Spring has Sprung!

The ice has been groaning and bumping. Sometimes it’s loud enough to hear inside with all the windows tightly shut. It’s an incredible, living thing and as our temperatures warm up (yesterday it was near 50 degrees if not more) the ice is changing quickly and will soon be gone completely. I’ll try to do a better job this year of chronicling the ice leaving. It’s fascinating!

Meanwhile, I’m knitting. I admit that most of my attention has been on my Opus octopus because I’m so entranced and enthralled by it. The pattern is great. I had no trouble at all getting the entire piece knitted without anything more than minor counting problems – and counting problems are completely on me! I am so happy with my color choices and the Malabrigo Rios yarn is soft and perfect for a knitted stuffed toy. At least one for me … it might be a bit pilly if it is loved by a child. I think I’d have used a different yarn if this hadn’t been for me … perhaps Berroco Vintage which is soft but more tightly twisted than Rios. Vintage is Acrylic which will make it harder-wearing and it would also be more affordable.

This morning I stuffed the head of my Opus.

I will attempt seaming of the tentacles today and stuffing them with fiberfill. I have fiberfill but as the pattern calls for wool roving, if the fiberfill doesn’t work, I can pick up roving at work tomorrow. I think the fiberfill will work, though. I’m really excited about it!

I’ve also been working on a couple of other projects and planning is in the works for a new projects, too. I’m working along on my Flux Handwarmers.

Flux Handwarmers

Honestly, these aren’t my favorite. I think the way the thumb gusset is designed is a bit fiddly. They’re pretty but they’re kind of silly. We’ll see what happens because I sometimes wear my least favorite projects the most. More on that later. But I have the first mitt done with the exception of the thumb which won’t take a long time to finish. The second mitt is finished to separating the thumb gusset stitches. I was out on the porch, sitting in the sun and knitting, when I reached this point and didn’t have a needle or a bit of scrap yarn to put the stitches on so I had to stop.

Fine Sand Cardigan

I’m working away, slowly on my Fine Sand cardigan. This is slow and steady work. I have reached the separating stage, separating the sleeves from the body of the sweater. Now I have endless stockinette stitch with a few shaping spots left to go … and a couple of sleeves. A friend of mine from Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat (aka Knitting Camp) was wearing this sweater two summers ago and I admired it then. It’s been on the needles for nearly that long! I knew we carried the yarn at the store where I work so I bought the yarn … and then it got set aside for something else as often happens. This is a pandemic finishing project.

I think, once it’s done, it will be a very wonderful summer sweater. Perfect for the cooler summer evenings outside.

My Color Choices.

I’m working on the color choices of my next project.

I’ll be joining the Modern Daily Knitting (MDK) Lopi knit-a-long that begins today. The KAL is all about MaryJane Mucklestone’s Field Guide #17 – Lopi and I’ll be knitting her cardigan called Daytripper. This will be my first Lopi sweater and I’m excited to give it a try – I’m also a bit “concerned” that I won’t be able to wear the Lopi because of my allergies but I’m going ahead and we shall see. I had originally bought the yarn to make a Stopover pullover but when the new pattern came out I decided to switch for two reasons: I think I’ll get more wear from a cardigan and I hope the cardigan opening will mitigate some of my allergic reaction by virtue of having less wool right under my nose. (Ha! Ha! I’m hoping!) I want to have a bit of pink in this sweater because I have nothing pink in my sweater collection and for some reason, I’m liking pink. (Top left is main color, bottom left is color A, the rest of the colors are for accents.)

Gone knitting!

A Great Day!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Yesterday was a beautiful day! We both had the day off and it was a very special day for us. We got our first Covid vaccines! I have never been so excited to get a shot in my life. Today I feel like the psychological weight of Covid-19 is finally beginning to lift. The fear of getting this disease that has killed over a half million Americans and many more around the world has been weighing hard on me. Those of you who don’t live with me, work with me or aren’t related to me don’t know about my chronic cough. I’ve had this cough for at least two decades. It’s allergy-related, chronic post nasal drip causes my throat to tickle and I cough. I can control it with keeping my environment scent-free, chemical-free and (to the best of my ability) dust-free. Anywhere out of my control is just that.

Anyway, along with a couple of million other people, I got my vaccine and my sweetheart did, too. That is a good day. Oh! Did I mention that it was cold but sunny and that was pretty sweet, too?

