2020 The Year of the Rat

Hello 2020!

Time sure does fly. I’ve told more than one friend and/or family member that I thought life would slow down and change after my kids were little and life was so busy-active. Once they grew up and had homes of their own, I imagined that time would slow and life would be less busy. Turns out that I was totally wrong. The time seems to only go by more quickly.

So, with that said, this is my first post of the new year and new decade. The year of the rat according to the Chinese calendar. I think it’s going to be another wonderful healthy year full of fun and lots of good knitting!

We have started 2020 with a Sock Challenge. Twelve pairs of socks, one each month. Two pairs can be little socks for children or “peds”, two need to be something you’ve never done before. I have finished two pairs of socks so far this year and am up to the heel on the first sock of the third pair.

January pair number one is for my granddaughter, Rose. Her name explains the color choice, n’est ce pas? Pattern is Yankee Knitter’s Classic Socks for the Whole Family. I did a 3 x 1 rib down the leg and on the top of the foot. Knitting for children, who grow too quickly, I like to build in a little bit of wiggle room. I measured their feet in May so I gave them an extra half-inch in foot length and made the large child size. This Cascade Heritage wool is nice and soft.

February pair number two is my DH’s Christmas socks. I’ve begun to give him a ball of yarn in his Christmas stocking (also hand-knit, not by me) because we all know that Christmas knitting leaves little time for selfish knitting and it’s the old cobbler’s children philosophy: no hand knit socks for my DH until after the paid knitting is finished. Anyway, this pair is also Yankee Knitter’s Classic Sock pattern and it’s a sport weight yarn by KFI with a touch of cashmere. They’re very soft and felt good on my knitting hands! That said, there are spots where it seemed like the dye hadn’t completely saturated the yarn but I hope that doesn’t reflect on the socks themselves. I have two more balls of this yarn because it feels so good. Another blue and a grey.

I’ve been wearing and loving wearing my Love Note sweater by Tin Can Knits. I love the yarn, the weight, the color and the fit. This may be my very most favorite sweater of the year and decade (so far!) I have a couple of other sweaters coming up on my queue and it’ll be interesting to see if I like them as well as I like my Love Note!

Today we had a visitor in our yard. I am so privileged to live on the edge of a lake in Central Maine. The Belgrade Lakes area is a well-known summer spot but it’s also a fun place to live in the winter. I know, many of you are wondering if my mental health is stable but I have to say, I love the snow and I love watching the different seasons and the way the lake and life changes. Today has been a relatively warm winter day for Maine and the lake was crawling with ice fishermen (and women), snow machines, and birds. I was thrilled when I returned from lunching with a girlfriend and saw a Bald Eagle on the lake about three quarters of a mile from our front porch. Later this afternoon, as I was sitting at my desk working, another (or maybe the same) eagle left the ice and flew straight toward our house and landed in our tree. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “it doesn’t get old”! What a thrill watching these birds! I do have to watch the little dogs very carefully in the winter – an eagle or a big owl or hawk would love a shitzu feast.

Not a great photograph but he or she flew off just after I snapped this photo!

My philosophy for the next year is to be kind. Truthful and kind. Accepting and kind. Healthy and kind. Happy and kind. Loving and kind. Simply put I want to bee happy … and kind.

Gone knitting!

You can read more about my projects and yarns on my Ravelry project page. My Ravelry name is Lindar. You can also find Queen Bee Knits on Facebook and @QueenBeeKnits on Instagram.

Final FOs of 2019

Today is the last day of 2019 … a year ending and a decade ending! Yikes! I’ve been working to get a couple of projects finished so that I could happily say that I finished 60 projects this year.

This morning I finished the Love Note Sweater by Tin Can Knits. I love this sweater and I love the way it fits! The way that the neckline is designed is brilliant! A provisional cast on leaves live stitches and you just knit a few rounds above the yoke and ta! da! the neckline (and the sweater) are complete. I was worried that it would be too wide but it’s not. It’s perfect!

I loved the way this sweater knit up quickly holding together two strands of yarn on large needles. I used Jojoland Ballad and Debbie Bliss Angel in this beautiful teal-y blue color that I love. The yoke is a simple lace pattern repeated a couple of times and then there’s a bunch of stockinette stitch. The body of the sweater was great car knitting for our trip from Maine to New York City for Christmas! I’m really excited to wear it! I made the XL-XXL size and used five skeins of each yarn.

I finished my very last last FO for 2019 this afternoon. The pattern is Mochi Plus Trout Fishy. This pattern was very sweetly sent to me by another knitter. I reached out to her through Ravelry because when I finally got around to knitting the first fish, the pattern was gone. Gone! No longer available. Anywhere! The yarn company was gone and so was its website and the free patterns. I was so sad! I’d even collected some Mochi Plus for the first few fish. I’m so grateful to her for being willing to scan and email me the pattern and I think you’ll have to agree that the fish is wonderful!!!

