Getting Projects Finished! (And Sewing, too!)

Sunrise over Messalonskee

Sunrise over Messalonskee

Well, my time in my happy place is coming quickly to an end. Last Wednesday I said, “good-bye for now” and “see you next summer” to my knitting friends. It’s always sad for me to say good-bye to my knitting friends both here and in Florida.

I had my last day sewing with my friends Beverly and Lorry yesterday. We finished a project for Lorry to take to her friend in France and I made another great bag (with a lot of help.) It’s fabulous and I love it. I love it because it’s a team effort and that my friends found three of the five fabrics for me when they were on a road trip to a quilting shop in New Hampshire. Four fabrics with bees and one with flowers and a lot of patience and I have a bag that I will carry in the winter months. Full of the love of my friends here in Maine.

My Wonderful Wallaby is almost done. I’m just knitting the hood which is simple  stockinette stitch all the way to the Kitchener stitch at the top. I took a break when I got to the neck to try it on and it fits perfectly. I’m so pleased that I have lost a little weight because now it’s perfect. Just the way I like it. Now my sweet man thinks he’d like to have one, too.

IMG_3465I finished the darling striped baby cardigan and the booties for my niece-to-be. I even bought the buttons. I’ll have to sew them on tonight so I can post a picture here. The booties are Sue’s Bootie’s and the pattern was begged for (by me) at my knitting class. They no longer had it at the shop and I couldn’t find it on the internet. They are adorable and super easy to knit. I loved the combination of colorways that my friends were using and I followed their lead using two different colors of Fixation. Fixation, if you don’t know, is slightly elastic and makes great baby booties and socks and it’s difficult for the baby to kick them off … well, relatively difficult anyway.

I’m ignoring the fingerless mitts that I dragged all the way from Florida to Maine … and will drag all the way back, too.

"Lobster On the Rocks" Hat designed by Donna Frost Ritchie

“Lobster On the Rocks” Hat designed by Donna Frost Ritchie

I’m slowly making progress on a lobster hat for my daughter. It was going to be for her birthday but it will be a late gift … thank heavens I have another couple of months until it gets cold in New York. I’m thinking that perhaps color work is not my thing. But I’ll keep trying.

I have a wonderful stash of yarn to take back to Florida with me and work with over the next ten months until I can be back here again. With any luck, my whole atelier will be coming with me then because we’re moving here permanently. This is where my heart lives.

Gone knitting.

 

I’m the Queen Bee and it’s Been Over a Month Since I’ve Posted.

Welcome to Maine

Welcome to Maine

I can’t believe that I haven’t posted anything in over a month! I’m sure I’ve thought about it many times … apologies to my loyal followers (all three of you!)

I was a sick puppy!

I was a sick puppy! Out of work for five weeks!

I’ve recovered from a nasty bout with pneumonia and bronchitis and finished the school year and moved up to our home in Maine. I’ve also started a new “diet” to try to lose some weight before the big wedding (not mine, my daughter’s). I have been way to “happy” (read this as eating for all celebratory reasons) for the past several years and have gained a good forty pounds since my divorce diet and weight loss. I’m hoping to get back to that post-divorce weight without severing a long relationship. I’ve enlisted a team of coaches and doctors and am starting day 6, having lost about six pounds. Woo! Hoo! The program that I’m using is Your Road To Health. It’s a Medifast program. I was hungry and cranky the first few days but I’m feeling better as the days go on. Today I am feeling hopeful and that’s a really great way to feel.

I’ve been knitting a lot, too. Have several projects on the needles. I’ll go into more detail over the next few days. Suffice it to say, there is no shortage of projects – and the ones that have deadlines are the ones that I don’t really feel like working on.

I’m almost done with the lap blanket for my daughter’s wedding (there will be rocking chairs on the Yacht Club’s porch and she really wanted to have a cozy blanket on them … it could be chilly in September in Massachusetts.) Bulky yarn knits up pretty quickly … even if it’s a boring project.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Closing in on Row 70 … a bazillion rows left!

