Yes, I’m knitting!

I haven’t been posting a lot. Life is busier than it “should” be for me! We spent a wonderful extended Easter weekend in Marblehead, Massachusetts with my family there. Although most of the Marblehead family was in Hawaii for Spring Break but we helped my sister-in-law dog and house sit! And my boss has been in Florida on vacation so my hours at the Yardgoods Center have been a little bit more than usual. And before Easter both my husband and I were sick with the flu – fortunately, the upper respiratory flu!

I have been knitting and would like to share a couple of projects with you ….

IMG_8228I am teaching a two-at-a-time toe-up socks class for the RSU 18/Messalonskee High School Adult Education program. My class filled really quickly this time … and we offered and filled a second class. So, I’m teaching two evenings a week this month. The pattern we are using is a free pattern on Ravelry called “Lesser Evil” socks. I like this pattern because it’s well-written and it provides some good links for helpful support. My students did a great job! The most difficult part is the cast on and getting used to knitting with magic loop. Tonight is my second Monday class (of three) and I’m hoping they’ll be able to do the gusset increases by next week’s class. I think they will be fine. Because I am who I am, I’m knitting socks, too … partly to remember the pattern which I haven’t used in a few years, and partly because I had a skein of Christmas-y sock yarn that I wanted to knit up!

IMG_8236I’ve pulled out my red wool Vaill Island Vest (also a free pattern on Ravelry) that I started months ago! I love my cotton version of this vest and I am hoping I’ll feel the same about this one. I’m knitting it in Ella Rae Classic worsted wool in a deep red colorway. This is a simple vest, no seaming necessary, and I like the slipped stitches that make the vest visually elongated.

img_8237.jpgBecause I can’t stop starting new projects, I’m also knitting a sweater for my husband in the Ella Rae Classic worsted wool in a beautiful “bright” blue. I chose to knit him “Flax” by Tin Can Knits. I am loving this pattern! It’s a top down (again, no seaming) pullover in sizes baby through adult. I am eager to knit another one in baby sizes. This may be the next class that I teach for the Adult Ed Continuing Education program!

IMG_8238I’ve been working on a cowl, too! I bought some special yarn from a new Maine yarn company called Apogee Yarns out of Saco, Maine. The yarn is wool and on the website it says it’s a fingering weight. On the yarn tag, it says it’s sport weight. I would guess that it’s somewhere in between the two weights … heavier than fingering and not as heavy as sport. The labeling should be consistent, however. They have four colorways – a grey, a rusty-orange, a bee-utiful blue and a creamy white. I love the colors, especially the grey and the blue. I had started a different pattern with this yarn and I didn’t love the way it was knitting up and then one of my Friday students made a cowl that I loved. It’s called “Ma Belle Ami” and it uses all four colors of the Apogee yarn. This pattern is free on Ravelry.

There are several other projects that I am working on but I am going to stop here and go knit for a bit before class. I’ll write more in the future about some of the other projects. You’ve got to be crazy after reading this long post!

Gone knitting!

UFOs Finished!

Like any “good” knitter, I tend to put off finishing projects that I don’t really want to do “right now”. I have a complete sweater sitting in time out waiting for me to seam it. A full sweater. One that I would like to wear but I really don’t love finishing sweaters. This one will take maybe 2 hours to finish … after many more hours than that of knitting it. Regardless, while the sweater sits in time out, I have begun and finished several projects.

Pussy Cat Hats in Pink and Gray … my pattern

Two Pussy Cat hats or Kit Kat hats. One is bright pink for those days when I feel like taking a stand and the other is grey for those days when I want to stand firm but not bring attention to myself. I like they way these worked out. I used Plymouth Yarns Encore Chunky yarn for both hats. Normally, I’d rather knit with natural fibers but these hats are soft and chunky and they knit up super quickly. I also can wash and dry them in my machine. I sent my original hat that I knit in Malabrigo Rios worsted yarn to my future son-in-law. He wanted a hat and I was happy to send mine and knit another for myself.

The pattern is mine.

Queen Bee Knits Pussy Hat

 

With bulky yarn and US 10 16″ circular needle, cast on 72 stitches. K2, P2 ribbing for 12 rounds. Knit around until hat is 9″ from cast on edge. Use a 3-needle bind off to cast off all stitches. Weave in ends. 

 

Feel free to use the pattern for personal use. If you want to give away hats, that’s fine. Please don’t sell these hats. Thank you.

