’s a challenge for me – particularly since this is my first colorwork. Did I mention how much I like my colors? I am looking forward to seeing the bag once the colors and pattern really start to show!

When I was at the Yardgoods Center today, my darling Betty, who also happens to head up my Wednesday night knitting group, sold me a new sock yarn which I will wind and cast on this week! I’ll be happy to knit with and make another pair of socks – and she’s going to teach me how to do two socks at once. The yarn is a German brand … it’s hand-dyed and wound with two strands together so that when you make two socks at once they come out exactly the same. Fliegende Untertasse means flying saucer, she tells me … and that’s what the package looks like. Very different and we’ll see how it looks when I get knitting!

I started to look for a yarn with which to make some fingerless gloves for a darling girl who I haven’t knitted anything for yet. Her birthday’s coming up and she loves gray. Pattern will be with me on Wednesday (I love the Yardgoods Center! They have knitting classes several days and nights a week, it’s not overly expensive and you get a 10% discount on all purchases.) I’ll find yarn on my knitting night because I know I don’t have the right color in my stash that I brought up with me.

There are so many other projects that I have saved patterns for  … and they’re just burning a hole in my knitting bag (kind of like money burns a hole in a “normal” person’s pocket!)

OH, I forgot to mention  that I finished a new cowl. This one will go up for sale in my Etsy shop pretty soon. It’s made from two different navy blue wool blends so it feels really soft and it will be washable (in the machine, on cold and gentle cycle, always lay flat to dry) and wear like iron. I love the way it turned out and it reminds me of the color of our lake when it’s a beautiful blue day with a little breeze.

Bella mittens, colorwork fingerless mitts (fiddlehead pattern from Ravelry is really cool. The “yarn lady” at my LYS had a pair made in two shades of grey, black, cream and lined with grey – yes, in my head there is another pattern to try.) Oh, yeah, and there are the sweaters that I want to design for my dog line. Oh my goodness, there is a lot of yarn out there and I really want to try it all!

So, with that, I’m out of here – going to bed so I can knit again in the morning!

 

Free Knitting Pattern (and a little lesson)

You may (or may not) know that I had my French daughter, her husband and baby boy here for a visit. We’d not seen each other for more than ten years and it was a wonderful reunion. I am continually amazed by how you can reconnect with people with whom you’ve lost touch over the years and, if they’re also willing, can start over where you left off!

It was as if no time had passed. (Well, except for the fact that she found a husband and has a baby!) We laughed and cried, ate, talked, shopped … a trip to TJ Maxx, Walmart and Wendy’s were some highlights. At Wendy’s N taught “la boulette” to dip his fries in ketchup! To watch a really cute short video, click here: bouletteatw

Happy Boulette bathes in the kitchen sink!

When it came time to put them on the airplane, the tears were just like those shed in years past. I’d “forgotten” how much I love “my kids” and how much it hurts to say “good bye”. But at the same time, how wonderful is it that I have this little family that isn’t really mine but feels like it!? And I know we’ll be together again (hopefully, soon!)

Bet you thought that I’d forgotten the free knitting pattern, didn’t you?

Nope! Here it is! This is perhaps an ugly blanket because I had to use yarn that I had here and it was very last minute when I realized that a warm blanket was going to be needed – badly needed!

“La Boulette” Blanket (an Original Queen Bee Knits design)

Needles: size 15 circular needle (or larger or smaller to fit your yarn)

Yarn: Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand 4 skeins, knitted with yarn doubled throughout. (Note: this is a very simple blanket, knitted on the bias. It will make a square blanket and could be knit with ANY yarn and needles appropriate to the yarn weight. Just knit as in the pattern directions until it’s the width that you want and then start the decreases! Easy!)

Blanket Directions:

Cast on 4 sts.
K2, YO, K to end
Turn and K2, YO, K to end of row
Repeat these two rows (which are actually identical) until the blanket is the width that you want.

Middle

K2, YO, K2tog, K to end of row
Turn
Repeat the last row three times more (total of four rows)

now it’s decrease time!

