Making No. 9 Simple – Simple Bird and Nest

I love this magazine! Every one that I have purchased has at least a few patterns that I’d like to try to make. Note, I said, “try”.

This time, in issue 9 Simple, it’s the Simple Bird and Nest by Susan B. Anderson. Susan has made a beautiful little business for herself designing the most exquisite “toys”. Ostensibly for children, the toys are so clever that they’re tempting to make for yourself (even if you’re a senior citizen!) This time, the birds just got me.

I dove deep into my stash and found a couple of colors of DK or Sport weight yarn. I know the first color is a Knit Picks City Tweed DK that I was given for mothers’ day a long, long time ago. It’s a soft, 2-ply yarn that knits up beautifully. Just so happens that I am planning two bird and i had two colors of this yarn in my stash. One is more purple and the other more a dusty rose. The pattern calls for several colors … I found a creamy white, a brown, and a grey. Since they’re for toys that probably won’t be washed, I’m not going to worry about fiber content. Suffice it to say, they’re all wool or wool blends and some may be superwash.

The pattern is so simply written that it makes it a cinch to knit. The bird is quick to knit with a couple of rounds of beginner colorwork. Not too scary when you can do it on something small. The nest has a Latvian braid at the top which is, again, described so as to make it easy for anybody to try. I finished the bird and nests in a couple of sittings but I do knit quickly – and have a lot of experience. The eggs, too, are quick and simple. I’ve got one knitted for each bird so far. Again, stashed “rainbow” yarn will make the eggs completely fictional but colorful. My intent is to write a little story to go along with the gifts … we will see if I get that part done.

Gone knitting!

2017! Happy New Year!

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I feel fortunate that 2016 was a wonderful year for me and for my family. One daughter bought a new home, another daughter became engaged, I married the love of my life and we had all of our children in our house at the same time (for the first time). Our children are gainfully employed, healthy and happy. We are both working at jobs we love and are paying the bills, we have food on our table, a warm home and we are healthy. What more can you ask for?

I am eager to see what 2017 brings and what opportunities in the fiber world I will become involved with. I am excited to continue teaching knitting and creating in my every-improving atelier! This year’s goal is to add some serious shelving to my studio for fabric and yarn storage. I am already realizing that my “cheap fix” is not going to work long-term … fabric and yarn multiply when packed into small spaces and despite working hard to knit from my stash, it’s only minimally smaller.

img_7778We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at our house. A summer camp (childhood) friend and his son joined us for a lobster feast and a glass or two of sparkling wine prior to midnight. The guys all stayed awake after the power went out but I claimed the black-out as an opportunity to go to bed “early”. This is our photograph, grainy though it may be, from around 10:30pm. I love selfies with this guy and can’t wait to see what 2017 brings to add to our life together.

My goals for the year are to attend and help with, perhaps, the fiber week at my old summer camp. I’m looking forward to Maryland Sheep & Wool, too. I want to do more in my community – attend events, help my neighbors, life my best life and speak from my heart (not usually a problem). I want to floss more often and remember to listen to myself and speak my truth. Having lost my voice a long time ago, it feels wonderful when I speak out and speak up and feel heard. I’ll keep working on that piece.

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Wishing you blessings in 2017. I’m hoping that it’s the best year yet for all of us!

Gone knitting.

I Heart Aran – Nearing the Finish Line

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I Heart Aran by Tanis Fiber Arts – blocking!

I started knitting the I Heart Aran sweater by Tanis Fiber Arts in early September. It’s a 32nd birthday gift for my eldest daughter. I’m not sure how she got to be so old when I remain young and nearly the same age as she! Kate chose the sweater pattern from Ravelry and this was the one she loved the most. This morning I finished the knitting and it’s blocked. Woo! Hoo!

I was gifted the yarn by my sister-in-law, Annie, who found it and some purple at an estate or garage sale several years ago. For ten dollars! She’s a very thoughtful person and I’m delighted to be able to make a sweater with five of the ten skeins of ivory/aran color that she gave me which leaves several skeins for me to make something for Annie! It’s Shetland by Jaeger (80% wool, 20% alpaca 100 g/166m). The hand on this yarn is wonderfully soft thanks to the alpaca. It was great to knit with – not splitty and no little bits of wool all over my dark jeans. Because it’s an Aran weight yarn and the sweater was rather small, it knit up in no time at all. It helped, too, because the sleeves and back are all a very simple, almost boring, stockinette. If I were going to knit this sweater again, I’d consider adding a cable up the sleeves or on the back or both. The stitch definition is amazing and there is enough wool so that the sweater shouldn’t stretch out (or grow!)

