Throwing cold water on it
Wednesday October 18th 2017, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I do really like this.

But…. I don’t know if T’s grandma has been allowed back in yet to see if her house is still there…

When I picked up this skein at Cottage Yarns, Kathryn commented that it looked like one dyelot from one side and another on the other; I said that’s why I wanted to know what it would look like. (That and I liked the colors).

I was expecting the bright and the dark to intersperse going across the rows, and for the most part they did. And yet somehow there became this stark division between the narrower darker top of the cowl at the beginning and there below the midpoint.

It’s drying right now and maybe that dampens the effect for the photo, but: it’s too easy to look at this and see bright fiery flames shooting up into the sky with the darkened ash and smoke rising up from them. Yow.

Um, maybe someone else should get this one and I should start over.



Closer to home
Tuesday October 17th 2017, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

There was an emergency of some sort and the doctor was an hour late. When she finally popped her head in the door, apologizing, I held up my needles and went, Hey, no problem–if the person after me is antsy, go see him first, I can wait.

She came in chuckling and told me that actually, he was held over in the eye department and wasn’t even here yet.

Alright then.

Afterwards, I drove home through much thicker smoke than this morning–again, it was stinging the eyes and again, you could see the breezes move the air. I checked the local news.

Sausalito in the North Bay.

Dublin in the East Bay.

Bear Creek in the South Bay, about ten miles from Richard’s aunt’s house in the mountains, but at least we’re not having the 50 mph gusts that sent embers 15 miles out like in Sonoma.

Our hard-working crews were right on them, and with a shift in the winds the air right around here was tolerable again by sunset.

But I keep re-checking the news on the bigger fire in Bear Creek.

I had been blogging about a month when I posted this (scroll down halfway.) Robert’s Medicine Blanket is very much treasured and used here, and that mat, too.

Robert’s home was near the fire area last I heard from him. I’m sure he’s fine, but I’ll sure be glad when the fires are over.



Oops not that one
Sunday October 15th 2017, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

That Arroyo project?

We had to be at church about fifteen minutes early, so after doing the one small thing that needed doing we settled into our seats and I pulled out my knitting. I personally wouldn’t do it during the meetings themselves, but hey.

I loved how the pointillist colorwork was coming out in the fabric.

A dad and teenage daughter sat down behind us a few minutes later, and right after that, I stopped at the start of a row and looked a little harder at the thing. And yeah I had–I’d been missing two stitches right from the beginning and had been going merrily past that point ten times or so without noticing.

I tried. There was no fixing that and making it look good. It took me a moment to get all hundred stitches off that circular needle but then (with a quick glance at the clock–yes, I definitely had time to do this) I had that thing back to (slightly kinked) plain old yarn in no time.

And then I turned to the good friends behind us and said, That’s one of the things I like about knitting. If you make a mistake that is totally unfixable and unredeemable, you can rip it all the way back and it’s totally gone. And you can start over.

They cracked up. Bonus sermon, right?

And I bet, if you ask that kid ten years from now what she remembers about my knitting, it’ll be the day I let’er rip.



A breather
Saturday October 14th 2017, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

A few days ago, the Mercury News ran a photo taken from the Mormon Temple up in the hills in Oakland, looking towards the San Francisco cityscape across the Bay. There was only the barest shadow of any of that visible in the smoke, and the nearby zoo said they could only see to the far end of their property.

Today, despite the fact that Santa Rosa had to expand its mandatory evacuation area and those fires are not yet out, we happened to stand about where that photo had been taken from. The Bay Bridge and the water were in the distance, the skyscrapers beyond, almost as they’re supposed to be. The water was a subdued blue. I’ll take it.

We returned home surprised/not surprised at how crowded the freeways were for a Saturday afternoon–southbound, anyway.

I wound yarn.

I knitted yarn.  Malabrigo’s celebratory Anniversario colorway in Arroyo, just a one-skein cowl to feel like I’m getting something done, and as my hands worked the softness I found myself looking forward to finding out who this one was for. So, so pretty. One cannot help but be cheered by it.

