Get fuzzy
Saturday May 13th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

The answer to DebbieR’s question starts with, I had no idea that that cute little cabin that’s pictured in everything I ever saw having to do with the Oomingmak cooperative was actually smack dab in downtown Anchorage! We happened to drive past it after hours and I exclaimed and grabbed the phone and snapped its picture through the windshield (see yesterday’s post) from the passenger side.

Sam asked the next morning if I wanted to visit the place?

Heck yeah!

And so she and I went while Richard stayed home with the baby. It was just a quick little jaunt.

There was the back room in view, completely familiar to me from Donna Druchunas’s book and every article I’ve ever read about the place. There were hand knits on display and hat kits for sale and if I’d been really rich that baby-size handspun qiviut blanket that was just under $700 would have been Mathias’s. If only. Inexplicably I saw none of the traditional smoke rings they’re so famous for–cowls, as someone in the Lower 48 would call them, infinity scarves, in the finest, softest, warmest handspun lace.

I made great friends with my first surgeon eight years ago when she was trying to describe this beautiful little hand knit she’d bought from an Eskimo group while visiting Alaska and I’d asked, Was it qiviut? A smoke ring? She was astonished: “How did you know?!”

I’m a knitter! And I spin.

And I live in California. I knew, looking at their wares, that I in no way need the extreme warmth of the undercoat of the gentle musk ox. But my daughter, now! I told her I had long wanted to support the women who do that work, but online from afar and in the wrong climate I’d just never made that order.

But here we were. (And the prices were about what it would cost me to knit them myself, I said afterwards as we were going back to the car.)

She picked out a thick, wide intarsia headband knitted in two natural shades–two designs, actually, taking a minute to decide: “This one looks like poinsettias to me,” and almost got it but the other won out in the end. (The one I’d picked out as my favorite, and if I should have kept my mouth shut it’s too late now.)

I’m rather sorry I didn’t get its picture. Even better yet, on her.

They said if it ever needed repair to just bring the sales slip with it and they would do it.

I told her it was an early Happy Mother’s Day from me. I didn’t quite say out loud, you swaddle your baby in warmth and I’ll swaddle mine.

But I did want at least some little memento for me and they had these tiny bags of combed raw qiviut: $4 each and I got two.

Sam told me afterwards that one of her co-workers had a hat from Oomingmak but he cannot wear it indoors. It’s too hot.

I figure, in Alaska, that’s a good problem to have.

Cat’s eyes
Friday May 12th 2017, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

The two cats.

While we were holding Mathias….

By day, a baby gate blocks the dog and them from each other but at night the puppy goes into her kennel and they are allowed to roam the house.

And so it was one evening that Sam’s cat ventured forth to claim her humans. She had met us when she was a kitten, seemed to recognize us a few years later by coming to me instead of her usual fear of strangers, and now at ten she had summoned us in her hour of need and we had come.

The, the, the, DOG. That big galumphing puppy. In HER house. The tiny new human interloper, although he left her alone and seemed acceptable. But the anticipated luxurious salon appointment that had turned out to be at the vet’s–that shall not be spoken of.

And so there we were, waiting to pet her, most deliciously on the couch where the dog could see her but was not allowed to go.

But first.

There was the dog’s favorite bone, right there in the middle of the floor she was claiming as rightfully her own in the night. She stood immediately behind it. She looked at the dog. She dared to touch a paw almost to it but deigned not to quite sully herself so.

As she stood eye to eye with that St. Bernard.

I can do anything I want with this and you know you can’t do a thing about it.

She stood like that for a full minute at least while I tried not to laugh for fear of waking up the exhausted new parents.

And then, having made her point, she came to us and dared us to think qiviut could be any softer. (Hey! The embiggen feature works on that Oomingmak pic!)

Young and grizzled
Thursday May 11th 2017, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Missing this little guy.

Last summer I wished I’d gotten a picture of the taxidermied grizzly at Anchorage airport that warns incoming tourists that Alaska is dead serious about the size of its bears. So here it is, with an arctic fox at its feet on the right.

