But (just curious) could one make a double-treadle version?
Saturday September 30th 2017, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Life,Music

A completely random delightful stumbling-across while reading something else: an instrument that is “a hybrid of elements from a harpsichord, an organ and a viola da gamba” –and, they missed this part, a spinning wheel. That is totally a single-treadle spinning wheel’s mechanism.

A Polish man studied Leonardo Da Vinci’s dream of a horsehair-stringed treadled keyboarded new thing and spent three years studying and trying and failing and succeeding and at last turning it into reality. And then he got to demonstrate what had never before been. It looks a little bit folksy and sounds a whole lot of gorgeous–wow did he succeed.

Have a little concert. I so hope he records albums on this.

Curled up or curled under?
Friday September 29th 2017, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

No bottom ribbing on this one. At least for now.

So I tried to do a three by three stitch cable across a fourteen-stitch stem, just to see how I could make it twist, and I don’t think I’d try it that way again. Still. It’s fun to play around and see what comes of it.

And then there’s always the inside-out version and the surprise at how much wider and straighter it is.

On to hat two.


Update: I posted this and then went, wait–did I drop a stitch in that stem? It’ll run all the way down. Rip. That’s okay, the top of the orange came out way too loose anyway.

Wait–did I skip closing the arches on the second needle that time? I did. Rip.

Okay, NOW it’s done. The top orange is tightened up a lot and the stem makes a lot more sense.

Update on the update, working on the next hat: suddenly realizing that oh wait. These two circs I’ve been working on. One is a seven. The other is an eight. They’ve been mismatched all along. (Finds another seven.)

Don’t tell on me.


Thursday September 28th 2017, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Finished the blue cowl, and after a trip to Cottage Yarns yesterday for some of Malabrigo’s Glazed Carrot merino, started one of several pumpkin hats to come.

(I think I’ll add a sideways 1×1 two-colored brim at the bottom afterwards–this one’s coming out big brother sized, not little sister sized.)

Looking for jack o’ lantern motifs tonight, I stumbled across something I’d never heard of. Richard, looking over my shoulders, figured out on the spot how to write a program to have your yarn machine-dyed to do this, to which I said, But she actually thought it up–and she actually makes this: self-striping sock yarn that knits up into jack o’lanterns. (Ravelry link.) And sushi. And snowmen, complete with scarf. The ones I like most appear to be sold out for now, but AbiGrasso (link to her own site) does fabulous work and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Meantime, back to the Halloween motif. With four to do I can learn as I go. For the first I’m knitting it with wide ribs and in plain orange: I can make face pieces separately, run the ends through to the inside, tie loosely behind the scenes and make it so they can undo the ties and pull the facial features off come November first to be all ready for Thanksgiving. So they can use them for more than a month. (The thought hits) –actually– I could make a bunch of pieces and let them have fun creating faces and then run the ends through for them or stitch them on so that they can be part of creating their own hats. Hey. I like that!

(New photo added at 10:15 pm.)

The new guy
Wednesday September 27th 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I had a good, honest mechanic and his brother for twenty-eight years. Who just retired.

On a strong recommendation, I took the car to someone new today for routine maintenance, with a sudden low-pressure idiot light on a tire as extra incentive. I hadn’t particularly wanted to go there; I liked being able to walk from and to the garage and there was no way with this one. But I knew nothing about the folks who took over my old guy’s place–except that a big corporation wants to redevelop their site, the neighbors are fighting it, the city council looks like they’ll approve it, and the landlord is seeing the dollar signs. So they might not be there very long.

The guy asked me if I wanted a ride home or to stay in their waiting room, stocked with newspapers and the kinds of book you could pick up a great recipe from or browse through, thoughtfully chosen pick-up-put-downs of the kinds that you’d want in such a circumstance.

A ride home and then a return pick-up later? Wow. It would only be an hour, hour and a half? Hey. It was early morning, I had my hot cocoa in a thermos with me and my knitting in my purse–I was all set.

I glanced at the local daily and read up on city politics as my hands worked. The old mechanic had never had a place to wait in. This was great.

The guy stepped into the room and looked like he was about to ask me how I was doing when he saw the blue yarn and the needles. He got a wonderful smile on his face and asked if I were knitting a gift? He was highly pleased that yes, it was. One of his young employees stopped by what was also their break room and he too was delighted and asked me what I was making.

They got the car done in a bit under an hour and it was time to pay.

Wait, what?

(He wasn’t sure what the problem was.)

No seriously, seriously?!

