Obviously, baking yields something delicious at the end but I don’t just bake for the result. It’s about the process, too.
My grandmother, my mom’s mom, always had something that she’d just baked on her pantry shelf. Always. She never failed. (The pantry also had a metal three-drawer cabinet that housed her “candy drawer” at the bottom where we could always go for a chocolate treat.) Chocolate frosted, only on the top and in the middle, yellow cake. The same yellow cake in cupcake form with chocolate frosting. Cream puffs, chocolate chip cookies … often the same but never boring.
My gram would take the time to bake with me and I think that’s why I love to bake. I so enjoyed being with her while we baked together and if we didn’t have time to bake together I always knew the love that went into it. Precious moments. Gram didn’t have a lot of money to buy stuff but she gave me the gift of time.
As I bake, my gram is with me. I can feel her in my heart and it makes me so happy. As I’m writing this my eyes are filling with tears which is a message that my words and feelings around this are true. (Bristol Ivy said I had “ocular incontinence” and she’s not wrong!) Baking centers and grounds me. It is something I shared with my children and with with my grandchildren; the ones of the heart and the blood ones if we are so blessed.
Meanwhile, it settles my heart in a bizarre year. I always know that baking something fills my belly and my heart.
Knitting does something similar but it doesn’t have the heart connection to my family like baking does. I love knitting, don’t get me wrong. I can sit and knit for hours and be “in the zone” where time is lost and my mind is focused. It’s good for my soul. I’ve been knitting a lot through the pandemic and have been experiencing a little soreness in my left arm – I don’t stop and stretch often enough. I’ve also been sitting too long and have worked over the past year to get up and stretch more to help my hips and back. Both passions have helped me to pass the lockdown time in a state of (mostly) contentedness and peace and they’ve been such a blessing. My husband enjoys the fruits of my labor on both fronts.
This week I’m rushing to finish his birthday socks. I’ve got one done and one to go.
The ice has been groaning and bumping. Sometimes it’s loud enough to hear inside with all the windows tightly shut. It’s an incredible, living thing and as our temperatures warm up (yesterday it was near 50 degrees if not more) the ice is changing quickly and will soon be gone completely. I’ll try to do a better job this year of chronicling the ice leaving. It’s fascinating!
Meanwhile, I’m knitting. I admit that most of my attention has been on my Opus octopus because I’m so entranced and enthralled by it. The pattern is great. I had no trouble at all getting the entire piece knitted without anything more than minor counting problems – and counting problems are completely on me! I am so happy with my color choices and the Malabrigo Rios yarn is soft and perfect for a knitted stuffed toy. At least one for me … it might be a bit pilly if it is loved by a child. I think I’d have used a different yarn if this hadn’t been for me … perhaps Berroco Vintage which is soft but more tightly twisted than Rios. Vintage is Acrylic which will make it harder-wearing and it would also be more affordable.
This morning I stuffed the head of my Opus.
I will attempt seaming of the tentacles today and stuffing them with fiberfill. I have fiberfill but as the pattern calls for wool roving, if the fiberfill doesn’t work, I can pick up roving at work tomorrow. I think the fiberfill will work, though. I’m really excited about it!
I’ve also been working on a couple of other projects and planning is in the works for a new projects, too. I’m working along on my Flux Handwarmers.
Honestly, these aren’t my favorite. I think the way the thumb gusset is designed is a bit fiddly. They’re pretty but they’re kind of silly. We’ll see what happens because I sometimes wear my least favorite projects the most. More on that later. But I have the first mitt done with the exception of the thumb which won’t take a long time to finish. The second mitt is finished to separating the thumb gusset stitches. I was out on the porch, sitting in the sun and knitting, when I reached this point and didn’t have a needle or a bit of scrap yarn to put the stitches on so I had to stop.
I’m working away, slowly on my Fine Sand cardigan. This is slow and steady work. I have reached the separating stage, separating the sleeves from the body of the sweater. Now I have endless stockinette stitch with a few shaping spots left to go … and a couple of sleeves. A friend of mine from Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat (aka Knitting Camp) was wearing this sweater two summers ago and I admired it then. It’s been on the needles for nearly that long! I knew we carried the yarn at the store where I work so I bought the yarn … and then it got set aside for something else as often happens. This is a pandemic finishing project.
I think, once it’s done, it will be a very wonderful summer sweater. Perfect for the cooler summer evenings outside.
I’m working on the color choices of my next project.
