Drachenfels by Melanie Berg

View from our House

View from our House

We have been super busy here along the shores of Messalonskee Lake! We are preparing for our family to arrive at the end of July for our wedding and the chores are never-ending! The yard has been landscaped. Inside projects are getting finished. With that, I am getting a bit of knitting and sewing in … more knitting than sewing … but I still haven’t attacked the seaming of my Aran Cardigan because it’s been stinking hot in addition to busy.

There is nothing worse that sitting under the pieces of a wool sweater when the temperatures are in the 80s here in Maine. We don’t have any air conditioning at our house. Normally we only need it a couple of days a year. And our nights are always cool enough to put a sheet and a blanket over us. But I’m not going to work on the seaming of the cardigan until it’s a little bit cooler. So, I’ve cast on another new project that I’ve been waiting to knit. Drachenfels by Melanie Berg.

Drachenfels is a triangular shawl in three colors. I bought my yarn at this year’s Maine Fiber Frolic. The Frolic is the first fiber festival to kick off the season here. I love the event and generally spend a day volunteering and visiting the booths. This year I was determined to live by my stash knitting program. Ha! I blew it when I came upon the sample knit up in the String Theory booth … I bought a different yarn but the same colors that were in her sample shawl and I am very excited about knitting this garter stitch beauty.

My Three Colors

My Three Colors

My yarn is String Theory’s 100% domestic super wash Merino. Each of the three skeins has a generous 425 yards of squishy yumminess. Which should be more than enough – the pattern calls for 333 (of two colors) and 301 yards respectively.  I bought three colors: charcoal gray, blue and green. I chose these three because they were exactly the colors of the sample that I saw. Little did I know that two of my students in my Friday knitting class are also working on this shawl. They’re all lovely. (I’ll try to remember to take pictures!)

This yarn is knitting up to be so soft and squishy. I am loving the feel of it in my hands as I knit.

The first two sections of my Drachenfels

The first two sections of my Drachenfels

The pattern is a simple pattern that starts at one “wingtip” with double increases on one side and a decrease on the other so that it’s a slightly asymmetrical triangle. The first two sections which I have completed are straight forward (I did use a marker to mark the right side of the fabric) and when the first complimentary color was introduced, I got really excited. I love my colors! The blue just pops off the gray!

The section two slip stitch pattern is lovely and I am rolling right along. The first part of the pattern repeats sections 1 and 2 several times. I’ve repeated twice and am on to the third. Rolling right along.

I have a feeling that one of my daughters may want to steal this one from me.

Gone knitting.

Crushed by Rachel Henry of Remily Knits

Crushed Shawlette

Crushed Shawlette

This post is long (LONG – yes, I am screaming!) overdue. I finished this lovely knit ages ago and it has languished along with my knitting mojo in a bin in my atelier (studio in French).

IMG_4202I have had a gorgeous skein of a gradient yarn in my stash for a couple of years. It was gifted to me by my sister-in-love and brother. Every time I stuck my fingers into the sock yarn bin in my atelier I would see it and think about what it would like to become. Yes, I really do think that way. If you force a design on a skein of yarn (or several skeins in the case of a sweater, etc.) it tends not to work. At least that’s my experience. The yarn and pattern speak to me (not literally, of course, but I hope you know what I mean) when they’re ready to pair up … that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

In the case of my Vice gradient yarn, it seemed to want to become “Crushed” by Rachel Henry of Remily Knits. (Pattern is available for $6.00 US on Ravelry.) Crushed is described as a heart shaped shawlette and if I have one complaint, it would be that it isn’t big enough. I loved knitting the pattern and would have liked to continue it a bit more for two reasons: first, to make it a little bit larger and second, to use up all or more of my yarn. With that said, I did create a few more repeats of the pattern so that the beautiful bright yellow was more prominent in my scarf because I love all the colors of this yarn so much.

Edge Detail

Edge Detail

I blocked the heck out of this little shawlette *with my added rows* and it measures 62 inches from tip to tip and it’s 27 inches long at the widest part.

