Teaching and Technology



Last week I sent some yarn to a customer who lives far away. She wanted to make socks out of Encore Worsted yarn. I sent her a picture of a few choices and we got it mailed to her. On Wednesday I got a phone call and she was stuck. She had gotten her leg and heel flap done, had turned the heel and picked up the gusset stitches. But despite having done all the “hard” work she was stuck on the directions to knit the next part – mostly on having the right number of stitches on each needle so she could decrease in the right spot!

Now, any of you who have ever tried to explain something over the phone understand how difficult it is, right? I think every teacher, at one time or another, assigns students to give directions in writing for someone who has never done something. Dialing a phone, making tuna salad? It’s not easy to fully describe any task where you are unable to see the person to whom you are giving directions.

So, I’m on the phone with a customer who is stuck on her sock. First I have to figure out where she is exactly. Next, I have to explain to her what to do next. Well, on Wednesday I didn’t do a good job. We couldn’t find a place where we could communicate with each other well enough to solve the problem. I was feeling like a failure and she was frustrated.

And then she suggested that she might send me a picture! It was a genius idea!


This was the picture I got via email

This is the picture that I got. You can see where the working yarn is (at the bottom left-hand corner of the needles) and, if you’ve knit many (MANY) pairs of socks, you know exactly what you would do next. Right? But can you describe to someone over the phone what to do? Well, after spending fifteen minutes on the phone without making any real progress, we finally had a new starting place and new hope!

Once I saw exactly where she was, I could then explain to her what she needed to do next.

She knitted down the left-hand needle and then knitted half of the heel (top) stitches. This becomes needle number three. We are now at the new beginning of the round. Now she can begin her first round with gusset decreases – Needle one will be the second half of the heel stitches and the right-hand needle stitches, the bottom needle is the top of the foot and will be needle two. We already know where needle three is!

Working together with our photograph and the use of our wonderful new technology …



Now she’s ready to complete her foot.

I am so grateful for the challenges that I am given as a teacher.  I love the brain work that it takes to figure out how to solve a challenge for the student and for me. And I have made some wonderful connections and created wonderful friendships, too. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love teaching knitting!


Private Lessons

Sock Anatomy … I love teaching knitting!

Sock Anatomy … I love teaching knitting!









Yesterday I taught one of my knitting friends how to knit socks (on DPNs.) She was apprehensive at first and cast on with a death grip on the yarn. Row 1 was a bit easier but not natural yet.

“Keep at it, the muscle memory will come. I promise”, I coached.

And it did! By row two or three she got it! Yay!

I can’t wait to meet next week and teach her to turn a heel!

Gone knitting!

End of the Year. End of the Job.

It’s been a whirlwind 50 days as an ESE FCAT Tutor. When I applied, who knew what a wonderful experience it would be!? I’ve joined a wonderful family at Woodlands Elementary School and I’m so thrilled to have been able to work with the students, teachers and staff there. Even for only 50 days.

I have been thinking about whether and what to do about end of year gifts for “my kids” and I decided this weekend to make a few more of Rebecca Danger’s “Bunny Nuggets”. One for each of the kids (and one for my two teachers, too.) A little something to remember me by.

Body Parts

Body Parts


It all starts with knitting the body parts. Quick to knit and I used up a bunch of stash yarn in the process as well. The pattern, free on Ravelry, I’ve given you on my blog before. But they’re so cute, I’m providing the link for you again!

Add faces

Add faces


When the body parts are all knitted up, you can assemble them. Assembly is easy. Add a little face and sew on the ears. You also have to make a little pompom for the tail.

I don’t have a pompom maker, if you have one, use it. I use a scrap of cardboard around which I wrap the yarn (about 45 wraps per pompom) and then using my darning needle strung with yarn, I tie a tight knot around one end of the yarn. If you wrap the first half of the knot around twice instead of once, it holds more tightly and won’t loosen when you go to make the second part of the knot. Tight knots are imperative when you’re making pompoms.) Trimming the pompom is messy but I love a well-shaped pompom. I made some of mine cream-colored and some multi-colored. Just for fun! The third grade boys all got the same three-color pompom tail … because I wanted them to remember that they are in this world together. Friends should always remain friends.

