What a beautiful summer we are having on the lake!

Canadian Tiger Swallowtails were “puddling” in our yarn in June. This is a behavior that butterflies use in dry times to get moisture and some nutrients from wet spots in the yard. This is a small group but they’re sure fun to see!

Water activities include teaching cousin Jack to fish, watching the cousin Lili water follies on the t-rex, off the dock and swinging from the rope swing. Jack caught a beautiful specimen of a yellow perch which he also learned to fillet and cook. We have also had a few loon births now that it’s July. We have two pairs of loons who have had three chicks between them. What a wonderful miracle on our lake. Since loons can’t really walk way up on the shore, they nest very close to the water. We have had several loon nest failures over the past couple of years which means the eggs are washed out of the nest, typically by a boat’s wake. If out of the nest, the egg won’t survive.

The yard is abloom once again. The spring gardens have blossomed and wilted and the summer gardens are coming alive. The planters are planted and we’re starting to see the hydrangeas, hollyhocks and bee balm. We’ve also been enjoying pea season. We have shucked and eaten peas three times so far, in increasing amounts. First, 1 1/2 pounds, next 3 pounds and most recently 5 pounds. They’re so delicious! A Maine tradition starting around July 4th … and served with salmon.

Our hearts are full with wonderful and meaningful new connections and memories with family and dear friends. My aunt and cousins, my college roommate, my first friend, and our dear friends from Florida. Making memories is something we are both striving to do more of. We cherish time together and we honor and appreciate the time and money that our visitors expend in order to be here with us. We are so grateful for the efforts put forth to be here with us. Saying farewell is always difficult. This summer, in particular, all of our visits have ended too soon, leaving us wanting more time together.

I’ve been knitting and teaching and enjoying visitors to my knitting classes and to Yardgoods Center. I finished my Sunset Highway sweater after having to knit the body twice with two different yarns. The first colorway, while I loved it, didn’t look at all well with the colorwork yoke. So, frog it, I did. And re-knit it, I did. I am very happy with the new version and look forward to cooler weather so I can wear it. I’m working on several projects, one of which is the Sage Smudging Scarf for my friend and herbalist. It’s being knit in Manos “Allegria” in this beautiful golden curry or turmeric color. The scarf is a free pattern on Ravelry and there will be details on my Ravelry projects page (lindar). It’s a simple 4-row repeat and in some ways, it’s quite a boring knit but I think it’s going to be gorgeous when it’s blocked. And as the Maine Yarn Cruise continues into July, we are getting lots of fun visitors to the yarn shop. I work two days a week. I had a sibling group from Maine and Sweden who were just meeting for the first time and were sharing their love of yarn and knitting, new Colby College employees getting to know their new community, and so many visitors from all over the state and beyond. My knitting classes are on Friday and I had a very special visitor this past week. Little Piper is the daughter of Larissa. Piper is 8 weeks old now and simply edible! She’s such a sweet little nugget. I love babies and the other women in my classes do, too!

My sweet Littles are getting older and they’re having some health problems and aging challenges. Boq (left) has been diagnosed with heart disease. He’s on two medications for the inflammation and fluid on his lungs as well as a heart medication. We go back for a check up on Wednesday and I’m hoping for a good report. Lola (right) has no teeth left and her eyesight must be failing. She’s much more anxious than she used to be and she’s been barking at first light (um, hello! I don’t need to see 4:45 a.m. almost every day!) I am so grateful to them for helping me through some ugly and difficult life challenges and I hope we can continue to provide them with a safe and happy life for the rest of their days. I made them promise to live forever! (I’m only sort-of kidding!)

We are so blessed with a wonderful, full and healthy life! Gone knitting!

Hat, Hat, Spring and the Big Decision

It seems that Spring has finally come to Maine!

I took a walk around the yarn this morning before I headed off to work and the flowers both wild and “domestic” (is that what you call them?) are starting to bloom! I love seeing my yard in full bloom! The rhododendrons were purchased years ago from a big box store and they were teeny tiny and nearly dead. We bought three plants to add some pretty between the guest cottage and the woodshed. One got stepped on during the construction of the new house and didn’t survive. The other two are starting to get bigger. Although they’re nowhere near enough to make a “statement”!

Trillium, Violets and (I think) forget-me-nots. I love seeing them! The Bleeding Heart and Creeping Phlox is just about to bloom, too. It’s simply gorgeous and it makes me very happy!

Happiness makes me think of yarn and knitting! (Duh!)

Winterberry Farm yarn

I’ve been working with my “lady farmer” at Winterberry Farm in Belgrade, Maine. Winterberry Farm is an organic farm and their sheep provide Mary with lovely fleeces that she has spun into yarn. I’m working with Mary to make up some knitting kits with her yarn and some simple yet fun patterns that will let her yarn shine. The first sample I knitted up for her is a hat from Tin Can Knits free patterns called “Barley Light.”

While my photograph isn’t the exact right color, it’s pretty close. I like this simple hat pattern because it lets the beautiful, lanolin-y yarn be the star of the show. A one-skein project. The “corrugation” adds just enough interest to make it interesting.

I’ve also knitted a rainbow-stripe hat for the Yardgoods Center. Joyce, who owns the shop, asked for a ribbed hat in a new yarn (to us). It’s a West Yorkshire Spinners “Colour Lab DK” yarn which is 100% British wool. I love working with this yarn. It’s stretchy and squishy soft. And the colors are fabulous! We have three or four colorways at the shop.

The pattern that I found is on Ravelry and it’s a free pattern by Chandi Agee at Expression Fiber Arts called “Boyfriend Beanie”. A 3×2 rib all the way up to the crown. when the decreases start, it becomes fully knitted. A quick knit and super fun! Since it’s ribbed, it’s stretchy and will fit any adult head.

And my big decision?

Oh, my Sunset Highway.

I’m not ok with the main body color. It’s too busy and it detracts from the beautiful colorwork. So, after discussing my options at knitting class on Friday and with the help of color expert, Marlene (Hi, Marlene!), I’ve decided to frog the body of the sweater and reknit it in a different yarn that isn’t so crazy busy. I’m not saying that I don’t love the MC. I do. But I don’t like it here on this sweater. I think the new yarn will be much better and will let the colorwork be the main attraction. So, that’s the big decision that I have made and tomorrow I will be doing the frogging and starting the body over.

I know I wasn’t settled with it and this is a good choice. I’d rather love the sweater and wear it than let it languish on a shelf in my closet. There are also the two different colorways. Strikes one and two and that’s all I need to inform my choice. I’m frogging the body.

Gone knitting!

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.

img_2637-e1522682068467.jpg
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

IMG_2257

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.

IMG_2335

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!

Image (1) vintage-happy-new-year.gif for post 2190

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!

IMG_1940

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.

IMG_1948

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!

IMG_1856

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!

IMG_1947

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

Gone knitting!

Happy Mothers/Mother’s/Mothers’ Day!

IMG_8309

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!