Well, he joked, I could move the decimal over for you if you’d rather.

Since when does someone spend that much time on my car and only charge me $43? Last time I checked on the going rate on mechanics around here, and that was at least ten years ago, it was $60-70/hour.

And so now I have a new place to happily knit when I need to be there.

The 7% solution
Tuesday September 26th 2017, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Spinning

Usually Colourmart will twist a very thin yarn into a thicker one for you for $5 a cone.

But this one? No way, too twisty, they’d tried, don’t ask, it didn’t work out.

For what it was (a mill closeout of cobweb-weight 93/7  14.5 micron black ultra-ultra-fine merino/vicuna) and how much it was ($18/150 g ppd), I was willing to find out how hard it would be to do on the wheel. Pure vicuna yarn ran $400 an ounce last time I checked. I had bought a cone of the 2% vicuna, was amazed at what an incredible yarn that 2% made it into, and then this one showed up on their site. I didn’t buy it all, but I bought enough to make into a usable yarn on the third spinning-wheel bobbin.

So here’s what I learned today. Yes it kinks back on itself in a heartbeat. It will literally throw your yarn for a loop. Once you start plying that wheel has to keep going until you’re done, with one hand holding the strands slightly aloft like a distaff, bringing them together and keeping them from snagging on your clothes, and the other hand controlling the twist as it feeds onto the bobbin.

If you stop and wind it around the knob to place-hold it and come back, you’ve lost your slight tension on that multitude of strands. Suddenly thinking, wait–if I’d put a book on them next to me on the seat before getting up it probably would have been okay? One time the mess was bad enough that I broke it off right there and declared it done: those strands were not willing to straighten out individually. At all. I felt for the woman at Colourmart.

My finished first skein, held in the air, twisted slightly at the bottom. Given the cobweb’s original twistiness, I think I improved it. I think.

But oh my goodness there is no way to describe how soft that yarn felt running through my hands as I aimed for a knittable thickness, and that was with the mill coating still on it. It was like there was almost nothing there to feel, it was so light and so extremely soft.

I’m glad I bought it. It will take a lot of time to ply all those cones (4703 yards each) and ply again, two done S twist, then Z twisted together to balance. Scoured and preshrunk, it came out with a slightly nubbly look. It is not a perfect yarn.

But oh the vastness of that softness… Even Richard squishy-squished it. (Okay, yes, I asked. “Soft,” he duly pronounced. Thank you, honey!)

Yeah. So. Unless there are a few in someone’s cart, where they’re allowed to stay for a month, that one is sold out. But the 16 micron merino with 2% vicuna (direct link fixed) that started all this? Amazingly soft, smoothly and commercially spun, and good to go–it’s 4-ply. Knit it doubled makes fingering weight, double that, worsted weight, no spinning wheel needed. Oh, and: right now everything on their site is 20% off.

As I told my sweetie re the 7%, I’ll probably never get a chance to knit with a yarn like this again. Knowing I’d have to do all that work, it was worth it.

More of that same blue cashmere
Monday September 25th 2017, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

It took me till after dinner to settle down, choose just one yarn, and start.

But then after overdoing it yesterday, my hands needed that bit of a break.

Odd ball
Sunday September 24th 2017, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I waited till the two newly-near-sisters were standing together with their folks when I pulled the hats out–and got to watch the girls’ eyes go big. I had apparently managed exactly what they’d hoped for (and no yellow!)  I told them if anything wasn’t perfect, please tell me and I’d be happy to make another because this was about having them love what they got.

They were very, very happy and grateful and there were hugs and you knew they now knew they had an adult who thought the world of them who didn’t have to. Because just because.

Beige cowl: that young mom was off on a trip with her mom but her husband was there with the (not quite a baby anymore) and a backpack and it definitely had room for cashmere to make his wife happy, and yes, she wore that shade all the time. He’d had no idea this was coming.

Later I saw one of the hat recipients trying hers on his toddler’s head and loving how cute she looked in it. (Maybe I have enough yarn left in that ball to… Maybe. I might not so I didn’t say anything.)

The bright blue: exactly went with the dress of a woman who recently moved here, doesn’t know many people yet, is tied down with a new baby and has a lot of changes and adjusting to do all at once. It was a treat to see her face and her husband’s completely light up–and they stayed that way.

The purple didn’t quite find its spot yet and came home for now, but two green ones left the purse and didn’t come back.

The reject yarn from my first attempt at ordering self-striping? One of the two skeins bit the dust after church, mostly because I wanted to keep up the momentum. Two feet to spare when I declared it good enough and done. It was literally an odd ball as far as my eyes were concerned but someone will love it.

