Friday February 29th 2008, 11:16 am
Filed under: Knit
Tina at Blue Moon Fiber Arts wrote back in delight: you’re a Camel fan too?!
Yup. Pink Floyd meets a Jethro Tull-ish flute. Their “Never Let Go” song with its words, “Man was born with a will to survive…never let go!” was my inner theme song I kept turning to and playing in my head five years ago while I was in critical condition. It was both motivation and comfort.
I had asked Tina why she’d named this colorway Lunasea, and mentioned that it was the name of a Camel song and that that was why I was interested in it. Yes, she told me, that was it. She had asked her customers to help name her new colorway, someone had volunteered that, and because she was an old fan of the band, Lunasea had totally won out.
Nine days before that hospital stay started, I was in my doctor’s office in bad shape after a month’s worth of refractory Crohn’s, saying I had concert tickets for that night in Santa Cruz, an hour away, and I really, really wanted to go. But I would skip it if he told me to.
Go if you want to go, he assured me. Have a good time.
My friend Michelle, whom I later designed the Monterey shawl for partly as a thank you for taking me, was an old Camel fan too; her mother was a Crohn’s patient, so she was perfectly understanding of my not being sure till about 6 pm whether I was going to make it. But at the last moment, I called her and told her, oh, c’mon, let’s just go!
Andy Latimer’s group had a song with lyrics that pertained to spinning and weaving, and I at one point months earlier had had a short email conversation with them on the subject. There was also an album I ordered where they had accidentally duplicated an earlier order instead, and I wondered how on earth to return it when the simple errand of running to buy another shipping envelope or new tape to reseal the original package was, just then, a huge deal to me, since I was ill. In the end, I simply re-ordered the one I wanted and told them, I grew up in an artistic household, I’m a little protective of artists, I’ll just give the extra copy to Michelle and everybody’s happy. Don’t sweat it.
That evening, watching them from right near the front, they hadn’t toured in some time, and Andy looked a little out of breath a few times as he played. I thought, it must be tough to keep on rocking on stage as you age. But they clearly had a good time, they played numerous encores to a packed, cheering crowd at The Catalyst, and a fine evening was had by all.
Since this was the kick-off concert to their tour, their plan was to mingle with the crowd afterwards to celebrate.
And so Michelle and I got to introduce ourselves to Andy. And–he knew who I was! When I told him my name, he exclaimed, “OH!”
And then, with a tenderness in his voice that surprised me, he asked me gently, “How’s your health?”
Such a different effect from the proud man I’d just seen playing his heart out on that stage. I… The last thing on earth I wanted to do just then was whine about Crohn’s, or anything else for that matter, not after getting to actually go and actually hear them play and triumphing over all that. I kind of turned away a moment–and then spoke to the truth: I looked up at him straight in the eyes, and gently, gratefully laughed, “I’m here.”
That hit him hard, somehow, and he turned half away himself for a moment. Then he, too, turned back to me, and said quietly, looking back in my eyes, a heartfelt “Yes.”
In that moment we were both entirely there for each other. Whatever may come to you. I care how you do. Be well as you go forth from now.
I had no idea…
There was an email in my inbox last fall: Andy had had, for years, a mild case of a disease that impaired his blood’s ability to take up oxygen. (OH!) It had suddenly taken a rapid turn for the worse and he was about to have a bone marrow transplant.
Monday, there was a follow-up email: he’d been doing well, but at 90 days post-transplant he had just had a serious setback and was back in the hospital. Light a candle for Andy, was his wife Susan’s hope. Send whatever hope or vibes or thoughts you might want to for Andy’s sake. The doctors were reassuring, but it was so hard to be back in the hospital…
Oh honey, don’t I know it.
And so the Lunasea Silkie yarn that Tina sent me to knit up for Andy got knitted the last few days; Stitches is over, their crisis is now, it was time to get that knitting DONE.
I usually wait till the recipient has gotten their surprise before I say anything. This time I’m not waiting. I know how much prayers, candles, Thinking Good Thoughts, for me it’s prayer, but whatever people feel comfortable with–I know how much of a difference it made to me back in the day. And so I pass Susan Hoover’s request along. For the man who was willing to meet me, a stranger, where I was when I was the one who was sick.
