Don’t worry be ready
Saturday August 17th 2019, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Knit

Does anybody else do this?

I’m not one to cast on lots of projects at once. Yarn may be the boss of me but I don’t like it to nag; a hat in the purse and a kids-only-try-this-at-home project is all I want going.

And yet, when something the scope of that afghan is almost done, I scatter those last few days into winding and scouring coned yarn, admiring stuff in my stash for why I bought it in the first place, making no commitments but getting the most likely contenders that needed that bit of prep work in view and drying for the final winding, dreaming away at what they could be as I go and grateful for mill-end stores that help me afford my habit.

Pre-shrunk deep teal baby alpaca/wool and plum purple cashmere are drying as I type.

Thank you everybody for the wonderful words on my Anchorage afghan.

Climb every mountain
Friday August 16th 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

Went to Fillory to hang out and knit among friends for awhile and it suddenly hit me that wait–this thing is actually somehow almost done!

It’s taller than wide already. It’s certainly stretchy, but in its relaxed state it’s about 41″ wide, whereas I usually consider 45″ square to be the minimum for a receiving blanket.

I didn’t know when I started it small that I would be able to find more of not only that discontinued yarn but that dye lot–and I had no idea those little 50 gram balls would go as far as they have. But then, this is a much smaller blanket than the monster 1700g Rios one was. It’s for the baby to drag around behind her once she’s walking and to take everywhere she goes, and you don’t want big nor bulky for that.

It is 70/30 baby alpaca/mulberry silk. Super soft, not super practical, and yet it leaped onto my needles that first day and demanded to be for that granddaughter.

One friend held it today and swooned at the softness and totally made it feel like I’d gotten it just right–she had no way to know how much she was helping.

I debated out loud about adding an edging; the consensus was, it’s fine as is, especially for a drag-around lovie.

I’m still torn. Maybe add just at the sides rather than all the way around? Because small as it already is, it’s going to go through the hand wash cycle in their laundry.

Where the baby alpaca will want to shrink the fabric. Whereas the soft single-ply spinning means the 30% mulberry silk will make the yarn want to stretch out, most likely lengthwise. Plus there’s the lace parts, which will flatten out wider and who knows how that’ll come out.

The middle part is knitted mostly solid to give a sense of the immense height of the snowy Alaskan mountains above–but also for there to be no yarnover holes right where it’s most wrapped around that baby in that climate.

Really the only answer is to give it a quick rinse and blocking when the main part is done and see what size it is then and call it from there.

But I’m finally at the point where that is something I get to worry about now and it actually surprised me.

Somehow I am only at the start of the tenth ball and there were twenty-one. If disaster strikes and she needs a new lovie like the old lovie (good luck with that–this was seat-of-the-pants designing all the way) I’ll be able to make one. If I don’t add that edging.

Remind me if that does happen, that on that chart I (mostly) used for the moose, I added a stitch’s width to its muzzle because it looked too deer-like.

I’m pretty happy with this.

Thursday August 15th 2019, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

This. Is the bike of a lucky man. Friend of my husband’s.

Who somehow had the skill and sheer great fortune that when a car pulled directly in his path on the freeway and then braked, at a time when the motorcycle was doing 80, the rider managed to lay it down well enough so as to be able to walk away. The steel toes in his boots were worn completely off. He’s limping but apparently, nothing broken.

That gorgeous shade of red and black is parked for good where they towed it, because I don’t think it’s going anywhere again.

The crazy-artist side of me wants to ask, if you made that a colorway, if you tried to put a name to both the experience and those colors and encompassed it in stitches to try to make sense of it all–not that wool would stand up where steel did not–what would you call it?

On a 99F day
Wednesday August 14th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Knit

I at long last got to the overpass (mannn…) and with hardly anybody moving had time to look down and see what turned out to be an upside-down sewage truck on both sides of the freeway, looking impaled by the divider.

I was sure that one was fatal.

Found out later, nobody was hurt. Not even the guy it hit while trying to avoid the one at fault. Yay safety regulations and sheer great luck.

I made it to Cottage Yarns and showed off the Rios afghan and bought my first Dos Tierras skeins in the most gorgeous Solis bluegreens.

I took the other freeway home. Clearly, quite a few other people had diverted, too. But hey, I got to see Katherine for the first time since May, and that was my biggest reason for going: keeping tabs on how my friends are doing. I’m glad I went.

Figs are supposed to be sweetest in the morning. Yeah yeah yeah whatever, I wanted a homegrown fig and I wanted that bit of affirmation of good things created and nurtured and forget the sewer truck effects and I wanted my fig now and I went out and picked a couple and shared with my sweetheart who enjoys them but doesn’t adore them quite like I do.

Well who knew. Figs like super-hot days. They’re their native territory. Could not have asked for better.

I have a bit of very pretty new yarn calling to me.

I need to finish that cream afghan.

Edited to add, I forgot to write what I sat down to say in the first place: I got a surprise in the mail. From Afton. Who’d just been to Peru. It was fingerpuppets she’d bought there. The most perfect souvenir–thank you, Afton!

