Green eggs and ham moment
Monday August 31st 2009, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

But didn’t I tell them?  Lace shawls, sure.  But socks?  I don’t knit socks. I have quite a few pairs of handknit socks, thanks to Jasmin, Deb and Kate, Niki, Bonnie, Michelle, Chris, and my daughter Sam has a pair from Judy Sumner that turned out to be just her size.  My longtime readers know that I wore mine every day at Stanford this year as a way of declaring, I am loved.

But me?  I do not knit them here or there, I do not knit them anywhere.  Not in a house, not with a mouse, not on a train, not in a tree, my hands don’t like them, Nancy, see?

That package that arrived last week from some Sock Summiteers, had, as I mentioned, a hank of Blue Moon SockGate sock yarn in the colors of the logo of the Summit that was going on while I was holed up in the hospital. A yarn with a good firm twist for holding up well under heel and toe–cushy for a foot, not so much so for, say, a shawl. It was adamant about what it wanted to be when it grew up.

I looked at it and thought, it could make a cool hat for some guy sometime…

Wait. Would I knit a hat on the size needles that stuff would require? For anybody? No matter how much I loved them? When I could make one in a third the time with something else?


I noticed that there not only was no return address on the envelope, the thing had been auto-stamped in such a way that it didn’t even say what town it had been shipped from, fer cryin’ out loud–if I wanted to surprise Nancy back, much less the others, with something finished from that yarn? Dude. Totally out of luck.

She/they wanted me to make myself a pair of Sock Summit socks to match the t-shirt and did a good job of reinforcing the point.

But I don’t knit socks. I can, I have, I don’t, the needles are too small, I drop too many stitches, blahblahblah.

I am wearing the shirt.

And looky here. How did that happen?! I do too knit socks!

I still won’t take them here or there, I’ll still drop stitches everywhere. But I do, I DO like knitting socks!

And quite honestly, I would never have sat down with a porcupine scaffolding of size 1s if it hadn’t been for the happy peer pressure of that package:  I have some designated blue-and-purple yarn of at least two or three years’ standing in my stash to prove it.

I am having the time of my life watching this first one coming to be and I’m really hoping to show off the pair at Purlescence on Thursday.  You guys go give each other a big hug from me, y’hear? You have SO earned it! I can’t wait!

Coming back together
Sunday August 30th 2009, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

As our family started praying for my sister-in-law, whose breast biopsy came back positive a few days ago, I got another message.

One of the wonders of the Internet is how easy it is to reconnect with people whom you knew back when.

One of the wonders of continuing to be alive on this planet is learning how, when you once care about another human being, however much, wherever they may go forth to in this life, you wish them well in it all. And that that never stops. Ever.  The caring only grows more important, even when it takes you by surprise because you simply hadn’t had occasion to think of the person in years. But they matter, and they always will.

I spend very little time at Facebook: this is where the bandwidth real estate is my own.  And yet, forgotten password or no, somehow one old friend after another showed up and there it was.

And so I got asked today by another Churchill grad, someone I’d known since elementary, how life was now.  It stumped me. How was hers, too?  How on earth does one sum up 18-50? Got married, had kids, and in my case, wrote a book?  If you add up my four kids’ ages, that’s 96 Mom-years; that could get a little wordy. By mentioning having systemic lupus and Crohn’s both? Nah, that’s just the background noise. Tell her to read this entire blog back to front?  (Spare her!)

It may not have been the best answer, but I responded saying I’d always wanted to be a writer; published now and off to a good start. And then it seemed the best way to sum up the whole rest of everything else was simply to link to the story of the man with that Stanford Blood Center t-shirt on.  The everyday trip to the store.  And yet.

The context that had brought us together was the group “Pray for Chuck Heidel,”  a tall kid who’d teased me in junior high math class but a kid who by late high school had transformed into the downright decent, good person he’d been all along, as most kids do. He’d been a member of a champion football team that had included Brian Holloway and Jeff Kemp: I was by no means part of the jock scene, but we had a crop of decent people among ours that defied stereotypes.  One of them, I said to at the 20th reunion, “I don’t remember much about you: but I remember that you were always a friend to anyone.”

