I haven’t written in what seems like forever and I’m not even going to apologize because I’m not sorry. There, I’ve said it. I needed to take this little bit of time off to spend with my kids and just “be”.
This pandemic life has been really stressful and I have had lots and lots of ups and downs. I’ve had days when I thought I could live like this forever and then the next day I can’t wait for life to go back to “normal” so it will all end. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is the real spot where I balance (sort of!) So, when my daughter asked if I’d be ok with her visiting with her husband and dogs, I said “yes!” I also decided that our kids are the only ones who I’m comfortable having visit for now. I also give myself permission to change my mind.
For the last two weeks my daughter and her husband have been visiting. It was wonderful. Easy and comfortable and lots of fun. Kate and Spencer have a great energy and it was fun to spend time with them. They were initially going to spend a week and extended it to two because they weren’t excited about going back to the heat of NYC. They worked, I worked/volunteered. We did a bunch of baking and berry picking. They also overlapped with my step-daughter and her boyfriend and dog which made it even sweeter because they’ve not really been able to spend time like that together. COVID-19 has brought our house and my heart much needed filling up. I have counted my blessings a lot lately and I am feeling completely blessed.
I”m grateful for the time we had to spend together with our oldest and youngest. I’m so happy to have met my grand-dog, Benny, for the first time. I’m grateful for a wonderful spouse who I get to share life with. We are so lucky to live is such a beautiful place and have the room to accommodate visitors for weeks at a time. Our lake provides a calming influence on world-weary travelers, ourselves included.
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I can’t believe that I haven’t written for such a long time … but I’m here today. It’s a questionably nice summer day today. We woke to rain, heavy rain, which is very welcome since Maine has been very dry. Parts of the state are talking about drought conditions. Not good this early.
I’ve been knitting along on the same projects. They seem to be taking forever to finish and that says that I’m not knitting as much as I think I am. With all sorts of time, it’s astounding to me that I get less and less done. Regardless …
My Humulus sweater is coming along. I’ve finished one sleeve and started the second one. If I really sat myself down and got off social media, I could probably finish it today. I am pretty pleased with the fit of this sweater and I really like the colors I chose. Ella Rae Classic wool is a good workhorse yarn. I would love to make another one of these sweaters (or one like it) in Malabrigo Rios or some other more luxurious yarn … some day. I have a list of sweaters and have already purchased the yarn for several that I have to knit first.
Next up, my Bristol Ivy shawl … The Shape of A Bay, I bought this pattern and yarn at Medomak Fiber Arts Camp not last summer but the summer before. It was my splurge. I started it immediately and then realized that it wasn’t a pattern to work on when you’re trying to converse with other people so I put it away until after camp. Time rolls on and then all of a sudden two years have passed and I hadn’t touched it since.
I love the yarn so much. It feels wonderful as it passes through my hands. I also am loving the intricate stitch patterns in this shawl. It’s brilliant. Way more brilliant than I can ever imagine designing myself … and that’s one of the reasons that I adore Bristol Ivy so much. She’s a knitting geek. Her designs are different, thoughtful, and wicked smaht! I am continually amazed at her creativity. I’m thoroughly enjoying knitting this shawl and I can hardly wait to see it in all its glory after it’s blocked!!!
I started a new project when I saw the newest Making magazine. There is so much in these little books that I want to make! I love these simple crochet slippers by Cal Patch (and I love Cal, too) so much and I eagerly finished both slipper bottoms in one porch-sitting day. I haven’t pulled them out again since. I am not as proficient at crochet as I am at knitting but I find it’s good for my hands and arms to change the movements up now and again. So, I change to crochet. This project, while simple for some, takes quite a bit of concentration for me but it is fun to succeed. And they’ll be warm and cozy when they’re finished and felted.
This is my other crochet project. The Battenberg blanket will be something I’ll be working on for(maybe)ever. These tiny little squares will be crocheted together eventually and I’d like to have it be big enough to cuddle an adult up in … it may be a baby blanket, however. Time will tell. I have several dozen of them finished in random sock yarns that I’ve used over the years. I have to find a solid or two to use to unify all the oddball patches. But I can make these in my sleep now. It’s a good end of the day project.
