I’m all ears
Monday August 18th 2008, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

I was never great at following chartsI’ll have to drive an old clunker awhile longer.   The papers are signed: solar wins.  And… (pardon the cellphone photos)…

I asked John Miles, my longtime audiologist, if Sonic Innovations had ever yet come out with a more powerful hearing aid.  (Okay, yes, I know, if you click on SI’s link it looks like the guy is gargling his, but never mind.)  I had had a pair of theirs for awhile that were musically by far the most perfect hearing aids I have ever tried–but they just weren’t loud enough for someone at my level of deafness, they fed back too often, and eventually I had to replace them.  But the best of the rest of what was out there was just plain not pitch-perfect.  They drove me nuts.  You can’t tell me Alison Krauss is singing those top notes flat in real life, you know and I know it’s lazy software.  Grrr.

So.  I was in to John’s recently getting some work done, and happened to ask him if SI had ever yet come up with the hearing aids of my dreams.  Louder?  Got feedback suppression now?  He went and checked.  Yes!

There was some twiddle-your-fingers time in his office this morning with my ears hitched up to his computer as he was programming the new aids and walking through the new SI system, and out came the knitting.

silk snarl in the hearing equipment

And I bet I’m the first patient of his to snarl my silk in his telephone-cord-type testing setup.

I went home and, first thing I did was to listen to a favorite song on a musician friend’s CD.  And then: Alison Krauss, “Now That I’ve Found You.”  The way she really sounds.  Heavenly.

At last.  Oh, at last!

Sunday August 17th 2008, 12:04 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

I didn’t join up with Ravelympics in part because–well, we don’t even own a TV.

But last night we were visiting friends, and the friends’ kids wanted to watch Michael Phelps win his eighth gold: the TV got turned on.  NBC was of course not saying when the swim meet was going to be shown–they weren’t about to let people TIVO it.  We saw the Romanian woman break from the pack and get far, far ahead of the crowd of marathoners, and I was glad to see in the paper this morning that she did indeed win.

So I’m sure you all know all this already, and that you saw it while I only got to read about it: but.  Phelps won his eighth, and when the reporter asked him how he felt about it, he answered, “I just want to see my mom.” And then he threw his arms around his cheering mom and sisters.

And in the interviews, he praised and thanked his teammates, saying he didn’t know them before they all arrived but they were a part of him forever now.  He spoke like Randy Pausch, saying you could dream your dreams and make them happen, encouraging everybody else with his words in whatever dreams they might have. From everything I have read, he was gracious.  He was grateful.

And he honored his mother first, in front of billions of people. He reached for his family’s loving arms for and in affirmation before the camera’s.

(And he’s from my home state of Maryland.)

The man is a bona fide hero.

A quiet note
Friday August 15th 2008, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I would not have joked about PCC lines yesterday had I known what was going to happen last night. An intense thank you to everybody who signed up or tried to sign up for the bone marrow donor registry.

I went to go blog this morning, but the words I’d been going to say just kind of trailed away from my fingers and left me; at the time, I didn’t know why. I thought, okay; it can wait till the right time.  Many a knitting project has shown me that.

But, though I know we will all see each other again in a place where there are no more tears, mine are flowing freely right now.

(Edited to add: http://www.bobgreenberger.com/ for those so inclined.  Thanks.)

PCC line installed
Thursday August 14th 2008, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Knit

I came back here and Michelle had already made that comment–and I laughed out loud. Surgeon’s hands!  While I was coming here to write that I had the central line installed, two more IV’s to go.  Too funny.  Now, to connect those two on the white needle to the lines above them.  This may take awhile.repairs: PCC line installed, IVs to go

Froggy weather with partial sunshine
Thursday August 14th 2008, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Knit

Channon wanted a lace repair book.  Here you go.