Chuck was recently in a bike accident and was airlifted to the U of MD Trauma Center.  Unconscious.  Paralysis. Blood clots. Intubation.  As I read the reports of what he’d been enduring since then, I kept thinking, I had that in January. I went through that in February. I had that three weeks ago.  Part of me wanted to tell his family that his voice will sound normal within two weeks because he didn’t try to talk while he had that tube down his throat–he was unconscious then. Part of me wants to make jokes about hospital food while jumping up and down that he can swallow again. And he lifted a glass to his lips!

There was his daughter’s awe at her father’s example of asking the family to gather round him to pray for the patient next door, in worse shape than he.

And that, I could tell her as a patient, is how one copes. By finding a way to bring forward the best in oneself, the faith if we have faith, our goodwill in all circumstances, looking for any way of serving those around us in order not to have the bodily damage hog all the attention.

Because the love never stops. The caring never ends. It only grows with each new experience.

Friday’s conversation
Saturday August 29th 2009, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Life

Note that that number is virtually all for our alleged electrical use for the past three weeks. Embiggen for the full effect. (After all, they did.)

We’re totally solar.

Over the phone, he recognized who I was from my visit to City Hall.  “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!”

Oh, hey, sir, laugh–it’s a whole lot more fun.

“Don’t pay that!”

As if!

“I have your account marked so it won’t be hit with any late fees or anything while we straighten this out.”

Uh, yeah.  And toss out that $808 utility user tax hit while you’re at it, ‘mkay? Thanks.

Isn’t it nice when you get to give someone a funny work story to tell for years?

Friday August 28th 2009, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knitting a Gift,Life

From the day I was told I would have this surgery, I told Dr. S, I started knitting.

But the first thing yesterday was a young nurse who came in and asked me a set number of questions. One was standard for patients who’ve had a resection, but there was no resection done here–I laughed, answering, “Don’t have the body parts for that anymore!”

She clearly felt put on the spot. I remember being young and intimidated by older people (wait–older? Hey!…)  My heart went out to her–it’s okay!  Certainly not something to worry over.

The surgeon was running late and I made him much later. I didn’t want to miss anybody. The more he saw what I’d done as I pulled things out of my bag, the happier he got about the whole thing too.  I couldn’t remember everybody’s names; I’m not great at learning new information when I’m drugged out in the hospital.  I had individual projects in ziploc bags, a card to each, but in some, they were still waiting for the names to be added.  Dear (blank).

He helped by looking up my records and scanning down the screen for me, trying not to miss anybody either. I explained I was on my way to E ward after that to go see the nurses.

You know, he could have thought of his schedule and gotten annoyed at my hijacking his time. Instead, the grin on his face just kept getting bigger and bigger as I pulled out one  after another–let’s see, got Dr. X, Y, and Z here, what was the name of? And…? Anyone else?

“Oh, that’s COOL!” to the piano-pattern hat.  He described exactly the intended recipient I was thinking of, and said, “Oh, that’s Lionel.”

I looked at him, cracking up: “I can NOT call him Lionel. What was his *name*?”

Oh. Right. Dr…

And another–he spelled it out but I just wasn’t getting it. With a high-frequency loss, V, C, T, G and the like all sound like the vowel E: no consonant sounds need apply when there is no context to guess by.  So he tore off a small piece of the paper covering the exam table and wrote it out for me. Okay, got it! (Resourceful on the spot–I like it!)

He held up the pink shawl for his wife and he and the young nurse admired it while I explained the tradition of lace wedding ring shawls. He took his wedding band off and pictured it against the stitches and asked, and I grinned, “Probably better yours than your wife’s size!” while saying that the reinforced neck edge would be the only reason it wouldn’t go through. He loved it.

He had done micro-sized stitches that had healed up unbelievably fast, with so much less pain than I’d expected–I mean, I knew it was a bigger surgery in January, but–and so I was giving tiny stitches in baby alpaca back in thanks. He was deeply gratified.  And to my surprise, a little abashed (but very pleased) at my complimenting his work.

