Thankful

We woke to this view this morning and are so thankful for the privilege of living here, this close to nature and where we can escape the craziness of the world. We are just back from our Thanksgiving gathering in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Two of my kids and their partners and dogs came up from New York. It was a wonderful Northshore Thanksgiving – seafood feast; clam chowder from the Causeway Restaurant in Gloucester, steamed clams and lobsters and dessert from the Italian bakery in the north end of Boston. A wonderful gathering of family and friends who are like family.

I’ve been knitting away and have finished several projects that I can share and a couple that I won’t.

I had a commission for three simple Christmas stockings from my cousin who had lost hers to a moth infestation. She requested green, red and white and I insisted that I’d put on their names. I made an effort to get them finished by Thanksgiving because I’ve lost the post office holiday “battle” before when items intended for Christmas didn’t arrive in time … even when sent two weeks in advance. I didn’t want that to happen here. I’ll be writing up this pattern in the coming weeks for my followers. Why not, right?

I also finished a stocking for my granddaughter. I wanted hers to match her parents and thankfully I kept a copy of the pattern. I must have had the book once upon a time but I don’t any more. I knit Sylvie’s stocking out of Plymouth Galway yarn in an Aran colorway. The stocking is cabled with two different cable patterns on it. The hugs and kisses cables go down the front and back of the sock from top to the tip of the toe, around the heel, too. It’s not an easy pattern but I’ve learned to read my knitting and cross the stitches according to my eyes in order to keep the pattern going. If my memory serves, I added a tassel and an initial ornament to her parents’ stockings. I couldn’t find a nice “S” ornament but I found a cute photo ornament and I think it’ll be good.

I’ve knitted a few things for my granddaughter that I think I can share with you since she’s not yet reading (she’s one month old!) I made her a pair of faux shearling booties and a Christmas sweater and a Love and Light to hang in her nursery.

The shearling booties have knitted cuffs. This is a fairly simple kit to knit that one of my co-workers saved out for me. She was knitting a pair for her granddaughter and I’m grateful that she thought of me. Every well-dressed Maine grand baby needs these. The are a “kit” by Boye called Starting Point Cozy Cuff Baby Booties. I used scraps of Berroco Vintage for the cuffs. I can’t wait to see these on her!

Babies love to look at lights and I thought a light-up heart, Love and Light, designed by Laura Nelkin would be a good addition to her nursery. I had ordered the 200-light strand of fairy lights from Amazon some time ago and finally grabbed my needles to get it done. It’s such “big” knitting that it doesn’t take too long to make and it’s absolutely adorable.

I made her a Newborn Vertebrae sweater in rainbow sock yarn and because this fits so well, I decided to make her another one, this time for Christmas. I knitted the body of the sweater with white sock yarn and then grabbed some bits of stashed yarn and knitted red cuffs, a green and red border around the front of the sweater, and then i duplicate stitched a big green Christmas tree with a bright yellow star to the back. I think it’s adorable. I really wanted to put some sequins and beads on it but babies only spend time on their backs these days and that would NOT have been comfortable. Maybe next year!

I’ve still got a Musselburgh hat to finish but I’m nearly up to the decreases and finishing. I hope it fits. I think it’ll be warm. Pictures to follow as it’s a gift. I’ve got 15 of my Arne and Carlos Norwegian mini-Jumpers finished and number 16 is on the needles. Needless to say, these will not be finished this year and it’s ok. I’ll get them done for next year and this year I’ve bought all of my kids a chocolate advent calendar from Harbor Sweets in Salem, MA. If you’ve not tried their sweet sloops, you’re in for a treat. They’re quite a step up from the $1 chocolate advent calendars from the Christmas Tree Store in Augusta!

I have a couple of pairs of mittens on the needles, too. The KAL “Merry” mittens has been fun. I’ve knitted through the end of the third clue and have the fourth to do next. And there’s a second mitten, too. The Peace de Resistance mittens have been chilling out in my knitting bag for ages. They’ll be happy to see the light of day one of these days. There’s also a pair of socks on my needles.