Woo! Hoo! This girl is half-vaccinated!

It’s been almost 13 months since I last got my hair cut. Maybe I can make an appointment for early April! Gone knitting.

Deep Freeze, Raw Emotions

Deep Freeze on Messalonskee 3/2/2021

My emotions have been very close to the surface recently. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m mourning the last year that we’ve “lost” because of Covid-19 or because there is finally a sense of calm in our Nation’s capital with the new administration. I’m not sure what it is that I am feeling so deeply or that’s bubbling up but it’s there and with this post I am acknowledging it. I am looking forward to the day when it feels safe to leave the house and when I can see my family again. I miss them all so much but I am also so grateful that they’ve all remained healthy.

We woke to sub-zero temperatures today and lots of wind gusts! It was blowing all night but we have been fortunate to retain our power today while lots of other communities in Maine have not. The sun is out and the sky is bluebird blue and that always helps my “attitude”. I would love to see a really good snowstorm before spring but they posted our road yesterday and our camp road has been a muddy mess for a week or more so I may not get my wish.

Today I finally seamed the underarms of my test knit sweater, Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnston. I like it more than I thought I would before it was blocked. The fabric relaxed a lot in its bath. I also learned a few new techniques: folded cuffs and neck and saddle shoulders. This sweater was fun to knit, partly because it’s somewhat cropped and knit in an Aran weight yarn. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran with Wool (a washable acrylic and wool blend) and it was heavy on the US8 needles … my hands got tired knitting! After seaming the underarms, I put the sweater on – this is the coldest day of our winter so far – and it’s nice and warm, the sleeve length is perfect and I like the pockets placed on the side of the sweater. I can’t show you any photographs yet but when I have permission, I’ll add them here.

Meanwhile, I have cast on a pair of socks for my March 2021 Sock Challenge. This month I’m knitting worsted weight boot socks in Raggi yarn. Gray and white marled leg and foot, red cuff and toe. I’ve nearly got one sock finished and will have to attach sock #2 as soon as #1 is finished. These will be super warm socks and they’re so cute!

I’ve also chosen to participate in the Confident Knitting year-long program hosted by Jen Arnall-Culliford. I also chose to splurge and purchase their yarns – typically not yarns we carry at the yarn shop where I work here in Maine. It’s a great chance to taste yarns that I may otherwise not get a chance to work with. AND they had a cool pink project bag!

I’ve started the March project, Flux Handwarmers by Martina Behm. The techniques learned this month are crochet provisional cast on and a folded edge. I chose to do a picot edge which is so cute! This month’s yarn is the springtime colorway of a Crazy Zauberball. These mitts will be a nice weight and they’ll be so cheerful. I’ve participated in A Year of Techniques and Boost Your Knitting for the two previous years and I learned a lot. I’m sure I’ll learn some new tricks this year, too! What I love about these programs is that there are detailed tutorials on all of the techniques and even when I already know one, I can find something to learn (or it just hammers it into my head.)

I’ve been spending a lot of time “worrying” about my sweet Lola. She’s not eating well and her hind legs are unstable. She sleeps most of the day but she still finds a tail wag or two to gift me with every day. For months I’ve been looking at the little kit that I bought when I was out shopping pre-pandemic. The little felt mitten has a bee on it and I couldn’t resist. This will eventually live on our Christmas tree but until Christmas, it’ll likely live on my desk lamp!

I finished two black tams for a customer and they’ve been delivered to the store for her to pick up. She wants two more navy blue ones. It’s sweet of her to ask me. I made a tarte tatin over the weekend. It was delicious! A few apples, some sugar, butter and a home made crust and it was dessert for two for several days. Yummy!

We’ve been spending lots of time doing puzzles. My hubby gave me a really difficult puzzle for Christmas and we stuck to it and finished it … and he ordered another one for Valentine’s day which we’re working on at the dining room table. Luckily, there are only the two of us so we only need one end of the table for eating (although we generally eat up in my studio and watch the news.)

Gone knitting!

Tate Rancher Hat

A long time ago, I started a raffia crochet hat. I started it three times. Each time it was too big and the last time, after completing the pattern, it was still so large that I decided to frog it and never make it again.