The surgeon who’d assisted him was, as it turned out, the surgeon I’d had in January; her new job wasn’t so far away after all. I was thrilled to get to see her again three weeks ago.  (She’s the one who ran into me downtown last Saturday.)  There was a skein of Sea Silk at Purlescence–the Glacier–in exactly the colors I’d seen her wearing many a time, so, having already knit her a full shawl back then, that skein had leaped out at me  as a scarf for her. A little variety in the wardrobe.

At the end, I pulled a Purlescence bag out of my bag so he would have a Santa Claus pack to haul the loot around in.

And then one more thing: the young nurse, having watched all this going on, was suddenly stunned when I reached back into the main bag, pulled out a scarf that would go well with her coloring, and tossed it (I still had that silly gown on, there are limits to one’s dignity in such circumstances) across to her.

And at last I got to see her really happy too.

Afterwards, I walked over to the main hospital to give out nine more scarves.  Lace flowers to match Stanford’s gardens, lace leaves for the plants, etc.  I went hither and yarn…  I finally got one to one of the nurses I’d had while in the oncology unit back when that had been the only available bed in the hospital last time. She was a good one. She needed to know she was remembered.

Wait, what floor had I been on again this time?  Okay, that’s the bone marrow unit, that’s the post-surgery ICU, been there (says Stanford Accounting, don’t remember it) but not that…  They’d closed off an inner corridor and my visual memory, always shaky since early in my lupus, was just lost.  I got a whole lot of walking done.

I didn’t get to see everybody I wanted to, but when I finally went, oh, duh. Right. THAT floor!, the nurse at the desk got to anticipate playing Santa too, with a big grin on her face. This time, I left the stack of scarves in a sweater-sized ziploc with a list of names. People could pick what they liked. The one person who had a specific one coming her way, in pink to match her scrubs three weeks ago, I did get to see and hug in thanks for her caring. Very cool.

It was her project I had had in my hands when Dr. S had come into my hospital room and, in answer to my query, had said his wife liked that color.  It was her scarf I took to the shelves at Purlescence, looking for a match. And they do.

It wasn’t till I was almost asleep last night that I realized that that blue Half Moon Bay pattern hadn’t come home with me–I’m pretty sure there was one more scarf in that bag than there were names I’d remembered.  Cool.  Maybe that first-night’s nurse whose name and face were lost to my post-anesthesia haze got one after all.

Seventeen projects down
Thursday August 27th 2009, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I am so tired.

I am so happy.

It was such a good day.

“I get to play Santa Claus!”


A young Silicon Valley start-up
Wednesday August 26th 2009, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I was finishing up knitting the purple baby alpaca this afternoon when the doorbell rang.  I wonder?…

There were two absolutely adorable little blond boys, ages 4 and 6, a little shy as they looked up at the stranger in the strange house, a get-well note in their hands and with their smiling grandmother, who had driven them, standing behind.

A moment of confusion on my part and then I got it.

A little before my surgery, the local paper had run a story on their family: the dad with the Silicon Valley job and the small in-town yard but a little bit of the Woodstock “got to get back to the land, and set my soul free” in him, and so, he had set up a small beekeeping operation with his little boys.

Who get to deliver the goods. But they’ll only go as far as a four-year-old’s attention span.  We’re on the far end of town (and there’s only so much honey for their subscribers); we just barely squeaked in.

Delivery times are, as I understand it, whenever there is honey to share; I told the dad in an email when I signed up that I was going to be heading into surgery and if nobody was home, would it be okay to just drop it off at the door? He said he would send a honeybee to buzz my window hello at Stanford for me.  I was charmed.

But I got to see the boys instead.  It took me a moment to register that oh, right, as I opened the door, not seeing their jar of honey quite at first.  Lost in the cuteness.

And I have to tell you, that is the best-tasting honey I have had in years. Note that the jar isn’t quite full–it was earlier… (Yes, Mom.  You used to catch me dipping a spoon in the honey back in the days when I, too, was little.  Haven’t changed a bit.)

Tuesday August 25th 2009, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Friends,LYS

I had an appointment today with my cardiologist to ask questions about my blood pressure med; everything’s fine, and no, this wasn’t the Thursday post-op. Routine stuff.

