Pure and Simple Start to April!

IMG_2638I’ve made it through the winter without any illnesses and as soon as spring pops onto the calendar, BOOM! For the last couple of days I’ve been pumping EmergenC and AirBorne and vitamins with my Wellness Formula. My sweet husband has taken good care of me, I drank a lot of tea, and I am feeling better today.

I’ve also been knitting.

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I started a little pullover, #214 Baby Pullover by Knitting Pure and Simple, for a new mom’s little baby girl. (I hope she doesn’t read my blog. I don’t think she does. I don’t want to give the surprise away.) I found the yarn on the shelf at the store when I was making room for some new yarns. (if you didn’t know that I work in a yarn shop, now you do … come visit at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine!)

Sirdar has a chunky yarn called Imagination and it reminded me of a Monet Water Lilies painting. You all know what the Water Lilies paintings look like, right? If you don’t, Google it! They’re magnificent. This yarn is machine washable so easy for a new mom. I never machine dry my hand-knits. Some yarns are dry-able but I’d rather be certain and consistent so I hang/lay flat all my hand-knits. Sweaters I lay flat. Socks I hang over a hanger. This extends their lives and I never shrink any special hand-knits. (NOTE! Some yarn is not washable. If it isn’t super wash or acrylic or mostly acrylic, hand wash! You’ll never be sorry if you take that extra care!)

img_2640.jpgI immediately fell in love with the colors. I have whipped through the body of the sweater in a couple of days. It’s chunky so it knits up quickly. I’m making the 24 months size so that little Julianna can grow into it! Today I’ll get to the sleeves and maybe the collar, too. It’s soft, it’s washable, it’s so pretty! Did I mention that there are no seams?!

I’m also working on a Knitting Pure and Simple cardigan for myself.

IMG_2622I’ve had this beautiful blue/gray colorway of Malabrigo Rios forever. It’s been sitting on a shelf in my atelier for at least a year and maybe more like two. When I opened the bag of this yarn at the shop, I immediately put it aside for myself because I loved it so much. I’m making the 50″ size and my gauge is slightly off (the pattern calls for 4 stitches per inch and I am knitting at 4.375 stitches per inch). This will make my sweater just a bit smaller than the last sweater I made with this pattern. Which will be OK. I may decide to add a few additional increases to be sure it’s not too small. I’ll know when I have the sleeve stitches on a holder and I can try it on! I’ll have all the details on my Ravelry project page. I love, love, love the color and this yarn feels so amazing in your hands as you work with it. This will take me a couple more than a couple days to knit but it’ll knit up pretty quickly and it’s so pretty!!!

IMG_2614I finished the Ma Belle Amie cowl for my aunt and it’s wrapped and on it’s way to Lake Tahoe just in time for spring! I doubt that she’ll get to wear it too many times between now and next fall but what can one do?! I had to knit it and it had to be for her! I love the colors that I chose … they remind me of my aunt and her beautiful red hair (well, it was red when she was younger, it’s “bleached out” as she’s gone around the sun a few times! (Where’s the laughing until you cry emoji when you need it?!) This pattern is very versatile and can be knitted up in any yarn, really. I have one in solid colored wool that I love and this one has a variegated which I love, too. Choose a smaller needle for a tighter fabric or a finer yarn (or heavier yarn). The sky’s the limit!

I also knitted up a little rabbit on Tuesday when I was home sick. Baby Bunnies by Frankie Brown popped up in my Facebook feed one day and when I wasn’t feeling well, I grabbed a few scraps of yarn and knit up a baby bunny. He’s awfully cute! I think there will be an addition of some embroidery (eventually) but for now, I’m enjoying my sweaters so my bunny awaits!

I hope you had a happy Easter and Passover. I wish you peace.

Gone knitting!

1898 Hat – A different construction

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1898 Hat in Cascade Eco Duo

The 1898 Hat by Kristine Byrnes is a free pattern on Ravelry. We sell a lot of yarn for them at my LYS, Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine. It may help that we have a great sample, in hat and headband form, right near the cash register!

I’ve been in Maine now for three winters. Winters are cold here. Hats are a must for my husband, in particular, because he has no hair. I almost always wear a coat with a hood which is enough for me but I have been known to wear a hat, too. All of this is to say that I am shocked that I haven’t knitted this hat before now.

A few weeks ago, a woman came into the shop when I was working and she wanted to have someone knit a 1898 hat for her out of some lovely Cascade Eco Duo alpaca yarn that she had bought. I’ve never seen this hat in alpaca before. I offered to knit it for her. When I called her to have her come pick it up, she asked me to make another in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride.

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1898 Hat in Lamb’s Pride Worsted

Both hats are wonderful. The alpaca was so soft and the Lamb’s Pride Worsted is so squishy. AND the knit was fun for me, too!