Both my husband and my college roommate showed me this recipe … that’s a strong hint. And they’re delicious. I spent a good part of the day one day this week making these and some peanut butter oatmeal cookies with nuts and chocolate chips added (because what’s a cookie without adding some extra good stuff?). I will not be shedding pounds this week, that’s for sure. This recipe can be found on the NY Times Cooking website. Let me know if you try them!
Last but not least, I finally cast on my July socks. I’ve blogged before about our 2020 Sock Challenge and I have a few friends of QBK on Facebook who are knitting socks with me this year. It’s been fun … but this month I almost forgot to start a pair! I had initially thought I’d make a pair that I saw online somewhere that was made with two yarns in contrasting colors, knit two stitches with color one and knit two stitches with color two and then after two rounds, switch the colors and so forth. But when I got started, I didn’t like the two colors together – not enough contrast – so I am knitting a simple pair of socks using my favorite Yankee Knitter sock pattern. The yarn is On the Round yarn in the Rebel colorway.
I’ve been working at weeding our gardens. So far the weeds are winning but we’ve had some wonderful floral successes this year. Have a look at my bee balm! The hummingbirds are so happy with these flowers!
All of my projects are on my Ravelry project page. You can find them there! My Rav name is Lindar. Find me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner and Instagram @QueenBeeKnits.
The Longest Day (summer solstice and the Alzheimer’s Association fundraising day) was June 20th this year. I participated for the first time as a member of Ann Budd’s team. Ann has been doing this for years (and I’m sorry I didn’t know about it sooner!) One of my co-workers was participating and I thought it was a wonderful way to remember my mother who died from Alzheimer’s in 2008 at the age of 76.
The day started with a wonderful sunrise and coffee on the porch. It quickly got too hot to sit on the front porch in the sun so I moved to location number two, the screened porch.
My goal for the day, in addition to remembering my mom, was to finish projects or at least work to that end. I finished my June socks first. I had knitted them to the toe so it wasn’t a stretch! This yarn is another One the Round Signature Sock, fingering weight wool and nylon. I love knitting with it and I love wearing it. As you can see, I don’t worry about “matchy-matchy” and there’s a funny spot at the ankle of one and a little less funny spot at the ankle of the other. (Can you see me hunching my shoulders? I really don’t mind; they’re socks.)
My next project was either my Humulus sweater or my The Shape of a Bay shawl. I chose the shawl because it’s been languishing in time out for nearly two years. I bought this kit at my fiber camp not last summer but the summer before. It’s two skeins of Cashmere People Fingering yarn and the pattern. The yarn is super yummy. I just finished a shawl test knit for Lori Versaci (VersaciKnits) for her pattern Campfire. ( blogged about it here.) This yarn is very special and the colors are so beautiful. Oddly enough, one of the colors in my Campfire shawl is the same color, albeit in a different weight, as my Shape of a Bay shawl. Go figure.
The Shape of A Bay is by Bristol Ivy. It is a half-pi shape shawl with double sided lace. I have learned that some lace is different than others. Some lace, typically more simple, is knitted with the lace-y stitches on one side only, usually the right side, and knits/purls on the wrong side. This pattern has those lace-y stitches on both sides, right and wrong side. When I am knitting a project that requires lace concentration, I like to do them earlier in the day, post coffee and pre-tired end-of-day eyes and/or cocktails. I love knitting this pattern and working with this yarn. It’s a treat. Two years ago I had worked into the pebbles section. (Lucky for me I had marked my pattern so I knew where I had stopped and I was able to start up without any trouble.) On the Longest Day, I got through the end of the pebbles section and finished most of the first repeat of the ripples section.
In the photo above, I’m through the pebbles section and starting the ripples. I had a lot of interruptions from the Littles who are getting old and have to be let out frequently … and who don’t always make it outside quite fast enough. I might have gotten further but I am grateful to be home with them when they’re really in need of their humans.
My end-of-day view was in my atelier, Littles at my feet, working on something mindless until the sun set. I took a break for dinner and a cocktail with my wonderful hubby and then we retreated to the air conditioning and a little bit of “stupid TV”. I have been working on using up some of the odds and ends of my fingering weight/sock yarns in a crochet blanket project called the Battenberg Blanket. Mine is not likely to look as “orderly” as the pattern is intended but I will have the pleasure of remembering all of the socks, shawls and other projects that I made. I am planning to use a solid color to put them all together but I’d like to make a big (queen-size perhaps) blanket so I’ll be making squares deep into my 90s. Ha! Ha!
