Flower power
Monday July 02nd 2018, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit

The physics of knitting. Cool stuff.

Meantime, the little miniature hydrangea that my friend Edie gave me several years ago is holding its own against the encroaching coffeeberry bush, blooming in both sun and shade. I love that what had been a small tender potted plant from a florist actually held on and thrived out there even after a stump grinder took out the olive roots right by it.

It is small but it is determined to live up to what it was meant to be.



What happens in Vegas
Sunday June 24th 2018, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Cariaggi Piuma cashmere from the mill blooms immensely with washing, growing into a much thicker, denser-looking knit that is actually very very light. It fills up the visual spaces with color and yet air.

I was knitting it straight from the cone. I actually almost left the project home because of that cone. (Luggage space, knitting space in an airplane seat.) But I really wanted that cowl done. It was in a neutral that I could give just about anybody and just delicious to knit with, mill oils for now and all.

My tiny elderly Asian seat mate (part of what was clearly a large tour group) coming out of Salt Lake spoke almost no English, but she watched my hands intensely and gave me a smile and an enthusiastic thumbs-up. When I returned the smile, she reached gingerly for the yarn, felt it just for a moment and gave me another big smile.

She was tired and napped and suddenly woke up distressed to realize that we others in the row were being served juice and she wasn’t getting any; I knew how long she’d been waiting in that airport before our delayed flight and that she probably really needed that water. I should have offered her mine but didn’t know how to reassure her it was only apple juice.

I helped her with the flight attendant and she got taken care of. We were definitely friends now.

She got a particularly cute finger puppet just before she left and between hand signs and head shakes and nods she got that I hadn’t actually made that one; I’d just wanted to thank her for being her. She was delighted.

So. The cowl. Since I knew what it would be like when it was finished and washed, I was using needles that made the knitting look sloppy-loose. Quite.

An agent had told me I wouldn’t miss my connecting flight despite the delay because it was actually the same plane and they might even let me stay on in between. But, she warned, they might not.

Flight #1 landed, they made announcements, most of the passengers filed out–and at that point the flight attendant had time for me to ask the question when I could hear the answer: same plane? Just to make sure. May I stay here?

The answers were yes and yes, corrected by another to “but the memo said” and they went and checked together, followed by, alright: I could stay put.

So there were some by-now familiar faces that were the first to get back on the plane and I chuckled and nodded hello in acknowledgement as they came back on.

An older woman among them surprised me with, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.” My best guess was that she had learned English with a British accent. She got in the #3 row behind me and leaned over.

Had anyone ever shown me how Germans knit?

Do you mean Continental style? I asked, and affirmed that I had.

She asked for my needles. She winced at the size of that yarnover that was right there but was trying not to mess up my work. She demonstrated, You do this. And then when you want to go the other way (she searched for the right terms in English) you do this. You don’t have to (and here she motioned in great sweeping arcs with her right arm) go like *this*.

She wanted so badly to help.

I chuckled and told her I knew my way was slower. I explained that my mom knits like she does and taught me how when I was ten. That when I was a teenager I’d wanted a sweater in one of her knitting magazines but was too much of a teen to admit I didn’t remember how, so I’d gone in my room and taught myself how to knit–my own way, it turned out.

Her face was saying, But this is not how it is done!

I said, It’s easier on my arthritis this way.

Ah. That made sense. Yes she could see that. Okay.

And we, too, parted friends at the end of the flight.



I have to speak up. I must. We must.
Wednesday June 20th 2018, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Politics

Today was a Holly day, and it was so good to get to see her again. We live so close and so far: it can take several hours, depending on the traffic.

She had just enough time for a visit while her husband was at a meeting in town.

We found ourselves as mothers drawn again and again to the subject of the cruelty going on at our borders to children–babies, even–and their families, the damage the trauma is doing to their developing brains.

Our laws spell out how one can apply for asylum when one is in fear for one’s life. The approved crossing points for doing so have been closed, people have been directed to cross elsewhere and when they have complied with that order have been arrested as criminals.

Our President lies when he says others did this before him; they did not. They held families together, and even his own administration did too until this May. He lies when he says only Congress can change the law because there is no law saying they must do this, and in fact the administration is violating our laws as well as all human decency and compassion. They actually forbid the workers from hugging and comforting a crying child.

But the sad-funny part about it was Trump’s trying to blame Obama for it. What he’s saying then is that even out of office Obama has more power than Trump does right now and that Trump is too weak to do anything about it.

Actually, there’s a great deal of truth to that but not of a type Trump could ever fathom.

