Grateful

Sunrise at Home

I started this post after Thanksgiving having spent several days with two thirds of my kids, their significant others, my brothers and sisters-in-love and their kids and some of their significant others. Being with family is my drug. I left Massachusetts with my heart full and my soul warmed. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday just before all of the pressure heading into Christmas begins. I’m so grateful that my children and their cousins know each other and that they enjoy spending time together and we enjoyed spending time together, too!

And now we’re well into the Christmas rush. Rushing to get the tree decorated and the presents bought and mostly shipped to their recipients but some to put under the tree and into stockings for Christmas day. I’m working hard to keep the gratitude and warm fuzzies in my heart that I had a Thanksgiving and to be fully honest here, I’m struggling. My dear husband’s daughters and one of their boyfriends are scheduled to be here for Christmas this year. It seems that because of a sick dog, one won’t be able to come. The other daughter’s boyfriend seems to be rethinking the trip because he’s spent a lot of time in Florida with his family. I was really looking forward to seeing them because we haven’t seen each other for a long time. We haven’t seen the dog mom daughter for a year and a half.

Today I’m trying to wrap my head around having Christmas at home with my little family – me and my husband. It seems that it’s entirely possible again this year. Somehow I have to make it ok and I’m not sure how to do that. It’s going to be difficult to make any major changes because I’m now scheduled to work since we were going to be celebrating here with my step-daughters. It’ll be near-impossible to kennel the dog at this point to fly anywhere and a drive to their homes is at least a two day drive each way … leaving two days to visit. We don’t relish the idea of four days in the car for a two-day visit. The NYC kids are having a Christmas dinner to which we’ve been invited but I don’t know what kind of hotel or extra bed situation we’d be looking at and the dog still needs to be kenneled. I guess we will look at our options if we find it’ll be just us for sure.

Meanwhile, I’m knitting. A lot. I’ve been finishing some projects, too. I have so many things that I want to knit and with my schedule, I’ve been lining them up for when I have some time to knit “what I want”. I’ve knitted several gifts for the kids in NYC and they’ve been sent on. We are going to go to the beach in Rhode Island again in September and that’s their big gift. Since they haven’t opened gifts, I’ll not discuss what I’ve made until after Christmas – and I even forgot to photograph a couple of the gifts. Oops!

The Slip Stitch Hat by Tanis Williams is a sweet hat with a slip stitch section around the head. It makes the sport/dk weight hat a bit warmer around the ears. I used a bit of a handspun yarn that I was gifted with a wool/silk blend yarn that I found at Marden’s here in Maine. It was a yarn company close out sale and was a great deal. This hat will be going to Yardgoods Center’s February hat drive for the needy in our community.

The beaded tape measure is a new activity that I’ve been doing with my Friday knitters, one of whom is a phenomenal talent at beading and quilting in addition to being a great knitter. Anyway, we bought a kit online (Etsy) and we had a class at the end of my teaching day a few weeks ago. What fun! I love the way the tape measure looks so much but I admit that I’m a bit hesitant to put it into my knitting bag for fear that it will be damaged or get dirty.

Evergreen Socks by Madeline Gannon are so much fun! I loved knitting these. I used deeply stashed yarn from Buffalo Wool Company. I’ve had this yarn from a bunch of years ago when I signed up for their monthly yarn club. It’s a fingering weight blend of wool and buffalo so these socks are likely to be nice and warm. I think these will be for me. I only have one daughter who has the same size feet as I do and she likes shorty socks.

Husband’s Christmas (last year) sweater. Well, he loves it and it’s a perfect fit. I gave him the yarn for this sweater last year at Christmas. His face when he opened it was a classic. He wondered if I was going to teach him to knit! LOL. Needless to say, here it is almost Christmas again and I have finally gotten it done. I loved loved loved knitting with Cascade 220 worsted yarn. I’ve not knitted with it before (I know, I was surprised, too) and it’s so much softer and more luxurious feeling that the Ella Rae wool that I’ve knitted with several times. The price point isn’t that different anymore so I’d prefer the Cascade; especially when it’s a garment. We’ll see how it wears and how it pills. The pattern is Knitting Plain and Simple #991 and it is simple but the heathered yarn makes is anything but plain.

Oh, Arne and Carlos, how I love you. I started knitting the Christmas balls last year and got about six of them finished. I haven’t tried to knit any this year because these stinking cute mini jumpers came out and that’s all I wanted to knit. I have managed to get five done and will pick up the rest of the 24 and hope to get them finished before next Christmas. I’m using Patagonia organic merino in three colors. I decided to keep the traditional holiday colors for our house. We shall see. But I love them so much!

