3-D or not 3-D, that is the question
Wednesday August 16th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

While waiting for the red yarn to be absolutely dry before winding it up into balls, this happened.

Barbara Walker’s Paving Stones pattern, multiples of four stitches (+1, she says, but I was working in the round, so, not +1) so I used 72 and then decreased in nine sets across. Etc. Malabrigo Mecha, size 5 for the ribbing, 7 for the rest, and I have a person in mind for it but I’m going to offer it as one of several choices so they get what they actually want.

I wanted to make a brown hat. I was not able in four stores to find any of it in that color, in person nor online, but I had half an older skein left; this took it to the last couple of yards but it made it.

I did say to Richard when I was showing it off, If you put this on does it make you a bobblehead?

The other thought: since there are no cables sustaining the depth in the texture, when this pattern gets wet it deflates to flatness. In which case the hat will be polka dots. It’s a risk someone will have to take.

If at first you don’t succeed, dry, dry again
Tuesday August 15th 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Knit

USPS this morning said Thursday, Royal Mail said the local office has it, and dang. Busted, I guess? They put it on the truck after all.

The mail came at 5:30: the red for the barn! There is thankfully no pink tinge this time–that’s just a pigment of the camera’s imagination.

I had ordered a large cone. They give you a discount if you click the box for not making them wind it off into smaller ones, and yet, I had said I was knitting it doubled–and they wound it off onto two because they could, so that I could knit it straight up as is if I wanted. It was a nice little surprise. Thank you, Colourmart.

(I wanted it wound off and scoured first, though. It preshrinks it a little and it makes it feel so much softer to work with.)

Two plus hours and a fast dinner later, I had all 2600+ meters hanked up, the mill oils washed out in hot water, and they’re hanging up to dry.

I can’t wait.

Georgia’s on my mind
Monday August 14th 2023, 9:41 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

It’s been a long wait. Go Fani Willis!! It was a thrill to watch her giving her press conference, reminding a questioner that this is about following the law, not politics, the same as all her other thousands of cases.

Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia had been under a lot of pressure to fire her, and at one point he actually said he was going to–he just never said when, and it just somehow never happened, while she simply continued doing her job.

I’m sure he knew the Watergate phrase “Saturday night massacre” as well as anybody, when public servant after public servant resigned rather than fire that era’s Special Prosecutor. The guy who said sure, he would? Robert Bork, whom Reagan later failed at nominating to the Supreme Court. But I digress.

Had Kemp done so, the next Fulton County Attorney General could well have added his name to the list of co-conspirators, and why would he agree to be one more fall guy abused by the former president? He was on to him.

So. Nineteen co-conspirators. RICO charges. T*** instantly erupting in rage at a Black woman daring to hold him accountable, while trying to profit off that rage.

As one meme queries, Why is a billionaire asking you to give him your money?

A hundred sixty-one criminal acts.

Justice for election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, who fled their homes at peril of their lives for telling the truth and refusing to cave.

By people who couldn’t bear that people who were Black had integrity when they themselves did not.

Go get’em, Fani. And thank you.

Eleven weeks till Halloween
Sunday August 13th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Sore throat yesterday morning, stayed home, missed a potluck last night, missed seeing friends at church: a throwback to the During times, made easier by Zoom church and the Zoom knitting group that offered actual human interaction, with a big thanks to all who participated there.

Got two hats started out of it: one that needed visual attention and one for the knit meeting that freed my eyes as friends encouraged my hands–egged them on, rather. A fish hat (child size in link) complete with bright stripes and tails and fin and (adult size) fish lips on your forehead?

Trying to remember who it was (probably Elizabeth Zimmerman?) who famously said, People will put anything on their heads.

Yes please!

Sweet solace
Saturday August 12th 2023, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Food,History

Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco is where we learned about Manoa Chocolate in Hawaii: they were cheering on their friends at the new start-up and highly recommending what they were creating and the cacao farms they were helping get established there.

Manoa was in my inbox this afternoon. Like Dandelion, they email quite sparingly so it is notable when they do.

I’ve never tried their mango chocolate bar–but I’m going to now, because they are donating 100% of its proceeds to Maui relief. 

