UFOs Finished!

Like any “good” knitter, I tend to put off finishing projects that I don’t really want to do “right now”. I have a complete sweater sitting in time out waiting for me to seam it. A full sweater. One that I would like to wear but I really don’t love finishing sweaters. This one will take maybe 2 hours to finish … after many more hours than that of knitting it. Regardless, while the sweater sits in time out, I have begun and finished several projects.

Pussy Cat Hats in Pink and Gray … my pattern

Two Pussy Cat hats or Kit Kat hats. One is bright pink for those days when I feel like taking a stand and the other is grey for those days when I want to stand firm but not bring attention to myself. I like they way these worked out. I used Plymouth Yarns Encore Chunky yarn for both hats. Normally, I’d rather knit with natural fibers but these hats are soft and chunky and they knit up super quickly. I also can wash and dry them in my machine. I sent my original hat that I knit in Malabrigo Rios worsted yarn to my future son-in-law. He wanted a hat and I was happy to send mine and knit another for myself.

The pattern is mine.

Queen Bee Knits Pussy Hat

 

With bulky yarn and US 10 16″ circular needle, cast on 72 stitches. K2, P2 ribbing for 12 rounds. Knit around until hat is 9″ from cast on edge. Use a 3-needle bind off to cast off all stitches. Weave in ends. 

 

Feel free to use the pattern for personal use. If you want to give away hats, that’s fine. Please don’t sell these hats. Thank you.

A cowl for a customer. I have a customer who loves my knitted accessories. I’ve knitted her three or four tams in different weights and now a cabled cowl. The latest is a Bandana Cowl from Purl Soho which is a free pattern on Revelry or the Purl Soho website. She didn’t understand that the picture of the cabled cowl wasn’t really how a cowl worked. She was wanting a “dickey” that will sit down on her chest and around her neck rather than a cowl that solely goes around the neck. I’ve finished this one is Cascade 128 Superwash in a lovely teal colorway. It will match the hat that I just made her. She still wants another pair of hats. One in a yellow Cascade 128 and another in a Noro yarn.

I also finished the first block of my Cascade Knitterati Afghan MKAL. I love doing things that are a little bit different. I am not knitting with the same colors that the KAL is recommending (why would I do that?) but have picked one colorway so far that is a dark Granny Smith apple green. I’ve loved the color from afar for a long time and it’s high time to use it somewhere. Squares two and three have been released. I’ll likely knit square three before two because it’s a single color square and I have a single color yarn.

I have been knitting dish cloths for the daughters. It all started with sending three to my children at Christmas time. Daughter #1 asked for more so that they aren’t using paper towels any longer. They’ve been sent. In the meantime, I’ve knitted a few more for Daughter #2. And then I’ve knitted three tiny ones for the little California nieces. I’ve got to mail them away soon. The pattern is Grandma’s Favorite Dish Cloth and it’s a free Rarely pattern. These are all Lily Sugar and Cream yarns one is a pink camouflage colorway and the other simply made me think “Valentines Day”!

Fornicating Deer Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I made my handsome and bald hubby a hat for Valentine’s Day this year. I used a navy and a gray worsted wool by Lamb’s Pride. A long time ago, I saw a chart on Pinterest and I saved it. It made me laugh and it is totally my husband’s sense of humor. It’s called the Fornicating Deer chart by Ann Rutten. It’s on Ravelry. Needless to say, I didn’t have a pattern to go with the chart but I looked at my expected gauge and decided to knit three repeats of the chart. I also decided that once the deer were finished that I would do my decreases and not finish the entire chart. He likes caps that fit tightly but cover his ears. When he came home after work the first day he wore it, he said, “hey hon, now I really have sex on the brain!” Yup. I think he loves his hat.

Oh, I need a better camera. The color is way off!

I do love to finish projects! Today I hope to finish a pair of bright orange work socks (the picture doesn’t come close to the bright “hunting orange” color) for my husband. He loves to wear the thick, warm Raggi yarn socks to work. He works outside in Maine in the winter. Enough said?