Fast forward to a few months ago and I happened to walk into work when our Berroco rep was visiting my boss and ordered a couple of cakes of Berroco Estiva, a cotton tape yarn that I was going to try to make a different hat with. (That hat was The Cleo Crush Fedora, a free pattern on Ravelry.) I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to make the sunhat/Cleo and recently cast on.

And then I realized that I had been gifted a great sun hat on my birthday by my daughter and her husband and it’s also blue so perhaps a sun hat wasn’t what I wanted to crochet again. Perhaps a fedora with a smaller brim … hence, the Tate Rancher!

Me! The Queen Bee in my Tate Rancher hat

I haven’t been crocheting for very long but this pattern is a simple single crochet and it’s made up in a spiral. The directions are clear and detailed enough to help the novice crocheter (like me!)

I started my hat with an I I5.5mm) crochet hook because, don’t forget, I started out making the Cleo Wide Brim but I ended up going down to an H (5.0 mm) because at the first measuring spot, I was a bit too loose. Don’t judge. Once I changed to the H, I was right on the measure. It’s a good spot to do a “gauge” swatch because the first part of the hat to the first measuring spot is only a few rounds.

the first measuring point … I was spot on with the H crochet hook and this yarn but even if I needed to adjust, this only took a short while to crochet and I wouldn’t have felt badly frogging and re-starting!

I did choose to use the fancy wire stuff that was suggested in the pattern to stiffen my hat brim. It was easy to crochet around (although the ends are rough and I did wrap them with some washi tape but they still popped out when I was steaming the hat to block it. It was readily available at Home Depot and my husband happened to be going there so I added to his list.

I braided a nice long section of the Estiva to tie around my hat because I don’t have a piece of leather or a skinny belt. I like the one color look, honestly, and I am quite pleased with this hat. I think I’ll be wearing it a lot this spring and summer. I have trouble driving with my sunhat but this hat should be ok in the car, too.

All the details are on my Ravelry project page. I’m lindar on Ravelry. Gone knitting!

Crofter’s Smock Test Knit

I swatched and swatched and swatched again! The first swatch, the pink-ish yarn was on target but the red, that I thought would be perfect for this project wasn’t right. This swatch was knitted flat before I discovered the instructions to knit the swatch in the round … so I got my needles back out and swatched again, this time in the round, with the red yarn. It was close “enough” and would probably have given me a little bit larger sweater when finished. But then I thought, since I can’t identify the yarn because it was gifted to me, that wouldn’t help the designer. So back to work. I dove into my stash and thought that Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted is a heavy worsted. But I didn’t get gauge. Last chance was a stashed Hayfield Aran with Wool and my gauge was spot on! Woo! Hoo!

Next day I was off to my LYS (Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine) to see what two (big) balls were in stock for this sweater. I’d done a bit of research into colors so I did have some idea what I wanted to do and found Celtic Grey (is it grey or gray?) I also happened to grab a couple of balls of Raggi worsted sock yarn and ordered some Lettlopi for a future Stopover Sweater and Mary Jane Mucklestone’s new Heart Mittens. They’ll both be a “reward” for finishing my test knit.

I’ve been knitting away as often as I can manage between work and my volunteer board meetings and phone calls and as of this afternoon I have passed the seven inches mark. I checked the Google doc for the test knitting group to pass information to Gudrun and I’m doing pretty well … even if some of the testers have moved on to the sleeves. A few more inches to the armpits!

Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnston in Hayfield Aran With Wool

I am enjoying the mixture of textures in the body of the sweater and it’s simple enough to not have to look at the pattern. So, I’d best get back to work so I can keep the progress rolling! One stitch at a time! I’ll be back soon with a post about measuring gauge (just in case you don’t know how to do it!)

Gone knitting!

Bernie’s Mittens

Thanks, Bryan!

We have all seen the memes of Senator Bernie Sanders wearing his now iconic recycled sweater mittens and Vermont-made “snow jacket” at the inauguration of Joe Biden last week. Bernie’s been traveling EVERYWHERE!!!

Thankfully, my sweet friend, Bryan in MA sent this photo to my personal Facebook page because this old gal hasn’t got a clue, nor, frankly, has she got the gumption, to figure out how to do this! It makes me giggle and we all need a good giggle now and again, right?

I’m pictured here in my me-made lobster mask and my hand-knit Sunset Highway sweater. (Click on the link to head on over to my Ravelry project page. Email me if you can’t do Ravelry and I’ll be happy to answer any and all questions.)