I’ll be joining the Modern Daily Knitting (MDK) Lopi knit-a-long that begins today. The KAL is all about MaryJane Mucklestone’s Field Guide #17 – Lopi and I’ll be knitting her cardigan called Daytripper. This will be my first Lopi sweater and I’m excited to give it a try – I’m also a bit “concerned” that I won’t be able to wear the Lopi because of my allergies but I’m going ahead and we shall see. I had originally bought the yarn to make a Stopover pullover but when the new pattern came out I decided to switch for two reasons: I think I’ll get more wear from a cardigan and I hope the cardigan opening will mitigate some of my allergic reaction by virtue of having less wool right under my nose. (Ha! Ha! I’m hoping!) I want to have a bit of pink in this sweater because I have nothing pink in my sweater collection and for some reason, I’m liking pink. (Top left is main color, bottom left is color A, the rest of the colors are for accents.)
Good grief! I can’t imagine how we’ve gotten to “late” September! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun (in a pandemic?)
I’ve been back to teaching a small class outside at a local park in Waterville, Maine until this week. My students were comfortable meeting outside, socially distanced and masked. I was, too. And then last week, it was chilly and we had to move from under the pergola in the shade into the sun to be comfortable. This week the high temperature was only going to reach 62 so we went into the store and were surprised that we were comfortable there, too.
Life has been full of visitors this summer, too. If there are to be blessings found in the Covid-19 pandemic, this is one! All of our children have visited for at least a week and a couple visited for two weeks and four weeks! Working from home/remotely does have its benefits. Nothing makes this mom happier than a house full of our kids! We are so proud of all of them and how gracefully they’re handling life under Covid-19. It’s been difficult; isolating at times, frustrating at times, fraught with financial uncertainty. My kids all work in the Arts in New York City … there won’t be solid work for them at least until 2021. They’ll all make it through this and they’ll all grow because of it.
(I missed grand-dog Severus. Boo! And the Littles were unimpressed and not on the porch.)
We have been eating well (everyone likes to cook) and the baking has been lots of fun! Notice that the photos are almost all of baked goods!? Ha! We made focaccia with a beautiful vegetable “picture” on it, lobster is always a favorite, raspberry ice cream cookie sandwiches, blueberries, blueberry buckle, a rustic peach and blueberry galette, blueberry bundt cake, blueberry muffins, Mrs. Dejonkheere’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, blueberry pie #1, lobster eggs Benedict, maple blueberry scones, squash pie, veggie frittata and apple pie. The raspberries, blueberries and apples were all picked by our hands! What a lot of fun.
There has been yarn in my hands throughout the visits! I’ve started and finished a few things that I wanted to share with you, too.
First up were two emPower People cowls in their signature purple.
The first is the emPower People Cowl by Casapinka. This is a simple garter stitch cowl that asks for a DK or sport weight yarn. I used Malabrigo Rios which is a light worsted weight. It’s a cowl so I really didn’t mind if it came out a little bit larger (or smaller). It was a quick and simple knit project and it’s a sample at the store right now. It’s so soft and will be a nice garment to wear and a good reminder to VOTE!
The second is EmPower Lace by Romi. I was a test knitter for this cowl and it was another really fun knit. This could be considered a bit more difficult than the first cowl, but it’s a great first lace project. I used Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool this time and I love this yarn. It was a new yarn to me. It shows the lace well and it’s soft and sturdy. Empower Lace is also a free Raverly download.
Next up are two pairs of baby booties. I confess that I have a collection of Cascade’s Fixation yarn from which I’ve made several pairs of baby booties and a few baby hats to match. But I had over-bought! Can you imagine that? Ha! Ha! So, in my pledge to use up stashed yarn, I decided to pull out all of the Fixation and use it up by making some baby booties. Two pairs down and I have plenty more to go. The green pair has a different bottom color and the pink ones are simple solid pink. The pattern is one that I can’t find online anywhere called Sue’s Baby Booties. It was a free pattern at the store. If you love it, let me know and I can scan it and email it to you.
I’ve started and finished a baby gift for a special baby boy coming soon so I can’t show you a full photograph of the gift that I’ve finished. I used Hayfield’s Baby Blossom Chunky to knit a Three Cable Baby Blanket and will make a little sweater and hat to match. I’ll update this post when I have given the gift to the mom-to-be. It’s soft, warm and washable and dry-able. All good things when you’re a new mother.
I’ve finished the first of my September socks from our 2020 Sock Challenge. This is another stashed yarn, one that I collected when we learned that there wasn’t going to be a US distributor for this wonderful Raggi yarn. (There is a distributor now, thank heavens!) Raggi is a worsted/aran weight wool and nylon blend so it’s perfect for knitting socks. The pattern, Urban Rustic Socks, I just happened across when I was looking for a worsted weight sock pattern that I hadn’t already made. I love these socks and they’re a fun knit, too. It’s a free Ravelry pattern.