My friends and family helped me to surpass my fundraising goal and together we will donate over $1,700.00 to fight the good fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t ever want another family member to experience the ravages of this disease that stole my mother from me and their beloved GranJan from my children and nephews. Thank you to Ann Budd and Glenda for making it so easy to participate. It was a privilege to knit on the Longest Day and I look forward to knitting again next year.
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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I started this project with the best of intentions and then the world went crazy! Between holiday orders, crazy busy work and volunteer life (lives?) and then the Corona Virus … I couldn’t concentrate on this pattern so it went into a brief time out. As my concentration returned, I pulled it back out and got it finished yesterday with the exception of weaving in the ends and blocking. This will happen today!
This shawl was a good challenge. I liked the variation of stitches and the different techniques that Stephen used. It’s a different shape and I love a good i-cord! This shawl is loaded with i-cord. I also loved working with Emma’s yarn. This is a merino and silk blend fingering weight hand-dyed yarn. Emma’s yarn is dyed by two sisters in Winter Haven, Florida. Their parents own and run the beautiful Four Purls Yarn shop … and they’ve got a yarn truck that I used to shop from when I lived in the suburbs of Orlando. The Black Sheep Shop, where I used to teach, partners with Four Purls for some wonderful yarny fun!
I’ll update photos when the shawl is blocked. I can’t wait to see how this shawl “blooms” with blocking. Blocking works miracles!
My Devon hat is also finished … except for the little tail that is hanging off the back of the hat. This was also a fun project. The Devon Hat is a simple crochet project. I still consider myself a beginner in crochet. This hat’s first few rounds are a bit wonk but the end result, despite being a little bit too big, is pretty stinking cute! The RaRa Raffia yarn is from Wool and the Gang. I bought it on the Wool and the Gang website directly but it would be a fun yarn for yarn shops to carry specifically for making hats and tote bags, too!
The hat is crocheted at a pretty tight gauge so my hands were a bit sore but I took breaks – and you should take breaks and stretch when you’re knitting or crocheting for a extended period of time. Stretching is a good thing – I promise, I know!
I never wear hats because I have a big head. “One size fits all” sure doesn’t. So, I thought this would be a good solution to my problem. I love hats but I can’t find hats that fit. This one will work when I’m sitting in the sun knitting.
I have a new plant baby, a ZZ plant, in my atelier! I bought this for my hubby back in the wintertime thinking he’d like a plant in his studio space which is on our third floor. He was concerned that it would die up there because he’d forget to water it. So, since then, it’s been living in our living room with all the other plants and I’ve been taking care of it. This morning, I decided to take it up to my studio where I can enjoy it and it’s something green and alive.
Yesterday was a beautiful, albeit windy and chilly, day and we went to the nearest garden center, a small family business in the next town to get some vegetable plants to put into our garden. I wanted to start some greens (they’re supposed to be hardy enough for this time of year) and get a leg up on growing our own food this spring/summer and into the fall. We have a very short growing season and last year we had a garden fail. I hope we are more successful this year. We bought a few pansies to decorate our front dooryard, too. Pansies are such bright and happy plants and we will enjoy these well into the summer!
I did do some knitting yesterday and finished a bird. The pattern is Susan B. Anderson’s Simple Bird and Nest which can be found in the most recent Making Magazine, #9 Simple. I dove into my stash to find the yarn and it is really cute. I’ll make the nest today … and maybe its eggs. This will be a gift so I won’t show the whole “set” until it’s been received. I’ll be making two … or maybe three of these for some special friends.
All of my new veggie plants were in the garden to be planted yesterday and I ran out of steam. That turned out to be lucky because we had a frost last night … go figure, it’s the middle of May! Ha! Ha! I wonder if we will ever see summer this year. The weathermen said that should be our last frost … I’ll plant the greens: kale, spinach, lettuces, and some spring mix this afternoon or tomorrow. I think tomorrow.
Y’all! What is happening? I’m sitting here wondering, trying to remember if it’s ever snowed in May … on Mother’s Day weekend … in my lifetime. I don’t think it has. One of our local television stations says that there was accumulation of five inches on May 10-11 1945 and 1963. I wasn’t born in ‘45 and I was 4 in ‘63. So there you go.