Closing in on Row 70 … a bazillion rows left!

I’ve kind of given up on the idea of finishing the lace shawl by her wedding. But maybe not.

I started a “selfish knitting” shawl … one of those projects that I can work on at knitting classes because I don’t have to count.

One mitt down, one to go.

One mitt down, one to go.

I have one of my two fingerless mitts done. An Intarsia pattern. I have decided I need to practice intarsia more … not my favorite technique. One left … and I haven’t even started it yet.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Last, I have a Wonderful Wallaby sweater that I am knitting for myself. Another easy pattern that  I can knit and visit with. I have the majority of the body done and am working on the sleeves. Would love to finish this before the end of the summer so it can live here in Maine. It’ll be way too warm for Florida.

My super-duper LL Bean bag is full of yarn and “hopeful” knitting projects. If I can finish even some of my projects already on the needles, I can start those. A sweater for my soon-to-be niece, a sweater for the soon-to-be big sister, an Australian possum pelt kit … OH BOY!

And then there's this project! A king-size Log Cabin quilt!

And then there’s this project! A king-size Log Cabin quilt!

I’d best stop writing and get knitting!

Gone knitting!

Wonderful Wallaby … Healthy Lungs are Happy Lungs

undertheweather

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve been a little bit under the weather for the last three weeks (this week is week four!) Pneumonia and Bronchitis have kicked my butt … and I hope it’s now on the upswing.

Today I was supposed to have an invasive surgical procedure called a Bronchoscopy. They would be scraping some cells from my lungs and extracting some “gunk” from my lungs as they are having a look around. But I wasn’t feeling great about the whole process and didn’t love the doctor’s office and the “issues” that I have had since my first appointment with them, while they were picky, they were there. So, after a very sleepless night on Saturday night, I decided to cancel the procedure and get a second opinion. I would start with my doctor who I like and trust. After reviewing my x-rays and my CT scan, and listening to my lungs, he said that he’d wait a few days and see if I keep feeling better. I should call him on Friday and we’ll do another x-ray to make sure the pneumonia has cleared up and I can (carefully) resume living my life.

I’m so glad I trusted my gut!

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on my knitting – since I have been told to stay home and rest – and have made some good progress on my Wonderful Wallaby. Until I realized yesterday that I was coughing a lot while working on it … and have decided to put it aside. Could I be allergic to the wool? The yarn that I am using is a bit “fuzzy” and “shed-y” and since I’m having some lung problems, I decided it’s probably wisest to just put it aside for now. Healthy lungs are happy lungs!

Sleeves are coming along ...

Sleeves are coming along …

I’ve made two Christmas gifts for my nephews. I think it’s safe to write about it here because I seriously doubt that they read my blog! 🙂 One left for the third nephew and that’s a good feeling to have something done for them. They’re all big skiers and snow boarders and they’ll like the charcoal gray wool, I think.

I am still working on the color-work fingerless mitts. I know that it’s something relatively new to me but I’m not sure I love this process. I hope I feel differently after it’s done.

Also on the needles is a lap blanket for my daughter’s wedding reception. She’s being married in the early fall in Massachusetts and wants to have hand-knit afghans on the rocking chairs on the porch for her guests. Once the sun goes down it’s very possible that it’ll be cool and they’ll be a welcome addition … nothing like sitting on the porch of the yacht club with a cozy afghan.

I’m also making a ring bearer’s pillow for her. My grand-dog (yes, you read it right) Mabel is the ring bearer. The pillow is burlap and lace with a jute twine bow to tie on the wedding rings. I’ll post pictures when I get it done. Since my sewing skills are beginner-level at best, it’s always an adventure and a learning experience for me. It’s so simple, though, I know I can do it!