I ordered a few other bars to help with their shipping costs, particularly given that it’s August–I know how careful they are with that process. I’ll also just mention that, as someone who likes dark chocolate, their chocolate hazelnut spread is better than anybody else’s anywhere–we have done side-by-side, spoon-by-spoon taste tests to verify that, with calories and much mother/daughter glee and laughter–and it is always asked for for Christmas now.

I don’t know if it’s the volcanic soil or what, and granted, I normally only order the plain bars without additions so that’s the context to take this from, but man, their chocolate. It is the best.

(I wonder if the mango powder came from Haydens. Our Pearl Harbor survivor friend Jean is from Hawaii and misses her perfect Hayden mangoes, which grew there. I’ll have to ask.)

Oh so that was why
Friday August 11th 2023, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I was going to go back there with him but when they called his name somehow I just didn’t. We had already discussed it and found neither of us particularly cared if I did or didn’t and I was in the middle of a row of a merino-silk that likes to drop and run like crazy. Eh. Have fun.

He came back from triage moments later and said, The nurse glared at me.

I finished row after row more, there were quite a few people in Urgent Care this afternoon, the wait was long, and then with my hands needing a break I finally opened the book I’d grabbed as backup when he had suddenly decided he needed to go in.

Whoever it was that recommended “The Fabric of Civilization: how textiles made the world,” by Virginia Postrel, thank you thank you thank you. Archaeology to history to genetics and written compellingly interestingly. I am learning so much.

They called him to the exam room and again I found myself staying where I was, while wondering why.

There was a young woman who was doing the same thing waiting for her friend; my guess is they were college roommates.

She worked up the courage and finally complimented me on my necklace. It was a sunflower gerdan from (are you surprised) Ukraine.

She was very happy at finding out where she could order one from and it was clear it was going to be very meaningful to her to do so. I adored her on the spot.

We chatted. She described herself as a writer. I told her I was one, too. Her: Cool! She started telling me about the fantasy fiction she likes to write.

She’d been watching me knit lace, and I told her I wrote a lace shawls book–but with a story to each. What inspired it, who it was for, with the point being to bless others with what we can do.

The most important one, I told her, was the story of right after 9/11: Joan Baez and her niece came to city hall for a multi-faith gathering; her niece sang. Speeches were made.

And at the end, they asked everybody to take the hands of those around them for a moment of silence. And then as they so felt moved, to speak into that silence.

A few words here and there as strangers held hands with their fellow man. Finally, one man said decisively, May America always be like this.

Amen, the crowd murmured, and with that we let each other go.

I told her, I made a circular shawl in remembrance: it looked like a paper cut-out of people holding hands.

And I told her she would make it with her writing. Her books would be published.

Because I knew in that moment that if a stranger who had actually been published believed in her, she could believe in her, and if she could believe in her she could do it.

Richard reappeared a few minutes later, and as we got in the car to leave I asked him at last, Why did the triage nurse glare at you?

Oh. She told me I should have come in much sooner. If the antibiotics don’t heal that wound right up to get right back in there.

Will do.

And then I told him about the up and coming writer. I wished I’d gotten her name so I could buy the first copy.

Thursday August 10th 2023, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knit

Just before the pandemic I think it was, someone pointed out a website in–I don’t remember if it was Australia or New Zealand, the former I think, of a startup that had gotten permission to raise what would otherwise be an exotic and potentially invasive species to harvest its fur by combing. To try to make cashmere just that old stuff by comparison.

Fox fur.

Huh. Y’know, sheep are a little more docile towards that process–and feeding them–! I thought as I looked at their multiple-$k sweaters out of sheer curiosity because how could one not, I mean, would they go for fast-fashion styles or classic to wear a lifetime. Memory says classic.

I’d give you the link, too, but the company appears long gone as far as I can find. I’m guessing that exotic clothes to impress others had their market drop away while everybody was holed up alone and at home month after month after month after month after month.

And now a yarn store–in Ukraine!–is selling cones of merino/fox yarn. Mill end closeouts from that business seems a logical leap.

I have questions.

My daughter once had a cat that learned to leap at the closet door until it got the handle to turn so that it could get at and destroy her cashmere gloves, and did. Wool, no problem, but goats must die.

