FO – Frosty the Snowman Christmas Stocking

I have finished and mailed off another family heirloom for a customer and friend. This stocking is the second one that I’ve knitted for her. The coolest part of the whole story is that her mother, now deceased, designed these stocking patterns for a very well-known stocking pattern company. Her mom had knitted stockings for the whole family and they’re trying to keep the tradition alive by knitting her mother’s patterns for new additions to the family. Cool, right?

The Frosty the Snowman stocking is relatively simple Intarsia knitting. A top hat wearing snowman who is holding a striped candy cane. My friend asked that I use angora as the pattern requires. With little bits of green for his scarf and mittens, black for buttons and hat, the most clever and my favorite piece of the design is the way she designed the candy cane – with white stripes on the red fabric and red stripes on the white. Sooo clever and it works so well!

What I don’t like about the Intarsia technique is weaving in the ends. The front looks so clean and clear but the back is bedlam! Each color across a row requires a different length of yarn and that means there are lots of bits of yarn dangling from the back. Every one needs to be woven into the reverse side of the stocking without being visible on the front. I also add the name in duplicate stitch on the front and then seam up the back and add a braided length of yarn to hang the stocking. Lots of work!

I was very happy with this stocking and I hope she is, too. I wish that their family has a very merry Christmas this year and every one after.

Gone knitting!

FO – Sunday Morning Shawl by Espace Tricot

I have been knitting and knitting and I finally have some FOs to show for it. Finally!

When we went on vacation, I decided to give myself the gift of a new “vacation” knitting project. Three hours to Rhode Island, a week at the beach and three hours home to Maine. I can’t say that I got a ton of knitting done but I did knit some while we were away.

Sunday Morning Shawl by Espace Tricot

I have now finished my Sunday Morning Shawl by Espace Tricot. I used The Fibre Company’s Lore, 100% wool yarn, in a gorgeous mustardy yellow. The shawl design is simple and classic with a bit of twisted rib and stockinette and a wonderful row of bobbles. I loved knitting this shawl and I love wearing it now that it’s finished and blocked. I can’t tell you, though, that it was finished without drama.

I got to the twisted rib edging and was almost half-way through when I noticed the “line.”

The line – finger pointing for emphasis

I really thought that since it was for me that I could “deal” with the little problem so I continued knitting … and realized I couldn’t… deal with it.

Have you ever had a problem with a knitting project and thought you could ignore it and knit on? And the you realized that you couldn’t ignore it and needed to fix the problem? Well, that’s what I did – dropped down every other row where it was twisted when it shouldn’t have been and then pulled the stitches back up so I could knit on.

Almost fixed
Fixed! Finger to help you see there is no line! 🙂

I dropped about one hundred stitches down ten rows or so and pulled them up. As I fixed each stitch ans the line disappeared, I felt so much better about my work. The design is amazing, the yarn and color are perfect and I love this vacation shawl! I wore it to work for the first time today.

Gone knititng!

My Favorite Time of Day

This is my favorite time of the day. The time when the sun is beginning to set and the opposite side of the lake gets lit up. My photos don’t begin to show you what it actually looks like. Trust me, it’s spectacular.

We have had a lovely day. We got our bedroom cleaned up, the bed changed, the (disgusting) side windows and screens washed, and the laundry done. My sweet hubby cleaned out the “curiosity cabinet” in the stairway. It needed it so badly.

I got a load of sheets and towels washed and dried and folded and put away (it doesn’t always happen, yay, me!) I made a batch of granola and a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I also made progress on my knitting.

Yesterday I tried something new. It didn’t work. The Intarsia Christmas stocking that I’m working on for a customer friend calls for angora. I’ve always held the angora yarn together with a worsted weight wool. The angora claims to be a worsted weight and “should” be ok to knit alone. Well, no.

So, today I frogged it back to the start of the angora in the pattern and re-knit. It’s much better now and I’ll be happy to knit on to the end of the Intarsia part and down to the toe. I’ll need to weave in the hundreds of millions of ends and embroider a smile and eyebrows (seriously, eyebrows?), duplicate stitch a name and off it’ll go to New York City.