I got there a little early for a doctor who is  always late because he takes the time to listen to his patients, which I like, and pulled out needles and the purple baby alpaca I’d grabbed on my way out the door.  I’d had a project already started to try to get done by Thursday, but somehow it just..wasn’ But purple was. So.

Doodling around, let’s see, cast on 33, take it from there, I was several inches into it, wearing the shawl on the cover of my book, wearing the socks that Michelle knit me, when another woman not much older than me checked in. (Wait, I’m 50, I might look that old too… I tend to forget that…) Now, when you’re sitting in cardiology, it’s fairly striking when someone younger than the average clientele comes in–but it was my knitting she was drawn to as she sat down by me.

On a whim I’d brought mine in a Purlescence bag rather than one of my knitting bags.  She told me she was a knitter too. She hadn’t heard of that store and wanted to know what the place was like.

My mind glanced briefly back towards the owner of another shop who’d once asked me, “How are you?” rather warily as I’d walked in her door.  Someone who has seemed to me fearful of what life might be capable of: who, a few months before that moment, had suddenly come upon me waiting at the elevator at Stitches in a wheelchair and with no preliminary conversation, had simply exclaimed, “It’s not fair!” like a small child and had rushed away while I was going, huh?

“Do you want to know?” I shot back.


Well, that’s honest, I thought, and answered, truthfully on the non-health side of things, “I’m fine.”

Purlescence, though…  (Here’s a half skein of the Sea Silk in Glacier I bought there last week. The dark line lower right is just shadowing from the chair behind the scarf.)

Coming back to the moment, I told my fellow patient, “They have a great selection. And also this: I had a shawl on display there, and came in asking to have it back after my daughter-in-law’s uncle had a brain tumor and went into a coma; I wanted to get one to his wife quickly.

Whereupon Kaye, one of the owners, not only gave it to me, she took an expensive, beautiful, handmade shawl pin, put it in my hands, wrapped my fingers around it, and asked me to give it to Barbara too. Someone she had never even heard of before.”

The woman went, wow.

And then I told her, “And last January I was in the hospital. The owners of Purlescence gifted me with two skeins of a buffalo-blend yarn, which cost something like $50 apiece, as a get-well card.”

Her eyes got even bigger.

“They are NICE people,” I told her.  “Just the best.”

That being true, I thought I would repeat here what I told my fellow knitter in that waiting room today. I wish that all yarn stores could be like the one that I get to go to.  I know how lucky I am.

I could have gone on and on about how they attract good people like themselves, (that’s just for a start), but my name was called.

I so hope that woman shows up at Purlescence sometime when I’m there!  She would fit right in.

To Nathania, Sandi, and Kaye: you create much good in this world. I am blessed to know you and have you nearby.  I just wanted to say publicly, thank you.

You can fool Summit the people Summit the time…
Monday August 24th 2009, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Knitting a Gift

By, say, wearing a cool Sock Summit t-shirt and a Sock Summit pin and wearing Sock Gate-colorway socks, dyed by Tina (you have to knit them first) when actually, no, you weren’t at Sock Summit.

This drive-by knitting gift landed in my mailbox today, from Nancy, crediting JoAnne, with a little tag in there from Ellen, and saying Stephanie approved.  A group hug, it sounds like.  Thank you doesn’t begin to express the sense of wonder at being included like this.  Wow.  Cool.  Thank you!

I confess to cowardice last month: I did tell my surgeon there was a knitting conference. I waited to see his reaction before I was going to specify that it was actually not just that, but a sock knitting conference–and then somehow as we talked about things related to the kinds of stitches he was going to be doing, it never quite came up.

Heh.  I know how I can make it obvious now. Now that I’ve broken him in on the general idea, with my husband enthusiastically nodding that oh yes, thousands of knitters come to these knitting conferences, I can show that indeed we do.

And now that I have been made well at his and the other surgeons’ hands, next time I won’t have to miss it. Or even worry about missing it.  I can’t tell you what a gift that is.

Meantime, this is what Sea Silk looks like in Glacier when it’s damp, which it won’t be for very long. One more finished!  Silly doctors probably don’t realize the post-op is supposed to be a grand reunion time: my head surgeon will just have to go play a knitterly Santa Claus afterwards, I imagine.  Think he’ll mind?