Last but not least, I have cast on for a new pair of mittens for me. I love my “old” snowflake mittens a lot. These new ones are similar and very different. These are the Northman Mittens by David Schultz and I’ve chosen to knit with the same yarn as the design calls for. It just so happens that we have a great selection of Berroco Ultra Alpaca yarn. I’ve changed my mind already several times but I can’t change it again. I am knitting with a light tealy-blue-green and a light gray shade. The lining will be knit in a pink for a pop of color and you can find all the gory details for this and all of my other projects on my Ravelry project page. (I”m “lindar” on Ravelry.)

I am knitting a sweater for my almost-93 year old student who is having memory challenges and she was unable to be successful with this Plain and Simple pattern. I’ll get the sleeves finished this week and will present it to her as my gift on her 93rd birthday which is on Friday … and a cake! She’s one of my favorites and it’s crushing to see her struggle to knit. She was a wonderful knitter back in the day.

There you have it. I’ve caught you up to date. I’m sorry for the downer at the start of this post but I have promised myself that I would be authentic here and show you how life and knitting weave together to make me who I am. I won’t apologize for who I am and I am an emotional person. I’ve mentioned before my “ocular incontinence”, right? I will make the best of whatever Christmas brings, I’m just struggling with it for now. It’s all good. We love all of our kids and this won’t change that, of course.

Gone knitting.

A Week?

Is it possible that already a week has passed since Thanksgiving? And it’s been two weeks since I’ve been to work! Amazing how quickly time passes … and how I manage to keep busy despite having “nothing” to do!

We’ve been working around the house to (begin to) get ready for Christmas. Christmas is not and has never been my favorite holiday. I much prefer Thanksgiving and we had hoped that at least a couple of our kiddos would be coming up for Thanksgiving but Covid-19 quashed that plan. It was too difficult to get tests as required by the states and the risk was too great. This latest surge is a beast. But the hubby and I had a lovely Thanksgiving alone together. We cooked a twenty pound turkey and all the fixings and I made two pies; chocolate peanut butter for him and pumpkin for me. I “cheated” and used a prepared pie crust for my pumpkin pie and it was awful … we ended up pitching all but one slice. It simply wasn’t worth the calories! I have a pie crust in the ‘fridge and some pumpkin I cooked and plan to make another one this weekend.

Getting “decorated”

I saw planters like the one we made (above) at a local garden center. Their greens were expensive and we live in the woods so the weekend after Thanksgiving the hubby and I went foraging in the woods for some greens and birch logs. It didn’t take long to find them and we are pretty pleased with our front door decoration. We added some fairy lights to make it extra sparkly.

We had to buy new lights for the outdoor fir tree that we planted when we had our gardens done after we built the house. The tree has grown a lot and the old lights were all dead – perhaps because of the squirrels that like to hide in the tree and “yell” at us. Two extra long sets of lights weren’t enough and even the third doesn’t quite finish the job.

Knitted Fairy Lights

Inside, I’ve been up to some decorating, too. I bought 100 feet of fairy lights from Amazon after I saw this idea on Instagram. Leila Raven (@leila_raven) was the first post that I saw and I’ve since seen a lot of others. It’s not “easy” to knit lights on wire but it sure turns out to be sparkly. The hubby wants me to knit 400 feet next. I’m not sure if that’s a goal that I want to take on right now. Ha! Ha!

My fairy lights “swatch” was knit using US13 needles and I cast on 24 stitches with a backward loop cast on. Garter stitch all the way to the end of the lights and pull the end through the last stitch. Ours are hanging in the front hall where they greet us as we come and go.

I’ve knitted several pairs of mittens for a friend and customer for her grandsons (did I mention this already?). I had a bit of yarn left over and made another pair of mittens for my local school. Kids around here always need mittens, right? I finished the thumbs last night and will drop them off today on the way to work.

I’m also working on a Christmas stocking for a friend and customer. Her mother was a knitwear designer for Columbia-Minerva back in the day and the family all have stockings in her designs. I’m making one for a new family member. I have to say, intarsia is not my favorite technique. It’s fiddly and messy and there are millions of ends to weave in. With that said, I’m making progress and hope to get the colorwork part finished up this weekend and then it’s clear sailing to the toe. I had said I couldn’t promise the stocking for Christmas but I think and hope that I can get it delivered. I’m sure going to make a good old college try!

