Mary Jane Mucklestone!!!

The American Queen of Fair Isle Knitting, Mary Jane Mucklestone at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Mary Jane is holding my knitting and balancing on one leg because her class sample is on her raised right leg! She does it all!

YOU GUYS!!! I took a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone!!!

Late last week, my co-worker, Glenda, shared with me that she was going to take a class at the Farnsworth with Mary Jane Mucklestone. Needless to say, I was hoping that my calendar and husband would be supportive of me doing the same … and that there would still be space in the class when I signed up! The knitting gods were smiling in my favor so on Saturday afternoon, Glenda and I, driven by my handsome hubby, went to Rockland!

Mary Jane is a wonderful and knowledgable teacher. The class was inspired by my friend and knitting idol, Katharine Cobey, who has a one woman show at the Farnsworth through April 12, 2020. Go see the show. It’s magnificent. I blogged about it here. Katharine made famous diagonal knitting and the class was a Fair Isle design based on “diagonal” knitting but the Fair Isle way. Mary Jane was kind enough to bring one pattern for her Flying Geese Cowl about which she had intended to teach the class. She also was inspired to design another cowl pattern very shortly (days) before the class was to happen and we also got that cowl. It is, as yet, unnamed.

Choosing Colors

We learned a lot about choosing colors when knitting in the Fair Isle way. We were to come to class with an inch or so of ribbing in a dark, high-contrast color. I chose an Ella Rae Classic Wool in a dark charcoal gray. (Details on all my yarns are on my Ravelry project page. Find me on Ravelry, I’m “lindar”.) I brought a bunch of leftovers from my stash in various colors that I like which you can see above. Since you don’t need a whole lot of any one color, in this case, I brought bits and bobs. We needed three colors to really have some fun and I finally chose the creamy white Galway worsted and the one right next to it which is an ice blue colorway in a Paton’s Classic wool. All three are worsted weight and plain old wool.

While we were knitting, Mary Jane serenaded us with stories and tales about her travels to and knitting from Fair Isle. She is a wonderful story teller and full of knitting knowledge. I really enjoyed listening to her talk. She brought TONS of samples of Fair Isle motifs, talked about and demonstrated how some yarn colors, shades and tones, play well together – or don’t. It was a wonderful day.

Glenda, my co-worker, has finished knitting her Flying Geese cowl and she was blocking it when we last spoke. I must be knitting too slowly. I am planning to finish my cowl today because we have a snow day today so it’s an unexpected “free” day to sit in my atelier to knit. I don’t think I have to tell you that both cowls are fun to knit and a good way to learn to knit with two colors at a time (and you don’t have to catch the floats!)

I offered and Mary Jane has accepted me as a test knitter for this pattern and I am happy to oblige. Deadline is 2/13/2020 … so I had best stop “talking” and go knit!

Gone knitting!

Proof. Fan girl photo! Thanks for obliging me, Mary Jane!

Teaching This Old Dog a New Trick: Still Learning

Attic Heirlooms January 2019 Ornament

My wonderful co-worker provided me with a kit of wool and supplies for this month’s ornament pattern from Attic Heirlooms. I’d put it into the pile of projects that I am amassing and it seems that this morning was the morning to get it done!

As I stitched away, I realized that I was doing the blanket stitch all wrong. All wrong, all along. I pulled out the outside edge but decided to leave the stitching on the flower in the center just to remind myself that I can still learn. I grew up hearing “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I am here to tell you that I am calling BS on this one! I am proof that you can keep learning no matter how old or young you are!

You can see that I have left the “wrong” stitching around the pink part of the flower and continued in the “right” stitching around the red leaves. I pulled out the green around the mitten after a little bit of thought because I really do want to be proud of my work.

I had always wondered why my blanket stitches didn’t really stay square. Now I know. I was doing it the wrong way! That’s what happens when you teach yourself (sometimes!)

All done! All I need is a little string to hang the ornament with and it’s ready for our tree … in a few months, anyway!

Attic Heirlooms is on Main Street in beautiful Damariscotta, Maine. You can find the free patterns or reasonably priced kits on their website. There are some cute shops, good food and a lovely coastal feel to Damariscotta. You should visit!

Gone knitting!

You can find me on Facebook at Queen Bee Knits by Linda Warner and on Instagram as QueenBeeKnits. I’m on Ravelry @lindar. I hope you’ll join me there!

Vaill Island Vest Version 2

I’ve had this vest in my WIP pile (actually a pile of project bags full of future projects and projects half-done) forEVER! I love the first version of this vest so much that I’ve encouraged a couple of my knitting students to give it a try AND I cast another one for myself on back in mid-January. Yes, it’s been that long!