And typing that out, the strikingly obvious came to me: Duh. I have to knit for G’s daughter, who grew up with my kids. This cowl or another one and maybe I should wait to give it to her till she finds out if she still has a house, or, if not, maybe all the more quickly, but… Yeah. Her. Alright then, I’m on a mission here.

And finally I felt like I had found my footing again.



Blessed are the night owls
Friday October 13th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

So, the annual women’s dinner at the church tonight: nobody knew, when we scheduled it, that it was going to be a week when we could all particularly use each other’s good company and the time to just talk mid-week and decompress a bit together.

Someone at my table asked another, How’s your daughter? Was she okay…? (And I thought, ohmygosh, I forgot she lives up there!)

And the response was, Her cousin called her in the night and insisted she had to evacuate. Now.

Why? (Looking out the window.) There’s nothing anywhere near us. Everything’s fine here.

Get out! You have to get out!

He was adamant, so they got ready to go–and opened the door to go to their car and the fire was right there.

They made it out. They don’t yet know if they have anything to come home to but they made it out.



The Stitches stash slowly winds its way down. Only the best yarns.
Sunday October 08th 2017, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Those needles I freed up? They had a new project going on them and it probably would have been for the woman sitting behind me–if it had been finished.  I’d rather offer her a choice of more than one color if the one I’m presuming about is not ready to hand right over, so I didn’t say anything to her quite yet.

Three other cowls went to old friends who showed up in town for the weekend, while they were there and I could.  And you know what? It’s really hard to be mopey about what a bad night you had because of the stupid Crohn’s when friends are being totally joyful all around you like that. Hey you guys. That was great. Thank you so much.

I went right home and worked on that new project, picturing all the way the smiles on the friends who already got theirs. They were paying it forward and they didn’t even know it.



Odd ball
Sunday September 24th 2017, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I waited till the two newly-near-sisters were standing together with their folks when I pulled the hats out–and got to watch the girls’ eyes go big. I had apparently managed exactly what they’d hoped for (and no yellow!)  I told them if anything wasn’t perfect, please tell me and I’d be happy to make another because this was about having them love what they got.

They were very, very happy and grateful and there were hugs and you knew they now knew they had an adult who thought the world of them who didn’t have to. Because just because.

Beige cowl: that young mom was off on a trip with her mom but her husband was there with the (not quite a baby anymore) and a backpack and it definitely had room for cashmere to make his wife happy, and yes, she wore that shade all the time. He’d had no idea this was coming.

Later I saw one of the hat recipients trying hers on his toddler’s head and loving how cute she looked in it. (Maybe I have enough yarn left in that ball to… Maybe. I might not so I didn’t say anything.)

The bright blue: exactly went with the dress of a woman who recently moved here, doesn’t know many people yet, is tied down with a new baby and has a lot of changes and adjusting to do all at once. It was a treat to see her face and her husband’s completely light up–and they stayed that way.

The purple didn’t quite find its spot yet and came home for now, but two green ones left the purse and didn’t come back.

The reject yarn from my first attempt at ordering self-striping? One of the two skeins bit the dust after church, mostly because I wanted to keep up the momentum. Two feet to spare when I declared it good enough and done. It was literally an odd ball as far as my eyes were concerned but someone will love it.

And then I can tell those girls that having to re-order to get the colorway right worked out perfectly after all.



Hat #2
Wednesday September 20th 2017, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Somehow putting the photos side-by-side for the first time makes them a clearer mismatch than before. This one was a lot harder to match the drawing, short of spending well over a hundred dollars on individual colors.

Thus the self-striping Knitpicks Chrome, which kind of surprised me in how it came out. One can never entirely tell just from the outer lengths photo’d online on one side of the ball. I expected more blue and green, and it’s in there but it’s taking too long to get to it.

And the green was contaminated by a screaming yellow with greenish tints after it that didn’t go at all. I showed my young friend the yarn Sunday and she wasn’t in love with that part. Neither was I. When I got to it I broke it off and tossed it aside.

