Quarantine Update – How are YOU doing?

The ice has gone from our part of the lake. This was the first (almost) sunset last night … gorgeous!

Y’all, this is difficult, isn’t it? I’m a very social person and I love working in a yarn shop, helping people, talking to people, laughing. So, this staying home thing is difficult. And I love my home!

So, here I am wondering how you are doing? I know that there are a few of you who actually read my blog, and I am appreciative of you (all three of you!!!)

I’m doing my best to make every day as positive as I can. I have made some masks and will be making more. My local farmer has asked for masks for her family so that they can go to the farmers’ markets and bring food to their customers’ cars from their farm stand. I also want to make some for my family. I’m not a competent sewist but I’m doing my best. I currently have eight masks that I am happy to donate to anyone who needs them. If you know someone, let me know. They’d be very appropriate for someone working with children.

What else am I doing to stay sane? Baking. Baking is always something that I love doing but when life is in full throttle busy I tend to let the baking slide … giving priority to other things that may not be as pleasurable. When this is all over, I will continue to make baking a priority in my life. My husband, in particular, enjoys the sweets and I do, too. I like to do things that he enjoys and baking reminds me of my grandmother.

I’m also doing some knitting. Not a lot, oddly. I’ve finished my socks (see the previous post) for my neighbor and that felt so good. I’ve been crocheting tiny squares out of my scraps of left-over sock yarn to make a blanket. I’m making progress but this project is going to require lots and lots of these little squares. I will have to buy a solid color to crochet them all together at the end. Here are the squares I made yesterday. They’re small so they’re also very satisfying.

I’ve also been continuing the blocks for the Arne and Carlos Quarantine KAL and I’ve been continuing to be behind! It’s all good. I’m happy with my progress and I like the blocks that I have made. I believe that I’m four blocks behind right now so I am grateful for the weekend when I can catch up a little bit. I believe they’re going to have one more week. I’ll be happy to have something finished that will remind us of this time in our life when life was anything but normal!

And wonder of wonders, I’ve finished the “star” section of my test knit shawl! I’m so happy to have that section behind me. I ended up having a few extra stitches but because I could read my knitting, I made the necessary adjustments and kept on … after the two times that I knew it wasn’t right and frogged back to the previous section. So now I can knit on to the next sections and maybe I’ll finish it before we’re out of “social distancing”!

I have been trying to get up and get showered and dressed every day. Today I’m not only showered and dressed but I’ve vacuumed my studio. It’s actually just over 50 degrees today so I cracked my studio window for some fresh air. Life is good. I hope you’re staying home and staying well.

Gone knitting!

Frogged Again!

The sun is out again today and it’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood. It’s not even that cold! Somehow, the days keep ticking by and are filled with all sorts of different activities.

Yesterday I made five face masks.

Germ-free me

They’re not perfect but they’ll work and they’re all made with lots of love! I hope they’ll help people who need them. I bought a kit from a store in Auburn, Maine and I got about 30 pairs of fabric rectangles all cut out to 7×9 inches. I also got the elastic cord that you can’t find anywhere around these days! I am a very slow stitcher and it took me forever to get these done, but I did it and I will do the rest over a few days. Or weeks.

Cashmere People Shawl

I posted this picture a few posts back. This is a shawl that I am test knitting for Lori Versaci (VersaciKnits). I am having focus problems that I’ve written about earlier. Well, this is no exception. I have knitted and frogged and knitted and frogged again on one section. I don’t seem to be able to count to three, yarn over and go again. Ha! Ha! I am going to try once more and have the right number of stitches on row 4. On I go … and I hope I can count and yarn over this time. I can certainly count my stitches and read my knitting but this is ridiculous!

I am attributing this lack of focus to the corona virus pandemic and my concern about my little Lola who hasn’t eaten again today. It looks like the dreaded three hour drive to Massachusetts is on for tomorrow. We will drive down, drop her at my brother’s office and wait for her tests to be done. Then we’ll drive back home. We will wear gloves, wash our hands, bring our own lunch and shower when we get home. And we will have some answers.

I continue to knock out the Arne and Carlos blocks for their Quarantine KAL. We are up to day eight and I have through day six finished (one block needs ends woven in.) I continue to enjoy this. It’s in manageable bites and it feels good to be able to manage something in this chaos.

