Thththththat’s all, folks!
Wednesday February 28th 2018, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Hey, Dad, one of your amaryllises is blooming. Thank you!

And on the cowl: I wanted to use up every inch of that beaded yarn, to put all of that good woman’s work to use.

I found myself wanting a bigger motif at the bottom. Given that the beads will go in through a loop but they do not want to come back out of them again and if you do, the antsy little strand they’re on catches along with the bead and starts tangling, one really can make no mistakes with this stuff. Pushing on the yardage when there was absolutely no more and no backtracking was dicey. But I wanted to so I did.

I should add, after I weighed a few times as I went along and prayed a little bit to stay on the safe side.

And I got it! Casting off right after a yarnover row is fine when you have to. But I finished that bigger motif and I really like how this cowl came out.

Five beads left. I don’t think that vendor would mind.

A third more to go
Tuesday February 27th 2018, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Exquisite stuff. I had no idea I actually did like beaded knitting.

A lot.

Of course, having the yarn pre-strung does speed up the process.

With sparkles
Monday February 26th 2018, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I’ll try to get a picture tomorrow.

There was an older woman at Stitches selling 76 gram 200 yard skeins of three plies that she’d clearly plied herself: because one was 85/15 cashmere/silk, one was silk, and the last one embedded in there was a strand of mylar/nylon sparkle.

And that sparkle yarn had hundreds of matching cobalt-blue glass beads strung along it.

She had done that stringing herself.

And she was selling those skeins for $18.

I bought just one, and told her I knew I would regret that. Which I do. I was in Stitches overload and sparkly isn’t usually personally my thing but even then I knew I would wish for more of this stuff. It was very striking. I asked the woman if she sold them online and her response was, no, because she can never keep up.

I went looking today out of sheer curiosity and found lesser amounts of wool beaded in villages in India for three times the price and a beaded cashmere yarn for $74 for, again, less yarn, and realized that my take that the lady at Stitches was seriously undervaluing her time and product was definitely an understatement.

So here I was today, not thinking of that at all but rather of a friend who sings semi-professionally and who loves a good formal dress for a performance. She wore a striking new cobalt-blue one to church yesterday. She is a profoundly kind human being and I told her a week or two ago that I wanted to be like her when I grow up.

She laughed in surprise and told me I had that backwards.

Yesterday, though, she opened up a little to me about how hard this parenting three small children thing was being just then. I sympathized; I told her of when my two-year-old had danced to make the four-month-old giggle, had suddenly stopped, pulled back her foot and kicked him hard in the face just to see what would happen.

Mommy grabbing her shoulders and screaming, NO!!! in her face as the baby screamed hysterically is what happened. Trust me, they’re good friends now.

So here I was today, thinking of her needing a hug and a you’ve-got-this, winding a skein of superwash wool to match that dress: practical, soft, and one less thing for her to stress over. And I sat down to cast it on.

I only got to about four stitches. The wool just refused.

But with little kids and a baby surely that’s what she needs, and it’s the right color….!

I looked up mid-self-argument and saw that beaded yarn.

Sometimes it feels great to be more than just the mom.

Instantly I knew why, in all the time I’ve known Becca, I’ve never yet made her a cowl. It was because her yarn hadn’t existed yet, and I didn’t know that, but now it does and it is perfect. Nobody else will have one like it, and that’s okay: nobody else does what she does.

I sent a note in thanks to the woman who’d strung those beads and she was very pleased.

I’ve got the stitch count. I’ve got the first row. I just have to get past the feeling that I only have just this one chance to knit this gorgeous yarn right–and that after that I may never get to again.

Stumped the math guy with my knitting
Sunday February 25th 2018, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Wait. How does that make sense. Who could I ask.

Oh of course! I knew it the moment I saw him: the high school math teacher!

Hey! So I have this pattern, so many knits, so many purls, and then move them sideways–so suddenly it’s knit five here, but that’s okay because the purl stitch will come up at the rear later. Right?


So then how come the line going straight up here is this many and in that section is that many when it should all be the same? I got the stitch count right.

Let me look at that. He counted stitches as if he’d been knitting all his life. You’re right–that’s–huh. He was stumped. He wondered if it made a difference if you started with knits vs purls, and assured me, But I don’t think it shows…

It doesn’t, or not really; it looks like a half a stitch’s extra width here, and it makes no sense. But you’re right, I don’t think it shows.

I told him that when you’re knitting in the round there’s always this half-stitch jog upwards where the row had begun and that some knitters knit half of the stitch below to try to straighten out that line.

He was intrigued: I can’t wait to go home and look at my socks!

And a little child shall lead them
Saturday February 24th 2018, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

There was a young mom with her infant in a front pack, her adorable young toddler whose legs still wobbled occasionally, and a friend to walk the aisles with her at Stitches to help keep a second pair of eyes on him.

And suddenly there was a finger puppet, because in that crowded venue among so many strangers it was something he was going to need. Something wooly and bright and soft of his own.

