FO – Frosty the Snowman Christmas Stocking

I have finished and mailed off another family heirloom for a customer and friend. This stocking is the second one that I’ve knitted for her. The coolest part of the whole story is that her mother, now deceased, designed these stocking patterns for a very well-known stocking pattern company. Her mom had knitted stockings for the whole family and they’re trying to keep the tradition alive by knitting her mother’s patterns for new additions to the family. Cool, right?

The Frosty the Snowman stocking is relatively simple Intarsia knitting. A top hat wearing snowman who is holding a striped candy cane. My friend asked that I use angora as the pattern requires. With little bits of green for his scarf and mittens, black for buttons and hat, the most clever and my favorite piece of the design is the way she designed the candy cane – with white stripes on the red fabric and red stripes on the white. Sooo clever and it works so well!

What I don’t like about the Intarsia technique is weaving in the ends. The front looks so clean and clear but the back is bedlam! Each color across a row requires a different length of yarn and that means there are lots of bits of yarn dangling from the back. Every one needs to be woven into the reverse side of the stocking without being visible on the front. I also add the name in duplicate stitch on the front and then seam up the back and add a braided length of yarn to hang the stocking. Lots of work!

I was very happy with this stocking and I hope she is, too. I wish that their family has a very merry Christmas this year and every one after.

Gone knitting!

FO – Sunday Morning Shawl by Espace Tricot

I have been knitting and knitting and I finally have some FOs to show for it. Finally!

When we went on vacation, I decided to give myself the gift of a new “vacation” knitting project. Three hours to Rhode Island, a week at the beach and three hours home to Maine. I can’t say that I got a ton of knitting done but I did knit some while we were away.

Sunday Morning Shawl by Espace Tricot

I have now finished my Sunday Morning Shawl by Espace Tricot. I used The Fibre Company’s Lore, 100% wool yarn, in a gorgeous mustardy yellow. The shawl design is simple and classic with a bit of twisted rib and stockinette and a wonderful row of bobbles. I loved knitting this shawl and I love wearing it now that it’s finished and blocked. I can’t tell you, though, that it was finished without drama.

I got to the twisted rib edging and was almost half-way through when I noticed the “line.”

The line – finger pointing for emphasis

I really thought that since it was for me that I could “deal” with the little problem so I continued knitting … and realized I couldn’t… deal with it.

Have you ever had a problem with a knitting project and thought you could ignore it and knit on? And the you realized that you couldn’t ignore it and needed to fix the problem? Well, that’s what I did – dropped down every other row where it was twisted when it shouldn’t have been and then pulled the stitches back up so I could knit on.

Almost fixed
Fixed! Finger to help you see there is no line! 🙂

I dropped about one hundred stitches down ten rows or so and pulled them up. As I fixed each stitch ans the line disappeared, I felt so much better about my work. The design is amazing, the yarn and color are perfect and I love this vacation shawl! I wore it to work for the first time today.

Gone knititng!

My Favorite Time of Day

This is my favorite time of the day. The time when the sun is beginning to set and the opposite side of the lake gets lit up. My photos don’t begin to show you what it actually looks like. Trust me, it’s spectacular.

We have had a lovely day. We got our bedroom cleaned up, the bed changed, the (disgusting) side windows and screens washed, and the laundry done. My sweet hubby cleaned out the “curiosity cabinet” in the stairway. It needed it so badly.

I got a load of sheets and towels washed and dried and folded and put away (it doesn’t always happen, yay, me!) I made a batch of granola and a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I also made progress on my knitting.

Yesterday I tried something new. It didn’t work. The Intarsia Christmas stocking that I’m working on for a customer friend calls for angora. I’ve always held the angora yarn together with a worsted weight wool. The angora claims to be a worsted weight and “should” be ok to knit alone. Well, no.

So, today I frogged it back to the start of the angora in the pattern and re-knit. It’s much better now and I’ll be happy to knit on to the end of the Intarsia part and down to the toe. I’ll need to weave in the hundreds of millions of ends and embroider a smile and eyebrows (seriously, eyebrows?), duplicate stitch a name and off it’ll go to New York City.

I may get there tomorrow. Definitely, the knitting will be finished by the end of this week. I’m working to be finished in time to mail it before the end of October. Way in advance of Christmas!

FOs to come.

Gone knitting.