I also got my neighbor’s birthday gift delivered back to me. She turned 60 a month or so ago and I gave her yarn for her birthday with the promise to make her a pair of socks. They’ll be worsted weight and shorted in the leg so they can be worn as slipper socks or socks. I’ve not knitted with the yarn before – it’s new to our shop. I’ll get pictures up and the story of the pattern as I get something knitted and have something to show!

Gone knitting!

Sunrise Messalonskee style

WIP No More

Since before Christmas, I’ve been putting aside pictures of projects that I have made as gifts and didn’t want to show to the “world” (all three of you) that reads my blog. SO … now that Christmas is well over, it’s time to catch up with my WIPs that are no longer.

A lot of my gifts this past year were sewn because my arm was giving me trouble when I knitted. So, with that, here are some pictures of completed gifts … and some sewing projects that weren’t gifts, too!

I made pillow cases for all of our kids this year. I found this cardinal fabric at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine and knew that for my daughters, this was one choice I had to make. And then I found the “color your pillowcase” fabric, also with cardinals, at Marden’s. I love the way they turned out and I hope the kids love them, too. I know that at least one of the kids didn’t know that they were pillowcases. Ha! Ha! The tools were for my sweet hubby and his daughter’s boyfriend, E. Both of them work in carpentry and when I saw the tools, I couldn’t resist buying the fabric! There are more pillowcases that I made for his daughters and for my son … but I didn’t photograph them. Oops!

Next, I made this pillow for my dear hubby. It’s got a red truck and it’s a vintage truck that I embroidered. I bought this pattern years (YEARS!) ago at the Augusta, Maine quilt show. I have a stack of patterns and projects that I bought and never finished. Never made. When I went through that stack, I found it and, again, since I was nursing a sore arm, I thought that I could embroider the truck and finish one more project. I think it came out pretty well considering it’s the first such pattern I’ve ever made.

One more sewn project that I don’t seem to have ever shown you here, is my American Flag quilt. I took a class to make this quilt with a friend who is an accomplished quilter. It was my first sewing class … and, while it was fun, it was quite a stretch for this novice! BUT I am happy to say that even though all the points don’t quite match, I am totally satisfied with this quilt and it hangs a good half of the year on the wall in our entry way. I even did the quilting with the help of Candy who owns a sewing school in Clinton, Maine and also “rents” her long arm quilting machine. I’m very proud to hang this quilt.

So, that’s it for today. I’ve blown out my back and this is the time limit for sitting at my desk.

Gone knitting!

I Made a Project Bag!

IMG_3660I made a functional sewn item! Yes, I did! Me! The one who wasn’t allowed to sew costumes at my childrens’ school!

When I over-knitted this summer at Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat, I decided that I needed to take some time to rest my left arm. I decided that I would make a project bag, following (loosely) the project in my Making Magazine. Initially I thought I would make it exactly according to the pattern … until I had to figure out how to “trace” the pattern for the embroidery onto a piece of linen fabric. That was way too much to expect from me.

I decided to “wing it” with the pattern. No tracing. I went to my LYS (where I work) and bought some linen fabric, some embroidery floss and needles, too. I worked the stitches to make flowers on the linen. It wasn’t knitting but it was making something with my hands.

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Once I was satisfied with the look of the embroidered flowers, I put the bag together.

 

Lucky for me, I have a pretty decent stash of fabric, too. I went (obviously) for some bee fabrics for the lining and the little bit that makes the space for the draw string. I chose a very light color for the lining because I hate a “black hole” in my purse or my knitting bag. I needed this to be super simple this first time. Next time, I’ll probably put a pocket in the lining. I love pockets!

I only had a bright yellow grosgrain ribbon for the drawstring. I have since found a ribbon (again, at my LYS) that is the same color as the lines on the fabric on top of my bag. I like it much better. I also made a small change to this part of the bag. I made it a little bit wider and stitched 1/4 inch along the top to make a more finished edge.

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Ta-da! I’m very pleased and will proudly carry this project bag … filled with knitting … for a bunch of years!

Gone (not) knitting!

“Its fantastic!! Absolutely love it!”

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The “Terror Towel Throw” is delivered and I am delighted to report that my friend, the owner, is thrilled with it! Yay! I’m so glad that he loves it.

What a process! (I have already written about it here.)

I worried about it while finishing a bunch of things that had to come first. Picked brains. And worried some more. (I don’t really worry, more like obsessive thinking.) The good news is that I figured it out, and got the top assembled and I really liked the result. Then the choice of batting and backing … and I chose flannel. A plain white flannel in the middle in place of thick bulky batting and a medium gray flannel for the backing. With a flanged border. The border worked out really well and frames the towels perfectly!