A cowl for a customer. I have a customer who loves my knitted accessories. I’ve knitted her three or four tams in different weights and now a cabled cowl. The latest is a Bandana Cowl from Purl Soho which is a free pattern on Revelry or the Purl Soho website. She didn’t understand that the picture of the cabled cowl wasn’t really how a cowl worked. She was wanting a “dickey” that will sit down on her chest and around her neck rather than a cowl that solely goes around the neck. I’ve finished this one is Cascade 128 Superwash in a lovely teal colorway. It will match the hat that I just made her. She still wants another pair of hats. One in a yellow Cascade 128 and another in a Noro yarn.

I also finished the first block of my Cascade Knitterati Afghan MKAL. I love doing things that are a little bit different. I am not knitting with the same colors that the KAL is recommending (why would I do that?) but have picked one colorway so far that is a dark Granny Smith apple green. I’ve loved the color from afar for a long time and it’s high time to use it somewhere. Squares two and three have been released. I’ll likely knit square three before two because it’s a single color square and I have a single color yarn.

I have been knitting dish cloths for the daughters. It all started with sending three to my children at Christmas time. Daughter #1 asked for more so that they aren’t using paper towels any longer. They’ve been sent. In the meantime, I’ve knitted a few more for Daughter #2. And then I’ve knitted three tiny ones for the little California nieces. I’ve got to mail them away soon. The pattern is Grandma’s Favorite Dish Cloth and it’s a free Rarely pattern. These are all Lily Sugar and Cream yarns one is a pink camouflage colorway and the other simply made me think “Valentines Day”!

Fornicating Deer Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I made my handsome and bald hubby a hat for Valentine’s Day this year. I used a navy and a gray worsted wool by Lamb’s Pride. A long time ago, I saw a chart on Pinterest and I saved it. It made me laugh and it is totally my husband’s sense of humor. It’s called the Fornicating Deer chart by Ann Rutten. It’s on Ravelry. Needless to say, I didn’t have a pattern to go with the chart but I looked at my expected gauge and decided to knit three repeats of the chart. I also decided that once the deer were finished that I would do my decreases and not finish the entire chart. He likes caps that fit tightly but cover his ears. When he came home after work the first day he wore it, he said, “hey hon, now I really have sex on the brain!” Yup. I think he loves his hat.

Oh, I need a better camera. The color is way off!

I do love to finish projects! Today I hope to finish a pair of bright orange work socks (the picture doesn’t come close to the bright “hunting orange” color) for my husband. He loves to wear the thick, warm Raggi yarn socks to work. He works outside in Maine in the winter. Enough said?

Gone knitting!

Teaching and Technology

Choices!

Choices!

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!

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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 …

Success!

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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!

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Footie Socks Failure

IMG_7250Last night I was up until 11pm finishing my first Footie Socks by Miriam Felton. I’ve made a pair before but I was especially excited to use my Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in the Rockwell colorway.

When I put the sock on my foot I was really disappointed … it didn’t fit! I had an extra inch or so of space at the heel. The foot was a bit too loose too. I’m not sure how I was so far off! The picture below shows how much fabric I can easily pinch … way too much for the sock to stay as it is. Boo.

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This morning I frogged the sock and rewound it. I’ll remeasure my feet and start again … being more aware of the heel to make sure I get all the wraps and turns right. I love the new method of short rows that she describes! It makes seeing the short row wraps so much easier! More on that later.

Gone knitting.

Interweave Knits Fall 2016

I got my new Interweave Knits Fall 2016 magazine a couple of days ago and it’s full of wonderful designs. But one pattern really caught my eye on my first pass through it, though – Thompson River Socks pattern by Carolyn Kern.

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Seldom does a pattern jump out at me that says, “Go buy this yarn now and cast on as soon as possible!” But this pattern said just that! So, I listened.

It just so happened that I was teaching at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine last Tuesday (the following day) and we carry the Raggi yarn by Jarbo Garn that is called for in the pattern. I grabbed three balls – two in the gray and one red – and set them aside to purchase after my class.

(Note from the Queen Bee: I have it on good authority that the company that makes Raggi yarns is closing up shop. This is a travesty because I love their sock yarns. I wish I could buy the company and keep making the yarn I love it so much. I have a dozen or so balls on hold at my LYS and I may add more to the bag. You might consider collecting some for your stash, too!)

undertheweatherYesterday, when I was at home recovering from the horrible stomach bug/food poisoning that had bitten me on Tuesday night and Wednesday, I cast on the socks. I am surprised that the pattern calls for a US 3 needle which will make the stitches very dense. But, like a good rule follower, I forged ahead.

