How now black cowl
Thursday October 26th 2017, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Spinning

So today was only 88F, compared to yesterday’s 94F, which broke a 134-year record, and where the heck is this October thing anyway? But my mango tree is loving the heat.

Meantime, in belief that cool weather will actually come, the cobweb 93/7 merino/vicuna strands that I recently plied on my wheel got knitted up during the airports and flights of this past weekend. One full bobbin’s worth became this thick, soft, warm cowl.

The fabric’s a bit nubbly looking up close (real close) because the merino and the vicuna shrank at different rates when I scoured the yarn.

The look of it very much reminds me of some black tussah silk I plied years ago from a cone or two I’d bought when the legendary Straw Into Gold in Berkeley closed; it had that same nubbliness to it when it was spun and scoured and done and I was never sure why. Unlike the merino, though, the individual silk strands of course did not felt and melt together into a solid nor did it feel rapturous as it ran across my hands for hours at the wheel. It was not slithery shimmery bombyx and I did not love the stuff. I wanted to, but, no.

Mom to the rescue. My mom could see what it could be, and she knitted that yarn into the main color of a very striking ikat-stripe Kaffe Fassett sweater, adding some bright (and yes, bombyx) silks she’d bought at that same sale during a visit here. She is an art dealer’s wife. She looks it when she wears that. It is very, very pretty.

I had not known that that tussah silk, plain in every sense of the word, could become something so glorious. At all. But it could, in the right hands.

Me, I’m going to spin me up some more of this vicuna blend. Even if I only have it in plain black. I want to share the good stuff again.

Tuesday October 24th 2017, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

A soccer game and then a good book: when you’re in first grade you can read it all by yourself now.

What it looks like to be two
Monday October 23rd 2017, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Family

Well, I tried to get a good picture of Maddy.

Actually, I think I did. (Jumpjumpjumpjumpjumpjump)

Put your thinking caps on
Sunday October 22nd 2017, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Re the pumpkin hats: I ended up crocheting the stems on Parker’s and Hudson’s, simply because it was far simpler than knitting in the round on so few stitches; I left them as tubes rather than closing them off.

So I told the boys their hats had a secret compartment. That got me instant big grins: I was definitely speaking a little boy’s language. I told Parker, who’s in first grade, that he could write a note and fold it up really tiny and fit it in there if he wanted. (And I thought as I did so of the tiny pocket with a tiny note knitted into one of the squares in one of the get-well blankets made for me by a whole bunch of wonderful knitters in ’09. It’s still in there, and is taken out and read every now and then, amidst all that wonderful warmth.)

Maybe I could have/should have written my own note? But I didn’t want to make time capsules to be reverently set aside unused, I wanted them to play with their wooly pumpkinizings and their imaginations and maybe even prompt their own desires to learn how to say what they’re thinking in the most succinct way to fit into the smallest space. One that is bigger on the inside.

To become writers. Like the five generations before them.

San Diego and home again
Saturday October 21st 2017, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

“Ba-bye!” I waved at Maddy.

She instantly got it: we were leaving. “NO!!!” and she turned away as she wailed it, trying to make it not be so. (She is, for another few months yet, two.)

Me too, little one, me, too. But she definitely had me smiling all the way home.

After we landed, my phone buzzed an incoming text: photos, of two little boys who had fallen into bed after a fun, long day.

And both of them had their pumpkin hats on their heads as they snoozed.

Talking about the weather
Friday October 20th 2017, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I wondered why my favorite weather site, after a recent upgrade, no longer automatically reloads as the temperature changes–you have to hit refresh now. And it kind of bugged me.

Until a conversation between the resident geek and the non-resident geek about user interfaces accommodating the disabled. Turns out, that feature I liked so much would have been making it so that the blind couldn’t have their program read it to them out loud.

Well then. I’m glad someone took that into account and broke the site just enough.

That smile
Thursday October 12th 2017, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

This morning was worse and the eyes burned constantly. One could only wonder whose house one was inhaling.

The OSH hardware store sent most of its N95-rated masks to the counties that needed them most. (The sign was at the drugstore.)

And then, some time in the afternoon, (graphs at the bottom in the link) the wind must have shifted and gradually it became clearer out–even if Beijing still had better air than our town did.

I’m wondering if every bit of yarn, every blanket and pillow, every rug and stitch of clothing is going to need to have the smoke smell washed out.

Then, when it all just seemed a bit much, the phone pings.

And Mathias and his mommy save the day.

Saturday October 07th 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit,Life

(I just moved it, here, let me straighten up those edges.)

It’s Aftober, named for my friend Afton who instigated the tradition of October being the month for finishing projects. For whatever reason. Be they new or long-dragging, pick it up, get it done, and now you have a reason to.

And that is how the black scarf got done. And today that’s why the teal silk project that had been carried around in my purse since July–well, I did about half of it today and got it over with. It had been dragging because I only bought the one skein at Stitches and I wanted it to be for me since I could not duplicate that yarn nor that color and it matches a lot of things I really like.

But I am not high on my knitting list right now.

But those needles it was dangling from… I wanted those back. And so I freed them of that soft single-ply bombyx and it is drying now. I didn’t spin it out in the washer because of that loose ply–it would fuzz out like crazy in the spinning and I prefer how it looks now, and thus I am moving it around every so often as the one part of the old drying quilt gets a little too damp.

Bombyx silk, i.e. from the silkworms that eat mulberry leaves rather than, say, oak (re tussah silk) has this distinctive smell to it when it’s wet. How much depends on how much of the siricin (silk gum) has been washed out.

It always takes me straight back to my mom’s kitchen and that little dark brown bottle way up high.

