Knitted till the hands had to stop
Saturday May 18th 2019, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ten skeins to a bag of hand dyed Malabrigo Rios in Hollyhock, 07 07 07 dye lot, one skein down, four inches. Granted, the non-seed stitch area will take the yardage further, but that’s still going to be well short of what I was shooting for. I was afraid of this and looked for extra skeins at the time but this was all there was of it.

My understanding is that each bag is its own unique dye lot. I’m going to need to go looking for a close match and then alternate rows of the two when I do.

No luck at Fillory, either.

Still, it’s definitely a better problem to have.



At last at last at last. Thank you Carol!!!
Friday May 17th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,LYS

First, I want to thank those who tried to help me online.

A few days ago I spent an hour carefully knitting–and then ripping back, one loop at a time–a single row, the 279-stitch first pattern row of that baby afghan.

So I thought I’d ask Holly for advice, but we had so much to simply talk about and catch up on in each other’s lives that it just didn’t factor in. It frankly would have felt out of place to interrupt with something so mundane.

Plus I knew I had Friday afternoon as my backup plan. That’s when Carol and Krista would be at Green Planet Yarns/now called Fillory under the new owner. Surely, if anybody…

There was an open seat by Carol. I pulled out the yellow third Barbara Walker treasury and asked if I could ask for help. Sure! (I looked behind me: the little table where the old version of the shop had had a consultant whose time you paid for was gone. I’d never needed that but I would have been happy to on this.)

I told my friend, I have counted this every single way one could and it doesn’t work: you can’t knit a three by three cable with seven stitches!

The gleam in her eye–she knew what she was about to do and how it was about to feel for both of us.

But you can, she told me: you go back and forth past a center stitch.

I looked at the book. “How? You can’t have an odd number between.” I didn’t see anything other than a normal 3×3 crossing. Everything was symmetrical, there was no wobbling from an extra stitch nor from one side not being cabled when the other one was. “You do need that extra stitch further up in the pattern, but not at the bottom. Right? So the count should adjust for that, right?”

She wished for a cable needle. I reached into my purse for one. She took up my knitting and pointed at the book and showed and told:

“See that one square that’s outlined darker on the chart?” (It was at the sides, where the repeat began and ended.) “That’s the center stitch. It doesn’t move.

Now. You put four stitches on the cable needle and put it behind. Not three. You knit the next three stitches from the left needle, as one normally does; then you knit the first stitch on the LEFT side of the cable needle, then the other three right to left like normal. That one stitch stays at the center between the two sides that way.”

I had never heard of nor seen such a thing. Not that it was hard. It had simply never occurred to me.

“And it would make it so you have the right number of stitches for the lacework above that cable.”

“Right!”

Then she had me do it, too, while I only just managed not to grab it right out of her hands to instantly try it the nanosecond she was done explaining.

I felt a great kinship with my old friend Monica, the longtime knitter who almost yelled, That’s IT?!! when I showed her how to do a simple cable and how all cable work was a riff on that.

I had wanted to knit page 146 for–well, I’d had that book for twenty years. Only for the baby on the way had I finally wanted to enough. Only for her had I gotten to where I could, with Carol’s help. It was so easy. I had been so stumped.

“My granddaughter-on-the-way thanks you.”

“Your granddaughter-on-the-way is very welcome. It’s funny how we have gaps in our knowledge,” said Carol happily.

And then, with the help of a great teacher, suddenly we don’t. We don’t at all. We are all filled up and brimming over.



She made these
Thursday May 16th 2019, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Friends

I love a good dish towel. I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned such a thing, but Holly’s been here enough times to notice.

So guess what she surprised me with?

There were roses, daffodils and tulips, carnations, morning glories, purple dianthus. I have flowers hanging over my oven doors right now.



Ten bars and a bit of extra
Wednesday May 15th 2019, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Holly’s coming tomorrow.

If I needed an excuse to start a batch of chocolate, that was a good one.



Seeds and dirt and magic
Tuesday May 14th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden

There was this big Costco planter that had gone empty. (You have to drill your own holes in the bottom. I did, way back when.)