Andy? If you read this? Man was born with a will to survive. Be well, friend.
Go oxalis where the best roses are
Thursday February 28th 2008, 12:36 pm
Filed under: Knit
I finished the scarf! I decided to block it, knowing that in the damp climate it’s going to, that won’t last long, but that’s okay. The edges won’t curl quite like stockinette, but they’ll have some energy to them rather than the sedentary version I’ve created here. It’ll fit into the envelope better if it’s flat.
A few years ago, I looked at my inability to be out in the sunlight and gave up and hired someone to do some work in my yard. When I looked out the window, he had started ripping out my oxalis. I ran.
“But they are WEEDS!” he spluttered, glancing down the street at the neighbors’ houses, afraid, I’m sure, that they would see that he had not done his job if he left them there. What if they recognized his truck?
“Not to me they’re not,” I told him. “They sell these where I grew up.”
He had a really hard time with that, but it was my house and my call and he reluctantly let it go. That oxalis patch–it’s never tried to spread, it has stayed in its own proper space for the 21 years we’ve lived here–was in full bloom and was part of what charmed me into wanting to buy this house. It stays.
There’s a fellow who runs Lanai, a tiny hole-in-the-wall flower shop on the main commercial drag, surrounded by a small but delightful oasis of trees and freely blooming oxalis amongst the concrete of El Camino. Someone else likes my cheerful yellow free-bloomers, I guess. There’s space for a display case, a counter, a chair for the guy, and a fridge in back. The owner is passionate about what he does, and he’ll tell you his roses cost more, but they’re local and they last far longer than the imported ones do.
These are from my Valentine’s flowers. Thank you, Richard–I love it when people support the little guy who’s trying to make a difference.
Sheila and Michael Ernst
Wednesday February 27th 2008, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Friends
A few more Stitches on my needles:
Sheila Ernst (modeling her Blue Jay shawl, knitted from one strand laceweight in Lisa Souza’s Shade Garden colorway in baby alpaca and one strand light blue Baruffa merino laceweight), and her husband Michael, two of the kindest, gentlest folks you could ever hope to meet. I surprised Sheila with the shawl, and she surprised me with a shawl pin. I already had the larger one, but she thought I needed a smaller one to go with some of my finer-weight shawls. Handblown glass–they do beautiful work.
The yarn is Camelspin that I bought from Beehive Wools, the booth that was next to where my hamster ball was. Beehive had a huge selection of Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarns–it was dangerous to get too close to them.
The ball’d truth
Wednesday February 27th 2008, 12:12 pm
Filed under: Knit
Truth be told, one of the reasons I wanted that hamster ball was because last time I was in the hospital, I was well enough to knit and to get annoyed at the ball of yarn continually leaping off the bed and running around the room as if a cat were chasing it. I tried not to trip up any doctors or nurses with it, and I was not thrilled at what it might dust off the floor for me. That ball and holder are exactly perfect.
Speaking of hospitals, this is going to someone who’s stuck in one now. I couldn’t decide whether it was going to him or his wife, so I’ll let them decide. The pattern will flatten out considerably when I rinse it down, but this is my Embossed Diamonds pattern that frames this blog. Now that Stitches is over, Tina, I’m finally getting your LunaSea yarn done.
Wonder what a cat would do with it…
Someone at Stitches, Jill Stephens, invented something that I had been wishing for years that someone would. I saw someone carrying one around, went looking for the booth, and instantly bought one. How could I not. I am someone who likes her yarn in nice round balls the way yarn balls were meant to be. I’ll knit from the flattened cakes that ballwinders create, but…they’re lacking something yarnly about them somehow, although, truth be told, they are easier to knit from. Cakes unwind as you go without having to do that extra yank or having to nudge it so that the current position of the yarn coming off doesn’t have the weight of the entire ball on top of it. (And I wind one pound scoured hanks from cones into single balls, so you know that that can be an issue. Do it with too much oomph, and suddenly that planet of wool is throwing itself across the room.)