I’m participating in a couple of KALs this month. One is a gnome MKAL (mystery knit-a-long) hosted by Imagined Landscapes. I love her gnome patterns and will eventually knit a collection of them since I’ve purchased the patterns. This month it’s an ADVENTure Gnome MKAL. Four colors of fingering weight yarn and US1 needles is all you need. I’m knitting entirely from stash. Clue 1 came out on Tuesday and I’ve finished it but won’t show it until later. Stay tuned.

I’m also going to do Arne and Carlos’ 24 new Christmas balls. I’ve printed the patterns out and I’m already feeling stressed because I’m two days behind (soon to be three days behind) but I had purchased yarn that was an acrylic and wool blend and I’ve decided that I really want to use wool because they’ll block out so much more nicely. Acrylic yarn really doesn’t block at all. So, today, when I’m at work I’m going to search around for some wool yarn that isn’t superwash to use for this project and then I can start knitting. You can find the pattern at Arne and Carlos dot com. They have an entire book of Christmas balls, too. I haven’t (yet) gone down that road but we’ll see how I like the 24 that I have the pattern for! I’ll write more as I get one or two done … or find yarn!

Dried Orange and Lime slices

I’ve decided to make some of my own decorations this year inside the house. I also think I may make some simmering potpourri for my students as a little holiday gift. My hubby found a dryer ages ago and we’ve used it once or twice but most of the time it’s been stored in a cabinet. Well, I’m making good use of it! I’ve dried six oranges and three limes so far. I’ll be adding some pine and cranberries to my indoor decorations and cinnamon sticks and cloves. This weekend is bound to be another busy one!

Gone knitting!

Fingerless Mitts in a Weekend – a free pattern

This weekend was Thanksgiving and I decided to cast on a new and very simple project. Something I can make to sell. Well, they’re already off to their new home and I got them started AND finished over the course of the weekend. And I didn’t sell them. My daughter wanted them and I was more than happy to oblige!

Several people have asked me for my pattern. It’s an antique pattern with a lot of little changes.

Fingerless Mitts in a Weekend

220 yards (100g) Worsted Weight wool yarn. For my sample I used Ella Rae Classic Wool in colorway #164; a heathery light purple.

Set of 4 US 4 double pointed needles

1 stitch marker

Lengths of scrap yarn or yarn holders to hold thumb stitches

Cuff: to make a women’s mitt cast on 44 stitches and K2, P2 for 3 inches. You can certainly make the cuff longer but remember you may need more yarn. On the last row (it can be an extra row after 3 inches, don’t sweat it. Just remember what you did so you can do the same on the second mitt) *k1, k1fb, p2, (k2, P2) ten times, repeat from * one more time. Two stitches increased. 46 stitches total.

Knit six rounds plain. (No increases or decreases.)

Begin Thumb Gusset increases:

K1fb, k1, K1fb, PM (place marker) knit to the beginning of the round.

Knit 1 round plain

K1fb, k3, K1fb, SM (slip marker) knit to the beginning of round.

Knit 1 round plain

Continue in this manner, increasing in the first stitch and the stitch before the marker, slip the marker and then knit to the end of the round; knit two rounds plain until there are 15 thumb stitches. (The stitches between the beginning of round and the marker are the thumb gusset, extra stitches to accommodate your thumb.) You need to remember to knit two rounds after the last increase round.

Now thread a needle with some scrap yarn about a foot long. Slip the 15 thumb stitches from the DPN to scrap of yarn (or a stitch holder. I like using a scrap of yarn because I can keep trying on the mitts.) You have 15 thumb stitches on holder and 46 stitches on the Dpns.

Cast on three stitches, connect again for knotting around the hand stitches. Knit all stitches in the round until the hand is as long as you want it to be. I like my hands (mostly) covered so I knit until the hand is about at the first joint of my pinkie finger.

Begin ribbing: k2tog, K1, (P2, K2) to the last two sts, P2. 48 sts total.

Continue on pattern as set (Knit 2, Purl 2 around) for five rounds. Bind off in pattern.

Thumb: slip 15 thumb stitches onto dpns. cast on 5 stitches at the «crotch » of the thumb (where you cast on three stitches.)

Knit 3 rounds plain

K2, P2 around for five rounds. Bind off in pattern.

Make the second mitt just the same.

Weave in ends. Block gently. Or just wear them!

Mind you, I haven’t had these mitts test knit or tech edited. I’m happy to take your suggestions and edits should you find « issues » when you’re knitting.

These are the mitts that I taught last session at the adult education program here. I also taught my students to embroider on the fabric knitted. There are lots of pictures out there of embroidery on knitting. I also used this pattern for these mitts with self-patterning yarn. Be fearless! Have fun!

Gone knitting.

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