The yarn was Blurred Lines by Vice in the “Loki” colorway. It’s a fingering-weight yarn with a wonderfully soft hand and slowly changes from black to bright yellow. The in-between colors are fabulous near-dark forest green and grey with a tinge of yellow. The fiber is a merino and nylon blend and would have made fun socks but I felt that it would be a shame to “waste” such a beautiful gradient on socks – This yarn was screaming to be something much more “public”. I love the way this yarn knitted up with no splitting and it was even and smooth despite coming off the cake in a crimped form. At first I thought maybe it head been knitted and then tinked before being wound but it was consistent throughout so I figure it must have been intended to be that way. Or maybe it was a “sock blank” in a former life. I’m not sure why but it’s so pretty I’m not askinIMG_6530g any questions.

I wanted my shawl to be black up by the shoulders and near my face and the yellow to be along the edge. I rewound the cake to make it a center-pull cake with the black in the middle. It makes the yarn stay put when you’re knitting.

The pattern was wonderful and simple to follow. I mostly used the charts to knit from and on occasion (when I hit a snag – my brain’s fault, not the fault of the pattern) I would refer to the written instructions. I enjoy chart knitting and I think it’s good for my brain to be challenged to think differently when I am knitting. Charts feed that part of the challenge for my brain. And since we are knitting flat, the charts read right to left and left to right which is another challenge for our brains. Another reason that knitting is healthy!

I’m not sure whether I’ve shared this with you before but my mother died having suffered 10+ years with Alzheimer’s Disease. I am working quite intentionally on doing things that challenge my brain. Eating healthfully, cutting way back on sugar and carbs, focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based oils and as organic as I can possibly do. It was painful to watch someone you love do a quicksand-sink into their own world. This fact makes my efforts to be healthy and challenge myself ever more vital as I age (and I’m aging quickly!)

I am looking forward to cooler weather so that I can wear my beautiful Crushed shawlette. And when you live in Maine, it could be later on today even though it’s June! Meanwhile, I’m challenging myself with more knitting and quilting. Stay tuned!

Gone knitting.

Busy (Queen) Bee!

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This weekend, I’m home alone. We live in this bee-utiful place and I feel so grateful to be here. The fiance flew off to Atlanta leaving me with the three dogs and “nothing” to do! So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you all (all one) of you on what I’ve been knitting. I have been quilting, too … rather, piecing quilt tops!

On the knitting side, I’m working on Christmas gifts and have finished two pairs of socks and a hat. If I showed you pictures, I’d let the cat out of the bag and ruin the surprise for a few of the people that I love most. So, suffice it to say that I am enjoying these projects and am happy to start some Christmas knitting this early! I have a third pair of socks planned and the yarn is purchased.

I have a pair of socks on the needles for me and a shawl, too.

Tyrolean Stockings by Ann Budd

Tyrolean Stockings by Ann Budd

The socks are Ann Budd’s Tyrolean Stockings. I was teaching a class a week or so ago and happened to look through one of the books populating the table and loved the cabled knee-length socks. I have a stash of wool and decided to use some to make these socks. They are so pretty that I may enter them in the knitting competition at some fairs this summer. The pattern can be found in Interweave Knits, Fall 2007 and on Ravelry. They are also in a compilation of sock patterns but I can’t tell you the title or the author. I’m sorry. The socks are knit top down and are a fun knit. I’m using a Patons Classic Wool yarn in the seafoam colorway. I love the color and I can’t wait to finish sock #2 and hope to wear them before the weather here in Maine gets too warm. The picture doesn’t, unfortunately show the great color … why do cameras do such a poor job sometimes of accurately displaying colors?

Crushed by Rachel Henry of Remily Knits is project number two on my needles.     I have had this bee-utiful yarn gifted to me by my sister-in-love in my stash for a while now waiting for it’s perfect project and I think this is it! It’s a lovely lace shawl and I am excited to see the color change from black to yellow and all the colors in between! In case you didn’t figure it out, it’s a gradient yarn. Vice in the Loki colorway, 80/20 merino/nylon. I rewound it so that the shawl starts with black and ends with yellow. No pictures yet but I will update on this project as I get some color change!

Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket

Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket

I knit a Baby Surprise Jacket (Elizabeth Zimmerman) as a sample for the LYS that I’m working for. I used Little Birds yarn by Universal Yarns. I think it turned out super cute! The yarn is soft and I love the way the pattern works up. I have to admit that I was confused by the directions at first and had to google some hints as to how to get the increases right. But the wonders of the internet helped and I got over the hump. It was a super quick knit and would make an adorable baby gift!

One day on Facebook, I think, I saw a “Tablet Stand” that was knitted. I was intrigued and also needed something to help my charts “stand up” so that I can read them more easily.  IMG_6325This is the result of that … It won’t hold my tablet but I does hold my iPhone and the metal piece that support my patterns with charts. Sometimes I still knit the old fashioned way … with a paper pattern. The pattern is called “Reading Rest” by Frankie Brown and it can be found on Ravelry. The stitching up/assembly is quite fiddly but I did finally get it. I would stuff mine more aggressively if I was going to make a second one. I used beans and some fiber fill … rice might also work. It definitely needs to be heavy enough to support technology! I used some stashed Knit Pics yarn (DK or Sport weight, I’m not sure what it was and I don’t have the label.) I think it could also be knit in a worsted weight and made a bit larger than mine. I’d say mine is a moderate success, though!

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Missouri Star Quilt Company “Orange Peel”

I have also started sewing in the last year or so. My friend, Beverly, is a talented quilter and she got me started. I’ve been busy finishing sewing projects in the last couple of weeks. This is the biggest of the three that are now finished. It’s a Missouri Star Quilt Company’s “Orange Peel” quilt. The little orange peels are all little individual pieces of fabric cut to shape and then “stuck” on the dark gray squares and then they are appliquéd (stitched around).

I have also finished two other quilting projects and I am waiting to go learn how to use the longarm machine to quilt them myself. I sure do hope I enjoy it and do a good job because I have a lot of time invested in them!

My Quilting 101 Sampler Quilt is done. I really enjoyed taking this class at the Cotton Cupboard in Bangor, Maine. The staff there is very friendly and knowledgable. They helped me pick out my fabrics so that they match and the classes that I’ve taken have been great! Of course, this one is in my favorite (bee) colors!

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IMG_6354The third quilt top is the flag quilt that I started in a class last spring. (Yes, I know, it has been a full year in my atelier waiting to be finished!) I am happy to have this one done and wish I had taken it more recently because I can see a lot of “issues” in this quilt top but I’m not “dedicated” enough to re-do it. It will serve as my first quilt with round parts sewn together. Not easy to piece! I really like the quilt and can’t wait to to hang it up in our house.

So, there you have it! I’ve been a busy bee and I’m making progress with my projects. I always feel particularly proud when I wrap up and new project and feel content with the work that I’ve done. I am learning that I am a very competent and capable woman and I am learning to be proud of myself. What a good feeling!

Gone knitting!

 

Jimmy Beans Wool 2016 Downton Abbey Mystery KAL

I’ve participated in a couple of the Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-a-longs. It was fun and the projects were lovely. I missed a couple, too. Each time, however, I had fun and came away with a very wearable garment.

This is the last season of Downton Abbey and I decided to participate at the last minute for one last time. (See my sad face?) Here’s my report about the final, last, final 2016 DAMKAL.

I am on another “yarn diet” and although I wanted to buy the Lorna’s Laces yarn for this knit-a-long, I used my Christmas yarn for it instead. It’s Knitting Fever’s Painted Desert. It’s a wool, fingering yarn and while I forgot to write down the colorway, it’s a deep burgundy with blues and almost-purple shades. I really like the colorway that I was gifted!

Christmas Yarn - Painted Desert

Christmas Yarn – Painted Desert by Knitting Fever (2 Skeins)

Clue 1.

I was totally clueless as to what this “garment” was going to be. Totally clueless. We used a circular cast on and knitted the rounds for this clue on DPNs. Ending with a “square”. Hmm.

Clue #1

Clue #1

Clue 2.

Continued knitting in the round for this clue; very similar to clue #1 … I’m still mystified. But it’s pretty!

Clues 3 & 4, 5 & 6.

And this is where I was totally wondering what this was going to be as many many stitches were put onto waste yarn and we continued knitting down one “side” of the original “box”. I actually discussed this with one of my classes and showed them the piece after knitting clue 3 … maybe a hat and scarf combination? maybe something for the home? Nobody really had a reasonable idea. So, I continued knitting.