Superior Stitch Definition

Superior Stitch Definition

I used my good old Hiya Hiya Interchangeable needles with the US6 and US8 tips. I used the US6 tips only for the sleeve ribbing and chose to use the US8 (not the US6 as written in the pattern) because I don’t love sweaters with very tight ribbing at the waist. Hiya Hiya Interchangeables are decent needles. The join is mostly smooth. The tips could be pointier.  They were ok for this project because the yarn is heavy enough and the cables weren’t too tight. I chose to knit flat on my circular needles. You could also have knitted this on straight needles.

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

One of the things I liked about this pattern is that it had a perfect schematic so that when I was blocking (and knitting) I knew exactly what the measurements were to be. This makes my life as a pattern-follower so much easier than when I have to go back into the pattern to decide what the measurements are – and Tanis even added the measurement that is supposed to be across the neck (3″) to eliminate any guesswork. Thank you! The directions were clear and concise.

There was only one place where I was unsure of the directions and I think it was the knitter not the instructions after a quick discussion with knitwear designer Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits.

If it says, “Dec every 8 rows”, you should make the first decrease after 8 rows. If the designers means for you to make the first dec on the next row then start every 8 rows, the directions should say, “Dec on next and then every 8 rows” or something like that!

– Lori Versaci, VersaciKnits

Fortunately, I had figured it out because the decrease instructions all happened on the RS (right side) rows which meant that it was going to have to happen on rows 1 and 9 not on row 8. Being thoughtful, taking a pause to think about my knitting answered the question for me. A life lesson put to use in my knitting yet again.

I block everything on my guest room bed. Today I have two projects blocking – a hat for a customer and the sweater. I can’t wait until it’s dry and can be assembled and I can knit the collar. Then we can choose a button on Tuesday when I’m at the yarn shop and send it off to Kate who is in rehearsal for Carousel which will open later this month at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. I know it’s sweater weather in Maine (at least in the morning and afternoon) but I’m not sure about the Washington area.

I’ll show you the finished garment in a day or two!

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.

Mukluks

imageI bought a pattern earlier this summer to make a pair of slipper socks for a former student to whom I had become very attached. I knitted them up and sent them off to Florida. A few days later I got a picture on Facebook with her wearing them. Mom reports that she loves them. I’m so glad. Recently I made a pair of baby booties for my new niece Lilah Wise and I wanted to make something for my niece Faye Carleton, the big sister. When her mom told me that her feet were pretty big, I decided that these mukluks were a good idea. And I had the yarn in my stash in the cabin. (I totally miss my yarn stash that is in storage and I can’t wait to get it back and organized in my new studio in our new house. But I digress.)

The Childrens Mukluks pattern by Diane Soucy are really cute, quick to knit up in a bulky yarn, and I think they’re a.so super toasty. The pattern is a classic with clear directions to follow. Starting in the center of the sole, the foot is knitted first from the sole and then the toe with a seam sewn at the very end. The first part is done on US 7 straight needles. Once the foot is finished, the cuffs are knitted in the round on DPNs. Several rounds of knit and purl make up a cuff that looks like Alaskan mukluks; a little bit poofy as if they were made of animal hides in the good old days. I think I’m good with knitting mine!

There is a similar pimageattern for adults and I would suggest that if you want to knit a simple and warm winter gift for someone else or for you, pick this one. It’s quite remarkable. I plan to buy and knit the adult slippers for at least one adult this Christmas!

The colors of the yarn don’t really show up as they really are but as I was knitting the tiny ones for Faye, I realized they were in “Frozen” colors (think Elsa and Anna) and these have started a very dangerous Frozen-themed gift buying spree. I am heading to California on Thursday to meet my nieces for the first time. I’m so excited!!!

Gone knitting!

Wednesday Night Knitting

Last night was my first knitting night with some of my favorite ladies in Maine at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville. I’ve knitted with the Wednesday night group for several years (since 2007) and have enjoyed every one.

Last night was no exception!

There were some new ladies who joined this group since last summer ended for me. What I love most about knitting groups is that we all get along. While we may never be “besties”, we all enjoy a commonality that we can chat about and laugh about. The stories are not all about knitting. Last night Deb shared that she’d found a full set of false teeth when she was cleaning up her yard. We laughed about it and wondered whether beer was involved. How does someone lose their teeth? Even if they were lost in deep snow, wouldn’t you choose to look for them?

Frontenac (front)

Frontenac (front)

Frontenac (back)

Frontenac (back)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m nearly done with my Frontenac turtleneck tunic that I bought on the Yarn Crawl in Orlando. I’ve sewn in almost all the ends and have just the side seams left to go. I can’t wait to wear it! I can probably wear it to knitting next week! The yarn is so cozy and soft, I’ll bet this will be one of my favorite sweaters to wear.