Yes he did sign an executive order this afternoon: but watch what he does, not what he says. The unmentioned fine print was that after 20 days families can still be torn apart. They will process children and adults at different rates. Deport the parents. Keep the kids. Already we have one woman who was released from custody–and they say they cannot tell her where her seven-year-old son is.  Who DOES this to people?!

We are better than this, we must be better than this, we must demand better than this. Every Republican Senator has the option to caucus with the Democrats on the issue, and all we need is one, just one, one with a conscience, and we could get a law passed right now forbidding these human rights violations and dare Trump to veto it. The man is a bully and bullies cave when you stand up to them.

And if you don’t–they only bully harder.

Tomorrow I may show off some knitting or some such. But for now I will leave you with this:

From the Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

 



Meeting
Monday June 18th 2018, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We solved people’s problems (we hope, we wish) and got a lot done and stayed late and tomorrow you hopefully get a better blog post than this.



Highway 80
Saturday June 16th 2018, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

When I was a kid, the freeway between Washington, DC and Baltimore was two lanes each way built out of, if you can believe it, concrete. Set in blocks with the gaps between giving the material room to contract and expand with the temperatures. You did not want to drive it fast: it was a loud bambambambambambambambambam jackhammering all the way. But there really wasn’t all that much traffic on it, at least.

Eventually they tore all that out and put in a real road, which now has heavy development pretty much all the way and the cars to match.

I was remembering those childhood trips to the Maryland state piano competitions at Peabody in Baltimore as we drove from here to Milpitas to Sacramento today. On a weekend, that should be a two hour drive, ideally.

The road is old and not very wide with a whole lot of traffic and they are improving it and widening it in some spots. Construction. Accidents. Cars cars cars.

Three and a half hours there, two coming home.

And yet. We were carpooling with friends and it was time well spent and I’m very glad we went.

Knitting in hand, I finally ventured to ask… The driver guffawed in disbelief at the question: “YES! I LOVE cashmere!” She told me wistfully she owned one single cashmere sweater.

I did not tell her I hadn’t made her a cashmere cowl because her husband had told me she was allergic to it. I had wondered ever since if he’d heard me right, if he’d thought I was only talking about wool because I knew he was having a hard time hearing every word. But he seemed sure enough of himself that I hadn’t pushed the idea.

She loves peach.

I have a finished one in peach.

Well then.



Would you could you in a box? Would you could you with a fox? Would you eat them here or there? Would you eat them anywhere?
Thursday June 14th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

The weekly veggie box came.

He saw the bag and asked, Chips? (Why would they sell…? You’re not a corn chip fan, why did you…) He was about to reach for some. I headed him off, shaking my head.

Crickets.

??!

Only later did I see the word Chirps at the top, but yeah, those are chips made from a high protein source that happens to be, um, bird-friendly, other ingredients aside. One bug per chip.

The Imperfect Produce people were trying to close them out because they were getting close to their sell-by date and during the brief weekly glance at the offerings I’d thought, well that sounds curious.

And then spent the week wondering whether that was really such a good idea. It’s easy to be adventuresome when the adventure’s far away. Now that they’re here I…I…

I find that I just do not seem to want to open that bag.

It is safe to say I don’t think he’s in a rush to, either.

We’re going to a potluck dinner next week where I’m sure they could be the talk of the night. Better bring a chocolate torte–no, two! And peaches from Andy’s!–to make sure they forgive us.

“You know what bugs me about you guys?”

*crickets*

The puns, they await. We may never live this down….



Sending her off
Sunday June 10th 2018, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends

A skein of superwash Malabrigo to go with the grad student’s cashmere, after she chose the smaller ball of it because, hey, luggage space, and a 24″ circ, her first circular needle and the right size for the hat she wants to make with that Rios.

The single mom chose her cowl and her three-year-old picked his hat. I showed him how you could play hide and go seek with it, pulling it down over my face–he thought that was a great game.

The beaded green silk finally found its way home.

The green hat did not. Not yet, anyway. It will.



280 grams and 140 grams
Saturday June 09th 2018, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Lupus

A friend was throwing a Relief Society (women’s organization) potluck brunch get-together. She has a beautiful big back yard with picnic benches for a crowd, perfect for a summer day.

Her small house did not have enough space inside for her guest list. I said the June sun was the issue and I was sorry I was going to be missing it.

She talked me into coming anyway, parking close and sitting at her table just on the other side of the window from everybody.

She excused herself from the group and came and kept me company for awhile; one-0n-one is so much easier for me to hear anyway. Cool. So did several other people by turns, and it was much appreciated. I’d brought my knitting and it filled in any gaps. Meantime, her kids, teens to 21, passed by going from here to there in the house.