I Learned Something About Loons

You know (don’t you?) that I live on a beautiful lake in Central Maine. We are very fortunate to have a thriving loon population despite the crazy boaters that have caused nests to fail (one year we had two lost eggs on the same nest).

This year, the loon pair nearest to our house had two chicks. They nested on a nesting platform that has been built by our lake association (and is in need of some work). Loons don’t walk on land well. Their legs are located farther back on their bodies than other waterfoul and their bones aren’t hollow like other birds. Loons sit low in the water and are very heavy so nesting is a challenge for them. Regardless, our pair had two eggs and hatched two chicks. We watch them like hawks … and I’m not kidding about that at all. Hawks and eagles and other animals prey on baby loons. They become “my” chicks every year. My neighbors feel the same way.

Two chicks on the adult’s back (photo cottagelife.com)

This year, we have all enjoyed watching the twins with their parents until there was only one twin. My heart was broken that we seemed to have lost one of our sweet chicks. But our local lake tour guy, and a friend of mine who sits on the lake association board of trustees with me, texted me about the “missing” chick that he hadn’t seen for five days. He reached out to another board member who just happens to be our resident nature guy and loon expert. Here’s the skinny …

Feeding the chick (photo birdsoftheworld.org)

Our loon is healthy and well and living in pseudo-captivity for the next few weeks in Massachusetts. And this is the gist of what I’ve learned. There is an organization here in Maine called Biodiversity Research Institute and they’re authorized to move loons (after they’re big enough to feed themselves but before they are able to fly) to Massachusetts to translocate loons in an effort to restore the common loon to an area where they’d disappeared. This is what’s happening to our loon. He or she is helping the loon population to grow in another place. And the BRI program has been very successful over the past several years. This is loon conservation at it’s finest! (Read about the success of the program here!)

More good news … Our remaining loon (and the loon that was translocated) has a significantly better chance of surviving to adulthood. Feeding two chicks is a huge job for the adults. Feeding one chick is a big job. This way, since loons don’t count very well, the adults will be feeding their remaining chick well and they’ll all three be healthier and more prepared calorically for their flight in the near future to the coast. Our loons will winter over in the harbors off the coast of Maine and then in the spring after ice out, our adult pair will return to the lake. The young chick will remain on the ocean for a couple of years before flying “back home” to find a mate. The translocated chick will be fed minnows for a few more weeks and when he/she is ready, will be released on a lake in Massachusetts. That baby loon will fly to the coast from it’s new home in MA. Baby loons navigate “home” based on their first flight.

I am delighted to report that our baby loon is going to be a positive helper in the future wellbeing of the common loon. This kind of program has also helped to bring back Ospreys, Eagles, and other animals. There is currently a program that is working to bring turkeys from Maine to Texas where there used to be a lot of them. (We have tons of them in Maine!)

There you have it! I was so excited that I needed to share.

Gone knitting.

I Saw Live Theater!

The Sound of Music at the MUNY

I was fortunate to be able to sneak away for a couple of days to Saint Louis, Missouri to see my eldest daughter star as Maria in the Sound of Music at the MUNT theater. Wow! What a venue! This theater can (and does) hold 11,000 people and it was full even on closing night in the heat!

The performance was incredible! I was so proud of all the hard work that this cast did to bring the show to the stage in just a few short days. Six performance in an outdoor venue in the heat of the St. Lewis summer. Can you imagine wearing a wig and two layers of costumes (one of them a nun’s black habit) in 80 or 90 or 100 degree heat and 100% humidity? It was difficult enough to sit in the audience in the heat! There were, obviously, a bunch of kids in the performance and Missouri is having a COVID surge so their safety and health was a huge concern and the MUNY did a phenomenal job. Everyone stayed healthy for the three weeks that the cast was in rehearsal and doing the show.

And because my kid was in the performance, can I please mention how incredibly proud I am of her. Kate has worked so hard to get into and stay in this business. She makes what she does look effortless … kind of like the best athletes, gymnasts, and yes, knitters. I know that it’s not as easy as she makes it look and I really admire her talent and determination, her persistence, too. She’s incredible and she was the best Maria yet. (There, I said it!)

This trip was also a bit of a reunion with a dear Cincinnati friend! She grew up in St. Louis and was a wonderful tour guide. We picked up where we left off way too many years ago.It was wonderful. We were able to see the Sound of Music twice in the two evenings that we were there. We found a downpour when we tried to meet with my daughter and her husband for coffee and ended up making a quick exit to the car. We spent a lot of time in the incredible park that houses the theater and was the model for Central Park in New York City. What a phenomenal resource for the citizens of St. Louis!