I’ve been working on my two pairs of socks, too.

Graffiti Socks - two toes to go!

Graffiti Socks – two toes to go!

I frogged back the toe on the Graffiti socks because they were a tad too short. The yarn is hand-dyed and as such they’re not matchy-matchy at all. I still love them. This yarn is one that just makes me happy to look at. I need to get cracking and finish these so I can cast on a new pair (a birthday gift for a very special girl).

Patons Socks

Patons Socks

 

 

My Patons socks are coming along. I confess that I haven’t worked on these since we left Florida but I’ve finished the first sock and will get the second one rolling … I love the colorway of these socks. I can’t wait to wear them.

I’ll finish both pairs soon. I can wear them up here in Maine … socks are a necessity in late April! I sure wouldn’t have been wearing them in Florida right now!

Churchmouse Yarns Mohair Stripe Wrap

Churchmouse Yarns Mohair Stripe Wrap

I’ve worked a little bit on my mohair striped wrap and I’m going to love this next winter. Mohair by nature is a very light fiber but because it’s “fuzzy”, it’s also very warm. I know I will be living with this around my neck when it starts to get cold in the fall. I’m about half to two-thirds along on this. I have the better part of two and a half skeins of the yarn left. It’s such a simple knit project and it’s a good one to take to knitting group because I can chat and knit at the same time.

Next up is another sweater … a cardigan, I think. I have the most lovely yarn from the Fiber Frolic here in Maine about two years ago. I had it all knitted up and the sleeves didn’t fit in the arm holes. I frogged it … that’s what happens when you use a free pattern sometimes. Makes spending money to buy a pattern worthwhile when you have to frog a whole sweater. Typically, purchasing patterns means that they’ve been test-knitted and checked for accuracy! Also, I will be knitting some wonderful peds (short socks) for a special girl’s birthday in June. I have a beautiful blue yarn to knit a dress/tunic with also. I’m eager to knit up some wonderful garments to keep me warm in the fall! I gave away most of my sweaters when I moved to Florida!

Gone knitting!

 

Extra Large Box (of yarn)

IMG_4512You may know that we are moving from Florida to Maine later this week.

So, this weekend is focused on finishing our packing. We’ve packed our master bedroom closet except for the clothes that we’ll take with us. I will have one suitcase full of my hand knits, of course!

Next on my packing agenda was my atelier. When the yarn is in its bins, it doesn’t look like a bunch. But what I forget is that the bins lie! I filled one “extra large” moving box full of my worsted and bulky yarns. I have another big plastic bin of fingering weight and several bags and boxes of the rest. It’s going to be like Christmas again when I get to sort the big mess back into their bins!

I dare not think about what I have invested in all the yarn! I’m going to try to stick to my strict yarn diet and knit from my stash for awhile more. I’ve pulled out several sweaters worth of yarn for knitting this summer and some socks and various other patterns and yarn. I just know that my Maine knitting friends are going to have projects that they’re working on that I want to knit … and all my stash will be in storage.

I’m eager to get started with the move to Maine and the building of our house so I can set up my new atelier!

Gone knitting.

Future Planning

I’ve taken the day off today, a personal day, to plan our move to Maine … well, actually, I’m planning what yarn and patterns that I will be taking with me for the summer. I’m really trying to be a “good girl” and to knit from my stash. I’ve done pretty well … with a couple of hiccups!

One Hiccup!

One Hiccup!

Cotton Blend

Cotton Blend

So far, I’ve found a couple of cardigan/vest patterns to knit from some fingering weight cotton and a cotton blend. I’ve matched a sock weight merino to knit up for a hat for my guy and have pulled out a few sock yarns to knit up for me into socks for my sock drawer project. I have a pair of worsted weight socks to knit for my guy, too.

Baby Sweater Cotton

Baby Sweater Cotton

A long time ago, I bought cotton yarn to knit up for my first niece. I never did … so I can use it now for the second niece (if I can find the pattern!) It was so pretty! I have this stinking feeling that the pattern is in one of the binders that have already been packed and are out in the boxes stacked in the garage.

I’ll definitely be bringing the pretty blue tweed yarn that I bought to knit a dress in the Elsabeth Lavold designer’s choice pattern book. It’s been waiting for me! 😉

Noro

Noro

I have a bulky weight Noro yarn that wants to be a scarf or shawl for wearing next winter. I fell in love with the colorway which is gray … and some other colors, too. You know how Noro has the most wonderful colorways!

And I’m still working away. Of course, I have the patterns that have been put into time out and those that are in process so hopefully I won’t run out before our house is built.

Gone knitting!

