Ice Out and Critters Return – Welcome Spring!

The Critter

As soon as the ice goes out (this year it happened on April 6th) the water birds and critters return to the lake. It’s miraculous, really, that they know when it’s safe to come back out on the lake. This year we heard reports from the northern end of the lake that the loons had returned while our section of the lake was still covered by ice. BUT as soon as the ice was gone, the loons were calling from the cove. There’s nothing quite like living so close to nature. We are so grateful to be able to witness the seasonal changes, to watch the sun change its position in the sky, and to know that there are more miracles coming soon when the babies are back with their parents. It won’t be long.

Since the ice went out, we’ve seen all the weather. Beautiful blue bird skies, thick fog and days of rain. Fortunately, it seems that mud season was relatively short this year and early. I had some white knuckle trips down our road and I may have let a few four-letter words escape my lips while hoping that my car wouldn’t get stuck in the mud.

I’ve been knitting like a mad woman. I seem to want to cast on all the new projects and I am trying to stay focused on finishing some, too.

Grandma’s Favorite

I’ve got a full basket of cotton yarns that I’ve collected over the years. I am trying to knit down the stash and one of my favorite projects is dishcloths/washcloths that I’ll pop into my gift drawer and pull out as needed. These two are from deeply stashed yarn from a big box store and they’re obviously seasonal. We use them here at home and the kids like them, too. They’re great stocking stuffers or as a gift with a special bar of soap. The pattern is so simple and easy to remember which makes these dishcloths good TV knitting.

Arne & Carlos Advent Jumpers

I’m almost half-way through the collection of Advent jumpers from Arne and Carlos. I love knitting these little sweaters and they knit up so quickly. I’m using Patagonia Organic Merino yarn from Juniper Moon Farm and, I have to say, this is my favorite yarn right now. I’ve made my Humlebi Shawl in it and I’ve got the charcoal gray colorway set aside to make an Emsworth vest. Number 12 will likely be finished by the end of the day today. I like to spend Sunday knitting for fun. I also like to bake and I’ve eaten all of my granola and my baked oatmeal.

Patsy’s Traveling Sweater

The body of my Traveling Sweater is nearly done (it may, actually be done but I have to measure it again to make sure.) This has been a fun knit. Patsy is a customer who has come into the store a bunch of times to purchase Plymouth Gina yarn for the sweaters that she makes. She has a Facebook page for the sweaters because she’s knitted over 100 of them. I have loved the sweater since I first saw it and have almost bought the yarn once before. When we heard that Plymouth was discontinuing the yarn, I put aside what colors we had in the shop and the boss ordered bags of each remaining color. When they came in, I bought the yarn and cast on my sweater.

The pattern is a Knitting Plain and Simple pattern #9724, Neck Down Pullover for Women. These patterns are simple beginner patterns and are knit top down in the round with minimal seaming. The sizing is somewhat size-inclusive but they certainly could be expanded. It would be wonderful if they added full stitch counts, too. But I recommend these patterns often for customers and students knitting their first garments. I’ve chosen 10 colorways of the Gina yarn and have randomly pulled them out of the bag to knit next. I have simple knitted the whole ball and then spit-spliced the next ball and kept knitting. I had a bit of a challenge making gauge but I decided that I would use the recommended needles and knit the size larger so that it would fit comfortably. I’m thinking that I may use a folded hem rather than a rolled hem but I haven’t decided yet. I suppose I can knit the rolled hem and then sew it up if I change my mind.

I’ve got to buy one more ball of Gina so that my sleeves, at least at the shoulders, match as closely as possible to the body of the sweater. After that, random is fine.

Spring has sprung!

Gone knitting.

On the Road Again

Marblehead Light from Fort Sewell, Marblehead, MA

The past week I’ve been living “on the road” which is saying that I’m not home. This is the first road trip that I’ve taken by myself in two years. I found myself very anxious when I was leaving the house. My GPS on my car wouldn’t connect, I couldn’t get it to play my podcasts that I had hoped to listen to, nor would it play my music that “I” downloaded (with lots of help and support from my sweet husband.) Turns out that if you turn the car off and then re-start it, that it works. Phew. I was so grateful for my husband’s suggestion.