IMG_2313The headband is knit flat in garter stitch with increases for the ear flaps. It has a provisional cast on – I used a crochet cast on. It’s knit in garter stitch on either side of three slipped stitches on the wrong side (they’re knit on the right side) which makes it fold in half to make the headband double thickness and really, really warm! You graft the ends of the headband together with Kitchener Stitch (if you do it properly it’s completely invisible!) and then pick up the stitches from both sides of the headband to make the rest of the hat in the round like any “normal” hat.

One hank/skein/ball of worsted weight yarn worked for each hat. I KNOW my sweet hubby needs one of these hats. He works outside. In Maine. In the winter. It’s really, really cold. He has no hair. Did I mention that he has no hair?

Gone Knitting!

 

 

Wrapping up 2017!

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It’s almost time for me to make those resolutions that I never manage to keep … so this year, as I enter 2018, I am resolving to be kind, to think positively, and to remember to write 2018 on my checks!

For Queen Bee Knits, that means to get the planner for next year out, get my studio (atelier) clean and organized and to keep learning more about my craft. I had a great learning experience this year with the Year of Techniques hosted by Mason Dixon Knitting here in the USA. A few things that I loved about it were that I learned a few tricks that I can pass on to my students at work, I reviewed techniques that I’ve been using – many not very often – and I got to work with yarns that I wouldn’t normally have knitted because they’re UK-based yarns. I chose to purchase the kids that were offered for each project, not that I have completed them all! The yarns were wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the new yarn experiences!  This was a wonderful collaboration and I would join in again if it is offered.

I’ve done a lot of knitting this year but I’d dare say that it was less than previous years because of my job at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine. I have often dreamed about what it would be like to work in or even own a yarn shop. I am gaining experience each day that I work there and I am finding that I really do love it! Working as a clerk and teacher, I go to work happy every day and I love helping our customers find their knitting mojo! I also enjoy being part of the local movement – we are a small, family-owned business (68 years old in 2017) and each customer that I encourage to make a purchase supports our community and local business. Waterville is not a fancy, thriving, seasonal, coastal community but there are lots of family small businesses struggling along.

This week I learned that another local small business yarn shop, Over the Rainbow, in Rockland, Maine is closing its doors. My heart breaks to see another local yarn shop going out of business. I’ve visited OTR many times and will miss having it on my list of places to visit when in Rockland. OTR joins Quilt Divas that closed a year or so ago.

😦 This is me making a sad face.

We’ve had a great year personally … my daughter was married, my other daughter booked a Broadway show. The husband and I entertained a few visitors at our house and traveled a little bit to be entertained by others. Our family is healthy and thriving and we are so grateful for our health, too.

I’m finishing up a few knitting projects and am looking forward to some pleasure knitting.

IMG_2248I’m knitting a striped baby blanket for my sister-in-law to give to one of her employees as a gift. I’m using Encore worsted (baby items must be washable and dry-able) in a navy and white strip with an apple green i-cord edge. It is the nature of stockinette stitch to curl and it’s curling a bit at the edges but the baby won’t mind! It’s really cute! I’m half way around with the edge … getting there! Then I’ll wash, block and send it.

I’ve finished and will block (today!) a hat for a college friend who has a friend who is going through chemotherapy. It’s a lovely soft alpaca in DK weight. The pattern is by Susan B. Anderson, “Ruche Beret” in the Weekend Hats book. I love it’s simple lines and may have to make one for myself!

I’m also working on another hat for a customer at the shop. She bought yarn and is using the 1898 Hat (free) pattern on Ravelry. This hat is very popular in Maine in the winter – especially this winter because it’s been wicked cold! Knitted with worsted weight yarn, it’s a one-skein-wonder, too! I’m knitting “mine” in Cascade Eco Duo in a great colorway – it’s so soft and it will be super warm, too! I have some Eco Duo in my stash … hmmm. IMG_2249My little boy dog was sitting in my lap the other morning when I was swatching with the US 7 needle. He doesn’t like the yarn to touch him and he kept stretching out farther and farther on my legs. 🙂 I love him!

I have many (MANY) project bags with UFOs in them. Projects that were set aside for Christmas knitting. That’s a whole new blog post! For today, I’m done. I’ve rested my hands, had a little lunch and now it’s time to get back to knitting! I love my work!

Happy New Year to my readers … all two or three of you! 🙂 May we all be blessed with love and kindness, good health and warm yarn!

Gone knitting!

Ho! Ho! Ho! No More UFO!

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For Clark and Stephanie

I’ve just finished a long project (like any good knitter, I kept finding other projects to do) that was a true work of love. My college roommate, Mary Frances, aka Muffin, asked me to copy her lifetime Christmas stocking for her new grandson and daughter-in-love.