Gone knitting!

I Heart Aran – Nearing the Finish Line

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I Heart Aran by Tanis Fiber Arts – blocking!

I started knitting the I Heart Aran sweater by Tanis Fiber Arts in early September. It’s a 32nd birthday gift for my eldest daughter. I’m not sure how she got to be so old when I remain young and nearly the same age as she! Kate chose the sweater pattern from Ravelry and this was the one she loved the most. This morning I finished the knitting and it’s blocked. Woo! Hoo!

I was gifted the yarn by my sister-in-law, Annie, who found it and some purple at an estate or garage sale several years ago. For ten dollars! She’s a very thoughtful person and I’m delighted to be able to make a sweater with five of the ten skeins of ivory/aran color that she gave me which leaves several skeins for me to make something for Annie! It’s Shetland by Jaeger (80% wool, 20% alpaca 100 g/166m). The hand on this yarn is wonderfully soft thanks to the alpaca. It was great to knit with – not splitty and no little bits of wool all over my dark jeans. Because it’s an Aran weight yarn and the sweater was rather small, it knit up in no time at all. It helped, too, because the sleeves and back are all a very simple, almost boring, stockinette. If I were going to knit this sweater again, I’d consider adding a cable up the sleeves or on the back or both. The stitch definition is amazing and there is enough wool so that the sweater shouldn’t stretch out (or grow!)

Superior Stitch Definition

Superior Stitch Definition

I used my good old Hiya Hiya Interchangeable needles with the US6 and US8 tips. I used the US6 tips only for the sleeve ribbing and chose to use the US8 (not the US6 as written in the pattern) because I don’t love sweaters with very tight ribbing at the waist. Hiya Hiya Interchangeables are decent needles. The join is mostly smooth. The tips could be pointier.  They were ok for this project because the yarn is heavy enough and the cables weren’t too tight. I chose to knit flat on my circular needles. You could also have knitted this on straight needles.

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

One of the things I liked about this pattern is that it had a perfect schematic so that when I was blocking (and knitting) I knew exactly what the measurements were to be. This makes my life as a pattern-follower so much easier than when I have to go back into the pattern to decide what the measurements are – and Tanis even added the measurement that is supposed to be across the neck (3″) to eliminate any guesswork. Thank you! The directions were clear and concise.

There was only one place where I was unsure of the directions and I think it was the knitter not the instructions after a quick discussion with knitwear designer Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits.

If it says, “Dec every 8 rows”, you should make the first decrease after 8 rows. If the designers means for you to make the first dec on the next row then start every 8 rows, the directions should say, “Dec on next and then every 8 rows” or something like that!

– Lori Versaci, VersaciKnits

Fortunately, I had figured it out because the decrease instructions all happened on the RS (right side) rows which meant that it was going to have to happen on rows 1 and 9 not on row 8. Being thoughtful, taking a pause to think about my knitting answered the question for me. A life lesson put to use in my knitting yet again.

I block everything on my guest room bed. Today I have two projects blocking – a hat for a customer and the sweater. I can’t wait until it’s dry and can be assembled and I can knit the collar. Then we can choose a button on Tuesday when I’m at the yarn shop and send it off to Kate who is in rehearsal for Carousel which will open later this month at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. I know it’s sweater weather in Maine (at least in the morning and afternoon) but I’m not sure about the Washington area.

I’ll show you the finished garment in a day or two!

Gone knitting.

I am Good (Enough)!

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Yes, that’s me at the piano in my preppy sweater!

A million years ago I stood at a piano in rehearsal for a high school theater production. I was singing “Midnight at the Oasis” (among other things) and it was quite the challenge for me to be sexy and sing at the same time. No, really, it was. My teacher, Frank Best, worked with me a lot. How to walk, how to hold the mic, how to get off the side of the grand piano gracefully …

A couple of weekends ago I attended my 40th high school reunion. I’m not sure how 40 years have passed that quickly, how it’s been 30 years since I stepped foot on the campus. How it’s been 40 years since I’ve seen classmates who meant so much to me. It’s funny how life gets in the way of friendships. And it’s wonderful to pick up where we left off. My theater besties and I returned to the theater all these years later and remembered our shows together and others who didn’t come to reunion this time. It was magical.