More purple is good, the mom said. Well hey, look at that, the yarn started right off with it and we definitely got more purple. And pink.

That one-stitch downward jog in the green only shows on this side so when I sew in a label when I’m done it will help keep that tucked out of sight on the inside.

Waiting to hear back whether she wants a fold-back brim or not, since her drawing didn’t have one. Debating coming up with a second-try hat somehow, just in case it’s needed. Happy to do so.

But from what I’ve seen I think she’ll like this one.

 



Hat #1
Tuesday September 19th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift

I woke up this morning with a clarity of thought: what I want to do today is to get Alex’s hat done.

I’d started in the discontinued, densely-spun Zara 14 and my first attempt at matching its thickness for the second stripe had failed–but after yesterday’s mail, I could do it now.

Electric blue and black was the verbal request with the artist’s rendering, chunky yarn specifically hoped for.

Found both colors from the same line after all.

It came out very stretchy and short one blue stripe, being long enough for a good fold-up brim already. (Not to mention my running out of blue.) But I did get that bit of brightness at the top thing going on just like she did and it tickles me no end.

Meantime, look what opened up. In September!



Accelerating
Sunday September 17th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

J did a little dance coming out of church today: “And *I* have a cowl!” The other J I gave to on the same day was wearing hers.

I think people are beginning to notice. Which means my knitting needs to go faster. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re the last one–although, I explained to someone, it’s random, it depends on what I see someone wearing that matches what’s in my stash….

So, twenty down and a bajillion to go.

The Knitpicks yarn came yesterday and the friend’s daughter whose hat it’s for wrinkled her nose when I showed her the other yarn that had looked more pink online but wasn’t and then her face lit up when I showed her the Knitpicks Chroma I’d bought to replace it with–and thank you all for the recommendation.

Someone else, when asked her favorite color, hemmed and hawed and said, Green. …And orange. And yellow. That’s it! Green and orange and yellow.

I think that first hat skein may have just found its rightful home (or even if not that one, once it’s knit up someone will latch onto it. I’ll have to knit it to find out how the colorway turns out in real life.) The stash giveth and the stash cometh quickly away.

Next week is General Conference, which we watch online, which means I have an extra week to pull off a whole lot of–we’ll see.



Cerulean
Thursday September 14th 2017, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Spinning

A former law school classmate of my son lives here these days.

I checked: she wasn’t in sight. “What’s your wife’s favorite color?” Quickly followed by an assurance it was okay if he didn’t know, most men when cornered with that question are unsure.

He was sure. “Cerulean.” With a little nod of the chin in emphasis.

Well then that’s what it was going to be. And thus commenced over a week of no-driving-no-yarn-store stash diving and considering. Dyepot? Wheel? I do have some sock weight–it’s just that it’s all mixed in with shades of green. Amazing how uniform my stash was on that count. I know I…

Right. I knitted it all up and I gave it all away.

(They’re a little lighter in real life.)

My back didn’t want to do wheel time and I didn’t want to ply that laceweight but I also didn’t want to guess at getting the right blue nor have to haul that heavy pot around–and then goof.

This was the one sure thing. And not only that, it was cashmere. I had 50g, 50g, and lots of grams. Just one hour. And by 3×2-plying the stuff, it will knit up quickly once it’s dry.

(It’s a little brighter in real life and there’s no purple to it.)

Guess what tomorrow’s going to be about?



Seeing red
Sunday September 10th 2017, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Another impromptu-on-Sunday story for you.

In the morning, I put the red cowl that a friend had requested in my purse. She’d seen it in progress and had been looking forward to it. It was an exact match to her favorite skirt.

And that was going to be it, given that I spent the week spinning for the most part and didn’t get much knitting done.

But. There was another one in a worsted-weight merino, a little thicker, superwash, thus nice and practical when you don’t know how it’ll be treated later, and also red. I’d made it awhile ago and had wondered who it was for and then had put it aside and forgotten all about it. It was just waiting, is all. My brain damage can’t walk around in that shade without worsening my balance but I still liked it enough to knit it. I figured it would tell me soon enough.