I remember asking Mom about it one day.

She told me that her mom had insisted on feeding her kids cod liver oil and had been adamant that Mom have some for her own kids.

Mom dutifully got that bottle and put it up there… Nothing else medicinal in that cabinet, just that. (Maybe where Gram would see it?) It had been there as long as I could remember, unmentioned and untouched as far as I knew.

Mom got it down and opened it up and let me take a whiff.

EWWWW!!!! Gram made you EAT that?!

Just a spoonful.

Mary Poppins and her spoonful of sugar wasn’t going to help that stuff one little one bit. Gag. I winced that Mom had had to go through that. It was clear she appreciated my horror.

You know how grandparents and kids traditionally team up against the parents? On this one, it was me and Mom together, absolutely. Mom chuckled and put it back up there where it could do no harm.

And no the silk doesn’t smell just like that, but there’s just a hint of reminder of it, somehow, to me, anyway.

Never mind that. Nice, soft wormspit around your neck. It’s what’s good for you.

So I’d better get knitting just in case (like that’s any different)
Thursday October 05th 2017, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Life

The GI doctor could see me today or in ten days but not in between. I should have called Richard from work for a ride but it just didn’t feel imperative and I didn’t.

I spent too much of the night kicked awake, remembering all the times…hoping this would be nothing.

Let’s not. Let’s just really not. (Was it 17 projects, I think was the number, tumbling out of that grocery sack with a list of people I hadn’t found yet but I knew he could, and the surgeon exclaiming, I get to play Santa Claus?! He thought that was so cool.)

A week from Monday hopefully my good doctor and I will have a laugh and a phew! together and that will be that.

Sunday October 01st 2017, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

After a good head start and then four two-hour sessions of Conference, this is where I am.

I didn’t get that last hat started before the last session began and so my attention wasn’t on it during the one part where it needed to be. Which is how I got to rip it all out after the first row four times. (Note to self: wait for the Tabby Choir to sing. With them, you already know the words.)

Hat number three doesn’t have a stem. Yet. I wanted the orange cast off this time before adding that.

A certain grandma looked at the calendar and guffawed at herself for having willed the visit with the grandkids to be weeks closer than in real life, so it looks like I’m going to put the add-ons on myself, ship’em off so they can have as much time as possible enjoying them, and let the kids negotiate where or if they want decorative parts changed or moved when we see them. And as for that third stem, I think I just didn’t want to do that really fiddly part while trying to listen to the speakers.

I am just a bit pumpkinned out for now. I’ll knit that last hat tomorrow.

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.)

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.

Red is the color of food
Tuesday September 12th 2017, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Family

Just as I reached for the raspberries at Costco my phone buzzed with a  new photo.

Storms and hummingbirds and hats. Not in that order.
Monday September 11th 2017, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Started the first hat for the foster kid but the dense black was spun so differently from the blue that even though they were within 10% of each other yardage per grams-wise, in real life there was no way to have the number of stitches work: either the black would be too big for the kid’s head or the blue in the next stripe too small to squeeze into. I would have known this in a heartbeat had I seen them in person first. And this, kids, is why we support our local yarn shops (when we can get there. And it wasn’t Webs’ fault; I didn’t ask.)

Meantime, the yarn I’d ordered for the other girl was felt to have more orange than was quite ideal (per the mom, after I asked her to be honest about it) and so I ordered her the Chroma from Knitpicks as you guys recommended. I want these kids to love what they get. I really do. And I can always use another ball of superwash merino around here.

And for the kid who wanted hers chunky, I went to Imagiknit, as one does, and ordered some Malabrigo Mecha, which is probably what I should have started with in the first place.

And now on a completely random note, I always wondered if a hawk would ever bother trying to catch a hummingbird, given how much work it would be to chase such a speedy little not quite amuse-bouche. The answer is pretty much not only no, but that hummingbirds seek out hawks’ nests to nest near themselves: because jays are big predators of hummingbird nests and Cooper’s hawks are big predators of jays. More details here.

I now understand better the photo Eric of the peregrine falcon group once gifted me with, showing a hummer buzzing near the matriarch Clara’s face while she looked on, bemused.

And in other wildlife news, we had a young squirrel on the fence today, staring: too young, apparently, to have ever seen water fall out of the sky before and he didn’t quite know what to make of this concept of randomly getting wet or what he was supposed to do about it.

I remember telling my kids when they were young that in my growing up, there were warm summer rains that would clean the air on a hot muggy day and cool things down a bit. But the rain itself. Rain was supposed to be warm and inviting in the heat of July or August.

I got scoffing disbelief in response. Mom. It does not rain in summer. Two, rain is always, always cold.

And yet today, at long last, we had a hot muggy summer day–and it rained. It wasn’t quite a warm rain but it was close enough to prove the possibility. Thunder and lightning, too (a little too close) and then the rain. We had a good old East-coast deluge, briefly, so much so that I even turned the computer off, wondering if the lights would go out. We have never had the lights go out in a storm in all our years here but you never know.

It let up. I turned the computer back on. So of course then it started again, hard.

And again, it let up and then started in again.

A fourth round pounded the roof after dinner.

For a grand total of (roll the drums) .1″.

Oh California. Thank you. You tried.

Just about grown into it
Saturday September 09th 2017, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit,Life

Start the day with pictures like this and then a FaceTime chat with a little one who wonders what you’re doing being a flat person interacting with him from a screen and everything else just goes right. (Hat done in 2×2 ribbing for stretch, Malabrigo Rios yarn.)

An article on American-made superwash wool: it’s a new thing as of the last half dozen years, and all because the military needed a good, fire-retardant material. An interesting read.