Tuesday January 23rd 2018, 12:10 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Awhile back, maybe two years? Colourmart had a dk 50/50 merino/silk in a cheerful chestnut brown, almost sold out, that I knew was exactly my friend Phyl’s color. So I hinted, and at the time she said she wasn’t into cowls.

Fair enough. But I bought a cone anyway while I still could because the shade was so perfectly her.

A week ago, I pulled it out of the stash and wondered out loud in her presence if that reluctance still held.

“Oh, that’s my color!” And yes, yes she would quite like a cowl out of that, thank you!

Alright then!

So yesterday, I showed her the project at the halfway mark: did she want me to continue going straight, or fan out?

“Is yours straight?” (Yes it was.) “Fan out.”

Okay, so I had to design how I would do that in that lace pattern…

…And it is finished and drying and I learned how much I like how that just came out and I intend to do that again–if nothing else, so that I can get it written down as I go, so that I can then test knit it from that written-out, etc etc.

The plain no-brain hat that I started after dinner, meantime, is well on its way.

Warmth that’s easy to put on one-handed
Sunday January 21st 2018, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I didn’t take this one to church last week. I couldn’t tell you why not, other than the passing thought of maybe I’d keep it for myself. The way the yarn was spun makes it look a little bit nubbly but it is marvelously soft and I love the color.

Yeah, I didn’t believe I would either–because I knew there was enough yarn left to at least make a smaller version. But still, that merino/silk stayed home.

Not today. Today it definitely insisted it was coming with me. I thought I was ready to head out the door to church but it called me back somehow. Okay. I walked halfway across the house and retrieved it just in time.

It was not picked out by the friend who went for the beige cashmere. (Whom I said “Happy Birthday!” to, having no idea it really had been her birthday two weeks ago.) It was passed over by the friend who picked the silver Classic Elite Chalet baby alpaca that I finished yesterday. (Yay for overnight drying.)

And then, at the last meeting, I saw Candice and what she was wearing and was suddenly pretty sure of myself. But first things first: ask, because you never know, and people should always have a choice and not just have to be polite at you. “Is this a good shade of blue?”

She exclaimed as I pulled it out, “That is the PERFECT shade of blue! Ohmygosh, is this for me?!”

Note that she is the mother of three small children. Note that this week, her husband’s been out of town and she’s been coping with the kids missing him as much as she has. (I saw one being weepy and remembered those days.) Note that this week is the week, it turned out, that she broke her wrist, while trying to hold everybody together in his absence.

I’d had no idea.

She didn’t need that cowl last week. She needed that cowl this week. It’s not just about the color.

Flight and feint
Saturday January 20th 2018, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

Richard was at the wheel. We were past the toll booths, the marshes were at high water just a few feet below the freeway, and almost to the bridge over the Bay.

Tucked right at the water’s edge there in the strangest location–with no turn-around at a one-lane dirt road running a short distance between where the shore and the freeway give it just that much space from the Bay, and a mystery unto itself–is a shack with the call sign announcing that it houses a radio station. And coming in at the top of that shack, wings wide, swerving sideways at the last with talons outstretched for a fight, was a peregrine falcon! Right there!

A second one (there! There were two!) standing on the roof seemed to start to respond in kind but flinched at the last and scrambled away. Which was the tipoff that it wasn’t an exchange of an unseen fish, this was over territory.

Well, that’s one way to change the station.

In that blink we were too far past to see more.


Didn’t seize the 4s for the freeze
Friday January 19th 2018, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

Five skeins (four of those, and one 80/20 baby alpaca/bamboo) bought at Green Planet on Tuesday.

I have small remnants of the first four and one repeat’s worth left on that fifth, and I really want to finish this cowl but my hands need to stop. It’s the chunky baby alpaca blend, super soft, and I thought I was just going to get it started so as to have a small carry-around project for tomorrow. It kept insisting, You need to knit me right now! and the next thing you know I had nearly run out of yarn.

A hat and almost a cowl (I might yet. After the icepacks. Maybe) in one day. For me that’s a record.

But the camera on the phone is in no-go-mode so I can’t show off. Maybe I should confess that the thing landed out of my purse onto the front of the car while I was out and about and the thing is so old that no self-respecting car thief bothered to touch it.