There were these veggies I sowed in January.

Now, before you start thinking that I’m one of those bona fide gardener type people who starts things in winter like that, those were seeds I’d bought two years earlier that I finally got around to trying. I figured if I didn’t do it then, then I’d spend another whole spring procrastinating and then buying whatever leftover straggly three-pack last-chance tomato variety showed up at Costco and call it done. Again.

All those little packets of hope begged for better.

I was a little surprised at how many still came up.

I’m guessing the tomato that’s filling out that planter must be a Big Boy because it most definitely is one, dwarfing even the ones that are in the ground.

Those with the purple stems will be the Basque Blues, right? Sherlocking here.

There were a couple that were obviously more Sungold cherry tomatoes so I gave one of those away yesterday already covered in flowers and fruit, because with my 2017 one still going at it we have enough. Someone else is getting one, too.

The zucchinis were chosen because they promised not to grow to baseball-bat size. Um. When they get as long as my fingers (and I have short fingers) they yellow and shrivel and give up the ghost. I picked four nice green ones tonight that seemed to be as big as these were going to get and for the two of us, sliced not much bigger than a green onion, two each made a small serving.

Who ever grew zucchini as a garnish?

Meantime, with all the rain this winter, the Santa Rosa plum is giving us the best year it’s ever had by far.

Tonight we start in on two new winter-heavy storm systems and we’re in for some real rain. Not normal, but free water in May? We’ll take it.



Peregrinations
Monday May 13th 2019, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

I haven’t mentioned the peregrine falcons all season and the San Jose ones are about to fledge.

Video taken today here, a few baby feathers hanging on as the eyases look over the edge and see some of the world outside their concrete outdoor hallway, with everything new.

Photos from when they were banded last week here. Two males, one female.

And the afghan? I started in on that pattern.

Goofed, tinked back all 279 stitches I’d just done, put the project back in its ziplock, and decided to let it breathe for a day. Discovered a ninth pomegranate on the tree.



The moving fingers, having writ…
Sunday May 12th 2019, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Jean was at church! After a month in the hospital. She was surrounded by family, some local, some that had flown in to help her celebrate Mother’s Day.

I showed her my phone and grinned, “This is your fault!” It was the picture of the pomegranate flower on this part of the tree, and (scrolling) the baby pomegranate. I reminded her of the time she’d shared hers and how revelatorily good they were and told her that’s how I came to plant my own.

As I spoke, her son-in-law sitting between us was typing my words into his laptop in a huge font to make sure she got every word. Her daughter-in-law leaned forward, loving this, looking to see Jean’s reaction.

Jean looked tired but happy. “You’ve got a green thumb.”

I am so grateful I got that chance to show her she’d made a difference. Again.



The picture-frame stitch
Saturday May 11th 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

(Needle at left turned sideways in search of a 90 degree angle.)

There’s this cabled lace pattern I’ve always loved but it only came charted and my brain injury doesn’t do charts.

After twenty years of owning the Barbara Walker charted patterns book anyway (because: Barbara Walker), this time I wanted to make page 146 enough to confess my shortcomings to a group of knitters–who instantly came to my rescue.

I swatched it. What was my problem. (!!!) This is easy!!

Before I could get started, though, the baby afghan was going to need a border. Garter stitch would match some of the inward pattern–but garter stretches laterally and the cables were going to shrink the width every so many stitches and I could just see the rippling–the top and bottom would never lie flat. Ribbing might distort the edges the other way by pulling them in too much.

So I went for the tried and true, even if it is my least favorite to knit: 1×1 seed stitch. Twice the motions for the same length of fabric and hard on the wrists, but it makes for a perfect picture frame effect around just about anything. Even if it absolutely devours yardage. I bought the whole bag of ten Rios skeins but I may end up trying to match my Hollyhock dye lot.

Knitted stitches are wider than they are tall, so ten rows is not enough to match the ten side stitches that I’ve set the thing up for: I’m not done. My hands definitely are for the night, but, I’m finally getting started!