Pompom Tails on the Nugget Butts

Pompom Tails on the Nugget Butts


Once the ears, faces and tails have been attached, you can stuff your nuggets. I have used scraps of yarn or quilt batting or cotton balls or fiber fill … whatever I have around the house. Now it’s time to sew up the bottom seam and they’re all done.

Eight little Bunny Nuggets will be packed up and handed off to my eight new family members. Who knew that in 50 days, I’d feel so close to these kids and their teachers. I think being an ESE FCAT tutor was one of the best jobs I could have had. I hope I’ll be able to find something that feeds my heart and soul in the fall!

Bunny Nuggets ... ready for the end of the year!

Bunny Nuggets … ready for the end of the year!

Gone knitting!

100 Years of Colorful

Yesterday I went to the Central Florida Fair which is celebrating its 100th year. Wow! 100 Years! Quite an accomplishment for a little regional fair. I’d never been to the fair before but my knitting girls brought it into my awareness and I decided to give it a try – trying new things is good for me!

The Knit or Knot Guild was doing demonstrations in the Creative Arts Building – which was air conditioned … for which I am eternally grateful as it was near 90 degrees outside. We demonstrated and taught knitting, crochet and spinning to fair-goers young and old. And enjoyed an afternoon of knitting together. As usual, I made a mistake in my knitting while my jaw was exercising and had to “frog” a dozen or so rows this morning. But it was such a fun afternoon!

We ate fair food.

My sugar-coated sweetie!

We saw horses, calves, 4H calf roping contests, bunnies, colorful people and chickens. Lots of wonderful chickens … a few of which were happy to pose for me!


I posted before about submitting knitted items to the fair, didn’t I? Without expectation, I submitted the Señorita Lolita sweater in the “Other” Knitting category and won a second place ribbon. I also submitted my Cambridge Shawl in the “Shawls/Scarves” Knitting category and won a third place ribbon. Yay for me!!! I also will be receiving a check for $30 which, as one of my knitting gals said, I can use for buying more yarn. (Like I need more yarn!?)

I feel very proud that my knitting was acknowledged by a judge and am already thinking ahead to next year’s fair and what I can submit … especially since I know better what the categories are and what gets submitted! Look out world, the Queen Bee’s on the prowl!

Gone Knitting!

Jane Fonda On Being Perfect vs. Whole

Almost every day I try to take a little time to “wander around” on the Internet. The World Wide Web. It’s amazing how much time I can spend going from site to site without a clue about where I’ll land. And I love how much I learn! This morning, I started on email and then Facebook and then somehow got to Pinterest and then to OWN (Oprah’s new foray) where I found this video “Masterclass” by Jane Fonda that really resonated with me – being raised to value what others thought about how and who I should be.


This started me thinking about myself (since I’m on a path to self-awareness and discovery) and I thought about a session that I had with my therapist yesterday in which she pointed out something that I had totally missed.

As I’ve chronicled here on this blog before, I have been “unemployed” in the real world, anyway, for two years. All the time I’ve been applying for jobs in our area here in Florida and have recently expanded my search to other areas around the country – places where I have some contact with friends or family so I don’t have to start all over again … well, at least I hope not. Anyway, I’ve, to date, been unsuccessful but remain hopeful.

The View from my Desk

Yesterday I was sharing that I had cleaned off my bulletin board and was going to make it a vision board (in so many terms) of what I wanted to have more of in my life. I had taken all of the clutter down and only left up a few things that I really liked … a bee postcard from my French daughter, a “Bee Happy” card from a Cincinnati friend, a “Please Knit Now” postcard my knitting teacher brought to our Maine group from England, a page from an old Rockwell book with our family crest, a note from a happy client, a great bee card that I found in Maine this past summer and another card from a co-worker in Ohio. I also have my lobster claw mitts and a couple of Dove chocolate wrappers – “Live your dreams” and “Do all things with love”.

