I was called in to work today for a couple of hours because my friend and co-worker had an appointment. My boss arrived after me and shared a story about one of our customers.
Said customer saw a sample as part of a trunk show at another LYS in our state. She really loved one of the patterns, bought a sweater’s with of yarn and the pattern and off she went. Mind you, a sweater’s worth of yarn is, at minimum, $100 and in this case was likely to be upwards of $150-$200 or more.
But when she started knitting her sweater she had a problem with the pattern and particularly one special stitch labeled as a “special technique” in the pattern- K2Ctbl. She called the LYS where she purchased the yarn and pattern and asked for some help with the pattern. She was told that it was a trunk show and no one at the shop has knitted the sweater. They suggested she reach out to the designer by email. (Not a bad idea, BTW.) our customer then called my boss to share the story.
When I heard the story, I pulled out a bit of yarn and a pair of needles and gave the direction a try. In our customer’s defense, the way it’s written is a bit odd and confusing but when I saw the dash I figured that the direction for the stitch was after that. Anywhooo, I figured it out and called the customer to tell her how to do it. She was so happy to have a little help and, she’s a very good knitter, she was appreciative.
Tonight the boss got a text message:
She’s got it!
This is why I do what I do. I love helping people be successful. It was a simple thing to do and made such a big difference for our customer.
I had a wonderful moment last week when one of our customers, who I’d helped with a knitting challenge, came in to say thank you. With flowers!
Kim is a relatively new knitter and she wanted to knit a shawl to keep her warm. She chose a relatively simple shawl, Truly Tasha’s Shawl, that is … it’s simple until you reach the edge. The edge is a knitted-on lace edge and she had no experience with this type of thing. She was ready to just leave it off or make it simpler. I encouraged her to try it and walked her through a couple of repeats of the pattern. Sure enough, she got it and has finished the shawl.
As a teacher, we have a lot of “proud mom moments” and it’s always sweet to hear from a student that they have accomplished something that they feel proud of. I call it a proud mom moment because that’s the only parallel that I can find – when you’re raising little human beings, it’s such a win when they do something, sometimes with your guidance and sometimes not. that they feel proud of whether it’s making a lego tower or graduating from college. Seeing someone that you’ve “helped” to get to a point where they can do something without you is really wonderful!
I had that happen (again) last week and Kim brought me flowers! The little tag is a keeper and a reminder that what I do is meaningful. Whether it’s giving my own child or someone else’s child (even a fully grown one) confidence, another tool to add to their personal tool box, it’s a wonderful feeling. Kim, you made my day!
Because I value honesty, I want to tell you a very typical story from knitters. Beginner knitters all the way through to expert knitters. All of us have had this experience that I had today. Fortunately, I can laugh at myself. I made a rookie mistake today.
I pulled one of my UFOs out of the cupboard this week in an effort to get some old projects finished. This one is the Anchor Sweater, an intarsia sweater in a child size, by Roo Designs. I started this sweater last year when I was teaching an intarsia workshop. And once the class was over, I put the sweater away and “forgot about it” until I started a cleaning up program in the New Year.
Today I started working on the back of the sweater. My pattern says that the back needs to be knitted until it’s 16 inches long. I got knitting this morning in my class and then at lunchtime I found the back that I had knitted last year …. I should have been knitting the front! Oh, crap!
So, tonight, when I got home, I frogged back to where I started this morning and began following the chart for the anchor. And I was laughing at myself and my rookie mistake.
All of this is to say that I am not perfect. Many people might consider me an expert (I don’t think I’ll ever get there, it makes me laugh because I still learn new things about knitting all the time!) I make mistakes. Lots of them. On a regular basis. This time, here’s what I did wrong … (the idea here is for me to teach you something, right?) I put a project away without making a note on the pattern noting exactly where I stopped work. I “should” have at the very least marked my pattern with a big arrow showing where I begin knitting. If I had marked my pattern (with a big arrow?) I would have known that I’d finished the back and was working on the front.
Good grief! I can’t imagine how we’ve gotten to “late” September! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun (in a pandemic?)
I’ve been back to teaching a small class outside at a local park in Waterville, Maine until this week. My students were comfortable meeting outside, socially distanced and masked. I was, too. And then last week, it was chilly and we had to move from under the pergola in the shade into the sun to be comfortable. This week the high temperature was only going to reach 62 so we went into the store and were surprised that we were comfortable there, too.