The vendor laughed at my instant take on her gadget: it’s a hamster ball! And you can let it roll around on the floor for the cat to chase–don’t have a cat, myself–or you can put it in the handbaggy-type holder it comes with to hold it still so it can’t run away from you.
Nifty, nifty idea for those of us who love nice round balls the way they were meant to be. Her idea seemed to be more about doing fair isle without tangling, but yeah, whatever. You use yours your way and I’ll use mine mine.
This is Cris in her Julia shawl in Jade Sapphire cashmere that she wore at the banquet Saturday night.
Meantime, a few weeks ago, when I couldn’t get the computer to accept my camera card for http://spindyeknit.com/2008/02/berry-time-for-bigfoot/, it was a warning sign that the computer itself was about to blow. Which it did. (This is the WIP I was trying to show.) I quietly posted from a different one for a little while till the hubby fixed it, and laughed that, oh, well, maybe I was supposed to leave this shawl more of a surprise than that.
Which it was.
Lyn used to manage Creative Hands, a yarn shop in Belmont. She moved to North Carolina after living here for forever and was sorely missed by her friends when she left. She came back this month to see a new grandchild and to hang around for Stitches, and you know the amount of time spent with an old friend is never enough.
Meantime, I had this Lisa Souza alpaca/silk yarn that was lovely but that was a bit towards the gray side for me. And yet it leaped with glee onto my needles two weeks ago and announced which pattern it wanted to be when it grew up, and it felt so joyful to finally be letting it become itself that the knitting worked up very quickly. I had a great sense of anticipation as I played with it, wondering… Who?…
Lyn set up a–well, a play date is the best description I can think of–at Creative Hands for people who wanted more time to visit with her. Two, actually, and I got to go to the first, but for the second, I just couldn’t make it. There was an eye doctor who teaches at Stanford who had volunteered to speak that day to the lupus group I attend, and it was imperative to me that I be there. Crum.
But that disappointment helped clarify what I needed to know, and then it just felt so obvious: that Berry Poppins colorway, how the pink and the purple melted into those soft fibers, those were exactly perfect for Lyn; I’d seen those colors on her many times. She loved handpaint yarns. And I knew.
Nancy Weber, who used to work with Lyn at the shop, was in on it with me. I was trying to figure out the best way to get it to Lyn but I kept missing her at Stitches. After we took our seats at the banquet, my last chance before she flew home, Nancy said, “Here.” (Since I just wasn’t very mobile.) And she took it over to Lyn’s table as if she were at a bar, telling her, “The woman at that table over there wanted to offer you this.”
Lyn, stunned, opened it, stood up in slow motion, came over and threw her arms around me, wiping tears and saying it would be a comfort to her when she went back to North Carolina.
Which is exactly what I’d wanted. For it to be a comfort and a reminder of her friends’ caring.
Who were all about to pull off something major themselves for my own sake, and I just truly had no idea either till it happened.
And a VERY good time was had by all
Â (Edited to add later: actually, he said “Wrapped in Comfort by Alison Hyde” over and over, but it sounded too full-of-myself to write my own name over and over when I posted this.)
So many stories. SO much to say. My goodness.
Someone came up behind me yesterday at the show, brushing a hand lightly on my shoulder to get my attention as she stepped in front of me and beamed, “I love that book! I see you got the yarn to make the same shawl as the one in the book!”
Oh my goodness. Um, yes. I burst out laughing, and then thoroughly enjoyed myself as she exclaimed “Ohmygosh you’re the AUTHOR?!”
But the best part of all was at the end. They had been going to surprise me. But then they realized they’d better make sure I was going–and actually, I had had no intention till that point, I knew that three days of Stitches was absolutely going to do me in (it always does, but my goodness, what a way to go), and then the evening banquet on top of that? No way.
But I had to attend when they ratted themselves out and let me know what they were planning.
The dinner was followed by Rick Mondragon of XRX, the sponsor of Stitches, and someone whose name I just couldn’t hear MC’ing an event that included having knitters parade down a catwalk with their creations.
