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.



Oh right
Friday August 25th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

One of those days of being constantly busy but wondering if I was actually getting anything done. I was, but. It’s just the antsiness before a house guest arrives.

Michelle will get to deliver that baby blanket to her friends in person. (I finished knitting it three weeks ago.)

Maybe I should run that one last yarn end in now…



Boxing match
Thursday August 24th 2017, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

It was a dumb, weird thing of no worth and no consequence.

Until it wasn’t.

I just couldn’t seem to get rid of it. That box was labeled Heavy, and it was; you could really twist an ankle trying to stomp it down for the recycling truck, and having once fallen off my roof sweeping away the leaves so the rain would stop leaking in, I am a little particular about that part of me. Shove the sides in? Don’t make it laugh. It would trampoline you right back. I put it by the side door to go out with the recycling bins anyway, knowing they only take the pre-broken-downs, hoping it would somehow cave in to my will if not my feet nor his, but it just never made it out there and it stayed stubbornly clean, dry, intact–and inside. And the next week, too, and the one after that. I would look at it, determined this time, and it would go nope, nope, you’re not doing that.

I gave in and put it where it wouldn’t bug me. Still inside. Still looking brand new. That thing was designed to last.

There was an email on the ward chat list last night, a young couple that were suddenly having to leave; they were flying to Arizona this weekend to find a new apartment and did anyone happen to have any moving boxes? Help?

We’ve seen this before: someone finds themselves between jobs with a renewal on their year-to-year coming right up, or a sudden job offer somewhere else, and if they can’t talk their landlord into a month-to-month during the transition they’re out of here. Rents are far too high in this town to risk it.

I only had the one, but it was bigger than the usual moving box; not worth their coming to get it but worth my dropping it off, I told them before heading over. I figured they had enough to have to do right now. I fervently wished I had the energy to offer to help them pack.

Let’s see, that was 380 #2, not 320 #8. Right? Right. I was sure of it.

But there were no numbers on the doors, and there were a lot of doors opening up over the courtyard cum driveway. If I walked over to the… But it was a time of day when the sun was still an issue and I could spend a lot of minutes wandering around those open-air walkways looking. No can risk.

Just then the UPS guy, who’d parked out on the street because there’s no way his truck could turn around in there, walked by. Well, everybody orders everything online so if anybody would know–so I asked him.

“Sure,” he smiled, “it’s that one right there,” pointing to the door nearest us just steps away. I looked again for a number, wondering how he knew, while he chuckled; yeah, it is like that, isn’t it.

380, it has to be…

The door opened and there the guy was. Phew!

I reached back into the car and pulled out the box that was filling up the back seat.

“Oh that is *perfect*!” he exclaimed, lifting it from my hands, very very pleased.

And I thought, you could put every book you own in there and it would be as solid as a bookcase in the transit. But then how would you pick it up to load it in there, but never mind.

And I am left marveling at how that all worked out for him and his wife in spite of all that I’d thought I’d wanted to do for lo these weeks.

I need to find out her favorite color. Got to take some of California with you wherever you go from here, right?

The kicker? I have no idea what was originally packed in that box. Something was sent to my daughter’s friend in San Jose and somehow its empty box got brought back here, where it could be ready for the day when a young couple really needed the help in their moment of change and chaos and stress.

 



Cowlabundance
Sunday August 20th 2017, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

1. Felt much better than yesterday.

2. Cowls: the navy merino/silk, the Malabrigo Mechita in Whales Road and in Pegoso, one of the two red/purple merino/cashmere with sparkles. (Hey, Sherry, your cashmere was well loved all over again.) Someone fairly new, whose story I don’t know but whom I don’t think I’d ever seen really smiling, broke out into all kinds of happiness at the latter–and that, I tell you, is what keeps those needles going.

The friend who’d hoped for aqua exclaimed over her Pegoso and when I said the yarn was handpainted, held it out a moment in wonder and asked, How?

I explained that they (or at least some dyers, I shouldn’t speak for all of them) lay the racetrack-shaped hank out and paint sideways.

She was fascinated by the repeats and the way adjacent stitches in different rows held the same color and just wanted to hold still and absorb it a moment.