It’s splayed out like a seventh-grade frog dissection in science class.  Here’s what I’ve done so far:  I undid the cast-off to the point above where I needed to work and opened up the work space by holding the stitches on separate needles there.  Every time I unpicked a double decrease, I ran a length of laceweight between the two side stitches to hold them together (tying it in a knot so it doesn’t pull outfrog dissection) so that when I come back up, it’s clear they’re a pair straight across, with the one between to be added back in.

I then thought to add a length of yarn through the stitches being dropped as I laddered them down to get to the offending part.  Ahoy!  Here be drag-ins!

It does help that I’m doing this after a rinsing-and-drying so that the stitches want to hold their shape.  I got a few rows worked back together.  But it gets squirrelly where I knitted past the drops, and I have now spent an hour doing everything but going back and working on it some more.  I keep thinking things like, you know, I really need to get that carpet cleaned.  Maybe today’s a good day to go do that instead.

You know those cartoons with a tiny devil dressed in red and a pitchfork leaning into one side of a person’s head, and the angel waving frantically on the other?  “Just frog it!” “No, no, it can be rescued and you know it!”

What is ironic is if I end up trying both, but I don’t think so.  Yet.

The horses don’t gallop anymore
Thursday August 14th 2008, 1:14 pm
Filed under: Knit

fixed this much so farThe first picture is the update on yesterday’s problem. Today’s the day for making progress on it.

Yesterday, feeling crummy, I needed something more positive to work with.  If I didn’t have any energy, I could borrow some from my wool.

I had some of Lisa Souza‘s Sock!Merino yarn in Siobhan that had been sitting in my stash since the last Stitches, and for days it had been begging to come out of the bag.  I was finishing (I thought) Ocean; I ignored the Siobhan, and besides, I had definite plans for what would come next.  But never mind what I wanted to do: that Lisa yarn leaped into my hands the first chance it got yesterday and stomped its soft little merino feet at me and how could I resist?doodling with Lisa Souza\'s Siobhan, merino

I was of two minds about what I would do with it.  Make a short, narrow, tie-in-front type wrap?  Or a long, full shawl, the kind that would prompt a small child to twirl around and around to see it swoosh out around her?  The stitches were coming out flowing and soft.  Hmm.  With two skeins, I had enough Siobhan for one or the other but not both.  I spent a long time hashing out pattern details for knitting it either way: one yoke, a different increase row, two outcomes.  I changed my mind a few times.  I started.  And then, being foggy-brained, I stitched a boneheaded error.

There is a cliche in knitting about mistakes: if you wouldn’t be able to see it from the back of a galloping Nancy\'s penguin helping to knit the Siobhanhorse, nobody else will ever notice it either, so just forget it.  Except that idea doesn’t work for me anymore–what I have to go by, I realized, looking at the two missing yarnovers around the central stitch three rows earlier and how tight it would all draw up into the later rows if I tried to breeze by, was the thought that, if, say, a non-knitter photographer enlarged that section and put it on the cover of a book or magazine, would a knitter notice?

And so we had Siobhan, take two, and the photo above.  Early on in the process. No biggy.

And then we got an email last night that totally energized me and made it suddenly clear exactly why I needed to be working on a practical, machine-washable beautiful and soft wool for a new mom.   The short tie-in-front model wins.  Congratulations and welcome to the world, little one!

A rookie’s reaction
Wednesday August 13th 2008, 9:51 am
Filed under: Knit

Yeah, I was tired when all that happened. No, the Russian splice idea won’t work–the yarn’s too slippery. What it did do was give me a thought that allowed me some calming down so I could start to think it through better. Richard this morning looked at it and went, “Even *I* can see that one!”

But I knew in the instant I woke up that of course I could fix that.  Just an extra necklace hanging around the neck of one stitch by the time I get done. Yes it’ll take awhile. Yes it’ll mean dropping down many rows at the point of a double decrease each time, and it will be a major pain.  And yes I can do it. And no it won’t show.