When we got to clue 5 and started knitting down another “side” of the original “box” I believe I read that it was a “wing” and the light bulb went off. It’s a shawl! I had a bit of difficulty figuring out which “side” to start my stitches on for the second wing and did use the discussion thread on Ravelry. The discussion thread was very helpful and fun to read, too.

Clue 5 and 6 ... still mystified!

Clue 5 and 6 … still mystified!

Clue 7 & 8.

The last two clues were just fun to knit now that the mystery was discovered. How was this lovely shawl going to be finished? Short and sweet despite being a lot (a LOT) of stitches on the needle.

I love the finished shawl and it’s on my guest room bed being blocked as I type this. I chose to pin every little picot stitch on the edge (the instructions gave an option to pin all picots or every other.) I am eager for it to be dry and be able to wear it. I’ll probably wear it to work next week. (I noticed that Kristen’s shawl looks quite a bit larger than mine … perhaps I will block it a bit more aggressively before it’s dry or I may not.)

Blocking!

Blocking! Can you see the “square” from the first two clues?

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All of the little picots are pinned along the wing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great online MKAL! Thanks to Kristen and Jimmy Beans Wool!

Gone knitting!

Girasol

Girasol by Jared F

Girasol by Jared Flood

I’m so in love with this project that I want to marry it!

Three of us in the Wednesday night knitting class (plus our teacher) decided to knit the Girasol Shawl in the worsted weight version which makes an afghan. I really (REALLY!) loved knitting this and it wasn’t difficult. I loved knitting it so much that I absolutely will knit another one.

Girasol by Jared Flood is written for fingering/lace weight or worsted weight yarns. I think you could knit it in any weight of your choosing with appropriately sized needles. And they will all be gorgeous! The pattern is available on Ravelry.

The pattern itself is clear and well written and a cinch to follow. The most “difficult” part, in my opinion, is the cast on which is Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast On. I’m sharing Jimmy Bean’s Wool’s tutorial with the ever delightful Jeanne. Watch it a couple of times before attempting this cast on. It’s a beauty – for starting any project in the middle of a circle (hats from the top down, lace shawls, etc.) Sheer genius and it sits flat when pulled closed.

This cast on is originally in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac (a wonderful book, by the way. EZ had a most unique and visionary knitting technique.) It’s available on Amazon.com … click on the image below and you’ll be magically transported! (You’re welcome, of course!)

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If you’re serious about knitting, you have to read EZ. Seriously! Anyway, back to Girasol …

I used Cascade 220 Superwash (because who wants a huge, wool-stinky, wet afghan to dry? Although, truth be told, I’m thinking of using wool for the next one. I may be crazy!) in a light grey tweed-y colorway. I love grey as a neutral and this will, theoretically, live in my atelier where I can throw it over my legs or fold it in half and wear it over my shoulders on a cold evening. Mine took nine balls (the pattern asks for eight and I may knit a bit loosely.) The edge stitches were (a little bit) boring – it’s knitted on the edge as you bind off and three stitches are “eaten up” when you knit six rows. There are 640 stitches. Got it? 🙂

The pattern calls for a US 9 circular needle and DPNs. I started with the DPN and then went to a 24 inch wire and then to a 32 inch wire and ended up with a sixty inch wire which was really a little bit too long. But it worked. I used my fabulous Dreamz interchangeable needles by Knitters Pride. I love them.

If you choose to knit this gloriously beautiful shawl/afghan, watch out and be aware when you start the edging. Just saying. I was in the car and everything was all bunched up and I started with the wrong side facing me and the edging on my blanket is “backward”. I think it’s very fitting, actually, and I chose to leave it that way.

Knit this pattern. I’m not kidding. You’ll love it. I can’t wait to see what mine looks like after it’s blocked … which will have to wait until our house is finished and furnished. Soon enough and I will be using it unblocked until that time. My knitting group is doing a Girasol for one of our members’ mother-in-law who recently lost her husband. I’m looking forward to my turn knitting!

Gone knitting.