3. Re the eclipse tomorrow, from an optometrist: https://stellasplace1.com/2017/08/13/caution-the-solar-eclipse/ There won’t be enough sun to hurt your eyes and force you to turn away to warn you that you’re still looking long enough to do permanent damage. She recommends you watch it on TV.

Me, what I find most interesting is watching the effects of an eclipse: how the light changes, how the shadows turn all sharp-angled, how the wildlife reacts. And, come to think of it, how much I’ll need a sweater on.

Also, hopefully, how empty the freeway will be (hey, everyone’s in Oregon, right?) while I go make a peach run to Andy’s.

Although–maybe after 11:37 when it’s over.



I still have the beaded socks she made me eleven years ago
Thursday August 17th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life


Finished that one (colors muted by the nighttime photo and the fact that it’s wet) and there will be lots of nice folds on it around the neck. Started another cowl tonight.

But in between I played with the dye pot.

Colorwise, the hanks to the left in both the following pictures are the ones most true to life.

I have a friend (don’t miss that post) whom life has put into a tight spot and it was time to do some stash diving in return for all the good turns she’s done me. She wanted to knit her young daughter a red sweater and it seemed to me I ought to be able to do something about that.

I found two big hand-dyed hanks I’d bought maybe eight years ago at Stitches: 9.17 oz/1300 yards each in super wash merino–not a thick yarn by any means. I’d had plans for them but they’d just never leaped onto the needles, and the plan for the dusty sandy peach one (brightened by the camera here, in real life, not so much) was clearly not going to happen. (It made sense at the time, honest.)

I always thought that weight-wise, if I weren’t making a shawl, they’d be great knitted together–if only the colors were more compatible.

Well now they are. I offered to overdye the multi, too, to obliterate the orange bits, but it was loved just as it is.

The ties around the peach-ish one had been drawn tight enough to mostly resist the original dye. I moved those ties and knew anything I did would come out lighter in those spots, and they were. I like it, though.

That dark red will lighten up a bit once it’s dry.

Somehow, what leaped onto my needles tonight was a small amount of red from another part of my stash. Funny how that happened.



Mathias saves the day
Tuesday August 15th 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus,To dye for

The color of the sky, she said. That was her favorite.

I looked over the blues in my stash yesterday, and then again today, willing it to be there. I have some really nice yarns that were close but they just weren’t quite…they were my types of blues, not hers.

I could wind white yarn and haul around dye baths and wait for things to dry and hope I guessed right on amounts or I could go for a little more instant gratification. Besides, I hadn’t seen Kathryn in months and I missed her.

Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco was a hike, but: “Today you can do it–do it today,” I tell myself all the time and I wanted to get started and I wanted to see what Malabrigo had to offer these days (turns out she has a new shipment coming in soon, too) and if anyone in the area had the inventory it would be her. There. Talked myself into it. So off I went.

I wanted superwash for a young mom; she helped me find the most perfect colors of Malabrigo Mechita and I had myself envisioning an entire cowl finished by bedtime.

Yeah as if. But I got to meet her daughter! Too cool that hers is also named Sam–and that it was her birthday.

Came home to a robo-call to pick up my prescription before they returned it to stock. Fudge. That had definitely not been in the plan. Wound a ball of Mechita and headed back out into the early rush hour.

Hit the top of my head, hard, on the car at the pharmacy. Klutz. Had a quiet little freakout to myself over head injuries but seemed to be okay.

Still, it took me a couple of hours to pull myself and my sore head together and actually finally sit down and start knitting, and oh did it ever help. That sweet anticipation as beautifully dyed wool wrapped around wood, again and again and again as I pictured my friend’s face…

My phone buzzed.

Our Sam and her family are in Texas, visiting Mathias’s Great Grandpa. (Where our Alaskan born, on being taken outside into 100 degree heat, was initially stunned: what IS this?! Make it stop!)

After all the news of these past few days–weeks–months–it all comes back to that poster in my obstetrician’s office years ago: “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

Baby giggles, or even just pictures of baby giggles. They make the world whole again.