Odds & Ends, and Knitting Words and Their Lack of Digitality

After finishing my sheep socks, I had a lot of leftover yarn sitting in the bag looking balefully at me. Now, although I have a bajillion favorites in my "Colorwork" bundle on Ravelry, none of them sang to me. I just wanted something simple, something easily, mindlessly knit while watching NCIS shows in the evening. I am therefore knitting a children's hat with a couple stripes in it for interest. 

Hat

It is going slow.

The pattern (yes, although this hat is drop-dead simple, I used a pattern; that is how pathetic I have become) is DROPS 12-37

My main project at the moment is the Aran Coat from Debbie Bliss in purple. Actually, this color deserves an exclamation point and all caps, it is a show stopper -- it is an Aran Coat in PURPLE!!

Aran coat

Hehehe. Gotta love it. Also I love my awesome new bookmark that Lynne painted for me. It is of hollyhocks in pinks and purples that seem to go with the Aran Coat! 

This pattern is the Aran coat from Debbie Bliss Classic Knits for Kids, which was first published in 1994, and is now out of print. (Your library may help you to find a copy, and there are used booksellers too.)

AranCoatColor
AranCoatColor

That was before the Internet really got going, so the book is really not digital in any way. I was kind of stunned at how dependent I had become on my computer when I knit. Usually I download the pattern, read it on some screen or another, keep notes in a sticky note on the screen, keep track of where I am with a line or a ruler that I can just move into place on the screen. But this pattern? Nope. 

It. Is. A. Book. 

Yikes. 

My first inclination was to put all the panels for the Aran in pictures on my iPhone, put them all into a .pdf document, and bam! But I didn't. I decided to do it the old-fashioned way.

Pattern

Also, there are  NO CHARTS. Ugh. Everything is written out. With words! Knitting words! 

I had forgotten how much concentration this way of knitting took. But the Aran Coat is going well and I am enjoying it, once I remembered all the skills that I hadn't used in like, ten years. It's coming out very cute. 

Because of the concentration required and the space it takes up on the table, I have also started knitting a shawl to use up some worsted weight that I had lying around. I am knitting the Ka'ana shawlette by Jennifer Weissman, which promises to be a lovely thing to snuggle into and it will be knit quickly too, since it is on size 8 needles. I am using white, oatmeal and pink and maybe dark gray, I don't know yet. But it'll be pretty.

Kaana

And it is really easy to knit!!!!!!!

 

 


In the meantime ...

I started to knit Sylvi on October 22 and finished it on March 22, so it took a long time to get it done. However, I didn't work on it the whole time. I took a few long-term breaks to knit other things. 

I knit the purple Ironwood Shawl that was in the KnitScene Spring 2017 magazine, out of Wildwood Yarns Arcadia in a pretty purple. The pattern called for two skeins of Madeline Tosh Sock, which has 385 yards and is about $25 a skein; I had one skein of the Arcadia and I didn't notice that the pattern called for two skeins. Arcadia has 394 yards per skein. I knit happily along, and about the time that I went to the Spa in Freeport I noticed that I was running a bit low on yarn, and that is when I saw that the pattern called for two skeins! I estimated that the amount of yarn I had would almost come close to finishing the shawl though, so I figured I would just put another color on whenever I ran out, something that would contrast nicely and look like I had planned it that way. When I got home, I rummaged through my odds and ends of sock yarns and found some pretty lavender handspun that I made eons ago, and set it aside.

But the ball kept going and going and going. It was a magic ball! Just two rows before the end of the shawl, I finally ran out of yarn. I knit the final two rows, bound off, and am quite happy with it. If I had forked out $50 for Madeline Tosh Sock yarn though, I would have been kind of mad that it had only required about fifteen yards of the second skein.

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Beside the shawl, I knit a couple sweaters that I can't show you or talk about yet, and a bunch of hats:

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Watch Cap by Michele Rose Orne


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Bayside Beanie baby hats by Stacey McCrea Warner


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Spruce Head Hat by Michele Rose Orne

Then I designed and knit a cowl at the Harpswell Inn Knitting Weekend with yarn that was provided. It came out pretty and I'll put the picture and the pattern up here when I get the pattern written; the cowl is blocking now.

Another thing that I knit (that is still blocking) is a scarf/shawl that I recently completed. It was the Mystery in March KAL (yup, I got it done in March), a lovely asymmetrical piece in a sampler of various knitting stitches, by Tori Seierstad. The yarn I used was originally used in the Mystery Sock IX: Crazy Quilt Socks, done in Old Number 8 in a dark red yarn. After working three clues, I thought I would never wear those socks (the pattern was perfect, they just were nothing I would ever wear. Sorry.) So, when I saw the mystery shawl commencing, I ripped out the sock and started the shawl. It was a blast to knit! Pictures soon. :)

So what is on the needles now? The primary thing is Amy's Scarf, which is reinvigorated after a long hibernation that started at the end of October. I started it back in July! I have to get it done. It is inspired by the scarf that Amy Pond wore in two Dr. Who shows, and I have wanted it for years, ever since I saw it on Dr. Who. I bought just the right skein of lovely red at the Spa in 2016, a red called Rock Lobster, in Mad Color Fiber Arts Sonatina. I'm about half done!

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So Much Fun!

I have had so much fun the last couple of weeks! 

First, the things I have knitted: not much, actually. I have my stealth knitting project almost completed. In fact, it will be finished this week probably, and I can go to Freeport at the end of the week with a clear conscience. I have, in addition, sewn up my Sylvi coat/sweater, woven in most of the ends, and am now working on the hood:

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It is kind of hard to knit because of the weight of the sweater and only having one and a quarter hands, but it is going slowly onward. I hope to finish it next week, after SPA in Freeport. At least Hillary will be able to wear it for a couple weeks before Spring!

Second is the goodies that I have bought.