Friends!

I’ll just be over here recovering from all the fun, late hours, lots of chatting and catching up!

Look at me, writing twice in two days! LOL! Gone knitting.

Adjusting. Change.

This will be the first month that I’ve missed knitting a pair of socks (or two) in almost two years. It’s been an extraordinarily busy month and it’s been really stressful.

Our refrigerator wasn’t keeping the ice cream frozen so we put a call into the technician we’ve used and he said it’s more than likely the condenser is shot. He advised us to buy a new refrigerator. Despite the LG people saying it takes a couple of hours (if you can find a technician who will come to service it – we’ve tried five, none of which can do anything for at least 3-4 weeks) the technicians all say it’s almost a full day’s work. LG will pay for the part under warranty but we have to pay for the service … guess what? It’s probably not worth it. Never mind that by the time someone can come to fix it our food will be gone. Ugh. So, we bought a new fridge and installed it ourselves because they couldn’t deliver for a week either. Ugh.

I’ve been driving a 2007 Camry since it was a new car. It was wonderful in suburbia but it’s not as wonderful on rural Maine camp roads. We’ve been talking about buying me a new one and we went out for our initial hunt last week. There isn’t much to see … not too many new or used cars are available and there’s not a lot of hope for a different situation into 2022 because of computer chips that aren’t readily available. Anywhoo … we found a RAV 4 that we thought was a good match for us and gave the dealership a deposit and it was supposed to come in at the end of the month. I was on my way to work last Thursday and saw it on the back of a car carrier truck and then got a call from the dealership that it was in if we wanted to test drive it. Suffice it to say, we pulled together all of our pennies and bought me a new car.

Meanwhile, my brother and sister-in-love in MA called me to talk about my remaining Little, Lola. I knew that she was close to the end of her life and that she wasn’t thriving but I was blind to the truth that she had no real quality of life and certainly no joy. My wonderful family offered to come to Maine to have a look and see how she was doing and, if I wanted to, to euthanize her. As I thought about it all last week, I knew she was ready. I wasn’t and would never be if I am totally honest. She was disoriented, her back legs weren’t’ working and she often fell down, she wasn’t able to get outside to do her business and she kept getting “stuck” around the house. She wasn’t comfortable.

Lola died peacefully at home on Sunday morning with all of us loving her. I will always remember her like this. She was such a wonderful girl. She was my heart animal and I absolutely adored her. She was almost literally attached to my right hip for the past 15 years. Life is horribly out of balance without her. To have lost both of my beloved Littles in six months is crushing. I am so grateful to have had them both in my life for so long and selfishly I wish it could have been longer. But even another year or five years wouldn’t have been enough. I still wouldn’t have been ready to say goodbye. I already miss her more than I could have imagined.

I’m knitting and it’s my time-filler now as well as being something to focus on in this difficult time. I’ve been working to finish the Gallbladder Shawl for my daughter’s birthday (that is this weekend) and I may get it finished but I doubt that I can get it blocked and delivered in time. But that will have to be ok this year. I think she’ll understand. I have a Christmas stocking up next for a sweet friend/customer and a list of future knits to follow that. I have to finish a sweater that has been languishing … I need to pick up the stitches around the neck and down the second side and knit four rows for the button bands and then knit the sleeves. It’s SO close.

For now, I’m giving myself grace around everything as I learn to live without my four-legged companion. My husband and I were talking over coffee this morning and saying that we are each missing the habits or patterns that our little family has been living with all these years. We look for her in her spot, I walk downstairs at bedtime with empty arms, there’s nobody to take outside first thing in the morning or last thing at night. So we will continue to be grateful that she’s at rest and we will create new habits/patterns to fill in those holes where the Littles are missing. We loved them so.

Gone knitting.

Gifts of Art

We have had a very busy last week, filled with guests and puppies and gifts of art.

I was at a board of trustees meeting on Wednesday night when I got a text from a high school friend. A very dear high school friend. She and her husband were coming to visit.

Back in the day, we had perused the Sunday paper for vans to buy and convert so we could go camping together when we were 17. Sharon and her husband just bought their camper van and we’re coming to park in our yard.