Only five more months to ripening
Thursday January 18th 2018, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

The earliest blossoms, the earliest fruit set.

Got told something I thought I’d pass along: to keep raccoons out of your tomatoes and fruit, the most effective thing is chicken wire–it’s flimsy enough under their weight to scare them and they won’t climb it.

I knew when I saw the yarn that that was exactly her color. And she likes to bake.
Wednesday January 17th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Caramel bundt cake. Wouldn’t you say?

Starry night with meteor showers
Tuesday January 16th 2018, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I sent a friend a note today after I ran the ends in: did he want a “Created with pride by…” tag in his? Or did he want to be able to wear it this way as well as the other way?

The advantage to the tag is its making the hat traceable and returnable should he lose it–a friend of mine got a baby sweater back that way.

(Like he would ever lose it, I figure.)

See? That’s how you justify procrastinating doing that last obnoxious little task of trying to stab and pull yarn through that small tight strip of fabric–you delegate the decision and then ignore your phone while you blog.

Worked for me.

He said the right thing at the right time
Monday January 15th 2018, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

I somehow inexplicably, completely and utterly forgot that you’re supposed to spray the dormant peach trees with copper to head off peach leaf curl disease. Which three of my trees got hit with hard last year with all the rain we had, even though I did spray then. The disease can only take hold at cold temperatures on wet, new, growing leaves, but it can kill a tree and it destroyed all the fruit on those three.

A friend who’s a master gardener happened to say something on the subject, with the end result that I hired him to come do it for me. I knew that if nothing else, he would do it right and after last year I was certainly not sure I had.

It’s been warm during the day the last few days and turns out those same early peaches were starting to come to life again. They hadn’t broken bud yet though, so the job could still be done. We just made it.

And only because he didn’t have quite enough copper to finish his own job and wondered out loud if anyone had a bit to spare, to save him the hassle of buying and storing a whole big thing of the stuff for a year when he only needed a few spoonfuls’ worth.

I responded with, Sure, I do–  and then–  !!!

And now it’s done.

One by one
Sunday January 14th 2018, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

She chose the black one.

Someone else chose the red one (quite blown away, having zero expectation that I would knit for her. Seems my cover is not entirely blown around there–I can still surprise people.)

And I took the beige home for now so that the next person would be able to choose from a selection of more than one, too.

Simple patterns, potato-chip knitting, but in yarns you want to reach out and touch. Here, let me finish this hat for Lee and I’ll start the next one.

(Hawk update: Richard saw it swooping in front of the toyon tree.)

Watching like a hawk
Sunday January 14th 2018, 12:34 am
Filed under: Wildlife

Out late with friends, let me write up real quick…

The peach trees are showing the earliest signs of life.

There was a Cooper’s hawk a few days ago that I didn’t see on the fence till I was in the middle of opening the slider door. It glanced up briefly–and preened, tucking that head well into that outstretched wing. Clearly I did not bother it.

A dark shadow on the awning–and a Cooper’s hawk in the tree just past the fence. Wait–are there two? As if to answer, that shadow turned into a hawk flying to the other one. Two!

And another sighting, curving right right at the window.

Seems to me we are coming up quickly on nesting season, then. Territory has been claimed.


Stash diving
Friday January 12th 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Finished (except for running in the ends.) And now the one after this is about 8″ along; it’s about the color of the chair this one’s sitting on.

After several days of growling at myself that I *knew* I had some beige cashmere from that mill-end of the mill-ends sale because I used part of it for Lanae’s, this afternoon I finally found it and cast on immediately. Red, black, or beige–Eli’s mom will get to choose which one came out the most to her liking. (I found it I found it!)

I mean, it’s not like it’s hard to find other people who want one of those.



Dusty purple and red and sprinkles of light
Thursday January 11th 2018, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Spinning

Squiggles and squirls… Knitting this yesterday and today has been one of those reminders that when you ply cobweb weight on the wheel from the cones, cashmere and merino fibers shrink at different rates when you scour the mill oils out of the finished yarn and the glitter strand, not at all. This was not a smooth yarn.