I’ve got it. I’ve got that Barbara Walker Lacy Cables pattern and for my granddaughter-on-the-way’s sake I’m finally going to do it.

With a little help from my friends, and I can’t thank you all enough.



About 30″
Friday May 10th 2019, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

This one is towering and glorious. Thank you, Dad!



Parfiankas!
Thursday May 09th 2019, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

The Yamagami Nursery guy’s favorite variety.

Somehow I completely missed them before today. I had been a little disappointed that my pomegranate had decided it needed a full third year’s growth before producing anything, unlike my friend Jean’s that gave her enough to share at two years old. She couldn’t remember what type she’d bought but they were so good that I’d bought a tree myself and I’d hoped I could compare with her and maybe even see if I could find the name for hers thereby.

She’s 93. I’m in a bit of a hurry.

I’m sure she bought a bigger, potted specimen; my four-inch-sleeve one was, um, cute, the last one they had, and given how flimsy the branches still are it made sense that mine wasn’t ready.

Plants flower most where the sun shines brightest and every day I’ve been looking out the window at the new leaves across the top of the tree behind the barbecue grill, wondering when it was supposed to flower and wishing for some sign that it would.

So someone explain to me how it is that they were all tucked away at the bottom and underneath, so out of sight that even with those colors I didn’t see anything while watering the thing? How did I miss these? They were all on the morning-sun side, at least.

Because this evening I discovered bright orange petals on the ground, a few flowers still on the tree–and a few actual tiny pomegranates! Eight in all! Richard, Richard, guess what, we get to taste our new Parfiankas this year after all!

Jean’s been ill these last few weeks. Something to look forward to will be a good thing.



Hinged
Wednesday May 08th 2019, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Knit

Deb’s generous offer had me wondering: maybe that’s something we could do with this old leather-hinged kindling box we inherited? Make it an owl box? I don’t know enough to know if it would work; obviously, you’d need an entry hole the right size. Would the slats rule it out?

Meantime, this morning a ball of bright turquoise Rios threw itself at my hands and demanded to be knitted. Now. I have not a clue why, but I did. My yarn is the boss of me again, and it feels good that it is. 



Brazen
Tuesday May 07th 2019, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

I have now seen it for myself.

I once read an article that said that New York really has few rats for a city its size and the reason why is the rats it has. Norway rats do not climb, they like to go down to the lowest levels of any building or subway station and they are murderous to any rat not like them. Any new type getting off a ship will not live long enough to create a new infestation and that has been the status quo for hundreds of years.

Well they didn’t do their job here. We have roof rats too, which are also an introduced species and like to go up like the Norway likes to go down and the two types rarely cross paths. But when they do the roof rat generally dies in the encounter. Not to mention they’re easier for the hawks to get.

But anyway, it was one of those random sets of facts that sticks with you and I’m glad it did because it means I don’t have to worry if that crazy thing was rabid.

There’s the bird feeder. There’s the usual squirrel hanging out underneath, not liking the safflower enough to try to jump at the thing but willing to shuffle around for the kick-out from the finches above.

A Norway rat–I had to look it up to be sure, but yeah, classic look ya got there, buddy–showed up. And jumped the squirrel from behind!

The squirrel shook it off and looked at it like what the hey? as the much smaller animal ran off.

Next evening. This time the rat was determined and it really attacked that squirrel. It probably thought it could jump it from behind and bite its neck if it could just stretch far enough but there was no way. And this time the squirrel was truly having none of it and fought back, leaving the rat again running away.

That was a few days ago. The squirrels and that unwanted rat have not crossed paths since, deliberately, I imagine. I was hoping a predator had gotten it, but no, it showed up again tonight, about 90 minutes before sundown like the other times. Rats. (Epithetically speaking.)

After chasing it away I pulled the frost covers out and blocked its path so that it would have to go well into the danger of the open yard to get back to the feeder. I know those Cooper’s hawks have been keeping an eye on things.

The best way to get rid of it is to take down the feeders. I’m not thrilled with that idea, either.