My original goal was to knit a school of fish to hang from the ceiling between our front door and the door onto our porch on the lake. I’ve since decided that it could be any handmade fish … because I’ll be knitting fish until I die and there are a lot of other things that I want to knit!

Two down, seventy-bazillion left to go! 🙂

Gone Knitting!

Learn more about my project on my Ravelry project page. I’m LindaR on Ravelry. I’d love to have you follow me on Facebook where I am Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner. I’m also on Instagram as @QueenBeeKnits.

Happy Mothers/Mother’s/Mothers’ Day!

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It’s hard to imagine that nearly a month has passed (again) since I’ve posted something about my knitting life – or anything about my life. I wish that I could say that I’ve been on an exotic trip to Africa or on a tour around Europe but I’ve been happily ensconced in my normal day-to-day life in Maine, USA.

Today is Mother’s Day. I heard from all five kids and have eaten my gift of Graeter’s Ice Cream (six flavors, all with chocolate chunks) twice a day since it arrived. I’ve been knitting less and resting my hands more. Sadly, I’ve got some arm aches that lead to thumb pain on Friday and that’s enough to make me slow down.

I took my Orange Peel quilt to the long arm machine yesterday and got it about half-quilted before something happened with the machine. Initially we thought it was a band slipping but as I worked, the noise got worse and it was bad enough to stop using it. With any luck, the repair man is coming on Thursday and maybe I can finish quilting on Friday after class.

I’ve been happy at work at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville. I’m in the store Tuesday and Thursday and I teach on Friday. I love our customers and I love working with creative people. We are participating in the first “Maine Yarn Cruise” this summer and we’ve been getting our planning done. Prizes, patterns, kits, etc. There is a lot of planning to do and 19 or so shops participating from around the state. I love teaching, too. I had 20 students last week – three of whom stayed all day – and I so enjoy helping my students conquer their knitting challenges and learn something new. I also enjoy stretching my own knitting knowledge. Each challenge that students bring to me are a new test of my skills as a knitter and I realize each time that I am really a good knitter, capable of figuring out just about anything that’s brought my way. Confidence building!

I am knitting and making progress.

I cast on for the Joji Locatelli “Starting Point MKAL” and have gotten about half-way through clue number 1. Trying to pace myself. More details will follow but you can also check me out in Ravelry (lindar). I’m nearly finished with a sweater for my sweetie. I’m knitting “Flax” by Tin Can Knits. What a great garment! I’ll have to make more. “Flax” is designed to be worked in worsted weight yarn. I’m using Ella Rae Classic Wool in a really pretty blue color. My husband will look wonderful in the blue! I’ve got most of one sleeve to complete and then the ribbing for two sleeves (after it’s tried on once more).

I have two pairs of socks on the needles – one cuff-down in a speckled yarn and a toe-up pair in Heritage Print by Cascade in Christmas colors. These are the socks that I taught in my adult ed class this past session. One class turned into two … two nights of teaching each week may be one of the reasons I haven’t been posting a whole lot! I also have started another pair of Miriam Felton’s “Footie Socks”. One down, one to go.

I’ve finished husband’s scarf and several “knitted knockers” (www.KnittedKnockers.org). Have also knitted a pair of socks for my new cousin. I’m in the process of making him a flannel quilt like I made for his big sister.

Image (1) knitting-002-199x300.jpg for post 1462My little dog, Lola, has had kennel cough and is now struggling with a goopy eye. Probably spring allergies. Both little dogs are heading to a new groomer on Wednesday and I’m sure that will help – we’re horribly over due for a hair cut! I’m working on finding a new hair dresser, too!

Moving to a new place is a challenge. I’m still working on finding all of the doctors, hair and nail people, groomers, veterinarians, stores to shop in, etc. But we are so glad that we moved to Maine. We are looking forward to more time on the front porch and summer visitors!

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.

We Interrupt This Life … Vacation Knitting

I just spent a lovely week with my siblings, some spouses and some kids on the “left coast”. Two days in Marin County where my “Irish twin” brother (not really but close enough) lives with his wife and two adorable daughters.

Horsey Rides

Horsey Rides

Happy Baby

Happy Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faye will be 3 in December and Lilah will be one at the end of November. They are precious! It was the first time any of us had met the girls and we all had a blast. Well, their parents are sleep-deprived because of Lilah’s teething. The rest of us thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The Aqua hotel in Marin was a perfect place to stay! They have rental bikes and a beautiful full breakfast buffet. In the evenings after dinner when the girls had to go to sleep, the rest of us sat in the lobby with Wendy (at the front desk) who poured us a glass of wine and baked us fresh hot cookies. She even got the nephews and a brother or two a glass of milk.