Queen Bee’s Striped iPad Envelope

Somebody loves me! I got an iPad for Christmas!

Somebody loves me! I got an iPad for Christmas! Isn’t she beautiful!?

I love my snazzy new iPad. When I’ve taken it to work in my purse or knitting bag, I have worried about scratching the silver back of the thing. So, as any reasonable person would do, I decided to whip up a little envelope to put it in.

Finished iPad Envelope

Finished iPad Envelope

Into my Odds and Ends stash I went and found some Paton’s Classic Wool that I had in two shades of grey, and acid green and one cream that’s Plymouth Yarn, Galway Worsted. My iPad measures about 9.5 x 7.5 inches and I have the Apple screen cover … I knew I didn’t want to fight to put the device into the envelope every time so I wanted it to be a little bit bigger than that. (And don’t forget when you’re designing something, that you have to take into consideration the depth of the device.)

Left-overs from previous projects

Left-overs from previous projects … the starting point!

Looking at my yarn ball band (20 stitches=4 inches) and knowing that I knit pretty close to gauge, I cast on 80 stitches on my US 7 16-inch circular needles.

You can use as many or as few colors as you like. I used four colors. If my scraps were smaller, I’d have used more (and I may make one to give away!) Click on the link to download the pattern!

The Queen Bee’s iPad Envelope

I do have a few suggestions that will make your knitting simpler and may also make you happier with the process and the finishing!

1) You can carry the dark grey yarn up the piece because you’re going to use it every three rows. This saves you a bunch of ends to knit as you go or weave in. You can carry yarn when you have three or fewer rows before you’re going to use the color again. But there will be two ends for every other color change so …

2) Weave in your ends as you go. If, when you add a new yarn, you carry the ends of the yarns for a few stitches, you won’t have a bunch of ends to weave in. I’ve written about this in my blog click here! This makes knitting strips SO much more pleasant when you get to the end of your project. Promise!

3) If you are a “type A” and you like your knitted projects to be “perfect”, you’re not going to be pleased with the way the piece looks unless you work a “jog-less join”. It’s an added task to remember when you’re changing colors, but if you think of knitting in the round as creating a spiral rather than row upon row of knitting, you’re never going to have everything line up perfectly when you’re knitting stripes. I’ve blogged about the “jog-less join” before so check it out before you start. I didn’t worry about it and this is what my edge looks like … could you live with this? If so, don’t worry about the jog-less join. If not, give it a shot!

Without Jog-less joins! Not perfect but I'm OK with that  (this time!)

Without Jog-less joins! Not perfect but I’m OK with that (this time!)

So, there you have it! Another knitting adventure with the Queen Bee.

I hope you enjoy this first free pattern! It’s widely known in the knitting community that free patterns are to be used for your own personal knitting and not for your commercial benefit … please don’t sell items made from this pattern. Contact me if you would like permission to use the pattern for anything other than personal use. Thanks.

Gone knitting!

Burning a hole in my … stash?

Like other knitters, I have a fairly extensive stash. No, not mustache, a yarn stash – that little bit of collected yarns from here and there that you have to buy because it’s so soft or pretty or pretty soft.

I bought this yarn last summer in Maine. I think what made it so appealing was the price … and maybe the color. Yes, I paid $2.49 a ball for it at Marden’s! It’s Main Street by Reynolds (color 6760, lot 8078, 53% wool, 47% acrylic, 50 grams/approx. 98 yards) – 16 sts and 22 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette stitch on US #8 needles.

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Yesterday, I was going through one of my stash bins and found this yarn (I have only two balls) and I was thinking about what I could make with it. It’s wool and acrylic. Soft. And it occurred to me that it would make a great hat. I’m envisioning a rolled brim cap that could be rolled down so that it would be slouchy. And then I was reminded of the Steven West post about pompoms that I saw on Facebook (I love making pompoms) and so I think it needs to have a pom pom at the top. Maybe even a crazy multi-colored pompom. That decision has not yet been made!

I measured my own (oversized) head and cast on 80 stitches that, with a ribbed hat, should accommodate larger and smaller heads. And I decided to make it a (sort of) twisted 1×1 rib (knit 1, purl 1) by knitting into the back of the knitted stitches. I love it when there is that little bit of twist in the knitted stitches. It’s just a little bit different and very pretty.

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See? Aren’t those lines of twisted knit stitches so pretty?! I can get so excited about the simplest little things! I think this is going to be one fun hat! Wait until you see the way the colors subtly shift from purple to nearly red! You can already see a couple of very subtle variations on purple. I’ll keep this pattern going for 9 inches or so. More pictures will be forthcoming at the hat “grows”!

Gone knitting!