If one were to knit and wear something out of that fox fur, how would you ever walk past any dog? If you gifted someone something from it, surely you would have to forewarn them?

I’m picturing some of the early adopters patronizing that business while it lasted (maybe it’s actually still out there?) and wondering what experiences they had with them and and and. So many questions.

Like, who was the first person to stroke a fox and think there ought to be a yarn made out of that?

I would wonder if maybe the whole thing was an April Fool’s prank that someone forgot to take down on April 2.

Except that that yarn really is for sale.

185 degree angle
Wednesday August 09th 2023, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Life,LYS

Yesterday, running an errand, I saw a very nice black car and suddenly found myself humming Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good” that spoofs the rocker life. (Live version, slightly ad-libbed.)

And then the guy passed me just as I was humming, “My Maserati does 185, they took my license, now I don’t drive” –and it was! He was driving a Maserati!

I had to go home and look up the rest of the long-forgotten lyrics. Richard and I had a chuckle over the whole thing at dinnertime. And so the ear worm carried over into today, as they do.

If I had pulled out my planned red yarn any time in the last few weeks and held it against that green expanse of afghan, I would have realized how it turned pink against it and needed to be replaced before Kathryn left town, because she carries everything. But I didn’t, and so now I was going to Fillory Yarns (where they had just the right thing but not enough of it) and Uncommon Threads to see if I could fill the gap.

There’s this weird intersection that should have its own light where you have to turn a diagonal left to get onto the main road. GPS relentlessly tells you to turn a full left onto what is actually a long cul-de-sac and then come back out so that you’re pointing straight across to turn left rather than being at an angle they disapprove of. It’s wrong. You just ignore it.

In front of me at the stop was what had to be that same black Maserati, ready to do that funky diagonal turn.

And this time I pulled up behind him as I was actually already singing his song, and once again, that very line. Windows up, no worries.

He suddenly started up his car and escaped into the cul-de-sac while I just howled: I wasn’t THAT bad, dude!

(Red yarn: now on order. Colourmart. Cashmere. They checked the shade. That look like classic red barn to you? It does to me. Here’s hoping–and more waiting.)

Barn it
Tuesday August 08th 2023, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

So I knit a row separating the afghan onto two circular needles, half here, half there, so I could lay the whole thing out perfectly flat.

Never mind that this means four tips to drop stitches off of when you go to pick it up again along with all the balls of yarn, and oh so carefully of course I did, but it had to be done.

I put two sheets of paper above it to represent the space the barn will take and to make sure the placement would be pleasing to the eye. Marked it with white yarn snips. Done. Man, I’ve been looking forward to this.

I pulled out the red.

I put it against that green, labeled Leaf Bud for that newness-of-Spring shade.

It was red anywhere else.

It was pink against that. But, but.

No. No can do.

I did have one single cone of a darker red that I’d bought on impulse at the end of a sale, and held that against the green. It was perfect. It was absolutely the one I should have been going with all along, but I didn’t even order it till the last night of the sale and one was all there was by then.

They even checked their shelves for me, but Colourmart is out. I’m not about to spend weeks on building that barn only to come out short and Cottage Yarns is closed for two weeks if I wanted to substitute in merino (which I’d rather not.)

The only thing I could do was put in an In Search Of query on Ravelry. But that would be asking people to give up the half-off new-stash cashmere they’d bought in probably just the last month, and I don’t see it happening. I don’t just need a cone, I’m knitting the dk doubled so I’d need at least two more and preferably three.

So I’m just going to have to figure out something else.

It felt weird not to be knitting it tonight.

Monday August 07th 2023, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I honked at some stupid driver doing some stupid distracted thing: didn’t they know that someone could get killed?!

Alison, I thought at myself. Cool it. It’s not their fault.

Got into Trader Joe’s for the errand I didn’t feel like running but at least at a time of day I thought wouldn’t be crowded.

It was, and the lines were notable.

And yet–the clerk who motioned me over when hers cleared out before the one next to her, whoever she was, acted like she’d been waiting all day to see me. Just the sweetest.

Just debating saying anything almost brought me to tears, and yet I wanted to convey how much that simple gift meant. How important it was.