Plus one young woman I didn’t know. Who saw the work in my hands and on the second time by decided to stop and ask about it.

Turns out she was their niece, visiting before her move overseas Monday for her graduate studies at Oxford.

Turns out she’s a knitter.

Turns out she’d never heard of Colourmart, but now she’s hoping to visit them in person and is quite excited about it.

I told her I’d knit in high school but had had to give it up in college: I simply had had no funds for yarn (she nodded in boy-ain’t-that-the-truth agreement), and it took ten years for me to get back to it. I regret those ten years and would love to make it easier for someone else to keep going; what were her favorite colors?

Was I serious?!

That’s what yarn is for, yes.

And that is how, a year after I bought it, that huge 420-gram cone of dk cashmere I’d hanked and scoured finally got wound up and ready to go. It took…awhile this afternoon. (That big ball nearly qualifies for planethood. The bowl it’s in is platter size.) I’m not giving her all of it and I’m not sure it would fit in her suitcase if I did, so, some for my cowls project, some for her. Whichever one fits in her luggage. I want her to have something that sustains her wanting to knit.

And now it’s finally available to me to actually work with, too.



Sunday’s service, Monday’s mail
Friday June 08th 2018, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Thought I’d up the stitch count this time from 68 to 70 but I continued with the 2×2 ribbing.

If you’re a knitter (or were ever taught math in third grade for that matter) you can quickly see where that’s going: seventy is not a multiple of four. Well, duh.

Alright then, why not alternate the pairs seed-stitch style. The variety would be interesting to work on.

The funny thing is how it came out in columns anyway. It will stretch to fit any adult but it stays a bit relaxed for a toddler’s head; I hope little Ray prefers the other one but either way now there’s some choice for him in the matter, a means of being in control of an expressive part of his three-years-long life, and that is always a fine, fine thing.

Then a message came in from across the country, I knew *exactly* who I needed to knit for next, stat, some cashmere leaped onto my needles and it is racing along.



He can take a little ribbing
Wednesday June 06th 2018, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

(It’s a little darker than this.)

Yesterday’s cowl was for a newly-single mom of an adorable three-year-old and was from a single skein of souvenir yarn bought in Ft. Worth the last time we got to visit my father-in-law before he passed.

I couldn’t match it.

But after some serious stash-diving I came up with this to at least approximate it; I remember, back when I was a young mom I would be halfway through the day before I realized I’d dressed my baby to match me without even knowing it. Again.

Two-by-two ribbing all the way up to give it some serious stretch. It will fit a preschooler’s head with lots of folding-up and it goes comfortably over mine. Kids grow.

Of course, being three and having a mom who’s back in school and will likely soon move again means it’ll probably get lost somewhere before he’s four and make how it was knitted a moot point, but then that would just mean he’d get to choose the colors himself next time.

The point is that in all the shattering losses they’re going through, good memories and a sense of belonging are still being created. They matter.



Breathe
Monday June 04th 2018, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

K. made me feel like I was instantly family yesterday, with such a profound sense of love that I was in awe of her.

Tonight I found out she’s on chemo.

(Say what?!)

Again. Apparently inoperable.

(But. But. But we’re just getting started!)

I think we need to get to those lace knitting sessions pronto.

Suddenly her keeping to herself like she did–I totally get it now. That profound offering of love: I get that, too.



That soft gray cashmere
Sunday June 03rd 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I finally learned how to pronounce her name today.

She’s a knitter? I…I… How could I not have known this! She’s so shy and so quiet, but offering her that cowl changed everything in an instant. She crochets, too, but she’d never knitted anything like this. She was blown away.

What kind of… She looked for the right words to ask.

I got it and grabbed my purse. I pulled out a circular needle.

Yes! That! She marveled over knitting needles that were all in one piece like that. Where do you get that?

It was a 4mm/US6 and apparently a fair bit smaller than she was used to. I told her where the nearest yarn store was, or maybe Michael’s, or online?

She did not know how to do it like this, though. Could I teach her?

Be still my heart. Oh honey yes. And there’s a book out there that has lace instructions (lace. That was the word she’d been looking for. English is not her first language) both in words and pictures. I couldn’t resist adding, And I wrote it.

(With credit thoroughly owed to Donna Druchunas for those diagrams and the charting.)

I told her I was giving her a copy next week (or next time, I explained, depending on when my aunt’s memorial service gets scheduled for. Aunt Bonnie cannot leave us without her children knowing just how much their sweet mother meant to my family and me.)