What a blast! We spent the better part of two days reconnecting and connecting with each other’s husbands. And I didn’t take a single photo of us. But they signed our guest book and Chuck left is this beautiful gift of art.

Our shore by Chuck Cornellis

A gift of art is a personal, thoughtful, almost intimate gift. We were touched and moved. and we can’t wait to get together again. As Chuck said, it could have been really uncomfortable and he had never met us. Sharon and I haven’t spent significant time together since 1976 and a lot can change in that long. But it wasn’t difficult or uncomfortable. It was wonderful. Time flew by and I’m still smiling.

Yesterday my sweetie and I took a walk down the road. Our blackberries are ripening and in the mailbox was a second gift of art. My little cousin sent a beautiful picture thanking me for “magic towels.” You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Little discs that when placed in water, expand to be a little cotton washcloth, often with a picture of something. These were Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Thanks by Penelope

I love art made by children. It’s so pure ans expressive and Penelope is an artist. Her dad said she was very excited about me getting her picture. I was excited to find it in my mailbox.

Both fabulous pieces of art will be proudly displayed at our house. We are grateful.

Gone knitting.

The Longest Day

June 20th, the summer solstice, is the longest day and each year The Alzheimer’s Association uses this day as it’s fundraiser.

This year I joined Ann Budd’s team (for the second year) and with a co-worker friend, we decided to knit together this year at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine where we both work. So when the sun was starting to rise, we were up and getting ready to “load in” with everything we needed for the day.

This is what 4:19am looks like

We arrived at the store a bit before 5:30am and got settled. We had planned to watch Knit Stars, YouTube videos and maybe more but we’d also invited customers and friends to come and sit and knit for a bit with us. Happily, that happened and the day passed more quickly than we could have imagined. Also happily, we shared many memories of those who we loved and lost to this horrible disease. That’s what the day is all about. Remembering … my mother, Glenda’s Val and the other people who are or were so loved by our visitors and all of those who donated online through our links.

On father’s day, my sweet husband brought us pizza for dinner and Vickie brought a beautiful Strawberry Rhubarb Solstice pie for dessert! It was delicious! (We each walked to Sela Tea for a salad for lunch and had some good snacks between! Snacks are important!

We raised over $2,000.00 for Alzheimer’s research and we had a wonderful day. We chose to wrap it up around 8:30pm for a total knitting time of 15 hours. Glenda finished her shawl, I finished the body of my cardigan and worked on my shawl for my daughter. Lots of progress was made.

We left for home with grateful hearts and a lot of hope that our money raised this year may, indeed, enable a cure for this horrible disease that takes away our loved ones one memory at a time. We spent the longest day making our memories. I got home in time to take one last photograph of the moon rising over the lake and a fabulous shade of, what else? Purple!

Gone knitting.

Our First (Post Pandemic) Car Trip

We always have trouble leaving home (and we were both a little cranky packing on Thursday night) but we really wanted to see N’s eldest daughter’s “new” home in suburban DC. So … off we went on Friday morning. Traffic was HORRIBLE and turned a 7-8 hours trip to southern New Jersey and our stop for the first night into 11 1/2 hours. It was a long day but it afforded us to get a glimpse of the new Tappanzee/Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge and wave toward my three kiddos in New York City. I finished N’s birthday socks and he’s happy about them. Thank you Yankee Knitter for the wonderful pattern. We were traveling with our dogs and have always liked staying at LaQuinta Hotels that are dog friendly (dogs stay for free!) Cheers at the end of the day in plastic hotel cups and a nearby restaurant for to-go food eaten in the hotel.

Day two we made it to Maryland early (it was only a couple of hours to Robin’s house.) As is my habit, I completely forgot to take photographs of the kids or their house or their cats who were mostly invisible. I mentioned that we traveled with our dogs, right? Needless to say, though, we had a wonderful time!

Part two was three days with the kids and adventures in the Greater Washington, DC area. N lived here as a young child and my grandparents are buried here. Go figure. A walk down memory lane led us to Oak Hill Cemetery where my Rockwell family is buried. Oak Hill is an historic cemetery and parts of it, including where my family rests, is very old.

You can’t see the names of my grandmother, Elizabeth Sheldon Dow Rockwell (June 1887 – March 1984), or my grandfather, Horace Lewis Rockwell (August 1886 – December 1942) without zooming in, but they share the side of the monument with Sarah Alice Rockwell who died at 18 months of age.