Every once-in-a-while I’ve pulled it out and finished a few rows and then away it goes in favor of another more current and seemingly imperative knit. Well, yesterday I took it to my knitting class with me with the thought that I didn’t even remember how much I had left to knit. I got the back finished and one of the front sides nearly finished at class and then continued late into the night … when I started to notice mistakes. (Hey! I’m usually in bed by 9 or 9:30 and last night it was after 11.) This morning I will frog back a couple of rows on the last front side and re-knit so that I can get it finished this weekend and I will be able to wear it this fall.

Vaill Island Vest designed by Gwynn Ericsson for Halcyon Yarn in 2008. This is a free pattern on Ravelry.

I really like this pattern. The repeat is simple, it’s knit bottom up in one piece (at least mostly in one piece) and I can wear it over my self-imposed work “uniform” which is almost always a pair of slacks and an oversized tunic/blouse. A wool vest will be great … as is the cotton vest (first iteration). I used Ella Rae worsted wool in a deep red colorway (it’s on my Ravelry project page). The color is really closer to the first picture. The second is to show a close-up of the stitch pattern. So close!

Vaill Island Vest … nearing completion

Stitch Pattern … this yarn has great stitch definition!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found a mistake in the pattern, though, last night. The directions for the left front say that when I slip the stitches from the holder that I should have 45 stitches. Well, I had 50. That’s the number of stitches that I was told to slip onto the holder and they’ve just been sitting out there for all this time. So, having adjusted the stitch numbers, I had 50 to slip onto the needles, I bound off 8 right away (42 sts). Then I begin decreases, one every other round six times, to 36 stitches. Neck decreases total to 5+4+11=20 and now I have 16 stitches which is the correct number in the pattern. Thankfully, I am still able to count and could figure this out as I knit so it’s all good in the end. I will write to the designer and see why this hasn’t been corrected since the pattern’s been out for several years!

Happy Saturday to anyone who reads this!

Gone knitting!

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Laughing All the Way

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 …img_7658

Do you see the problem?

How about now?

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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!

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Today’s lesson learned – never take yourself too seriously!

Gone knitting.

#20 Adults Aran Sweater by Yankee Knitter Designs

Love Love Love the Raspberry Stitch in the middle

Love Love Love the Raspberry Stitch in the middle

The Adult Aran Sweater has been a bucket list project for a couple of years. I love the cardigan … I love the pullover, too. There is something so classic and beautiful about Aran knitting. I have always felt drawn to the Irish part of me (yes, I am partly Irish) and maybe my attraction to Aran knitting is because of that. (or maybe not.)

Regardless, I’ve mostly completed the cardigan for myself. It has been blocked and is nearly dry enough to seam together. It should be a cinch to seam as most of the seams will be straight  and simple. That said, I will wait to finish the seaming before I go about bragging about it being easy – I’m sure to jinx myself.

This pattern was a joy to knit. I loved the pattern and it was the first time that the pattern was so well planned that it was easy for me to memorize so that I didn’t need to refer to the pattern every row. I knitted mine in stashed yarn that I have been carrying around for nearly a decade, Galway Worsted yarn in the natural colorway. The yarn is made by Plymouth Yarn Co. It’s a sturdy worsted weight wool and it should wear well. I plan to wear this sweater a lot!

I love the Galway worsted yarn by Plymouth. I bought a whole bag (or maybe two) to make the Great American Aran Afghan about eight years ago. I’ve started a square twice and never finished them. So, when I was searching my stash to make this sweater (because I am in a severe stash busting mode right now) it was evident that I would have more than enough of this yarn to complete my cardigan and I would bust my stash a bit, too! The afghan will go back on my knitting challenge bucket list for those times when I can sit quietly by myself and count all the stitches. For now, my life is too full of people and activities and that’s a good thing.

A good start - I chose to make my ribbing with the larger size needle so it doesn't get too blouse-y

A good start – I chose to make my ribbing with the larger size needle so it doesn’t get too blouse-y

I chose to knit my ribbing both on the bottom of the body and the sleeves with the same size needle that I knit the rest of the sweater with. I didn’t want it to be super blousey. I loved the twisted rib and it adds a little something special to the sweater’s edges. Otherwise, I knit the sweater as the pattern is written. I made the sleeves a little bit longer than the 20 inches called for because I have gorilla arms.

Blocking

Blocking

I always seem to block my knitwear on the guest bed in our guest room. It’s so much easier on my back! I blocked this out to the chest size that was in the pattern and the sleeves were blocked to the length that I wanted them. The only thing that would improve this pattern (and be helpful for blocking) would be to have a schematic diagram of the way that the pieces are supposed to measure. But, having a little bit of experience, I knew that the crucial measurements for me are the chest and the arm length. The rest will work itself out.