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I pre-ordered MAINEknits by Beatrice Perron Dahlen a few weeks ago, and promptly forgot it, and then there it was! I wanted to get it when I realized that all of the patterns in it were in my favorites in Ravelry, which was a sign that the book needs to be on my shelf.  I was pleased to find that the book has really gorgeous pictures of Maine, a foreword by Pam Allen, and well-written essays by Sarah Kilch Gaffney, Julie Letowski, Samantha Lindgren and Beck Robbins in addition to beautiful, highly-wearable and desirable-to-knit patterns by fourteen excellent designers, including Beatrice Perron Dahlgren. 

The book is divided into three sections: Sea, Farm, and Wild, which is how I think of Maine too. I'm from Aroostook county, Maine, the wilderness was all around me in Portage where I lived, my father was a farmer, and now I live by the sea! There are five or six patterns in each section, totaling seventeen patterns in the book. Most of them are sweaters and accessories for women, but a few are unisex too, and one is photographed on a man and a child; that sweater can be made in children's sizes too. There is also a cowl in child and adult sizes as well. 

I also got some little colored stitch markers from Cocoknits.com. They are so pretty, I want to string them on a chain and wear them as a necklace! 

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I succumbed to pattern lust and bought the yarn to make these socks:

They are 173-45 Sleepy Sheep from Drops.

Karisma

They are so springy and pretty! I don't really need 450g of yarn to knit socks. I'll have yarn leftover, so maybe I will design something with Mary Jane Mucklestone's books that I have been looking over.

The best thing though is the fluff that I got from On the Round! It is soooooooo gorgeous! It makes me want to spin and spin and spin! 

Fluff

This fluff is hand dyed Corriedale top in a OOAK (One Of A Kind)  color. That means it is unique!  Rachel Jones does an incredible job of dyeing. Her colors are imaginative, playful, and creative while being harmonious too. It takes real talent to do that. I will wait as long as possible to start spinning this, but I think the beauteousness of the fluff will overwhelm me. It is sitting right beside my computer and I keep looking at it and sighing happily. I need to get a couple things done, but soon ... soon!

The third and final fun thing is ahead: SPA!!! Lynne and I are going to Freeport for the weekend (February 24,25, & 26) and we will have so much fun. We are staying at the Hampton Inn. SPA is a weekend of fibery goodness that is at three hotels in Freeport, but it really kind of takes over the town. It is like a convention of 1000 (maybe more) knitters and crocheters and spinners and weavers and felters and other fibery folk who show up for the weekend. Some people go for three or four days. Lynne and I will pretty much stay in the Hampton Inn; the vendor area doesn't really interest me much (see above) but there are many vendors and people who want their wares. Also Mother of Purl is in the area and there are a few things that they offer too this weekend, including an On the Round trunk show -- Rachel will be there in person to amaze and delight you! 

Pogo's Sweater

I haven't the heart to tell Pogo that the sweater isn't for her.


Wet and Crazy!

I decided after much dithering to wet block the pieces of Sylvi. My sister used to dither about lots of things, especially things she was afraid of doing. After a week of not sewing the pieces of Sylvi together, I realized that I, too, was doing what I used to give Rachel hell for doing. "Just do it already! What are you so afraid of? What is the worst that could happen?" I would tell her. So, I took my own advice and wet blocked the pieces. I had thought long and hard about blocking the coat all sewn together, and what a nightmare it would be. Blocking the pieces proved to be much easier and, in fact, enjoyable. 

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It is amazing how much wool changes when it is wet. These pieces were placed in the washing machine, which was then filled with water, set a while, and then spun dry. Easy peasy. When I started to pin them to the blocking board (really a slab of blue insulaton board, don't tell), it was magical how they were so easy to pull into shape! The en-even edges became even, the cable down the back that dipped down making a U-shape was easy to straighten out. I loved it! So that's where Sylvi is now: drying. It will be easy to sew together now, I can easily imagine it. The hood will be fun to knit (actually knitting this coat was pretty enjoyable), and the petals will be no problem to knit either, now that the fabric seems so flexible and pleasant to work with. The only thing that I am not sure of is sewing the petals down, but I feel that that is because I haven't done something like that since my stroke, but now I really feel like I can do it. 

My right hand (the paralyzed one) is waking up and getting more useful. I can actually hold a big tapestry needle with it, and kitchener the toes of my socks together using my right hand now! That is a big improvement. My fingers all open and close at my command -- slowly sometimes, but I will take it. I'm working on strengthening the muscles in my forearm to make it easier to lift my right arm, too. And I walk around the house quite a bit now without my cane. I walk like Frankenstein, but without my cane. I still have to wear the damn brace though. 

And now for the crazy part of my blog post!

Some readers may remember when Wendy Gaal had her first Mystery Sock Knit-along way back in 2009. I participated in it, making these beaded socks:

Mysterysock1

Well, now she is up to Mystery Sock #9: Crazy Quilt Sock Knit-along! It started on Friday, January 27, but it is not to late to participate. You don't need to buy yarn or the pattern for the knit-along; the pattern is free, but only people who use Wendy's yarn will be eligible to win prizes in the end. The last clue will be posted March 10, and the winners will be among those who have knit one sock in one of Wendy's Knitter's Brewing Company Sock yarns

Wendy always challenges knitters with these Mystery Sock Knit-alongs. She also makes tutorials and videos that are really well done to help you learn the techniques involved, and there are tons of people to help out if you have any problems at all. Several people who have never knit a sock before at all are successfully knitting this. Wendy gives you a bit at a time and spoon-feeds you the very detailed directions with lots of hand holding if you need it, and she is the most patient person with these Mystery Sock KALS that I have seen.

I got the kit with Old No. 8 sock yarn in color BAC OTL from Wendy at Knitter's Brewing Company, and wound it up:

It came with a pretty little commemorative stitch marker:

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I don't use the stitch markers that come with the sock yarn in these kits because I am using double pointed needles, but I love them and use them in other things!

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I have done the first Clue, and let me tell you, it is really crazy!! It is a toe up sock, knit up at an angle, with a pretty cool little texture going on! 

I love it! I can't wait to see what the next Clue will be!

 Here is a picture of an ancient Egyptian picture of a cat herding geese, since Pogo wasn't in a posing mood:

Figure-2.27ostracon-cat-herding-geese-cairoegyptianmuseum1150BCDeirelMedina


New Year, New Socks!