It’ll do. Yes I think it’ll do nicely. 

On Beyond Zebra
Wednesday January 10th 2018, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Look what came in the mail today. Fifty wool hand knit finger puppets from Peru (each with a little Made in Peru sticker that is going to have to come off before toddlers get to them.) Five zebras, one alligator, two bearded, ruffly-footed iguanas, lions, monkeys, parrots, ladybugs, puppies…

The women can put food on the table there, I can make parents with fussy kids happy here, and everybody wins. How much did it cost? The answer to life, the universe, and everything (postage included).

After all the airport time we’ve done in the last two months my supply was getting a bit low. It was time to restock. 

Space X last month
Tuesday January 09th 2018, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Life

I promised you guys and then forgot to post it after we got home–here’s Richard’s best picture of Elon Musk’s Space X. We were heading into a restaurant in La Jolla, 300 miles south of where this took off from, at the time we looked up to see why everybody else on the sidewalk was staring up into the sky. There was much speculation about what on earth that thing could be, till someone successfully Googled it.

Doesn’t it look like a fish that swallowed a fish?

Looks like you can embiggen the photo this time–scroll to the right. The bigger picture gives you a better sense of just how enormous this was in the sky to us.

For Rebecca
Monday January 08th 2018, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I really should make a beige one first anyway, because I remember beige was on her short list. But I don’t have a beige yarn on hand that I’m happy enough with (especially given what it has to compete with) and I think black was her first choice but I need to ask.

To back up a bit: Saturday I picked up the second vicuna/merino cowl (the one that had a mistake in that splitty black yarn that was so hard to see) that I’d started for her, finally got the mistake fixed (frogging back would have been disastrous) and finished it off. I’d started it flying home from San Diego in bad lighting–but enough of the stalling, it was time.

I went looking for her yesterday.

She and her family weren’t there.

Just as well–I should have had both colors done and in hand first. (Even if part of me thinks, hey, 7% vicuna/93% 14-micron merino, hand-plied from cobweb.) I owe Eli’s whole family for taking such good care of my mango tree.

But on my way out the door to church, on impulse I also grabbed a cowl in a deep rose that I’d made just because I really liked the color and the yarn. Merino. Hand-dyed. And it was Stitches yarn, which you know means it’s a favorite. I hadn’t worn it, I’d actually kind of argued with myself while I was knitting it because I had other things waiting in the queue, I hadn’t even thought about it once it was done, and now all the sudden it opened the door, turned on the light, unzipped its ziplock and leaped out at me all on its own. Cowabunga!

Alright, I grinned, I take it your day has come?

There’s been a young couple these last half dozen years or so who, she reminds me very much of someone I knew growing up. Not that I needed the excuse to particularly like them both. You want lime-green shoes at church or bright orange pants and a ready smile to match, he was your man and I thought it was great.

They soon had a baby girl, and blink, suddenly she was an absolutely adorable toddler with a little brother.

I didn’t consciously notice, but come to think of it I think his shoes were black yesterday. Whatever. The young dad announced, with tears, that they were moving. His wife was visiting the folks and showing off the grandkids so she wasn’t there to say goodbye, just him; he’d flown back early to finish up the packing. He thanked us all for looking out for them, and while looking forward to their next stage, grieved losing seeing us every week; “We started our family here!”

Hey, you can’t just leave like that.

I cornered him afterwards. Had I knitted one of these for his wife yet? flipping the edge of my own cowl. She was high on my list but I was quite sure she hadn’t been checked off quite yet.

He laughed. “I bet you’ve made one of those for everyone in the ward!”

“Working on it!” and I meant it. “Does your wife like this color?” reaching into my purse. (It only occurs to me just now that I never did take its picture.)

As far as he knew. “This is beautiful!” he exclaimed, his hands feeling that soft merino, taking it all in. I told him I thought it was machine washable but I didn’t have the ball band anymore so don’t hold me to it. He tried to say something about giving it back if she already had one and I said no way. This is hers.

He was so touched. He couldn’t wait to give it to her. And I think, I really think, that in that moment it helped him ease forward into the new. Taking a bit of the old with them. They wouldn’t be forgotten.