First stop was to my “oldest” friend’s house in Connecticut to celebrate the life of her son. He died on Valentine’s day in a one car crash. He was 28 years old. The memorial service or “Irish Wake” was wonderfully well put together for Scudder. He didn’t want a church funeral or, really, any formal service. So, we all ate and drank and remembered the young man who was so loved by his family and friends. His sister’s and mother’s lives will be forever changed. I was lucky to be able to spend the night at my friend’s house and chat for a few hours before heading off to Massachusetts.

Second stop was Salem, Massachusetts. My sister-in-love is house and dog sitting for my niece and her husband who are honeymooning in Italy! We haven’t been able to have a lot of girl time since I moved to Maine (we have plenty of time together with husbands and kids and other siblings but not just the two of us) so I really wanted to visit for a couple of days. And I did … and I extended my visit to a week! One of my wonderful co-workers worked for me on Thursday and I cancelled my class (I know, that’s not normal!) on Friday. Today the husbands arrive and we’ll spend the weekend celebrating my nephew who is off on an excellent adventure to Alaska for a few months.

I am knitting! I finished my Humlebi Shawl by Fiber Tales. I knit this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. I love the oatmealy-gray yarn and the bumble bees that are knitted in around the edge are fabulous! I will block it aggressively rather than gently and I hope it’ll be an ok size for me. I used just over one skein and I’ll weigh the remaining one to figure out how much I used in total. I checked my gauge and I measured 19 sts per inch rather than 17. So, I wasn’t too far off but it probably would have been a bit better for me on a larger needle. It was a fun knit so I may consider knitting it again just to see what happens when I change the gauge to what it’s really supposed to be and I have more yarn.

Humelbi Shawl blocking close-up

I also knitted up a couple of pairs of booties for a new mom (and dad)-to-be. I knitted up the pattern that I found at the store years ago and that I really love to knit. It’s called Sue’s Baby Booties and I knit it up in Cascade Yarn’s FIxation. When I ran out of projects (daughter’s socks are at the toe and I need her foot measurement, Humelbi Shawl was finished except for blocking, and I only had Arne & Carlos’ Advent Jumpers left which take too much concentration to knit in a group) so I cast on another pair for my brother and sister-in-law’s neighbors who just had a baby girl. This pattern makes me so happy! I love all the combinations.

I have reached the toe decreases on the socks for my dear daughter. Plain vanilla socks for the first pair to see how she likes them and how they fit. Since I don’t have her feet to try them on or measure. I sent her a text to trace and measure her foot so I know how long to knit them. We used to have the same shoe size but mine are bigger these days, I guess. Anyway, I’ll put the first sock onto a holder and start on the second sock so I can continue my progress. I’m feeling successful and productive with all these small projects.

Spring in Massachusetts is a couple of weeks ahead of us here in Maine. I can’t wait to see our spring bulbs in bloom. They’re coming!!! The snow in the yard is all gone, the road has already dried up a bit from the muddy mess that it was when I left. The lake is still mostly covered with ice (it’s certainly ice-covered at our house but each end is more open than a week ago) and it’s turning grayer. I’m ready to see the water again.

Gone knitting!

Humlebi Shawl

Can you see them?

When I saw this shawl on Ravelry, I knew I had to buy yarn and cast on. I had to!

Bees!

Pattern: Humlebi Shawl by Fiber Tales

Yarn: Patagonia Organic Merino (Light Grey colorway; three hanks)

I have knitted a lot of shawls and this is the first one that I’ve knitted that starts with a pico cast on – and over 300 stitches! I’m not convinced (yet) that the picot is picot-y enough, but I hope that if I block the shawl and pin each of the picots that it will be more accentuated. I can’t wait for the yarn. to bloom and to see what happens to the little bees. They’re knitted over a few rows so the first half of them is just a couple of wings and a bobble … bee butts! I had to laugh when I saw them. And then you go back and knit another bobble row and the bee is finished. They’re adorable and I’d like to add them into every single thing that I knit from today forward. (I probably won’t do that but, gosh, they’re stinking cute.

