July 4th

Maine Blueberry Muffins

We had such a wonderful weekend!

A few weeks ago I would have told you that it was going to be a bummer because we wanted to go to Massachusetts to visit with my brothers and their families but as it turned out, we had to stay home (the bummer) because I forgot that I was signed up to work on Saturday and our kennel was closed on Monday and Tuesday due to lack of staffing. But it turned out to be a great weekend with a visit from my college roommate(s)!!!

I lived with C. sophomore year and we’ve been fast friends for nearly five decades. We had such a good time – we always do. We went to the garden store, Longellow’s, a huge hit with all of our out-of-town visitors, to get flowers for my pots outside. We had an “adventure” finding Maine peas and strawberries and we feasted on ice cream, homemade blueberry muffins, our first (not grown by us) native tomato, salmon, steak and quesadillas. We went on a “cocktail cruise” and did a lot of porch sitting and chatting. I did a bit of garden tending, we snipped back the garlic scapes, picked a few leaves of lettuce, pulled a few weeds, and spent an hour handing our our lake association’s Loon project signs. We watched the Friends of Messalonskee (lake association) annual 4th of July Boat Parade – we had the largest turn out ever! At the end of the parade route there were 40+ boats! We had a bonus visit on Sunday from my freshman roommate and her partner. L and I lived down the hall from C and her roommate, now deceased. We’ve all known each other for a long time and it’s wonderful to be together. L happened to be in Central Maine (across the lake from us) for a night on their way to the north woods. I wish we had remembered to take photos!

It felt so great to slow down and recover from the last few months of “rat race” and I’m trying to figure out how to keep that (more) balanced feeling closer to the everyday. I need to take more time for myself because I need it.

Home sweet home – from the water, with loon sign

I had decked the house out with our buntings and our flag was flying. We looked mighty patriotic, if I do say so myself. (Today the buntings will come down and be put away for another year.)

What I didn’t do for the last few days was knit. I am rather amazed, frankly. I didn’t knit a stitch Saturday through Monday.

Billie for “Jambalaya”

Last night I sat down to start a new baby sweater as a sample for the store. I cast it on three times and each time made a mistake in knitting rows. Each time because the directions seem hastily written (and it’s a major yarn company’s pattern.) There are directions for rows “hidden” in other directions and they’re not “obvious” to me. So, each time I frogged the start of the sweater and cast on again. And then I realized there weren’t three rows of garter stitch before the stockinette stitches began and I frogged it again. I finally put it in time out and picked up a different WIP – Billie – also by a major yarn company and I’ve had success with (almost) knitting two pairs of them. Pair number two is down the first leg. These pants are so cute, I’d like to have a pair for myself. Hmmm, that gives me an idea.

Last week I finished the Mermaid Tail that I was knitting. It makes me smile just looking at it. The pattern is Mermaid Cocoon Newborn Photo Prop by Angie Hartley. I knit mine in Plymouth Yarn Encore Starz in the teal colorway with sparkles. It’s perfectly gaudy and I can’t wait to gift it. I’m going to attempt a little matching headband – perhaps with a shell as a button embellishment. I’ll have to try to drill a hole in the shell and who knows how that will work.

My Elton cardigan is languishing. I picked up the arm stitches on Friday and haven’t touched it since. I have to find a short needle to knit the sleeves and hope I can avoid using DPNs because they make sleeves so much clunkier to knit. I have a Ciao Goo Interchangeable Minis set and I’m crossing fingers and toes that the needle size that I need isn’t already being used for another project. (I’ll have to go on a hunt for them in project bags both hidden and in plain sight in my atelier.

Tubular Bind Off

I did finish the body of the sweater and did my first tubular bind off and I’m wondering where this fabulous technique for a stretchy, clean and neat bind off has been all my knitting life. It’s perfect!

Today is Wednesday and my husband and I both have the day “off”. I’ve been languishing – with a few emails and a phone call of two – on the front porch in the sun with my coffee. It’s nearly noon and I am choosing to enjoy the day with no pressure to “do” stuff. While I’m tempted to do the sheets and towels and remake the guest room bed, I think I’ll take my sample baby sweater out to the porch and cast on again. Persistence for the win!

Gone knitting!

A Return to Summer … in May?

Like a Summer Day but May

If this past weekend is any indication, we are going to have a wicked warm summer. It was close to 90 degrees … too hot, too early. Thankfully, the temperatures have returned to more normal and we got a little bit of rain.