His mommy had him waving thank you for it.

I smiled a been there at the women and got out of their way.

So here I was an hour or so later suddenly realizing that they were coming at me from a side aisle–and that that little boy, not yet old enough to talk (or at least not among lots of strangers) had seen me before I’d seen him, because I didn’t notice him till just as his hands moved at the basket on my scooter, having gotten ahead of the grown-ups at seeing me.

He had grabbed a quite-small skein of light pink exquisite softness his mommy had just bought and was stuffing it in on top of my Neighborhood Fiber skeins: clearly that was where I wanted my yarns to go. I didn’t see the label and don’t know what it was but it was clearly the good stuff.

That was one of the best thank-you presents I have ever been given.

His mom suddenly saw and was apologizing to me but clearly also delighted at the graciousness of his intent and we were both very proud of him. I thanked him.

And handed it back to her.

He wanted to fix that and do right by me–didn’t we understand? His mom and I both laughed with love and gently insisted it needed to stay with her. But to make sure he knew he wasn’t being scolded nor his gift rejected but rather, praise had been earned, I thanked him again for the lovely gift.

He is going to be a good man when he grows up.

Buffalo Wool Co
Friday February 23rd 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

First, a side note: my phone died. Anybody trying to text to meet up with me tomorrow at Stitches, we’re going to try a different charger tonight and see if that does it.

Meantime, one of the first booths you see as you go in the door at Stitches (turn right) is Buffalo Wool Company‘s.

Where, last year, Ron Miskin said to me in surprise, I didn’t know you wrote a book!

Just like that they had a copy. Funny how that works.

I had just bought a skein of their buffalo silk yarn and suddenly he grabbed a twin to it and put it in my basket. I protested that that wasn’t a fair trade for them, and he grinned an oh well! at me.

So today. I go in there, and I say, I’m bringing some yarn back; it just didn’t work for me. I hope they didn’t mind if it was slightly used.

He was catching on…

I was pulling the cowl out…

I forget if I said happy birthday or merry Christmas–I try to say the first these days, it’s universally applicable–and had fun watching him be blown away. Theresa, busy with another customer for part of that, tried it on and loved it. She asked about the pattern; I said it was a doodle.

I told them how much I had regretted having restocked my husband’s socks supply with (bignamebrand) supposedly washable merino socks, and how much some of them had shrunk and some had had elastic threads tear out even though I handwashed them (I spin them out in the machine). I’d then bought two of their buffal0/merino socks–and they were soft and got softer with washing, they didn’t shrink, they held up, they are fabulous socks and I am not buying my husband anything else from here on out.

Do you live where it’s cold? he asked.

Right up the freeway, actually, but we’ve been to Alaska several times now with a baby grandson there. And we talked a little about that airport vending machine that had made me guffaw–perfect product placement!

Now, I should have guessed what Ron was going to do next. He grabbed a pair and put it in the scooter’s basket.

I protested and he grinned.

I debated a moment while he helped someone else, and then admitted that I have 6.5 feet (even if EE) and my husband’s a 13 and I was afraid neither of us could wear his size large.

So he grabbed more expensive versions–two, no less, one for Richard and one for me, and when I tried to tell him he couldn’t do that he grinned something along the lines of, try to stop me.

You know I can’t get ahead of them.

But we’re having fun trying.

Twas the day before Stitches and all through the house…
Thursday February 22nd 2018, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Finished that cowl.

Found a rental scooter. (The batteries on mine are fine, the scooter, not so much. Props to Richard for asking me to check it out a week ago, not so much to me for not doing so till last night.) The rental is the 2018 version of mine right down to the color so the controls are very familiar to me. Its basket is noticeably smaller, though–clearly its designer was not comprehending the Stitches yarns concept.

Tried to clear up space on my phone so I can start taking pictures again.

Got sent this one from my daughter’s.

Wednesday February 21st 2018, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Knit

Re the buffalo silk, after the increase you–wait. I should have indented the slantings by one stitch around each straight line on the first one, because either those are going to jog now or the center motifs after the first one are going to be two rows and two stitches smaller than the one I just did and that doesn’t work and I’ve made this mistake years ago and I knew this–oh well. Okay. (Tink back.) So we ditch the columns and go on the half-drop principle from here and that preserves the initial seven stitches at the first row of each–

–Oh hi, guys! Stitches West is this weekend, thousands of knitters wearing things they’ve made, all that inspiration, all those people who love to do what you love to do, two hundred vendors, every kind of fiber you could imagine. See you at Santa Clara Convention Center!

–isn’t it a relief to be knitting deep turquoise after that kilogram of endless, endless offwhite. Okay, the half-drop is working, it’s a go. I have a lot to do tomorrow but it should be finished and dried by Stitches.

First ice cream
Tuesday February 20th 2018, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Wait. Daddy. This is Alaska and we’re always bundled up trying to stay warm and yes I’ll hold the napkin for you but you want me to put something that looks like snow *inside my mouth*?