And no I don’t have to and actually can’t right now because it’s still damp–but just wait till I get my mitts on it.  I’ll show it.

Company about to show–later!

Did you hear me gasp?
Tuesday August 12th 2008, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Knit

Handmaiden Camelspin in OceanDid you?  My stars. I NEVER do that, and now I’ve done it two shawls in a row.  Although the last shawl, at least it was in the very last row or so, quickly fixed.

You see this nice, innocent picture?  With the shawl kind of doubled over on itself so it doesn’t look so big, but, it is.  The color of the yarn is pretty true on my screen.  A bit slippery with silk, a bit dark to work with in a room that could stand to have a little more light in the evenings, which is my prime knitting time.  We even went out shopping for a new lamp while I was working on it, but didn’t find one we liked yet.  Not to mention, I can’t go near fluorescent ones–please, nobody recommend the Otts here.  Thanks.

I snapped this photo and then went to block it. Which, as I started to stretch it out on the guest bed, is when the dropped stitch started to run.  And it was a double decrease, meaning one dropped stitch instantly turned into three lines of yarn droppings.  (Yes, Mom, I said that. )

Right dead center of the whole thing.  I’d gone merrily right past it, closing the gap after it.  Totally unsalvageable–there’s no way to recover that and make it look right.  All I can do is wait for it to dry and then buy me half an Ocean’s worth of frogs to get back to that point.  Dang.

(Edited to add: hmm. I could perhaps weave one small length through, working things back together and fastening the stitches in place and Russian-splicing that into the ongoing yarn.  I’ll have to experiment and see if I can get it to look good enough and be safe enough from running again to satisfy me.  But I’m picky, and rightfully so.)

Pick your battles
Monday August 11th 2008, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Family

I got an email from a friend that left me thinking about the on-the-spot wisdom I aspire to having myself, like she has, come my eventual day of grandmotherhood.

My cousin Doug, a Baby Boomer a bit older than me, told this tale at our 95-year-old grandfather’s funeral fourteen years ago: back in the day, he grew his hair wayyy down to here, as so many were doing during the Vietnam era.

His dad had a lot of his Army days still in him and couldn’t stand his son’s hippy-freak look.  They fought over it.  Constantly.  Neither would budge.  Our grandfather being in the US Senate, my uncle finally shipped his kid off to DC to be a page for Grandpa for the summer to get him out of his hair: let Dad handle the kid.

Doug loved it.  It was clear, as he spoke to the gathered family all those years later, that the experience had left him with a lifelong closeness to our grandfather, whom he revered.  But that summer, he kept waiting for the explosion that he so much expected–after all, that’s what his dad would do, and Grandpa was a conservative from a conservative State and here Doug was, visibly flouting that image while working in his Senate office and, in a sense, representing him every time he walked down any of the halls of Congress.  Finally, near the end of his stint, he couldn’t stand it anymore and asked nervously, “Uh, Grandpa–what do you think of my hair?”

And our bald grandfather smiled sweetly and answered him, “I think you should enjoy it while you’ve got it!”

Doug, telling the tale in the eulogy, ran a hand over his now-shiny top and laughed, “As always, he was right!”

Sunday August 10th 2008, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

going out on a limbHe was a beanpole: young-looking, long, thin-boned, with a tail like a two-sided mohawk.  The most unusual thing was the few speckles of gray fur mixed in with its white underbelly–freckles!  The squirrel eyed me from my kitchen window, scrambled up the Chinese elm and came back down on another limb to get a closer look at me.  It played peek-a-boo there for the longest time, and I couldn’t make a break for it to get the camera or the game would have ended on the spot.  It really did need a pirate-motif sweater, you know?  It debated leaping onto the recycling container where I could reach it to take its measurements, but thought better of it.

Meantime, I got asked at church today if I were still knitting.  Uh, yes. I do tend to do that.