As of today I’ve completed about 63 projects. I think. I keep track in my bullet journal and in my Ravelry queue (mark the year you’re knitting in the “tags” area) I’m quite pleased about this number because I’ve been working and teaching and volunteering on two boards of trustees so I’ve been busy.

I want to touch back to the sad end of of our Thanksgiving when we had to say goodbye to my beloved grand-dog, Willow. On Friday morning, something was wrong with our girl. Luckily, my brother is a veterinarian and he and his wife scooped up a very uncomfortable Willow and took her to their animal hospital for a check. It turned out that she had a “sizable” tumor on her heart and the heart was surrounded by fluid from the tumor. The fluid could be tapped and drained but there was no way of knowing how quickly it would fill up again. My daughter and her husband made the difficult decision to put Willow to sleep so she wouldn’t suffer, and she was suffering. We all had a chance to visit with her and say our farewells and my brother and sister-in-love are the most caring and compassionate team I know. We are so very lucky that we were there at their house when this happened. The kids were scheduled to head back into New York City that morning and it could just as easily have happened in the car. At least our dear Willow was surrounded by people who love her as she passed away. We will all miss her.

Rest in peace, sweet Willow. Until we meet again.

Gone knitting.

Still Knitting … but Secret Knitting

We’ve been having summer-like weather in Maine for the last few weeks. I’m not going to be popular when I say that I would rather have cold, fall weather. But this is New England and it’ll change. This I know for sure. In fact, tomorrow we’re expecting rain and wind and then we’re supposed to get some cooler weather. One customer today even said that she’d heard snow on Wednesday.

I’m knitting away like crazy. At this time of year I always am. I used to plan to make something knitted for everyone in the family. Those days are over because it was killing me. Not everyone wants or needs something that I knit and I’ve stopped knitting like a crazy woman before Christmas.

This year I’m making a Christmas stocking and a Christmas sweater for my granddaughter and a hat for my daughter (and another as a surprise for someone very special.) I’m going to have twenty hours in the car when we go to my bonus daughter’s wedding in Washington, DC in early December. I’m hoping that by the time we’re in the car that I will be able to knit a vest or sweater for myself in the car. I only have a minimum of five sweaters’ worth of yarn that I need to knit.

That said, let’s talk about what I can talk about.

I’m knitting three “plain” stockings for my cousin Joan who had a moth infestation. The moths destroyed her childhood stocking and a couple of others. When she called to ask me if she could commission me to knit some new stockings I couldn’t say no. So, I found some green, red and white worsted weight yarn and did a bit of pattern research. I decided to use the traditional intarsia patterns, take away the intarsia and the decreases to the heel and knit a simple stocking.

I cast on 60 stitches and knitted the leg of the stocking flat starting with 7 or 8 rows of 2×2 ribbing and then changing to stockinette stitch (knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side.) The reason that stockings are so often seamed up the back of the leg is because they really need some structure and strength there in order to be able to hold the weight of the Christmas morning goodies (if you’ve been very good!) I knitted 84 rows of stockinette stitch (or about 12 inches) and then joined to knit in the round. The first 15 and last 15 stitches become the heel stitches and the next step is the heel flap. On the right side, slip 1, knit 1 across and on the wrong side, slip 1 and purl the rest of the stitches to the end of the row. The last row should be a right side row. When the heel flap is 2 1/2 inches long, we’ll turn the dreaded heel.

Basically, if you’ve noticed, this is the exact same process as knitting a sock but with worsted weight yarn. Not rocket science. Not scary. Just follow the simple steps and trust the pattern. Mine is a very loose pattern, it’s not tech edited or tested. Beware if you choose to follow it. LOL.

Heel turning: on the wrong side, slip 1 stitch, purl 17, purl 2 together, purl 1 and turn. Slip 1 stitch, knit 5, knit 2 together, knit 1, turn. From here on, look at your knitting and slip the first stitch, purl to one stitch before the gap (that’ll be six stitches purled after the slipped stitch), purl the stitches on either side of the gap together, knit one and turn. Now you’ll do similarly on the knit side … slip 1, knit to the gap (7 sts.), knit two together, knit 1 and turn. You’ll continue to slip 1, purl to the gap, purl the two stitches together (one from either side of the gap) and purl 1 then turn and knit back as you’ve been doing. Do this back and forth until all of the stitches are used up. Ending with a knit row.