If only I’d done this good woman’s cowl a long time ago. But at least I did it now. We have us some catching up to do. This is so cool.



ABC
Wednesday May 30th 2018, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I.e, All But Castoff.

Which actually is done now.

I have a friend who’s into history and studies of other cultures and somehow it seemed more fun to knit her something with a hint of vicuna while anticipating telling her about the traditional chacu roundups of that animal, and the triumph of its comeback from near-extinction–a bit of a visual not to mention tactile aid.

Yarn: 98/2% 16 micron merino/vicuna, with the vicuna at about 12 microns. That 2% makes a noticeable difference over even the most super-fine wool.

I found one single light brown hair that had slipped into the spinning and showed up right at the cast off line.

I like that. A little bit of the animal it came from, untamed.

(Note to self: US7, 96 stitches to 128. Width 22 and 36, length 14 laying flat, 16 upright.)



Saved by the deadline from the deadline
Monday May 14th 2018, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I guess I made it look easy? I hadn’t knitted all of them in one week.

Remember when I offered the three elderly widows who were sitting together their choice of cowls a few weeks ago? They were all very appreciative.

So appreciative, one of them came back to me yesterday and made a point of telling me how much she loves hers. How she’d worn it day and night for two weeks, how her son had told her to cover her neck and head if she were cold and this did such a fine job keeping her warm and she’d never had a way to keep just her neck warm like that before. And it was SO soft!

Why, thank you!

What came next took me so by surprise that she had to say it twice, not because I didn’t hear it but because I just… (Surely that’s not what she’d said.) It was.

Her family was going to have a big happy reunion this summer (I knew one of her kids had adopted a whole lot of kids) and could I make twenty-nine matching cowls by then? She would pay me.

Clearly she wanted each one of them to have all the love that she’d felt in the one that I’d made her. One of her daughters so loves the one I surprised her with while she was visiting her mom last year; her son has a scarf I knit him years ago for wearing to Canada, if he still has it, and I know my friend and her late husband raised their kids to appreciate handmade things. They could all have a visual symbol of being a family that loves each other no matter where or what circumstances the individual grandkids had come in from. I got where my friend was coming from.

But.

Twenty. Nine.

MATCHING. No variety in the knitting.

Cowls. This summer. The summer that starts in five weeks?

It was suddenly a very good thing that I have a whole lot of experience with knitting requests by people who have no idea, because in that moment I needed every bit of that been-there-done-that-blase’-ness  to keep me from laughing out loud or gasping in astonishment or cringing and just all-around embarrassing her. Having her repeat the request helped put a bit of distance between the urgency of the ask while lessening the urgency of the no.

Well, says I, I’ve been wanting to make one for every woman in the ward. I started just over a year ago. I’ve done fifty so far.

Oh, says she, disappointed as it starts to sink in. She had so hoped. A year? Fifty? How long does it take to make them?

Seven to twelve hours, on average. And I need to get an afghan done and soon, and that’s a month. (Side note to myself: if I really work at it.)

She did the math on the time left and figured that that looked like that wasn’t going to work, then, was it. But she would pay me if I did, she hastened to reassure me.

I didn’t tell her my starting price for such a project in that time and that spot in my queue would start at, oh, let’s say a million. Plus materials.



For old times’ sake
Friday May 11th 2018, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

She was born in 1926 and today we gave her a great send-off. Eighty great-grandkids. Wow. Her family filled most of the big center section of the church.

The littler ones were having to sit quietly for a long time as the funeral went on. Fortunately I had just restocked my purse.

One young man of about twelve helped pass along some handknit finger puppets (some still had a tiny Peru sticker on them, I’d just gotten them) to his small cousins, pleased at how those quieted them down and that he’d gotten to help out.

Agnes, an old friend who’d driven into town for this was sitting next to me and nudged me, motioning that he wanted one, too. I’d almost missed it. He was one of the great-grandkids who’s local so I know him.

I raised my eyebrows silently with a smile, glad they weren’t all gone yet: You want one?

A small hopeful nod.

I reached across the church aisle and gave him what its knitter probably thought of as a reindeer, but having seen that moose in Alaska, I’m (silently, at the time) calling it a moose. The antlers totally made it.

He examined every stitch and everything about it as the talks went on with intense enough curiosity that I thought, grab that kid some needles and merino, friends, I think he’s ready to learn how to knit.

p.s. Mom, Dad, and Carolyn: Debbie MH and her husband Ron’s cousin Lisa T.C. from back home asked after you. Debbie’s folks are doing well.