Brian back at the old grand piano (that I slid of gracefully.)

Brian back at the old grand piano (that I slid of gracefully.)

Reunited. I wish Sharon had been in this picture, too!

Reunited. I wish Sharon had been in this picture, too!

One classmate shared the picture above and others from the school newspaper on Facebook prior to the reunion. What a good memory this brings forward along with some emotional baggage that I’m ready to discard. A couple of friends commented on how they remembered that show and my song. My number one fan commented that my singing “was one of the true wonders I have witnessed in my life. No lie.” This made me smile. (And blush a little bit.)

It’s difficult for me to accept compliments although I’ve gotten much more adept as I get older. I have come to realize that I really am smart and talented. Back then I certainly could sing. (If I tried, I might still be able to sing today!) “Midnight at the Oasis” was a big hit with the audience. I felt very proud of the performance and yet my father could only say that I’d done “pretty good, Monk”. Falling short of a resounding compliment and making me feel like I’d fallen short of making him proud. So, today I’m dumping that old weight that said I wasn’t quite up to snuff. I did a really good job. If people are still remembering my performance 40 years later, I did a really good job. I can be proud of my performance and know that it was truly a special moment in time. My father’s reaction was more about him coming up short than me.

I did an excellent (memorable) job. I am good! I am smart. I am enough!

Gone Knitting.

Three Cheers (for the Red, White and Blue)

Yesterday I spent a wonderful day learning something new.

The Class Sample … this is what my quilt will look like

The Class Sample … this is what my quilt will look like

I took a Flag Quilt class at the Cotton Cupboard in Bangor, Maine with a friend and we had a great time. It was my first ever quilt-making class and it was a positive experience for this  once-a-failure sewer!

I’ve made a few other quilts in my life. I made several Amish Tied Quilts back when my children were little. One for each of them and a few others interspersed. They are funny to look at today … my color choices “date” the quilts with the exception of the eldest daughter’s which is red, white and blue. My quilt already shows that I was into the black and yellow “bee colors”. I have all of them here in Maine and one day they’ll go to the kids homes … when they all have room for a quilt.

My Log Cabin Quilt …  finished and on our bed

My Log Cabin Quilt … finished and on our bed

The last two summers I worked on a Log Cabin quilt which I finished and had quilted at Quilt Divas in Rockland. I love it and it’s on our bed.

The quilt that I’m working on for this class is a throw quilt and it’s got several things going on. It’s straight piecing, some appliqué and some curved sewing. I’ve never sewn a curved seam in my life! I felt relatively adept at the cutting and straight sewing although one of my classmates gave me a couple of new tips that I really appreciated. The appliqué I had done once and that was alright. I have a lot more stars to appliqué so I’ll be a professional when they’re all done! The curved sewing will take me awhile … and is my biggest challenge.

Curved seams … I did pretty well. It just takes time

Curved seams … I did pretty well. It just takes time

When I was all done, I was sore and feeling successful … I had only screwed up one star square (and have to cut a few other pieces to be able to finish my quilt) because I hadn’t been warned about making sure the squares were not all facing the same way. Fortunately I have extra fabric!

I will keep plugging along at it and I will show the pictures of the final project …. whenever I get it done (and quilted.) Since it’s a throw, I’ll plan to quilt it myself.

Gone knitting!

Two Fewer UFOs

This weekend I have finished two projects!

Graffiti Socks

Graffiti Socks

My Susan B. Anthony socks in Gale’s Art Wonder Sock in the Graffiti colorway are finished! I had to frog back the toes of the first one because the knitting gremlins talked me into making the foot seven (rather than seven and a half) inches. My feet are not nine inches long. They are nine and a half inches long. So, for a half inch, I frogged back and re-knit the toes. They’re much better and I am a happy camper. This yarn was amazingly wonderful to work with and I love the way that the colors change. I probably have enough yarn to make one more sock. I may do that … or not. Regardless, I have one more pair of hand knit socks to add to my sock drawer!