Sunday August 23rd 2009, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Phyllis asked me, while on the phone yesterday, and I told her my soapdish dispenser I’d bought from Mel and Kris had broken and that I’d love it if she could pick one out for me from their display and have me pay her back.

This morning, at church, she handed it to me and told me that when they’d found out who it was for, they wouldn’t accept any money. (Insert futile protest of “But you’ve got to earn a living, you know!”)

Note that they didn’t confess later to me when I came by after all; they wanted Phyllis to get the delight of having me be surprised.   Did I mention that they are really nice people?!

One of the reasons for my escape later was this:  I wanted…  Now that I knew they were there, I needed something that was meaningful to me and small enough for me to be able to carry back to my car  (even though I didn’t end up carrying nor walking with it.)  I needed it  small and lightweight for Deb to carry, too, luggage and plane rides being what they are.

So I bought a small ceramic bowl.  Mel and Kris do beautiful work.  It is the handthrown pottery equivalent of cupping your two hands together.  I’ve had one for awhile that I love; the colorwork and sense of their presence gives a certain reverence to the start of my days as I mix cocoa (a lot) and sugar (not much) in mine, then pour the mixture into a mug of hot milk. Perfect.

Today I got to give the new little bowl to my friend Deb, who stopped by after flying into the area from back East.  I had no idea she loved to collect beautiful ceramics; it had simply seemed like the right thing.  It was fun to watch her delighted reaction.

She, on the other hand, had knitted me an exquisite lace bookmark, and it matched the lace socks she and her daughter Kate had knitted me earlier.

She also knitted for both of the get-well afghan projects that were going on unbeknownst to me in January.  She knew it would mean much to me that she knit one of those squares with leftover yarn from my socks at the center, surrounded by yarn from her late son’s socks. As a matter of fact, one of her squares was knit with such an intensity and speed that it was the first to arrive.

I got to show her, finally in person like I wish I could for Anniebee and Elizabeth who did the piecing together and for everybody who worked on them, the finished afghans.  We shared stories. We laughed. We missed Robbie, my son John’s age, sharing hospital stories, and wept.  And hugged.

Some friends you can never get ahead of.  But they are also the kind of people where that doesn’t matter.  It was such a rare treat to get to see Deb as well as Mel and Kris; it has been a weekend all around of holding friends close in much love. (Phyll and Lee, you too.)

I am SO busted!
Saturday August 22nd 2009, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

For weeks now, I’ve been wondering if I would get the same phone call as last year.

I did.

Phyl and Lee again went to the city’s annual juried Art Fair that takes over University Avenue for three days, and again called me to tell me they’d found Mel and Kris:  They’re at this corner (they knew I couldn’t walk the length of the avenue.)  Did I want to come see them? (Mel and Kris created this, among many other things.)

How badly you could not begin to know, I thought.

So. The hubby and daughter go off to the grocery store and I make my escape, noting that my old car, not having been driven for three weeks, has gotten dusty and bird-pooped-0n and is not a pretty sight.  My hair looks about as bad.  Oh well.

Last year, when I saw those two, I found out that my feeling that I needed to put them in my daily prayers had coincided with when Kris was a trauma patient who had barely survived.

Today, we threw our arms around each other, and since they’d already talked to Phyllis, they were stunned to see me.  (Probably not as stunned as one of my two surgeons who had just gotten out of her car as I was looking for my own parking space.  I waved hi, thrilled to see her, and I think I’m going to hear about it at my post-op.  Driving at two and a half weeks?! Busted!)

And it turns out.  Mel and Kris aren’t on the ‘net much, which I knew, and they hadn’t heard, till earlier today.  I knew they were moving and I didn’t have their new address, so I’d figured I’d just have to wait till I saw them with their pottery at another fair to get back in touch.

Kris told me:

Last summer she had had a bum knee and, she reminded me, I had this cane I’d given her.  I’d told her not to give it back.  She thought she should, though, but in the still-ongoing move, it had gotten misplaced.  It finally turned up–in January.  She immediately strongly felt, looking at it, that she should pray for me.

So she put that cane where she would see it every day going past her work station to remind her, and every time she saw it she said a little prayer for me. She didn’t know why but it just seemed important and the right thing to do.