My New Year Socks are done! They are so sparkly and colorful! I feel like I am disco dancing when I wear them!

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(Beth laughs and laughs and then composes herself)

I have a Sylvi update, too. I have the right front done to the underarm :

SylviJan232017

I'll finish the right front tonight, sew it together over the next two nights,  knit the hood for a couple of nights, and then there will be The Petals. Actually knitting them won't be difficult if I can get them started. I think I can do it. Anyway, the whole thing should be done in about two weeks, maybe less. It will be pretty.

I have some stealth knitting, to borrow a phrase from Wendy Johnson. It is my daytime knitting at the moment. I hope to show you at some point in the future! It is why I am only working on Sylvi at night :)

Pogo

 

 

 

 


Another Sylvi Update and Other Projects

Sylvi is growing by leaps and bounds. The back is done:


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I have the left front done to just above the underarm:

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The black yarn on the side marks the increases, and the one in the middle marks what row I started the underarm on.

Pogo the astute feline inspector says they pass and gives them a paw print of approval.

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I started some bright, glittery socks just before New Year's Eve. 

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Everyone needs bright glittery socks What a wonderful world it would be if everyone wore them. The yarn is Plymouth Yarn Stiletto, purchased from WEBS, but it seems they are out of it. I did buy it in their big year end blowout sale. Anyway, the pair is half done, and I start the second sock tonight during my daily TV watching. The pattern is the one that I have pretty much memorized, Classic Socks for the Family by Melinda Goodfellow.

I got a knitting magazine (KnitsceneSpring 2017) and a skein of lovely purple Wildwood Arcadia yarn from my friend Lynne! I started the Ironwood shawl, and it is perfect for the yarn. I love both the pattern and the yarn! 

IMG_0155_medium2    Purple shawl

Happy knitting!


The Summer 2016 Ravelry Games Update!

Halfway to the finish line! I can almost hear the cacophony of 200 or so Ravelry national anthems swelling the stands! 

My sweater is puttering along nicely:

Day_4_RG   Day 4

Day_5_RG_medium   Day 5

Pogo tired of watching me knit   Look! A cute kitty!

Day_7_RG_medium   Day 7

Day_8_RG_medium   Day 8

Bah humbug   Nicky would be tired of watching me knit too.

Cats 003   So would Nora.

Day 11   Day 11

I hope to be finished in time!

I am trying a sort-of new-to-me technique, magic loop knitting. It's where you use a circular needle with a long cord to knit small circumferences in the round, like on socks or sleeves; some people do it to bypass having to use double pointed needles, but I do it because I didn't have any freaking size 9 double pointed needles AND my Denise set of circular needles was missing one pair of needles --- you guessed it, size 9! Therefore I couldn't use the two-circular-needles method for small circumferences. So I am using a 36 inch (or 42 inch, don't know exactly) size 9 circular needle to knit my approximately ten inch circumference sleeve (which will be even smaller at the cuff). Good times. 

Magic Loop   Pogo's butt for size reference

The sleeves look too narrow, but hey. I can always unravel it and re-knit it after the Olympics are done if I need to.

I actually "invented" this method of knitting many, many years ago while on a camping/canoeing trip with friends. It must have been the 1970's or early 80's because Icelandic sweaters were all the rage, and I was knitting them for everybody on my Christmas list. The only thing I hadn't remembered to pack was my needles for the sleeves ... which I needed. Sigh. 

Most people would have given up on it, stuffed the sweater in the bag, and made a S'more. Not me. Maybe I needed to have the sweater done by the time I got back, I don't recall. But, I figured that there must be some way of making it work, and I knit the sleeves while pulling out the two feet of extra needle as I went. It worked. 

I had to chuckle when I found this on YouTube.com: The Traveling Loop method.

Or, the Being Stuck Up the Creek Without Double-Pointed Needles method. Hehe. 

See you at the finish line!!! 

 


It Makes You Think

I read an article lately by Woolly Wormhead, the fabulous hat designer, about the cost of producing a pattern. It was enlightening, to say the least. Now I want to buy one of her hat patterns.

Lots of people on Ravelry make money with their patterns. Some get an order once in a blue moon, some get an order every hour or so. Some make $1 for a pattern, some make $5 or more. Some people work hard to make their patterns accurate and readable, some don't. My patterns have always been free, mostly because I didn't have the time or energy to hire tech editors and test knitters and photographers. But now I think maybe I should. It's not like I don't have the time. I just have to figure out who does tech editing of knitting patterns and find people to test knit my designs. Hmmmmm, I might have to do some knitting myself to earn the money for that!

I did a Google search for "work from home knitting" -- there are tons of offers. Many are simply pages that talk about it. I'm sure most of us have wanted to make extra money by knitting, right? Reading about it usually satisfies my urge. Then I remember my WIP's and pick them up again.

Anyway, random thoughts on a Tuesday. Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Obligatory cat picture goes here:

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I'm Back.

I took a little more than a year off, because I thought blogs are pointless, everyone is glued to the Facebook screen, nobody reads blogs anymore. And that is pretty much true. I quit Facebook, too. My cat Nicky had died, and his sister Nora died about a month ago. Seemed like things had come full circle.  

Two things made me come back. First, I had a couple people pining for my blog and I thought, okay. I could write it a little bit, so they will know I am alive. Second, my brain is bursting with new ideas for knitting and crocheting designs, story ideas, ideas about everything, really.  I found I used my blog as a kind of scrapbook for Remembering Things, recipes, things I had done, pictures, and of course my patterns. So, I just thought, what the hell. Let's crank this baby up and see if it will still go.

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That is Nick and Nora's baby picture. (Kevin took the photo). They were so cute! 

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That is Nora. She was a pretty girl. She liked to complain loudly about everything. I miss her squawking about supper every night. I just miss her. 

After Nicky died, we took in Pogo, who is also 13 years old, the same age Nick and Nora would be. Pogo has attached herself to me; she goes everywhere with me. She isn't much of a cuddler, though, she's just a constant companion. We make a good team. She is tolerant of my knitting, but she does like to sit on the keyboard if I use it too much!