Life has been full of visitors this summer, too. If there are to be blessings found in the Covid-19 pandemic, this is one! All of our children have visited for at least a week and a couple visited for two weeks and four weeks! Working from home/remotely does have its benefits. Nothing makes this mom happier than a house full of our kids! We are so proud of all of them and how gracefully they’re handling life under Covid-19. It’s been difficult; isolating at times, frustrating at times, fraught with financial uncertainty. My kids all work in the Arts in New York City … there won’t be solid work for them at least until 2021. They’ll all make it through this and they’ll all grow because of it.
(I missed grand-dog Severus. Boo! And the Littles were unimpressed and not on the porch.)
We have been eating well (everyone likes to cook) and the baking has been lots of fun! Notice that the photos are almost all of baked goods!? Ha! We made focaccia with a beautiful vegetable “picture” on it, lobster is always a favorite, raspberry ice cream cookie sandwiches, blueberries, blueberry buckle, a rustic peach and blueberry galette, blueberry bundt cake, blueberry muffins, Mrs. Dejonkheere’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, blueberry pie #1, lobster eggs Benedict, maple blueberry scones, squash pie, veggie frittata and apple pie. The raspberries, blueberries and apples were all picked by our hands! What a lot of fun.
There has been yarn in my hands throughout the visits! I’ve started and finished a few things that I wanted to share with you, too.
First up were two emPower People cowls in their signature purple.
The first is the emPower People Cowl by Casapinka. This is a simple garter stitch cowl that asks for a DK or sport weight yarn. I used Malabrigo Rios which is a light worsted weight. It’s a cowl so I really didn’t mind if it came out a little bit larger (or smaller). It was a quick and simple knit project and it’s a sample at the store right now. It’s so soft and will be a nice garment to wear and a good reminder to VOTE!
The second is EmPower Lace by Romi. I was a test knitter for this cowl and it was another really fun knit. This could be considered a bit more difficult than the first cowl, but it’s a great first lace project. I used Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool this time and I love this yarn. It was a new yarn to me. It shows the lace well and it’s soft and sturdy. Empower Lace is also a free Raverly download.
Next up are two pairs of baby booties. I confess that I have a collection of Cascade’s Fixation yarn from which I’ve made several pairs of baby booties and a few baby hats to match. But I had over-bought! Can you imagine that? Ha! Ha! So, in my pledge to use up stashed yarn, I decided to pull out all of the Fixation and use it up by making some baby booties. Two pairs down and I have plenty more to go. The green pair has a different bottom color and the pink ones are simple solid pink. The pattern is one that I can’t find online anywhere called Sue’s Baby Booties. It was a free pattern at the store. If you love it, let me know and I can scan it and email it to you.
I’ve started and finished a baby gift for a special baby boy coming soon so I can’t show you a full photograph of the gift that I’ve finished. I used Hayfield’s Baby Blossom Chunky to knit a Three Cable Baby Blanket and will make a little sweater and hat to match. I’ll update this post when I have given the gift to the mom-to-be. It’s soft, warm and washable and dry-able. All good things when you’re a new mother.
I’ve finished the first of my September socks from our 2020 Sock Challenge. This is another stashed yarn, one that I collected when we learned that there wasn’t going to be a US distributor for this wonderful Raggi yarn. (There is a distributor now, thank heavens!) Raggi is a worsted/aran weight wool and nylon blend so it’s perfect for knitting socks. The pattern, Urban Rustic Socks, I just happened across when I was looking for a worsted weight sock pattern that I hadn’t already made. I love these socks and they’re a fun knit, too. It’s a free Ravelry pattern.
I’m working away on making more masks for my kids, I’ve fixed a hat for a customer, fixed a shawl several times for a former student (the shawl has traveled from Florida to Maine and back several times) and I’ve got a bunch of projects on the needles. I’m still working on finishing my Arne and Carlos Quarantine Knitting blocks (I think it’s going to be a pillow) and my Hope Cardigan is half-done. So, life is busy and full … I wanted to catch up here so that the next post won’t be so long.
I may have an injured wing but I’m still knitting!
My right shoulder has been hurting for a while now. I have done everything I know to help it but when I can’t put on a shirt/jacket/coat without a problem and I can’t take off my bra without pain, that’s the last straw. Thursday after work I went to a massage therapist for a deep tissue massage and it has helped. I have some bruising … I asked her to use the full force of her skills against the knots in my shoulder, arm, and anything else that was “tight”. So, this week I am recovering and working on stretching the muscles and opening my chest muscles. Good news is that I can put on my deodorant but I have a long way to go.