It felt like snow, too–the next photo was of a baby recoiling in shock and betrayal.

The next photo was of a baby doing a double take.

The next photo was this long, thoughtful look as it dribbled down his chin: Cold. Food?

Yes. Yes. I think I do. I don’t know how but I like this. Daddy? More?

One more way to stay in touch
Monday February 19th 2018, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Knit,Wildlife

There! I said in triumph, done with it for the night. I octopused it.

You what? He wasn’t sure he’d heard that one right.

You know how octopuses can squeeze into anything? I got 61″ of afghan and that ball into that ziploc. (Warning: great National Geographic video in that link, annoying announcer–you might want to turn the sound off.)


I was talking to a friend yesterday who has just bought a house a half hour north of us and is getting ready to move into it. This is a rare and marvelous achievement around here these days. I was wondering out loud if she’d like a fruit tree as a housewarming present.

Because I know how many times I’ve wished I’d planted mine when we moved here, rather than most of them at 25 years later when my kids were newly grown and I needed to still see something grow up year by year under my care. Plus I wanted the fruit. Plus I think they’re pretty trees.

She instantly knew exactly what she wanted and she was ecstatic–was I serious?

Absolutely! As I thought, my late father-in-law is the one who encouraged me to start gardening, and that would be the best use I can think of for some of the birthday check he gave me in December just before he died.

I checked the Dave Wilson site and they said the Blenheim (Royal) was the #1 apricot in California and the top-rated one in their taste tests. But also, as I said to her yesterday, one good thing about apricots is that they’re a little tart and squirrels don’t like tart.

It turns out she knew her apricot varieties and Blenheim was her favorite. Well then.

Yamagami’s, my favorite nursery, had the Royal variant in stock. Perfect.

She helped me get that big thing out of my small car this afternoon, exclaiming, I can’t believe you did this! I can’t believe you already did!

Take pictures for me when you get it in?

She couldn’t wait to.

And I came away thinking, how often do we get to spend money on something that will last the rest of the recipient’s whole life? That tree will keep giving and giving and giving, and you learn with the first one and who knows where it’ll take her from there.

I could hear one of my favorite doctors in my head, an avid gardener, when I asked him about the squirrels, answering happily, I have MILLIONS of apricots! They hadn’t touched them.

I said a little prayer for Jennifer’s tree to grow and thrive along with her three little kids. They need to wait a little while before they climb it, though.

A bowl of them (cupping my hands for size) in five years? An excuse for a visit.

She’s looking forward to it.

Made my day
Sunday February 18th 2018, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I put down the afghan and came over to the computer to try to figure out what to write about tonight and an email had just come in: Jerry and Vivian, with her saying she’d stolen one of his hats for the picture that they were posing for.

With the most radiant smiles.

I tell you.

I described to them what Stitches West was, that it was this coming weekend, and to let me know what colors or fibers they’d like next and I’d be right on it. And I wished they could see how big the smile was on my face too right now.

Springing forth
Saturday February 17th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift


Meantime, the blueberry flowers look like pale blueberries, the first two Santa Rosa plum blossoms opened today (that’s the mango tree under the frost covers for the night in the distance), and the August Pride peach, which spent last year in curl-leaf-disease survival mode, is in sparse but full bloom, giving it its all.

Six titles so far and none sufficient
Saturday February 17th 2018, 12:09 am
Filed under: Life

Someone dear to me had a co-worker she knew was abusive and a liar and she was not at all sorry to hear that he’d quit.

Except maybe that’s not exactly what had happened.

Everybody was suddenly ordered to go take the rest of the day off, go somewhere nice, out, enjoy.

In the middle of our deadline?

Them: (Clear. The. Building.)

Thursday February 15th 2018, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Yay for the postal employee yesterday who checked that zip code before letting my package go into the system: I had two numbers transposed. The rest of the rather unusual-sounding address was a match so it was clearly going to the right place now.

I drove home after Jerry’s two hats went on their way feeling grateful beyond anything I could begin to say that I could do something that could actually help–what do people do who don’t knit?–and I pictured their surprised faces as they opened the box. I really should make the whole family matching hats in solidarity with their dad, but, at least there’s a start.

Then I dove back into the waiting afghan.

Early last week I was at eight repeats and wanted sixty and I was fighting the sense of, how could this ever be done?

So just do it. After nearly seven hours’ work on it today I hit forty. (I am alternating typing with icepacking.) My yarn planet has gone from Saturnine to Martian, with Pluto a little too wishful thinking quite yet but I am going to have to scour more off the cone soon. That’s a very good problem to have.

Like the hats I just wish, really really wish, I could deliver it in person when I’m done. Which won’t be too long now.

The things that matter
Wednesday February 14th 2018, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

When you crawl fast pushing an upside-down paper plate across a wooden floor, it makes a deeply satisfying amount of raspy noise.