Pogo

What am I knitting? I am knitting gifts for Christmas and birthdays, unfortunately, so I can't show them. I did just recently complete a cowl -- the Shetland Shores cowl by WendyGaal. I knit in some sparkly yarn from Knitter's Brewing Company in a color called Framboise:

Yarma_medium2     Yarma_medium2-2


The kit came with a cute little Scotty dog!

In the last year, I knit a lot of things. One that I like the most is an Aran sweater called Wetherby by Martin Storey:

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It was a little bit tricky. I had to unravel about 9 inches of the front when I discovered I had twisted my cables the wrong way. You can bet I double checked them after that! 

Another thing that I knit was a pair of mittens. I finally made the Dog Mittens by Jorid Linvik, which had been in my queue to make ever since my sister in law got a Boston terrier:

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Her name is Persis and she is a sweetie pie!


They Say It'll Get Warmer

That's the theory at least. Something called "spring" is in the offing, and there will be mud and blackflies and sunshine that is warm, and also there will be "grilling". At least you don't have to shovel blackflies. Mud, possibly.

I had a little girl here two weeks ago who expressed some interest in a pair of mittens that I made, and she wondered if I could make some mittens for her, so of course I said yes. I found the perfect pair on Ravelry called Mittens with Kittens by Natalia Moreva. They were a free download, even better! The thing is, the pattern consists of only a chart - no needle size or type and weight of yarn to use. I took a gamble that they needed size 2 needles and fingering weight yarn, and I just happened to have hot pink, cream, and orange yarn in my stash, which were the perfect colors. I think they came out the perfect size:

Kitten Mittens

Last fall when I was at my brother's camp up in Winterville, I asked my other great niece if she liked this dress:

4-1

It's  DROPS 138-4 Jade, and it is a free pattern. I don't wear dresses anymore, and it is really young for me, but I wanted to knit it. Luckily my great niece is in high school and she is young and beautiful, and she said yes! She picked out some turquoise colored yarn, which I secretly loved and wanted to knit with. Did I mention she has good genes?

CROPS Muskat

That's DROPS Muskat #32 Turquoise. It's a beautiful Egyptian 100% cotton, with a long staple fiber, making it strong and wearable. It is mercerized, so it sparkles gently in the sunlight, and the color is a tropical color that just makes me feel warm.

DROPS 138-4 Jade dress

I cast on 306 stitches, knit 6 rows, and found it was twisted. Aaarrrgghhh! I started over, did NOT twist my stitches, and now I am zooming right along. This is a great pattern to knit for the summer. I am dreaming of beaches and sunshine (warm sunshine not winter sunshine) and tropical scents in the air. 

My husband wanted to know what I was knitting with muskrat droppings.

*sigh* Men. 

Lynne is coming over this afternoon to make Blizzard drinks with hot chocolate, Bailey's, Gran Marnier and something else, maybe chocolate liqueur. And we will knit, and laugh, and make mistakes and laugh at them before we rip them out. It will be fun :)


Nicky

On New Year's Day, Nicky, my good little boy, went outside and never came back. I think his heart finally gave out on him.

NickNoraBabyPix

He had a heart murmur, and in 2009 or so, he had a cardiac arrest -- it was during a routine annual vet visit: shots, ears, teeth, and his heart, which stopped at the moment Dr. Jim Laurita held the stethoscope to his chest. It was, in short, the perfect time to have a heart attack. Dr. Laurita rushed him to intense cardiac care, and he lived. He had to take three pills a day for the rest of his life, but he lived. Dr. Laurita said he would live about eleven months at the outside, but Nicky was obstinate and stubborn, and he lived almost six more years.

Nicky on counter

Wherever you are Nicky, I hope there are lots of sunny spots to snooze in, preferably on someone's knitting; lots of laps to sprawl across, lots of cream and cheese and popcorn and bacon and Cheez-Its to snack on, and Grace is probably happy because she can now follow you around again. You know she always had a thing for you. 

Nick in Snow


Ye Olde Christmas Season

I'm still knitting for Christmas. I had to stop for a couple days because Nicky bit my hand Thanksgiving Day; it swelled up bigger than Montana and hurt like the Dickens, but it has gotten better, and now I am back to the Christmas knitting. 

So, in an effort to distract you from the lack of knitting in my blog, I thought I would show you something I found. Did you know that if you go to the Library of Congress, select photos, prints and drawings for the format in the search box and type in "Christmas", you can look at a jillion Christmas pictures from the 1800s to today? There is everything from posters, old Christmas cards that somebody in government received, old photos, everything. There is just a TON of stuff. I spent a lot of time looking at it, and I only got through about 19 pages -- out of 113! Here is just a smattering:

Future Xmas 1896

Future Christmas 1896

1899

U. S. Christmas 1899

Stereo card print 1897

Photographic print on stereo card, 1897

Santa telephoning for more supplies1897

Santa telephoning for more supplies, 1897

(Some things never change!)

Red ross nursewith Xm deco 1910-1930

Red Cross nurse with soldier and Christmas decorations, sometime between 1910 - 1930.

Santa receives pilot's license from ASComm1927

Santa receiving aeroplane pilot's license from the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 1927. (I am glad Santa is a safe and legal flyer!)

Wash xmas shopping Woolworths 1941

Washington, DC Christmas shopping at Woolworth's Five and Ten, 1941

Store window display 1940:41

Store window display, 1940/41

Christmas, it seems, is still the same as it always was. And that is reassuring! 

You may note that if you go to www.yarndemon.com, my 2014 Christmas Musical Advent Calendar selections will be at the top of my posts for the next 25 days; you need to download Spotify to play them, but it is free! 


Etchings

I just got a new app for my iPhone! It's called Etchings, and it makes your photos into little works of art, including an Air Mail postage stamp (good for vacation photos), an 1854 photograph, a one dollar bill, a Beatrix Potter print, and a full color spectrum, as well as others. If that's not enough, you can refine the kind of lines that you want to use, from very fine up to extra bold. All for ninety-nine cents! I like it! Here are some samples:

Belted Galloways Etching
Some Belted Galloways up the road from me. That's a regular etching.