I’ve been keeping myself busy though. A zoom call with my Friday knitters yesterday was the highlight of my week. As it usually is, Friday is a great day when my students and I gather around the table. Or in this case around our computers. At least we can be together virtually. I bought a subscription to zoom this week so we can visit for more than 30 minutes.
Im using up a ton (well, that may be an exaggeration) of leftover bits and bobs of sock yarn making little crocheted squares for a Battenberg Blanket. This seems to be a project that I can focus on. Especially at the end of the day when my body and mind are tired. The mis-matched squares will be unified with squares of a single color … I’m not sure what that color will be yet. Time will tell.
My Humulus sweater is back out of time out … although the way it’s been behaving may warrant a return. I have managed to complete a couple of rounds but not without some drama. Mostly because my focus is stunted and I miss a stitch, typically at the end of a chart repeat and I don’t notice it until I’m at least half way around. Frogging is our friend in knitting, right? Sewing is not so forgiving. (Don’t ask!) I will soldier on and get the color work yoke finished one of these days. Then it’ll be smooth sailing to the bottom. 🤞🏼
My June socks are progressing. These are for the 2020 Sock Challenge that I’m doing with my students, a co-worker and her classes, plus a few of my wonderful FB followers. I can work on these at night, too. I’ve chosen to crochet for the last few evenings. This month, I’m using On the Round Signature Sock yarn and a US 1.5 needle and knitting the largest size. They sure are pretty.
Queen Bee’s Note: It’s now the end of the day, the snow has stopped and is mostly melted. I’ve not knitted a stitch yet.
My newest family member is my nephew, Hugh. He just turned a year old and because of life and Corona Virus, I’ve not met him in person yet. When we were facetime-ing a little while back, I decided that I wanted to make him a sweater.
I went through the normal (ha! like anything I do is “normal”) process of figuring out what pattern and what yarn to use … I had this great blue tweed in my stash and it’s a worsted weight yarn. This, I decided, would be the color. BUT we had a sweater pattern at work called Digger Jacket and I loved the idea of putting a construction vehicle on the sweater. I didn’t love the jacket pattern, however. I considered knitting the jacket in my chosen yarn with the intarsia vehicles but I really love the Wonderful Wallaby pattern. I love the construction method of Wallaby and the pouch is something little kids love. SO, I decided to knit the Wallaby with no hood, a crew neckline and a steam roller on the pouch.
To be very honest, I had planned to knit the steam roller into the pocket but I forgot. It’s one of the “symptoms” of anxiety and lack of focus that I’ve been experiencing during this Corona Virus/Covid-19 pandemic and physical distancing. So, I made lemonade and duplicate stitched the pattern onto the pouch after the sweater was completed. I’m really pleased with the outcome!
My nephew lives in Northern California and I didn’t think that the hood as the Wallaby pattern is written would be a good idea. Typically, the Wallaby has a divided placket and a hood, neither of which I wanted. I followed the pattern up to where the placket begins and then I went off on my own, fingers crossed, hoping that I really do know what I am doing. I continued the decreases at the shoulders as set until I had 60 stitches. The head opening was too small. I frogged back to where I had 76 stitches and it was much better. Six rounds of 1×1 ribbing and a bind off round in pattern and the sweater is pretty much done … I just have to seam the underarm and sew in the ends, block it and put it into the mail. I already got online and sent a little board book about construction vehicles in advance of the sweater. My son loved his trucks books and I hope Hugh will, too.
Join me on Facebook: Queen Bee Knits by LindaWarner, on Instagram: @QueenBeeKnits and you can see all of my photos and information on this project and others on Ravelry, I’m lindar.
This week saw the release of Lori Versaci’s VersaciKnits newest shawl pattern, Campfire.
I was fortunate to have been asked to test knit this beautiful pattern and with that was a request to knit it in Cashmere People Yarns, Cashgora Sport.