Broken Hearted

Last week I lost one of the loves of my life. My little dog, Boq, died on Friday.

Wicked’s Munchkin Boq (aka Boogie Man, Pee-Pee Boy, Brother, Booger, Sweet Boy)

I got home from work on Thursday to a mess on the living room floor and Lola walking back and forth through it. Suffice it to say, I was confused and getting upset because my husband didn’t answer my calls … yells … screams … I was afraid. Afraid for my husband, first, and then realizing that his truck was missing, afraid for Boq. And as that realization dawned, I found my sweet husband and a towel-wrapped bundle coming into the house. He had saved Boq, who’d had a seizure, was in shock and his little body was shutting down. He had rushed Boogie to the vet where, with a little warming and some IV fluids, he “pinked up” and was sent home. But the next day it was clear that he was not ok and the vet report was not encouraging. They found a tumor the size of a navel orange on his liver. The tumor was taking up 60% of his abdomen and he was showing signs of serious discomfort. It was clear that he was at life’s end at almost 15 (105 in dog years.)

After talking with my sister-in-law (she and my brother owns a veterinary hospital and have such amazing wisdom) and my kids we made the difficult decision to help him leave us so he wouldn’t suffer. We are so grateful that our veterinarian here allowed us to be with Boq as they helped him go. It was so peaceful and it was so sad. He is no longer suffering but our hearts are broken.

He was the sweetest, best boy. He was never house trained, we were. He was always a little bit “off” and kept us eternally amused. He sat facing the back seat of the car, he kept trying to dig his way back to China or wherever his ancestors came from. He was a wonderful paper shredder, a snuggly bug, a chill dude. I miss him so much.

Rest in peace, sweet boy. We will never ever forget you.

WIPs … What to carry into the New Year


My Amarylis is Blooming! Happy, bright colors help in Maine winters!

I started 2020 with a list of WIPs.

  1. Dolores by Franklin Habit
  2. Bristol Ivy’s shawl
  3. Clog Socks (one was done, this was the second one needed)
  4. Lobster Hat
  5. Hope Cardigan
  6. Good Karma Shawl
  7. Mitts for Flo
  8. Battenberg Blanket
  9. Socks for Rose
  10. Maine Mittens

This year I finished the The Shape of a Bay shawl. It was a kit that I bought at Medomak Fiber Arts Camp two summers ago. it got sidelined but I really wanted to finish it and wear it! It’s a beauty! I also finished the socks for my granddaughter, Rose.

Shape of a Bay (pre-blocking)

I didn’t even begin two of the “WIPs” … so, do they even count as WIPs if I didn’t ever start them? Maybe they should have been put on a wish list rather than a WIPs list. Anyway, the Good Karma shawl and mitts for Flo have not even seen the needles yet. Needless to say, I’ll carry them along.

I frogged the clog sock because who knew, all those months later, what size I made (I didn’t mark my pattern well before I put it in time out.) I also frogged the Maine mittens. I have two skeins of Bartlett yarn and ton of stashed fingering bits and bobs enough for clog socks. I won’t carry them forward but I will eventually make the clog socks again (I’ve felted a couple of pairs) and I really want to make the mittens but they were too hard on my hands this year.

Remaining on my needles, or off of them and in time out, are Dolores, Lobster Hat, Hope Cardigan and the Battenberg Blanket.

I got some good progress done on the Hope Cardigan this year and I’m excited to keep going on it. I like the weight and the different construction of this sweater so I’ll take it with me into 2021. I’ll also commit to finishing Dolores (and the outfits that I have bought) and the Battenberg Blanket. Although I won’t make any more tiny granny squares, I’ll just attach them and make do with whatever size it makes. The assembly is what I find way too tedious!

Hope Cardigan in process

I had 10 WIPs on my list in my new Bullet Journal planner. I listened to the Yarniacs podcast this morning and I decided to look at those WIPs and decide how many I really want/NEED to carry along into the New Year.

I have decided to cut my WIPs down to

  1. Dolores
  2. Hope Cardigan
  3. Battenberg Blanket
  4. Fine Sand Sweater
  5. Arne & Carlos Quarantine KAL cushion

I’ll add Mitts for Flo, Good Karma shawl and Fish #3 to my list of things I want to knit … maybe my Ravelry queue would be a more appropriate place for them to sit since they’ve never been started and they’re not technically WIPs. That will feel better.