Gusset time! Pick up and knit 12 stitches down the side of the gusset. Each of the slipped stitches leaves a pretty clear place to pick up stitches. Knit across the 30 stitches on the top of the foot. Last, you’ll pick up and knit another 12 stitches up the side of the second side of the gusset and then knit across 9 of the heel stitches. Knit once around the stocking and then every other round will be a decrease round: at the bottom of the first side of the gusset you’ll knit 2 together, knit across the top of the foot and then knit two together at the top of the second gusset side, knit to the end of the round. The decreases are on either side of the top of the foot only in this part. Once you are back to the original number of stitches, you just knit around and around until the foot measures four inches from the heel flap edge.

Now there’s only the toe to knit. Again, the decrease rounds will be every other round until there are 28 stitches and then every round until there are 12 stitches. The decreases are in four places on the toe. The beginning of the round is at the middle of the bottom of the foot. Knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 24, knit 2 together, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 12. You can place markers, use DPNs, whatever works … you are the boss of your knitting! If you’re still using the 16″ circular needle, I’ll place markers at the sides of the sock, separating the top of the sock and the bottom of the sock. The decreases will be made on both sides of the markers. After a decrease round, knit one round plain (with no decreases.) Decrease and knit a plain round until there are 14 stitches on each side of the sock (top and bottom.) Now you’ll decrease every round until there are six stitches on either side and cut the yarn long enough to Kitchener stitch the sides together. Weave in all the ends and you’re pretty much finished.

I hold two strands of yarn (about 24″ long) together and use a crochet hook to make a chain that’s about four or five inches long. Thread a needle with one of the ends and pull it from the outside to the inside of the stocking just under the ribbing and tie both ends of the chain together very carefully and tightly.

I always use duplicate stitch to add the name to the top. Cousin Joanie said it wasn’t necessary but I’m going to add names if only so Santa knows which is which.

I’ve finished one green stocking and am down to the foot of the red stocking. Tomorrow I’ll pick up the white yarn for the third stocking. If I really sit and focus, I can knit these in a couple of days but I knit quickly.

Gone knitting!

More FOs

Crossing the bridge to home

We went down to Massachusetts to visit family. My aunt, 80 years young, flew in from the other coast. We had so much fun visiting and I wish, as I always do, that we could have had more time. BUT, I promised a long while ago that I’d work tomorrow and my word is my bond. So we came home today … crossing the bridge back into Maine is always a good feeling. I love coming home.

Before we left, I finished sewing on the buttons of the Periperium Cardigan by Kelly van Niekirk. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry. Knit in a DK weight yarn and US 6 needles. I used on 16-inch circular needle and a set of DPNs in the same size. I chose Euro Baby’s Babe Freckles in a primary colored speckled yarn. This one if for my new great-nephew, Noah. I also chose three different colors of buttons: red, blue and yellow and sewed them on with green thread. BUT I forgot to take a final photo before I gifted it. I hope I’ll see the baby in the sweater and that I’ll get a photo one day. I love this little sweater! It doesn’t take a lot of time to knit, it’s tiny and it’s adorable.

Puerperium … not finished but … only photo I took.

I also got a request from my eldest daughter and soon-to-be-mom. I knitted a pumpkin hat for their baby and she wanted something for her to wear with the hat. They’d been looking for a “costume” for her for Halloween and it all seemed kind of “tacky”. So, after asking a few questions, I found the Sheepie Sack pattern by Mandie Harrington, also free on Ravelry. I also found one cake of Malabrigo Rios in my stash that happened to be bright orange (glazed carrot?) … so, I cast on on our way to Massachusetts and I finished the i-cord this morning. It’s pretty cute!