I am knitting this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino yarn by Juniper Moon Farm. This may be my new favorite yarn. I have a vest worth in a charcoal gray and I have a sweater quantity in a rusty orange color. It’s a rustic wool but it has a nice hand and it’s just sticky enough that it would be a perfect pick for a colorwork project. Obviously, this isn’t colorwork but it’s a fun and simple enough project.

The bees are simple enough as are the flowers. The rest of the shawl is garter stitch with decreases. Lots and lots of garter stitch and decreases. Once I reach seven stitches, I’m done. More on that as I make progress!

Gone knitting.

It’s Been a Little Bit Since my Last Post

This was a very full, busy week. I had a lake association board of trustees meeting on Wednesday that I had to prepare for and run. Being the president of the lake association is a privilege and a lot more work than I anticipated. But we are doing a lot of good work and making a difference in the health of our lake and, we hope, the other lakes in our chain of seven and the rest of the state. These lakes are so beautiful and we want to keep them that way.

In addition, with the war in Ukraine and the political strife and division in our country, I’ve been feeling so sad and powerless. My energy has been lagging and I haven’t wanted to bake and haven’t been knitting much. I’m mostly exhausted by the blame laid at the feet of people who aren’t responsible. I’m tired of hearing about hateful policies being passed in some of our southern states. I am frustrated by the whining about fuel prices when we are all sitting pretty in our warm homes with full bellies and no bombings blowing up our hospitals and schools. None of this is easily solved and I am smart enough to know that there are untruths (spin/propaganda) on all sides but I believe that we are experiencing a temporary discomfort. Ukraine will be forever changed and I am so grateful that we have leadership in place in our country today that at least has some experience. Is our leadership perfect? Certainly not, but I believe the best interest of our country and democracy is safe in their hands. I “fear” that this could easily morph into a WWIII.

Winter’s Last Gasp?

Today is an ugly day in Maine and it may be winter’s last gasp. Time will tell. We woke to drizzle and have seen rain and now it seems to be turning to snow. A veritable weather-tasting! We are so grateful to be happily ensconced in our home; my DH in his man cave watching his movies and me in my atelier doing a little catch-up work and knitting.

I just finished jumper number 10 of 24 of the Arne and Carlos Advent Calendar jumpers. I need to sew in the ends and block it but that’s not going to take much time. I’m likely to knit the 11th before I finish 10. Number 11 will be green with red as the contrast color. It’s interesting knitting them all with the same three colors. I’d like to balance the combinations across the 24 and I think that I can come up with six color combinations so that means four of each.

I’ve also begun a pair of socks for my second-born DD. When they were here for a visit, she requested hand-knit socks and I am happy to oblige. I hope she loves them so she’ll ask for more. My drawer is pretty full and so is my DH’s. How lucky are we?

Fine Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier

I finished my Fine Sand cardigan after a mere three years. It was time to get it finished for sure. I will be happy to wear it this summer. I’ve blocked it and just need to sew in a label.

I also finished a pair of tams for a customer. She has asked me to knit six hats each year for several years and I’m always happy to hear from her. This pair was in forest greens. One in Malabrigo Chunky and one in Berroco Ultra Wool Chunky. Details are on my Ravelry project page. I forgot to take pictures of the finished and blocked hats before they were delivered to the store for pickup. Oops.

I’ve also started a new shawl pattern. Humlebi by Fiber Tales. I was really challenged by the bumble bee section. Most likely because I was so stressed and tired and I needed to knit it with fresh eyes and a rested soul – this has been difficult to do lately. The cast on is a picot cast on and lots and lots (and lots) of picots to cast on. But the real challenge for me was when I started the bee section which I knitted and then frogged and re-knitted. The second time, this is what I got …

Humlebi Shawl in progress

It’s a bee!!! I’m working this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. I can hardly wait to block this shawl (and I have a long, long way to go before I can.) I believe the yarn will bloom beautifully these wonderful bees will adorn the edge proudly!