My therapist was nearly laughing at me. “You’ve already done it,” she said. I was clueless. In essence, she told me that I had already put up things that were my vision – bees and knitting … that the universe is telling me to follow my passion with knitting and Queen Bee Knits and perhaps even suggesting that I should forego more job hunting and focus on what’s right in front of my face … Queen Bee Knits. I was in tears (happy tears, but tears none-the-less).

I have several ideas that I need to follow up on that should bring me some additional revenue streams and I have at least one idea for a book that I’d like to write. Perhaps that’s a good way for me to go … it’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. But if I can realize that nobody has to be perfect (as Jane did), then I am going to give it a try! I’m still searching for the “perfect” idea but I am so desiring the idea of being whole.

Gone knitting!

Getting it Done – a Lazy Sunday

I planned to do nothing today. It was a bit grey and dreary … a lazy kind of Sunday.

Porch View - Grey-ish Sunday

I woke up late, had my coffee (soon it will be tea in the morning and no coffee but that’s a whole other story) and a rather sad looking pumpkin scone with the texture of a muffin, really. Then went outside because N. was going to mow the lawn … and I decided to weed the little perennial garden that we added by the big rock outside the front door. During the month of August, it went to heck and really needed some TLC!

We’ve been collecting the bits and pieces of scrap metal left behind by the railroad workers who’ve been upgrading the train tracks behind the house. And I decided that my garden needed to be edged with railroad spikes. I love it – and it’s so appropriate for this house that is so close to the tracks! (And we’ve still got a bucket and then some of pieces of metal for N. to practice soldering with!) A little bit of mulch and it will be done. Yippee! What do you think?

"Rock" Garden

After doing nothing this morning, I made a pumpkin pie. I thought I bought a can of pumpkin but it was organic pumpkin pie filling … and the recipe on the back of the can didn’t ask for any sugar so the pie needs a bit more sugar but it’s OK with some homemade coconut ice cream on the side!

We took the dogs for a walk down the street and chatted with neighbors and then I got to sit and knit a bit with a lovely cup of tea on the side porch.

So, for having planned to do nothing done today, I feel like I accomplished a little bit!

PS – We have been working on repainting the front screen door and the fence that surrounds the garbage cans. Though we didn’t do any painting today, we nearly have it done and it looks so much better! Now, on to the back of the house (or the wood shed or the bedroom door and window or …) Here’s the “before” … “after” pictures when we’re completely done!

Before #2










Gone knitting!

Laundry Soap Pudding

Well, we’ve talked about making our own laundry soap and it seems fitting that we would do that here in Maine where because of our proximity to the lake, we feel like we care even more about the earth and what we use on it.

Today we washed (for maybe the first time in their lives) the seat covers on the porch chairs. To be fair, we had to pick two of the same items to see which one cleans better … laundry soap from the store or the soap we made.

No clear results. Our chair cushions were so dirty that we don’t see any noticeable improvement with either soap! Next!? Guess we’ll have to try our clothes and see what happens.

*Queen Bee’s Update* – I’ve got to tell you, this is a great discovery! Not only does this laundry soap really work (clothes are at least as clean as they are when washed in the grocery store soap) but it costs only pennies per load. And it’s easy enough to make and keep! Here’s the recipe:

Grate a bar of Fels Naptha soap into 3 quarts of water. Simmer the water and grated soap mixture until the soap melts. In a bucket filled with a gallon plus 1 quart of water, add 1 cup borax and 1 cup washing soda. Now mix the hot soap mixture into the bucket. Mix well.

That’s it! When you let the mixture sit around it’s going to turn to a pudding-like consistency. It’s not “pretty” but it works and you can buy all the ingredients at the grocery store. We are using 1/2 cup of soap per large load and the clothes are smelling fresh and getting clean! Woo Hoo!

Rock-a-bye Baby

I had the honor of rocking a baby to sleep yesterday.