Porch Etching
My Porch

Our House Etching
Our house, doesn't it look old?? Like 1854 old?

EtchingNora
Nora's grandmother

Tom Kitten
Nicky as a Beatrix print

One dollar bill
Nicky as a $1 Bill

Etchings is available for the iPhone now, and they're working on it for Android as well -- you can sign up to be notified when it comes out. It is made by MindSea Development, out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, one more reason to love Canada.

Wild ... What they won't come out with next!


Gadgets

Just thought I should show you a picture of my knitting rig:

Sock2

One end slides under my leg, to hold it. The mechanism basically just holds the needles, as you can see in this picture. The white conical shaped piece is the collet that holds the needle in place. There is a different sized collet for each size needle; I have a collet for sizes 0, 1, 2, 3 , 4, 5, and 6. I'd like to get more collets for sizes 7, 8, 9, 10, and 10 1/2, but I can't really afford them right now. It is highly adjustable, too: you can raise and lower it, and adjust the exact position of the arm and the angle of the collet. The device is entirely hand made by my occupational therapist's husband. I think it's a pretty clever way to knit with four needles!


Gifts

Sunday morning we had a breakfast for the family, and it was great to see everyone again. Georgia was a real cutie pie! I got to thinking, as I watched her, that the Little Girl Cardigan I knit was never going to fit her by Christmas, so I gave it to her ... it fits perfectly now. Good thing, and she will have fun wearing it while she plays outside!

She also got the cutest hat that Lynne knit her, which she put right on. It looks great with the cardigan! She is a stylin' little girl. I can't believe how fast she is growing.

Pam and Kevin gave me my birthday present a little early, because Pam said I deserved it for getting my finger to work. They gave me these gorgeous earrings, which were made partly from gold from a ring of my father in law's,  and beach stones. Jennifer Nielson, a fabulous jeweller, made them for Pam and Kevin. Thank you!!! I love these earrings:

Earrings

They are very special!

Grace crept out after the Small Quick-Moving Person went away, and she's sleeping in her sunbeam now.

Grace2


The Yarn Shop

There used to be a yarn shop in Camden, the best yarn shop in the world, in my opinion. What's funny is, I don't really know the name of it, but I think it was called The Wool Bin. (I used to grin when people didn't recognize the name 'Unique One', but they knew the yarn shop -- or the sweater shop -- in Camden!) Anyway, The Wool Bin was my personal Yarn Shop. It was located where half of Camden National Bank is now, between the bank and the post office. There were fabric sculptures of funny people in the window, and inside, there was a front room and a back room. It was quite small. There were wooden needles (Merrill Needles? Monroe needles? They were made in Maine.) in a glass jar on the table. And there was lots of yarn.

I used to go in and buy a sweater project every chance I got to come down to Searsport or Camden. I'm from northern Maine, and the coast was my favorite getaway. I remember once when my sister was dithering about whether she could knit a vest that had a little cable work on it, and asked me whether she thought she could do it, and me being, well, me, and tired of her dithering, said, "No. You're too stupid." So of course she bought the yarn and the pattern in a shot, and promptly knit it -- for me! It was a perfect shade of purple, and I wore it for years. I loved that vest. What's more, she could do it; she just had to prove to me that she could! I think we both learned something that day.

I learned that being stubborn is a great motivation, and we're both stubborn, my sister and I. I think my brother is too. But we get done what we really want to get done. My sister was mad at me the whole time she knit that vest, but she was proud of it when it was done!

Spiders


The Matter of the Stick

I just did a gauge swatch for my husband's sweater yesterday (Yes. A gauge swatch. Huh.) I noticed when I was knitting it, that the beautiful ebony needles that I had planned to use with it were really not working. I switched to metal needles, pretty metal needles from Signature Needle Arts, and it really took off. Something about this Bartlett wool just doesn't like wooden needles. My brain went "click" and I remembered that that was why I got my Signature Needle Arts needles in the first place, when I was struggling with my Penobcot Bay Pullover in Bartlettyarn. When I switched to metal needles, it was fine; it was fast, in fact. 

But I really like wooden and bamboo and glass needles, too. I think every time you start a project, especially one which requires a gauge swatch, you should have a selection of needles at hand. You need to know if the project will knit better on metal or wood or some other matter before you start your project. Your gauge can be very different on the different needles. You might be surprised! 

It's a strange thing, this pointed stick we use. One wood is not like another wood; different kinds of metal feel different in your hands, yarn glides differently on it. Points and tapers are not the same. End caps and needles that can glow in the dark  can make you really happy for no (knitting) reason at all. 

We knit partly because we are individuals. We choose patterns, colors, textures to suit our very personal taste. I think needles are a kind of variable too. So don't be afraid to get another set of needles in the same size you have -- even if they are expensive, because the tools we use should reflect the artists we are, right? What could be better to invest in than needles, which you'll use over and over! 

Needles
(Image from NeedleGauge)


iQuote

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

-- Steve Jobs

CatPainting
(image from www.sixthman.net)


Bitten and knittin'

What a beautiful weekend! Saturday, especially, was a great day. It was around 70 degrees and sunny and positively hot. I saw my first flower in the yard:

Firstflower2010

I killed my first bunch of mosquitoes and find today that my whole body is covered in mosquito bites: 

Biteone      Bite2
I lightened the bite on my hand, since I have so many other spots on my hands, heh heh. I know pictures of my mosquito bites are not that interesting usually, but considering it is MARCH and I am getting mosquito bitten, I am documenting it!  

The cats loved being outside, too... Grace spent some time playing and rolling around on her rock:

Graceplaying
...and then sleeping after all that exertion:

Gracesleepy
Nicky played under my feet and then did manage to get tricked into actually looking up at the camera (he is really good at avoiding looking at the camera):

Nickyboy
His sister, Nora, is much better at it; she is so good that she stayed completely out of sight, so I didn't get any pictures of her. She was out having fun elsewhere. I heard a few squirrels swearing loudly in the trees out back, so I guess they knew where she was :) 

On Friday I finished a pretty wool crewneck for a customer:

Crewneck
and a couple of basic cotton hats for another customer:

RollHats
I also knit the front and the back and the buttonbands on a windjammer sweater, but have no picture of it yet. Right now it is still just little crumpled pieces of knitting, but you can see what the finished product will resemble HERE  and read the description of it on this page if you want to get one made for you as well :) I am making it in a dark blue/green color called "Scotia"; it's very oceany.      
 