K2, YO, K2tog, knit to 4 sts before end of row, K2tog, K2
Turn
Repeat the last row until there are 4 sts on the needles (decreasing one stitch in each row)
Cast off 4 sts
Weave in all ends

And here’s the little lesson …

How do you count rows when you’re knitting all rows (otherwise known as stockinette stitch)?

Counting Rows for Stockinette Stitch

Each “pair” of bumps, one looks like it arches up like the letter “u” and the other arches down, is a row. In this photo, there are five bump pairs which means that you’ve knitted ten rows … hunh? you say? Yes, you’ve knitted ten rows because there is a corresponding bump on the back of the fabric, too. For each row you see on one side of the fabric, there is a bump on the other side of the fabric when you knit “back”. See what I mean?

Try knitting a few rows. Yup, take out your needles and a single strand of yarn (the sample above is a double strand of yarn). Cast on about 20 stitches and knit across them. Then knit back again. Now … look at what you have. You’ve knitted two rows and there are two “pairs of bumps” one on the right side and one on the wrong side.

If you don’t get it, comment on this post and I’ll illustrate further!

But for now, I’ve gone knitting!

 

 

The way to a man’s heart …

There are white caps on the lake this morning. When I look outside from the warmth of the wood stove, it looks (and sounds) a lot like the ocean. It’s a bit misty, too. Not a warm spring day in Belgrade!

We have a copy here of The Settlement Cook Book. Copyright 1944, the “Victory” (26th) edition published by the Settlement Publishing Company during WWII. Compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander. On the inside of the front cover is a lovely “autographed” photograph of Mrs. Simon Kander (if you click on the link above, there is a photo of the page!) who compiled the recipes and (not to worry) they’re “tested” recipes from “The Milwaukee Public School Kitchens, Girls Trades and Technical High School, Authoritative Dieticians and Experienced Housewives” … what a hoot!

As you may know, I love to bake. When I’m up here I like to use what we have around – much of which has been here for 50+ years. This cookbook is one of the things I love (and who’d ever have thought that it’s a rare, collectible book!) The big mixing bowl, is another. Anyway, I digress … Chapter One is entitled, “Household Rules” and it tells you all you need to know about keeping house – literally. Including, how to light a “modern” gas range, set a table, and how to make soap. One of my favorite recipes, though, is a recipe for “Scotch Scones” which I’ve used as the base of my recipe below and have adapted over the years according to what I’ve been eating. Since I’m now eating gluten-free, I’ll give you the basic scone recipe and then gluten-free!

Maine Blueberry “Scotch” Scones (best served warm with a cup of coffee or tea on a cold May day, inside by the wood stove when Lake Messalonskee looks like the ocean!)

2 cups bread flour (I use unbleached all-purpose flour)
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons butter, cold!, cut into small cubes
2 eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk or cream
1 cup Maine blueberries (frozen or fresh)
 
 
 
Wash your hands now and take off your rings … this gets messy!
 
 
 
Preheat oven to 350°.
 
 
 
Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add butter and with your hands, mix butter into flour mixture until it is all blended in by pinching it between your thumb and fingers. Flour will look like larger grains and no lumps of butter will remain. Add eggs and buttermilk and mix until just combined. Fold in blueberries. Toss dough onto a floured surface and pat or roll to a square about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into triangles about 2 inches across. (This time, though I patted mine into a circle 3/4 inches thick and cut it into large wedges.) Transfer to greased cookie sheet, brush with egg white, and sprinkle with your choice of brown sugar and cinnamon, organic raw cane sugar, cinnamon sugar, etc. (My traditional sprinkle is with Turbinado sugar but today I used brown sugar and cinnamon.)
 
 
 
Bake for approximately 15 minutes.
 
 
 
For the gluten-free version, substitute Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free baking mix for the flour and add 3/4 teaspoon of xantham gum but the rest of the recipe is the same.
 

Now, for a cup of tea and a bit of knitting … new on the needles this morning, the Queen Bee’s Tweed Boulette Blanket. My French daughter and her family are coming to visit after waaaayyy too many years and I’m worried that the baby, la boulette, will be cold. So, what does a good “grand-mere” do? … She knits one!

Off I go to knit and snack!