Pearls Harbored in the damage–always
Saturday August 09th 2008, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Life

remission and relapseI have often thought that my experiences at Stanford were a time that changed everything for me; I’d never want to go through them again, but for the sake of some others as well as myself, I’m glad I did.

Out of the blue, and it’s always in the middle of the night,  the inflammation process decided to switch on.  I was telling it firmly around 3:00 this morning that my writing about Noel and his co-worker was NOT an invitation to come back and NOT to think so highly of itself.

There is a level of pain where all you can do is determinedly live through it.  I did.  Pain as an intellectual exercise in curiosity about what it means to be alive.  And, go figure, I’m doing okay now–nothing to see, nothing to see, move along, move along, and I wonder if I should I even be mentioning this.  I’ve been sitting on this draft.  And then I just got a note from someone worried over a relative with lupus: yes, I told them–life does go on and it does get better and it is worth the wait to get there.

sugar cane

I don’t like these wake-up calls, but they always make me focus on what’s most best to do next with my time. And I honestly hadn’t thought of this when I set up the first picture, but I just had myself a fine glass of fresh-squeezed cliche.   Pure evaporated cane juice added as necessary.

At the heart of the matter
Friday August 08th 2008, 1:23 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

meyer lemon tree in August

Teri and I used to chat occasionally via the Knitlist, and I found out her dad was the partner (retired now) of our family’s ENT doctor.  Cool!  So she grew up here.  I snapped this photo of our backyard lemon tree to share a bit of California with her.  She lives in Hawaii these days, and one time, while visiting her folks, she showed up at our house with a box of chocolate-covered Hawaiian macadamias: one of those too-rare times where you get to actually meet a person you’ve known online.  She’s as warm and wonderful in person as she is across the electrons.

I wrote a few days ago about knitting for the staff at Stanford Hospital, and here’s a post from two years ago that is important to me as well.  You’ve got to go see what Teri just did!  Wow!

(Edited to add: Teri got the ball rolling re the plans for yarn and needles in the waiting areas; I hope they follow through.

I have another friend who was hospitalized with a serious illness and baby twins at home she wanted to be taking care of, and she was telling me afterwards about a nursing assistant at Stanford Hospital who was supremely understanding and kind and who took the time to be there for her and her husband: to listen and to make them laugh.  He was such a gifted healer at a time they needed it.  I asked her the guy’s name, sure I already knew…  Was it Noel C.?  Yes!)

Man, I got troubles through the roof!
Thursday August 07th 2008, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Life

I love my skylights.  I love walking down the hall and being startled by a bird in flight over my head.  I love that I can see the neighbor’s tall redwood tree, the sense of being connected to outside.  I love having clouds and sky from the inner parts of the house.

When we were remodeling, we had a house (“Eichler” in California-speak) where all the plumbing lines had been run underground.  This is perhaps not the swiftest move in earthquake country, and ours failed.  This is what kick-started the project.  We were going to have to replace the lines by putting them on the roof, meaning there would be lots of work to be done up there.

One of the first things one contractor did, blueprints in hand, was to cut the ceiling in the bathroom and put in a skylight.  Which, though perhaps entertaining for him, was maybe not the best move for us.  The other bathroom, having been jackhammered where the pipes had broken, had been ripped out to be turned into a hallway.

The plumber saw me taping newspaper over my head, and asked me what I thought I was doing?  Dude. What do you THINK.  “I can’t see anything! Those skylights are frosted!” he protested.

A few days later, the main contractor’s kids had a day off school and he brought them to the job with him.  The nine-year-old above my head made a game of it: where is she going next?  And he chased me from skylight to skylight, waving “Hi!” in delight every time he caught me.  Where are the comics pages when you need them?

The plumbing contractor who came a few years later to fix the problems left behind by plumber #1 wrapped his New Improved Bigger pipes with the wrong kind of materials–which, it turns out, the birds absolutely loved.