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I used a simple stitch in the ditch for quilting because I didn’t want to “mess up” the printing on the towels with stitching over it. I thought that simpler was better. I like it. The border was the last and most difficult decision. I happened to see a tutorial on Facebook (of all places) and thought it would be a perfect frame for the quilt top. I was happy with the tutorial and I really love the way it went together.

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I am thrilled to have gotten the enthusiastic reaction to the throw and I am thrilled to have completed my first quilt “design”. It’s simple and I am so pleased with it. And proud of myself. I know it’s not knitting but it’s part of my creative development and so it’s all good. (And this is MY blog after all!)

I’ve got so many projects, both yarn and fabric, and I’m working at the yarn shop quite a bit for the next month. My boss has left on her annual holiday in Hawaii. I hope she has a wonderful and relaxing vacation.

We’re binge watching Mad Men … just a little bit behind!

Gone knitting.

“Terror Towel” Quilted Throw

 

Delivery ... and first thoughts

Delivery … and first thoughts

Several months ago a high school classmate asked me if I would be willing to make a quilted throw for him. He and his wife had collected “terror towels” from various sports events that he and his wife had attended.

I am a new but eager maker of quilts but this didn’t sound impossible to me but for months I’ve been “worrying” about this quilt. The terry cloth fabric is a different entity than the traditional cotton fabric. I wasn’t sure what would happen to the towels when I cut them to size.

So I picked peoples’ brains. I was advised that I should use a stabilizer on the backs of the towels. I was also advised that I should not use cotton fabric as a frame between the towels. The thought was that the two weight of fabrics would cause uneven wear. This made sense. Stabilizer, not so much.

As you can see from the picture above, that’s one funky shaped quilt. I had to somehow figure out how to make it square or rectangular … which meant making all the towels the same size.

Deciding on the design and directionality

Deciding on the design and directionality

What I ended up doing was using little paper “towels” to lay out my plan. If I could make the towels to a size of 14.5 x 16.5 inches I could piece them together and make a throw. After many hours of thinking and measuring, I had a plan. A few of the towels were not going to work in the size that I had chosen – three were too small (way too small) and one was printed in such a way as to make cutting it to any size difficult. But the rest of the towels, 16 in all, were going to work!

Day 1: I “ripped” out the stitching around the edges of the towels to make them a little bit larger and then I cut the towels to size. Even cutting the towels is a challenge. They really aren’t square nor are they printed with the designs exactly in the middle. But I used my 12″ square template to center the design and then worked around it to cut the two lengths thus making a 14.5 x 16.5 inch rectangle of each towel.

Day 2: I zigzagged the four sides of the towels to keep them from fraying. Terry cloth is a messy, messy (did I say MESSY?) fabric. Yuck! My studio is a horrible mess and I’m not even done yet!

Day 3: This is the moment … all the towels are laid out on the floor and I decided on the design placement. There are four towels with a different directionality. I chose to have them all facing the same (but different from the other 12 towels) direction. Here is the design that I liked best … the four towels with different directionality are not diagonally down the middle but one in each row and “randomly” placed.

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My final design … I’m ready to make strips!

So, today I started sewing together the rectangles. I decided that because terry cloth is so bulky that I had to sew the pieces together and then “tack” down the extra fabric on the wrong size by sewing them down. I sewed a 3/8 seam and then positioned my needle to the left and ran another line down each side of the seam tacking the bulk to the pieces. So far, I am really pleased with the strips. Tomorrow I will sew the strips together and then it will be time to find a backing. I am thinking that I would like to use two layers of cotton flannel. One white in the middle and a sports-themed print as the backing fabric. I will sandwich them all together but I haven’t decided whether I will simply stitch in the ditch or if I will stitch diagonally across the rectangles, too. I want them to be stable so that the towels wear well.

I’ll let you know how it progresses! I am thrilled to be working on this rather than “worrying” about it. Gone … sewing? (Actually my book club is coming and I’d best go get ready to greet them!)

It’s a Wonderful Life!

The View From Our Woodshed

The View From Our Woodshed

By now I hope you’ve realized (because I hope I’ve told you) that we’ve moved from Florida to Maine. We have torn down our beloved “camp” here to make way for a new house that honors the history and the old house but will afford us the luxury of living here full time … with heat!