I’ve been working like a crazy woman. I don’t know if I’ve shared the fact that I am president of our lake association and we have had a lot going on. We are doing a huge project in the entire watershed area in order to limit the amount of runoff into the lake. We’ve identified 247 different properties that need to have significant work done and we are in the process of applying for a 319 grant to help landowners pay for the improvements. AND we are moving out of our office, changing storage areas, and still trying to run our normal milfoil removal program and our courtesy boat inspector program at our two boat launches. It’s a lot!

I estimate that I am spending about 20 hours weekly on lake stuff. Mondays are my lake days and I almost always spend the full day working on lake stuff – meetings, committees, fundraising, memberships, banking stuff, finances … and on and on. I’m so grateful that I have a good group of people helping me with a lot of it. I’d like to clone them!

Add my real job (the one that pays me) and writing a newsletter for the yarn shop and I’ve been super busy. I’m trying to remember to make time for my sweet husband – he puts up with my nonsense without complaining – but I haven’t been baking as much as I normally do (or that he’d like) and I’m (almost) getting my normal house stuff done. The yard, though, needs a lot of work and our project this year is to fix up our guest cottage … I sure hope it gets done. We’ll be renting it once it’s finished.

My Traveling Sweater

I’ve finished my “Traveling” sweater and brought it to the store to show if off on Friday. This was a fun knit and I’ve inspired a couple of my students to give knitting an adult-sized sweater, too! When we are all finished with our sweaters, we’ll take a group photo … in the fall. This is a Knitting Plain & Simple top-down pullover pattern. I used ten balls, 9 different colorways, of Plymouth Gina. I chose the balls fairly randomly and knit the entire ball and then spit-joined the next one. The only “fudging” I did was to sort of match the first part of the sleeves to the start of the body. It just looks neater.

The other thing I did a little bit differently is to turn it inside out. That’s right, I’m going to wear it on the “wrong” side or the reverse stockinette side. SO, to make that happen, I had to frog back the bottom of the body and then re-knit it so that it rolled the right way. I did the same to the sleeves and the collar. It fits well, it’s going to be really comfy when the weather gets colder again. (It’s worsted weight and I tend to run warm, so … )

Noro Striped Mittens

I also finished my Noro Striped and lined mittens. So, this was a stash busting project. I’ve had a skein of this Noro yarn in my studio for a couple of years. When I saw these mittens, I jumped at the idea of using the one skein. I only had to buy two more skeins to get it done, but it’s done! This pattern uses two skeins of Noro (or you could use a worsted or Aran weight yarn of your choice) yarn for the stripes and another yarn, I used Berroco Folio, for the lining. These are fun mittens and I love them … but I’ll be gifting them because I don’t NEED them. (Remember my Northman Mittens? And my 4-Needle Snowflake mittens? And my Gray Fuzzy Mittens? LOL. I have a few pairs. I don’t need any more.) I do know who is going to get these lovely mittens. She’ll be so surprised.

I have been working right along on one more pair of socks for my daughter. I made it to the heel flap of the second sock this morning when I was waiting for my car to have its oil changed. One heel flap and on to the foot. They won’t take long now. (And I’ll return the clean socks I borrowed when I was in New York when I send the new socks.)

Last but not least, I’ve cast on an Elton cardigan by Joji Locatelli. One of my co-workers and a student and I are doing a KAL/CAL at the store where we work and knit. Our Spring Sweater KAL/CAL only requires that participants use fingering weight yarn for their sweater. They can choose any sweater pattern to knit or crochet and there are no deadlines or pressure. It’s meant to be a fun, no pressure, supportive experience and we have 17 people in the group. We’ve had one virtual meeting that kicked off the KAL/CAL on May 1 and we’re having our second meeting, a hybrid meeting, in person and virtually, on 5/21. I need to make some progress for that meeting! I’m feeling the pressure, for sure. I bought the Elton pattern ages ago and then used the yarn that I was planning to use to knit a Love Note instead. So, this time, I’ve chosen for my main color, Malabrigo Sock in the Cote D’Azure colorway (a really deep navy blue) and for the accent color, Berroco Aerial in a deep navy. I think it’s going to be elegant and I’m thinking that I could wear it to my step-daughter’s wedding in December if I can find a dress to wear under it. I’ll add a photo or two when I have enough knitted to bother to take a photo.

Fiber Trends Felted Clogs Pre-felting

I just finished the sewing up of a pair of slippers that I knitted for my husband for his birthday. I only need to felt them now and sew on the sole. His last pair were completely worn out and I had him throw them away. They had suede sole pieces. The new ones will have a full suede sole. I’m getting so fancy … or he is. LOL.

Gone knitting.

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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