Baby hat
Wednesday May 10th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

While in Alaska I started a sweater for Mathias. Baby cables, I explained to my son-in-law, are the simplest and smallest form of cabling.


As in fisherman sweaters?

He drew a blank.

Aran sweaters?

This wasn’t helping.

Alright then so I needed to demonstrate.

I decided about six inches into it though that I didn’t have enough yarn to finish. (Actually, after I got home I found out I did, I had more than I thought–I just hadn’t brought it all.) Well… What Mathias actually needed was a newborn size hat anyway. Let’s see, the front of a sweater is generally equal to the width of a hat, so, there you go, and I decreased at the top, sewed up the seam and called it good.

And if Comcast, which has been flickering all night, will hold still long enough I’ll post this and the photo.

Different each day
Tuesday May 09th 2017, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Family

And a few more pictures…

Monday May 08th 2017, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Our daughter called and said the baby was going to be coming home from the hospital Saturday; we booked our flights and arrived Monday and then came home this morning a week later and fell into bed well after 2:00 am. Delayed flight delayed luggage and my body has no idea what time zone I’m in and I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything.

Arriving, parking lots had mounds of dirt with white peeking out–oh, right, those are snowbanks still melting down, aren’t they. The trees were in dead-of-winter mode. The first one popped out in small bright sparkles of green the day before we left and by the morning there were tiny tiny leaves everywhere against the gray, as if the director had hummed the pitch and the a cappella choir was leaping right into the song.

Mathias was a placid, happy baby–as long as someone was holding him. Always. Day or night. The neonatologist said that sometimes the early ones need that extra cuddling.

We quickly got into the routine and privilege of having him in our arms while his parents got some uninterrupted sleep for the first shift of the night, with or without a bottle of pumped milk to extend that as his mother chose. Then we went off to our hotel to let them become a new family together without the in-laws there every moment. (And to lessen any fear of my falling over the big puppy, a St Bernard with a bit of Mastiff, and risking hitting my head. She did lean against the backs of my knees and cave me in just once but we did fine.)

Friday the baby let himself be put down in a crib for the first time, and that was a huge milestone.

We are in awe of our daughter. We are in awe of our son-in-law. You could not ask for better parents. And we are head over heels in love with Mathias.

I have to add, on a side note, that we got the great Alaska experience: one night (such as they are in May) we had just pulled onto the road when Richard slowed the car almost instantly right back down to a gentle stop before I saw why.

There was an immense moose before us. It took the next few steps that brought it right up to the hood of our car, where we could see it more clearly in the dusk. We weren’t going anywhere.

We knew rationally to be afraid but neither of us could find it in us to be so. Wow. What a magnificent animal. I’d always thought moose were frankly pretty darn ugly, but looking straight up at this seven foot tall creation of nature as it took a few steps around us and now stood outside the driver’s side–the entire driver’s side of the car–we were silent, taking in the moment as it took in us. Hail fellow. Well met.

Richard, pulling carefully away now, hoped out loud, Did you get its picture? as it stood there in the road, turning its enormous head to look at the kids’ house and then the other way while I hoped the dog wasn’t barking its head off.

Uh that would be a no. (On both.)

He said he wasn’t going back for it (!), and that made sense.

The other thing? The former governor of Alaska was in the grocery store at the other end of the produce department over by the deli while we were picking a few things up for the kids. No it couldn’t possibly be. Yes she absolutely was. I was slightly agog and trying not to look like it while my husband could not have cared less–we’re DC natives, we grew up with politicians, enough of them people who needed to let you know that they were important and he simply was not impressed. I love that man.

This is what matters.

Mathias went from squinting away from the brightness of light to opening his eyes to it and to us more and more. He went from a low of 6 lbs 13 oz to racing to make up for lost birthweight and beyond.

We got a text between airports Sunday: the dog had picked up a favorite toy and gone searching through the house for me. She wanted our playing together to never end.

Soon enough a little boy will be taking over from there.