Have you ever seen a bird in the spring perched looking into the outside mirror of a parked car?  I did once: it kept smearing the mirror, trying to either feed or court the bird it saw there.  Take that effect, add pecking, multiply by umpteen birds, and you get the idea: we could always hear them up there, but we weren’t quite sure what was going on.  There are trees reaching over the house, after all.

The roof leaked.  There hasn’t been much rain to worry about it anyway, but we finally got around to calling the roofer back. He looked at it and pointed out the woodpecker holes in the pipe wrapping.  Uh, oops.

Oh, and while he’s at it, his company now sells the most advanced of the solar power systems on the market.  Hey.  The idea of getting a loan hurts, but the idea that the loan payment will be less than the current electric bill and then will END… Hey.  The idea that we could buy an electric car at some point and plug it into the house…double HEY!

We haven’t started installing the solar yet, but it’s going to happen. Meantime, there’s a college-age kid up there, wrapping those pipes in white, non-reflective, boring, non-bird-enticing insulation: sorry, guys, the mirrors are gone.

I asked Randy, the boss, as he helped drop off materials for the next day, what time to expect his guys to show up and why.  He said with a totally straight face that he wouldn’t want to have to sue me for traumatizing his workers.

I have half of one bathroom (that didn’t used to exist), the important half, that has no skylight. No sky nor tree nor birds to be seen.  I have never been quite so grateful for a well-placed door.

Frog face on a glad
Thursday August 07th 2008, 11:41 am
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort"

Okay, that didn\'t work

Technical stuff today.

Joansie asked how long it takes to make one of my shawls.  Depends on how often you do what I did last night.

But if you’re talking about one of the designs already tried, tested, proofed, printed, and out there?  Between, I’d say, about 12 and 25 hours, depending on length and stitch count; the faster-version Julia, 241 stitches,  with a short length, like I did with one skein of Casbah from Mary’s ball, totally feels like instant gratification.  (Use a bigger yarn and needles or a bigger pattern and a wider neckline by casting on at row 2 for a larger person.)  The larger Water Turtles pattern, which reaches 481 stitches, would take the longest of my patterns out there so far.  That would be a good one for doing with Jaggerspun Zephyr laceweight and size 6 needles (at my loose gauge) but again, if you use that fine a yarn, for big person or small, I’d start at row 2.

That\'s more like it

Purlescence got a new shipment of Camelspin in from Handmaiden.  Mine!  And away we go.

I love the way the frog-faced gladiolus is waving its hands as it talks.

gladiolous impersonating a frog face

Michelle’s lace
Wednesday August 06th 2008, 11:55 am
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit

Sorbetto colorway, subdued in the shadeI’ve never been quite sure what to do with this one.  It’s a fair bit brighter yellow, pink and green with a little blue in real life, with the yellow fairly dominant.  (If you embiggen it the colors come out truer.)  The yarn is Fleece Artist’s Merino 2/6 in Sorbetto, machine washable, totally practical for, say, a mom with small children to try to keep up with, and at the time I got it, I didn’t think I could do anything shawl-ish with one 350m skein of sock yarn.  Now I know I can, but this was already knitted by then.  I used the lace pattern in the main body of the Michelle shawl, six repeats across with one extra stitch at each side, and got a nice length out of it.  (Cast on 39 on size 6mm needles, American size 10…)  The eye is more pleased with patterns in odd numbers, but this was visually busy enough that one would never casually notice that it was done in an even number of repeats.  It’s a good use of the yarn; it made a nice scarf for wrapping multiple times around the neck to keep out the cold.

Of which, however, there is not a whole lot in northern California.  A short wrap to tie in front against the chilly fog would be much more the thing for around here, and I’ve long debated frogging this and reknitting it.

Except it’s a perfectly nice scarf and there’s no good-enough reason to waste the effort.  Yarn can always be replaced with more.  Time cannot ever.

It’ll find its rightful home in its rightful time.