And then I can tell those girls that having to re-order to get the colorway right worked out perfectly after all.

Productive week
Saturday September 23rd 2017, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

When I said I had two weeks to do those two color requests? It wasn’t till this morning that it suddenly hit me, Wait–General Conference is next week! Women’s Conference is today, not the General–the first full weekend in October, not one split down the middle with September. Oops.

And so I sat down at ten a.m. and cast on the beige I’d been avoiding (boring…) and was determined to have it done even if I hadn’t given myself a whole lot of time to do it in. The green/orange/yellow request will get shown a green one and green/orange/yellow/blue yarn and get to choose stripes-to-be or the solid that is ready to go, but I had to have L’s ready, too.

Hey, said my fingers as the number of stitches gradually piled up. Cashmere definitely makes that nice, calm color feel wonderful. (Thank you Colourmart mill-end sets.)

I kept at it and kept at it and knitted some more during that one women’s session and now all it needs is to be dry in the morning. I might help it out with that after I finish typing this.

I ran in the ends on all these and two other projects that hadn’t happened on: all ready to go now. Not sure why I so often procrastinate that part.

Those hats, though. I am really really looking forward to seeing those girls happy. 

Falling leaves in September
Friday September 22nd 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Because someone will need a cheerful blue one. (It’s blocking now and no longer looks like a Sorting Hat wannabe.)

Yarn: a surprise gift from Melinda of Tess Designer Yarns a couple years ago, multiple shades of a soft blue merino laceweight that I knitted together for instant gratification.

Thursday September 21st 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Wings all at once, a dove panicking in the wrong direction, and I looked up at the sounds in time to see the hawk doing a careful u-turn right at the window: he knew where that glass was.

But instead of further pursuit of whatever was surely flying wonky by then (I was surprised it could at all after that hard smack, and apparently so was he), he landed on the wooden box and turned to me at near eye level.

He seemed to need to know. To take the measure of just what this entity was on the other side of that window and what I might do or intend. I was big. Was this a problem.

I remembered my manners: I blinked. Exaggeratedly. More than once. Knowing that he could be entirely gone in the space of one long one.

Tomorrow is Equinox and territory must be held and held boldly. I’m pretty sure I saw him chasing a crow away over the neighbor’s yesterday, movement I looked up to almost too late to see.

This wasn’t my long-time Coopernicus visitor but it most likely was his son; raptors, like so many of us, prefer to nest around where they grew up if they can afford the price of the real estate. And so, as his father before him had done come equinox and solstice, he chose to people-watch a few minutes.

Was I a challenger? Was I a threat? Would I interfere with his meals?

The striped chest gave him away as being in his first year. Fast on the wing and short on experience. I smiled and radiated love the best I too-humanly could do, in awe that yet again, I had a wild Cooper’s hawk choosing to take the time to stand ten feet away from me and look me in the eye. (Blink. Mourning doves are universally compelled to blink back at you. A raptor holds you steady in its gaze.)

He craned his neck this way and that now: See anything land around here, lady? It hit, you know?

Yes it did and no, but given how hard it hit you will definitely be able to get it on the next fly-by. When you see a dove under the bird feeder walking backwards in circles repeatedly you know its brain is as good as mine and most likely how it got that way.

Ah, over by that tree! And he was off in a wingbeat.

His name. He needs a name. I’m quite sure this one was a male. Any suggestions?

Hat #2
Wednesday September 20th 2017, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Somehow putting the photos side-by-side for the first time makes them a clearer mismatch than before. This one was a lot harder to match the drawing, short of spending well over a hundred dollars on individual colors.

Thus the self-striping Knitpicks Chrome, which kind of surprised me in how it came out. One can never entirely tell just from the outer lengths photo’d online on one side of the ball. I expected more blue and green, and it’s in there but it’s taking too long to get to it.

And the green was contaminated by a screaming yellow with greenish tints after it that didn’t go at all. I showed my young friend the yarn Sunday and she wasn’t in love with that part. Neither was I. When I got to it I broke it off and tossed it aside.

More purple is good, the mom said. Well hey, look at that, the yarn started right off with it and we definitely got more purple. And pink.

That one-stitch downward jog in the green only shows on this side so when I sew in a label when I’m done it will help keep that tucked out of sight on the inside.

Waiting to hear back whether she wants a fold-back brim or not, since her drawing didn’t have one. Debating coming up with a second-try hat somehow, just in case it’s needed. Happy to do so.