I was in “hog heaven” as N. put it. “La Boulette” was having trouble staying asleep whether from being in a different place, adjusting to a different time zone, new teeth, or something else. He was pooped. When his parents went upstairs to have a nap, I got the baby all to myself and when he picked up his bottle I nabbed his little body and sat with him on my lap in the rocking chair …

My Gram was the only one I’ve ever known who had the heart, the patience and the calm to rock a baby for just as long as the baby wanted or needed. She could rock my first baby – who wouldn’t sit for anything or anyone and was constantly on the go. But she would sit with Gram in her easy chair and rock until the cows came home. Gram would just hum a little song or simply respond to K’s chatter and K would pass from bright-eyed to sleepy-eyed to gonzo. Gram was the one who, despite not having a “pot to piss in”, would buy you the sun and the moon if you asked her. But you didn’t need to ask. Just knowing that you were loved made it unnecessary. She was always my biggest cheerleader! I’m so grateful that I had her in my life.

So “la boulette” and I rocked for an hour or so. Kissed his silky soft hair, smelled his baby skin. I’m not sure that there’s anything more wonderful. He slept and I remembered my Gram. It was a wonderful day!

Writing it Down …

"Senorita Lolita" - Prima Dogma for Queen Bee Knits Copyright 2010

It’s been a challenge but I’ve finally knitted a second iteration of the Senorita Lolita Sweater and written down the pattern.

Version 2 Complete! Pattern is ready for test-knitters!

For some reason, I couldn’t get it right and have knitted and frogged several times. Finally, however, I’ve gotten it done! I only have to knit the flower to “jazz it up” and it’s done. Lola will have another sweater to wear and I’ll have a first original pattern for my Queen Bee Knits “Prima Dogma” line. The second design is on the needles but I’m struggling through it as well and am trying not to let it get the better of me! For now, I’m reveling in the sense of accomplishment that I have for getting the first one done.

I used a cheap-o ball of sock yarn that I had in my stash from JoAnn Fabrics. Nothing special as far as the yarn goes, but pink does look great on my little girl! The needles that I used, however, were a different story.

Takumi Clover (US 5). The needles knit just fine but when you have to slide the knitting to the other side of the needles, it’s nearly impossible to get the stitches onto the bamboo part. I think I’m going to have to splurge and get some new needles for the Queen Bee!

Photos soon but for now, I’m off to eat my first Maine lobster of the season!


Great Cables – Books from the Library


Great, Beautiful Book for Knitting Cables!

I went to the library a couple of days ago. Honestly, I was going to get a particular book which shall remain nameless because I’ll blog about it later. I always try to go online and reserve books at the library; that way, I don’t “waste” my time looking all over the place and leaving with an armload of books that I won’t have time to read (or even look at.) BUT … my online sign-in wasn’t working so I went in without a hold list! Scary!

I didn’t find the book that I thought I wanted (and I’ve since asked a lovely librarian to fix my sign-on problem) but instead found two wonderful books on cables and Aran knitting.

I’ve blogged before about my love of cables. You’ve likely seen a couple of my projects with cables. I won’t talk about the sweater that I knit for my sweetie that came out too large … I’m talking waaaaay too large … and I did swatch it. I guess I just thought he was bigger than he really is. Anyway…

Cables Untangled by Melissa Leapman is a great book; especially so for those of you who may be afraid of cables. She provides some great tips and good illustrations for making the basic cables and increasing and decreasing, etc. I love some of the patterns in the book, most of which are sweaters but she provides patterns for different weights of yarn – bulky knitting is so much faster and if you’re new at cables, it’s a great place to start! In the back, she has a bunch of great color photographs of different cable panels, too. They’re so pretty, it makes me want to just sit down and knit each one … like I have time for that! 🙂

I swatched a new project, a sweater for my little boy (dog, that is) and will start on that this afternoon. He’s getting a simple sweater made from yarn that I bought at the Farmer’s Market in Ithaca, New York at least 7 years ago (and maybe longer). It’s a lovely double-stranded wool with one strand a light blue and one strand a natural brownish-grey (or greyish-brown). I’m knitting it on size 8 (US) needles and it will have cables down the back. When designing and knitting for male dogs, you have got to take their “parts” into consideration. These adorable sweaters that I knit for my two dogs last summer are cute as can be. However, my little boy (in the green) tends to get his wet when he goes outside. Not a good thing! I’ll be posting pictures of the “Boogie Sweater” as I progress! I know he’ll love it – he likes to wear clothes. His sister … not so much!

More books and knitting stories tomorrow!

I’ve gone knitting!