I may get there tomorrow. Definitely, the knitting will be finished by the end of this week. I’m working to be finished in time to mail it before the end of October. Way in advance of Christmas!

FOs to come.

Gone knitting.

A Week?

Is it possible that already a week has passed since Thanksgiving? And it’s been two weeks since I’ve been to work! Amazing how quickly time passes … and how I manage to keep busy despite having “nothing” to do!

We’ve been working around the house to (begin to) get ready for Christmas. Christmas is not and has never been my favorite holiday. I much prefer Thanksgiving and we had hoped that at least a couple of our kiddos would be coming up for Thanksgiving but Covid-19 quashed that plan. It was too difficult to get tests as required by the states and the risk was too great. This latest surge is a beast. But the hubby and I had a lovely Thanksgiving alone together. We cooked a twenty pound turkey and all the fixings and I made two pies; chocolate peanut butter for him and pumpkin for me. I “cheated” and used a prepared pie crust for my pumpkin pie and it was awful … we ended up pitching all but one slice. It simply wasn’t worth the calories! I have a pie crust in the ‘fridge and some pumpkin I cooked and plan to make another one this weekend.

Getting “decorated”

I saw planters like the one we made (above) at a local garden center. Their greens were expensive and we live in the woods so the weekend after Thanksgiving the hubby and I went foraging in the woods for some greens and birch logs. It didn’t take long to find them and we are pretty pleased with our front door decoration. We added some fairy lights to make it extra sparkly.

We had to buy new lights for the outdoor fir tree that we planted when we had our gardens done after we built the house. The tree has grown a lot and the old lights were all dead – perhaps because of the squirrels that like to hide in the tree and “yell” at us. Two extra long sets of lights weren’t enough and even the third doesn’t quite finish the job.

Knitted Fairy Lights

Inside, I’ve been up to some decorating, too. I bought 100 feet of fairy lights from Amazon after I saw this idea on Instagram. Leila Raven (@leila_raven) was the first post that I saw and I’ve since seen a lot of others. It’s not “easy” to knit lights on wire but it sure turns out to be sparkly. The hubby wants me to knit 400 feet next. I’m not sure if that’s a goal that I want to take on right now. Ha! Ha!

My fairy lights “swatch” was knit using US13 needles and I cast on 24 stitches with a backward loop cast on. Garter stitch all the way to the end of the lights and pull the end through the last stitch. Ours are hanging in the front hall where they greet us as we come and go.

I’ve knitted several pairs of mittens for a friend and customer for her grandsons (did I mention this already?). I had a bit of yarn left over and made another pair of mittens for my local school. Kids around here always need mittens, right? I finished the thumbs last night and will drop them off today on the way to work.

I’m also working on a Christmas stocking for a friend and customer. Her mother was a knitwear designer for Columbia-Minerva back in the day and the family all have stockings in her designs. I’m making one for a new family member. I have to say, intarsia is not my favorite technique. It’s fiddly and messy and there are millions of ends to weave in. With that said, I’m making progress and hope to get the colorwork part finished up this weekend and then it’s clear sailing to the toe. I had said I couldn’t promise the stocking for Christmas but I think and hope that I can get it delivered. I’m sure going to make a good old college try!

I’m participating in a couple of KALs this month. One is a gnome MKAL (mystery knit-a-long) hosted by Imagined Landscapes. I love her gnome patterns and will eventually knit a collection of them since I’ve purchased the patterns. This month it’s an ADVENTure Gnome MKAL. Four colors of fingering weight yarn and US1 needles is all you need. I’m knitting entirely from stash. Clue 1 came out on Tuesday and I’ve finished it but won’t show it until later. Stay tuned.