Frontenac (front)

Frontenac (front)

I have also finished my Frontenac tunic vest. (This photo is not the finished one, it’s a reasonable facsimile.) It must be a vest since it has no sleeves and I sure do hope I’m going to love it as much as I think I am. I loved this pattern and the yarn is very soft and cozy. That said, the yarn also sheds like crazy. I’m hoping that a good wash and block will change that a bit. Time will tell. This was a very simple knit and only two seams (on the sides) and tiny pockets to attach. The edge of the sleeves were very well designed and I think this will be a garment that I knit again … after I get all the other knitting that I want to do done.

I’m nearing the end of several other projects as well and that means that I can cast on some new ones. I think I will cast on another sweater – this time in the yarn that I bought at the Maine Fiber Frolic two years ago. It has been the pieces of a sweater once before but the pattern was so poor that the sleeves didn’t fit into the arm holes. So, rather than make a sweater that I knew I wouldn’t love, I frogged the whole thing and put the yarn aside. I have found a couple of patterns that I could use (I think) and one of them will be starting soon. I am also casting on a pair of pads/tennis socks for a special girl’s birthday in June. I imagine they’ll knit up super quickly and the self-patterning yarn is amazingly perfect! I also have a bunch of aran weight yarn that my sister-in-love was gifted and she’s not a knitter and gave it to me. I think it will also want to be a garment. Color blocks of ivory and deep purple. I’m seeing it as a longer cardigan, perhaps without buttons.

I brought all the yarn that I bought several years ago to make the Great American Aran Afghan … it’s another huge yarn commitment that I made a long time ago and never finished. Maybe I’ll pull that out and get working on that!

Gone knitting!

Get ‘er Done!

I’m getting a lot of stuff done so why am I still beating myself up and saying that I’m unproductive? Why do I “worry” about being unproductive when I am getting work done? Because it’s not the work that I “need” to be doing? That others expect me to be doing? Because I’m not making “enough” money? I just need enough to pay the bills and can make do with less than most so what’s all the “anxiety” about?

My Boxy Cardigan is two thirds complete. Sleeves are all that is left to do. They should go pretty quickly and I hope that I love the sweater as much as I remember loving the one on display that I saw at the Maine fiber frolic.

The cotton tunic has kind of been set aside so that I can make a few new items to add to my Etsy shop … or new 3 B Street shop (more about this in a later post) … but the back is so close to being done – despite the inches and inches of 1×1 ribbing on US #1 needles!

I have knitted a new pair of fingerless mittens in a very simple 2×1 rib and just have to weave in the ends. I suspect that they will need a button or some embellishment because just by themselves they’re a bit flat – at least in my opinion – despite a variegated yarn.

And then there’s the Rasta Basket that I have knitted in a wonderful colorway called “Archangel” and while the knitting part is finished, the finishing part is a bit sticky for me! I am not really a sewer. (I can hear friends of mine in my head telling me that I am labeling myself and if I want to be a success I need to consider myself an adept sewer!) Yesterday I got out the old Singer and it took me a good part of the afternoon to assemble the lining only to discover that the handles that I chose are about two inches too big for the bag! Back I go to the store today to see if I can find some that are smaller!

I have pulled out the old Michael’s samples that I haven’t seen while I was away this summer. I am ready to make my board for knitting classes (did you see my calendar for classes?) and have to take some signs for the yarn aisle in the store. I also need to make copies of the calendar for the demo desk! I sure hope that the knitting classes will pick up since it’s fall …I hope!

My to-do list keeps growing but I am checking things off, too. Just for today, I am going to be pleased about what I have gotten done and what I will do today. Life is good.

Gone knitting!

 

I Believe …

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I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. I’ve always liked Thanksgiving best.