Sheepie Sack in Malabrigo Rios

I’ve been working away on my Musselburgh hat for my younger daughter for Christmas. I’ve chosen a black (her choice, she’s a New Yorker) Vintage Sock by Berroco to try this pattern. It’s written for several weights of yarn so I want to make sure the hat comes out in the right size before I spend lots of yarn money on it. The Vintage is very acceptable, has a soft hand, is nice to knit with … and it’s very reasonably priced at $10. The hat is a very simple knit and I think all of my NYC kids will love it. And it’s great knitting to do in front of the TV or in a meeting. Cast on with a magic loop cast on, increase for awhile and then knit forever in stockinette. A few decreases mirroring the increases and it’ll be done. I love that it’s doubled and can be worn slouchy or like a scull cap.

Depending on the weather next weekend, I’ll be wearing my Elton Cardigan or my Patsy’s Traveling Sweater … I think. I’m guessing that it will be cooler and that the Traveling sweater is going to win. I may decide to wear my Daytripper of my Humulus are also high on my list of possibilities. (All of my projects are listed on my Ravelry project page if you’d like to check out what I’m talking about, pattern and yarn info.) I’m getting excited about going to Rhinebeck! My friend and I are leaving Friday morning around 10am and we’ll do a drive-by so that we don’t get lost and mixed up early Saturday morning when we have to meet a bus. We’re both going to knit the pattern called Sofie’s Scarf on the trip to Rhinebeck. I’m going t knit the large size in Lanna Grossa’s Cashmere 16 Fine. I’ve chosen the “grellow” (35) colorway. It will also serve to be a good sample for the store.

It’s going to be a busy week with work tomorrow and Thursday and meetings for my volunteer jobs all day Tuesday and Tuesday night. Wednesday will be reserved (I hope) for me. Laundry, packing and figuring out what food we’ll take with us. We don’t want to be hangry and have to wait in lines .. Rhinebeck is supposed to be really, really crowded. Not always my bag.

The lake welcomed us home with some beautiful late afternoon sunlight.

Home.

Gone knitting.

Baby and Birthday Gift Knitting and More

Well, now that all of the gifts have been given, I can share with you the final photographs. I delivered a carload of handmade gifts and it was fun to see them opened and appreciated.

My middle daughter turned 35 last month. Yikes! Not sure how that’s possible. For her birthday, I (finally) patched and re-made the quilt that I gave to her when she was still in a crib. I don’t remember exactly when I made it but I do remember it hanging behind her crib in our house in Sharon, CT. We lived there until February 1990 … so I made it before that. A couple of years ago, her new puppy chewed through the outside border and binding and batting … oops! I took it back with the intention of repairing it sooner than later but it just didn’t happen until now.

I untied it, pulled the quilt top off of the batting and backing, patched some holes in the quilt top and bought new fabric for the border, backing and a new cotton batting. I also took the quilt that had been tied to a friend of mine who put it on her long arm for me and quilted it. It’s gorgeous! I used the left-over bits to make the binding and hand-stitched it onto the quilt and even put a label on it.

This was a true labor of love. The quilt was in storage for a lot of years and I have at least two more in the linen cupboard in our house. Seeing how well this one came out, I wonder if I want to pull the other two out and get them done “right”. I have soooooo many unfinished projects. It’s time to get them all done. (Before I die! LOL)

I pulled all of these photos from my blog’s photo catalog which means that I’ve written about them all before. These are most of the things that I took to the baby shower. I’ve been collecting them for years. I also brought a blanket, one of my favorite knits ever, a Metro Card rattle and a little dress.

So far, the hits were the mermaid tail and the little Clementine dress. All of the details for each of these projects are on my Ravelry project page. I’m “lindar” (without the quotation marks).

Gone knitting.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

I just wrote the store’s weekly newsletter which I’ll wrap up tomorrow morning and send out. I must be “enjoying” the stifling hot weather because Hot! Hot! Hot! has appeared here and there, too. Mainers have been a lot cooler than those in other parts of the country and the world but most of us here don’t have central air conditioning in our homes. We are very lucky to have three window units in our house that keep us more comfortable than we’d be otherwise … I’m not much for hot weather! In fact, I loathe it. Why do you think we were happy to move from Florida to Maine?! Without A/C I’d be parked in front of a fan all day and nothing would get done – no knitting, no cleaning, no laundry. Nothing. I don’t have that luxury right now … I have so much to do (and I’ve gotten so much done!)