I think my next cast on will be a vest, also in Patagonia but this time in a charcoal gray. I’m thinking it will be Emsworth by Isabell Kraemer. I “need” a dark gray garment to wear with my work “uniform.” It will be a fun knit. I also need to finish one more WIP. Perhaps the lobster hat that I have started and re-started more than once. So many projects and so little time. Ha! Ha! Ha! (My kids would say that I’m not funny and compared to them I’m not but I can make myself laugh and I enjoy my own sense of humor.)

Season six of Outlander started this week and I’m binge watching season five today (maybe it’ll stretch to this weekend or more?) I’ll be ready to watch season six episodes 1 & 2 when I finish – I just have to refresh my memory of where it left off. Today is the perfect day for such activities.

Gone knitting.

Grateful

Sunrise at Home

I started this post after Thanksgiving having spent several days with two thirds of my kids, their significant others, my brothers and sisters-in-love and their kids and some of their significant others. Being with family is my drug. I left Massachusetts with my heart full and my soul warmed. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday just before all of the pressure heading into Christmas begins. I’m so grateful that my children and their cousins know each other and that they enjoy spending time together and we enjoyed spending time together, too!

And now we’re well into the Christmas rush. Rushing to get the tree decorated and the presents bought and mostly shipped to their recipients but some to put under the tree and into stockings for Christmas day. I’m working hard to keep the gratitude and warm fuzzies in my heart that I had a Thanksgiving and to be fully honest here, I’m struggling. My dear husband’s daughters and one of their boyfriends are scheduled to be here for Christmas this year. It seems that because of a sick dog, one won’t be able to come. The other daughter’s boyfriend seems to be rethinking the trip because he’s spent a lot of time in Florida with his family. I was really looking forward to seeing them because we haven’t seen each other for a long time. We haven’t seen the dog mom daughter for a year and a half.

Today I’m trying to wrap my head around having Christmas at home with my little family – me and my husband. It seems that it’s entirely possible again this year. Somehow I have to make it ok and I’m not sure how to do that. It’s going to be difficult to make any major changes because I’m now scheduled to work since we were going to be celebrating here with my step-daughters. It’ll be near-impossible to kennel the dog at this point to fly anywhere and a drive to their homes is at least a two day drive each way … leaving two days to visit. We don’t relish the idea of four days in the car for a two-day visit. The NYC kids are having a Christmas dinner to which we’ve been invited but I don’t know what kind of hotel or extra bed situation we’d be looking at and the dog still needs to be kenneled. I guess we will look at our options if we find it’ll be just us for sure.

Meanwhile, I’m knitting. A lot. I’ve been finishing some projects, too. I have so many things that I want to knit and with my schedule, I’ve been lining them up for when I have some time to knit “what I want”. I’ve knitted several gifts for the kids in NYC and they’ve been sent on. We are going to go to the beach in Rhode Island again in September and that’s their big gift. Since they haven’t opened gifts, I’ll not discuss what I’ve made until after Christmas – and I even forgot to photograph a couple of the gifts. Oops!

The Slip Stitch Hat by Tanis Williams is a sweet hat with a slip stitch section around the head. It makes the sport/dk weight hat a bit warmer around the ears. I used a bit of a handspun yarn that I was gifted with a wool/silk blend yarn that I found at Marden’s here in Maine. It was a yarn company close out sale and was a great deal. This hat will be going to Yardgoods Center’s February hat drive for the needy in our community.

The beaded tape measure is a new activity that I’ve been doing with my Friday knitters, one of whom is a phenomenal talent at beading and quilting in addition to being a great knitter. Anyway, we bought a kit online (Etsy) and we had a class at the end of my teaching day a few weeks ago. What fun! I love the way the tape measure looks so much but I admit that I’m a bit hesitant to put it into my knitting bag for fear that it will be damaged or get dirty.

Evergreen Socks by Madeline Gannon are so much fun! I loved knitting these. I used deeply stashed yarn from Buffalo Wool Company. I’ve had this yarn from a bunch of years ago when I signed up for their monthly yarn club. It’s a fingering weight blend of wool and buffalo so these socks are likely to be nice and warm. I think these will be for me. I only have one daughter who has the same size feet as I do and she likes shorty socks.