Christmas was OK when my children were little … nothing like the excitement of Santa Claus early (very early) on Christmas morning … it’s believing in miracles that is so sweet with children.

Now, when my children are grown (and Christmas stuff is out before Halloween), … it’s way too commercial. People are all in a hurry and seem to forget that they’re not the only ones driving (there have been two fatal accidents close to here in the last week) or shopping or whatever-they’re-doing. I’m not sure if this is because of the season or the lack of people-contact that we have in our world today. We seem to have no realization that our actions can impact the life of someone else.

That being said, here are some things that I believe.

I believe that every house should have only one television … and maybe none at all but I realize that’s unrealistic. When we all are able to go to our own corners and watch whatever we want whenever we want, we learn selfishness. When we learn selfishness and then are rewarded with gifts galore, we learn entitlement. Selfishness and entitlement are not pretty when they combine.

I believe that we need to give something of ourselves away. By that I mean giving gifts (anonymous donations, hand-made and sent away, something from the heart) that we have absolutely no expectation of getting anything in return. This year I’ve knitted a hat for a baby in Maine as part of the Period of Purple Crying project. Nobody (well, maybe you who read this blog will know) even knows that I donated a hat. I hope the baby that wears that hat is warm and safe this Christmas. Nobody knows that I sent another had to a soldier … I’m hoping that soldier is coming home this Christmas. I’ve read about K-Mart shoppers having their layaway items paid for and Caribou Coffee orders paid for. This is great giving and just what the spirit of the season is all about – giving freely, no strings attached. When strings are attached, it’s not really a gift at all. It’s a bribe, a manipulation and nobody likes being manipulated.

I believe that we need to search our souls to find out what we believe. How we want to live our lives. How we want to be treated and, thus, how we will commit to treating others. The “golden rule” … “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is not a bad way to live. We left our summer house clean with crisp air-dried sheets on the beds, floors swept, kitchen clean, fridge stocked. We leave hotel rooms with a tip for the maid (tips= “to insure proper service”) because we appreciate the clean sheets and towels. We leave the beaches and hiking trails with gathered from the surf and sand and woods trash. Left behind by selfish, thoughtless, litterers who didn’t think about how beautiful the woods were in Maine in July. Someone who couldn’t be bothered to carry his Coke can down the trail to the garbage can at the parking lot. (See paragraph 2 about selfishness and entitlement combining.)

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I believe that we can’t spoil a baby with love. Babies require copious amounts of holding and hugging and kissing and cooing. Require! And in order to be able to provide all that loving, we need to take care of ourselves. If that means spending 3 nights (in tears because I could feel their pain) listening to them cry themselves to sleep according to the doctor’s advice, then we all learned something. (By the way, those were three of the most difficult nights of my life. Three times.)

I believe in miracles (I found my big brother when I was 50), I believe in caring and compassion (I keep McDonald’s gift cards in my car to give to homeless people who might need a hot meal), I believe in volunteering and giving back. I believe in Karma … you get what you give.

I believe in therapy (mental health and yarn). It keeps my hands busy and my heart goes into every stitch. Knitting is therapeutic for me. While I knit a garment, I think about the person who will wear it. I think about the stitches and all else falls away.

This has been a good year full of learning for me. The bumps in the road remind me to value the smooth roads. The few illnesses have reminded me to appreciate health (mine and that of those I love). Short times together remind me that I love being with my family and that there’s never enough time spent together – and that’s such a good thing because it means we love each other and get along. I miss my parents, my grandmother, my children at Christmas – good, too, because it means we’ve had good times together and I desire there to be more. I am thrilled to be making a little bit of money doing what I love and look forward to doing more of it.

I’m moving forward. As unperfect (ha! autocorrect doesn’t like that word) I am, I am enough. I am consistently working to be a better person … learning more about myself, my world, my art, eating less (and exercising more), meeting people, creating true friendships, one step, one day, one moment at a time.

Gone baking …. hey, it is Christmas! 🙂