I have completely finished my daughter’s quilt repair project. It’s bound, labeled and ready to wrap up. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow but I didn’t dare send it to her in NY City. I’ll carry it by hand when I go down to the city next week. No photos for now. I’ll update my post here when I’ve delivered the quilt.

I finished knitting the Mabel cardigan in Berroco Vintage. This was a fun and quick knit. I made the 6-12 months size and hopefully it will go with the raspberry Billie pants that I made awhile back. I only have to sew on three little buttons and it’s good to go. I love the raspberry color!

Mabel by Fiona Alice

This week I designed and knit a teeny tiny Metro Card rattle. It was a special request from a mom-to-be that lives in NY City. There is a shower in her honor next weekend and I’ll be making a crazy quick trip to New York City for the shower and to bring some of the things that I’ve created. Lucky that I had a real Metro Card to copy! Baby girl will have her own card so she can travel the city when she’s born. I used Tahki Classic Cotton and a US 4 knitting needle.

The other baby that I’ve been knitting for is arriving first but his mama-to-be hasn’t decided if she wants to have a shower. Time will tell but I’m knitting for baby boy (his name will be Noah) and I can’t wait to meet both babies! I looooooove babies! (My husband is concerned that he may never see me once they’re born … and he’s right to worry! LOL)

Metro Card Rattle by Queen Bee Knits

I made a pair of tiny socks for a baby gift. I have a bunch of little bits of sock yarn in my atelier and I had (sort of) run out of projects to knit at my class yesterday so I picked up one of the larger bits and made a pair of baby socks. Baby socks can be knit in a couple of hours so they’re very satisfying.

Classic Socks by Yankee Knitter

I have been ignoring my Elton cardigan. I have started the first sleeve but I’ve been busy knitting baby gifts and have set the sweater aside for now. I’ll be picking it back up on the next week or two and will hopefully finish it so I can wear it as it gets cool later this summer.

I’m starting to think about Christmas gifts, too. And fall knitting. The heat may be getting to me. I’ll have to get rolling on my Arne & Carlos Advent jumpers, too, if they’re going to be done by December 1st. If I don’t get them done, I fear that they’ll never get done! If not, this year, there’s always next year, right?

Gone knitting.

My Needles are Clicking!

Perfect Maine Morning

It was a picture perfect day today but really warm. I don’t love the warm and muggy days. That’s why I live in Maine.

I spent the day getting all sorts of little projects taken care of … laundry, I baked a blueberry coffee cake with streusel topping (the butter had been sitting on the kitchen counter for a couple of days), made some iced green tea, cleaned the kitchen, made phone calls, worked on the details for our lake association annual meeting that’s coming up soon, and had a meeting. I am so grateful for the air conditioners in our kitchen/living room and my atelier. It makes getting things done so much easier – if I didn’t have the air conditioners I would be a lump in front of a fan.

But this isn’t about that.

I’ve had a request for a baby rattle that’s rather unique – it’s to look like a New York City Metro Card. When I was at the store on Friday I bought some Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic yarn in a golden yellow and black (for the stripe). I also grabbed a blue but I think that will be going back because the lettering will be added by embroidering and the cotton yarn will be too heavy.

It took me several times to get the size right. I originally thought it should be five inches wide but that turned out to be too big. The real cards are much smaller so I decided to cut it down to three inches wide and two inches tall. Figuring out the three stripes wasn’t too difficult and I’m quite pleased with the basic part of the “card”.

I knitted a plain yellow rectangle to be the back of the card. I intend to do a 3-needle bind off for one side of the toy and I’ll seam the sides when it’s stuffed and after the embroidery is finished. That will happen tomorrow. When the light is better and when I’m feeling fresher.