I’m also going to do Arne and Carlos’ 24 new Christmas balls. I’ve printed the patterns out and I’m already feeling stressed because I’m two days behind (soon to be three days behind) but I had purchased yarn that was an acrylic and wool blend and I’ve decided that I really want to use wool because they’ll block out so much more nicely. Acrylic yarn really doesn’t block at all. So, today, when I’m at work I’m going to search around for some wool yarn that isn’t superwash to use for this project and then I can start knitting. You can find the pattern at Arne and Carlos dot com. They have an entire book of Christmas balls, too. I haven’t (yet) gone down that road but we’ll see how I like the 24 that I have the pattern for! I’ll write more as I get one or two done … or find yarn!

Dried Orange and Lime slices

I’ve decided to make some of my own decorations this year inside the house. I also think I may make some simmering potpourri for my students as a little holiday gift. My hubby found a dryer ages ago and we’ve used it once or twice but most of the time it’s been stored in a cabinet. Well, I’m making good use of it! I’ve dried six oranges and three limes so far. I’ll be adding some pine and cranberries to my indoor decorations and cinnamon sticks and cloves. This weekend is bound to be another busy one!

Gone knitting!

Collaboration

I’ve completed a collaborative knitting project with my friend and lady farmer, Mary Perry of Winterberry Farm, the last organic farm in Belgrade, Maine. Winterberry Farm is also animal powered … not a tractor to be found!

My DH and I have been fans and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members for several years. This year, I helped Mary at her farm store on several winter days when the interns aren’t yet arrived to help with the farm. My DH fed all of the animals a few times when Mary and her family were away overnight. I learned a lot about what it takes to own and run a farm. Anyway, I got a call from Mary a few weeks back and she wanted to put together some knitting kits with her yarn and needed some help finding simple patterns that would work with her yarn that she has spun at a mill nearby.

I chose three patterns: a simple hat, a simple scarf and socks.

The hat pattern was knitted up in the blue colorway and is Barley Light by Tin Can Knits. What I love about this hat is that it is a simple stitch pattern that results in a lovely hat in a lighter weight which is good for the border seasons of fall and spring.

The scarf pattern that I chose has been a favorite in my knitting classes for students who are starting to feel more comfortable with their knitting and are willing to branch out and try something new … and a bit more “complex”. The Workday Scarf by Sue Flanders is one of my favorite simple scarf patterns. I chose to knit the shop sample in the neutral, undyed/natural colorway and it is stunning! There is nothing better than a lace pattern (or any pattern for that matter) knitted up in a light natural color yarn. Both the yarn and the pattern are allowed to shine!

The sock pattern is being knitted up for Mary by her sock knitter, a local woman who knits socks for purchase (in case someone doesn’t knit their own) in the Winterberry Farm Shop. I sent the pattern for the socks to Mary and they’re being knitted for the shop. I guess you’ll have to stop by the shop to see which colorway was selected and what the socks look like!

Winterberry Farm is located at 538 Augusta Road (Route 27) in Belgrade, Maine. Come see the farm and shop for yarn! Or buy a kit! They’ll be available soon. Meanwhile, come visit the farm, join the CSA and shop for pies, farm-made canned goods and frozen foods, and yarn!

Gone knitting.

Take up Space

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I finished reading Clara Parke’s newest book, A Stash of One’s Own: Knitters on Loving, Living with, and Letting go of Yarn. It’s a sweet collection of stories and essays by knitters dealing with their “issues” around stashing yarn.

The sentence above was in the last chapter of the book. Sitting there, just waiting to kick in my ocular incontinence. (Thanks, Bristol!) It nearly brought me to an ugly cry as I tried to explain myself to my DH. Why did a book about yarn make me cry?

At camp this summer (Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat), I heard my newest favorite designer, Bristol Ivy, give me permission to take up space. To claim a space that is comfortably and happily all mine. I don’t have to be pretty or well-mannered there. I don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations there, nor do I have to think about any societal rules about women (watch your weight, wear makeup, be attractive, speak sweetly, keep the house clean, cut the kids’ fingernails, don’t wear black, children are to be seen and not heard, you don’t need to know how to handle money, your husband will do that, etc.).

Hearing this was life changing for me. I grew up taking up very little space. My parents’ expectations were high but extraordinarily limited. I was taught to iron, sew and be a “good girl” with the idea that, one day, if I was lucky, I would gain a husband and a middle name. That was the reason that I went to college, too. Not to get a good education and grow as an individual but to find a husband. (The now-60-year-old me is groaning today!)