I told her a little about what January was like. And since then.

She was as gobsmacked as I was when I found out the same kind of thing after I’d started praying for her.

And here I was. Surgery Aug 5th. Drove myself there (pillow under seatbelt). Looking peachy-fine.  It was near closing-down time, so I wasn’t in the way of too many people.  We had such a good visit!  Finally, she said I needed to rest even if I didn’t feel yet like I did–we knew, both of us, that she was right–and Mel drove me the two and a half blocks to my car over my gentle protests, since his was right there by the booth.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I went and that I got to see them.

My surgeon saw me. My husband and daughter got home before I did.  I am SO busted.  And so very, very happy at how it all turned out.

For what doth it profit a CEO
Friday August 21st 2009, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Politics

I’ve been trying to be an informed voter and have been spending a fair amount of time trying to learn more about our current health-care system.  All facts and figures here via Google.

In California, Blue Cross was allowed to be changed from being a not-for-profit to being for-profit in the 90’s, with a domino effect on other states.  Blue Cross covers roughly one in seven people in California.

As an aside, from North Carolina we read this from three years ago, with more recent figures hard to find online somehow:

“Aetna CEO John Rowe had total compensation of $30.6 million and Cigna CEO H. Edward Hanway received $12.3 million. That includes millions of dollars in stock compensation. Meanwhile, the president of Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina made a total of $279,526 last year.”

You catch that?  $279, 526.  Go Cigna!  So much for the idea of needing to pay millions to attract top talent.  Larry Glasscock, BBA Cleveland State, graduate school NA, was CEO in ’06 of Wellpoint, which owns Blue Cross in California and a dozen other states. According to this, his total compensation that year was $52.4 million.

My daughter’s premiums, had Blue Cross accepted her, would have been $133/month as a young single woman for a plan without maternity benefits. Let’s round that up to an even $1600/year.

Let’s picture, for a moment, how many people would have to pay that premium for one year while requiring absolutely zero in medical pay-out, in order to sustain just that one CEO salary.  Just for that one executive.

Three million, two hundred seventy-five thousand people.  Paying that premium faithfully, month by month, and not going to the doctor once. Not even getting so much as one flu shot in 12 months.  Over three and a quarter million people.

And the CEO’s claim their pay has no influence on the medical care of their subscribers.

As for the town hall talking points and the obscenely defaced pictures of our President that are beneath each and every one of us, the screaming and the shouting, the attempts to silence all discussion of changing any part of this system–

–Remember the Watergate line.

“Follow the money.”

‘Cause there’s a whole lot of it (that’s for lobbying in 2009, so far) that sure isn’t being spent on taking care of us.

Being watched like a hawk
Thursday August 20th 2009, 10:38 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Wildlife

Written before Knit Night at Purlescence:

I wasn’t expecting any packages… Channon?

Anti-windowsmacking bird panels. A magnetic bookmarker.  A bluebird enameled pin. A–get this–tiny bobbleheaded bluejay that went straight to the top of my monitor.  I love it.  Thank you, Channon!

And today, as I knit madly away on the cotton candy, there was a loud smack against the window. Oh, ouch–I turned around to see if the bird that had hit it was hurt.  No sign of a little bird, but I found what it had been madly racing away from: there, five feet from my face, was a huge hawk staring in the window.  (If that thing had hit that window there wouldn’t *be* a window.)  I, doofus that I am, yelled to Michelle, “Come SEE!” forgetting that even if I can’t hear, other things can; it took off for a nearby tree.  Michelle came over just in time to see the redtailed hawk with about a four foot wingspan whoosh out of the tree and away.

Wow.  Michelle pronounced, “So that’s the real reason you have a bird feeder!” Thinking, I’m sure, of the golden eagle I’d once seen perched on the neighbor’s roof.

No, but, my stars, what a gorgeous bird. What an experience!  Think it’ll come back if I parade around with a decoy of an enamel bluebird? Because I’m going to.

(p.s. The shawl? That pink rinsed blob thing I tried to get all the water out of? Uh, yeah, I finished knitting at quarter past three, later walked past the room where it was blocking, did a doubletake, thinking, wait, where is it?, walked back, and of course it was right there.  It was so gossamer fine that it had simply blended in.)