I’m working on a couple of projects. Sample socks for the adult education class that I am teaching this spring. The class is “Socks 101”. We’ll be knitting our first socks in a worsted weight yarn. Preparing to move to smaller needles and finer yarn. I’m knitting my samples in Plymouth Encore Worsted in a very pale yellow. Light yarn reveals the stitch details for my students.
I have nearly finished a 1898 Hat for my dear husband and valentine. I’m knitting it in Malabrigo Rios in the Piedras colorway. It will match his scarf that I made last year. He works outside (in Maine, in the winter, in all kinds of weather) and the doubled garter brim of this hat ought to keep his ears warm! This yarn is absolutely amazing and I hope he’ll love it as much as I love him. He takes such good care of me. I can’t imagine life without him.
I have a scarf on the needles, too. I’ve been wanting to knit the Zick Zack Scarf for a long time. We have a sample in the shop that I have always liked and chose to do it in the “original” colorway. I’ve gotten half-way through the project and find it monotonous at best. The pattern is the same row throughout and it’s even repeated across the rows. But the color changes in the Lang Mille Colori Baby yarn is exquisite and I love the way it looks. I’ll keep plugging because it’s really bee-utiful.
I finished one of the pair of my Forget Not Mitts. This is a kit put out by the Alpaca Yarn Company. I chose a kit with a kiwi green and a variegated purple/pink/green. I love the colors and the yarn is really nice work with but there isn’t enough contrast between the two yarn colors and as a result, the argyle pattern on the front of the mitt isn’t particularly clear. I love the broken rib and the 1×1 vertical stripe but I am bummed about the argyle. Oh well. The second one won’t take too long to finish and they’ll keep my hands or someone else’s warm in the spring or fall.
I have been plugging along on my Camden Hills Poncho and if I was to sit and focus on it for one day, I’d have it finished. I’m working on the back of the poncho and am nearly to the shoulder decreases and neck. I’ll get it done but have to finish hubby’s hat first … Valentine’s Day is the day after tomorrow.
I bought all the yarn for a fair isle yoked cardigan. I’ll be knitting my Ellen Cardigan in Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca. The main color will be navy blue. I’ll write more about it later. I have also lined up a couple of other sweaters. A green wool using Ella Rae Classic Wool for my husband and something wonderful for me in Malabrigo’s Rios. I am thinking a boxy pullover for this one. More about each of these as I get the first projects finished up!
Details of all of these projects and more are available on my Ravelry project pages. My Ravelry name is Lindar.
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 ….
I 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!
I’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.
Because 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!
I’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!
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.
We 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.
Wishing you blessings in 2017. I’m hoping that it’s the best year yet for all of us!
I have had a wonderful experience teaching three wonderful students a stranded knitting class. We made “my” Four Needle Snowflake Mittens. These are my favorite mittens to date. I love knitting them. The pattern came from my colleague and teacher, Bette. It’s an old and often-copied pattern but it’s a great one!
At our last class, I was explaining the difference between mittens that are the same (can be worn on either hand) and mittens that are knitted specifically for either the left or right hand. I pulled out my finished pair of mittens to show the ladies what I was talking about and …
Do you see the problem?
How about now?
Ha! Ha! Ha! It’s so good that I have learned how to laugh at myself! I realized that I had knitted TWO LEFT MITTENS!!! What a teachable moment! Even the teacher can make mistakes!
I’ve shared this story with everyone at work, my other classes and just about everyone that I have spoken to and every single time I laugh. Out loud! I still find it hilarious!
Since these were to be a Christmas gift for a very special person who happens to have a left and a right hand, I have had to finish a third mitten … this one is for the other hand! LOL. My students continue to teach me as much as I teach them!
Now, I’ve got them fixed – and the fourth mitten will be finished after I complete another pair. Wait until you see them!
Today’s lesson learned – never take yourself too seriously!
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!
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 …
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!
My knitting classes have been asking about the correct way to make a yarn over. I’ve shown them the right way to do one between knit stitches but my answer falls somewhat short because there are several ways to yarn over and it all depends on which stitches the yarn over falls between.
I went searching for a good video tutorial and found this one from Purl Soho (see a picture of me at Purl Soho here!) that explains all of the ways to do a yarn over … between two knit stitches, between a knit and a purl stitch, etc.
This is the best video tutorial I’ve seen! But Purl Soho is one of the best yarn shops I’ve seen, too! (If you get a chance to visit, please do!)