When I divorced my first husband, I continued in therapy with a series of wonderful women who helped me to identify what was important to me and to begin working on who I am today. Who I want to be. I have enjoyed the process of getting to know myself.

The idea of taking up space, however, was brand spanking new and threw open an entirely new door of personal development and a new way of thinking about my place in the world. AND it made me cry. It touched my soul to be given permission (so to speak) to take up space. To be myself, to dress as it pleases me, to speak my mind and to know that I am lovable and loved even as I am myself. To manage my own money and to buy things for myself and others. It was so incredibly powerful to hear that message and I’ve pondered (and will continue to ponder) that idea and how it applies to me and how to bring it into my daily life.

Today, when I saw the sentence above that says that women are expected to take up as little space as possible, it hit me again. Ocular Incontinence. (When I am brought to tears talking about something, I’ve learned, it’s a deep truth for me. I’ve hit the nail on the proverbial head. I am so grateful for the reminder that I have every right to take up space. And not just with my stashed yarn, either.

I have an extensive stash of yarn and two rooms in our home to use in any way that I wish. My DH is supportive of my creative endeavors (I have never hidden my yarn purchases from anybody.) I own my knitting and the supplies that I need to make it happen and I’ve always been unapologetic about it. I’ve been smart about it, too. Never would I be irresponsible and when I can’t really afford it, I head to my stash instead of my LYS. Finding a balance and being responsible are important parts of who I am. Who I have always been. But apart from my yarn, this reminds me to look at other ways that I take up space, to make some new boundaries in my life so that my time to create is sacred. Time with my wonderful, handsome DH is sacred. Time with my children and family is sacred. I want to have time to spend with all of them, and my friends, too.

So, today I put on my crazy flowered leggings and my cotton weird-edged tunic/dress and I am taking up space. I am worthy. I am loved.

 

Busy Busy (Queen) Bee

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All About That Brioche by Lisa Hannes

I can’t believe that I’ve not written a post since Father’s Day! Yikes! I didn’t realize how busy I’ve been … or how I’ve totally neglected my blog!

We have had visitors a couple of times. My aunt and cousin and his family came for a visit from the other coast. We had a hoot and I got my fill of babies and toddlers. The kids were so much fun and I am so grateful that my cousin’s wife wanted to come east to spend time with us. My eldest daughter and her husband and their dogs came for a visit, too. I am always happiest when one of my kids is in the house! Both visits put my knitting on hold for a few days.

Today I finished my All About That Brioche shawl by Lisa Hannes. Let me chronicle the adventure that was this shawl for you!

I bought the kit from Kitterly. Yellow … NEON yellow and charcoal gray. What’s not to love? They’re bee colors! Madeline Tosh (Merino Light) yarn is very soft and not plied. Sometimes it gets a little fluffy which is not always what you want. Regardless, it’s a delight to knit with and will be a delight to wear. The pattern is fun to knit. A bias-knit garter to begin and then two bands of contrasting two-color Brioche. I needed to pay a little bit of attention to the increases and decreases but it’s a relatively simple six row repeat.

Initially, I thought I wanted to add an additional colorway to the mix but after knitting a little bit of the way, I decided that there was a reason the original design had only two colors. The addition of a third would have messed up the contrast. So, I frogged the first attempt and proceeded with the gray/yellow color palette.

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I’m not crazy about the edge on one side of the shawl, if I’m totally honest. I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention to how the rows begin. The point is to slip the first stitch and then bring the working yarn to the back or front so the edge has a consistent color.

This is right.

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This is not right.

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Can you see the black yarn crossing over the yellow edge stitches? And to the right there is yellow yarn crossing over the gray edge stitches? Yeah. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. BUT I also decided that it wasn’t worth frogging the Brioche section to repair this so I went forward knowing that I was going to have a funky edge on one side of the shawl. I’m ok with it (most of the time, anyway!)