Husband’s Christmas (last year) sweater. Well, he loves it and it’s a perfect fit. I gave him the yarn for this sweater last year at Christmas. His face when he opened it was a classic. He wondered if I was going to teach him to knit! LOL. Needless to say, here it is almost Christmas again and I have finally gotten it done. I loved loved loved knitting with Cascade 220 worsted yarn. I’ve not knitted with it before (I know, I was surprised, too) and it’s so much softer and more luxurious feeling that the Ella Rae wool that I’ve knitted with several times. The price point isn’t that different anymore so I’d prefer the Cascade; especially when it’s a garment. We’ll see how it wears and how it pills. The pattern is Knitting Plain and Simple #991 and it is simple but the heathered yarn makes is anything but plain.

Oh, Arne and Carlos, how I love you. I started knitting the Christmas balls last year and got about six of them finished. I haven’t tried to knit any this year because these stinking cute mini jumpers came out and that’s all I wanted to knit. I have managed to get five done and will pick up the rest of the 24 and hope to get them finished before next Christmas. I’m using Patagonia organic merino in three colors. I decided to keep the traditional holiday colors for our house. We shall see. But I love them so much!

Last but not least, I have cast on for a new pair of mittens for me. I love my “old” snowflake mittens a lot. These new ones are similar and very different. These are the Northman Mittens by David Schultz and I’ve chosen to knit with the same yarn as the design calls for. It just so happens that we have a great selection of Berroco Ultra Alpaca yarn. I’ve changed my mind already several times but I can’t change it again. I am knitting with a light tealy-blue-green and a light gray shade. The lining will be knit in a pink for a pop of color and you can find all the gory details for this and all of my other projects on my Ravelry project page. (I”m “lindar” on Ravelry.)

I am knitting a sweater for my almost-93 year old student who is having memory challenges and she was unable to be successful with this Plain and Simple pattern. I’ll get the sleeves finished this week and will present it to her as my gift on her 93rd birthday which is on Friday … and a cake! She’s one of my favorites and it’s crushing to see her struggle to knit. She was a wonderful knitter back in the day.

There you have it. I’ve caught you up to date. I’m sorry for the downer at the start of this post but I have promised myself that I would be authentic here and show you how life and knitting weave together to make me who I am. I won’t apologize for who I am and I am an emotional person. I’ve mentioned before my “ocular incontinence”, right? I will make the best of whatever Christmas brings, I’m just struggling with it for now. It’s all good. We love all of our kids and this won’t change that, of course.

Gone knitting.

It’s been a “Timespan”

This has been a crazy busy timespan … since I am lazy enough to not go back and see when I last posted, I’m using that word to indicate that it’s been a while since I have last written something here.

Life has taken on a life of its own and I am feeling the pressure of fall and shorter darker days and the impending holidays that always add pressure. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn to say “no” more often but for now, I am keeping my promises and working hard to stop every so often so that I don’t fall apart. Spending part of every day with yarn in my hands certainly helps. It also helps me to see that I am making progress both in my knitting projects and in work and volunteer areas of my life. My husband and I even had a date night and went to see a movie – neither one of us “liked” it but we went out. Together! A first since the pandemic began.

Socktober Socks

I started a thing at the store that isn’t original and not close to being my idea. Socktober. I found an article somewhere on the Internet about it and did a bit of research and then added it to my work newsletter that I write each Sunday morning. The Yardgoods Center – Yarn department – donated 16 pairs of hand knitted socks to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter. I knit the pair above and also included a pair of baby pink hand knit socks, two pairs of store-bought socks that have been in my gift drawer (doesn’t everyone have one of these?) and the wonderful customers at YGC brought in the rest. I think it’s a wonderful gift to those who are less fortunate and I hope the socks will keeps some feet warm this winter.

Pattern: Yankee Knitter Socks for the Family, Yarn: Regia 8 Fadig. Check my Ravelry project page for more details on this project and all of the others I talk about. I’m LindaR on Ravelry.

I have a bunch of projects on the needles and a few that I feel like I need to get to or need to finish.

