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!

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.

The Queen Bee’s Excellent Vacation Adventure

May be an image of 4 people
Me and the Kids … 1991-ish

When I was younger and had three little kids, life was busy. I loved being responsible for the care and feeding of three little humans (It was the best job I’ve ever had!) and I sometimes tried to imagine what life would be after they flew the nest … less laundry, less cooking, less busy. One of the things we all liked best was going to the beach with my mother (GranJan).

I used to pack up the “mommy van” (yes, it had wood paneled sides) with three little kids and drive from Central Ohio to Connecticut and then on to Rhode Island. They loved staying in a cheap Knights Inn somewhere in the middle of the trip. They “hated” Pennsylvania because it took such a long time to drive through. But the drive was always worth it when we got to the beach. All of the kids spent every summer there until about the year 1999 or 2000. Since they spent more years there, my girls have a greater connection to the place. The girls have returned to visit or drive through a few times. Kate met Heather at the beach. Her family owned a home there until about ten years ago. She had visited at the beach with Heather a couple of times and, as facts would have it, even slept in the house that I rented.

Anyway … we planned for a week in the late season and as it turned out the timing was perfect. The house was perfect and well equipped. The original part of the cottage was built in the late 1800s. It has a living/dining room, kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a bath but over the years, we figure, they added on bit by bit. Now there are three bedrooms and two baths in the main house and another two bedrooms and two baths in the new addition. There was plenty of space for all of us and room for another family, too. The kids and their significant others and their dogs all had space to live comfortably for a week. And we did!

The Nest with a Handsome Visitor at the Door
The Perch (the new addition)

We spent a lot of time outside. It’s an easy walk to “sea glass” beach or the “kiddie” beach and we enjoyed both. Since it was after the season, we were able to enjoy the beaches with the dogs and alone. We looked, but there is not much sea glass at “sea glass” beach these days.

We spent enough time at the beach to get a good dose of sunburn and that felt really great! We also spent a lot of time in the yard. We had a nice patio and yard with a grill and picnic table or two where we could enjoy the view of the ocean from the house and some smores.

Ahh! A View of the Ocean

We ate well, we stayed up late, we played fun games and had a puzzle-palooza competition. We filled the recycling container more than once with La Croix seltzer cans, wine and beer bottles. We visited Watch Hill for ice cream cones, peach, of course, and a bit of shopping. We had some trouble finding a place that was open for lobster rolls but we found a brewery in Westerly that had a great summer ale for $10 a case.

And my heart is full.

Nothing makes this mom happier than being with my kids. We haven’t spent time like this together for a long, long time. We think the last time we were at the beach was twenty-two years ago, plus or minus a year or two. I’m not sure that we’ve all been anywhere together for a week since then, actually. We’ve had weekends here and there, we’ve had some of us together (during the first pandemic summer) for a week or two, but not all of my kids for a week all together. The pile of shoes left at the front door was life affirming. The laughter around the fire pit was, too.

I am so grateful to have been able to spend this vacation with my three kids, two husbands, a girlfriend, my sweet, patient husband and our seven dogs. We had a great visit with my aunt and uncle who came all the way from Lake Tahoe to visit with our family and we had a visit from a summer camp friend who happened to be at the next beach over on business. It was, in a word, good!

I’ll forever be grateful to have been able to do this with my kids. Spending time together, reconnecting, getting to see their relationships, getting to know their significant others better. It was a walk down memory lane and a memory-making vacation that we all enjoyed. AND we are already planning our vacation for next year!

I have been knitting … more on that later!

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.