This weekend I worked on my Corduroy pullover, but I still have 10 more decreases and the cuff on the second sleeve. I could have finished the sweater over the weekend but a) I napped in my chair more than I should have and b) I spent a good amount of time cleaning winter accumulative crap out of my house and then spinning on my Quebec production wheel in all the resulting breathing room and c) I hung around outside playing with the cats a good bit on Saturday because of the freakishly summerlike weather. Oh well :) I will have the sweater done in a couple more nights of knitting. I will wear it to the upcoming Knitting Weekend! This coming weekend! So much fun! I am looking forward to it a lot. I still have 2 more spaces available, climb in a car and get here if you can!

If you're coming to the knitting weekend, I look forward to seeing you in a few days! And if you're not coming to the knitting weekend, happy knitting :)


St. Patrick's Day! Irish Spring!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I am wearing green, and what is even better, today is the first day this year that I am wearing a t-shirt instead of a turtleneck. It is so warm and sunny here! 

Yesterday I took down the snowman flag and put up a spring flag:

Springflag
When I was walking up to the Camden Deli to get coffee, I noticed a cool thing. You know how, in the spring, the leaves on trees all open on the same day? Well this morning, all the doors to all the shops and restaurants were propped wide open! It was like a summer day! Because today is fabulously warm and sunny and very springlike. So I opened early and propped my door open too, and played Let's-Pretend-It's-Summer right along with the rest of them:

Dooropen
I noticed that last year's paint job on the front of the store is already flaking off. I do believe that this building is paint repellent.  

It looks like spring is arriving early inside Unique One, too: 

Moo
The sweater stock is building up.

And yarn is busting out all over! Ya gotta love all the color in a  shop:

Yarn2      Yarn1


Yarn3      Yarn4

Yarn5      Yarn6
Yarn7      Yarn8
   

Nicky was soaking up the sunshine while I hung out my laundry this morning:

Nicky2

He is pretty laid back. Maybe he's Irish :) 

Now go knit an Aran sweater! 

   


Portland Flower Show!

Today my friend Lynne and I went to the Portland Flower Show. It was great to get a shot of spring by looking at all the pretty blooms and shrubs. I am not a gardener. However, especially this time of year, I love to see actual living flowers. Here are some pictures of what we saw at the show:

Daffodils      Daffodils2
Flowers      Orchids
Pinkflowers      Otherpinkflowers
Primroses      Tulips
                      Waterfall  

The best display in the show, in my opinion, was called "There and Back Again", a homage to Tolkein's hobbit world. This display had so much to see, but I only took a picture of the little hobbit house itself:

Thereandbackagain     Bilboshouse        

After the flower show, Lynne and I went to Whole Foods (what a great store!) and then we went to Jameson Tavern in Freeport for lunch. They had a drink special called an Elderflower Martini, and since I had never had one, I had to try it:

Elderflowermartini
It was, of course, fabulous. It has kind of a grapefruity taste to it and it is a pretty shade of pink, and it quite appropriately came with a decorative edible orchid perched on the edge. I loved this drink and bribed asked to get the recipe for it. It is made with Absolut Mandarain vodka, St. Germaine liquor and cranberry juice. If you're going to be at the knitting weekend coming up SOON, I will be making them there so you will be able to taste one for yourself! 

We sat in the corner and above us was a lighted sign that was quite reassuring:

Nostreetgirlsorsailors 

We were not street girls (however, after 2 elderflower martinis, I wasn't so sure) and although Lynne and her husband own and operate a fantastic windjammer in Camden, I was pretty sure we didn't qualify as sailors either, so we were safe. It was a very fun day :) 
 

 

      

   


Sorry....

.... I haven't gotten any of my Spa pictures up, including pictures of what I got there. I did take the pictures, but I'm having a little trouble finding the cord that connects the camera to the computer. Guess my next camera better have Bluetooth connectivity. 

I have gotten quite a bit of yarn in the store, stocking up on old favorites and adding new things. It keeps me busy. 

So I am just checking in today so people won't think I promised pictures and didn't come through. 


New Old Socks, and Cashmere

I am enjoying going on archaeological digs through my knitting/yarn stashes. I am always surprised at what I find, things that I started knitting years ago that got shoved back progressively farther and farther until they virtually disappeared. 

In a recent fit of "tubbing" (in which you take the giant piles and bags of yarn that have built up under a table or desk, and sort it into new plastic tubs that were on sale at Home Depot) I discovered, among other things, some socks I had started who knows how many years ago. Several years ago I went on a yarn shop investigation trip in New Hampshire with my mother in law and my sister in law, and in a sweet little combination yarn shop/bridal shop in some small New Hampshire town, I found in the sale bin some lovely 100% wool, sport weight variegated orange/fuchsia/green/brown yarn from Unger, called "Slalom". Unger yarn hadn't been sold for years....it was a collectible! And it was marked way down, so I bought all 4 balls that they had. Months later I started a pair of socks, and got halfway down the foot on the first sock, and then it started to get pushed back by some other projects, and finally it disappeared altogether. I am thinking I probably started those socks as early as 2004, or as late as 2006. So, they've been hibernating for at least two years. 

I pulled them out on Monday and finished the pair on Wednesday night... now I feel bad that they lay so long, neglected, when I could have finished them in only 3 or 4 days. Oh well :) I am wearing them now and they are among my favorite socks, they are so warm and so pretty:

Slalomsocksdone
I guess you can see why the yarn is called "Slalom", the colors go back and forth so nicely :) 

Yesterday I finally blocked my utterly luscious red cashmere scarf! Yayyy! I love this scarf. It was too long to block in one piece on the pressing table in the office at Unique One, so I blocked half at a time: 

Redcashmereblocking2

Here is the first half. It's kind of interesting to see the unblocked half too, as lace looks so different when it is unblocked:

Redcashmereblocking3

Here is a close up of one of the ends:

Redcashmereblocking

And here is the final scarf all blocked:

Redcashmeredone

I love this very beautiful scarf, and I am sure I will wear it happily for many years. Yes, it is for ME. :) I got the cashmere from Springtide Farm, at the 2009 NETA Spa Knit & Spin. I am really looking forward to the Spa this year, February 26 -28. It will be fun! Hopefully, if everything comes in as planned, I will have some great new yarns to bring to the show. 
  