I’m working away on making more masks for my kids, I’ve fixed a hat for a customer, fixed a shawl several times for a former student (the shawl has traveled from Florida to Maine and back several times) and I’ve got a bunch of projects on the needles. I’m still working on finishing my Arne and Carlos Quarantine Knitting blocks (I think it’s going to be a pillow) and my Hope Cardigan is half-done. So, life is busy and full … I wanted to catch up here so that the next post won’t be so long.
When I posted a photo of our garden with all (ALL!) of the kale pilfered but spinach and lettuces untouched, lots of doubters commented that we were lucky that it was gone. I will not apologize for liking kale … I like kale! And some rotten critter has eaten it all! Every single leaf has been nibbled to the nubs.
My StarflakeShawl is blocked and it’s beautiful! I am so thrilled about this shawl. I have to admit that I was not a big fan as I was knitting this. I wasn’t sure it would be something I would wear and I was pondering the idea of selling it or giving it away. BUT when I blocked this baby, I fell in love! I adore it!
The yarn is among the yummiest yarns that I have worked with. I used two shades of Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock in “Wish You Were Beer” (gold) and “Nailed It” (silver) -the names of the colorways remind me of the OPI nail polish names, they’re so clever! The yarn bloomed when the shawl was blocked, the stitches opened up and the i-cord edging and bind off are spectacular.
This was my first Stephen West (big) project and I doubted at times that I’d get it finished. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck Maine, I lost my knitting mojo and/or my ability to concentrate. This shawl is NOT a simple pattern. I spent so much time knitting and then frogging that I ended up putting it in time out for awhile. A few weeks ago, I got it back out because I realized that I was settling into a new “normal” and I wanted a bit of a challenge. Well, I’m so glad to report that in the end, the result is incredible!
Here’s what else I’ve been up to …
Gardening! I’ve got a small yard but a lot of gardens. We have the raised vegetable garden with greens, tomatoes, peppers and squash. We have several perennial gardens that were put in before we were married. Some have been more successful than others but they all need care and love. I’ve been outside weeding, edging and transplanting (and forgetting to water the newly moved plants … lucky I have a lot of creeping flox. My peonies are just about ready to pop for the first time.
Volunteering! I am on two Boards of local organizations that I care deeply about. One is our lake association, Friends of Messalonskee. It’s weird to be running a volunteer organization in a pandemic but it we let the invasive plants take hold for one summer, we will have lost a lot of (if not all) the progress we have made. So, we are carefully optimistic that our state and local funding will come through so we can do our good work. Maine Arts Academy is the second organization and combines my passions for education and the arts. MEAA is a free public charter high school for the arts. We just graduated 53 students on Sunday in a “drive through” graduation. It was awesome and the kids are heading off prepared for whatever they choose to do next!
And I have sewn some more face masks for these cuties! I’m so glad that my children, all in New York City, are being smart and wearing masks. Daughter number two and her hubby have a few different masks to get them through the new “normal” in the city. I think they’ll be wearing masks for quite a while.
Life is good. I feel very grateful for a healthy family, especially now.
All of my knitting projects and even some sewing projects can be found on my Ravelry project page, I’m lindar on Ravelry.
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This morning I made cookies. As I always do, I stacked them up on top of each other at an angle so that I can get all the cookies on one cooling rack. My grandmother did this when she made cookies and she was the one who taught me to love baking. So, for my entire baking life, I’ve stacked the cookies this way. I was thinking about my Gram as I stacked the cookies today and just this afternoon I realized that today is the anniversary of her death. I knew it was coming up but I just checked my calendar!
My Gram had a tiny kitchen without a lot of counter space and she always refused to have a dish washer. When we bought her one, she made us take it back. She washed dishes by hand. There was always soapy water in her kitchen sink! But the love that came out of that kitchen was simply amazing. Among my favorites, pot roast, twice baked potatoes, and baked goods. She was a wonderful lady and I have such fond memories of spending time with her. Remembering her house brings such happy feelings and memories of baking with her – or going over to visit and finding cupcakes or cake or cookies in her pantry. And the candy drawer was always full. Just for us.
I got all caught up over the weekend with the Arne and Carols Quarantine KAL. This was the last of the five “squares” and I really enjoyed knitting them. (I have since the photo below, sewn in all of the ends, too.)
The first clue for the second week was released today … again, I’m behind! Lucky that I don’t take this too seriously! I feel like I have plenty of time to get them done … this social distancing isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
“Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises.” -Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and today is not. It’s overcast and gray and the wind is blowing off the lake which makes it cold. I’ve spent the better part of the day in my studio working on several projects.