When we arrived here in late April, I went to my regular Wednesday night knitting group and was asked to fill in while two of the “girls” who work there were off babysitting for their new grandchildren in June and July. So, I’ve been working 2 or 3 days a week at my LYS, the Yardgoods Center in Waterville.

The Pattern

The Pattern

I’ve been knitting there for eight summers and now that I’m a local, I’m working there. And I’ve been having a blast! “Like” Yardgoods- Yarns on Facebook and you’ll see why! Better yet, plan a visit to Maine, stay in the area and come visit me at work. We’re having a wonderful July Yarn Sale (until August 22) and all regular-price hand-knitting yarn is 20% off. I came home Friday with a full bag and a couple of balls of yarn for a Christmas gift for my nieces. More on that later.

 

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N, the boyfriend, proposed to me a few weeks ago and then, because his daughter insisted, he went to Walmart to buy me a ring. My real ring is being made in Portland and won’t be ready to wear until mid-August so this one is an adorable fill-in for the time being. And the sentiment is adorable. We are not even thinking about a wedding until our house is finished and we’re all moved in. We hope to be all moved in before the first snow!

I’ve been sewing with my buddy, Beverly, and have taken a quilting class in Bangor that was really fun. It was a flag throw quilt that I had hoped to complete before July 4th. Seeing as today is July 5th, I’ve failed miserably but I will be taking my machine out today to repair two head-lights for N and I’ll get some sewing in, too. I also am making a Christmas quilt which I’d love to have done before this Christmas. I’m told it’s a quick project. I guess I’m not spending “enough” time focused on sewing … but I have to make some progress before my wallet class on July 18 and then a beginning quilting series of classes in November.

I have plans to be at a class in Maine in November!!! We get to live here!!!

Driftwood Sweater … the green's a sleeve

Driftwood Sweater … the green’s a sleeve

I have been knitting, too. Lots of projects on the needles and not too much progress on any one project. But it’s all good … my Driftwood sweater is getting closer and closer. This yarn has been in my stash for years and I’m finally making a sweater that I think I’ll like. I’m knitting away on it in the oddest order. Shoulders, body, sleeve 1 to the cuff, body … you get my drift? I am a bit worried that I won’t have enough yarn to complete the sweater so I’m spit-joining the yarn so I can use every inch.

I bought a skein of Reggia Arne & Carlos sock yarn and I’ve cast on and completed most of the first sock’s cuff. I love that the self-patterning yarn that makes me look like a competent fair isle knitter when I’m not really. One more pair to add to my sock drawer.

IMG_4915I have a Shadow Shawl in process with some beautiful Manos del Uruguay Serena. Super simple pattern and wonderfully soft yarn. I will get a lot of wear out of this shawl up here in the fall. I originally started this shawl with the other colorway as the primary color and there was a time or two when I couldn’t count to four … so I frogged it and started again and changed my colorway order so that the “plainer” colorway was the primary color. I like it in its second iteration better and the ridge in the pattern stands out and the colors of the second (CC) colorway are sitting back and will get the attention when the shawl is finished and blocked.

I have a cowl/infinity cowl on the needles, too. This will be my older daughter’s Christmas gift. I’m using a really pretty green alpaca yarn and a seed stitch pattern with a cable along one edge. Since I have to knit about 60 inches of this, I got bored and haven’t looked at it this week. I have about 52 inches to go before joining the ends … I will get there.

One little bootie … for one little niece

One little bootie … for one little niece

Yesterday I cast on a new project just for giggles. Little bootie socks for my baby niece. I’ll plan to take them with me on my trip out to California in early August. I’m planning a bigger pair for the big sister, too. They knit up in about an hour or two, maybe, and they’re super cute. Just perfect for chilly Lake Tahoe mornings. I also bought two book panels to bring with me … they’re another sewing project … one with no words so the big sister can read to her little sister. I hope they’ll love them.

I started (again) a square that is part of the Great American Aran Afghan pattern. I love Aran knitting and I really REALLY want to make this afghan. I’ve had 24 balls of ivory wool in my stash for several years and it’s time to start making progress. The only problem is that I really need to be alone in a quiet room in order to be able to concentrate on the pattern … and while we’re living in 300 square feet of cabin, that’s not happening too often. So, I’m going to call this my long-term project and not put any pressure on myself.

I have finished two pairs of socks, and a Loopy Mango throw since I’ve been here. And a pair of peds, and slipper socks. Gee, in retrospect, that’s not very much. I must be having too much fun with life in general … see what I mean about the title of this post?

Gone knitting (or sewing)!