At the last, as she handed me my receipt and asked if I needed any help out with that, I told her, Thank you. Thank you for the smile. I needed that, I needed to get out of my house and out of my head a minute.

My cousin’s husband was hit by a semi today.

If there hadn’t been a counter between us she would have thrown her arms around me on the spot.

I didn’t say, and he was on a motorcycle.

And the semi was pulling onto the road, distracted.

I’ve said quite a few prayers today for that driver, who has to live with that. I can’t imagine….

Hymn and hers
Sunday August 06th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

How soon it fades.

We were literally about one minute from walking out the door for church when my email pinged. I took a glance; what if someone needed a ride, right?

It was a, we know you’re all probably already on your way but please call those on your list and do not come! An accident just happened, the street is closed down, we have to leave room open for the first responders without all those cars arriving in the wrong block at the wrong moment and for the utility people too because the power pole got taken out and it’s not safe to hold church in the dark.

(Can you just picture the toddlers shrieking and giggling and scrambling away under someone else’s pew. It could be the greatest game ever of Catch Me If You Can.)

Well someone out there was having a truly bad day. They did find a way, though, to get a whole lot of people to pray for them without even being asked. I can only hope they turn out okay.

Another message, later in the morning: Power’s still out but the other ward (we share the building) has invited us to come meet on the lawn with them at noon. Mostly shade.

I’ve seen that shade. The sun, it moves right at you that time of day. No mic, no Zoom for captions, crowded.

He went, but for me there was no point and no doubt certain harm in the idea. Lupus, it doesn’t negotiate.

Just home.

Nobody around.

Nobody to catch up on the week with, no babies to get giggling, no shared community to start off the coming week with, just isolation. So I baked some pumpkin muffins. If I’d had sourdough starter at the ready (there’s some in the freezer somewhere) I probably would have made a batch of that, too; it’s been awhile since I’d even thought of it and I miss it.

It was like this every single day and every single week for all that time before the vaccines started to arrive? And we got through that? It surprised me that it surprised me that much.

Sometimes one remembers just how blessedly wonderful normal life is.

I can only pray that someone out there (I picture their car as a black Mustang, no good reason, I just do) gets to go back to theirs, too.

Famous one-liners
Saturday August 05th 2023, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Politics

A couple of quotes I’ve stumbled across that I wanted to tuck away where I can find them later.

John F. Kennedy: Washington, DC is a city with Northern charm and Southern efficiency.

Harry S Truman: If you want to live like a Republican, you’ve got to vote for a Democrat.

And the old DC favorite whose origin I don’t know: The definition of a diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.

Anyone got a favorite?

And that was who
Friday August 04th 2023, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,Life

The email from Cottage Yarns said that starting next week the shop will be closed for two weeks for their vacation.

I had been meaning for over a month to get up there to replenish my Mecha supply for Zoom hat knitting.

There was this persistent thought…and I wondered, Is this just me? Or should I? So I did what I do and said a prayer: if You want me to do this, then please make it so obvious that I will never question whether I got it right or not. Help it be unmistakeable. Either way, please bless my friends, separate from any of that–they’re such good people.

I pictured her needing to attend to customers with questions, and thought in no way do I want to do anything that would distract her from what she needs to do to earn a living (I know the rent there is crazy) and sometimes it gets pretty busy, especially right before a long break like that. I put it in G_d’s hands to handle the details and I would try to take my cues from that.

I got ready and headed on up there, hoping.

There was no other customer in there the whole time:

I walked in that door and Kathryn’s face lit up, delighted to see me, and then she immediately exclaimed over my gerdan. What was that? I told her how to spell it: like garden, only with the e and the a switched. Her husband wanted to know, How was it made?

Glass beads woven on a small loom. Made for me by a woman in Ukraine, where these are traditional.

They follow the news on Ukraine closely, they told me, and we talked about today’s developments. The listing warship that was towed away by the Russians after Ukraine’s successful drone.

Kathryn is far from the gushing type, but wow, that necklace: the flowers that looked so realistic, the wheat at the top, the sunflower at the bottom. So pretty. She just couldn’t get over it.

I showed her the picture of my sister’s afghan so far, and turns out they’d been watching the Little League games. They might even have seen Parker, and even the possibility delighted us all.