I had no pattern but assumed that I could copy just about anything. The stocking arrived at my house several months ago and I set about copying the stitches to make a chart. This part was pretty simple and straight forward. If you can count stitches, you can chart.

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My Chart

I knew I wanted to knit the top part of the giant sock flat so I could embellish with beard and sequins more easily. I also wanted to use the intarsia-style of knitting because stranding would be crazy wasteful. Once done with the chart, I took the original stocking to the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine … where I happen to work … to find yarn colors that were as close as possible. Lucky me! I found Christmas Green, Red and Blue that matched in good old Cascade 220 100% wool. I knew I had a similar ivory/off white in my stash and some black, too.

When you’re knitting stockings, you’re knitting them upside down and it’s fun to watch the images develop stitch by stitch. The intarsia creates lots and lots of ends to weave in. I am so thankful for the invention of bobbins. I couldn’t have done this without them. The fact that I stitched them flat made the weaving of ends simpler, too!

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Once past the charted section, it was a super quick process to the bell at the tip of the toe. I joined the stocking at the ankle and knitted the rest of the “giant sock” in the round. At the toe, with the tail of the yarn, I attached a silver bell just like on the original stocking.

I knew that I would add the lettering, and the eyes and nose on Santa at the end in duplicate stitch. I believe that the original stocking had lettering that was stranded but with a couple of washings, the stocking has withered a bit and the lettering doesn’t stand out as well as I would like. I’m very happy with the results of the duplicate stitch lettering. Then it was time to give Santa a beard and a pom-pom on his hat. I used short pieces of wool that I looped around itself and then clipped short and steam blocked to that it “frizzed” up. I love the beards, especially!

I am so pleased with the way the Santas and the trees turned out. I sewed individual sequins on all of the Christmas trees. I am not the most graceful sewer, but the sequins add such a wonderful sparkle on the trees! A braided loop for hanging was the last addition after steam blocking and seaming the back of the stocking. The seam is a blessing in disguise – it gives some substance and stability to the back of the stocking and makes it sturdier since it will be stuffed and hung on the mantel!

I love that they’re finished … and just in the (Saint) Nick of time! Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas to you, my dear friend, Muffin! I know this will be a happy one at your house!

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All three stockings together, in public, for the first time! (LOL!)

Gone knitting!

Happy Mothers/Mother’s/Mothers’ Day!

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It’s hard to imagine that nearly a month has passed (again) since I’ve posted something about my knitting life – or anything about my life. I wish that I could say that I’ve been on an exotic trip to Africa or on a tour around Europe but I’ve been happily ensconced in my normal day-to-day life in Maine, USA.

Today is Mother’s Day. I heard from all five kids and have eaten my gift of Graeter’s Ice Cream (six flavors, all with chocolate chunks) twice a day since it arrived. I’ve been knitting less and resting my hands more. Sadly, I’ve got some arm aches that lead to thumb pain on Friday and that’s enough to make me slow down.

I took my Orange Peel quilt to the long arm machine yesterday and got it about half-quilted before something happened with the machine. Initially we thought it was a band slipping but as I worked, the noise got worse and it was bad enough to stop using it. With any luck, the repair man is coming on Thursday and maybe I can finish quilting on Friday after class.

I’ve been happy at work at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville. I’m in the store Tuesday and Thursday and I teach on Friday. I love our customers and I love working with creative people. We are participating in the first “Maine Yarn Cruise” this summer and we’ve been getting our planning done. Prizes, patterns, kits, etc. There is a lot of planning to do and 19 or so shops participating from around the state. I love teaching, too. I had 20 students last week – three of whom stayed all day – and I so enjoy helping my students conquer their knitting challenges and learn something new. I also enjoy stretching my own knitting knowledge. Each challenge that students bring to me are a new test of my skills as a knitter and I realize each time that I am really a good knitter, capable of figuring out just about anything that’s brought my way. Confidence building!

I am knitting and making progress.

I cast on for the Joji Locatelli “Starting Point MKAL” and have gotten about half-way through clue number 1. Trying to pace myself. More details will follow but you can also check me out in Ravelry (lindar). I’m nearly finished with a sweater for my sweetie. I’m knitting “Flax” by Tin Can Knits. What a great garment! I’ll have to make more. “Flax” is designed to be worked in worsted weight yarn. I’m using Ella Rae Classic Wool in a really pretty blue color. My husband will look wonderful in the blue! I’ve got most of one sleeve to complete and then the ribbing for two sleeves (after it’s tried on once more).