The Cereza on top
Monday May 06th 2019, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

So there was this burgundy-red soft Malabrigo Mecha hat, the carry-around project I’d cast on to have at the eye doctor’s last week so I could do simple knit stitches around and around by feel while my eyes were dilated.

Someone I know through Facebook posted a cri de couer last night while having a particularly hard time of it.

I immediately offered to finish knitting that hat expressly for her. I told her I wanted her to have a warm hug from me, that she mattered and was loved. I took a picture of it in its barely-begun glory, and then a second photo where I put it with three others (yay for all the recent hat-knitting time spent on airplanes) for comparison and asked her to pick her favorite.

Or to name any color and it would be hers.

She said it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for her. I wanted to weep and throw my arms around her from across the country.

There is no shame in depression–the truth is that it took great courage and strength to voice it so as not to be defeated by it.

I told her that years ago… That the gift that such an experience leaves us with is that it feels imperative to tell the next person that they are not alone. That they matter. That they are loved. I cannot say those words enough, I can only put them into wool.

I finished that hat this morning and went back to the computer at noon at last to sign in, having asked for her snail mail address. Wondering if she would allow me to have it. Holding my breath a little for her.

There it was.

She liked the hat in the upper left the best.

An hour later, she had its tracking number. Happy anticipation, I hoped: a gift in itself. Even if numbed right now, the memory won’t be.

And the burgundy-red hat waits its turn for its own recipient, ready.



Now that they’re over the jet lag
Sunday May 05th 2019, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Some friends put on a presentation tonight about what it was like to be Americans living in St. Petersburg (and I don’t mean Florida) for nearly two years.

They were there as an older Mormon missionary couple: but by the laws of the land, they were not allowed to act as such except inside the walls of the church. They could not do nor could they say anything to identify themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints anywhere else unless someone asked them first.

Which crystalized it to simply quietly living one’s faith by doing good to others. Because that’s what it all comes down to anyway: trying to put more of God’s love into the world.

Which is how they ended up as volunteers helping out at the Hermitage Museum. Volunteering was definitely something they were allowed to do. They learned all they could about the place, for visitors’ sakes as well as their own and tonight, ours.

Sue said that one of the cultural disconnects she discovered was the very concept: historically, there were the royalty and there were the peasants and if you wanted something done it got done by the ones who had no real choice in the matter.

The idea that retired people, in particular, volunteer all over America in order to contribute to the good of society at large–really? They do? Sue said that even though that was a new idea to most, they really liked it.

I came away feeling like I need to get off my duff and go do more for others. A lot more.



Shoo, out, at the okay Corelle
Saturday May 04th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Lupus

Buy Corelle, the physical therapist told me at the time: it’s lighter on your hands and helps with the arthritis. Which was severe at the onset of my lupus 29 years ago, to the point that I was having to eat with plastic utensils.

I have my favorite Mel and Kris stoneware collected over twenty+ years and mostly use that, but my kids remember the Corelle plates and bowls as part of their growing up. I have broken many of them and don’t replace them because there’s no longer the need.

I have not broken a single stoneware plate.

Basically, I use the Corelle as covers over things in the microwave and as an easily-cleaned coaster while stirring my morning cocoa and that’s pretty much it.

Hands. They must be protected. You never know, they decided. So when my husband and his siblings needed somewhere for their folks’ Corelle to go, it ended up here.

We tackled that box today. I marveled that every piece was perfect, not the slightest chip anywhere–unlike mine, which have seen better days even though I’m very careful not to let the edges touch anything else in the dishwasher.

I had a moment of, how on earth could that be, and then realized that my late mother-in-law could not have abided setting a plate with a chip at her table and she definitely could have afforded to replace any.

There were so many pieces that if I added them to mine that middle shelf would probably break.

And so the old chipped faded ivy pattern which I prefer got booted out today in favor of plain no-frills white. Which is thinner, too. Curious.

There is one, count’em one single plate with an old-fashioned blue scallop/snowflake that probably dates to the ’60’s; I figure I’ll give away a chocolate torte on it and hope it doesn’t come back.

Then I pulled out my pretty, substantial, memories-of-friends hand thrown stoneware and set the table for dinner.