Finally, I did spin a little yesterday on my BFL "Galaxy" fiber. I have been spinning it as a lace weight. Back when I was spinning a little every day, I was pretty good at it, and it was easy. However, I haven't been spinning for weeks, and I have gotten quite out of practice! That is a bad thing. I dropped the spindle about 4 times yesterday, and I haven't done that in a long time. So the lesson learned is, keep spinning and don't stop, because you will suck at it if you stop.  Keep in practice!


Up To No Good

Sigh. I haven't really been doing much lately, sorry, but that's one reason why I haven't posted about my knitting on my blog for a while.

 I finished the red cashmere scarf, but I haven't blocked it or taken a picture of it finished yet. Here is a picture of it the last time I snapped a shot:

Redcashmere

I knit the Narragansett Cap from A Fine Fleece in black Hempwol, but it was such a quick knit that I didn't even have time to get a picture. I am going to donate the hat to the Ships Project when I go to the SPA coming up February 26-28. 

I also finished a light blue garter stitch boucle scarf that I started either on a knitting weekend or on a knitting cruise a long time ago. I could barely even remember it when I discovered it half done in my stash around Christmas. I knit most of the rest of it on Christmas Day and finished it pretty quickly. 

I started spinning the last of my 2009 SPA purchases, the BFL fiber in the color "Galaxy". I am going to spin it on a spindle as a lace weight, a 2 play lace weight, which will be a challenge for me. Here it is on either my moosie or my mammoth tusk spindle (I forget right now which one it is):

BFLGalaxy

I haven't gotten very far, but it's a start. I have fallen off the 10-minutes-a-day spinning wagon, pretty badly, but I will try to get back on soon. 

I have a Learn to Knit Lace Class (it's a 2-part class) on March 6 and 20. I finished knitting the model scarf that we will be knitting in the class. Pictures of it while it was blocking:

LaceLeavesScarf         Laceleavescarf2
This is a very fun, very easy lace project, perfect for the lace beginner! The pattern also includes a somewhat larger, more time consuming lace scarf that one could knit after mastering the easy lace scarf that we will be doing in the class. The lace class is $65 for 2 days of classes, and each day includes lunch. The pattern is also included! I think it is going to be a lot of fun, so I people sign up. I am looking forward to this class quite a bit. 

In sock news, I have finished the last of my Fiber Frolic purchases... I got some fabulous cashmere blend blue/turquoise/purple fingering weight yarn at Fiber Frolic that I originally planned to knit as a lace scarf, and I started one, but the yarn was a little thicker than I liked for a lace scarf. Plus I had just finished a lace scarf in red cashmere, and besides, I don't wear scarves that much anymore anyway. So I just made the yarn into plain socks, and I will wear them all the time, because cashmere socks feel so yummy! This yarn from String Theory also has nylon in it, so I think they will wear well:

CaperLaceSocks

And here are the socks I am knitting now:

FrolickingFeet1

This is Frolicking Feet sock yarn from Done Roving Farm, and I think the color is called Cherry Pits. I am using 72 sts on size 1 needles, and it is good, relaxing knitting, and the color just absolutely rocks. 

I have a few other projects kind of going on too, but this post is already too long. 

Here is what Nick and Nora are doing this winter: 

NickyInSnow    SleepyNora

I wish I were a cat. :) 

Happy knitting! 
  

   


 

 


Christmas Decorations

I decorated my computer for Christmas today. Here is my desktop background:

XmasBackground

I use a MacBook Pro, and the colored lights around the edges of the screen are made by an application called MacLampsX, a freeware app that you can get here. It makes little bulbs, you can download or even make new bulbs yourself, you can make them blink in different orders, and it has a built-in music player and screensaver so you can have your own selections of Christmas music play when you want them to. Not bad for a freeware app! 

The cute snowmen around the tree background was another freebie I found online. You would not believe how much Christmas stuff there is for free online, for your computer background pictures, anyway. I found a couple of pages of Christmas backgrounds HERE and also HERE (the snowman picture is from the first one), but just do a quick Google for Christmas desktop backgrounds and you will find hundreds of pages of pictures to download. I have another one with Christmas ornaments & lights, and another with a cute little grey kitten in a Santa hat, and another one with funny sheep, all of which I will be rotating throughout the season. 

Have a happy decorating season!


Back to Work (and Day 2 & 3 of vacation)

Sorry, I forgot to post Day 2 of vacation. Pretty much, it was just spinning and knitting. Oh, and there was a fire drill in the hotel. They warned me about it, so I left for a walk and missed the whole thing.

My Hanne Falkenberg jacket is done except for 1/2 the collar band and the two narrow sleeve cuffs. I got some lovely yellow Peace Fleece at Halcyon not too long ago, and I knit a mitten from it. I spun the 4 ounces of 50/50 merino & tencel fiber I got from Spunky Eclectic at the SPA in February, it is a pretty blue-green/yellow/brown color called "Aspen". It's shiny! It's really pretty, and I think the skein will become a Christmas present. I also went to Grace Robinson and got some sport weight 100% silk from Colinette in the pretty blue color "Lapis", which I have now half done a "Sea-Wool Scarf" from Yarn Forward magazine, issue #11 I think. It's a small version of a Faroe-type shawl, meant to be worn as a scarf, with long tassels that hang down from the 3 points. Its pretty. It might become a Christmas present too. I love it but I don't think I would wear it. I also don't know what to do with my Martini scarf; I love it a lot, but I don't think I will wear it. 