My scooter is not compatible with holding a cane, so I hadn’t brought one. I know, my husband’s been telling me I need a collapsible one that fits in my purse, he’s right. Anyway, the scooter was dying the death again by evening, and I managed to get it into the banquet hall and plug it in, found myself a spot and sat down and was joined shortly by my friends.
When it came time for the runway, they were calling people up alphabetically. Jocelyn sent a note up to the stage. A moment of off-mike hemming ensued. Okay.
So then, at pretty much the end–I don’t think anyone paraded after them, I think we became the grand finale, but then, I was pretty distracted by then so if I’m being egocentric by saying that, I apologize–ten friends from my knitting group went up together. They did the police lineup thing together on the stage.
Another friend gave me an arm and helped me over to a temporarily-empty seat near the end of the runway so that I could see better. My left side kept trying to collapse, and I was unsteady, to say the least. My friends weren’t going to let that stop them. They had already agreed I was to be moved over there, and move me they did.
And then Rick had the ones on stage parade down, one by one, as he called out, “This is Fae. She’s wearing the Julia shawl in Lisa Souza’s merino in the What-A-Melon colorway from ‘Wrapped in Comfort.’ …This is Cris. She’s wearing the Julia shawl in Jade Sapphire Cashmere in black from ‘Wrapped in Comfort.’ …This is Jocelyn. She’s wearing the “Peace of Mind” shawl in Sea Silk from ‘Wrapped in Comfort.’ …This is Vera. She’s wearing the Bigfoot shawl in (mumble, sorry) from ‘Wrapped in Comfort.’
And on and on. Lyn raised her arms high as she twirled at the end of the catwalk, showing the full scale of the circle and the effect of the pattern. The crowd cheered.
When they were done, Rick had me stand and be acknowledged. I was fighting tears. Wow. Someone I did not even know was kind enough to tell me afterwards she had been, too.
And then the one friend close by stood, took me by the arm, and helped me stagger back to my own chair.
And then those women in their shawls came off the stage, went straight to the back of the room, grabbed me, and took photos with multiple cameras of all of us together. (Although the one in the zinnia scarf escaped.) I was throwing my arms around them, and there were more tears. How can you thank your friends enough when they… What I wouldn’t have done to have had Richard see all this… Rick was so wonderful in letting us put on a display from a book his company hadn’t been the ones to publish…
At the end, I got my scooter back and got someone to flag Rick down for me as people were leaving. I thanked him profusely for what he’d let happen. There was a genuineness and a warmth in him as he responded.
And I said gratefully to Nancy as she drove me home, and Lisa, who’d manned my camera for me, that that was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
And to think I’d almost missed it.
The little red engine that could. Mostly.
Friday February 22nd 2008, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Life
I asked my hubby if the chair would still hold a charge overnight while parked outside in the car in the cold. Okay, relative cold, low 40′s, it’s California, I know, people here don’t know from cold.
Answer was, he wasn’t sure.
In the parking lot this morning in Santa Clara, I thought, oh no. Every time I started up the scooter, the battery indicator flashed on red and stayed there–and yet, every time I stopped, it was full on the green. But I was too tired still from yesterday to do anything but just get on anyway and wish at it, Go chair go, and go, thank goodness, somehow, it did.
I again had the time of my life visiting friends old and new, with an extra bonus: Robert showed up! I introduced him to a few friends between signing books at Pam’s Pacific Meadows booth; I told Pam this story (skip down a few paragraphs to go past the knitting pattern details in the way.) He showed me pictures of the medicine blankets the kids in his class are weaving for others; he’s teaching the next generation to give of their creativity and to think about the needs of others with their work.
So many so kind people, and I got to where I found myself spelling joy backwards–and I am not dyslexic. What was my maiden name again? Oh, yeah.Â I was exhausted.
I went to go get the charger for my chair, and–picture the thing stranded in the desert. Only, instead of gasping, Water! Water! it, like a little kid, gasped for Juice! Juice! The thing died. In front of a long line of people. One guy called out to me, as I sat there thinking NOW what do I do with a hundred pounds of dead metal!, “There’s a wall socket here!”