But from what I’ve seen I think she’ll like this one.


Hat #1
Tuesday September 19th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift

I woke up this morning with a clarity of thought: what I want to do today is to get Alex’s hat done.

I’d started in the discontinued, densely-spun Zara 14 and my first attempt at matching its thickness for the second stripe had failed–but after yesterday’s mail, I could do it now.

Electric blue and black was the verbal request with the artist’s rendering, chunky yarn specifically hoped for.

Found both colors from the same line after all.

It came out very stretchy and short one blue stripe, being long enough for a good fold-up brim already. (Not to mention my running out of blue.) But I did get that bit of brightness at the top thing going on just like she did and it tickles me no end.

Meantime, look what opened up. In September!

Face up to it
Monday September 18th 2017, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Richard: “I didn’t know it bothered you that much.”

Me: “I didn’t know it did at all either–because I couldn’t do anything about it, so I didn’t let myself think about it.”

In the months after my 40th birthday, life gifted me with a mole on the side of my face. One takes new and uneven dark skin lesions to the doctor, and I did, and got told, welcome to getting older, honey. (Me: at 40?!) The guy was clearly amused that I would be worried about something so ordinary–whereas me, I was trying to take seriously all the advice I’d ever been given on the subject and felt a little put down. I knew I’d had a sunburn as a teen bad enough to bleed if you so much as touched me. Hello Swedish/British/Scottish ancestors, I got me some risk factors. So I came in.

So that was that.

I was at the dermatologist’s this afternoon to get something else checked out. She always notes that one mole under the side of my glasses when she sees me and is always very reassuring, saying that age spots can change shape and size and it sounds bad but it’s not, you just have to keep an eye on them is all.

Today, though, she looked at it and considered it a good moment. “That’s bigger than it used to be.”

“Yes, quite a bit.” With a shape now as if Florida had shrunk in the wash like a cheap sock.

She considered, decided not to biopsy, but asked if I’d like it frozen off and just be done with it? I surprised myself by how vehemently I blurted out, “YES!!!”

Dang, should have done that ages ago. I’d somehow thought it was too big for freezing–but did I ask? No. Duh. Man does it feel good to have my own face back. Yes the process takes a few weeks to work but it already looks better.

And I’m thinking of the optician we saw (on Saturday for the Xth time, still trying to get those new glasses done right.) The one who asked me if I liked this pair here and I answered, “Yes; they accentuate my mole nicely.” He and his colleague next to him totally cracked up.

Now I can tell him they’d made it go poof! See? You go put those dermatologists right out of business!

(Except that then I wouldn’t be able to finish projects in their waiting rooms. Malabrigo Mechita, Whales Road, the second half of a skein drying now.)

Sunday September 17th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

J did a little dance coming out of church today: “And *I* have a cowl!” The other J I gave to on the same day was wearing hers.

I think people are beginning to notice. Which means my knitting needs to go faster. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re the last one–although, I explained to someone, it’s random, it depends on what I see someone wearing that matches what’s in my stash….

So, twenty down and a bajillion to go.

The Knitpicks yarn came yesterday and the friend’s daughter whose hat it’s for wrinkled her nose when I showed her the other yarn that had looked more pink online but wasn’t and then her face lit up when I showed her the Knitpicks Chroma I’d bought to replace it with–and thank you all for the recommendation.

Someone else, when asked her favorite color, hemmed and hawed and said, Green. …And orange. And yellow. That’s it! Green and orange and yellow.

I think that first hat skein may have just found its rightful home (or even if not that one, once it’s knit up someone will latch onto it. I’ll have to knit it to find out how the colorway turns out in real life.) The stash giveth and the stash cometh quickly away.

Next week is General Conference, which we watch online, which means I have an extra week to pull off a whole lot of–we’ll see.

He heard we had peaches
Saturday September 16th 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Not to brag, but–yeah I am–you want to know how much of a sweetheart my guy is? We had, with the help of friends, devoured every last peach from Andy’s Orchard and I was going through a serious end-of-summer withdrawal on the things.

He drove me to Andy’s. It’s about an eighty-minute round trip. It was his first time there. I wasn’t even sure they still had any, but I knew they would have something good (and they did. Some plums came home too.) He can now vouch for their candied almonds, too.

And then just to make the day perfect, Sam told us the hats arrived today, and of course in September in Anchorage you definitely need a hat. Mathias took the gray cashmere one off his head, his daddy said, and just buried his face in it.

And then the chomp. As one does.