I waited till she’d rung up my yarn.

“I planned this,” I told her, pulling out the little box that the gerdan had come in inside the shipping box. I quickly took it off my neck and held it out to her along with its box. While she stood there speechless, I took out an identical box from the same artist, took out the big sunflower gerdan and put that one on me.

I have several, I told her, and every time I’m out and about it makes someone’s day to see me wearing one. Ukrainians know what it is and they feel the support it conveys. You see more people than I do. You can do more than I can alone. This was meant for you.

I told her that I had felt strongly to give one to a friend, a retired NASA rocket scientist I kid you not, and ordered this one made–but she had picked a different one. Which is fine. What I didn’t know was that she was teaching classes to help Ukrainian refugees assimilate and they took one look at her walking into class after that wearing a gerdan and they knew exactly what it was and what it meant and how much their teacher loved them, visibly loved them.

And yet I still I had this other one. I have always really liked it–but I had wondered who it was meant to be for, because it had always felt like it was waiting, somehow. And today I finally knew.

I knew it was just her colors.

What I didn’t know is that all her childhood she had declared that she was going to be a florist when she grew up. “And look at me,” she laughed, holding her arms up, taking in the sweep of the room, embracing it all: “I’m a yarn store owner!”

Wearing flowers so beautifully created? To support Ukraine and her people?

It meant the world to her to be able to. She had never known such a thing existed.

I told her I had promised Oleksandra that I would wear her sunflower gerdan in celebration the day Ukraine wins the war.

“I will wear mine, too,” Kathryn promised. She laughed again, adding that she would on her vacation, too! And a whole lot of other days! She loved it so much.

They’re going to visit the area where she grew up, near my oldest, and near one of their children.

I came away from that conversation thinking, and I bet you’re going to find the perfect place, buy it, be done with your unpleasant LYS landlord and move away and my favorite yarn store will be gone forever. I selfishly hope not.

But wherever they go, love will be there because that is who they are and what they do.

Thursday August 03rd 2023, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus

We were out. Do you want peaches? I asked him.

Yes, (as in, Always, knowing where they would be coming from.) I looked at the clock–yeah, I had time to go, if I hurried. Traffic…

Off the freeway at last, glad I hadn’t been even five minutes later in that growing backup, past the construction zone, pulled into Andy’s.

And it was a whole different world. Rows and rows of trees, the mountainside looking east and the coastal range over yonder to the west, Andy’s flowers blooming around the small gravel parking lot, that familiar wooden building with the overhang.

Next to which there is a single parking space right against the patio. One step out of the driver’s seat and you’re out of the sun, half a dozen more shaded steps and you’re inside. My lupus approves.

Only, for the first time, someone else was in that spot.

The man was I’d say probably late 70s or maybe more.

The one in his hand didn’t even make it into his car: he stood outside the driver’s side taking one appreciative bite, then another. Kind of shook off the juice running down his arm there a minute trying not to be too messy about it and then tried to head it off at the pass by taking the next bite from under the bottom of it in a pose almost like a kid at a drinking fountain. And another. (While I was going in with my previous boxes, finding out they don’t reuse them anymore, taking them back to my car and heading inside again.)

The moment demanded to be shared in solidarity, and I found myself calling over to him, Good peach, eh?

He held up the little that was left towards the sky with the biggest smile on his face and pronounced with feeling, “There is nothing fiiiner than a perfect peach.” His eyes swept around the scene, the farm, the flowers, the mountains, the fruit. It had made his summer, right there on that spot, and he was clearly glad for me that I was heading in to go get some for my loved ones and me, too.

I told him about the treks to pick Lorings in West Virginia coming from DC in my childhood, and how I found Andy by searching for them. He was glad I’d found where to go; he loved Lorings. He loved this place.

All was right in his world, and now it was in mine, too.

And now mine is, too
Wednesday August 02nd 2023, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Family

It’s not my tournament, it’s not my house, it’s not my picture.

But. Just let me brag a moment here: #1 team, and not just because I say so.

Then my son and his son stopped by my sister’s and got a visit in with her and her husband in their new place on the East Coast and now I have a sense of proportion of the windows looking from the inside.

Plus a photo of four very, very happy faces.