I never buy buttons until the sweater is completed and I won’t break my rule for this sweater. I imagine that I will choose simple buttons because the knitted pattern is so pretty that I don’t want to take away from it but I will cross that river when I get there. (And I will check my button stash first, too!)

Once dry, I will weave in the ends and then seam the sweater up! I can’t wait to have this one finished. And, of course, it’s now summertime and it’s going to be awhile until I get to wear it. But when it’s done, I will post photos of it all together.

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!

A Wonderful Day in Maine

Yesterday we decided to take a drive. It’s an old-fashioned idea, I know. My dad used to take us on a drive on Sundays. We’d all climb into the back seat of his car (sometimes with the top down) and, though there was always some “Mom, he’s over the line” bickering, off we’d go. Once I recall my brother letting go of a cloth diaper when the convertible top was down. Not sure how he survived that one!

Anyway, I’ve wandered from my purpose here.

Yesterday we decided to take a drive. We had a slow, lazy start to the day with coffee on the front porch and then packed up the dogs and headed to Bath.

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My plan was to visit Halcyon Yarns. (N had his cameras and can always keep himself busy for a couple of hours while waiting for me to shop for yarn. And it was cool enough for the dogs to come with us rather than be crated in the house.)

Part of why I love to visit Halcyon Yarns is because it’s not just a knitting shop. I can while away hours imagining learning all the crafts that they carry the stuff for – needle felting, spinning, rug hooking, tatting, weaving, and crochet. I’ve probably missed a few. Aisles and aisles of fiber from warp (or is it weft?) to cotton, and wool and alpaca and silk threads and many different weights of each. Some are actually Halcyon yarns and some are from well-known companies like Noro and Cascade. And a room full of pattern books and mugs and yarn bowls and … well, you get my drift.

I carefully paced myself as it can be a dangerous thing, shopping for yarn. But this time I was “good”. I only bought a few things …

Noro Taiyo Sock - Color S17 Lot D Cotton, Wool, Polyamide & Silk 24-26 sts x 36-38 rows = 4 inches on US 2-3 needles

Noro Taiyo Sock – Color S17 Lot D
Cotton, Wool, Polyamide & Silk
24-26 sts x 36-38 rows = 4 inches on US 2-3 needles

Two skeins of  Noro Taiyo Sock yarn (in Color S17-D) for another (more colorful) Bermuda Shawl. And, yes, the two skeins are the same colorway! I can’t wait to start knitting with this yarn!

Noro Taiyo - Color 35 Lot A 100 grams, 200 meters Cotton, Silk, Wool & Nylon

Noro Taiyo – Color 35 Lot A
100 grams, 200 meters
Cotton, Silk, Wool & Nylon

One skein of Noro Taiyo (Color 35-A which was on sale) for a knitted lamb from the new Noro (Spring/Summer) Magazine. I also bought the magazine.

Hlacyon Gemstone Soft Twist Silk - Lot 15989 - 240 yards 100% silk, Sport weight 5-7 sts = 1 inch on US 3-5 needles

Hlacyon Gemstone Soft Twist Silk – Lot 15989 – 240 yards
100% silk, Sport weight
5-7 sts = 1 inch on US 3-5 needles

I bought a hank of Halcyon’s Gemstone Soft Twist Silk in a silver color (not sure what the gemstone is … diamond? I like diamonds!) This is to knit a necklace that I saw online … on Facebook, if my memory serves.

Indulgence Sock Yarn - Color 105 Lot 18411 426 yards, 21 sts x 27 rows = 4 inches on size US 3-6 needles Merino wool & Polyamide

Indulgence Sock Yarn – Color 105 Lot 18411
426 yards, 21 sts x 27 rows = 4 inches on size US 3-6 needles
Merino wool & Polyamide

And last, a ball of Indulgence 6-ply (also on sale) Sock Yarn with which I’ll make socks. I just loved the colors in the yarn (and it’s really soft, too.) The sample that was on the table was a tubular scarf knitted in all of the different colorways … I almost bought one of each. Almost.

Halcyon also has a bunch of wonderful-sounding classes available if you’re looking to take one! And the people who work there are very friendly and helpful … if you don’t mind wandering aimlessly, you can do it for hours at Halcyon Yarn! You’re going to enjoy the ever-changing samples at Halcyon, too! I saw no fewer than three sweaters that I would like to knit. Too bad I brought three projects with me from Florida!

And while you’re visiting Bath, it’s worth your while to visit the Bath Iron Works and the Maine Maritime Museum. For $27 (adults) you’ll get admission to both a 1-hour tour of the place where our US naval warships are being built. Some are so super secret that you’re not allowed to take photographs! Really fascinating! You can also visit Popham Beach (beware, the water in Maine is wicked cold!) and Reid State Park.

Parks, new things to learn and fiber. Just a few of the reasons that I return to the area every year!

Gone knitting.