Oh good. I hadn’t seen it between everybody’s legs. Thank you! I plugged it in, plunked myself on the floor, waited a few minutes, and roared off with the crowd in the line cheering. Okay, I’ve had lots of wheelchairs-at-Stitches stories, but I have never had a chair have a clapping, rah-rah-go get’em cheering section before. Too funny. Thanks, y’all.
I will be signing again at Lisa Souza’s booth at 11 am.
Don’t forget Kevin at Wagtail
Which is exactly what I did as I wrote last night; it was late and I was cheerfully exhausted. I had such a good time at Stitches!
Kevin at Wagtail Farms in Australia and I emailed back and forth a bit in the last week or two; I had that Julia shawl I’d done from a single skein of his kid mohair. Would he like me to bring it so he could display what one could accomplish with his yarn? Sure!
What he wasn’t expecting was the questions he got from me last night: did he have anyone back home who would love that deep teal color? (He was clearly wondering, where are you going with this?!…)
It took a few minutes for it to really sink in. But when it did, I got to see the love in his face for his sister and for his mother as he debated out loud which of them to give it to; his mother seems to have won out (I hope I’m not causing trouble by saying that!) I can understand that; honor thy mother is half of one of God’s top ten. He tried one more time–don’t you want to come by Sunday and pick it up? Nope. He talked about offering yarn in exchange, and I was fine with that, but really, I’d already been paid. He loves his family. I got to see him glowing with that love. How many times do we let strangers in to see what really matters to us? I feel pretty privileged. How could I ask for more?
Dianne and Stitches West
Dianne’s Creatively Dyed Yarn is at booth 930, and her daughter is just as nice as she is. Go tell them I said hi. I was wondering if she’d remember me–hah. I walked up, and she dropped everything and exclaimed, “ALISON!” when she saw me, and threw her arms around me. I got her back for it, though, when I opened my bag–and she was wearing a shirt that exactly matched that scarf. She got me back, though, when I tried to pay for some really really gorgeous merino she’d dyed. Fine, be that way–I’ll knit it up and put it in the next knitting book. So there.
People who don’t knit miss out on so much!
Oh, and–we’re four for four (or is it five for five) on the Stitches/wheelchairs saga. We got the silly thing charged okay, and then I couldn’t get it out of the minivan. But I didn’t drop it on my foot this year.
Kevin at Purlescence gave me his cell so I could plead for help if need be tomorrow.
People who don’t know people who are knitters miss out on so much!
Karen at Royale Hare, as she was stroking her new mohair scarf from her yarn, admitted she’d seen it on my blog and wished… Not that she would ever in a million years have told me that. But she was the perfect person for it. And I would never have thought of it if that Silkie hadn’t played hide-and-seek, so that the Fitch Mountain Frost could get a chance to leap out of my bag at me while I was searching for the Silkie.
Speaking of which, Kaci, where were you? Your Silkie’s coming home in a few days. You said at Stitches East that you liked that colorway too. (I figure by the time you might read this, you already know.)
Oh, and–I told a few people that everybody seemed to be sold out of my book. My bad–Lisa Souza has a whole ‘nother case. And Pacific Meadows Alpacas had a few copies left as well. Nina Price will have some too. Phew! I was afraid we were going to have booksignings with no books left!
Stitches West anticipation
I met Dianne, the owner of Creatively Dyed Yarn, at Stitches East in Baltimore last fall, and she was one of those people you just instantly adore–she could have been selling dried paint chips and I’d have bought some to cheer her on in her endeavors. So when I read on Ravelry that she was going to Stitches West for the first time, and taking her family on a road trip to see the country along the way, I was thrilled to know I’d get a chance to say hi to her again.