I’ve got some projects pulled out for our summer trip to Maine … planning to finish one tote project started last summer and knit a sweater for my niece and a little stuffed animal to match from one of the Noro magazines. Have my new dress in the stack and a shawl. I know there will be others going up but I haven’t decided which ones yet. I think there may be one more sweater for my niece. I just have to find out what size she’s wearing now. I love knitting for her … and I can’t wait to knit for the new baby, too! I just bought some yarn to knit a simple striped cardigan for the baby … if it’s a cute as I think it’s going to be, I may have to knit a twin one for the baby’s big sister.

This afternoon I’m starting my lace shawl project. I’m excited to try some lace knitting again … this time with real lace-weight yarn from Maine. I’ll write more as I make some progress!

For now, though, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Gone knitting!

I Hate it When This Happens

Happily knitting along on my Wonderful Wallaby and my right hand feels a lump.

I hate it when this happens!

I hate it when this happens!

Thankfully, I’m knitting with wool and since it’s a natural fiber, I can do a “spit join” and it will be a seamless (and end-less … read this as no ends to weave in) way to keep on knitting.

To do this, all you have to do is:

1) cut out the knot with your handy dandy scissors

2) separate the plies from each end of the yarn

3) mine was 4-ply. I cut out two plies from each end of the yarn

After separating the plies, cut out half of them & wet both ends and lay them together again

After separating the plies, cut out half of them & wet both ends and lay them together again

4) “spit” on the yarn (or dip it into some water) and hold the two ends together and rub them between your two hands. The heat and agitation will bind the fibers … like magic!

Magic! Ready to knit on!

Magic! Ready to knit on!

5) knit on!

Gone knitting!

Pouches Rock!

My second Wonderful Wallaby is off the needles. This one for my sister-in-law to give to a friend who is expecting a new baby in April. She requested it in pink … and since I was at the Black Sheep (teaching), I ran right back to the yarn room to see what was available in a baby-friendly pink that’s not too pink. (Because as much as I love pink for little girls, I also know that they get a lot … a LOT … of pink gifts.) And voila! I loved this one …

Ta-daaa! My yarn choice!

Ta-daaa! My yarn choice! Plymouth Yarn “Encore Tweed”

Knitting for babies and children really requires washable yarn. I sometimes break this rule … especially when I’m knitting for people who I know well. But when I am knitting for people I don’t know, I assume that they’ll want garments that are easy to care for. Thus, acrylic or blends are essential. The yarn I chose is Encore Tweed by Plymouth Yarn. It’s a worsted weight blend of 75% acrylic, 22% wool and 3% rayon. Stretchy, soft, washable … and a great price point at $7.50 a ball (I needed three. Color W464, Lot 67839.)

I decided to make the smallest size possible which is a 2T because if the baby is born in April, she will be 8 months old in December and with rolled up sleeves, this size will likely fit well with a little room for growth. I always put my children in sweaters that grew a little bit with them. Because I was knitting a gift, I did knit a swatch for gauge. If it was for me I might not have done that but I wanted it to be sized accurately. And away I went.

Bottom's UP!

Bottom’s UP!

This sweater is constructed from the bottom up and knit in the round. (Hear this, NO seams!) The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Two needle sizes needed. Sleeves can be knit one- or two-at-a-time which is my preference so that they are sure to be the same size. I’m sorry that I didn’t take a photograph of my sleeves in process. On this particular pattern, I like using scraps of yarn to hold the few stitches for the underarms both on the body of the sweater and the sleeves. (Makes the “pits” very flexible.)

Here’s a great tip! If you start with the sleeves, you can consider them your swatch. For those who don’t like to swatch, you can start your project right off and if your gauge is off you have a lot fewer stitches to pull out.

Splitting up for the neckline

Splitting the stitches for the neckline … and then on to the collar and hood!

The sleeves are attached very simply by stitching them onto your needles along with the sweater body. Decreases all around for the shoulders and we’re getting closer and closer to a finished garment.