When I called Portfiber in Portland, Maine to order my yarn, I spoke with owner, Casey Rider, a friend and “camp counselor” at one of my favorite places on earth, Medomak Fiber Retreat. Casey is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known. I wanted my shawl to evoke the feeling you get when you wear a comfortable pair of worn-in blue jeans. I’d looked at the colors of Cashgora Sport on Portfiber’s website so I had some idea of what colors I liked but I also knew that the colors on the computer aren’t always like those in your hands. I counted on Casey to take my initial ideas and transform them into reality – and she did a magnificent job. I love the colors individually and together. While this shawl was a financial investment, it’s worth every single penny spent. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting every stitch (even the ones I had to frog and re-stitch because I can’t count!) and I love wearing it.
The pattern is clear and not at all difficult for even an adventurous beginner. Increases are always in the same space, There is some stockinette stitching which makes the pattern stitch areas worth knitting. The contrast between the patterns and stockinette are so satisfying. And the finished product is stunning … even if I do say so myself!
Campfire is made with three skeins of Cashgora Sport. I used Scree (natural), Toile (light blue) and Denim (darker blue). But you should check out the colors … they’re amazing! And the purchase of these yarns support the women in Tajikistan and Afghanistan who spin and dye it. Giving these women work means that they can support themselves and their families. Doing good.
For the month of May, you can also help Lori and Casey do some more good … Lori is donating 100% of pattern sales to Vinylhaven Community Outreach, a non-profit supporting the needs of people on this Maine island that depends on the lobster industry that has taken a big hit during this Covid-19 pandemic. Portfiber (Casey) is donating 20% of Cashmere People yarn sales during the month of May to Full Plates Full Potential, a Maine non-profit that provides breakfast and lunch to Maine children even during this pandemic.
Spring is just about to really make a commitment here in Maine! We had some rain and some very light flurries this morning … and I’m really hoping that we don’t see any more snow until October. Thank you very much!
I’ve been working on a Wonderful Wallaby sweater for my nephew. He’s already a year old and he’s growing like a weed. I love the Wonderful Wallaby sweater and I’ve made a few of them. One of them was for his big sister long ago and far away.
The Wonderful Wallaby sweater is knit from the bottom up. The pocket (that’s why it’s a Wallaby) is knitted at the same time as the body of the sweater. The pocket and the body are knitted together, and the body is continued. Sleeves are then knitted in and you finish knitting the yoke and a hood. I am not going to make the hood this time. I’m going to knit a simple crewneck by continuing the decreases at the shoulders until there are 60 stitches and then knit a 1×1 rib on the smaller needles. At least that’s my plan. At this time, I am thinking that I will use the duplicate stitch to add a surprise on the pocket. I don’t want to tell you exactly what that will be until it’s done and delivered. The yarn has been following me around for over a decade. I did made myself a top down sweater with it. Elsebeth Lavold’s Tweedy Wool is 85% highland wool, 10.5% acrylic and the remainder is viscose, 136 yards in a 50 gram ball and it’s discontinued. The little surprise will be stitched in Cascade 220 Superwash … because I could get the right colors!
I’ve made a new batch, with a new recipe, of baked oatmeal this morning and it’s my favorite so far. It’s full of pecans, almonds, carrots, coconut, and cranberries in place of cherries. I found the recipe on Pinterest and it’s super delicious! I actually had a serving and a bit more for “lunch” today … I had to try it! The recipe is on Cooking in Stilettos. I fully recommend it! And I don’t like oatmeal! I will freeze the eight other servings and pull them out as I want them and “zap” them for a minute or so. I ate mine today with just a bit of almond milk … I didn’t need to use any additional sweetener which is always a win!
I seem to be hitting my stride here in “quarantine” and it’s feeling a bit more “normal”. I have made an effort to reach a level of acceptance around this time. It’s surely the weirdest experience that I’ve had in my life (and I’m no spring chicken!) I have been counting my blessings, finding things to be grateful for every day and talking to and checking up on people that I love. I am coming to believe that this time of not being so busy has been a blessing. I’m talking to my kids more, my friends more and my students and co-workers, too. I’m also getting my knitting groove back. I am able to concentrate a bit more … although I do have days when I get nothing done. I’m not perfect.
Our weather is improving. We’ve had some beautiful days and we have been able to have coffee on the porch. This is what we wait all winter for!
Follow me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by LindaWarner and @QueenBeeKnits on Instagram. All of the details on my knitting and crochet projects are on my Ravelry projects page, I’m lindar.