These socks are knitted toe-up and use a simple cast on and long circular needles (I am using the magic loop method to knit these babies! The pattern for the top of the sock is simple. Since I am knitting the largest size, I added four of the pattern stitches on either side of the cable pattern. The directions weren’t clear on this so I made an executive decision. I’m not sure what I would do if I was knitting the medium size … but this time I am not. The wonderful world of Ravelry.com has allowed me to send a message straight to the inbox of the wonderful designer, however. I am awaiting her reply to make sure I did the right thing … and to find out how to adjust the pattern for the medium-sized pattern since it is my intention to knit those for myself next!

My hands get tired since the fabric is so dense but I made good headway – Here is my progress …

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Gone knitting!

WIPS Wrestling – Ravellenics 2016

imageRavelry has a wonderful knitting challenge during the Olympics and I’ve chosen to be on the “WIPS Wrestling” team and challenge myself to finish several projects during the Olympic Games. I’m proud to say that I have challenged myself to finish, and have finished  four projects so far.

Rustling Leaves Beret

Rustling Leaves Beret

I had a commission to make a lace hat for a customer. Her hat was begun just before the Olympics started. I knit Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos. It’s a fun knit and pret quick to knit up as well. My customer bought Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock yarn in a navy color. Now, all knitters worth their salt know that dark colors (particularly black but any dark color) are difficult to see your stitches. The biggest challenge for me with this hat was counting, or more specifically, dividing stitches. You begin the hat casting in stitches and I used DPNs. Needless to say, I divided wrong the first time and came up with 30 stitches short. It was going to be a very small hat! The hat is delivered and my customer has requested another hat just like it but in a little brighter blue! I blocked the hat, as directed, on a dinner plate and it was just gorgeous!

Drachenfels - times two

Drachenfels – times two

I also finished my Drachenfels Shawl. I really enjoyed knitting this shawl. I had chosen yarn based on a sample that I saw knitted up at the Maine Fiber Frolic in June. Green is not usually a color I knit with but I loved the three colors together. Drachenfels is by Melanie Berg and is a slightly “off kilter” triangular shawl knit in garter stitch with an Icord bind off. I knit mine with a dark gray, a medium blue and a deep apple green. I loved knitting it and I love e finished result. The sport-weight yarn makes it a quick knit and the shawl is a good size! Two other women in my Froday class are/have knitted this shawl and it’s really fun to see the results in different colors.

Number 2 Pencil Socks

Number 2 Pencil Socks

The wonderful and fun Number 2 Pencil socks are also finished. This was yarn that I waited for for what seemed like forever because the first shipment was lost or stolen in transit. When I finally did get it, it went immediately into my stash to be used as encouragement for me – encouraging me to finish some other projects. It was a very fun project and I can’t wait until it’s cooler and I can actually wear them! The yarn is hand-dyed by Yarn Enabler (she has an Etsy shop). I had seen in on Susan B. anderson’s blog or Facebook page  and it was a total impulse buy but totally worth it  I bought the pattern from Yarn Enabler, too though truth be told, I only partially followed it  I used a heal flap heel rather than a FLK – but I’ll attempt the Fish Lips Kiss heel another time for fun!

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

Last but not least, is the second pair of Snowflake Mittens. This pattern is a very old pattern gifted to me by my friend and colleague Bette. I made myself a pair and this pair is for my friend. I’ll make a third pair for my sister-in-law in Massachusetts. I typically have a rule to never knit two of the same thing. This pattern is an exception and I fully plan to knit it repeatedly! I used Brown Sheep Company’s Lambs Pride Worsted in White Frost and Navy Sailor. I love the contrast in the colors and I love these mittens. I avoided color work for years but this pattern made me begin to think about conquering my fear of color work. I think I have succeeded. My favorite part of these mittens is the pattern on the inside of the thumb. Isn’t that silly?

The only other thing I’d really like to compete is the Aran Sweater that is sitting in a bag in my studio. It’s been swealtering hot the last few days and I could not sit under it. It was too darned hot! Tomorrow I head to the beach in Virginia with my college girls for a few days. Friends for 40 years, we always have a wonderful time together and Virginia Beach is gorgeous for a little R&R. I may choose to drag it with me and try to seam it in air conditioning. I really haven’t decided.

Next another hat will go on the needles.

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!