First job was to call and email and text my class to announce, officially, that all of our classes have been cancelled until at least the end of the month. That’s twelve days at the least. And I’m thinking it’s going to be months instead of weeks. I sure hope I’m wrong! I have the most wonderful group of students. I know I’ve written about them before, but I mean it sincerely. I am really going to miss our Friday gathering.
I am working on a couple of projects … I was supposed to be finishing UFOs but I have cast on a couple of new “corona virus” projects. One is t a MKAL (mystery knit along) that we’re doing at Yardgoods Center. Clues are posted every morning at 8 to our facebook page.
Clue 1: Worsted weight bits and bobs of yarn. US 10 needles. Cast on 225 stitches
Clue 2: Knit 4 rows of garter stitch
Mine is cast on and knitted. That was my second order of business today.
Next I finished the second day of Arne and Carlos’s Quarantine KAL. While we don’t really know what we’re knitting, the small squares in Fair Isle is comforting and really makes my mind focus on the yarn and stitches that my hands are making. It’s a wonderful way to get lost in the process and it’s so comforting. I started off being behind and I’m still behind – as part 4 is being released today and I just finished part 2. Oh well. It’s all good, right?
I”m moving ahead with my test knit for Lori Versaci of Versaciknits. I am really loving the Cashmere People yarns that I am working for. Casey at Portfiber picked the perfect colors to make it feel like a comfy pair of jeans which was exactly what I was thinking for the feeling of this piece. This afternoon I will finish the second stockinette section and start on the next part. It’s not a difficult knit but it does mean that I have to be awake enough to count. I hope to make some good progress this afternoon and I will show you pictures when I get permission to do so. I love Lori’s designs. They’re classic, tailored and they’re brilliantly put together. I’m wearing the sweater that I test knit for her today … I’m going all in with comfy these days!
So, there you go. What we’re up to today. Day four, really, but also day six … it depends on when you started counting. I’ve mostly been in the house since Friday evening, 3/20/2020. While it’s still not “normal” it is feeling a bit less bizarre. We are settling in.
You can follow my knitting projects on Ravelry, “lindar”; on Facebook, QueenBeeKnits by Linda Warner and Instagram @QueenBeeKnits.
My husband and I have decided to self-isolate here at our home in Maine. The main reason is that I have a chronic cough/allergies/possible asthma and I’m apparently a senior citizen. At least my kids tell me that I am. Regardless, we feel that for my protection that this is the best option for us at this time.
So, today is day three for me and day one for him. We went for a ride to the dump … Wednesday is dump day and we had a mattress, an old mattress, to get rid of because our new one arrived yesterday. We also needed to get some provisions for the next few days or weeks. The fewer the trips out, the less likely the virus is to spread, right? Needless to say, I’m not going to work this week and I doubt that I’ll return unless and until I feel safe. Sadly, because the testing began so late – and we still don’t have a lot of tests here in Maine – we don’t have any idea how many people are infected.
I hope that I will settle into some sense of calm and normal but this has me a little bit freaked out. I’m not in a panic, it’s just frightening to not know what to expect. I know it will all end and we are so lucky to have a home to stay warm in, food to eat and hobbies that we enjoy that keep us entertained. I am concerned about all the kids out of school who suffer from food insecurity. Families who live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford NOT to work. God bless the people in the grocery industry, the heathcare industry and the first responders. They’re in a tough position.
Here in Maine, the schools are helping with childcare for healthcare workers, I’m told and they’re also delivering breakfast and lunch to several places around our school district for the kiddos and their families who may not be able to afford food under these circumstances. I’m delighted to hear this and I always knew Mainers were special!
As I sit here writing, I want you all to know that I am knitting a little as my focus allows. I am trying to stay away from Facebook especially because it’s way too unnerving to read – everything is focused around the Corona Virus pandemic, politics and general nastiness. As an empathic person, this bothers me on a visceral level. Behind the scenes, I’m helping our store to host a shawl KAL – our first! We are posting clues each morning through April 8th at 8am. Clue 1 is on the Yardgoodsyarns Facebook page. Worsted Weight yarn. 32 inch US 10 circular needle. Cast on 225 stitches. Collect a bunch of worsted weight yarns … this is a stash buster!!! Clue 2 will be posted tomorrow, 3/19/2020 at 8am. I’ve heard people saying they don’t want to knit a shawl … don’t fret! The KAL goes until 4/8 but we can always make it a little bit longer so that It’s a lab blanket! Once you see where it goes, you can decide. Or if you’re not going to wear a shawl, consider donating it to a local nursing home, hospital or homeless shelter!
Good can come out of this difficult time if we look to make it a positive experience. In Italy their singing. In rural Maine, we’re knitting. More to come!