The best comes after the longest wait
Tuesday August 13th 2019, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Looking around as things ripen and beckon, I got it half-right last summer: I did need two layers of bird netting for the figs. One to go over the small tree, yes, but the closer-meshed one heaped at the base to keep smaller critters from being able to squeeze in and climb up from below.

The over-netting is held down by old oven racks, a heavy doormat, and reinforced by some flower pots in front of that mass of mesh.

Those flower pots got shoved aside last night. Skunk? Raccoon?

Every fig was still there. I had another perfect one this morning. Soon I’ll have enough at once that I’ll need to stuff them or wrap them and roast them and make a supper out of them and still we’ll have some to share. At last.

To quote Andy Mariani: August is the Sunday of summer.

The first ripe Black Jack of the season
Monday August 12th 2019, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Fresh figs: Nature’s fruit geodes.

I finally asked
Sunday August 11th 2019, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

Item 1. They replaced the carpeting at church last week. People were complaining about the smell. It was intense. (I did a mental grin upwards at the late Ski, who’d ordered the previous one ~25 years ago, thinking, at last they’d corrected his color choice. He was so proud of that mismatching green. Shhh.)

I spent much of the time holding very still with not one oxygen molecule to spare. Yow.

This week I was hoping the place would be aired out far better by now–but the answer was, um, some.

I got the doors propped open with a flower pot on one side and a chair on the other before the meeting, but during it found myself having to put my head between my knees. Hey I did better than this last week, what’s up with this. I made a break for it and went for that chair. Yes it was near noon on a summer day and in the sun, but you worry about paying for it re the lupus tomorrow after you make it through today–can’t get to the one without the other.

Jenni saw me and immediately followed me out and stayed by me and asked if I was okay. I searched through my purse I should have used last week but before that hadn’t had to use in years, even if I’ve periodically replaced it at expiration.

I found my inhaler. It helped. Not as much as I wanted, but it helped.

Item 2. I had to go back in to the one of the less aired-out parts to retrieve the Trader Joe’s chocolate goodies from the mother’s nursing lounge at the end.

A young mom was in there: Oh, are you the one that brings those? Thank you so much!

Me: Yes, it is the most fun job–and I take requests.

Her: You always bring my favorites!

I left with a big grin on my face.

Item 3. The upshot: the realization that there was no excuse not to ask. I needed to send out a message to both wards that use that building to make sure there are no serious peanut allergies in either one before I bring TJ’s chocolate peanut butter cups in there. Whether I ever know about it or not, I do not want to leave some poor kid fighting to breathe.

I’ve only brought them a few times but I never should have without making sure first. Checking with the leaders like I did was not enough.

So now I’ve asked.

And it’s the week the Kit Donnells are in. Woot!
Saturday August 10th 2019, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knit

Hey, Mom, wanna go to Andy’s Orchard with my friend and me?


I sat in the back as they caught up in the front seat (her dear friend just moved here a week ago) and just about finished the back of the baby sweater a mile from home.

Kit Donnells are some of the best peaches out there–and one of Andy’s creations.

On a total non sequitur, I was mentioning to Holly a few minutes ago about a message Richard got in the early days of DARPAnet, the precursor to the internet.

So I had to go find it: the fractured fairy tale Ladle Rat Rotten Hut. Enjoy.

Friday August 09th 2019, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Knit

Today was a day spent knowing I’ll feel better tomorrow–I’m already starting to–and that it was worth it.

A shot in the arm
Thursday August 08th 2019, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Went to pick up a prescription and there was a banner above the pharmacy window: Vaccinations.

So I asked, not quite daring to actually hope: did this mean they finally had Shingrix in stock?

They did! As of today they had the latest flu shot, too!

This early?!


Note that we have a baby in the family scheduled to be delivered weeks short of full term.

I did ask if I would need a booster later if I got the flu one now and was assured by the pharmacist that no, it would be effective for the whole year.

So I filled out the paperwork, waited while they did the insurance company thing, and knitted, glad for the small project in the purse given that I had expected none of this.

Just before the pharmacist gave me a shot in each shoulder she happened to mention that that was their last dose of Shingrix.

I had been trying to get one for over a year. I’ve heard so many friends tell horror stories of what their shingles was like: intense, unrelenting pain for six months, one whose husband went blind in one eye, another who was hit with it twice.

After all that time spent fervently hoping I not get it while waiting for the vaccine to finally be available, and then the extra of being able to go through airport crowds and not have to worry about bringing the grandchildren the flu, to which I am highly susceptible–I tell you, I walked out of there so very very happy that after I got home I even told every single spammer on the phone, warmly, to have a nice day, even though the ringing has been relentless of late. The ones that were actual human beings I decided needed a little humanity shown them, because how often do they get that.

Now we just have to find one of those doses for my husband. I don’t know if all the CVSs received stock or just the local one. Sorry I hogged it, dear.

Anchorage on the needles
Wednesday August 07th 2019, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Knit

The antlers aren’t quite *that* big–the fabric needs smoothing out.