I have two pairs of socks on the needles – one cuff-down in a speckled yarn and a toe-up pair in Heritage Print by Cascade in Christmas colors. These are the socks that I taught in my adult ed class this past session. One class turned into two … two nights of teaching each week may be one of the reasons I haven’t been posting a whole lot! I also have started another pair of Miriam Felton’s “Footie Socks”. One down, one to go.

I’ve finished husband’s scarf and several “knitted knockers” (www.KnittedKnockers.org). Have also knitted a pair of socks for my new cousin. I’m in the process of making him a flannel quilt like I made for his big sister.

Image (1) knitting-002-199x300.jpg for post 1462My little dog, Lola, has had kennel cough and is now struggling with a goopy eye. Probably spring allergies. Both little dogs are heading to a new groomer on Wednesday and I’m sure that will help – we’re horribly over due for a hair cut! I’m working on finding a new hair dresser, too!

Moving to a new place is a challenge. I’m still working on finding all of the doctors, hair and nail people, groomers, veterinarians, stores to shop in, etc. But we are so glad that we moved to Maine. We are looking forward to more time on the front porch and summer visitors!

Gone knitting!

Interweave Knits Fall 2016

I got my new Interweave Knits Fall 2016 magazine a couple of days ago and it’s full of wonderful designs. But one pattern really caught my eye on my first pass through it, though – Thompson River Socks pattern by Carolyn Kern.

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Seldom does a pattern jump out at me that says, “Go buy this yarn now and cast on as soon as possible!” But this pattern said just that! So, I listened.

It just so happened that I was teaching at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine last Tuesday (the following day) and we carry the Raggi yarn by Jarbo Garn that is called for in the pattern. I grabbed three balls – two in the gray and one red – and set them aside to purchase after my class.

(Note from the Queen Bee: I have it on good authority that the company that makes Raggi yarns is closing up shop. This is a travesty because I love their sock yarns. I wish I could buy the company and keep making the yarn I love it so much. I have a dozen or so balls on hold at my LYS and I may add more to the bag. You might consider collecting some for your stash, too!)

undertheweatherYesterday, when I was at home recovering from the horrible stomach bug/food poisoning that had bitten me on Tuesday night and Wednesday, I cast on the socks. I am surprised that the pattern calls for a US 3 needle which will make the stitches very dense. But, like a good rule follower, I forged ahead.

These socks are knitted toe-up and use a simple cast on and long circular needles (I am using the magic loop method to knit these babies! The pattern for the top of the sock is simple. Since I am knitting the largest size, I added four of the pattern stitches on either side of the cable pattern. The directions weren’t clear on this so I made an executive decision. I’m not sure what I would do if I was knitting the medium size … but this time I am not. The wonderful world of Ravelry.com has allowed me to send a message straight to the inbox of the wonderful designer, however. I am awaiting her reply to make sure I did the right thing … and to find out how to adjust the pattern for the medium-sized pattern since it is my intention to knit those for myself next!

My hands get tired since the fabric is so dense but I made good headway – Here is my progress …

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Gone knitting!

New Friends

oldfriends

 

You’ve all probably seen these photographs on Facebook and Pinterest. The other day at the Yardgoods Center Yarn Shop I made three new friends. Three ladies came into the shop and it was clear that they had all the time in the world to shop. One spent a few minutes on the phone at the table in front making plans with family. The other two were checking out the free patterns. After awhile, and having checked on them all a couple of times and having showed them the color-changing “Abracadabra” yarn, they came to the cash register with a few patterns to purchase and a question.

Turns out they’ve been friends since early childhood and were together again for three weeks more. When one lady said they had a question, the other two ladies giggled. (It’s funny to see elderly ladies giggle like girls!) They’d spent hours (HOURS!) over the past couple of days trying to figure out what it meant to cast on stitches without a slip knot in the backward loop method. They were all beaming, eyes bright, smiling widely with the memory. I had a left-over ball of yarn and one needle left behind by a customer and I showed them what to do. They were delighted. “You made our day!”

Such a simple thing made a big impact. They made their purchases and left for lunch. Giggling that they only had a two hour ride. I smiled at them behind their backs. What a treasure their friendship is.

Old friends are the best friends!

Old friends are the best friends! We are being sharks … at 50-something.

I am so fortunate to have some old friends, too. Not that we are old, we have been friends for a long, long time. We don’t get to see each other very often, but we make an effort to meet once a year. Each time we pick up where we left. We may not party like we used to and we’re often in bed by ten but the reunion is always sweet.

I’m going to be missing the reunion this year and am so sad about it but  I am coming to realize that I can’t do it all – and that saves my sanity. Only two of us will be at the beach next weekend. I’ll be there in spirit but not in body. I commit to 2016, though. I need the girl time to recharge and renew. Old friends are the best friends. I love my girls!

Gone knitting.