Even though I had to work yesterday at the store, I am still counting it as Day 3 of my vacation, because last night I went to a fabulous concert in Rockland at the Strand Theater. I heard Coco Montoya and Tommy Castro play some excellent blues! It was a rockin' event, and I loved it. Before the show, I went to dinner at Rustica, about 50 steps from the Strand, and had veggie lasagne followed by........

Limoncello

...... limoncello for dessert. I was introduced to limoncello on one of the September knitting cruises this year by Mrs. Krueger (of the Alaskan Mrs. Kruegers), and it is yummy. It will knock you flat on your ass in about 10 miliseconds, so you have to be careful, you have to really really really sip it. And when I say, sip it, I mean SIP IT. Slowly. Take a small sip, savor it, swallow it. Do not sip again until the burning in your throat goes away!!! It took me 20 minutes to drink that little glass of limoncello, but I could still walk afterwards, so I count that as a win. And I knew I had about 4 more hours before I would be driving, so all was well, don't worry. 

Things are pretty slow at the store, but I am trying to be positive. As in, "I am positive I am not making any money!!!" Heh. Hopefully things will pick up. The yarn store part of Unique One is actually coming along pretty well, but the sweaters are woefully under-inventoried. Susan and Tracy and Stephanie and I are knitting as fast as we can, but it takes a while to make the sweaters in amounts that really show. I have to get through a backlog of sweater orders from this summer, but as soon as those are caught up, I will start making stock for the shelves and then you will see an improvement. I wish I had more inventory for Christmas, but whatchagonna do. All I can do is keep on as best I can. 

Happy knitting, and I promise not to write such long blog posts again for a while.


Vacation Day 1

I'm on vacation, in Freeport, Maine. I only get 3 days, so I better make the most of it! and so far I am doing great :) 

 I slept late this morning and had a lovely breakfast. I love that the Hampton Inn offers free breakfast. The lady that runs the breakfast room is named Donna, and she is a sweetheart. I asked her if there was a sidewalk all the way from the Hampton Inn down into Freeport, and she assured me that there was.... which settled my plans for the day. Funny, if I had had to get into the car to drive into town, I would have just stayed in my room all day, because I didn't want to deal with traffic or parking or whatever. But since I could walk, I did. 

First I had to go file my taxes online (one great thing about the internet, you can do stuff like that from anywhere!) and then I was ready to go. 

It is actually a little bit of a hike from the Hampton Inn to Lala Bean, but what a great day for a walk!!! It was so sunny, and really windy, and I loved every step of the way. I was wearing a black windbreaker, and the sun was so hot, it felt like a heating pad on my back. It was a little too hot, really, but what a great feeling for the third week into November :) 

I got into town and went into Beans, mostly because I wanted to look at the two moose they have there, with the locked antlers, that were found in New Sweden, a town not too far from my home town of Portage Lake. It was pretty cool to see those two moose. I shopped around both floors in Beans, and considered buying a Bean tote bag, since I am currently carrying half my knitting in a grocery bag (which is SO ridiculous; my husband rolls his eyes at how many bags and baskets I have at home). But I didn't buy anything. 

I went into the British Good store, because I always love to go in there. Today they had a fabulous yellow male store cat playing around, and he only had 3 legs. It reminded me of a cat I used to have named Missy, who only had 3 legs. There were lots of great things at the British goods store, and I thought of you Shelagh! but I didn't buy anything. I was sorely tempted to get the giant bag of Smarties candy, but I refrained, because I knew that the Lindt store was on my way back to the hotel. 

It was fun shopping around, browsing all my favorite stores, and I zoomed through the new mall area, but again did not buy anything. I am a bad consumer. I went to Petrillo's for a light lunch of carrot ginger soup and a small salad, which was soooo good. There was a lot of ginger in the soup and it had a great zing to it! It was just perfect. I definitely recommend Petrillo's, which is a little out of the way, on Depot Street, behind the new mall. It is small, but very friendly, and the Italian menu was great. I got a salad with soup and coffee for twelve bucks, it was very yummy indeed. 

The Lindt store got me on the way back, and that's were I dropped my $32. I got some peanut butter truffles for Joe and something for a Christmas gift, and some assorted flavors of truffles for me. I got my spinning wheel out of the car when I got back to the hotel and I have a vision in my mind of spinning and drinking diet coke and eating truffles for the rest of the day. Oh, and maybe watching a movie. 

So, I feel all windblown and possibly sunburned and full of yummy, good-for-me food, and the prospect of spinning and knitting and eating chocolate for the rest of the next 36 hours (except for when I sleep), and I'm thinking this is a pretty good vacation. 


A Special Unique One visitor

A while ago, sometime in July I think, we had a special friend come visit Unique One. Some customers came in with Jack, a Maluccan or Seram Cockatoo. Despite her name, Jack is a girl, and a very pretty one, indeed! She is the most fabulous shade of a light peachy pink. It was such a joy to see her! She was very happy and very friendly, and let people pet her and tell her what a good girl she is. She loved the attention!

Here she is perched on the arm of one of my friend's daughters, who happened to be in the store at the time: 

Bird2

Jack is 7 years old, and she can whistle, say hello, make a kissing sound, and chuckle, all of which she demonstrated for us because she was having so much fun in Unique One! Jack is obviously a very smart bird, because she shops in the best place in town :) 

This is one of the best things about owning a store, you never know who is going to come in the door. I have met some of the most interesting people and animals! It's just great :) 


Another Year, Another Dinner

Woohooo!


Another year, another dinner. I took the Unique One folks out to dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant tonight. They worked long and hard over this summer and they certainly deserved a good meal :)

That's it for today, I am stuffed. I sewed the shoulder seams together on my Penobscot Bay Pullover this afternoon. The body is done! Now I just have to pick up stitches for the sleeves and knit them down from the top, and knit a little collar on, and weave in ends and sew some side seams. And crochet a string to lace the front up with. And then it will be done! Hopefully by my Halloween deadline.

Today I only have a few minutes to knit, but I will knit on my Ships Project hat, even for the short time I will be knitting, since it is Tuesday. And that, my lovelies, is all the time I have had today to knit (I don't count sewing up the shoulder seams on the Pen Bay Pullover because that was technically sewing, not knitting.) So, not much time to knit today, but maybe next week will be better.