Somehow it was right there front and center when I went to pick up the other cowl and it leaped out of its ziploc: you need to take me, too!

Okay, I was game–and curious.

We have an elderly friend who spends half her year here and half her year near her daughter Marie near Seattle. She comes when she comes and goes when she goes and I never quite know when that’s going to be.

Marie had come with her mom to help get her settled back into her old house. And so they were both here.

Marie exclaimed over me, as glad to see a familiar old face as I was to see hers; I adore her mom and her mom raised great kids.

And in that moment I knew and I knew that that was my chance to give it to her in person: “Do you like red?”

Marie looked at me like, Wait… When you are the person asking that question… But why yes she did, she liked red! (And clearly she couldn’t wait to know what this was all about.)

I reached into my purse barely looking down and the worsted-weight one came right to hand. Which meant I didn’t have to apologize if she liked the slightly different shade of the other better; neither one of us had to know. Besides, Malabrigo makes nice wools. Really nice.

Up in the Pacific Northwest, she told me in delight as she patted its softness after putting it on, even in summer she often finds herself with something around her neck for that extra bit of warmth. She loved it. (And then given that it was a 90F day here, she took it back off for now. As one does.)

The kicker is that there was no sign of the friend the other cowl had been promised to, and I’m going to try to deliver it during the week. But what it did this morning was to help me see it wasn’t enough and that somehow I needed another red.

I just had to say yes so I could find out why. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I took both.



Worth the trip
Thursday September 07th 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Karen (who’s gone there with me once before) : You want to drive towards the fire? To all the smoke?

Me, confused: LA, Oregon–the skies are hazy but they’re certainly not close…

Karen: The fire! In Gilroy! Don’t you read the newspaper?

Me: Huh. The online version, other than Sundays. But I just was on the Merc’s website and there wasn’t anything about a fire in Gilroy.

Karen: Well, it’s all over the physical paper!

Me: (Went and looked. Didn’t find it at first. You had to follow a certain path: home page/local/county (get the right county)–oh THERE it is. Yow!

And so we waited a few days while the firefighters firefought. And then today, with her driving this time (because, life) we finally made it back to Andy’s Orchard.

Where they still had peaches after all. Fairtime and the well-named Last Chance, enormous and beckoning. Homegrown cherry tomato for scale.



Stash busted
Sunday September 03rd 2017, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The foster mom told no secrets: but when I said most fosters don’t even have a suitcase, just a trash bag to take their things in, she nodded emphatically yes, glad that someone knew. When I said that hat clearly must mean a great deal to Alex, she gave me an even more emphatic yes. I explained its having been so poorly sewn on the inside and why it risked popping out the last of it as Alex grew and showed her what I’d done to try to save it.

And I said I wanted to knit Alex something out of colors and fibers of her own choosing so that she would have something that had been made just for her.

Leaving church, I happened to turn around at the very moment Alex was getting her hat back and the little leap for joy and dance she did as she put it back on her head. She had it back! It was fixed!

I liked that. I liked that a lot. For her sake. This wasn’t a kid who moaned over its never looking quite like new again, she celebrated that this had been done for her. Like I say, she’s a great kid.

That family went home and the girls drew pictures of their dream hats they hoped for, with the mom promising to pay me for them, (not wanting to ask me simply to just go do more than I’d offered) with me answering that thanks, but that would take all the fun out of it–I want to do this for them and they’re happy about it and that’s all I need.

Of *course* I should have instantly realized her bio daughter needed one, too, as a bonding thing with her new sister as well as for her not to feel left out with the changes in the family. Yow. I’m not usually that slow, my apologies, that was a blindingly obvious need and I’d utterly missed it. Well, okay, so we got that taken care of.

I really liked those drawings (and hoped the colors came through true in her email) and the details offered. They’d really thought about it. Alex wants thick yarn and a fold-up beanie in stripes of vivid blue and black.

Two skeins of yarn and an excuse to go to a yarn store, I can handle that.