Written after Knit Night:

Jade surprised me with some exquisitely soft Malabrigo merino from Sock Summit.   She knew how much I’d wanted to go so she brought some of the Summit back to share.  Again, my thanks; I am so going to have fun playing with it!

Oh, right.  The shawl. Yes, it was dry in time for showing off tonight–if I’d had to stand over it with a hairdryer it was going to be dry in time! But I didn’t have to. Not at that thickness.

Cast on 24, keeping stitches 1/2″ apart on size 6 (4mm) needles.  Two skeins Cascade baby alpaca laceweight at 400m/437 yards each.  It has the plain stitches near the neck of the Nina shawl, the yoke of the Kathy’s Clover Flowers (slightly tweaked at its last row), the body done in a variation of Carlsbad, with a bottom edging of the Water Turtles pattern.  All of those are 10+1 lace stitch patterns.  If it weren’t for the reinforced neck edge, it could qualify as a wedding ring shawl, ie, one you can pull through a (preferably large in this case) ring.  Done!

(Dear Dr. S’s wife, if he was wrong and that’s not your color, I have more yarn. Promise.)

A little loopy
Wednesday August 19th 2009, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

Twenty-five rows today–sing it with me: 9685 loops of pink on the wall, 9685 loops of pink, take one down, wind it around, 9684 loops of pink on the…

Yeah. I know.

One lesson learned, given that I’m someone who winds my hanks into old-fashioned balls and these hanks were made into cakes on the ballwinder at Purlescence: given the slightly wiry character of baby alpaca when it is spun into a yarn as fine as this laceweight, one should knit the cakes working from the outside. Not centerpulled.  I did the first centerpulled and it wanted to kink on itself constantly and it would not run smoothly through my hands; I was constantly stopping and rolling the ball on its side to try to work some of the excess twist out.

The second one, working from the outside in–rarely a kink. Piece of cake.

This is probably not news to those who use ballwinders and laceweight all the time.  But I have to quickly add how grateful I am to the folks at the LYS for winding them up for me: as I explained to Kathy when I bought these Saturday, knitting-wise, I’m at the equivalent of standing in the frozen foods section looking for the prefab meals.  I’m not lifting dyepots. I’m not winding cones’ worth by hand, nor even hanks.

Today is two weeks post-op. I might be able to stand and wind a hank now. Just let me finish up this big bubbly lump of pink first.


Shawl-abration time
Tuesday August 18th 2009, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Seven thousand seven hundred forty tiny pink loops today, two rounds of icing my hands so I could keep going, and it’s time to call it a night. But not before I take a moment to compare the growing shawl to the scarf whose color the doctor complimented (but which I didn’t have enough of in my stash) when I asked him what his wife might like.

Thank you, Sandi at Purlescence, for helping me find a good match after all when I was afraid it couldn’t be done.

Blue Crossed
Monday August 17th 2009, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

Pardon another rant. I do try to keep them to a minimum. Ooh, looky, the baby alpaca stole is done! (Did that help?) Bluejay shawl pattern, three repeats plus an extra stitch each side, cast on 36.

We were sure it was coming. But still.

Remember my saying insurance companies look back through your records up to 20 years to look for something to deny you coverage over?

Our daughter aged out of ours and we’ve got her on COBRA while we can, at nearly four times the rate of private health insurance.  Same company, same coverage.

They denied her attempt to get her own policy, in part because she had a) a cataract sixteen years ago as a young child (which she fully disclosed) and because b) she had the surgery for it.


The note from the insurance agent said to try again if we keep up the COBRA the full 18 months it’s good for: by that point, the insurance might be required to take her on.

Might.  If.  If.  If healthcare reform happens. If it does, my normal, young, healthy daughter will be able to pay premiums and help support the system. If it does not, COBRA will end, we can’t cover her even with an inflated price, and she will have no coverage.  Should anything major happen to her that would keep her from working, she will have no choice but to be a burden on the taxpayers even though that’s the last thing she wants to do.

Note that our premiums didn’t go down in the slightest with three kids aged out.