At the neckline, the stitches split and you knit back and forth for the neckline and hood (if you choose to add one … and I love children’s hats with hoods!) Again, very simple. The only “glitch” that I can see in the pattern is that there is a repeat of a few knitted stitches on the edge of the hood, which I am too much of a perfectionist to accept. So, I chose to knit all of the edge stitches on one side and purl all edge stitches on the other side. That way, I get a “perfect” edge. You’ll see what I mean when you knit this cutie!

At the end of the hood, you’ll graft all the stitches together with a Kitchener stitch and ta-daa!!! I added a tassel to the hood because I really liked the hassle that I added to the first WW that I knitted for my niece. All you have to do is graft the underarm stitches and all the seaming is done. Don’t you love that!? I sure do! Use a long piece of your seaming yarn to tighten up the “holes” at each side of the underarm. This is a trick you can use in lots of patterns.

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Just a few underarm stitches to graft … that’s it for seaming!

Underarm "holes" are easily tightened up!

Underarm “holes” are easily tightened up!

So, there you have it once again. The Wonderful Wallaby. I love this pattern so much that I am knitting one for myself in oatmeal-colored wool. You can be sure you’ll be seeing it when it’s on the needles!

Wonderful Wallaby in pink!

Wonderful Wallaby in pink!

Queen Bee Knits label is placed on the inside of the bottom … don't want it rubbing baby's neck!

Queen Bee Knits label is placed on the inside of the bottom … don’t want it rubbing baby’s neck!

Tassel … my addition

Tassel … my addition

Gone knitting.

Block Broken

My first Wonderful Wallaby on my beautiful niece!

My first Wonderful Wallaby on my beautiful niece!

I taught a class ten days ago and, now, I do believe that my knitters block is broken. Woo! Hoo! I’m knitting again!

Zipping through the Wonderful Wallaby that I’m knitting for my sister-in-law to give to a friend for a new baby due in April. (I’ve blogged about this pattern that I’ve knitted before … here and here.) I’m knitting it in the acrylic/wool/rayon blend Plymouth Yarn Encore Tweed (100g./200 yards) in a pink tweed (color W464/ lot 67839). I love this pattern and I love this sweater. It’s such a simple knit and there are no seams! (Well, only a couple of short seams.)

And next? A wedding shawl for my daughter … I sure hope she doesn’t read this blog! 😉

I can’t believe that MY daughter is getting married (in September)! It’s beyond my comprehension that she is old enough for this … or maybe it’s that I am old enough for this … monumental, life-changing event! How did all those years pass so quickly? And now it’s time for her little family to become “official”. We all love the wonderful man that she is marrying and I love that they are authentically themselves even as they’ve become a couple. I remember her telling me (years ago) that he was her “tour affair” and the relationship wouldn’t go beyond the boundaries of her tour. Love got in the way … and it didn’t hurt that he loved her dog!

I’m planning to knit her a Romi lace shawl, Fiori di Sole. It just looks like her. I bought the yarn in Bangor, Maine last summer. It’s a beautiful shade of blue/green (Glacial Pace is the color way) baby alpaca and silk blend by One Lupine and called “Spinnaker” (4oz./ approx. 745 yards). I am excited to get started which is, perhaps, why I am whipping through the Wallaby in pink.

Let me mention, too, that I’ve begun a Wonderful Wallaby for me! I’m knitting in Lion Brand’s Fisherman’s Wool, an inexpensive yarn purchased at Joann, in the oatmeal color way … there will be no contrasting pocket for this girl! 🙂

Gone knitting!

WIP to Finished!

It always feels so good!

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Lesser Evil Socks (Toe Up, Two at a Time!)

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My own design … baby blanket backed with polar fleece & silk border (sewn by me … and, no, I’m not a great seamstress!)

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And finally my Wonderful Wallaby … heading to my niece on the west coast for next year … or maybe the next year. We’ll see when it fits her!

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Gone knitting!