Note to Self …

note-to-selfMy sister-in-law is awesome. She helped take care of my mother when she had alzheimer’s disease and wasn’t very nice to her. (My mother wasn’t nice. My sister-in-law was a saint!) She is raising three great boys. She’s supported my brother and his business and has even gone back to work there now that the kids are bigger (not that they are independent, just bigger). She’s always happy to welcome us into her home, three dogs and all, with or without any of our children, planned visit or last minute … she’s really a great lady.

Anyway, I digress. She happened to mention that she wanted a beige wrap to match a pair of shoes she just bought and to wear on those nights when you just need a little something more to be comfortable. I offered, because I love the idea of doing something for her, to knit her something. I found a great beige yarn and a pattern. Good, right? Then I went off on a road trip and found another pattern that would be great for her shawl but the yarn is too heavy-weight. So, let’s be flexible and adapt the pattern, right? Easy peasy lemon squeezey. I bought two skeins of yarn and off I went.

I’ve been knitting away for a few days … and for the last couple not paying a whole lot of attention. And today I ran out of yarn. Oops! Twelve rows to go and I’m out of yarn. Good grief!

Note to self: buy more than you need. (I hope they have more in the same dye lot at the yarn shop tonight.)

Gone knitting.

P.S. We should remind ourselves and others how awesome we are more often. Life goes by so quickly and we just don’t “take the time” … but I am awesome, and my life is, too. And my friends and family are, too. I’m one lucky gal!

I’m the Queen Bee and it’s Been Over a Month Since I’ve Posted.

Welcome to Maine

Welcome to Maine

I can’t believe that I haven’t posted anything in over a month! I’m sure I’ve thought about it many times … apologies to my loyal followers (all three of you!)

I was a sick puppy!

I was a sick puppy! Out of work for five weeks!

I’ve recovered from a nasty bout with pneumonia and bronchitis and finished the school year and moved up to our home in Maine. I’ve also started a new “diet” to try to lose some weight before the big wedding (not mine, my daughter’s). I have been way to “happy” (read this as eating for all celebratory reasons) for the past several years and have gained a good forty pounds since my divorce diet and weight loss. I’m hoping to get back to that post-divorce weight without severing a long relationship. I’ve enlisted a team of coaches and doctors and am starting day 6, having lost about six pounds. Woo! Hoo! The program that I’m using is Your Road To Health. It’s a Medifast program. I was hungry and cranky the first few days but I’m feeling better as the days go on. Today I am feeling hopeful and that’s a really great way to feel.

I’ve been knitting a lot, too. Have several projects on the needles. I’ll go into more detail over the next few days. Suffice it to say, there is no shortage of projects – and the ones that have deadlines are the ones that I don’t really feel like working on.

I’m almost done with the lap blanket for my daughter’s wedding (there will be rocking chairs on the Yacht Club’s porch and she really wanted to have a cozy blanket on them … it could be chilly in September in Massachusetts.) Bulky yarn knits up pretty quickly … even if it’s a boring project.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Closing in on Row 70 … a bazillion rows left!

Closing in on Row 70 … a bazillion rows left!

I’ve kind of given up on the idea of finishing the lace shawl by her wedding. But maybe not.

I started a “selfish knitting” shawl … one of those projects that I can work on at knitting classes because I don’t have to count.

One mitt down, one to go.

One mitt down, one to go.

I have one of my two fingerless mitts done. An Intarsia pattern. I have decided I need to practice intarsia more … not my favorite technique. One left … and I haven’t even started it yet.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Last, I have a Wonderful Wallaby sweater that I am knitting for myself. Another easy pattern that  I can knit and visit with. I have the majority of the body done and am working on the sleeves. Would love to finish this before the end of the summer so it can live here in Maine. It’ll be way too warm for Florida.

My super-duper LL Bean bag is full of yarn and “hopeful” knitting projects. If I can finish even some of my projects already on the needles, I can start those. A sweater for my soon-to-be niece, a sweater for the soon-to-be big sister, an Australian possum pelt kit … OH BOY!

And then there's this project! A king-size Log Cabin quilt!

And then there’s this project! A king-size Log Cabin quilt!

I’d best stop writing and get knitting!

Gone knitting!