According to my family genealogy, my great-great-grandfather, Henry Ensign Rockwell (3/24/1811 – 1/22/1882) was the Secretary of the US Fish Commission. In 1867 he was a Representative in the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from Millbury. He is buried here with his second wife, Sarah Jemima Hathaway Rockwell (9/25/1824 – 2/6/1898). They were married in Boston on September 25, 1824. She lived a good long life, passing at age 73. Henry and Sarah had three children: Julius Ensign, Sarah Alice and Julia Lee all buried here. Julius and his wife Mabel Rose had two sons: Henry Ensign and Horace Lewis (my grandfather) who was a patent attorney and a Second Lieutenant in WW I. When he died, my grandmother had a “nervous breakdown” and was institutionalized at the Institute for Living in Hartford, CT. The children, my father included, were sent to live with friends of the family.

Next we were on to visit N’s special place, the Tastee Diner, that his father started in the 1940s. It has been moved from its original location but it remains very similar … including the original countertop in the diner section. Our “snack” became dinner … the dinner of champions! LOL

One of Robin’s requests was to make a pie. We ended up making a galette with fresh blueberries after a visit to a huge and wonderful Wegman’s grocery store! Galettes are so simple because you don’t need a special pan or other baking utensils. A little flour, sugar and butter, add fruit and voila! I hope she’ll try to make another galette when her mom visits!

Too soon we were back on the road back home and leg three of our trip. This time through Hartford, CT and the LaQuinta in Windsor Locks. We visited my parents who are buried at the Fairview Cemetery in West Hartford. The last time I visited the area was for my 40th high school reunion and I couldn’t find the plot. I’ve decided that I have to claim having the very worst sense of direction of any human on this planet. Thankfully, my sweet husband has a good sense of direction and we did manage to find them this time!

We had dinner with two dear high school friends on Tuesday night in Windsor, CT. The only time I remember visiting the Windsor area was to go to the airport but it’s a lovely area and there are some wonderful sculptures. It was a wonderful reunion.

Wednesday morning we got up early again and headed to East Cemetery in Manchester where I needed to find my grandmother Barnard who was my favorite person in my family when she was alive. I have so many wonderful memories of doing things with Gram. She didn’t have a lot of money but she spent time with me and that’s what I will always treasure.

I don’t know who all the “players” in the Robb family are so I will do some research one day. But I found my grandmother, Maude Elizabeth Robb Barnard and her husband, my grandfather, Irwin Henry “Jack” Barnard. We found them first. I had assumed that Gram would be buried by her sister Ethel and was surprised to see that they’re actually at opposite ends of the cemetery.

We hunted for my great-aunt, Ethel May Robb next. Aunt Ethel was the principal at Wadsworth Elementary School in Manchester and we spent a lot of time with her, too, as children. Aunt Ethel took me on my college visits. Ethel is buried with the rest of the Robb family near the Robb Monument. I’ll assume that Josiah Robb and his wife, Eliza Jackson (?) are the parents of Ethel, Maude, Willard and Gladys. I remember Aunt Violet who I believe was married to Willard. Gladys died young and I never met her. More work to be done on this part of the family!

The last couple of days I focused on my Fine Sand Cardigan and made great progress with it. I’m closing in on the bottom of the body – woo! hoo! When we arrived at home, we found that the resident woodchucks had decimated my hollyhocks which were nearly six feet high when we left. The rubble left from them is above right. It’s war, now! They also ate every single petunia in the pot on our front steps. Grrr.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!

Are you KIDDING me???

We have a “critter” in our yard. A groundhog. It’s been here for a couple of years. We’ve been tolerant … to a point. BUT today I went out to inspect the garden when I was looking for a photograph for my Facebook page and I saw this …

My flowers are JUST starting to grow and they’re chewed down to nubs. The little (not so little in actuality) is getting right over by the house and eating all my tender green perennials! Grrr! This makes me very angry. I have no problem with the critter eating all of the dandelion greens it wants (and there are a lot of them out there in the grass but NOT my garden plants!

And to add insult to injury … this is what I found INSIDE MY SHIRT when I got back inside …

Little F#%$er!

The ticks are out there. I didn’t even touch any plants!

I have an intarsia class to plan … I’ll be itchy for the rest of the day!

Gone knitting.