She was re-creating, though she had no idea, part of the trip my family had taken when I was ten when my mom taught me how to knit. We kept running into another family doing the same sightseeing on the same schedule, state after state, and their ten-year-old daughter Cathy became my pen pal for three or four years afterwards, from Weston, Massachusetts, and I wonder where she is now; we randomly ran into each other for the third time in the middle of the underground in the depths of Carlsbad Caverns, before they turned out the lights. (That’s your cue to go run buy my book for the rest of that story. …Moving right along…)
That day in Baltimore last fall, I bought what were I think the very last two skeins of the 70/30 wool/seacell Sea Wool in Dianne’s stock–it had sold fast. I looked at it on Tuesday, after I finished the Silkie, and went, well, YEAH!
Then the question was: do I knit the Carlsbad, then? Nah, just did. The flowers from the Kathy shawl?… Nah, a bit too variegated for the lace pattern (although, looking at this, I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t, but too late now). And then I decided: I did the stitch pattern from the Michelle shawl, my Sea Silk one, seaweed for seaweed. It fit. Don’t rat on me, and I’m not linking till I see her tonight. Heh.
Technical stuff: cast on 27, do four repeats across of rows 14-20 with one extra plain stitch added at each side to stabilize the edges. Start early in the day. Repeat till bedtime.
Stitches West this weekend!
Wednesday February 20th 2008, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Knit
Santa Clara Convention Center.Â Booksignings: Pacific Meadows Alpacas booth 2:30 Fri, and, um, 3:00 Fri at Nina Price’s booth.Â (Oops, someone forgot to get back to me and I didn’t know, but it’s okay, we’ll make do.)Â Also, Saturday, 11:00 Lisa Souza’s booth.Â Â I can’t wait!
Sock yarn, my foot
Where on earth does that expression come from? “My foot!” to mean, yeah, right, buddy, uh huh, tell me another one. …Curious.
Silkie’s full name over at Blue Moon Fiber Arts–I had to go look it up to be sure–is “Silkie Socks that Rock.” You know, like how your mom yells your whole entire name, no fond nickname need apply, when she’s yelling down the block at you at the top of her lungs in front of your friends for full effect? “Come back here Archibald McNamara Hoosiername and clean that room right now!” (Thank you, Mom and Dad, for not giving me a middle name nor a nickname so my friends went through this but I never had to.)
So, just what did the Silkie do? Looks like a plain old innocent scarf to me. Socked its little sister? Never.
Specs: 73×13″, one ball Silkie, stretches easily to 16″ wide or so, Carlsbad pattern from “Wrapped in Comfort,” cast on 43 stitches, ie, one extra pattern repeat across.
Meantime, here’s one of Dad’s Christmas gift amaryllises this morning.
Because I said so
I’m the mom. That’s why.
Alright, Silkie, naptime’s over. Wake up. Time to finish the job.
(Pattern: the Carlsbad scarf from “Wrapped in Comfort,” with one extra pattern repeat, therefore stitch count is 43.)
You’re not the boss of me
Oh yeah? said the yarn. I am too.
I finished up the shawl in Lisa Souza’s El Dorado heftyish kid mohair/silk, a mix of the Julia and Constance patterns that I’d been hoping I could get ready for Lisa to hang in her booth at Stitches West this weekend. Done. I had two projects in mind to try to get done quickly after that, both of them with the best of intentions.
I have had a hank of Silkie balled up, waiting its turn, now was its turn, I knew exactly where I kept it, and why on earth couldn’t I find it? I spent a fair amount of time yesterday searching for the silly thing. I knew just who I wanted to knit it for and I wanted it done!
While I was searching my stash, this single, rather short ball of mohair that I’d bought from Karen at Royale Hare at Stitches a year ago leaped out at me. I tried to ignore it. But it assaulted my needles, beat my inner schedule up, and dragged me into knitting my Zinnia scarf pattern out of it. The color pattern is awfully busy for that zinnia, but it absolutely refused to be anything else. Flower power rules!
Yeah, my yarn bosses me around like that. What, doesn’t yours?
I just wrote this, thought, but it’s GOT to be in there!, walked in the other room, opened that bag again and searched for that Silkie where I’d searched over and over yesterday, and there it sat beaming innocently up at me. The scamp. Hide and go seek. Ollie ollie in come free!