Sister selfie

Sister selfie

On Saturday we had to say farewell to my sister who was headed home to prepare for a bike trip to Italy. (She brought her bike to California and rode every day!) The rest of the crew headed out to Lake Tahoe, Nevada for a few days at the lake. Some fun pictures are at the end of this post!)

With all the family activity, I didn’t get a lot of knitting done. But I did do some.

My Arne & Carlos Regia sock number one is finished and sock number two is started. I love knitting with this yarn and I love the sock! I’m using Susan B. Anderson’s How I Make My Socks pattern which is a very simple, plain sock pattern and my Signature US 1 DPNs. Can’t wait to add them to my sock drawer. For now, they’re in time out so I can finish my test knit sweater. It’s called “Crew, by Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits. Knit with a DK yarn, I’m using Berroco Fiora in a deep teal color. (Color 3856, dye lot 83925) I am using my Knitters Pride interchangeable needles (US 5) and a 32 inch cord. The pattern is great and I love the drape of the fabric. I’m knitting two sleeves at a time to keep them even and (hopefully) accelerate the finish. I can’t wait to wear it! I’ve finished my Manos Serena shawl. It still needs to have the ends woven in and be blocked but in our little cabin there really isn’t room for me to block knitwear. If we have a sunny day tomorrow I may lay it outside on the grass. I’m eager to see it finished!

Gone knitting (deadline looms)!

Fay, Uncle Rick and Papa

Fay, Uncle Rick and Papa

Clowning around in the cul-de-sac

Clowning around in the cul-de-sac

Catching Crawfish (we cooked and ate them, too!)

Catching Crawfish (we cooked and ate them, too!)

Tahoe Mountains

Tahoe Mountains

Tahoe sky

Tahoe sky

Old wooden boat on the lake.

Old wooden boat on the lake.

Diane, Greg & Melissa - my cousins - at the beach picnic

Diane, Greg & Melissa – my cousins – at the beach picnic

Cousin Jack and Cousin Lily

Cousin Jack and Cousin Lily

Papa and Lilah

Papa and Lilah

Princess Faye -swimmer

Princess Faye -swimmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crew – A Test Knit

 

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Crew

If I show you a picture of the finished sweater, I think Lori would have to kill me. (Not really.) But just in case, I wanted to show you my progress on my test knitting project for VersaciKnits.

I “worried” about the yarn for several days and finally just “bit the bullet” and bought some lovely Berroco yarn in their Folia line (40% cotton, 30% viscose, 15% alpaca, 10% nylon, 5% wool). It’s like a mutt blend of yarn with a little bit of everything. But I liked the soft hand and the gauge looked like it would match the pattern requirements. I bought eight skeins/hanks to make the size large in the teal blue color #3856 (dye lot 83925) and, of course, neither of my photographs is color-accurate! I’m knitting with a US 5 circular needle (Knitter’s Pride Dreamz).

IMG_5188I have nine or ten inches knitted up and I am loving the drape and feel of the fabric. I guessI should recheck the gauge to make sure I’m on target. My swatch was pretty much perfect. Stitches were spot on and the rows were a tiny bit shy of what was required but I didn’t block the swatch very aggressively and I know I could have made it work. I’ll remember that with the sweater pieces before I seam!

Our timeline is to have the sweater finished in four to six weeks. We got the pattern on July 16th and have had one update since then. I’d better quit blogging and get knitting!

Gone Knitting!

 

 

New On the Needles

Worsted Boxy

Worsted Boxy

I started my Worsted Boxy by Joji Locatelli on Sunday when we were driving to visit my nephew in Massachusetts. I’ve had this beautiful Seacolors yarn (in three colorways) for two years. It was knitted into a free pattern for a cardigan that came with the yarn but I really didn’t like the way the sleeves fit (or didn’t fit) into the body of the sweater. You get what you pay for, after all. Anyway, I frogged the cardigan and have waited all this time to knit something new. I loved the Boxy sweater and, lo and behold, there is now a worsted-weight Boxy on Ravelry. We’ll see how it goes.

A Gift in the Mail

A Gift in the Mail

At long last, the yarn that my daughter sent from Chicago to Florida AGES ago, has been forwarded to me and has arrived in Maine. It was postmarked in mid-April, for heaven’s sake! I’ve promised her that I’ll make her some dishcloths or washcloths with it … and I’ve cast on for the first one which will be Grandmother’s Favorite which is free on Ravelry and a very simple, quick knit. What I like about this pattern is that it’s not fussy and it holds up to abuse.

I’ve still got two sweaters to knit – one a tunic/dress and another that I haven’t figured out what pattern to use (yet!) I’m still working on using up some of the stashed yarn that I’ve collected over the years. I will be pulling out the yarn and starting on the afghan squares as soon as the dishcloths are finished.

Gone knitting!