I need to weave in my ends and block it today to make it wearable. I think the size will increase exponentially when I block it. Right now it’s a little bit too small for my liking. But I can’t wait to wear it … and it won’t be long until fall! We are experiencing crisp, clear, cool mornings and evenings here in Maine! I love the changing seasons!

Gone knitting!

UFOs Finished!

Like any “good” knitter, I tend to put off finishing projects that I don’t really want to do “right now”. I have a complete sweater sitting in time out waiting for me to seam it. A full sweater. One that I would like to wear but I really don’t love finishing sweaters. This one will take maybe 2 hours to finish … after many more hours than that of knitting it. Regardless, while the sweater sits in time out, I have begun and finished several projects.

Pussy Cat Hats in Pink and Gray … my pattern

Two Pussy Cat hats or Kit Kat hats. One is bright pink for those days when I feel like taking a stand and the other is grey for those days when I want to stand firm but not bring attention to myself. I like they way these worked out. I used Plymouth Yarns Encore Chunky yarn for both hats. Normally, I’d rather knit with natural fibers but these hats are soft and chunky and they knit up super quickly. I also can wash and dry them in my machine. I sent my original hat that I knit in Malabrigo Rios worsted yarn to my future son-in-law. He wanted a hat and I was happy to send mine and knit another for myself.

The pattern is mine.

Queen Bee Knits Pussy Hat

 

With bulky yarn and US 10 16″ circular needle, cast on 72 stitches. K2, P2 ribbing for 12 rounds. Knit around until hat is 9″ from cast on edge. Use a 3-needle bind off to cast off all stitches. Weave in ends. 

 

Feel free to use the pattern for personal use. If you want to give away hats, that’s fine. Please don’t sell these hats. Thank you.

A cowl for a customer. I have a customer who loves my knitted accessories. I’ve knitted her three or four tams in different weights and now a cabled cowl. The latest is a Bandana Cowl from Purl Soho which is a free pattern on Revelry or the Purl Soho website. She didn’t understand that the picture of the cabled cowl wasn’t really how a cowl worked. She was wanting a “dickey” that will sit down on her chest and around her neck rather than a cowl that solely goes around the neck. I’ve finished this one is Cascade 128 Superwash in a lovely teal colorway. It will match the hat that I just made her. She still wants another pair of hats. One in a yellow Cascade 128 and another in a Noro yarn.

I also finished the first block of my Cascade Knitterati Afghan MKAL. I love doing things that are a little bit different. I am not knitting with the same colors that the KAL is recommending (why would I do that?) but have picked one colorway so far that is a dark Granny Smith apple green. I’ve loved the color from afar for a long time and it’s high time to use it somewhere. Squares two and three have been released. I’ll likely knit square three before two because it’s a single color square and I have a single color yarn.

I have been knitting dish cloths for the daughters. It all started with sending three to my children at Christmas time. Daughter #1 asked for more so that they aren’t using paper towels any longer. They’ve been sent. In the meantime, I’ve knitted a few more for Daughter #2. And then I’ve knitted three tiny ones for the little California nieces. I’ve got to mail them away soon. The pattern is Grandma’s Favorite Dish Cloth and it’s a free Rarely pattern. These are all Lily Sugar and Cream yarns one is a pink camouflage colorway and the other simply made me think “Valentines Day”!

Fornicating Deer Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I made my handsome and bald hubby a hat for Valentine’s Day this year. I used a navy and a gray worsted wool by Lamb’s Pride. A long time ago, I saw a chart on Pinterest and I saved it. It made me laugh and it is totally my husband’s sense of humor. It’s called the Fornicating Deer chart by Ann Rutten. It’s on Ravelry. Needless to say, I didn’t have a pattern to go with the chart but I looked at my expected gauge and decided to knit three repeats of the chart. I also decided that once the deer were finished that I would do my decreases and not finish the entire chart. He likes caps that fit tightly but cover his ears. When he came home after work the first day he wore it, he said, “hey hon, now I really have sex on the brain!” Yup. I think he loves his hat.

Oh, I need a better camera. The color is way off!