The biggest question to me is, how do I make it rattle. I’ve been researching tonight and one tutorial had a fabric tube stuffed with bells. That might work … and I’ll stuff around it with fiber fill. Time will tell if it will work. I’ll update after the gift is delivered.

Gone knitting!

Labors of Love

Our flowers in the perennial gardens are showing off again. We don’t love gardening but we do it because we love seeing the flowers when they decide to bloom. And each year we are thrilled all over again because they’re so beautiful. This iris is one of the ones that I always forget about. I expect it to be a white iris and then this showy cousin of the white iris (that doesn’t exist) appears! It’s wonderful and (maybe) worth all of the brown tail moth rash that I am struggling with.

This is a great time to be looking at our gardens. The hollyhocks are blooming, the Stella D’oro lilies, the Iris and the daisies are all abloom. So are the hydrangeas (and we have a lot of hydrangeas) and the catmint. The bees and hummingbirds are happy campers and we are, too.

I’ve been working away at the different projects that I have on my list. I’ve finished two pairs of Billie pants for two new babies coming in the fall. These little pants are stinking cute! I’ve also finished a Kirby cardigan, a sample for the store, which is also going to be a KAL later on in the summer.

Kirby cardigan by Asa Buchta

Kirby by Asa Buchta is a simple top down cardigan with a little bit of lace around the yoke for babies 3 to 24 months. Suggested yarn, and the yarn I used, is Vintage DK by Berroco. I used the colorway that was in the pattern photograph. This little sweater is going to be part of a KAL with the Maine Yarn Cruise later this summer. Our Berroco rep at the store, Andra, had made several of these little sweaters in various DK weight yarns that Berroco makes. They were all adorable. This is a fun little sweater to knit.

When I started knitting this sweater, I was tired after the 4th of July weekend. I started it three times and each time I frogged it back and started again. The sweater that I was starting didn’t look like the photo on the pattern page. I’m a good knitter and I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I must have skipped a couple of rows. I texted a co-worker friend who I also knew to be knitting this sweater for her future granddaughter. I wondered if she had had a challenge with starting the sweater and did hers look like the one on the pattern. It didn’t. She was one garter ridge short, too. So, I wrote to the designer through Ravelry and told her what was happening. Come to find out the pattern was wrong and was missing a pair of garter rows following the button hole row. Yay, me! I was the one who noticed it. The pattern will be updated (and it appears that I was on July 7th.)

I’ve finished my second Billie pants. These pants are so cute and I can’t wait to see them on the babies that I’m knitting for. One is expected in September and one in October. The pants are knitted in Berroco’s Vintage DK (or Vintage Baby). These yarns are basically the same yarn but one is in 50 gram balls and the other is in 100 gram balls. Since these pants (size 6 months) required 2 balls of Vintage Baby, I chose to buy one skein of Vintage DK. The yarn is nice to work with, soft and machine washable and dryable. I love the folded ribbing at the waist and the ankles and the extra room at the butt where the diaper bulk will be. Now I need to make two sweaters before the babies arrive! I’ve got one planned and need to find the second pattern. I have ideas!

Mermaid Cocoon Photo Prop by Angie Hartley

So, this is a special gift for a special baby. The mother of this little girl-to-be was a HUGE fan of Ariel (The Little Mermaid) when she was a little girl and I think this will be a fun gift for her baby-to-be at her baby shower later this month. When I first saw this, I filed it in the back of my mind because I thought it was really cute in the sparkly yarn and it was so appropriate for the mother! The yarn is Plymouth Encore Starz in a teal-y blue with sparkle. I’ve also knitted a simple garter stitch headband to go with it. I’d love to make some braids with an orange yarn and attach them. I hope I’ll have time. Add a fork and it’ll be a hilarious photo prop for a newborn.