Her sister wants medium yarn and eleven narrow stripes: medium blue at the bottom, then purple, light blue, orange, medium green, dark pink, light pink, light green, light blue, peach, and a smidgen of light purple at the top. All the cheerfuls.

And me with my darker colors and little-boy stuff. And that bit of leftover Great Pumpkin. I could easily blow a couple of hundred on the one hat.

You know (even though the mom said they didn’t have to be) that they have to be knit in a machine-washable merino–so the kids will be warm (staying in California long-term is by no means a sure thing for them) and so the hats will survive any inadvertent trip through the wash. Having kids help with the laundry should always have only good results, especially with something like that.

So. Does anybody know of a soft self-striping superwash worsted-weight merino yarn in a colorway like that? Or two, that I could switch back and forth between? It would be so cool to be able to totally match what her mind saw.

Alex’s, too.



The mending
Saturday September 02nd 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I’m not sure I heard the name right and I’m not even sure of the gender so we’ll call our singular-them Alex.

The first time I saw them I wondered why a child that old was wearing a hat like that: a particular cartoon character on the head of, at a guess, a 12-year-old. It was bright and cheerful, though, definitely.

Alex arrived at my friends’ house shortly after I’d gifted their foster mom with a cowl.

I clearly know how to do knitterly things: and so there was a request, and then a knock at my door–that hat. It was damaged, see, here. (They asked again, to be sure.) Could I…?

I looked Alex in the eye and promised to do my best but had to admit up front I could not make it as good as new. They were fine with that and I came away feeling like the three, the foster mom and her daughter and Alex all felt it was in the best hands now and I was relieved that Alex seemed fine with leaving it somewhere else for awhile. No hurry, the foster mom repeated: if I could bring it to church on Sunday that would be great.

This was a few hours before the fall and brain slosh that left me unwilling to risk driving until further notice, so I was glad there was no pressure on that one. The left side of the computer monitor has gone back to being the same size as the right side now, but still. No way.

I looked it over after they left. Tiny yellow stitches on the outside, black ones on the inside and a bear to see the details. I put it down.

Tonight it dawned on me that hello? Procrastination is not going to win us anything here, that kid really needs that back! I sat down with it at last, a little stricken at my negligence that had almost cost them another week’s wait.

Ooooh, mannnn… The thing was made as a quick throwaway: no selvedges, no interlocking holding the knitting together, no pride in doing it right, just raw machine-knit ends sewn with a fast line straight across with the thing turned inside out and then turned right side back out to hide the seam, so that if anything happened to that, say, if it ever got a little stretched putting the hat on a head a little big for it now, every stitch and every row in the inner and outer knitted fabrics could unravel and the whole thing fall apart into a mass of squiggly ends. Which is what had started to happen. What a mess. But at least it hadn’t gotten too far yet.

There. Did it. What a relief.

Oh wait.

There, and there, and all the way around the chin flap and oh, nooo, over there, too, I thought I was done…

And as I carefully hand stitched it back together through loop and loop, side to side and back again, squinting and hoping and doing my best and mentally composing this post, I wondered who had given this to Alex and why it meant so much to them still.

I wondered if a loving grandmother had proudly put that bit of fun on their head and sent them off to school with it–and when.

I wondered who had belittled them for wearing it.

I know that many foster children own not so much as a suitcase but their belongings are whatever they can stash in a trash bag to carry with them from place to, maybe, hopeful place. This hat had made the cut for them and they were in a good home now.

I wondered who this child was going to be when they grow up–but I knew in my bones that I would do anything for them to feel the love and support that was rightfully theirs from the day they were born. Alex is a great kid.

I’m not taking a picture of that cartoon character nor describing it further because it’s not mine to share.

But I know this: Alex will get another hat. It will be handknit. Alex will choose the color and the fiber. It will not be a replacement, nor an inducement… It will simply say, for whenever they need to hear that message, that I care about them and my love goes with them wherever they go. Too. For as long as that hat can hold it together, and when it can no longer I will make another for as long as I am here on this earth to do so.