Neck-Down Pullover for Men

I have finally made some real progress on my husband’s Christmas sweater. I gave him the yarn for said sweater last year at Christmas and it looks as if I will have it finished by Christmas this year. I’m knitting him the Knitting Pure and Simple Men’s Pullover in Cascade 220 yarn in a heathery-gray colorway. I don’t recall ever knitting with Cascade 220 yarn and I really like the hand of this 100% wool yarn. It’s not scratchy at all.

Pattern: #991 Neck-Down Pullover for Men, Yarn: Cascade 220 (100% wool).

Evergreen Socks

I finished my “Christmas Tree” socks that I’ve been wanting to knit for ages. I’m trying to keep up with a pair of socks a month (2021 Sock of the Month Challenge) and I may have fallen off the wagon just a bit but I think I am back on. This pattern is on Ravelry and I used deeply stashed yarn by the Buffalo Wool Company. Back when I was being paid to work full time (as compared to now when I’m working part-time and volunteering part-time) I joined a yarn club with BWC. I got to know the owner because we had a couple of shipping snaffus … mostly because we were in Maine for a couple of months and then Florida the balance of the time and yarn went to one place when we were in another and never the twain should meet. Ron was an absolute wonder to work with and when I “tripped” over him at an outside holiday art/craft festival in Washington, DC one year, it was really fun to be able to meet in person. (And of course he remembered me as the shipping problem. LOL)

Pattern: Evergreen Socks, Yarn: Buffalo Wool Company Tracks Sock

Arne & Carlos 2021 Advent Calendar

I’ve begun working on Arne and Carlos’ 2021 Advent Calendar patterns. I adore these little “jumpers” so much and they’re fun to knit and very satisfying to finish in a day or two. I’ve finished the first two jumpers and have finished knitting the third but still need to weave in ends and steam block it. I don’t imagine that I’ll finish these before Christmas is over but I will get them done (probably before I finish the Christmas balls from 2020) because I really want to have them displayed in the house. It takes me about four hours to knit one of these and another half an hour to do the finishing. Each one is unique and there is a collection of Christmas balls to match … I won’t be buying that pattern … yet.

Pattern: Arne and Carlos 2021 Advent calendar mini-jumpers is available for purchase on their website, yarn: Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm.

I have been crocheting snowflakes for the store window display using free patterns off the internet and scraps of yarn on hand. I have to get the glue out and dilute it to “starch” them so that they’ll hang straight. I’ve also been crocheting a set of Yip Yips that will be a gift. I’ll stop talking about them here and will write about them after they’re delivered. Another gift is a pair of socks that are on my needles currently. It’s a pair of “vanilla” socks in a colorful colorway and I’ll write more about them later, too. Suffice it to say that I am almost done with the first sock. I’ve got a way to go to get them completed.

My FEZA baby blanket is nearly finished. I’ve reached the finishing point of the fourth color. Since this isn’t promised to anybody (I started it as a project to work on when I am teaching classes or sitting in a Zoom meeting) it is sitting alone in the bottom of my knitting bag. I’ll get it finished one of these days. My Fine Sand Cardigan is in the same place. I won’t likely wear it until spring. That gives me the winter to get it finished. I really need to get it finished THIS winter, though.

With any luck, the next time I write here, there will be more than one finished item. Perhaps a sweater and a blanket by the end of the year? I’m keeping track this year of how many projects I complete … so far it’s up to around 50. Can I reach 60? Time will tell … that work thing keeps getting in the way of my knitting time.

Gone knitting!

Woo! Hoo!

The last knitted gifts are going out tomorrow! I’m very excited to start knitting some Christmas balls and to get up to date with my MKAL Gnome-Along. Here is what i’ve knitted so far … I won’t show the MKAL gnome pieces because I don’t want to ruin the fun for anyone else.

Arne and Carlos’ new Christmas balls. They’ve designed one for each day in December, like an Advent calendar. I’m several days behind but I’m doing the best that I can. I am using Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. The pattern called for three colors in a DK weight yarn. I love the way this yarn feels! Needles are US 4.

Ball 1, “Spruce”

Balls 2 and 3, “Old Fashioned” and “Mutton” …

Mutton is my favorite so far. I’ve decided to knit them and stuff them when I have a few to stuff rather than stuffing one at a time.

Gone knitting.