Added two rows’ uplift on the wings vs the swatch (cue the “uh, I meant to do that”) and decided to keep it.

Am debating adding an edging afterwards to make sure the thing can shrink all it wants and still be useful. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that if I do but it’ll be the first time (remembering a certain unforgettable ruffly edge that with all its extra stitches took forever to do–but the kid liked it) that I’ll have done it like I want it to come out.

One hopes.

Pick up three of every five up the sides this time. Right?

Mass-delivery cherries
Tuesday August 06th 2019, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Our cherry season is over, so these weren’t local but when I saw them at Costco I fell for them.

Funny how you can tell yourself in the grocery store that it doesn’t really take that much time to make a fresh cherry pie when you really want one.

It does.

I overfilled the 10″ pan, wanting to use all three pounds and be done with them because (after tasting one) this was the best they could ever aspire to be. I pinched those edges shut, but the pie wasn’t having it. Five minutes before the buzzer went off (I’d set it at maximum time because of the size of the thing) the kitchen was suddenly smoking up big time, and I mean billowing.

I yanked the oven door open, fully expecting flames (nope, just a gray cloud and an escaped cherry and juices sizzling on the floor of it), turned on the fan, and opened windows skylight doors and got a nice quick chat with my neighbors out of the deal.

Richard came home from his errand a few minutes later and walked in going, Did you know something burned? You can smell it down the street.

Naaah. Never would have guessed!

It doesn’t taste smoked. It’s not an Andy’s cherries pie, but it is still definitely cherry pie. Yum.

The Eagle has landed
Monday August 05th 2019, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I wasn’t about to take a white afghan project to the garage while they worked on the car, so the languishing washable-wool purple baby dress got picked up again and the second side has gone from a few indecipherable rows to wow, that’s looking great.

The new mechanic was delighted at hearing it was for a whole new person about to come into the world and it just made his day. Which totally made mine.

With that sense of accomplishment in hand, after I got home I tackled what I’d been avoiding: I dislike doing exploratory knitting that is not usable for anything afterwards except as ripped-out yarn. I know that sometimes for all the sketching I might try I just have to do it but I fight the impatient sense of wasted knitting every stitch of the way.

I did six iterations of what my soaring eagle should/could look like. I didn’t want the classic simple gull-wing V, I had enough detail in the trees and moose that the eagle deserved the same. Not to mention eagles are big. Scale, we needed scale here.

I went from, that’s what I’d thought I was going to do but I really don’t like that, to, rip, I don’t even want to see it, to, okay, keep that to compare against while I try… To, at long last, as my strip added ever more inches, Oh! Of course! That’s what it needed!

I would not have thought of the final version if I hadn’t seen all the in-betweens.

Which I’ll rip out. Tomorrow. I don’t enjoy that part and I don’t have to yet.

Oranges and spinach
Sunday August 04th 2019, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Food

I knew about huanglongbing, ie, greening disease, first found in China about a hundred years ago and how it has been threatening to kill every citrus tree in the world–I have looked for signs of it in my lemons and mandarins. Supposedly, northern California is the last corner of the American citrus world that doesn’t have it.

What I did not know was how far anyone had gotten in fighting it nor by what means they were trying.

First, the horrifying article from May saying that the EPA had approved spraying 650,000 pounds of human antibiotics on commercial groves this year even though they don’t yet know if that will even work. You didn’t need your streptomycin to be effective on your infections or post-op, did you?

I wanted to know more.

I found a six-year-old article, also at the New York Times, that was far more hopeful.

A spinach gene. A grower who was as enraged at Monsanto’s business practices as the rest of us helped fund the research that discovered that a gene in spinach might make it so that orange juice still exists 20 years from now. 90% of the orange trees in Florida were already dead at the time.

His group even found a way to get that gene into living trees so that they could test it for safety sooner. The story needs an update whether their efforts got swept away in the anti-GMO fad and whether it worked as well as initial tests suggested. He understands that fad–but hoped he could make his case to the American public that he had chosen spinach and not pig genes for the same reasons they would have: to stick to a widely-used well-known plant source so as to cause the least potential disruption in the food chain. The gene had nothing to do with flavor or color.

Meantime, Trump’s administration is grossly contributing to antibiotic resistance.

Thanks, I’d rather say pass me the spinached.

Go for the Golds
Saturday August 03rd 2019, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The transition away from safflower is complete now, and what a difference it has made.

I’m used to seeing mostly house finches, and house finches squabble and fight each other off and vie for the top spot on the feeder–even when there’s nothing up there for them but self-regard as the winner.

I’d never seen this before: two goldfinches sharing a portal. For several minutes, not just as a one-off, long enough for me to fumble with the phone to try to get it on camera. A third one flew in; that was fine with them.

They were a team. They mostly worked in tandem, going for sunflower together, straightening up to eat, going for another. Occasionally one would dive in while the other waited but mostly it was the two of them together.

Who knew birds in the finch family could cooperate like that?

It gave me a sudden irrational sense of hope for the world, our political differences and all.