Someone is Eating my Kale!

When I posted a photo of our garden with all (ALL!) of the kale pilfered but spinach and lettuces untouched, lots of doubters commented that we were lucky that it was gone. I will not apologize for liking kale … I like kale! And some rotten critter has eaten it all! Every single leaf has been nibbled to the nubs.

Starflake Shawl by Stephen West

My Starflake Shawl is blocked and it’s beautiful! I am so thrilled about this shawl. I have to admit that I was not a big fan as I was knitting this. I wasn’t sure it would be something I would wear and I was pondering the idea of selling it or giving it away. BUT when I blocked this baby, I fell in love! I adore it!

The yarn is among the yummiest yarns that I have worked with. I used two shades of Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock in “Wish You Were Beer” (gold) and “Nailed It” (silver) -the names of the colorways remind me of the OPI nail polish names, they’re so clever! The yarn bloomed when the shawl was blocked, the stitches opened up and the i-cord edging and bind off are spectacular.

This was my first Stephen West (big) project and I doubted at times that I’d get it finished. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck Maine, I lost my knitting mojo and/or my ability to concentrate. This shawl is NOT a simple pattern. I spent so much time knitting and then frogging that I ended up putting it in time out for awhile. A few weeks ago, I got it back out because I realized that I was settling into a new “normal” and I wanted a bit of a challenge. Well, I’m so glad to report that in the end, the result is incredible!

Here’s what else I’ve been up to …

Gardening! I’ve got a small yard but a lot of gardens. We have the raised vegetable garden with greens, tomatoes, peppers and squash. We have several perennial gardens that were put in before we were married. Some have been more successful than others but they all need care and love. I’ve been outside weeding, edging and transplanting (and forgetting to water the newly moved plants … lucky I have a lot of creeping flox. My peonies are just about ready to pop for the first time.

Volunteering! I am on two Boards of local organizations that I care deeply about. One is our lake association, Friends of Messalonskee. It’s weird to be running a volunteer organization in a pandemic but it we let the invasive plants take hold for one summer, we will have lost a lot of (if not all) the progress we have made. So, we are carefully optimistic that our state and local funding will come through so we can do our good work. Maine Arts Academy is the second organization and combines my passions for education and the arts. MEAA is a free public charter high school for the arts. We just graduated 53 students on Sunday in a “drive through” graduation. It was awesome and the kids are heading off prepared for whatever they choose to do next!

And I have sewn some more face masks for these cuties! I’m so glad that my children, all in New York City, are being smart and wearing masks. Daughter number two and her hubby have a few different masks to get them through the new “normal” in the city. I think they’ll be wearing masks for quite a while.

Life is good. I feel very grateful for a healthy family, especially now.

Gone knitting!

All of my knitting projects and even some sewing projects can be found on my Ravelry project page, I’m lindar on Ravelry.

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FIN! Starflake and Devon

The knitted portion of my Starflake Shawl by Stephen West (Westknits) is done! Finally!

Starflake by Stephen West in Emma’s Yarn “Wish you were Beer” and “Nailed it!” colorways

I started this project with the best of intentions and then the world went crazy! Between holiday orders, crazy busy work and volunteer life (lives?) and then the Corona Virus … I couldn’t concentrate on this pattern so it went into a brief time out. As my concentration returned, I pulled it back out and got it finished yesterday with the exception of weaving in the ends and blocking. This will happen today!

This shawl was a good challenge. I liked the variation of stitches and the different techniques that Stephen used. It’s a different shape and I love a good i-cord! This shawl is loaded with i-cord. I also loved working with Emma’s yarn. This is a merino and silk blend fingering weight hand-dyed yarn. Emma’s yarn is dyed by two sisters in Winter Haven, Florida. Their parents own and run the beautiful Four Purls Yarn shop … and they’ve got a yarn truck that I used to shop from when I lived in the suburbs of Orlando. The Black Sheep Shop, where I used to teach, partners with Four Purls for some wonderful yarny fun!

I’ll update photos when the shawl is blocked. I can’t wait to see how this shawl “blooms” with blocking. Blocking works miracles!

Devon Hat in Ra Ra Raffia yarn

My Devon hat is also finished … except for the little tail that is hanging off the back of the hat. This was also a fun project. The Devon Hat is a simple crochet project. I still consider myself a beginner in crochet. This hat’s first few rounds are a bit wonk but the end result, despite being a little bit too big, is pretty stinking cute! The RaRa Raffia yarn is from Wool and the Gang. I bought it on the Wool and the Gang website directly but it would be a fun yarn for yarn shops to carry specifically for making hats and tote bags, too!

The hat is crocheted at a pretty tight gauge so my hands were a bit sore but I took breaks – and you should take breaks and stretch when you’re knitting or crocheting for a extended period of time. Stretching is a good thing – I promise, I know!

I never wear hats because I have a big head. “One size fits all” sure doesn’t. So, I thought this would be a good solution to my problem. I love hats but I can’t find hats that fit. This one will work when I’m sitting in the sun knitting.

Gone knitting!

Stephen West MKAL 2016

Yarn Choices 1-4

Yarn Choices 1-4

I have been wanting to knit one of Stephen West’s designs but have been putting it off because 1) I have so many other knits to complete and an order from a customer and 2) because there are so many good ones and I’ve had trouble deciding which one to make first! SO when a MKAL came along, I dumped out my stashed fingering weight yarns and chose several to start with.

My knitting students helped me narrow my choices to the four required in the pattern and I got started on the first clue. I love the i-cord cast on and the subsequent i-cord increases. Picking up and knitting stitches from the i-cord is simple enough and the pattern is easy to follow. I am not loving the blue in my design – oh boy, should I have chosen the bright pink? I’ll knit on a ways and see what I think as I go.

Nearly at the end of knitting clue 1 and I realized as I was switching to needles with a longer cord that I was knitting with a US3 not the requested US4. Now, one assumes that the difference between a 3 and 4 is a small one. One is right but the difference is JUST enough to make a big difference in the way the fabric feels. The US3 fabric is tight and much less flexible and flow-y than the US4 fabric.

The question now is … to frog or not to frog. The shawl has two points already against it and I’m not even finished with clue 1. I’m frogging and starting over. I’ll knit the hat for my customer and then cast on again.

Happy knitting!