I have quite a pile of baby clothes now. I love babies and I’m so excited about these little ones. I hope that I’ll have lots of time to hold them and love them and I know that I’ll be knitting for them. I also have to get back to my Elton cardigan. I only have two sleeves to knit … and the button bands … and then it’ll be done. I hope that it’s a good fit and that I can find a dress to go with it – we are heading to Washington, DC in December for my bonus daughter’s wedding and I am thinking that I can use it for that event … maybe with some sparkly buttons? I also have to focus on the Arne & Carlos Advent jumpers. I have exactly half of them knitted … maybe I’ll give myself some grace and another year to complete the set. If I really concentrated on them, I could get them done in a couple of weeks. Time will tell.

I have another project that I will write about in a separate post when I get it finished. It’s a big one and a true labor of love … all over again.

Gone knitting.

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!

Pumpkin Hats, etc.

I’ve been working on knitting down my (sizable) stash. When a knitter talks about his/her stash, we all respond that we have bins and bins of yarn. And we do. It seems to me that we all think we have the largest stash but we likely don’t. BUT mine is sizable and I’m proud to say that I did really well to knit only from stash UNTIL I went back to work and customers started giving me ideas again.

This is the yarn corner of my atelier. I had the shelf (and a matching one on the other side of the window holds my knitting books and fabric in the cupboard. Sadly, I have three Ikea shelf sets that also hold yarn. A total of about a dozen fabric boxes in addition to my built-ins. It’s a good sized collection … and I like to think that it adds to the r-value of our home.

Anyway … I digress. I have been trying to knit down my stash so that when I die my children won’t have to deal with it. Partly because they don’t have a clue as to its value. At the end of the year, I dumped out all of the little bins and boxes and went through the yarn to try to cull some that I knew I wouldn’t be knitting with – not ever. I also noticed some that I could knit up and get out. One of those was the Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece that I have had forever (or the last time I had fall babies to knit for.) I knew that this yarn had to be a pumpkin hat for my great-nephew-to-be who is due in September and who will live in Salem, MA. A perfect gift for a Salem baby.

So, last week I cast on and knit the smallest size pumpkin hat. I had forgotten how cute the hat is and how little yarn those tiny hats use. I had a significant amount still left. Surely, I thought, I can use it all up if I make a medium-size pumpkin hat, right? This weekend I cast on again and am nearly finished with pumpkin hat number two. And guess what? I have a feeling I have enough for a third hat, too. The extra hats will go into my gifts drawer or maybe I’ll have a giveaway on my Instagram page. I haven’t done that for a long time.

The Fiber Trends Patrick’s Pumpkin hat is really one of my favorite patterns. It’s a clever construction with a “shark tooth” piece done up first in garter stitch and then added to a rolled brim. When the hat is finished and blocked you can tack the pieces to that they stay in the right spot. The pumpkin part is so simple and yet so obviously a large orange gourd and it makes a great gift for a fall baby’s arrival. Especially in New England.

Cotton Fleece yarn by Brown Sheep is what I have always bought for this hat. I’m not sure why but it is. I love knitting with this cotton/wool blend yarn. It’s not as stretchy or squishy as full wool but for a baby’s tender head, it’s a soft but warm alternative to acrylics or acrylic blends. And we all know that cotton yarn doesn’t really hold its shape. So … this seems the perfect solution. I also love Brown Sheep because it’s an American company.

Brown Sheep was started over 100 years ago and pivoted in the 1970s when farming prices were low and the market for lamb was dropping off. The Brown family pivoted and began processing wool from their sheep and the rest is history. The Brown family (now with the last name Wells after a couple of generations of marriage) still owns and runs Brown Sheep.

I’ve made a LOT of these hats but on this last one, for whatever reason, I increased in every stitch when the color changed to orange so I had WAY more than 90 stitches. After an inch or so, when the stitches were so squished on the 16″ needle, I had a second look at the pattern and kept knitting. After two inches, I pulled it out, realizing my error. Good grief. Knitting keeps me humble.

I recovered my place again last night while I was watching the Tony Awards. I’m about ready to decrease for the crown of the hat and then I’ll weigh the remaining yarn to see if I have enough for one more hat. It must be my Yankee upbringing that makes it difficult for me to “dispose” of yarn that could still be used. I hope my fingers and wrists hold up well into old age.

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.