I do love to finish projects! Today I hope to finish a pair of bright orange work socks (the picture doesn’t come close to the bright “hunting orange” color) for my husband. He loves to wear the thick, warm Raggi yarn socks to work. He works outside in Maine in the winter. Enough said?

Gone knitting!

2017! Happy New Year!

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I feel fortunate that 2016 was a wonderful year for me and for my family. One daughter bought a new home, another daughter became engaged, I married the love of my life and we had all of our children in our house at the same time (for the first time). Our children are gainfully employed, healthy and happy. We are both working at jobs we love and are paying the bills, we have food on our table, a warm home and we are healthy. What more can you ask for?

I am eager to see what 2017 brings and what opportunities in the fiber world I will become involved with. I am excited to continue teaching knitting and creating in my every-improving atelier! This year’s goal is to add some serious shelving to my studio for fabric and yarn storage. I am already realizing that my “cheap fix” is not going to work long-term … fabric and yarn multiply when packed into small spaces and despite working hard to knit from my stash, it’s only minimally smaller.

img_7778We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at our house. A summer camp (childhood) friend and his son joined us for a lobster feast and a glass or two of sparkling wine prior to midnight. The guys all stayed awake after the power went out but I claimed the black-out as an opportunity to go to bed “early”. This is our photograph, grainy though it may be, from around 10:30pm. I love selfies with this guy and can’t wait to see what 2017 brings to add to our life together.

My goals for the year are to attend and help with, perhaps, the fiber week at my old summer camp. I’m looking forward to Maryland Sheep & Wool, too. I want to do more in my community – attend events, help my neighbors, life my best life and speak from my heart (not usually a problem). I want to floss more often and remember to listen to myself and speak my truth. Having lost my voice a long time ago, it feels wonderful when I speak out and speak up and feel heard. I’ll keep working on that piece.

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Wishing you blessings in 2017. I’m hoping that it’s the best year yet for all of us!

Gone knitting.

Teaching and Technology

Choices!

Choices!

Last week I sent some yarn to a customer who lives far away. She wanted to make socks out of Encore Worsted yarn. I sent her a picture of a few choices and we got it mailed to her. On Wednesday I got a phone call and she was stuck. She had gotten her leg and heel flap done, had turned the heel and picked up the gusset stitches. But despite having done all the “hard” work she was stuck on the directions to knit the next part – mostly on having the right number of stitches on each needle so she could decrease in the right spot!

Now, any of you who have ever tried to explain something over the phone understand how difficult it is, right? I think every teacher, at one time or another, assigns students to give directions in writing for someone who has never done something. Dialing a phone, making tuna salad? It’s not easy to fully describe any task where you are unable to see the person to whom you are giving directions.

So, I’m on the phone with a customer who is stuck on her sock. First I have to figure out where she is exactly. Next, I have to explain to her what to do next. Well, on Wednesday I didn’t do a good job. We couldn’t find a place where we could communicate with each other well enough to solve the problem. I was feeling like a failure and she was frustrated.

And then she suggested that she might send me a picture! It was a genius idea!

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This was the picture I got via email

This is the picture that I got. You can see where the working yarn is (at the bottom left-hand corner of the needles) and, if you’ve knit many (MANY) pairs of socks, you know exactly what you would do next. Right? But can you describe to someone over the phone what to do? Well, after spending fifteen minutes on the phone without making any real progress, we finally had a new starting place and new hope!

Once I saw exactly where she was, I could then explain to her what she needed to do next.

She knitted down the left-hand needle and then knitted half of the heel (top) stitches. This becomes needle number three. We are now at the new beginning of the round. Now she can begin her first round with gusset decreases – Needle one will be the second half of the heel stitches and the right-hand needle stitches, the bottom needle is the top of the foot and will be needle two. We already know where needle three is!

Working together with our photograph and the use of our wonderful new technology …

Success!

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Now she’s ready to complete her foot.

I am so grateful for the challenges that I am given as a teacher.  I love the brain work that it takes to figure out how to solve a challenge for the student and for me. And I have made some wonderful connections and created wonderful friendships, too. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love teaching knitting!

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