While I was adding to my Ravelry queue, I deleted a bunch of projects/patterns that I had marked as favorites or put on my queue and that lightened my load a bit more. Now, if I could only get that efficiency in the house … closets, drawers, pantry …

As we step out of 2020 and into 2021, I’d like to wish each of you a lightened load. This has been a trying time and it sounds like masks and distancing will continue in the future. It’s all about how we carry these “restrictions” with us. I choose to take the blessings with me – our health, my love of family, gratitude for a roof over our heads and food in our pantry among others – When I can do that I make my life easier and happier. Light, love and laughter keep me smiling (and I can see it in the eyes of others!) I’m so grateful to be a maker this year. Making – knitting, baking, sewing, etc. keeps me focused on a forward-looking task. While I am sometimes fearful, I am mostly content and I wish you the same contentment. Thank you for reading my blog and I appreciate the sweet comments and encouragement you’ve offered over this year. I know 2021 is going to be another great year. Cheers!

Christmas Balls

I may only be twenty-five percent of the way through twenty-four new Christmas ball patterns by Arne and Carlos, but I wanted to show you how great they are!

These beautiful balls have been such a wonderful opportunity during these tumultuous months to find comfort and peace in knitting. Each pattern is different … and they take just enough concentration to accomplish. I am so appreciative of Arne and Carlos’ “Sit and Knits for a Bit” podcasts over the last several weeks and months. It’s been a bright spot in my week to sit with my yarn and the podcasts and to center myself and my attention on something other than pandemics and politics.

I’ve barely made a dent in my yarn (yes, I purchased new yarn for this project … I didn’t have the right yarn in my stash) so I’ll be knitting more. There’s one that’s a VW bug with a tree on top … that’s one that I for sure need to knit!

The plan is to put them on our tree but for now, they’re on the wooden Skandinavian Christmas tree that a sweet, dear friend made for me over a decade ago. I enjoy seeing them together … for now.

See my Ravelry project page for more information about the yarn and needles I used.

Gone knitting!

Making Stories

This year I’ve been touched by a few, perhaps many, different podcasts, people and situations all over the world. The inspiration helped me get creative a few times this year but until this week, it’s been sitting around my studio. Unfinished.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an amazingly bright, strong woman who lived an exceptional life. She was thoughtful and fair as a judge and I respected her perseverance. I dug deep into my crafting stash and found some felt and lace and made a pin. I like it even more as an ornament. I’ll remember RBG each time I place this simple ornament on our tree.

RBG ornament. Felt, lace and wool.

I finished the stitching on this mitten ornament, bought as a kit, a year or so ago. It’s one of a set of mittens but I’ve only made one. I probably won’t make another. This one is finished and on the tree this year. While it wasn’t inspired by anyone in particular, I was inspired to get it hung on the tree after spending more time than in the past at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

2019 Wool Felt Mitten Ornament with poinsettia

Today, my sweet and talented husband helped me to make a new project. Inspired by Arne and Carlos and their “Sit and Knit for a Bit” Advent series this year. Arne and Carlos made this on their podcast but I first saw Kate (from The Last Lonely Home podcast) make it on her podcast. International inspiration! As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to make one to put out on our boathouse. My husband cut the boards for me from his wood stash. (The family that stashes together stays together? LOL) and today I put it together. We need a short extension cord so that we can plug it in, but here it is during the day.

Arne & Carlos’ Advent Star
Our Christmas star at night

This afternoon I made the second of two up-cycled tote bags from bird seed bags. They’re so strong and so pretty, I couldn’t resist.

I have begun to stuff and finish the first six ornaments from Arne & Carlos’ Advent KAL – 24 new Christmas balls! I’m happy that I’ve finished six and I’ll work on finishing the rest over the next few months.

I started the repair of my daughter’s quilt that was chewed by her dog. It needs a couple more patches and a new border. Once the quilt top is finished, I’ll take it to a local sewing studio to quilt it on her long arm machine, I think.

It feels good to get some of these “old” projects wrapped up. The New Year is a good time to start fresh … so this lazy lady needs to get some projects finished! Inspiration from everywhere!

Gone finishing!